Disclaimer: Don't own it. Got over it. Get on with your lives people.

Story Thus Far: If you've gotten to this chapter then you seriously don't need me to tell you what happened.

Enjoy Chapter 17!

Sweet Nepenthe

"You can't dance around forever, Veil-chan!"

The dragon youkai grunted and dove aside, barely evading the violet-red blast that ripped through the tree-line behind him. He panted – yes, panted – and sprung away again, legs barely mustering the strength to kick off the ground and propel him out of harm's way. Jenny's fleshy staff pierced the dirt like a javelin, burying itself in the road and quivering there, rolling eyeballs trained on him. It went limp and slithered like a black, oozing snake back to its mistress.

The young draconic demon clutched his side, gritting his teeth, fangs bared. His wounded flank dripped between his fingers, making his hand slick and wet with his own hot blood. Jenny smiled down at him, her giant horde of infected lined like an audience for a cock-fight behind her. He knew she chose not to call them to her, delighting in slowly, slowly wearing him down; knowing none of his attacks could hurt her.

She just kept attacking and attacking, knowing that he wanted her to attack him. She knew he was trying to buy time, but she didn't care because she didn't think that his plan – whatever it was – would work. She just enjoyed herself, giggling and taunting as the red-haired youkai struggled to stand, his great black wings bent and crushed, bones shattered throughout the length of the leathery limbs.

He shuddered and once again his metal barbs swarmed the disease apparition with no effect. Exhausted, the dragon demon's outstretched arm went limp, falling in the dust. Jenny giggled somewhere overhead. Veil grimaced, making a face and trying to pull his arm back in so he could try to get up, but his muscles wouldn't obey. His broken wings pinned him against the bloody ground, his fatigue making it impossible to stand under the weight of his own crippled limbs.

He felt the girl crouch beside him, stinking of disease. She reached out and touched his head, making him cringe at the slimy sensation of her fingers.

"My new toy," she purred, stroking his hair lovingly. "I'll keep you aware for now. So you can watch everything crumble. Don't feel bad. You were destined to lose."

He raised his head, trembling with the effort. "You're nothing," he told her with a laugh.

"Nothing, am I?"

She raised her staff, aiming at his unprotected skull. Her grin had grown blood-thirsty, her expression wild and erratic. "Once you're dead, tell me who's nothing!"


Jenny stopped her staff in the first motion of falling. Her gaze swung around to fix on the new voice, black, oiling orbs finding the source and smirking. She turned away from the fallen General and faced the speaker. A stale wind stirred her dark chocolate tresses, wide mocha eyes hard with an expression of morbid determination. Dressed in sneakers, sweats and a T-shirt she didn't look ready for battle. Her gaze began to glow, growing steadily electric blue.

Standing behind her, the half-breed youko stood with a similar look in his dark wine-hued orbs. His silver-blue hair billowed in that same stale wind; making him look every bit like his father. He bore no weapon save a couple seeds in his fingers and his tail kept flicking nervously back and forth. A pale nimbus had begun to shimmer about him, visible only to those who looked for it.

"Leave him alone. I'm Mika Urameshi, Yuusuke's daughter and heir and you'll fight me for the castle," the raggedy looking teenager shouted defiantly.

The disease apparition smirked and raised her staff, pointing it at the kitsune who merely waved a couple fingers at her in recognition. Jenny thought she'd like to see him suffer with the dragon and licked her oozing lips. "What about the pretty hanyou? When I kill you can I have him?"

"No. You're going to lose," Mika told her blandly. "Alaster's too old for you anyway."

The youko shrugged, looking modest and the heir to the Third Realm stepped up, fists glowing a brilliant royal blue. Her pixie-cut brown hair fluttered and fanned out about her gentle curved face like a peacock spreading its tail-feathers. The air around her crackled with power, the particles in the space between them shimmered and Jenny eyed the iridescence gleam with something like suspicion.

Mika smiled a very sly and devious kind of grin. "One hit…it's all I have right? Once I hit you…you'll infect me and that'll be that, so I really hope this kills you."

Jenny held her arms wide, grinning like a mother inviting her child to run to her. "Then hit me, little girl. You cannot kill a disease. I am immortal."

The evil little girl began to laugh hysterically and the two teenagers exchanged looks of deepest aggravation. Mika put a finger in her ear and rotated it around, wincing while Alaster flattened his two canine ears, giving them the occasional twitch. Yuusuke's daughter nodded faintly to the youko who flicked half a dozen somethings into the infected crowd of demons and whistled innocently, hands behind his back.

