Chaos: 4:49 Cosmos: 4:49
"What a suffocating place."
"It's right up your alley."
"This is different. There is no intent of killing. It simply…suffocates. There is nothing here."
"That is interesting."
"I can feel darkness, but it is different."
"Is there a trace?"
He sprang forward, not bothering to call out to her. She frowned briefly, following quickly behind the darkness embodied. She could not feel what it was that they followed. It unnerved her, but Chaos had not the power to deceive her. Pink locks danced in her line of vision, bringing back memories of far away times.
She was just as weak.
Chaos motioned for her to wait as he leaned against the cavern wall. She leapt to the opposite side, analyzing their setting and checking her power. It was still too premature to do much damage. A glance to Chaos showed he was already somewhat in control of his powers.
'It must be the setting. It is helping him and hindering me.'
"Pawns, sounds like five. Can you take two?"
"Fine," Serenity answered, slightly angered by the weakness she had in the small body. Chaos raised a hand and promptly disappeared. She heard muffled sounds and cursed. No doubt he'd acted on his own despite talking to her about taking two out.
Was she kidding?
Talon shook his head. This had to be a misunderstanding. Hotaru did not just say they were going back to Japan. He looked to Akefia, gesturing to the grounds.
"Let's go back to training. She must be out of her mind."
"Are you sure?"
"We cannot go back to Japan. There is no reason to."
"On the contrary," Hotaru interrupted their chat. She twirled the straw in her drink, smiling mischievously. Star sat by her, a drink in her hand as well. Seth was by Akefia, frowning, impatient as they continued to talk.
"We have all the reasons to go back," Hotaru continued. She picked up a cookie from the platter in the table before her. As she did so, she pushed a manila folder forward. "See this."
"What is it?" Seth asked, picking up the folder. Akefia walked forward, looking over Talon's shoulder. They looked on with intense curiosity before Talon snapped the folder shut, an annoyed look on his face. "What the hell? How are we supposed to read something we can't read?"
"I see you are in a teasing mood."
Hotaru giggled, looking to the door. Maximilian stepped into the room, a smile on his haggard face. Akefia crossed his arms, thoroughly annoyed. Could he not just get back to training?
"Well, we do have great news. Why not celebrate? We should feast!"
"What's going on?" Talon asked. Seth let out a sigh, walking towards the window.
"Maximilian got a message last night," Seth said. "It's really awesome news and because of it, we have to go back to Japan."
"She's coming back," Hotaru whispered. "It is now definite." Talon felt his heart skip a beat. His breath caught in his throat.
"Yes," Maximilian nodded. "Serenity's returning."
Everything seemed to be going so well.
Everything was peaceful.
So why was he trying to change it?
Téa tapped her pencil against the wood of the desk. She was not exactly happy with the reaction that Yami had shown earlier on in the day. Why hadn't he been able to recognize the truth behind her words? He should have seen that it was better this way.
No one got hurt this way.
Chaos: 4:30 Cosmos: 4:28
"Where are we?"
"It's not too far away from our destination. We might be able to use our natural powers in another few minutes."
Chaos sighed, running a hand through his hair. At his side, small hands clutching the amulet in worry, stood Serenity, her eyes fixed on the path before them. He knew she was getting anxious to escape the confines of the small body. It was against her nature to be in such a weak state.
"Do you think he's noticed we're in?" she now whispered, eyes turning to him. Chaos met her stare, thinking.
"It's possible – I've distorted the dark aura around the place to accommodate your safe passage with me. If not that, then the fighters we've destroyed should be a clue."
"Then he's watching us now."
"That's probably the case. We need to move."
"I haven't gotten-"
"Screw that. Come on."
There was one thing that would place the mission in jeopardy, Serenity concluded as she rushed to catch up, and that was her complete and utter failure to adapt to this environment. His back was to her front and she could practically feel the excitement coming off from him. Yes, this was definitely his environment.
She tripped over a jutting rock and cursed.
There it was again.
That sudden feeling grasping at him.
What was it?
Atemu frowned, straightening up. Sweat dripped down his chin, body aching, adrenaline pumping through his veins. He felt a bit sore, but that was to be expected. Grabbing a towel, he walked to the wall, reclining against it. The cool feel of the tile was shocking to his warm skin, but after the initial impact, he began to grow accustomed to it. Wiping his face off, he glanced to the space in front of him.
Others were still running the dreaded fifteen laps, a punishment by the harshest male P.E. teacher in the castle. Atsuy was just finishing up his last round, panting slightly. It was something that was still beyond their understanding. While in their Knight forms, they could run those fifteen laps without breaking a sweat, but in these 'normal' forms? Not at all.
While they may have had a better physical condition than the rest, it was still not enough. It didn't compare at all to what they could do. His grip tightened. No doubt Hotaru was able to do things that Saturn could do. What was the difference? Why couldn't he?
Scowling, he moved on to stretch. He could feel his muscles protesting as he began with his legs. Atsuy soon joined him, stopping to catch his breath. The twins shared a look before the younger plopped to the ground. Ignoring his brother, Atemu continued his stretching exercises.
"Why what?" Atemu grunted in response. Atsuy remained sprawled on the ground, staring blankly up at the ceiling. It was something he always did when he was pondering something deeply or he was reflecting on the past. It was a bit of an annoyance….
"Why are you such an asshole?"
"Is that everything?"
"For the last time, yes!"
"Fine! But if you forget something, so help me-"
Hotaru snarled as she spun around, away from the chuckling Akefia. In the busy waves of people rushing by and calling out to each other, the small group was easy to miss. The airport buzzed with activity as Hotaru tried to calm her urge to slam Akefia's face against a particularly nice looking piece of wall.
"You better sit next to him," she told Seth, who was snickering behind his hand. He nodded, gesturing for Akefia to stand next to him. Talon cleared his throat.
"It's not up to you to switch seats. What you have on your ticket is where you will sit, Hotaru. And as it is, Akefia is going to be sitting next to you."
"What did you just-"
"It's alright, Hotaru-chan," Maximilian smiled as he began to lead the young girl to the gate. The cool voice of a female worker was announcing their flight over the intercom. Star, a few feet away, was rushing them forward, anxious to travel once again. Talon sighed deeply, tired. He had forced Akefia to train for the majority of the night. He could tell the other Knight had some bags under his eyes, but didn't want to think of his own face. Walking a little slowly, he followed after the group, ignoring the bickering that began again and falling into step with Seth.
"I'm so glad you found Akefia," Seth grinned. "He really makes this easier to deal with."
"Too bad he came with side effects…"
Chaos: 4:00 Cosmos: 3:30
"It's still alive!"
"Go and get rid of the sensor!"
Serenity shoved the carcass away from her, dashing to destroy the small device by the crack on the cavern wall. There was some slick substance over her fingers that caused for some trouble as she tried to claw the small thing off. Finally at her wits end, she summoned a small orb of energy and smashed it against the button.
