Hello! Ok, in a mini version~ Tira has nightmare issue, and the team is forced to go face someone who controls his people with their fears and nightmares just as she finds a way to deal with them. Will she be able to face her fears with the rest of them, or will fear overcome them all?
This roughly takes place after Sacher was defeated and before the end of the Manga series. No anime influence (as I never saw it) and there will be some spoilers for what happened with Sacher before he 'died'. Lots of C/T fluff (WHEE!) and bad guy bashing, of course. Enjoy!
#In Tira's Dream…#
Tira cried out as the mists whirled around her, blocking her view as she tried to see. He was there. Somewhere, demonic father of hers that he was. He had returned once more, though how was still beyond her. They were under the impression he was gone, having made his body fall through the pit and burying it alive as his body lost the last of it's life…but apparently it was not so.
"Hm…where are you, little girl…" Tira shirked back as the voice echoed all around her making it impossible to tell where it came from, a cold sweat breaking out that slicked her palms and dripped slowly down her face. She gripped her thread all the tighter until her knuckles were white, wishing the attack would simply come…
"Show your self!" she demanded, forcing the fear out of her voice as she heard her own words echo and wilt away around her. "Scared, are you? Feh, coward."
"I am now the coward between the two of us," the familiar voice in a low whisper in her ear, Tira whirling around with her string tied into a noose. No one was there. Only the mists, which constantly moved and parted around her, letting her see no more than that which was right in front of her.
"Fear," came the voice lightly. "Cold chills down your spine…that prickling in your stomach…had I been thinking before, I would have used that and formed it to my will…one which would've ruled this impossible world with fear and fear alone…even the Sorcerer Hunters, for you fear me."
"Never!" Tira felt the mists grow agitated, growing in speed as her heart raced even more, thudding against her chest so hard she thought it might burst. "I feared you once, but I will never fear you again…"
"Silence!" he demanded angrily. The mists formed into shackles that held her in place, one wrapping around her mouth and forcing her to stop struggling or suffocate to death. He slowly came into view, still draped in his black robes and armor with his shaggy black hair flowing down his back in a hellish crest of sorts. She took in his features, eyes glaring back at him cold as ice and hard as stone.
"Hate…" he murmured to himself quietly. "And fear. If you think you hate and far me now, think again." He floated aside to reveal Chocolate lying there on the ground, her beloved wire wrapped around her own throat, binding her to the point of death.
"No!!" Tira was releaed from her chains as Sacher disappeared once more into the mists. Falling to her knees, knelt over her sister's prone form and wept. "Chocolate…sister…you can't be…"
"Ti…ra…" She looked up to see Marron standing over her, his clothes shredded to bits and blood flowing everywhere.
"Run," he muttered as his eyes began to dim, falling forward into her arms. "Tira, leave us…not all should die…"
"I can't," whispered Tira as she desperately tried to heal him, laying him next to her sister. "I can't just leave you here, you guys are all I've got…"
"You're useless," said Sacher dully. Gateau was flung into the pile as well, his body headless and his detached head rolling along behind to hit her feet. "See, even now your last spark of hope flares, there is one yet who is not here. Perhaps he has escaped? Will come rescue you? I do not know why I did not kill you like the rest as I shall do to him now when I should have all those years ago."
Carrot appeared in the mists, trapped in place by the same invisible shackles that had held Tira earlier. Before wither could say a world, Sacher brought out a long set of claws and slashed Carrot across the throat in the blink of an eye.
Tira felt herself crumple to the ground as her hope died, Sacher towering over her as his low chuckle filled the air, getting inside her head as it echoed, constantly rebounding in her mind as he drew the claws for her death strike…
Tira sat up and thrashed against the bonds that held in her place.
"Tira!" someone called. "Please, Tira, stop…it's alright, I promise! Just relax, it'll be ok…" She relaxed some, brushing back her bangs as she continued to pant in exhaustion. She was still held in place by her bonds…arms? Whose arms, though?
She leaned back tiredly, feeling someone warm behind her. Whoever it was didn't matter right now, she decided, all she wanted to do was rest.
"Tira? Are…are you alright?"
"…Carrot…?" Something clicked in her mind, blushing as she tensed up slightly. "Why are you-"
"I can explain," he said quickly, loosening his grip and backing off slightly in case she decided to mallet him. "Um, you were crying in your sleep again (which I might add is the 6th day straight…) and Marron told me to stay behind and comfort you while he went for something to help you sleep…"
"Oh." Tira felt her heart drop slightly. She had hoped…and after having watched him die like that…
"Do you want to talk about it?" asked Carrot hesitantly, putting his arms about her again and moving closer behind her. Tira didn't saying, just stared intot he fire across from them longingly. "I mean, it can help…at times…getting things off your chest…" Carrot couldn't believe how incredibly lame that sounded and was about to take it back when Tira sighed and leaned into him once more for warmth.
