The White Star Legacy: EclipseSeven years have passed since the Battle of Yukikaze. The land is at peace, the economy is booming and, for the first time ever, every city and village is united under one banner, one authority, for which a brand new city has been constructed. Life couldn't possibly get any better.
But when a mysterious new creature presents itself to the kingdom, the peace Gale and Mizu have enjoyed for so long is shattered like glass. Something about the mystery monster tells Gale that the situation is much, much deeper than it appears... Can she reach the root of the crisis before it's too late?
New enemies.The Descendants' legacy continues...
I: The Grand Arena
Mizu yelled out with determination as the Zinogre he'd just slashed toppled over besides him and tumbled acrosss the sandy floor of Chikyuu's Grand Arena.
His Ceanatuar armour and dual blades glinted serenely in the midday sunlight. He stared up, smiling behind his helmet, and waved slowly at the crowds roaring the the names of he and his friends. He looked down and to the right, locking eyes one by one with each of his cherished friends; ever-perky Skylar; eagle-eyed Jinsoku; and Gigas, the smoking, drinking, monster-slashing pyromaniac.
"And once again, the Descendants triumph! BUT! Have they steeled themselves enough for round five? It's time to find out!" A plucky male announcer boomed over the stone-carved speakers dotted around the amphitheatrical arena.
Gale Kaze watched the spectacle through the series of horizontal slits that made up the window of her waiting area. Had it been three years ago, she would have been out there right now, fighting beside Mizu and the others. However, since their status as saviours of the people had skyrocketed them to fame unfathomable, she had learned through experience how to jazz up her appearance.
It's like sex, she thought to herself. You have to make them sit in the passenger's seat before you let them behind the wheel. As crude an analogy as it was, it did ring true. Many a time she had seen the crowds go wild when finally brandished her blade and took the the fights after holding herself back behind the scenes for ages.
And it would be like that today.
"But Ma!" Arashi moaned. "How come we don't get to fight?" he complained, sat next to his girlfriend, Tsubaki, and brother, Rakurai on a wooden bench. The three of them were dressed in everyday attire, simple shirts and trousers, or a knee-length skirt in Tsubaki's case, while Gale was clad in her trademark Doragyurosu armour. She had her helmet tucked under her arm, though, allowing her beautiful light brown hair to flow freely, cascading like a waterfall all the way down to her thighs. She also had a fringe and long bangs now, giving her a much older appearance than when her children had first met her. Arashi and Rakurai often wondered how she fit all of her hair into her helmet.
"Because you and your brother are not nearly experienced enough for the Grand Arena. We've been through this before. You're not ready," Gale answered chastisingly, still keeping her eyes fixated upon the goings-on outside.
"Your mother's right, Arashi. You're not ready, and neither am I or Rakurai," Tsubaki agreed, her tone steady, in line with her level-headed and sensible demeanour (which sometimes had a tendency to suffocate those around her).
"See? This girl has some sense!" Gale joked, craning her head around to smile at Tsubaki, who responded in kind. "You've got a keeper there, hon. Don't lose her." Arashi growled and blushed at the same time, while Tsubaki avereted her gaze from him in a vain attempt to conceal her cheshire grin and girlish gigling.
"Then why do you bring us here every time? It's so frustrating, watching everybody fight while we have to sit and watch!" Arashi groaned, envy furrowing his brow as he crossed his arms, sulking almost childishly. While he had to try and seem serious in the days before the Peace (the title awarded to the years that had passed since Yukikaze), he had always been a bundle of liveliness, recklessness and overconfidence, and immature too. That hadn't changed in the least. Luckily for him, he had Tsubaki to balance things out.
"Why do I bring you here?! So you can study, of course!" Gale snapped, the question preposterous to her.
"Wha...?! Study?! Study what?!"
"The way I move! How I fight! The way your father fights, the way everybody fights! I bring you here so that you can pay attention to what we're doing and learn from us! And what's more, the way the monsters act, how they attack, how they can be countered, their weaknessess! Physical experience is only half the battle, Arashi; knowing is the other!" Gale ranted, somewhat exasperated, as if she's been playing a guessing game for hours and nobody had got the answer right.
"Oh, yeah...I see..." Arashi murmured resignedly. Gale stared at her son, still as a statue, bewildered by his conceit.
