Uploaded on: August 10th, 2013—Happy Birthday to Lavi!

Of Swords, Spells, and Karma

Chapter Twelve: Traveling to Find Kanda

Lavi didn't know for how long he was wandering around lost in the forest without any clear direction. Several times now he had changed his course, convinced he was headed in the wrong direction but as the sky grew darker above him, Lavi had no choice but to admit that he was hopelessly lost.

'What am I going to do now?' Lavi questioned himself. During his entire search, he had stubbornly refused to use magic, convinced he would be able to make it in time without it. He hadn't known then how much he'd come to rely on it, even though he had been traveling without using it for days with Kanda... although that was probably because he wasn't alone then. Now that he had a chance to think, Lavi realized he hadn't ever truly been alone except when he specifically wanted to be, and even then, he had companions.

His grandfather was his mentor and since the time they had left home Lavi had always traveled with him. Sure, he had gotten lost or into foolish situations plenty of times, but that never stopped the older man from finding his whereabouts and giving him a thorough lashing. Lavi gave a small chuckle of fondness as he recalled that, but sobered up quickly. There was no way Bookman would be able to find him now—he had hidden himself too well, and wasn't about to give up what he had worked for in a small moment of weakness.

Yuu. He had to find the other soon, not because he thought the other needed protection, but getting kidnapped was a different sort of circumstance from getting lost. Who knows what they wanted with him, and what they would do with him if they got their way? Unlike Kanda, Lavi was more familiar with the world outside of Ardua, and though the world was currently at peace, the scattered seeds of evil were beginning to show signs of growth. He and Bookman had observed for themselves the increase of dark magic traces in Ektona just last year, and instead of dying down, it seemed to be increasing.

There was a crunch beside his feet and though Lavi kept walking on, he spared a glance to the ground. There, he saw that his foot had stepped on pieces of glass, but whatever it had been was lost to him, for the foliage seemed to have covered it completely. But that moment was enough for him to catch a faint reflection of himself, and he was reminded of yet another person who was close to him. Red hair the shade of his own, the mirth of green eyes identical to him, Lavi remembered a young boy whom he had left behind a long time ago. Even after he decided to travel with Bookman, they had been close, excited and eager to exchange their adventures. They saw each other sparsely through the years, but that never bothered them. Lavi was suddenly rueful of the fight they had last time—it was that which caused them strain their relationship, and though he had been fine with it before, he suddenly felt in him a desperation to connect with the other.

The redhead let out a bark of laughter when he realized that the only thing stopping him from contacting the other was pride. Perhaps Kanda was rubbing off him more than he had realized, he thought, but all previous thoughts flowed away when he spotted a distant light up ahead. He couldn't help the sigh of relief that escaped him them, and as he hurried in that direction, he felt his spirits begin to lift up from its dark place.

~x.x.x.x.x~

It was the orange-red glow of the campfire that allowed Lavi to discern the two huddled heads by the fire, one a startling shock of white, bright against the darkness, while his companion's was more toned down in the shade of darker green. There was no way it could be the same people, but there was no mistaking that red scar as he approached closer to the two.

"Lenalee? Allen? Is that you?" His voice broke them away from their quiet discussion, and they jerked, startled by his sudden intrusion.

Lenalee was too surprised to say anything, and although Allen responded first, the words that came out of his mouth was confusing to both parties.

"Deak? Is that you?"

Lavi walked forward into light, remembering when he first met the two performers under nearly the same condition. It took him some time to remember the false name he used, especially since Allen threw him off, but he managed it fine all the same. "Deak? I recall you said something similar the first time we met, but I'm Ithzak, remember? I stayed with your group some days ago."

With the light, he could tell when recognition bloomed in their faces and as he expected, they whole-heartedly opened themselves to him.

"Itzhak! It's good to see you again!" Lenalee beamed at him and patted the spot next to her on the log she and Allen were seated on. Her sharp eyes noted immediately the absence of his previous companion and she tilted her head curiously. "Where's Ando?" she asked.

"Yeah, you too!" Lavi responded and took the proffered seat beside the girl. His face tightened as she mentioned Kanda, but there wasn't a point in denying the truth. "He was kidnapped," he said plainly, no trace of mirth in his eyes.

Alarmed by the sudden answer and what it meant, Lenalee hugged him right away, while Allen voiced what they wanted to say. "What happened?"

Lavi shook his head. "We were ambushed and after they managed to subdue us both they took off with him. I was looking for him actually, but I think I've been headed in the wrong direction, since I ran into you two. Unless you've seen him and three burly men?" The last sentence ended on a hopeful note that was dashed when they shook their head sadly.

Lavi couldn't help but feel disappointed by that, but it had been a slim chance anyway. He tried to lighten things up by changing the subject, asking about their circumstances, since he saw the two were alone. "Are you guys lost too?"

