Chapter 30

The late afternoon sun washed everything else in gold hues. Pink pastel cloud formations drifted by on a cool early spring breeze, which rustled the leaves of perfectly pruned trees.

Raine waved goodbye to Sheena's smiling grandfather and then made her way up a well-kept cobblestone walkway. Raine's patient smile hid the rapid calculations running through her head, trying to pinpoint how many Mizuho ninja were stationed around her at any given point in time; a grim reminder of her precarious situation.

While Raine was deeply grateful for Sheena's concern, she was getting awfully tired of the former Chief Fujibiyashi's friendly inquiries about her "husband".

Raine's forced smile tightened into a grimace.

"Husband," she huffed to herself, her steps becoming increasingly aggressive.

If she did in fact have a husband, he'd know better to not play truant and disappear for days on end!

'Damn that man.'

The question now was, why? After only three days of getting better acquainted (Raine's heart rate did a rapid increase), would he up and leave? It certainly left a healthy chink in her pride, though. Now with an emotionally challenged little brother and the shadowy threats to her life, Raine couldn't help but feel as if she'd been give a bad deal in life.

Raine pushed the thoughts to the furthest reaches of her mind and resumed walking; she didn't have the luxury of sulking.

'That's right, I have bigger concerns,' Raine reminded herself resolutely. Playing politics with a spoiled Tethe'Allan aristocracy, and a suspicious Sylveranian government was proving to be a task Raine doubted she could tackle.

'It's almost as if this opposition is engineered, or purposely instigated…' Raine frowned thoughtfully, side stepping a low hanging branch with budding spring foliage.

The blatant hate and fear mongering among the Tethe'Allans was the biggest hurdle. It almost made full-blooded elves' blatant indifference to the whole debacle perversely comforting. Raine found that she preferred the "pretend-half-elves-don't-exist" mentality as apposed to "destroy-and/or-enslave-all-half-elf-abominations" mentality.

The only thing that kept her sane was the support of her friends. It was Sheena's promises to seek revenge on those "stupid jerks", and Regal and Zelos' support of her involvement in the summit.

Raine was eternally thankful, however she did not wish for them to compromise their own agendas for her sake. Sheena wanted Mizuho to be a recognized autonomous state and Regal wanted to push corporate reform. With the anti-half-elf mentality so strong, Raine feared that any association with her would imperil her comrades' social standings in the eyes of the global summit. So Raine had made it a point to keep her distance, and fight her battles alone.

With a heavy sigh, Raine stopped the grand doors of the Wilder mansion. Lost in thought, she waited for the butler to open the doors. However when half a minute passed, a sinking suspicion settled over Raine's overburdened mind.


'It was quiet. Too quiet' the self-made scholar thought as she slipped into the cavernous entry hall from a side entrance near the flower gardens. Considering two clueless teenagers and a monster hybrid, (mistakenly indentified as a puppy) occupied such a large dwelling, the silence was mystifying.

Cautiously, Raine crept through the foyer, keeping a sharp eye on the deep shadows cast by large potted plants that bathed in the beams of the setting sun.

Raine paused when she heard faint murmurings coming from the sunroom just ahead.

She approached cautiously.

If the lack of pandemonium and noise unnerved her, then the apparent disappearance of the house staff was down right frightening.

As much as she hated to admit it, the past couple of months had hurt more than just her body; her sense of calm and security had been completely shattered. Despite her manufactured calm, Raine was ever ready to plunger herself into battle at the drop of a pin. The only reason she had not done anything rash since arriving in Meltokio was Kratos' steadfast presence. Now with his absence Raine's fight-instinct raged into full force.

Taking a deep breath she quickly rounded the corner, quickly mumbling a soft spell incantation. The pragmatic professor took a leave of absence when her blue eyes zeroed onto the figure seated casually on a pastel upholstered couch.

With her cognitive processes taking seat second to the rush of pure adrenaline, Raine's narrowed vision focused on what her brain screamed as, enemy!