"But I wanna fight! I don't wanna sit here all the time and watch! It's so not fair!" Arashi burst into life again, his frown returning. Gale rolled her eyes and gave a small, inaudible chuckle under her breath, laughing at herself for beging fooish enough to think that Arashi, of all people, would heed his mother's wise words.
"Well, tough. You have to," Gale said stubbornly. This was what she would say when she was tired of debating and wanted Arashi to stop talking.
"Oh, because I said so!" Gale growled, losing patience. Her brief anger abated when she saw Arashi pout and fall silent. She walked over to him and crouched down to be at eye level with him. She cupped her knuckle under his chin and slowly coxed his gaze upwards.
"Chin up," she said, her smile and gentle as her words. "You'll get your chance someday. It won't be too long now, you'll see." Arashi let slip a smile.
"And now, for our final round of today's grand event, I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, the Windweaver, The Wyrmsbane, Mistress of Storms, or perhaps, to you die-hard fangirls in the audince, Kaze-senpai, please welcome! GALE KAZE!"
I'm so glad I decided to keep my surname after all; imagine how hideously un-catchy that would have sounded if I'd kept Mizu's. It only works on him, Gale thought to herself. She blinked slowly and sighed.
"Well, I'm up. Wish me luck!" she beamed. Arashi, Rakurai and Tsubaki smiled and waved as Gale put on her helmet and grabbed a long sword from a large pot by the arena entrance (combatants aren't allowed to use their own weapons) and headed out through the short corridor towards the light, making sure to take small, slow steps so as to hype up the tension.
"Not that I'll need it..." she murmured sullenly under her breath.
She didn't react at all as the entered the Grand Arena. The sun's benevolent warmth greeted her, it's gentle welcome in stark contrast with the roaring, chanting and screeching of excited members of the audience. When Gale first begant to perform here, she used to flinch, her ears suffering a jolt of shocking pain at the magnitude of the crowd's response to her. Ever since then, she always wore high-grade earplugs, if only just for the noisy audience and not certain monsters' ear-splitting roars and howls and screeches.
Gale stopped just at the edge of the arena's dusty stone ground and looked to her right, her eyes immediately locking onto their target within the audience of the lowest tier of seats. A young woman not too far off Gale's age (twenty-five), with a frail complexion, ruby red eyes and long, flowing, ash grey hair (once a rich ebony colour) tied into a small pony tail, small bangs and no fringe. Her left leg was missing. A weak smile crossed her face. She clearly was in rather dire straits.
"Heya, Roux!" Gale called up joyously, waving as she did so. "Glad to see you could make it."
Roux waved her arm meekly, stuggling to form a grin. As Gale walked forward towords her comrades, she felt aa twinge of sadness course through her. She hadn't expected Roux's deteriorating state to affect her so much, but it had. While they didn't have much time to get to know the girl when they met her in a snow-coated Kasai seven years ago, she had proven to be a cheerful, energetic soul. She and Skylar got along very well, although she cherished the pyromania she shares with Gigas. They always insisted they weren't related whatsoever, despite sharing the same surname, but while the resemblance wasn't all there, the uncanny affinity for overimaginative adventures with fire was. But ever since she lost her leg in an accident three years ago and Gigas had to take her in a care for her, she had never been quite herself. She was still pleasant and all smiles, but she didn't giggle and make jokes liek she used to, and there would be times where Gale would see her, when she thought nobdoy was looking and she was alone, that her eyes would be filled with so much sadness it was almost palpable.
Even after such a long time, Roux had never ever spoken about or allowed anybody who knew to tell Gale and the others just what happened to her the day she lost her leg.
As Gale reached the centre and stood amongst the others, she blinked just once, awestruck just a little. Even after three years she had never quite gotten used to the magnitude of the Grand Arena. It was absolutely massive, the size of a forest. According to the signs outside the arena, it seated half a million people plus a hundred thousand standees. Or at least that's what Gale thought it said; she was always ushered in by the arena's guards to get away from the press and the fans so fast she'd never ever had ample time to look at it.
Before she could even turn her gaze toward her friends, the eccessively ethusiatic announcer's voice boomed over the speakers.
