By: Ghost of the Dawn
Chapter One: Killing Time
"You've gotta be kidding!" Kento blurted out. "Kayura?" He just stared at the woman standing before him.
Kayura swivelled her large, visible eye in Kento's direction.
"Don't sound so surprised. It hasn't been that long since you've seen me. At least," she corrected herself. "Not for you it hasn't."
"Well sorry for the lack of hospitality, Kayura," Sage responded, arms folded. "But we just barely got back ourselves and you weren't exactly invited."
"I can see that," Kayura replied. They were all still in their Falanian clothing and she looked them over in amusement. "I apologize for coming so suddenly. Had I better timing, you would have been able to rest for a few days before this. Unfortunately, that is not the case. We need to go now. The sooner the better."
"Woah lady, back up there!" Kento jumped in. "Go where? Why? What the hell is going on?"
Kayura gave an exasperated sigh. "We don't have much time! We have to go! I'll explain when we get there."
Natalia stood near the back, completely confused as to what was going on. Mia looked at the different faces worriedly, wondering what it all meant. The five warriors all shared a similar aura of stubbornness. None of them looked in the mood to go anywhere without an extremely good reason.
Ryo took into account that all his comrades felt the same way he did.
"Looks like you're going to have to do more persuading than that, Kayura," Ryo told her. "If we don't get an explanation, we're not moving."
Kayura looked the stern faced Ryo over and then raised an eyebrow in challenge. "Not even to get your friend back? You're willing to chance not seeing that little red head again because you don't feel like listening to me? Or what about your tiger? Don't you want him back as well?"
Ryo's expression visibly darkened. "What do you mean? What did you do to them?"
"I didn't do anything intentionally," Kayura insisted. "Those two were passing through a portal into this world the same time I was. Our streams crossed and as near as I can tell, they never made it here. Instead, they probably got pulled back the way I came. I can take you to them, but we have to go. NOW."
Stubbornness turned to surprise and hesitance as the Ronins looked at each other for suggestions.
"Believe me," Kayura continued. "Where she is right now is probably not the safest place. And she's not coming back unless you go there and bring her back. The tiger, too."
The five looked at each other again.
"Where are we going?" Cye spoke up from the back of the room.
All it took was one to agree and their fate had been decided for the group.
Kayura smiled. She turned to Kento who was standing the closest to her.
"Hold up your arm."
Days later, Kento would still wonder why he reacted. For whatever reason, he did as he was told and Kayura slapped a large, black clamp to his wrist which immediately locked itself there.
"What the hell?!" Kento demanded as he instantly tried to pry the thing off. "You tricked me!"
"All of you need to wear one of these," Kayura explained, ignoring Kento's complaints. She began handing them out to the other four. "You must keep them on you the entire time. It's important that you do so."
Rowen looked dubiously at the device he was given. The thing sparked at him.
"I think this one's got a glitch," Rowen announced.
"That's why we have to hurry," Kayura urged. "They're not going to stay functioning too long in this world."
"Mine's hissing at me," Kento whined.
"Put them on! Hurry!" Kayura ordered.
Cye and Ryo were still staring at theirs, but finally put them on. The clamps fastened around their wrists instantly.
Mia watched them all; worried. "Should I go with you or--"
"You needn't go," Kayura informed her. "We only need them."
"We?" Sage asked.
"Well, be careful then," Mia said, looking a bit disappointed. "I'll be here waiting for you, I guess."
Kayura gathered the five closer together and then turned to Mia with a knowing smile.
"Believe me, you won't be waiting for them long."
With that, she held up her own wrist and pressed a button on her band. The contraption beeped three times and then they were gone from Mia's living room as quick as lightning is gone from the sky.
When it was silent and empty, Natalia turned to Mia, now the only person left in the room.
"Okay, I know I've had to come to accept a lot of weird things these past few weeks. But you're still going to have to explain that one to me."
Mia just shook her head. "I don't know if I can."
It wasn't the same as being transported to Falnan. With that trip, Rowen could best describe it as a sense of motion and he could feel everyone moving with him to that other place. This was completely different. It was a sickening feeling. For a moment, he felt like he lost himself. Like his body and his spirit were split apart. And then those parts were split in more parts until he was completely undone to the very atom. Then everything around him moved without him. He was stuck, torn apart while it felt like time was moving on; moving at an unfathomable speed, while he stayed the same. Then everything stopped moving and he was sucked back together.
Rowen stood there stunned for a moment. His skin was tingly all over like his whole body had fallen asleep. While he had been standing in Mia's well lit living room with his friends only a second ago, now he was in some place dark and quiet. And he was all alone.
