*Grinning like a madwoman* I'm back!!! Sorry it took so long, I really thought I'd be able to finish up some other things before this much time passed. Unfortunately, I also procrastinate horribly, and this is the result. ^_^ ;;
This is the Sequel to Zephyr's Wind (which, if you haven't read it, I suggest you do before reading this) and though it won't be as long as the original I certainly hope it will be as well liked by you all. My thanks for your patience with me.
Twenty years have passed since the defeat of the Master and his servants, and since then the Rebels have gone on with their lives as they could. Changes have happened in all of them since the beginning of that journey, and even some have occurred as they adjusted back to a life of peace and safety once more. Their battles of the past have been battles of mortals, ones within their own world or (in Genki's case) on similar enough to it that they could call it home and fight for it as such. But now a new evil has come, and it is not of their world, nor of their mortal realms. What will happen when they are forced to face the unnatural and the battle in a realm they didn't even know existed? In the Spirit Realms…
Allen jumped along the tops of the trees just for the pure joy of it, Holly and Genki easily keeping pace below him on their roller blades. They might be in their mid-thirties, but it didn't mean they weren't as active as they had been as teens! The only exception was right before Holly was to give birth to one of their children, and that was expected.
Two others brought up the rear, a set of twins so amazingly different that kept up with their parents and 'uncle' by the power of their feet alone. Their legs seemed to move in a blur as they sprinted endlessly behind them, their youth and energy bearing them up to unimaginable lengths. That and they were visiting someplace very special helped as well…
The boy boasted short, light brown hair that was held from his face with a horsetail in the back, it being long and straight like his mother's. His brown eyes were soft and honest, a caring touch to them that most boys would be ashamed to boast. His name was Zephyr, named after one of the greatest monsters in their worlds history, and he didn't care if he was thought to be too sweet tempered and wussy because wouldn't get into fights with others. The original Zephyr had been said to be one of the gentlest beings ever when he wasn't fighting, and Z (as he was known) would do anything to be more like him.
The girl was the same height as her brother, though her hair was a few hues darker and her green eyes held a fierceness that made up for what his lacked. She kept her own unmanageable hair short and spiky, longer than her father's had been or was now but certainly far shorter than that of most of her friends. It gave her a boyish look, but what she lacked in feminine qualities she made up for in unending stamina and courage that she had gained from her father. Her name was Lilianne, though called Annie by her friends and family, after her father's cousin who had given up her place on this world so they might be safe. She, too, emulated her namesake as best she could by being a fighter and a protector of all who needed protection.
Z and Annie were 17 years old right then, and dressed in the same blue pants, white shirt, and gray tunic as always. They liked dressing the same, unlike most twins, and were quite proud to be related to the other; no matter how different they might be.
Allen slowed his jumping from tree to tree as the light began to wane, leaping down before Holly and Genki as he came upon a suitable camping spot for the night. A stream cut across their path with a small clearing to one side partially surrounded by a rock over hang.
"Perfect," he said, tossing his things to the side before going and plunging his head into the water. Drawing it back out, he shook out his silver hair and let it hang wetly over his shoulders. Time had been kind to him, only a few laugh lines showing around his eyes and his body remaining as strong and supple as it had in his youth. His face had an older, wiser look to it than before, but those blue eyes of his still held a sparkle of mischief that showed he had never truly grown up at all.
"Kids, go get us some firewood for the night," said Genki with a quick smile at them. "Your mother and I will set up the rest of the camp."
"Be back before it gets to dark!" added Holly with a concerned look as they left. "I do hope they get back alright…"
"Holly, they're 17 years old," said Genki reassuringly. "They've been raised by you and roughed up by me, they'll be fine."
"Any who survived living with him that long could survive anything period," added Allen lightly.
"I could say the same for you," added Genki with a smirk.
"That's why no one lives with me." A silence fell over the group, Holly brushing her long hair from her face and starting a fire with some kindling from nearby quickly. No one said a word, but they fell into the routine they had used every time they traveled together like this. Allen fished in the stream, bringing in several fine speckle-backed trout for them to fry. Genki hunted among the bushes and roots there, finding some herbs Holly had long since taught him to identify to put on the fish and supplement their meal.
The twins soon returned, their arms full of the bundles of wood Genki had asked them to get. Annie threw hers beside the fire and sat down beside her mother, Z being a little more careful as he set his down as well and then added some of it to the flames until he had himself a fine bonfire.
"Well done, you two," said Allen with a smile. "See? I told you they'd be fine."
"Of course we'd be fine," said Annie robustly, grinning as she gutted one of the fish and prepared it to be fried. "Nothing's going to happen out here, Ma."
