Heya guys, new fanfic! This is mostly for a creative writing portfolio I have to put together, since I'm hoping to get into a scriptwriting course at University. But anyway, this is for my current manga obsession, Elemental Gelade. I've written this fanfic in a way that allows non-fans of the series to still understand it, so it explains a lot of things that current fans would already know ^_^;

Anyway, enjoy! Oh! And this is based off of the Elemental Gelade manga, not the anime.

The characters and concepts of this story are owned by the original writer/artist, Mayumi Azuma.

Cou sighed happily as he felt the cool summer breeze play across his face, and the long grass on either side of his laid-back head tickled his cheeks, almost playfully. He was lying in a field, hands tucked behind his head and one leg crossed over the other. The crisp clouds above drifted silently on the wind, at a pace too slow to follow unless you'd been looking up at them as long as Cou had been. He loved clouds. Bust as one of the crew members of the Red Lynx sky pirates, he seldom had a better view than wisps of white mist, skirting past the airship windows. Only from the earth could they really be appreciated, in all their glory.

Cou was a boy of fifteen, bearing a spiky mess of dirty-blond hair on his head, and steely-blue eyes that sparked with youthful vitality. As always, he was dressed in his usual short-sleeve red jacket and matching trousers, with a black shirt underneath and black boots. His hands were clothed with a pair of fingerless gloves, and a strange cord coiled up his left arm, disappearing under his jacket. Although this at first appeared to be nothing more than a strange fashion statement, the cord was attached to a large hook, hidden within his clothes. This was less of a weapon though, and more of a tool that Cou wielded with great resourcefulness.

Since a young age, Cou had been a keen adventurer, although his strange little journeys whilst aboard the Red Lynx were less like adventures and more like rebellious attempts to be noticed…and he often was, when such attempts failed with spectacular results. He had always been the outcast, the inexperienced kid, the laughing stock…never the hero.

At least now he had a purpose. He closed his eyes and smiled to himself...

"Cou?" said a familiar voice.

Cou's eyes snapped open at the sudden closeness of these words, and he sure enough found himself face-to-face with a girl, who was kneeling behind his head and leaning down to look at him…rather closely. Cou's face flushed red. The girl appeared to be around his age, and had very long, powder-blue hair with a fringe that was cut fairly straight across, just above her soft green eyes, almost always half-lidded with tiredness. In her hair she wore a long, wide, deep-blue ribbon, decorated with a pattern of white triangles, which covered the hair just above her forehead and the ends spiralled around the length of the rest of her hair.

"R-Ren!" Cou said in surprise, sitting up quickly and turning to look at her, wearing her usual black dress and white boots. "Err, what're you doing here?"

The girl named Ren tilted her head slightly. As always, she appeared emotionless and vaguely sleepy. "Shouldn't I be?" she said.

"W-well, there's no reason you shouldn't," Cou said, feeling heat rising to his cheeks as the pretty girl looked at him with curiosity. "I just meant…why are you here? Did you need me for something?" He always got jittery when talking to Ren. After all, she was a stunningly pretty girl…and the one Cou had sworn to protect.

But also, he was bound to her in a very unique way.

Ren wasn't human. She was part of an enigmatic race of exclusively female beings known as edel raids. They looked normal, and their appearances varied just as widely as humans. They experienced emotion, pain, hunger, fatigue…in fact, on their own they seemed to be human in almost every way. But when humans came into the picture, they were very different.

An edel raid could form a special bond with a human by 'reacting' with them. Once an edel raid had reacted with a human for the first time, she was bound to them, and remained so for as long as that human was alive. This human, known as an edel raid 'pleasure', is the only one able to react with said edel raid once this bond had been forged.

Cou was Ren's pleasure, for example. And whenever the two of them reacted, Ren changed in a very unique way…

"Cisqua told me to come and find you," Ren said, in answer to his question.

Cou heaved a heavy sigh. "She can't come and get me herself?"

"She said she's busy," the blue-haired girl replied.

Cou clambered to his feet. "Fine," he said. "I guess I have been out here a while…come on." He started walking off through the long grass towards the forest where he and his other acquaintances had set up camp.

Cou had spent most of his life amongst the Red Lynx sky pirates…the only family he had ever known. But since meeting Ren, he had found himself caught up with a group of all-new companions. He chuckled to himself sometimes at how he had spent most of his life around an all-male crew of pirates, with very little female contact…and yet now, he was part of a group consisting of five girls and only two boys, including himself.

His only male team-mate was the first person Cou saw as he entered the forest clearing they had made their campsite. Rowen was older than Cou by a few years, and also blond, like him. However, Rowen's hair was a much brighter, purer colour than Cou's, and tied into a long ponytail. His gentle eyes were a deep ocean blue, but seemed purple-ish in some light. He was busy trying to light a campfire.