"So come at me then," Jenny leered, not noticing the transaction. "I am more then ready for you!"

Mika nodded faintly as the scent of sugar frosting filled the air, a delicate mist of fine yellow pollen floating over the road like a blanket. Jenny still didn't notice anything amiss. Mika gave Alaster a puzzled look and he shrugged his shoulders. Mika mirrored his gesture and spun, darting at the black-haired little brat with all the speed her genetics could muster. Jenny didn't bother to move or even attack with her staff, leering still; waiting for Mika to come to her sharp little nails.

With a roaring battle cry Mika slammed her fist against her middle, through the child and up into her chest with a brilliant blaze of azure blue. She grinned, fist deep inside the disgusting, oozing innards of the girl, black fluid spurting out around her fist.

"Bang," she whispered.


Blue light erupted like a grenade from the teenager's fist. Jenny exploded in a wet chunky shower of flesh, slop and smoke; the shockwave blasted Mika backwards into a waiting Alaster, who caught her and swung her around to keep from being plowed over by her flying body. Ooze splattered the road, coating everything and the two companions froze in one another's arms, watching with held breath as the steaming Jenny chunks gave a twitch…a shudder…as if trying to draw themselves together…

…and dissolved completely in the pollen.

Mika gave a shriek of wild ecstasy and began leaping up and down like a jack rabbit, dancing around and pulling a very flustered Alaster along with her. The entire castle occupants overhead roared in victory, rattling armor and shields and weapons, banging and stomping around in joy that, in fact, they all would not die. Mika meanwhile had bounced herself around Alaster, almost sobbing in happiness.

The kitsune looked a bit pink.

"Okay! We have to start spreading this stuff all over the Realm," Mika said suddenly, releasing the half-blood. "Got any more of those seeds?"

He nodded mutely, looking like his tongue had stuck to the roof of his mouth and handed her a large bouquet of the things. She looked delighted and immediately ran up to the confused and somewhat disturbed looking crowd of demons Jenny had infected. The cured individuals all looked abashed, horrified, amused, tired or a combination of the previous. She began handing her flowers to those who looked strong or had wings.

"Take these and start flying everything where with them. The pollen is a cure," she explained while handing them out. "Here, take this and fly back to Yomi's kingdom. Take this one and … HEY! You! Get back here. I want you go to Kumuro's kingdom with these five here…and you lot! Look lively! I don't want to see another flower here when I say 'three.'"

She paused.


Every flower bearing youkai had darted away. She dusted off her palms on her sweats and turned back to Alaster, who seemed oddly impressed. She grinned at him and hooked an arm over his shoulders, gesturing to the remaining troops to head back inside the castle. She grinned at Alaster who returned the smile with a small grin of his own.

"Nice job, Al. Wait until your dad hears about this," she sang. "He'll have kittens."


"Umm…never mind. Let's just celebrate."

Kurama felt mental blade pierce his skull and he screamed; grabbing his skull like it would shatter. He thrashed helplessly, unable to do anything to stop the terrible mental assault as it tore into his thoughts, ripped through his mind like ravaging claws sinking into fresh meat. His body jerked, twisted, and writhed; his spine arched off the floor as he heaved a throat stripping scream of pain.

He had to…getaway somehow…escape it. But how? How?

The kitsune shuddered, feverish eyes darting around the room as his mind ignited with fire and pain, destroying his sanity. He rolled onto his stomach, his skin flushed with blood and heat, then going suddenly deathly cold as his brain faltered, struggled, tried to make sense of the sudden confusion. His heart raced, slowed, and then skipped a beat… then another. Too much. Too much strain! His demon core would simply implode and he'd cease to exist. He moved a twitching arm, reaching, fingers fumbling across the uneven stone, crawling blindly. He had to get away…something…


Enma's power seized him, brutal telepathic fists grabbing Kurama as surely as any real opponent. They took hold of his muscles and without his consent he shoved himself onto his back and lay there, panting, pupils contracting to pinpricks in his eyes, sweat dripping from his skin. Everything felt…so hot! He felt Enma's presence in his mind, digging, digging deeper into him; penetrating him until he found the fox demon's center.


The cure shall not be found! roared Enma, deafening the kitsune. He watched with growing horror as the ceiling over head dissolved, melting away to reveal a gaping fissure in reality, a dark void from which a pair of flaming red eyes pierced his own. You will not leave here alive and ruin everything again, you disgusting demon waste! I'll destroy the Makai's youkai petulance with this disease. Then I'll destroy that deplorable THING you've spawned with a daughter of the Reikai!