"About time!" Chaos growled, snapping off a head in his irritation. She chose to ignore that sound, catching her breath. It was only a while ago that they had returned to their normal forms. Chaos had chosen a practical form: short dark hair and eyes with a slight built. He held out his hand to her, face set in concentration as he adjusted his power to suit her survival. Annoying.
"It's that way," she gestured. "They didn't want me heading that way. He's near – even I can tell from this point."
Chaos nodded, gripping her hand and pulling her along.
"We'll get to him. Just don't do anything stupid."
"What are they all preparing for?"
"Look. They've been at it since three days ago. You didn't notice?"
"It's not really something that stood out to me, Joey," Atemu replied. Yugi was at his side, mumbling about homework and 'freaky assignments'. Whatever that was. Joey and Tristan had joined them for lunch, each contributing a little to the small talk before Joey had taken notice of the working servants.
"They seem a little anxious," Tristan remarked, his eyes staying on a particularly pretty girl for a moment. He winked at her before Joey snapped him into attention.
"You could just go up and ask them," Yugi mumbled, flipping a page on his book. Atemu glanced to the book briefly and then waved a server over. Joey and Tristan began to argue about something or other and then stopped.
"Is something going on?"
Atemu froze, face pulled into a tight frown. Yugi snatched a look at his brother before glancing up to see a face he hadn't seen for the past few days since he had begun to train extensively. She looked down curiously, but the unmistakable look of worry was in her eyes; she was trying hard to not fear being rejected by what she had once called a tight group of friends.
"Hi, Tanya," Yugi called in greeting, seeing as how his older brother was still debating with himself. He closed the book and decided to instead watch the scene. This beat homework any day.
"It's nothing," Atemu replied. He looked to Joey and Tristan – who did not get the message.
"We're wondering about the way the servants are acting. It's like something big is coming," Joey said when Tanya eyed him.
"Oh," the girl smiled. "That's easy to figure out. Here, I'll go and ask."
That was what they had planned to do, but without her interference. Atemu stood to keep her from asking, but was too late, the girl already latching on to a servant. They watched as Tanya talked happily with the maid and then turned serious – indication that she had asked for the reason for the hurrying. Her facial features didn't better as the conversation continued.
"What did she say?" Tristan asked as Tanya walked back. She looked a little hesitant, biting her lower lip and glancing to Atemu nervously. Yugi sat up a little straighter. This was more than a little interesting, and, if he knew Tanya, she was about to say something she didn't want to tell.
"It's…they're preparing," she relented.
"For what?" Atemu questioned, eyes narrowing. The way she was behaving gave him a hint as to what she would say and he struggled to hold back any kind of excitement.
"They're returning," Tanya finally said after opening and closing her mouth. Atemu sucked in air and Yugi got to his feet. "M-Maximilian and the others are coming back."
"It looks the same."
"What, did you expect it to change?"
"Hush, Seth!" Star said, cheeks turning pink. Seth chuckled at his sister, taking hold of her bag as they walked to the exit. Behind them a constant bickering was heard: Akefia and Hotaru had not stopped since he had suggested she grow more instead of shrinking. Maximilian was laughing at the antics of the two and Talon was trying to ignore it all.
He wasn't doing too well.
Outside, a car waited for them, the chauffeur the recognizable Croquet. Hotaru offered a small wave to him before telling Akefia where to shove it. He, in turn, asked her to at least pretend to be a lady in public.
Star quickly took Hotaru's hand and gestured to the scenery before she could blast Akefia's face with a deadly poison and Seth wondered about the properties of Shadow Realm magick. Of course, Akefia was more than willing to answer his questions.
"It's so much better now," Maximilian sighed as the door closed and the car began to move. Talon arched an eyebrow at him, crossing his arms.
"What do you mean?"
"Just look at this playful bantering. It wasn't like this a few weeks ago."
"I'm not sure calling Hotaru's threats to Akefia 'bantering' is correct…."
"Oh, he'll survive no matter what," Maximilian said dismissively. "It's the air that surrounds our little group that I refer to most. It's so much lighter. I'm very sure she'll be happy to see it this way."
Talon stiffened, closing his eyes.
Hotaru began to laugh.
"What has gotten into you this time? Smelling glue again?" Akefia taunted.
"No. A better scent. A wonderful scent," Hotaru answered. Talon sneaked a peek. She was smiling, looking around excitedly.
"What is it?" Seth asked.
"It's her," Hotaru clapped. "She's here."
Chaos: 3:47 Cosmos: 1:00
"What are you doing?"
"There's something wrong. I can feel them again. Something's not right."
"We have a mission to complete. Move."
"There's something wrong!"
There was obviously something wrong with her as well, Chaos mentally included. His partner was breathing heavily. She was still efficient in ridding the path of unwanted pests, but she was looking tired. And that was of concern. By his estimate, it couldn't have been more than an hour since they'd arrived in this place. It had been even less time since they had finally switched to their regular bodies instead of the child ones. He shuddered. It was to be the last time, he had decided, he would allow himself to be trapped in that small body.
He grabbed her wrist and tried to pull her away from an entrance, wanting to go where the signal was stronger. The signal that they came after – the one belonging to Chiaki, Talon's former boss.
And here she was, trying to get away from it.
Oh, no. Not on his watch.
"We have to go this way!" he insisted. Serenity would not budge, instead doing her best to go where she wanted. Finally, hearing sounds of coming enemies, Chaos cursed and allowed her to go, following behind. "Don't make me regret letting you do this," he snarled.
"I can feel them, Chaos," she murmured. As they turned, he chanced a look at her face. It was tight, hopeful, but most of all confused. He'd seen that hope before. His senses stretched around him, trying to localize what she was feeling within. He sucked in air. Those signatures were not easily duplicated. In fact, they were one of a kind.
They took a left and he just about crashed into Serenity who had come to a sudden stop. No surprise there. Before them stood a young woman, beautiful, regal, silent.
Serenity had started to cry, which he was never in a mood to deal with.
Showing disgust on his face, he looked to the woman again and made sure, but there was no need. He knew it. Serenity knew it. This woman was no fake. She had to be who she looked to be.
"It's you," Serenity murmured, reaching out with a shaky hand. The woman remained silent, simply watching the actions, her aquamarine locks straying into her face a little, sea-green gown flowing around her. Blue-green eyes blinked once, twice, as Serenity touched the gown.
And that's when shit hit the fan.
They weren't going straight to the castle.
No, they had decided against that.
Instead, Maximilian had checked them into a hotel nearby to catch up with things first. One of those being a missing princess….
"I call shower!" Seth yelled as he ran into the room designated as belonging to the young men. Talon simply rolled his eyes, throwing his bag on the bed and falling near it. He was exhausted. Akefia came in soon after, looking around cautiously. He didn't seem ready to relax. Then again, he was only at peace when he was taunting Hotaru. Which was odd. But whatever. It wasn't Talon's job to pry…unless they got into a physical fight. Then he had to pry them apart.
He heard Akefia slink out of the room and tap on the door across from theirs. Hotaru answered.
