Hello again

Hey everyone. Remember me? The guy who hasn't updated in half a year? Yeah, you must. But enough beating around the bush…

The main reason this has taken so long is that I lost interest. I genuinely lost interest in typing this. Whenever my interest was restored, I found myself stuck on what to type. So finally, I'm just going to start typing and see what comes of it.

Flt. Sk.: Excellent! The puny mortals shall be so disgusted with this pitiful, delayed chapter that they shall turn away without reviewing. And that is when Floating Skull shall devour their souls!

B.B.: Whazzat? What's goin' on? I just woke up.

Ght. Flx.: Big sizzle's ponizzlin the kizzlin!

B.B.: What?! The author's finally typing again! Awesome!

Yes, well…today, we'll see Link assault the Shadow Temple. We'll also see the return of some characters from previous chapters. So buckle up, 'cause it's time for the triumphant return of Cameos of Time, nearly two years after it started!

Floating Skuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuulll!!

-

Lon Lon Ranch

"I can't believe this…" said a youth to himself and he entered the ranch. This boy, dressed in black that matched his hair, looked at the surroundings with a glare that was only too accustomed to his face. He might not have looked like much, but his movements spoke of a hidden grace. "All my talents, all my power, and they ordered me to take back the ranch in the name of Master Sephiroth." His brow furrowed as he spoke the name, taking obvious displeasure in referring to him as 'master'. "Just 'cause I lost to that guy and the dragon in the forest…" The boy's monologue ended abruptly as he passed the house. In front of him stood two figures, neither one friendly.

"So, you're finally here," said the one on the right, a figure dressed from head to toe in red and grey. He wore a red helmet with sunglasses attached, and a yellow scarf dangled from his neck. "Sasuke Uchiha, I believe it is…"

The young ninja known as Sasuke shifted slightly, "Who wants to know?"

"He's Protoman," said the other one, a teenage boy dressed in brown clothes that looked like they were from the Middle Ages. He held a double-edged sword in his right hand. "I'm Caleb."

Sasuke smirked. "I'm guessing you two already know what I want. Now what do you want with me?"

Protoman returned the smirk and held up his right hand. In a fluid movement, his hand retracted into his arm, leaving a large hole. Pointing it downwards, he fired a small blast of plasma energy at the ground at Sasuke's feet. Sasuke's eye's flickered towards the scorched grass, but elsewise took no notice of the projectile. "We want to make sure you don't get what you want."

"Is that a fact?" Sasuke assumed a fighting stance. "In that case, I don't think we'll get along too well." Reaching into his holster, Sasuke grabbed several shuriken and lobbed them at Protoman, who nimbly leaped over them.

"You're mine, now!" shouted Caleb, who was running towards Sasuke with his sword over his head. He brought his sword down at Sasuke, only to feel no resistance. Sasuke had vanished!

Before Caleb could react, a ninja dagger known as a kunai was pressed against his throat. "Please…" spat Sasuke into his victim's ear. "Did you really think you could beat me with such predictable movements?" Caleb opened his mouth to respond, when he was again surprised by Sasuke leaping away. Not half a second afterwards, he felt an intense heat fly past his back.

"Look," said Protoman. "I know he's a loser, but I don't feel like dragging his corpse back with me." This remark was met with two glares, but he ignored them both.

"You might be trouble," remarked Sasuke. "Better not take chances. Sharingan!" As he cried this last word, his eyes turned a bright red.

"Forget about him! Worry about me!" roared Caleb as he began a furious assault against Sasuke, who calmly dodged every swing of his sword. After a moment of this, he delivered a swift punch to Caleb's gut, then sent him flying with a kick.

"Heh, your attacks were easy to see before," gloated Sasuke as Caleb spat dirt out of his mouth. "With my Sharingan active, I can see every move you make before you even know you're going to make it. And with your pitiful speed, you don't stand a…" Sasuke's speech was interrupted as Protoman imitated Sasuke's kick and sent him flying. 'What?!' thought Sasuke angrily. 'Why didn't I see that coming?''

As he reached the ground, he pressed against it with his hands and righted himself. He then put his hands together and made several gestures before crying, "Fire Style! Fire Ball Jutsu!" He focused his energy into his lungs while taking a deep breath. He then spat a large blaze directly at Protoman, who didn't even move as the inferno overtook him.