The entire area looked old and worn down; dusty and empty. He was in some sort of building, the room gutted out as if renovated or abandoned. All was still and Rowen held his breath in the stillness. He wasn't expecting this. He wasn't expecting to end up all alone in the darkness. Where was he? His instincts told him not to move, not to make a sound until he knew. His ears strained in the silence, listening for any kind of evidence to confirm or deny that he was alone. If he was indeed alone, where were his friends? And what happened to Kayura?
A shuffling in the darkness caught Rowen's attention and he zeroed in on it. Where he had previously thought was devoid of all life, a humanesque form moved from the shadows. Rowen stared at it, backing up a bit. The light in the room was nearly nonexistent, but Rowen was still unbelieving of what his senses were telling him. From all appearances, the other person had actually materialized into the room with him; as if stepping through the wall and through the darkness into existence.
Rowen's suspicions were founded even more when the figure's eyes began to glow eery red and Rowen knew he was dealing with something not quite human and probably not friendly.
The creature raised its hand and another red light glittered in the darkness. It flitted around the room to rest on Rowen's chest, over his heart.
The second Rowen realized what it was, his gut sank with a nauseous feeling.
It's got a gun. It's going to shoot me!
Adrenaline shot through his body and he lurched as he felt something whizz by and the wall splintered behind him. Rowen couldn't see in the darkness well and he slammed right into another wall, hitting his head none too gently. He violently flung himself forward again, eyes wide and wild, looking for his attacker.
I can't see in here! I can't hide! I'm going to get shot!
To his horror, Rowen began to see more sets of eyes materializing in the darkness throughout different corners of the room. They all slunk towards him like unearthly beings and eyed their prey fearlessly. They knew they were going to win and Rowen was sure he was going to die.
Right then, the ceiling exploded above him as large body crashed through it. Weak rays of light streaked in from outside. In the middle of the room was a table-like apparatus which was where the new comer landed heavily on his feet, trench coat billowing behind him. The several pairs of eyes turned their attention to the intruder as he made a grand motion of sticking his arms straight out to either side of him.
Rowen realized there was a large gun in each of the man's hands only a split second before he opened fire.
The stranger's face was glittered with specs of light as his weapons went off in rapid succession. All Rowen could see of the man's face in the flickering lights was a wide, manic grin before he grabbed his head and ducked to the ground. Gun fire screamed around the room, tearing up the walls and radiating in Rowen's ears. There was the underlaying melody of pained wails and bodies hitting the floor. It was the worst sound Rowen had ever heard. Something wet splattered on his arm and he curled up tighter on the floor; praying it would be over soon.
The deafening noise stopped suddenly and another smaller body dropped into the room. She took a moment to survey the place and then jumped off the table to look around. Rowen could see her when he lifted his head, but stayed where he was, unsure if these new fighters were friendly.
The smaller body must have seen him, for she turned in his direction and Rowen could see a pair of red eyes materialize behind her. Before he could say anything, the female form pulled something from her belt and stabbed backwards. The creature behind her screamed as it was stabbed and then electrocuted. Rowen stared wide eyed as he could see it better through the blue arcs of electricity. It looked almost human, but had sharp teeth and screamed like a demon.
Its pain was only for a second before the weapon stopped its assault and the body fell down dead. A sick, burning smell filled the air and Rowen's heart sped up even more. He was all that was left. Who were these people? What did they want with him? Without his armor, he had no way to defend himself and no idea where to go if he managed to get away. Still, he had to fight somehow.
The two figures both started towards him and Rowen sprang to action. In the dim light, he saw one of the small hand guns the men with the red eyes had been carrying. He snatched it up and jumped to his feet, aiming it at the only two still alive in the room.
"Stop right there!" he cried, his voice rising with fear. It sound more panicked than Rowen would have liked. Though, in truth, he was terrified. "Don't come near me!"
He had the gun pointed at the small form who was closer. She froze as the weapon was aimed at her. However, the larger one walked purposefully forward and positioned himself between the smaller body and Rowen's weapon. He now stood only a few feet from Rowen's gun, the barrel pointed at his head.
"I said stay back!" Rowen barked frantically. His hands were shaking.
The large form regarded him coolly.
"What are you going to do with that, Hashiba?" he asked in a deep, chalky voice. "You going to shoot me?"
Rowen was so surprised the stranger new his name, he lost all sense to react when the stranger reached out. He snatched the gun out of Rowen's hands by the barrel and rapped him smartly on the head with the butt of the handle.
"Ow!" Rowen yelled as his grabbed his head and hissed at the pain.
The large figure sighed at him, unimpressed and moved off. The smaller figure approached him.
"Rowen, are you okay?"
"Kayura?" Rowen asked, a bit confused. So they were on his side. He looked curiously over at her companion. "Then who..?"
