"Ugh…" A certain blue haired boy who went by the name of Minato Arisato groaned. He was lying on his stomach, with his face flat on the damp grass. He strained his muscles just trying to get on his knees, but he was completely exhausted. Minato collapsed onto the ground again, and rolled onto his back. He brushed away the cold sweat that had gathered on his forehead and closed his eyes. He felt the warm sunlight on his face; in the meanwhile his body ached, and screamed for rest. Minato winced in pain, and slowly drifted into sleep.
"Welcome to the Velvet Room, my dear young man. Or should I say, welcome back?" An old man with an impossibly long nose grinned in a maniacal fashion.
"Igor…" The blue haired boy muttered tiredly as he slumped into his seat. He quietly glanced around the room, and found instead of the familiar elevator-like room, it was now the interior of a monorail, or train; like the one he had ridden to Port Island. Another change was that Elizabeth was nowhere to be found. Instead, there was a much older woman who resembled her.
"My dear you man, if you are wondering about the appearance of the Velvet Room, it is because a new Wild Card has yet awaken." Igor said mildly as Minato raised an eyebrow. "A 5th generation Wild Card…"
"5th?" Minato gave Igor a questioning look. "Why a train…?"
"You may think of it as a train of thoughts, dreams, memories even…" Igor spoke enigmatically. "Memories are held together solely if the person wishes to remember, but as you know, time unfailingly goes on, and everyone forgets. We struggle to remember the faces of lost loved ones, even to remember a slightest detail…"
Minato nodded in agreement.
"You of all people should know this. After all, your memories were the chains that held the Great Seal in place…"
"…Speaking of which… Why am I out of the Seal…?" Minato murmured as he stared at Igor for an answer.
"My dear young man, I am not the one to explain." Igor replied in a rather solemn manner, and then turned to the woman who sat nearby. "Margaret, would you be so kind enough to explain?
"…Yes master." The woman spoke unenthusiastically. She wore a similar outfit to Elizabeth, and had pale blond hair and piercing yellow eyes. She gave Igor a curt nod, and then stared intently at Minato, which made him slightly uncomfortable.
"…You must be that human boy my sister took such a fancy to. If you are here, that must mean she has finally accomplished her mission." She closed her eyes a let out a deep sigh.
"Who am I?" She reopened her yellow eyes. "I am Margaret, sister to Elizabeth and also a resident of the Velvet Room." She paused briefly. "You see, after you became the essence of the Great Seal, my sister confronted me, and told me a tale. A tale of a human boy who had dedicated his life to protect, no. To shield humanity from death."
Minato remained silent. Margaret continued with her explanation.
"After she had told he this tale, she had made it clear to me that she wanted to save this boy from his fate, no matter the cost. Elizabeth then left the Velvet Room to accomplish that task." Margaret paused. "She finally succeeded. Elizabeth became the Great Seal in your place."
"……" Minato gave a solemn look as he slowly turned to Igor.
"My dear young man, never forget she sacrificed her life to you, so that you would be able to have a second chance at yours. However…" Igor let his voice trail off.
"…Does this have something to do with the new Wild Card?"
"How perceptive of you." Igor chuckled. "Indeed, my dear young man. This Wild Card's ordeal affects you and the other as well."
"It involves me… and the other?"
"Precisely. This particular ordeal concerns you Wild Cards specifically." Igor waved his hand, and a familiar contract and feathered pen fell onto Minato's lap. "I have read your cards, and I foresee the foreboding clouds in you future. It is entirely your choice to intervene and accept our services once more, or take the latter route."
"…You say this affects me as well. There's no escape is there?" Minato sighed as her resigning signed the contract. As he put down the pen, he looked up at the old man, and asked, "But tell me, Igor. Who are the other Wild Cards involved in this ordeal?"
"Of course that is your only question. The fourth generation Wild Card is none other than Souji Seta. The one who unknowingly gave Elizabeth her chance to free you. The other… I cannot tell. This Wild Card has yet to awaken to their abilities."
"I see…" Minato mumbled dejectedly.
"Forgive me, but it almost slipped my mind. Please, take this." Igor waved his hand once more, and an ornate blue key fell into Minato's hand. "Much time has passed in your world. How the events unfold, how the people you have made bonds with react, how new bonds may be forged… all comes with time. 'Til then, my dear young man."
