(Complete with boring title, unoriginal plot, and painful Mary Sue x Isaac action!)
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A/N: Yeah, so. What else is new? Still revamping, still...doing other stuff. Bleh.
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Karst was having a rather difficult time getting her brain to wrap around her current situation. Which mostly consisted of the following (very disturbing) facts:
1. Agatio had apparently never been born, judging by Saturos's denial of his existence. (1)
2. She was the mother of some girl born through a seam in time. She'd never met the father. That was generally a bad sign.
3. Her sister was under the beck and call of some fruity non-existent Adept. Whom she had her suspicions about.
4. She had no idea where the Lapis was, as it wasn't on her, and she was quite a number of miles away from Jenna and whoever else she had managed to recruit in the meantime.
Karst gave a hearty shudder and curled up to stare out the window in contemplation. Well, hurling herself off that cliff nearby sounded like an awfully good idea now... But knowing Serena, the kid would either jump after her to join her in their own personal hell or would bring her back to life. Likely the latter.
What happened to win-win situations? Karst asked herself, frowning hopelessly at the snowdrift outside.
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"Don't worry, Felix... You'll get your legs back...soon..."
Felix gave a rather unhappy sound and sniffled pitifully at Sheba's mildly encouraging (but mostly discouraging) statement. He took another tentative step forward, flailed, and was caught by the two of them by his arms once more. "I'll slow you two down if I can't walk..."
Jenna bit back her snarky mind's comment of Yes, that girl has to be chasing after you any day now...
"Say, Sheba," Jenna started tentatively instead, shifting her portion of Felix's weight into a more comfortable position against her neck, "Where d'you think Xanaeya went?"
"My guess would be some happy pixie land... Where the queen of the sparkly devils is one of her best friends because she saved the princess with the equally unpronounceable name..."
"...That was a non-sarcastic question, by the way..." Jenna added, perhaps a bit late.
"Oh. Well. I think she went to Vault. She mentioned it in passing to Isaac (though heavens forbid if he ever actually listens), but who knows..."
"Then... Would it be safe to go back to Vale? She's really close by."
"Any other ideas, then?"
"We could try...Lunpa..." Felix said in between haggard breaths. The girls exchanged glances.
"Felix, if you haven't already forgotten, it's nearly a day's walk from where we are..."
"I think you've been a bird for a little too long," Jenna said carefully, half-expecting to turn and see a beak in place of her brother's nose or some such oddity to make itself suddenly present.
Sheba suddenly stopped walking, making Felix yowl as his legs nearly gave out without her support and Jenna curse under her breath as Felix nearly took her down with him. "...Do you feel something?"
"Why yes. It's called Felix's arm," Jenna muttered, grunting as she dragged Felix back up. Much to her further frustration, Sheba ducked under Felix's arm and scurried off into a thicker clump of trees. "Sheba, don't be stupid – " She'd completely disappeared into the still-sparkly underbrush. "Gah."
Jenna stopped and thought a moment. She was standing in the middle of this forest which on the map appeared atrociously small in comparison with even a slightly larger forest like Kolima, but it felt...enormous. And the grass was sparkling an unnatural emerald green sort of color. (She was tempted to lean down and snap some off and examine it, and sell it off at a ridiculous price if it actually was, but then her brother was relying on her for support, and she loved Felix just that much that he barely won over some faux-AstroTurf.) Sheba had suddenly deserted them, apparently hearing things in her head (Jenna couldn't blame her; they all had a breaking point with these things), and she was left in this surprisingly big forest with a movement-disabled brother.
She didn't try stifling the aggravated, tired sigh that dragged itself out of her mouth. Felix glanced at her worriedly.
"What's wrong, Jenna?"
"Plenty," replied Jenna, but she didn't care to elaborate much. Felix had enough problems as it was (She noticed him eyeing the ground; his sparrow scavenging instincts were slowly taking over), re-mastering the ability to walk was just one of an entire list. Jenna, well. Jenna had blonde-haired blue/green/purple/grey/#CC3399-eyed problems as of late. And a drooling fanboy that called itself her former best friend.
"LET GO OF ME!" Jenna and Felix's heads snapped up in unison at the scream – specifically, Sheba's scream. "AAAAH! JENNAAA!"
"...Oh no." Jenna muttered, stumbling over to the base of a somewhat sturdy-looking tree, setting Felix gingerly down by it. "Stay here, bro, I'll see to Sheba and whatever's attacking her..."
She ignored Felix's glum look at being unable to be the dashing hero of the day and quickly crept off in the general direction Sheba had left in, drawing the short sword that had conjured itself up by her side, though she had thought she'd left it back at Xanaeya's treehouse. (2)
"Sheba?" Jenna called, eyes darting quickly from side to side, her steps wary, sword held at the ready by her side. "Sheba!"
