Legacy Of The Descendants
Thrre years after the events of The White Star Chronicles, the land is at peace. The past has been laid to rest, and Gale and her friends are carrying on with their normal lives. But when a pair of hunter ninjas from the Sky Village of Sukai call for aid against a mysterious Elder Dragon, they become entangled in yet another adventure, as old ghosts of the past return to haunt them. Just who are the Wyrms? And what is their legacy?
Note: This is the complete version of the original story, all sixteen chpaters combined into one massive post. Enjoy!
I: Whispers in the Wind
Warm sunbeams projected themselves through the small window next to bed and onto Gale's face. Her brown eyes blinked open, the gentle warmth of the beams sending the back of her head abuzz. She sat up, realizing Mizu wasn't next to her. After three years, she was used to this - her beloved had always been an early bird. She gathered the strength to remove herself from the bed, meandering into the kitchen. There, Gale found Mizu, half-dressed, prodding at something in a dish with a kitchen utensil, the sound of the cooking meal washing through her ears and the scent of honey, fresh grass, and Sunset Herbs from her parents' farm outside wafting in through the open windows, filling her nostrils. She strolled up behind him and began to massage his shoulders. He smiled. "Hey, you," he chuckled. Gale returned his chuckle, kissing him on the neck as she went to sit down at the table. "So, what's cooking, chef?" she purred, wiping some crumbs from last night's dinner off of the tablecloth. Mizu, not turning his gaze from the dish for a second replied sarcastically "It's a surprise. I just hope you like Territorial Dung."
"Eugh!" Gale yelped, wrinkling her nose in disgust. Mizu laughed, almost sadistically.
"Relax, I'm just pulling your leg! It's just some Aptonoth meat. Besides, I'd have to trek all the way out to the jungle to find a Congalala for that dung!" he said, his words laced with more sarcasm. Gale blinked slowly and huffed with feigned condescendence.
"You have a crude sense of humour, Mizu Nagare," she sighed.
"Not as crude as last night...!" he hinted. Gale's eyes widened a little, and she got up from the chair, approaching Mizu, and hooking her arm around his neck. He pressed his forehead against hers.
"Now that was just immature," Gale said, holding back her giggles. They kissed. Mizu slowly pulled away and went back to the Aptonoth meat, turning it over to cook the other side again. "Alright, enough romance. I need to eat!" Mizu scoffed. "Call the kids, it's nearly ready."
As Gale approached the window ready to call Arashi and Rakurai, a cheerful and chirpy voice broke into the calm atmosphere.
"Don't trouble yourself, Gale, I'll get the young'uns, nya!"
Remy, an Ash Tiger Felyne Mizu had bought for Gale for her nineteenth birthday (which was about three months ago), scampered past her and Mizu, climbing gingerly up a pile of freshly-cleaned porcelain plates, which made blunt and quiet sounds as they bumped each other while wobbling, rested his elbows upon the wooden window sill, cupped his paws around his mouth and called out. "Rakurai! Arashi! Breakfast is ready, nya!"
The two three-year-olds toddled their way acoss the grass to the back door of the house (which connected to the wall of the kitchen) as fast as their little legs would carry them. A few seconds later, the two boys burst through the door, hungry and excited. Rakurai stopped to high-five Remy, who purred with appreciation, trotting slowly behind the boy. The two boys and Remy climbed up to their chairs (which were a tad too high for such small people), digging in to the ripe Aptonoth meat almost before they had even sat down properly.
Mizu though he heard some one calling him. A deep, comforting, and melifluous voice. He shook his head, put it down to hearing things, put his thoughts to rest and enjoyed breakfast with his family.
II: A Village in Distress
Hyoku hadn't changed at all in the last three years. Of course, the hunter Rakurai wasn't here anymore, and someone had to take Arashi's place at the school, but, save that, it was the same sunny and peaceful village it had been three years ago.
The replacement Sensei, Makoto Suzuki, was a thin and good-looking woman, in her late twenties, early thirties perhaps, average height, with purple hair and blue eyes (an increasingly common eye colour in Hyoku, it seemed), and a kind face. The children loved her almost as much as Sensei Arashi. However, there was something about her that offed Mizu. He claimed to get headaches when he approached her. It was strange for sure, but didn't trouble him any, though. They were about to pay her a visit, as they had received a messgae from her that sounded quite urgent - and it involoved monsters.
After they had finished breakfast, they left Remy in charge of the kids (the Felyne was a strangely reliable babysitter), pulled out their armour (Kirin X for Gale and Barioth for Mizu) and left for Shinji and Jinsoku's house. It rested at the very top of the village (the village lay on uneven ground), and was covered in ivy (not poison ivy, though). Gale knocked on the door firmly. A few moments later, a slender girl with blonde hair and green eyes opened the door, smiling. "Good to see you guys. I take it you got that message from Sensei Makoto too?" she asked. The couple nodded. "Well, we can all go...as soon as someone gets a move on!" Shinji called back to inside the house.
"I'm coming, I'm coming!" Jinsoku's voice yelled from upstairs. The voice's owner slowly hobbled down the stairs, hopping on one leg an he tried to get the leggings for his Narga armour on. About halfway down he lost his balace, crying out as he tumbled down the stairs, his bow falling on his head. The trio at the door laughed in unison. "Jin," Shinji called to him (for short), "You never change, do you?" She turned back to Gale and Mizu. "C'mon, let's go!" she barked, excited and impatient, already speeding away from the house as far as her Agnaktor armour would allow. Gale and Mizu waited for Jinsoku to gather himself, then left with him.
When the foursome reached the schoolhouse, Mizu knocked on the door, simultaneously opening it. The hunters stopped at the sight of two odd-looking strangers with Sensei Makoto.
One was tall, lean and thin, maybe a year or so older than them, with shoulder length black hair, pale skin, emerald green eyes and a long, dark-green cloak that almost touched the floor (it also reached around to cover the right side of his body slightly), it's edges frayed and ripped as if someone had taken bites out of it, which reached around the front of his body and reaching a little lower than shoulder-length, held together with silver rings. He was wearing fairly normal clothes as opposed to hunter armour, but one could tell that they were made of Remobra materials, and decorated with silver pauldrons in places. His boots, which were pointed at the toes, were plated with a material that loooked almost like ivory, as was the glove he wore on his right hand- his left glove wasn't silver plated and was covered with white bandages (for decoration, not injury), although there were some slivers of black where the wrap hadn't been placed. He had similar wraps on his left and right forearms and his left thigh, and a holster with a strange pistol sat on the left side of his hip, and shruikens on the other. A fairly large raven perched upon his left shoulder.The other was a girl and, judging by her height, a few years younger than Gale and the others. She had the same black hair (though it was cut short), pale skin eyes and green as the man, but wielded Hidden Ones, and looked more ninja-like than him, her clothes made of the same dark green cloth as the man's cloak, except this made up the majority of her clothes. Her attire was completely symmetrical (unlike his), with the same black leather covering her lower arms, her chest, and making up her boots (the leather on her also had pauldrons, but they were black as opposed to silver).
Sensei Makoto interrupted the foursome's awe. "This is Altair Tatsumaki," she pointed to the man, "And Skylar Kuuki," she finished, pointing to the girl. Before Makoto could say anything further, Jinsoku posed a question to Skylar. "Um, Skylar, how old are you? You look pretty young for a hunter.""I'm thirteen, goin' on twenty!" Skylar answered, her voice light and energetic, a little louder than normal. If her answer hadn't given away her age, her voice definitely had.
"Twenty-two." Altair piled on bluntly. His voice was deeper, heavy and slightly gravelly, the polar opposite of Skylar's.
"Altair and Skylar have come from the village of Sukai, with a request." Sensei Makoto said, gesturing to the duo. Altair stepped forward. "We need your help. A monster called the Yamiokami has attacked our village," he muttered.
"An Elder Dragon, to be precise," Skylar interrupted. Altair shot her an cold-yet-thankful look, then continued.
"There have been many casualties, and all of the other hunters in out village have been killed or incapacitated. Some...will never be able to hunt again. Skylar and I cannot handle such a threat alone."
"So, will you guys help us?" Skylar chirped. Atlair took another step forward, extending his right hand. Each of the hunters stepped forward and shook it, one by one. Skylar beamed, while Altair managed a nod of gratitude. The six hunters each turned and bowed to the smiling Sensei Makoto before exiting the schoolhouse.
At the path that lead to outside the village, Gale, Mizu, Shinji, Jinsoku, Skylar and Altair stood, readying their weapons and equipment for the trek ahead. Gale and Mizu had left their children in the care of Sensei Makoto, as Remy was coming with them. Skylar had taken a shine to the Ash Tiger, deeming him 'adorable'. Altair was briefing the group.
"To get to Sukai, we bypass, we must cross the Unmei desert, but not entirely. We can avoid the worst of the heat and the sandstorms if we take a shortcut through an underground cave. Granted, a Plesioth dwells there, but with the six of us, a Piscine Wyvern should pose little threat. Especially since three of us are Descendants," Altair hinted, directing his eyes at Mizu and Gale, who looked a little shocked.
"What? H-how do you-?" Gale stuttered, taken aback.
"You are not the only ones to with knowledge of the ancient Wyrms that once ruled the land," Altair mused. "I, like youself, Gale, am a Descendant of Guretosutomu, the great wind Wyrm," he added.
"I-I'm a...but, I thought you had to kill a Wyrm to absorb it's power?" said Gale, confused.
"Not so," replied Altair. " One merely has to touch it."
"But...how are Mizu and I Descendants? Guretosutomu never told me..." Gale inquired.
"You must have aquired the power when you slew the White Star. There are flukes where the slayer of a Wyrm becomes a Descendant automatically." Altair then turned to Mizu.
"Your mother," Altair said flatly. Mizu froze. Gale clutched his arm.
"My mother...how -?"
"She was a hunter in this village, one leap in the bloodline away from being the Descendant of the water Wyrm that you are, Mizu. Then, one day, she went missing while hunting. She has never been seen since. That's all I know." Altair said, turning to leave. Skylar, Jinsoku and Shinji slowly followed suit.
"Mizu...I know you don't wanna talk about it, but...if you ever change you mind...I'm right here," Gale whispered, kissing him on the cheek. He smiled thinly, and followed Gale and the others away from Hyoku.
The voice was clearer this time, still warm and smooth like honey, but this time he was able to distinguish it as female. Taking it with a smidgeon more seriousness than last time, he followed his girlfriend and their comrades on their way.
III: The Black Beast Strikes!
The Unmei Desert - a familiar terrain and the foursome's first obstacle when they were hunting Yaketsukuyona, and encountered a Jhen Mohran here. They had escaped death at its "hands" by jumping off of their cart and onto its back - a free ride. The foursome had tried to forget the hardships of that adventure, but Gale smiled when their thoughts drifted to it. All those moments - falling in love with Mizu, getting Rakurai to open up, befriending Shinji and Jinsoku....her first kiss. All of those moments were etched into her heart.
Altair was abou two metres ahead of the rest, Skylar struggling to keep in line with him. He seemed unfazed by the heat, not even stopping for a Cool Drink. Gale nudged Mizu. "You gonna take your shirt off this time?" she purred sarcastically. Mizu grinned at her.
"Well, I could but -" he paused to point to the sky. "Sunburn." He smiled flatly. "Besides, when did you get so horny? That's my job!" he yelped. The group erupted into laughter, although Skylar only smiled meekly, not aware of the past the four hunters shared, and Altair managed a thin smile, ever serious.
"I got so 'horny' ever since the Tundra!" Gale retorted with the same sarcasm as Mizu, not giving the group a chance to catch their breath over the laughter. This time, Skylar was able to make the links and joined in, finally understanding (more or less).
"It's here!" Altair interrupted, his cold and serious voice acting like a blade through the cheery atmosphere. He gestured to a slim, jagged, vertical crack in a gargantuan mound of desert rock to their right. He was first to enter the cave, sending his raven into the cave before him, as it was unsafe to keep it on his arm, in the event that a monster should attack. Besides, judging by what the man had said earlier, the raven always found its own way back to him.
The cave wasn't as cold as they had expected, but it was still quite chilly, enough to warrant the use of hot drinks. As they moved through the cave, they made a fair bit of noise, their clunky armour echoing throughout the cave. As they reached the lake, Altair put out his left hand out. "Stop," he said quietly, pointing toward the lake with his other hand. The others turned their heads to see the tell-tale shape of a Plesioth swimming around in the water.
"I take it this was the Plesioth you were talking about?" Shinji whispered. Altair nodded soberly. He turned to the hunters behind him. "There is no way in the nine hells that we're going to get past a Plesioth on stealth alone. If anyone has flash bombs," he turned to Skylar next to him, "Or smoke bombs," Skylar pulled out a smoke bomb, giving a thumbs-up, "Then now is the time," He muttered. "But whatever you do, don't let it get out of the lake.
A short pause followed, before Skylar threw her smoke bomb, and Shinji threw her flash bomb, but waited until the smoke had been dispersed so as to only blind the Plesioth. From the mist, they heard the giveaway squeal of an alerted Plseioth. The heard the water swash, running across the cave floor still, the exit in sight. But, as they neared the light at the end, the smoke cleared, revealing the Plesioth, its neck sticking out of the water, ready to fire beams of water.
And it did.
As the water came speeding toward them, Mizu rolled out of the way, charging toward the Piscine Wyvern. "No! What are you doing!?" Altair shouted, worried.
"Trust me!" Mizu hollered back. As he neared the edge of the lake, he dropped his Long Sword, the Wailing Cleaver Shin, and put his hands into the water. As the Plesioth rushed forward to attack the eighteen-year-old, a huge wall of water began to erect itself in front of everyone's eyes. The Plesioth rushed forward in an attampt to bash it with his hip, but it was powerless, trapped in a thrall made of its own home. Taking his hands out of the water, he grabbed his Long Sowrd and raised it high. The moment the Plesioth tried again to break the wall of water, he struck the wall from the other side with all his might, sending thunderbolts rippling all around it, electrifying the monster badly. It squealed and writhed violently against the wall for a few moments, before it collapse in the water, along with the wall, the excess water washing over its corpse, which lay on its back, like a dead fish, still twitching slightly from the shock.
Mizu slowly stolled back to rejoin the group, who were rendered speechless as they left the cave. "Guess it pays to be a Descendant," he chirped smugly.
On the other side of the cave, the desert sands were nowhere to be seen. It was all just green, green grass and heavy forestland. "Janguru Forest," Skylar sighed happily, skipping ahead of the group and into the undergrowth. "Hey, wait!" Jinsoku yelled, hurrying to catch up with her. "You can't just run off all by yourself!"