Please…don't hurt them. Kurama felt his blood run cold, his chest contracting, his core slowly extinguishing. Leave Alaster…and Botan. You've no reason to…

I need no reason! I am the power behind everything! I am power and my will be done! I AM GOD!

"Sorry, my dear lord father, but that's not necessarily true," a voice drawled.

Kurama gasped, coughing violently as the strain on his lungs, heart and brain vanished, allowing him to collapse against the stone. His blood rushed freely through his veins, oxygen pouring through his lungs like a cure for a deadly venom and he lay there gasping. Through his violent hacking, he'd missed the first part of the argument with Enma and the new voice…a familiar voice…one he hadn't heard in decades.

" – so you see, it's all very official. The vote's been had and it looks like you've lost," explained that familiar voice, pompous and all-knowing as ever he remembered it. "I guess you didn't properly consider the consequences of unleashing genocide and death upon the populace of an unwary Makai. It seems you should have checked with the Higher Powers, because they're not very happy."

Koenma! What have you done?

Kurama felt himself smile at the shock in the yami's voice, the sudden, horrible realization of something devastating. He'd never heard anything more satisfying in all his long, long life. He watched with a grin as the Reikai Prince, ragged and weary looking as he appeared with robes torn, blood on his hands, brown hair stringy with sweat, picked at something on his sleeve cuff.

"I've spoken with the Council and they've decided they don't want you ruling Spirit World anymore," he informed the King of the Reikai with a slight arch of the brow, infuriatingly casual. "I've had my say and they've all decided it's time I take up the throne. They want you're resignation papers on their desk in the morning."


"Am I?" the prince, now king, asked with a placid look. "Well, I guess you should have mentioned that before they made me King of the Reikai."

You've ruined everything! You weak-willed fool of a son, you've handed the kingdom of Spirit World to the youkai scum! They will consume everything, destroy all, demolish the dynasty I've built for you! Is that what you would rule? A WASTELAND?

Koenma looked coldly up at the ceiling into the dark, swirling void where his father looked over them. "You were doing a fine job of trying to destroy the Ningenkai. You failed and now you've failed to destroy the Makai. The Council has ruled out a perfect punishment for you. Seeing how you enjoy chaos and causing it, they've assigned you a new kingdom to rule over. I'm certain you're familiar with the dark angel, Cloudhunter?"

"Cloud actually," Kurama corrected curtly.

"Yes. Cloud," Koenma nodded to Kurama in thanks. Enma was making un-kingly sputtering sounds overhead. "His Mistress Mother had graciously agreed to have you join her in ruling the Unlit. The dark underworld of the Makai is fraught with the chaos and destruction you so cherish."


"Yes," a deep, leering voice taunted.

Kurama rose to his feet, smiling as the familiar figure stepped through the entryway door Koenma had just entered from.

He ignored the kitsune, more interested in the horrified realization poured from Enma's psyche. He wore the same black jacket hanging nearly to his ankles, the sleeves torn out and exposing the still bandaged length of his right arm. His silver katana in his hand remained brilliant like newly minted coin, his eyes burnt cinnamon red. He hadn't changed in over a century it seemed to Kurama.

Hiei Jaganshi grinned his most vampirish kind of grin, pearly fangs bared. The metal buckles about his throat jangled and he fiddled with the hilt of his blade, like he cared less what drama occurred overhead. Then again, he didn't really have to look up to see. Burning in the centre of his forehead, his Jagan Eye stared fixedly up at the former Reikai King, its unblinking gaze pinning the yami. As they watched it seemed that Enma's dark figure had begun to blur and fade before their very eyes.

You! You woke my son! With that demon eye of yours!

"You killed Mukuro," he explained mildly, sheathing his blade. "I'm taking her throne back. Kurama and I are going to clean up the mess you've made in her kingdom. Your disease is already dwindling into nothing but feeble memory and you…" His smile grew darker. "You'll have a new playmate to worry about, asshole."

Koenma waved. "Don't bother to keep in touch."

Enma might have screamed but he didn't get the chance. Whatever power the Council had, they used it right then and the former lord of the Reikai winked out of existence and the gaping void over head knitted itself neatly back up so the trio stared intently up at the burn-scarred ceiling. They all thought for a moment they heard a soft feminine chuckling darkly from somewhere but it could have been nothing. Hiei looked up at Koenma, glaring at him with his two red orbs given to him and birth and bound his Jagan up behind a plain black headband.

