Long time no see, faithful readers. Or long time, no read... Hm. Anyway, I've presented you all with the next installment of my fanfiction. Hope you guys like it. Also, I will more than likely be updating a little more often now, rather than giving you guys a chapter every year or so. Huzzah!

Disclaimer: Do I own Zatch Bell? *looks at copyright and ownage papers* ...nope.

Last time, Zatch and his friends ran into the usual welcome wagon, with Brago being the first to leap into battle. However, not only did their enemies bring their A-game, they discovered that one of the Dragon Children was Zofis. He seemed to gain the upper hand with the help of Eshros, but Brago's determination and refusal to lose spurred him on, awakening the dragon within. After the crushing defeat of Eshros, Zofis retreated, leaving our heroes with quite a few questions that need answering...

Megumi's Mansion, once again

After the events that occurred earlier on in the day, you would imagine that our favorite mamodo crew would be drained, either mentally or physically. However...

"I'm telling you that yellowtail's a smarter idea! If anybody knows that about Zatch, it's me!"

"Hey genius, we all have to eat, too! And Zatch'll eat anything you put in front of him, so long as it looks edible!"

"Awfully touching for a girl who probably can't cook."

"Awfully touching for a girl with rabbit ears for hair."

"You wanna go, sister?!"

"I'm not your sister!"

Tia and Penny showed no signs of fatigue, bickering as they all walked up the path to the front doors of the mansion.

"They're kinda scary..." Zatch said, slightly shivering in fear.

"More like a pain in my neck," Brago commented.

"Don't worry about it too much, they're just being girls," Hyde added. "In fact, gimme a second," he said turning around to try and separate the two.

"Hyde, don't-"

"Stay put, Zatch," Brago interrupted. "Just let him be reckless."

"Ladies, ladies," the wind mamodo began, "there's no need to argue over-"

"Butt out!" they both chorused, slugging him and sending him flying through the mansion doors.

"See what I mean? Reckless," the dark mamodo commented, seeing Hyde sprawled out with spirals in his eyes. "At least that pink-haired girl isn't as-" Both he and Zatch turned back to see that Kolulu...

"Where's Kolulu?" ...was missing in action.

A nearby forest

"So useless!" a voice shouted, slamming their fist into a tree. No more than a second later, that part of the trunk burst, sending bits of wood and bark flying everywhere. Though Kolulu had better control of her transformed form, it didn't stop that side of her from having a bit of a temper. She had walked away from the group about fifteen or twenty minutes before, finding a forest to work out her sorrow and anger.

"Zeruk!" And was she ever. This had been the seventh tree she had sliced into, turning the others into either firewood or a pile of wood chips. Poor trees... "I'll never be able to help Zatch at this rate. I can't even defend myself for crying out loud!" At that moment, her body began to glow with a pink aura as something came to the forefront of her mind; something crucial that she was finally able to remember. "No way... I have to tell-" Her thoughts were interrupted as she heard an abnormal rustle through the forest, her aura dissipating.

"Who's there?! Show yourself!" she shouted. A figure descended from a tree, intending to land a punch on the spiky-haired mamodo, who dodged at the last second.

"Are you responsible for the destruction to this forest?"

"What's it to you? You wanna fight about it?!" she snapped, then got ahold of herself, taking a deep breath and exhaling before turning around. "Listen, I'm having a bad day, so just let me be by myself, okay?"

"Believe it or not, I am actually here to help you, as well as find out about that glow you gave off." Kolulu turned her head towards the source of the voice, her curiosity piqued. The figure slowly adopted a battle stance, forcing the spiky, pink-haired girl to turn around and face them, on her guard. "Remember: stay behind me," he said, rushing towards her with a fist drawn back.

"Wait, what?"

Meanwhile, at the mansion...