"Sacher was back," she sighed in a low voice, her eyes staying on the fire the whole time she talked. "Each time it's his return, and either the entire team is dead or imprisoned, and we can't fight back, or we're helpless as he kills other innocents that we risked our lives to save…everyone dying…so much dying…"
Carrot gently pulled her closer as Tira began to sob softly, letting her bury her head in his shoulder as the tears continued to fall. His heart wrenched at the sound of her crying, she didn't deserve to be haunted like this, no one did. He didn't let go even after she'd quieted down, continuing to rock her gently and run his free hand through her hair as she lad her head on his shoulder, timidly at first but fully relaxing as the minutes passed on.
Somehow, though she wasn't exactly clear on the details, Tira had ended up in Carrot's lap and was becoming increasingly aware of how close they really were. He sat with his back to the tree, legs bent slightly with his feet braced on a root. She sat across his legs with his left arm around her shoulders and his right around her stomach, her head nestled under his chin and arms linked around his chest.
Tira sighed and felt her glasses slip down her nose, closing her eyes and letting sleep was over her gently. She smiled and blushed as she felt Carrot shift slightly so he could hold her tighter. Here, in his arms, she felt safe and calm. Her heart stirred with something she didn't understand, but it was lost among the waves of sleep that began to wash over her, letting her drift away into a dreamless sleep that she'd longed for in the weeks past.
Tira left herself waking up after another night of Sacher-free dreams. Shifting around slightly, she could sense Carrot was still asleep as she wiggled out of his arms without waking him. It had been two weeks since he had first held her, and the first time she'd slept for more than a few hours at a time without the nightmare's return.
Marron didn't seem to notice the new arrangements, and if he did he didn't seem to care either. He did give her an elixir of some roots and herbs that knocked her straight out every night, and in the morning she woke up in Carrot's arms feeling more refreshed than she ever had since Sacher had been defeated by them all.
"Good morning," said Marron calmly when he saw her stir, handing her a cup of tea as she came and sat next to him by the fire. "Did you sleep well last night?"
"Yes, thank you," replied Tira calmly, sipping her tea thoughtfully. "That elixir you gave me, it's truly amazing."
"I think it has less to do with the elixir and more to do with my brother," said Marron with a knowing smile.
Tira blushed, hanging her head slightly and catching a whiff of Carrot's scent in her cape. It was a warm and dusty smell, almost like the earth on a warm day. " Eh…well perhaps…"
Marron chuckled lightly to himself, nodding as he did. "I understand," he said kindly. "But I do not believe our 'freedom' will last much longer. Big Mama hinted that our next assignment would be a combined effort."
Tira paused. "Gateau and Chocolate."
Carrot mumbled something in his sleep as the blanket fell from him, shivering almost instantly as the cool morning breeze touched his skin.
"Baka," said Tira gently, getting up and covering him up once more.
"He has slept more soundly as of late as well," commented Marron lightly. "Normally he moves around more in his sleep, and talks more as well, muttering something about the last girl he met. But as of late those erotic fantasies of his have…vanished."
"We haven't been through any villages for awhile," mused Tira, busying herself with her string for some reason. "The past two assignments have been little things, sealing a Forbidden Magic and stopping a sorcerer from killing some Sacred Doves or whatever they were for their precious blood. He seen any females other than myself for over two weeks."
"You're right," admitted Marron. "At least partially. But I don't think it'd make much-"
"Hello my children!!" greeted Big Mama, Chocolate mowing over Marron and Tira to glomp on Carrot –who was just waking up- while Gateau tried to make it better by whipping off his shirt and flexing his muscles while saying his usual 'Look at me! Look at me!'
"Save me!" squeaked Carrot after he got free from Chocolate's armourous embrace, seeing Marron was busy ignoring Gateau so he ducked hopefully behind Tira instead. "Please…"
"Sister dearest, you're getting between me and my darling," growled Chocolate sweetly, daring her sister not to move out of the way.
"Sister dearest, we've been brought here to be given a case, nott o chase after others," replied Tira calmly. Chocoalte paused, surprise showing on her features for a moment. Her little sister had never stood up to her like that before.
Big Mama chose that moment to break in with a another sunny smile and Daughter right by her side. "Children, children," she said sweetly. "Your client this time in an old woman in the south. There's a town there that is under the rule of an evil sorcerer who toys with their fears and uses them to bring his enemies to their knees. They are powerless against his man, and you must stop him of this cruelty now."
