A/N: All right! It didn't take another 4 months before I was able to update again! Thank you to my readers and especially those that left reviews! Haku-BlackRose, TacoSparkster and Vivi239, thank you again! Every review means so much! This faster update and long chapter is for all of you!

At last, we reach...


Cyrum Kingdom

A bright and bustling kingdom met them on the other side of the gates. Compared to the previous places they had traveled to on this journey, Cyrum set itself away from all of them. People hurried along the cobblestone streets. There did not seem to be a sad face among them. The strong scent of the ocean filled the air, reminding them just how much this kingdom relied on the vast body of water.

Ryudo scratched his head as he soaked in the feeling of Cyrum. It had certainly been a long time since he was last in such a place.

"My, this town is bustling with activity!" laughed out Elena excitedly.

"The fruit of prosperity is in abundance," grumbled Mareg, his voice filled with warmth.

"This peaceful scenery is just a facade," came Roan from behind. Ryudo blinked a couple times in surprise. The tone of Roan's voice was not what he had come to expect from the young blond. Rather than cheerful, Roan sounded quite grim, and, Ryudo thought, wise beyond his years. Walking forward, Roan looked out across the buildings and people. "When the time comes, its true, ugly form is sure to show itself." The young blond yet out a heavy sigh before he turned back to face the others. "We, the people of Cyrum, are known as 'The Descendants of the People of Darkness'."

Elena gasped lightly and covered her mouth in surprise. On the other hand, by her side, San muttered out sarcastically, "That's quite a mouth full..." Brow arching, Ryudo shot a glance to the other Geohound. He had been a bit surprised at her sarcastic comment, seeing as she often took situations like this one more seriously than he would. The blue-haired woman seemed rather...unimpressed by the matter, busying herself with flicking off some dirt off her shoulder rather than focusing on what was unfolding before them.

Shaking his head, Ryudo pushed the matter from his mind and looked back to Roan. "So is the Granasaber in this country?" he asked, placing a hand on his hip. "What do you mean by 'descendants of the People of Darkness'?" His blue orbs traveled over the inhabitants of the kingdom. "Not like everyone's hunched over, rubbing their hands and muttering curses. You're saying that you're one of these 'People'?"

Roan's shoulders drooped drastically as he let out a sigh. "Yes, most probably have no memory of the People of Darkness. ...But only my people can never forget..." Standing taller, Roan pushed aside his sombre expression. "That is why I left to learn about the confrontation between Light and Darkness." The young blond let out a quick, but slightly forced, laugh. "Come, let's get a room first. Tomorrow we can start searching for the meaning of Zera's words!"

"Which one's the inn?" Throwing his arms behind his back, Ryudo looked over the buildings. The style of them was unlike any he had come across before. Everything was different and foreign to him.

"Over here!" Waving them to follow, Roan hurried off towards one. After quickly glancing up at the sky to judge the time, Ryudo continued on after the happy blond. Once they entered the building Roan was certain was the inn, Ryudo was tempted to shield his eyes. Inside was just as brightly colored as the exterior. It seemed as though the people here had attempted to hide their heritage by making everything as far away from "darkness" as possible.

The inn master that hung behind the front desk was chuckling to himself. On top of the ledger rested a smaller book that he appeared to be reading. Having reached the front of the group once more, Ryudo placed his hand firmly down onto the front desk to get the attention of the inn master. The look of amusement that had been on his face was quickly swapped with surprise as he looked up to the Geohound.

"Oh, guests!" After clearing his throat, the inn master stood up a little straighter. "You want to spend the night? Sorry, but I can't put you up tonight. What with the festival and all..." The inn master shrugged helplessly while Ryudo's expression began to drop.

"Festival...?" asked Roan softly. The young blond had sunk to the side of the group. Ryudo arched an eyebrow at Roan's actions. It was not like him to shy away so.

The inn master's eyes darted over to the young blond. "I've seen you somewhere..." Once he soaked in Roan's appearance, his eyes widened. "Oh my! Aren't you the pri—"

"Huh, who are you talking about?" interrupted Roan quickly. His bright-blue eyes shone with surprise and wonder. But, Ryudo could tell, there was a hint of worry behind his gaze. Roan was quick to hurry on to his original query. "You seem to be enjoying yourself. What is happening at the festival?"

After a slight pause, the inn master explained: "Oh, Oh, the day after tomorrow, the King himself will be holding a festival commemorating the founding of the country. I hear the King will be making an important announcement. All boys in the Kingdom are to meet at the castle. Maybe they found some treasure underneath the castle and they're gonna show it off."

Roan licked his lips apprehensively. "How odd..." he murmured out. "Something is afoot..." Cupping his chin in his hand, a look of deep concentration crossed his face. Once he seemed to make up his mind, Roan looked back up to the inn master. "Excuse me, sir. Can you please put my friends up for the night?"

"We don't have much, so..." Slightly nervous, the inn master's eyes darted from Roan to the rest of the group. Laughing, he put on a forced smile. "You can all stay for free."

Bewildered by what was going on, Ryudo did not notice that Roan had moved up to his side until the young blond tugged on the Geohound's sleeve. "Mister Ryudo, I must first go home. Please, spend the night here. I shall return tomorrow."

Ryudo blinked a few times in confusion. Just what was causing Roan to act so differently? Without waiting for a response, Roan hurried on out of the inn. "Okay, take care...then." The Geohound crossed his arms and sighed helplessly when it was clear the young blond had not heard him. "What's with him?" The brunet scrunched up his face in confusion. "He doesn't want us to see his home? Or tent, or whatever." Rolling his eyes, Ryudo waved in a dismissive manner in the direction Roan had gone.

"There is nothing to be done; allow the cub his privacy, for if we would be so thoughtless as to follow..." trailed off Mareg.

Elena clasped her hands thoughtfully before her. "His family would be awfully surprised to see our strange party."

"Really now, are we that odd?" snorted out San. Ryudo glanced at her sardonically, as did the others. The blue-haired Geohound let out a sigh and raised her hands, stopping any of them from answering her question. "Yeah, never mind. Forget I asked."

"Right." Sighing, Ryudo shrugged and tried to push the matter from his mind. "We'll take it easy for him, then."


The group sat around their dinner table at the inn. Leaning back, the male Geohound scratched his shoulder.

"I guess we have some free time. Let's check out the town."

The other three nodded. Mareg was next to speak up: "The town bustles with colour; surely there are some amongst the many who have traveled here who know of the Divine Sword."

