And the Clock-Hand Ticks

The shadow field that contained Artemis and the now deceased Shadow Caster began to dissipate showing to the remaining elementals that a not too serious battle took place, though they did notice a rather concentrated crater where wisps of shadow continued to rise from.

"She got him," Leda sighed, "I was afraid that she might have some trouble."

"Why's that?" Aqua scrunched her face up in thought.

"Because, my young apprentice," Leda turned to Aqua, "no matter how powerful an elemental is, if they face an elemental within their element, they will have some problems. When the Caster cast his shadow field while we were busy, he fulfilled that requirement. She was from that point on in his element until his death."

"Ohhh, I see," realization dawning on Aqua's face.

"Well, I got one more spell to use before we do anything," Aster began, "but first, we need to find Artemis."

They split up to search for their fellow elemental and resident hybrid so that they could purify the Force Point and head back to the Temple of Time. Aqua and Aster continued walking together towards the crater that seemed to be the center of the battlefield, until Aster froze.

"Leda-sensei!" Aqua frantically called out, "She's over here, and she's out cold!"

Leda whipped around at the sound of here student's voice and ran over to their location to see that the space-and-gravity-manipulator was indeed unconscious and was tossing and turning fitfully, as if locked in a nightmare.

"Hold on!" She ran over and knelt by her friend, putting a hand to her forehead before jerking it back as if it was burned, "Damn, she's burning up!"

"Hang on," Aster stepped back, kneeling down with his hands over Artemis's body, "Aqua-chan, can you help a bit?"

"Sure," She pulled up some water from the nearby shore and directed it to flow around Artemis, "Reikyaku Sutorīmu (Cooling Stream)," the now frigid water continued to flow around Artemis until it gradually began to get closer to her. It eventually stopped flowing and became a pool under her, but became no less cold under Aqua's power.

Aster, meanwhile, was whispering a Japanese incantation that would not only help Artemis, if only a little, but it would also reenergize the rest of them and purify the Force Point, "Kami no Hikari (Light of Kami*)," he whispered before a bright light began to radiate from his body to wash the area in its radiance.

The haze that was brought upon the area as a result of the Force Point's corruption began to thin as the three conscious elementals felt their energy regenerate and any wounds they sustained began to knit back together until the light finally dimmed.

Aster let out a sigh from the mental strain of maintaining the spell to do so much before he asked, "How is she doing, Leda-sensei?"

"Better, but I don't know why she's still unconscious," Leda's eyes reflected the confusion of her students as that spell was made specifically to heal all physical ailments.

"Wait." Aster stepped forward and looked at her head and then changed angles several times, bewildering his companions. "It's as I thought. Kami no Hikari was made to heal all physical wounds, but this isn't a physical wound, it's a magically induced mental wound. Her mind has been drawn in to do battle with whatever the Shadow Caster planted into her."

"Okay then," Leda said, still looking at Artemis in confusion, "we should bring her back to the temple so that Ultima can know of what is going on."

"It's a good thing that I've already had my training with her, even though she put me through hell…" Aster continued to grumble about "slave-driving hybrids" and "evil gravity wells" before he put his arm out straight and focused.

With a chop straight down, a portal opened and the three conscious elementals and one unconscious elemental stepped through the portal before it reknitted itself closed, its purpose complete.


Reappearing through the rip in space, the party of four walked again on the island where the Temple of Time was located. One looked at the majestic temple in nervousness while another looked at in smugness.

"Your aim was off again, Aster-kun." Aqua, the smug one said.

Aster hung his head in defeat, "I know…"

With feigned sternness, Leda intervened, "You two haven't been betting behind my back again have you?"

Aqua looked at her teacher nervously, "Uhhh…no?" she cringed at the sternness in her voice, until she saw the laughter in her eyes, denoting that she was teasing.

"She had you there, Aqua-chan!" Aster laughed at her expense.

Before Aqua jumped her silverette friend, Leda again intervened for the sake of time, "Okay guys, we need to get in there to see Ultima about Artemis, I don't like the diagnosis Aster gave at the force point; It makes me think that there was something more to this attack."

They both answered with a quiet "okay" before following their teacher in the arts of the element of water.

Entering the Temple, they immediately saw Fringe reading a book in a language that neither quite understood yet but the other could read, write, and speak fluently. He looked up and saw Artemis and the grave look on Leda's face and he immediately stood up to guide them to where Ultima was.

"What happened to her?" He asked rather callously.

"She was struck by a spell as she killed a Shadow Caster." Leda curtly answered and Fringe scoffed.

"She never watches her back." He said arrogantly. He would have said more if not for the glowing of Leda's eyes and her impatient posture.

"Fringe, I usually have a lot of patience, but I don't right now." She said shortly, "I am not going to listen to your prattling on how you're better than everyone else here when half of us can kick your ass and one of us is injured and fighting for her mind."

Fringe flinched at her tone and righteous anger towards him and looked toward the other two in her company and flinched at what he saw in their eyes, one pair of blue maelstrom-like orbs and a pair of green glaciers, both directed at him. It appeared that they weren't in the mood for his mouth either.

"Fine, I get the hint." He said dejectedly.

