I was a student at Piata Academy, curious about the rumors of magic in Kadary. When I investigated, I met a handsome evil wizard and life was never again the same. ZioxOC

An old story I originally wrote as a reader insert. Since those are not allowed on this site, here's the original character version, written in first person. Be warned, it is silly and not to be taken seriously.

The Taste of Magic

Flavor 01

The name of Kadary, a small town, has been heard very often lately at the student dorms of Piata Academy. Some students ignored it, others were curious, and others actually visited Kadary, but not all of them returned. My roommate wanted to visit that town and I had to admit I was curious.

Though it was a long way, the two of us managed to make it across the desert lands of our home planet of Motavia, traveling from one town to another. We stopped at several towns including Zema, where we heard all sorts of rumors about what was happening in Kadary, most of them negative. Even so, both of us pressed on, making one final stop at nightfall in a town known for its many bounty hunters, Aiedo.

The next day, when we finally arrived at Kadary, we found a few people in front of a tall dark building making strange movements on the ground, as if making sand angels. My roommate didn't wait before going inside the dark building. She seemed strange right away. "I'm staying," she declared.

I didn't like that empty look in her eyes, as if she had been brainwashed, and I could feel the dark energy trying to enter my mind. She had always been rather gullible and easy to convince, maybe that was why whatever darkness was in that building, took over her mind so quickly. I fought against it; I refused to lose my sense of self. "This was a bad idea; let's go back to Piata."

She wouldn't listen to me. I knew she was brainwashed and I would be too if I stayed there much longer. A few people wearing black cloaks approached us. "Release her!" They chanted; that only made me hold on to her arm tighter and try to drag her outside, but it was no use. They revealed the weapons previously hidden under their cloaks and I had to let her go or we would both be killed.

My roommate ran to her fellow mindless puppets and gave me a glare that she would not be capable of achieving normally. I realized that those who made it back to Piata after visiting Kadary must have wasted no time in running away and I had wasted enough. I couldn't fight all of them and she was unwilling to be rescued. I would run and send help; that was our best chance of survival. Before I could run, they surrounded me murmuring about ways to end my life. Then, everything fell silent.

I felt a cold chill run down my spine as the eerie silence was pierced by the sounds of footsteps. A man older than me, but still young, approached with a confident pace. He was wearing black leather and a black cape. His hair was also black and I could have sworn his dark eyes glowed red just now. I paused and gave him a good look, up and down. He looked like an evil wizard... a hot evil wizard... a hot and angry evil wizard.

I backed away slowly until I was pressed against a wall. There were no windows near me and the people in the black cloaks were blocking the door. The dark energies around me were still trying to take over my mind, but I remained alert as my heart pounded faster and faster.

"You're about to sacrifice your life to Dark Force, feel honored, mortal." I should add insane to the list of attributes of the evil wizard. He has me cornered now, his hands on my shoulders.

I feel my legs start to go numb, the feeling climbing to my arms. I look at the one who once was my friend and roommate; she is totally out of it with that empty lost look. I know that screaming for help won't work; no one would come even if I could find my voice.

The wizard holds me close, draining away my very life and forcing me to look into his hypnotizing eyes. Then, out of desperation or insanity, or perhaps temptation of seeing his handsome face a mere few inches from mine, I tilt my head forward and plant a kiss on his lips. For a moment, the world comes to a sudden stop.

Everything goes back into motion as I regain the feeling in my body and the ability to move. For a split second, all he does is stare at me dumbly, lost in confusion. The people in the black cloaks mimic his expression and look around as if wondering why they are here. I take the opportunity and run away dragging my roommate along.

After we returned to Piata, things slipped back into a routine, even if I'm sure I can still taste the magic, in a completely literal sense. She doesn't remember what happened and doesn't believe my version.

I've heard that the kiss of a pure hearted lady can dispel black magic, though if the spell is very strong, the effect is only temporary. I'll take it as a compliment, even if admiring an evil wizard's very hot body isn't something that I picture a pure hearted young lady doing.

Flavor 02

Time passed and my roommate disappeared. I'm pretty sure she went back to Kadary and became brainwashed again. I'm not going back there, I did my part of the heroics already. Besides, I heard the dorm's director sent a request to the hunter's guild. I guess I should wait for them to bring her back safely.

xoxox xox xoxox

Just as I thought, my roommate was brought back safely, more or less. She was very frightened and quite thin; she obviously hadn't been eating well. I feel kind of guilty for not going to the rescue but I know I would be a fool to overestimate the power of a pure kiss. For all I know, it might only work once per evil wizard. Then there's the fact that one would expect such a pure hearted lady to have equally pure dreams, not dreams about dating hot evil wizards.

She ended up dropping out and going back home. At least I'll get some peace and quiet around here now that I no longer have a roommate who wakes up with nightmares more often then not; and in turn wakes me up. I didn't get a new roommate right away, but soon I would, a most unexpected one.

xoxox xox xoxox

When I first heard him say, "I know her," I thought nothing of it. I thought that the voice must be referring to someone else. Then he approached; the same evil wizard I met before, except he didn't look evil anymore. The light of ambition and thirst for power was still present in his eyes, but they were not eerily glowing anymore.

I noticed the pink haired girl standing next to him. By the look in her face she was still capable of forming different expressions and therefore I concluded that she was not brainwashed. What really caught my attention, other than her long pink hair, were her ears. Those ears were very cat-like and long like elf ears. I knew right away she was no ordinary girl. "Excuse me, do you really know him?" She asked.

"Yes, we've met before... I think." His presence felt different, the dark energy was gone.

"Can we talk to you?" I agreed to her request and led them to my room. Though both dorms were on the same building, there was a rule that said no boys were allowed in a girl's room and vice versa. Luckily, I managed to sneak them in unnoticed and the three of us sat down to talk.

The pink haired girl took a deep breath. "I guess I should introduce myself first, I'm Rika and this is Zio."

I introduced myself as well and asked, "what's going on?" Because I knew something unusual was happening, but I didn't know what.

"Did you hear about Dark Force?" Rika asked.

"Of course, who hasn't? Dark Force was defeated by..." Then it hit me, the pink hair, the long ears, even the name was the same. "You're that Rika, one of the heroes!"

She nodded and smiled. "Yes, but that's not what I was trying to say. What I mean is..." Rika paused then cut to the chase. "Zio was under Dark Force's control."

"A simple case of amnesia doesn't prove that." Zio protested.

"Several dozen witnesses do," Rika insisted. "As I was saying, it was quite a surprise when I saw him at the hunter's guild. I thought he didn't survive, but I realize now that he didn't dissolve, Dark Force must have teleported him away and deceived us. I'm not sure what plans Dark Force had, or if it was taking Zio back simply because he knew too much, but the dark energy is gone so he is now a normal human once more."

"I still say I wouldn't forget something like that..." Rika and I shared a look of agreement, Zio was in denial and his ego was probably injured.

"Chaz pretty much freaked out and wanted to kill Zio, but I stopped him. Coincidentally, Rune was in Aiedo, he took Chaz somewhere to calm down. Zio wanted an explanation, he wanted proof; he wanted his missing memories back. I suggested speaking to Hahn, he has studied many things and might know of a way to restore memories, since Rune has his hands full and I'm not sure he'd help as easily as Hahn. That's basically the entire story," Rika explained.

So they were here looking for Hahn, my favorite professor and one of the youngest professors at Piata, as if he hasn't had his share of magical disasters already. Saya, his ex-fianc , turned out to be a witch experimenting with black magic. I knew the way he acted around her was odd. That aside, I suppose they really do need his help.