San shrugged, her chin resting on her hand. "It's worth a shot, but I think you'll have to be quite lucky to get some actual information. Legends mostly, I would assume. They may hold some truth...and sadly will probably all we'll have to go on in the end." She sniffed lightly in disapproval.

"So, you guys are looking for something, eh?" questioned the inn master, coming over to their table. "Why not go to the bazaar they're holding in the Castle Square? Lots of people come there from all around." With his thumb, he gestured outside and in the general direction of the bazaar.

"Lots of people from all around?" piped in Elena.

The amethyst-eyed woman glanced to Ryudo, raising her eyebrows in speculation. "Wouldn't hurt to check it out... Bazaars are normally a good place to get information."

Ryudo nodded at her. "Might be just what we need."

From the side, Mareg grunted. "Fables and legends hide truths which may yet be of use to us. I would hear those people's words. Elena. Perhaps you would like to accompany me as I search for these truths?"

The Songstress dipped her head in agreement. "Yes, that would be a great idea, Mareg." She gave one of her warm smiles to the beast-man.

Once more the inn master shared his knowledge of the city with them: "Ah, yes. At the back of the square you'll find someone named Hemble. He might just know something. But he's a difficult...man to deal with. He won't talk to you if he doesn't like you." His look took on a sour expression.

San calmly glanced to him, raising an eyebrow in question at the inn master. "Difficult...? What sort of person does he like?"

His response did not come for a few moments. "...Miss, just how strong is this young man here?"

The Geohounds looked to each other, Ryudo giving a slight shrug to show his opinion of the question. "Well, Ryudo is quite strong. Able to hold his own in many situations. I've come to trust him quite a bit," answered San. Her response produced the faintest of smiles from Ryudo. Once she finished her statement, what she said seemed to fully sink in, and she glanced down for a moment.

"Okay, then listen: When you go see Humble, make sure he knows what a wonderful couple you are."

Both Ryudo and San immediately looked up at the inn master, wide-eyed.

"A...wonderful couple?" questioned San. Ryudo tried to speak, but no words could come out from his mouth. Across the table, Elena shared with them a look of sympathy, while Mareg grinned in amusement for a second.

The inn master shrugged. "Like I said, he's strange, but he'll be sure to talk to you." His gaze switched from the now-stunned San to Ryudo who was just beginning to recover. "I tell you, buddy—you're a hell of a lucky guy to have a nice-looking girl like her. Shouldn't be too hard to play kissy-poo."

San bolted upright, a tint of red to her cheeks. "What? No way! Th-this wasn't part of the job description! I...!"

"Ah, did I say something wrong?" The inn master chuckled.

"San, sit down!" hissed Ryudo, gesturing for her to do so. Swallowing, San listened and quietly sat down without another word. "We'll figure something out. We at least gotta try something while Mareg and Elena are out." San seemed to shrink into her chair at the prospect.


With a heavy sigh, San sat down on her bed. Raising his golden head, Hisashi eyed her for a few moments while there was silence. Then...

"Argh!" San flung herself back down on the blankets, running her hands through her hair. "What am I doing? Why am I so... Bah. It's just part of the job, right?" The Geohound rolled over to get a better look at the small dragon. "Who knows...maybe we won't even have to act as a...couple to get the information. Still..." She returned to lying on her back. "Ryudo should have spoken up against it right away... We have a job to focus on! He should know better..." Sighing, she stared at the ceiling above her as though he held the answers she sought.

Hisashi, in mild amusement, flicked his tail back and forth. "Just try not to enjoy it too much if you have to go as a couple," he practically smirked.

San looked over and blinked once at her friend. "What?" With a grunt, she lunged for the golden creature, but he was too fast for her and quickly flew out of her reach. "Bah! Hisashi!" Shaking her head, the Geohound lay down. "Goodnight," she grumbled before trying to fall asleep.

Little to their knowledge, Ryudo was having a similar conversation with his friend...

Ryudo paced around his room, soon tossing his blade to the bed. Skye perched at the base of it, keeping both eyes on his friend.

"You're going to wear a hole into the wood, you know. What are you mulling over?" questioned the bird.

"It's just... I don't...What is..." a long sigh escaped him as he attempted to restart his thoughts. "Why does this whole Humble thing seem so...bothersome?"

"Listen to your own minced words, Ryudo. Are you sure it's Humble that's bothering you?"

The Geohound looked over his shoulder, his brow furrowing. "And just what is THAT supposed to mean?"

If Skye had a more human face, Ryudo was certain he would be smirking right now. "You tell me."

Waving a hand, Ryudo tried to dismiss the subject. "I'm sure we'll think of something else. No use worrying over that little detail now." Briskly, as if to avoid any more comments or questions from Skye, Ryudo went to the bed and plopped down to fall asleep as quickly as possible.


Warm rays of sunlight glinted through the gaps of the curtains and onto the sleeping form of Ryudo. The change in his surroundings was enough to cause the Geohound to stir from his slumber. Squinting, Ryudo raised his hand as he sat up. His mind was a dull blur in his newly-awakened state.

"You talk in your sleep, you know," commented Skye. Bristling, Ryudo looked around and spotted the eagle-like bird perched calmly on a bottom post of the bed.

"What?" he asked flatly back.

"You talk in your sleep," stated Skye once more. "Something about your home... And I do believe even a certain Geohound we know was mentioned."

Cheeks nearly glowing, Rydo scrambled out of the bed, rubbing his face in attempts to hide it. "It was nothing!"

Skye opened his beak to say more, but a knock at the door quieted him.

"Hey! Ryudo! You awake?" asked San from outside. "We gotta go to the bazaar. Or did you forget already?"

He blinked, gathering his thoughts back together. "Right! Just a second!" he called out in answer.

"Try not to have too much fun," Skye practically smirked. Pausing, Ryudo looked down at his friend as he grabbed his gear, fuming lightly. If San was not waiting, he would have tried to get the bird back for what he said.

"Hey. Hey! Ryudo! Come on already!"

"Hold your horses!" Ready, Ryudo opened the door and saw San already heading down the stairs. Once Skye flew out, the Geohound closed the door behind and quickly headed down to the landing, trying to keep his mind off the dream.

"Did you get any sleep?" questioned San at the bottom of the stairs, her amethyst eyes peering up at him.

Rubbing the back of his neck, Ryudo answered, "Just an odd dream. Nothing to worry."

"Well, looks like it's time to go to the bazaar then, guys." San dusted off her hands as she neared Mareg and Elena who were already waiting.

Even the inn master came up. "That's right. The bazaar is held in the Castle Square. Take care!" He clapped Ryudo on his back and headed off to take care of the inn.