"Alrighty, then! Could all other combatants please vacate the arena!" he bellowed. The crowd cried out, somehwere between outrage and confusion. Gale looked over to Mizu.
"What?!" she yelped, taken aback. Mizu shook his head and shrugged.
"Aw, ya gotta be kiddin' me!" Gigas growled, kicking the ground with his boot, a cloud of dust blooming in the aftermaths. He had since retired his Lavasioth armour in favour of Midogaron gunner armour, although he had kept his trusty Dancign Hellfire longsword and Agnablaster bowgun. Normally he'd not be allowed them, but he growled guttrally and glowered at anybody with the gall to even recite the rules on weapons to him.
"Something stinks about this, Gale," Skylar said emphatically, "Be careful." Skylar had matured so quickly over the years. The others found it hard to believe she was twenty now, although the fact that she still wore her traditionaly ninja garbs from her reclusive home village of Sukai (albeit resized accordingly) and used the same Nargacuga dual blades she had when they'd met her helped to fuel that. She was such a bundle of energy as a thirteen-year-old (and still was today). Seeing her this serious was a rare sight indeed.
"I know," Gale replied, her tone alone thanks enough for the warning. She watched as Skylar and the others quickly ran back the way Gale and come, out of the arena.
"Okay, let's get this show on the road!" the announcer's voice returned to plague Gale's ears once more. The voice made Gale so angry; to her it was like listening to nails on a blackboard. "For the final round of today, we have a very special guest!"
As this was said, a the ground began to tremble beneath Gale's feet as a great chasm began to form a few hundred metres away from her. A colossal, blood red creature with twisted, mismatched horns and tattered wings began to rise from beneath. Gale nealr lost grip on her longsword. Like the crowd moments ago, she too was now filled with an emotion somewhere between outrage and confusion.
"Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage...THE CRRRRRRIMSON FATALIIIIIIIIIS!!!"
As the chasm slowly crept shut again, Gale abandoned all emotions, entering a new state of mind, focusing only on the Fatalis.
The crowd did not exist. The announcer did not exist. Her children, her husband, her friends did not exist. There was only her, her longsword, and the Crimson Fatalis. She drew the lengthy silver blade to her face, and a took a long, deep breath. In...and out.
The moment that breath had left her, she sprang into life, the battle begun.
The Crimson Fatalis stoop passive and Gale sprinted toward it, the sandy terrain of the Grand Arena taking to the sky in complaint and she stampeded across it like the wind.
It was in that moment that the Crimson Fatalis chose to make its move. It reared it's massive head back and thrust it forward, a huge, meteoric blast of scarlet fire released from its deadly jowls. Gale skidded to a halt -she was running that fast- and swung her longsword like a bat. The blazing fireball that had once been aimed at her now turned on its head and slammed straight into the Fatalis' neck, causing it to yowl and flail its neck in pain.
"A home run," Gale murmured under her breath with a sly smile. In the seven years since Yukikaze, Gale and the other Descendants had had ample time to master and improve upon their powers. They were now able to bend their respective elements to their will with such ease that they had almost no limits. Gale had reinforced her longsword wih a "coating" of wind and use it to literally whack the Fatalis' projectile back toward itself, and then manipulated the air around the fire so that it didn't simply end up being snuffed out by its own velocity. Seven years ago, the best she would have been able to do was exitinguish the flame. Now, she had learned to take it and use it for her own devices.
Although, in her intense concentration, she couldn't sense the crowd's reaction, she spread her arms wide and looked up and around, and smiled with condescension behind her eyes, her nonchalance intended to mock the mighty creature before her, her body language inviting a fresh, more challenging opponent. She pointed her longsword at the Elder Dragon and shook her head briefly.
"Tsk, tsk. How the mighty have fallen," she mused scornfully. As the wounded dragon regained its composure, its sinister repltillian eyes returned her gaze as if to retort. Gale simply scoffed and shook her head. "It's gonna take more than that. I won't die from being given the evils."
The Crimson Fatalis continued to stare.