Having walked for at least three hours now, night had fallen, the moon lighting the way ahead. The group grew tired. "Are we nearly there yet?" Jinsoku sighed, tired and impatient. Shinji rolled her eyes at turned back to look at him. "Jin, don't start this," she huffed, pausing and turning back to face the front. "I had to listen to that bullshit for forever when we went on holiday to Chikyuu," Shinji murmured. The others laughed mildly, except for Altair, but even he smiled.
Suddenly, a loud, stygian howl sliced through the darkness. Altair froze, causing the others to stop as well. Jinsoku opened his mouth to talk, but Altair shushed him quickly. "Be silent!" he hissed.
Another howl. A cacophony of screams followed. Skylar, groaned with fear and worry, running ahead of the others, drawing her hidden ones. "No! Skylar!" Altair beckoned her, but she ignored the man, running the rescue of the faceless screams yonder. Altair had no choice to follow her, gesturing to the foursome to follow suit.
A few minutes later, the trees parted to reveal a village being torn apart by a huge, almost pitch-black wolven creature, about as big and tall as a large Rajang, with neon-green, cat-like eyes and razor sharp claws. It stood on its back legs and knuckles like a Pelagus, but Gale and the others could tell that this was the Elder Dragon they were supposed to be hunting - the Yamiokami, otherwise known as the Black Beast.
With no hunters to protect Sukai, it rampaged through it, tearing apart houses and people alike. The fivesome stopped at the edge of the forest. Altair's eyes widened at the pandaemonium, frantically scanning the calamity with his green eyes. Amidst the disorder, his gaze found Skylar, unconscious against a collapsed house, weapons by her side. He charged toward the beast, seething with anger, yet, calm and collected. The wolven monster spotted him and howled triumphantly, attacking the hunter with malicious intent. Altair sent his raven away, drawing his pistol from its holster.
Now that she finally had a proper view of it, she noticed it was a very strange firearm indeed, with four barrels, and made of masterfully crafted iron. It looked so heavy, yet Altair wielded it as if it were as light as a feather. When it fired, it made a sharp and piercing sound, not nearly as loud as one might expect, but loud enough to be heard clearly. It had almost no recoil whatsoever, and never seemed to run out of ammunition, as Altair hadn't once stopped to reload.
The Yamiokami was growing increasingly angry, panting heavily, and growling, frustrated by the evasive hunter before it, not able to land a single hit. It kept trying and trying, swipe after swipe, even lunging forward to snap it's poisonous jaws, but Altair swiftly dodged each hit with smooth and ingenious verve, firing at the beast continousously. But the Yamiokami decided to bluff this time. As it feigned another swipe of its claw, Altair somersaulted out of the way. His eyes widened as it's other claw cut through the air directly toward him. As he braced for the hit, the Black Beast barked with surprise and rage as Altair's jet-black raven swooped in an stabbed its beak right into the Elder Dragon's left eye. It's vision now off, it's sucker punch lost some speed, and Altair had time to grab onto its claw, vaulting himself over it, speeding past it's shoulder, firing at its mouth as he did. One of the bullets embedden itself in the Yamiokami's long and venomous left front fang, splitting it is in half. The raven flew back to perch on Altair's arm, as the Yamiokami turned to face him, howling and drooling with outrage, it's pupils vanishing and eyes turning and neon-blue, the very fibre of its mane glowing the same electric blue, but dimmer. It growled at him, then began panting angrily as it galloped past him and back into Janguru forest.
The screams of the villagers died down to despair-filled moaning and wailing. The four hunters finally rushed forward from the trees to get to Skylar. Altair, placed his four-barreled pistol back in its holster after reloading it (at long last), and picked up the unconscious Skylar in his arms. "I will take her to the Elder. You four should get some rest. You can find lodgings at the inn over there," Altair said, directing the hunters' attention to a wooden establishment slightly bigger than the houses in the village. As Altair began to walk away, Gale shouted back to him. "What about payment?" she asked. "We didn't bring any Z."
"When they see your equipment, they'll let you in for free," replied Altair still walking on. "God knows, they can't afford to turn away hunters right now," he added solemnly. Mizu hesitated, unable to rip her eyes away from the bloody, chaotic scene and the cries of the dead and the dying. Gale held his hand and gently pulled him away.
Gale and Mizu lay in bed, her arms locked around his waist as he lay on top of her. After the innkepper saw their foursome's gear, he had let they stay for free, just like Altair said. Gale worried for Skylar, but put her thoughts to rest when she remembered that she was in the hands of the Village Elder and someone as trusty as Altair. She smiled, kissing him as she moved her hand up to unbutton his shirt. She got about halfway when Mizu put his hand over hers. His eyes looked sad and tired, but still warm. "No. Not tonight." he muttered, shaking his head, climbing off of Gale, lying next to her.
"What's wrong? You look troubled." she said, reaching out and stroking his soft, brown hair.
"Oh, it's nothing it's just that...I...never knew my mother. Or my father." He said, almost tonelessly, as if he was trying not to cry. Gale move closer, wrapping her arm around his chest as he stared at the ceiling. She found it difficult to empathize to something as scarring as being an orphan, as she still had both her parents. She touched his face. He turned his head to look at her. "I know. But it's okay. You're not alone. You have good friends in your life, and you can always talk to me. I love you," she said softly, kissing him again. He smiled.
Gale reached over to the small table on her right and blew out the candle. She turned over again, wrapped her arms around her boyfriend and went to sleep.
IV: The Hunt for Yamiokami
Morning. There weren't any windows in Gale and Mizu's room, but even so, a room was always lit up a little in the daylight. Gale felt warm skin on her arm. She turned her head the other way to find Mizu, his piercing, ocean-blue eyes locking the nineteen-year-old in his gaze. She looked down a little. "You just can't go one night with your shirt on, can you?" She chuckled, stroking his abdomen teasingly. He smiled. "Maybe you should try taking yours off," Mizu retorted. Gale climbed on top of him, and pulled her shirt off. He stared at her, a little startled. "Happy?" Gale laughed. Mizu kissed her and locked his arm around her waist, reaching under the bedsheets with his free hand.
Suddenly, Shinji burst in to the rooom. Gale jumped, wrapping her arm around her chest instinctively. "CAN YOU KNOCK FIRST?" She roared, enough to frighten a small child. The fear and amazement even flared in Shinji's green eyes for a few seconds, before she broke into an unnaturally immature giggle. "Make it quick, Altair wants to see us in ten minutes," Shinji said, holding back her laughter. Mizu asserted his presence in the room with more humour. "We only need five," he muttered. This time even Gale couldn't help but indulge in the immaturity.
Shinji sighed with feigned exasperation. "Mizu Nagare, you are such a dog sometimes, you know that? I dunno what to do with you sometimes. If that house of yours isn't filled with children by the end of the year, I'll be surprised." she huffed. Suddenly, Jinsoku ran past her, with something large tucked under his arm. Shinji ran after him hollering as she went. "Jin! You give that back, you little - ! Don't make me chase you, 'cause you know I will!" she yelled at the top of her voice, shutting the door behind her as he sped off.
The Village Elder's house was very cluttered. It was also very awkward for Gale, Mizu, Shinji and Jinsoku, as there was no Village Elder in Hyoku, only a small "government" of about four people - one of which was actually Mizu, who did have a serious side, despite his generally lighthearted and carefree demeanour. Flames danced in the small hearth behind the Village Elder's rocking chair. Altair sat in a chair adjacent to the Elder, his brow furrowed with concern, his eyes staring down at nothing. Skylar lay in a bed next to the hearth, no expression in her face, totally at peace. The foursome sat opposite Altair and the Elder, waiting in silence for Altair to brief them. Finally, roused from his thoughts, he cleared his throat and began to speak.
"Aside from the Yamiokami incident last night, there has been some disturbing...developments. A group of hunters has attacked Hyoku and Chikyuu."
"What?!" Shinji exclaimed, the others' eyes widening with worry. Altair coughed before continuing.
"They all wore the same Ukanlos armour and weapons, and they stormed the two villages in organized gangs, calling themselves 'Children of the White Star'." He added. This made Gale freeze almost literally, remembering the horror of Yaketsukuyona, the White Star, and the atrocitites that had cost her and the others their teacher, their friend, and almost their world. "The White Star..." she whimpered.
"You know of this?" Altair inquired flatly, confused.
"The White Star... is a Wyrm. The ice Wyrm...Yaketsukuyona.... but he's dead! I killed him with my own hands!" she cried out, stressed. Mizu put his arm around her shoulder, gesturing with his free arm for her to calm down. Altair also put his hand out.
"Relax, Gale. You need not fear. He hasn't been seen or heard of in any way but that. Also..." he continued, speaking a little slower, so as not alarm anyone, "there was a distinctive hunter that was with the gang in Hyoku. Apprently, he wore the same armour, but wielded a Shadow of the Moon, and was called Kazir. Do you know anything of him?" he said, genuine care and concern in his eyes, leaning forward a little. Gale shook her head. Altair leaned back, relieved and worried at the same time.
"These attacks do not bode well. And this Kazir...apparently he counjured a blizzard, that lasted about half a day. He seems to have complete control over ice and snow. He must be a Descendant of Yaketsukuyona." he murmured. "And according to military reports, he's heading this way. I want you four to wait here until he comes and goes, while I, Skylar - if she is well enough - and another aquaintance head into Janguru Forest to hunt the Yamiokami. Will you do this for me?" He asked seriously.
Gale and the others nodded. Altair smiled, a little less thinly than normal. "Thank you. It's good to know that I can trust you," he said. "Ah, I have another favour to ask of you. My 'aquaintance'... he is a Descendant of the fire Wyrm, and a seasoned hunter... however, he aslo a seasoned drinker . If you can bring him to his senses and persuade him to accompany me, I would be very grateful," he added, getting up to leave.
"Wait! What does he look like?" Gale called to him.
"You'll know him when you see him," he murmured, leaving the door open behind him.
As the others got up to leave, the Village Elder spoke. "Mizu, can I borrow you for a moment?" she said, her voice quiet and a little croaky. Mizu went to sit down again, Shinji shutting the door behind her (as she was the last to leave). The Elder rose from her rocking chair to poke a the firewood in the hearth with her stick. "We meet at last. You are Emily Nagare's son, aren't you?" she said. "I can tell," she saddened, not waiting for a response. "You have her eyes. Blue, like sapphires. She never knew you, but she loves you very much." she purred nostalgically. "Okay, that's it. Nothing else. Off you go."
Mizu got up to leave. Suddenly, he cried out, as a sharp pain flew through his head. He fell to his knees, one hand on his head, the other on the floor. He heard the woman's voice again.
"AH! Finally, a stable connection! I know this hurts, but just listen carefully. Kazir and his ilk are heading this way. I know you know all this, but be very careful and do not let him see you. He knows of how you and your friends defeated the White Star. He will kill you. He is after you, Gale, Gigas, and other Descendants. He needs their power for his schemes..."
"Wait...who-?" He beckoned her, but the woman was already gone. Ignoring everything else, he got up and left.
The Three Horns - the tavern that Altair had spoken of. Full of drunks, black-market merchants, prostitutes and hunters alike, it was a symphony of drunken singing, quiet music and laughter. There was absolutely no way to discern one drunkard from another. But Gale, Shinji, Jinsoku and Mizu (who had quickly caught up with them, not saying a word about what happened in the Elder's house) knew immediately who they were looking for.
"There. That's our man." Shinji said, pointing to a small, round table in the middle of the tavern, filled by three hunters, one in Uragaan armor, one in Plesioth armour and the other ('their man') in Lavasioth armour (except the helmet, which he had tucked under his left arm), roughly in his mid-forties (his face also had many scars from all the hunting he must have partaken in), with an Agnablaster stood next to him, resting vertically against his chair.
He laughed louder than everyone else in the room, opining his drunken views on current affairs, his words so indistinguishable that only a fellow drunkard could understand a word he was saying (or rather, spraying). The four of them slowly approached the table. The three sitting at it look up at them.
"Whaddya want, ya..." the man in the Lavasioth armour began, only to falter back into indistinct slurs yet again, the three of them choking on their own laughter. Shinji stepped forward. "You're coming hunting tonight." she said flatly.
"Oh, you askin' for a date, sweetheart!?" he said, his croaky voice, his breath laced with liquor, and by the croakiness of his voice, he had been a smoker for some time. The threesome descended into another wave of alcohol-induced laughter.
"No," Shinji said, trying to hold her anger back.
"Well then, who's askin'?" the man grumbled, still laughing.
"You tell him I don't wanna go nowhere huntin' no damn Elder Dragons, m'kay, sweetheart?"
Shinji grew tired of being on tenterhooks with the hunter, reached over to her right and grabbed Gale's Lost Black Katana, poiting the tip at the man's throat. "Tell him yourself," she grunted, "And don't call me 'sweetheart'."
She expected the whole place to be alarmed, but this bar was used to armed scuffles, and a drawn weapon was commonplace on most nights. The man seemed to sober up at this, if only enough to get out a comprehesive sentence without laughing or choking. He stoop up from the chair, and ever so sofly pushed the blade aside with his right hand.
"You won't kill me, sweetheart."
"Doesn't mean I won't try, asshole."
"...You make a good point," he said quietly, seeming to sober up a lot now, picking up his Agnablaster from against his chair. "You got a name, sweetheart?"
Shinji decided not to grill him about calling her that this time, as it was clear that it was one of his idiosynchrisies.
"And you are?" Gale asked. The man grabbed his bowgun by the trigger, hauling it over his shoulder.
"My name's Gigas," he said, already walking toward the door. "I'm off to my place to get some prepare. I'll meet you in the forest."
"Oh, um, we're not going with you," Gale told him. Gigas turned around to face them, still at the door, his brow furrowed in confusion.
"Whaddya mean?" he said, befuddled.
"We're staying here to take care of something important. Altair told us to get you to go with him. He was gonna take Skylar, but she's still asleep."
"Skylar!? She okay!?" Gigas exclaimed.
"She's fine. She just needs her rest. Now hurry up, go! Altair's waiting for you," Gale said, gesticulating for him to go. Still carrying his bowgun over his shoulder, he strolled off, leaving the door ajar. Suddenly, a scantily dressed woman - one of the prostitutes - threw herself at Mizu, putting her hand on his chest and pushing him against the table, pressing her body against his. "Hey, sexy. You wan't some o' this? I come cheap," she whispered seductively, stroking his neck, unbuttoning her shirt.
