Only the Pure
by Juubi Karakuchi
Asakura Yoh was not bothered by the screaming, or the bad jokes, or even the two halves of a Panama hat that came flying through the open door. It was a nice morning, and he could think of few greater pleasures than lazing in the sunshine.
But not when breakfast was ready, of course.
Yoh turned from his contemplation of the sun, what some would call daydreaming, to the open door. Horohoro had stopped trying to murder Chocolove, and the room had entered a state of rare calm. Yoh decided that now was the time to make his entrance.
Manta happened to look up and notice him as he entered. His oldest friend grinned and waved.
"Sombrero!" Chocolove suddenly appeared directly in front of Yoh, wearing an enormous Mexican hat and waving a pair of maracas
"Choco-no-baka!" Horohoro shrieked, raising his snowboard high. "One joke too many!"
While Horohoro pursued Chocolove around the room trying to decapitate him with the snowboard, Yoh took the opportunity to sit down next to Manta. His friend seemed inordinately pleased to see him.
"I missed you, Yoh-kun." Manta's eyes seemed to be shining.
"Missed me?" Yoh was taken aback. "I just saw you yesterday!" Manta chuckled, evidently embarrassed, though Yoh could not tell why.
"Yoh-dono," Yoh looked up to see that it was Amidamaru who had spoken. His mochirei floated in mid air ignoring Horohoro and Chocolove as they ran straight through him.
"Ohayo, Amidamaru!" Yoh grinned at his spectral friend. Then he faltered suddenly, noticing the tears gushing down the samurai's grim face.
"Yoh-dono!" the spirit howled, enfolding his surprised master in a crushing hug. "I am so happy! I thought that you might never awaken!"
"Never awaken?" Yoh was now even more mystified. "How long was I asleep?"
Yoh froze, recognizing both the voice and the meaning of what it said.
"A…Anna…" Slowly, not really wanting to, Yoh turned his head to see his fiancée Anna standing behind him. She did not look best pleased, and that was saying something.
"Six days," the blonde Itako repeated icily. "You slept for six days, leaving me to deal with our guests alone! What way is that to treat your fiancée!"
"Anna…" Yoh was taken aback. Had he really been that tired? So tired that he slept solidly for six days?
"Anna," he said again, hoping that she would not slap him. "Forgive me...please?"
Anna just stared at him. Horohoro and Chocolove had ceased their chase and settled down to watch the domestic drama.
"Its okay, anata" she stepped around him and sat down next to him. "You needed your rest."
"You did," Manta commented as the others sighed with relief. "Chasing those crazy Hao cultists in China really took it out of you."
"I remember," Yoh grinned. "Getting lost in the mountains was tough too!"
Only a week ago they had been in China, helping Tao Ren and his family deal with minor Shamans who had been the lesser followers of his late brother, Asakura Hao. Though it had beentwo years since their Master's death, they had risen up with the intent of carrying out his ardent wish by killing as many humans as they could. Through their combined efforts they had defeated the recidivists, and came to the conclusion that Chocolove was never to be allowed to read the map again.
"Any mail?" Yoh spoke up, still smiling.
"No, and no sign of Ren-kun," Manta replied. "Jun-san said he was in Britain on business."
"She said to give you this message from him if you asked." Manta pulled a folded piece of paper from his pocket, opened and read it aloud. "None of your beeswax, mister so-called Shaman King."
"That sounds like Ren-kun" Yoh replied, half-laughing. "But you know what it really means don't you?"
"He went just to find Lyserg-kun!" Horohoro spluttered. "Ren? Mister I-care-for-none!"
"Of course. Just don't bother trying to make him admit it." He grinned. Chocolove opened his mouth.
"Pre-emptive strike!" Horohoro shrieked, bringing the snowboard down on Chocolove's unsuspecting head.
All was quiet.
Two figures dropped lightly to the floor, one holding the other around the waist, green cloak billowing.
"How are you holding up Duncan?"
"Not so bad, Master Lyserg."
Lyserg Diethyl did not bother to chide his companion for the honorific. He had far more important things to worry about, most notably the three cloaked figures who had only moments earlier been in hot pursuit. Had they dropped out? Or had they merely lost him temporarily. If the latter, he at least had a few minutes grace.
He had slipped unnoticed through crowded London streets at six years old, using skills taught to him by his father. Now, nine years later, stealth and deception were among his most useful talents. They had gotten him this far.
"I'm sorry Master Lyserg," Duncan was swaying as he tried to stand. "If I had been more careful…"
"Don't worry about it," Lyserg dismissed his companion's remorse, though secretly he agreed. The wound in Duncan's leg was slowing them down and, as his colder side was insisting, it had been quite avoidable.
"Who do you suppose they were, Master Lyserg?"
"I don't know." And he didn't. For all his skills he had been unable to detect their intentions, let alone their identities. Those cloaks were not the only disguises his pursuers wore, Lyserg thought as he attended to his companion's injury.
"Master Lyserg, I fear…" Duncan faltered, then cleared his throat. "I fear I haven't been much of a companion."
"Enough of that talk," Lyserg replied brusquely, tightening the bandage. "You're only a novice, and even great Shamans make mistakes every now and again."