Lenalee laughed aloud. "We're not lost. We had to take care of supplies in the last town, so we're delayed one day from the others, but I don't doubt we can catch up fairly soon."

Lavi smiled at that, glad his friends weren't in a situation similar to his own. "Well, do ya mind if I join you for the night?"

Lenalee shook her head enthusiastically. "No problem at all! Are you hungry? We were about to cook some fish for dinner."

"I'd be delighted," Lavi replied, and the three of them quickly got dinner ready. As they ate, Lavi noticed Allen's not-so-discreet glances at him and remembered what he had said before. "Hey, Allen?"

Allen turned to him. "Hmm? What is it?"

Lavi smiled back. "Nothing much. But it looked like you wanted to ask me something. You can you know. I won't bite."

Allen's face turned red when he realized he had been caught and hesitated before speaking, for his curiosity was too great to be quelled. "Are you really who you say you are?" Lavi was surprised at the question, and Allen continued. "You look similar to an old friend of mine, the son of my mentor, yet you are not him, because he does not wear an eye patch, as well as he would never abandon his home. However, he did have a brother, and if I recall correctly, he had an eye patch, but his name wasn't Itzhak."

'Well I'll be. How could I have overlooked this shorty?' Lavi thought with amusement. Aloud, he said, "Do you mean to say your old friend is Deak then? You kept mentioning him, so I assumed, and I can tell I'm right." He studied the two before him, toying with the idea of revealing his identity, but ended up discarding it. Even if they were his friends, it was still better for less people to know the truth.

"Sorry. You're right, my name isn't Itzhak, but I can't tell you anything else. As for being related to this Deak fellow, I'd have to say I don't know anything on the matter. But I hope you can introduce us one day."

He saw Allen's frown and knew that his excuse wouldn't be bought so easily but Lavi couldn't be too concerned about it. "Well, it's been a long day, so I'll be heading to bed now. Wake me up for my shift later, alright? G'night you two."

~x.x.x.x.x~

As soon as Allen was sure the redhead was asleep, he and Lenalee began to talk with each other. It hadn't taken long for Itzhak to knock out, so they didn't have to wait long at all.

"Allen? What's wrong?" Lenalee asked with some concern. Her companioned seemed off, and as slight as it was, she could tell. "Did what he say bother you?"

Allen nodded. "Yeah. I'm pretty sure he's Deak's brother, but he won't admit it. That also brings the question of why he's here, alone, because from what I know, Deak's brother is living with his grandfather."

"Maybe he's just on an errand or something?" Lenalee suggested, but Allen dismissed it.

"It can't be. We saw him days ago and he was traveling with a friend."

Lenalee studied him curiously. "Why are you so concerned about him Allen? Did something happen before?"

Allen nodded. "Yeah. It was around two years ago, but I received a letter from Deak that told me how he had gotten into a fight with his brother, Lavi, I think it was. It didn't say what it was about, but I could tell he was upset when he wrote it. At that time the circus was making it bigger than it had before, so I couldn't just up and leave. I sent a letter back to him, but I don't know if it helped him at all. At the very least, I want to get Lavi's side of the story and see if they patched things up."

Lenalee smiled sadly when she heard Allen's explanation, and when he noticed, he apologized at once.

"Lenalee, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking—" Allen stammered, but Lenalee cut him off with a reassuring smile.

"It's fine, Allen. I think it's terrible for siblings to fight with each other, but I guess it's just because I miss my own brother so much." She looked up at the white lights twinkling above in the dark sky. "I wonder if he's doing well? I'm ashamed that I can hardly remember him at all, but even still, the desire I hold is strong, and I won't give up until I find him." She gave Allen a reassuring smile. "It's why I joined the circus, and I'm sure you have your own reasons as well Allen."

Allen nodded, and the two of them sat in silence, lost in their own thoughts.

"Hey, Lenalee?" Allen began absently. "What do you think of leaving the circus for a while."

"Leaving?"

"Yeah. I mean, you're right. I did join for a purpose—to pay off some of my master's debts and making a solid income for myself, as well as to be close to my late father. But I think it would be good to take a break from it. Instead of performing, to go exploring for a while. What do you think of it?"

"It's a kind of sudden question, but I think I've been thinking about that too. I mean, the circus is practically like a second home to me, but after years, I still haven't managed to find my brother. Even though I might not remember him exactly, I'm sure that I'll still be able to recognize him. Are you thinking of leaving now, Allen?"

Her companion nodded. "Yeah, I am. After we meet back up with the others, I'll ask to leave the circus for a while." He shyly looked at her. "Lenalee… Would you want to come with me?"