"I should go talk to him now..." Rika announced. "Do you mind...?"

"I'm not going anywhere," Zio replied before Rika could find the proper words to finish her question.

"Right, if it's okay, please wait here." Rika looks at me and I nod.

"Sure, no problem," I want to ask him some questions too.

Right after Rika closed the door behind her and before I could ask anything, Zio spoke. "What do you know about me?"

I'm not sure why he claimed to know me if I had only met him briefly. Shouldn't he be able to remember other people that he knew for a longer time more clearly? "Not much; just that you were an evil wizard from Kadary. I also remember seeing a creepy looking tower to the south; I guess that must have been yours."

"That's what Rika said," Zio was clearly displeased with Rika and my matching versions of the story.

"What do you remember about me?" I mentally kicked myself for the question as the scene from months ago replayed in my mind.

"A kiss, that's all, but it's obvious you can't be my girlfriend." I gave him my deadliest glare that I'm sure rivaled his own.

Then, I proceeded to insert my foot in my mouth. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"If it were true, you would know more about me," he explained coolly.

"Oh... good point..." I conceded.

Flavor 03

Zio looked very uncomfortable hooked up to that huge machine, but Hahn insisted this was the only way he knew of to make his memories surface, granted that they were still recorded in his brain. "Sorry, your head is pretty empty." Apparently they were not, but Hahn could have worded it better.

"What did you say?" Zio half yelled, half growled and started trying to slip out of the oversized helmet.

"I didn't mean it like that!" Hahn cowered behind Rika, who appeared to be amused. "Your IQ is very high, what I meant to say was that your memories are gone. They are very deeply buried in your subconscious and I can't get them out with the resources I have." Hahn was a genius; it was amazing how he could figure out so much based on a bunch of zigzagging lines on a monitor.

"You still insist on that..." Zio had his own theories about the truth.

"If not, then how can you explain your past?" Rika asked.

"I'm a hunter; I always have been since I was able to hold a sword. For some reason I hit my head during a mission and lost my memories." Zio clearly preferred the theory that made him a regular hunter over the version where he was used and thrown away by some ultimate evil.

"There are no records of you as a hunter at the guild." Rika pointed out.

Zio was stubborn even with all that evidence. "I was an independent hunter."

"The way you used your sword against the sand worms that attacked us when we were on our way here... That is not how someone with experience does it." Rika was walking on dangerous ground but she didn't seem to care.

"What part of I have amnesia do you not understand? And I got rid of those sand worms just fine." By now Zio was out of the machine and gripping the handle of his sword dangerously. I noticed something in his expression, as if holding the weapon felt awkward.

"As a magic user your weapon of choice should be a staff, unless your magic is gone and you had to adapt." I thought I heard Hahn gasp and give Rika an incredulous look. His reaction tells me that he thinks she is acting differently from how she usually would.

"Are you purposely trying to anger me, little girl?" Apparently Zio caught it.

Rika was searching, searching for any hints of dark energy surfacing with that anger, but she found none. "If Dark Force offered you power, would you accept it?"

"I'm not stupid enough to fall for Dark Force's tricks. I know I wouldn't be given power, I would simply be used." Zio replied with full certainty.

"Because of your experiences, though deeply buried in your mind, you know not to trust Dark Force." Hahn decided to contribute to the interrogatory. "Let me rephrase the question, if you were offered power, and given power, while in exchange ruling over several towns and eliminating those who opposed you; would you accept it?"

"In exchange? That doesn't sound like a price to pay but an extra benefit. What's the real catch?" The room fell silent after Zio's reply. He waited a few seconds and realized that no one was going to voice their thoughts right away, so he spoke once more. "Isn't that what anyone would do? If you're given power take it and use it, it's only natural."

"And the part about the towns?" Rika looked upset.

"If I am ruling over those towns, then I assume there must be a reason. They named me their ruler perhaps, and expect me to protect them from attackers, the ones that stand in the way." That made it sound better.

"It's not that simple, not after what you did!" Rika yelled and clenched her fists, sharp looking metal claws resting on them.

"What I did? Is this about what you were saying Dark Force did?" Zio asked.

"Yes... Not you, what Dark Force did, I mean... I thought you were simply being controlled. I blamed Dark Force and not you, but you gave yourself to that power so I wonder if Chaz was right, I wonder if I should blame you." Rika spoke bitterly while Hahn tried to comfort her.

"Blame me then, that won't change the fact that I don't remember any of that and I don't believe it! Does it even matter? Dark Force is gone, everyone knows that." Zio stormed out of the examination room and for a moment I just stood there.

When I finally reacted and spoke for the first time in a while, I offered myself to be the one to follow him, assuming Hahn and Rika were not ready to let him walk away just yet. "I'll go after him."

"Wait, what if..." Rika didn't finish her sentence, but I knew a warning would follow.

"It's ok, I'll be fine." After seeing Zio in all his evil wizard glory, he doesn't look half as intimidating as a mere human.

"Be careful," it sounds like something Hahn would say.

"I will," and so I exit the examination room and go off to find our favorite ex-evil wizard.

Flavor 04

"Will you stop following me?" I think Zio has asked me the same question about ten times already, and my answer was always the same.

"No," it came out firm and confident, it bothered him.

Looking exasperated, Zio continued walking across the desert. The sun was scorching hot as always, but that changed as time passed and the ball of fire in the skies sunk into the horizon. Then it got scary, I make it a point not to go out into the desert at night. I hear an odd noise and jump into Zio's arms, holding on to him for dear life.

"What's wrong with you, afraid of ghosts?" Annoyance is evident in his voice.

"I don't mind ghosts, I just hate sand worms." They usually stay underground during the day because of the hot sun, unless they're really hungry or in egg laying season, but at night they come out to hunt. "My family was eaten by them; I was the only one that survived. It's a lot harder to get away in the dark, I won't see them coming and..." I stop, dead silent, and listen as I feel the sandy ground beneath my feet start to shift.

In the dim light of the moon and stars, I see Zio's expression change and he looks alarmed, this can't be good. "We have to move fast!" We make a run for it until he abruptly stops.

"Why are we stopping?" I ask in a panic.

"They're coming out, we can't outrun them." Zio gets his sword ready and attacks the beast that has finally revealed itself, it's a big one. I have to admit, for someone that isn't supposed to be used to handling a sword, he's pretty good. He's a bit slower than other sword fighters I've seen, but he's probably still getting adjusted to the weight of a sword instead of a light staff. Either way, this is enough.

"Run!" Zio runs, I follow; repeat about a dozen times until, between running and fighting, we reach safety. I can tell he misses his magic, whether he remembers or not, or if he would ever admit it, I'm pretty sure he misses it.

We finally reach Krup and the streets become empty as we walk, though I'm pretty sure I have nothing to do with it, it's all Zio. He stops at the inn and I follow, he speaks to the inn keeper, who appears a bit frightened, but I'm not paying attention to their conversation. I keep on following until he enters a room and I go in behind him. "I didn't say you could sleep here."

"Huh?" I seem to wake up from my daze. All that walking under the scorching sun really took it out of me, even more so after the sun sank in the horizon and the sand worms came out to feast on foolish travelers. When traveling, I always leave at sunrise and reach the protection of the next town before sunset.

"The next room, you sleep next door, to the right, room three, now leave." It's obvious that Zio is done putting up with me for the day, so I hurry out of the room before upsetting him further. I'm surprised he actually got a room for me; I guess I should be thankful. My stomach feels empty but the inn is no longer serving food at this hour. I guess I'll have to wait until tomorrow.

