"The Darkness Beyond"

By Chocolate Wolfie

Author's Note: IF YOU HAVEN'T READ THE NEW, BETA VERSION OF THE LAST CHAPTER, PLEASE GO BACK AND DO SO. I've made a few adjustments to it based on suggestions by reviewers.

This is by far one of the most emotional things I've ever written. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoy writing it.

Wow! I Can't believe this fic is almost over! I started it right before spring break and it has taken a long while to finish. I'm really happy all you have enjoyed this fic, and I hope you keep reading my TMM fics, I'm going to be writing a sequel to this one, and there is a little prologue to it at the end of this chapter ;) Thank you all so very much for being great reviewers! I hope to see your reviews in my next fic!

I know it is very unprofessional to keep changing this... but... my tiny brain can't seem to handle the fact Pudding has two different names... so back to Pudding it is. TT

Chapter 10

Tears Of The Angels

Golden Lights Cast Angelic Shadows, Which Fade Away With Misery And Die Within My Heart...

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"What is it?" Ryou asked, hovering over Akasaka's shoulder, suddenly, his icy azure eyes widened, his mouth slowly dropping open.

"What...? This... it makes no sense... how?" The blonde whispered, blinking and shaking his head.

"Should we tell the girls?" Akasaka asked, glancing upwards towards Ryou.

The other boy nodded, looking serious, "I think... we should."

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The Darkness Envelops Me. It Belongs To Me. I Belong To It. We Are Each Other. I Am The Darkness, And The Darkness Is Me.

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The girls were all silent as they waited in front of Cafe Mew Mew. What had happened to make Ryou so urgently call them there? Was it Zakuro? Was it Kuro? Was it Mint? The tension in the air was so thick that you would have to cut it with a knife. In the distance, the sound of rolling thunder echoed throughout the area, signaling an oncoming storm. The warm damp summer air had been replaced by a dank, cold fog.

Lettuce tightened her coat around her, her eyes teeming with worry. 'I know that we've dealt with worse things before... and yet... nothing like this has ever happened...'

Berry drew her hands to her chest and closed her eyes, 'I swear that I will see that girl know the truth...'

Ichigo closed her eyes and took a deep breath, "Everything is different now." She uttered aloud.

Pudding abruptly burst into tears, throwing her arms around Lettuce. "Pudding..." Lettuce sighed, putting her arms around the girl.

"I can't stand it, na no da!" The tow-head sobbed, taking in shaky breaths, "How could she do that? How could Zakuro-nee-san try that! She meant well... but... but... I CAN'T STAND TO THINK ABOUT IT! IT MAKES ME SIIIIICK!"

Ichigo went over and wrapped her arms around her younger friend. Pudding turned to her and burred her face into her arms.

"I THOUGHT ABOUT MINT DEAD! I SAW WHAT ZAKURO COULD'VE DONE TO HER IN MY MIND! I HAD DREAMS ABOUT IT! I DREAMT SHE KILLED MINT, AND THEN YOU, AND LETTUCE, BERRY, RINGO, AND THEN-"

"And then I stabbed your eye out, correct?"

"AND THEN YOU STABBED MY EYE OUT!" Suddenly, Pudding gasped, her brown eyes widening in shock. She whipped around, out of Ichigo's arms, and looked to Zakuro, who stood several yards away, like a breathing statue in brilliant color.

The two stood in complete silence, their expressions unreadable, a gentle wind rustled Zakuro's semi-trench coat and the deep blue scarf pudding wore around her neck. Zakuro then looked down to her feet and whispered, "Gomen nasai.", violet tresses hanging around her head, bent in shame.

Suddenly, she felt a heavy weight hit her around the knees, Zakuro raised her head slightly to look pudding in the face. The youth looked up to her with tear streaked cheeks, her jaw trembling.

"And then at the end of my dream... you killed yourself... that was... that was one of the saddest p-parts." She

The elder girl dropped to her knees; eyes of sapphire wide with disbelief, pity, and shock.

"Even... even after what I did- what I almost did..." She shook her head slowly, staring straight foreword.

