A/N: Oi, that which is writer's block. I've seemed to of chiseled it out, though, so hurrah. Maybe this story will see its end within a couple more months, if lucky enough…

Thanks much to all who read and review! It helps immensely.

Chapter IV: Yin's Light

He was standing on the cliff's edge, his eyes locked on the thousands of stars that glittered solemnly in the darkened bowl of the world. The harkening currents below crashed against the walls in perfect rhythm, and even the wind made its voice heard from a mere whisper, to a full crescendo. Though the threat of falling loomed in the distance, it seemed as though the scattered diamonds above would be his shield against the world.

Nothing could take him away; they seemed to have promised him. The crystals had saw it fit to take her away, and throw him in this disgusting game, but at least the stars - the very eyes of Gaia herself - had some promise left, twinkling in knowing fashion.

The emanating white light seemed to envelop him in their embrace. He had no desire to turn around when the giveaway of someone approaching from behind came.

"Master. It is time."

"Go away," he muttered. The intensity of the heavens was beginning to fade, abandoning him. 'No, my dear; please don't leave me alone!' "Don't you see I'm busy?"

The approach shuffled closer. "If we don't unlock those doors now, who knows what will happen? Even she might be killed," he added, malice smitten in his tone.

A flash of red erupted, tranquility faded to be colored in rage. She was his key element, and they had known it. "You leave her alone," he growled, turning sharply.

The opposing figure had taken the shape of a heavily cloaked-and-robed being. Though he couldn't see past the hood, he knew its shadow-sunken face was smiling, gloating at him. "You have six more days, Master. Try not to disappoint me."

He advanced, power gathering in his fist, the words of a spell forming in his mind. "I want your word that you'll leave her alone! No one threatens MY -"

Before he had a chance to do anything, however, the cloaked being seemed to of faded in the wind, leaving behind its final words on the bane:

'Six more days, and we'll spare it all…'

He stood still, rage spreading through his body at a steady course. The secondary power that had gathered gnawed at him, begging to be released before the two forms of adrenalin had the unfortunate perchance of meeting.

So it will be, he told himself. I'll find it, but not before they get past her.

With fluid grace, he turned back towards the cliff. Invisible wings had spread out to give him faith, and the next thing he knew, he had leapt off the edge without any reservation, and into the inviting waves below.

"Lightning THREE!" he shouted, timing his advance to the ocean. Dark eyes glowered at the deceptive heavens before he was overtaken, and he prayed he wouldn't be among their ranks.

• • •

It didn't surprise Tellah that he had awaked drenched in sweat; the stale, warm air of his bedroom in the morning vespers usually saw fit that he'd wake up in such a fashion. His long hair was matted in a frivolous state, and the bedcovers clung against his body as though they were a second skin.

His heart fluttered, coursed with sudden trepidation, as he slowly sat up, wincing at a sharp pain in his right arm. All he could remember was the rage he had felt in a dream, though the illusions as to why weren't exactly clear.

Or perhaps I felt it in my sleep, the Red Mage thought, gripping the afflicted limb around the elbow, and massaging it. I should remember that I'm steadily aging, rather than the opposite.

Leaning over so his body might apply distant pressure, he slowly released his arm, and reached out for the nightstand. Fingers fumbled for his spectacles, and were eagerly met with the eyewear. In no time, the blurred dapper gray room had transfigured into a distinguishable sight.

"I do wish that wasn't there, however," Tellah muttered, grimly, as he turned his head towards the window. Clouds were fixated this morning, causing an overcast light to stream in through to replace the usually bright that signified morning time.

A gray day somberly stared back at him, rain imminent within the reach of Gaia -- not a very pleasant omen at all.

He ran his hands through his fire-and-smoke hair - despite the lingering pain in his arm - and stifled a yawn as a knock sharply resounded on his bedroom door. "Come in."

Anna poked her head in. "Are you awake yet? They're supposed to be serving toast and imp-eye jam for breakfast this morning."

"Good morning to you as well," Tellah replied, swinging his legs over the bed and onto the slated floor. As much as he wanted to be irritated with her informality, he couldn't help but chuckle at the disheveled strands of strawberry that gathered around her face, which held an absolute look of disgust. "Why are you so adamant against imp-eye jam?"

