Cuttingmoon57 here, and back with chapter twenty-six of The Tainted Grimoire. And as a side note, any beliefs expressed throughout my story are not my own. They are simply unique to the characters and their personalities. Just wish to clarify that.

Credit for making sure this gaggle of words is somewhat coherent goes to Supreme Distraction. Every writer who wants to be taking seriously should have a beta, and now I have mine. Hope you enjoy.

Disclaimer: I do not own Final Fantasy or anything related to it. If I did, FF12 would already be getting a direct PS2 or PS3 sequel. I also don't own any other anime, manga, or game that I take elements or characters from.

Suggestion: Head to Final Fantasy Wikia for information or images of the main cast if you'd like to see pictures of their appearance. They remain virtually unchanged in my story. (Other non-canon characters will be described.)

"Blah" = talking

"Blah"= thoughts, writing, sound effects, or flashbacks

"BLAH"= Yelling

(Blah)= scene change

"I knew you would grow into a man that, no matter who it was, could share his soul with everyone, and protect them whenever they needed it. Of course, I wanted to name you 'soul', but your mom made me…reconsider, so I switched some letters around."

Luso swung down his Atmos Blade with all his might. From the tip emerged a bright white light, which morphed into a crescent shaped shockwave of air and aura, a mixture so pure that one could have confused it for the moon itself. Its size was double, nearly triple the size of Vaticus's air render, and as the two attacks collided, it proved its dominance.

"That's what your name means, Luso Clemens."

It tore through the priests attack with no strain on itself, and rocketed forward towards the red haired man, leaving a gash in the rooftop as it pressed on. Vaticus hadn't enough time to react, and as he scrambled to escape, the gargantuan air render collided with his body, exploding in a fusion of dust, debris, aura, and air.


The soul that shines above all others!

Sir Loin

Everything'll work out

I'm sure of it…

Chapter Twenty Seven: Bad Luck (Reprise)

For as long as I can remember, I've always seemed to be surrounded by danger.

Sir Loin swiftly made his way down the open hallway, doing his best to stifle the noise his footsteps created. He took a deep breath as he delicately placed a hand on the large gash that dominated the area of his stomach. It was still sensitive to the touch, but nothing he couldn't handle at the moment. There were more pressing matters to attend to.

He had to find Adelle.

His eyes focused on the crossroad in the floor plan that lay a few meters ahead of him. It was at that exact moment that his body stopped cold. His pupils widened and every muscle in his body tensed. This feeling was all too familiar.

In his vision alone, a soft yet highly visible white glow emanated at the point that the hallway diverged. Loin watched that point, hugging the wall closely. After several seconds, a group four of guards walked into his field of sight, all cautiously advancing with weapons drawn and eyes wary.

"Did you hear that?" He could just barely hear one of the guards speak.

The small squad stopped in their tracks, and he cut off his breath at that second, doing his best to eliminate his presence. To conceal himself now would take too much time, and the preparation for the skill would easily give away his presence.

I've rarely ever had a good night sleep, for throughout my lifetime, even a moment of carelessness could have spelled death for me.

Loin breathed and exhaled heavily in a steady rhythm. Numerous beads of sweat rolled down his face. The numerous wounds that covered his body had begun to dull his senses. He couldn't see his enemy under cover of the shadows of the pitch black night. He could not hear their quiet footsteps slowly creeping up to him. He could not pick out their musty stench from the various others that littered the tree-filled grasslands.

But even then, he knew they were right behind the bush he had crouched under.

He gripped the handle of his Tonberrian knife tighter, quieted his breathing, and leapt over the foliage, his sharp weapon leading.

Everyday required the utmost concentration of all my senses in order to survive

Loin lay crouched up with his back against a tree, keeping his eyes peeled despite the overarching darkness that covered the area.

At his feet lay two dead wolves, their necks slit by a sharp edge.

Blood dripped through the worn, hastily wrapped bandages and down the length of his leg. It pained him like no other wound, yet his adrenaline was pumping so rapidly that he scarcely noticed it. He was still not alone in these grasslands; that fact he was well aware of. The predators of the night were still stalking, searching for him.

He picked up and slung a wolf over each shoulder, nearly buckling under their combined weight and his wounded leg. As much as he would have liked to abandon the deceased animals, he would need proof of his kill for his assessment. He proceeded at a grudging, walking pace, and swayed back and forth with each heavy step.