Her target lifted his one good eye and tensed as the glow around Raine's hand spread to illuminate the rest of her body.

In the din of blood rushing in her head, Raine did not notice the quick heavy footsteps coming her way. Before she could advance any further and large hand clamped over her mouth, effectively ending the spell's incantation. And just as jarringly, another hand roughly took hold of her wrist.

Raine struggled viciously as she was brought harshly against her attacker's body. The attacker's strength was immense and Raine found that she could hardly budge.

In an act of desperation, Raine began to gather even more mana into her body; the resultant glow nearly canceled out the soft rays of the setting sun pouring in from the tall windows.

"Stop that right now!" her attacker snarled. The voice triggered a strange reaction in Raine, which made the gathering spell flicker with uncertainty.

"Raine, please!" This time the voice, hot and urgent, was right in her ear. Raine stiffened but her battle senses still demanded that she fight now and think later.

"Control her you dolt!"

Another voice! But Raine could not find its source. With her mouth covered and unable to breath fully through her nose, Raine's head swam dizzily.

"Tch, I guess there's not choice. Hold her still, Kratos."

'Huh?' Unfortunately before Raine could make any connections a fist connected sharply with her gut. Raine gagged once before falling limp in her captor's grasp.


The throbbing pain in both her gut and head was what brought Raine back to consciousness. Aside from feeling like she had just played chicken with a raging bull, the incessant chatter was not helping her headache in the least.

"She certainly is… skittish…" a gravely voice mused.

"The last couple of months have been harsh for her," a startling familiar voice stated with resignation. "She's just very cautious."


"Hmph. That's why you need to stick with the docile ones; a woman like her is too much for you."

The commented was met with a steely silence. That last voice without a doubt in Raine's mind was the Renegade commander Yuan.

"You didn't have to hit her so hard," Raine heard Kratos grouse after the long pause.

"What, you'd rather she kill herself. Might I remind you that she narrowly escaped death because completely fried her mana circulatory system. Even a simple cure spell could kill her," Yuan chastised answered, irritated.

Then Yuan added petulantly, "Besides the only one here who knows any support magic, doesn't even have a simple silence spell in his arsenal is more to blame."

"She's awake," a third voice offered, with little inflection.

Raine glared up at both Kratos and Yuan, from where she lay prone on a pastel colored couch. She wanted to say something, but was afraid she' d throw up if she tried to open her mouth.

If the discussion was any indicator, Yuan had indeed punched her too damn hard.

Kratos was quick to help Raine sit up with a gentle hand moving under her shoulders and lifting her from a blue stripped couched. Wincing, Raine breathed harshly through her nose and bit back the bile and gorge that threatened to surge up her esophagus.

Kratos placed his hand over her stomach and Raine visibly relaxed with the cool tingling sensation of a healing spell.

"Where is everybody?" she asked once she was able to breath normally.

"I sent them away," Kratos said vaguely as he moved from Raine's stomach to check her wrist for telltale signs of blackened veins; a sign of mana poisoning.

Raine caught the stoic man's eyes with an impatient look that demanded details.

"I dismissed the house staff for the evening as well, and Lloyd and Collette are looking for that puppy."

"Which Kratos happened to let escape," Yuan added unable to help himself.

Ignoring the commented Kratos continued, "And your brother refuses to leave his room."

Raine sighed to her self, before mentally planning to break his room door down and drag the teen into the sunlight kicking and screaming if she had to. 'I'll give him two days…'

"Alright," Raine said slowly before lifting her eyes to the green haired man that sat on a spring themed couch across the coffee table. She then added hotly, "What exactly is going on here, and what is he doing here?"

Raine looked suspiciously at the former Grand Cardinal, Forcystus. He lacked the Desian regalia and lost the mana blaster that used to be attached to his arm. Aside from the red and black eye patch and green hair, he did not much resemble the bitter and hate-filled half-elf she had once taken up arms against.