Talon groaned as he heard the beginning shrieks.
There was no rest for the weary.
She was coming back.
It thrilled him to know that.
Smiling, he took his books and walked out the door, finally feeling at peace with the surrounding area. He could bear it now. All he needed was to remember that she was near and they'd be together again.
Without any interferences.
Yugi laughed at Atemu, who looked groggy.
Yes, he decided as Atemu scowled, all was right in his world.
Chaos: 3:15 Cosmos: 00:38
"Get a hold of yourself! Damn it!"
"You drift from me and I swear I make you mine!"
"Then fight it!"
But he couldn't.
It wasn't in his power to do so. He had to get her out of this place, out of the reaches of the enemy and most importantly, away from them.
She was bleeding all over him; his hands were already coated with the slick substance and he was certain his entire front was heavy from it as well. He didn't want to think on it just yet. He'd rather just keep going.
And maybe kill anything that crossed his path.
"And you're sure?"
"Positive," Hotaru beamed. She sat down and patted the ground next to her in invitation. Akefia chose the tree behind her, leaning against it with his arms crossed. Star took a seat next to Hotaru, face filled with anticipation and hope. Talon was reclining against the wall, arms crossed. Seth joined Akefia and began talking about a new scenario to practice. Maximilian was humming a little away, penning some letter to the castle with instructions.
It was so easy to feel the giddiness in the room. Everyone was on high alert, just waiting for a signal from Hotaru. She was the one who would be able to tell when Serenity made her way to them. Talon allowed himself to close his eyes, thinking it as another part of this training. He had to learn to use all of his senses better.
The image of the smiling princess behind his eyelids was just a bonus.
Chaos: 3:00 Cosmos 00:07
I looked down to her as I ran through the tunnels, ramming against whatever fool was stupid enough to block my way. Pitiful fools – as if they could stand up to me. How insulting. I scowled darkly as I recalled what I had seen. Insulting was what they had done to my idea.
Cosmos breathed roughly, more than in pain. I'd seen her like this once before – just once. I'd been extremely angry with a subordinate's decision regarding some trifling matter. She'd been making rounds when I burst in and demanded a fight. Well, more like kicked her.
We'd both been unable to move for a long time. I think I broke most of her bones. She crushed my left lung and part of my windpipe. Oh, and my legs – just to spite me.
But that was it.
This was different.
I hurt her in an effort to hurt what she represented. They were hurting her to destroy her. In turn, whether they realized it or not, they were hurting the balance that she and I kept. I gripped her tighter to me. In effect, they were hurting me as well.
"Fuck!" I screamed as I turned and met with a wall of enemies waiting for me. "No, no, you know what. Just damn it all to Hell!"
There wasn't a single reason as to why I had to leave anyone alive.
She suddenly sat up straighter, smile gone from her face. All eyes were on her, waiting, anxious.
Finally, she turned her face slowly to Maximilian.
"What is it, Hotaru?" he asked, gripping the pen tightly.
"Thirty minutes," she finally said. Everyone inhaled sharply. Talon pushed away from his post as Hotaru stood, a grin stretching across her face.
"We have thirty minutes before she's here."
"It's so like you," he chuckled against her ear, arms wrapping around her slim waist. "After everything that's happened, you continue to ponder. Just let it go. Let it flow away."
"It all seems so simple to you, doesn't it?"
"It is simple," he argued. "You just don't see it yet. But don't worry. With my help, I'm sure you'll come around."
"Keep on dreaming, Chaos."
"So long as you're in them."
This was easier to understand.
He looked out the window. It was pouring outside, but he noticed the light tint around the edges of the clouds. Was it a sign? Was the planet responding to what he had felt? Was it welcoming back the child it had lost for so long?
Atemu turned away from the window, staring blankly at the various math problems he had to finish. He knew how to solve them. There was a method to do so. There was always a solution to reach. That was the beauty of the world of mathematics. No matter what, there was a solution.
He scoffed, taking up his pencil. They said the world was ruled by math. So why didn't he have a solution for his problems?
"It would work better if you just told us where to go, Hotaru!"
"Where's the fun in that? Follow me. Come on, quick!"
Akefia cursed under his breath, running to catch up to the quick maiden. Seth carried Star, jumping from tree branch to tree branch, grinning wildly. Talon was nearer to Hotaru, silent, but wanting to reach the destination quickly.
Hotaru had immediately told them to gather their stuff and follow her. She knew where Serenity would be arriving and wanted to meet her there instead of waiting around. There was no opposition to the idea. Maximilian had stayed behind, giddy about making a grand dinner.
That mattered little to Talon.
Just one look, one smile, one laugh. That was all he needed. Just to feel her safe within his protection, within his arms. That was all.
If it was possible, he was feeling better.
He felt the wind on his skin, the warmth of the sun, the peacefulness of the surrounding area. He knew she was probably feeling it as well.
As they roamed the woods, she began to feel his presence more strongly. She sensed him guiding their path toward a large pine tree, and decided to relent to his motions. In one swift move, he had pressed her against the coarse bark.
"Isn't it just my luck to not reap the benefits of your newfound health?" he murmured into her ear. She could sense his contemplative mood; his voice and posture gave it away. He had to leave, but he would not mind to linger a bit in their position.
"This isn't the time or place," she chided, allowing a little of her energy to cover her skin. He reluctantly moved back a little, the energy singing his clothes. "I can feel the others arriving."
"Troublesome lot," he murmured. "They're so eager for your arrival."
"They have waited for me."
"Of course; they wouldn't know what to do without you."
"No," she snapped. "They know how to proceed. No doubt they were continuing training and getting rid of any obstacle that crossed their path."
"Always being so positive."
"I know they have been fine. You need to leave soon," she reminded. He sighed and stepped back, allowing her to leave the confines of his embrace. "This is a necessary process."
"Very true. However, I think I'll leave as soon as we tell your minions what happened."
"They're not minions."
They were devoted friends she had to protect.
That energy was back.
Laughter behind him continued to irritate him further. He was not in a very joyful mood. Why not spread that instead of the stupidity?
"You should not count victory just yet," he mocked, turning to face his family. Artemis and Apollo looked at him warily. By them was Selene, smiling as she drank the ambrosia.
"What are you talking about, Ares?" Artemis asked, deciding to humor him if it meant he would shut up and leave. "There is every reason to celebrate."
"Because Selene's descendant has arrived? That means nothing. She has been with her counterpart for far too long. What are the consequences of that, I wonder. Will she still remain the same of will she have changed? If so, are they changes for the better? Or will she turn against you?"
"You're not thinking we're going to listen to that," Artemis argued, though she began to wonder, casting a glance to Selene.
"You don't see her running to Apollo's son, do you?"
"No one expected that," Apollo shot. "What you did ensured that."
"It wasn't I that did anything. It was their emotions that led to the outcome."
"If you hadn't told Atemu all that nonsense about-"
"You blame me when you should be blaming your son?"
Apollo had no suitable answer. In response to the silence, Ares only laughed.
