Chapter 24

Ryudo yawned as he stretched toward the inky black sky, as far as his fingertips could reach. It was pitch black outside, even the stars and moons did not light the rocky path. Only the red flame from Millenia's hand helped them to see and even then it seemed like only enough to light the small area around the group.

That may sound like a rather large area when you consider he was travelling with 5 people. however he was travelling with two women and a teenager and no matter how determined they were to not appear afraid Ryudo noticed they were walking awfully close to him. Due to this even Tio and Gatta followed suit without even realising and soon Ryudo was feeling rather closed in.

This coupled with his exhaustion had him on a very thin line between rage and… well…. More rage. This was no surprise for his comrades especially when lit by the faint light of Millenia's flame, his face was seemingly in a permanent scowl and his glaring eyes would strike fear into even valmar himself.

"WOULD EVERYONE JUST STEP BACK DAMN IT!" he yelled as he ruffled his hair in anger before pushing himself to the front of the crowd and disappearing into a nearby bush. His friends watched the bush with raised brows as they silently questioned what he was doing.

"Should we follow him?" Roan asked. Gatta laughed loudly

"Probably needed the toilet. Don't know about you but that's one place I DON'T want to follow him."

Centeria had little attention for the now quiet bush. Unlike the others in the group her eyes were only watching Millenia, a small smile tugging at the corner of her lips. "Millenia…"

"Yes Centeria?" Millenia answered, turning to look at the porcelain like face of her mirrored self. Centeria smiled softly in the dim light as she spoke and without the urge to destroy her, Millenia felt completely at ease talking to her. It just felt so natural, such an amazing calm feeling.

"Millenia I wanted to thank you for learning to make your own powers dormant for small periods of time also and allowing me also to fight. It's been such a long time since I could walk around like a normal person." Her voice oozed elegance, something Millenia could never accomplish. Millenia smiled back with a bounce of her head

"I know whatcha mean. I should thank you for teaching me how! You wanna take over for a little while?" Centeria excitingly nodded and the small flame in Millenia's hand went out.

Before Centeria could make her own light Another warm yellow/orange glow lit the area. A rustle from the bush announced Ryudo's return.

"A Carro… Cute." Gatta withheld a laugh as he looked at the cute fluffy Little creature rub against Ryudo's cheek. The whole look wasn't very manly to the two friends but Ryudo didn't seem to care. He obviously wasn't impressed at the cute cuddly little thing, but he did seem to be calmer then only moment's ago.

Happy to finally take the lead again he allowed the Carro's glowing tail to light the way. By the time they reached the cave his anger had melted into a more unnerving feeling.

This area, this cave, these memories. Melfice, Reena… the painful possession of the horns. If not for Millenia and Elena sealing them inside of him he would have gone through the same pain they did back on pilgrim road. And now those memories joined the older ones until the feeling grew to a sickening degree.

"Ryudo Why stop? Time is essential." Centeria asked bluntly. Ryudo denied her a reply as he silently continued forward. Every shadow made his heart race, but he managed to hold a stern expression. He suddenly understood why this freaked out little Lita. If only her little hand was in his maybe this wouldn't be so hard?

He turned, placed his hands against the rocky wall, and slammed his head against a flat cold rock.

"RYUDO!" Millenia and Roan called out.

"That is not an advisable action." Tio commented as she automatically took some cloth and began cleaning the self-inflicted wound.

Gatta scratched his head as he asked "So what's with the sudden need to make friends with a wall?"

Ryudo pushed Tio's hand, mumbled some incoherent words and continued to the broken seal. After all, how could a man as brave as Ryudo tell everyone that he would find comfort in a 6 year olds hand? No. No one will ever find out his thoughts! NEVER! He will take those thoughts to the grave! Even further if at all possible.

He stood in a daze, moving without thought. He couldn't recall taking the cold steel chain in his hands or the weight of the trap door. He couldn't recall the feeling of the Carro moving to the top of his head as it yawned sleepily. It wasn't until he saw the second seal that his head began to clear.

He heard the excited chatter behind him and as his senses became clearer He felt both relieved and on edge. Before him stood a perfectly round inky blue orb. It was covered in symbols like the symbols used in the pages left behind at each site. The symbols glowed white as something, whether a creature, monster or just the reflection from the Carro's tail, seemed to move in the orb. Ryudo rubbed his eyes but next he looked at it, the orb was simply still.

His chest began to ache slightly and his feet felt as if they were nailed to the ground. How could he fill relief and fear at the same time?

"So how do we destroy it?" Roan asked as he picked up a small metal box. Centeria and Millenia circled the orb, Millenia going anti-clockwise whilst Centeria went clockwise. Both had a single finger pressed to her own lips gently in thought.

"I don't know. An attack may break it open and release it into one of you." Centeria commented.

"One of you?" Roan squeaked nervously.

"Well it won't jump in someone who is already possessed." Millenia mumbled, coming to a stop beside Centeria. "Maybe if we absorb it?"

"No, These infusement orbs secondary feature is to stop absorption before the piece is planted into a host." Centeria replied.

Ryudo didn't move from his spot. He silently watched everyone. Millenia and Centeria were bouncing idea's off each other. Roan was pulling the next note from the box. Tio's antennae seemed to tremble as if analysing something and Gatta…

Ryudo's eyes widened, his stomach lunrched and his feet began their desperate journey as he dashed toward his friend. But Gatta was too far from Ryudo, and too close to the orb. Gatta stared at the strange symbols in wonderment as his hand slowly began to reach for the smooth liquid like surface of the orb.

Ryudo couldn't find his voice all he could do was run, reaching his hand out as if it would get him there faster but it wouldn't.

As Gatta's hand touched the orb Ryudo watched in horror as his friends brow wrinkled in panic. He watched as Gatta opened his mouth to call for help, he watched as the inky surface of the orb seemed to slither up his friends arm before pulling him in.

Ryudo finally reached the spot his friend had once stood; he even managed to grab his free arm! He saw Roan's hands desperately grab Gatta's sleeve and they were soon joined by three pairs of female hands. But despite the groups best attempts, despite their determination and their pleading cries; Gatta's arm was pulled from their grasp and the childhood friend of Ryudo was fully immersed into the orb.

Ryudo's heart felt like it was being pounded with a mallet and his hand grasped his chest tightly as his lungs failed to bring oxygen into him. It was almost as if they were stone. His body trembled as a stabbing like pain seemed to course through his veins with his blood. He felt like electricity wracked his entire body… He knew this feeling, this pain. He felt it once before, but back then he wasn't desperately trying to pull his friend to safety, no he had his brothers cold lifeless body in his arms…

It seemed like hours since the pain first hit him but in reality it had only been minutes, and with a gasp in attempt to get air into his lungs, he screamed out in pain, screamed so loud that his throat ached in burning pain. And then… his world went black…