Gale's pupils dilated. Her hand balled into a fist as she punched the prostitute in the face, knocking her unconscious. "Hands off, bitch! ...Only I can push him against tables and call him sexy," she purred, stepping over the young woman on her way out.
Gigas found Altair at the edge of Jaguru forest, waiting patiently. He stolled up, a Dancing Hellfire Long Sword on his back and his Agnablaster is his grip, fully armoured. "You came. I was afraid that I'd have to handle this alone." Altiar muttered tonelessly.
"Not so, ol' friend. Papa Gigas is at the ready!"
"Hm. Gigas Honou, invigorated as ever." Altair said, letting a small chuckle escape his lips. He sent his raven into the moonlit forest ahed of them, then extended his silver, gauntletted arm toward the undergrowth."After you, O Confident One." he purred sarcastically. The middle-aged veteran strolled at his usual leisurely pace into Janguru Forest, Altair following close behind.
Nighttime. Gale and Mizu lay in bed, kissing. Gale pushed him away from a second. "Whoa there, horsey. I need to breathe after a few minutes, y'know?" she said, smiling, getting out of bed and kneeling down to get to eye-level with her Felyne. Suddenly, the door burst open and a small Ash Tiger scurried in, meowling. "Remy!?" Gale yelped. "Where the hell did you go!?" Mizu sat up, confused.
"Wait, you mean that you know he's been gone all this time...and you didn't think to point it out?" he asked.
"I don't need to, I trust him to come back. He always does this when we go hunting, he just doesn't normally take this long."
"You're a strange one, Gale Kaze," he mused.
"Love you too," she said sarcastically, ignoring him.
"Erm, hello-oo, Gastronomes, some attention, please, nya!" Remy interrupted, gesticulating with his grey paws. "I've been scouting out and about, and I was the attack at Hyoku, that Kazir and his Ukanlos henchmen! He was spouting some gibberish about "Children of the Ice" and "Father", and "Descendants", nya! He's scary, nya. I don't like him one bit!"
"What else did you see?" Gale said.
"Kazir killed Sensei Makoto, said she was a Descendant of the earth Wyrm...and....nya..."
"He what? What is it?" Gale said, worry looming over her.
"Kazir...killed you mother, nya..." Remy croaked, hanging his head.
Gale's eyes lost their warmth and her skin went deadly pale, and he began to tremble. Mizu slowly got out of the bed, knelt down and wrapped his arms around her, as pain and grief encompassed her, tears began to fall, and she let out a scream of almost animalistic pain and suffering.
V: Children of the Ice
Three weeks had passed since Remy broke the news to Gale. She had been utterly inconsolable for a couple of days, but she took her own advice and talked to her boyfriend about it whenever she felt like she was about to break. Even during recent nights, she would still wake up crying, but Mizu had simply to sing a lullaby to her in the Old Language (which every child was taught at a young age, yet barely understood) and she would be sound asleep within minutes. She was never one to let herself fall apart, or blame herself over something she had no way of changing. Instead, she chose to focus her anger on Kazir, almost wishing that he would come so that she could throw her feelings at him as she ripped his heart out through his eyes. But despite Remy's warning (as well as Altair's), Kazir and his band of Ukanlos warriors hadn't been seen or heard of since that night. Remy had left a couple of days after returning to Gale, worried about Kazir's sudden blending into the shadows, and tried to track him as much as possible to try and find out what the Descendant was up to.
Meanwhile, the labours on Altair's, Gigas', and Skylar's (who had long since recovered from her run-in with the Black Beast) end had borne no fruit either. They had yet to kill or capture the Yamiokami. Sightings in themselves were a rarity, and on around five nights in a week, no such creature was sighted, and the only spoils that the hunters ever returned from their hunts with were their lives (luckily).
On the other hand, the hunters did have one thing to celebrate today - it was Mizu's nineteenth birthday.
"We've been here for nearly a month, and nothing has happened. What's going on? I'm kinda worried." Gale said, sighing and resting her arms on the newly-fitted windowsill (the inn had undergone some minor renovations in the time that had elapsed since the four left Hyoku). Mizu stood next to her, slightly behind (the window sill wasn't long enough for two pairs of arms). Gale turned around and put her hands on his face. "Anyway, nevermind that for now. Today is your day." She said, kissing him quickly. She walked toward the door. "C'mon, sexy," Gale chirped (she had undertaken this nickname ever since the incident with the prostitute at The Three Horns), "We're going to the tavern. You can drink now, remember?" she said, taunting him, her earthy brown hair and eyes dazzling in the sunlight that burst in when the door was wide open. Mizu extended his arms up and outwards in a questioning gesture.
"What, no birthday sex?" he said, only half-joking, slowly following Gale on her way out.
"Be careful where you say that! There are kids in the next room. Besides, I want a few children, not a toddler army," she muttered humourfully.
The Three Horns was still full of drunks and hunters, but the black-market sellers and the prostitutes seemed to be nowhere in sight, clearly not wanting to do business in the daylight for fear of being caught by the authorities. Gale Mizu, Shinji, Altair, Jinsoku, Skylar (who couldn't drink, obviously) and Gigas sat around the L-shaped table that formed the bartenders' area, sat in that order from left to right. Everyone had always thought that nineteen was an awkward and strange limit to when you were allowed to drink, but they couldn't really do anything about that. It was harder for the others to drink here than it was for Gigas and Mizu because, whereas Gigas and Altair had been coming here for years, and this was Mizu's first time, Gale and the others were used to the ale or the mead of the tavern in Hyoku, and found the drink here strong and bitter. Gigas and Altair chuckled as he watched them down a pint, trying desperately not choke on it.
"Can't take Sukai's heady brew, can ya?" Gigas said rhetorically. "You're too used to all that soft stuff they give you back at Hyoku, ain'cha? You should come to my city, Kasai. It's even worse there."
"Pretty much, yeah," Gale croaked, eyes watering. Altair's beady green eyes fell uopn Mizu, drinking casually like it was nothing. "O-ho, we have a tough one in out midst." Altair said, cocking his head in Mizu direction, who turned around to face Gigas and Altair.
"Are you talking about me?" he asked, oblivious to what they had just been saying.
"Yup. What's up with you? You're not choking to death with all the others?" Gigas grunted, half smiling.
"No, this is my first drink. I wouldn't know how strong it is or isn't." he said, already giddy.
"Well, take it easy, son. The newbies are always first to get pissed!" Giags joked, sending everyone, even Altair, into laughter.
In the midst of their laughter, louds screaming from outside began to pierce the walls of the tavern, which fell into silence. It sounded like a fight or something outside. Gale could tell who was outside. Kazir. She pulled her Lost Black Katana from her back, already charging toward the door, seething with vengeance.
"Son of a bitch!" she growled, almost breaking the door down on her way out.
"Gale! Gale, no! Don't-" he shouted, but was interrupted by the woman's voice again. It was even clearer this time, posh and aristocratic.
"NO! Stupid girl! She mustn't go outside! Don't you remember what I said!? He musn't find you! GO! Go after her, you blithering simpleton!" she shouted, the urgency in her voice almost frightening. Suddenly, Mizu recongnized who this voice was. He remembered Hikari, and then the seeress who had sacrificed her life there three years ago.
"Yes, yes! Never mind your questions! GO AND GET HER!" Nina barked, almost enraged. Mizu, without another telepathic word, sprang up from the chair and ran toward the door after Gale, grabbing hold of her less than a second before she ran out of the doorway, pulling her back and shutting the door.
"Mizu, what the hell are you -?" she said, struggling feebly.
"Foolish girl. Let me talk to her!" Nina said, exasperated. Mizu quickly turned Gale, who still meekly struggling, around to look at him, and put his fingertips on the sides of her head almost automatically. Gale almost froze when she heard Nina's eloquent and angry voice in her head.
"Right! Now you listen to me, you stupid girl! If you set one foot outside, Kazir will kill you! You cannot die! At Battle of Hiakri, what is written was redefined. Now, there is no longer a certain future. This is exactly what Yaketsukuyona wanted! The previous future was damnation for him, but that future was averted at Hikari when the prophecy did not carry out properly. He was still defeated, but because that prophecy was not carried out to the letter, all possible outocmes thereafter were obliterated. Now there can be no certain outcome either way. I can no longer see what will become of this world, ergo I cannot help you, save make educated guesses at what might happen. If you die, it will only make Kazir's schemes easier!"
"Wait, slow down what schemes? Why can't I die? I thought you said there was no certain future anymore?"
"No, there isn't. But you musn't die nonetheless. The timeline has been freed of it's chains, and is now free to go in any directions. As a result, small paradoxes, ripples from the metaphorical blast radius may have occured within indivdual people, such as forgetting that they had a pet, or briefly going by a different name. Most of these paradoxes have dissipated, but one still remains, Gale. Don't you remember? Tell me, how did you and Mizu first meet?"
"When my dad met his da...Oh yeah! He said to me a few weeks ago that he never knew either of his parents! Should I "remind" him?"
"No, no. He will have forgotten that he even said that now that you have remembered. You remembering erases any and all evidence of that paradox. It's nothing. Anyway, I digress. The point is that you, Mizu, Gigas, Altair and Sensei Makoto must not die.
"But Sensei Makoto is already -"
"No, she isn't. I got into her head and warned her of Kazir, and that he was coming for her. The woman that you all think was Sensei Makoto was her sister. She is making her way to Sukai as we speak. You, Mizu, Giagas, Altair, Makoto and one other are the only Descendants left in this world besides Kazir. And you must not die."
"A young boy from Chikyuu. He is the stone Descendant. Stone, Fire, Earth, Water, Wind and Darkness. They must stand against Ice, lest the destuction of humanity come to pass..."
"What about Thunder and Light? You and Rakurai?"
"We are not necessary. We were, when time was shackled by destiny, but no longer. Guretosutomu is coming to Sukai soon. When he comes, no matter what, you must leave! You, your friends, you must leave, along with Makoto. Go to Chikyuu, and find the stone Descendant. Then, you must come to the Hidden Realm. I will speak with you there. Good luck."
Mizu too his hands away slowly, still looking at Gale, and her at him. "Now do you see?" he said solemnly. Gale nodded.
"Gale Kaze! I know you're here! I would just like to have a friendly chat! Of course, if you don't want to talk to me, something very nasty might happen to the children around here..." Kazir's shrill and sinister voice boomed, the terror seeping in through the wooden wall that sepearted Gale from him, washing over her and her friends like ice.
"We can't let him do this... We'll just have to risk it," Gale sighed, fearing for the children. The others nodded soberly in agreement, following close behind her as she slowly opened the door and stepped outside.None of the Sukai villagers were outside. They were all in their houses, hiding from Kazir and his men. A wall of hunters stood waiting around the village plaza, a wall of Ukanlos armour suits with Ukanlos weapons of all kinds in a semi-circle around the delicately carved water feature in the centre of the plaza - the water had been turned to ice, a spurt coming from a hole in the hunter statue, stopped in midair in a frozen arc. Kazir stood In front of the fountain, unarmed, with a sadistic smile on his face. He was almost exactly like the White Star's human form - the milky-white eyes, the black and white robes. All except his hair, which, unlike Yaketsukuyona's short bleach-blonde hair, was snow white, and measured just below his shoulders. He even had the same hateful gaze as the ice Wyrm. But there was something more about Kazir, something that frightened Gale, and Mizu. There was something utterly psychotic about him. It was terrifying. Gale wanted to scream, or cry, or run away, but her inner courage held her in place. But she had never been so frightened in her life, and the man had barely said a word.
"Ah, there you are!" Kazir, chirped gleefully. He turned his attention to Mizu, who froze instantly with fear. He felt as though Kazir had stabbed him in the eyes just by looking at him. "She's beautiful. You're a lucky guy." he mused.
"Get to the point. What do you want?" Gale snapped, making no attempt at hididng her hatred for this unlikeable young man.
"What do I want?" he paused for a moment, before laughing. It was shrill, twisted and sadistic, like he was laughing at someone he'd just killed. And he didn't stop, not even to breathe. Gale grew impatient, but held it in for now.
"What's so funny?""Oh, no, it's nothing," Kazir chuckled, still laughing a little in between words, "It's just that your dear old ma said the same thing... right before she died!" he cackled, insane laughter overtaking him once again. Gale grew angry almost instantly reminded of what he did.
"YOU SON OF A BITCH!" Gale roared, crying as the others stepped in front of her to stop her from attacking Kazir, and so that she didn't have to spend another second looking at him.
"Answer her question, asshole! Whaddya want!?" Gigas growled. Kazir stopped laughing and stood up a bit strighter, although sarcastically.
"Oh. Sorry, sir." he joked, clearing his throat. "What I want, Gigas - yes, I know all of your names, so don't get all insecure - is to return my father and our race to their rightful place as rulers of this planet."
"I don't think so, buddy."
"I do. Anyway, as I was saying, since Gale and her little friends were responsible for killing Father in the first place, they won't die so easily, oh no, especially you, Gale. Yes, I will break your body, but first, I will break your soul, rip it apart as you lose all hope. While I'm doing that, I'll just be planning Father's return to this world! And when Father is whole again, we'll join together and take over Hyoku, Sukai, Hikari, Kasai, and even the great city of Chikyuu! This whole land will belong to us!"
"What about the humans? I though we were "filth"?" Shinji spat, disgusted.
"Oh, yes, I nearly forgot about you lot. Well, you know what they say: if you can't exterminate a race, enslave them!" Kazir cried, laughing maniacally once again. Gale, Shinji, Gigas and the others' faces all said the same thing - disgust and loathing.
"Not so fast, Kazir!" A melifluous and aged voice cried. Every face in the plaza looked up to the sky, as the entire village and beyond was eclipsed in the shadow of the great wind Wyrm, Guretosutomu. This time, he spoke aloud for all to hear, despite him being high, high in the sky above them (he was about fifty kilometres in length, after all).
"Oh, good! The traitor is here! This is quite the party!" Kazir giggled with feigned excitement.
"Traitor?" Guretosutomu repeated, confused, his voice ever calm and patient, even when talking to a person like Kazir.
"Yes, traitor. You want to protect the filth rather than restore the glory of your race. I'd call that treacherous, wouldn't you?"
"Hm, yes I suppose I would, if by 'restoring the glory of your race' you didn't mean 'torture and kill and entire races with a ruthless passion'," he retorted, still calm.
"Senile old fool. If you're not with us, you're against us. You can bleed and die with the filth, and like the filth." Kazir hissed, his sarcastic demeanour totally replaced with a cold, icy and totally psycopathic one.