He looked happier.
It was in his eyes, the way he moved with stern determination. He laughed with the others, but he was always ready, eyes scanning his surroundings. It wasn't because he sensed her nearby. She was the farthest thing from his mind, it pained her to know. It wasn't that he was looking for something.
He was waiting.
It used to be her that he waited for. He would lean against her door frame, just watching as she got ready to leave. It was her that he had waited for so long ago.
It was for another now.
She closed her eyes only to open them quickly and dashing away.
Even behind her eyelids she could see the one responsible.
It was more of a feeling than a knowing.
Deep within him, soaring up to his heart, sending a wave of warmth.
This was her.
And there she was…
Talon inhaled sharply. Yes, that was the one he cared for.
She was reclining against the trunk of a blooming tree.
Her body was clothed in a blue kimono, hair fluttering around her in the gentle wind. It seemed to have grown longer and gained a lighter tint. Her skin was a bit paler, but he could have sworn it sparkled when streams of sunlight filtered down through the branches. That wasn't as captivating as those shining orbs.
He landed in front of her, slowly straightening up to his full height. Her eyes followed his movements, a small smile on her face, seemingly amused. Just for a second, for that small amount of time, it was only two that lived in that space of time. Only maiden and youth existed as they gazed at each other. He reached out to her.
There was enough time for her to nod before the others arrived on the scene and Hotaru rushed forward. The sudden disturbance in the air killed the magical moment and she was no longer just for him.
Now she was everyone's.
He inhaled deeply, closing his eyes before smiling.
At least one part was his.
It was so unfair.
She slammed against the body enclosed in silk, her dark attire vivid against the pastel color. Silver locks briefly mingled with dark, almost black strands of hair. Only a small gasp escaped as they tumbled to the ground. Perhaps she caused some pain to the one below her, but she wasn't caring.
How much pain had been done by that person unto their group?
Hotaru shook her head at the apology. She knew that, behind her, the group was standing, some confused. She, however, was not that. If anything, there was a sense of…was it anger?
"You left with him."
Her princess said nothing.
"Why did you leave with him?"
Hotaru lifted her head, looking properly at the one she was sworn to protect. There were many changes in that face. As if unwilling to believe it, Hotaru reached forward and took hold of the locks spread out beneath the taller maiden. It felt lighter. She shivered. It was such a light weight, almost like it wasn't there. As if Serenity were just an illusion, there to see for a short period of time because of their desperation.
"You're here, right? You're not leaving again?"
"It was not my intention to leave you, Hotaru," Serenity finally spoke. "It was not my desire to leave you all alone."
"Why did you?" Hotaru murmured as they stood. "Why did you do it?"
"It is a complicated reason," Serenity sighed. "One you shall not like."
"What do you mean?"
"Looks like the group gained a member," a dark, silky voice noted. Serenity turned her head a little, Chaos appearing at her side. His aura was easily felt.
"Whoa…" Seth whispered. Hotaru tensed, looking at the man with wide eyes, almost fearful. He had grown so powerful…so much more powerful. This was a danger – a high threat. Instinct made her reach to Serenity and pull her back.
"It's alright," Serenity said, placing her hand on Hotaru's shoulder. "He will not harm you. Chaos is about to leave."
"Good," Talon voiced, coming to the two.
"Are you still mad I took little Cosmos away?" Chaos chuckled. "Did it touch a nerve?"
"Who are you?"
Hotaru hissed, body turning as she glared at the newest member who had spoken. Of course, Serenity chose that moment to look at the one who talked. She narrowed her eyes.
"Who is this person, Hotaru?"
There was power here. He could have licked his lips.
Zorc would have enjoyed this. The raw energy radiating off the beings in front of his was simply astounding. He could feel it getting underneath his skin, feeding him, lifting him. At the same time, he felt drained, tricked, betrayed and dragged down. Two different sensations – from the two different people?
"He's…a Knight," he heard Hotaru hesitate. He glanced to the shorter girl, a smirk coming to his face. She did not look pleased to have to introduce him. Why not make it a little more annoying?
"Are you the girl they keep moping around for?" he asked snidely, walking up to Hotaru's side. She attempted to jab him in the stomach, but he laughingly brushed her off. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you. I will not be bowing to you, however."
"Is he from your creation, Chaos?" Serenity asked, looking to the darker man. Akefia coolly regarded how Serenity took his approach. She didn't look vexed, but there had been little respect apart from simple curiosity. Did she not know or sense the power he had?
"Not my own," Chaos spoke, visibly looking Akefia over with a critical eye. "He has some of the touches, though. A very fine specimen – I do not doubt he caused much damage at some point."
"Someone you should be proud of, then," Serenity dryly noted, nodding. "Very well. We were in need of another Knight regardless. Tell me, Hotaru, how he has been doing. Is he going to be useful to the cause or has he still much to learn?"
"He has much to master," Talon cut in, shooting a glare to Akefia, who had opened his mouth to speak. It wouldn't do to have Serenity mistrust the new addition so soon. "However, he shows improvement. Perhaps we can get him to a suitable level with your help."
"It will have to be done quickly," Chaos said as he stretched. The black silk of his outfit rustled as he did, shadows moving around him in a sort of anxiousness. Hotaru looked nervously to the tendrils moving on the ground, casting a look of question to Serenity.
"Yes, it will. Likewise, you should be leaving, Chaos. We have time enough to give you a little bit of space, but you cannot push it. Do you remember what you are looking for?"
"Not particularly. Care to remind me, little Cosmos?"
"Find the proper method to destroy any ties affiliated with the group. We cannot have them remain under possession. I've done my part."
"Ah, yes…the new issue at hand. I think I'll let you explain that on your own after all."
"Explain what new issue?" Seth questioned. He felt his skin chill as he noticed the exchanged looks between the two beings. Serenity inhaled deeply, visibly pained.
"Our enemy has employed new members into the army lead."
"Take care, little Cosmos," Chaos leaned forward, hand reaching to bring a few stray locks to his lips. "You cannot live without me. Remember that…"
"I remind you of the same thing, Chaos," she responded quickly. Chuckling softly, Chaos dispelled his body into shadows, leaving an empty void where he had stood. There was a hollow feeling as the natural energy of the planet grew accustomed to the absence. In this moment, Serenity moved forward and looked to each of the people in front of her.
"I've caused you pain," she plainly spoke after a moment's silence. Hotaru's hands turned to fists, Talon glancing down to the ground in anger, Seth and Star looking anywhere but to her. Akefia was the only one unaffected; he watched with interest as the scene played out. The human interactions were still such fun to see develop and served as a great mode of entertainment for him.
"I am so sorry."
The last royal of a great line dropped to her knees.
"I'm so sorry."
"It was a brave attempt on their part. Of course, it was not enough to do much to our plans."
He chuckled to himself, rather pleased as to how things worked out. Certainly, the two had gotten a little bit farther than he had estimated, but the experiment had been a success. They had discovered the new strategy to be quite effective in reference to the girl.