The man in the trench coat was wandering around the room, kicking at and inspecting the dead bodies on the floor. He moved into a stream of light and Rowen saw stark white hair.
"Dais?" he asked incredulously.
Dais, for the most part, ignored him; but Kayura still wanted his attention.
"Rowen, where's the others? What happened?"
Rowen blinked at her, trying to put his thoughts together. "I don't know. I just...was here.. All by myself."
A worried expression covered Kayura's face. She breathed out deeply in frustration.
"Kay," Dais said, moving to her side. "We need to go. There's going to be others if we stay here too long."
"Yes," Kayura agreed reluctantly. "I don't think anyone else is here. Let's go."
Dais hopped back up on the table and motioned for Kayura to spring off his hands and jump back through the hole in the ceiling. Dais then looked to the still stunned Rowen.
"Hurry up, Hashiba. We don't exactly have time to play around in here. It's is the slowest I've ever seen you, I swear!"
The irritation in Dais' voice inspired Rowen into action. He quickly scrambled up and let Dais heft him up out of the whole. Kayura was above, offering a hand to pull him to his feet. Once out, Rowen surveyed where he was. They were standing on the roof of a building. Above them were taller structures and beyond those, a dismal sky with heavy smog only allowing a weak, grey light down on the city. A warm, foul air blew in Rowen's face from the humming factories near by and he made a face.
"Where are we?"
His two companions ignored him.
"So what's next?" Dais wondered.
"Nothing else to do," Kayura sighed. "But go back home and try to figure out what happened."
"Sounds like a plan," Dais responded. He glanced over in Rowen's direction. "How about it, Hashiba? You wanna fly us back?"
Rowen's shoulders slumped. "Oh yeah, you don't know about this, but we don't have our armors any more. I'm not sure exactly how much--"
"They just BARELY got back," Kayura finished as if that explained everything.
It must have, for Dais let out a heavy breath, weighing his options. "Just barely, huh? Well then we really have our work cut out for us."
"I told you Dais," Kayura replied. "Everything is going in full circle. This is our job just like it was theirs for us."
"Fine, fine. Whatever," Dais relented. "You're the expert."
Kayura shot him a nonappreciative look while Dais approached Rowen. The two stood almost toe to toe and Rowen had his first chance to size up the warlord of illusion without his armor. The last time Rowen had met the white haired man he had been a boy of fifteen. Now he was almost twenty and had grown quite a bit. But while Rowen had grown taller than all of his friends, Dais was still just as tall. And a lot heavier than Rowen's thin frame. The ex warlord had no trouble at all grabbing Rowen and slinging him over his shoulder.
"What the--what are you doing?!" Rowen demanded. "Put me down!"
"Sorry, it's the fastest way to go, Hashiba."
Rowen could just hear the smug grin in Dais' voice. "If it's any consolation, hauling your skinny ass around the city isn't my idea of a great time either."
Any retort Rowen had was cut off as Kayura and Dais jumped off the building. Rowen held his breath as the sickening feeling of free fall fell over him. It wasn't that he had never jumped off a building himself or flown several hundred feet above the ground, for that matter. It was the feeling of not being in control at that altitude that turned his stomach.
But beyond the nausea, Rowen forced himself to pay attention to something very curious. The way Kayura and Dais were making their way through the city was similar to their old days; hopping roof tops in their subarmor. However, without said armor gear, Rowen's days of roof hopping were over. There was no way he could jump that far without it. And though Rowen could feel Dais had several layers of gear on, he knew he wasn't wearing any kind of armor.
For that matter, they should have lost their armors from the Falnan incident, too. Rowen was just realizing this, but it sounded right to him. The world had been reset and the four Warlord/Season Armors were also returned to that world, hence why time and the seasons started again. So Dais and Kayura didn't have their armors any more. So how were they still moving like they did?
Rowen's stomach lurched again as Dais took another bone jarring leap. Rowen instantly felt sorry for Mia and Yulie and all the times they had been hauled around by him and his friends. It definitely wasn't fun.
To Rowen's dismay, it felt like he was dragged clear across the city. Maybe two cities. However long it took, it felt way too long for Rowen's comfort. By the time Dias finally stopped on an old balcony and put him down, Rowen was shaking and he felt like he was going to throw up. He legs felt weak and he fell to his hands and knees, unable to hold up his own body.
Dais looked down at him, not impressed. "It's a bit disappointing," he said with a frown.
"Be nice," Kayura warned. "He just got back from a war and has done a lot of world/time jumping today. I'd like to see how well you do."
Dais' frown ticked up into a good natured smirk. "Fine, fine." He reached out for Rowen's arm and hefted him to his feet. "Stand up Hashiba, you're almost there."