Lenalee giggled. Seeing a nervous Allen was so cute! "I'd be happy to, Allen. It's a wonder I didn't leave sooner, because some part of me longs for adventure, but Cirque de Cristal is like my home and its members my family. Even if I do go, it's not like I can't come back if I want to. So yes, Allen, I'd be delighted to come travel with you."

Allen blushed at her words, but he was beaming inside. "Thanks, Lenalee. I hope we can find your brother along the way."

Lenalee smiled at him fondly. "So do I, Allen. Ah, should we ask to travel with Itzhak? After all, Ando was kidnapped, and I want to help if I can. We can gain his trust with our honest friendship. And it's better to travel in big groups versus small ones!"

Allen laughed. "Three isn't much bigger than two, but that's a good suggestion. We'll ask him tomorrow then—there's no reason for him to deny us." He glanced up at the sky where the moon had shifted from its previous position, marking the passage of time. "Why don't you head to bed first, Lenalee? I'll keep watch for a little while longer and then wake Itzhak for his shift."

"Sounds like a good idea." Lenalee stood up and brushed off her skirt before heading over toward her tent. "Good night Allen."

"Good night Lenalee."

~x.x.x.x.x~

The next morning, Lavi was eager to be off in his search for Kanda but was persuaded by Allen and Lenalee to join up with the circus group some miles up ahead.

"Because they are ahead of us by a day, there's a slim chance that they may have noticed anything suspicious, so it would be better to check in with them, Itzhak!" Lenalee lectured.

It was logical, so the three packed their bags and made their way toward Cirque de Cristal's location. Though it was a long walk, they were able to reach them at last. While Lenalee went to hand in the supplies, Allen went to talk with Suman, and Lavi settled to ask Mei-Ling if they had seen Kanda.

"Ando? I'm sorry, we haven't seen him after you parted from us. Suspicious men? I'm afraid we haven't seen anything regarding that either. I'm sorry," she said when she saw the redhead's disappointed look. "How about I do some divination? Surely something will come up. What would you have me see?"

Lavi thought about it. "You foretell the future, but would you also be able to divine location?"

Mei-Ling thought about it and nodded. "Yes, if I concentrate enough and if it pertains to the future I should be able to divine it," she said confidently with determination.

Lavi took a deep breath then. "Alright. Listen to my instructions carefully and see if you can divine from that. I will try to guide you as much as I can. Are you ready? I'm counting on you." He waited for her nod before beginning. "A young man, eighteen years of age, a being filled with noble pride. His nature is like that of an ancient samurai, and he is surrounded by love, but there is a deep loneliness within. He has a desire rooted within him, the desire to find his blood kin gone of four years since now."

Lavi, under the training of his grandfather, had learned many different arts and the trick to getting the most out of magic, especially as basic as this.

"Remember this boy. The key to fortune-telling depends on how well you know what your divination is centered around. Give only the strongest, most distinct traits as possible, because that narrows down the focus. To narrow down the scope even further, the one who asks for the divining should draw out the connection between the first and themselves, using of course, the strongest feelings and memories. Do you know why?"

"When using the asker as a point of focus, the divination can be narrowed down exactly to the specific connection that is tied in their life, more so strongly if there is a future with them, because the focus of fortune-telling essentially divines the present and the future." A young child responded, swinging his legs back and forth beneath him from where he was perched on a bar.

"That is correct. Using this logic, it is simple to divine the future, especially in guiding the teller. However, people who ask for the divinations are inadequate in expressing themselves fully and truthfully, whether from embarrassment or distrust of the other. This distrust cannot lead to an accurate reading, for divination is looking ahead in to the future and seeing possibilities others cannot. As such the failures come from the askers and that of the prideful diviners, resulting in the current value of fortune telling to the world as mere entertainment. Those with great ability and skill do not require guidance—a simple touch is their entire connection, but those too, are few in between. You have the Sight, and you will know how much reserve a person has, so you will know who in the exchange requires guidance."

True to his grandfather's words, Lavi had known from the power Mei-Ling held. It was an average reservoir, but depending on her future choices, her magic would dwindle or grow. Certainly, there was a potential in her to become stronger and more powerful than in her current state, but he himself was no diviner, and so could not foretell her destiny. He continued, this time describing himself.

"I, a man filled with secrets, have spent a great of time with whom I seek. Our friendship runs deep and though our roles are different from one another, we are connected to each other. I, who would protect him without hesitation and use all at my disposal, have accompanied him for almost seven years. He is not one that needs protection on the field of battle. Instead, it is the social situations that make him wary. But as his closest companion, I have been there for him as he has for me. If I am fire, then he is ice-cold water. At first glance we are opposites yet we are more alike than meets the eye.

Our lives do not hold an absence from one another, for we are a constant to each other. From when we were parted, when will our paths cross again?"