It didn't take long, at all, for the two feuding mamodo to get back to arguing as soon as they were indoors. After more unnecessary bickering, it eventually turned physical... well, into a physical challenge at least. Fast forward about ten minutes or so and the group ended up in the huge training area located below the first floor. Brago and Hyde were against the middle wall, watching the battle unfold before them. Zatch was watching as well, though slightly more awe-stricken and worried. Penny and Tia were several feet away from each other.

To clarify that, they were several feet away from each other, clothes tattered, both slightly bruised, surrounded by puddles and long, slender dents. They also looked as if they had been in a water balloon fight.

"This sure did escalate from a petty little catfight," Hyde commented, seeing Penny throw another Akur Kiro barrage at Tia, who countered with a last-minute Ma Seshield.

"It's interesting to watch, that's for sure. A seemingly immovable defense against a tenacious assailant," Brago added with a smirk.

"Hey, this was my favorite dress you stupid brat!" Tia shouted. Her spell missed blocking a few stray blades of water, which had sliced through parts of the middle and bottom of her trademark outfit.

"Considering it's your only dress, maybe this'll inspire you to get some new clothes," the water mamodo retorted. "Maybe then you'll have at least a minimal chance of getting Zatch's attention, instead of wearing that excuse of an outfit."

"What did you say?!"

"At least I have a fashion sense!"

"At least I'm not in denial about Zatch! Honestly, in love? With you? Get real!" That one definitely struck a nerve with Penny, if the comically-sized vein on her forehead was any indication.

"You... little...!"

"This will be over quickly," Brago said quietly to Hyde. "That water mamodo will win this."

"Doubtful," Hyde replied. "I'd say Tia's got a backup plan."

"Ten to whoever's right?"

"Make it twenty."


"I'll make you pay for saying that!" Penny nearly screamed. "Ganzu Akur!"

Tia only gave a 'hmph' in response, lifting her hands in front of her. "Giga La Seoshi." The second Penny began to throw several water spheres, a green dome-like barrier formed around her. She realized it too late as her spheres bounced all around the barrier until, yet again, she was hit by her own attack. "Using someone's strength against them, that never gets old."

"My... my dress! My hair! Ruined because of you!"

"Oh grow up already, I did you a favor," Tia spat. "And let's face it: best case scenario, Zatch considers you a friend. If he doesn't, then... sucks to be you."

"I will not be denied the love of my Zatchy-poo, especially not because of that pink-haired girl, or some overly jealous tramp like you!"

If Tia wasn't mad then, she definitely was now, her face going from a somewhat angry expression to becoming completely serious, her eyes attempting to pierce the water mamodo's very soul. "What did you just call me?"

"Oh~?" Penny now had a small grin on her face. "It's not my fault you can't get someone's attention. Me on the other hand, I'm much prettier and much more sensitive, unlike a timid, tomboyish skank that I know." She had no idea that she was slowly starting to push all the wrong buttons. Though her face was beginning to look more and more comical, she was getting angrier and angrier, unnerving the three spectating mamodo on the side.

"I don't think I'm gonna like how this turns out," Hyde said to no one in particular, both Zatch and Brago shaking their heads no, vigorously.

"You probably haven't even admitted your feelings for him, let alone acted on them!" Penny exclaimed, casually walking in Zatch's direction. Oh, how wrong was she.

"Keep your hands away from him!" Her warning fell on deaf ears as she was beginning to close the distance between them, Brago and Hyde stepping out of the way, causing Zatch to look left and right in a surprised panic. While he was distracted, Penny grabbed and steadied the blonde's head, her hands on his cheeks.

"G-guys, a little help please?!"

"And what, get decimated?" Hyde chuckled. "Sorry, we'll pass."

The lightning mamodo turned towards Penny, who still had that same devilish smirk.

"Um, Penny? C-could you please let me go now, I think you're making Tia-"

She turned back to Tia, ignoring Zatch's words. "See, if you want really want to get his attention..."


"You have to do something bold, like this!"

"Penny, wa-!" The cloak-clad boy wasn't able to finish his desperate plea. Of course, it would be difficult to continue a sentence if a girl's lips were on top of yours.