"You will not recover this world, Kazir. It no longer belongs to us. That is the way of things. It always has been."
"Not anymore. This world is ours! It always has been! The humans stepped on our corpses and took it away from us, desecrating it with thier filthy footsteps!" Kazir growled, his eyes glowing with a murderous rage.
"Then you will be defeated."
"No. Trust me. The filth should be afraid. They can hide in thier hovels for now, but when Chikyuu has fallen and Hikari is rubble and dust, there will be nowhere left to hide... from the Children of the Ice." Kazir spat hatefully. "But for now, we'll start small and conquer this place." he said, his eyes losing their evil glow and the sarcastic side of his personality returning. With that, the Ukanlos soldiers (or 'Children of the Ice') dispersed, attacking the villagers and setting monuments and statues alight. After a few mere seconds, the Three Horns was ablaze.
"This is the moment Nina told us about, Mizu. We have to go now!" she yelled over the noise of the massacre.
Altair, Skylar and Gigas stepped forward. "No way! we have to stay here and protect out home!" Gigas exclaimed. Guretosutomu backed Gale up.
"Gale is absolutely right. There is little you can do. Nina has told Gale and Mizu that you seven must go to Chikyuu, the Stone Metropolis. There, you must find a young boy, a Descendant of the Stone Wyrm. You must go now, there is no time to waste! Kazir has already left for the city! If he gets to the boy before you..."
"Guretosutomu is right." another voice, female, smooth and kind, spoke. The group turned around to see Sensei Makoto running up to join them.
"There, you have the earth Descendant now. Off with you! To Chikyuu! I will hold these fiends off for as long as I can!" the great Wyrm bellowed, already firing concentrated bursts of green flame at the soldiers. Gale nodded to him.
"Chikyuu is just beyond Janguru Forest. If we hurry, we can make it there by nightfall." Altair yelled.
The eight-strong party rushed away into the woods, ignoring the sick slaughter behind them and focusing on the many, many fights to come.
VI: The Night of the Wolf
Janguru Forest at night wasn't the most comfortable of places to be - Vespoids attacking constantly, Great Thunderbugs had a tendency of "bumping into you", and there was the potential of being charged by a Bullfango at every twist and turn. Not pleasant at all. That, and the bloodcurdling howls of the ever-present monsters didn't exactly take the edge off of things. The group walked quietly thorugh the thick undergrowth, careful not to tread heavily when they heard monsters nearby.
"This place is startin' to piss me off reeeeal fast..." Gigas grumbled, kicking the ground with his boot.
Sensei Makoto felt a tad out of place around the others - everyone except Altair and Skylar, along with herself, was dressed in hunter armour - Gigas with his Lavasioth armour, Shinji's Agnaktor armour, Jinsoku's Narga armour, Gale's Kirin X armour and Mizu's Barioth armour. Even Altair and Skylar had their own kind of hunter armour. She had no idea how to fight like they did. If a time came where she was unable to use her Descendant abilities, she would be as good as dead. While brooding over this thought, Skylar patted her arm to get her attention.
"What's on your mind, Makoto?" Skylar yelped cheerfully.
"Oh, it's nothing. I was just thinking how useless I would be if we encountered a monster or something and had to go into proper combat. After all, I'm a teacher, not a hunter. I might be a Descendant, but I still don't have any physical combat experience."
"Well, I've got a lot of that, but no powers. I can back you up, Makoto! Don't you worry," Skylar beamed, ever-cheery. Makoto smiled, moving a lock of her purple hair out of her face.
Jinsoku, Gale and Mizu strode along in the middle of the group, Makoto and Skylar walking behind, and Altair, Gigas, and Shinji out in front, discussing one thing or another (it was too far away to make out any words). All they could tell it that it was business, not leisure. Mizu and Gale were looking at Jinsoku, who was walking in between them. He was looking at Shinji. He often stared at her, never in a creepy way, but in a friendly way. But this time, it was different. His eyes looked brighter. His black hair had always made them stand out, but this was a different glow, one that Gale and Mizu had never seen before - admiration. Mizu nudged him out of his concentration.
"Whatcha starin' at, Jin? Hmmm?" Mizu cooed, raising an eyebrow. Gale took a chance to speak also.
"Jinsoku... do you 'like' Shinji?" Gale asked, trying not to giggle. Jinsoku turned around to look at her. She almost stopped and took a step back, she was so surprised. Jinsoku was always the mischievous, childish one, but... she had never seen such a mature look in his eyes.
"Yeah," he said flatly.
"Let me rephrase that: Do you... love... her?" Gale muttered, still kind of surprised. Jinsoku turned around to look at Shinji again. She had taken her helmet off now, and he could see her face. He like everything about her: her tomboyish tendencies, her fearless personality, her emerald eyes, her long wavy blonde hair... everything about Shinji set Jinsoku's heart aflutter. He had felt a lot of feelings in all the nineteen years of his life, but never anything like this. He turned his head to the left to look at Mizu.
"Is... is this what it feels like... when you look at her?" he said, the tone in his voice almost awe-filled. Mizu nodded. He turned to look at Shinji again.
"Then... no. I won't say it to you. I'll wait till it's just the two of us... I want to say it to her in person." he decided, smiling to himself.
"Okay, seriously, when are we gonna get to end of this fu-" Shinji began to huff, before being silenced by a sinister howl that pierced the dusk. The entire group nucleated, drawing their myriad weapons as the infamous Black Beast, the Yamiokami, swooped down from the treetops and made a noisy and messy landing in front of them, frightening off nearby fauna and sending clouds of dust, pollen and small insects flying off in all directions. It looked different to the last time Gale, Shinji, Jinsoku, Mizu and Skylar had seen it last, three weeks ago. It's cat-like green eyes had turned pupilless neon-blue, and it's mane glowed a dim electric blue. Gale noticed it's broken left fang and gouged left eye- scars from when Altair and his raven had assaulted the creature.
"When I broke it's fang, it became like this. It's hasn't calmed down since," Altair yelled as the Elder Dragon began to attack the group, snarling, biting, leaping, and clawing at the eight annoyances before it.
"So, basically, you broke its fang and pissed it off for all eternity? Out-freakin'-standin'," Gigas complained, roaring in gruff definace as he strafed the Yamiokami's left flank with his Agnablaster, the Dragon S ammunition proving very effective against it's thick but very weak hide (and the fact that it was an Elder Dragon). The Yamiokami yelped shrilly as the bullets came fast and hard, piercing its skin and leaving a heavy sting behind. It snarled, canceling its swipe toward Skylar and turning to its left, fed up of Gigas and his Bowgun. It drew its arms back and across each other, the fur lining them (which was frayed, and had bald patches from the run-ins that Gigas, Skylar and Altair had had with it when they were still hunting it in Sukai) glowing the same dim electro-blue as its mane. It took a two steps back on its hind legs.
"X-SCISSOR! SHINJI, WATCH OUT!" Altair boomed hoarsely. But Shinji had no time to escape the radius of the Black Beast's bulky arms. He sent his raven speeding toward it, but the creature howled as the oh-so familiar, eye-gouging bird flew past, just the right pitch and decibel count to knock the feathered pest out of the midnight sky. As its howl (its 'war cry' in a way) faded, its leaned forward, its huge, muscular arms colliding with Shinji's delicate human form, sending her smashing into a nearby tree trunk with a cry of pain and shock.
"Shinji!" Jinsoku gasped, running to her aid. The Yamiokami swiped at the scurrying pest, but in vain. Mizu swung his Wailing Cleaver Shin into its claw, shattering a couple of the nails and sending it reeling, but not before the force of the brutal biff scooped the boy into the air. Gale took this chance to use her powers as a Descendant. As he prepared to create a funnel of wind to break his fall, the wolven burden scraped her directly with its other (uninjured) claw with a guttural growl.
Makoto and Altair sprang to the aid of the star-crossed lovers, Altair creating a gentle wall of wind against the tree that Gale was about to have a rendezvous with, breaking her fall and allowing her to gently drop to her feet. Makoto thrust her hands upon the ground, sending a wave of earth forth from her position, spiking cruelly to attack the Elder Dragon from beneath, drawing flecks of blood and culminating in a crude podium of solid earth, upon which Mizu landed on his feet, although he winced at the recoil.
The Yamiokami didn't even get a chance to interrupt the four Descendants. Still hurt from the earthy shrapnel embedded in its stomach, it's reflexes and reactions slowed, if only a smidgeon. Skylar sheathed her Hidden ones and drew a huge, pitch-black shuriken from her back, just over half the size of the fourteen-year-old (her birthday had come around two weeks prior), crying with the minor strain as she flung the weapon as hard as she could. It made a decent and very direct hit, piercing its shoulder and staying there, drawing a great deal of blood. Now it was truly enraged. It leapt back from the hunters, then stooped on all fours, arms and legs wide, and howled, not at the moon, but at its attackers, beyond berserk, the stench of body juices, drool and a thousand rotting hunter corpses emanating from its gaping, fanged maw of a mouth. With each of the hunters caught in the wave, they each obtained the Pestilence status ailment - Stink, Poison and Fatigue all in one. The hunters had Antidotes and Gourmet Steaks, which they quickly consumed (Gale shared her spares with Makoto, who carried nothing), but none of them had though to pack any Deodorants, as odour-causing monsters like the Congalala lived nowhere near Sukai.
"Goddamit!" Gigas bellowed. As the Yamiokami began it's run-up, that would culminate in a tail swipe large enough in radius to his all eight of them, he fired as many bullets from his Agnablaster as he could. This time, the beast seemed to either be unaffected by the Dragon S (which was unlikely) or too enraged too acknowledge the pain, still charging frantically toward them. It was too late for them to dodge, and they'd never escape all three of its tails. As it closed in, Gigas sighed, and took a risk. He used all his muscle to hoist his bowgun under his right arm, holding the cumbersome weapon with only a single had, to the awe of the others. With his other hand, he gripped the handle of his sheathed Agnaktor Long Sword, the Dancing Hellfire, so tight that his knuckles turned white. His other seven comrades ran a dives as the huge tails cast their condemning shadow over them. Not ceasing fire for even a second, Gigas swung his Long Sword with all his might, ripping it free of its sheath and sending it slamming down onto the monster's tails, the blade igniting with crimson flames as it made contact with the Yamiokami's flesh. Slicing the tips of all three of its tails in a burning flare of heat and power, the combined angony of three severed body parts sent the Yamiokami reeling, slumping into a defeated heap upon the forest floor. However, the flames that had emanted from Gigas' Long Sword moments ago had stayed alight, slowly creeping up the Elder Dragon's fur, setting it ablaze. It screeched and howled in pain and anger, its entire body consumed.
The rest of the hunters, who had closed their eyes waiting for the death-dealing blow that hadn't come, looked up at the spectacle before them. Mizu analysed the flames, and was the first to see it beginning to spread from the now limp corpse of the Yamiokami and to the rest of the forest. He put thrust his hand forward, palm flat. Water rushed forward, washing over the floor and extinguishing the flames.
The fight was over. The Yamiokami, otherwise known as the Black Beast, was dead.
As the group prepared to walk on, slienced by exhaustion, Jinsoku saw something red glint in the corner of his eye. He picked up a huge, blood-red jewel from the monsters stomach, opened up due to its abdominal flesh being totally burnt away. He decided to keep this in his backpack - he had his own ideas for this gem.
"Ah, well. That's a shitload o' burden off my shoulders," Gigas grumbled absentmidedly, stretching like he was tired. "How far away is Chikyuu?"
"Quite far. But have no fear, we will be travelling by air. A old friend of mine has come to our aid."
As the group of eight emerged from the trees to meet the impending dawn, the precipice of a cliff greeted them. Suddenly a huge gust of wind blew in their faces as a large, boxlike metal craft hovered against the cliff edge, suspended in midair. One of the very first airships in existence. A long ramp extended to close the distance between the cliff and the ship. From the open pilot's booth came the middle-aged familiar face of Gale's father.
"Dad!" Gale exclaimed, happy to see him.
"C'mon you lot, climb aboard! I ain't got all day!" he yelled over the noise of the engines. The eight comrades stepped abaord, and the metal aircraft flew off into the distance, headed for Chikyuu.
VII: Airship in Peril
Twilight drew near, and the noise of the airship's engines had died down to a fairly quiet breezy sound, almost covered by the wind from this height. Jinsoku, Gale and Mizu walked down the long, slightly narrow corridor to the captain's cabin, also the pilot's booth. The had all left their armour in their own rooms (except Altair, Skylar and Makoto), they were tired, and everything felt heavy. Gale stopped, almost at the door.
"Aren't you going in?" Mizu asked.
"Yeah, I will. I just... need a moment. Go on you two, I'll be fine," she said, smiling, turning away and beginning to wal again. Mizu ran off the other way to talk to the others, Jinsoku following much slower behind.
"Jin..." Gale beckoned him. Jinsoku pivoted the other way. Gale had stopped at the door to the pilot booth.
"Shinji's on the top deck. If you want to talk to her, you should go now," she said, opening the door and slipping inside. Jinsoku ran off the top deck as fast as possible, fire in his eyes and a smile on his face.
Shinji stood on the top deck, letting the breeze tug at her wavy, blonde hair. She had kept her backpack, but all of her armour and weapons had been left in her room. She always liked the wind. Whenever she felt tired or sad, she would find somewhere where the wind blew, stand there and close her eyes. She heard the hollow sound of footsteps on metal. She turned around - it was just Jinsoku.
"Hey," Shinji called.
"Hey," he said back.
"What brings you up here? I thought you were afraid of heights," she chuckled. Jinsoku thought to himself for a few moments. Every memory of the time he had spent with Shinji since they had met sixteen years ago flashed before his eyes.
"I just wanted to say... that the only reason that we never wanted to take this further... is because we were too scared to try."
Jinsoku locked hands with the young woman slowly, brushing his fingers over hers. She looked into his eyes, like she knew what was going on but didn't quite understand it. But then, she realized, this wasn't something that could be understood.
"...I love you, Shinji."
Almost as soon as Jinsoku had gotten the words out of his mouth, she moved closer to him, their foreheads almost touching. She smiled, waited a second, then closed the distance between her lips and his.
Almost as soon as Gale closed the door behind her, she ran to her father and gave him a big hug, almost crying as memories of her late mother resurfaced.
"I missed you," she sniffed.
"I missed you to, honey," he comforted her. He let go and went back to steering the ship, the sun beginning to surface.
"So, fill me in."
