The Three Magic Knights.

Part 1: The Teaser!

Cephiro, land of my worst fantasies.

[This is a parody and not a dark fic, read on my friends...]

[[Prologue, you can scroll down past these to the fic if you want to.]]
This is the fic I am replacing The Manga with temporarily, why? Because it's a great idea that won't leave me alone. All the time I see fanfics and SI where the characters are happy to be there and really get into the adventure. Well, I started to wonder what would happen if somebody got pulled into an Anime that they hate? Interesting concept ne? What would happen if a slightly psychotic guy who likes the Slayers and Record of Lodoss War got pulled into a girly anime like Magic Knight Rayearth as the fourth Magic Knight? Let's find out...]]

Dan smiled as he sat in front of his computer and read his E-mail, he had a short-lived frown on his face as he read through the messages. He ran a hand through his short brown hair and leaned on his elbow as he lazily pressed on the down arrow on the keyboard. A small sigh escaped his lips as he shut down the computer not really feeling like reading at the moment. "Man this sucks, all that was posted was a few crummy self insertions by some newbie authors. This bites." He leaned back in his chair and took a long gulp of his long since warm soda.

Behind him a small chuckle emerged from the darkness, "Well, what can you do, we all have to start somewhere." The voice was low, but not rumbling or threatening.

"Yea, yea, so Carrot-san, what are you going to do tonight?" the boy smiled and turned to his roommate. Carrot turned on the television and was bathed in the dark white light as he relaxed on the worn out couch; he was a slim man of about twenty years old with wild brown hair. His clothes were old, a dirty looking T-shirt with a picture of Eric Cartman on the front of it. The man smiled to himself and looked thoughtful. "No money, I'll probably stay up and watch Jay Lenno's monologue and go to bed, or perhaps I'll write some fanfiction before I turn in."

"Yea, you do that." Dan was still angry with the boy over the waffy ending to the latest part of the Teacher. "Ya sappy jerk."

"I heard that," snorted Carrot as he tossed his drink into a nearby trash can, it fell on the floor anyway because the bin had not been emptied for several weeks.

"Yea, yea, look pal I'm going to sleep so keep that crap down," Dan stood up with an angry look on his face and stormed towards his bedroom.

Carrot frowned, "that crap" his friend was referring to was Magic Knight Rayearth, Carrot had bought it on a whim and was about half way through the series now. He didn't like it much, but it was paid for so he tolerated it. Dan was a different story, he absolutely despised it, especially the dub. The slightly peeved fanfic writer sat down at the computer and plugged it into the wall. "Let's see how evil I can be," he put in a very special disk he had acquired through an old friend and smiled. "Good bye Dan, have a nice trip," pointedly ignoring the glowing light emitting from the other man's bedroom he started to type with a wicked grin on his face, after a moment he sat back and relaxed as the words formed on the screen by themselves. "It's your story buddy, I've got you started, let's see how it plays out; just don't get yourself killed all right?" his laughter echoed through the apartment, until the old lady from across the hall started beating on his door with her broom and screaming for his silence. After that he just chuckled to himself as he read while glancing towards the door in annoyance on occasion. "I ought to write something for her one day, maybe a La Blue girl and old lady from across the hall cross over fic..."

Dan cursed as he found himself in the middle of Tokyo tower, he was tired and cranky. "What the hell? I haven't even made it to the bed yet!" He glanced around and frowned as he realized where he was, all around him everyone was speaking Japanese and he understood them perfectly, that could only mean one thing. "Damn you Carrot! Wait until I get back!" He raised his hands into the air and snarled at the ceiling angrily while ignoring the strange looks he was getting. He looked at himself and noticed he was wearing a schoolboy's uniform, he was also about sixteen years old.

Quickly strapping on a large traveling pack with a bamboo umbrella on it for comedic effect he walked up to a young blue haired girl and tapped her on the shoulder. "Excuse me, could you tell me where I am?"

The girl turned and stared at him as if he where an idiot, until she noticed his pack and seemed to dismiss the matter for some reason. "Tokyo tower, everyone knows where that is! You had to pay to get in"

"No wonder I had to pay to get in! I thought it was a toll booth!" The boy looked distraught for a moment and hung his head. "Then this isn't Paris?"

Once again he received many strange looks. "Uhh, no."

A thought occurred to him as his pack seemed to vanish into the same place he pulled it from. "Do I have any money?" quickly, using over dramatic hand movements he pulled his wallet from the back of his pants and gasped as he looked into it. "Woohoo! Fifty thousand yen?! He's never written me into a fic with this much money before! I'm gonna have me a good time now!" the boy started for the elevator when a young red head with a long flowing pigtail rushed into him apparently chasing after another girl. The folded leather wallet fell to the ground and opened dramatically.

"Oh! I'm sorry!" exclaimed the girl innocently as she bent down and tried to pick it up at the same time as him, which of course would have slammed their heads into one another if they hadn't looked up at that precise moment. The ended up in an innocent accidental kiss which caused him to blush much more than he should have considering some of the things he'd done with his ex-girlfriend.

The young girl backed away in shock still holding his wallet apologizing incoherently. "Yea, yea, can I have my wallet now?" he held out his hand and brushed his over fluffed anime bangs out of his eyes without realizing that his face was covered in magical looking sparkles with a fuzzy outline.

The girl nodded and handed it to him before running off after the other girl, Dan frowned as he glanced around and followed the girl with his eyes, she was running towards a girl with long blue hair and another young girl in glasses. "Oh, he wouldn't dare," he muttered under his breath while slowly walking towards the girls. Finally getting near them he stopped the red head just as she came in contact with the others. "Excuse me, but what's your name?"

The girl gave him a small smile and turned completely red, "I'm Hi-" she was promptly cut off as the four of them where bathed in a white light and suddenly falling through the sky.

"CAAAARRRRROOOOTTTT! IIIII'LLLL KIIIIILLLLL YOOOOUUUU!!!" he cried as he fell towards the land of Cephiro with a vicious snarl on his lips. The last thought that ran through his head before he landed on the scaly surface of a giant flying fish was the fact that he'd probably never get the chance to spend that fifty thousand yen.

The Three Magic Knights.

Part 1:

Dan vs. Cephiro.

Dan frowned as the girls around him stayed relatively calm despite the fact they where on the back of a gigantic flying fish, the pig tailed girl was holding onto his leg nervously while the other two had yet to notice his presence.

"Calm down, we're fine," he said to the girls, of course they ignored him and continued to panic. "Bloody hell," he sighed and sat down calmly forcing the red head to release his leg and latch onto his neck. Suddenly a thought entered his mind, a somewhat evil thought. "Hey, if they fall off the fish, I could get away with just a really bad short spamfic." He glanced at the girl who was clinging to his neck and smiled warmly. "Hey, I think I saw a building down there!"