Elsewhere, wherever Megumi's book was being held, it began to glow with a strong light...

Meanwhile, outside of the forest...

"Thank you so much for helping me out," Kolulu said, walking in the direction of the oh-so-familiar mansion she had taken refuge in. By this time, she ended up turning back to normal after dealing with a grueling battle. "You said your name was Wonrei, right?"

"Yes. And please, think nothing of it," he replied modestly. "Any friend of Zatch is a friend of ours."

"Especially one who helped him find his purpose," a female voice behind him added. "In a way, you helped show Wonrei that he wasn't the only one who desired to be a benevolent king."

The kung-fu mamodo blushed in response. "Li-en..."

"Are... are you two a couple?" Both of them could only look at each other briefly before turning bright red, averting each other's gazes. "Awww, that's so adorable!" the pink-haired girl gushed.

"Umm, yes, well we... hey, would you look at that, I think we're here!" Li-en pointed out, trying to make things less awkward.

The three walked up to the front doors, seeing a slight indentation of someone's body. It was as if someone had slammed into them with an excruciating amount of force. "Something's not right here," Wonrei stated, inching closer to the door. He gave the doors a small push, both of them slowly creaking open.

"I agree. I doubt that Megumi and Tia would leave their doors unlocked like this," his bookowner added. After stepping through the doorway, all of them heard a loud 'boom', feeling the ground beneath them shake a little. "What was that?"

"It feels as if something happened below us! Come on!" Both girls hurried after Wonrei, who had bolted down a hallway to the left. He found an open door several meters down, hearing very faint voices come from it. "This way!" After opening the door, they discovered a winding set of stairs, not hesitating to hurry down them. They followed the voices to another huge, open doorway and ran through them, not prepared for the aberrant scene that greeted them.

The whole floor was littered with puddles, deep cuts and puddles in deep cuts. Penny was lying on the ground in a moderately-sized crater, twitching sparsely as comical tears flowed down her cheeks, her whole form looking tattered and singed. Tia, however, was twirling around cheerfully and swinging around Zatch by his arms, who was currently screaming in fear, tears of a whimsical nature gushing from his eyes as well. Hyde was against a wall, curled up in the fetal position and rocking back and forth, his eyes wide open as he chanted something endlessly. Brago simply stood next to him with his arms folded, with his trademark stoic expression plastered across his face.

"Who... What...?"

"What happened here?" Wonrei asked, seeing that Li-en, understandably, had a bit of trouble speaking at the moment.

"A quarrel that got way out of hand," the dark-clad mamodo responded.

"A... quarrel?"

"I'll make this short: girls fight over Zatch, blue-hair over there kisses him, Tia unleashes some kind of incredibly devastating spell, and somehow, all of the squares in here make... some kinda circle. I dunno, I stopped paying attention."

"Why's Hyde acting like that?" Kolulu inquired, genuinely concerned.

"He saw the spell in action. It's..." Brago took a brief pause as he involuntarily shuddered. "...a nightmare to even look at, let alone feel its power.

"Brago!" Hyde shouted as he sprang up. "I need you to tell me if I'm pretty!"

The gravity mamodo sighed. "Hyde I am not going to tell-"

"Bitch I AM fabulous, thank you very much!" Wonrei, Li-en, Kolulu and Brago all stared at him in disbelief and confusion. Seconds later, he lowered his head, staring wide-eyed at the ground, before going back to his chanting. "All these squares make a circle... All these squares make a circle..."

"Of course they do," Brago said.

"Umm, maybe we should-" Before Kolulu could voice her suggestion, her eyes widened, quickly looking above her. "Something's coming this way!"

