Story. A Shadow Skill Fanfic, by Pandora.

Chapter1

Faury: Beginning



"Elle! Scribe Lowengrinn is here to see you!" Feorina yelled.

Faury was sweeping the floor. They had been awaiting the decisions of the keepers of the law, concerning the breach of oath when Elle fought with Sai-Oh, a member of the four fighters, which ended in the latter's demise.

They had all been hoping that Elle would be passed a lighter sentence, for indeed, just by fighting, Elle would have to pay with her life. But Elle had saved Kuruda from imminent destruction...hopefully, that would sway the vote against death. Elle came down the stairs shortly after and met Low.

"So, Lowengrin..." Elle began, a frown on her face. "What's to become of me?"

"Lady Shadow Skill...It is good to see that you are well." Low replied.

"Get to the point. How did it go?"

By now, Faury, Low and Elle were joined by the others. They all held their breath.

"Well...I don't exactly bring happy news..."

"So... this is it." Faury thought. "Elle's to die, then."

Faury felt a deep pang of pain in her chest. No...It can't be...Not after all she's done...

"Lady Shadow Skill is to be... banished from Kuruda, for an indefinite period of time. Her apprentice, Gau Ban will be allowed to travel with her. That was all-"

Elle whooped with joy . Gau smiled. Everyone was relieved.

"AHEM. Well...other than that, I was instructed to go with you as well. I was given the order this morning. I was to *try* to help keep Lady Shadow Skill out of...ah...trouble..."

There was a moment of silence. Everyone started laughing, except for Elle and Low.

"I don't see how that could be amusing." She merely said in dry tones. Which only sent them all into a fit.

"WHAT IS SO FUNNY???" Elle screamed. Everyone fell silent for a moment, and burst out laughing eventually. Faury couldn't wipe her smile away.

"Ah...Lowengrinn. You were probably given a punishment as well." Faury commented.

"She's really that bad, eh?" Low asked.

"Oh yeah." Gau piped up. "Faury and I, together, could only lessen the damage."

"I doubt if even the great Scarface could restrain her..." he added

Elle smacked Gau one on the head for that comment.

"Miss Kyou...would you mind travelling with us?" Low inquired, hoping that she would.

"I guess...." Kyou answered shyly.

"I'll have to go, as well." Faury stated. "There's no telling what she'll do. Feorina...would you mind if I travelled with them for a while? I just want to make sure Elle settles in Blorahan, then I'll come back to help."

"Of course. You will come back, won't you?"

The hopeful note in the little girl's voice made the decision.

"Yes. I'll come stay with you afterwards. Take care."

That night, they had a wonderful supper, and afterwards, went to bed.

Elle and Gau were immediately asleep.

Low, Kyou and Feorina finished downstairs, and went to bed themselves.

Faury changed, and got in bed. She snuggled deep under the covers.

Tomorrow for Elle would be a new beginning. And she would be there for her.

She closed her eyes. Sleep claimed her a few moments later.

Chapter2

Lowengrinn: Travelling.

They were walking under the blazing sun. Low wiped the sweat off his forehead. Ah, but it was hot around here. He looked over to see how Kyou was doing. He found her walking beside Gau. They seemed to be talking.

"Gau...isn't it such a nice day?" Kyou asked, smiling.

He saw Gau hand Elle a flask of water. He was obviously pre-occupied, and didn't hear what Kyou had said.

"Gau, you idiot!" Kyou muttered under her breath. She decided to run ahead.

"What did I do?" Gau asked. Low was annoyed. How could he ignore such a lovely creature? He was going to answer Gau with a biting remark when Folli caught him.

"If you think about it, you SHOULD be thankful that he doesn't seem interested in her." was all she said. He breathed a sigh of relief. Lady Folli was right.

"Who is interested in what?" Gau asked.

"It shouldn't concern you, Gau." Folli replied, as Low ran after Kyou.

"Gau is such an idiot." Kyou said, as she kicked a rock.

Low picked a flower growing on the roadside and handed it to her. Kyou smiled.

"H-Here. You look like you need it."

Low mentally smacked himself. He couldn't even get it together well enough not to stutter.

"thanks, Mr. Low."