Shinji and Jinsoku had gone back to his room after they kissed. They were kissing now, and Jinsoku had somehow lost his shirt in the process. He didn't remember when, and after about half a second he didn't really care. They had both subconsciously made a silent agreement that it would go any further than this yet. Most in their village might see this as strange, but it wasn't to them. As far as they were concerned, there were too types of relationships; one was where couples move to sex very quickly ("Like Gale and Mizu..." Shinji thought), and the other was the one Shinji and Jinsoku fell into, where they take things slowly. But that didn't mean they couldn't enjoy the now. Shinji pulled her lips away for a few seconds (she was lying on top of him now).
"What took you, so long? Surely you know that you were - and still are - one of the hottest boys in Hyoku. How come you didn't...?" she trailed off, laying her right hand on Jinsoku's chest and hooking her left between the back of his head and the pillow behind it. She had never really thought about touching him, or holding him (not like this at least), but she knew in her heart that she had never been happier than she was now. It was as if nothing existed outside this. She had never been an extrovert, unless she was confident or angry, but all she could do in these moments was smile."Because I was afraid that, if it didn't work, we couldn't just go back to being friends. Besides, I didn't see you have to guts to come up to me and tell me that you loved me!" Jinsoku retorted, sarcastically saying this as if he'd taken offense. Shinji moved her hand from his chest to his face. His face went lax, all his emotion flowing into his eyes, setting them ablaze once again.
"Well how's this for an 'I love you'?" she whispered rhetorically, pressing her lips against his passionately. He moaned softly, and she followed soon after, both overwhelmed by emotion.
"And that's how we got to now," Gale finished. Gale's father stiffened with anger.
"So, some bastard called Kazir wants to bring back that Yaketsuku-whats-his-face from three years ago?" he grumbled.
"More or less. He keeps calling him 'Father'. Kazir...what is he?" Gale muttered, confused and frightened by him.
"I dunno 'bout you, but I sure as hell don't wanna find out," said a gruff smoker's voice. Gigas had slipped in through the door, a large cigarette protruding from the corner of his mouth. Normally, such a feeble and tepid fire would be extinguished by the air resistance as the airship cut through the air, but Gigas had lit it with his Descendant powers, and the flames of a fire Descendant had the potential to stay alight, unless extinguished by a water Descendant (hence, why Mizu could put out the fires that had killed the Yamiokami). "I've seen enough of that asshole for a lifetime."
"As have I," Altair added, also slipping through the door that Gigas had left ajar, his raven perched, as usual, on his arm.
"I don't want to talk about Kazir," Gale croaked. The others could see-she was truly frightened.
"Hey, guys - and girl," Mizu sighed as he slipped in through the door - it was quickly becoming crowded up in the pilot booth.
"Where are Shinji and Jinsoku?"
"In their room, snogging each other's faces off," Mizu joked. Gale smiled, tugging the collar of his shirt as she walked toward the door. "Speaking of which, how about we go and do the same, sexy?" she purred - she still hadn't dropped that ever since she punched that girl in the bar.
"Well, you're the boss." Mizu purred with equal verve, leaving the door ajar behind him.
Gale had already pulled Mizu's shirt off before they even reached the door to their room. She sighed as she climbed onto him. "Hey, when did we decide that you were on top?" Mizu asked, chortling - he was usually the instigator of the bouts of "social bonding".
"Because this time it was my idea. Besides, you were on top last time." she huffed sarcastically.
"And we only had sex three weeks ago! I know I asked you three weeks ago, but when did you get so horny?"
"I got horny because Shinji and Jinsoku are unavailable 'cause they're -quote- 'snogging each other's faces off', anyone else we know is talking about Monsters and psychopaths, and -the most important reason -" she paused to kiss him. "You're so damn hot," she whispered. "Oh, yeah, and I'm not pregnant from last time, by the way," she said casually.
"What have I done to you, Gale Kaze?" Mizu giggled, awestruck with her recent sex drive. She put her finger to his lips to silence him.
"Just shut up and enjoy it, kid," she snapped with fake condescension.
Makoto and Skylar, in the lower deck, sat at a small wooden table, eating some noodle-like food that looked, smelled and tasted a lot like ramen.
"Wow, thanks for buying my food for me, Miss Makoto! You sure are nice!" Skylar boomed with joy.
"You're welcome, Skylar. That's very polite of you," she beamed. She almost always sounded like she was talking to a kid when she spoke to Skylar. But she was always happy, so Skylar didn't really mind. They smiled at each other and continued eating.
"What do you think the others are doing?" Shinji croaked, strectching her tired arms as she rested her head on Jinsoku's chest.
"Well..." Jinsoku began, resting his left hand behind his head as he ran his fingers gently through her hair.
"I'd say that Altair, Gigas and, obviously, Gale's dad are in the - again, obviously - cockpit, Makoto and Skylar are down in the lower deck, eating, and Gale and Mizu are probably 'doing' each other," he snapped haughtily, as if it was common knowledge.
"It'd be funny if you were right," Shinji mused, pursing her lips thinking about it.
"We'll never know about Gigas and the others, but Gale and Mizu are definitely having sex," Jinsoku added flatly. Shinji paused, taken aback.
"Why 'definitely'?" she asked.
"I can hear them from here," Jinsoku sighed. She paused to listen.
Shinji laughed, hitting Jinsoku's abdomen feebly. "You're so creepy!" she giggled, sort of disgusted.
"What? My head's right next to the ajoining wall! I should've chosen a room further down..." he huffed, amused, creeped out, and feeling a regret at the same time. Shinji paused again.
"You get any bright ideas and I'll punch you in the crotch," Shinji snapped, half smiling.
"Hey, I didn't say anything!" Jinsoku said, blamelessly.
"No, your crotch did," she retorted crudely, sarcasm curling the right side of her lips.
Gale rolled off of her boyfriend, panting like mad, exhausted. A long pause followed as the couple stared at the ceiling.
"...Wow..." Mizu rasped in awe, still catching his breath. "...You're so much better than... the first time."
"...I know, ri-... Hey!" she yelped, nudging his head playfully.
"You wanna go again?" he cooed, winking.
"Nah, I'm good for a while."
Mizu discretely reached under the covers.
"Try it and I'm getting a chastity belt," she snapped.
Suddenly, an loud alarm blared with urgency, making them jump. Gale and Mizu sighed, reaching down from the bed for their clothes.
"Why do things always wait until we have no clothes on to go awry? This like the Stygian Zinogre attack all over again," Gale groaned.
The eight hunters assembled on the top deck, fully armoured and armed, save Makoto. A loud and boodcurdling roar pierced the ears of the hunters making them wince through their earplugs (which even Makoto carried). A gargantuan, blood-red wyvern, with patches of black scattered over its body like faded bruises, hovered in front of the rectangular airship. It had a pair of long, tassel-like bits of slender silver hair on either side of its head behind its pointed, webbed ears, and it had sharp and stubby, faded white spikes runnng along its arms, spine, tail, neck and wings, which were webbed, and had a wingpsan of approximately fifty metres. It's fiery orange eyes unnerved the eight strong band. Gale's father's voice boomed, fuzzy over the horn he used as an intercom.
"THAT'S AN AKUMAGOKA! YOU DON'T STAND A CHANCE AGAINST THAT THING! GET OUTTA THERE!"
But his warning came too late. The Akumagoka, otherwise known as the Hellfire Wyvern, let loose a huge ball of searing fire upon the airship, with no way to escape it.
VIII: Rage of the Hellfire WyvernThe hunters braced for the huge fireball to consume them, but it never made contact. They each opened their eyes to be faced with a huge wall of water before them, extinguishing the flames with a sharp hissing sound, like the sound a sword make in a forge when you dunk it in a bucket of water. Mizu had saved them. But the Akumagoka wasn't finished yet. It took a huge breath, craning its neck back before unleashing a vigorous and relentless stream of crimson flames upon the aquatic blockade that separated it from its prey. Mizu began to feel the heat of its flames as the water began to turn to steam, truly understanding why it was known as the Hellfire Wyvern.
"C'mon, attack it already! I can't hold this much longer!" he yelled, grunting as the heat began to get to him. Makoto acted as quickly as she could, drawing on her powers to assault the monster. But, to her surprise and disdain, nothing happened. "What? My powers aren't working!" she yelped.
"You have power over the earth, Makoto, not the air! We're probably to high up for you to use your powers!" Gale suggested.
"Have you forgotten, Gale? You and I are wind Descendants, and I also have acess the the dark Wyrm's power!" Altair yelled over the roaring flames.
"Oh, yeah! Wait, you can use darkness!? Since when!?" Gale shouted.
"I never told you, I have the powers of both Guretosutomu and Shinkaiyami in me! But I'm too afraid to use Shikaiyami's gifts. I fear the outcome of using the might of the most powerful of the Wyrms..." he replied.
"Just try using them, even if it's just this once!"
"...Fine!" Altair boomed back. He let his raven fly again. But this time, tendrils of shadow began to emanate from its wings. Altiar leapt into the air, plucking a feather from its wing. As he landed on the ground, the feather turned to pure shadow, flowing into his body. When he looked up, his eyes had turned a vicious ruby-red. He aimed his hand at the Akumagoka. A ball of pure shadow formed and flew toward the Wyvern, hitting it directly on its neck, interrupting its stream of fire.
Mizu, now free to manipulate the water he had summoned, sent it forth, splashing vehemently over the Akumagoka in torrents, causing it pain. It let out an ear-splitting roar fury and pain, its eyes flaring a demonic white.
"Well, at least we know that water can piss it off!" Gigas growled. "All my weapons and abilities are fire-based!" he yelled at the others. "I'm no use up here! I'm gonna go down the the cockpit to talk to Gale's dad, see if he can come up with any bright ideas!" And with that he scurried off below.
Almost as soon as Gigas had fled the scene, the seven remaining combatants refocused on the marauding Akumagoka, who still hovered around the airship attacking the hunters with bursts of fire, which Gale, Altair (who had rid himself of the dark power from before) and Mizu narrowly blocked each time. Mizu struck the Akumagoka with another torrent of water, but this time it turned to steam before it made contact, a swirling aura of flame encompassing the beast's entire body.
"Oh, great! A fire aura!" Skylar spat bluntly, lobbing her huge shuriken at the monster continuously. "This thing's like a Teostra on Mega Juice!" She threw the huge blade once more, this time it slammed into the Akumagoka's right wing, ripping its wing webbing, making it screech, outraged. Altair piled on, drawing the much smaller (but still as deadly) shurikens he kept in reserve, chucking them with pinpoint acurracy and vicious speed. They embedded themselves in the monsters neck, chest and arm, respectively, painful despite their generally menial size. Really truly angry now, it plunged its claws into the metalwork of the airship, literally climbing aboard the top deck, standing on its back legs, almost humanoid in stature.
"Holy crap!" Shinji shouted, firing her bow in her singature style, so fast that one can barely see her take the arrows from the quiver. Jinsoku took careful aim on the Akumagoka's right flank, carefully aming the poison tipped arrow at its angry, pupilless white eye (as was his style). He let it loose before he planned to when he saw it slam it's colossal tail in Shinji's direction, interrupting the attack with an arrow in the eye. The creature roared with pain, the burning poision infiltrating it's blood stream. It clutched madly at its right eyes, desperate to pull out the poisonous pinprick embedded in it. It managed to force it out, but it didn't exactly grab it accurately. When the arrow came out, they hunters could see that the Akumagoka's eyes had turned a deep purple. Sure, such a small poison would never be enough to fell the behemoth, but it would help.
Mizu began to charge at the Wyvern while it was distracted, letting the Waling Cleaver Shin drag along the ground, creating a mass of sparks.
"I'm gonna jump! Gale, gimme a leg up!" He bellowed. Gale acted quickly, summoning a pillar of wind beneath Mizu as he leapt into the air, giving him the best possible "leg up" one could ask for. He raised the Long Sword high into the air. The Akumagoka recovered enough to acknowledge the tiny person in front of it, but all too late. The Wailing Cleaver Shin sliced into the left side of creature's face, electrocutuing it briefly and dealing a huge gash just in front of its eye. It howled and roared in pain, putting its claws on its face as if it had been splashed in the face by acid, stubling a couple of steps backwards. But it was far from over.
"Hey! Please tell me somethin', they're gonna get creamed up there!" Gigas yelled over the noise at Gale's father in the cockpit.
"I can try and take this bird lower, maybe try and shake the thing off, but the others'd have to get off the top, or they'd falling off with it!"
"Well you do that and I'll get them below!" he shouted back, running back to the top deck.
As the Akumagoka pulled its claws away from it face, revealing the scarred, very angry and unhappy face beneath, Gigas's voice beckoned them.
"C'mon, ya hafta get below, now!"
"Just do it, Goddammit!"
Without another word, Gale and her friends fled the Hellfire Wyvern and ran from the top deck and into the cockpit. Gale's father pointed to a long tube that ran all the way up through the ceiling of the cockpit.
"Gale, keep an eye on the Akumagoka through that periscope! I'm gonna shake it off!" he yelled. Gigas gestured to the others.
"All o' ya grab on to somethin', things are gonna get rough for a while, and it's a bumpy ride!" he growled, clucthing onto the ralings as he did so. The others all had to grab onto the same thing, a pipe that carried fuel, as there wasn't really anything else to grab onto.
"Jin, as much as I like that, my ass doesn't count," Shinji chuckled.
"Alright, hold on now...!" Gale's father groaned, steering the ship as hard as he could, tilting it over to the left to make the creature slip off. They could feel rumbling and hear growling and snarling.
"It's still there! It's got it's claw dug into the metalwork!" Gale shouted, watching the Akumagoka from the periscope.
Gale's father listed the ship sharply left.
"It's not working!"
"Alright, then I guess I got no choice..." Gigas sighed. he pulled out his Dancing Hellfire and handed it to Jinsoku.
"You're the accurate one, ain'cha? Shoot the critter with this!" he boomed.
"I can fit it into the bow, just about, but don't you wanna keep it?" Jinsoku yelled.
"It don't matter to me, son, I got enough Agnaktor stuff in my backpack to make shitloads more o' them Swords!" he bellowed. "Now GO!"
Jinsoku let go, watching his step on the now-slanted aircraft. Shinji reached out to him, patting his shoulder. "Good luck," she said, abnormal affection in her voice. He slipped out and headed for the top deck.
He stopped at the top of the stairs, careful not to let the Akumagoka see him. He carefully loaded the Long Sword into the Narga bow, aiming at the monster's head. Ever-so-carefully aiming the bow, he got down on one knee, keeping his balance incredibly well. He had to. He waited until he was holding the bow absolutely still before letting the Long Sword loose, sending it cutting through the air at breakneck speed.