"Believe it or not, we're here to help you," Yuan said with a sarcastic smirk.

Raine leveled a look at the Renegade commander that clearly stated it was not the time for jokes. Considering their last two encounters, helping her would probably be the last thing on his to-do list.

"Lord Aurion had informed us of your difficulties in the realm of human politics. We have come to both offer advice and participate on behalf of half-elves," Forcystus stated calmly.

Raine blinked once. It was hard to comprehend this polite and well-mannered man from the bitter and hostile one that had once shot Collette in the back.

"As noble a gesture as it is, acting on behalf of an entire race by yourself is absurd," Yuan reproached.

"If I recall correctly, I had asked for you to accompany me before I left your base," Raine countered bitterly.

Conveniently, Yuan was looking out double-glasss door that led to the patio as if he hadn't heard the professor's remark. He nearly forgot that the woman was too bright for her own good; a grave miscalculation on his part.

"But surely your band of scholars could have been some assistance?" Forcystus inquired. "At least a small show of half-elf camaraderie would have helped."

Raine briefly averted her gaze to her lap. "They're-"

"Thirty-seven security risks," Kratos supplied, earning a glare from Raine. They had argued about that very fact a week ago.

"Yes, they could be easily to taken captive and used as bargaining chips to either exploit you or have you step down indefinitely," Yuan offered in agreement. "There's also the fact that you had taken fifteen very valuable assets from the Meltokio labs when you started you're journey."

"They are not assets," Raine growled. "They're living beings with names, souls and minds."

"And exactly how are you going to convince the Tethe'Allan aristocracy of that?" Yuan challenged her. "Before we gain recognition, we have to become more than things in the eyes of humans and full-blooded elves alike."

"I am aware of that, what do you think this Acceptance Movement is all about?"

"You tell us," Yuan had taken a seat in an ornately carved chair. "From what I've heard about your efforts I'd say it would be better to gain the human's respect rather than groveling and seeking to appease sensitive human sensibilities."

"Who's groveling?" Raine shot a look to Kratos who stood by the couch in which she occupied.

"His words not mine," the swordsman answered Raine's unspoken question.

"I'm merely suggesting that the road to acceptance be gradual to ease the burden of change on both half-elves and humans," Raine defended.

"Hmph," Yuan huffed derisively. "Politely asking the humans to not persecute us for simply being is laughable at best."

Raine balled her hands into fists. What was this? Poke-holes-in-Raine's-strategy day? So far his assistance was severely lacking.

"I believe the commander is simply stating that a less pacifists approach may be needed to sway the humans' minds."

Raine held back the urge flinch at the sound of Forcystus' voice; it was going to take awhile before she was used to his presence.

"And how would you suggest I go about that?" Rained asked challengingly. "Considering I had only two days to think of my "pacifist" strategy before being thrust into this summit."

"Excuses aside," Yuan said snidely ignoring Raine's laser-like glare. "That is exactly why we are here. We're going to rebuild your a social movement."

The soft golden orange sunbeams receded and darkened the sunroom, leaving Raine slightly chilled.

"How so?" she found herself asking. She sent a curious gaze up at Kratos to see if he could shed any light on what Yuan was alluding to.

"I represent nearly a thousand half-elves scattered across three localized settlements," Forcystus supplied.

"Including Exire, with my bases, I bring the numbers closer to ten thousand." Yuan added.

"Kvar and Magnus have roughly five settlements under their protection. That brings the number up to just under twenty thousand. That doesn't include hidden villages or half-elves in human captivity."

Raine was dumbfounded and felt keenly her lack of knowledge on half-elf affairs. However, she could not help this question show of support by her former enemies.

"Why?" she asked trying not so sound as overwhelmed as she felt.

At this Forcystus smiled knowingly; the gesture softened the sharp angles of his face. "For the hundreds of Desian lives you saved."