The other two girls reacted immediately, "Where!?" they dashed over to the edge and leaned over, on the down side, they had all grown noticeably calmer.

"Just over..." he placed his hands on the girl's backs moving between them quietly, "Oh, it's just a big rock," the red head screamed demurely as a small bird passed by them flying near to the fish, she pulled at his neck and forced him to jerk back. "No!"

The two girls looked back at him questioningly, "No what?"

Dan started to sweat a little under the girls gaze, "Uh, I just had my hopes up that's all, there might not be any people here." He smiled to himself, it was a good lie to come up with on a whim.

"Where are we?" asked the red head.

"We appear to be on a giant flying fish," said the blonde girl.

"I know that braniac! I think she meant on a somewhat larger scale," Dan seethed, he hated people who simply stated the obvious to sound smart.

"It was the only way I could answer the question," replied the girl with a shrug of her shoulders.

"You three sure seem calm now, you realize that we are on the back of a gigantic flying fish on what is probably another world hundreds of feet above the ground right? I mean you didn't forget or anything right? Cause you're all so calm suddenly." Dan raised his eyebrows a little as he asked, and the red head released him with a small smile on her lips that he failed to notice.

"It would not help much to panic now," said the blonde with another shrug.

"Great, so I'm assuming I'm stuck here with you now," the boy crossed his arms and sat down again grumbling to himself.

"What a strange boy," said the girl.

The blue haired girl seemed to be having a panic attack.

A large mirror sat floating in mid-air while a large black robed man stood watching it from the center of a room; beside him an elfish looking man kneeled patiently.

"So, she has used the last of her power to summon the legendary Magic Knights," the man frowned as the image of the flying fish floated across the surface of the glass before him.

"It would appear that way," said a voice from the shadows as the elfin man began to respond.

The black robed man spun around on his heels and shot a visible wall of black energy that narrowly missed his companion, it impacted on another invisible wall and he narrowed his eyes as a figure seemed to melt from the darkness.

The new comer was dressed in a simple dark purple robe with a long flowing black cape, his hair was short and black cropped almost to the skin along the back of his neck. His hands were covered in embroidered white gloves and several round jewels shined on his clothing. The man smiled and looked up at the man in black, he spun a gnarled looking staff in his hands playfully and stepped forward as he looked the imposing figure directly in his eyes, he was much shorter than the man and a lot less threatening, he looked almost cheerful.

"Who are you? How did you get in here?" The towering man stayed calm and looked the man up and down.

"Me? I'm just a catalyst, no one for you to be concerned with really," he chuckled to himself and leaned on the staff lazily. "As for how I got in here...that's a secret."

"What do you want?" asked the man with a dangerous calm in his voice, the elfin man stood defensively in front of his master silently.

"Oh would you stop it, I don't care about Cephiro or princess Emerad, I'm here to help even the odds so to speak. Those Magic Knights could become a real problem for you, especially with the male there," he gave the pair a playful wink.

"And you intend to take care of them for me? Tell me what price you wish me to pay," the man seemed somewhat amused now.

"Oh, goodness no! I'm here to keep things interesting, you know make sure they don't win too easily. My purpose is only to make their journey more difficult, but that could work for you I suppose. After all, the victor is always uncertain, it makes for more dramatic moments, you know how it is." The man seemed absolutely oblivious to the angry looks from the two evil beings in the room.

Finally the figure in white spoke up, "Who are you?!"

"Well, I suppose you'll have to call me something now won't you? I'm merely a creation designed for a specific purpose in this world. I guess we could go with how my creator dressed me; and my personality. Call me Xellos," the man bowed to the pair over dramatically and smiled when he looked up at them.

"I should destroy you for wasting my time," the black clad figure raised his hand and Xellos simply put his finger up waving it side to side.

"I wouldn't try that, I am equipped to defend myself and my mission," he glared at he two angry men with his golden eyes and his smile suddenly became vicious. "I could just as easily take up your position in the story and meet my needs, but I'm somewhat of a free spirit and I'd rather do it the fun way. Besides, I have more magic in my pinky than the two of you combined," with a small wave of his hand the shadows on the floor seemed to jump up and swirl into a sphere that swallowed him up before shrinking back into the floor leaving an empty space.

The black robed figure snorted to himself and turned back to the mirror, "Well, this could become interesting."

The group of kids from Tokyo found themselves being dumped off onto a cliff by the giant fish. Dan stood up and frowned as the girls slowly recovered.

The blue haired girl started to complain immediately, "What kind of a place is this!?"

"Well, it certainly isn't Tokyo," said the blonde.

"Stop stating the obvious," said Dan before any one could respond. He looked back and saw that the edge of the cliff was relatively flimsy. Another evil thought formed in his head and he punched at the ground pretending to be frustrated, finally resorting to jumping up and down in a vain attempt to get the thin outcropping to crumble. Finally after a moment the ground directly under where he was standing crumbled under his feet and he barely caught the edge in time to pull himself back up. "Ha, ha, somebody has been watching old Road Runner cartoons again I see."

"Gee, do you think he's mad?" the red haired girl looked somewhat bewildered.

"He's mad?! I've got a fencing match next week! How am I gonna make it to that if' I'm stuck here?!" The blue haired girl looked about ready to attack the other girls because they where taking it so lightly.

"What we need is a plan, we can't just wander around," the blonde girl smiled as she stepped between them and pushed her glasses back onto her nose.

"All right, I'll bite for now," Dan frowned and turned to face the girls. "We're gonna be here a while I'll bet, so let's introduce ourselves,"

"What?! What kind of stupid plan is that?!" the girl was starting to make Dan angry, and when Dan get angry, Dan smash. He ground his teeth and balled up his fists as he turned away.

"No, mustn't become villain." He repeated the phrase over and over like a mantra to himself.

"Actually I think it's a wonderful idea," said the blond girl. Dan cringed slightly at the irony of her words.

"Yea, I was just about to suggest the same thing actually!" cried the hyperactive red head, Dan failed to notice that she looked entirely too happy about agreeing with him.

"Oh, all right," sighed the blue haired girl finally. "My name is Umi Ryuzaki, junior high eig..."

Dan promptly interrupted her, "All we need to know is your name, not your life story. Plenty of time for that later," he muttered the last part with a painful look as he realized he had to travel with three painfully cute junior high school girls for who knows how long in order to get home. "My name is Dan."

The three girls looked at him expectantly, "Is that all?" asked the blonde in shock.

"What else do you need to know right now?" he glanced at them and they continued the introductions.

"I am Fuu Houoji," replied the blonde girl, she started to say more, but a warning glare from Dan cut her off.