I go to my room and prepare to get some sleep, then someone knocks on the door. I slowly open it, thinking of who it could be. My guesses include Zio, the inn keeper, a maid, or a confused guest, none of which are correct. "Rika?"

"Did I wake you?" She asks with an apologetic look.

"No, I wasn't asleep yet, come in." I'm pretty sure she must have something to talk about if she came all the way here.

Once we were comfortably sitting inside my inn room, Rika narrated the story of Zio's past when he was under Dark Force's control. "So you see, even if after meeting him again, I blamed Dark Force for what happened to Alys instead of blaming Zio, it bothers me that he disregards the past so easily. Even if he doesn't remember any of that, he could be a little more considerate." I thought I heard Rika grumble something along the lines of 'insensitive jerk' under her breath.

"I understand why you're upset." Suddenly, I find myself harboring anger towards Zio, even if what happened was caused by Dark Force, the point still remained he did give himself to that power. However, my mood was lightened when our serious talk turned into something akin to a slumber party.

xoxox xox xoxox

"His name is Wren... he likes Demi and I think they're cute together." Rika smiled, it was a sincere smile.

I didn't understand. "If you like him, how come you're happy he's with someone else?"

"Demi is my friend; she's very kind and smart. I think they are best for each other. Besides, they're both androids and I'm a numan, numans are closer to humans anyway. It wouldn't work out." That was a detail she did not mention in the beginning.

"I've never seen an android before and you're the first numan I've seen." That explains the ears.

"There are few androids left, I don't think there are any other functional androids besides Wren and Demi anymore, and I'm the only numan left." Rika appears to have coped with this rather well.

"When Wren left on Landale, our spaceship, I was going too, I was hoping we could all stay together, but our group was about to go their separate ways. That made me very sad so I just waited quietly without saying goodbye. Then I realized I had a better chance of finding my place here than anywhere else, so I decided to stay in Motavia. Chaz was very nice, we're not a couple anymore but we stayed friends." A very interesting story indeed, I'm curious about this group of people who traveled to far away planets and lived such an adventure. I want to know more about them and Rika is happy to tell the full story.

Flavor 05

By the time sunrise came, I had found out a lot about the legendary heroes who defeated Dark Force. The next day, we had a nice meal and started making our way back to Piata. I found out from a very grumpy Zio, that he had stayed up all night listening to Hahn's ramblings, as he called them, and came quite close to giving into the temptation of decapitating the scholar. Hahn's head was still on his shoulders, so it was obvious that Zio managed to resist.

After a long day of travel, we arrived at Piata. Rika had planned to meet Rune there after a few days and the agreed day was tomorrow.

"I'm getting tired of putting up with you people. A past I can't remember and even if I did, I can't change, is not my concern." By then, Zio had accepted the idea of Rika and Hahn's version being correct, since the proof, in the form of people's fear, followed him in every town. Of course, he didn't openly admit it. Even so, he agreed to wait for Rune who had apparently known Zio before the entire Dark Force incident, and could shed some light on the interrogatives about his past.

From what I heard from Rika, Rune told people things in a need to know basis, so it wasn't surprising that he saved this piece of information until it became relevant.

After receiving a lecture from professor Holt and some extra credit assignments, so my grades wouldn't suffer because of the classes I missed, I returned to my room too tired to start the homework right away. Forget Dark Force, homework is the true ultimate evil.

I was often reminded that I was a scholarship student, with the academy paying for my living expenses, so I needed to keep my grades up. Such is life after your family is eaten by sand worms. They expect me to give something back to the academy by participating in studies, investigations and teaching after I graduate. Let them continue thinking that, and I might do it for a while, but if a chance at a more interesting life comes along I'll leave without a second thought. I've never been one to get attached to places, however dear I may hold them.

Tired as I may be, I couldn't miss the fact that the used to be empty second bed in my room, was now occupied by an ex-evil wizard sleeping soundly. I guess Hahn really did keep him up all night with his ramblings; Hahn can get a little chatty sometimes, especially when discussing fascinating theories, or fascinating according to him at least.

I sigh and lay down on my own bed. The day will end soon anyway and tomorrow Rune will be here, so I let sleep come.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next morning I wake up to see that Zio is gone. Hopefully no one saw him leave. Luck isn't on my side, as I find out when I leave my room to start the day. I hear whispers and murmurs as I walk and two girls, sisters known for their mischief, ask the question I've been dreading. "Who was that man in your room last night?"

What am I supposed to say? He's an ex-evil wizard with missing memories? I doubt they would believe me. "A friend," my answer is as generic and ambiguous as they come.

"Is he just a friend or your boyfriend?" I don't like the tone of the older sister.

"He's pretty cute; if he really is just a friend, will you introduce him to me?" I find myself disliking the younger sister so much more.

"No," I give her a mocking smile and walk away leaving the sisters to their thoughts and crazy conclusions.

I soon realize that it is not early morning as I had mistakenly assumed, but mid day. Rune and Zio had apparently already had their talk and I missed it. All I caught was an annoyed Zio heading back to my room because he had left his sword there, I followed.

"What happened?" I asked knowing it couldn't be very good.

"That Rune wannabe wizard made up a story about how I used to be an Esper and gave up my light magic for dark magic, because I wanted more power. He claims that I am now free from Dark Force; because it was destroyed, but I probably won't get my original magic back because I gave that up for the dark power. He wasn't very helpful, the past is the past, it can't be changed, I rather move forward." He took his sword and walked out, again I followed.

"Where are you going? From what I've heard you're not really listed at the hunter's guild and with your evil wizard reputation I don't think people would hire you as a hunter anyway. Besides, sending a request to the guild instead of a specific hunter is easier." He remained silent for a moment and I curiously insisted. "Zio!"

"Dezolis," his reply was one word, the name of a planet.

"What?" Somehow I didn't make the connection right away.

"I'm going to planet Dezolis, Motavia has too many hunters already and Dezolis has few. The only useful thing Rune said was about Nurvus. He's calling Demi, an android, from there and she'll come here on Landale, a space ship." I knew the story of Demi and Landale from Rika, and as soon as Zio said they were coming I knew I couldn't miss the chance to see them.

Motavia was boring anyway, I don't mean to be an ungrateful brat to the academy, but life calls. "I want to go too!"

Zio looked at me as if I grew a second head. "Are you insane? You have a life here, aren't you a student at Piata Academy, expected to become a professor after you graduate? Hahn told me about you."

"I'm bored out of my mind here. I want to go somewhere new. I'm going no matter what! It's not like I'll bother you. When we get to Dezolis we can go our separate ways." It's not like I was asking for that much, and my mind was made up. Landale was already going to make the trip, so what was one more passenger?

Flavor 06

Today was full of surprises. One of my surprises was watching Hahn and Rika arrive. Apparently he had confessed his feelings for her yesterday and today they arrived hand in hand, looking very happy. They do look cute together and I wish them a happy life.

"Are you sure you want to go?" Hahn asked. I knew he would be disappointed that I didn't stay at the academy but I just had to go. I couldn't miss what could be my only opportunity to visit another planet and live an interesting life.

I also realized how much I don't want to depend on the academy and end up, either looking like an ingrate, or having to stick around working for them to repay them. Not that I had anything better to do but that's just it, this planet has nothing for me.

Actually, even before my family was eaten, I was bored. As cold as it may sound I would leave them and go to Dezolis, if I could find the courage to do so while still being sheltered by them. Who wants a cranky, moody, girl around who is constantly unsatisfied with life anyway? It would have been for the best if I left, it is for the best now.