"C'mon, let's go," said Ryudo.

"A moment..." interjected Mareg as the group began to move.

"What's up, Mareg?"

"As I understand it, more than two a couple does not make. It would be rather...odd were I and Elena to accompany you. We shall make our way to the harbor while you conduct your affairs."

"Good luck guys. We'll meet up again when we find something...or are unable to find anything at all," came Elena. Bowing her head to the Geohounds, she headed off, followed by the gruff Mareg.

"W-wait, guys... Don't..." muttered San after the two, too softly for anyone there to hear, though.

"Yeah, someone should check out the docks." Ryudo looked back to San, but had to quickly look away for his thoughts still lingered on the dream he remembered only fragments of. "We going?"

San swallowed from behind. "Yeah. Let's go."

Without a single word said between the Geohounds, the two of them traveled through the streets and made it to the Castle Square. It was bustling with activity. Music and voices filled the air, along with various spices and a salty breeze. Ryudo scratched the back of his head.

"I still don't see what the kid meant by these people being the 'descendants of the People of Darkness'," he sighed. When San did not respond to his comment, he looked over at her. She eyed the crowds as if searching for something. Blinking, she then looked to Ryudo and gave her response with a mere shrug. Looking past him, she pointed out to something.

"Hey, maybe that's our guy. If not...good a place to start as any," she muttered. Ryudo looked to where she pointed and saw a burly man in a sailor suit standing outside a tent.

"I guess he does seem a bit...odd for this crowd." Out of everyone there that they saw, only the sailor seemed to be in a foul mood. Why like that during a cheerful gathering did not make much sense to the Geohounds. The two shared a look before heading off in the direction of the sailor. They had to squeeze their way through the crowd before reaching his tent.

"You Mister Hemble?" asked Ryudo as San made her way beside him. "Know anything about a Divine Sword?"

The sailor gave the two of them a searching glare, and then grunted in disgust. "I don't talk to no one without a proper introduction." Puffing out his chest, the sailor crossed his arms.

San's face twisted in confusion but she put a smile on in apology and pulled Ryudo away from the tent. They weaved through the rest of the crowd and made it to the edge of the canal. Only once they were out of the man's sight completely did they sigh in relief and relax.

"Look, we should do what that guy at the inn said and act like a corny, schmaltzy couple. You know, hold hands and giggle and stuff." Ryudo was almost gritting his teeth.

"What?" asked San, taking a step back. "A couple? No way. I am NOT doing that." She crossed her arms in defiance.

"And why not?"

"I'm a Geohound, I don't do things unless I get paid," she answered, turning back to face him. Ryudo's expression fell and he pinched the bridge of his nose. "Hey! Just kidding!" San laughed once and the brunet sighed before giving her a light glare. "Are you sure we gotta act as a couple though?" she groaned. "Can't we just beat the information out of him?"

"I thought about that," he frowned. "But in this place...someone would be bound to notice, and I don't know about you, but I'd like to keep a low profile with this."

San let out a long sigh. "Are you SURE there's no other way?"

Ryudo blinked, crossing his arms. "You just being so against this because you're not getting paid or are you just a really lousy actor?"

Pursing her lips together for a moment, the blue-haired Geohound studied him for a moment. "I don't think it's MY acting skills that need to be questioned here." Her expression relaxing, and her usually tense position loosened up as she moved towards Ryudo. Leaning close, she made it so only a couple inches were between the two of them. "How are YOUR acting skills, dear?" she asked, fluttering her eyelashes at him.

Ryudo's heartbeat was so loud, he was certain she could hear it. With San that close, all he could do was swallow nervously. The tension was broken however when San stepped back and burst out laughing. It was not a moment too soon either and Ryudo breathed easy once more.

"S-sorry!" she laughed out. "I just...couldn't resist. The look...on your face!" San clutched at her sides as she calmed down. "Okay... So, couple it is?"

"Looks like."

"Alright then."

Blinking, Ryudo stared at her in question. "What are you doing?"

"Looking the part better," she grunted as she removed her cloak. "Hold this." She shoved the piece of clothing into his arms and then proceeded to remove her bracers, gloves, and the blue tunic, leaving behind her long-sleeved black top. While holding onto all that, San pulled up her pants to cover her boots and make them less obvious. "Thank you," she muttered, taking back the cloak from a nearly-stunned Ryudo who snapped his jaw shut. Quickly, she placed the gear inside the cloak and folded it so it became a make-shift pack. "Hisashi," she began, turning to her friend as she slung the pack over her back. "Search around and listen in on anything you can. See if you don't hear some information on the Divine Sword yourself."

"Right." Nodding, the golden dragon was off.

"So...you ready?" asked San. For one final touch, she reached back and let down her hair. Waves of blue were let loose and it took a moment for Ryudo to register her question.

"Yeah. You look...different, all right" he breathed, changing what he was originally going to say. He had never really thought about it before, but he did actually see her as fairly attractive—given that she was not coated in the blood of battle.

She arched an eyebrow quizzically at him. "Thanks? I think..."

Not trusting himself to say anything more at that moment, Ryudo held out his arm, and San took it gently, the two heading back off to the odd sailor.

Together, they made their way through the crowds one more time, and stopped in front of the tent. A few tense moments passed as Ryudo and the sailor, whom they assumed was Mr. Hemble, stared each other down.

"Mr. Hemble. Got a question for you," stated Ryudo, a light glare on his face.

"Oh so you two really are a couple?" Their assumptions had been correct: the sailor before them was Hemble. Shifting his weight, the sailor switched his glance to San, eyeing her up and down.

"Sure. We're smiling. We're holding hands. Why the hell else would we be so damned near each other?"

To his side, San giggled softly. "Oh, Ryudo. That's my man, always so amusing." As if doing it for a while, San placed her head on his shoulder, shifting closer to the brunet. It took all of Ryudo's strength to keep his reaction masked and his beating heart quiet.

Hemble let out an odd laugh. "I like it. So what do you want to hear about? Come into the tent." Upon his command, the two Geohounds followed the sailor inside. As soon as they entered, the two stopped dead in their tracks. It was rather...bright for one of Hemble's stature.

San leaned close to whisper to Ryudo, "Is that a dress hanging on the rack? Yikes..." The brunet snorted a laugh after a second.

"Say, you!" came Hemble as he rounded about, peering at San.

"Me?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"So what do you see in this guy?" questioned the sailor, advancing on San. "Obviously, you don't know how to pick a MAN. You have SUCH bad taste!"

Both of the Geohounds bristled at the remark, reddening slightly in embarrassment and anger. "What? Why you little..." San began to growl.