"Other than the fact it's the grossest thing to consume, I'm not sure," the little mage admitted, taking a step into the bedchamber, and over to his bed. She was still clad in her usual red nightgown, which certainly explained the state of her hair, and stomach, when he thought about it.

"Then you should have nothing to fear," her father said with a nod, standing, and eyeing his daughter, who had climbed up on the bed, and fell back against it with a mischievous giggle, and resounding thud. "In fact, I highly doubt that the cafeteria would be serving imp-eye jam; you probably read it wrong."

Anna sat up, half-amused that she had gotten away with such a feat. "I know I didn't read that wrong, Daddy. It said so yesterday, and it'll say the same thing again today! I promise!"

Tellah sighed. "I thought you were practicing alchemy now. Imp-eye is the main tincture in a Cure potion, and it's unlikely that they'd use it for food, too. You should know that."

"I got kicked out of alchemy class, remember? Everyone there that practices it is taller than me, anyway." The girl's eyes shifted away - her father shaking his head in remembrance - and to the nightstand.

"You still haven't opened that book yet?"

Tellah blinked at the question, and followed his daughter's gaze. A frown crossed his lips; he had forgotten about the thing, and now that he thought about it, the desire to forget was more than overwhelming, yet he knew that he had to open it, sooner or later. He sat next to Anna, and reached over to grab it so that they might open it together.

You have six more days. Try not to disappoint me!

Something like electricity shuddered through his right arm, and he pulled back as though the parcel had bitten him.

Even she might be killed…

Tellah gripped his arm, and forced a smile on his face as he looked back at Anna, who stared back at him with a peculiar expression. "What would you like for breakfast, then? Your usual fried lamia bread, eggs, and mushrooms, like we have on the weekends?"

She hesitated for a second, confused by her father's actions, then nodded, leaping off the bed (Tellah thought it a wonder she didn't land sharply, and skin her knees). "I'll help!"

"Get dressed, and brush your hair - neatly this time, mind you," the old mage added, raising his eyes to the ceiling as she looked at him with disgust at the particular chore. "Then you can get some butter, and a few eggs, provided you don't break them."

Anna turned, but she whipped around suddenly, her face full of vigor. "Its only two more days before we go to Baron, isn't it? He's coming next week, right?"

He…? He'd almost forgotten about that, too. "Yes, he is. You should start acting like a princess in the meantime: no cursing, no setting people on fire, and definitely a clean room, which you should clean when we come home this evening," he added. "I nearly broke my neck tripping over your toys last night."

For the most part, this seemed to pass through Anna as though her father were conversing with a brick wall. "Wait until I tell someone! They're gonna be jealous!" She said with a grin before backing out of her father's room, and towards her own. "I'm going to be a princess with a prince!"

"I think princesses are supposed to be modest!" Tellah called after her, though he rolled his eyes shortly afterward. "But I think a princess of a kingdom of sand can spare to boast that much," he added, quietly.

He stood back up and scratched absently at his hair, crossing to the door of his room and shutting it within one fluid motion. The cold draft from the floor that greeted his legs was another reminder that perhaps he should look into buying a new pant and shirt pajama set when they were to visit Baron, as his were quite short for his tall frame.

We should still have plenty of time, he mused, peering out his bedroom window. Within the gray of the looming rain, a small puddle of light had transfixed within the trees and appeared. Tide hasn't approached yet

But what of the parcel Leto has sent? His gaze was instantly wrenched from the window, and forced to the parcel on the nightstand as though by lure. She's gone now, so it should be okay, right? Just a little tear of the paper…

His lips pressed, but decided against it. The morning held much better things anyhow, like getting dressed, eating breakfast, and excelling in his usual task that he held just for Anna.

But if that was the case, then why did he feel regret every time he stared back at the parcel, as though it actually meant something?

• • •

"Today's going to be a good day, Anna."

The girl looked up at her father as they slowly trudged back towards Mysidia, breakfast tucked away with their usual morning chatter. The prior moment, she had been arguing with him about the dropped alchemy class, and how making potions was something she didn't need to know; she could simply buy what she needed at the General Shop.

Tellah grabbed her hand, and squeezed it, something else that surprised both equally. This hadn't been done since she was very young. "Days are only what you make of them, Anna. If we believe that today will be a good day, then we have nothing to worry about.