"I'm absolutely certain!" It looks like my cheerful attitude has erased their doubts. "By the way, congratulations," I smile, they both blush, it's adorable.

"Congratulations to you too," Rika happily chirps.

"Thanks!" I assume she means because I'm going to Dezolis after Rune was convinced to allow it, thanks to much insistence from Rika. I really do owe her; she's such a nice girl. Hahn's a perfect gentleman; I know he'll be good to her. I wish them the best.

All the while Zio has been standing around quietly at Nurvus waiting for Landale to arrive. Nurvus was another of the day's surprises. It's so advanced and futuristic, yet it's ancient. It is technology that existed long ago, when an advanced civilization flourished. This is so cool, both literally and metaphorically, the air is cooler inside Nurvus than in any other building I've been in.

While I'm busy admiring the wonder of ancient technology that is Nurvus, Rika starts talking to Zio and Hahn nods at everything she says before adding a few words. I snap out of my day dream and go over to his little corner to see what this is about. "What's up?"

"Nothing really, I was just telling Zio to be nice to you," Rika explains.

Hahn nods in agreement. "You're lucky that such a nice and smart girl likes you, so take good care of her."

I am lost and it seems Zio is lost as well. "Care to elaborate?" He inquires.

"You're asking me? I have no idea what they're talking about." I admit.

Rika looks disappointed. "Then you're not a couple?" She does a cute pouty face and Hahn looks like he could squeal at the ultimate cuteness displayed by Rika.

My face becomes scarlet and I am very tempted to kick Zio for looking cool, calm, collected and ultimately unaffected. "I never said we were." I half say and half mutter.

"But those girls said-"

"They're gossiping, lying, brats!" I interrupt before Rika can finish. Those girls are lucky I'm leaving or else they would be in trouble for causing this. "I mean really, I would never..."

"Really?" Zio raises an eyebrow and gives me a look I can only describe as egotistical and narcissistic. I am without words... crap.

Rika looks back and forth between us then laughs, Hahn soon joins her. I fail to see what is so funny about this entire fiasco, but I thank the Great Light that the control panel lit up and started beeping, signaling the arrival of Landale.

While Rika tends to the controls, I find myself anticipating the space ship's take off with me aboard more and more. I want to see another world; I want to live an exciting life. I've been wishing for so long and I'm finally going to get it.

When the Landale's landing is complete, I finally meet Demi. She looks like a young girl with green hair and green eyes. She is very human-like except for the hair color and the metal elf ears. I'm not sure why, if they covered the rest of her face with skin-like material, they didn't give her normal ears. Then again those ears might be antennae for all I know.

I'm not sure that interrogating Demi about her robotic body would be very polite. By the way she acts, she is used to being treated as a human and quite frankly, if I didn't know she was an android I would think she's just a human girl with odd ears. Actually she's really friendly; I can definitely think of her as a human.

Demi isn't the automatic, predictably behaving, robot with a monotonous voice that I thought all androids were, she is another child of Algo, just like the rest of us. I should have known when Rika said she liked Wren, but I just didn't make the connection right away, now it has become obvious how human-like he must be, even if I haven't met him.

From what I heard, Wren is very busy making sure all the vital systems are in working order. I probably won't meet him in person, but Demi mentioned something about contacting him later, so I might get to see him in one of those moving picture boxes the Landale has, or by their correct name screens.

It was overall a happy, yet simple farewell, with just a few people to see us off. Of course, we can't go letting anyone into a place as important as Nurvus. Even if the planet has been learning to subsist without it, Nurvus is still needed occasionally, when things go out of balance, and if used incorrectly it could bring disaster.

Flavor 07

Space is amazing, seeing that sea of stars so close for the first time is an experience I'll never forget. Demi was a little uncomfortable at first, possibly because Zio held her prisoner for so long while under Dark Force's control, but she got used to being around him pretty soon. I was able to speak to Wren while on Landale, no wonder Rika used to have a crush on him, that's all I'll say.

When we arrived at Dezolis, Demi had a Hydrofoil prepared for travel. It made the trip to Esper Mansion fast and easy. I was amazed by Dezolis, a planet covered in snow. After staring at sand my entire life, the cold white snow was a nice change, but at the same time I knew the temperatures would take some getting used to. Luckily, Demi gave me a coat, I'm sure she knew coats wouldn't be easy to find in a planet as hot as Motavia.

I get the feeling that the heroes are still jumpy about Zio's return, and their hospitality is actually a way to keep an eye on him. He's not too happy about it, but he truly has nowhere else to go. Of course, Zio being Zio; he would rather die frozen or starved before admitting he needs help. Kyra, an Esper and one of the heroes, was able to convince him to stay by speaking of the Esper Library, which houses many interesting spell books.

I'm sure Zio has decided to try to recover his magic, even if everyone thinks he can't, he's just stubborn like that. Wasting time reading spells he can't use is exactly what they want him to do. That way he'll stay at the mansion where they can make sure he doesn't cause trouble, at least until they confirm he's not too dangerous; it seems they still have their doubts.

I was given the offer to stay at the Esper Mansion as well and I accepted. I didn't really have any plans and wandering around in the snow in an unknown planet isn't something I want to do. Even better, Kyra offered to teach me magic, I'm sure my new life will be lots of fun!

xoxox xox xoxox

"This isn't wise, Kyra," the Esper Mansion is a big place. I was wandering around trying to get better acquainted with my new home when I heard those words. I've been here for a week, but I still haven't memorized every corridor.

"Will you relax, it doesn't matter how much he learns as long as he can't use it. Even Rune approves of letting him live here, Lutz Rune!" I remember hearing the story of Lutz and Rune from Rika at Motavia. I decided to stop in front of the closed door and listen to the conversation, curiosity killed the cat, they say, but curiosity has made my life better. To think that this all began when I curiously wondered into Kadary, because of that, Zio remembered me and all these events began to unfold.

"That is why I have agreed to this so far, but I don't think it's a good idea to give him full access to the library. His magic is gone but what about the girl? You have been teaching her magic, haven't you? Zio may be gathering information for her. He might not be able to cast spells, but she can, and he can teach her the more advanced spells he reads about even if he can't cast them himself." The person speaking to Kyra, and accusing me, sounded like an old man, possibly an Esper elder.

"Forget that, she's a nice girl, not the evil type," glad to know Kyra doesn't doubt me.

"If he does anything suspicious, action must be taken," I'm pretty sure he means kill Zio.

"Even against Lutz's will?" I hear Kyra stomping her feet.

"It would be for the best!" Sorry old man, but nothing beats a girl's idol.

"No! I refuse! If you do anything against Lutz's wishes, I will do everything I can to stop you!" Kyra stomps away without giving the elder a chance to reply, and I am unable to get out of the way of her rampage on time.

As a result, the door that Kyra harshly opened hits me on the head and I fall back. "Ow!"

"Oh no! I'm so sorry, are you okay?" Kyra helps me to my feet and the elder exits the office, giving me a suspicious look. I'm sure he thinks I was spying, and possibly plotting an evil plan, I couldn't care less. Right now the pain on my head has my full attention.

xoxox xox xoxox

I was lying down in my room with my eyes closed when I felt something cold on my forehead. I haven't been too fond of ice lately because I'm still adjusting to the cold, though I don't regret coming here, however right now ice is very nice on my aching head. "Thanks Kyra," I assume it's Kyra who put the ice bag on my head since, after seeing me to my room, though I could have gone by myself, she said she would be back with a few things to help me feel better, and insisted on doing so even after I told her I was okay.