Eyes drawn in concentration, Mei-Ling gazed into the crystal ball. Nothing could distract her away from this trance, evident by the soft purple glow in the crystal. When she spoke, her voice was slightly different as if speaking from far away. "Indeed you speak true. Blue and red, mixed together, I see it is in your futures to be involved with each other. You have been separated, but the soonest you will meet again is in Vierte Stadt. That will not be the end of your troubles for forces are stirring even as you continue to seek the blood kin. A long journey is ahead of you and there will be difficult questions to answer when you arrive at your destination, but time will not wait. It will proceed as it always has. The route before you is littered with possibilities, contending with the fate of others, but you may shape it to what you truly desire if you forge onward." She looked up from her ball straight into Lavi's eyes, capturing them with her own. He was started to see a purple glow shine from her eyes as it hadn't before. "At one point in your life, onward towards this path, your being will sway above the line of life and death, and should you survive you will continue as always or be crushed by the burden. Be careful of that."

Lavi blinked, his face expressing surprise at what he heard, but he was careful to conceal it. When the glow faded, he shook the girl's hands happily. "Wow! You're really good!" Internally, he thought, 'Average my ass! What kind of prediction was that? I guess it is in her future to nurture her talents.' Though he thought that, Lavi couldn't hide the nervousness within him. He had never truly liked knowing his future, ever since a certain incident and it didn't change now, even when he had to find Kanda. But like he told her, he would use every tool within his disposal to find him, including that of fortune telling.

"In return, I'll tell you something." She looked up at him curiously and he grinned. "You," he said, putting his index finger in the middle of her forehead, poking it gently. "Are an average fortune-teller with average abilities. But for you I can see there are two fates, one where your magic dwindles and one where your magic grows. This depends on your actions and how you live your life. No," he shook his head before she could ask. "I am not a diviner. But I have the Sight, which allows me to see your magic."

Mei-Ling had an awed look on her face and he chuckled. "I'm nothing special. But with that divination you did earlier, there is no way that you are merely at an average level. So it is up to you to decide your fate. Nurture your gift or let it fade? Only you can decide what is best for you."

The fortune-teller looked as if she wanted to say more, but Lavi didn't want to talk about it anymore. Luckily, they were joined by another member, Mimi, who immediately clasped Mei-Ling's hands tightly.

"Wow!" she exclaimed with enthusiasm, eyes shining brightly. "What kind of fortune telling did you do? Your eyes never glowed before! I could see it from waaay over there!" she gestured wildly in the direction she had come from. "Come on, tell me, tell me!"

Mei-Ling was initially taken aback by Mimi's enthusiasm but having traveled together, she got over it pretty fast. "Oh, well, it's customer confidential, so I can't say. But, you said my eyes were glowing?" She turned to Lavi after Mimi nodded. "Is that true?"

Lavi winced under scrutiny but nodded. "Yeah. Your eyes glowed the purple shade of your crystal ball. Has it never happened before?"

Mei-Ling shook her head. "No, never. How strange." Pondering this, she was soon lost in her thoughts. Lavi heard himself being called over by Allen and Lenalee, and he wandered over to them, wondering what they were up to.

"Hey, what's up?" Lavi asked, taking note of the backpacks they carried and Timcanpy lazily flitting above Allen's head.

"Well, it's a bit sudden, but we've decided to take a break from the circus." Lenalee said with a wide smile on her face.

"Really? No way." Lavi said, echoed by Mimi and Mei-Ling who had followed him.

"Yup. It's true." Allen said, reinforcing Lenalee's statement. "We already talked with Suman, and he gave us the OK." Seeing Mimi's surprised face, he attempted to appease quickly with the rest of the words. "We won't be leaving forever, just for a while, to travel around. You know how Lenalee's searching for her brother right? We hope to find him before we return."

"This is like my second home though, and if I really can't find my brother, I'll stop looking for him." Lenalee said.

Mei-Ling gasped at that. "But you can't give up!"

Lenalee smiled. "I know." She went over to Mei-Ling and Mimi to give them tight hugs. "But I can't spend the rest of my life living in false hope. I'll miss you two, but I know you'll do well."

"When are you going?" Mimi asked, letting herself and Mei-Ling get hugged by Allen after Lenalee released them.

"Now, actually." Lenalee replied, and they gasped at her response.

"Now?!" they cried simultaneously and Lenalee beamed at them.

"Itzhak, you're eager to be off, aren't you? Let's travel together and find Ando and my brother along the way!"

Dumbstruck, Lavi could do nothing but let himself be dragged off by the two ex-circus performers. It wasn't until had traveled quite a distance away from the camp that Lavi got over his shock and demanded an explanation from the two of them.

"Why are you two suddenly leaving the circus? Isn't it your home? Why do you need to travel with me?"