"The male is easy to handle. Control the girl and you control him. That is the weakness of a balance such as theirs. The scales must never tip too much to one side lest they end up destroying the scales – or in this case, themselves."
He grabbed hold of his cane, hoisting himself to an upright position. As he walked along, his new toys trailed behind him, silent. In front of him were the remains of old toys, ready to be used again as scraps. It was possible to generate new toys, but that would cost him a little bit of time.
"After such a hasty retreat, no doubt they will try to find a way to counterattack you, my little pets. Let's allow them such a freedom. In exchange, I shall give you adequate armies to lead. After all," Chiaki smiled, "you shall be a difficult target to kill for the little girl."
"We moved to the outside courtyard when we found out you were near. Hotaru said it was a better way to keep track of your arrival."
"I'm glad she did," Serenity smiled as she stepped into the hotel room. The scraping of a chair caught her attention and she looked to see what it was. Maximilian was leaning over his desk, gawking at the group stationed at the door.
He was so much thinner. Had his eyes lost some of their sparkle? Were his hands always that frail looking? Why was he not wearing his usual outlandish colored outfits? Where was the personality that captivated and said confidence?
He came and hugged her fiercely. Splashing on her cheek, the tears led her back to times past when she would be comforted after days of misery. Someone had always been there to whisper how things would be resolved. Someone had offered comfort and security when she was afraid. Her tears had been dried off.
Who had done that for him?
As Maximilian made sure he was not dreaming, Serenity narrowed her eyes in sadness. Behind this misery being shown, she was certain there were feelings of anger and resentment. She would have to face those. After that, she would have to tell them exactly what had happened during the mission – and what occurred with Chaos.
But, first, she had to fix the broken.
Sooner, rather than later, that smile would not be there. It would be banished and the happiness would be replaced with pain and bitterness. There would be no time to ask if there was any other way. There simply was one plan and that would be the one carried out, with or without protests.
She looked down at the sleeping girl. It had been a long while ago since this had last happened. Hotaru had demanded to be at her side throughout the remainder of the day. Serenity had approved and had asked to be informed of all that had occurred while she had been gone. Running a hand through her hair, Serenity let out a sigh. Hotaru could sleep now, but she was more than awake. There was much she had to organize.
First on her list was that new Knight.
Serenity frowned, rising from her seat on the bed. Hotaru murmured something incoherent in her sleep, but remained asleep. Walking to the window, Serenity mulled over what she had learned of the new member. Certainly, he was more of a rebel than a follower. If anything, she was surprised they had been able to persuade him to join. Actually…she raised a hand, resting her fingers o n her lips as she continued to ponder. How was it possible for him to join so suddenly?
She looked outside the window, brow furrowing as she recalled the information she had been given on Akefia. It was relatively little and Talon had been quick on the subject. It was very obvious he did not fully accept Akefia. Seth was neutral, naturally. He wanted to defeat the enemy and Akefia was just another ally, another strength in doing so. Star was gentle, accepting him with or without the flaws. The only one who was still quite against him was resting on the bed, an innocent smile on her face.
'It might be because they are both dark oriented,' mused the Princess, 'but it might be because of that that they will eventually grow closer. I can be sure of that.'
"Really? What was your first clue?"
He refrained from turning and glaring, knowing it would simply make the smirk on the thief's face grow. His aim was to think aloud, not ruin the night with violence.
"Akefia, surely you won't be trying to irritate your roommate who happens to have better knowledge of spells tonight – especially when he is not in the mood to deal with you."
"That's more of an order than a suggestion, roommate," Akefia mocked. The once-thief turned and fell on the bed, arms wide as he sighed. He was not too pleased with the way things had turned out. He had learned only a little about the true nature of the girl Hotaru never seemed to leave. He snorted. She probably knew more of him than he did of her. Ignoring Talon's mumblings, Akefia turned on his side, facing the wall and watching Talon's shadow walk back and forth.
'What is the relation between the Pharaoh and the silver girl?'
Scowling, Akefia closed his eyes. His mind ran through various scenarios and when he tired of them, he created a different set that slowly transformed the scowl into a smirk. The plans to return were set in stone. He would see the one who had destroyed his plan. The Pharaoh would be in his sights once more.
Why not have plans to rid himself of the royal pain?
Would you give me a second chance?
"You're awfully quiet…."
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Apart from the fact that it's interfering and you just stabbed me, I suppose nothing."
He blinked and then cursed. Dropping the offending weapon, he walked to his younger brother, a scowl on his face as he observed the falling blood. A few moments later, he pulled away. It was nothing too serious. Picking up his sword, Atemu proceeded to wipe it clean of his brother's blood.
"The practice is hardly worth calling it that," a voice disapproved. Yugi glanced to his left, testing his wounded shoulder. He winced slightly, but figured it would soon be fixed.
"What are you talking about? We're trying out some different maneuvers to use when we- "
"Fight against enemies that have not come in so long?" Apollo sneered. He shook his head, jumping from the perch he had watched his two sons from. He motioned for Yugi to come nearer. Not quite happy about it, Yugi refused to move, choosing to tend to his wound instead.
"It's not too bad," Atemu rolled his eyes. He crossed his arms, watching as his father walked towards his younger brother. "I didn't pierce anything crucial. Get up."
"You didn't," Apollo agreed, inspecting the wound. He placed his hand over it and proceeded to heal it. Yugi hissed in pain, glaring at Atemu who simply shrugged.
"You need to become more tolerant to pain anyways."
"Jerk," whispered the younger. "You're going to pay for that."
"Say it when you can stand."
All throughout the day, she kept a silent watch. Her eyes followed them as she fell in step to the back of the group, her mouth set in a firm line as she examined what was presented to her. Hotaru was eager to please, laughing as she cut into Akefia's arm and later on dancing around Seth before piercing him with a strong surge of magick. Talon was just as excited, slamming his opponents to the ground before detonating various spells and flattening the area around him. Hotaru had blinked and then laughed, Seth shaking his head to get rid of the dust. Only Akefia had looked murderous.
Lunch was a lively affair.
Hotaru had been drawn into another lengthy battle of wits with Akefia. It was only a glance from Serenity that stopped her from impaling her fork deep into his arm.
Maximilian decided to have a little trip around the gardens surrounding their current location and requested for company. Star had volunteered and Serenity had agreed. Thus, the entire group walked to the large, flower filled gardens, Akefia mumbling dark curses as they passed through a particularly bright display.
Dinner was more of a silent ordeal. Maximilian had talked of their impending trip; in a less formal tone asking Serenity if it was really proper to return so soon. She had assured him that the time was right and that nothing would happen to support his fear of someone being hurt.
"I worry for your and Hotaru's safety. I could care less for the other people presently in that area," the father had insisted. "This group, with the exclusion of the thief, of course, has grown on me and I would hate to see something happen to anyone."
"I love you, too, Pegasus," Akefia had growled.