Kayura didn't look too approving at the way Dais treated their guest. But not much could be done about it so she merely followed him inside.
There was a heavy, black iron door built into the wall of the building. Dais hefted it open with a loud creak and Rowen had no choice but to be pulled inside. Within, the walls were dimly lit and filled with all sorts of pipes and humming machines. Rowen glanced at them weakly, curious. But it was hard to tell what anything was in the darkness. He was half carried, half dragged into a room which was large and spacious--though it would have felt more spacious if there wasn't so much...stuff in it. Sparsely placed light bulbs revealed odds and ends of furniture; a couch here, a table there. Piles of books were in every corner. There were computers and parts of computers and other gadgets scattered all about. And at the end was a pile of glowing monitors stacked on top of each other and a hunched figure sitting in front of them.
Rowen squinted, trying to make out the person. Between the dim light of the room and the glow of all the screens, he could only make out the silhouette's shape until it turned around in its swivelled chair. When Rowen got a look at the face, he recognized it instantly. That pale, olive skin and those abnormally large eyes that barely blinked and glowed with a yellow green light that seemed to be all their own.
"Sekhmet," Rowen breathed.
The previous warlord of Vemom looked Rowen over once as if he hadn't said anything at all and then turned to Kayura.
"You're a few short," he said simply and turned back to his screens, typing away.
"They didn't last," Kayura informed him. She tore the band she had snapped to her wrist from her arm and tossed it on Sekhmet's desk.
He stopped typing and took a moment to look over the device, mumbling to himself. "Get me that one, too," he then said aloud, motioning in Rowen's direction.
Dais reached down to snatch the band off Rowen's wrist and then flung him to the couch like he were a mere sack of hangers. Not that Rowen minded too much. The couch was soft and solid and, unless there was something special about this couch that he was unaware of, it probably wasn't going anywhere.
Once he received both bands, Sekhmet hunched back down in his seat, shutting off everyone from his little world again. Dais and Kayura had moved off as well. Rowen sat where he was, feeling numb and still too in shock to realize he should be confused. Skehmet's presence was actually kind of comforting. The familiar presence of someone next to him deep in thought and ignoring him was like living at home with his father. He knew that feeling. But the rest was too alien to try to take in right now.
Rowen wasn't sure how long he was out of it, but his thoughts came together a little clearer when Kayura pushed a cup into his hands.
"Here, drink this," she said in a voice that was both soft and stern. "It will help."
Rowen looked down at the cup full of warm tea in his hand. He wasn't a big fan of tea, but as he lifted it to his nose, he smelt the same bitter sweet smell of one type of tea he didn't mind drinking. It was the same type Sage made. Rowen never knew what type of tea it was or what was in it, he only knew if he wanted tea like that, he had to get it from Sage for it did not exist in any store.
How Kyura had it was a mystery to him; but she was right. Drinking in the familiar taste settled him a bit and helped get his brain working again. After he had consumed most of it, Rowen let out a long breath and then looked evenly at Kayura.
"Where am I?"
Kyura stood up. "Come," she said. "I have something to show you."
Rowen got to his feet, a little dizzy at first. He got his balance quickly and followed Kayura out of the room and down a hall with old, flickering lights. As he followed her, he wondered about her. It had been almost five years since he had seen her last, but he still had trouble believing the woman in front of him was her.
As well as Rowen recalled, she had been two years younger than they were. That would make her about seventeen now. But this Kayura looked a bit older than seventeen. Then again, Rowen was never a good judge of age. Her life in the Nether Realm probably aged her quicker. Still, she looked like a whole different person. She hadn't grown much taller, but she had matured in every way. With her hair cut short, only helped to make her look older. Gone was the cockiness in her stride; replaced with a much deeper confidence.
She led the way to a metal ladder at the end of the hall and climbed it. Rowen continued to follow until she led the way to the roof of the building they were in. Rowen looked around as he climbed out. It was the same sight as he remembered earlier. Grey skies full of foul air and filth with rigid black buildings jutting like scorched bones into the horizon in every direction. The entire backdrop felt of age and filth and depression.
"Where did you bring me?" Rowen asked again, wrinkling his nose at his surroundings.
"Tokyo," Kayura said simply, not looking at him.
"What?" Rowen demanded. "No it's not! I think being in that Nether Realm too long screwed with your head. I've been to Tokyo many times. This isn't it."
"It is," Kayura insisted calmly. She pointed to the horizon. "It's a bit hard to see in this light, but there's Tokyo Tower over there in the distance."
Rowen's sharp, archer's sight barely missed anything and he could see it. He stared, mouth hanging open.