"You'll hold up your end of the bargain?"

The new King of Spirit World bowed slightly. "Of course. I need to get back to Headquarters and start sorting the paperwork. From the sounds of things-," He said this while cocking his head, listening with some new god-like powers. "- Yuusuke's won the battle. Seems Mika and Alaster have the cure and are spreading it around the Third Realm as we speak. I'm certain you, Kurama and the others can take clean up the rest of that pesky disease for me?"

Hiei looked momentarily murderous and Kurama glowered slightly but Koenma skirted the fire demon before he could get violent and popped out of existence in that way only Koenma could. By the time the Jaganshi blinked, the young ruler had relocated himself in the Reikai and safely away from the irate demon. Kurama rolled his eyes, feeling like a Spirit Detective all over again, crossing the floor and exiting the room with Hiei falling into step beside him. Silence. He gazed pensively at his former partner.

The smaller youkai shot his an arsenic laced glare. "What?"

"You came," he said simply.

He snorted. "Like you foolish, fettered idiots could ever take care of yourselves. I wanted my throne back, fox. Nothing more."

The kitsune and the Jaganshi turned into a main hallway, the giant gaping doors at the end leading into the main Makai portal in the Reikai. As they both pushed the doors open and stepped into the demon world Kurama smiled, careful not to let the irritable fire demon see it.

"Never did I imagine it."

Touya stared up at the sky overhead, feeling his muscles slowly loosening from over an hour of frozen stasis. The scent of over-sweetened air hung thick and he sneezed quietly, grimacing at the dizzying sensation it sent through his aching head. He sat up and folded his legs under him, waiting patiently for his body to get over the trauma of over-reaching his limits and opening itself up to the power of Ice.

He shivered, remembering the ultimate freezing chill of the Element burning through his spirit, encasing him in unforgiving permafrost. He rubbed his raw arms, still red and burned from over use of his element in the last couple days. He felt thin, stretched…utterly exhausted. His pale blue eyes swept the broken battle-field and he sighed heavily, hoping to whatever powers listened that his friends survived.

He thought dimly of Jin, Shizuru, Alaster and Yuusuke. Did Kurama manage to escape Karasu's claws? That girl? Mika?

The Ice Master closed his eyes and sighed, part of him burning angrily with the knowledge of having been used, manipulated and forced to do such horrible things to those who would call him ally. He reached up a pale hand and held to against his forehead, pressing fingers to his temple to sooth the throbbing ache. His throat burned for some reason he couldn't distinguish and his eyes stung suddenly with the memory of Jin's horrified face, Kurama's open betrayal, Yuusuke's heart-wrenching grief, Alaster's shock, Shizuru trying with everything she had to decide if she had the heart to kill him.

He lowered his hand to his eyes and covered them, his other hand clenching against his thigh, gripping the fabric near his knee until his fist trembled. He knew he hadn't done those things…not purposely, but he couldn't…stop seeing them in his mind like a sick slideshow. He wanted to block it all out but minds like Touya's didn't easily dismiss anything, not even that which he couldn't stand to see.

For a moment…he wished…he didn't know what he wished. Maybe that he could have given Yuusuke that message and died. Just melted into quietness, let death take him to whatever lay beyond for confused and icily petulant souls like himself. He felt something against his fingers and peeled his hand away from his face, realizing his tears had become frost on his skin and tried stoically to rub it off, feeling ridiculous.

To start having emotions right then; what an idiotic notion. Like that would help him in anyway at all. Tears didn't change the past. He managed to stand up, his knees threatening for a moment to give out beneath him but they didn't and the ice demon managed to steady himself, folding his arms around himself like…well…a lot like he was cold…not that he actually was mind you, but like he was.

"Aye! Touya! Up here!"

The Ice Master looked up, blinking as a strong wind swept through the barren battleground, tugging at his mis-matched green bangs and whipping at his tattered clothes. The blue-eyed, grinning face of a familiar Wind Master zoomed into view and dive-bombed the startled ice demon, tackling him in a giant bear-hug that very nearly put the ice youaki into another coma.

"Jin!" he gasped, the larger shinobi hugging the air out of his lungs in joy.

"Touya! I'm so glad yer being okay! I though' you'd had it when Yuusuke showed up at th' castle an tol' meh what happened but yer alright! Everyone's cured an' th' whole lot o' th' kingdom's all partyin' and prancin' around and throwin' a grand old toime! Come on! If we hurry we kin get back an' catch Mika's karaoke!" Jin chattered, talking a mile a minute the way he did when too happy to express himself at everyday speed.