"Of course, Big Mama!" yelled Carrot energetically, jumping out from behind Tira and striking a courageous pose that was spoiled when Chocolate tackled him from behind.
"Is there anything else we need to know?" asked Marron, escaping Gateau's gaze by going to Tira's side.
"Just be careful," said Big Mama, looking away as she did. "Your one weakness, your personal fears, are what will be your greatest concern."
"Yes Big Mama."
The five of them soon found themselves back out on the path, traveling together toward the nightmare-cursed town to the South. Everyone was silent at first, each deep in their own thoughts until they reached the first town along the way. Carrot saw a beautiful woman walking down the road and was about to proposition her as he usually did when he realized something: he didn't want to. Seeing Marron notice his hesitation, he shrugged and went ahead anyways.
"Hey, hottie! Wanna come go have a good-" *smack* "…time…"
"Darling!" cried Chocolate, distressed and angered at the same time. "I thought you and I were going to…Tira?" She paused as she realized that Tira wasn't beside her yelling at Carrot as well, but was instead helping him to his feet while giving him an odd look. "Why are you…?"
No one bothered to answer her, Gateau too busy staring at Marron at the other three hoping their silence would be enough. Carrot glanced at Chocolate, but she couldn't read his look. Assuming the best, her heart leapt with joy as she figured he'd finally com to his senses and wanted no one else but her but was waiting until later to tell her. Her Darling!
The five of them agreed on a camp sight that night near the back of a river, Tira and Marron going off to get firewood while the other three started dinner and set up their camp.
"What are you going to do tonight?" asked Marron quietly as Tira used her string to slice apart a dead tree they'd found. "With Gateau and your sister with us, it may not be wise…"
"The elixir will be enough," said Tira firmly, stacking the wood in her arms as she did. "I…well, I'll manage. We knew it would happen eventually…"
"If they do come back, Carrot and I will both be nearby," said Marron reassuringly. "Come, the others will wonder where we are."
"Hm." Tira and Marron headed back to the camp, stopping at the edge to drop off part of the wood before piling the rest on the glowing fire.
"Dinner's ready," said Chocolate, handing out bowls of the thick stew she'd made with a hunk of fresh bread to everyone. She batted her eyelashes coyly as she caught Carrot's eye. "Would you like me to feed you, Darling?" she asked silkily, getting up to snuggle at his side.
"Ack! No!!" he cried, jumping up and hiding on Marron's other side away from her. "I can feed myself, you know!"
"Aw, darling, you're embarrassed…"
"Can we just eat?" asked Gateau. "I do not see why you chase after one so unbeautiful as he." His smile widened as he looked over at the other Glace brother. "Marron, he would be a far worthier goal."
"For you, maybe," replied Chocolate brightly, giving Carrot a sappy smile. "But I'll stick with my Darling! Wouldn't you agree, Tira?"
"Agree with what?" asked Tira, snapping back from her own thoughts with a dazed look in her eyes. Her glasses slid down her nose, giving her an even more innocent and lost look.
"Nothing," sighed Chocolate with a shrug.
"Oh…ok." Tira went back to staring at the stew as Marron finished his and pulled out some packets of herbs and tiny bottles with liquid in them. No one saw him but Carrot, who got a cup and poured tea in it before handing it back to his brother. Marron poured various amounts of different powders and liquids into the drink before stirring it briskly, Carrot serving everyone else regular cups of tea while his went to Tira and Tira alone.
"Hey, are you gonna eat that?" asked Carrot, looking surprised as Tira handed over the untouched food without saying a word. "Uh…thanks."
Her insides quivered with fear, and even with the fire at her front and a warm tree at her back, she still felt chilled to the bone in the knowledge that she would be on her own tonight. Even with the elixir taking it's effect, she could feel the images that she did not wish to see again hovering at the edge of her mind…
"What's with her?" asked Chocolate quietly, grabbing Marron's sleeve as he walked past her.
"She's been having trouble sleeping as of late," replied Marron carefully. "I gave her something for it, to block out the dreams that wake her at night. She will be fine in the morning."
"You're sure that's all?" asked Chocolate suspiciously, letting go of his sleeve. Marron went on like he hadn't heard her, sweating nervously as he did. Not telling Chocolate the truth was fairly dangerous business…
Gateau finished his tea and laid down next to the fire, falling asleep almost instantly. "Who's taking first watch?" asked Carrot, yawning as he stretched out his arms lazily.
"I'll take it if you stay up with me," sighed Chocolate, at his side in a heartbeat.
"I'll take first watch," offered Marron, settling back against a tree with an ofunda in his hand. "Go ahead and get some rest, Chocolate, there's no need for you to stay up as well."