"FIGHT ME! COME AT ME WITH ALL YOU'VE GOT! NO HOLDS BARRED, NO QUARTER, NO MERCY! YOU ARE THE CRIMSON DISASTER, THE PLATE OF CALAMITY! PROVE IT TO ME NOW! PROVE TO ME THAT I'M NOT WASTING MY TIME!" Gale roared, as if talking to a person. But, then again, Gale had found that Elder Dragons had always been a bit above the usual cut, and did understand at least some of what humans said, whether acurrately or not. Meanwhile, the crowd roared on, excited and inspired by the words of their hero, their idol, their celebrity.
The Crimson Fatalis was being made a mockery of. Gale knew, all too well, that if there was one thing an Elder Dragon of considerable repute would not stand for, it was humiliation. To be tarnished in such a way as this would not stand.A challenge had been issued. The Fatalis was obliged to accept.
The mighty Elder Dragon's response was quick. It slammed its tail upon the earth and began to swathe the floor with it, the massive thing headed stright in Gale's direction. Gale broke into a sprint and somersaulted over the dragon's massive, barbed tail, using her powers to adjust her hieght in mid-air. Landing safely on the ground, she picked up her dash running the the right side of the monster. The Crimson Fatalis arched his head back and fired it's massive projectile at her once again. Gale simply outstretched the palm of her left hand, the other clutching her longsword, and allowed the wind to flow through her. The fire became nothing as it made contact with her invisible shield. Gale grabbed her weapon with both hands and swung it out to the upper left, slicing razor-sharp air towards the cretures wings. As the unessen blades ripped dinto the blood red webbing like knives, the Crimson Fatalis yowled and groaned, writhing in pain. Gale, still running, slashed air toward it again, putting her supernatural abilities to good use. In a less than a minute, the fearsome Plate of Calamity had rags for wings, and its pristine hide had been defiled with scars and blood.
This is my chance. My chance to end it now, before it employs its ultimate defensive ability, Gale thought to herself.
I've got to end this now.
As she reached the rear of the battered Fatalis, she close in on its tail. The Elder Dragon saw her intention and began to raise its tail out of her reach, but Gale slashed more of her razors winds at it, slicing almighty gashes in the skin. The monster cried out and gave up, allowing it's tail to slam intot he ground once more as it desperately tried to keep it's body upright, its blackish blood dripping from it's myriad wounds and mixing in with the sand and the stone.
Gale leapt atop the creature's tail and ran up its equally spiny back, the horde of onlookers exclaiming with awe. Along the way, she slashed her longsword back and forth (without supernatural aid this time) along the Fatalis' back, cutting open more -albeit less deep and less sizeable- wounds open along the way and coloring the silver blade black with it's blood.
This is it! Do or die! Gale said to herself as she ran along its neck, her tager approaching. Before she had been summoned to fight, she had smothered the blade with the most powerful sleep coating she could buy, just in case things got ugly. Knowing that even the damage she had inflicted upon the Crimson Fatalis wouldn't kill it, she had decided that simply tranquilizing it would be her best bet.
It was now or never. Gale jumped as high as she could, then used her wind abilities to thrust herself towards the Crimson Fatalis' head, hoping to pierce the skin and put it down.
The blade made contact, only to shatter into at least four different pieces. Gale followed in it's footsteps, crying out as she slammed into the dragon's head and tumbled off and down the the ground below. She landed with a heavy thud and grunted as she bounced several times before finaly sliding to a halt along the Grand Arena's dusty floor.
"Armour mode..." Gale muttered to herself, dazed and winded, barely able to maintain consciousness. Her vision was blurry, but she could just about make out the Crimson Fatalis' agape jaws shimmering with the beginnings of another fireball that would soon be her end. Too confused and in pain to do anything, she simply waited for the flames to consume her.
"NO!" She heard a voice cry out, its care and desperation familiar. She watched as a blue fuzz stepped out in front of her, followed by a huge torrent of water that washed over the Crimson Fatalis, dousing its flames. Then, another blur, this one kind of orange-y, ran out next to the blue one and shot several massive fireballs at the monster. She listened to the Crimson Fatalis' final howls, and called out the only name that came to mind as her vision became nothing but black.
And with that, Gale blacked out.
II: The Shining City
Gale awoke to Mizu's warm sapphire eyes, a gentle smile sketching itself lightly upon his face.
"Hey," he said quietly, moving a lock of stray hair away from her forehead.
"Hey," she echoed, smling back weakly. "Where are we...?" she asked.