He was aware that he was walking target, and that if any predator were to stumble upon him in this state, there would be no chance of his survival. And yet, he advanced, undaunted by the realization and...

Taking heed of the shivers that ran through his spine every time his eyes focused on the bright white lights on the horizon.

Day in and day out, my narrow escapes from death and experiences refined my senses to the extreme, and gave way to a new ability…

A man dressed in the finest bronze armor sat lazily on a hill that jutted out from the grasslands. His head was shielded by a matching helmet, and next to him lay a sheathed katana. At the bottom of the hill lay two figures, a Viera and a Bangaa, both covered in claw-shaped wounds but in a stable condition.

At the bottom of the hill, four bloodied wolves lay piled upon each other, completely motionless, basking in the morning sun that dominated the sky.

The armored man stood to his feet, his armor clanking with each minute movement of his body. The Viera and Bangaa weakly looked up to him before standing to their feet and lastly performing a salute as he approached. He placed a hand on either side of the helmet, and slowly drew his arms upward. Both the Viera's and Bangaa's eyes widened slightly as messy black hair and youthful skin was revealed from under the helmet.

He was much younger than they had anticipated a Jylland Defender of the Peace Officer to be.

"Are you two the only ones that made it?" He asked, sizing up the two warriors before him. Both glanced around for a few moments, before giving a unified yet disheartened nod. The raven haired man sighed. "It seems that time is up either way. How unfortunate; I had such high hopes for this group…"

"Not leaving me out, are ya?"

All eyes turned to the source of the voice. There stood a solitary Seeq Ranger, dropping the wolf corpses that had previously occupied his shoulder onto the ground.

The lieutenant quirked an eyebrow at the portly male. His eyes wandered downward until the crimson-dyed bandages around his leg caught their attention. It was then in his mind that the man realized what had occurred.

"To be able to traverse these grasslands alive with those kinds of wounds…"

"I'm not too late, am I sir?" The Seeq queried with a jovial tone, plopping down onto the ground and releasing a hearty, relieved sigh.

An ability superseding the Ranger's Awareness ability, able to see not only traps, but the impending threat of death itself...

Ensei Rou smiled back at him.

"Just in time."

Bad Luck

The bright white flared slightly as the guardsmen became more alert, and similarly quieted down after a few moments of complete silence. The Hume at the forefront of the group motioned down a hallway opposite Loin's position, and the group followed suit. Once he was sure they had left earshot, the Seeq released an audible sigh, and proceeded in the same quiet manner that he had previously. He couldn't afford any unnecessary fights.

He had to find Adelle.

(Cathedral Rooftop)

Adelle ascended the staircase slowly, taking one labored step at a time. She had regained her senses some time ago and hearing the impact that had occurred just above her spurred her into checking on the situation. She could only hope that both Luso and Maria were alright.

She placed a hand on the door handle and promptly pushed the door open. Warm sunlight filtered directly into her eyes, blinding her for a few seconds as she waited for her bright, yellow orbs to adjust. Eventually her pupils had closed enough to allow her sight, and she stood in awe of what lay before her.

A lengthy, slender yet deep scar ran along the floor of the rooftop. Smoke emanated from the crevice as well as the surrounding area, dissipating more and more with each passing moment. Chunks of debris lay scattered everywhere.

At the far end of the area, near the tip of gash stood Luso Clemens, enveloped in beads of sweat and blood dripping from the open wound on his back. He panted heavily, and his eyes held the empty quality of someone close to fade into unconsciousness. The girl watched as Maria came up behind him, placed his arm around her shoulder, and supported his weight.

Adelle's eyes traveled the length of the crevice to find a red haired man lying flat on the roof, unmoving. The white and gold robes that he had previously worn had all but been damaged and singed beyond repair. His skin was in a similar condition. The ground around him as well as the railing behind was torn and mangled, and dust-filled smoke rose from it in large volumes.

It took the girl about a minute to make sense of the scene, and her eyes widened considerably upon realization.

"What did that boy?"

"Adelle, quickly!"

Maria's voice caught the silver haired girl's attention, and she quickly dashed over to the brown haired girl and boy. She took to the other side of Luso, mirroring Maria's actions.

"Are you alright, Luso?"

"Yeah…" Luso's continued heavy breathing and coughing was all the proof the two needed to know he was bluffing. "Just…take me over to Vaticus…"

"Not a chance, you need to…"

The look that the chocolate haired adolescent gave her at that moment caused Adelle to pause midsentence. She had been in countless fights, stared down the most fearsome of beasts, and yet…

Those yellow eyes shook her to the core.