A cookie is then gently pressed against my mouth. I open it to speak but end up eating the cookie instead. It's a delicious chocolate chip cookie. "You don't have to feed me, Kyra. Really, I'm fine."

"Your condition must be very serious if you think I'm Kyra." I immediately bolt into a sitting position, the ice bag falling into my lap. That was not Kyra's voice and no where close.

"Zio! What are you doing here?" Shock doesn't begin to cover it.

"I saw Kyra in the hall with an ice bag, milk and cookies heading to your room, muttering something about hoping the bump doesn't become too obvious. I asked her about it and learned the story of how you stamped your face on a door, thanks to her." Zio looks amused, I want to punch him. I would if he didn't suddenly uncharacteristically pick up the ice bag from my lap and held it against my forehead.

I placed my hand on the ice bag indicating that I can hold it myself, and continued the interrogatory. "That doesn't explain why you're here. You could have just let Kyra bring these things." Somehow the thought of poison does not feel right, I'm sure Zio would be offended if I underestimated his so called evil genius that way.

He shook his head in annoyance, patience suddenly running dry. "I'm trying to take care of you, okay?" Needless to say that was a very unexpected answer, but it was all I got from him.

Flavor 08

Ever since the odd events that left me with a bump on my head, I have been suspecting that Zio is planning something. Kyra is in the clouds rambling about how he supposedly likes me, but I don't believe a word of it. Zio might have tricked Kyra, but he won't trick me.

That's why I'm going to take a look in his room to see if I can find anything suspicious. The problem is he's still in there. That's fine because I have the excuse of returning a favor. He brought me a snack so I'll bring him a snack too. Well, technically, Kyra brought the snack and Zio gave it to me, but let's not get caught up on the details. I open the door without knocking and as soon as Zio notices me, he covers the book he was reading, very suspicious.

"What are you reading?" I try to take a peek at the book but Zio is half lying on the desk covering it.

"Nothing, why are you here?" Clearly he's annoyed at my unexpected visit.

"I brought you a snack." Zio decided that making room for the snack on the desk is a good enough excuse to put the books away. He piles them up in a corner of the desk and expects me to forget about them.

"Thanks," it's obvious that word left him with a very sour taste. "I'm sure you're busy..."

"Not really," it was true, I wasn't busy, in fact I had the entire day to get on Zio's nerves should the need arise. "Was that a cheesy romance novel?"

"Pardon?" Zio obviously didn't expect the question and even looks somewhat offended. His ego is probably kicking in, reminding him that he is above such unsophisticated things.

"Why else would you hide it?" This is kind of fun, but I do hope my guess was wrong.

"Of course not! It's a spell book from the library, see?" He points at the pile of books and I read the title.

"Restoration Spells?" Why did he need to hide something like that? It's exactly the kind of book everyone would be expecting him to read to recover his magic, which they believe is impossible, but I'm starting to have my doubts. "Why did you hide it?"

"No reason." I know Zio is hiding something.

"C'mon, you can tell me. I can keep a secret." Getting this information out of him will not be easy.

"I heard you were getting pretty good at magic." He changed the subject.

"About the book..." Stay on topic!

"You've already mastered Res," Zio is ignoring my attempts to get him back on topic.

"Yes, I have..." I glare, two can play that game. I'll just have to come back later, when he's off trying to practice sword techniques. I happen to know Zio is getting tired of a light sword and wants to use a bigger one, but that's not a wizard's specialty so it's been taking a lot of work and progress has been slow.

"You're very talented..." Zio is trying to keep his cool and not show his annoyance. He's pretty good at it.

"Thanks," I don't get where he's going with this.

"And beautiful..." Something smells fishy here.

"Tha-what?" Okay, where did that come from? Now I know he's planning something! Zio wouldn't try to be nice unless he was secretly working on an evil plot. He can't possibly like me when he was looking at me like excess luggage on the Landale, though he did originally think I was his girlfriend... No! Like I said, he tricked Kyra and who knows how many others, but he won't trick me!

"It can't be the first time you've been told that." This is getting too weird, a strangely pleasant kind of weird but still weird. Most of the time people notice my intelligence first and honestly, I'm pretty average when it comes to looks. Actually, Kyra is way prettier than me and I'm not even going to mention Rika, I'm no competition.

"Why are you being such a flirt?" Blunt is another thing I was called a few times before.

He looks annoyed but tries to suppress it. "I'm not; I just like you, is that truly so strange?"

"Well, yes," I'm level headed; I'm not one to be swept off my feet easily. Sure I can stare when presented with supreme hotness, such as that which stands before me, but that doesn't mean my head will automatically sky rocket past the clouds and to the stars.

"Don't you like guys?" What kind of a question is that?

"Of course I like hot guys like you, it's just that-" It's just that I have inserted my foot in my mouth again.

Zio grins, his conceited ego must be happy. "Well then, if it's mutual I see no problem with it." At this point he puts his arms around my waist and pulls me close.

I make no efforts to break away. "I know you're planning something."

"It's nothing you wouldn't like." He's too confident, but hot as he is, who wouldn't be?

"Like what?" I wish my racing thoughts would shut up. I'm supposed to be a pure hearted young lady for crying out loud!

Flavor 09

While Zio was out in the freezing weather for sword practice where no one can see that he isn't perfect at everything, otherwise he wouldn't need practice; I snuck into his room, which was carelessly left unlocked. I should have known there was a reason for it to be unlocked. The books he was reading before were nowhere to be found, returned to the library I assume.

I was allowed into the library and spotting the specific books I was looking for was easier than I thought. At first I was overwhelmed by the amount of books and dust that could be collected under one large roof. Then I just made a bee line for the back of the basement and found what I was looking for. Among the dust covered books lined up in the darkness that my lamp pierced, there were some that were clean, as if they had been recently used.

I found the Restoration Spells book and it practically opened on the right page by itself. I notice a line along its spine and made sure to hold both halves to avoid having the ancient text all apart. It was obvious it had been opened to that page for a long time after eons of not being used.

The topic discussed on those pages the book was opened to, involved the classic fairy tale maiden's kiss in it's more magically functional uses. "Contrary to what was believed in the past, a lady capable of using a magical effect kiss does not have to be royalty, nor must it be the first kiss of either party involved and the man does not have to be a knight or prince. What is considered a pure hearted person can be judged on its own or by contrast." I wonder if I would qualify on my own, by contrast surely since Zio was an evil wizard.

"If the kiss takes place in the proper situation, the magical energies activate with it as the trigger, the kiss brings no magic but merely activates what was there. After a magical effect is produced, both parties can only produce further magical kiss effects with each other. Any other kiss will just be a normal one." Interesting...

"This link can be broken if either side gets married, but if the remaining person is still in love with the one who got married, the link will only be broken if the marriage was for love." So basically, if I love Zio, he can only break the link by falling in love and getting married; if he just gets married it won't be enough. That puts him in a hard situation, I'm pretty sure he only loves power and I... Well, I'll be honest with myself, I'm not exactly in love with him, but man is he ever hot. He's overconfident and must think I'm helplessly in love.

Still, the page on the left doesn't fully explain what's going on. Let's see what I find in the next one. "Magic Rebirth Repeat, this spell will only be triggered if traces of the natural magical energies of the receiver still exist in his or her body though deeply sealed and unusable. The trigger must be the same which caused those traces to be preserved while all other magic was lost. This is a common case of magic kiss effects." So that's what's going on. Due to the link between us, it's possible that I'm the only one who can use the Magic Rebirth Repeat spell on Zio. This is getting good!