"Protoman!" cried Caleb.

"Forget about him, worry about me," said Sasuke in perfect mockery of Caleb. He began to walk forward when something caught his eye. He ducked backwards just in time to dodge another blast of plasma. Looking back, he saw Protoman, or rather, he saw Protoman's arm extending from behind a large, ovular shield that had been strapped to Protoman's back.

"Like it?" inquired Protoman. "The Protoshield is almost invincible. It would take a lot more than your weak flames to get past it."

Sasuke blanched, then grabbed a kunai from his holster and rushed forward. It seemed a repeat of Sasuke's and Caleb's battle, as Protoman easily dodged Sasuke's strikes. "Darn it!" he exclaimed. "What's wrong with my Sharingan? Why can't I predict your movements?"

Protoman answered by delivering a powerful uppercut, sending Sasuke soaring right into the side of the house. "I don't know exactly how those eyes of yours work, but I get the feeling they only work on other living things. But I'm a robot." Protoman banged his hand against his chest, producing a resounding clang. "A living machine, basically. In case you didn't know."

Sasuke climbed to his feet and gritted his teeth. 'Alright, this guy surprised me, but I think I can still take him.' Sasuke's hand reached for his holster, but then suddenly retracted.'On the other hand, there's no telling what else he can do. I'd better play it safe.' He closed his eyes and reached within. At the same time, he could hear a strange whirring sound coming from Protoman, but he ignored it. A strange mark on his neck started glowing, then began to spread. Patches of black marks raced across his body, his hair turned gray and his very skin began to change form. Sasuke roared as he felt the power overtake his very being.

Or at least, that's what he did at first. His roar quickly changed to one of pain as a very large plasma blast tunneled through his chest. "Yeah, right," said Protoman calmly. "Like I was really going to stand here and watch you transform into something stronger. I don't know what it's like in your world, but things are different here." Abruptly, Sasuke fell silent and collapsed onto the ground. A moment later, he vanished in a flash of light. "Hmm…no corpse," mused Protoman. He glanced at Caleb, who had watched this encounter wordlessly. "I'll keep that in mind next time you get yourself into trouble."

This snapped Caleb out of his reverie. "I didn't need your help, you know," he mumbled. "I had him right where I wanted him."

"Yeah, well, it wasn't where I wanted him," responded Protoman. "Just do me a favor a stay out of my way. Now come on, Sheik wants us back at Kakariko." Ignoring Caleb's mutterings, he led the way through Lon Lon Ranch's gates.

Kakariko Village

The mood was tense in the home of Jet Enduro as Sheik was hunched over a body on one of the beds. Ivan lay motionless, apart from some light breathing. He had been brought in the day prior, but those assembled had lacked the skills to examine him. At least, not until Sheik had arrived, about half an hour ago.

"He's taken some serious damage," announced Sheik as he stood up from Ivan's prostrate form. "But he'll live."

A collective sigh was released by the group. "How long will it be until he's back on his feet?" asked Link, fully grown once more.

"He needs to rest for a few days before he goes back to any adventuring," replied Sheik solemnly.

"We don't have a few days," retorted Edward. "We have to strike now, on the chance that Hiei's not fully recovered yet."

"I agree," said Link. "I can let Ivan heal afterwards, but I have to take the Shadow Temple now. I'll meet up with Jet on the inside and we'll take it from there."

"I'm coming, too," announced Edward. "I'm not letting this guy get away this time."

"If Ed's going, then I'm going," declared Alphonse.

Link nodded. "Good, I'll need all the help I can get." He turned to face the others. "Sheik, Yangus, I'll need you two to hold things down here."

"Aren't you forgetting someone?" came the royal tone of King Trode. "I will defend this village with my life, if need be!"

"Glad to hear it," replied Link quickly, cutting off Edward, who had been about to make a sardonic comment. "Come on, everyone. Let's go!" He led the way out the door, with his new partners following him.

Sheik sat into a nearby chair and sighed heavily. "These last few days have been really hectic. I don't think I can last much longer." After a brief moment along this train of thought, he shook his head violently. "No! I can't think like that. Too much is riding on us. And besides, Link has it worse. Our whole future rest on his shoulders. Ivan's too, for that matter. I have to stay strong. We all have to stay strong, for their sake…"

"Oy, Guv!" shouted Yangus, who was standing by a window. "Those two blokes you sent to the ranch are back."

