I sigh to myself, and sit up. To be a Jupiter Adept trying to sleep in the Venus Lighthouse is bad enough. Being a Jupiter Adept trying to sleep in the Venus Lighthouse while listening to the wind blowing around outside is torture. Why try to kid myself into sleeping? I could never get to sleep here, not while the wind's breezing around like there's no tomorrow.

Not while *she's* sleeping right next to me.

I shoot a fond gaze in her direction. I end up staring at her sleeping form, only *just* restraining myself from letting out a sigh of longing, or from reaching out to stroke her soft, cyan hair, touch her face...

With difficulty, I turn away from her to face the purple stone walls of the Lighthouse. Instead of gazing at her, I decide to focus on my memories of her, Mia of Imil...


~~~~~ flashback ~~~~~

"I hate snow," Garet grumbled crossly. "Hate it, hate it, hate it, ha-"

"-te it, hate it..." I finished mockingly. He stuck his tongue out at me. "Shaddup."

I made a big display of zipping my mouth shut, then made a rather rude gesture and ran for my life. Both Garet and Isaac sprinted after me, Isaac not going too fast because he was practically doubled over in silent laughter.

I ran over an ice covered bridge, marvelling at the fact that I'd gotten over the bridge at all. Suddenly, I barrelled into an Imilian, resulting in a tangle of people on the ground.

I helped them up. "Heh, sorry about that." I told them, dusting the snow off my tunic and pants.

"IIIIIIIIIIVAN!"

I flushed. "Er, sorry, gotta go!" I yelled, running off. I spotted a break in the fence for the frozen over river up ahead, I turned a sharp left and slid across the ice, not really realizing that I'd just gone a complete circle around the town. I spotted a house and ran in.

"Phew, that was close," I panted. I turned around. A couple of old people and a girl in blue were staring at me.

For the second time that day, I found myself apologizing to these strangers. It suddenly occured to me that we weren't making a very good impression on the Imilians.

The girl sighed. "Do you run into other people's houses every day where you come from?"

"Where I come from, nobody ever chased me with death threats," I replied truthfully.

She was about to speak again when a blue light glinted around the room. I had only just recognized it as the light of Mercury when the girl's eyebrows shot up. "Was that the Lighthouse?" she asked the air, before running outside. I was following soon after.

"Ivan..." Garet said in a warning tone. He'd obviously caught up to me.

"Guys?" I said to them, with a serious look. "I think I've found our first Lighthouse."

~~~~~ end flashback ~~~~~


I grin at the memory. I'd been pretty surprised that Mia didn't count first impressions for much in her whole opinion of a person. Of course, the fact that us guys had helped her out quite a bit in the Lighthouse made up for my running into her grandparents' house without knocking.


~~~~~ flashback ~~~~~

We sneaked into Mercury Lighthouse as quietly as we could, silently noting the lack of magical healing water in the fountain. Obviously we either sucked at sneaking, or that girl had very good ears, as when we got behind her, she called out, "Hi. This statue's in my way, do you think you could move it for me?"

I elbowed Garet, one of two people in our party with the Psynergy Move. Rolling his eyes with a mutter of "That's right, help the damsel in distress, but don't apologize for doing the Fingers,", he raised a hand and murmured, "Move!" The ghostly hand we were used to floated out and pushed the statue over, revealing an odd spinning light that made me dizzy.

The girl blinked. "There's magic blocking the entrance to the Lighthouse!" she cried. She hopped across the gap between platforms and held a hand to the supposed magic portal, murmuring, "Ply." A little fairy appeared, waved its wand at the portal, and vanished with it. We all blinked. The girl ran into the door she revealed, closely followed by us.

The girl was trying to out-side-step a Lizard Man. "Monsters in the Lighthouse?" she gasped. "How could this be?"

I shot glances at Isaac and Garet, and they nodded. We stepped forward, and fought the monster. It was a quick but tough fight, and Isaac found himself Curing us all.

The girl smiled. "That's the second time you've helped me! Thank you!" With that, she disappeared through the next door. Guess what? We followed her.

This time, there was another statue blocking her way to a ledge. "This statue's blocking my way! How am I ever going to protect Mercury Lighthouse?" she despaired. I nudged Isaac this time, and he reluctantly Moved the statue down into a pit that seemed to be made for that purpose. The girl stared at us.

"That's the third time you've helped me, and you don't even know who I am!" she cried. "Do you have business in the Lighthouse?" As usual, Isaac nodded. "OKay. In that case, I'll join you. My name's Mia, who are you?"