She nodded slowly, hesitantly, gesturing for Maria to assist her with his bodyweight. The trio trekked slowly over to the body of Vaticus Finch. Adelle glanced back over at Luso's face and noticed that his gentle bright blue orbs had returned to their original color. She decided not to ask any questions, though there was one thought that had settled in the back of her mind as they knelt next to the defeated scarlet haired priest.

Whatever that thing was, it was not Luso Clemens.

"Looks like you won, boy. I haven't the strength to stand." Vaticus exclaimed in a soft yet deep voice, causing Adelle to jump slightly and reach for her knife with her free hand. Luso removed his arm from around her shoulder and signaled for her to cease. With all the remaining strength he had left, Vaticus rolled over onto his back so that he could see his victorious opponent. "I have…but one request of you, Luso Clemens. Will you hear me out?"

All three adolescents stayed silent, allowing him to continue. The priest reached weakly into his robe, after a few moments of fumbling around, retrieved a brown, handheld sac, tied together by a small rope strand. With a flick of his wrist, the man tossed the object to Maria, who caught it easily. The trio eyed it curiously as she held it up, though Vaticus captured their attention once more as he began to speak.

"The contents of that bag must be kept safe and secure. It must not fall into the wrong hands...lest we all perish. Do you understand?"

(Cathedral Courtyard)

Professor Augustus's eyes shifted among the three armed guards that had managed to back him against the balcony railing. All eagerly inched forward over the scorched flooring, thankful that they had managed to find so feeble of a target.

"Now, now gentlemen…" The aged Nu Mou began in a kindly voice. He directed his free hand over to the body of Ignatius Loyola, who was still clinging to life. "Would you be so kind as to allow me to finish healing your friend over there?"

The guards took a step forward, undaunted by his request. The Sage sighed, placing his staff in front of him perpendicular to the ground. He would much rather avoid fighting, if at all possible.

Just as one of the guards, a tall Hume, initiated a charge at the Nu Mou, a large concentrated blast of wind burst through the sliding glass doors that led to a room inside, shattering glass particles everywhere. The gust collided with the back of the selected soldier, causing him to emit a horrid scream as the force rocketed him forward wildly. Auggie managed to sidestep to the right just as the man's body passed him and flew over the railing of the balcony.

The remaining two guards turned towards the source of the attack, then stopped cold. Both of their heads inched down in unison. Both laid eyes on the arrow that had pierced the upper portion of the torso.

Both dropped silently to the ground within the second.

Auggie smiled as Cid and Cheney Galliformes emerged through the shattered glass door, the former cracking his knuckles and the latter slinging his bow over his shoulder.

"What brings you two here?" The spellcaster asked quizzically. "I thought you had gone after Vaticus?"

"We met up with Ensei and the Judgemaster inside." Cid responded, walking over to meet the Nu Mou in the middle where Ignatius lay, still twitching. "They told us to head out here and make sure you were alright."

"Looks like we made it just in time." Cheney remarked, glancing over his shoulder at the incapacitated guards.

"Indeed you did." Augustus added with another smile. He knelt down beside the Bangaa Defender, whose breathing had managed to stabilize by this point. Cid and Cheney stood silently, watching as a white glow enveloped the Sage's hands and transferred to the scaly male's body. The Hunter watched in wonder, not at the rate at which the Mist burns on his scales healed…

But at the fact that Augustus had cast the spell without a word.

From what he had read and heard rumors of, only the most accomplished magic users could perform this feat. He glanced over to Cid, whose eyes were fixed on the spellcaster in question. It seemed the Revgaji had noticed that little quirk as well. The huntsman opted to let it slide upon the awakening of the Bangaa patient, though he made a mental note to inquire further at a later date.

"Try not to squirm around too much now." Augustus ordered in a calm voice. The reptilian warrior grunted a few times in pain, before settling down and laying perfectly still. His eyes turned towards the trio, and a curious yet wary look dominated his face.

"After all of this…why are you all helping me?"

"Well isn't it obvious." Cid remarked, kneeling down and giving a confident grin. "Can't have you dying on us; that'd be way too easy for you. You've got to serve your time."

It took a few seconds, but Ignatius couldn't help but release a labored, cough filled laugh. Augustus had to quiet him down once more, this time with an accurate smack with his staff. Needless to say, it was rather effective.