Kayura turned her gaze to Rowen. "This is not the Tokyo of your time. Nor am I the Kayura of your time who had only been freed from Talpa's hold for a mere five years when you left Mia's house and came with me. It is now mid summer of the year 3326 and we brought you here because we need your help."
Rowen looked at her for a long time, letting it all sink in. Then he looked again at the world around him in a new light. "This is...the world's future..." He breathed, never making clear whether it was a question or a statement.
"Yes," Kayura confirmed. "And as you can clearly see, history has not been kind. What you see here is all man's doing on himself. We have decided long ago to not get involved in human affairs. If he wants to destroy the only world he's been given, that's his problem.
"However, while we have watched the time go buy, we found a new development. There is a man who lives in this city. He has money and connections and is well known here and other parts of the world. But the more we have researched him, the more we have come to believe that he is neither of this world or human. He is from a world of demons and we believe he plans to not only destroy this world, but merge it with his so they are one. And a conspiracy of that level dictates that we get involved for the sake of the Mortal Realm."
Kayura sighed as if suddenly tired. "Unfortunately, this demon among men has researched us as well. He knows us and our powers and he has found ways of tracking us if we get too close to his stronghold. Which is why we have risked so much to bring you here. We need your help. He will not know you or be expecting you. With you five, we may have a chance to get him."
"With us?" Rowen wondered. "What about the armor bearers of this time? If the Mortal World is in danger, they should be showing up any time, shouldn't they?"
"Yes, they should have showed up," Kayura agreed. "But they never did." She sighed as she looked at the horizon. For a moment she sounded as old as she really was. "For some reason, the armors will not choose new bearers in this time. You five have been the last ones to have them and they have remained dormant ever since you left the world of the living. Perhaps there is no one worthy of them during this time. But we don't know the true answer for sure.
"Going back to get you five was our last chance. Believe me, if there were any other options, we would have taken them."
The hatch behind them flipped open and Dais poked his head out with that usual mirthless grin on his face.
"Hey Kay, Sekky says he's got some answers for us now. Thought you'd like to come hear them."
Kayura nodded and the two followed Dais back down the ladder.
"So, did Kay explain it all to you?" Dais asked as they walked back down the hall.
"The bare bones of it anyway," Kayura answered for Rowen. "I'm sure he still has many more questions."
"So those guys that you fought earlier? Those were demons?"
"Yup, Hunter's lackeys," Dais answered. "They go down easy enough, but they like to attack in large numbers which can be tricky. We're still trying to figure out how the bastard manages to pull them in here."
"But they had guns," Rowen complained as if he were telling on someone for breaking the rules.
"So they did," Dais replied cordially. "Good thing we had them, too."
"It's a necessary precaution," Kayura explained. "The demon world is very near ours in the way of technological advances."
"Maybe more since we have yet to figure out how one bounces between two worlds," Dais muttered.
Rowen looked at the back of Dais' head as he walked.
"So are all of you still here alive in this time? Cale, too?"
Dais chuckled lowly. "You mean Mr. Kittens and Sunshine? He's skulking around here somewhere. I'm sure you'll run into him soon enough."
"And the other Ronins? Where are they? I thought we all came together."
"We're going to find out."
They walked back into the main room with the couches and the clutter and the dim lights. Sekhmet was still sitting where they left him, bowed in front of his many computer screens. But this time he swivelled around in his chair as the three of them came in.
"So what's the damage?" Kayura asked. Dais and Rowen sat back down on the couch, but Kayura remained standing.
Sekhmet looked at her seriously. "You're not going to like hearing this." But that promise didn't stop him from continuing as he held up one of the wrist bands that now seemed to have lost all its power.
"As I explained to you before you left, Kayura, these bands needed to be clipped on and used as soon as possible. While they will keep your body safe during the time jump, the strain of it will start the devices decomposing at a rapid rate. And if you didn't get back here quickly enough, they would break down on you in the middle of the jump."
"And so?" Kayura pressed, eager to get to a part she didn't know about.
"So," Sekhmet emphasized. "You didn't get back here quickly enough." He then glanced over in Rowen's direction. "I'm surprised even two of you made it all the way back with the state yours were in."
"So are you saying my friends are lost in time?" Rowen demanded, standing up. "They're floating around somewhere in history without any way to find them?"
Sekhmet looked him right in the face. It was the first time the ex warlord of Venom ever fully showed acknowledgment Rowen was there.
"Sit down, Hashiba," he ordered. "You're too fidgety. It's making me nervous."
Rowen sat as if berated by a parent, not even sure why he followed the command himself. Sekhmet turned back to his computer screen mumbling something about how some things never changed.
"Our other four warriors aren't as lost as you might think," he continued to explain as he typed away on the keys, bringing up a series of charts on screen. "The bands held up for nearly ninety-nine percent of the jump. Which means they will enter in around this time. However, pin-pointing the exact day and place of entry is another matter entirely.