Cou looked around the rest of the campsite and saw a young, dark-skinned woman dozing against a tree. Kuea was living proof that edel raids could look very different from one another, when you stood her next to Ren. She was dark whilst Ren was fair. Ren's hair was blue and sleek; Kuea's was brown and messy. And where Ren dressed more modestly, Kuea's chosen outfit was somewhat more revealing, decorated with chains. Although her clothes were mostly black, she wore a semi-transparent, lavender skirt-like garment around her waist, as an unusually bright addition to her otherwise dark appearance. As always, Kuea was wearing arm-length black gloves. Curiously enough, these gloves served the same purpose as Ren's hair ribbon…they both hid the same thing.

The one physical difference edel raids had from humans was the presence of an elemental gelade; a coloured gemstone found somewhere on their body. Ren's was malachite green in colour, and found on her head, under the length of ribbon. Curiously enough, the stone was attached on top of her hair…Cou had always wondered how it was actually connected to Ren's head. Kuea had a pair of curved, garnet red gelades, one on the back of each hand. However, these were less like two gelades and more like two halves of the same one. It made no difference to her power.

Rowen looked up as Cou and Ren approached. "Oh, hey there," he said with his trademark sunny smile. "Where were you?"

"Around," Cou replied simply. He was distracted by the notable lack of their remaining three companions. He already knew that Rasati and Lilia had gone looking for a nearby village where they could restock on supplies…but he didn't remember Cisqua saying she was going anywhere…especially since she had been the one to send for Cou.

He was expecting the sharp blow to the back of the head before it even happened, although it was still blindingly painful. Cou crippled, gripping the back of his throbbing head.

"OW!!" he exclaimed.

"Come on now, Cou!" Cisqua said loudly behind him. "You'll have to be more alert than that!"

Cou rubbed his head, looking up at her…although he didn't have to look too far up. Cisqua was the shortest member of the group, but fancied herself as the leader…which she was, to some degree. The stark contrast between her appearance and personality made it almost impossible to tell her age. She was either mature for a thirteen-year-old, or looked very young for nineteen. Cou guessed it was probably somewhere in the middle. Her purple-brown eyes looked out from a fringe of short, reddish-brown hair with a fiery defiance. "Ow…I was alert," Cou said defensively. "I knew you were going to hit me."

"Okay then, let me rephrase that," Cisqua said, poking him with the wooden staff she was holding. "You'll have to be more alert and actually do something about it!"

Cou frowned and saw she was wearing her long-sleeved black top that was cut off around her midriff in a strange zigzag pattern, and very short denim shorts. Cou was never sure how to describe what she wore on her legs, though it looked like black trouser-legs attached to a belt around each thigh, descending down to a pair of brown boots.

No hat, no overcoat…this could only mean….

"Up you get, Cou. You can't expect to be fighting fit just by dozing in a field, up!" Cisqua demanded.

Cou sighed, realizing that this was going to be a very painful day.

Cou had met Cisqua, Rowen and Kuea as a result of Ren. Whilst investigating a room of stolen goods aboard the Red Lynx, he couldn't help but open up a mysterious coffin in the corner…within which was a green-eyed, blue-haired girl, with an unusual trinket wrapped around her head. Upon removing this, which Cou later learned was an edel raid sealing charm, Reverie Metherlence…aka Ren…awakened.

From there, Cou's life had become a whirlwind of strange events. Although the Red Lynx had stolen the coffin, they didn't know its real worth…but there were people also after it who knew full well what it contained. Three people had showed up aboard the Lynx shortly after Ren's awakening, identifying themselves as members of Arc Aile, an organisation devoted to protecting edel raids. Cisqua, the leader of the team, Rowen, her second-in-command, and Kuea, the edel raid bound to Rowen. Ren was a very special and sought-after edel raid, so they had deemed it the utmost importance she was taken in, out of the way of those that might seize her with ill intent. Cisqua had attempted to take the poor girl by force, so hell-bent was she on 'protecting' her. But after Ren was forced to react with Cou, the trio realized they had no choice but to take him along as well.

In time, Cou had managed to persuade them not to take Ren into Arc Aile custody just yet, but to instead take her to a place she was very insistent to go to: Edel Garden. The legendary birthplace of edel raids.

Although Cou still remained protective of Ren on their journey to Edel Garden, he felt that Rowen and Kuea understood and respected his choice to guide her there first. Cisqua still seemed somewhat bitter at times and Cou still hadn't deemed her entirely trustworthy…but she could hardly just take Ren and go to Arc Aile alone, so he doubted Ren was in any real threat from her.