The third girl came off like a ball of energy that made the boy sick to his stomach, "I'm Hikaru Shidou! Fourteen years old, eighth grade!" she jumped up and down as she spoke seeming far to cheerful considering their situation.

"Great, I'm stuck here with a nerd, a prep, and a hyperactive third grader." Dan felt his jaw go tight as he turned away from the group with a somewhat sick look on his face.

The girls all jumped back as the flying fish reappeared behind them on the edge of the cliff. Dan calmly turned to look at the stupid looking animal next to Hikaru; she pet the thing cheerfully while the other two girls cowered behind the trees that lined the edge of the cliff face they were on.

"You know, I'm getting hungry. I haven't had Sashimi in a while..." he looked at the fish and Hikaru gasped in shock.
"Please don't say mean things like that Mr. Dan!" she put her arms around the creature's neck as it sat there dumbly.

"Just Dan thank you," he walked over and pulled the others out of the trees a little forcefully before turning to face the forest behind them. "Are you going to stand there and watch us all day or what?"

"Who are you talking to?" asked Hikaru as she peered into the woods.
Almost in answer a voice called out from all around them, "Creature return!" The fish was pulled into a crystal embedded on a staff that was held by a diminutive looking boy who watched them carefully.

"Who are you?" said Dan with a smirk.

"I am Master Mage Clef, I have come here to act as your guide; you will not be able to return to your world, until you have saved this one," he stared them all down and Dan snarled at him.

Mean while the black clad figure stood before his minions as they watched from behind a thin veil of water. The white elfin man called out to them. "The legendary magic knights have been summoned!" Various cries of protest erupted in the room as the minions excitedly chattered amongst themselves. "Silence, lord Zagato is about to speak!" cried the white clad man, the figures immediately became silent.

"The four magic knights have been summoned from another world, but they are but children, they have no chance of reviving the rune god. However, they are currently with Master Mage Clef."

"That obnoxious guy?" asked a childish voice from behind the water.

"Now that's a tad problematic," agreed a feminine voice from across the room.

"Alcione." Zagato turned to face one of the walls and it parted revealing a middle aged woman dressed in leather. "It's always best if weeds are pulled out early."

"Actually, if you let them grow a little, they come up much easier," said a new voice. All of the minions went deathly silent as they turned to face the newcomer.

"Well, if it isn't Xellos," the white clad elfin man sneered unimpressed at the man this time.
He was promptly thrown to the floor by a purple lightening ball as the man emerged from the shadows. "Can I help you?" asked Zagato calmly as his right hand man writhed in agony on the ground.

"Don't worry, I'll be popping up from time to time, those girls will be harder to kill than you might imagine, Alcione won't be enough," the man smiled as the woman's face turned into a mask of rage. However, after seeing the fate of Zagato's companion she wisely kept her mouth shut.

"We'll see," snorted the man arrogantly as he waved his hand at her motioning for her to leave.

"Suit yourself, don't say I didn't warn you!" Xellos vanished in a puff of smoke.

Zagato turned and saw that his lap dog was still on the ground in pain, "Quite a powerful mage," he commented before walking away from the man.

Mage Clef stood before the group and started to speak. "This is Cephiro..." Dan felt himself fall asleep as the boy droned on about Magic Knights or something.

"Wake up idiot!" cried Umi as she kicked the boy angrily.

"Huh? Wha?" he jumped awake and snorted.

"I'm sorry, Dan, but you missed the explanation about why we're here!" Fuu giggled to herself as he stood up groggily.

"Somehow I don't think he minds," growled Umi as she gave him another quick kick for good measure.

After a moment he looked down at himself and frowned, "What's this?" He was currently wearing a small and flimsy looking piece of armor that was colored slightly yellow, it had matching armbands and a glove on his right hand with a big yellow jewel. "No way! I have to be a magic knight too!? I thought the legend only had three hero's in it!" he rushed over to Clef and picked him up by his collar.

"Obviously you weren't paying attention," said the boy to him.

"How dare you make me a magic knight! Damn you Mage Clef, this is all your fault!" the backpack and umbrella had mysteriously reappeared on Dan's back as he said this.

"Dan! He says we can learn magic now! Isn't that great?" cried Hikaru excitedly, "he just taught me how!"

The boy frowned as he dropped the mage on the ground completely forgetting about his anger, "so, now what?"

Clef dusted himself off as he stood up again and glared at Dan a little bitterly, "I attempted to choose magic for each of you, but it appears the magic has chosen you instead."

Dan frowned as he looked over the horizon, "Let's just get this journey over with OK?" He noticed that the weather was getting pretty bad, "A sky like that can only mean one thing, someone's found us."

"A wise observation," Clef seemed genuinely impressed with the boy.

"Creature I summon thee!" Out of the Mage's staff a large griffin appeared. "Quickly get on!"

"You said all I have to do to use magic is cast a spell right?" Clef looked at him oddly before nodding his head.

"Perhaps you where paying attention after all, quickly get onto the beast!" Umi and Fuu did not need to be told twice, Hikaru turned to face the boy with an upset look in her eyes.

"Wait what are you going to do?"

"I'll hold them off!" replied Clef.

"No! I'll..." she was promptly silenced as Dan punched the back of her head knocking her out cold.

"Get on the damn bird!" he tossed her up to her friends and jumped up after her. Well to put it more accurately he tried to toss her over the griffin and off the cliff by throwing her over the other two girl's heads, but they managed to catch her anyway. The strange bird rose into the sky impossibly slowly and Dan frowned as Umi and Fuu watched the already miniscule Clef grow smaller by the minute. "Hey! Doesn't this thing go any faster?!" he snarled angrily.

Clef ignored them and called out, "Head for the west! The weapons master Preciea is in the forest of silence!"

"We could do better just running away!" suddenly the bird lurched forward almost causing him to lose his grip as it sped away from the scene. "Damn you Clef! This isn't funny!"

The boy Mage watched them fly away before he turned to see a woman riding towards him on a flaming horse. He frowned and waited for her to close in on him. "Alcione, I am disappointed in you, I taught you magic so you could help protect Cephiro."

The woman shot a barrage of ice spears at him and he blocked them easily, "You're not my target, I'd never stand a chance against the great Mage Clef, my mission is to destroy those bothersome magic knights." She turned and dashed off after the group, leaving Clef standing on the cliff. He felt something behind him and turned placing a shield in place, but unfortunately it was to late. Zagato appeared behind the boy on nearby mountaintop laughing as the stone Clef fell off the cliff into the valley.

Hikaru woke on the back of the griffin moaning to herself. "Clef."
"I'm sure he'll be all right, he's a powerful mage after all!" Fuu gave the girl a reassuring smile.