"Yeah I can feel it too, about three mamodo. One of them feels immensely strong. Another one feels... old. Like another ancient mamodo, but how is that possible? The third one's familiar, and I get the feeling that it's- oh for God's sake you're all annoying me to death!" Brago yelled in frustration, referring to Zatch, Tia and Hyde's antics, aiming his palm at all of them. "ION GRAVIREI!" he roared, slamming the group of obnoxious mamodo into the ground hard, Kolulu stepping back just in time.

"Huh? What happened?" Hyde asked after a few seconds, picking himself up off of the ground.

"You all spazzed out. If it's all the same to you, we have company. Let's go." Everyone finally got their bearings straight after they slowly made their way to the exit.

The orange-haired mamodo was no exception. "Oh by the way Brago, if you forgot, you lost. Again."


Upstairs and outside

After all of them miraculously recovered, their clothes included, the gang slowly filed through the front doors. They all saw exactly who it was that Brago and Kolulu felt approach the mansion. "Ugh, it's just you," Tia spat.

"Now now, Tia, there's no need to be like that," the sinister voice replied, stepping forward with what looked like two mamodo in tow.

"You're not welcome here, Maruss. Leave now or-"

"Or what? You'll escort me away yourself?" he laughed. "What a joke! The only reason you're still here is because I allow it!"

She growled in anger, her fists balling up as she took a step forward, only to be stopped by an extended, feminine arm. "It's okay, Tia. You don't have to let him make you mad anymore," the female mamodo said, stepping forward.

"Pink hair, and looks as if she couldn't hurt a fly. So you're the mamodo we're looking for," he pointed out, Kolulu stopping after getting enough distance from the group.

"Why are you being so mean to my friends? If you're looking to fight me, please don't get them involved," she announced.

"Oh, how cliche. How about this, then: you give up the power of the dragon, and I won't have to get them involved!" he declared, opening his palm towards the group, forcing them all to adopt defensive stances.

"Even if I knew how to, I still wouldn't do it! Now go away!"

"Suit yourself, brat. Jinshu! Ni-xia!" he called. Both of the mamodo stepped forward.

The one named Jinshu was a male, about an inch or two shorter than Maruss. He seemed as if he were wearing a typical ninja uniform with a few changes. His uniform was sleeveless, showing off the faint scars adorning his arms. It was also a light gray color with a blue double stripe running from the shoulders down to the waist. Around his waist was a sash that was the same blue color, with a small gray pouch on Jinshu's right side. Finally, he wore a blue scarf to cover his mouth and nose and didn't wear the usual hood, showing off his spiky, black hair and piercing, black eyes.

Ni-xia (pronounced NEE-see-ah) was a female who was right around the same height as Jinshu. She wore a short-sleeve, lavender kimono with purple cherry blossoms printed on it that faded the higher you went on the garment, disappearing about two or three inches above her waistline. On her feet were a simple pair of waraji. The girl's violet hair was tied into a bun, with her hair color complimenting her eyes. One thing that was hard to miss, however, was the purple sheath katana tucked into her sash, hugging her left hip.

"Well they seem nice," Brago stated, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "Where'd you dig these weaklings up from?"

"Watch it, Mr. 'Front-runner'. They just so happen to be just as strong as you, if not stronger!"

"Step back, master Maruss. We will take care of everything," Jinshu spoke, making a few quick handsigns before stopping at one. "Or Niburuk," he called, energy forming around him briefly before he made about ten clones of himself.

Needless to say, Kolulu and the rest were shocked. "But, how is that possible? Ari should be the only reason that-"

"It's simple, really," the ninja-like mamodo interrupted, cutting off Hyde. "We found a way to fuse with our books and eliminate our bookowners. It was of no consequence to me, that fool was too weak to participate in this battle anyway."

"You all have other matters to attend to," a voice said from behind the kind-hearted mamodo, shocking all but her at how fast Jinshu's clones were. Two of them each grabbed one of her arms, but when they attempted to pull her away from in front of her friends, she wouldn't budge. "What... the... Why won't she move?"