But Cisqua had proved helpful on many occasions. She had become Cou's exercise trainer of sorts, helping him build up his natural strength and athletic ability. Since Cisqua was neither edel raid nor pleasure, she relied on her skills in martial arts and firearms to survive. And since Cou knew she would never let him so much as touch her gun without breaking both his hands, he would only learn the former from her.

Kuea was now awake, leaning against the tree whilst watching Cou and Cisqua with vibrant, pink-red eyes, arms folded. However, her attention soon became distracted as Rowen started stirring a bubbling pot of stew on the campfire, which she stared at with hungry eyes.

One of Kuea's most defining aspects was her seemingly endless appetite. She was almost always hungry and often made a point of saying so…a lot. Edel raids needed energy to react, and Kuea got hers from food, so it was always important to keep her satisfied. Cou found it quite incredible that Kuea was able to eat so much and still maintain a figure she was all too happy to show off.

Everyone was suddenly put on red alert as a bright flash illuminated the sky to the east. Cou turned round from doing sit-ups and looked at the bright radiance in surprise. "Is that…?"

"A flare," Cisqua finished, answering his question before it left his mouth. "Rasati…"

Kuea looked at her. "But wasn't she supposed to just come back and tell us if she found a village?" she asked.

"Yeah…but I gave her a flare gun for her to use in an emergency," Cisqua said. She dropped the wooden staff, ran over to where her Arc Aile uniform was folded up and picked up her gun; a large, impressive piece of weaponry that required two hands to wield with any efficiency. But, despite her small frame, Cisqua had no problem in swinging this piece of artillery around with deadly precision. "Come on!" she ordered.

Everyone knew all too well that Rasati was immensely stubborn and strong-willed…she would never send up a flare unless there was a big problem. Cou heaved himself to his feet, despite his exhaustion, and followed everyone as they ran out of camp. He saw Kuea give the bubbling pot of stew an almost mournful look before she too continued running.

*

Rasati looked up as the flare seared brightly in the sky above her. "Damn…they'd better see that," she said to herself.

She was standing in the middle of a deserted village she had stumbled across on her search, silent and scattered with houses of dusted wood. All was quiet, save for the sizzling of the flare above. It didn't seem like she was in any trouble at all.

Because she wasn't in trouble…it was Lilia who needed help. Dropping the flare gun, she ran back into the abandoned house behind her. Lilia was lying on a grubby sofa, asleep…but clearly not well. She was pale and sweating a little, mumbling and stirring in her sleep as if having a nightmare. Rasati sat beside the sofa and laid a hand on her forehead. She sighed, looking at the girl's right arm. On her upper arm, just poking out beneath the sleeve of her shirt, a deep-blue gemstone was visible. Her elemental gelade. However, it had lost its usual gleam, and a strange black mist hovered sinisterly around it.

"Lilia," Rasati said with concern etched in her face. "What's happened to you?"

Lilia and Rasati were not only edel raid and pleasure, but also sisters…foster sisters, at least. One could tell from a glance that the two of them were not blood related. Rasati's hair was long, black and straight, Lilia's was short, wavy and pale green. Lilia was of small build, and had a round, feminine face, whereas Rasati was of athletic physique, with a sharper, somewhat more masculine face.

Rasati was dressed in her normal fighting attire, a fiery outfit of red-orange with dark blue fingerless gloves, boots and bindings around her elbows and thighs. Her long black hair was tied up in twin ponytails, which were encased in a pair of sleeve-like garments, the same fiery orange as the rest of her outfit. Her forehead was covered by a metal plaque attached to a headband, which bore a kanji-like symbol that translated as "warrior".

She was Rasati Tigres, the renowned champion of Milliard Trey, fearless and deadly…like the tiger, whose image was emblazoned in white on the lower part of her outfit. And here lay her beloved foster sister, weak with sickness. For the first time in her life…Rasati knew the taste of fear. She feared for Lilia. What had done this to her?

She whirled her head round at a noise outside.

"Hello?" she said with a sharp tone to her voice. There was no answer, but she could almost sense the presence of someone outside. She stood, looking back at Lilia with worry before slowly creeping towards the door. Inhaling deeply, she opened the door and stepped into the open.

About thirty feet away stood a tall, dark figure, sharp eyes fixed on Rasati. His hair was a mess of spiky dark blue, and he was dressed purely in black, with an all-round collar that covered his mouth. An unusual white mark cut across his nose, just beneath the eyes, though it was hard to tell if this was a scar or a sinister aesthetic choice on his part. His dark appearance contrasted strangely with the large weapon slung across his shoulders; a colossal hammer, as long as he was tall with a head that was easily as big as his torso and head combined. The handle of the hammer was light green in colour, and the head looked like it was built up of a series of bright red disks, locked together. Despite its mighty size, the man was holding it without showing any signs of strain.