"Shut up, we have to get out of here! I want to get this stupid game over with so I can get home!" Dan growled as the beast flew low over the forests and valleys of Cephiro.

The young red head appeared in Dan's face, "Why did you hit me?!"

"Because we didn't have time to talk about it! Shut up and get behind me!" he clenched his legs around the shoulders of the beast and gripped the feathers on it's neck using them to steer the animal like a horse.

"What's that?!" cried Umi as she pointed to a small spot on the horizon. Quickly it grew into a woman riding on a flaming horse across the sky towards them.

Dan got a huge grin on his face as he pulled out a small red and white hat from his back pocket. "It's a Ponitia!" He quickly grabbed something off his belt and reared his hand back. "Pokeball go!"

"What are you doing? Are you insane!?" Fuu grabbed his shoulder and pulled him down again.

"What the heck is a Pokeball?" asked Hikaru looking confused, Dan looked between the two other girls and they gave him equally dumbfounded looks.

"A little after your time I guess." He laughed to himself and pulled the hat off his head sheepishly.

Alcione charged forward and laughed maniacally, "Icicle spear!" Dozens of ice shards appeared in the sky around her and shot towards the bird as it dodged skillfully.

Dan wavered to keep his balance and growled angrily at the woman, "I'll fry you!" another barrage of ice forced him back down on his seat as the girls screamed in fright. "Damn, I hate this place! I hate this place! I HATE THIS PLACE!"

The bird was finally forced to stop as a shower of icicle spears fell from above. Alcione appeared in front of them and the girls gave her and angry growl in unison as Dan faithfully chanted his mantra.

The woman spoke to them from her mount. "Well, three little eggs that would have hatched into magic knights, I'm sorry but you must die now."

"She said magic knights!" gasped Fuu to herself.

Dan seemed to snap out of his angry trance as he sat up suddenly and began to mutter something under his breath. "Light which burns beyond crimson flame..."

"I can't die like this!" whispered Umi.

"I bid you farewell," Alcione raised her staff and smiled.
Hikaru got an angry look as she stood up and stared the woman down, but before she could react Dan shoved her aside, he had an insane look in his eyes and his hair was blowing about wildly through the air, "...let your power gather within my hands! FIREBALL!"

The middle aged woman's eyes went wide as a massive ball of flames shot towards her almost too fast for her to react, she jumped out of her mount and barely escaped the ball itself, but what happened next she really wasn't expecting. The fireball exploded sending her careening away as her clothes started to burn catching her hair and enveloping her body almost completely, she almost didn't have the strength or the concentration to pull off the escape spell.

Dan laughed as he put his hand down and turned to face the girls with a huge stupid looking grin. "All right, it works."

The three looked at him in shock and said nothing for a long time before Hikaru finally jumped into his arms. "That was so cool! I can't wait to try out my magic spells!" Umi and Fuu merely looked relieved that the immediate danger was gone.

"We are going to the forest of silence now," said Dan simply as he sat down on the bird's shoulders again.

"Wait! How do we know we can trust this Clef?" Umi looked uncertain and Fuu was about to speak when Dan interrupted.

"I said we are going to the forest of silence, no argument," he turned to face her causing her to blush and look away from him. "I don't know where we are and frankly I don't care, the only thing that concerns me is getting this whole thing over with so I can get home. So until someone can do something other than make wild guesses about who is evil or truthful we do as I say."

Fuu frowned slightly at his tone and shifted next to Umi protectively. "How will we find this place? We don't even know where we are!"

"Simple, I'd bet a million yen this bird knows where we need to go, if not I have my ways," the animal screeched and flew off towards the destination.

After a few minutes the animal settled down in a clearing and let them off its back, "This must be the forest of silence!" Fuu smiled to herself as she had yet another wonderful revelation.

"Do you really get everyone to think you're a genius just by stating the obvious?" asked Dan.

She turned around and held her breath with a really angry look in her eyes, "Look Mr. Dan! You have been an absolutely awful person ever since we got here and I'm tired of it! You don't have to stay with us you know!"

The boy snorted and laughed out loud, "Yes I do, don't you see? I've got no choice in the matter, no matter how you beg me or plead with me I have to stay with you until you die or we get out of this crazy world, if you don't like it..." he fell silent as the girl glared at him angrily.

"If she doesn't like it then what?" asked Umi.

"Then do something about it and stop whining." He started towards the large building that sat in the center of the clearing while the three girls followed him.

Hikaru looked at her two friends and shrugged her shoulders as he plodded onward silently.

In the trees above them a figure stood watching from the shadows, "Well, let's see, I think I'll wait until they've got weapons to have my fun." The figure opened its eyes to reveal two glowing golden eyes.

The Three Magic Knights

[Warning spoilers and heavy hinting ahead!]

Part 2

Precea, or Dan finally gets a kick ass weapon.

Zagato watched the group as they floated down from the sky on the griffin from his magic mirror, a small smile touched his lips as they landed in the forest of silence. Suddenly he was aware of a presence at his side besides his servant. He spun creating a magic shield and the shadowy figures behind the waters gave a collective gasp.

"Voyeurism? Why Zagato, you cad!" Xellos smiled as he jumped back to avoid the shield. The mirror showed a close up of Hikaru and Xellos smiled to himself. "I would think your taste would be slightly older though, this one is built like a pillar." Zagato turned away from him ignoring his presence as best he could.

"What do you want?" snarled the white clad man as he stepped between his master and the cheerful mage.

"Just checking up on you, I wanted to see how Alcione's wounds were after meeting up with the male magic knight. I have many duties to attend to here, and one of them involves keeping an eye on you," the man sat down cross-legged on the floor in the center of the room waving his hand at them. "Please continue and don't mind me."

"Keeping an eye on me?" for the first time, Zagato showed signs of annoyance with the little man and frowned slightly.

"Don't flatter yourself you love stricken wizard, you protector of Emerad you. Are there any other annoying names I can call you to tell you I already know exactly what your doing and why?" the small mage opened his eyes giving them a slightly threatening golden stare. "I'm not here to interfere with you, and the fate of Ciphero does not concern me."

"What's he talking about?" asked one of the figures from behind the water.

"Hmmm, the seeds are sewn so to speak," Xellos smiled to himself as he thought this and faced Zagato again.

"You dare?!" snarled the elfin man as he stepped towards Xellos.

"Oh, this again, let's get creative this time!" the mage muttered something under his breath and waved his hand. "Explosion Array!" The ground underneath the elf's feet blasted upwards sending a shower of stone and dirt into the air for almost two hundred feet, well it would have if the ceiling weren't there. The elfish protector was plastered to the ceiling and not moving. "That was fun, I could get to like you...Mr?" Xellos looked like he was trying to remember something.

"His name is, Inova," answered Zagato calmly.