"Easy, San," soothed Ryudo, his hold on her tightening to keep her from lunging at the man to attack and to keep her by him.

"He may be somewhat good looking, but why would you pick a BOY who would lose to someone as...marvelous as me?" Smirking, Hemble flexed to show off his sailing muscles. Eyes flashing, he gave Ryudo a look that said he was better than the young Geohound. "Weak men are worthless. I, on the other hand..." Once more, he took another step towards San.

Ryudo took a step forward in defense and raised a fist to Hemble. "I don't have time for this. If you want me to put a foot up your mouth, then just come out and say it!"

"Tsk, tsk. And what a temper! I can't believe you'd hang around with a boy like THIS." Hemble sneered at Ryudo. "He's no good for you. No good at all."

"What?" San practically yelled, taking a step forward to match Ryudo's level and then went beyond. "Ryudo is a much better person than you are! And he's even more of a man now than YOU! You self-centered, arrogant, egocentric, creep! If it were down to you and Ryudo, I'd put my gold on Ryudo any day without a moment hesitation!" she fumed. Pulled back from his own anger, Ryudo took a moment to blink at San in surprise for her vehement defense. "For your despicable behaviour, why, I oughta cut yo—"

"San! San, San," calmed Ryudo, moving in front of her and placing his hands on her shoulders. "I'll take care of this."

"Is that so, my dear?" asked Hemble, peering around the young Geohound. "Well then, we will have to find out, now won't we? The game is arm wrestling," he challenged to Ryudo, rolling up his sleeves. "Your strength against mine. And to make it interesting, if I win, I keep your parrot." Skye, who remained on Ryudo's shoulder this whole time, snapped his beak at Hemble in defiance.

San faced Ryudo, her cheeks still flushed from her anger. "Ryudo! You CAN'T lose to this jerk!"

Despite the situation, Ryudo managed a smirk. "Not planning on it."

Huffing, the two men went to the table at the center of the tent and sat down, placing their elbows on top of it. Hemble wore a smug expression, while Ryudo continued to glare. They took each other's hands, waited a second, and then the arm-wrestling match was off. At first it seemed like a fairly even match, each of the men able to hold their own, but as it went on...

"Come on, Ryudo..." whispered San from the sideline. The Geohound began to show signs of straining first. Though quite capable, his raw strength was proving to be less than desirable in this situation.

"Try harder, little man. Your parrot will soon be mine!" taunted Hemble, gaining the lead in the match. Like she mentioned before, San had come to have faith in Ryudo...but everyone needed a little help now and then, and he was no different.

"Hey, Hemble. Your uh...nose hairs are sticking out," commented San, looking to the sailor.

It was just the distraction that was needed.

"Ach! This cannot be! My mirror! Where is my mirror?" he questioned, glancing up at her. Ryudo seized that moment of confusion, and overtook the sailor. A cry of victory escaped him as the Geohound jumped up, glad to be done with it. Hemble, on the other hand, was in a shock. He stared first at San, and then back to the triumphant Ryudo.

"Oh! My bad. It wasn't a nose hair after all, just your face," smirked San.

"Horrible! Horrible!" Hemble began to cry out. "And I was going to teach the parrot to tell me how wonderfully magnificent I am!" He began to tear up.

Both of the Geohounds let out an annoyed sigh. "Just tell us about the Divine Sword."

"Huh? I don't know anything about it..."

Grunting, Ryudo threw up his arms and looked to San. "Now he tells us. This was a complete waste of time."

San let out a single chuckle and began to head out. "What were we even thinking?" They exited, and were met by the noises from the bustling bazaar.

Once the fresh air hit their faces, San began to laugh as she rubbed her face. "Man, I haven't had fun like that in a while!"

From her side, Ryudo let out a chuckle. "Yeah... Hey, Skye. Mind taking after Hisashi and see if you can't find any information out there? You know, make sure you don't become pay in any other bets."

The eagle-like bird let his gaze linger on Ryudo for a moment before nodding and flying off without a word. The Geohound was a bit surprised, but he was glad for the lack of protest from his friend.

"So...what are we gonna do now since that was a total waste of time?" asked San, placing her hands behind her head.

"Take a break?" suggested Ryudo as they meandered along.

"A break?"

"Yeah. I'd say we deserve one since this crazy job started. Don't you?"

San grinned slightly as they paused. "Yeah. I guess we could use one. But, y'know..." began San as they started to head through the crowded Castle Square. "You owe me now."

Ryudo blinked and faltered in his step for a second. "What? Owe you?"


"And why the hell do I owe you?"

The blue-haired Geohound smirked in triumph. "For being a wonderful actor back there, and helping you win."

"Help me win?"

"Didn't you notice? It was thanks to me distracting him that allowed you to win."

He blinked then coloured lightly and rubbed the back of his head. "Yeah...but...not as though we got anything useful," he tried to rebuke.

"Mhmm. And what if it had been something we needed? THEN where would you be?" San's victorious smirk widened.

"Yeah...well..." He let out a sigh as they neared a bench on the other side of the Market Square. "Thanks," mumbled Ryudo softly.

The smirk of San's transformed into the slightest of smiles. "You're welcome. Now..." She sat down on the empty bench and sprawled out her legs. She may have looked more like a lady with her slight gear adjustment, but in the end, she was still the San he had come to know, and even enjoyed being around. "How will you pay me back?"

"I, uh...well..." He fumbled for an answer.

"Alright, alright. I'll pick. How 'bout you..." Ryudo blinked while waiting for her request, his throat starting to go dry. "Get me a drink? There was a stand back there, 'round the fountain." She pointed through the crowd in the general direction of the drink stand.

"Alright. Two drinks it is then. Wait right here." After a quick motion for her to stay, Ryudo headed back off through the crowds to the drink stand. He had to squeeze by a group of people to reach it. "Two drinks."

"What types would you like?" asked the kind-looking woman.

"Uh, well..." The Geohound placed his hands on his hips for a second. "What is there?"

"We have the Delectably Desirable Passion Juice."

Ryudo practically jumped at the name. "The what?"

"Give it to the person you love and they'll be certain to fall in love with you!" she smiled at him.

"Er...what else you got?"

"The Fountain of Knowledge. One sip from this and you are sure to get smarter!"

In annoyance, Ryudo placed a hand to his forehead. "Got anything normal? What about that? The drink back there?" He pointed to a rather plain-looking jug that was set further back than the rest.

"That? Oh, that's the Cyrum Punch. Made from various fruits that are local to the Cyrum Kingdom."