Rasati frowned, immediately feeling an air of ill intent around the armed stranger. "Who are you?" she demanded.

The man's cold, blue eyes bore into her from beneath his wild hair. "The girl in that house," he said in a deep, menacing voice. "She's an edel raid, isn't she?"

Rasati clenched her teeth and fists simultaneously. She somehow felt it was no coincidence that Lilia had fallen ill at the same time this man had appeared. Many people sought out edel raids for their power, and some would go to great lengths to seize them and later sell them to the highest bidder…including poisoning them to prevent them from reacting with their pleasures.

Rasati had little doubt. This man…he was an edel raid hunter.

"If you lay one finger on my sister…!" Rasati started shouting, but was cut off by the hunter.

"You'll do what?" he said. "Sorry, but I've been paid a very high price to take in any edel raids who stray here." He raised his hammer. Before Rasati could stop him, the weapon was swung hard through the air, breaking down the hammer-head into its separate disks, which thundered like comets through the air at the young woman.

Rasati leapt nimbly between the hurtling projectiles as they crashed into the ground around her, forming craters where they struck and whipping up clouds of eye-stinging dust. She skidded, then changed trajectory, aiming a spinning kick at the man's head. He was completely unfazed by this sudden attack, and for good reason…in a flash of red, Rasati's kick struck one of the disks as opposed to her assailant's face. Despite the fact it was hovering vertically in the air, it held fast in its position, not yielding even slightly to the blow it was delivered.

Not even pausing to think, she dropped to both feet and attempted a blinding punch to his chest…only to wince in pain as her fist met the very hard surface of another disk, which had spun back to shield its master. A moment of surprise hindered her for a spilt-second, but that was all it took for the disks to part and the man to slam the staff of the hammer into Rasati's stomach, winding her and sending her reeling back. She skidded to a stop, looking at him as the disks reformed the hammer-head on top of the staff.

"My name is Wolx Hound," said the man. "And these are my hunting grounds."

*

Cisqua was the first to act upon the scene before them as they arrived in the village, though Cou expected no less. A moment to load was all it took before she was raining bullets at the edel raid hunter. The disks of the hammer-head were quick to act and form a protective barricade, shielding him from this danger…but at least it drew his attention away from Rasati.

Cisqua stopped firing and glared at the familiar figure. "Leave her alone, Wolx!!" she yelled.

Wolx looked back at her, the disks returning to their hammer form. "Arc Aile. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised…you seem to keep popping up nowadays."

"Yes…and last time we 'popped up', you agreed a ceasefire with us!" she replied, not letting the barrel of her gun stray far from Wolx's head. "What is the meaning of this?"

"Our agreement applied only to the edel raids I had been assigned to capture at that time," he said, momentarily glancing over at Kuea. The dark-skinned edel raid glared right back with a snarl. "It did not require me to give up my whole job."

"Well…whatever our agreement, as members of Arc Aile, we cannot allow you to take Lilia!" Cisqua said with confidence.

"Lilia?" Cou said to himself. He looked around and couldn't see the green-haired edel raid. But Rasati appeared to be on guard and was glaring at Wolx with a murderous look on her face. Cisqua must have noticed this too and guessed it was Lilia that the hunter was after.

"That's right! You've had this coming for a long time, Wolx!!" Kuea yelled, and headed towards him, dragging Rowen with her.

"K-Kuea, maybe we shouldn't be quite so hasty to…"

"Sorry Row, but I was tied up and worthless last time round," she said angrily. "I've been itching for payback long enough!"

"Well…I…" Rowen sighed, knowing he was never going to win this kind of argument with Kuea. "Fine."

"Okay, here we go!" Kuea grabbed his hands with hers, and a bright white light engulfed the pair of them, blinding everyone else in its radiance. Rowen and Kuea could be heard chanting words in unison as they reacted. The light faded away, and Kuea was gone. Only Rowen remained, but his arms were attached to a pair of magnificent, curved blades, each one easily as long as he was tall. Each blade was topped with a wondrous, axe-like structure, attached to one another by a length of chain and each embedded with a garnet-red stone that, together, looked like a pair of gleaming red eyes. Finally, six sickle-like blades were attached to Rowen's back.

"Okay Rowen, let's go already!" Kuea's voice was echoic and distant, and seemed to be coming from the blades themselves.

This was what edel raids were, and why they were so sought after…living weapons of immense power.

Wolx stood ready to fight. A girlish giggle could be heard echoing from the hammer in his hands.