"You guys have some sense of humor. But beware…" He paused, a bleak look on his face. "That humor could get you killed one day."

"We'll take our chances." Cheney replied.

"I wouldn't, at least not here. There's more than one threat in this Cathedral."

"I'm sure they'll be able to handle Vaticus Finch." Cid responded. Ignatius's face grew even grimmer, and he angled his eyes at the blonde Rev.

"I wasn't talking about Vaticus."

"Up the stairs, on the left."

Raven, Crow, and Sole all heeded the musical Moogle's direction and began angling themselves towards the door. The group proceeded in a straight line with Hurdy himself leading the pack and the silent Crow bringing up the rear. They passed dozens of guards, all incapacitated on the floor; some covered in blood, others simply knocked out. Sole winced at the sight.

Making the aforementioned left, the four stopped as they reached the bottom-most stair. All directed their eyes towards the Moogle, who had closed his eyes. The room fell silent for a moment, all but for the faint ruffling sound of his furry ears.

He could hear the slow beating of her heart, tempered to such a prime level by years of training. He could hear the labor in his breath.

The musician opened his eyes.

"Yeah, they're definitely up this way."

The remaining three gave a simultaneous nod, and pelted up the spiral staircase as fast as they could. Raven and Crow brought up the rear, weapons in hand and ready for any situation.

Upon opening the old wooden door at the top, the quartet was bathed in a wave of multicolored light filtering in through the large, stained glass window that dominated the north wall. They looked around as they entered; taking note of the room's elaborate setup as well as the battle scars said room had suffered.

"It seems there was a pretty big fight in here." Sole remarked as he surveyed the area.

"Yeah…" Raven added. "Though where are the combatants?"

Cid and Cheney quirked a perplexed eyebrow. Ignatius decided to heed their querying looks.

"There's someone else in the Cathedral that you should be concerned about." The Bangaa turned his head to the stained glass window that dominated the upper portion of the majestic building and stared distantly. "Tell me, gentlemen…"

His next words would shake Cid to the core.

"Have you ever heard of Khajma?"

All eyes turned to Hurdy once more, and the Moogle instantly understood their silent request. He closed his eyes, shutting out all distractions and focusing solely on picking out any familiar tone or voice. After a few moments, the musician reopened his eyes once more, and turned to the others.

"I can hear four people above us…on the rooftop." He stated, directing his paw upwards towards the ceiling. "Luso and Vaticus Finch are definitely among them. Let's hurry and…"

Hurdy stopped in his tracks as he heard the crackling of hardening ice resonated throughout the room. His eyes widened, and he slowly turned his head around.

There stood a small pillar of ice with Sole Calabrone encased in the center.

He followed the supposed trajectory with his eyes, back to the outstretched rod of a silent Black Mage. The spellcaster turned towards him, and aimed his frost-covered rod in the Moogle's direction.

The musician gritted his teeth.

Raven snapped his fingers.

Crackling ice resounded through the room once more.

The Revgaji stood perfectly still; no sound of breathing, not even the slightest twitching. All was quiet as all eyes were fixed upon him. He gulped slowly, then released a labored breath before answering.

"What about it?"

Ignatius, Cheney, and Auggie could clearly sense the nervous wavering in his voice, though the Bangaa paid it no heed, continuing on.

"We were sent here on a long term mission by Khajma to establish a foothold for more of their illegal operations in the Galleria Deep. Vaticus, though, has used it to further his own agenda, something they haven't taken too kindly to." Ignatius paused to gauge reactions, then proceeded. "A fairly high ranking member was sent here to deal with the problem, retrieve an important item…and eliminate us. We've been keeping tabs on him ever since he entered the city. I fear he might be using the confusion caused today to proceed with his assignment."

The four remained quiet for a moment, before Cid spoke up, his voice calm despite his clenched fists.


Ignatius remained emotionless.

"Raven, though you may know him by the name 'Dread Raven'."

(Cathedral Rooftop)

"The contents of that bag must be kept safe and secure. It must not fall into the wrong hands...lest we all perish. Do you understand? You must escape immediately."

Luso paused, not solely at the vague explanation of his request, but also at the sudden change in his demeanor. Maria herself had never seen the man like this before. The boy opened his mouth to speak just as a heavy boot stamped down onto the roof floor, drawing everyone's attention to the entrance.