That night's training was a little more focused on stealth and deathly accuracy. Not surprisingly, Akefia had managed to trick both Seth and Talon. He had Hotaru in his hands, but a sly maneuver near the end of the long training session had flipped the tables and Akefia had been left staring up at Hotaru as she rested her boot on his chest.
"Victory is mine, thief," she grinned.
"You can have this victory," Akefia grinned. He raised his hand, grabbing her ankle and slowly moving upwards. "But the war has not ended…."
The young maiden snapped to attention, shoving away the male and jumping to stand before her princess, a blush on her cheeks; she was thankful the moon was not so full and that the darkness hid most of the color betraying her. Serenity frowned slightly, her gaze shifting between the soldier bowing to her and the Knight smirking not fifty yards away.
"You should have disabled him, Hotaru," Serenity spoke after moments of silence. Hotaru blinked, looking up from her demure position. The princess turned away, walking back to their rooms. "We no longer have the privilege of offering second chances. This time, when we face the enemy, we aim to kill and destroy."
And so the day ended, Hotaru hard pressed to find a good response.
She didn't want it.
"Are you going to return it, then?"
If she could, she'd return the memories as well.
"You can't return something intangible like that."
She could try, couldn't she?
"That would be pointless. They would still be there."
She didn't want reminders.
"It's going to be hard, then, since the big one is going to come soon."
She really didn't want to be there for that.
"You're going to hide?"
She would do no such thing!
"Sounds to me like you are."
She was just going to not participate. That didn't mean she was hiding.
"Oh, no, you're so right, sister of mine. It totally doesn't mean that."
It was possible for her to kill, she reminded.
"You can just try," sneered the young woman. Tanya glared at Téa, crossing her legs. She had just been contemplating to herself, Téa deciding to put in her own two cents on occasion. Sitting before the vanity, applying a touch of makeup, Téa shot Tanya a small smile.
"You're going?" Tanya asked.
"Why would I not? I do not cower."
In actuality, it was a little bit uncomfortable.
There was laughter around her, smiles being shared as memories were retold and enjoyed once more. By her side, Hotaru was happily arguing with Akefia; something that actually was surprising considering she had been about to stab him not an hour previously. In some cases, it was amusing how she was able to switch from comic to deadly anger.
However, this was not the time to see it.
Excusing herself, Serenity stood and walked down the aisle to the back of the small plane. There, she tried to calm the nerves that were beginning to fray. In mere hours, she would be within the same confining walls that he was in. Of course, it was not something she would want to share with the others. They were still too caught up in masking their own nervousness with those memories she had no part in. Hotaru looked to her for assurance, wanting to know there was someone still constant, still strong.
How she loathed that look.
He liked being with them and laughing as they calmed each other with stories and pleasantries in such time of stress. He really did. What he didn't like was the hidden agenda. Although they weren't aware of it, the intention was there. Hotaru had been constantly looking to the older girl, almost asking Serenity to deny being comfortable with the situation. Star and Seth were doing a similar tactic, Seth bringing up some past situations in which the leader could not back down. Akefia was having fun torturing Maximilian, occasionally throwing in a comment to the conversation.
He didn't like how Serenity smiled.
At times, her eyes were out of focus, her mouth speaking but her mind far away. By the way she had been acting before, he could see her thinking of various plans to use against the new enemy she had hinted at. It was different than before when she would immerse herself in the conversation.
She was included, but at the same time, she was excluded.
The topics at hand were memories in which Serenity had been missing. What was she thinking about when Hotaru talked about finding a particular brand of perfume with Star? When Seth mentioned a strategy that he had come up with when Hotaru had fought with Akefia?
What was she thinking now that she was by herself? He watched her go to the back of the small plane, her face turned away.
Had she realized this was punishment?
Gifts are sacred objects.
They are given from one to another as a symbol of friendship, love, or simple adoration. They can be elaborate, opulent; they can be poor, simple. Whichever they are, the meaning behind them is their essence. A simple 'thank you', and 'I love you', or a well thought out 'I'm sorry' – they can represent just about any sentiment. But, there was always the wandering thought of negativity….
Could they also demonstrate just how miserable and sorry he was?
As he pondered an answer, he walked around the room, watching with anxious eyes as the time passed and the day turned to night. He was well aware that only teachers were supposed to know of the secret arrival. No student had been told, but having found a way to use his ability, he had discovered the secret. Not to mention, Yugi had been constantly mentioning that Hotaru was coming nearer. If she was getting close, then it meant that the entire group would be accompanying her.
It meant they had her back.
He didn't need to assume, of course. He could feel her approach. He smirked. Could she feel him as she neared him?
"We split into two cars."
It had been a simple suggestion. Maximilian didn't want Hotaru and Akefia within the same tightly confined space and so they had been presented with the two limos. Akefia had demanded he be in the opposite car as Maximilian, the latter vehemently agreeing, not wanting to be with such 'riff raff'. Talon had to step in quickly, grabbing Akefia and shoving him inside the nearest car. He turned and quickly took hold of the nearest two before closing the door behind him. It was only after Akefia had stopped trying to open the door and slam an attack to the following car that he realized who he had grabbed.
Serenity was warily watching a grumbling Akefia, Seth yawning as he settled in for the drive.
"How long is this damn trip?" Akefia asked, sending Serenity a venomous look.
"It's a fifty minute ride," Seth lazily replied. "You can survive that, can't you?"
"Not with Ice Princess here."
"Watch it, Akefia," Talon warned. Her eyes had turned a little dangerous. While it was a refreshing change from her in-the-clouds look, it was not what he was truly after. He knew she would probably survive, but he did not wish to be locked in an infirmary wing should the girl decide to blow up the car.
"She's not Hotaru," Seth agreed. "Serenity isn't as playful."
"Why do you argue with Hotaru?" Serenity cut in, surprising Talon.
"It infuriates her."
"It's amusing for both of us."
"How would it be amusing to be threatened?"
"She doesn't go through with it. You need me," Akefia chuckled.
"I can find a replacement."
"Your lackies tried and failed."
"It's true," Talon admitted when Serenity turned a questioning look to him. "He was a miracle to find. Seth sensed him when he first arrived in London with Star."
"I don't think we can find another, no matter how much we try," Seth concluded, his face turning serious. Serenity opened her mouth to speak, but closed it just as quickly. This was a decision she could not overthrow lightly for it was one she had not made. In some sense, she was happy they had gone along without her. In another, she couldn't help but be displeased.
Her mind was almost certain this was going to be easy.
Her heart was sprinting in her chest, certain this was going to be difficult.
Hotaru bit her bottom lip, twirling a stray lock of hair on her index finger as she gazed outside at the passing scenery. Sitting by her, Star hummed a little song, sketching some painting of a glorious landscape. Maximilian was resting on the opposite side, eyes closed and pose relaxed, although she noticed his hand twitched every so often. He wasn't asleep.
She sighed softly, wishing she could fall asleep and succumb to the bliss that dreams offered. How easy it was to simply give way and be led down the stream of unconsciousness! Dreams were such an escape, a reality in which to envision a life where solutions to problems came readily and easily. It was vastly different to the reality she was residing in.