"You know I just worry about you two, sometimes," said Holly, laying hand on her daughter's shoulder. "After all, you are not so different from your father and goodness knows how many times he got himself into trouble…"
"Ha, like our lives will ever be that exciting," replied Annie wryly, her mouth twisting itself slightly. "Between you, Da, Aunt Pixie and young Slip you've gotten rid of every single tyrant and evil guy on the entire continent. Me an' everyone else will die having known nothing but peace, which if you ask me can get to be pretty boring…"
"Oh, come on," said Genki, lightly punching her daughter's arm as an invitation to come and spar with him. "It's not like I haven't taught you to defend yourself and let you fight in the rings in your own age groups…"
"I know, I know," she said, setting the fish aside with a grin and getting up quickly. "It's just not the same as the exciting adventures you and Da had…before we were born or you two were even married…"
"Those times were not all fun, you know," said Holly seriously, taking up were Genki would've spoken if he and Annie were not already into their mock-fight. "A lot of us nearly did…and some of us did…"
"But you didn't," said Z quietly, taking up the job were his sister had left off. "You and Da and the others…none of you died."
Holly and Allen exchanged glances. "We were lucky. Extremely lucky."
"Not all of our friends were as such," said Allen, bowing his head slightly. "Death…can be a very scary thing. I hope you never have to go through what me and your parents did…"
"We know, we know," said Z, rolling his eyes with a grin. "The hard times, the camping out, never knowing when you would see your next meal…"
"More than that," said Holly. "You forgot running for our lives, being hunted by beasts you can only imagine, fighting just to see another day…those are things my children will never see if I have any say in it."
"Which reminds me," said Allen with a thoughtful look on his face. "Why didn't you bring along the other three? Surely Cam, Tori, and Tess would've wanted to come, right?" Only Holly heard him speak, Z having gone off to rinse his hands and Annie still keeping her father busy in mock-battle.
"This is not just a visit," said Holly, her voice considerably lower as she furrowed her brow. "We must speak with Lili on…important matters."
"The stones." Allen's eyes widened as he realized what she was implying.
"Then you are thinking of…"
"We cannot hold them forever," said Holly seriously, closing her eyes as she did. "And Genki and I are both getting past our prime…as are you, Allen."
"Then you are to ask if you must pass them on eventually." He pursed his lips as he thought about all four stones for a moment.
Holly looked at her two oldest children, one starting to fry the fish and the other about to lose a fight to her father. "And to who." Annie landed on the ground as her father easily evaded her attack, being pinned there moments later.
"You're getting cocky, again," he said, helping her to her feet. "Not that I've never done it as well, but still…"
She grinned and nodded. "I will try to do better, Da."
Holly looked up, a smile lighting her face. "Everyone, look! A shooting star!" Everyone looked up immediately, seeing the brightly burning star leaving a trail of light across the sky. It was almost across their vision when it was suddenly incepted by another shooting star, the two of them colliding into a huge burst of light in the sky.
"…wow," said Allen, his eyes wide in puzzlement. "Never seen that before…"
"I know," replied Holly, blinking slightly.
"Oh well," said Z with a shrug. "Who's ready to eat?"
They sat down moments later and ate their dinner, the stars shining brightly above them and the fire crackling merrily at their side as they went to sleep together on the ground. Tomorrow they would get to Lili's 'spot', the one place she could enter their world whenever she wanted to. It would be a day of surprises that none of them could foresee, not even Lili herself…
Kenjou sat silently up in the trees, his silver eyes watching the ground below with care as his long, blue hair blue in the wind around him. A young man of 18 or so, a dirk hung on his back and a whip at his side. He soon spotted what he was looking for and got up quickly, bounding through the trees with a boyish grin as he launched himself headfirst at a familiar silver-haired man who looked like an older version of himself…
"…huh?!" The entire group stopped as Allen went tumbling in the dust, his mischievous nephew sitting pertly on his stomach as he gathered his wits about himself once more. "Kenjou?!"
"The one and only," replied the young man, getting up and helping his uncle to his feet. "How've you been, Uncle Allen?"
"I was doing very well until you decided to jump on me like that," said Allen with a wry smile as he worked the kinks out of his back.
"You're getting old, Allen," commented Genki with a grin. "Time was you would never be caught off guard like that! Good to see you again, Kenjou."
"And you, Genki." He bowed respectfully to Holly and Genki before turning and exchanging quick nods before the other two. His gaze idled for a moment on Annie, who ignored him in general, but was quickly called back to reality by his Uncle's voice.
"What are you doing out here, Kenjou?" asked Allen, ignoring Genki's comment entirely. "You're mother hates it when you travel around like I do, you know that…"
"She sent me after you," replied Kenjou defiantly. Breaking into a grin, he added, "She had her fifth kid. A girl, named Keadi."
"Really?! Congratulations!" Allen enveloped the young man in a huge bear hug, who just tolerated it long enough to be polite before wriggling out of his Uncle's grasp. "I'm an uncle again!!"
"You have been since Tilly was born," added Kenjou, naming his older sister who had been the first-born in their family twenty years ago. His mother, Meg, was Allen's younger sister and the first of their generation to get married and have children at all. His Uncle Jon had gotten married and had a few young ones of his own, but Jon's twin Jackie was still single and stayed at the house helping her parents. Not that she cared, she was too independent like Allen to settle down anytime soon.
"That's besides the point!"
"Are you going back home soon, Kenjou?" asked Holly politely. "For we are only a short was from Lili's spot, and I'm sure she'd like to see you again…"
"I would be honored to join you there," replied Kenjou immediately with a wide grin. "Uncle Allen can come back with me when we're done and see his new niece, and you are welcome to come then as well."