"Oh right, thanks I couldn't remember that. Oh well, he's fun who ever he is," Xellos put his hand up to his forehead as he looked up at the still unmoving figure on the ceiling.

"If you return here again without doing anything useful, I will kill you," Zagato turned away and went back to his mirror.

"Well, you'll certainly try anyway." The mage turned causing his cape to billow dramatically as he walked out of the room, behind him Inova finally fell back to the ground.

"Master Zagato! Let me kill him!" begged the man as he recovered from the blast and fell on his knees.

"No, he is already in the forest of silence with the three magic knights, he appears to be following them." The taller man stood unmoving as he turned away from his servant in disgust. "He is to powerful to ignore, so let's find out what he wants. His magic is far more powerful that Alcione or even Master Mage Clef."

The room gave a collective gasp suddenly and the waterfall was the only sound that could be heard within the palace walls.

Alcione sat on the ground for a moment and frowned, she looked no different than when she first went to face the magic knights. A raw powerful anger rose in her heart as she seethed in her place before Zagato. Mere children had humiliated her! It was quite unforgivable. "I must have my revenge, perhaps lord Zagato will allow me to follow them?" Just before she spoke a hand grabbed her by the shoulder and stopped her from begging Zagato for the chance to regain her honor.

She looked up into the sheet of water and saw her reflection staring back at her, she was covered in burn scars again with almost half of her hair burned off. She sucked in a quick horrified breath at the sight, none of her healing spells could take the scars away and her glamorie had been dispelled the moment Xellos grabbed her arm.

"Hello, I have a proposition for you," the mage's hand glowed white suddenly and the woman gasped, still unable to bring herself to scream or speak from the shock. Within seconds she was healed and her hair had grown back.

"H-how?" it was all she could say, according to Zagato he was already in the forest of silence.

"That's a secret, besides I can see right through your glamorie and it isn't pretty; not like now anyway," he leaned in close to her as he said this and she saw him wink from his reflection in the water.

"My heart belongs..." Alcione started to speak, her voice was angry, but quiet.

"Don't get the wrong idea, I want to help you get those magic knights, for a price of course." He stepped away from her and leaned on the staff waiting for a reply.

"What price? I would give anything to prove myself to lord Zagato!" she fell on her knees before him and he smiled wickedly.

"Ask Zagato if you can wait outside of the forest of silence for the magic knights, and for now the rest of the plan is...a secret," he bowed and melted into the shadows once again.

Dan walked towards the large dome and glared at the stone wall as the girls wandered around it aimlessly.

"There doesn't appear to be any way inside," commented Fuu.

The boy snorted at her, "of course it doesn't appear that way! It's obviously a secret entrance, wouldn't be much of a secret if you could see it easily would it?"

"I suppose not," answered the girl looking somewhat dejected.

"Well how the hell are we supposed to get in? Just knock?" Umi rushed up and tried to grab him but he was already heading for the wall.

"Let me in you stupid wall!" he pounded against the stones while the girls looked at him in confusion. Of course they all just about fell over when the wall opened up to let them in.

Dan started walking into the building and the girls all stopped cold at the doorway. "We shouldn't go in without permission," Hikaru looked worried and the other girls looked like they were going to agree with her. He promptly turned on his heels and walked out taking each individual girl and throwing her bodily into the doorway.

"That takes care of that!" he dusted off his hands and walked past them with his head held high.

"Mr. Dan! We shouldn't just barge into someone's house like this!" cried Fuu angrily.

"Have you seen this place? Look around you retard, does this place look like a house to you? It's obviously hundreds of years old, and to top that off it looks like some sort of temple to me," he started walking down the hall followed by the three nervous girls.

"Hello! Is anyone here?" called Fuu and Hikaru from time to time. They failed to notice the small disturbance in the ground behind them and pressed onward until they came to another building inside of a clearing behind the walls.

A shadowy figure vanished from a tree just outside of the forest, in its place Xellos stood with a smirk on his face. "It was easy using my shadow to fool that stupid mirror. "I've got a little time until Alcione shows up, perhaps I'll have a little fun!" he walked up directly behind the group as they entered the fortress unnoticed by any of them. Standing just out side the doorway he took out a small bottle and smirked as he poured its contents onto the small disturbance in the earth that followed them inside. "Heh, let's see how you get out of this one magic knights!"

The group came upon a doorway and stopped as reached it looking at one another warily, all except for Dan of course, he simply shoved the girls aside and walked into the room with a frown on his face. "Hey, is there some chick named Precea here?" Just inside the room was a chair that had pages flying from behind it making a mess of the room.

The chair turned and a small fluffy white looking rabbit creature sat cheerfully making a mess of someone's office. Hikaru stepped back and started to sweat a little, "Hello, m-m-Miss Precea?"

"That isn't Precea," said Dan with a small frown, "That's dinner."

The girls looked at him in shock and stepped back, "Are you insane?" asked Umi with a frightened look in her eyes.

"Shut up squirt gun! I haven't eaten since I got here, and that's the most edible lookin critter I've seen here yet!" he stepped forward and put his hands up to catch the creature.

"Mr. Dan, I really don't think you should, it could be someone's pet," said Fuu as she stepped between him and the small animal.

"You stay out of this too wind bag," he pushed her aside easily and prepared to lunge at the rabbit thing with a hungry look in his eyes.

"Stop making fun of my name!" cried the girl angrily as she recovered her balance, she was really starting to hate this guy.

Hikaru attached herself to the boy's neck with tears in her eyes, "No! You can't"

"Hey, get offa me!" he cried as he pulled at her arms in shock and fell over.

"Oh, Mr. Dan, you seem rough, but I know your not really mean enough to eat such an adorable creature right?" the girl fell into his lap and stared at him with the biggest cutest anime eyes he'd ever seen.
"My god! Her head had to get three times bigger just for those to fit!" He was shaken from his thoughts as a large cage slammed down from above them trapping the four magic knights. "Damn, there goes dinner."

A beautiful woman appeared before them just outside the cage laughing to herself at her own cleverness. "You fell for it Mokona! You're always getting away with making a mess of my study. Now, what would be a fitting punishment?" Dan smiled and handed her a black leather negligee and whip from between the bars. "No, I don't think so, not imaginative enough," commented the woman with a slight color forming in her cheeks.

"I'd love to hear any suggestions you might have," replied Dan with a smirk on his face.

Behind him, Hikaru became surrounded by a deep red aura of anger as she grew fangs and cat ears while glaring at him. "What did he say?"

"I know! Shall I pull on your funny little...wait a minute!" she turned to stare into the bars in shock and noticed what he had handed her.

"Please go on, this is getting interesting," the boy had a wicked smile as the blonde woman threw the clothes on the floor as if they where made out of fire as she turned completely red. "Now then, I presume you are Presea, are you going to let us out or do I have to hurt you?"