Allen shrugged. "It's actually not a sudden decision to make. I've been thinking about this matter for half a year now, but never acted upon it. However, your presence gives me the opportunity to take my chance. It's a win-win situation: you get companions to help you find your friend and we get the opportunity to travel around in a smaller, more maneuverable group. Besides, as performers, we know all the best spots, whether it be on the road or in town. Really, it benefits you a lot."

That was something Lavi had to admit was right, but it still bothered him that they hadn't thought to ask him. "Yeah, but you never asked me if I wanted you two to join my group. And did Suman really let you two go just like that?"

This time Lenalee replied. "While you were chatting with Mei-Ling and getting your fortune told, we talked with Suman on the matter. Like we said before, Suman isn't like other bosses. He allowed us to take a leave of absence from the circus and then we went around saying goodbye to the other members. After that, we packed up our bags, said farewell to Mimi and Mei-Ling, and went on our merry way."

"While dragging me off with you, you mean," Lavi added dryly.

"Well, we were afraid you wouldn't say yes," Lenalee pointed out, and then gave him her saddest expression.

Lavi groaned but gave in. They had put up some good points and just a day ago he had been complaining about traveling alone. "Alright, I give up. Seeing as I'm stuck with you guys we might as well get along and trust each other. That being said, there's something you should know about me. My name isn't actually Itzhak. It's Lavi, and the companion I was traveling with before is none other than Prince Kanda from Ardua. We left Ardua on a secret quest, but he got kidnapped the other day, so I hope you will give me your help in looking for him and not tell anyone along the way."

Lenalee smiled gently at him. "There's no need to be so serious, Lavi. I'm glad that you trust us enough to reveal who you are. And of course we'll help you. Ando, ah, Kanda is our friend as well. Right, Allen?"

Allen nodded. "We'd be happy to. Besides, we're looking for someone too, so it'd be great if you could help keep an eye out for him as well."

Lavi thought about that for a moment. "That's right. Lenalee, earlier you mentioned that you had a brother?"

Lenalee nodded, and began to explain her story. "A long time ago, when I was maybe six, I was kidnapped and separated from my brother. They fed me a potion to erase my memories, and were going to sell me off for money, but I was rescued by a detective at that time. Seeing as how I couldn't recall my past due to the potion, he put me in the local orphanage. I spent five years there before I decided to do something about it, and that's how I came to join the circus. I've been traveling around ever since, trying to find him in the crowd, but I haven't had any luck."

Lavi was surprised to learn of the miserable past the normally cheerful girl held, and his heart went out to her. "Couldn't you have found him using magic?"

Lenalee laughed. "I would have tried if I could, but magic is expensive, and among our talents, none have location spells. Wisely was only here for three years or so, and being a fortune-teller, I asked him to see if I would meet my brother sometime in the future. He tried, but said that there was some kind of interference that made him unable to connect the two of us together. When Mei-Ling joined, and I asked her about it, she said the same thing that he did. So, in regards to magical uses, I haven't had any luck so far."

Lavi frowned. Magical interference? He was sure he had heard that term before, but he couldn't remember where exactly at the moment. "I see. What about you, Allen? What's your story?"

Allen shrugged. "There's not much a story to tell. I was an orphan and lived with my adopted father in his circus. Then, after he died, I went to live with his friend, who became my mentor." Absently, he stroked Timcanpy who was perched on his shoulder. "He's a terrible and unreasonable person, and I don't how his family was able to put up with him. Although I was grateful to them for taking me in, I eventually left the family to travel around in the circus again, because it made me feel close to my late father. And now, I think I want to take a break from it, perhaps visit my old Shishou and his family."

Huh. So there was a deeper part to Allen as well. Lavi didn't expect these two cheerful-seeming teenagers to have painful pasts, but how could he have forgotten that the happiest smiles could hide the most painful of hearts? He should know, always keeping a cheerful mask on himself, but his past wasn't tragic, and the mask was just to protect his secrets. Still, now that he knew them better, there was little reason to doubt further. And besides, they had told him the truth from the very beginning, something he deeply appreciated.

"Well then, Lenalee and Allen, let's do our best to find the answers we seek. Off we go now!" he cheerfully exclaimed and bounced away towards where he hoped a town would lie. Behind him, Lenalee and Allen exchanged amused glances but followed him anyway.

~x.x.x.x.x~

It took them a while, but after Mei-Ling's prediction, Lavi now had a clear destination in mind: Vierte Stadt. That was where he was to reunite with Kanda the soonest, and seeing as it was the only lead he had, he took it. Sure, he didn't know when exactly they would meet, but he had faith they would.

Together with the ex-performers' knowledge and Lavi's map, they made their way steadily towards the town. It was a long, winding, and tedious path to take trying to get out of the forest, and when they did, they were quite annoyed that they ended up in the fifth town rather than the fourth, but they stopped there to take a few days of rest in order to stock up on supplies.