"Good," said Sheik, rising to his feet. "I have a new assignment ready for them."

Graveyard

The sun's light had never quite fallen over the final resting place of Kakariko's departed, but now it barely seemed as if the sun had risen at all. Dark clouds blotted out all corners of the sky, and an eternal rain washed over the rotting tombstones. None were there to witness the events of that day. But if they had been, they would have seen a series of dark purple lights falling from the sky and solidifying into three figures up on the cliff above the Royal Tomb.

Silently, one of the figures began descending the stairs that led into the cliff wall, the others following in his wake. As they reached the bottom, the leader motioned for the others to stay back. He walked into the cavern, within which lay a pedestal in the center, surrounded by torches. At the far side was a large, ominous door, with no obvious way to open.

The leader leapt up onto the pedestal, which only reached his hips, and cupped his hands together. A small, bright orb of flame ignited between his hands. Carrying the orb above his left hand, he bent and slammed the orb into the pedestal, causing it to erupt in all directions. The man was not harmed, but all the torches in the room now burnt brightly.

This seemed to be a signal as the monolithic door slowly slid upward into the ceiling. A rush of stale air came from beneath the door as it rose, causing two of the three figures to cover their mouths and cough. The third, however, simply started into the void that seemed to stretch endlessly behind the door. This action did not go unnoticed by the fourth member of the group. A fairy, who so often lay underneath the leader's hat, had witnessed the whole thing with increasing suspicion, but opted not to comment.

As the two adjusted to the air quality, they too gazed into the gaping hole in the wall. Staring into what they knew was a temple entrance seemed to tear down what little optimism they had. But still, they were all accustomed to seemingly hopeless odds. They put their doubts behind them as the entered into the Shadow Temple.

Shadow Temple

"So," began Alphonse, in an attempt to break the eerie silence. "How exactly can we see? I mean, wasn't it really dark before?"

"Well, it would be a pretty bad temple if the players couldn't see in front of their faces," commented Link halfheartedly. "Now then, we've reached our first obstacle." The group had turned a corner to find a chasm separating them from the rest of temple, which seemed to consist of nothing but a dead end. "That's a fake wall, so we can walk right through it, and I can hookshot my way across the gap, but what about you two?"

"Leave it to me," replied Edward, rolling up his sleeves. Bending his arms, he gave a soft clap that resonated through the dark hallways. He then bent and slammed his hands to the ground, causing a surge of energy to ignite. As the energy faded, the distinct sound of stone shifting filled their ears as a bridge of stone stretched over the chasm, obstructing it completely.

"That alchemy stuff never fails to amaze me," commented Link. "If not for the Haunted Wasteland, getting the Hover Boots would almost be a waste of time." Link led the group across the new bridge and through the false wall, where a familiar figure stood waiting for them.

"You're late," grunted Jet He glared at the trio while absent-mindedly fingering the ARM that lay in its holster. "Lucky for me that no monsters ever come this way."

"So, what have you found out?" inquired Edward.

"I've found out that this place is dark," replied Jet. "Really dark."

Link and co. shared a glance. "Is that all?" Link prompted.

"Yes, that's all!" retorted Jet irritably. "I can't cross that chasm by myself!" Jet jerked his head at the wide chasm taking up the far half of the room. Only a small hallway adorned the wall beyond. "I could barely make it over the first one. There's a false wall over here that leads further, but to the best of my information, all that's there is the mini-boss room. And I have no intention of fighting your battle for you, Mr. Hero."

Link was taken aback as Jet glared at him, as if blaming him for the entire predicament. But before he could take it in, he felt a cold hand on his shoulder.

"Don't take it personally," whispered Alphonse. "He's always like that."

"But I did get this," Jet continued. He threw a scroll of parchment down by Link's feet. "The map to this damn place. Now, let's go." Jet turned and walked through the other false wall, towards the mini-boss chamber. Link and co. obediently followed.

The rooms ahead were as empty as ever. The walls whispered disturbing secrets to one another, but the heroes brushed past, relying on Link and his Lens of Truth to find the true way. Soon enough, they found themselves in a large, square chamber, much like the one Link encountered Magus in. Standing in the middle of the room was a man whose countenance was strikingly similar to the Dark Wizard's. This gaunt man was bald, slits for nostrils and red eyes whose pupils were vertical. His pale skin stood brightly against the dark backdrop.