"We love you, Zakuro-san." Ichigo said gently, Zakuro looked up to the redhead, who smiled at her softly with misty brown eyes, "And that will never ever change, no matter what you do."

Zakuro closed her eyes and sighed; as she did, a single, diamond tear slid town her cheek in relief.

"I... I don't know what to say..." She whispered, her voice trembling ever so slightly.

"Don't say anything." Berry smiled gently as she knelt next to Zakuro and Pudding, "All we need is to see you back here, with us."

"Zakuro." Ryou's voice floated over to the scene, "Yukata, yukata you're back."

Zakuro nodded, wiping away the single tear and stood up; Pudding still clinging to her waist like a live accessory.

"Ryou-kun... what is it?" Ichigo inquired, approaching him with slight fear in her eyes.

"Its about Mint and Kuro." Ryou said, turning around, "Something strange has happened..."

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What I Am Is What I Am. And I Am Me. So Am I Me, Or Am I Darkness?

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"Kuro is a Mew Mew." Was the first thing out of Akasaka's mouth as soon as the girls came into the lab.

"What?" Ichigo gasped, "What do you mean by that? Do you mean when she took over Mint's body-?"

"No." Ryou said, with a shake of his head, "When Kuro possessed Mint's body; Mint's animal genes changed from Ultramarine Lorikeet to Mariana Fruit Bat."

"But where- how would she get the DNA? And how would she become infused with it?" Berry inquired.

"We don't know. It just seemed to happen when they merged." Ryou sighed, shaking his head.

"Is that why..." Zakuro whispered; all heads turned to her as she narrowed her eyes in concentration and brought a finger up to her chin, "Why Kuro needed Mint? A Mew Mew?"

"And it seems that she was able to be manipulated because of her past..." Lettuce pointed out, "And that past..."

"Was probably caused by Kuro in the first place, no da!" Pudding gasped in conclusion.

"But there's one problem with that theory." Akasaka pointed out, "How would Kuro know Mint would grow up to be a mew mew all those years ago."

There was a long pause as the girls pondered that thought.

"The book..." Lettuce whispered, "It must have something to do with this..."

"That's all we can assume at the time being..." Akasaka sighed, pushing back brunette bangs with a single hand.

"But what happens now?" Ichigo inquired gently shaking her head in frustration, "Do we have to wait? Do we have to go?"

The room was held in a stiff, unbreakable silence as everyone seemed to glance around to one another. The truth was, nobody knew. How hard they had argued with themselves and turned their minds upside down trying to find an answer; the only conclusion was to sit and wait it out.

And then it came, in the form of a crackly sound coming from the Police radio Akasaka and Ryou kept around.

"All forces report to Odori Galleria Mall immediately; mass assault on unknown forces to be initiated at 5:30 PM. I repeat: All forces report to Odori Galleria Mall immediately; mass assault on unknown forces to be initiated at 5:30 PM." A female voice crackled from the ebony box.

"Should we?" Berry piped up, looking to Ryou for guidance.

"Its the best lead we have." Sighed the elder blond with a nod, "Tokyo Mew Mew! GO!"

With a unified nod, the girls took off for the stairs. Ichigo went to follow suit, but Ryou grabbed her hand.

"Be careful, Ichigo." He said gently. Ichigo turned to face him and her heart skipped a beat. His ice blue eyes were teeming with worry and compassion for her. Ichigo smiled softly and took his hand, pressing it to her chest.

"Ryou. I love you." She uttered softly, a light blush creeping onto her cheeks. Ryou wrapped his arms around her and kissed her forehead with soft, warm lips.

"I love you, too." He nodded. Felling something soft brush against his cheeks, Ryou opened his eyes slightly and reached out to stoke one of Ichigo's black neko ears.

"Ichigo! We gotta hurry!" Berry called from the top of the steps.

"Coming!" The red-head called back, "I'll be careful, I promise." She said to Ryou, before quickly kissing his cheek and running up the stairs.

"Good." Ryou sighed to himself once the girl was gone, "Because if anything every happened to you; I don't know if I could live with myself."

"Ryou."

The blonde turned his head and looked to Akasaka, who gave his shoulder a supporting squeeze, a smile on his handsomely pale face, "She'll be fine. She's Mew Ichigo."