Raine's eyes went wide with surprise, but she did not deny what the former Grand Cardinal had said. "You knew, then."

"Yes, even among the Renegades I still get glowing reports of a silver haired healer granting her blessings on wounded soldiers," Yuan shrugged as if it were no big deal. "The least we could do in return is build you a solid political base."

"I too have had similar reports," Forcystus agreed, looking up to catch Raine's eyes. "Even after the destruction of the ranches the only casualties among the Desians were Pyronima and Rodyle. My men and I are eternally grateful to you."

Kratos stood up a little straighter when he noticed a little more than mere gratitude dancing in the former Grand Cardinal's good eye.

"Ah yes Pyronima and Rodyle," Yuan scratched his chin thoughtfully. "Mithos killed that crazy sycophantic wench. And whether it be human, elf or half-elf, people like Rodyle should never have walked this earth."

"Your pity for half-elves saved many lives," Forcystus added.

"It was not pity," Raine informed the green haired man strongly. "It was my response to an overly idealistic sense of justice that was not grounded in reality, and lacked considerations for the situation as a whole. So not pity, but empathy for an entire race given a raw deal."

Kratos regarded Raine from the corner of his eye. There was no doubt in his mind that she was referring to Lloyd's well-meant, yet brash actions.

"To exist we are forced the choose between cowardice or violence…" Forcystus said quietly. "And we Desians chose violence."

"We did make the Desian package tempting, didn't we," Yuan looked to his former Cruxis officer; Kratos in turn, only gave a disinterested shrug in response.

"Who wouldn't jump at the chance for food, shelter and protection?" Raine cut half mockingly. "I nearly became a Desian myself."

"So you had been recruited?" Yuan asked, not bothering to hide his interest.

"An attempt, yes," Raine nodded, thinking back. She was fourteen, dirty and hungry with her young brother crying as she carried him on her hip. "The only reason for my rejection was Genis. I refused to bring him up in such a militaristic environment."

Yuan and Forcystus exchanged a quick glance, both thinking that it was shame that Raine Sage had not been among their ranks.

"However, with the Desians' fall along with the demise of Cruxis there is one less factor for the humans to hold against my movement of acceptance," Raine chewed the inside of her lip, deep in thought. "Though I fear for my progress if I present a former Grand Cardinal and mysterious (unheard of) Commander to the summit."

"Progress? What progress. According to Kratos you crashed and burned on day one." Yuan said bluntly.

Kratos cast his eyes up to the ceiling as if to say, 'here we go again…'

'What Kratos needs to do is learn how to keep up the silent warrior façade he cherishes so, and shut up.' Raine thought bitterly.

"This may sound crass, but perhaps a little bit of intimidation can serve as a great motivator," Forcystus offered.

"What so we're to spread terror, like the Desians?" Raine asked incredulously.

"No." Forcystus said calmly. "But it would make the humans think twice about ransacking our villages and herding us like beast," the green haired man finished that last bit in a growl.

"I personally like to think of it as a healthy respect," Yuan commented unapologetically.

"Then if we were to attain this 'respect', why all the secrecy? Such a front should be executed with blatant transparency. Why send the children away and the house staff?" Raine asked.

"To avoid any unnecessary misunderstandings," Kratos answered with, what Raine considered, infuriating ambiguity.

"In short, we don't want the whole city of humans running into the streets screaming half-elf invasion." Yuan clarified with a crooked grin.

"That's for next week," Forcystus added, taking a page from the blue haired commander's sardonic humor.

Raine pinched the bridge of her nose as if her head hurt, "Please don't tell me-"

"That nearly a thousand half-elves from my ocean side base are encamped outside the city?" Yuan asked happily.

Yuan was deriving far too much pleasure from the meeting, and it was starting to get on Raine's already frayed nerves.

"Another five hundred from my village will also be joining them, is support of you Ms. Sage," Forcystus added.