"How could you?" Kolulu asked, her eyes covered by her bangs. "It's not their fault that they were chosen to be our partners, just like it isn't our fault that we have to fight this battle. You're all so cruel..."

"Ha! You fool! What good will a kind heart or good spirit do?! To have absolute power, to create a world where the strongest live and the weak perish, that is what it takes to become the king!" Maruss bellowed, cackling. "And now I say, it's time to eliminate those unworthy of the crown!"

"...you're right."

"Garon!" he cried, a spiked metal pillar emerging from his hands, aiming to strike Kolulu.

"Kolulu, no!" Both Zatch and Tia were getting ready to step in before Brago placed his hands on their shoulders, stopping them. "Brago, she's in danger! We have to help her!"

"No, this is gonna be good, just shut up and watch," he responded, smirking for some strange reason.

The instant that the pillar got within a few feet of Kolulu, she uttered, "Zeruk."

The pillar stopped as soon as Maruss felt an impact, causing him to smile sinisterly. There was just one problem: looking on both sides of the long, spiked bar, he didn't see Jinshu's clones anymore. "Uh-oh."

"Uh-oh indeed," a voice said before he felt claws slashing at his side, dissipating his spell and sending him flying. He got up slightly to see the pink-eyed, spiky-haired, transformed state of Kolulu, glaring at him intently. "I can't believe I'm saying this, but you do have a point, Maruss. It is time to eliminate those unworthy of the crown," she said, pointing a clawed glove in his direction before hopping up, avoiding a few projectiles.

"I should have warned you that they don't like to be left out of the party," Maruss said with a pained sneer.

"Awww, are you all out of invites?" Nu-xia asked, right behind her in mid-air. "Sayaswordo!" she shouted, swinging her sword still in its now-glowing-sheath. Kolulu managed to block the attack, but it did end up changing her landing trajectory, which was right near Jinshu.

"Now! Ganzu Nirusen!" he called, him and his clones reaching behind them, then throwing a barrage of ninja throwing stars, cloaked in energy.

Seeing as though she hadn't landed yet, Kolulu had no way to dodge the oncoming attack. "I guess there's no choice," she said to no one in particular, grinning. "Zerudo!" she cried, an energy aura forming around her as she crossed her arms. She took midair steps and dodged effortlessly, the stars harmlessly passing by her.

"What? How could she dodge them all?!" one of the Jinshu clones asked in disbelief, watching her take a couple steps higher into the air.

"My turn!" the spiky haired girl shouted from above, aiming her claws down after her energy aura disappeared. "Zerarusen!" She fired her claws at the unsuspecting group, a good number of them finding their marks, if the cries of pain were any indication. Kolulu didn't end her barrage until there was only the real Jinshu left, who collapsed from the damage.

"You... How dare you! I'll destroy you!" Nu-xia yelled, rushing in the clawed girl's direction.

The pink-haired warrior finally landed on the ground, shortening her claws and making two fists, directed towards the rushing sword-wielder. This wasn't going to end well at all, she figured. "Zerusen!" Kolulu fired her fists, building up speed and energy before slamming into the kimono-clad mamodo, causing an explosion of power. After the dust settled, the poor girl was left lying there, battered and defeated in a small cavity, with the victor reattaching her fists, smirking. She turned to her group of friends, then turned to the flabbergasted form of Maruss.


Has Kolulu finally found the strength that she's been looking for? Will Maruss ever find a way to obtain the power of the steel dragon? Are Penny and Tia going to come to blows again over Zatch? And is Brago EVER going to stop losing bets? Find out this and more in the next chapter!

Oh, forgot to point out a few things:

1. Kolulu's new spells in this chapter are taken from the TCG, for all of those who didn't know.

2. Both Jinshu and Nu-xia are OC characters I just created a few days ago in order to advance the plot along.

3. The spell that Tia used in the training area... well, let's see if one of you guys can connect the dots and figure out what it was.

As always, read, review and give a couple of suggestions for the next chapter if you want! You guys have no idea how much you help me out!