Ryou nodded solemnly, "Now. Let's get this new project underway. Speaking of; where's Ringo?"

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If Darkness Is Me... Then I Am Not Me... Because I Am Only Myself...

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"Do you want to be free?" Hissed a gothicly-dressed girl with a lock of dirty-blonde hair falling over her emotionless eyes as she gripped the neck of a young teenage girl, who screamed, sputtered and kicked as she dangled above the floor, "Join Kuro-sama, and you will be free of this and your oppressing life."

"NO! I won't!" Gasped the girl, the hand of Kuro's minion tightened around the innocent teen's throat.

"Then, die!" Spat the minion, her eyes flaring red as the girl made a gruesome choking sound.

"Oh no you don't!" In a blur of white and blonde, Mew Berry leapt up in front of the minion in a revolving jump, as she did, the was a sick crack as her foot collided with the minion-girls head. In the moment she was stunned; the teenage girl was dropped to the ground and instantly began gasping for breath.

"It seems physical attacks are the only way to get them." Mew Zakuro assessed, "Even if it only stuns them for a moment."

"Daijobu?" Mew Lettuce inquired worriedly as she dropped down next to the teenage girl, her ribbons of pale flesh falling over wide, emerald eyes. The girl nodded before shakily standing up, "Good, now lets get you out of here." Lettuce took the girl by the hand as they ran down the hallway towards the exit.

"RIBBON STRAWBERRY CHECK!" The mall was immersed in a bright flash of pink as Ichigo frightened away several minions that had been cornering a group of girls. As the Pink Mew rushed them towards Lettuce, who was waiting to escort them out, a familiar voice gushed from beside her:

"Wuah! Its really Mew Ichigo! I never thought I'd see you up close!"

Ichigo turned her head to see a blonde girl running behind her, stars in her brown eyes.

"Moe?" Ichigo uttered quietly.

"You were always my favorite Mew Mew!" Moe squealed as she was passed off to Lettuce.

"Arigato!" Cried Ichigo over her shoulder as she ran off, the Strawberry Bell at ready, in case of a surprise attack, "Irony..." She muttered to herself.

Meanwhile, Pudding seemed to have regained her usual bounce as she sprang from the floor in an Arial back flip and landed on the rim of a planter box on the second floor, "Catch me, na no da!" She cried as a youth in once of the fluttering black dresses shot from the ground below her like a speeding bullet, Pudding leapt up over her with her usual agility and proceeded to use both legs to kick her in the back of the head, adding on as a boost to make it to a metal podium on which vines were creeping up. The monky-ish girl clung to a vine and leaned out, sticking her tongue out in triumph.

"Where's Kuro?" Zakuro yelled as she approached another one of the girls. Using her cross-whip, she hit the girl upside the head; twirling around, she seized a youthful girl from a corner where she had been hiding and sprang from the ground, ricocheting off of a wall, and flipping over in mid-air, landing on the railing that separated the middle of the mall from ground-level and setting the girl down behind her, diving back into battle as the minion, with a blood soaked face, came charging at her. Zakuro hit her in the face with a fierce punch and grabbed her face, using it to turn around her and kick her in the back, sending her flying to the ground.

"I thought I saw one come out here..." Ichigo mused to herself as she stepped into an open-air courtyard located in the center of the mall. Around her, fog had settled around her legs, about a foot thick. In the navel of the courtyard rested a large statue of a girl dressed in a Kimono, holding a small leaf in her hand. Benches and entrances to larger stores branching off of the mall, as well as abandoned food carts and planter boxes full of dreary, dying plants.

Suddenly, Ichigo's ear twitched back as she heard something lightly touch the ground behind her.

But it was too late.

Ichigo was seized from behind by strong hands that contorted around her arms in an inhuman way, raising her up off of the ground.

"Well what do we have here?" A drawling voice as as Kuro seemed to lift up from the fog. Two bat-like wings reached behind her as she stood there, nearly unrecognizable with her now snow-white hair and scarlet eyes. Over her hair was a sort of black wrap, which went perfectly with the midevil-esque coat she wore, with puffed sleeves that trailed down to white ruffles, and a waistcoat that fluttered next to her ankles which was set over a white chemise with black ribbons criss-crossing over it, "It seems the little koneko is scaring away my followers."