"So," he began. "You have finally come. Come to face the wrath of Lord Voldemort."

"Of course…" said Link drolly. "If Dumbledore was light, than it figures that Voldemort would be dark."

"Fools," continued Voldemort. "For seven years, the war has gone on. And yet, what does that Muggle-loving Dumbledore do?" He paused for dramatic effect.

"Muggle?" whispered Edward during the pause.

"Non-magic person," explained Link.

"He hides, like the coward he is, in the…" A soft click interrupted Voldemort. With a nasty glare, Voldemort used his magic wand to deflect the bullet Jet sent barreling towards him. "Hmph! Did you really think your Muggle toy would…?"

"That's about enough outta you," commanded Jet. "I'm sure they'd all love to spend the rest of the day talking about why you're better than Dumbledore, even though you haven't been in the frontlines, either." Voldemort snarled, but jet wasn't finished. "Or why you're only the number two guy in this temple, why you've deigned to work for Sephiroth and under Hiei. But I don't give a crap! As far as I'm concerned, you're just another target."

"For once, I'm with Jet," agreed Edward. Link and Alphonse added their silent consent.

Voldemort, meanwhile, looked like he had been forced to eat a live Tektite. "If that's the way you want it, fine! Avada Kedav…!" But Voldemort never finished his spell, as an inexplicable fire consumed him.

"Brother, what's going on?" asked Alphonse over the din of the flame.

"Not sure, but stay on your toes," responded Edward.

"Aguamenti!" roared Voldemort. A great blast of water spurted from his wand and quenched the flames. His robe scorched and his face blackened slightly, he turned and stared pointedly upwards. "Who dares attack Lord Voldemort?!"

Link and co. followed Voldemort's gaze. There, beneath the room's high ceiling, was a shadowy figure. It was bulky, and seemed to be a somewhat round shape, but as it was obscured by fire, they couldn't quite make it out. The figure made no attempt to respond to Voldemort.

Voldemort, meanwhile, was quite livid. "Very well. If you shall not answer, than you shall die! Avada Kedavra!" A flash of green light emanated from Voldemort's wand, which was now pointed at the figure. A whoosh of air was heard parting as Voldemort's deadly spell was cast towards this mysterious being. And yet…there was no reaction. The parts of Voldemort's face that weren't darkened went even paler, if that was possible. "What…what are you?"

A silence overtook the room, broken only by the cackle of the fires surrounding the being. But Link could swear he heard something else. A sort of…suction, just barely audible above the flames, though it seemed to be growing louder, until the entire room was well aware of it. The source was unmistakably the flaming figure floating above.

"What is it doing?" Link mused aloud.

"Look there!" shouted Edward, pointing at Voldemort, who had begun shaking violently. His wand had fallen from his hand, and his face was contorted with a mixture of pain and terror. His body, strangely enough, was outlined with a white wisp, that seemed to be desperately trying to escape. Voldemort made a loud, gurgled sound, and for an instant, time seemed to stop. Then, the outline shot up, like a sheet being ripped off a bed and sucked unceremoniously into the floating flames. Voldemort himself crumpled onto the ground. Seconds later, he disappeared in a flash.

"Navi," Link whispered as softly as he could. "Is the door still locked?"

Link felt Navi shift on his head as she peered out from under his hat. "Yes," she murmured.

"That must mean that this guy has assumed the role of the mini-boss," added Alphonse, who had heard the exchange.

"Great," moaned Edward. "We go from an evil wizard to a demon who…what did it do again?"

"Going out on a limb, here," replied Jet. "But I think it sucked out the guy's soul." This statement caused a hush to fall over the group as they absorbed this information. All the while, the flaming being above them floated silently.

After what seemed like ages the being spoke. He, for the voice was unmistakably male, spoke in a low, raspy voice that grated against their ears. "I…I am one, who has suffered. Suffered by the hands of you…mortals. This story…this fanfiction…has gone on for seven long years. But because of this simple fact, the world itself is in incredible danger." The being had begun to descend, but very gradually. "I had been recruited by this fiction's author to aid him in setting things right. But to do so goes against my very nature." As it descended, it turned to stare at the spot where Voldemort fell. "The mortal magician that stood here before. His soul was fractured and weak. Devouring it took no effort at all. Yours, on the other hand, might be somewhat of a greater challenge."