"In our house in Lunaria," Mizu answered. "They fixed you up at an infirmary in Chikyuu before they let us take you home."
That was one of the many changes that Gale and Mizu's lives had undergone. They'd become so rich that they could afford more than one house. They had a house in quite a few places, including Chikyuu, and Hykou, of course. And now Lunaria, the Shining City, built -and still expanding- as testament to the bravery of the Descendants, as well as a reminder of the past, ugly as it was. It was the biggest city in the land, and with the most expensive retail industry, you had to be either incredibly fortunate or extremely wealthy to be able to afford a place there. Gale and Mizu just so happened to be both.
Gale tried to sit up from her bed but was met with jolts of searing pain from at least four different parts of her body. She cried out sharply and Mizu sprang forward from his seat to cradle her tenderly in his arms, laying her carefully back down.
"Don't push yourself so hard. Just relax. You don't need to go anywhere anytime soon."
"But the fans...the press...I have to-" Gale began tiredly, feeling somewhat dazed, Mizu kneeling by her side, clasping her hand in his.
"Fuck them! They're not important. You and your welfare are," Mizu cut in angrily. he was furious at the press, at the fans, at the organisers who thought that pitting one girl against one of the most powerful creatures in the known world was a good idea. But what did they care? What did the fans care? What did anybody care? It was all for a good show, nothing more.
What if that thing had killed her? Bet they'd give a damn then, Mizu thought.
"I just...I just wish they'd just leave us alone," he sighed. "I hate this, living in a goldfish bowl no matter what city we go to. I wouldn't mind if we were just the village heroes, like we used to be, but...we - us and the others- saved the whole world. Even if we left this place and went somewhere else, they'd know who we were. The entire world knows all about us and I can't-"
Gale put a finger to her husband's lips, silencing him in a heartbeat.
"I know. I know. I hate it, too. It used to be okay, manageable, but in the last few years or so it's just gotten out of control. The world can't get enough of the start-struck lovers who saved the world."
"And their friends."
Gale chuckled at Mizu's unusual attention to fine detail. "And their friends." She ran the fingers of her free hand through his hair lovingly.
"I know it's too much. I know it is. And that's why-"
A speedy rapping at the door interrupted them.
"Gale? You awake?" Skylar's upbeat, ever energetic voice was music to Gale's ears.
"Yep!" She shouted back.
"Can we come in, then? We have a surprise for you!"
"Yeah, Gale! How long ya gonna make us wait out here! This thing's heavier than a freakin'...heavy...thing!" Gigas rough, gravelly voice burst through the shut door.
"You really couldn't think of a heavy object, gramps?" Jinsoku teased.
"Course I could! Jus' that all you lightweights seem ta have a different idea of what I consider "heavy"," Gigas retorted boastfully."Hurry and let us in, Gale! Purretty, purretty please?! This cake's really heavy, nya!" Riko, Skylar's Felyne comrade mewed desperately.
"RIKO!" the trio yelled with disdain.
"Goddammit, furball, ya ruined the freakin' surprise!" Gigas growled angrily.
"Oopsy! My bad, nya!" Riko apologised.
Gale turned to Mizu, confused.
"Cake? But my birthday's not till tomorrow," Gale said, her face quizzical.
"It is tomorrow. You were out for the whole of yesterday," Mizu informed her. "Happy birthday, honey," he said, kissing her on the forehead. "You can come in now, guys!"
"Finally! ...Oh, for cryin' out loud, cat! Let go o' the damn cake, y'ain't helpin' any!" Gigas grumbled as he bashed the door open with his shoulder, carrying a huge cake as tall as someone's leg on a big square platter over his shoulder, Skylar holding it up on the other side and Jinsoku carrying the weight at the back. Riko scampered out of the way.
"Surprise!" Gigas said sarcastically, shooting an angry glance Riko's way. The Felyne meowed in embarassment. Gigas, Jinsoku and Skylar slowly laid the huge cake down on the floor at the foot of Gale's bed. Well, more like halfway between laid and slammed. Suddenly, a startled screeching sound came from somewhere, followed by the muffled rantings of a female voice."Hey! What the hell, nya! I'm a Felyne, y'know, not a sandbag!" it said. It was a Felyne -it had said as much itself- and it sounded like it was coming from inside the cake.