A part of her felt guilty, as she remembered, for the manner in which she was treating her newfound princess. There was no need to reach out and ensure Serenity was with her and there certainly was no need to see if the girl had grown weaker. If anything, Serenity had somehow gotten a little brighter, filled with more courage. It would come in handy in the future, of that Hotaru had no doubt. But she couldn't help but hold resentment.
It wasn't like the Lunar Maiden wanted to be taken. Perhaps Hotaru could not understand the pain that she was suffering, but surely Serenity didn't want to leave them for Chaos. Right?
Or was that thought the reason why Hotaru was now placing so much on Serenity's shoulders?
Perhaps it was something else entirely.
Perhaps it was just weakness on her part.
Hotaru grabbed her head, closing her eyes as a headache began to surface. Star stopped her sketching, placing a hand on the younger girl's back and asking if she was feeling well.
"I'm fine," Hotaru smiled tiredly. "Just…thinking too much."
Or too little…
"I think I just want to sleep and dream."
"Don't we all," Star smiled as Maximilian opened his eyes. "Dreams are always refreshing."
He barely had time to utter a curse when the car split open.
"What the fu-"
He landed on his side, feeling the tip of a stone indent into his skin. Only when he rolled over, groaning, did he realize the damn thing had pierced through and drawn blood. Pressing down on the wound, Akefia shifted to his knees, glaring at his surroundings.
Seth was nearest to him, cradling his left wrist. A quick look at the wrist and the tight smile from Seth assured Akefia the injury was minor but would cause complications should it be stressed. Checking his own wound, the Tomb Robber was pleased to see it was not as deep as previously thought. It just hurt like a bitch.
"Everyone alright?" Talon's voice called out. Seth nodded as Akefia turned around. Talon had covered Serenity with his body, the maiden on the ground, glancing about. Around her waist was Talon's arm, still pulling her close to him. She either did not mind the attention, Akefia mused, or she was not paying attention.
"Of course not," Akefia answered. "We didn't get saved by a dashing young man."
"This is not the time to argue," Seth snapped as he saw Talon getting ready to attack Akefia. "We need to figure out what the hell happened."
"Simple," Serenity's voice rang. She pushed off from the ground, Talon moving alongside her. She didn't bother fixing her messy attire, instead looking to where the remains of the vehicle lay, engulfed in flames. A dainty hand rose and pointed.
And it was then that the silhouette was noticed.
"Meet our enemy, boys."
Horrified, Star could only gape at the scene.
Her heart had dropped a few inches, stomach tightened.
The entire car was enveloped in flames.
Maximilian was screaming at her side, Hotaru already running towards the debris. Star, however, was rooted in place. Her hands inched to cover her face as she tried to deny what was happening. Everything…was like before. Her eyes widened as the memory overlapped with the reality. The heat of the fire was far away, but she could still feel it on her skin. Panic flooded her as she tried to move.
She had to see. She had to try. It was not too far away.
Why couldn't she move?
Her tears leaked out.
Was she going to lose more people to the merciless fire?
It blew up.
Debris fell from the sky.
He shouted at the girl to move out of the way, avoiding a falling piece of glass. He winced as something hit his shoulder. Grasping the bleeding wound, Maximilian looked again up the road. He was still so confused. How had the vehicle come to explode? And for it to have such immense reach? He tsked as he saw a tire rolling towards the still unmoving Star.
"Damn it, girl!"
He grabbed her elbow and jerked her out of the way. He was about to shake her into focus, but the paleness of her face stopped him. What?
"It's the same," she whispered. He blinked at her stupidity. What the hell was she going on about? He growled, getting frustrated as he heard Hotaru yelling. He didn't have time to waste. He had to see to his daughter – the one he had only just recovered. Seeing as how Star kept repeating the same phrase over and over, he knew she would be of little help. Summoning the little bit of power he still had, Maximilian placed a shield over Star, pushing her a little away from the commotion.
"Stay here," ordered the once king. "If you move, you might get hurt and Seth won't forgive you. Do you understand, Star? Do not move from here!"
"Yes, Seth!" he repeated, already moving away. "Do you want to hurt him? Stay where you won't get in the way!"
Foolish words coming from a foolish man.
That, he could admit. He frowned as he continued to run towards Hotaru. Was he not also just as weak as Star? Given, he did have some magick left to him, but…
Was it enough to grant him a place by his goddess-like daughter?
Her skirt flapped wildly about her as she ran.
The wind was quiet, almost like a secret in the background. It unnerved her.
She yelled as loudly as she could. Can you hear me? Where are you? Don't leave me!
Hotaru coughed, shielding her eyes as she neared the burning mess. Faintly, she could see the outline of the driver still inside. Her heart clenched. He was no longer alive. Adrenaline raced through her veins as she made her way around the burning metal. Just as she rushed past it, she was flung forward as the remains of the car exploded. Crying in pain, Hotaru landed near a tree, unable to move without it triggering tears. Feeling the copper taste of blood, she tried to again move, her eyes searching desperately.
Don't leave me here!
Her hands tightened around the grass, uprooting it. Her back stung – any movement caused unimaginable pain. She didn't need to guess twice. The explosion had scorched her back. Still…still! Hotaru gritted her teeth, forcing herself onto her hands and knees, back be damned. She had to get up. Not far away, Serenity was probably injured. She had to go and help her or else –
The girl froze, her eyes stunned as the voice registered. Slowly, pain completely forgotten, Hotaru looked to her right, to where the faint outline of a woman stood. A breath of air and the world seemed to turn silent. The woman took a step forward, a benevolent smile on her face. Behind her waved long locks of deep green, eyes of a reddish color burning with adoration. Her skin was tan, her beauty not lost even after everything that had happened. Hotaru choked back a sob.
It's going to hurt her.
The hope on her face will be erased in the most horrible of ways. If she continues to stay where she is, the blood will soak into her. Behind her comes another being, taller, masculine. I know my father's silhouette. He will stand witness along with the others around this scene. By me is the one who remained near my side; Talon's hand is warm against my shoulder, holding me down in reality, allowing me to concentrate on what I must do.
I spare the thief a glance. He's staring at my little protector, confused by the expression on her face. I look away. He's concerned by the woman standing in front of Hotaru. While she looks unarmed, there is an air of hidden danger…. But the kindness in her face offsets any intention to harm. For a moment, I waver. That face is one belonging to a mother, a being that so often helped me along. I feel my hands trembling, my body turning cold. That being was a mother to Hotaru. She had raised her. She had helped me become stronger. She had guided me, gave me advice. Was I really…
I flinch involuntarily, the visions of the past vanishing in that instant. There is warmth in my face and it takes me a second to realize Talon is cupping my face, his eyes boring into mine. He's pushing to make sure I don't leave, to make sure I don't lose what I've gained. He holds my gaze –
He crushes me against him and instantly I feel the effects he causes.