"Karaoke?" Touya asked doubtfully.

"Aye!" He said, giant blue eyes glowing with happiness. "Ain't it great to be bein' alive?"

The Ice Master stared up at him for a long moment…then his mouth pulled in one of those very, very rare, once-in-a-blue-moon, genuine smiles that made all the age and ice melt from his features. Maybe, he thought, seeing the happy faces of all those allies he'd so worried about…maybe seeing them would somehow make things okay…somehow. He grabbed Jin's wrist tightly as the wind demon took to the skies. Though he didn't relish the idea of dancing demons, he managed to remark to himself without the slightest trace of sarcasm.

"Yes…I suppose it is."

"Are you going to be okay?" Alaster asked.

The amber-eyed girl started as someone fell into the seat next to her, sitting down on the empty chair. She watched him flick his ears anxiously, looking at her with his great raspberry eyes, worry etched in every line of his young face. His big sister smiled and ruffled his hair the way he loathed and cupped her chin in the palm of her hand. She gestured something to the effect of 'yeah, yeah' with a large goblet of…chai tea? Alaster sniffed, wrinkling his nose with a small look of distain.

She grinned. "I'm going to be fine…I just need some time…"

"Time to what?" Al wanted to know, speaking up over the dim of celebrating youkai filling the castle halls.

Yuusuke's court amassed with happy youkai, dancing and bouncing around happily to the musical stylings of Mika Urameshi…who wasn't half bad on the wooden spoon she'd substituted for a mic. She currently had her mother and Botan cha-chaing across a table with her. Yuusuke laughed hysterically while a deeply glowering Veil tried without success to get away from him. His broken wings had been healed, but still looked sore because he winced every time Yuusuke yanked him back.

They'd received word from Kumuro's kingdom only to hear that – by some sudden and wild inspiration – Hiei Jaganshi had come out of hiding to reclaim Mukuro's throne, thoroughly killing the usurping ruler currently on the throne and telling anyone who had a problem with his rule, they could take it up with his katana or complain to Koenma…the new King of the Reikai.

No one complained. Most feared Hiei's katana everyone else knew Koenma would misplace the paperwork.

Kurama had checked in to inform everyone that Yomi wanted him to take the cure all over the Makai and it would be a couple months before he could get back. He'd also had a private conversation with Botan that a couple people tried to listen in on and got hit with an oar as a result. Botan broke off communication with her husband, looking both happy and disappointed all at once.

But apparently the fox had made her quite an extraordinary promise as to the method of celebration when he finally got home. She seemed content with that anyway.

Shizuru heaved a deep breath and sipped her drink looking thoughtfully skyward.

"To get over it…let it go I guess…" sighed the demon huntress. She reached up to run a hand through shorn golden hair. "Kazuma would have wanted me to…he would have wanted me to a long time ago. I'm just slow on the up-take"

Alaster smiled and hugged her gently. "Don't worry…something tells me…Kazuma's laughing where ever he is."

"You think Karasu bit it?"

He nodded to the young woman who smiled very slyly as he went on, grinning.

"I have…a feeling…" he said, eyeing the black feather Shizuru had slipped behind her ear.

Karasu had gotten quite lost in the time since he'd departed from Kurama's company. No, no, don't take it like that, he hadn't lost his way in the maze of the Reikai fortress, he'd actually vanished from that place completely. He didn't know, but Enma had lost his gambit against the Makai and now both he and those who the Higher Powers thought deserved it were getting their up commence.

He staggered in the darkness, unable to see anything in the black shroud about him, blind in the shadows so deep it seemed that light never existed in this place. If not for the rocks and stone obstacles he kept stumbling into he would have thought himself dead, swept through the River Styx and into the oblivion…or something.

He tripped over an invisible something and sprawled in the darkness, cursing and clawing at the stone in fury. He'd been foiled, cheated and humiliated again! Not just for the second time but the third. That Kurama! That damn fox. He'd get the miserable redhead yet, kill him, torture the fool and his filthy little family at his pleasure and let them die slowly, kill the wife, then the child, then let Kurama live for a time with that pain…then kill him too.

That promise of vengeance kept Karasu going for a bit…then he heard something in that dark.