"And why is the one normal drink hidden from the rest? Bah, never mind. I'll take two."

"Right away, sir!" she smiled before she got the drinks.

With the juice paid for, the Geohound quickly left and made his way back through the crowd towards the bench. This time he had to be more careful as to not spill the punch.

"Ah! That was fast," commented San as she stood up to receive her drink. Gone was the transformation she had undergone and the woman standing before him was the Geohound he had come to recognize. She took a small sip. "Mmm. Not bad. What is it?" Ryudo gave her the answer. "Huh. ...Alright. So. What do we do now?"

"We...take our break?" he suggested and she rose up.

"Sounds good to me." San gave a genuine smile to the brunet, one that made his heart skip a beat. With a nod and a slight smile of his own, the two Geohounds headed off to see what the bazaar had to offer. There were many shops people had set up, each selling different things from fresh food to jewelery. San made them stop at the jewelery stand for a moment, teasing Ryudo with how the pieces fit him perfectly. With San chuckling and Ryudo frowning to hide his amusement from that, the two headed back off.

"What's this?" asked Ryudo when they came up to another stall. Several people were just walking away from it, chatting lightly.

"Step right up you two! Try your luck at catching one of our fishes! If you catch one, it'll bring you luck for the day." The man behind the counter grinned at the Geohounds. Sure enough, when the two got closer and looked down, the large tub was filled with over a dozen goldfish.

The brunet blinked, looking back up. "For the day?"

"Yessir. Would you care to try? It's very simple," offered the man. Without waiting for an answer, he held out a fishing rod to Ryudo and waited. With a shrug, the Geohound took the fishing rod and placed the bait by a fish. It did not bite. Grunting in annoyance, he moved the bait closer to the fish, but succeeded only in scaring it away. "Wup! Keep on trying there, sir!" laughed the man.

"I got this, I got this." Concentrating, which he was surprised that he did for it being just a simple fishing game, Ryudo moved the bait over to the smallest fish there. Surely the small one would be tempted the most by some bait. "Aha!" he cried out in success as his plan worked. He brought the fish up to look at it a moment before setting it back into the water.

"Well done, sir!" congratulated the man, taking back the fishing rod. "May Lady Luck smile upon you today, and here..." He brought forward a flower. "A prize." The man motioned for Ryudo to lean forward. Blinking, the Geohound did so, and the man whispered, "I'd give it to your lady friend, if I were you." Moving back, he gave a friendly wink to Ryudo before moving on to the next customer.

Standing there a moment longer, soaking in what he was just told, Ryudo blinked and looked down at the simple flower.

"Hey." San snapped her fingers in front of his face. "Did that guy cast a freeze spell on you, or something?"


"C'mon, we still gotta check out other places." With a nod, the Geohounds headed back through the bazaar. They paused at a couple games, and made sure to ask about the Divine Sword whenever they could. No one had any information. With getting a better idea on where they would have to go next, the bazaar was proving to be useless. But in other regards...it was quite helpful. Ryudo looked over to San who had a smile on her face.

"Hey, what are they doing over there?" she asked, pointing to a corner of the Castle Square. The brunet looked to where she was pointing and blinked. A tent was set up, and a couple performers were playing music and dancing. Both of them had ears and tails of animals, reminding San and Ryudo of Mareg. Drawn by the music, the Geohounds headed over to the small crowd and listened. "I've never heard a song like this before," muttered San quietly. "It's so...so...I can't even find a word for it!" she chuckled.

Ryudo nodded at her description, or rather the lack of it. A silence fell between them as they listened to the uplifting song. The brunet glanced down to San and saw her eyes closed peacefully, a warm smile across her face.

"I like this... No past... No job... No future to worry about... Just a blissful moment... Let's stay like this a while, alright?" Her amethyst shone up at him, a smile in them. Unable to find his voice, Ryudo could only nod at her. She was right. For a brief moment, they had nothing to worry about. This was now truly a break from their job.

"Here," he mumbled, glancing away. Without looking at her, he held out the flower he had won to her. Cheeks going red, he dared not face her to see if she took it, or to see the reaction on her face. Had he, Ryudo would have seen the small smile find its way across her lips.

"Thank you," she whispered, taking it from him. Only now did he look back at her once the song ended. San nodded to Ryudo before walking forward to the boy who had been dancing and playing the song. "I really enjoyed your song. And your dance too," she smiled at him.

"Everybody knows this song. When I sing, people cheer up. That's how I make people happy, Miss—with music!" he grinned at her.

San chuckled and nodded. "It was very nice." From where Ryudo stood, he smiled as San returned to his side. She could be the fierce Geohound he first met, but she had shown him today a warmer side. A side he hoped would not be forgotten when they returned to the job at hand.

"Hisashi!" San called out. Ryudo looked over his shoulder and saw the little golden creature fly in and perch on San's shoulder. A second after, Skye returned to his. Their break was over now. No matter what was to come, he sure was not going to forget it. Smiling, he looked back to San who grinned softly at him. She was not going to forget it either.

"Looks like everyone's flocking back together," commented the eagle-like bird. Following his companion's gaze, Ryudo turned around to see figures approaching them through the crowd. One was easily recognizable even at a distance. The large form of the beast-man Mareg stood tall above the others in the crowd. Following in his wake, the smaller form of Roan nearly got lost. Ryudo blinked in surprise. Though part of his surprised state was due to the young blond having returned now, the main reason was due to...

"Millenia?" called out the Geohounds in surprise, while Ryudo went on to add: "What the hell are you doing here?"

Once the trio neared the Geohounds, Millenia put her hands on her hips and shot a light glare to Ryudo. "And just what is THAT supposed to mean?"

Crossing his arms, Ryudo returned the heated look. "Every time you show up, bad things are not far behind."

Millenia flicked some of her red hair back over her shoulder and scoffed lightly. "Oh please, you can hardly jump to that conclusion."

Fingers were held up as Ryudo began to list off their previous encounters with her. "Let's see, first there was Carbo, then Agear, followed by the tasteless town of Liligue, oh, and let's not forget Aira and those blasted nightmares!"

At a loss for a response, Millenia could only twirl a lock of her hair between her long fingers and glance away. It certainly was a tendency of hers to show up when things were starting to take a turn for the worse.

"That's not the problem!" interjected Roan, taking a step forward. "Right now, there is trouble in the castle! Quickly! We must go there!"

"And how exactly are we gonna do that?" questioned San. The blue-haired Geohound crossed her arms, a slightly worried look passing over her face. "I don't think they'll let us into their castle—no matter how we say please, and bat our eyelashes."

