Synemyoa: Sorry for not updating for quite a while... again! I'm not going to make excuses. They're tiring (to type). Please enjoy this chapter. It's longer than the others- 2K+ words... :)
She sat there in the middle of the darkness, hugging her legs to her chest. It's so painful... She wanted to know why things turned out like this. Sure, they've been to dangerous cases before... One, were she was even targeted by a demon who wants her blood to maintain his good health. But this was different. She had never been hurt this way before. I'm carved. She marked me... What's going to happen to me now?
She couldn't wake up even when she tried to. She was sealed inside of this darkness. She felt so powerless... She hated the situation and she in the process began hating herself as well. I won't be able to wanr them, save them. She'll slaughter them all and they wouldn't be able to see it coming...
All her worries, the heavy thoughts in her head were waying her down, making her feel like she could sleep for eternity starting at that moment. Naru... everyone, please be careful. This was her last prayer, her only wish before darkness took over even within her.
Mai...? Naru didn't understand why but suddenly it seemed he heard Mai's voice inside his head, calling him... telling him to be careful. This case really is driving me crazy... They were treading their way deep underground. Wherever the eerie passageway led to, no one knew for sure, but they have to do this. Not only to save Aimi and her family, but also, most especially, Mai.
Naru has been silent for some time now. He must be very worried about Mai. Masako felt sad thinking this, but she couldn't deny her feelings either. Deep inside, she knew she never really had a chance with Naru. Along the way, even though she kept arguing and fighting with Mai over Naru, the sweet girl has also become a very dear friend to her. She wanted nothing more than to see her be well again, bouncing like the 'child' she is and showering everyone with her bright smiles. Mai, please be okay.
After walking for what seemed like hours but in actuality just thirty to forty minutes, the passageway came to a dead end. They were left puzzled by this. Was this all they came inside here for? Just when Naru was about to voice out his thoughts in yet another rude way, Midnight meowed and jumped off Aimi's arms towards the left side of the wall. She pressed her leg with the symbol to a spot on the wall and in a matter of seconds, it seemed as if the whole place would cave in.
"Don't panic. Look ahead!" Naru commanded. Just as he expected, the thick wall in front of them started sliding to the right, a new path for them to walk through. The surroundings grew darker still even with the torch in Lin's hand, as they went deeper in this unknown hell hole.
"Mai! Mai, wake up!" dream Naru was panicking inside but he has to have faith. Mai was stronger than this. She would pull through... somehow.
After shaking her a few more times, she finally lifted her head to face him. Her eyes were weary and carved on her forehead was the Wiccan symbol of the Goddess. As her head fully took in her surroundings and just who was standing right in front of her, her eyes grew wide with udnerstanding in an instant. He was relieved when she jumped off her feet and gave him a hug. She spilled all her tears in his arms and he tried to comfort her as best as he could.
"Naru, I was so scared. It was dark and I felt really hopeless... Thank you for coming to get me." She said sincerely.
"You're welcome, Mai. But this is far from over. I was only able to pull you out of your trance through her help." As he said this words, a girl emerged from the shadows behind him. Mai waited to see her face and when she did... she felt her eyes grew wider than ever.
"You..." she said weakly, shaking her head and turned to dream Naru with the question in her eyes.
"Mai, meet Lady Caterina."
"This seems odd..." Masako whispered. John who was walking beside her at that time heard her murmuring and asked her about it.
"What do you mean, Hara-san? Is there a problem?" John inquired.
Everyone around them heard the question and stopped walking. Naru was wearing an irritated but curious expression and the others were all simply hopeful that she might have remembered something that would benefit the case. Except for one person. But as soon as Masako realized it, it was already too late. Aimi was already behind all of them and she closed the wall with unbelievable strength.
"Aimi! What is the meaning of this?!" Lin exclaimed. It was surely uncharacteristic of him to lose his composure but they were in a grave situation that nobody noticed the change in his demeanor.
"I hate for things to end this way... Not! I simply cannot allow anymore interference in my plans. I'm so sorry. Well, may you all rot in there. Bye!" The voice from the other side shouted and then, they heard her footsteps walking back to where they came from.
Masako started crying. "I'm sorry. I realized too late that the other evil presence I was feeling was hiding right inside of Aimi. She... she's possessed."
"Possessed?! By who? Caterina?" Ayako questioned.
"No... By Meia..." Masako answered weakly.
Meia went back to the house in search of the mother. I must convince her to bring me to that place. Aimi's mother was the only one who knows where the real symbol of the Wiccan Goddess was inscripted thousands of years ago. This time for sure, she would free the Goddess and use the power of the sisterhood to reign supreme in the spiritual world.
But she didn't expect Mai to wake up from her spell. Mai asked Bou-san to escort Aimi's parents to safety outside the city. If possible, in the hospital where Teresa laid asleep. She has some sortof power within her too, that might protect Mr. and Mrs. Sugawara somehow.