"Get this through your thick skull, Fringe" Aster said coldly, "no one here is going to stroke your ego, so drop the arrogant attitude, or Satre and I will beat it out of you!"

For a third time Fringe flinched, remembering when Aster was finally able to commune with his alter ego, the Obsidian Dragon, also known to them as Satre. When they are fighting alone, Aster and Satre have their strengths and weaknesses, different for each one true enough, but the fact remained that they had weaknesses. Aster's being his lack of experience or his lack of knowledge, and Satre's being his prideful attitude and his lack of restraint. When put together however, these weaknesses are eliminated, making them a juggernaut of power.

His first time communing with Satre happened earlier that year

/ Flashback \\\\\\

"Now, you can't learn to use light to its full potential until we have all of you." Ultima began, "So, that means we're going to go back into your mind to release and commune with that part of you that's been locked away until now."

"What do you mean, Ultima-tou-san?" Aster asked.

Ultima felt a flutter throughout his body when he heard "tou-san" added to his name. He knew that Aster had lost his real father at a young age due to the first manifestation of his powers, particularly over lightning and thunder and blamed himself for that and in turn distanced himself from his mother to prevent it from happening again. He never knew that Aster had gotten so close to him in the few months that he had helped him and his family. Really the only reason he was doing that was to keep an eye on the heir to the Silver Dragon, more aptly named the Diamond Dragon, but get closer to the kid he became and eventually he began to see the silverette as a son himself.

"What I mean is that you have to commune with Satre, the piece of shadow within you. By communing with him, you'll purify him of all evil, and he'll just be pure shadow, rather than darkness. The Diamond Dragon has a piece of every element within him, Shadow included." He explained.

"Okay I guess…" Aster hesitantly conceded, "I just hope that he doesn't come out to play again."

"Don't worry about that." Ultima reassured him, "I'll be there with you in case something goes wrong."

Aster nodded and they both began to meditate, back to back.

\\\\\\ Flashback End /

The result of that communion was terrifying to say the least. Aster's power jumped quite dramatically and that was left to be his secret weapon, as only a few of his teachers...and victims knew of it.

They approached Ultima in the library of the temple where he they were accompanied by Dekrosna and Rayde when he began to speak.

"I know of the ailment that Artemis has." He said not looking up from the ancient tome in front of him. "It was cast by a Shadow Caster, correct?"

"Yes." Aster said, "Tou-san, my Kami no Hikari spell didn't purify her as it should have."

"Well that's no surprise." Ultima finally looked up to look at his surrogate son. "The Japanese were always more concentrated with their Shadow Magic. Light was never their forte. Now the Greek, they are another story, but that's for another time."

He walked up to Artemis and placed a hand on her head, then one on her heart. "He got her good." He grunted, "She's fighting for the right to run her own body. I will try to help her as much as I can, but I can only do so much. It's up to her now."

Light began to pour out of his hands as he concentrated on her mind, "I'm working to isolate the battle for her body. This could help her or hurt her, I don't know which, but for now she's a flight risk." The light dimmed and he looked up, wiping some sweat from his brow, "We need to keep an eye on her when she wakes up. It could be her, it could be Rogue, or it could be her controlled or convinced to betray us by Rogue. As it is, all we can do is wait."

Leda looked up with stricken eyes at the verdict dealt by their leader. His unspoken order was heard loud and clear by the water mistress 'If she betrays us, we will have to kill her' and she didn't want to comply. Sure she and the warrior of gravity and space didn't always get along and constantly annoyed the other, but she was her best friend, and she knew deep down under all that roughness that was Artemis, she felt the same way. She hoped to any god that existed that Artemis would win the battle of wills taking place in her body.

As each of the warriors left the room, Dekrosna's eyes suddenly glowed faintly, so faintly that no one other than him noticed. He sat down and looked directly at Artemis as this was one of the very rare times that he had the opportunity to get a vision of the future.

/ Vision \\\\\\

A cloud of darkness and a wash of light are connected by a cord.

This cord suddenly becomes more pronounced and the darkness and light at the middle begin to fight the other.

The darkness begins to slowly take over the light and suddenly the entire cord is of darkness, and still connected to the light.

Suddenly, the cord begins to pull the cloud of darkness closer to the wash of light and the scene begins to get darker

The wash of light begins to get dimmer, before it shoots a star like object in a northern direction before the source of the light is overtaken by the darkness.

The place where the wash of light was begins to take a form and it takes the form of the Temple of Time before the sun rises and sets for a total of seven times until all disappears and the number eight appears in several languages circling around the Time Sage before disappearing.

\\\\\\ Vision End /

Dekrosna opened his eyes and saw the aura of darkness and light around Artemis and his eyes turned grave.

"That was a grave vision." He turned to walk out the door but turned just in time to see the light around Artemis fluctuate and the darkness turn darker before returning to normal, "A grave vision indeed."



Alright, another chapter done, and before the year was out too! That's a record. Totally kidding, I wanted to get this chapter out at least by midterm, but that didn't happen, but a week after doesn't hurt too badly.

I wonder who can figure out all of the hidden messages in the vision I gave Dekrosna…I will recognize those who do down here and you'll get a cyber-cookie.

That's all for me, until next time!