"Where are we anyway?" Lyserg did not reply, realising for the first time that he was not entirely sure where they were. Letting Duncan rest against the wall he scanned his eyes along the walls, the floors, the stairs, the darkened windows by the big double doors.
He reached out one finger and touched the window, drawing a gleaming line in the grime. In the lamplight that now streamed in from outside, Lyserg examined the dirt on his finger.
He knew where he was.
"Duncan…" his voice faltered as the old emotions rose inside him.
"Master Lyserg? What's wrong?"
"It's…Duncan we're…" He swallowed, trying to control himself, trying to ignore the heat of the flames. "We're in my old house."
"Master Lyserg!" Duncan was at his shoulder, shaking him. "Master Lyserg, what's wrong? Master Lyserg!" The vision faded. The flames disappeared. Lyserg breathed in and out, trying to control himself.
"It's alright Duncan," he said eventually. "Just…bad memories." He looked up suddenly as Morphine flew in through one of the grimy windows, evidently agitated. One look into her little face told Lyserg all he needed to know. "They're here."
The doors shook, sending clouds of dust into the air.
"Master Lyserg, you have to escape now!"
"No Duncan! I can't just leave you!" The doors shook again, this time splintering and bending out of shape.
"You must!" But they had no time to finish the argument as the doors came crashing open, showering them in splinters. When the dust cleared, Lyserg could see three figures standing in the doorway. Cloaked and hooded, their faces were hidden, though their intentions were plain.
"You will surrender now" said the one in the middle, who was probably the leader.
"I will not," Lyserg replied, readying himself for the inevitable. "What do you want with us?"
"That is not your concern," said the one on the left.
"You will surrender, or you will die," said the one on the right.
Lyserg did not answer, but interposed himself between them and Duncan, knowing that his companion stood little chance in a melee.
"Very well then." As one, the three reached into their cloaks. Each drew forth a long straight sword and dropped into a different combat stance. Lyserg wondered for a second why they did not use oversouls, for they were blatantly Shamans.
"Integrations" Lyserg realised. "Cocky…"
Then they were upon him. Lyserg sprang back to avoid a vicious diagonal lower-cut from the Leader. The attacker on his left moved to support the middle attacker, but the one on the right moved past him, sword at the ready.
"Duncan! You have to run! Now!" Lyserg yelled as he dodged yet another stroke. But Duncan did not listen. Instead he turned to face his assailant, spreading his arms wide.
"Spirits of Air arise! Come forth and obey my will!"
Pieces of glass rose from the floor, orbiting him in a gleaming chain. The attacker faltered, backing away to avoid the jagged shards. His black cloak billowed in the unnatural wind, revealing the scales of silver metal underneath.
"Spirits of the Firmament!" Duncan's eyes shone with unnatural light. "Fly forth in the winds! Cut him to pieces!" He flung his arms forward, the shards leaping forward like darts. The attacker fell back under the onslaught, the shards tearing his cloak to ribbons and glancing off his armour. As he backed away, Duncan switched the focus of his attack, bringing the shards around and at the Leader, forcing him to leap away from Lyserg and defend himself with his sword.
It was all the respite Lyserg needed.
"Morphine! Into the Pendulum! Integration!"
He could not use her more powerful Integration here. It would wreck what remained of the house and attract too much attention. He just needed to drive them off, then he and Duncan could escape. With a thought he ordered Morphine towards the Leader. She responded, the pendulum exploding from its housing at his wrist. It lanced forward, whistling as it cut through the air. As it did so, Lyserg knew that he had won. Even as the Leader turned to see Morphine approaching, it was already too late. Time seemed to slow down as the pendulum closed in on its target.
Then, quick as lightning, a sword blade interjected, deflecting the pendulum away. Lyserg cursed inwardly. He had been so desperate to save Duncan that he had forgotten about the one on the left. Or was it the one on the right? In the melee he had lost track. Only their swords set them apart from one another.
The one who had blocked the pendulum, bearing a classic cruciform sword, now leapt at him. Lyserg tried to back away, but it was as though his body was mired in treacle, unable to move. Even as Morphine came about in a tight arc, rushing to his defence, she could not prevent cruciform sword from reaching him.
Lyserg screamed in agony as the sword tore into his stomach. He felt his oversoul break as the pain overwhelmed his concentration. The blade twisted, then slid through the flesh of his back, out into the cold air. He could not even speak as his attacker leant forward to whisper in his ear.
With a sucking noise and more pain, he pulled the blade free. Lyserg fell to his knees. Cruciform sword knelt beside him, grasped the back of his head in one mailed hand and forced it round. Lyserg could not resist. His strength had left him. He did not even know where Morphine was. All he could see was Duncan, his shirt ripped to reveal cuts gushing blood, backed against the wall as the other two advanced on him. The tiny spirits who once empowered him had fled.
Even as his vision blurred, Lyserg's eyes met Duncan's. Even as his hearing faded, he could hear the killer at his ear.
Duncan was silent, eerily so, as the blades pierced his flesh.
And that was the last thing Lyserg saw.
(How is this for a starter? I've done my best to portray the characters faithfully and provide a good murder scene. Please review, so that I know whether or not to bother continuing.)