"Who are you?" Link demanded. "What are you?"

"What am I?" repeated the demonic being, who features were slowly becoming visible. "I am the being that spreads fear to all of existence. I am one, who would willingly embrace Sephiroth's rule for my own personal gain. I am the last living thing you shall ever gaze upon. I am…" The being was fully visible now. Its eyeless sockets glistened, as if they could still see. "Floating Skuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuull!"

Jet snorted in contempt. "Why do all the demons I meet act like they're the best thing since the invention of money? This guy, Hiei, Siegfried, they're all the same."

"Floating Skull?" asked Navi aloud, not bothering to ask who Siegfried was. "Why does that sound familiar?"

"Well, the thing looks like a Red Bubble, kinda," said Link. "Just bigger." Indeed, the Skull's height was about the same as an average man's.

Ignoring them, Edward stepped forward. "Floating Skull, huh? Well after I'm through with you, you'll be calling yourself Grounded Skull!" Clapping his hands together, he reformed the metal in his right arm to sprout a blade over his hand. He charged forward towards Floating Skull.

"Foolish mortal!" gloated Floating Skull with a cackle. "Do you really think you can fight Floating Skull in single combat!?" The flames around Floating Skull intensified as Edward drew near.

But as Edward moved within five feet of his adversary, he clapped his hands and pressed them into the ground. The ground beneath him shot up in a short, slanted pillar, propelling Edward above his floating foe. Floating Skull followed Edward with his gaze, building energy into his now open mouth. As Edward landed on the far side of Floating Skull and turned to attack, Floating Skull launched a beam of massive flames at Edward. Luckily, Edward managed to drop on his back and squeeze into the narrow room between the floor and the flames. "Now Al!" he roared as the flames started to diminish.

Floating Skull, his attack over, turned to face his other opponents, only to find Alphonse closing what was left of the gap. Alphonse let loose a mighty punch that sent Floating Skull spiraling towards Edward. When he was right above Edward, Ed used his blade to strike the first part of the spiraling Skull that came into range, which happened to be his face. Floating Skull screamed in anguish as he pulled himself to a halt a few feet away. He righted himself, only to have another wound added to his face courtesy of Link's upward slash. He fled upwards, but had not gone far when a barrage of bullets clanged against him.

"Is this it?" sneered Jet. "I think old Moldywart would've been tougher."

"Yeah, sure seems like we got the weakling," agreed Edward.

"Stay on your guard, everyone," warned Alphonse. "He's not done yet."

Indeed, Floating Skull had recovered his balance and situated himself in the center of the spread out heroes. "You pitiful mortals are resourceful, Floating Skull will grant you that. But Floating Skull gains powers from the souls he consumes!" As he said it, Floating Skull began to glow slightly, and the various wounds on his face mended themselves. All but one, that is. The slash mark left by the Master Sword remained where it was.

"A holy wound. He's obviously a Dark creature, so it'd take more power to recover from something like that," mused Navi. Her voiced carried across the room so that all present could hear.

"Holy, huh?" repeated Jet. He raised his hand and called to the heavens, "Spectre!" Instantly, Floating Skull was assaulted by a barrage of projectiles that seemed to be made up of light. They struck from all directions, beating Floating Skull around like a child's toy. But when the light subsided, Floating Skull was no worse for the wear.

His vision was slightly cloudy, but was rapidly returning. "Is that the best that you mortals…" began Floating Skull, but he was interrupted by a cry of "Accelerator!" A blur in front of him disappeared in a flash of blue light. An instant later, another flash emanated from behind him.

Jet grinned as he cocked his ARM, preparing to deliver a point-blank round of bullets into his adversary. But before he could, the fire surrounding Floating Skull seemed to burst, heavily damaging everything within range, which unfortunately included Jet, who was sent flying. His flight was short-lived, however, as Link rushed forward to catch him.

"How foolish you mortals are!" cried Floating Skull with obvious glee. "Floating Skull had underestimated you, and that is the reason your first feeble assault had any effect!"

"We're not effective enough as a group yet," said Navi. "Our teamwork needs…well, some work."

"Teamwork…" muttered Jet bitterly. He spat onto the ground in distaste.

"No, Navi's right," agreed Link. "Once this is over, we need to go over our abilities, so we can plan accordingly. If we were fighting Hiei, we'd already be dead."