"Who are you? So! You're the ones who have been messing up my study!" the woman seemed proud of her discovery as Monica happily continued to destroy the office space directly behind her.

"Shut up, I don't have time for silly games woman, we are the magic knights! Mage Clef told us that you could provide us with weapons," the boy's face suddenly became hard and serious as he stared the woman down. She backed away like a small, frightened animal under his gaze.

Meanwhile, inside Dan's head...

"I'm gonna get a sword! I'm gonna get a sword! Now I can kill these evil people and go home! I'll just have a training accident, or better yet I'll accidentally hit them while fighting a monster!"

Precea looked at them in shock she stepped back and watched them for a few seconds. "How can this be? They can't possibly be this young!"

Hikaru smiled as the rabbit creature walked up and climbed into her arms, "Oh how cute! You must be Mokona!" she cheerfully giggled while snuggling the adorable creature.

Dan frowned as he glared at the white fuzz ball in disgust. "Oh no! It's the annoying overly cute comedic relief character! It must die!" A smile formed on his lips as he watched the creature carefully. "Wait! I can openly oppose this thing, it will just be seen as a gag!" He stormed over to Hikaru and frowned.

"What do you think your doing? I'm bigger than you! Get in my belly!" the girl looked at him in bewilderment and smiled slightly. "Come offa that girl you coward!"

Unbeknownst to him Umi and Fuu looked at each other in surprise. "He's getting jealous of Mokona?" asked Fuu in confusion.

"Maybe, but that's kind of strange," agreed Umi.

"I think this proves he really does care, no matter what he shows us on the outside, his true feelings can be seen now. I think he likes Hikaru as much as she likes him," Fuu giggled quietly as she watched bewildered red head become very pleased with Dan all of a sudden.

Precea seemed to snap out of her trance suddenly, "You four, you're the magic knights!"

"I just said that!" growled the boy angrily as he spun around on his heels.

"My name is Hikaru Shidou," answered the red head.

"I am Umi Ryuaki"

"I am Fuu Houji" the three girls posed dramatically creating a different back ground somehow, one with lots of colors and sparkly lights; then the boy stepped in front of them with his arms spread wide.

"And I am Dan! We are THE GINYU FORCE!" everyone in the room almost fell over at his words and he gave a little victory sign while smiling to himself.

Suddenly the door was smashed in and a large creature stumbled into the room, it was brown with a light blue haze covering its body. Dan frowned slightly when he noticed a strange blue gray mist was emanating from its body. Without thinking he pulled at the bars and bent them aside easily stepping out into the room with a large frown on his face. "Let's go." The girls nodded in unison and stepped forward posing proudly before the open cage, none of them seemed to notice Dan was walking out of the room, having meant 'let's go' in a completely different way than the girls had taken it. Mokona jumped in front of him and he rolled his eyes. "Ok Pot roast, I'll help out this time."

About that time Precea was explaining to the girls why they couldn't use magic spells in the Forest of Silence. A shadowy figure appeared on the top of the cage that had once held the magic knights, he smiled to himself as he watched the battle calmly. "Magic spells no, magic potions are another story all together." Calmly he turned and started to walk out of the room without losing the smirk on his face. "Sorry children, I've got an appointment to meet, enjoy your monster."

The three girls stared at the decapitated form of the monster on the floor, Precea had slain the beast just after they found their magic was not working. However she now clutched her sword arm in pain Dan leaned in and frowned, it was covered in frost.

"That's an interesting monster," he said flatly.

"Come with me," said the weapons smith as she walked out of the room. The group followed quietly with Hikaru carrying Mokona in her arms.

Dan gave the beast another quick glance and walked after them quickly to catch up with the group, a dark smile crossed his lips as it twitched slightly and started to revive.

A few moments later, inside the weapons, vault the girls and their male companion looked at the room in awe. It was covered in weapons, hundreds of swords, spears, and axes lined the floors and covered the walls of the room.

"Choose any weapon you like!" said the woman cheerfully as she waved her hand around in a smooth motion.

"Wow, you are so kind to provide us with weapons like this for free!" Fuu looked almost too happy, "It never works like this in a roll playing game!"

"I figured as much, Nerd," Dan frowned as he snuck up behind he and whispered it into her hear.
She turned and fumed at him angrily, "and just what is that supposed to mean?"

"Nothing wind bag," said Dan cheerfully as he backed away.

"Oh the weapons aren't free," said the smithy to them.]

"What? How are we supposed to pay for them?!" cried Umi in shock.

"Calm down squirt gun, I've got some money," Hikaru looked immensely relieved at his words. "You take Japanese yen?"

"I suppose I could, if you promise to save Cephiro," Dan stopped cold and stared at her with large amounts of sweat forming on his head, if he was forced to promise that way he would have to really go through with it, his honor depended on it.

"I, uhhh." Luckily Hikaru piped up before he had to answer.

"Of course we will! We'll become the magic knights and save this world! I promise!"

Dan smiled a little at her words, "You shouldn't make promises you can't keep Hikaru. Oh well, it's not my problem, besides, she shouldn't have spoken for me."

"But, remember! You can't have these weapons to keep! I'm just loaning you these weapons for a short time, I haven't even begun to make weapons for you yet." The woman smiled at them and winked. "When I make weapons for the four of you they'll be for you and only you!"

"Weapons just for us," gasped Hikaru.

"Just for us," repeated Umi.

"Only us," said Fuu.

"Yes, these weapons will be for us and no one else's, they are only for us because no one else can use them, therefore they can only be for us weapons, because no one else will use them, that is why these weapons will be just for us, because they are only for us," said Dan with a completely serious look on his face.

"Yes, well you can choose your weapons now," said Precea as she scratched her head nervously. "That way you can go to the Magic Spring of Eternia."

"Magic Spring of Eternia?" asked Hikaru in confusion.

"So we can get Escudo, so she can make our weapons," said Dan with a small frown.

"How do you know that?" asked Fuu with a suspicious look on her face.

"He's right," said Precea, the girls all got surprised looks on their faces.

Dan laughed to himself as he leaned against a rack of spears looking remarkably cool.

Suddenly the door started to thump and Precea turned towards it in shock. "Hurry! You have to decide now!"

"Just close your eyes and concentrate," said Dan to the girls.

They all did as they where bid and the weapons appeared over their respective heads, Fuu got a bow and arrow, Hikaru was equipped with a broadsword, and Umi got a fancy looking rapier. Dan smiled as he opened his eyes to see what he had received, his jaw dropped like a rock when he saw the tiny dagger floating over his head. The whole weapon was about ten inches long, including the handle.

