Disclaimer, I don't own these characters, (as much as I like too) except for Jin.

Dance Of The Paper Moon

By Ishi'vanah Zuma Halcyon

Sequel to "The River As Deep As The Sky"

Chapter One: A Waltz of Shadows

Darkness shrouded everything like a smothering blanket, the eerie pitch-black shadows swallowing up any light that attempted to penetrate into the cocoon of raven silk threads. Something vile haunted the valley, something far more sinister then anything previously seen. An embodiment of a force long since forgotten by those, who lived just within its grasp in the towns and villages of this quiet little part of the world. The coming of such hatred reaching out over the ridges and mountain trails, pooling within its sanctuary and eating away at the edges of the light rising high above it.

An unsatisfied hunger burning and bubbling away within its chest, its heart pitch and charcoal, leaving it hollow within. Menacing amber eyes pierced the darkness with a cold, almost lifeless stare. Such power… The sound of claws scraping over earth as it slowly pulled itself free from its long imprisonment. Saliva pooling from massive jaws, a beast from stories to frighten little children was alive once more… I want it!

Give it to me… Paws dug deep into the sodden ground, the beast began heading upwards out of the depths of the ravine, wings of ebony thrashing between sharp stones. Powerful wing beats slowly beginning to lift it higher, claws cutting deep into solid rock to propel it upwards. It belongs to me!

And soon it was free of its slumbering prison… and out on a hunt… I hungry for this power…


A rose lay trampled into the mud, the rain having swept in only moments before, his dark eyes gazing around underneath the tree just up slightly away from the festival. Izark carefully reached down with slender fingers to pick up the crushed bloom in his hand. Fingering the fragile petals softly, his heart racing as he looked around him searching for his love.

"Noriko?" He questioned gently, maybe she was just playing hide and seek…

No answer.

Only the downpour of freezing rain as it fell down over him, soaking his clothes within moments and leaving him shivering ever so slightly, the warm clear summer day suddenly turned into a cold wet evening.

"Noriko?" Izark called, the ground squelching slightly beneath his feet as his eyes gazed around him, frantic and his heart felt like it was being clenched in a vice. The single bloom being clutched to his chest tightly, refusing to let it go. "Noriko! Answer me!"

Long hair clung to his skin as he spun around, looking across the rapidly emptying Festival grounds, the freezing rain driving everyone to seek shelter out of the cold shower.


The darkness crept in a little closer around inside of him, fear… an irrational fear rising up from within him, the beast struggling to get out, seeking out the only one that loved him. Begging silently for her to answer. He had to find her! She was just a little girl!

Izark… The voice was faint a distant sound that sounded so far away… he had only left her side for a moment… he shouldn't have left her at all! He was her protector! IZARK! The terrified cry reached into his very soul and twisted his heart viciously.

NORIKO! A soft low growl escaped him, his dark eyes shining with a menacing light. No one took her away from him. No one! The trail of darkness wrapped around this clearing under the big tree, and his eyes turned towards the dark end of the forest that swept up half of the side of the big valley, his feet taking him fast deep into the undergrowth.

He wouldn't let her go. She belonged with him! Safe and loved, whatever had done this had just unleashed something that took no mercy upon that which stole the only thing that mattered to him.

I will find you… Just hold on Noriko.

He would always come for her. He had yet to understand more about the look in her eyes when she had watched him at the night by the waterfall…or at the river.

To understand the feelings as they had begun to grow… beginning to become something so strong within his heart.

I love you too…

---------------------------------- Flash Back --------------------------------------

A hand guided Noriko gently through the crowds gathered for a wonderful Summer Solstice Festival in this out of the way agricultural village. The place was a sea of living colour, decorating every possible spot with anything imaginable. It really was something quite spectacular to any traveller passing through the area. The girl was wearing a big smile, her almond eyes wide and gazing around them in delight, though her attention turned back towards Izark who was guiding her and the horse through the crowds trying to get through the buzz of activity.

"Izark…" She said softly, a rather adorable hopeful look on her face as she tipped her head upwards to gaze at him. "Please may we stay for the day?"

His dark eyes glanced back towards her, he had been intent to get what they needed and continue on their journey not wanting to get caught up in something… wanting to escape anyone that was trying to follow after them. But the instant he looked into those eyes his heart almost stopped, seeing the hopeful expression on the girl's beautiful face had him nodding at her request. "Of course."

"YAY!" Her arms wrapped around the man's chest, surprising him at the enthusiasm it seemed to bring out in her, "Thankyou!" She was unable to contain her happiness, as the feelings of the crowd seemed to influence her with the good nature and welcoming atmosphere of the place.