Low looked at Kyou's face. It was so smooth and calm. She really was very beautiful. The epitome of femininity. That any man could overlook her was surprising. And she didn't even know he was alive. Gau was his best friend, and yet, he had been waspish towards him more often, than not. She turned to look at him, and he blushed a deep red. She giggled.

"Mr. Low...you're blushing."

"I guess I am."

They continued walking. Low smiled. He was glad that she came, even if it was Gau she wanted to be with, he hoped fervently that their proximity would help them get to know each-other, and grow closer. He would not be able to train that extensively, but at least, He would be able to attain a measure of her affection. His blush went a deeper red than the first.

Yes. It was looking bright for him. If Gau pays attention to the 59th Sevalle, then he would, hopefully, win the maiden's hand! The day seemed brighter, somehow. Folli caught up with them and *accidentally* tripped(^o^!), and pushed Kyou, whom Low caught effortlessly. Folli gave him a wink.

"Thank you, Mr. Low." Kyou whispered, looking into his eyes. Low blushed again.

"It's nothing, my sunshine."

"what was that?"

"oh...nothing."

Folli was quite amused with herself. It was a bit too far even for her, but she was getting annoyed at the whole thing. She was too tired watching Kyou stalk Gau, and Low follow Kyou.

She chuckled to herself.

"I wonder if my dear lord husband would approve..." she wondered. She looked at Low and Kyou who looked like they were having a comfortable conversation. She smiled. The party

continued travelling in companionable silence.

Chapter3

Gau: Thoughts

"Gau, you idiot."

He seemed to hear Kyou call him that more often, nowadays. He scratched his head and wondered what it was that he was doing wrong. He really couldn't get it. What was she so upset about? The last time, shortly after his battle with Ren Fuuma, that day in Kuruda, she had asked him what Elle had meant to him. He didn't know exactly how to answer that, so he simply said that Elle was his sister. The same answer he usually gave anyone who would ask. She didn't look convinced, and as she walked away, he had heard those exact three words again.

What was Elle to him? She did treat him like a younger brother. He even felt like it, at one time. An image of Elle crying over Dias came to mind. He had blamed and hated himself for a while for causing her grief over Dias' death. He didn't want to see her hurt. And yet, that day, on the cliff when they had kissed...what he felt couldn't be called brotherly. The word was the remotest thing he felt for her. He remembered the look on her face. What was Elle to him?

"I am the sword that overcomes the fear, so that you may take a step forward."

The fire in her eyes. The look on her face. He would never forget them.

"And the name of this noble sword...is courage."

The strength of her resolution...and the warmth of her lips. Elle was a part of him that no one would take away.

What was Elle to him? She was Dias' pride. Indeed, although Dias had never shown any physical manifestation of his feelings, it was clear that he cherished his little sister.

"I'm glad she found someone like you." he had said. What exactly did that mean?

Elle was his strength. His fire. His pride. He was to be her shield. He found that a little odd. After all, she was *still* kicking his ass. Some shield he was. She, more often than not, was his shield. And yet, when Elle's strength had been spent that day, she was still what kept him going.He was able to overcome the battle at Kuruda, because of her. She was what made him what he was.

"One day," he promised himself. "I will be able to keep you safe. I will be the shield to protect you."

He wondered when that day would be. No doubt, it wasn't that far away.

Chapter4

Elle: Brother

"I'm tired!!! Why don't we camp out here, already???" Elle groused.

"Elle...i can't imagine how you can be tired, when all you do is ride

the backpack Gau carries around?" Faury asked. She definitely wanted

to know.

"It's okay..." Gau replied. "I really don't mind."

Lowengrinn was too much of a gentleman to say anything.

Kyou was not amused.

Someone passed them by. Kaila Rue Luka. One of the remaining four

fighters, who couldn't resist a jab at Elle.

"Will you be riding that boy all your life? It's such a shame Sevalles nowadays

tend to be so lazy."

"It's part of his training, so keep out of it!!!" Elle screamed.

"Yeah. Right. Looks to me like he'll be in training forever. If he ever

becomes a Sevalle, I'm sure it'll still be the same, which should be grounds

enough to disqualify him." Kaila returned, with a smirk. "Who ever heard

of a Sevalle used as an animal of labor? You really should treat the boy

better. He's a person, not YOUR personal horse." she added.