My chest feels lighter. My hand stops its trembling, forming into fists. His warmth is pouring into me, until my body temperature merges with his, becoming one. He melts away what fears I have, giving me the courage to do what must be done. Talon…do you know what comes next?
There is no time to wonder. I turn my head to the side, one eye looking to Hotaru and Setsuna. The Goddess of Death and Rebirth and the Goddess of Time. Mother and Daughter. I cling to the warmth Talon offers me.
How much will it hurt to cut down that bond?
She looks up at me, her eyes firm and determined in what must come next. Those silver orbs no longer waver. Her body is warm, having accepted my embrace. Pressed against my own, I can feel her heart beating steadily. She doesn't need anything else, but I'll give her whatever she wants. She can take it all. My warmth, my power, my life…my heart.
I let her go, the weight of Seth and Akefia's gazes on us. I can't hold her for too long. While she has this strength in her, while she's here – while she's my Serenity – she can go ahead and commit the act that will shatter the past. But just before she leaps into action
A gift for the present.
A kiss to seal away the past.
She responds softly and moments later tears down the beautiful goddess.
She lurched forward too late. The fear in her eyes slowly shifted into horror…and a deep sadness. Hotaru fell to the ground once more, the body of Setsuna landing in front of her. Standing over the two was Serenity, a blade in her hand. She stared at Hotaru for a little while and then the blade disintegrated. She was by Hotaru a second later, hugging her close.
"This is our enemy."
The little one shrieked and began a violent assault. She lashed out at the one holding her, scratching every surface she could find. Her eyes, burry with tears, shone with anger and betrayal. Despite the poisonous words that spewed from Hotaru's mouth, Serenity held on.
For now, it was the most important thing she could do.
He would have simply remained standing, looking at his daughter comfort the vile monster Hotaru had turned into, had it not been for the sudden blow to the back of his head. Maximilian groaned and moved away, a hand coming to the injured spot and drawing away with blood. He looked for his attacker and was welcomed to the sight of a dozen enemies.
"Of course they travel in groups." However, that meant these were not very strong. It wouldn't be difficult to take them out. Perhaps even he could help in that manner.
"Stay out of the way, Pegasus!"
He was jerked back, away from the fight that began instantaneously. Akefia, sparing him a cocky smirk as he pushed the older man away, transformed in the middle of his leap, already cutting down one of the demons as he landed.
Seth was already running to Star, surprisingly not transforming. That was a little odd, thought Maximilian as he landed on the grass. Wouldn't Seth want the power his transformation brought to protect his sister? And where was Talon? Hadn't he been with the two boys as well?
"Are you sure?"
Ah, there he was. Maximilian sighed in relief. Concipio stood guard over Serenity and Hotaru, cutting down those that came too close. That was good. Someone was protecting them. He'd be terribly mad if someone didn't step up to the job. Maybe this boy would be better than the last idiot. He took another look and was pleasantly surprised. Yes, this Talon character was a much better candidate. It should be alright, then, to just lay down right here. They could finish up on their own.
Something warm seemed to trickle down his back after feeling something like a prick. He sighed. He was a little bit too tired.
"That should be the last of them."
"Make sure of that," Concipio huffed, wiping the sweat away from his brow. Cadacus, Akefia in his Knight form, twirled his weapon carelessly, looking around the area, the curved blade of the scythe hummed in the wind. He grinned cruelly to himself as he saw the damage he had inflicted. A sense of euphoria rushed through him as he stepped in a puddle of blood.
He had done this massacre with only his own power. He hadn't relied on Zorc at all. Cadacus laughed, kicking away a random skull. Truly, this was better than he had thought it would be. He stopped playing around and focused for a second. He didn't feel any more youki, so that must mean the area was devoid of more targets. What a pity. And I so wanted to add more bloodshed…
"Stop messing around!" Cadacus turned to the voice. Seth walked forward with Star in tow. His hand was still held closely to his chest and even showed signs of more damage. Had he fought with some of the opponents as well? The Knight in dark blue scowled. If Seth had fought, it meant there had been more youkai than they had estimated. He narrowed his eyes. But, Seth had been farther away from this battleground. The youkai must have also been scattered in a larger perimeter than thought.
He ignored the protests coming from Seth – "Help me first, dammit!" – and hurried to where he had left Hotaru. When Concipio had moved to help lessen the numbers around them, he had left Hotaru and Serenity unprotected, believing he had gotten rid of the danger there. If, however, Cadacus was right, it was highly possible that he had thought wrongly.
He reached the clearing and slammed the scythe down. He turned as Concipio arrived and took hold of the red Knight's collar: "You fucking asshole! Why did you leave them alone?"
Where two young goddesses had been, emptiness now remained.
"That's enough, Hotaru. That was not the real Setsuna."
"You killed her! Why would you do that? She helped you!"
"It was not truly her!"
"How can it not have been her?" Hotaru screamed. "She was right there, in front of me, and you took her away from me. Why?!"
"That was not- ugh!"
The blast had been sudden, Serenity unable to dodge it while holding down the hysterical Hotaru. As such, both were thrown against the trunk of a tree, Hotaru crying out as her already injured back was further abused. Serenity noticed, but had no time to think on it as again they were targeted. She moved as quickly as she could, but yet another wave assaulted them when she tried to get away.
"What the hell is going on?" Hotaru cried out. Serenity winced, getting up and beginning to run, dragging Hotaru behind her.
"We can't stay there."
"You're getting us lost! Where are we going?"
"Away from that place! It's a central target. If we manage to get outside of the borders, we'll find the culprit."
So it occurred.
Saturn now stood before Cosmos, who called forth the two gems they had searched so long for. She blocked an attack with her shield and then turned her head to see her princess morph into a different state. What was that?
"Eyes forward, Saturn!" ordered the maiden.
Cosmos shot forward, knocking away the blow with a staff that materialized in an instant. Continuing on in a fluid motion, Cosmos swung the staff and force a large amount of energy to sweep through the area, finding and destroying those that had hidden.
"Don't focus on the small ones. There is only one that must be destroyed."
Saturn frowned, gripping her scythe tighter. Just minutes before she had been thinking of harming the one that had caused pain and now she was fighting alongside her again. Despite all the actions taken, she couldn't deny her loyalty. Muttering a curse, Saturn jumped into the fray, trying to find the one enemy that seemed to control the others.
Cosmos moved at that, jumping and launching a quick succession of attacks in the direction Saturn had referred to. Something moved before it could be harmed and came to stand just a little away from the fight. The youkai moved as one to form a barrack of lines behind their leader, growling and ready to charge again. Saturn rushed to Cosmos's side, coming to a surprised stop.
"That which you saw me slay was but a mere puppet, Saturn," Cosmos spoke as her staff changed shape and took on the form of a sword. "Here is the one who controlled that." She raised the sword and pointed it at the woman. "Hello, Setsuna."
"Serenity-hime, Hotaru-chan," Setsuna smiled. She held out a hand and a sword was placed in it.
"My lovely family, prepare to die."
Make your limit the stars