"Don't worry. We can take the waterway around and get into the castle from the rear gate."

After a moment's consideration, Ryudo shrugged. "Doesn't sound too difficult."

His height shrinking some, Roan seemed to try to hide beside the massive Mareg. "I do not want to be seen. Please, hurry. The boat is over there!" Still nearly frantic, the young blond pointed in the direction of the canals. Once it was clear that he would not be making the first move, Ryudo sighed and headed off in the direction that had been pointed out. With Mareg now in their wake, it was much easier to make their way through the crowds. Not many people seemed to want to get in the way of the beast-man.

The Geohound could not help but become slightly annoyed at the turn of events. When they had come to Cyrum, this was not what he saw himself doing while here. He had expected them to be asking around, and maybe stopping off at an old library to gather information, not be running off to the castle to see what was wrong. That was another thing that caused Ryudo's brow to furrow: why was Roan so concerned? Sure, Cyrum was his home and all, but it was home to everyone else here, and yet they were not showing the slightly signs of being worried. Just what was it that set Roan apart from them?

"Mister Ryudo! That's it! That boat. Please hurry!"

Glancing over to the waters of the canals, Ryudo saw the boat—which was as brightly coloured as the rest of the city—that Roan spoke up. It did not take much longer for them to reach the stairs that led down to it. Moving faster now that no one else was around, Roan was first to scramble into the boat. Hanging back, Ryudo made sure he was last to board. Freeing the boat from the ropes that secured it to the dock, the companions were soon sent gliding down the blue waters of the canals.

"What's the trouble at the castle about?" asked Ryudo, glancing over his shoulder at the young blond.

"The royal family here has a dangerous secret that could spell disaster...!"

Things were confusing the Geohound more and more. "Hey, hey. Just who are you, Roan?"

Slamming his hands on the side of the boat, Roan stood up promptly. Though he was small, his actions still caused the boat to jostle. San reached out and pulled him back down by the hem of his shirt before he could somehow managed to tip them. Though siting once again, Roan was no less calm. "That Gate must not be opened...ever!"

A tense silence fell over them. Facing the front of the boat, Ryudo scowled deeply. As if Millenia appearing did not give him a bad enough feeling, the brunet was getting an unsettling inkling that things were about to go bad...very soon.

"Dock here!"

Grunting, Ryudo followed Roan's request. Tossing out the rope, he secured it to the post on the dock. Once they had completely stopped and were secure, the companions scrambled out one at a time. Like when they had climbed onto the boat, Roan was the first to move. His anxiety was starting to spread to the others in their party. Without saying anything else, the young blond scaled up the stairs two at a time. Now that there was no longer any other citizens of Cyrum nearby, he did not seem preoccupied with trying to stay out-of-sight.

"Prince Roan, you must hurry! Menory is waiting!" called out a guard once they reached the top of the stairs.

Ryudo stopped dead in his tracks. "Prince?" The young blond in their party was really part of a royal family? Nearly flabbergasted, Ryudo shook his head and continued to where the others waited.

"I will explain later!" Dismissing the matter with a wave of his hand, Roan went over to the hatch the guard had just opened for them. "This is where we get into the castle."

"Prince Roan, these corridors have not been used for a while. Monsters have taken over them," warned the other guard that stood waiting.

"Do not worry. I have my friends with me." With a firm nod, Roan hurried over to the open hatch. Ryudo, about to follow, stopped when the first guard came up to him.

"Please take care of the Prince! The entire country is relying on you!"

"Entire country...?" coughed out Ryudo. This information did not comfort him in the slightest. He never did like having such weight of responsibility put on his shoulders. What would happen if they failed to accomplish whatever it was Roan hoped to achieve? If there truly was such a horrible problem, what would happen to the rest of the people if it came to pass? Shaking his head, the Geohound tried to push the thoughts from his mind before he was allowed to follow the young Prince down into the old passageways.

Dank and damp were the first words that came to his mind. Jumping off the last few steps of the ladder, Ryudo spotted Roan standing not too far away. The young blond was looking at the rather run-down passageway.

"I didn't think it would be like this..."

"As long as we can make it through without the ceiling collapsing on us, it'll be fine," commented Ryudo, crossing his arms. The constant sound of running water filled the air, mixed with noises that came from stuff crumbling and falling down. If he listened closely enough, the Geohound swore he heard the low hiss of monsters that infested the passageway.

"What're are you guys doing standing around? Let's get going!" chided San as she came from the ladder. Drawing forth his sword, Ryudo readied himself for whatever may surprise them in the darkness.

Traversing the passageway was a fairly slow process. Light was very minimal, and thus it was hard to see where they were going exactly. More than once already, Ryudo had stubbed his foot against some rubble. A curse escaped his lips with each blunder. If Roan had wanted them to reach the castle faster, he should have thought about bringing some light source for them.

"What was that noise?" asked Millenia. Stopping, they all made sure their footsteps would not overpower the sound Millenia spoke of. Between the water and faint sounds of monsters, a new noise could be heard.

"Well, I'll be...!" laughed out San. Hurrying forward, San made her way, with minimal stumbling, into the room ahead of them. The others, being slightly more careful with their footing, followed.

"What is it?" questioned Roan, craning his head around to try and get a look at what San had crouched before.

"Wait, I recognize that sound." Smacking his forehead, Ryudo let out a bark of a laugh. "It's a Carro!" The cry of the small creature was hard to mistake for anything else. The Geohound's brow was quick to furrow in confusion. "Wait, just what are you doing there anyway, San?"

"Helping to light our way by a means other than magic," she explained. The Carro before her let out a cry of happiness and began to chew down on something.

"Exactly how are you gonna do that?"

"Just be quiet and wait," she sighed back. It did not take long for Ryudo's patience to grow thin. Glancing over to Roan, he could see that not even the young Prince could wait much longer. Just before the Geohound was to press the matter once again, the Carro squealed out in joy and did a back-flip. Ryudo, along with the others, let out light cry in surprise. "See?" Before San rose, the little creature climbed up to her shoulder. Its tail, which was now glowing a warm red, was held out, illuminating much of their surrounding area. An amused grin tugged at the blue-haired woman's mouth. "They like Poff Nuts, remember? Feed them enough and, well, this happens!"

Ryudo tapped his foot against the ground. While it was all well and good now that they could see, something still bugged him: "Why didn't you just use your magic?"

San sighed, shifting her shoulders slightly so the Carro could sit better. "A more discrete arrival would be better. This little guy will help with that."

"Good thinking, San," praised Roan, though he was still quite anxious. "May we continue now?"