A Paladin dressed in regular attire stepped out from the stairwell entryway, followed closely by a Hume Black Mage. Maria, Luso, and Adelle all breathed a unified sigh of relief as they recognized the familiar figures. Vaticus stopped breathing in fear.

"Ah, there you three are." Raven remarked, taking a few steps in their direction with an eager smile plastered across his face. "We've been looking all over the place for you."

"You have to escape now, boy!" Vaticus cried out, hoping to coax Luso. Raven directed his attention to him, and the man instantly became silent. Both locked eyes.

"Well…well…well…what do we have here?" The Paladin smirked, an action which sent an odd chill down Adelle's spine, though she wasn't quite sure why. "Been ages, hasn't it Vaticus." The priest's eyes widened.

"Luso! Luso Clemens! All of you! Get out of here!" The man repeated again and again, doing all in his power to force his body to move. "You must escape right now! You can't let him have that stone! That man will kill you! He's a member of Khajma!"

Both Luso and Kanin were surprised and confused at his remarks, though his last word immediately caught the attention of Adelle. It was then that she noticed something off about the man. The Paladin took another step forward.

"What on earth are you speaking of? I…"

"Not another step." All eyes turned to Adelle, who brandished one of her battle knives in her right hand. The silver haired girl eyed Raven carefully.

"Miss Adelle? What has gotten into you? Surely you don't believe him, do-"

"Be quiet." She retorted abruptly, catching all off guard. "Don't you dare take another step forward, or you'll regret it." Raven ceased all movement at that moment, unsure of whether the girl planned to back up her threat.

"Adelle, what's wrong?" Maria asked, trying to ease the tension. The girl remained silent for a moment, then spoke.

"I don't necessarily believe you, Vaticus, but there is one thing that bothers me. He smells like Hurdy…and what I believe to be Sole as well." The yellow eyed female half whispered, widening the eyes of both Maria and Luso. "The scent is fresh, very fresh. Judging from its strength, they were just with you recently, but now they're gone…and that doesn't sit well with me…So because I can't trust either of you, we're going to wait here, just like this, until others arrive."

Raven remained silent, his face now emotionless. A soft wind ruffled the hair and loose clothing on everyone as the quiet permeated the space. Then, all of a sudden…

The Paladin smirked, then snapped his fingers.

Loin hammered up the spiraling stone staircase without a single regard for stealth. The pain in the wound across his abdomen had begun to slowly eat away at his drive, though simple thoughts of his daughter spurred him on.

For as long as I can remember, I've always been unlucky

"Awe, come on now."

Sir Loin slumped his head onto the circular oak table in front of him while releasing a downtrodden sigh. Around the table, a few men, a random gathering of hardy Hume, Bangaa, and a Nu Mou, released hearty, bellowing laughs.

"Ahh, I propose a toast to Sir Loin." One of the Hume exclaimed, banging his hands on the table while simultaneously raising a mug into the air. "All in favor?" The men around the table mirrored the men's actions, their mugs fizzing over with fresh alcohol.

The Hume grinned.

"To the man with absolutely no luck!"

"Here, here!!!"

Another laughing fit ensued as Sir Loin slumped down once more, muttering curses under his breath. Then, he sat up and leaned back into his chair, closing his eyes and releasing another sigh. It was at that time, while the men began to chug down their beverages, that a small, silver haired girl with bright yellow eyes approached the Seeq from his right, tapping him on the shoulder. The ranger turned to the girl and gazed at her for a long moment.

Along with the bright white light that surrounded her, ever since the moment he had met her.

He had always thought it odd. The girl had never seemed to be dangerous in the slightest. In fact, she had committed no wrong, nor spoken a single word ever since he had taken her under his care. Though, if the size of light that surrounded her was any indication…

This girl was exponentially more dangerous than anything else he had ever seen.

"What's wrong, Adelle?" The Seeq queried, forgoing his musings for the moment. The female simply pointed at the pair of dice, her expression still devoid of emotion. The portly male quirked an eyebrow. "You want to try?" The girl said nothing, which he took to mean 'yes'. He reached over and grabbed the small cubes in his hand before placing them in her palms. "Go ahead. You couldn't do much worse than me."

The other men at the table peered over at her as she cupped her hands and began to shake the dice. She let them go, and the cubes rolled across the length of the table until coming to a stop on the other side.

All the men gasped.

Snake eyes.

A laughing fit like no other before it erupted from each and every man's mouth, some even falling out of their chairs.