Meanwhile, over at the other end of the room, Edward and Alphonse remained ready to attack. "Alright, he healed after our first attack, but he won't be able to do it again without consuming another soul. We've still got a chance," concluded Alphonse.

"Al, are you sure you'll be fine? You know…" Edward's voice trailed off uncertainly.

Alphonse nodded encouragingly. "Don't worry, brother. I'll be alright!"

Edward was unconvinced, but was interrupted as Floating Skull charged forward. Edward ran forward to meet the Skull with a swing of his blade, but Floating Skull flew upwards as a rapid series of gunshots rang out. Acting on instinct, Edward fell to the ground as a group of bullets flew over his head. "Hey!" he roared as he lifted his head. "Watch where you're firing those things!"

"Stay out of my way if you don't want to get hurt!" retorted Jet, who promptly leapt to the side to avoid a fireball from Floating Skull.

"Great, our new partners are dysfunctional," murmured Navi.

"We'll get it together," assured Link. "We have no choice." He turned to face the Drifter. "Hey, Jet! Do that warp thing and get on his other side!"

"Can't," replied Jet. "My Accelerator needs a bit more time to charge." Link started to say something else, but Jet paid him no mind. He kept firing at the weaving Floating Skull, who floated out of range of any of the Elrics' attacks, until a series of clicks gave him an unfortunate message. "Damn! Gotta reload."

Unfortunately, Floating Skull overheard this little comment. With a mighty roar, he hurled a massive fireball towards Jet, who looked up a split-second before being hit. As the flames carried Jet into the wall, his ARM was sent flying. When it landed, Floating Skull set the floor around it on fire. It was now unreachable through normal means. "Damnit!" Jet screamed while Link hurried to help put out the flames. "Why didn't any of you cover me?"

"Like we were supposed to know!" shouted Edward from across the room while dodging a fireball. "Why did you try and reload while you were a sitting duck?"

"Cause I'm used to working with competent people!" retorted Jet, who was now flame free thanks to Link, though a little charred. "Just get my ARM back!"

Edward cursed inwardly, but decided to do as requested. Seeing Link rushing Floating Skull, he gave a soft clap, planning to hurl a shower of dirt to smother the flames. But he hadn't counted on Floating Skull ignoring Link and coming for him. Floating Skull rammed into him with ferocious strength. Edward was sent tumbling before collapsing on the ground some feet away. He tried to climb to his feet, but was roughly pulled into the air by some unseen force. But he soon realized that the source of his new-found levitation was Floating Skull, who hovered about a foot away.

"The thing must have telekinesis. Short range, I'll bet," deduced Link, who was still some ways away. "Wait, how can he have mental powers? He didn't look like he had a brain inside of his…"

"Link, focus!" shrieked Navi.

Link took Navi's advice to heart and set all his concentration on the flaming monstrosity before him. But before he reached his floating nemesis, he saw Alphonse taking a flying leap with his fist reared back. It was a foolish move, in retrospect. Perhaps Alphonse thought that putting his body weight behind his punch would allow him to out-power Floating Skull. Whatever the reason, Link winced as bone met steel, the latter being sent tumbling much like his older brother had been. Link was not prepared, however, for what he saw when Alphonse's helmet went flying.

Alphonse's head did not have any describable features. This was due in large part to the fact that Alphonse did not seem to have a head. He had not been decapitated, for the helmet had nothing inside of it. Curiosity overwhelmed Link, causing him to forget that he was in the middle of a battle. He angled around until he could see into the armor's neck. When he did, he let out a gasp that echoed across the chambers, even above the sound of an unarmed Jet trying and failing to rescue Edward.

"Th…th…there's nothing in there!" cried Link stumbling backwards a few steps, trying to keep his balance.

"Geez," replied Navi, who had frozen like everyone else. "I know he said he didn't have clothes in there, but I didn't think he meant it like that."

"No body?" mused Floating Skull, casually spewing flames at Jet. "You are lucky, puny mortal Edward. Floating Skull was going to consume your soul. But Floating Skull has decided to turn his attention towards the bodiless soul instead."

"No!" roared Edward, eyes wide. "Don't you dare lay a finger on my brother!"