Minato awoke once more, still tired, but not exhausted as before. Groggily he got to his feet, and examined his surroundings. He was near a river, which had a small dock. When he looked up, the sky warned of rain, and the fact that it was bitterly cold didn't help. Minato sneezed, and shoved his hands into his apparent pockets in an effort to stay warm. He then spotted a bench that overlooked the river, which thankfully had a cover of some sort so it wouldn't be touched by incoming rain. He quietly walked over and sat down on the bench.
The night was dark, almost ominous. The murky lamplight barely illuminated the darkness cast by the clouds. From what Minato could tell, he had probably landed somewhere in the countryside, far away from Port Island.
He had no idea where he was.
"Cold…" He shivered as he lifted his hands out of his pockets to try to warm them with his breath. As he did, he squinted through the darkness to see if anyone was around, but as he expected, there wasn't a sign of anyone, or anything to tell him where he was. Minato resumed his previous position after noticing his breath was as nearly cold as his hands. He pointed his face downward, and shivered again. Soon enough, it began to rain. Thankfully, Minato did not get wet.
Wishing he still had his watch, Minato looked up at the sky, and saw a gap in the clouds, where the moon seemed to be peeking at him.
'Hello to you too, Ryoji…' He thought as he looked away. Minato was used to being alone, but after his past adventure through the Dark Hour and its horrors, he missed the companionship of his fellow S.E.E.S. members. He stared at the waning moon wonderingly, as he thought what his friends were doing. Soon, his eyes began to glaze from the brightness of the moon. He closed his eyes to listen to the sound of the rain falling.
"…Excuse me, but what are you doing?"
Minato opened his eyes. There was a girl who looked about sixteen or seventeen, maybe. She wore a plain white turtleneck sweater, and a plain black skirt that went just above her knees. He hair was jet black, and looked like it was supposed to be a bob-cut. Despite the fact she had shorthair, she wore a head wrap like a head band, giving her a particular appearance. Another thing that stuck out was the bag of groceries and umbrella she held in her arm and hand. She had a lethargic look in her eyes, as if she were dreaming.
"…What are you doing out here?" She repeated.
Minato honestly didn't know where he was. He shrugged.
"So, are you lost or something?"
"…Lost." Minato admitted, while trying to hide his embarrassed tone.
The lethargic look in the girl's eyes vanished. Her eyes showed no emotion. She stared at Minato for a few moments before saying, " I'm guessing you don't have a place to stay either."
"…I'm not being forward, but do you want to stay at my place? Staying here won't do you any good, especially in this weather."
Minato gave the girl a blank stare. It hadn't even been five minutes, and she had asked him to stay at her place.
"I don't mean it that way." The girl murmured softly as the rain continued to fall. "I mean, you probably could go to the Amagi Inn, but…" The girl shrugged.
"Yes or no?"
Staying at the Inn sounded like a good idea, but Minato had no money. He contemplated his answer before giving a small nod.
"…Okay. Follow me." The girl waited patiently as Minato stood up stiffly from the bench. She let Minato under her umbrella as the both proceeded to walk through the rain.
It was incredibly awkward, because the girl and Minato never said anything to each other as they walked through a suburban area. After she had led him past a dozen other houses, she finally stopped at the gate of a rather large house. She quietly handed Minato the umbrella to Minato as she dug through her skirt pocket and pulled out a simple copper key. She unlocked the gate and the door, took the umbrella, and let Minato inside.
"Give me a moment to put these away. I'll get you the phone in a minute." She said after she had gone inside the house herself and removed her shoes. As she stepped onto the wooden paneling, she turned around and faced Minato. "Is something wrong?"
"…Are you sure it's all right for me to be here?" Minato protested as he remain in the doorway. "What about your parents…?"
"If it wasn't okay, I wouldn't have asked you to stay. As for my parents, they aren't here." She stopped when she saw the puzzled look on Minato's face, then explained, "They're working somewhere out of Japan, so I live by myself. Please excuse me."
After she had spoken, she walked through a doorway, and out of Minato's sight.
After a moment, Minato closed the door, removed his shoes, walked to a nearby sofa, and sat down. The sofa was similar to the couches at his dorm, so Minato slightly relaxed. As he waited, he glanced around the room. There was a rather large flat-screen TV, which seemed too big for actual use. Next to the TV, was a small coffee table with a faced-down photo frame. Above it, was a calendar with the date set at March 2012.