"I'll take second, then," murmured Carrot so only Marron could hear, watching Chocolate as she curled up beside Gateau, whom she slept by most of the time. He took the mug out of Tira's hands and settled the blanket more firmly around her shoulders, smiling at how peaceful she looked when asleep.
"It would be best," admitted Marron, frowning slightly. "Go to sleep, brother, I'll wake you when it's time."
Tira shifted in her sleep, nestling deeper into the hollow of the roots where she was seated. Carrot looked from where he sat for awhile, making sure for himself that she was alright before he laid down and went to sleep.
The hours came and went, Marron keeping himself alert by going through the ofundas he had with him and naming every property and quality in his mind right down to the type of paper and ink used. His head snapped up when he heard someone shift in their sleep, seeing Tira sit up with a worried look on her face.
"Tira?" he asked quietly, his voice barely above a hushed whisper.
"Marron…" Carrot stirred at the sound of her voice and pushed himself up to look between the two of them for a few moments.
"Is everything alright?" he whispered, giving Tira a concerned look as he sat himself up all the way.
Tira shrugged, turning away slightly.
"It's your watch anyway," said Marron, lying down tiredly. Carrot would take care of Tira, he would be in the way if he tried to stay awake.
"Have a nightmare?" asked Carrot, checking to make sure Chocolate was still asleep before moving to her site and putting his arms around her gently.
"No," replied Tira faintly. "But each time it's at the edge of my mind, barely staved off by the drugs Marron gave me. They haunt me and wake me before I can really get some sleep."
"Here," said Carrot, shifting her around so he was behind her as a backrest and wrapping his arms around her comfortingly. "Just relax, ok? I'm here, nothing can get you while I am…" He held her close and felt her unwillingly release some of her tension as she did.
Freezing again, she motioned towards her sister. "What about…?"
"I'll handle it," said Carrot, feeling her head droop against his chest already and her breathing become slow and rhythmic. "Just go to sleep, Tira…"
Tira woke with a start several hours later, as she got the feeling that something wasn't right. Carrot was sound asleep behind her, his arms still wrapped around her as always. Marron was starting to stir, which was normal for it was almost dawn. What could possibly…
Tira sat straight up, looking around to find her sister still sound asleep with a rather satisfied smile on her face. Slipping out of Carrot's arms, she went and filled the teapot before going and sitting next to her sister to wait for everyone else to wake.
"You're up early," observed Marron when he had fully waken from his slumber, getting up and stretching before gathering together some things to make the tea. "Sleep well?"
"Well enough, after…you and Carrot switched watch," she replied carefully, aware of how close she was to her sister. "I just felt the need to get up earlier than normal."
"Ah, I understand," replied Marron with a grin. He glanced over at his brother, still snoozing away against the tree. "Looks like my brother failed at keeping the watch, though…"
"We don't really need it, you know," cut in Tira quickly. "And we normally never have one, it was just…yeah…"
"I'm just teasing him," replied Marron. "We both know why there was a watch last night."
"Eh?!" Carrot sat straight up, his arms failing for something as he foggily realized Tira wasn't in his arms anymore. Looking around frantically, he spotted her by the fire and was about to ask if something was wrong when Chocolate sat up with a moan.
"Darling," she said seductively, "I had a dream about you last night. Want me to recreate it for you?"
"Not really," said Carrot nervously, getting up and heading for the bushes. "Nature's call…"
"I know what Nature's calling me to do," replied Chocolate in a deep growl, holding onto him all the more.
"Ai! No, Chocolate!! Let me go!!"
Tira sighed, her hands gripping the mug so tight it got a crack in it that slowly leaked the tea down the edge onto the ground in front of her. She wanted to get her sister off Carrot, more so than usual, but she couldn't do anything without raising suspicion. So she sat there and drank her tea, the majority of it going to the dirt below as she cracked the mug more and more from her pent-up anger and frustration.
"What do you think this next guy will be like?" wondered Carrot, having finally escaped Chocolate's clutches.
"Big Mama said it will be tough," said Chocolate as she sipped the tea Gateau had given to her. "Our fears and nightmares being the one big weapon he has against us. I can't even remember the last time I had a nightmare…"
"I can," whispered Tira, shuddering as she drew more with in hserlf and sipped her tea gingerly.
Chocolate frowned. "Is that why you've been having trouble sleeping?" she asked in concern. Tira looked up at her in surprise. "Marron had said you were having trouble sleeping," Chocolate explained quickly. Tira nodded shortly in reply, bowing her head slightly. The older Misu frowned, putting an arm around her sister's shoulders. "Sis, why didn't you say something about it? What are you dreaming about that's giving you so much trouble?"