Floating Skull's face didn't change, as skulls lack the facial expressions granted to those that bear skin. Yet it seemed as if Floating Skull was grinning broadly. "That, pitiful mortal, is promised." Tossing Edward aside, Floating Skull flew over to Alphonse, who was attempting to climb to his feet. He froze, however, when Floating Skull stopped above him and fixed him with an eerie glare.

Floating Skull opened his mouth and began making the same suction sound as earlier, and Alphonse's armor seemed to glow a pale white. He paused only briefly as Link, Jet, and Edward attempted to rush him all at once. Their effort was in vain as they were all thrown backwards by a burst of flame. Floating Skull promptly returned his attention to the task at hand.

"No, Al!" cried Edward. He attempted to rise, but suddenly fell back over. "Damn! My auto-mail's busted!" He swore loudly, cursing Floating Skull, Hiei, and the scraps of metal that lay by his arm and leg.

"We've got nothing," thought Link as he rose to his feet. "Ed's down and Jet's unarmed." Indeed, Jet's ARM was still surrounded by the unnatural fire. The firearm in question wasn't even visible, so retrieving by hookshot, while a viable option, would take too much time. He stared down at his left hand, firm as always as it held the Master Sword. "There's got to be something I can do…wait, that's it!"

"Hey, Floating Skull!" called Link aloud. "If you want a soul so badly, why not take mine instead?"

The horrible suction noise abruptly halted, and not a moment too soon. Alphonse's outline had just begun to move away from his armor. "Your soul?" repeated Floating Skull. "Floating Skull professes that he would much rather prefer a strong soul such as yours. But Floating Skull cannot help wondering why. Perhaps you and your mortal friends have somehow concocted a strategy to save this one."

"You have my word, Floating Skull, that no one here shall attack you until after my soul has been devoured," declared Link. He glanced around the room and met the frantic eyes of Edward, who lay collapsed on the ground. He looked again and locked eyes with Jet, who had been trying to figure out how to get his ARM back. They didn't understand, but they nodded.

"Link! Are you crazy?" exclaimed Navi. "If he gets your soul, the fanfiction ends! And the entire world will be…!" She stopped as Link flashed her a triumphant grin. She knew this was a sign that he had something up his sleeve.

"The mortal fairy is correct," agreed Floating Skull. "Would you so willingly sacrifice everything for the sake of this mortal child's soul?"

Link found it strange for Alphonse to be referred to as a child, given his size, but nodded without hesitation. "Do as you will."

At that, Floating Skull laughed. He laughed a loud, ear-splitting laugh that seemed to pierce through the very being of those who heard it. Then, he raced over to where Link was standing, stopping not a foot in front of his face. The flames flickered across Link's face, but not close enough to do any real damage. As the suction started, Link began to lose track of his consciousness. He didn't resist, he just let himself go.

Everyone else in the room stood, transfixed with horror, as Link's soul began leave his body. It inched closer and closer to Floating Skull's open mouth. It couldn't have lasted more than a few seconds, yet time seemed to have slowed to a crawl. Link's soul hadn't even completely left his body before it passed between Floating Skull's rotten teeth.

There was a moment when all sound stopped, and everyone remained frozen in complete silence. The moment was broken as Floating Skull let out a blood-curling screech and began to flail around. As his soul acclimatized itself to being back in his body, Link looked over at Alphonse, who had pulled a piece of chalk from inside a compartment in his armor. Seeing Link nod, Alphonse rushed over to the wall and drew a strange, complex symbol on the wall. It looked, at passing glance like a circle.

Alphonse pressed his hands against the wall around the circle. The circle shone with a bright light, which was followed by a loud rumbling. From out of the stone wall came an arm, a huge, stone arm. Reaching over to the flailing Skull, it grabbed him with one movement and proceeded to slam him against the floor.

Floating Skull was panting by this point. Something about Link's soul had caused him indescribable pain. "No more," his raspy voice declared. "Floating Skull surrenders to you…mighty mortal Link. But tell Floating Skull, why was your soul so painful to touch?"

"You didn't do your homework, Floating Skull," replied Link. "I am the possessor of the Triforce of Courage. It is bound to my very soul. Something like you could never hope to consume something so holy."

There was a long pause. "Then Floating Skull can never defeat you. You…and the other mortals here, have earned Floating Skull's respect. I shall rejoin the author and do what Floating Skull can to aid you." And with that, the demonic Skull vanished with a flash.