Shrugging, Ryudo held out his hand in the direction they had to continue down. "Light the way."

With their path now illuminated, traveling through the passageway was much faster. It was a good thing too, for at some points, the canal that ran alongside the passageway blocked their path completely at some points. It was only with activating some rather old switches and levers that they were able to continue. What the guards earlier had said about monsters was true enough, for even this short journey came with some battles.

Wiping his blade clean, Ryudo scaled the flight of stairs before them. Roan had voiced earlier that he believed they were close to the castle by now. But, since he had never traveled this passageway before, he had no way of knowing for certain.

"Hey!" called out Ryudo. Skidding to a stop, he tried to chase after their source of light. As they had turned down another hall, the Carro that had stayed with them through all the battles down here had scampered off of San's shoulder, and off towards a small hole in the wall.

"Leave it alone, Ryudo," came San. "We can't make it go farther than it wants to."

"Wanna bet?" Dismissing the Carro with a quick wave, Ryudo returned to the front of the group. The hall they were in was a short one. It did not take long for them to come to the large room at the other end. Darkness began to press in on them, threatening to consume their sight. Were it not for a single sliver of light, the shadows might have very well taken a hold of them.

"We're here!" cried out Roan. Rushing forward, the young blond reached the sliver of light that broke through the otherwise solid wall. Pressing his hands against the cool stone, he seemed to be searching for something. Soon, Roan was pushing all of his weight against the wall. "Help me, please!" Ryudo began to step forward to lend some assistance, but stopped once the large girth of Mareg reached the wall. What Roan could not do with all his weight, the beast-man was able to achieve with a simple push of his hand. Grudgingly, the wall began to move.

Once there was enough of a gap, the companions hurried on through while Mareg kept it open. After the beast-man slipped through, the wall quickly closed back on itself, leaving no proof that the secret door was there.

Ryudo had to blink several times for his eyes to adjust to the bright light. It was quite a change after coming from the dark passageways. That, and, much like all of Cyrum, the inside of the castle was coloured in such bright tones and shades that Ryudo thought he would be sick.

"Quickly!" Waving them to follow, Roan turned down the empty hallway to a large set of doors. These he was capable of opening on his own. Still moving as fast as he could, the young blond rushed into the room on the other side.

Ryudo took a moment to soak in the design of the fairly small room. Compared to everywhere else they had been, it was almost grim-looking. The designs etched onto the walls and floors, while not ominous in their own way, gave Ryudo a slightly troubled feeling. All that was in this room was a lone, old man at the center, and another set of doors on the far wall.

"Menory! Is the Gate of Darkness safe?" asked Roan, finally stopping once he reached the man's side.

The robed man turned around on his chair to face the young prince and his companions. His aged face showed signs of surprise once his eyes fell on Roan. "Ah, Prince Roan! You have come back safe... Thankfully, the Gate has not yet been opened. Yet I feel a strong power behind it."

A sigh of relief escaped Roan, and he finally seemed to be able to relax a little. "Thank you, Menory, for doing a good job of guarding the Gate of Darkness while I was away." Making a noise of realization, Roan quickly turned back around. "Oh, my friends, let me introduce Menory, the Demon-Sealer..."

A surprisingly warm chuckle escaped Menory. "Prince Roan, I am honored by your words. Guarding the Gate of Darkness is the role of my people..."

"Now what exactly is that door...?" asked Ryudo before the introductions could drag on for too long. Crossing his arms, the brunet stared back up at the oddly-decorated door.

"Ah yes, this is the 'Gate of Darkness'." Roan's shoulders fell slightly as he looked back to the large doors. "More proof of our heritage as the 'People of Darkness'," he added bitterly. "It is said that it will open when the People of Darkness have regained their pride. The power of Darkness is said to lie on the other side of the Gate. It is also said that it may trigger a great disaster...or even war."

"Prince Roan, if I may interrupt..." began Menory. "The other day, His Royal Highness had words of praise for me. But that is not all... Astonishingly, His Highness said that...soon there will be no more need for me to guard the Gate of Darkness!"

"WHAT?" blurted out Roan, completely taken aback. "So father also knows that the Gate of Darkness will open... How odd..." The young blond shook his head after a moment, clearing his thoughts. "But I still have the key."

"What key?" questioned Ryudo.

"This is it." Reaching his hand beneath his top, Roan pulled out a small object. The cool metallic surface glinted once the light touched it, and the Geohound was able to immediately recognize it for the medal they had helped him reacquire some time ago. A weak and wry chuckle escaped Ryudo when he saw it. Things had felt a bit...simpler back at that time. Matters certainly had changed for all of them.

"Yes, the medal that the Prince took with him when he left the kingdom," nodded Menory. "It is the key to the Gate."

"Go figure," snorted out Ryudo. "I thought it was a necklace to go with your tiara. Er...back when we first helped you find it, of course." When Ryudo saw the look Roan gave him, the Geohound immediately decided to stop making such jokes for the moment. "Huh, so it' real..."

"Yes, this medal is the precious key that my family has guarded for generations. It is also a memento of my late mother. This medal is passed down to the one who will inherit the throne. He must decide if the Gate is to be opened. And yet..." Roan's shoulders fell as he slipped the medal back beneath his clothes. "What does father intend to do with the Gate?"

"There are only two things you can really do to a gate," started Millenia. The redhead held out her hand and raised two fingers to illustrate her point. "Open or close it. Maybe you should ask your father about this."

Slowly, the young blond nodded. "I agree." To Menory, he asked, "Where is the King?"

"His Highness must be in his office on the top floor."

"Come, we must determine my father's intent!"

Stepping to the side, Ryudo gestured for Roan to lead the way. Without a moment's hesitation, Roan started off, the others not far behind. Had Roan not been with them, Ryudo could not help but wonder how long it would have taken before they go lost. He always believed that castles would be confusing, but this was bordering on the ridiculous. That, and all the bright colours were starting to give the Geohound a headache, making things that much more uncomfortable for him.

Servants and guards bowed to Roan as they sped by once they realized that it was the young Prince who had returned. Other people, whom Ryudo suspected might have been officials or nobles of sorts, tried to get Roan to stop so they could talk to him, but the Prince would have none of it. Everything else would have to wait while Roan sought the truth behind these matters.

Pushing through a large set of red doors, they finally made their way into the office. The design of Cyrum's flag cold be seen in several locations. Once again, Ryudo felt his gut churn at the overly-used bright colours.

Not stopping until he reached the desk, Roan slammed his hands against the top of it. "Father! Is it true that you will open the Gate of Darkness?"