Chocolate backed off, finishing her tea silently as she gave her sister a wary look. Last time she'd had dreams like those…she'd rather not think about what had happened later on. Sacher coming back, and bringing with him such terror and destruction…
Everyone packed together their things, Marron leading the way with Carrot and Tira right behind him and Chocolate and Gateau bringing up the rear. The younger Misu would've normally been growling in anger the way Chocolate constantly tried to hang all Carrot, but she was too absorbed in her thoughts and distracted to the point where Chocolate probably could've forced the boy in her bed and Tira still wouldn't have noticed.
They eventually reached a hill that overlooked a city, everything below them filled with a misty gloom that sent shivers down their spines and settled a cold lump in their stomachs. "Is that it?" asked Carrot, pointing at the few peacked roofts they could find among the fog.
"Yes, brother," replied Marron. "Niton, now known as Nightmare Town. We're to meet the old lady who sent in the complaint somewhere out here…"
"Let's go," said Chocolate, making her way down the hill. "This place gives me the creeps, and the sooner we find the sorcerer the sooner we can leave." Everyone followed silently down the path, sticking close as his or her ability to see around them worsened and creaks and groans from the village itself reached their ears.
"Um, brother?" asked Carrot after several minutes of walking. "What's that over there?"
"Over there, in the shadows." Marron peered closer at the shivering bundle under the eve of a house, reaching out his hand to touch it when an old woman's head burst from it.
"AWAY FROM ME, DEMONS OF THE DEVIL!!" she screamed, her eyes transfixed on a point beyond their heads in the sky, her pupils dilated to a mere pinpoint. "LEAVE ME BE!! YOU HAVE TORMENTED ME CONSTANTLY SINCE YOU CAME, AWAY FROM ME!! FIND ANOTHER!! AWAY!! AWAAAY!!"
"Leave her," whispered Marron hoarsely, turning away from her slowly. "She's already been trapped."
"Can't we release her?" asked Tira quickly, approaching the old woman.
"Don't," said Marron, blocking her path with his arm. "It's too late for her. Once the spell has entirely warped their mind, nothing can be done for them until the main caster is either killed or forced to break the spell. Otherwise, if you were to break her from it now, she would either go mad or pass it on to you and die."
Tira shivered, backing from the lady ever so slightly. "Let's go, then, we have to help her and the others trapped like her." The group pushed on, finding others like the old woman long the way that were trapped in nightmares, each one unique to the person.
Finally, they reached the mansion that the sorcerer supposedly lived on, the gate hanging off it the frame and vines covering everything in sight. It was the only dwelling in the entire city that was in any sort of living condition, a single light on in one of the upper stories and smoke trailing from the leaning chimney. Tira hung back, feeling something cold tighten around her heart and squeeze it to the point where she thought it would burst.
"You alright?" asked Carrot, noticing she was gone from the main group.
"I'm find," she replied slowly, willing her feet to move forward. "Come, then others will be waiting." Carrot gave her a look like he didn't believe her, but went inside anyways and found the others standing there.
"Where to now?" asked Gateau, cracking his knuckles lightly.
"I don't know," admitted Marron with a shrug. "There are many rooms here, and many places he could be hiding."
"Many places, indeed," said a voice from all around them at once. "But I am here." The mists swirled and a shadowed figure appeared, cloaked from head to toe in black. "Welcome to my home, Sorcerer Hunters. What is it that you want from me? The secret of my power, perhaps? Or to join my league of minions?"
"For you to free these villagers," replied Carrot indignantly. "How could you do that to them?! Why do you torture them?!"
"Fear," said the man quite simply. "I feed on their fear and it keeps me alive." He let his hood fall back, revealing an old man with his flesh sunken in around his face and a head like a skull. Laughing quietly at their apparent disgust, he added, "Ah, you find me grotesque, do you not? Well, one cannot look young forever, but one can live forever!"
"Monster," murmured Marron, pulling out an ofuda and throwing it as fast as he could. "Phoenix Rising!"
"Hm." The man vanished, reappearing behind htem as the firebird dissipated harmlessly. "My turn. Hehe…Nightmare Myst…" The air around them turned black and warpped them in the chains of their fears and dreams…
Carrot felt himself losing control, the seals around the god of Destruction crumbling and him transforming once more. People and beasts alike fled before him, only a few courageous enough to stand before him and defy him with their presence. A black voice at the back of his mind overwhelmed him completely, jerking Carrot away from his very soul.
"DIE!! They all must DIE!!!" it howled angrily.