"All with combat experience I assume?" Raine inquired grimly of the green haired man.

Forcystus nodded affirmatively.

Beside her a lamp flared to life spreading a bright welcoming glow on the four room occupants. Kratos then walked to the large windows and drew the curtains closed on what promised to be a starry night.

Raine was silent for a while with her eyes cast down on the gleaming coffee table.

"What I'm worried about," Raine said slowly, eyes still trained on the polished tabletop the gleamed in the lamp light. "…Is how we're going to proceed with this new tactic."

Yuan grinned smugly, as if he knew Raine would finally see it their way a along. Forcystus nodded sagely with a spark of motivation and determination in his one good eye.

"Alright then," Yuan said, "Shall we strategize?"


Raine shook her head and marched down the long hallway to her room. Her mind was so full of conflicting emotions; it was a wonder she had not gone screaming into the night.

Hope, aggravation, sadness, confusion, relief and anger swam in her mind in dizzying loops. I didn't help that a large portion of her frustration was currently following her. Raine whisked passed the warm glow of a mana lamp and turned the final corner; Kratos' mere presence was like a hot ball of electricity on the edge of her consciousness.

She let Kratos slip into her room and then shut the door with a resolute click. Not bothering to turn on the lamp and the moon made her slivery hair glow iridescently.

Slowly Raine turned to Kratos who stood silently by the door. She raised her eyes slowly and said in a low voice, "You have some nerve don't you?"

Raine didn't bother to let him respond.

"Not only do pull a disappearing act, but this?" she pointed to page upon page of strategy that Yuan had hashed out before leaving.

"If I had asked you before hand would you have willingly accepted his assistance?" Kratos replied with that infuriating patience that drove Raine up the wall.

Raine made a barely audible fumbling sound before quickly directing her gaze to the hard wood desk in the corner.

"You could have at least warned me you were going to be leaving," Raine finished crossly.

"So you missed me?" Kratos was grinning now, and Raine felt her stomach flip in response. That smile of his was completely unfair.

"This…this…" Raine stuttered indignantly, "its not about that. Its about-"

Suddenly Raine's feet lifted from the ground as Kratos swept the irritated professor into his arms.

"Your welcome," he said humorously, before kissing her soundly.

Raine pulled away and glared at Kratos, though the effect was ruined by her flushed face and glassy blue eyes. "We'll will take about this later," she promised, before letting Kratos haul her away from the door. .


Sheena landed clumsily on the rooftop, taking a few skipping steps before drawing to a stop. Her breath came out in large visible clouds in the cool night air as she struggled to catch her breath.

Leaning on the chimney of the Wilder mansion the newly ordained chief of Mizuho tried to steady her rapid heartbeat. She didn't mean to snoop she just wanted to check in on Raine after her subordinates had reported suspicious characters entering the Wilder mansion.

The last thing the young chief thought she would find was Raine and Kratos doing… that! It didn't help Kratos had sent her an annoyed look when he caught her gawking outside the window; Sheena's face flared with embarrassment.

"Well, well what have we here?"

Sheena groaned silently. With her mind swimming as it was, the last person she wanted to encounter was the king of all things sexual.

Zelos landed lightly a few meters away from Sheena. His was wrapped in a plain brown robe of a monk, which was no doubt the reason he temporarily escaped his forced seclusion at the cathedral.

"Idiot," Sheena fought to hide her flushed cheeks. Unfortunately Zelos' newly acquired enhanced vision took significant glee in what he dubbed, "sexy Sheena face #8".

"What are you doing here?" Sheena stepped from the shadow of the chimney.

"Thought, I'd check on the professor much like yourself. Today was pretty brutal on her," he said temporarily losing he upbeat persona.

Zelos threw back the hood of his brown robes, revealing a long red braid draped over his shoulder. "Damn this thing is itchy.

"Ah…she seems to be tired so I thought it be best to let her rest." Sheena suddenly found the starry sky that stretched across the vast city very interesting.