There was a crashing sound in the underbrush nearby, but Jenna was unable to tell where exactly it came from. Blasted magical forests, they distorted sound and distance...
She saw a grey blur out of the corner of her eye and threw herself to the ground as a vaguely human-like form jumped at where her head had been a few moments earlier.
Oh good Sol, Jenna thought to herself, rolling to her feet and holding her sword out before her, looking over the wolf/human-like beast before it looked up at her. She knew from experience not to look monsters in the eye, it tended to make them lunge at you with their pointy weapons and claws.
The half-beast thing had mostly silverish fur with lightning-blue streaks along its sides and up the edges of its tail. It stood on its hind legs, which looked like the average wolf's, while its forelegs were bandaged human hands with dark nails.
Jenna couldn't mentally describe it in all its feral beauty/glory before it jumped at her again, but she was actually waiting for it to do so and ducked and swerved, scoring a slash on one of its arms before she moved away again.
She wasn't expecting it to attack again so soon though, and was caught off-guard when it sprang off the trunk of a tree with its powerful hind legs, claws out and reaching for her.
The beast crumpled, smoking slightly. The smell of singed flesh was fresh in the air, and Jenna unconsciously took some steps backward, blinking slowly.
"Jenna? Jenna! Oh good, you're okay..." Sheba appeared a clump of trees, circling around the fallen wolf-thingie to reach her friend. "...Wait, are you okay?"
"Fine... I just...almost lost my life to one of those...things..." That and there were still big patches of white circling around in front of her. Stupid Sheba, wasn't she aware of the damage bright lights like that could cause?
"There are worse fates," Sheba said with a little shrug, turning to look at the form lying nearby. "Is that...what I think it is?"
"Half-human, half-wolf? Yeah." Jenna answered blankly, before shaking her head and attempting to clear her vision properly. "A girl, no less."
"...Great. I don't want to know how she came into this world."
Jenna took a few careful steps towards the unconscious half-human, sword still out and at the ready. She noticed her face was still young, and she was probably no older than they were, at least by appearance. And, of course, she was pretty. Maybe not as much as Xanaeya, but she came close. Her hair was an interesting shade of blue, not as sea-greenish as Mia's, more on the blue-black end of the scale. She had...wolf ears. Sticking out of her head. (3)
She goes around and kills things and acts like a savage and she still has no split ends. The cynical mind sneered, tut-tut-ing disapprovingly. For goodness's sake, can't we just be normal here?
Jenna's attention was more riveted to the wolf ears. They looked real. And were fuzzy. She was suddenly filled with the urge to poke them, but a rustling sound behind them thankfully diverted that train of thought.
"Jenna? What's going on?" Felix's breathing was labored as he limped over to them, and Sheba rushed to help. Jenna looked aghast at his attempts to move when she had explicitly told him to stay put, but gestured weakly at the girl nearby. "...Who is she?"
"We'd like to know too. Or...maybe not." Sheba pulled him even with Jenna, and the three of them simply stared down at her for a while. "She's...half-wolf."
"How is that possible?" Felix said after a long stretch of time had flit on by.
"...We don't know. And we aren't taking theories or suggestions." Sheba said, glancing over at Jenna.
"Uh, hey, Jenna... What...are we going to do now?"
"Sheba..." Jenna started thoughtfully, as though she hadn't said anything at all, "what was it you...felt when you ran off before?"
The younger girl stared at her for a moment, the question taking some time to process by its absurdity in light of their current situation. "Er, well... I just felt this strong surge of...something. Like it was trying to draw me there, and that sensation won over the screaming rationality in my head and I just went toward it."
Jenna continued to stare at the form lying in a pile before them, thinking. Just what was going on? Sheba had fainted, Xanaeya had "healed" her, then the trio of All Things Evil had up and left to find her some sort of potion or elixir, they'd escaped and had not yet been tracked down, had found Felix, changed him back to human form, Sheba's tingly Jupiter sense, and now this...thingie. "It doesn't add up," she murmured softly to herself, stroking her chin.
Sheba stared at her, wondering if she was trying to look intelligent. Felix knew she was failing.
The supposedly unconscious girl on the leaf-strewn floor of the forest gave a barely audible moan, her ears twitching and eyelids fluttering.
"Sheba," Jenna intoned gravely, as though what they were about to exercise was an everyday-occurrence.
Jenna's sidekick dutifully reached around and clapped her hand over Felix's eyes. (Felix whined, naturally, but what they didn't know was that it was more out of curiosity than sudden love or lust.)
Jenna raised her sword before her again as the girl grumbled something to herself and rose slightly. Then she looked up, and before Jenna could avert her eyes, their gazes locked.
The Mars Adept swore in her head, and her cynical mind nodded smugly in agreement.