Gateau tried to find his way through the mist, calling out the other's names as he listened carefully for anyone around him. "Marron!! Chocolate!! Tira!! Whare are-ahh-oomph!!"
Gateau rolled over and look at what he'd tripped on, the blood draining from his face. His sister's body lay there still and cold, blood lying about her in pools.
Marron opened his eyes slowly with another ofunda in hand, the shield he'd made about himself holding firm. Now all he had to do was find a way to save the others, before it was too late for them…
Chocolate looked around herself carefully, feeling a familiar presence nearby when everything vanished and she was back at the battle with Sacher.
Carrot had transformed into the god of Destruction, but lay still, as did the three who lay beside her. "What…why are they…what's happening…?!"
"They all died trying to save Carrot, then pushed you back so one might live," replied Big Mama, eyes bowed as tears fell down her face.
Died? They were…dead…? Chocolate had lost everything, everyone she'd ever cared about…her sister…her Darling…gone… Falling on her side, she wept for it all to end and feared that it never would.
Tira found herself in the same nightmare as always, Sacher satnding before them and most of her friends captured or dead. Carrot lay before her, his body slashed to shreds as the light began to fad from his eyes.
"Tira," he whispered, his eyes growing dim and ragged breath growing shallower still.
"No, Carrot," she whispered as she knelt and held him close. "You…you can't die, Carrot…I need you here with me…"
The man wrapped in black cackled evilly, he could feel their fear and fed off it hungrily. There was anguish and sadness as well, and a mix of anger and sorrow for taste. But mainly there was fear; fear that is was true or that when this was over it would come true, fear that is would never end. He sighed as he felt himself renewed, the charm hanging on his chest glowing brightly.
He fondled the amulet that hung there tenderly. Such a gift it had been from the Dark Lord himself! His power magnified a thousand fold, and his life stretched on forever just with the town's fears alone. If he were able to control an entire province or country, he would be unstoppable!
A childlike giggle escaped his lips. Soon, it would be soon, and he would have them all trapped forever…
Marron wandered through the mists, quickly running into someone and nearly knocking them over. "Chocolate," he said, identifying her quickly. Taking a special ofunda from his pocket and putting it on her forehead, he gave her the same shield as he had and activated it, quickly bringing her to her senses.
"Dead…" she whispered, thinking she was still in her dream. "All of them, dead…"
"Who's dead?" asked Marron in alarm, thinking she had seen the rest.
"Marron!!" Chocolate glomped onto him, holding him tight as her tears went away.
"Easy, Chocolate!" stammered the younger Glace brother, trying to worm his way from her grasp. "Uh, we need to find the others…"
"Then they're not dead either?!"
"I don't think so…"
"Let's go!!" Chocolate darted off to find the others, Marron tossing a spinner tracer on her back so he wouldn't lose her again and following close behind.
The man touched his amulet again. One of the girls had woken. No matter, she was probably broken from her ordeal and would brother him no more. And if he needed the strength, he could always capture her again later on. He poured the energy he had gained from her into the other three, intensifying their hellish dreams even more.
"Help me!!" screamed the lady as her baby was lifted high in the air by a gigantic set of claws. Carrot's monster eyes looked indifferent as he crushed it in his fist, but inside he wept.
"Let me free," he begged the beast and watched as more died as his hands, blood pouring from his claws. "No more…no more!!!"
A familiar scream jerked his head up, his eyes going wide with terror as he realized whom his next victim was. "TIRA!!"
Chocolate found Gateau, and between the two of them they calmed him down and convinced him that Éclair was not dead, that it had all been a nightmare of sorts.
"I'll kill him," he vowed, unusually temperamental as he stomped off through the mists. "I swear, the sorcerer is a dead man…"
"Where's Carrot and Tira?" asked Chocolate, peering through the gloom. They started off again, coming across a huge form lying there bawling into his paws.
"We found Carrot," said Marron, returning him to normal quickly with an ofunda and waking him with a second.
"Ahh!!" Carrot wrestled his way out of their grasp, turning around and panting as he tried to make them go away. "Don't!! I'll kill you, I'll just kill you…"
"Brother…" said Marron softly, touching Carrot's arm. "It's alright, whatever it is you saw is over…"
"Over?" Carrot looked up, seeing them standing there before he looked at himself, finding his body to be back to normal. "It's over!! I…it wasn't real!! I didn't murder you guys!!"
"We have to find Tira," said Chocolate tersely, grabbing him by the collar and dragging him along as they continued to sweep through the mists.
Carrot was the first to see her, rushing to her side and sitting her up as she lay there still as stone and cold as death itself. "Tira…"
"Here," said Marron, pulling out his last ofunda of that kind and speaking the words to seal the spell. He was almost finished when a magic arrow hit the ofunda, incinerating it instantly.