"When activated the Magic Rebirth Repeat will use the locked traces of magic to regenerate the receiver's magical energies bringing them back to the point in which they were at birth. This power must be trained and grown once again, however it would still represent a significant improvement over not being able to use magic at all." He wants to restart, take it from the beginning with his own power this time, since Dark Force is no longer around.

All the pieces are falling into place and these final lines confirm it. "Magical kisses must be started by the caster, and will affect only the receiver." So I have to take the first step, just like before and that's not all. "Love is not always a requirement to activate a magic kiss effect, however in this case if the magic is locked too deeply or the traces left are faint, it might help contribute to a better chance for a success." The more I like him the better his chance of recovering his magic will be.

I like my position right now and without reading any further, I put the book back with its dust covered companions and leave the old library basement sneezing all the way. Once I'm out of there, I skip back to my room to plot, dear Zio I'll work you for all you're worth my hot little slave. It's good to be needed!

Flavor 10

Why is it that, more often than it's healthy, when I'm around Zio I can't help it but to stupidly say too much. I have successfully motivated him to find a way around the entire kiss deal, by refusing to help him. I'm not even sure how it started, the point is we had an argument and after he stormed off, he came back only to inform me that he can break the link by killing me.

xoxox xox xoxox

"You're still here?" We stand just outside Esper Mansion.

"I'm not going to run away, if you're so dead set in killing me then you'll track me down. Besides you have no magic."

"A sword will be enough," he assures.

I refuse to give Zio an easy victory, what am I saying? I refuse to give him a victory at all. "Your sword against my magic then, I learned a lot of magic here, I won't make it easy!"

xoxox xox xoxox

I lost miserably and blacked out. I woke up in my room to hear Kyra ranting about very odd things. "I mean really, I can totally understand if you want to be alone, but staying out in the cold for so long knowing that there would be a storm later today? You should have known; you need to know these things here. Next time, just lock the door if you don't want to be bothered."

Kyra thinks we ran off together? Does she ever have it wrong! But why am I still alive? I thought for sure Zio would kill me. I stay in bed perfectly still until I hear Kyra leave. Then I sit up and ask the inevitable question. "Why didn't you kill me like you said you would?"

"This," Zio hands me a book.

I realize that this book is where the entire idea of killing me came from. He points at a paragraph and I read it. "Should either of those involved die, the link of the magic effect kisses will be broken, however, if the death is caused by either party involved, the caster or receiver, the survivor will not be able to activate any other magic kiss effects unless it comes by mutual love." It seems I'm safe after all. "We all know evil wizards are unable to fall in love."

"I can't picture myself doing such a foolish act," Zio admitted.

"Not even for power?"

"Only for power, if it were possible."

"And it's not, because Zio only loves power."

"Correct." He so totally hates me for this.

"Then it's a dead end..." Somehow, I don't think Zio is about to give up yet. That fact became apparent when he kissed me. I flailed around but soon managed to calm myself after remembering what the book said.

"Love is not always a requirement to activate a magic kiss effect," Zio quotes the spell book.

"If the magic is locked too deeply or the traces left are faint, it might help contribute to a better chance for a success," I add.

"I supposed I'll have to try again until you get it right." I don't know if I should be scared or jumping with joy at his words. Forget the evil magic and what not, I'm enjoying this.

xoxox xox xoxox

The next day, while I was walking to the training room with Kyra, she brought up a very annoying question. "How far has it gone?"

I can honestly say that at first I had no idea what she was talking about. "What do you mean?"

"You and Zio, you run off to make out all the time." This is not true! Only every now and then but not all the time.

"We do not!" I argue.

"Do too!" She counters.

"Do not!"

"Do too!"

"Do not!"

"Do too," that was not Kyra's voice.

"Zio, do you even know what we're talking about?" Nosy jerk, nosy hot jerk.

"You're both rather loud, I'm sure the entire mansion knows, but then, who cares, locks are rather useful." It is obvious that he was listening and he's agreeing with Kyra; Zio you idiot.

Such is life when an ex-evil wizard seeking to regain the title of evil wizard by recovering his magic, needs to make out with you as often as possible for the purpose of some twisted spell. Great Light, if it was you who decided that kisses were magical, what were you thinking? I take that back, I don't want to know.

Flavor 11

Dezo-penguins are quite big, a lot bigger than a palman, they're bigger than dezolians, or even motavians, numans and most androids, point being, they're big; big and cute. They're also big fat cowards, or Zio is just scary, perhaps both.

Kyra has managed to talk us into going to a dezo-penguin farm, quite an interesting place. Zio, as expected, absolutely detests those cute penguins.

"They don't seem to like you very much." Talk about stating the obvious, Kyra!

"Neither do I," Zio replied dully.

Kyra sighs hopelessly. "Make friends with the penguins before the elders arrive. I'm not supposed to tell you this but this is a test to see if you're evil or not. The penguins are sensitive creatures; they scare easily so you have to be gentle to approach them. The elders claim that if you can pet a penguin without scaring it, then you're not evil and you can stay at Esper Mansion."

That's not good, I know Zio can't leave yet, he hasn't recovered his powers and I'm not exactly helping as much as taking advantage of the situation. "Wouldn't they be afraid of me anyway because I'm a stranger?" Zio states a valid point.

"Ironically they're not shy with strangers, just people whom they feel they shouldn't trust, so that won't work as an excuse. If you care about your girlfriend, you should try your best to be allowed to stay at the Esper Mansion so you can see her everyday." Kyra just doesn't get it; it's not like that at all.

As out of character as it may be, I thought I saw Zio roll his eyes. "Fine," then he looked towards me. "Make friends with the stupid penguins then have them make friends with me."

The penguins let out a squeal of protest, as if they knew 'stupid' was an insult. "How am I supposed to do that?" I wonder.

"I don't know, just do it." I scuffed, when had the tables been turned? He was supposed to listen to me, because he needed my help, not the other way around.

"Do it yourself." I stomped away over to the egg nest to curiously look at the penguin eggs.

"Don't walk away from me like that," Zio followed me. I'm sure to everyone this looks like a normal couple's quarrel, but it's very complicated really.

"Go away, let me enjoy my time here. You're so cranky!" He has been most of the time but today I noticed it even more. I'm sure the penguins had a very big negative influence in Zio's mood.

"How could you enjoy being around stupid penguins?" As expected, evil wizards hate cute things and ex-evil wizards too.

"You wouldn't know cute if it hit you in the face!" He wouldn't, I know he wouldn't, stupid evil wizard.

"Chirp!" A small sound from the ground.

"It's useless!" Zio just doesn't get it.

"Chirp!" That sound again.

"Then go away, if you don't want to be here no one is making you stay!" I yell.

"Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!" What is that?

"Shut up!" Zio looks at the ground and yells at the small animal emitting the chirping noise.

For a moment, the newly hatched baby dezo-penguin stares at Zio curiously and for a small second he thinks it understood. "Chirp!" No such luck. "Chirp! Chirp! Chirp!" It seems to have taken a liking to us.

"Excuse me." A dezolian with a large basket full of dezo-penguin eggs on his back shyly approaches.

"What?" Zio and I nearly scare him away.

"This dezo-penguin child," the egg collector backs away slowly. "It has taken a liking to you; it thinks you're its parents. They won't accept food in their first few months unless its from their parents. So you see..."

"You want us to feed that creature, for months?" It's obvious Zio is not willing to do it.

"We have many; I was thinking you could take it with you. I'm sure having a dezo-penguin baby for a pet is a great experience for a young couple, taking care of it together and all of that. Dezo-penguins soothe the soul and help relieve stress." The egg collector continues to back away slowly as Zio's glare becomes deadlier.