~~~~~ end flashback ~~~~~


Seeing as I'd already fallen head over heels for this girl at second sight, I'd been overjoyed that she'd joined us. We went up and up the Lighthouse, Isaac and Garet helping out by Moving statues, Mia paid tribute to goddess statues with Ply, and me? Well, considering there were no leaves for me to Whirlwind, I just worked out puzzles and gave directions for water hopping. By the time we got up to the Aerie, we were a rather closeknit bunch of Adepts.


~~~~~ flashback ~~~~~

Mia was nearly in tears. "They lit the beacon... It was my responsibility to protect the Lighthouse, as a member of the Mercury Clan.. I failed..."

Garet looked annoyed. "Look buddy, if you failed in protecting the Mercury Clan, we failed in protecting the secret of Psynergy. Of course, seeing as Psynergy's gotten all the way up to Imil, I guess Psynergy wasn't as big a secret as we thought..."

Mia blinked. "Psynergy? Is that what you call your powers?"

Isaac nodded. "Psynergy is the power of concentrating energy from the mind, then unleashing it in the form of one of the four elements," I elaborated.

Mia nodded carefully. "The Mercury Clan calls the Psynergy with the fairy, Ply. It is a healing power gained through meditation." Suddenly, her eyes brightened. "Are you great healers?"

Garet shook his head. "Don't look at me or Ivan, Isaac's the only one who can heal people, and that's through Cure, a Venus Psynergy."

A confused expression came over Mia's face. "You said you were from Vale... Valeans are the sworn protectors of Sol Sanctem, correct?"

I rolled my eyes. "Oh, for Jupiter's sakes," I went, taking Mia's hand and opening parts of my mind to her. In a few minutes, she knew everything that I knew about Sol Sanctem and the Elemental Stars incident.

Mia wriggled her hand out of my grip. "OKay. I think I understand now."

~~~~~ end flashback ~~~~~


I draw myself away from the memories of Mercury Lighthouse. Not all of our travels through the Lighthouse had been pleasant, namely a bit of an accident with another Lizard Man in a later part of the Lighthouse...


~~~~~ flashback ~~~~~

"Geeze! Two Cuttles, a Lizard Man, three Oozes, a Ghoul, a Gnome, a Mauler, and a pair of Sirens. What did we do to deserve this?" Garet moaned, as the above monsters appeared to attack.

"Come barging into the Lighthouse without knocking on the door?" I suggested, dodging an Ooze's attack. "Hey, let's just all hope for dear life that the Oozes don't try splitting and the Cuttles don't call for help." They did exactly that. "Darn, I jinxed it."

Mia had her hands full with the Gnome and Ghoul, but still managed to put in her two gold coins. "If my memory's serving me well, every monster that may appear in Mercury Lighthouse, with the exception of Gnomes, are weak to Fire based attacks. Garet, you are a Fire Adept, correct?"

Garet nodded, and immediately began Flare Walling every monster he saw. Isaac used his Psynergy as well, throwing Earthquakes left and right. Mia Frosted enemies with very little effect, until she caught sight of the one Gnome in the group and downed it with five Frosts. Me, I was slapping the monsters around a bit with the Blessed Ankh I'd bought at the Imil Weaponry Artifacts. Considering that my Blessed Ankh kept letting out howls and Sealing enemy Psynergy, it made for a rather noisy fight. We could barely hear each other over my Ankh's howls, the cries of the monsters, and the shouting of Psynergy.

That's probably why no one noticed that my health was draining away like water in the Kalay Tunnel.

I caught sight of Mia in the middle of the fray. She looked over my shoulder and screamed. "IVAN, LOOK OUT!"

I whipped round, Blessed Ankh in the ideal bashing position. Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for the Lizard Man that towered over me, raised a fist, and whacked me upside the head, instantly knocking me out. I slipped into a world of shadows, starting to dream about angels with blue eyes and hair.

All of a sudden, I came sputtering and coughing into the real world, Mia holding an empty bottle of Water of Life above me in my blurry vision. My ears roared, and I had a massive headache.

"The Lizard Man knocked you out. Are you OKay now?" Mia asked softly.