"Are you...?" The wolf-girl said hopefully, raising one clawed hand slowly toward her. She stopped as Jenna's sword jerked towards her, and she frowned. "I...I won't hurt you."
"So what the heck do you call pouncing and lunging at my head?" Jenna snapped, sword listing to and fro slightly as she spoke.
The girl looked downwards, her face sad. "I'm sorry... Did I...do that?"
"Yes. A lot, actually."
"I'm so sorry!" Jenna wasn't prepared when she jumped up and grasped her hands, sword and all, between her bandaged palms. "Please forgive me! Please! I swear I won't do it again!"
Jenna blinked at her, then down at their hands.
"Is it...split personality disorder, or something similar?" Sheba asked gingerly, one hand still protecting Felix's eyes.
"When the moon is full out, it normally makes me turn full-wolf... But as of late, when I enter any forest, I do that. It's...unnatural." She released Jenna's hands, looking down at her feet shyly.
Oh look what's talking! the cynical mind jeered, crossing its arms. Half-wolf and half-human? And unnatural? WHAT?
"And...what's stopping you now?" Jenna raised one eyebrow, lowering her short sword, but barely.
"I think...when that bolt of lightning hit me... It jumpstarted my human brain. So, uh, thank you for that," she said, bowing slightly towards Sheba, looking sheepish. "My name is Lycoris, just so you know. What friends I have call me Cori, though. (4)"
Jenna had her suspicions, but while she had been mulling over her and Sheba's recent adventures together, she had recalled that mysterious woman-from-the-waterfall's words – They should trust you...And so, once they trust you, they'll begin to tell you things... Little details. Pay attention to those; they're priceless in order to defeat them. She'd forgotten her words as of late, but they'd decided to come back from whatever vacation they'd taken themselves on and had barged right into her headspace.
Okay, brain. When the moon's out, she goes rabid. When she enters forests, apparently by herself, she goes rabid. Attacking her returns her to normal; is that a good thing or not? She doesn't have many friends, she has no split ends, la-dee-da-la-dee...
I'm afraid to tell you, Jenna, that this isn't working, the cynical mind told her frankly.
"Do you live around here?" Sheba had continued quizzing the wolf-girl while Jenna had gone introspective on them.
"Well, I used to... A long time ago, there was a clan of my kind living around here and near the northern mountain range. But townspeople hated us and we were a shunned race, and over time, we slowly died off from the elements and from the hunters. My mother and my younger siblings lived in a cave not too far from here, but my mother died from disease, and left me with her last litter and some of the older pups. I've been taking care of them since. (5)"
"Okay..." Jenna knew she would've probably had a notebook and a pencil out and would have been jotting down notes had she not had to protect Felix's good sanity. "How many siblings do you have?"
"Six others." (6)
Yowch, the cynical mind grumbled, the only sympathy it had ever shown towards one of the sparkley female beasts.
"Say... Do you know a Saturn Adept by the name of Xanaeya?" Jenna cut in before Sheba could ask another question and get the reasoning for Lycoris's wandering about and leaving the tots to fend for themselves, wherever they were.
"A Saturn Adept? Xanaeya? No... I don't think so. Why do you ask?"
"...No reason. She lives around here, in a tree you should be able to see for miles..."
"Oh... Really? I only arrived on the outskirts of this forest a few hours ago, but then...whatever it was that makes me go crazy kicked in, and...you know the rest. I came here to forage for some food to take back to my family..."
And I was hoping we wouldn't have to learn about that part, the cynical mind sighed with a roll of its eyes.
"Would you like to meet them?" Lycoris asked out of the blue, clasping her hands together in a strangely eager looking way before her.
We need to get away and stay away from Xanaeya, if for a little while... She doesn't come off as one of the worser ones... And as long as we're here, maybe Felix will be okay for a while. "As long as we aren't intruding on your space, of course."
Sheba was staring at her funny. Jenna rarely gave such gracious-sounding answers to these monstrosities of nature.
"We'll have to get what I came for before we leave, though... Would you help?"
"Sure. What are you looking for?"
Sheba was starting to get worried. Very, very worried. Especially when Lycoris smiled and turned and began walking off, and Jenna caught up with her and struck up a conversation anew.
"Sheba? Can I see now?"
"...I'd rather you not risk it, Felix," Sheba said, tugging him forward into the depths of the forest.
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Karst was woken from her light nap with a soft knocking at the door. Mumbling drowsily, she managed a "Come in" and had straightened herself up on her pillows before the door opened.
She couldn't believe her eyes.
"Agatio!" She whispered, amazed, eyes wide. "What are you...?"
"Keep it down, keep it down..." Agatio shushed her, tiptoeing inside and closing the door quietly behind him. "You okay, Karst?"