To gather money, Allen and Lenalee performed at the town's center, entrancing the townspeople into a merry state with their energetic dance and songs. While they entertained, Lavi was the host collecting coin with his smile, and so by the end of the day everyone was quite happy. With the coin they earned, the trio was able to rent a room at the local inn and stock up on well-needed supplies, for circling the forest had certainly left them tired. It wasn't that they weren't used to traveling—it was more of the fact that they seemed to roam in circles, never seeing an exit even though they had a crude sense of where they were. Allen and Lenalee being the more experienced two reassured Lavi that it was a normal occurrence when traveling in the forest, but that hadn't done much to lift their spirits. So they were quite noticeably relieved when they found themselves out of the forest, a secret hope within them that they were in the right direction rather than the wrong. And thankfully, they were.

Now, after having spent some time there, the three were eager to be off to their destination, Vierte Stadt, the fourth town of Vashekla, north some miles away from Fünfte Stadt(1). At the pace they were going, they would arrive by the end of the third day of travel.

Vashekla, unlike the Ardua and Ektona's land was that of a drier, desert sand. Not that the land itself had sand (it was just dry with dust), but for some reason unknown, few spots of greenery were able to take root in the soil, a phenomenon all the more strange when both its border neighbors—the Alpine Forest to the west, Nakonea to the east, and the island country of Palauhikila to the south—all lands containing lush green plants while Vashekla had none. The fact that the land seemed uninhabitable was a blow to the citizens' pride, but the royals had done a grand job in boosting their confidence, encouraging them to embrace the difference of their land rather than shun it, thus turning the citizens away from less positive emotions.

"What do you plan to do when you find Kanda, Lavi?" Allen asked curiously as they sat around their campfire.

"Eh?" Lavi scratched his head for a moment, thinking. "I suppose we'll continue our journey from where we left off. Yuu never actually outright told me where he was headed or who he was looking for, but I have a pretty good idea of what he wanted. And Mei-Ling was able to help me out on that matter, so I do have a vague idea of where we should go, but honestly, it's not by much." He looked upward at the stars, unblocked by canopies of leaves above him. "In fact, I'm hoping he found out more information than I have." He glanced at the other two sharing his fire. "What about you two? What are your plans?"

Allen shrugged. "We don't really have any plan. But since you seemed to be traveling for a long time, we were hoping to find what we sought along the way."

Lavi's curiosity piqued up once more. "Lenalee's brother, right? Tell me, what was he like, what do you remember of him?"

Lenalee closed her eyes in thought. "He was a very eccentric older brother, but what I remember the most is that he was kind, kind and protective of me. We cherished each other, I think after our parents passed away." She looked into the fire. "I wish I could just remember what he looked like, what his name was, but I can't. All I can remember are feelings, the feelings of safety and comfort." She glanced over at Lavi and gave him an apologetic smile. "Sorry I can't be of much help, Lavi."

Lavi shook his head. "It's fine Lenalee. Sorry to make you sad. But you know, I've remembered a curious thing." He continued as the two looked at him with interest. "Back in Ardua, in the castle, I knew someone. He's a crazy, passionate person for science and inventions, especially his special robots. But I know for a fact that he tried to locate a relative of his and failed."

Lenalee and Allen's eyes had widened when they heard this, but they dared not to interrupt. "I don't want to give you any false hope, but there might be a chance that the person I know is your brother. This is because despite the magic that was used in trying to locate his relative, nothing worked. And the reason was due to interference, but because it was not on his end, it could not be lifted or cured. So when I heard your story, Lenalee, I wondered if you might be the relative my friend sought. You're about the right age, sixteen years old, of Chinese descent, and you're missing an older brother."

Lenalee could barely contain herself. "Please, Lavi, tell me his name. Maybe, just maybe, he's my brother."

"You can't remember his name, but maybe it'll jog a memory or two." Lavi waited a moment. "His name is Komui Lee."

Lenalee gasped at that and Allen turned to her in wonder. "Lenalee, isn't your last name Lee?"

She nodded wordlessly, and tears began to fall from her eyes. "I hope, I hope, please, oh God, let it be, let me find my brother at last," she sobbed, feeling emotions overwhelming her at the revelation. Allen pulled her into a comforting hug and Lavi watched the two.

"Lavi, is there some way that we can contact him, Komui Lee?" Allen asked. "I saw you with Mei-Ling, and if you are who I think you are but deny, you have magic, don't you? You can connect with your people back in Ardua."