"Oh for FUCK SAKES! Riko already half-ruined this surprise, an' now you've gone an' finsihed the job!" Gigas roared at the cake.
"Yeah, as if this wasn't gonna happen with a meathead like you carrying me!" the Felyne retaliated. Gale watched the cake carefully as the top, which, like the rest of the cake, looked chocolately and utterly delicious, was torn open and revealed to be nothing but some very well-done paper-sculpting. A Felyne climbed out of the hole it had torn. It was normal in colour like Riko and, as if in parallel to him, it was clad in rathian armour cut to size, with a little Rathian greatsword to match, just like Riko.
"Surpurrise! I'm your new Felyne, Kimiki, nya!" the Felyne introduced itself proudly, beaming at Gale. "Happy birthday!"
The sun had gone down over the city, allowing the moon to shine radiantly in the blackness of the night sky. Gale had asked for the curtain to be drawn over the window in the room, though. She didn't feel like looking at the outside, pretty as a view of the Shining City - having a view of the outside world reminded might as well have been the same as inviting her entire fanbase to come visit.
Gale counted thanked her lucky stars that nobody knew they had a house in Lunaria.
"So, Kimiki. Been on a lot of hunts?" Skylar asked the Felyne with a big smile (as always).
"Oh yes, nya!" Kimiki purred in response as she sat at the foot of Gale's bed, the others gathered around it. "I've been a comrade for two years, three months and five days! I even have a document to prove it, nya!" The Felyne fumbled around under her armoured skirt and eventually produced a crumpled sheet of paper with some shapes and scrawlings on it. As the others had expected, it was completely illegible. Seeing the puzzled looks on their faces, Kimiki simply returned the "document" to wherever it is she'd produced it form.
"So, you're no greenhorn, huh, kitty?" Gigas stated rhetorically.
"Not in the slightest, unlike a certain fleabag I know!" Kimiki boasted, glaring at Riko, who hissed at her in return. Kimi turned back to Gigas. "And don't call me "kiity"!"
"Wait, you know Riko?" Skylar burst out.
"Indded I do! It's his fault we both lost our jobs!" the Felyne grumbled. She shot another razor-sharp look Riko's way. "Isn't that right, fleabag?!"
"Shut up, nya! I tried my best that day! We were totally outclassed, we weren't ready for a quest that tough, nya! But you insisted we were! It's your fault for not knowing your limits!" Riko retorted angrily. Kimiki leapt off the bed, and began to stomp towards Riko until she was practically in his face.
"Yes we were! We were ready for it! You just weren't up to the challenge! You're soft, weak! But I didn't see it back then, nya...!" Kimiki spat.
"So you admit you pushed me -both of us- too hard!"
"That's not it! You just didn't do your job properly! If it weren't for you, Master wouldn't have been killed, nya! You're so weak!" Kimi screeched.
"Oh yeah?! We'll see whose weak!" Riko growled, reaching for his the greatsword on his back.
THAT'S ENOUGH!" Gale howled. Both human and Lynian alike froze solid. "...That's enough. Now, I don't know what your history with each other is, but if I see things get out of hand like this again, I'll throw water over both of you. Are we clear?"
Riko and Kimiki simply stared at Gale, befuddled.
"ARE WE CLEAR?!" she shrieked.
"Yes'm!" the two Felynes snapped to attention, steiffening up and performing a military salute, not knowing how else to respond.
"Good," Gale said with a sigh of relief, her fire quenched. The tenson in the air seemed to dissipate mere moments later.
"Typical Gale. Hard to believe you've got power over wind and not fire," Mizu joked, prompting a chorus of laughter to fill the otherwise fairly empty room.
"Watch it, kiddo. Keep talking like that and I'll stay fully-clothed for the rest of my life," Gale threatened with a wicked smile. It was clearly a bout of harmless innuendo, but it took Mizu at least two seconds to realise she was joking. Meanwhile, the laughter began afresh, Gigas stopping to cough violently. Years of cigars had take their toll, giving him his croaky, gravelly tone, as well as his proneness to coughing fits. The other's didn't mind, His smokes and his voice were a part of him and the coughing was almost comical.