"Eh, I've been better," she replied softly, shrugging one shoulder. "How'd you get here? And...why do you even exist, if Saturos denies you do?"
"Excuse me," the other Proxian warrior grumbled, setting himself down on the floor on the other side of her bed, out of immediate sight from the doorway. "I do exist, thank you very much. Saturos just can't see me, the big pansy."
Karst blinked down at him. "He can't see you?"
"Invisible to him just as much as the wind on a sunny day is," Agatio affirmed, crossing his muscular arms over his chest. He leaned his head back on the nightstand, sighing in the way one does after traveling the world without rest. "It's a crazy world out there, Karst, and I think we're the only ones who can stop it."
"You said that when Menardi set the house next door on fire," Karst said with a roll of her eyes. "Did you see Serena?"
"Your daughter?" Agatio gave her a quick grin, and as Karst scowled down at him, he said, "Yeah, I did. She's pretty cute, what with having supposedly come from you, huh?"
"Agatio, if I wasn't so glad to see you right now I'd twist that head off your neck and – "
"Okay, okay... I was just kidding, she'd probably just another figment of somebody else's imagination."
"...What?" Karst's eyes went wide again. "A figment of...somebody else's imagination?"
Agatio nodded gravely. "They exist, but not in the same way we do. Some higher-up made them, and just dumped 'em here, I think, and left us to deal with them."
"As some form of cruel punishment, I bet..." Karst groaned, sinking down into her fluffy pillows.
"Yeah, probably. So... I was thinking, Karst... We need to get you out of here."
"No, really?" Karst gave him a weak but good-natured smirk from her reclining position. "You know, Jenna dropped by a while ago, and she dragged me back to Vale with Menardi... Menardi was whisked away by a male version of one of those creepos, and then Jenna left with one of our bigger problems, along with Sheba. Then I ended up fighting with another one that's here, and in order to keep the citizens happy, I took Jenna's Teleportation Lapis and brought her here."
"Why here? If Saturos was in his right mind, he'd probably skewer you."
"Yeah, well... Saturos hasn't been much help since before I left, so I thought I'd just do it out of spite, but he seems to enjoy doting over my 'daughter' and the annoying brat I brought along. So, if we escape somewhere, our safest bet would be – "
Wait a moment. Was Vale really all that safe, if freakshows like Marie and Katelyn and Xanaeya (shudder) were running amok there? And even if Agatio really was invisible as he claimed to be... How did she know they wouldn't be able to see him, fluke or otherwise? But Jenna was still in the vicinity, as least before she'd teleported, and Jenna, being Jenna, probably needed assistance...
"...To teleport outside of Vale." Karst finished after a moment, staring up at the ceiling. Getting in was easier than getting out. People wondered if you left hastily, rather than entered, when they'd already seen you wandering around town with one of the Golden Heroes. "We need to find Jenna, wherever she's gone."
"Crazy world indeed, if you've agreed to help her..."
Karst sighed. "You don't know half of it."
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(1) – Ah, Agatio. Where art thou in recent fics? Yeah, I had to stick him in there somewhere. And Vyc might come after me with a meat cleaver for doing what I did to him, but I had to. There had to be one guy completely unaffected by Sue Charm (tm).
(2) – I have no recollections as of what Jenna did with her sword. I doubt I mentioned it anywhere, so...yep.
(3) – I had to stick in an Inuyasha-like reference somewhere, y'know. I hate the word 'youkai' now. Especially when it's used in tandem with 'half-'.
(4) – 'Lycoris' sounds like licorice to me. I chose it because it means 'twilight.' :P And don't you hate it when Sues shorten their names to a nickname no actual person would ever use? At least, I wouldn't. I have friends with shortened names, but they're reasonable. Like Matt and JT. Cori? When her name is likely pronounced 'lih-core-iss'? 'Lai-core-iss' at a stretch?
(5) – I don't know what I can say about this, but in my lifetime as a Suethor, I've never made a character with this kind of backstory. But...it's over-used, like everything else is. And notice how Sheba asks whether she lives around there or not, and instead of saying 'yes' or 'no' like any other normal half-wolf girl, she answers with her history. Yerp.
(6) – I don't think this is actually possible, but I don't know much about lycanthropy or wolves.
This chapter was a little...lacking, I think. So it's unjustified, what with my long absences between chapters... But I stated earlier I have little to no ideas, so... That's my excuse. And, er. If any of you are wondering about how time works in this fic... I realized that, too. Think of it as a Sue-fic, if you will – some Suestories have no sense of time whatsoever. They just keep going on. With angst. With tears. With badly-done 12-year-old-written-smut. Whatever. If it makes you feel better, y'know...
Agatio's "theory" suddenly came to me in a flash of inspiration, so I'll work on it. Heheh.
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