This is so amusing I can't resist. "We'd be happy to." Zio looks at me as if I grew a second head. "Aw, it's adorable, Zio, let's take it home and raise it as our child." I grin mischievously; I know this would be a death wish if he still didn't need me to unlock his magic. Even after awakening a small portion of his magic, which was locked by that kiss that interrupted Dark Force's control for a split second, he would need to develop that power in secret before he can strike. I'll still be needed to provide cover, so right now I'm feeling rather confident, or dare I say overconfident.

Zio is just about ready to blow up and draw his sword to decapitate me on the spot. Then he stops, takes a deep breath and with a challenging glare refuses to let me win. "If you wanted a baby so badly, you should have said so earlier." My face turns bright red. I'll admit he won this round but I got to keep the penguin so I didn't really lose. Let's call it a draw for the time being.

Flavor 12

Zio was able to trick the Esper elders into trusting him quite easily with a little help from Zizi, our dezo-penguin, she was named after her daddy. Of course, as soon as they weren't looking he shoved the baby animal into my arms and put as much distance between us and himself as he could without leaving the dezo-penguin farm.

Zizi is really fun, she likes to hop around pretending she can fly and be all cute and adorable. Silly Zizi dezo-penguins can't fly. The overall atmosphere in the Esper Mansion has relaxed but I can't let go of this feeling of foreboding. I found out why, that day when I let myself into Zio's room without knocking, not that it had bothered him before or rather he pretended it didn't. I saw a small glowing orb in his hand. It instantly disappeared soon after I got there.

"Zio, that was..." Was it magic? Could it be?

"Did you see it?" I know now he wasn't trying to hide it. He must have noticed I was coming and allowed me to witness this.

"Was that magic? You recovered, but how?" Confusion and worry invade my mind. This was not what I was planning. Zizi just sits on the floor beside me and continues blissfully staring at my feet.

"It seems that love isn't a necessity after all. Imagine what would happen if the author bluntly wrote that lust works just as well." The book would have never been published. It seems my crush on the evil wizard has doomed us all.

No, there's still hope. It's not like his magic is all that powerful yet. "If the elders find out..."

"They won't, you won't tell them. You'll help me hide this. They trust you very much; they think you're the one trying to get me to 'redeem myself' as they say. They had doubts, but now they're convinced you're good and trust worthy. If you want to learn more about advanced magic, they'll teach you. I remember my old spells, I can train myself for that, but I want something new, something powerful now that Dark Force is no more. First you need to train your magic so that it won't look suspicious that you're looking for high level spells. Tell them you want to help, after all, with the outbreak in bio-monsters; they'll need all the help they can get." I stare at Zio, he grins evilly. What have I gotten myself into?

"You're asking me to become a more powerful magic user." I start to summarize his request to make sure I understood everything correctly.

"Yes, I'll help you with that," Zio replies.

"Then I'll work to cover up your plans to recover your full magic and learn new powerful spells to make up for the lack of Dark Force. You want me to help trick everyone." I can't believe this and at the same time I should have known.

"It seems everything is clear," not everything.

"You'll use that power to take over the Esper Mansion, then Dezolis and from there Motavia." It's obvious that's his plan, but I still need to let all of this, especially my position, sink in.

"Yes," Zio answers so calmly, as expected of an evil wizard.

"If I refuse, I could just let the elder and Kyra take you out now, actually I'm getting good at magic I could help." For him to tell me all of this without a plan, a way to get rid of me without rising suspicion should I refuse, why? "If you kill me, they'll know."

"I do not intend to." Zio must have already thought of that, but why is he so sure I'll agree?

"What makes you think I'll agree," he better have a good answer for this one.

"Quite simple, I can give you anything you want." Of course he makes it sound simple, but it's not.

"No you can't, not unless I help you." If he loses early it's over, if the battle is lost, there will be no war.

"Which is why you will," over confident as ever I see.

"No I won't, I have nothing to gain by betraying-" I can speak no more as he starts to kiss me.

"What part of anything you want do you not understand?" I see where this is going.

"Hold on a minute, I'm not a crazy fan girl who will let you take over Algo just because you're hot!" He better believe it! Temptations have their limits.

"I'll let you think about it." That's not fair, while letting me think about this, he's doing everything he can to get me to make the choice he wants me to make. Why didn't anyone warn me that evil wizards were so tricky?

"Chirp!" I nearly jump out of my skin at the sudden sound. I had completely forgotten about Zizi.

"Stupid penguin," Zio grumbles and picks her up.

"Don't hurt her!" I call after him as he leaves the room and give chase.

"Relax, I won't hurt your precious noise maker." Zio spots Kyra innocently walking down the hall minding her own business and decides she's just as good a babysitter as any. "Kyra, take care of this squeaky thing."

The blue haired girl gladly receives the dezo-penguin. "Zizi is so cute! Come play with your auntie Kyra while mommy and daddy go on a date!" Kyra giggles and skips away, she's in love, I don't know with whom but she's in love.

Flavor 13

"So what's his name?" I know I have more important things to do then pry into Kyra's love life, but a little procrastination never hurt anyone too badly.

"What are you talking about?" Why is she even trying to play dumb? It's not going to work.

"I know you have a crush, I just don't know on who." Kyra makes a face as if I hit the nail on the head.

"It doesn't matter, he doesn't like me. I mean he does but not like that. He's heartbroken over someone else, someone who is never coming back." Kyra sighs and I muse over her words.

I'm ready to take a guess. "It's Rune, right?"

Kyra blushes and nods knowing there is no use in denying it, "yeah."

"And Alys..." I remember the story Rika told me back on Motavia and put the pieces together.

"You're well informed," Kyra admits, it's not too hard to figure out if certain basic information is available.

One thing still puzzles me though, why didn't she act this way from the beginning, since I got here? Has she been communicating with Rune long distance and realized her feelings just now or was he actually here recently. "Did Rune come here?"

"That's classified information." Kyra's reply is very suspicious.

"So he did come here," I conclude.

"I didn't say that!" She's trying to hide something, to protect a secret maybe.

"I think you would have just said no if he hasn't." A question is answered and another one comes up. If Kyra admitted her feelings for Rune, then why would she hide his visit? "About Rune's visit, he wasn't here just to see you, right?"

"Are you a mind reader or something?" No, you're just too obvious.

"I'm just good at guessing today. Is something going on?" I have a bad feeling about this.

"Kyra," a third voice joins our conversation intruding into Kyra's room without announcing it. An eavesdropper, Rune.

Her face turns bright red contrasting greatly with her blue hair. "Rune!"

"Let her choose on her own." Rune is talking about me? Choose on my own? What does that mean?

"Choose what?" I ask.

"Everything, what to do in life, that's your own choice." Now he speaks in riddles. What in the world is Rune talking about?

"I don't understand," I honestly don't.

He pauses then decides to reveal what's going on. "At some point in the past something happened to Zio that I didn't notice until later. We thought he had dissolved into nothing, died, but Dark Force had taken him away for a reason. I believe you had something to do with it; Zio was freed from Dark Force's control for a short instant and his original magic, the power he gave up in exchange for a stronger, darker power, tried to regenerate itself and push the dark energies away, as if healing an illness. That didn't work because Dark Force regained control fairly quickly, but a portion of Zio's original power was spared from disappearing. That power, that small trace of the magic he used to have, was locked away deep inside his very soul." Rune paused at this point allowing me to take in all this information.