"Whoa there!" Jinsoku exclaimed. "Don't go dying on us now, gramps!" he jeered. Another round of laughter.
Gale hadn't been this happy in a long time. She'd spent so much of her time in the birdcage of fame that she'd almost forgotten the sensation of elation. She'd forgotten how free she felt, being with just her closest friends, huddled together, sharing a laugh or two. It was in these shingin moments she felt most alive, most valued, appreciated...loved.
She looked over to Mizu while the others joked with one another, their raucous noise fading into the background as the sea-blue orbs enthralled her in their gaze. Even though it had been ten years (twenty one, if they hadn't entered the Hidden Realm) since their first kiss beneath the star-lit sky in the Unmei desert when they were just sixteen, the warm glow in her other half's eyes had never dimmed. They held so much love within them, so much love for her, that many a time she found that she could do nothing under their watch but smile. She wanted to wrap her arms around him right this instant and pull the bedsheets over them, shutting the world out, leaving only the ecstasy of the kisses they'd share.
"Guys, I'm sorry, but I'm feling really tired. Can I get some sleep? We'll spend time together tomorrow, I promise," Gale said, feigning an exhausted yawn.
"Too right we will! We're takeing a stroll round the city tomorrow, remember?" Skylar squealed with excitement. Every day was a new adventure for her.
"Oh yeah, that's right," Gale chuckled. "I'll be looking forward to that. Just promise you won't get lost like on that Deviljho hunt the other day. You're tricky to find when you're lost; you never stay put or call for help!"
"Yeah, yeah, I got it!" Skylar blew her off confidently.
"That setttles it then," Gale said deciseively. "See you guys! And thanks for my present!"
"You're welcome!" the others said, almost in unison.
While Riko, Kimiki, Jinsoku and Skylar quietly trudged off to their rooms (the house Gale and Mizu had bought was more than "rather large"), Gigas came up to Gale and whispered in her ear slyly, "I see what ya did there, little lady. Have at him!" Gale chuckled at this, and Gigas said his goodbyes and shut the slightly creaky door quietly behind him. Gale waited until the footsteps outside had faded before turning her attention back to Mizu.
"Clever," Mizu mused, impressed. "Didn't peg you to be that crafty."
Gale wrapped her slender arms around Mizu's neck and yanked him forward, their noses almost touching, smiles etched on both of their faces.
"Oh, I'm full of surprises," Gale purred suggestively before pulling her lover down for a passionate kiss, throwing the bedsheets over them both.
A massive expanse of knee-height grass spread out in all directions as Shinji sat under the massive willow tree at the crest of the hill, looking down on the busy town below, her long brown hair - tied into two long tails on either side of her head with white ribbons - and scarlet red dress being tugged forward by the breeze pushing against her back. Only five years old, everything was fascinating and brand new through her young, ocean-blue eyes. Well, she wouldn't be five for much longer. She was six in two days. The seventeenth of August, that was her birthday. Her mother's was today. Her mother and father had left her in the care of a kidly old lady whom they had employed to tend to their farm (along with some Felynes, of course) at their house while they went away to another city.
"Daddy and I are going to be away for a few days, sweetie," her mother had told her the day she and her father had left. "I know you want to be there on my birthday, but you can't come with us."
"Why not, Mama?" Shinji had complained.
"Because we're going to fight some monsters and it's not safe for little girls," Gale had answered, feigning dismay and disappointment.
"Aw..." Shinji had sunk into a pout.
"Chin up, little rose," her mother had reassured her. "Your day will come, don't you worry. Remember the little song I taught you?" she had said, clasping her daughter's dainty little five-year-old-hands within her own.
"I remember, Mama"
"Do you want to sing it with me?"
"Please, Mama, please!"
Underneath the great green willow
Where the gentle winds eternally blow
A ruby red rose will always grow
Underneath the great green willow
"...There. Feeling better now?" her mother had asked her.
"Yes," Shinji had replied with a smile.
"See? You're smiling. That's my girl. Well, Mama has to go now. But don't worry, I'll be back for your birthday! I'd never forget my little rose's special day."
Shinji sat had been sitting under the willow everyday since, singing that little song to the sky, eagerly awaiting her parents' return. Carefully, Shinji twirled the rose around in her hand, delicately prodding and caressing the petals.