"So, you managed to escape," said the man, appearing behind them. "I still have your friend, though, and she is strong enough from the fear I am generating from her to create these…" He snapped his fingers and hundreds of nightmare creatures appeared behind him. "I won't even give you the option of surrender, for I know you won't. My monsters, Attack!"
Carrot gathered Tira up in his arms and leapt behind the others, letting them form a semicircle between him and the ghouls.
"You sure as hell better keep her safe," threatened Chocolate, whipping off her regular clothes to transform into her dominatrix outfit. "HOHOHOHO!! Come here, my pretties, it's time to send you back to HELL!!"
"Feh, you will all fall before me," added Gateau, cracking his knuckles before jumping into the fray head on and laying about him with his massive fists.
"This has gone far enough," said Marron, pulling out two more ofundas. "Phoenix Rising!!"
Carrot pulled her even closer to himself as she remained locked in her nightmares. "Tira…" He forgot about the others as they were backed up against a wall, giving him something to lean against as his knees began to give way. "Can you hear me, Tira? Please, Tira, wake up…Please, we…I…need you."
Tira was running, ever running. Sacher had become a monster, killing and destroying all that stood in his way. He was headed to the secret Sorcerer Hunter's village, and she had to get there before he did…
"Carrot…" she had watched him die. Watched the light fade from his eyes and see the pain and fear on his face. Of all her nightmares, this was the worst and she didn't know how much longer she could take before she would just lay down and die.
She stopped, waiting to see if the voice would come again. It sounded strangely familiar, and comforting…
"Can you hear me, Tira?" It was soft and gently, she could almost feel a set of strong arms around her. Protecting her.
"Yes!!" she cried, ignoring Sacher in a way that made him slowly fade into the background. "Yes, I can hear you. Who are you?!" She stared at the sky, so intent upon finding the voice that the nightmare gradually drifted away. If she did not pay attention to it, and give it her energy or fear to feed off it, it could no longer exist.
"Please, Tira, wakeup…Please, we…I …need you."
Tira found herself floating in space, focused entirely and completely on the voice, Carrot's voice.
"Yes, it's me, Carrot!"
"I…" She glanced around herself, finding herself in the middle of nowhere with Carrot's arms wrapped around her, protecting her and shielding her as he always did. "Thank you, Carrot…"
"Hm?" His voice sounded surprised, but pleased as she felt herself relax.
"Thank you…" She felt herself begin to fade, her conciousness in the dream slowly slipping away.
"…Tira??" The voice grew a tad frantic when she didn't reply. "Tira, come back!! Tira!!"
Carrot huddled over Tira further to shield her from the bits of rock that rained down on them. He was getting more worried by the second. Tira had spoken to him, he'd heard it clear as day…and then it had stopped. Her body had gone still and limp, her breath and heart coming slower and slower.
"Tira, please, come back…" he said urgently. "You're safe, I swear, there's nothing to fear, but I need you here…"
Chocolate was falling back some, for while her wires were effectively killing off the beasts, for every one she killed four more jumped in its place. Marron was running low on ofundas and energy, his attacks now born on pure desperation. Gateau's hands were covered in the acidic blood that the creatures bore in their veins, burning the skin away past is wrists as he fought on despite the pain.
The cloaked figure laughed, running a finger over his amulet out of habit. Soon, they would fall and be his forever. Soon. His finger encountered a flaw that had never been on the stone before as a motion behind those fighting caught his eye. Bringing it up into the light, he saw a crack that ran through the center and down the front, growing as he watched.
Everyone froze as the monsters vanished, leaving only a shattered amulet and a crazed sorcerer behind.
"Carrot," mumbled Tira, slowly raising her head and looking at him through dazed eyes.
"Tira…?" he whispered, holding her close. "You're alright, you made it out alright…!!!"
"You!!" shrieked the Sorcerer, jumping to his feet and bringing a wickedly curved blade from the folds of his cloak. "You devil's woman…!!" He jumped at the pair on the floor, bringing his dagger down to spear through Tira's chest.
Chocolate kicked the body aside as Tira stared at the dagger that had landed just a few inches short of her body, her sister's wire having severed the man's head from the rest of his person. The mists surrounding the mansion and the town outside it disappeared, the sun returning overhead and the sounds of people waking from their magic induced nightmares coming from outside.
"It's alright," whispered Carrot in her ear, hugging her slightly as he was still holding her while slowly struggling to his feet. "See, it's gonna be ok, now. Believe me, I care too much just to lose you after all that…"
"I know," she whispered back, leaning her head on his shoulder while he was still holding her. "Carrot…thank you."
