It's been a while since I've last updated and I apologize for the wait. I've been working heavily on the secret project I talk about in my profile and I'm considering posting the first chapter of it once I hit a certain point in the story (probably around the 10th chapter.) Alas, I don't plan to give out any more information then is already posted there. It likely isn't what anyone is expecting, but I still want it to be something of a surprise.

In any case, while you all patiently await the big project, I offer you all the next two stories of my 100-themes challenge.

This is number 18 and the first part of two. The second part of this story is Light, which will be uploaded in a few minutes.

NOTE TO ALL READERS: As I have mentioned before, I started a large Persona forum for called "Stroke of Midnight" a while ago. As it is, many of the canons are still open for the taking and as long as you can drop in once a week, I'd love to see more members come in and join. I haven't yet added sections for Persona 1 and 2 (but we have them for 3, 4, and Trinity Soul) but if someone would like to give me a list of locations in which to add for the first two games, I'd be grateful. The link to the forum is on my profile.

I dearly hope to see new members soon! I roleplay Naoto and Fiyerna is there as Souji Seta.

Yosuke had been the first to go.

Shoving Souji out of the way as Izanami attacked, the brunette had been pulled into a void of darkness by more hands than Souji could count. With a grunt of pain, Yosuke had turned his head to look at Souji, flashing the silverette a bright grin before disappearing completely.

Next had been Yukiko. She'd shoved him out of the way just as violently as Yosuke had. She screamed, and Rise's voice grew frantic in the background as she tried to figure out what was going on; the beginning of sobs could be heard in her tone as the raven was slowly pulled under. She too had looked at Souji and smiled, a final goodbye before she vanished.

After the first two attacks, Souji had a feeling he knew what was coming, but he didn't dare allow himself to think about it. If he allowed his mind to drift, the idea would become reality, and for the first time in his life, Souji wished he could simply live in the fog he was fighting so hard to eliminate. He glanced to the side, spotting Naoto just a few feet away. Her eyes were narrowed and focused on Izanami, who was looking in his direction, malice dancing in her red eyes. Something moved in front of him and he looked up, realizing too late that Izanami had attacked again. He couldn't move, as if his feet had suddenly been glued to the ground… until a familiar pair of hands shoved him roughly from his right, forcing him away from the oncoming strike.

"NO!" His cry echoed across the battle field, drowning out the satisfied laughter of the goddess in front of him. He hit the ground hard, but the impact was not enough to divert his attention from Naoto.

There had been no scream from the detective and no sounds indicating that she was in pain. It was almost as if time itself had stopped as silver-blue eyes connected with a pair of horrified gray ones. Tears sparkled in the corners of Naoto's deep irises, but she blinked them away just as quickly as they'd come, refusing to allow them to fall. A small smile graced her lips as she fell down to one knee, her gaze never leaving Souji's.

A hand raised itself in Souji's direction, as if reaching out for him, not quite able to reach. Naoto's slender fingers closed tightly into a fist as the hand fell again, hanging limply at her side. Her smile grew faintly, but the sorrowful air it held never went away. Pale lips moved slowly, quietly, and despite the loud laughter in the background, the silverette heard every word.

"Don't give up, Souji... I love you."

And she was gone.

Cold. A dark, icy feeling shot down Souji's spine as he stared blankly at the spot where Naoto had stood fighting at his side just moments ago. The feeling in his legs had gone, and he couldn't find the strength in them to stand up again. He vaguely registered Rise's voice screaming, pleading with him to stand up and fight again somewhere in the background--But the idol's words fell on deaf ears; his brain simply could not process them.

Something in the corner of his eyes began to sting, and he blinked, looking around the nearly empty battle field. Some ten feet in front of him, Izanami was still laughing. The sound was high-pitched and bone-chilling. A sound that any sane person would have at least tried to run from, but the silverette was too stupefied to move.

Izanami moved toward him again, swaying left and right, as if mocking him. Souji stood up, his sword clenched tightly in his hands as he stared up at the monstrosity in front of him. She was going to attack, and he knew it, but he wasn't afraid. His attacks had proved themselves worthless and he knew trying now wasn't going to change that. He shook his head slowly, taking in a deep, relaxing breath.

If he waited, would he be able to see Naoto again? Would the same attack take him to wherever she was? Where the others were? Izanami moved, and Souji knew what was coming. He shut his eyes, waiting silently.

Something slammed into him, and he could only assume it was the same attack that took his friends. Hands pulled at him from all sides, and he suddenly felt weightless as he was dragged downwards. He opened his eyes, glancing up into the cold, dark, crimson orbs of Izanami, before his gaze flickered off to the side. The ghost of Naoto's last smile flashed before his eyes before he shut them again, allowing the void to consume him completely.

He was left with nothing but darkness.