"I wonder how Mama and Papa are. Yesterday was Mama's birthday. I hope her presents were nice!" she mumbled to the rose. Shinji had an affinity with flowers. She loved looking at them, gorwing them, smelling then and tending to them. In fact, she picked flowers every day and sold bouquets to the people of Hyoku. It made her more happy than anything else, especially when Mama tagged along.
"I can't wait for Mama to see what I made for her! I bet you can't either, can you, little rose?" she said to the rose, excited. One single petal fell off of the rose's outer layer. Shinji gasped and tried to catch it, but the cool August breeze snatched it away before she could steal it for herself.
"Your petals are falling out! We better get you to some water quick!" Shinji exclaimed as she sped off urgently down the hill, back towards town.
Slivers of dimmed morning light cast themselves upon Gale's eyes as they fluttered open tiredly. As she started out to stretch, her foot made contact with someone else's - Mizu, of course. She felt no urgency to move anyhow. She always felt at peace with Mizu's arms locked around her abdomen, clutching her to his chest like a stuffed toy, his chin resting on her shoulder. She did turn around to face his direction though. She half-expected this massive shift to wake him up, but he was still sound asleep when she'd settled again.
It might have came out wrong if she'd said it aloud, but Gale liked to watch him sleep. He looked so at peace. In fact, she often wondered what she looked like when she was asleep. She didn't know, but one thing she did know was that, bright blue eyes or not, she was absolutely smitten.
Gale placed her hand on Mizu's chest. It reminded her of the first time she'd touched him, in the same place, in the desert those ten long years ago. She felt the same warmth as that time too, and the same inexplicable buzz that brought the butterlies in her stomach to life. She stared at that same hand;more specifically, the ring on her second to last finger. It was pure silver with a piece of Dragonite ore - cut to a perfect sphere - in the middle. Without even thiming, Gale found herself smiling, her eyes beginning to sting with the meagre beginnings of tears. She was so lucky, so blessed to have Mizu, especially after the countless brushes with death they both had faced. She didn't have moments like this often, but it was on these rare and comtemplative occasions that she rediscovered the ephphany that she was so, so happy. No matter how famous they were, no number of screaming fans or admirers could ever get in the way of special, intimate moments like this: just Gale, Mizu, and a bed, with nothing between them. Not time, not fans, not clothes. Just love.
Gale kissed the young man on the forehead delicately before falling back to sleep in his arms.
"Akira....Akira, can you replace the flowers in that vase over there? I hate seeing old flowers," Roux murmured quietly, too deep in thought to allow herself to assign too much focus into talking as she stared out of the balcony she sat on.
"Right away, Miss," the young woman called Akira responded, bowing and swiftly scooping up, from the otherwise bare wooden shelf beside her, the glass vase, which was filled with dead tulips and water so old that green muck had begun to grow on its surface. "Any particular flower, Miss?"
"White narcissi, please. They're my favourite," Roux sighed, almost longingly.
"Right away, Miss. Would you like me to bring you your medication as well?" Akira asked politely.
"That'd be great," Roux replied approvingly.
"As you wish," Akira said, bowing again, showing her short black hair, which was tied into a bun, before turning on her heel to leave, her crisp white kimono, tied at the waist with a bright red ribbon, fluttering as she strode away, her steps filled with purpose.
Roux continued to stare out above Lunaria to the azure sky above, listening to her nursemaid-slash-servant's footsteps fade away. When at last the only noise that remianed was the buzz and hum of city life outside, she spoke to herself.
"Gale said her daughter loves flowers," she mused. "So much that she grows them and sells them in bouquets around town in Hyoku. ...I love flowers, too...I'm sure she will love what I've got for her."
A short silence descended, before Roux yawned absentmindedly and began to turn away from the window.
"Well, that's enough brooding for one day!" she yapped, her puppy-ish excitement seeming to flood back into her. "Acting like that isn't gonna somehow make things all better. Life is short; I need to enjoy it while I can! Now, where did I leave my violin?"
Riko and Kimi sat at a table in Skylar's room, awkwardly passing angry glances at once another, not daring to start a row while the adventurous, outgoing ninja was sound asleep. They had been doing this for some time, not really having anything else to do.