"Kuro! You don't have to do this!" Ichigo screamed as she attempted to struggle away from the strange girls. She was beginning to feel sick, for she had just realized that their skin was cold, clammy and giving off a horrible stench...

"But I won't tolerate that kind of behavior..." Kuro grinned, a sick look sparking in her eyes... like pools of blood under a dying sun... "Lucky for you, I need a new vessel."

"No!" Ichigo gasped, her pink eyes widening in shock and horror.

"Oh, yes, Ichigo." Kuro's eyes misted sickly as she leaned foreword, "You forget how I can see into people's feelings and pasts. How easily I can manipulate them. I started plotting the moment I saw you and the koinu."

Ichigo winced and attempted to struggle; Kuro's lackeys only tightened their grip on her. Kuro laughed coldly, her voice a gust of cold wind in Ichigo's face.

"When I realized what Zakuro was doing; I knew I had the perfect chance to break you, to bring you down." Growled the girl, "Remember what you did, Ichigo? How easily you broke all bonds with the girls, just to protect him? And how you almost killed them? And in the end... you don't even love him at all."

Ichigo shook her head violently, "NO! That was in the past!"

"Its too late, Ichigo." Kuro said darkly, "The past had happened and there's nothing you can do to take it back!"

And a deadly strike, Kuro latched onto Ichigo's throat as the ebony began to twist around her. Ichigo thrashed and screamed as she felt herself become tainted by the darkness. Kuro smiled triumphantly, dying away with the darkness that obscured Ichigo's vision...

"RIBBON! APPLE POP!" A small voice cried from somewhere beyond.

Ichigo jumped as what seemed to be brilliant fireworks of bright red and green explode around her, draining away the darkness. She felt the arms of Kuro's minions loosen around her as she dropped to the ground. Glancing to her side, she spotted a pair of red schoolgirl shoes against stark white socks.

"Mew Ringo!" Ichigo gasped happily as the red mew mew moved in front of her in a defensive position. The girl was dressed in a red corset, flowing out to the sides with large tails fanning out behind her in the end, accompanied by a pair of white pantaloons and white gloves. Her head was topped with an enormous, red bow, and in each of her white-gloved hangs she held a red maraca tipped with an apple.

"I've got your back, Ichigo-Onee-chan!" Mew Ringo cried.

"What's going-?" Came an exasperated cry.

"Zakuro!" Ichigo cried as the lupine girl ran towards them, flocked by Lettuce, Pudding, and Berry.

Zakuro stopped dead in her tracks. Her eyes narrowed and her mouth curled into an unmistakable snarl.

"Kuro-san!" Pudding yelled loudly.

Ichigo suddenly recalled the girl's presence and turned her head towards her.

Kuro seemed to have recoiled into her own body, grasping at her chest. Her face was obscured by white bangs and her feet were pigeon-toed. "I see... how this is going to be..." She hissed, looking up with eyes that glowed like hellfire.

"I WILL KILL YOU ALL! ONCE AND FOR ALL!" She raised a single hand up into the air as it burst into flames. The flames quickly died away, and in there place was a bow made of ebony wood. She aimed it towards the girls, her eyes vivid, "I'll see you in hell."

As she stretched back the bowstring, Ichigo felt a sense of foreboding run through her body. "RUN!" She screamed at the top of her lungs. The girls took off as Kuro unleashed the attack. Where an arrow would've been, a soaring flame seemed to appear. As it hit the ground, flames rose everywhere in the courtyard.

Ichigo screamed in pain and terror as the flames swirled around her, they did not hurt her physically, though they did, in a way. Dark memories of the past that had bothered her for her entire life seemed to come up into her mind at random. Things as a grade school child she regretted doing in class, the time she had tripped and broken her arm as a child, a huge fight with frightening cuss-words her parents had had when she was seven, the time her mother slapped her, when her father had yelled at her to stay in bed in the voice that still horrified her to that day. And the entire time, the stress in her body seemed to increase. Every muscle in her body ached, her eyes burned, her lungs felt deprived of oxygen, and her stomach hurt with both a slow ache and sharp pain all at once...