"I've calculated a window of two weeks from today; maybe three, in which they should arrive. But that three week window goes both ways. It's possible some of them may have already been in this time for a while and it's possible others have not arrived here yet. Where in the city they'll show up is also anyone's guess."
"What about Hunter?" Dais asked, looking the most serious Rowen had seen him that day. "Those shadow assassins he's got found Hashiba and Kay here before I did. If Hunter didn't know we were up to something before, he sure as hell knows now."
"I'm sure he's known for a while," Kayura said calmly. "He knows we're running out of options and we would soon be trying something desperate. Just like we did."
Sekhmet nodded. "You two were easy to trace because you arrived when you were supposed to. The other four, their signals are going to be sporadic and uncontrolled when they enter. They will be hard to pin point, if their signals show up at all. It's bad for us, but it also doesn't help them any. And we'll just have to hope our boys keep their wits about them until we can find them."
"What about Robyn?" Rowen asked.
Dais looked at him. Sekhet turned around and did the same.
"She's here too, right?" Rowen pressed. "Kayura said she got sucked in back to her time because the portals were crossed. So she's here right?"
"Who?" Sekhmet asked blankly.
Kayura slapped the back of her hand against his chest and as a result, Sekhmet's eyes lit up.
"Oooh HER!" he said as if just being reminded of something he was told a year ago. "Yeah, I'm sure she's around here somewhere."
"Yes, her," Rowen responded. "So do you have her here with you? Do you know where she is?"
Then the interest left Sekhmet's face and he swung back towards his screen with a dismissive flip of his hand.
"No, but don't worry about it."
"What?" Rowen barked, stomping over to Sekhmet's chair and forcing him to turn and face him. "What do you mean don't worry about it?"
Sekhmet looked irritated. "What do you mean, what do I mean? I mean what I say, and I said don't worry about it."
Rowen continued to look at him sternly and the green haired man sighed.
"Look," Sekhmet said levelly. "I know you're a smart kid. I'm only going to say this once so you better pay attention. There is something extremely important going on right now that I need your full concentration on. It is better to leave her where she is than finding her and pulling her into this mess we're about to jump into. And you are going to have to trust me when I say nothing will happen to her because nothing DID happen to her while she was here. Do you understand what I am saying?"
Rowen's mind took in that information the same way it took in everything else. It tightly wrapped around it, sucking it into his memory and analyzing it from every angle. If Sekhmet knew nothing happened to Robyn in this world, he knew this because he had been present sometime in her life back in their time. And he had found out from them or from her when they got back from this time that nothing had happened to her while all of them were in the future. Which also meant not only did nothing happen to Robyn back then, but she also must have gotten back to her own time safely for her to later meet the Warlords and for them to find out nothing had happened to her.
That or Sekhmet was lying.
At the moment, Rowen found no logical reason to believe that option. Which left him with the other; that the Warlord of Venom was telling the truth. That he really knew what he was talking about.
All this took less than a second for Rowen's mind to process and he nodded. "I understand."
"Good boy," Sekhmet said with a satisfactory tone. Then he turned right back around and paid Rowen no further mind.
Rowen frowned a bit. Even though they weren't enemies any longer, he still felt like nothing had changed. They still looked at him like a child and treated him like one. Like he was of no consequence. He didn't like it at all. If they had really been alive all this time, why had nothing changed?
He almost wanted to say something, but Kayura placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Rowen, come with me." she said in a voice that left no argument.
Rowen had no choice. He was in their world now. All information he knew was only what they willingly gave him. Any place they wanted to lead him, he had to follow blindly. And thus, Rowen followed Kayura back to the balcony he had landed on when they first got there.
"Are we going somewhere?" he asked.
"I'm taking you where you can rest," Kayura replied. "Someplace better than that rat hole. And then tomorrow, we're going to start your training."
"Training?" Rowen wondered.
"Yeah," Kayura confirmed with a half smile. "We're going to teach you how to use that power of yours."
"But I don't have powers any more," Rowen insisted. "We lost our armors. They're gone; left in another world."
"We'll see about that," Kayura retorted. She hopped up on the hand rail and stood on the thin metal, the wind teasing her short hair. "You really believe you need your armors or you can't use your powers at all? Haven't you ever noticed that even without your armor, the wind always pays more attention to you, Rowen? That even if you walk down an enclosed hall, a breeze will pick up and papers will rattle without any explanation?"
Rowen looked at her in confusion. "I don't understand what you're getting at. We don't have our armors any more. The power is gone."