Lavi held his gaze. "Yes, I have magic. And yes, I can contact the people back home using it. But I won't. I told you two before, I'm looking for Kanda and we're on a personal journey. I won't stop you if you want to travel in that direction by yourselves, but I won't be going with you there. If you like, you can continue the journey with me, and when we travel back to Ardua, I will take you to meet Komui personally. But not until we have found what we are searching for." He got up and walked over to where his bedroll was. "Think it over, and let me know of your decision in the morning." He hadn't meant to be harsh, and sure, it would have been a better idea to tell them later, but he wanted to give the opportunity to leave while they could. It would be dangerous up ahead, if what Mei-Ling was right in what she saw, and it would be better to involve less people than necessary. Lavi and Kanda could defend themselves. But Lenalee and Allen might not be able to, and if Lenalee really was Komui's sister, he didn't want to see Komui's heartbroken face. "Leave to your own journey," he whispered to himself. "It will only get worse from here. I can feel it."

~x.x.x.x.x~

"Allen? What should we do?" Lenalee whispered, finally quieting her sobs. "I want to find my brother, but I also want to know that Lavi was able to find Kanda safe and sound. What should I do? They're in complete opposite directions."

Allen patted her comfortingly. "I know, Lenalee. But I have an idea. My shishou lives here, in Vashekla, but not on this side. I want to go back and pay him and my friend a visit first. Why don't we continue with Lavi through this country, and later after we visit my shishou, we'll head towards Ardua? Or even, we could wait there and ask your brother to come to us? I say this because my shishou has magic, and his father works at Ardua. We may not be able to use magic to contact them while we travel with Lavi, but that's entirely possible after we separate, right?"

Lenalee seemed warmed by this idea. "That's brilliant, Allen." She wiped her eyes. "It's a wonderful idea. We can find Kanda, my brother, and visit your friend. Thanks, Allen," she said smiling at him.

He smiled back, happy to have pleased her and to have a situation they were both in agreement over. "No problem, Lenalee."

~x.x.x.x.x~

In the morning that followed, they told Lavi of their decision, but he didn't seem surprised at all. "I'm glad for you," he told them. "And sorry that I won't be able to travel the rest of the way with you, but I'm hope you find who you're looking for. I just have one favor. When you reach Ardua and contact Komui or any of the castle citizens, could you please refrain from mentioning me or Kanda? We still want to travel in near secret, and the only reason they haven't been able to track us so far is because I've covered my tracks and haven't used any magic since leaving. We'll come back of our own accord, but if they found us too early, we wouldn't be able to finish our journey."

Lenalee nodded in understanding. "You have our word, Lavi. Thank you, so much."

He grinned. "Not a problem. Now, let's get to Vierte Stadt."

~x.x.x.x.x~

When they arrived, there was big news going around the town. Everyone was in a commotion, whispering excitedly of what something happening in Ardua, which piqued the trio's interest immediately. Allen, charming a couple of girls, revealed to the group that the coronation of Ardua's princess was supposed to be happening quite soon, and the magazine, La Royaume, was supposed to have an exclusive coverage of the story quite soon.

"Let's go book a room, and then find out more about all of this," Lavi said to the others.

So they did, and roamed all around the town, splitting up to gather more information. But there was very little to be found concerning the coronation happening in Ardua.

"We'll just have to wait for the issue to come out in the next couple of days," Allen told Lavi. "We won't have that long of a wait, but in any case, we should keep an eye out for Kanda."

Lavi nodded in agreement. "That's a good plan, but remember, when you're looking for him, please, do not refer to him by his real name. It would draw more attention to us than I would like, so if you spot him, maybe make conversation with him, and then ask him to meet you somewhere else more secluded, or public if you'd like. Then get the rest of us and we can meet up again. There is the chance that he'll recognize you from the circus, so you wouldn't have a hard time talking with him, but you never know."

The two nodded in understanding. With the buzz of the coronation coming up, anyone who even remotely looked like Kanda would draw unwanted attention, and the name was no exception. "We'll be careful," the two promised, and the three spent the next couple of days searching with no luck.

However, the coronation had occurred and La Royaume told it all. Each with their own copy, the trio read Princess Beatrice's speech and her interview with the reporters as well as what the other citizens had to say about the princess and possibly the missing prince. Lenalee searched for any glimpse of her brother who worked at the castle, but couldn't find a picture of him although there was an excerpt from him concerning what he thought about the princess.

Lavi was more concerned over the interview that Beatrice gave out. It wasn't like her to be so uncomposed. She usually let nothing get to her, but there was obviously a problem if she snapped like that at the reporter. Lavi knew that she didn't like to show that side of her to anyone but her family, as being royal meant needing to keep control over one's emotions. What was it that made her upset? Lavi hoped that trouble wasn't brewing at the castle while he was away, mostly because he couldn't do much from so far away. Flipping through the magazine, he searched for any interesting articles, looking in for particular his grandfather's and Timothy's. Finding none from either, he assumed that they had successfully evaded the reporters. 'I wonder if Yuu's seen this yet?' Lavi thought as he put down his copy of the magazine. 'Only one way to find out. Please, let him be in town!'