The Akumagoka, the Hellfire Wyvern, barely had time to acknowledge the impending attack before its brain was fatally damaged, relieving the monster of its life entirely. It's grip loosened at its lifeless body plummeted toward the ground far, far below.
Soon after, the ship straightened out and the others came to join Jinsoku on the top deck. The makeshift intercom boomed, Gale's father's voice shouting out to them again.
"THIS IS YOUR STOP, FOLKS! WELCOME TO CHIKYUU!"
The Gale, Shinji, Altair, Mizu, Makoto, Skylar, Gigas and Jinsoku all peeked over the edge of the ship, to see a huge, sprawling metropolis of stony spires, wood and metal upon the brown, dry ground, all of which made up the Stone Metropolis of Chikyuu city.
IX: Chikyuu Will Burn
The airship hovered in the air above the skyline of Chikyuu, low enough to be able to see buildings and people. The southeast area of the city had been engulfed in blue flames. There was a huge angry mob crowded around Chikyuu tower (the very last structure of the first of Chikyuu's buildings, left standing as a monument to the founder of the city). Ukanlos soldiers stood in a circle around the edge of the tower, holding the crowd back. Kazir stood at the pinnacle of the structure.
Gale took out a pair of binoculars from her backpack, trying to get a better look at the scene below. She quickly reeled away in disgust and threw up violently, falling to her knees. The others huddled together around her.
"Gale? Gale!" mizu said, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. "What is it?"
"Look... just look..." Gale whimpered, crying now, pointing meekly to the binoculars. Skylar hesitantly picked them up, daring to look through them. She, too, came away crying, throwing herself into Makoto's arms as she did so.
Five children, aged from ten to sixteen, had been hanged at the towers base outside.Thier left arms had glyphs from the Old Language scribbled on them in their own blood.
彼。ウィル。を返します。一度。もっと。(He. Will. Return. Once. More.)
"Killin' people's one thing... but murderin' children... defacin' thier bodies..." Gigas clenched his fist. "That bastard, I'll kill him, even if it's the last thing I do!" he grunted, sickened.
Altair pointed to a nearby building. "Set us down over there," he said monotonely.
"You're the boss," Gale's father said, steering the airship away from Kazir's atrocity.
The airship set down a few centimetres off of the roof of the building, allowing the eightsome to disembark. After Gale's father said goodbye to his daughter and her friends, he called Mizu back.
"You called for me?" Mizu asked.
"Uh-huh. You love my daughter?"
"...With my whole soul."
"Good. Then you gotta protect her. If That psycho lays so much as a finger on her, it's on you. Understand?"
"I'd die first," Mizu answered soberly.
"...Then good luck, kid."
"Get down here, you psychopath!"
"We've gotta bone to pick with you!"
"What the hells wrong with you!? Sickos!"
The cries of the outraged and frightened citizens of Chikyuu blended into one another in an orgy of irate noise, the people baying for Kazir's blood. Kazir ignored their yelling, staring down at them with nothing but hate and glee in his milky-white eyes. Then his eyes came alive as one voice shouted louder than the rest.
"YOU TWISTED BASTARD!"
Gale and her group parted the crowd, forcing them gently aside with their powers to get through. Gigas lobbed a searing ball of fire at Kazir, who dived calmly off the edge of the tower to avoid it. He landed on his feet beside the hanged kids on his feet like a cat, as if the two kilometre drop was like two centimetres, making the cloud scream briefly in alarm. He was smiling now."Nice to see you to, pet," he smirked sarcastically. "Enjoying the show?"
"Not up for talking then. I see. Well, I do have to talk, and you gotta listen. So there's the impass..."
"Get to the gaddamn point! Stop procrastinatin' an' tell us what ya want!" Gigas growled.
"Alright, alright, geez! You lot need to tame your damn dog, he barks to much..." Kazir raised his had toward the hunters. It began to glow an otherworldy blue.
"Maybe I should put him down!" he said smugly.
"ENOUGH!" Altair shouted, frustration creasing his face. "If you're going to lord yourself over us, do it now so we can get to the master plan part already!"
"Ooh, somebody wants the main course before the entrée! Marvelous! Alright, if you insist..." Kazir cooed.
"Start talking, you son of a bitch, or I'll tear your throat out!" Skylar shouted. Kazir put his hand on his heart superfluously in fake shock.
"My, my! So vindictive! That's rather uncouth from someone so young! Didn't your parents teach you about manners?" he cooed. "Anyway, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted, these filthy humans here," he gesture to the dead kids, "Had something I needed: blood. For Father's revival." he siad, grinning madly as he raised his arms wide. Six spheres, about the size of small rocks, of different colours- blue, green, red, black, orange and purple appeared around him, orbitiing him like planets, twilrling faster, and faster, and faster, until they coalesced into one larger shere of pure white, almost like a ball of ice.Now the others understood.
"Father, rise again! This world...belongs...to us!" Kazir yelled shrilly. The huge icy ball then shot up into the sky in less that a bat of an eyelid. A dark cloud apperaed in the sky above him, a smaller dark cloud appearing from within. Thunder rumbled and lightning struck. The Chikyuu citizens began to disprse, screaming and running in fear, as the dark cloud dissipated, revealing tendrils of white ice, weaving together to form the shape of a huge white Wyrm, with white skin, bright white eyes, and a huge ruby upon its breast.
Yaketsukuyona, the White Star, had returned.
X: Wrath of the Ice WyrmGale and her comrades stood in awe as the threat of three years ago became the threat of today. Yaketsukuyona, the White Star, swooped down over the city, yowling and breathing bight blue flames; a cold that burned, a heat that froze. A sin to the world.
"Heed me, filthy humans! This world owes me a debt! Thousands of years ago, you took this world from us! You took our lives, then our world, and then our very language, which you dub the 'Old Language'! And worst of all, you dared to merge our precious genes into your filthy blood, generating countless series of hybrid filth!" He bellowed, glaring at Mizu and Gale for the last sentence.
"And you, Gale Kaze, will suffer!"
"Oh? And how are you gonna do that?" Gale shouted back over the calamity, her outward courage belying her inner fear. It wasn't really the ice Wyrm she feared - it was his terrifyingly psychopathic thespian of a son (if he really was his son).
"How else? I will break you soul!" the Wyrm sneered, watching as Kazir piledrived into the group of eight, dragging Mizu with him and disappearing through an invisible cut in existence.
"Mizu!" Makoto shouted at the air.
"Where did they go!? Answer me!" Gale roared, stressed now. The insidious creature chuckled throatily.
"To a dark place where his screams will never be heard," the Wyrm chuckled, beating its missive wings as it hovered right in Gale's face, literally eye-to-eye (if that's possible with a head countless times the size of a human's).
"Why would he scream?" Gale whispered, afraid of what the White Star (who chuckled once again) might say.
"Because... when Kazir wants to know something, hmhmhm, well... he won't even stop if you beg him," he hinted cruelly. Gale fell to her knees, realizing what her brief inaction (which she couldn't possibly have avoided) had cost. To make it all worse, she heard a voice, talking as if Gale could see what was happening as well as she (apparently) could.
"No...NO! Gale! Enter the Hidden Realm! You have to save my boy!" she said, crying now. "Please, don't let him hurt my son..."
"Wait...Emily Nagare?" Gale thought, but then she heard other, far more familiar voices join the conversation.
"Emily, she can't hear you. Follow Kazir. It's too late to stop him now. Even if Mizu can't see you, you have to be there for him, as a mother. I know Mizu better than he knows himself, from all my old visions. He won't give Kazir a smidgeon of information... but he doesn't exactly have a high pain threshold." Nina's eloquent and well-spoken posh voice echoed in her head. She couldn't see, but she could tell that Emily had left.
"Yet another victim of Kazir's... interrogations..."
"Well, I don't want to listen to one of my best - and only - friends screaming for God-knows-how-long." Another familiar voice - the Lightning Bolt, Rakurai Kaminari. She would have smiled if it weren't for the timing.
As Nina and Rakurai began talking about something that seemed important, the conversation grew fuzzy, and she felt herself lose consciousness.
Altair scooped her up in his arms before she hit the ground. The others had crowded around her when she had fallen to her knees.
"What's wrong with her?" Jinsoku gasped, concerned for his friend.
"I recognize this. This is the side effect of observing a conversation from outside the Hidden Realm." Altair grunted seriously.
"Then I suggest you make haste, sir."
The others jumped as a Blond haired young girl with green eyes and a white dress appeared before them, a ripple in the space behind her.
"Nina! But... you died at Hikari! How -" Jinsoku began.
"Yes, I am quite aware of that without you reminding me. All souls with unfinished business end up in the Hidden Realm. Speaking of which, all of you must eneter the Hidden Realm through this door." she said bluntly, poiting to the colourless gash behind her. The group hesitated, but slowly followed, gazing back at the devastated Chikyuu.
"Wait! What about the stone Descendant?" Makoto yelped at the last minute.
"He is dead. Kazir had already found him. Now go," she murmured, following Makoto and the others into the HIdden Realm. She gazed back to see the White Star perched upon Chikyuu tower, roaring at the blazing city he had conquered.
"Foolish girl of the light! Your efforts were for naught! This land is mine now!" he roared haughtily.
"It is rather unwise to assume that you are so utterly in control. You will be toppled from your throne... one day..." she said, speking as if the abhorrent Wyrm had already won.
"Nina is quite right, brother! You are not in control until I am dead!" the voice of Guretosutomu came as he descended from the clouds.
"You dare challenge me!?" the White Star schreeched.
And with two mighty roars and a clash of Wyrm flesh, a battle between the Dragon of the Roaring Winds and the White Star began.
XI: Yaketsukuyona vs Guretosutomu
"Accept it! This world no longer belongs to the humans!"
"It belongs to the humans when I, Gale, and the others are dead!""Well, then I don't have long to wait!"
The two colossal beasts clashed, tumbling into a nearby building, collapsing it with people still inside. The huge wind Wym wasn't made for standing, so he had to take this up as soon as possible. He pushed the White Star off of him and soared upward.
"You wish to take this to the skies!? So be it..." the ice Wyrm growled, beating his massive wings and following the huge creature upward.
The White Star and the wind Wyrm circled one another, breathing blue and green flames (respectively), giving each other scorch marks but no real wounds. The ice Wyrm took his chance to strike, grabbing Guretosutomu's massive tail, throwing him onto the surface of Chikyuu, his gargantuan body crushing the fleeing citizens. Amazingly, Chikyuu tower was still standing while the city burned blue.
"Stop! This is ridiculoous! There is no way to fight in such a cramped place!" Guretosutomu roared. "Unless..."
He is huge body began to evanesce, his body fading until a human shape remained, with short grey hair and green robes, and a long, shiny katana.
"You wish to fight in human form? Fine," the ice Wyrm muttered. In a bright azure flash, his huge form had become that of a human, with the same bleach-blonde hair, white eyes, black and white robes and a crimson sword.
The two combatants locked swords in a flurry of sparks, both equally matched in speed, strength and swordsmanship. Again it was a stalemate, the two enemies dealing each other several scars and sratches, but nothing that could define anyone as the victor.
The ice Wyrm ran at him for what felt like the thousandth time. Guretosutomu sidestepped, slashing his katana across the creature's leg, creating a huge cut, sending him toppling over. Watching the wounded Wyrm stagger as he got up. He felt something on his arm. He lifted his elbow up to find a huge cut there. Seeing this constant tit-for-tat display, he could tell that this was going to take some time. But, then again, he also knew that he had to lose. But for now, he had to buy some time for the people of Chikyuu to escape.
"Give up, brother. If you are struggling with me, how can you possibly hope to conquer an entire race?"
"...Traitor. You help the scum that... took everything... away from us..."
"They had every right to take it away from us. It was a good thing they did, too, or we would have destroyed ourselves. Shinkaiyami had already waged a massive war with the other Wyrms. His power of Darkness would have destroyed everything. It is far better to have a world ruled by 'scum'... than no world at all."
"Everything Shikaiyami had planned to do was for the good of us all! If you and Honofurea hadn't assassinated him, he would still be here. He would save this world from the humans. But with only you and I remaining, the task falls to me. And since you will not help me in this endeavour..."
The wind Wyrm's eyes widened as the bloodied blade of an uchigatana emerged from his ribcage. Kazir's uchigatana.
"Then you have to die!" he hissed, excitement lighting his eyes with a murderous glare. His smile faded as Guretosutomu began to laugh, coughing up blood in the process.
"What's so funny? You're dying!" Kazir growled, like a child who had been sent to his room.
"What's funny... is that you did exactly what I wanted..." he sighed, his lifeless corpse slipping free of the blade, toppling over the side of the damaged building, and consumed by the icy-blue flames below. Kazir approached his "father".
"Father... what did he mean?" Kazir muttered. The ice Wyrm stayed silent, healing his wounds.
"Has the boy talked?"
"...No. Well, he swore at me, but, uh... no."
"Can I? Can I, Father? Pleeeeease?" Kazir pestered, a childish-yet-murderous gleam on his eyes.
"Yes!" Kazir hissed, like a child who just got a new toy (in a way, he just did).
"But don't kill him, like the last one. Break his resolve. When his desperate cries ring with despair, then, Gale Kaze will break. Then, you can strike. But don't forget what it is you're looking for."
"The Yamiokami Gem?"
"Yes...Shikaiyami's Heart....with that, we can accomplish great things."
"Does the boy know where it is?"
"No. But at least one of his friends does. He shares a connection with her. Make him tell you where they are."
"Just me? Aren't you coming father?"
"Of course not! I must stay here to build our empire! It is up to you to deal with them in the Hidden Realm."
"As you wish, Father."
And with that, Kazir disappeared into the Hidden Realm, leaving his father to conquer with an army of Descendants, and nobody to stand in his way.
XII: The Hidden Realm
A bleak and dimly lit world. The sky was almost pitch-black. Charred, rough and bumpy rock made up the ground, but there were many areas where the ground had split or indeed there was no ground, only molten magma that bubbled and hissed steam on occasions. Some small pieces of rock even levitated in midair of their own accord above the magma, leading to other locations. A ruined castle with a colossal spire awaited in the distance.
The group noticed their armour (not their weapons) had disappeared.
"Where'd our armour go?" Shiji asked."That must be where Mizu and Kazir are," Makoto sighed fearfully.
"What is he doing to him?" Gale whimpered.
"I'd rather not know," Altair grunted tonelessly. "What's more important is that we know why it is we came here," he said, glaring at Nina as he did so.
"You know why you are here. To rescue Mizu from Kazir," Nina said bluntly.