'So… it's already been three years… Igor wasn't kidding.' Minato thought to himself. 'That means that they're in college now…'
Disheartened, Minato slumped into the sofa, and found himself staring at his reflection on the TV screen. He looked the same as the last time he remembered; Navy-blue hair, gray eyes, Gekkoukan uniform, he even had his MP3 player. As he stared at his reflection on the TV screen, he could've sworn he saw white ripples on the screen. Minato blinked. As he stood up to examine the TV, the girl walked into the room, holding her house phone.
"I forgot to introduce myself." The girl said apologetically. "My name is Kioku Ayasaki."
"Minato Arisato." He nodded as he turned his attention to her. "…Can you tell me where I am?"
"Yasoinaba, or Inaba. And seeing your uniform, means that you're from that private school at Port Island, right?"
"Yeah. How do you know that?"
"My junior year. My school took a trip there." She informed. "Now, can you tell me how you ended up here?"
"…I don't remember." Minato lied, for he knew full well she wouldn't believe him if he told her his story.
"…Okay." Kioku nodded, and then handed him her house phone. "Try calling any of your contacts."
"Thank you." He said politely as he took the phone from Kioku and dialed the only number present in his mind: the Dorm's.
"This number is no longer in service. Please hang up and try again."
Minato frowned slightly, and redialed the number.
"This number is no longer in service. Please hang up and try again."
"…That's right, they wouldn't be living there anymore… They're in college…" He mumbled quietly, as her handed the phone back to her. "…I guess… the number was disconnected…"
"Oh... Then, I guess I should show you the guest room. Is that all right?" She asked as she placed the phone on the coffee table.
"......" Minato sighed. "Yeah… I guess I'll be stuck here for a while… I'm sorry for causing you trouble, Ayasaki-san."
"None at all." Kioku flashed a half smile. "But, I do have school tomorrow, so I won't be here 'til later. Follow me."
Minato nodded, as he followed his new acquaintance up the stairs, to a hallway with several doors.
"The guest room is on the right. My room's in the center, and my parents' room is on the far right, but don't go in there. The living room and kitchen are downstairs, along with the bathroom." Kioku said in an informing tone. "…Like I said before, I won't be here tomorrow because I have school. You could go out and explore the town if you'd like, but there isn't much to look at."
"......" Minato shook his head. "…Thank you for letting me stay."
Kioku stared at him for a moment. She looked like she wanted to say something to him, but instead, she gave a curt nod. "Well, good night Arisato-san." She gave a polite bow, and headed toward her own room.
Minato hesitantly opened the door to his temporary room. It was roughly larger than his old dorm room, minus the furniture. It was very simplistic; the room had a bed, desk, a small sofa and TV. The most noticeable thing was the stack of books lying on the desk, which Kioku had presumably read already. Curious, Minato walked over to the stack of books and picked up the latest one, "The Pink Alligator."
"…Akinari." Minato said finally after he opened the book and began reading, hearing only the sounds of the ticking clock, and the soft pattering of rain. After some time had passed, Minato put it down after reaching the middle of the book. Due to an old habit, he could never find himself sleepy at this time of night, despite the fact that he was always a tired person. He sat down on the bed, and removed his Gekkoukan blazer.
"…" He found himself staring at the TV screen again as the clock continued to tick.
Not moving, he glanced outside the window. It was still raining, but not as hard as before.
Tick… Tock… Tick…
All of a sudden, a strange hum was emitted from the TV as a faint image appeared on its screen. Minato knew he left the TV off, so what the hell was going on? He continued to stare at the screen, when an unfamiliar silhouette of a person appeared. Minato continued to stare at it, but couldn't make it out. Moments later, the silhouette faded into its yellowish background, then disappeared all together.
Just as he stood up to examine the TV, the image and humming stopped. Once again, he saw his reflection staring at him. Minato tore his eyes away from the inky black screen, and glanced at the clock.
It was just past Midnight.
A/n: Okay, I haven't been on the computer for about three weeks due to my "sans motivation". I also haven't been on, because flipnotes! :D Anyway, all other stuff aside, I'm writing up updates. For all stories. So please, give me time, I'm stressing put and I feel like my head is going to explode if I don't take it easy. Damn, I'm in it deep... yes. I apologize.