Loin laid his head back down onto the table.

"I stand corrected."

My daughter's been pretty much the same way.

He reached the summit within no time and released a powerful kick at the door, releasing the wooden object from its hinges. He leapt into the room, his Xankbras already brandished between his two hands, and gazed at the sight before him.

In the center of the room, both Hurdy and Sole were completely encased in pillars of ice. The rainbow of light from the stained glass window gave their frozen forms a majestic, ethereal glow. Sir Loin's breath was caught in his throat as he approached them.

It was as he finally reached them that another, more powerful feeling swept over his entire body, causing his eyes to widen considerably. He gradually raised his head upward, and looked towards the ceiling.

A massive bright white light stood out from all the others positioned close to it.

He easily recognized that familiar light in no time at all.

He glanced back at Hurdy and Sole, then closed his eyes in a mix of regret and frustration before taking off towards the stairwell that led to the roof.

He promised to himself that he would come back for them; as soon as he was sure Adelle was safe.

Yet even then…

"Adelle, come on..." Loin chided, walking over to his daughter, who had wandered into a Moorabella alleyway. The girl, outfitted in a warm, insulated coat, knelt down in the snow beside an object that the Seeq couldn't quite make out from his angle. "We don't have time to…"

The newly appointed Lanista paused as the girl stood to her feet and turned towards him. In her arms lay the most petite cat he had ever seen. Its fur was as black as midnight, and it seemed to be shivering from the onslaught of low temperatures and snow. A single tear rolled down the left side of the girl's face, and she gave her father the most pitiful expression she could muster.

Loin could not, in all good conscience, reject her silent plea.

"Alright, you can keep it."

Through every circumstance and every moment spent together…

Adelle and Sir Loin walked side by side down the silent Camoa street, silence prevailing between them. Nothing save for the moon, the twinkling stars, and a sparse few lit candles in houses pierced the encroaching darkness of the midnight hour.

The Seeq sighed once more at the thought of gambling away so much of their hard earned profits. He offhandedly wondered how they were going to afford rations for the remainder of the month.


Loin's eyes snapped open at the voice, and his head shot around down to the golden eyed girl. She averted her eyes from him, her face a mixture of embarrassment and shame. And all the while, Loin could do nothing but grin.

That was the first time she had ever spoken to him.

"Don't worry about it." He replied, placing a comforting hand and ruffling her silver locks. Her hair was quite a mess, and he made a mental note to buy her some sort of accessory; perhaps a ribbon or something.

He adopted a more reserved smile.

"Everything'll work out."

I've come to love this girl with all my heart

The moment Raven snapped his fingers; Adelle was already on the move in a forward dash, her natural instincts having anticipated an attack. Her prediction was correct as Crow's blizzard struck in her previous position, creating a medium-sized, spiky column of ice.

The attack had managed to clip Luso's arm, who was too worn to have properly evaded. He released a horrid scream and fell on his back as the frigid element wrapped and solidified up to just above his elbow. The silver haired girl cursed under her breath at her mental error, but continued in her stride without losing pace.

She closed in on Raven, her battle knife leading. Raven locked eyes with her as she drew nearer. He had not drawn his sword. He had not moved a muscle. He showed no sign of hesitation or retaliation whatsoever and as the knife connected with his abdomen and Adelle looked up at him, he chuckled under his breath.

"As much as I'd like to stay and play, I don't have the time."

Before the girl even had the time to say anything, Raven had already appeared behind her, facing away, his sword hanging loosely at his side. Adelle turned around swiftly, only to buckle under the weight of her legs and hit the ground with a dull thud. She could feel, without even looking, that her legs had been slashed, if the fresh blood splatters on his sword were any indication.

"Now, Maria…if you would be so kind…" The Paladin took a few more steps forward, directing his attention to the cowering girl and cleaning his Knightsword with a single, forceful swipe. "That bag in your hand…now…or I'll kill you."

The girl's body began shaking at the point where the two locked eyes, her green exuberant orbs unable to take their focus off his heartless, empty black ones. She gulped, then spoke quietly.

"Weren't….Weren't you supposed to protect me…?"

Raven continued forward, undaunted by the tears welling up in her eyes.

"It's nothing personal, dear. Our orders were simply to retrieve what you have there, and kill every witness of it. I would have preferred to not involve you in this."

An evil smirk crossed his face.

"Guess it's just your bad luck."