The King of Cyrum looked up. He looked old and rather sickly. Years had not treated him well. There was also a look of worry to his eyes, as though matters had been troubling him lately.

"Yes, but I see you are late, Roan. We have been given audience, and now we shall move to regain our lost pride!" The King let out a sudden cough. The bravado and show of strength he had tried to put into his voice had not seated well with his current state.

"What are you saying? Are you saying we can regain our pride once the Gate is opened and the Day of Darkness has come? But we do not know what disaster may result! We do not have to be bound by history! We do not have to be 'The People of Darkness'!"

"Easy, my son." Trying a more relaxed manner, the King leaned back in his chair and motioned for Roan to calm down. "The messenger spoke of hope beyond that Gate. Hope for our people. And now that the Day of Darkness draws near, it is a time not for words, but for action!"

"How idiotic!" barked Roan, pulling back from the desk. "I will never give over the key! My medal!"

"Hmm, I note that you act not with dignity, as befits royalty. But no matter." Sighing, the King rose. "Your medal is no longer needed. The preparations are already made. The time to open the Gate of Darkness has come. No one can stop us. Prepare yourself!" Drawing his robes to him, the King held his head high and made his way for a door at the side of the room.

Ryudo stared after the King before switching his gaze back to Roan. The young blond stood there, shaken.

"Father... Mother would have never wished this to happen..."

"Just what is about to happen?" questioned Ryudo, not liking having no idea about what was going on. "Who—or what—are the People of Darkness?"

Roan let out a heavy sigh. Clenching his hand into a fist, the young blond steeled himself. "Let me tell you why we are called 'People of Darkness'!" Holding himself tall, Roan strode over to where the Cyrum flag hung in the room. Standing beside the bright design, he reached out and clutched at the fabric tightly. "This is the coat of arms of this country." With a huff, he wrenched off the fabric, revealing a much more sinister design that they had all come to know too well.

"That's Valmar's crest..." breathed out Millenia when the rest remained silent.

The emblem of the God of Darkness stood out greatly in contrast to the rest of the room. Ryudo felt a bitter taste rise to his mouth. Part of him would have preferred to have it remain the disgustingly bright colours.

"The People of Darkness are those who fought with Valmar against Granas long ago..." explained Roan bitterly. His expression became twisted with remorse. "Yet no one worships Valmar now. This is an old scar from the distant past...long ago."

"Which means the 'messenger' must have been Valmar..." gasped out Ryudo. He would have said more on the matter when a sudden explosion shook everything.

"The earth moves and trembles... There is trouble below!" growled out Mareg.

Roan gasped sharply. "The Gate!" Never had Ryudo seen such fear in the young blond's eyes before now. "The Gate of Darkness...opened? It cannot be. The medal is right here!" Frantically, Roan grabbed at the medal that still hung around his neck for some sense of confirmation.

"Staying up here talking about it's not gonna help anything!" snapped San.

"Dammit, we need to be downstairs! Move!" barked out Ryudo. Taking the lead this time, for he remembered how they had gotten here in the first place, the Geohound hurried out of the office. Those that worked in the castle were all still shaken from the recent explosion. Frantic mutters of confusion could be heard as the group made their way back down to the Gate of Darkness.

"The demon-sealing...Gate has..." breathed out Roan once they reached the room. Blown open, all that remained of the door was the rubble that was scattered about. Letting out a cry, Roan rushed over to Menory's side. The old guardian had been knocked off of his chair, and now lay on the ground.

"You all right?" asked Ryudo.

They elderly man let out a cough. He was most certainly alive...for now. Looking over the man's wounds quickly, Ryudo had to hold back a hiss. It did not look good. "Pride...that man..." rasped Menory, pointing a shaking hand to the destroyed Gate. "Power to lead Darkness... His Highness has been fooled. The Bringer of Ruin must not be free..." As his voice trailed off, Menory breathed no more.

"Menory," chocked Roan.

Leaning his head back, the beast-man sniffed the dust-filled air. A sudden deep and furious growl escaped Mareg.

"What is it?" Standing quickly, Ryudo looked to Mareg. When the beast-man noticed something, it was not to be taken lightly.

"That...SMELL!" Anger dripped from his words. For a moment, the Geohound was very thankful that they were on the same side as Mareg now.

"Is it Valmar? Is Valmar sealed inside?"

"No, it is..." Gripping his mighty ax, Mareg let out such a roar that the others had to momentarily cover their ears. Such anger. Such rage. Nothing would be able to stand in the beast-man's way until he reached what he sought. "I've found him at last! Ruin-Bringer! Demon-Man! I have found him, and with my teeth I shall tear his throat!"

Rdyuo nearly stumbled back in realization. "Melfice?"

"Yes," agreed Millenia, taking a step forward. "One of my kind is definitely near."

"We can't just jump to the assumption that it's Melfice again," warned San. Having stood by the back of the room, the blue-haired Geohound made her way up to Mareg's side. Brow furrowing, Ryudo blinked as he noticed something...different about her. Like after she returned to them from talking with Zera privately, she seemed paler, as though she had seen a ghost. "Remember what happened back in Liligue?"

Mareg, too consumed by rage to hold back his anger, snarled at her. San was quick to take a step back before he really lost his temper. "There is no mistake this time! It is HE!" Baring his teeth, Mareg charged into the shadows behind the ruined Gate of Darkness.

Picking himself up, Roan was next to enter, muttering something about needing to see what his people had kept hidden all these years. With a nonchalant shrug, Millenia made her way over. With only the Geohounds left, Ryudo looked back over to San. Her head hidden, he was unable to make out her expression. After clenching her fist tighter, San hurried on after the other three.

Ryudo stared into the shadows as he finally made his way towards the the broken Gate. He swallowed nervously, muttering, "Could it really be Melfice...?"

Whether it was truth or another false assumption, he would soon find out.

A/N: Hm, who ever shall appear next chapter?

And, at last, the "date" scene! xD Keep in mind, I have nothing against Elena/Ryudo/Millenia, but this is a Ryudo/OC story so...yeah x3 I had actually written out that scene a couple years ago, so finally now it was able to be put into the main story. So if it seems to be written a little differently from the rest...that's why xD And the dream Ryudo had... I had also written some shorts on the side about dreams Ryudo had during this journey that dealt with San, but I didn't want to make this chapter any longer so I left it out... Plus now you can make up whatever it was he dreamt about, fufufu.

I shall try my best to get out the next chapter sooner than 4 months wait again, but no promises.

And, woo, this fan fic is now my first one to break 100,000 words! *waves a small flag in celebration*

The events of Cyrum shall continue!