"Thank you," replied Holly with a kind smile. "Perhaps we will."
"Now, let's get going!" said Genki, all excited like a young boy about seeing his cousin again. "Last one there is a rotten egg!"
Lili, or Firesprite as she was known by her fellow Guardians, was sitting up a boulder when they got to the clearing a few hours later, her scarlet robes aflame in the setting sun. Behind her was a blank stone face, the mortal entrance to the Spirit Realms that any within this world could use if they ever needed Lili for anything. Only a select few knew of it, though, and were sworn to secrecy on pain of death. "Genki! Holly!" she cried when she saw them. "How are you?"
"Fine, cousin," said Genki, coming and giving her a rib-crushing hug. "Oh, I've missed having you around."
Lili laughed. "As I have missed you, Cousin. I see you have brought some others with you as usual. There are the twins, but were at the rest of your brood?"
"Back home, safe with Coltia and her family," replied Holly with a slight smile. "They will come with us next time, I promise." She exchanged hugs with Lilianne, the later somewhat puzzled but leaving the explanation as it was.
"Annie, Z," she said, beckoning for them to come forward. "Good grief, you two are getting big! Make me feel like some ancient being…"
"You are, Aunt Lili," said Annie teasingly as she gave her a hug. "As old as dirt!"
"Oh hush you," replied Lili with a smile. "And how are you, Silent one?"
"As well as ever, Aunt Lili," replied Z with a slow smile. He exchanged hugs with her as well before stepping back so Allen and Kenjou could say hello.
Lili's eyes softened considerably as her gaze fell on Allen, but neither of them said anything as he gave her a hug before stepping back and letting his nephew through as well.
"Youngling, you are growing more like your Uncle every time I see you," said Lili, her eyes waveringly slightly as she looking him over. "Meg has every right to be proud of you, Kenjou."
"Then tell her to stop yelling at me for taking after my Uncle so much," replied Kenjou with a wry smile. He gave Lili a quick hug. "It is good to see you, Aunt Lili."
"As it is good to see you, young Kenjou."
"Where's Zephyr?" asked Annie after a moment of silence, glancing around everywhere. "He is normally here as well…"
Lili's face darkened slightly, her eyes seeing something they could not. "He is…busy. No doubt he will join us before too long, I hope." She frowned for a moment, then calmed herself and smiled lightly. "I hope to caught up with you all soon, but I must speak to Genki and Allen at the moment. It is rather important…"
"Go ahead," said Holly, tugging at her twin's sleeves and getting Kenjou to follow her with a jerk of her head. "Come along, you three. Time to learn some more herblore that might help you later one…"
"No buts, let's go."
Lilianne chuckled as Holly led the three away without another complaint. "She really is a wonder, that girl."
"I know," replied Genki with a warm smile. "She keeps reminding me of that everyday."
"I'm sure, but as for what I wanted to speak to you about…" Lili's face took on a troubled look. "Something happened last night with in Void…"
"That what?" asked Genki, looking rather confused.
"The Void," replied Lilianne patiently. "Remember? It's the place between the Mortal Realms-"
"And the Spirit Realms," finished Allen for her. "It had to do with the shooting stars, didn't it?"
"Yes," replied Lili gravely. "What, I'm not sure yet, but Zephyr is supposed to be looking into it…I just thought you might like fair warning in case something does happen."
"Thank you," said Genki in understanding. "We will let you know if we hear something ourselves later on."
The three of them left the subject from there, going on to other matters such as the progress of Genki's children and Allen's many nephews and nieces. Sometime had passed and the other three had long since returned and entered the conversation when there was a burst of light overhead, Zephyr appearing in the sky at the same time.
"LILI!! WATCH OUT!!"
The Guardian instinctively threw a huge shield over them all, blocking anything from coming through as a rain of bright energy poured from the sky upon them. It lasted for only a few minutes, and Lili lowered the shield when she was sure everything was safe once more.
"Zephyr? Zephyr, what was that?!"
"I don't know, but-"
Lili watching in horror as the portal behind her opened and sucked in Allen, Kenjou, Annie, and Z without any prior notice, closing the moment all four humans were through completely. She felt herself being drawn back to her world by some strange force, and found it difficult to resist the pull completely.
"Annie!! Z!!" Holly's face when white with fear as it dawned on her that her children had disappeared and she had no idea where they were or how to follow them. Genki knelt beside her on the ground, consoling the weeping Holly as he dealt with his own fears as well.
"Zephyr?" called Lili, closing her eyes in concentration.
"We are being called back, Lili."
"I know. Genki, Holly, I will be back and with your children by my side, I promise." She and Zephyr phased from sight as she tried to say more, her words lost in the transition from one realm to the next across the Void.
Genki and Holly had been left behind with the portal between the two realms closed, and they had no idea what to do.
*sighs* I have done better, I know. It is not a bad beginning though, I think. Please, review, because I love hearing from you guys and your comments and suggestions are always a welcome thing. ^_^ Love and Peace to all!