Raven's eyes shot open as he felt the piece of sharp metal sink deeper into his neck. He felt the entirety of Adelle's body coiled around his back, doing her best to bind his sword arm, and caught sight her fierce, determined face out of the corner of his eye. She removed her hand from the knife handle, and slammed it down onto the butt of the handle, so that the hand guard touched his skin. He grunted in pain as she called out to Maria.

"Throw it over the edge!"

Maria instantly heeded her call, leaving Luso on the ground and making a bee line towards the roof's edge. Crow began gathering the mist for another blizzard spell, but his timing proved to no avail. She brought her arm back in mid stride and, despite Raven's calls of protest, chunked the object as far as her arms allowed her to. The blizzard spell then reached her, missing her body and only managing to cocoon up to her ankles. She fell to the ground, breathing heavily, and watched with a small smirk.

The pouch sailed through the air in a lob pattern and dived below the roof's line of sight.

The Paladin gazed back blankly, before his eyes narrowed at the fallen girl.

"Remove yourself from me, wretch."

Adelle's eyes widened as she felt a violent burning sensation on her back. She released her grip on the white clothed knight and landed on her back, subsequently performing a stop, drop, and roll motion to extinguish the flames.

Raven turned around, his face and eyes more livid than before, and sheathed his SavetheQueen. He stretched out his free hand.

"Crow, hand me your rod."

The Black Mage hesitated for a moment, though eventually complied, tossing the weapon with a spin over to him. The Paladin reached into the air and dexterously snatched the blunt object, spinning it and ending with a flourish pointing towards the silver haired girl. His face was anything but amused.

"I'm going to turn you into ashes."

The thief's eyes widened considerably, and in a panic stricken state, began to crawl away from him as best she could. The pain from her slashed legs and burned back restricted any successful attempts at running. She understood at that moment that she had no hope of escaping.

Maria screamed her name from the top of her lungs, furiously beating at her ice-encased feet in an attempt to escape.

Luso could only mirror Maria's actions in regards to his arm, the accumulation of pain on his body hindering his movements.

Crow simply pulled down the brim of his pointed hat in shame, and unbeknownst to all, muttered a small apology under his breath.

Tears flowed freely from the eyes of Adelle as she managed to stand to her feet and look her assailant in the face.

Raven's face remained a placid, yet burning hatred as he planned to release the buildup of mist in a massive explosion of all consuming fire.


For as long as I can remember, I've always been able to sense danger

A split second before Raven chanted the name of his chosen spell in his mind, that a figure dashed forth from the roof's entryway, making a full on sprint in the direction of Adelle. Whether it was from the adrenaline pumping through his body or perhaps some sort of unknown magical enhancement spell, he could not tell.

The way he charged at that moment was with a speed that he had never been able to access before.

And through all my years, that sense has never once stopped me from protecting my daughter.

Adelle shielded her eyes as the rod was coated a vibrant red aura. She could feel the flame magic building up at her feet and prepared for the worst to occur.

Then, in a split second, she felt a strong force shove blow her way from her position, causing her to land a dozen feet away. The action was so quick that she hadn't the time to register the object, catching only the familiar feeling of calloused skin.

It was at that moment that she realized what had just happened.

Her head snapped up and her eyes could not have grown wider.

Sir Loin stood on his knees, completely immersed in a series of gargantuan pillars of fire. The flames surrounded him on all sides, and had already begun to completely eradicate some of the flesh on his body. A river of tears flowed from Adelle's bright yellow orbs.

She could see the outline of his body amidst the ocean of fire. His defiant stance, his burning flesh; even the large gash on the middle of his stomach. An attack that he had taken for her.

And most of all, she could see the simple, confident smirk, plastered across his face.

She released a horrid scream into the air, the last thing he would ever see as the fire incinerated his eyes and took the remainder of his body with it.

I wanted to tell her "Everything'll work out", but…forget it…

My throat burns like hell…so I quit…

A father's love for his daughter…indescribable…

(End Chapter Twenty Seven)

This chapter has been written in honor of a dear friend…

A father whose love for his daughter has known no bounds…

Not even sacrifice…

(Author's Notes)

Sorry for the long wait, just been pretty busy. I'm honestly not sure when I'll ever find the inner strength to do another character corner. By the time I finish a chapter, I just never feel like it, and my mind shuts off. Maybe next time. Hope you enjoyed, the arc should be over next chapter I believe.

Until then!