"I have the powers of Shinkaiyami within me. You cannot lie to me, child."
"If I am unable to conceal the truth from you, then surely you must know the answer to your own question."
"Speak plainly, witch!" Skylar chipped in. Nina flared into life, outstretching her palm toward the fourteen-year-old, her green irises glowing an alien white. Small sparks began to ripple around Skylar's body, electrocuting her. She cried out as the dainty former seeress approached her, her voice echoing through the air, a small breeze flowing through the area.
"I have been called many things in my lifetime - scum, filth, inbred, hybrid, heathen, bitch - but NEVER, EVER, CALL ME A WITCH!" she shrieked.
"If you're going to have a shit-fit, try not to take it out on little kids."
"Do not speak to me in such a way, Rakurai!" Nina glared at him, as did the others. As he passed by the others, he gave acknowledgeing nods to his old friends, still wearing his Espinas armour and Great Sword. He stepped toward the young Descendant, laying his hand on her shoulder. She stopped doing whatever it is she was doing. Skylar nearly fell to the floor with a sigh, but Makoto caught her, giving her some kind of healing item to help her feel better.
"You didn't need to do that," Makoto growled.
"If you really wish to follow me up on this, you may chastise me when the world is safe. And in answer to Shinji's question, only the dead can wear armour in this realm, for reasons of which I am unaware. Anyway, the reason I have called you here is because you must save Mizu. Kazir is torturing him in that tower yonder," she began, pointing a dainty and gentle finger toward the castle and the spire in the distance, "and so you must, obviously, rescue him. I am quite confident that Mizu shall tell that thespian scourge nothing at all, but nevertheless, he is after something that Jinsoku picked up after you all defeated the Yamiokami - a ruby red gem, forged in the stomach of the beast, also known as 'Shinkaiyami's Heart'," she added, staring at Jinsoku, along with the others.
"I think I know what you're talking about..." he muttered meekly, pulling out the round, crimson, hexagonal gem from his backpack. "...D'you mean this?" he asked, holding the gem out in his palm, followed by quiet gasps of awe.
"Quite so, Jinsoku," Nina said, almost properly smiling at the young man. "Kazir and Yaketsukuyona lust for this particular item...if they can unlock the supposed 'secrets' within, they can gain control of power of the dark Wyrm, Shinkaiyami, and cross from this region to the rest of the world... and mankind will face extinction. However, if one of you can 'unlock its secrets' before they can obtain it and do so before you, you can use Shinkaiyami's powers to wipe out the White Star, and all who serve him. However, you cannot do this with the gem as it is now. You must 'prime' it by taking it to the very top of the tower, where Kazir is located. That is all I know."
"So, in short, we kick Kazir's ass, rescue Gale's other half, climb the big ol' tower and 'prime' the gem? Sounds simple enough," Gigas snorted.
"Foolish man," Nina scoffed. "Do you really believe it to be so easy to defeat a... person... like Kazir? Cocksure buffoon..."
Gigas fell silent. Rakurai began to speak again.
"If might way in here, we're wasting a shitload of time. I think it'd be nice to get to that tower before Kazir goes batshit crazy and kills the guy," he said blunty, only half-joking.
"He's right. We have to move!" Gale added, already heading across the levitating bits of rock like stepping stones across a river. Gigas, Altair, Skylar, Makoto, Jinsoku, Shinji, Nina and Rakurai following suit shortly after.
Mizu could barely breathe without wincing. Kazir had pretty much beaten him to a pulp. He was sure that at least three of his ribs were broken, and he knew for sure that his left shoulder was dislocated. He had a few tiny cuts dotted around his face. He lay on his back, facing the ceiling, too winded to cry out in pain and too frightened to look at Kazir - at least until Kazir knelt down beside him, smiling almost insanely. He held a small knife in his hand.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I like to make sure that my handwriting..." he pulled back the sleeve of his shirt on his left arm. Mizu barely had time to brace himself before he screwed his eyes shut and let out a scream of fear and raw pain, the knife digging its sharp, pointy tip into his skin, etching around slowly, accurately, as if drawing a symbol. When the knife was pulled out and he could breathe without screaming, he glanced over at his arm, a long and complex symbol had been literally etched onto his skin, drops of crimson blood running from the corners of the glyph, written in the old language.
"..Is nice and neat. That was for not telling me what I want know. Now, we continue the game - I believe you humans call it Hangman. But we're going to alter the rules slightly. Basically, you tell me the answer to the question or questions I ask you. If you get the answer wrong..." he chuckled sickly, darting his eyes toward the bloody symbol drawn on his flesh.
"You get another letter. If it gets to the end... well, normally I'd hang you, as per the general rule, but in this case, I think I'll just cut you some more and watch you bleed to death." he chortled, like this twisted reigime was commonplace for him- and it was. "Now, we can can continue."
Mizu had never been more frightened in his life - more of Kazir himself than the pain he would inflict. But now, matter what Kazir did, he promised himself, and the others, that he wouldn't give the bastard a single bit of information.
"Question number one," Kazir began, stroking the flat of the cruel blade with his finger, still kneeling down gazing at the helpless nineteen-year-old below him, "Where are your friends?" he asked sweetly. His expression turned sour as Mizu spat on his face.
"Fuck you," the injured teenager gasped defiantly. He hurt all over, and he wanted to cry, but he knew that he would only end up worse if Kazir saw him break so early, if at all. He looked on, bracing himself as Kazir growled throatily, wiping the saliva from his face slowly. He clamped his spare hand down on Mizu's bleeding arm, raising the knife a little higher.
"Big mistake," he grunted, lowering the blade, cruel, sick happiness curling the side of his mouth as the helpless boy screamed incoherently, the knife slowly etching more bloody profanity onto his already bleeding flesh.
XIII: Shadows of Fear
The castle courtyard. It was a dusty, dismal place. No signs of life anywhere, just a gentle, ominous breeze, bones and rotted weeds. There was probably some insects lurking around, but Gale didn't want to even think about that.
"This is where the 'fun' begins, I take it?" Gigas huffed, clutching his Agnablaster tightly.
"Quite so, if one can face fear itself," she replied obscurely.
"You can't go one damn sentence without being overly ambiguous, can you?" Shinji snapped.
"It is for your own good. And you should do well to remember it," Nina retorted curtly.
"What awaits within?" Altair asked calmly.
"Your very worst nightmare," Rakurai mused, some kind of excitement forcing his lips into a cocksure smile.
"You seem to be looking forward to it," Gale chuckled (despite the current situation). Rakurai simply smiled and said nothing else, his Espinas armour and Great Sword seeming to make almost no noise as he walked. Noticing this reminded Skylar of a question.
"How come you get to keep your armour, and all ours gets 'disappeared'?" Skylar said, almost like she was jealous.
"Be thankful that's all that's disappeared. Besides, I'm dead, so rules don't affect me," he replied bluntly, half-sarcastically.
"Enough of this frivolous mingling. Let us enter. We have many places to pass before we reach Kazir," Nina interrupted. That sentence made Gale's stoic expression melt into worry and sadness. Shinji put her hand on Gale's shoulder.
"Stop worrying," she said gently, "You'll make yourself ill. He'll be fine." she uttered, knowing deep down inside that he wasn't. As Gale left, Shinji's expression sullened as well. Jinsoku held her hand and kissed her quickly.
"Don't you start as well. Then I'll have to start feeling like shit," he said quietly. Still holding hands, they followed the others past the empty husk of the castle and into the spire.
It was dark inside. Darker than outside, almost impossible to see with no lava to illuminate the surroundings. They had to find a source of light. Makoto knew the perfect one.
"Nina, you're a light Descendant, right? Can't you glow in the dark or something?" Makoto asked pleasantly."I must regret. My powers are limited in a place of such darkness. Any light pertaining to me..." she began, before a sinister and whispery voice interrupted.
"Would soon be snuffed out by the dark..."
"...What it said." Nina murmured.
"Who's there?" Makoto shouted, before Nina shushed her vehemently.
"Oh, dear Makoto, what a silly question to ask...I am known by everyone, and everything..."
"Show yourself!" Gigas growled. The group stood still completely now. The thing laughed amusedly. It spoke slowly, calmly and in whisperes, and if one listened carefully, its whispers overlapped, bits of things it was about to say being heard in the undertone of what it already saying.
"I am all around you...you are staring into me right now..."
"Speak plainly!" Rakurai barked impatiently. The thing laughed again.
" I am around you. I am inside you, all over, in and around you. I...am your deepest, darkest desires... Apropos of nothing, you will be able to see me properly soon, when I manifest once more..."
"What d'you mean 'once more'?" Shinji spat.
"I was once a proud and powerful creature...until I was betrayed...by two of my own brethren...but soon...I...will...return..."
The others heard Nina gasp almost inaudibly. "The Abyssal Sovreign....." she whispered to herself.
"Give unto me your sins...I shall absolve you...in darkness...."
Tendrils of pure shadow began to worm their way around, coming for the group.
"Come! We must go now! There are two more floors to pass!"
"How are we supposed to leave when we cant see a goddamned thing!?" Gigas shouted. Suddenly, the room was illuminated in a warm and very bright glow.
"Like this," Nina grunted. The others looked around, the shadows creeped nearer, and Nina's light began to fade, just like she had warned. The saw a door behind her.
"There! Go!" Gale shouted. When every one was through the door, the light finally faded completely. But, just before they could shut the door behind them, one of the shadows wrapped itself around Altair's raven, pulling it back through the door with a surprised *squawk!* as the door shut behind them. The others turned to Altair.
"I am very sorry," Nina consoled him, almost tonelessly.
"It matters not. That creature was always more of a curse than a gift," Altair replied, a tinge of remorse in his voice. "I believe that mechanism will take us upward," he observed, pointing ahead of himself and the others to an open door in the back of the room, a small area inside, clearly an elevator of some kind.
As the hunters and Descendants hurried inside, Nina stared at the door from which they had escaped through, worry and confusion furrowing her brow as the small box pulled away, taking them deeper into the hornets' nest.
XIV: Tower of the Future
"WHERE IS IT!?" Kazir shouted, his laid-back demeanour replaced by a cruel... well, crueler... and angry one.
"I don't know... what you're even talking about... please..." Mizu croaked, his arm bleeding even more, pain-induced tears trickling down the sides of his face.
Kazir had forgotten that the White Star had told him that Mizu had no idea about the Yamiokami Gem, or where it was, but his psychopathic rage had shoved that thought into the recesses of his twisted mind. The only he wanted to do right now was find out where his enemies were, and his 'guest' wouldn't say a word.
"You just have to make this worse for yourself, don't you?" he growled. He raised the knife.
"W-what the-!?" Jinsoku tripped over his own words, flabbergasted by the sight before him: a huge, circular area of the spire, illuminated by large hexagons on all surfaces, tesselating together like honeycomb. Otherwise, it was empty, but the sight was simply spectacular.
"What is this place?" Shinji gasped, the others staring in awe.
"This...is not meant for you to see. This is a paradox."
"This is a makeshift realm, made specifically for us."
"Each set of people related by mutual unfinished business have their spirits deployed here, to communicate with the living with which thier business lies. When we are done here, this place will cease to exist. As such, there may be many paradoxes here."
"So, you're saying there are many Hidden Realms?"
"Precisely. Anyway, I doubt it is something that any of you will ever be able to comprehend, as well as myself. What is important is climbing this tower. Come, we must take the stairs," Nina said, pointing to a spiral staircase climbing the wall of the tower, going up and up and up, so high that the end could not be seen.
"Climb all those steps!? No freakin' way!" Skylar moaned, awestruck and annoyed. This outcry sent the whole group into an argument about how to negotiate this scenario, until they were silenced by a soulless, paned and terrified scream echoing from the top of the spire, all the way to here. Gale froze and her skin paled. Rakurai caught her as she threw herself at her old friend, beginning to cry.
"Tell me... tell me he's gonna be okay...!" she sobbed.
"We will get to him. Don't do this to yourself." he said calmly, unusually sympathetic. He pulled Gale off of him, holding her at shoulder length. "It's what Kazir wants." Gale smiled weakly, wiping away her tears.
Suddenly, a cloud of white mist coalesced in front of them, forming the shape of Kazir. He was laughing as always. "Oh, hi! I'm so glad you could make it!" he yelped, a familiar twinkle in his eyes.
"Oh, joy. The thespian is here," Nina sighed impatiently. Kazir glared at her.
"Y'know that joke's gettin' reeeal old right about now. Haven't you got anything else to say? Meh, thought as much... you're only filth, after all."
"The only filth around here is you."
"Ooh! Burn! See, I even have to spoonfeed you your own insults! You're no fun! Not like my 'guest', oh no, he's lots of fun! Of course he does scream a little to much, and he doesn't like to talk, but he's a damn sight better than you..."
"Cease your incessant rambling! I've had quite enough of you to last more than a lifetime!"
"Oh, well if it ain't someone's time o' the month... Anyway, does Gale wanna talk to me?" He inquired, a false sweetness in his tone. Gale silently drew her sword. Kazir rolled his eyes theatrically.
"Oh, yeah, I forgot you were all filth. Not really capable of proper speech, are ya?" he pursed his lips. "Well, this just about screws everything up," he added, gazing absentmindedly at his surroundings. Gale ran at him, swining her Lost Black Katana wildly at him. Kazir sidestepped and stuck his leg out a little, tripping the angry nineteen-year-old up. Kazir clapped half-heartedly.
"A sterling effort from Miss Kaze! Can she do better next time? Meh, probably not," he chortled haughtily. Shinji rapidly fired her bow with vicious speed, Kazir dodging the almost invisible projectiles like it was nothing.
"Hm? You done? Good. Huh?" he tured to face all the others, who had banded into a nucleated group, aming their weapons at him. He rolled his eyes again, this time accompanied with a bored and angry sigh.
"Oh, will ya quit it with the bullshit camaradarie? You're giving me a headache," he grumbled.
"The only reason that convivality gives you a headache is because you have no friends for yourself," Nina snapped. Kazir stopped a moment, then burst into laughter, stopping to breathe halfway through before continuing.
"Oh, dear! Oh, oh you lot are a riot!" he gasped. "I haven't had this much fun in seconds!"
He stopped laughing when he felt the tip of Gale's sword on his back. He rolled his eyes again. "What?" he grunted.
"Where's Mizu?" Gale demanded flatly. Kazir began to laugh again. "WHERE IS HE!?" she bellowed.
"Alright, alright, God! Looks like we've got two girls with sychronized menses..." he murmured. He teleported away from Gale and into the centre of the room. A gust of wind began to flow from where he stood.