Being an expert on the many faces of his beloved screaming banshee, Zelos caught the lie instantly.

"Is she now?" Zelos raised a red brow. "It's not even nine yet."

Sheean blushed even deeper.

Zelos grinned summoning his orange wings and disappeared over the side of the mansion before Sheena could even think to stop him.

A minute later the young nobleman popped up back to the roof, positively beaming.

"Well, hot damn professor!" he laughed. "I told you they were-"

"Just shut-up about it!" Sheena hissed impatiently; her irritation at the idiot Chosen washing away years of ninja training.

"Is that what's got you all hot and bothered?" Zelos winked. He leaned over the stunned ninja suggestively forcing her to lean back, "Care for some relief."

A kunai planted itself in the roof tiles where, Zelos once stood. The redhead looked up, blue eyes rife with irritation at the blue clad figure crouching atop the chimney on the opposite house. 'Again?'

"Sheena?" Orochi nimbly leapt over to his precious chief's side.

"I'm fine," Sheena mumbled. "Please continue with your patrol." She wanted to get rid of both men and fast as possible; a woman could only take so much embarrassment.

Orchich cast a suspicious glance at Zelos before he bowed and melted into the shadows.

After the former Chosen was positive that the nuisance was gone he said, "Actually, I was trying to catch you here too."


The cocky smile slowly spread across his face once again. "You're about to fall in love with me all over again."

Blushing, Sheena huffed and crossed her arms over her ample chest, mumbling, "Who said I was in love with you in the first place."

"Ouch, babe," Zelos dramatically held a hand over his heart. "But seriously, I found out some juicy tidbits from some brown-nosers in the Tethe'Allan House of Lords."

"What is it?" Sheena asked enthusiastically.

Zelos looked around into the dark night leery of an overprotective guard dog dressed in a blue gi.

"Come on, lets go somewhere a little more private," Zelos held out his hand.

Sheena looked at the offered hand dubiously. "What's wrong with staying here?"

"Fine with me," Zelos shrugged. "I'm sure anyone would love to sit around and listen to the ice queen orgasm."

As if on cue, Sheena's shinobi trained ears picked up curious sounds from the room below. At that Sheena turned an indignant shade of red that rivaled Zelos' hair.

"Fine," Sheena growled. "Let's get out of here."

Zelos summoned his orange translucent wings. However, before he could takeoff, the bright orange extensions flickered, forcing Zelos to stagger a bit.

"You idiot, I told you to see someone about that!" Sheena hissed rushing forward.

"Its fine its fine," Zelos assured standing up a little taller. "Just a little tired."

Before Sheena could scold him any more, the former Chosen shot into the sky. Sheena uttered a curse and nimbly took off across the rooftops to follow him.


In a Meltokio luxury hotel…

Yuan held a fat cigar under his nose, inhaling. He shuddered in disgust before tossing the offending thing over his shoulder. "Honestly, humans have no sense of good taste," he said flippantly.

The blue haired seraph pulled a leather chair from a large round cherry-wood table and promptly made himself at home by plopping his booted feet on the highly polished surface. He sent bored yet annoyed glance at Kratos who stood rigidly by a wide windowpane that looked out over the main square of Meltokio.

"I don't see what you're so uptight about," Yuan chided. "I'd think you'd show a little more excitement considering the circumstances."

"She's not going to like this," Kratos said keeping his eyes trained on the streets below. "Raine does not like being uninformed."

Yuan rolled his eyes to the ceiling and replied, "Come now. I doubt she'll come marching down the street considering the present that was dropped off at her door step this morning."

"Present?" Kratos thought back to the so-called present, which involved a terrified Sheena carrying a comatose Zelos over her shoulder like a sack of grain.

"He's a very fortunate young man," Kratos said absently.

Yuan snorted derisively, "What? Fortunate that he's under the tender loving care of your precious professor, or fortunate that that parasitic crystal hadn't turned his body to dust?"