"Of course, what I mean about good days in particular might be different from your views," the mage continued, glancing down at his daughter. He smiled at the confused look her little face wore. "I mean that you should try to act like a model student, and not go setting people on fire. Just because you're the youngest magic user in the Academy doesn't mean you should flaunt your ability, but, rather, be modest."

Vibrant blue looked down at her robes: the day found her dressed in knee-length scarlet, with long sleeves, and a gold sash around her waist; black leggings and ankle-length brown boots completed the look, as did her usual feathered cap. All of the outfits she wore while in attendance at the Academy, suited and tailored entirely for a red mage of her level, had been picked with loving care, and her father's prideful sneer -- to hear him talk differently confused her slightly.

"I know that's not what I said before, and I regret it," Tellah said, as though he had heard her thoughts. "I was a fool for thinking such, but now that the time draws closer, we need to be more modest, Anna. We both need to be."

"Because that prince is coming next week, right?" She asked, curiously. A bright smile replaced her doubts. "He probably doesn't know how to cast magic, and would be scared, right?"

Tellah resisted the urge to shake his head. Most of the time, he felt he could carry on topics with her that someone beyond her years could, would, completely understand, though when he thought about it further, Anna was just five years old, even if her magic level disagreed otherwise.

"Yes, darling, I suppose that's it."

"We should be strong for him, and in training, we'll practice on other people," Anna continued, grinning. "You won't know who I am at all!"

Even if you miss the point entirely, I suppose there's nothing wrong with doing that. Her father smiled. "Just don't lose sight of who you really are."

The little mage nodded - Tellah unsure why - and gripped her father's hand tightly. She them moved to lean her head against his forearm, but pulled back sharply, with a gasp. "Did you cut yourself with the knife chopping up mushrooms, Daddy? You're bleeding!"

A piercing pain thundered through his arm as Tellah quickly dropped Anna's hand from his grip, and pushed back the sleeve. The afflicted elbow was tinted purple and swollen to the gaze. A thin line of blood had seeped out through a darker patch of charred black, and clotted there, yet still damp.

A splash of ocean remained calm, before a solitary bolt of lightning filled the sky, and struck a diminishing figure, loft on the wings of death. If he counted them, there were six feathers in the devil's face, each gold and black:

Each praying for one more day…

The mage's gaze shifted to the book bag on his left side. "I'll just have to wash it when we get to the Academy. You should wash your hands, too," he added.

"But why are you bleeding, Daddy?" Anna reiterated, ignoring his advice. "Did you cut yourself? Why didn't you put a bandage on it?"

"I didn't even know I was bleeding until you recognized it." He quickly tugged the sleeve down. "I must've fallen out of my bed last night."

Six more days, and we'll spare it all…

"But, why…"

Tellah looked back at her, then the sights around them. Without realizing it, they had finally arrived at Mysidia's entryway, and were about to go through. Two other mages stood there in their chore of guarding Mysidia from monster and hostile attacks, and regarded the father and daughter strangely.

The mage couldn't help but look back at them as he and Anna crossed through the gates. He could still sense their lingering eyes, even though they had long turned back to their posts.

They still think different. Hell, all of Mysidia still thinks different. I know a talk alone without the presence of those involved isn't going to change perceptions overnight, but you'd think… His arm ached then, as though to remind him, and he looked down at his book bag once more. A certain object within its pockets called out to him, urged him to forget the blood and the well-being, and open it as soon as possible.

Maybe today wouldn't be such a good day after all.

• • •

There were more than two pairs of eyes watching the master Red Mage and his progeny walking through the entryway to Mysidia. Such lifted its gaze eagerly from its place within a building's shadow, and watched with heavy interest. Dark eyes scrutinized the way the two moved, and allowed a toothy smile to come to his shagged face when the elder lifted his afflicted arm in worry.

So it has happened, he thought, further smiling in glee as they stopped at the Academy's steps, the girl worriedly hugging her father before they split upon separate paths that led into the establishment. I guess he didn't fail on his promise after all.

But I wonder, what else will come for them in the time ahead? Certainly they cannot be as bad…

He winced inwardly, appalled at his own thoughts. If his matron were there, she'd beat him within an inch of his life.

No, they are bad, he reminded himself, standing as the two vanished from his sight, likely deep within the school already. Both are equally guilty of sin, even if we do not have the rights to prove that.

He stood, then, and moved out, anxious for the day to be over so that he might return to the sea, and weep for the next boat away from here.