This must have happened at Kadary, I'm sure that's what he means. I nod prompting Rune to continue.

"Dark Force took Zio back, planning to use the situation to its advantage, to leave a small portion of its dark powers mixed with Zio's original magic. Two things could happen, either Zio managed to awaken his magic and in turn awaken the traces of Dark Force that were left mixed with his magic, eventually becoming the new Dark Force himself, or he could live on and eventually die without reawakening his magic, this would be the worse case." I stare at Rune in confusion; he looks like he expected this.

If Dark Force is evil then wouldn't it be better if it doesn't awaken and Zio doesn't become the new Dark Force? Isn't it better for him to live a normal life? Magic makes things so convenient, yet it's better to have no magic than to become the personification of evil, at least that's my opinion, but I'm no evil wizard so I wouldn't know what he thinks.

Rune continues his explanation. "If Zio becomes the new Dark Force and he is defeated, we can finally truly end it before he reaches his full power. The last bit of energy belonging to Dark Force is with him, Dark Force's last desperate attempt to survive, casting a spell that would return Zio to Motavia out of the dimension of darkness. If Zio dies without awakening that power, then Dark Force's energy will be free to possess and control someone else. Zio acts as a vessel and a prison, since he was under Dark Force's control before he developed a certain level of resistance and ability to preserve his free will. At the current weakened state of Dark Force, Zio would absorb it and become the new master of its power before Dark Force can claim the vessel as its own. Let's just say it will be easier to fight Dark Force as soon as possible, while it's weak and while we know who the vessel is. If it becomes free of Zio at the end of his life, it will hide in someone else and not make a move until it's strong enough. It could take years to find it and it may be too late, plus we would have also aged by then. I do not wish to sacrifice any more lives."

"Then all of this was part of the plan. You let Zio recover his powers, you wanted him to. Finding those books in the Esper library, allowing him into the library in the first place, it was all to take out Dark Force once and for all." Rune nods confirming that what I said is true. All along it was their plan and Zio, or I should say Zio and I, played right into it.

Flavor 14

I managed to keep my mouth shut about Rune's plans, while still helping Zio keep his cover, meaning pretending to date him. Time passed and one day the inevitable confrontation came. I have to admit I was pretty attached to my hot evil wizard by then and didn't want him to cease to exist; Rune said that wouldn't be the case unless Zio decided it. He would use magic aiming to destroy Dark Force, and free Zio's original magic. If Zio protected his dark power then he would become the target. I expected that.

I stayed in my room during the entire thing. If I went over there to witness the grand battle, I don't know which side I would be on, probably Zio's. I close my eyes and let the eerie silence of my room sink in and wonder if seeing Zio this morning was the last time I'll see him.

xoxox xox xoxox

"Wake up; if you're this lazy I'm better off leaving you behind." That voice? Am I dreaming? Wouldn't Zio be dead by now?

"Huh?" I blink, he's right there, unscratched.

"Are you coming along or staying here?" Zio really is here, alive, but how?

"You're alive!" I almost squeal.

"How observant, your reply?" He's as impatient as ever and I can almost sense his temper.

"What was the question?" I'm the one that has a lot of questions.

"Are you coming or staying here?" Zio doesn't like to repeat himself.

"Going where?" I'm totally in the dark over here. What's going on?

"To seek power of course," the way he says it is as if it were the most obvious thing.

"Power? Wait a minute why aren't you dead? Where's Rune? He wanted to get rid of Dark Force. Wait, you actually let him get rid of Dark Force with his magic?" I'm confused.

"You're lost if you have so little faith in me, apprentice. What of the possibility of Rune being dead?"

"Is he?" I inquire with sheer curiosity dominating my emotions.

"Not yet. I don't need Dark Force. I'll depend only on my own power and answer to no one." Zio sounds determined.

"Then you did let Rune get rid of Dark Force, you knew all along, didn't you. You never really had intentions of becoming Dark Force. No, you did, but you changed your mind and decided that you wanted to become powerful by your own merits and not because of some evil spirit." I think I got it right.

"I'm leaving." Zio heads for the door and I bolt after him.

"Wait a minute, Zio! You came to find me, you asked me if I'm going, you called me apprentice, does this mean that you want me to tag along with you?"

"Top ranked students, though often nerdy looking and not very pretty, tend to make excellent magic users because of their high intelligence. I thought that was your case, but it seems you're quite dense."

"Hey!" I glare as hard as I can.

"Those traces of Dark Force were in the way, it is not strong enough to be worth my time and I rather use my own power so it was best to get rid of that old spirit. I'll have to properly thank Rune for his assistance one day. My magic is recovering much faster now." By that I'm sure Zio means to kill Rune in the future, quick and painless, as his own special thank you. Evil wizards have their strange creepy moments. "I'll be traveling far away."

"You want me to come along and learn more magic? Sounds fun, count me in. For how long will we be gone?" Despite his earlier comment I've decided to tag along on this trip.

"We won't return to this mansion, ever, unless I suddenly get the urge to destroy Lutz." Sarcasm aside, it sounds like he might not try to kill Rune after all, unless he gets into a bad mood or something.

"Give me a moment to pack a little and say goodbye to everyone. I think it's best to leave Zizi with Kyra. She might not be able to get used to the traveling and needs a lot of attention, plus she has come to trust Kyra and accepts food from her."

"By all means, leave the noise maker here." I laughed; Zio never liked dezo-penguins. "Don't bring too much luggage."

"Gotcha, I don't have a lot anyway."

"I'll be outside." Obviously I can't expect Zio to help me pack.

xoxox xox xoxox

After a short farewell I walked out the large double doors of the Esper Mansion, most likely never to set foot in there again, but who knows, that might change. Zio was a little way up ahead facing forward. "I'm here."

"Let's go then," he took my hand and we were both teleported away.

The scenery was completely different, filled with beautiful pastel colors, soft pale grass, shining large gems and a gorgeous tower adorned with jewels up ahead, to which we walk. "Where are we?"

"Rykros, the legendary planet. Have no doubts that I am very powerful even without Dark Force. Lutz cannot teleport this far." Zio proudly explained.

"If you had all this power, then why did you accept a deal from Dark Force in the first place?"

"It was a fast way to get more power," Zio admitted.

"Greedy..." I should expect that from an evil wizard.

"Indeed he was..." I jump, startled at the sudden voice that is not mine nor Zio's.

"You'll have to be braver than that." Zio speaks in a mocking tone, he sounds almost amused.

"I am Le Roof, Guardian Zio, I assume this means you have decided to return to our side, never to betray the Great Light again?" Le Roof? That voice is coming from everywhere and nowhere.

"Dark Force is gone; the Profound Darkness was weak after all. I seek power not from light or darkness, but my own." Does this mean that he doesn't care about being on the good guys' side as long as he has power?

"Light it shall be then, as it was originally meant to be, a light of your own. The lady?" Clearly Le Roof knows about Zio about his past, wait, his past?

"I thought your memories were gone," I voiced.

"Deeply locked," Zio clarifies then answers Le Roof's question. "She is a magic user in training, she'll be my apprentice."

"Very well then, welcome home." So it was decided, Le Roof's tower would be our home.

My life has certainly had a lot of twists and turns, but I think that this is where I was supposed to go; this is where I was truly heading all along. A new life starts, in a legendary planet full of magic and wonders, with a hot, not so evil, wizard as my companion. After all was said and done, I can only conclude that life is good. Even with all that has happened I do not regret falling in love with he who used to be an evil wizard, or being loved by him.

End

Disclaimer, I don't own Phantasy Star IV: End of the Millennium.