"No way! Carrot you bastard! I'll get you for this!" he cried towards the sky.

That was when the door exploded inward sending debris flying across the room, Precea fired the cannon she was standing next to and the brown creature raised it's claw and stopped the cannon ball cold, literally. The projectile became frozen in the air and shattered against the thing's body.

Hikaru jumped into the air and slashed downward neatly slicing the monster in half, the center of the monster seemed to melt and merge back together.

"Weapons won't beat this thing!" cried Fuu in shock as she shot several arrows into the thing's hide with no success.

Dan calmly dodged a few attacks and did nothing offensively; Hikaru turned towards her friends and called out to them. "Follow me!" Dan smirked when he noticed her frost covered arm. She ran through the building and grabbed a tablecloth off a dinning table as she dashed by. The creature followed dumbly after her and her friends screaming a mad rage.

"Fuu, Umi, I need you to distract it for a moment!" called the girl as she faced her friends with the monster chasing after her.

"It won't work," said Dan simply.

Hikaru ignored him and put her plan into motion, while her friends where distracting the monster she tossed the cloth over it's head and sliced it in half sending it into the lake, or it would have if the water had not frozen solid just before the creature hit it.

"I told you," said Dan with a confident smirk.

"That was a good table cloth!" said Precea with a sigh.

"What do we do? When that thing gets it's balance back..." said Umi with a slight wavering to her voice.

"You'll just die then," said Dan with a completely calm face.

"What?" Fuu was shocked at his calm and suddenly serious demeanor.

Hikaru had another brainstorm, a small trickle of a stream could be seen on the opposite side of the ice and she rushed forward sliding through the ice creature's legs. The thing turned and chased her lumbering slowly behind her, she dashed and smiled as a familiar roar filled her ears. "This has got to work!" she dashed forward and found a small pool with a waterfall dumping thousands of gallons of water on the creature from above, she backed away and ran behind the waterfall where a small cave led back into a dead end. She closed her eyes as the monster's shadow became visible through the sheet of water that separated her from it, the thing lurched forward suddenly and attempted to go through the water, it froze the falls instantly and was encased in a huge wall of ice.

Umi and Fuu, rushed up and grabbed the girl with looks of worry on their faces. "Hikaru! Are you all right?" asked the blonde girl.

"I'm fine, just a little tired," said the pigtailed girl with a weak smile on her face.

"I'm impressed girl, using the waterfall like this was pretty smart," Dan did his best to hide his disappointment and gave a weak smile. "If the fall ever thaws out it should wash the thing away like you where trying to do back at the pool. Gee, too bad it didn't work." His fists were growing tighter with each
word he spoke.

All of the girls weapons vanished into the jewels on their wrists suddenly causing them to cry out in shock, Dan's did as well but he was merely glad to be rid of the embarrassing weapon.

"Our weapons are gone!" said Umi in shock.

"They appear to have vanished!" said Fuu.

"Why does everything appear to you? Are you too stupid to be certain?" Dan frowned as he leaned into Fuu and awaited his answer.

"There is no such thing as certainty!" retorted the girl angrily.

"Suuureee," said Dan sounding unconvinced.

"Your weapons are safe, they will reappear if you will it to be so," said Precea cheerfully.

Dan snorted slightly and looked at the woman, "Man she's cute," he muttered under his breath.
Fuu overheard his words and looked at him in shock, she also noticed something he didn't, the fact that Hikaru was standing right behind the woman. "Oh my," she gasped while blushing at her new discovery.

That night Hikaru slept soundly in a room with Umi and Fuu. They where all in separate beds and the latter two girls were having trouble sleeping.

"How can she sleep like that after this terrible ordeal?" asked the blue haired girl with a little jealousy in her voice.

"I don't know," Fuu's voice sounded slightly on edge. "I believe in her and I think she will become the legendary magic knight spoken of in legend, but..." the blonde girl looked apprehensive about something.

"What is it Fuu? You can tell me!"

"That boy, he bothers me. I know Hikaru likes him, and he obviously likes her; but the two of us might be in danger, I don't think he's sane." She curled up under the covers and shuddered slightly at her memories of his face when he said they might die.

"I think he was just pushing us a little, I don't like his attitude much, but he's always been there when we really needed him until now, and the only weapon he got was a little tiny dagger," the girl smiled slightly to herself as she hugged her knees. "Besides, he's obviously the strongest of all of us."

"That's why it bothers me so much," replied Fuu before she lay down again. "In any case, we have to be careful! We might not fare as well against other monsters."

"Stop scaring me Fuu!" whined the other girl.

"Will both of you shut up? Some of us are trying to sleep!" A half-asleep Dan sat up at the foot of the beds, the two girls screamed in fright and the boy found himself with two pillows embedded in his face. "I hate this place so much."

Dan smiled the next day as he watched the girls say their good-byes, he stood next to them and waited somewhat patiently while they talked with Precea. "Remember, you don't get a single yen out of me until the job is done," he gave her a small wink and bowed politely before starting off towards the woods.

"Why is he so cheerful this morning?" asked Umi with a bewildered look on her face.

"He said something about Escudo and some sort of God earlier," replied Hikaru, "and then something else about his impatience in seeing 'His Gekigengar."

"What's a GekiGengar?" asked Fuu in confusion.

"How should I know?" replied Umi with a somewhat disgusted look on her face.

The three girls walked off after the boy, "I wonder what Escudo looks like?"

"It's sort of like a big colored crystal, it'll probably match the color of your armor," replied Dan cheerfully. He knew of course that they where off to fight monsters, a lot of accidents could happen while fighting monsters. He hummed a small tune to himself as they walked along.

Precea looked on worriedly as the youths ventured into the forest. "I hope Princess Emerad is watching over them!"

"Don't worry about that young lady," said another voice from beside her. She gasped and turned to face the newcomer. Xellos leaned against the wall with a quaint smile on his face.

"Wh-who are you?" demanded the woman pulling her sword out.

"Just a traveler who happened to overhear a few things, nothing to worry about. Emerad may be looking out for them, but her 'protector' will be quite vigilant, I hope for their sake that they are prepared," he smiled a little more and looked up at the woman. "Especially if they want to get past what waits for them just outside the forest of silence alive." The strange man walked off in the opposite direction, vanishing into the forest's shadows.

"Who?..." said Precea quietly as she watched him fade away.

The Three Magic Knights

Part 3

Dan vs. The Forest of Silence.

Mokona hopped merrily along the path that led into the forest, Dan scrambled after the creature with his dagger drawn and a hungry look in his eyes.

Hikaru followed after him pleading for the creature's life as the four dashed down the path. "No Mr.Dan! If you eat Mokona who will guide us through the forest!?"