And then it was over. She fell to the ground limply, staring with hollow eyes at all the other girls across the courtyard, each looking shocked and sick.

"Ma...ma..." Pudding said in a tiny voice.

Ichigo winced as she felt somebody step on her chest. She looked up to Kuro, who smiled grimly and cocked her head at her before leaning down and whispering in Ichigo's ear. In a way that tickled it and sent chills down her spine.

"Now you know how I felt."

Suddenly, Kuro sprang backwards, into the air, taking her ebony bow in hand and looking down with merciless eyes onto Ichigo as she began to stretch the string back.

"IMOUTO-CHAN! MA'TE!" A familiar voice screamed, Zakuro's ears perked up as she turned her head slightly.

Aneko ran, exhausted, into the courtyard, her hands on her knees had she panted hard. The woman had obviously had to fight to get through the police line, but had not been apprehended.

Kuro stared, taken aback. "Why... why would you call me that, woman?"

"Imouto-chan! Its me, Aneko." The woman said softly, looking up.

Kuro's eyes widened as she recognized the woman as an older version of her sister. "You..."

"Kuro! Onigai! Don't take another life!" Aneko begged. Kuro blinked and gritted her teeth in anger.

"AND WHY SHOULDN'T I, YOU SELFISH, OLD BITCH?" Spat the girl, taking aim at her sister.

"IMOUTO-CHAN! THEY LOVED YOU!" Aneko retorted, the tears coming freely, "AND I LOVE YOU! As soon as I heard something was going on here, I came I soon as I could, and I fought with all my might, just to tell you that Imouto-chan!" Aneko shook her head sadly, "Okaa-san and Otou-san were always so proud of you, Kuro-imouto-chan... I was even envious of you. You were always so beautiful and placid, and you had such a magnificent voice."

"You... were jealous of me?" Kuro whispered.

"Yes. So much I worked so hard at what I was good at just so I wouldn't fall behind you, Imotou-chan." Aneko nodded, "Otou-san and Okaa-san always wanted to give you the right tools in life. They were so worried when you started to act strange... they just wanted to help you... I just wanted you help you... I'm so sorry..."

"You're...?" Kuro gasped as she landed on the ground and sank to her knees, "S-sorry?"

"Yes! I'm sorry! I was a bad sister, Kuro-chan! I made you feel pressed to live up to me! And I made you feel like you had to live up to Okaa-san and Otou-san! I was a bad sister!" Aneko sobbed, burying her face in her hands.

"Onee-san." Aneko looked up to Kuro, and found that the red eyes were gone. They hellfire washed away by a slate-gray ocean of calm, "You think that you were a bad sister?"

"Yes..." Aneko nodded, ashamed.

"No..." Kuro shook her head, tears beginning to roll down her cheeks as well, "Don't ever think that, Onee-san."

Ichigo began to stand... was the pain really starting to go away?

"If anything, I was the bad sister." Kuro sighed, "I was always so mean to everyone when they were only trying to help."

"Kuro..." Lettuce whispered, sitting up.

"And, just because of that..." Kuro blinked twice and began to shake, "Oh, god... oh, god, NO!" She screamed, throwing herself into Aneko's arms, "I-I-I KILLED Okaa-san and Otou-san! I TRIED TO KILL YOU, TOO, ONEE-SAN! OH GOD! AND I KILLED SO MANY INNOCENT- NO!" Kuro pulled herself free of Aneko and slammed her body to the stone ground, "NO! NO! HOW COULD I DO THAT! HOW COULD I! WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

"She's starting to see..." Berry uttered gently.

"ONEE-SAN! HOW COULD YOU EVER THINK SOMETHING LIKE THAT? I TRIED TO KILL YOU, AND ALL YOU EVER WERE WAS GOOD TO ME! I'M NOTHING BUT A MURDERER AND A SINNER!" She sobbed.

"I think its time." Zakuro said to Ichigo, who nodded in agreement.

"Strawberry Bell!" Ichigo cried, raising the pink bell above her head. The other mews shakily got to their feet, ready to combine their powers.