"Brother?" asked Marron as he began to tear strips off the edge of his tunic for Gateau's hands, a questioning look in his eyes as he glanced over at them.
"I didn't do it!" cried Carrot, still holding Tira in his arms as he went over beside them. "I don't know how that happened, but whatever it was must've been pretty strong…"
"Liar," murmured Tira with a wry smile, so tired she didn't bother arguing it anymore than that.
"How are you feeling, sis?" asked Chocolate, putting her regular clothes back on and helping Tira to her feet from Carrot's arms.
"Exhausted," admitted Tira wanly. "It was like he was draining me of my strength…"
"He was," said Gateau, nudging the shattered amulet with his foot. "We're going to have to take that to Big Mama."
"Can you walk?" asked Chocolate, noticing how much Tira was leaning on her for support.
"I think so," replied Tira slowly, letting go of her older sister. "I've never feel this weak in my life." She put more weight on her own legs and let go of Carrot was well, shakily taking a few steps forward. "I guess I can- ah!" Tira flailed her arms weakly, falling forward as her knees gave out from under her.
"Gotcha!" Someone grabbed her from behind, holding her up just a few feet from the ground with his arms around her waist.
Chocolate steadied her sister as Carrot put Tira on her feet, the younger Misu slightly flushed. "Uh…thanks, Carrot."
"No problem," he replied with a gentle smile. "Here, get on my back and I'll carry you for a while."
"Couldn't Gateau do it since he's stronger?" Chocolate pointed out quickly, a flash of jealousy in her eyes.
"Gateau won't be carrying anything for awhile," replied Marron, rubbing more of the salve he had on the strong man's hands before binding them up with more strips. "Then skin's been completely burned off, as has part of the flesh. He'll be lucky to hold his own spoon in a week."
"I guess that settles it," said Carrot, boosting Tira on his back gently. "Come on, everyone. Let's go."
"Home for a meal and some sleep," sighed Gateau, glancing over at Marron. "And a beautiful friend to serve me as well…" Marron avoided his gaze by walking up front with Chocolate, who was fuming silently as Tira hung tightly to Carrot's back.
"You know she's going to fuss about this later on," Tira reminded Carrot quietly, resting her chin on his shoulder.
"Oh well," he murmured back. "Keeps her off me, and you closer than normal. You're really warm, you know that?
"Hm, thanks." Villagers began to thank them as they walked back they way they came, some babbling and crying with joy as they were reassured again and again that yes, the Sorcerer was dead and they were free. All five were too tired to take part in the banquet offered to them, but did accept the food and other small gifts handed to them, knowing they had nothing to eat in their packs. Even Carrot, who would normally die for the chance to stay in town and chase some girls, was subdued, agreeing with the rest that it was better not to stop here in the town itself.
Tira closed her eyes for a few moments after they were clear of the town itself, letting herself drift between reality and the land of dreams as something nagged at the back of her mind. "Hey, Carrot?"
He shifted her weight slightly, glancing at her over his shoulder. "Yeah?"
"Did you mean what you said?" The question was hardly above a whisper, and Carrot had to strain to catch it at all.
"Mean what?" he replied, somewhat confused as he was feeling rather sleepy himself.
Tira paused, her face flushing again. "When you said…that you cared too much to let me go."
"Oh…uh…" Carrot stalled for a few moments, his feet slowly down and bringing them a little ways behind the others. "Um, well…" Tira's heart rose for a moment since he seemed to be on the edge of answering, and then began to sink as the pause lengthened into an uncomfortable silence. "I do care," he said suddenly, twisting his head to giving her another brilliant smile. "I meant every word."
Carrot stopped suddenly, letting the others go farther down the path while he let Tira slide from his back to the ground.
"Why…? Is something wrong?" Tira gave him a questioning look. "Was it something I said??"
"No," he replied with a smile, picking her up again so she leaned on his chest like she had before. He began to walk again, this time at a slower pace though and eventually they lost the others around a bend in the road. "It's just easier to watch you this way."
"Oh…" Tira blushed, about to settle down for a nap the rest of the way there when he captured her mouth with his. "Hm??"
"There," he said when he finally released her, a slightly embarrassed look on his face. "Uh…does that help??"
"It does," she replied, snuggling her head deeper into his chest and giving him a slight hug with her arms around his neck. Sighing to herself contently, she fell asleep, one of the most peaceful ones she'd had in awhile. Some how, she knew, she wouldn't have any nightmares again.
Shameless fluff, I know. Just something to get my brain gears moving again, and believe me they're more than a little worn and rusted after being forced through finals the way they were. Hope you enjoyed, please review. ^_^