~~~~~ end flashback ~~~~~


I hunt around my mind for more memories of Mia. Yep, there is the birthday "party" I anonymously threw for her in Xian, but that's a long story. I jump, hearing a monster's cry, before remembering that no monster will step over the protective circle of Sacred Feathers we lay out at night while sleeping in the wilderness, or caves or Lighthouses.

Monsters...

Ever since I joined Garet and Isaac, I'd been sneaking out at night to train. Not only did this make me stronger and up to scratch compared to Garet and Isaac, I also got a stash of coins and items that was mine alone. My secret training sessions came in handy, not just for the coins, items, and experience, but when I was exhausted I slept dreamlessly.

The coins came in VERY handy when Mia joined the group. She'd often wake up in the morning to a present by her pallet or bed.

I turn back around to face Mia, who is still sleeping. Suddenly, she moans and turns over. I reach out a hand to Mind Read her.


~~~~~ dream sequence ~~~~~
----- Mia's PoV -----

Alex stands in front of me, smirking the Imil famous smirk that always annoyed me. His sword clatters to the ground, where blood splashes off the sword, to the ground, and onto my robes.

....Blood?

It dawns on me, and I start screaming at him. "Who was it? WHO was it you killed?!?"

Alex smiles, and moves aside.

Isaac's bloodstained body is spread-eagled on the ground in no way a live human being's body should. I gasp, and bile comes rushing to my throat. I face Alex again.

"HOW COULD YOU???" I shriek, tears starting to run down my face. He disappears in a flash of blue Psynergy, then reappears in front of me. He moves to my face, and forces his lips upon mine, coaxing my mouth open and his tongue inside. I recoil at his touch and attempt to break free, but he only tightens his grip. Eventually, he releases me and teleports away without explanation.

I spit on the ground where he was standing, then run back to Isaac and kneel down beside him. His body's too mangled to be alive, but just to be sure I check his pulse.

No pulse at all.

The tears come in steadier streams. I put my head down to his chest and cry.

"Why... oh why did he kill you... It wasn't your time... You can't be dead... I... love you..."

~~~~~ end dream sequence ~~~~~
----- back to Ivan's PoV -----


I rip my hand away from her with a cry of anguish. She stirs, and her eyes start to open.

To be a Jupiter Adept trying to sleep in the Venus Lighthouse with wind blowing around outside and their beloved sleeping next to them is hard enough. But being a Jupiter Adept trying to sleep in the Venus Lighthouse with wind blowing around outside with the knowledge that she loves another, is pure torture.

I pick up my Swift Sword, pocket some Herbs and run out of the Sacred circle as Mia starts to wake.


As I put the final touches on a Wild Gryphon, a phrase from the Little Book of Quotes Mia gave me for my birthday comes back to haunt me.

***** The worst way to miss someone is to be sitting right beside them knowing you can't have them. *****

The Wild Gryphon vanishes, leaving some coins and a Feathered Robe in its place. I pick up the items and walk back to the circle, placing the Robe over Mia's still, sleeping shoulders. I lean over her, whispering. "To the world, you may be one person. But to one person, you may be the world. May no more nightmares plague your dreams tonight."

I lie down on my own pallet and burst into tears. Outside the Lighthouse, the wind blows harder. This is torture, pure torture.