"Lettuce Castanets!"

"Pudding Ring!"

"Zakuro Cross-Whip!"

"Ringo Maracas!"

"Berry Rod!"

Ichigo closed her eyes as she felt the powers being added,

'The gentle kindness of the castanets...

The cheer and hope of the ring...

The divine punishment of the cross-whip...

The innocent, healing purity of the maracas...

The honesty of the rod...

And the love and commitment of the bell!'

"STRAWBERRY BELL BELL! VERSION UP!"

Two large circles surrounded Ichigo, who glowed in a bright, pink light.

"RIBBON! STRAWBERRY TRUFFLE!"

A pale pink mist seemed to float everywhere, clear bubbles, tinted rainbow by the fading light danced everywhere as Aneko picked Kuro up and held her to her chest.

"I- I'm sorry." Kuro whispered.

"I forgive you." Aneko cooed back, kissing her little sister's head.

"I want to see Okaa-san..." Kuro whimpered.

"You will." Aneko smiled softly.

"But-" Kuro argued.

"Our god is kind and forgiving. It may be hard, but you'll get there; in time." Aneko closed her eyes.

"I'll try as hard as I can." Kuro nodded, "I swear it."

"Thank you." Aneko paused, "Imouto-chan."

"You're welcome." Kuro nodded, "Goodbye, Onee-chan."

"Goodbye." Aneko whispered as Kuro faded away into the pink mist.

Mint slowly sunk into Aneko's arms as warm tears rolled down the woman's cheeks.

"MINT!" Zakuro yelled, running to the girl's side as she limply fell into her arms, "I can hear her heart..." She sobbed, squeezing the girl to her chest, "Imouto-chan..."

"Mint-onee-chan!" Pudding and Ringo cried in unison.

"Mint-san!" Lettuce called, white flesh trailing behind her.

"Mint! MIIIIINT!" Berry screamed as she threw herself next to the girl.

"Mint..." Ichigo whispered happily, her pink cheeks laden with tears.

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And The Tears Of The Angels Fall Onto My Heart, And I Know Who I Am

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"Okaa-san." Mint uttered. "I don't want to go back there."

"Why not?" Mint's mother asked gently.

"Because, I'm all alone, Okaa-san. I don't have you." Mint said gently.

"But you have many friends. If come there, they will be sad." The woman held her daughter to her breast, "And you have somebody just as good."

"Who?" Mint inquired.

"Do I have to guess?" Her mother said lightly, her lips brushing her daughter's forehead.

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"Okaa-san..."

"Mint?" Zakuro leapt to attention, "Mint, what did you say?"

Everybody leaned foreword.

"Zakuro..." Mint muttered, "Zakuro-okaa-san..."

Zakuro's eyes widened, "Mint-chan..." She whispered, holding the girl tighter, "Okaa-san is here."

"Okaa-san." A small smile appeared on her face, "Arigato."

Ichigo glanced up as she felt something cold hit her head. One by one, beads of cold rain fell onto her face, mixing with tears and rolling off of her cheeks.

"Its raining." Ringo commented lightly.

"Its- its a good thing." Berry cried, "When I was little... Mama always said that rain was the tears of the angels."

"The tears of the angels..." Ichigo whispered to herself, drawing her gloved hands to her mouth in awe.

"We are blessed." Zakuro looked to the sky, tears rolled down her cheeks as she did, "We all are."

The End...

Or is it?

A lone figure clothed in white stood in the swirling snow. Across from it was another figure in black.

The white figure drew its hand up to its chest, its fingers caressing an opal stone of a thin, silver chain.

"You will be mine." The black figure said in a masculine voice, accompanied with a sickening grin.

The white figure spun around, white robes falling around its ankles. Clutched in its hand was a sword forged of ebony metal.

The white figure sprung into action, "You will leave this place immediately!" It spoke in a feminine, authoritive voice.

"You wish to oppose?" The man in black growled, "So be it!"

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Momoka chocked and sputtered, spittle rolling down the side of her cheek as her eyes rolled into her head. Above her loomed a dark figure. "Sleep well, little guardian." It leered.