"You're wrong," Kayura insisted. "Get up here." She took his hand and pulled him up on the banister with her. Rowen teetered a bit. He still had exceptional balance. But being up this high without Strata, with several floors between him and the ground, made him nervous.
"Okay, now remember that feeling," Kayura instructed. "That feeling you had when you didn't have your armor on, but you would feel still the breeze being controlled around you. Remember how that felt and JUMP!"
Rowen got no warning as Kayura grabbed him around the waist and lept off the building. Any sound he wanted to make caught in his throat as gravity took hold and both air and ground rushed up to meet him. The wind howled all around him but Rowen had no idea what Kayura was talking about, or what she was expecting him to do. Or why she saw it fit to splatter both of them on the concrete for no reason. But to his surprise, their free fall started to slow.
"I guess you're still not ready yet," Kayura said to him.
Rowen just stared at her as he felt some kind of power gain control of them. It didn't feel the same as when he used Strata to fly, but he felt a power pulling at them. Almost like a magnet, some kind of force gripped them and controlled their fall and Rowen knew it was under no doing of his. Kayura touched down daintily to the street and Rowen stumbled after her. He clutched his heart to catch his breath, but Kayura was already walking off.
"This way," she called and Rowen hurried to follow after her.
She led the way winding through several back allies and other shady walk ways. Rowen got the impression she was taking these ways on purpose. Was she afraid of being followed? They ended up at a nicer building than Rowen would have expected. It definitely was a newer place than that dive with all the technical equipment in it. The sun had almost set completely by the time they made it inside.
It was an apartment building, fully populated and normal. It didn't seem to fit. As he and Kayura got in the elevator, Rowen wondered about it. Just a little while previous, he felt like he had been in some action movie at the top secret rebel base as they hid from the enemy troops and planned their next attack. Now they were going to a normal apartment complex as if in reality they all lived normal lives. No matter what time he was in, Rowen had a difficult time picturing any of the warlords or Kayura with normal lives.
Still, as they got off on the fifth floor, it looked as regular as could be. Kayura pushed her key into the door. The apartment inside also looked normal. Quite nice, actually. And quaint and it felt lived in and all around average. Rowen didn't know what to do with it all.
"You're welcome to take a shower," Kayura told him. "The bathroom's down that way. We need to get you into some normal clothes."
Rowen looked down at his clothing. He had forgotten he was still in Falnanian garb. Maybe he was the reason why Kayura had taken all the back alleys. As strange as it was, she fit in around this place better than he did. He was broken from his thoughts when Kayura shoved a towel at him.
"Here, go clean up. I'll find you something to wear by the time you're done."
Rowen wordlessly did what he was told. He felt like he was back in grade school again. Especially when he visited Sage or Kento's house. He would just get pulled in with the flow and treated as one of their own, being told where to go and what to do in places he wasn't too familiar with. He always reacted just like he did now, doing what he was told without question while his brain tried to soak in all the information and figure out when was the right time to act on his own. Right now, Rowen's mind concluded, was not the right time and he continued to do as he was told as he wandered into the bathroom and switched on the light.
The bathroom looked pretty normal, too, which also surprised Rowen. Over a hundred years in the future; he expected more. It was clean and still came equipt with a sink, toilet and shower. The designs were slightly different; cleaner, streamlined, more efficient; but the functions were still the same. As soon as Rowen figured out how the shower worked and how to get the water hot, he discarded his heavy robes and stepped in.
Rowen stayed there for quite a while. He loved long showers, but he also needed the time to himself. It was so much to take in. Even as fast as his mind took in information, it was still too much. He had been so close to home after being stuck in some fantasy world for almost a month and now he was gone from it again. Now in a world just as bizarre and just as real as the other. As he leaned against the side of the shower, he felt his world spinning out of control. And he was all alone. He didn't even have his friends there to help steady him. He was all alone and they were lost.
Right then a sick feeling of vertigo hit him and Rowen stumbled out of the shower and over to the toilet to throw up. He didn't have much in his stomach, but he heaved several times before he was through. After cleaning up and finishing his shower, Rowen just stood there in the bathroom. He looked at his steam covered reflection in the mirror and wondered where he should go from there. He wasn't going to go walking around in his towel in a stranger's apartment, especially if Kayura was around.
He didn't stand in silence long before there was a knock on the door.
"Rowen, I brought you some clothes," came Kayura's voice.
Rowen inched the door open and took the bundle before retreating back into the bathroom. He was a bit embarrassed Kyura had given him underwear, too. But since no one in Falnan had even heard of boxers, he wasn't going to complain much. As Rowen put on the clothes, just a t-shirt and jeans, he was surprised with how well they fit him. He wasn't exactly the easiest body type to shop for with how tall and thin he was. How did she know?