"Wait a minute!" cried Navi suddenly. "Now I remember who he is! He's that muse that Ivan's always complaining about!"

"Well, then it's a good thing this isn't still a fanfiction in the normal sense," responded Link drolly. "Readers hate it when authors throw in themselves and their muses and try and pass them off as important, Ivan notwithstanding. But never mind that now." Link turned to face the others. The flames had died when Floating Skull left, so Jet was able to reclaim his ARM. Meanwhile, Alphonse had collected his head and was using alchemy to repair Edward's broken metal limbs. "I think we all need to have a little talk…"

-

There, it's finally done. I think it was pretty good. And yes, Ivan gets to stay. Mind you, the only way I would have gotten rid of him was with an overwhelming negative response. But you all have spoken, and you say you love the little guy! No wonder he has a forum dedicated to him on this site.

Flt. Sk.: …

B.B.: I can't believe you got beat! After all that whining you do about how powerful you are!

Ght. Flx.: Sizzlin' pofizzle got pwned!

Now, before we continue, I feel I have to let you know that Chapter 14 has been revised somewhat. Parts were written out of ignorance, some out of arrogance. The fight with Ness, in particular, has been changed slightly, to eliminate almost all reference to a previous fic I wrote. And an inconsistency has been fixed. Normally, I hate doing major revisions like this because people don't want to have to go back and read them, but I felt it was necessary in this case.

Now, then. Time for another edition of…

Ask Floating Skull
(whether he feels like it or not)

Diminia writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
I dare you to Find Arthas, the Lich king (Look on teh internet if you want info on him) and try and take his soul, but then again...his sword has sucked out his soul already, but can you do it?

Flt. Sk.: Floating Skull is in no mood to humor puny mortal Diminia. Find him yourself.

Dragon-elf writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
What is your opinion of all those inane daytime soap operas? A lot of them pretty much have them same themes. Don't they seem redundant and boring?

Flt. Sk.: Floating Skull hates them like he hates you!

B.B.: Then why are you always asking us to tape The Young and the Restless?

Flt. Sk.: Silence!

Kitsune-dan's muse: Kyuu writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
Ha! That didn't even tickle, puny Skull! I will never die, I cannot be killed! But you can Stomps on Floating Skull

Flt. Sk.: Floating Skull refuses to accept threats from dead people.

Jack Sparrow303 writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
There are three reasons that I rank among your non-hated mortals.
1. I give you cookies.
2. I am me.
and 3. I give you cookies!
So, based upon this evidence, am I a non hated mortal?
P.S. If you say yes, I will compose a short poem about you and post it in the next review.

Flt. Sk: After a day such as this, Floating Skull welcomes the gift of cookies. You are indeed a non-hated mortal. But this does not mean that Floating Skull likes you.

Vslasher writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
I gave my soul to the Orochi from King of Fighters (the strongest character in the game), and now I have his powers. If we were to fight on par and I managed to use his most devastating move "Heavens Bright Light" and his finishing move "Pull in the Foe and rip out its soul" would I win or would it not work? Keep in mind that although Orochi was defeated in the game once, he is immortal and cannot be killed, and he has no soul as he rips out his own heart in one of his intros.

Flt. Sk.: Do not think yourself special just because Floating Skull lost to mortal Link. His power is truly beyond compare. You would most certainly lose.

Dare Deville writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
Do you like horror movies?

Flt. Sk.: Floating Skull is the ultimate horror movie!

theflailingpen writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
What is your opinion of the souls of band nerds?

Yes, Floating Skull? What do you think of us band nerds?

Flt. Sk.: Floating Skull does not waste his time with such trifles. But if they are like the puny mortal author, then Floating Skull despises them!

And finally, my good friend broken katana writes:

Dear Floating Skull,
I was just wondering...are you of any help at all as muse?? Or are you here only to eat people's souls and complain about puny mortal author? /

I ask myself that question everyday.

Flt. Sk.: Floating Skull is here against his will! Why should he assist the puny mortal author!

Didn't you just promise Link that you'd help out?

Flt. Sk.: ……

Well, that's it then. Next time, Link and co. find out the mysterious truth about Alphonse. You know, the thing that everyone who's seen the first episode of Full Metal Alchemist already knows. And then they face Hiei in the bowels of the Shadow Temple. See you then!

Floating Skuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuull!!