~x.x.x.x.x~

Kanda walked with Daisya and Marie around Vierte Stadt at a leisurely pace. As it was Kanda's first time in town, he took his time to take in the sights. While Daisya and Marie were dressed as their usual selves, Kanda wore a baseball cap with his hair braided down his back and plain shirt and pants. He also had a gentler expression on his face, as the others had encouraged him it would help keep up his disguise and Kanda had agreed after seeing the similarity between himself and the magazine picture. Not entirely satisfied, Daisya took it one step further by adding a fake mustache onto Kanda's face, saying there was no way anyone would think he was the prince with that on. Kanda only glared at him, saying that it was too fake to look real, and so it was left behind. "If all fails, pretend you're a girl," Daisya whispered to Kanda as they walked out of the house. He was swiftly elbowed in the chest for that comment and left behind doubled over in pain while Marie tried to hide his amusement.

A few moments after arriving together at the town, the three split up, agreeing to meet up again at noon for lunch at the town center by one of the cafes. Marie went to meet up with his friends, Daisya went to hang out with his soccer buddies and check out soccer equipment, and Kanda walked up and down the market stalls, viewing the displayed wares with interest. He was careful to keep his head down and not talk unless necessary, afraid of being wrongfully recognized, but made sure to keep an ear out for the gossip floating around. The excitement of the coronation in Ardua had not died down at all so Kanda heard various speculations about the royal family, the most popular being of Prince Kanda and Princess Beatrice. Truth be told, it was quite unsettling to hear his name fall from so many lips yet none of them were addressing him at all. Kanda was admiring the porcelain figurines at one stall when a shock of color flashed by in his peripheral vision. Startled, he turned and caught a glimpse of a redhead who vanished into the crowd. But the glimpse was enough, especially when Kanda suddenly saw in his mind's eye a cheerful face, one single green eye, and bright smile.

Realizing this person could be the key to his lost memories, Kanda swiftly went after him, but didn't run to keep discreet. Dodging people coming from all directions, Kanda forged ahead until he spotted the redhead in front of one of the vendors. Without a moment's hesitation, he grabbed the other's shoulder and turned him around.

"Hey, what's the big—" the redhead began to say before his single green eye widened in shock, the words he had begun to say dying on his tongue. "Yuu?"

Kanda hadn't guessed incorrectly. The redhead standing before him was exactly like the image that had flashed before him, and from the look on the other's face, Kanda was sure he was recognized. Not to mention that the stranger spoke his first name with clear familiarity, an ease to which Tiedoll had not even mastered and brought a strange feeling within him.

"Who are you, how do I know you, and how do you know me?"

~x.x.x.x.x~

A/N: Hello, sorry for the long wait. I hope that this chapter was to your liking, and I would like to say that starting from tomorrow onwards, I will be going back and revising the previous chapters, because I have noticed some discrepancies. Sure, they're just small errors, but errors nonetheless, and I would like to have them fixed. In addition to that, I will be cross-posting my three chaptered works onto Ao3. My one-shots are already there, and I decided it was time to put the rest on there too. Therefore, the next chapters may be delayed, but hopefully not by too much. But I want to stress that while the cross-posting and revising will take a small priority over my current writing, I aim to finish as much of both stories as I can before this month is over, because I will be headed back to university in September. To keep informed, please check out my profile for new information.

Response to Reader Reviews

Guest, Elysabeth Loredan: Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed what you read so far.

scarf: I'm glad you like the character growth happening and the plot that's taking place. Yes, Tyki is a smart man, but as a shady character, his plans are obligated to be foiled by nosy children. While Timothy and Beatrice are both growing up and Lavi is painstakingly searching for his best bud, Kanda's just chilling out with Daisya and Marie, and even if he gets embarrassed about it later, you can bet for sure that his pride won't allow him to admit anything! Glad to know Team Tiedoll's dynamics were good.

DGrayManGRL: Indeed she does. She's quite mature for her age and dealing with a lot of things. How did you like the reunion?

BornBlindtoBeauty: Thank you for your praise :) I always enjoy reading about the other characters, and I'm glad you think I was able to pull off adding in so many. Sorry for the slow updates, but I'm glad you think the quality of the chapters are fairly well.

No1important: Thank you for giving this story a chance. I realize that it might have started out a bit childish like other stories with some cliché beginnings, but I have worked hard on improving the plot and my writing. Also, everyone's important, so there's no need to call yourself no1important ^^ I hope you enjoy this chapter.

Notes:

(1) Fünfte Stadt: German – Fifth Town