A small smile crossed his lips as he watched her, a flutter of warmth drifting through his heart to see the girl looking so happy at that moment. His arm wrapping gently around her shoulders, holding her close, his long black hair falling down over one shoulder as he leaned down to just press a butterfly kiss against her cheek.

The sound of music gently rose above the loud calls of the crowd, drawing the pair of travellers in like a magnet, her eyes closing as she listened to the unfamiliar melody that inspired a deep feeling within her heart. Standing on the edge of where people were dancing on a wooden floor of a pavilion, looking at the dancers and turning her head upwards to gaze at Izark… finding the man gone… she almost panicked, her almond eyes glancing around the crowd in search for the man.

When a soft whisper of his presence brushed across her thoughts, spinning around to find him on the dance floor, his hand offered out towards her. "Will my Lady dance with me?" There was a sparkle of life in his eyes that couldn't ever be denied. Something that spoke of his love and his smile was softly as he bowed stretching his hand out further towards her.

Izark! Her cheeks flushed sharply as he accepted her hand, drawing her onto the polished wooden floor, and straight into his arms. "I don't know how to do this dance…"

"Then I'll teach you." His arm wrapped gently around her waist, her other hand held in his slender fingered one. Slowly beginning to move to the beat of the music, gently beginning to guide her through the simple steps.

However she was staring down at her feet, trying desperately not to step on Izark's she really did have two left feel when it came to dancing. Accidentally stepping onto his foot, though it didn't even seem to faze him even slightly. There was a sparkle in the man's eyes as he gently lifted her slightly, his large feet slipping underneath hers like someone would a child, though his arm wrapped tighter around her waist, pulling her right up against him, "You have two left feet." He mused ever so softly, leaning into the contact with her. The man was chuckling ever so softly as he looked down at her.

Her grip on him tightened, her eyes gazing upwards at him, before the blush deepened across her cheeks and she really did enjoy the feeling of being there because it was something quite special to just have a moment to see him being so open when there was so many people around. But soon she was giggling with delight as he moved with her arms wrapped tightly around his neck, her feet on his as he moved in the swifter upbeat of the song.

Noriko nuzzled her face into his shoulder, just letting out a happy sigh as he just relaxed into the moment, really just wanting to have a moment like that because it was something very special for them and he just wanted to always have her close to him.

The music was warm and soothing that washed over them like a happy summer's dream. A chance to just be normal people, everything forgotten but the feelings they held for each other. Everything was perfect.

And suddenly, Izark carefully set her back onto her feet, before he carefully dropped to one knee holding up on hand showing he had nothing in it or up his sleeve before waving his hand over it and abruptly there was a beautiful crimson rose in it. Thornless and beautiful, "A rose for my Noriko." He whispered sweetly to her, his dark eyes reflecting his emotions.

"You never told me you know how to do magic!" She looked delighted by both the gift that she brought up to her nose and gently inhaled the warm scent of it.

"I've learned a few things along the way." Izark replied simply, a content look reflected in his eyes as he just watched for a few moments.

Before she leaned in and pressed a warm kiss against his lips, her fingers stroking softly through his raven locks gently.

"I love you."

Those words brought such light into his heart.

Both unaware of the shadows lurking almost the buildings… Waiting for a chance to pounce.

------------------------------------------- End Flashback -----------------------------------------------

There was a reflection within the darkness, a glimmer of something more then just branches and rocks, the complete and utter emptiness filling up every part of his body, his dark eyes searching out the one being that had managed to shatter his loneliness and draw him back out… that didn't think of him as a monster…

His heart was racing, the powerful beat echoing horribly in his ears, a torturous rhythm marking out each moment that she was away from him, that he couldn't see her smiling face…

The ghostly haunting moment as he broke through the trees, his eyes scanning the open ground before him… and there he saw her, fallen amongst the roots of a tree… Limp almost as if lifeless in the bitter light of the moon.

There was a hateful snarl echoing across the open ground between Izark and Noriko, a shadow breaking across the open ground towards him.

The Sky Demon hissed, those dark eyes like chips of pure obsidian. "GIVE HER BACK TO ME!"

Never… It tauntingly replied, blocking the view of the fallen girl.

"Insect. No one stands between me and what is mine." His voice was a cold frost, hard and furious. And his powerful wings pushed him forwards intent of getting back what was his and his alone.

Noriko… please answer me? The part that was still clearly Izark whispered into the darkness, begging softly to hear her voice reach out to him… yet all he gained was silence… Please… I love you…Don't leave me alone…

Yet, perched high in the branches of the tree, a white almost fragile face framed by silver locks peered out into the darkness, "It seems my little game has just begun, Monster… Come meet your new destiny." Jin mused quietly, "And you little girl will be my new Pawn."

Pleeeeeeaseeee review I really don't know if people like this story… But I hope you do and if I have enough interest in it I'll continue