Everyone had to hold Elle down, just to make sure she didn't go after the

cat-girl.

"You really shouldn't taunt her so!" Faury admonished.

"Oh, well...I really must be going. Ja!" and Kaila left with Elle glaring at her

murderously. They were able to calm her down eventually.

They had decided to stop for the night. The others had already made

camp, and was now preparing dinner, while Gau was arranging the remaining

equipment. Elle stared into the warm, orange-red flames, deep in thought,

as it consumed every dry piece of wood they could spare. It was a cold night.

Kaila's presence brought something to her attention. It was also around

this week that she had felt the numbing loss over Dias' death. She had

accepted the fact. She, herself, faced death every single day. Everyone

dies, and Dias' body had already been deteriorating. She knew that he

couldn't last for eternity, she just didn't expect it to happen this soon.

If only she watched over Gau more closely...she mentally smacked herself.

She shouldn't think like this, and although Gau didn't say much, she had

a feeling that he knew how she felt. Dias seemed to approve of Gau...Diaz

was always warm and kind.

"Aniki..." she whispered softly. The ache in her heart almost unbearable.

She would never see him again. She stood up, brushing the grass off as she

did, and started to walk off.

"Elle...where are you off to?" asked Faury.

"Don't worry about me!" she replied. "I'm just going to take a walk!"

Faury looked at her and nodded. And Elle was off.

darkness surrounded her...and she was gone.

"Where's Elle?" Gau asked.

"Lady Shadow Skill went out to train. By herself. Why don't you just let her be, for a while? Can't you see that she want's to be alone?" Lowengrin snapped, at what he thought was a clinging attribute, unfit for one who was one of Kuruda's proud Valles. He silently wondered if his waspish attitude towards Gau was due to the fact that Gau was the one that Kyou cared for. He blanched at the thought inwardly, as Kyou came to Gau's rescue.

"Mr Low...you must understand...he was only worried..." Kyou trailed off. Kyou mentally smacked herself. Here she was, once again, trying to defend Gau, who was obviously worried about Elle. When will she ever learn?

Faury paid no mind to the squabbling children. She was used to it by now. She absentmidedly stirred the stew she was cooking and silently wondered when Elle would be back.

Elle started her usual workout. Stretching...push-ups...a few kicks, until she felt like she was almost in a trance and found her rythm, training well-placed attacks in smooth, fluid movements. The events of the past week flitting through her mind.She remembered Diaz, Gau's episode of fear... Dias' death...and the kiss. She had only meant to give him courage...to make a pact with him...but it felt...different. It was as if they were one person, beating with one heart. Strength, pride and courage, to make a step forward. What did she feel for Gau?...She had sworn to protect him....to always be by his side. To support him. To be his sword. To be his courage, when he was afraid. They had become part of each other. Kyou had asked her how she felt about Gau...and she never did give Kyou an answer....even she had wondered the same thing. Elle, troubled, at the odd tingle on her lips, pushed the thought away.

Now was not the time to be acting like a silly woman.She sighed deeply. Gau was all she had left.

She was surprised to find them settled in. They were asleep. She sat by the fire and looked each one over. Lowengrinn was a lot like Gau, if only a bit more...serious. Kyou was like her little sister....Faury was ever her closest friend. The older sister she never had....and Gau. Not at all the little brother she once thought him to be....

Elle glanced at the dying embers. The two men in her life...Dias, her older brother, whom she loved dearly. Gau, whom she adopted, and was turning out to be very different from what he was before...what had changed? Troubled with these thoughts, she closed her eyes. All was quiet as the the 59th Sevalle slept.

Chapter5

Dias: Dreams.



Gau had a dream. He saw Elle in the middle of a field, her hair coming loose. He liked it better this way. She looked...well...he couldn't explain it. She was crying. He imagined that Elle grieved deeply for Dias' , no matter how distant the idea seemed, and at that rare moment, Elle looked...vulnerable. Not at all the undefeated Sevalle she was supposed to be. He stepped closer and laid a hand on her shoulder. It passed through. He heard Elle whisper.