The gentle sound of a foot on the stone behind him and he spun hurling an array of explosives. They detonated in a sudden blast of red and yellow fire, igniting and illuminating the dark world. Karasu's lavender eyes widened a bit at the sight of endless, sprawling stone figures, caverns, stalagmite the side of Tokyo Tower, canyons of black that fell away into nothing as his tiny light fought to pierce the sacred shadows.

They went out and Karasu instantly summoned up a crowd of green, glowing orbs that cast a pale glowing circle of green around him. Beyond his protective cloud of emerald bombs, the blanket of ebony loomed like a promise of death. He heard the soft fluttering of wings and spun, having seen a dark flutter, but saw nothing certain as he spun to face the threat.

He narrowed his eyes. "Who's there?" he demanded.


He spun about as something black and billowing…like a cloak…flitted back into the darkness. "Who's there? Show yourself!"

Tup! Tup! Skitter! Tup! Whoosh! Flutter! Everywhere, all around, he could hear the sound of endless wings beating, slithering, feet making birth on the stones in the darkness, endless enigmatic fluttering figures outside the glow of his green light. He spotted thin pale faces, ebony black hair and dangerous luminous red eyes that flashed hungrily before vanishing into the darkness like animals, their charcoal wings fluttering. Karasu felt a pang…sudden realization and…fear?

"And the Raven, flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting. On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door," quoted someone, a single mocking voice rising from the gloom.

Karasu felt himself freeze, unable to move as a sudden horror, a sudden fear like that of a cornered deer, facing the terrible fangs of a great and starving wolf. There before him, standing just inside the ring of pastel green glow, the tall, slender frame and the pale familiar face of the broken angel he'd forgot. He wore a pair of un-necessary sunglasses that framed his garnet eyes, his soft pale hair floating around his forehead like a crown of spun gold.

Then, in his sing-song voice he continued, still reciting that poem…that damning poem like a child for a teacher. "And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming. And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor."

There was a smile on his lips and a feather in his hand and he spoke again as a crowd of glittering, red eyes emerged from the darkness behind him, sadistic, grinning faces all waiting – as if in expectation – for some kind of finale, or show. The only blond in the group of endless ebony-winged youkai, all lurking like predatory seraphim. Karasu's sense drowned in S-class power, every demon around him (The one in front of him especially) humming with negative spirit energy.

"And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor…"

Karasu detonated his explosives, the green cloud of bombs igniting and erupting in flame, fire and spirit energy as he made more and more and more, endless green bombs blasting, shattering the last line of poem, lighting up the darkness. Pale faces screeched in pain at the light, flinching away from the offending stabs of luminance. Dark alien voices screamed in melodic, but guttural tongues, wings beating flapping away from the top-sider's horrible lights.

The quest demon attack for what seemed like hours, until the voices were gone and his energy expired and he stopped, chest heaving, sweat dripping like rain droplets down his long hair to fall from the tips of his sable tresses and splatter on the soaking stone. He stood there, with only a single green orb hanging in the air in front of his pale face, lavender eyes reflecting the emerald gleam.

Suddenly another pale face loomed out of the shadows into the light again, ebony shades glittering green. A thin smile and he reached up a gloved hand to hover above the single glowing sphere. Karasu could only stare, his heart plunging in his chest. Cloud tipped his head like a cat considering a canary and spoke, finishing the line.

"Shall be lifted…nevermore."

His hand closed over the light, snuffing it out and Karasu knew only darkness then…

…And nothing never – ever – more.

Catch yu' later…much later…

Author's Note: I'd like to dedicate this fic to all you readers who stuck with me and finished it out to the end. Most people don't have the patience or the taste for my kind of tall tales, so I'm glad I found a group of crazies who enjoy tripping the guide lines of fan-fics for the fun of it. You've all made this story a precious little gem of mine and I'm glad you all enjoyed it.

Cheezit: It's about time. I was starting to think this non-sense would never end. It's time to start those sequels you keep promising and putting off. We need to work on Walking My Delusional Path. Hurry and wrap this up. Fans can't wait forever.

Cloud8.9: She needs to start that Teen Titans ficlet remember? She's got sequels running out her ears. This is a mess. My whole summer is blown.

Me: Well, it looks like I'm booked. Thank you all for reading. Any of you interested in my Touya fanfic stay sharp for my follow up. The one Cheezit just mentioned. It's looking like a short but sweet kind of wrapper-upper of all the frayed and tangled loose ends I left hanging at the end of Ice Dreams of Fire. Hope to see you then. Syco out!

Signed – The Syco, the Rebel, and the Snackfood