Meanwhile, Mai was hurrying towards the passageway. She was able to go out from the back door in the kitchen just as Meia entered the house. She must moved quickly and save the others. Being buried deep underground was not a good thing, she knew first hand and she wouldn't want her friends to suffer the lack of air.
Naru perked up and so did Lin. "Ssh. Someone's coming." Naru whispered. It was strange that they could hear the steps even though thickness of the wall was about half a meter. But there was no time to ponder such unimportant thoughts.
"Matsuzaki-san, Brown-kun, prepare yourselves to attack along side me if ever it is Meia again." Lin ordered.
"Yes. But we need to lessen the damage because it is still Aimi-san's body." John said kindly.
The footsteps stopped right in front of the wall. And to everyone's surprise they heard the voice of the person they least expected to come for them.
"Everyone, it's me, Mai! Are you okay?" their bright 'cheerleader' seemed up and about already. But they wondered where Bou-san was...
In a matter of seconds, the wall opened once more and Mai was standing there at the other side, out of breath probably from running... but also from using the powers Caterina lent her.
"She's possessed... But wait," Masako said as she went closer to Mai and touched her hand.
"...Lady Caterina?" the medium asked, unsure.
Mai smiled but differently this time. It was more like a mother's smile for her children. Mature. Calm. Yet the underlying worry still slightly visible.
"I'll explain later. Right now, we have to get back to the house. Meia probably realized by now that we tricked her." It was again Mai. She seemed to have control over her body whenever she doesn't use Caterina's power. Everything was so confusing but they have to wait for now.
"That good for nothing witch! Aaaaahh!" Meia's scream could be heard even from the outside. Her dark aura covered the whole house as she started her chants.
"Caterina!" She shouted, looking only at Mai as she slowly walked outside.
"Meia, beloved sister. Stop this. It is over now. You should not awaken our Mistress anymore." Caterina pleaded.
"You... You are not my sister! You're a traitor! You promised me your cooperation but in the end you killed me!"
Caterina cried silently, the guilt within to overwhelming to ignore. Even though she did it only to stop her sister's madness, it was still unforgivable. After all, they were not 'siblings' only under the Goddess' reign, but also by blood.
"This time, it is not I who will be slain but you!" Meia shouted as she charged forward to her sister, to Mai.
And as the last, lone tear fell from Caterina's repentant eyes... a blinding light surrounded Meia, thousands of souls eating her spirit slowly. "I'm sorry... Meia."
"It's finally over..." Mai murmured before she fell on her knees and fainted.
"Our lady has successfully killed Meia that night, I was a witness to this. But I knew it was the right thing to do. Meia has joined the side of darkness in order to gain the power stronger than her half-sister, Caterina has. But such a thing is forbidden. The clan should always be lead by the eldest daughter. We, our lady and I thought that with Meia's death her soul would be purified and free from the devil's hands. But we were proven wrong. I watched as the days passed by excruciatingly slow and the changes started showing. Lady Caterina was losing herself... That is why, dying in the hands of my sisters is better than being tortured to death by the evil being that Caterina has become."
"I found this at Aimi's room, under her pillow. It is the last entry from Agusta's diary. She foresaw her death and their clan's downfall even before it could happen... But she was powerless to stop any of it though she tried." Mai explained.
"So, you mean to tell us, that all along this Caterina person wasn't the villain but this Meia person who was jealous of her powers and wanted to exceed her?" Bou-san asked.
"Takigawa-san, I believe that was what Mai said just now. Please, refrain from asking pointless questions." Naru said, icily. The monk shut his mouth and murmured his insults to the young ghost hunter to himself.
"What was that spell, magic, voodoo whatever you used in the end to defeat Meia, Mai?" Ayako asked. Everyone in the room was curious to hear the answer to that as well.
"It wasn't me who used that. It was Caterina. After I asked Bou-san to lead Aimi's parents to safety, I went to Aimi's room, got the page from the diary under her pillow and I was about to go out when I noticed something glowing at the back of her full-length mirror. I moved the mirror, found the 'original' Wiccan carving... Caterina took over to read the chants and spells inscripted within the circle and that's what she used to banish Meia." Mai replied.
"Wow! You know, this feels like we didn't do anything at all and you did it all yourself!" Bou-san exclaimed, grinning afterwards.
"Oh, stop it. You're making me blush. If it weren't for everyone we wouldn't come this far anyway. it just so happened that I was the one possessed by Caterina. It could have been anybody if you guys were here too." Mai said, even though in truth she was the only candidate for possession because dream Naru was the only one who could lead Caterina's soul to them.
"But I was here too that time, remember?" Bou-san said.
"Well, she probably like to possess girls only." Mai said, laughing awkwardly. It was so obvious she was lying.
"Let's wrap this up and make our official report to the Sugawara household. I'm sure they want to get this over with, the sooner the better." Naru said, all business-like again.