"Aniki..."

Gau looked up and saw Elle, transformed into a little girl, run to Dias. "Aniki!" she squealed in delight. He saw Dias catch her and twirl her in the air. He had never thought that they were close, the way Elle acted around him. A hand rested on Gau.

"Yes. Elle is my only treasure. Take care of her, for me."

"Dias..."

"You're all she has left, Gau. I believe in you."

Dias disappeared, as did the earlier images of Elle.

He opened his eyes and saw Elle, staring at him, a playful smile on her face.

"What were you dreaming of, little brother?" she asked.

Gau stared into the ruby pools that were filled with warmth.

Kyou was already packing their stuff. Faury was already waiting for them. Low had a scowl on his face.

"Mistress Shadow Skill...we really have to get going. If we don't finish this now, we won't get to Master Dias' house by sundown." he reminded.

Kyou was seething. They were so close! She eventually stood up and joined Low and Faury.

"Yeah, yeah. Let's go." Elle replied.

Kyou shoved Gau his backpack, as Elle jumped in the air, and landed atop it with utmost grace. They left the area moments later.

Three figures emerge from the shadows. Darkness, Crimson, and Dias.

"Thank you. I am very grateful." Dias told Darkness.

Darkness merely nodded.

"Your sister is definitely something else, isn't she?" Crimson, Kai Sink, commented.

"The Black Howling cares for your sister deeply." Darkness commented.

"shall we go, then?" Kai asked.

"Yes."

The three figures return to the shadows. And all was returned as it was.

"Aniki..." Elle thought. She wondered if he could see her right now.

They reach Dias' house in Blorahan by nightfall.

Chapter6

Kyou: Confirmation.

Kyou watched Elle beat Gau to a pulp. She never did understand it. How could Gau lose to Elle all the time? Gau had already beaten the fighter known as Ren Fuuma, and the 58th Sevalle, G, also known as Kain Falanx, and had even perfected a Shadow Skill ultimate secret move, Kanon, and yet Elle was still wiping the floor with Gau's behind. It was almost...silly. She had suspected that Gau, although he didn't notice it, cared for Elle...more than a sister. And Elle, the same, but there was never any confirmation between the two.

"Kyou. Come on. There's no point in wasting away for someonewho's ...obviously... pre-occupied with something else."

"Do you think he likes Elle?" asked Kyou.

"You know...I'm not really sure..."

They looked over and saw Elle pin Gau to the ground.

"Gau. You're letting your guard down. Let's do it again."

Elle continued to kick Gau's ass. Elle seemed to be winning, when Gau caught both her fists, flipped over and pinned her to the rock Gau was backing into, earlier, which now left Elle with her arms crossed behind her, Gau's face, only an inch or two away from hers. He was looking at her very oddly.

Kyou and Faury were too stunned to speak.

"Gau..." Elle whispered.

Elle looked into his eyes and saw her own reflection. Dammit. She looked like she was hypnotized. Her eyelids were getting heavy...She could feel her body go slack as her heart raced while he held her. Gau, for his part, felt panicked, as well. Elle looked...different. He remembered the way she looked when she had kissed him that day, as the sun sank into the horizon, adding a soft orange hue to her fiery red hair, softening her features, making her look...somewhat...beautiful. He couldn't understand it. His heart pounded in his ears... he looked at the emerald pools that were her eyes. He leaned closer...

Elle's eyes were already closed. He could feel himself leaning closer...

closer...

Kyou was speechless. Here it finally was. The answer to the question. She felt her heart shatter into a million pieces. Why? What did he see in her? But Kyou already knew the answer to that.

Thay were all drawn to her beacause of her fierce spirit, and the greatness of her heart. It was what made Elle very special. Even now, as the two people she cared for most, had unknowingly hurt her, she couldn't hate Elle, or blame Gau for loving her. Someone handed her a handkerchief.

"everything will work out...my sunshine."

"Lowengrinn..thanks."

Lowengrinn had a shy smile on. He hated the way Kyou pined over Gau, but maybe now, they'll finally have a chance. He wrapped an arm around her shoulder, and steered her towards Dias' house.

"Let's go, Kyou. Faury"

THE END.