However, Rowen knew there were far more pressing questions to be asked other than how did Kayura guess his pants size and stepped out of the bathroom fully dressed to find her. She was in the living room piling a pillow and blanket on the couch.
"You can sleep here for tonight. We'll find better sleeping arrangements when the others start showing up."
Rowen looked at the couch and then at Kayura, rubbing his arm.
"You're going to find them right? The others? And you know this because you met us in our time and you saw that we came back okay, right?"
Kayura smiled as if he had just found the secret to her riddle. "Right," she confirmed. "But that doesn't mean we're going to shirk in our search for them. Believe me, we're doing everything we can to find where and when they are. I promise."
"..okay.." Rowen said weakly. He still looked a bit pale and wasn't feeling well at all. He grabbed the pillow and hugged it to himself as he sat down on the couch. It was then he noticed Kayura was staring at him with an odd look he couldn't decipher.
"What?" he demanded.
Kayura blinked and then smiled at him. "Nothing," she said with a shake of her head. "You just look so young, that's all."
"Last time I saw you, you looked twelve!" Rowen shot back, a bit of bite in his retort.
"Fair enough," she chuckled and reached forward, ruffling his hair as if he were her little brother. Rowen wasn't sure if he appreciated that or not.
"Try to get some rest," Kayura told him. "I know it will be hard, but try. You'll need it for tomorrow. I'm going back to help out in the search, but you'll be safe here. And then tomorrow, I'll do my best to answer all the questions I know you're just dying to ask." She then winked at him.
"Okay," he relented. "I'll try."
Satisfied, Kayura threw him one more smile before leaving the apartment. Rowen could hear her locking it behind her and he was all alone. He sighed by the single light in the living room, feeling foolish. He did feel like a little kid. It was like he was staying over at some place his parents left him for the weekend. It wasn't home, but it was where he would have to be until someone familiar came to get him.
But Rowen curled up on the couch all the same. He felt ill and unsteady and lost. Hardly the feelings of an adult. Maybe he had grown younger with the same magic Kayura grew older and he was just a child in a big world. He was definitely playing by their rules. And thus, Rowen curled up under the blanket on the couch and left the light on. Sleep didn't find him easily. He had a hard enough time sleeping in his own bed. It seemed like for hours he just lay there and stared at the wall. Then his eyes suddenly popped open and someone was walking into the room.
Rowen stared, startled that he had fallen a sleep. He remained motionless where he was. This person coming into the room was not Kayura. The figure was broad and tall, dressed in a long black trench coat with his back to Rowen as he locked the door. Even without seeing the face, Rowen knew exactly who it was. He had never seen the man without his armor before, but it seemed to make no difference. The man was massive. Cale turned around and all the light seemed to be sucked out of the room. No, not so much the light being sucked in as the darkness was growing, gathering. It swarmed around Cale, adding to his mass, making him even larger and his foot steps heavier as he clomped towards Rowen.
"What are you doing on the couch?" Cale asked in a gravelly voice. It seemed hoarse as if he didn't use it much.
Rowen just stared at the giant towering over him, wide eyed.
"Get up," Cale ordered and Rowen did what he was told.
Once standing, Rowen got a different view of the ex warlord of darkness. Cale was hardly taller than he was, but he still had the bulk that made him look dangerous. His eyes, however, didn't reflect the same. Hidden under thick brows, they looked tired and without malice. Just looking at the eyes took the bite out of his tone.
"Go sleep in the bed," Cale then told him, pointing to the door.
Rowen looked over at the closed door. He wanted to say that Kayura had told him to sleep there but when he glanced back, Cale had already climbed onto the couch, not even taking his boots off. Rowen may not have believed it possible unless he had seen it, but Cale managed to fit his entire body, curled up with his back to the young man. Then he heard the warlord let out a heavy sigh as if he were a weary traveler back from a several day's journey.
"Turn off the light on your way, will you?" Cale mumbled into the couch. "I'm not paying to let you keep it on all night."
Rowen blinked at his back. This was Cale's apartment?
But he was too tired to be as shocked as he had been about everything else that day. He could be shocked tomorrow. Rowen just wanted sleep now, no matter whose bed it was. He reached for the light switch. Before he flicked it, he looked back at Cales hunched body. He now didn't look as large as he had before. He seemed a bit more deflated and tired on the couch and then Rowen flipped it off.
He flicked on a different light as he wandered into the bedroom pointed out to him. The layout was plain and uninteresting. Just a bed and a desk and a few generic odds and ends. It really didn't feel too personal and Rowen no longer cared. He heaved his own heavy sigh as he flicked off the light and threw himself to the bed in exhaustion. The night of Ronin and Warlord sleeping so near each other carried itself strangely and Rowen felt it affect his dreams.