"Catch me if you can!" he taunted lyrically, before being blown away up toward the top of the spire. Gale quickly followed him. The others ran to go after the two, but a blue barrier appeared around it, stopping them from going up. Skylar sighed. "This means we gotta take the stairs, doesn't it?"
"I am afraid so, child," Nina said. The frustrated group slowly trudged toward the stairs.
__________________________________________________________________________________________Kazir was flying far above her. Gale would never catch up to him from here - she had to get further up. She used her powers to channel the wind, helping her go faster. Kazir looked below him, seeing the girl cathing up. He merely huffed confidently (inaudible over the noise of the wind), and laid his hand upon the stream of air. Gale slowed down, pulling out of the wind as it grew icy cold. She was still below Kazir, but not nearly as far as before.
She let the wind carry her still, unsure of how to negotiate this. Kazir notcied her indecision and fired a ball of freezing blue fire toward her. Gale, on instinct, caught the ball of - fire? Ice? She wan't really sure - and threw it back at him. Unfortunately, it wasn't very accurate, merely grazing past him, a few scorch marks on his left arm. Within this time Gale had already sped up to match Kazir's speed, closing in on him. He growled, kicking to his right, nearly knocking Gale out of the airstream and to her death. She pushed him back. She would gladly thrust her sword through his throat, but there was no time or room for weapons. She looked to her right. Nina and the others had already nearly matched their progress to the top of the tower.
"How did we get up here so fast!?" Gigas yelled.
"When one is used to dealing with this realm, one can manipulate the very physics of it in its entirety. For example, I could easily bring this tower crashing to the ground without batting an eyelid. Which I might just do, once we have finished our business here. Furthermore, because you are around Rakurai and myself, you are bending the same rules that we are, without even realizing." Nina explained.
"And which rules would they be?" Shinji asked.
"I and Rakurai are currently walking up these stairs at about five hundred times the normal walking speed, give or take. Becuase you are in the direct vicinity of that distortion, so are you. Anyway, that is an inaccurate measurement, and it it also extraneous. What is important it that we get to the top."
The top of the tower was in in sight. Gale finally pulled up next to Kazir. However, he was expecting this, and pushed her to the edge of the airstream again, this time following up with another fireball (if it really was fire), which hit Gale square in the chest, pushing her out of the airstream. before she could fall to her rather messy death, she thrusted herself through the air with her powers to join the others on the staircase. She watched in disappointment as Kazir flew up, far out of her reach.
"Come, Gale! There is no time to waste! We are almost there!" Nina hurried her. As they ran up the stairs, Gale noticed that the stairs were more like blurs, as if they were walking super fast. As she turned to ask Nina about this, Nina hushed her.
"I know. Do not notice it, or the distortion will dissipate. Don't ask about that either."
Finally, Gale heard more tortured screaming as the stairs stopped spiraling, stopping at a plain wooden door, rectangular and rather frail-looking. Despite this, it was rather tough, and they group began to ram into it, desperate to get inside. Gale began to freak out as she heard more and more screaming and desperate cries. Shinji took her aside to calm her down, as Gigas and the others rammed their hardy shoulders against this door that appeared to have them stumped. Altair signalled for them to stop. He drew his four-barrelled pistol, shooting the hinges of the door accurately, then rammer his shoulder into it. It began to fall away, but not enough to get inside. Gigas grumbled in frustration, vexed. "All o' ya get back! I'm pisssed off now!" he howled, raising his Agnablaster at the door, and firing at it continuously until it literally blew into flaming splinters. When they stepped inside, an invisible barrier blocked their path. Kazir turned to smiled at Gale. "Watch," he sneered cruelly.
Kazir was kneeling down at Mizu's side, drawing his knife out of Mizu's arm as he finished writng out the Old Language glyphs onto his left arm.
When he had finished, he stabbed the knife into Mizu's right shouler, making him cry out in utter terror, following which he twisted it cruelly, clockwise and anticlockwise, before pulling it out forcefully. Nina (who had been silently working on dissipating the barrier) finally put her hand through the open space, breaking whatever curse Kazir had put on it, and the group rushed forward, attacking Kazir (who defended himself completely) while Gale and Rakurai rushed to Mizu's side, Gale almost slipping over as she skidded over the floor. She clasped his hand as he cried frightened and painful tears.
"It...hurts..." he coughed.
"I know." Gale whispered, trying not to cry. She looked at Rakurai as he bandaged Mizu's bleeding arm gently. He gave a small phial of green liquid to Gale. "Here. This will heal the wound to his shoulder. His arm must heal naturally."
"Why can't this heal his arm?"
"Becuase this particular word is a grave insult among the Wyrms. As such, such a word is cursed in any form in which it is uttered, verbal or otherwise. The only thing that will ever heal that wound is time."
Gale slowly turned back to the distressed nineteen-year-old, pulling his shirt back a little to administer the liquid to his shoulder. She recognized this particular mix - she had used one on Remy once when his leg was bitten by a monster (luckily not a very large one, or he'd have lost it).
"This won't hurt, I promise." she soothed, watching the liquid take effect, closing the bloody wound, leaving a small scar. Rakurai began to speak again, holding Mizu's left shoulder.
"His shoulder is dislocated. I will have to fix it."
Gale knew from experience how painful fixing a dislocated bone could be, so she cupped her other hand around Mizu's face to get him to look at her.
"Look at me, okay? Don't concentrate on anything else," she said gently, her voice cracking a little. *Crack!*
Mizu screamed as his arm was put back in place, the pain from that and all the other wounds rushing through him. He squeezed Gale's hand so hard she thought it was going to break, almost. Gale and Rakurai helped Mizu to his feet, hooking his arms around their shoulders. The whole ten strong party glared at Kazir.
"Let me deal with this," Rakurai grunted, stepping away from Gale and Mizu (Gigas then ran to hold Mizu up with Gale), drawing his Espinas Great Sword. He ran his hand gently along it, manipulating the physics of the Hidden Realm, turning the cumbersome Great Sword into a thin and nimble Long Sword. Kazir chuckled, drawing his uchigatana, still bloodied from whe he had stabbed Guretosutomu. Suddenly, the ground rumbled beneath their feet.
"Come! We must go!" Nina said. She too had manipulated the Hidden Realm (somehow) into bringing the tower crashing to the ground, albeit slowly. The others left Rakurai and Kazir alone, Nina using her Descendant abilities to whisk the others away in flash.
"You sure you wanna do this?" Kazir chuckled, curious.
"I have my reasons. Besides, makes no difference to me. I'm already dead." Rakurai said bluntly.
"Well, then... I guess I'll just have to kill you again!" Kazir yelled, their blades locking in swift and aggressive verve.
XV: The Brutal Truth pt1Rakurai thrust his Long Sword at Kazir, who evaded the deft attack, letting the blade miss as it slid under his arm. In order to avoid Kazir's follow-up maneuver, Rakurai pivoted, rotating himself clockwise, his blade clashing once again with Kazir's, the two of them rocking two and fro and they forced each other's body weight on their weapons. After a few seconds, Rakurai pulled away, lauching himself upward, firing bolts of lightning and his foe, who dodged them all, albeit very narrowly. He lobbed a ball of blue fire at the Descendant, who caught it, snuffing it out in his hands like it didn't even faze him.
As the pair landed on the flat roof of the tower, which slowly fell away brick-by-brick, their swords collided with each other, again and again and again, until the roof collapsed as the entire structure became unable to carry its own weight, the bricks crumbling, the tower falling. As Rakurai launched himself into the air to avoid being caught in the tower's fall, Kazir followed him, slashing continuously at him with his uchigatana, his movements fast and aggressive, hitting again and again, so hard that, as he disarmed Rakurai, the recoil forced him to let go of his won blade, the weapons lost in the storm of bricks and rubble.
"By all means, take all day! You're making my life easier!" Kazir shouted over the noise of the collapsing stonework, the pair leaping from surface to surface, sneaking in sly attacks with their powers as they moved.
"What the hell are you talking about!?" Rakurai shouted, leping into the air. Kazir followed him, and they clashed again, this time in midair, pushing each other's body weight on the others arms in an attempt to overpower the other.
"I mean... that everything... in the real world... is going just as planned," he chuckled wryly, overpowering Rakurai, sending him tembling into the collapsing tower. But, just as he was about to fall into the masses of stone, he grabbed onto Kazir's ankle, dragging the... whatever he was... into the storm of collapsing brickwork with him. The fell through the calamity, some of the debris hitting them, but nothing that would leave more than a bruise. Suddenly, Rakurai wrapped Kazir up in a headlock, teleporting away from the tower as it fell to the ground in its utter entirety, a huge spill of broken, chipped brickwork breaking apart and into what was already a broken courtyard.
Nina and the others stared on from the charred ground as the dismal spire in the distance collapsed, a cloud of murky dust spreading in all directions from afar.
"D'you think they'll come back?" Makoto whimpered emotionlessly, watching on with almost no expression in her eyes. Suddenly, as if in direct response to her question, Rakurai and Kazir appeared in a bright yellow flash, rolling over one another for a couple of moments, Kazir still in a headlock, clutching at Rakurai desperately, his face not glowing red despite the fact that he was more or less being strangled.
"What. Do. You. Know?" Rakurai demanded slowly, firmly. The others listened in intently.
"Thank you... for... killing me here... now I can return... to reality... your world... is ours... now..." Kazir rasped, before his eyes became lifeless, and he faded from this world. Nina rushed forward, shouting out at him not to go, stopping when he vanished.
"Shit," she spat, feeling guilty after cursing (she had brought herself up to be well-spoken and not vulgar). Her hands balled into fists briefly, before she calmed down and let go.
"Good. Now that Kazir's escaped and we can relax, you can tell us the truth," Gale said, glaring at Nina, still holding up Mizu with the help of Gigas.
"Whatever do y-?"
"The whole truth."
XVI: The Brutal Truth pt2
Gale knew Nina had been hiding things from them. She might have been good at dodging questions, but she was a bad liar.
"I have absolutely no idea what y-" Nina began.
"Just answer the goddamn question!" Gigas groaned. "We're about to go back to the real world now! Whatever it is you're not tellin' us, we're gonna find out pretty soon, anyway!"
Nina sighed, almost inaudibly. "Fine. As you must have deduced, there was nothing to do with the Yamiokami Gem at the top of the tower. There is no need to 'prime' it. That was just incentive to get you into the building. However, the real truth is devastating. It will hurt some more than most." she began flatly, turning to Gale.
"Time. In the Hidden Realm, time does not flow as it should. What is worth days in the real world could be worth months here. The reality to other-realm ratio of the space-time continuum is different with every Hidden Realm. For some, an hour in the Hidden realm could be worth moments in reality. However, we have the misfortune of not having such a luxury." she said, pausing to deliver the final blow.
"In basic... and I haven't calculated this precisely... what has been worth about a day here...is worth eleven years in reality." A quiet and shocked outcry reverberated among the group.
"In this time, the White Star and his Children of the Ice have conquered everything you know. Not the world... but your entire reigion belongs to them. If they obtain of the Yamiokami Gem, 'Shikaiyami's Heart', they will be able to spread thier power to the rest of this world, and your kind will face extinction once again."
"Nevermind that! What about Arashi and Rakurai!?" Gale shouted, worried for her kids. Nina paused a moment.
"They are fourteen now. They live with each other and a large group of other children their age, amidst the fallen ruins of Hikari, hiding from the imperials, formulating a plan to destory them, but to afraid to instigate it. They live, also with your Felyne, I believe, thinking that you have abandoned them." Nina said, her tone of voice not changed a bit.
"Go to Hikari. The inhabitants will accept you easily. There, you will help them with their revolutionary plans. Arashi and Rakurai are in charge of all the residents, so I've no doubt they will be among the first faces you see. I will have nothing to do or say with what happens between you and your children. Far be it from me to meddle in personal affairs."
Suddenly, more people appeared around the group, in a circle, leaving the hunters and Descendants in the middle. They were all people that Shinji, Gale, Mizu and Jinsoku would know: Guretosutomu, Sensei Arashi, Gale's mother, Mizu's mother, and even Nina's lover, Thomas, the hunter Gale watched die after escaping the Dark Jinouga in the Tundra. Mizu locked eyes with his mother, tears beginning to form. He had never seen her before - she was so pretty. She smiled warmly at her son, as did Gale's mother to her daughter. Gale paused for a second.
"Why is Guretosutomu here? He's not dead."
"He is. He was killed by Kazir after you came here, while he fought the White Star." Nina contradicted her. Gale looked around all the people that she had loved and or lost in the last three years, tears beginning to fall.
"I'm so sorry. We never wanted any of you to die for us."
Moments after that, Nina, Rakurai, Gale's mother, Mizu's mother, Thomas, Sensei Arashi and Guretosutomu became small blue sparks, coalesceing into a blue shape in the air; a portal to Hikari.
"You do all know... that if we fight this fight... we might not all make it to the other end?" Gale sussposed solemnly. Altair stepped forward.
"I would follow you to Hell and back." he grunted bluntly. One by one, the others stepped forward too.
"As would I." Makoto agreed.
"Me too!" Skylar shirped, ever optimistic.
"Heh, like you'd pull this cockamamy thing off without Papa Gigas!"
Shinji and Jinsoku stepped forward, holding hands.
"We're your best friends. We'd do this with you, even if no-one else would." Jinsoku said soberly. Shinji kissed him. He smiled.
Gale, Mizu (who had found the strength to walk by himself), Shinji, Jinsoku, Makoto, Gigas, Altair and Skylar stepped through the blue gate to Hikari, ready to fight against extinction.
Legacy Of The Descendants----End
The White Star Trilogy concludes in Fate And Freedom
Legacy of the Descendants may be finished, but it would have been a much harder job without these guys:
An extra-big thank you goes to Cottonmouth255, who had constantly and dilligently been my lackey - *ahem* - executive assistant, picking up my slack over typos and the like, and constantly making comments that bemuse and amuse a hard-working writer. A tip of my hat and an extra-large cookie to you, Cottonmouth. ^^
Altair Tatsumaki: Vincent Valentine (FFVII)
(Sensei) Makoto Suzuki: Litchi Faye-Ling (BlazBlue)
Skylar Kuuki: Yuffie Kisaragi (FFVII)
Kazir: Yuuki Terumi (BlazBlue)
Gigas Honou: Jecht (FFX), Colonel Robert Burns (VANQUISH)
??? (the shadow from the tower): The Gravemind (Halo), The Crawler (Fable III)
One Last Thing
A BIG THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO HAS READ THE SERIES!!! :D