"Regardless, at least he was able to pass on some vital information to the Mizuho chief before conking out on everyone," the Renegade commander shrugged.

"Yes, fortunate," Kratos agreed distractedly.

Yuan reached over and poured himself a tumbler full of amber liquid from a silver tray laden with crystalline glassware. "Which brings me back to the situation at hand. Show some enthusiasm, man. We're about the taste the sweetness of some overdue revenge."

As a reply Kratos only spared his old comrade the brief glance before turning his attention back out the window. If… no when Raine found out about this she was going to seal his wings for sure.

Ignoring Kratos' preoccupation Yuan continued on, "With a name like League of Human Integrity those bastards deserve to fry." To add emphasis, Yuan allowed a tiny lightening spell to worm its purple light around his outstretched fingers.

The "League" as it turned out was made up of two dozen aristocrats and business barons. Those who wanted to keep things they way they were or had vested interest in exploiting half-elves. Evidently the "League" started up around the same time Raine had led nearly forty half-elves on their first steps into freedom.

'Coincidence?' Yuan frowned. 'Only a fool would think so.'

"Remember you agreed to this in the beginning…" Yuan, who was becoming irritated, reminded Kratos. "…To neutralize this threat with an equal act of aggression."

The lack of response only served to annoy Yuan even further.

"What? Scared of getting kicked out the bedchamber?" Yuan slipped callously. "She is a rather beautiful and interesting woman. I wonder what her idea of foreplay would be, hm?"

Again, Yuan was met with silence, but this time the atmosphere seemed to grow heavier.

"She seems the inquisitive and proactive type. The type to take control?" Yuan smiled devilishly. "Its probably all the better she do away with an old fashion fool like yourself. I'm sure she'd benefit with a partner who shares in her empowered ideology… like myself for instance."

"Only if you want to die," came the low response.

At that Yaun threw back his head and laughed; successful in his attempt to get a rise out of Kratos. Besides he was only partially kidding.

"They're here," Kratos droned listening to the distant footsteps coming down the hall.

Yuan cut short his laughter and schooled his features as the footsteps and voices became louder. Kratos too, readied himself and pushed off the wall he was leaning against to stand beside the seat Yuan occupied.

Middle-aged men dressed in colorful Tethe'Allan finery filed into the room, oblivious the room's uninvited guest. Yuan cleared his throat loudly and greeted in a mocking tone, "Gentlemen."

Yuan smiled when each pasty sorry excuse for living flesh did a double take, their eyes traveling from Kratos to Yuan.

"Lord Aurion!" a few exclaimed.

"A half-elf!" someone exclaimed upon spotting Yuan's cone shaped ears.

"How did that get in here?"

An indignant and haughty voice shouted, "Where's the hotel manager!"

"No, call the city guard!" another voice shouted.

Krats casually put his hand over his sword hilt, which effectively plunged the room into stunned silence.

"Now that that's all out the way," Yuan said pleasantly, referring to the brief bout of confusion, "Let's begin."

"We have no business with you half-elf," one of the bolder ones stepped forward. Yuan noted the cold sweat running down the chubby man's cheeks with glee.

"Well according to my friend over here," he indicated to Kratos. "We have some very important business to discuss."

"Lord Aurion, please. What is the meaning of this?" a man with graying hair beseeched the swordsman.

Kratos glared hard at the contingent that represented nearly half of all the wealth and power of Tethe'Alla. The smell of fear in the air suddenly became pungent, which gave the seraph a giddy and cruel type of satisfaction. Yuan was right; this was going to be fun indeed.

"Does the name Raine Sage sound familiar to you?" Yuan asked in a dangerously low voice.

The End

A/N: So it's done… finally. I'm pretty pleased with the end result. But shame on me for letting this meander for so long. Anyway thank you to all who took time to read this, aside from all the writer's block its been fun.