"I'm hungry damn it! Leave me alone!" retorted the boy as he fell on his face as the rabbit creature jumped merrily just out of his reach.

Fuu sighed as she and Umi followed blindly after them. "This is most counter productive."

"Like hell it is! We are having roasted rabbit tonight!" the boy scurried along after his prey while Hikaru jumped at him just missing the boy in an attempt to hold him down and calm him.

"This is nuts! What is this some sort of track meet?" stammered Umi as she collapsed against a tree with the two girls while Dan chased the creature back and forth in front of them.

All conversation stopped however when the group continued onward only to run into a huge menacing looking beast. "Oh, great. It's a monster," muttered Dan as he stared at the thing calmly. Umi and Fuu turned around and scampered away with frightened looks on their faces. "Come back here you cowards!" called the boy as he ignored the beast as it charged him. Hikaru appeared directly in front of him and cut the thing cleanly in half causing it to vanish in a black haze.

"Hey, I could have handled it!" snorted the boy ungratefully; he turned to see Umi and Fuu hanging off the girl exclaiming how cool she was.

Mokona bounced from it's hiding place and into Hikaru's arms. Umi looked angry at it. "Why do you keep leading us to monsters?"

Mokona looked slightly upset and puu'ed several times in apology. "I think it's just a coincidence," said Hikaru in its defense.

"It's more likely the damn thing is trying to get us experience by fighting all of these things," said Dan as he glared at it. "Can I eat it now?"

"Yes!" snarled Umi.

"No!" screeched Hikaru a she hugged it tighter.

"I don't believe that would be a good idea," said Fuu with a large sweat drop forming on her head.

"If it gooks up one more time, I'll serve it to you on a platter," snarled Umi as she frowned at Mokona.

A short time later the group jogged through the forest with Dan following closely behind Mokona with a hungry look in his eyes. He stopped suddenly and crouched low as Mokona vanished into a cluster of bushes. He turned to face the girls as they looked on in confusion. "Be very, very quiet, I'm hunting...BIG SCARY LOOKING BIRD MONSTERS!" he tossed his dagger off to his right and impaled the eye of a monstrous looking bird monster. "HA! Die, die, die!" He stopped cold as the creature vanished in a puff of black. "Aww, man. I was hoping for chicken tonight or something."

"That wasn't a chicken!" cried Umi in shock.

"It would probably taste like one though, if it hadn't vanished that is," said Fuu with a small smile on her lips.

Dan laughed as they walked on through the forest. "This is great! I bet this place is full of monsters!" he merrily forged onward with the three girls behind him.

"Why do you even say things like that?" asked Umi with a nervous voice.

"To watch you squirm mostly, you've got weapons, quit complaining," said the boy cheerfully as he moved onward. After a split second of time passed by he spun around on his heels and looked up at the canopy above them. "I sense something, a presence I've not felt since..."

"What! Stop scaring us that way!" cried Umi in shock as she recovered from her place on the ground.

"No, he's right. I felt someone watching us," agreed Hikaru as she glanced around.

A shadow moved quietly away above the girls as they slowly continued down the path. Opposite the first figure another ominous shadow smiled to itself. "Well, this is interesting, I do believe he's enjoying himself."

"So, you say they know?" asked the first figure.

"They can't give you directions, but if you really want to find it..." said Xellos with a small chuckle.

"All right then, I'm off! Thanks a lot!" the first figure bounced away after the magic knights.

"Yes, enjoy my little gift friend!" called the mage as he waved, moments later a cruel smile formed on his lips. "It will definitely be useful for me."

Fuu continued her conversation with Umi as the group walked through the forest slowly. "I think we should take out our weapons, you never know when the next monster will attack."

"I guess so," said Umi sounding somewhat reluctant.

Hikaru stumbled as the ground pushed up under her feet, she jumped back as a praying mantis like creature emerged from the ground in front of her. "Umi, Fuu! Get out your weapons!"

Dan frowned and pulled a small red box out of his pocket, he pointed it at the creature and smiled as it opened. The thing beeped and began to speak to him. "Scyther, a bug type pokemon..."

Behind him Umi and Fuu backed away in shock as the creature fought with Hikaru, a huge plant creature emerged behind them and wrapped them up with its vine like tentacles. Dan calmly turned his head and smiled at them, "Well, a tentacle monster? This is turning into my kind of anime," he smirked as he pulled a small ball off his belt and tossed it at the green attacking monster Hikaru was still fighting. "Sucks for those two I suppose."

"What are you doing? Save them!" cried Hikaru in shock as her opponent vanished into the ball.

Dan held up his dagger and frowned as he showed it to her. "What do you want me to do? Prune it?"

Hikaru blanched as she realized he couldn't do anything about it. She dashed forward and held her sword over her head, but before she reached it the monster was cut in half by a mysterious figure. Dan ignored the newcomer and plucked his pokeball off the ground humming merrily to himself.

Mokona hopped into Hikaru's arms again and puu'ed cheerfully. The boy turned around to face them, he was a handsome young lad, with green hair and a scar running across the bridge of his nose. In his hand was a glowing blade that retracted into the handle with a strange sliding sound. The hilt of the blade looked strangely familiar to Dan and he gasped in shock. "Hey! Where the hell did you get the sword of light?!"

The boy turned to face him with a confused look on his face. "This sword?" he asked holding it up.

"NO! The one coming out your ass! Yes that sword!" said Dan angrily.

"Some guy gave it to me," replied the boy without offering any more information.

Dan frowned, Carrot was going to die when he got back, the dagger was bad enough; but giving him the sword of light was just rubbing his face in it.

"Thank you so much for saving us," said Fuu as she stepped closer to the boy.

"So, who are you?" asked the boy.

"My name is Hikaru Shidou!" said the girl without a moment's hesitation.

"I am Fuu Houji," said the blonde.

"I'm Umi Ryuzaki," replied the blue haired girl after her friends where finished.

"You can just call me Dan," replied the boy ignoring the newcomer's disinterested looks. He pulled the girls into a huddle and frowned at them. "Come on guys you can do better than that, we have to come up with some really good poses! After all, we're the Ginuy force!"

"We are?" asked Hikaru in confusion, which got her strange looks from the other two girls.

They group posed together in a really great pose involving a lot of leg lifts arm expansions and angles, it also had colorful backgrounds and sparkling lights with Overly Dramatic Wind (tm). Ferio wisely chose to ignore them and continued with his introduction. "People call me Ferio. What are you guys, stupid? Wandering around the forest of silence without any weapons is just beggin to get eaten by monsters," the boy leaned against a tree and looked at them seriously.

"Why do you call us dumb for walking around the forest without weapons?" asked Hikaru.

Dan could not comprehend the stupidity of it all. "Are you dense? Look at what's already happened to us, every time we turn around something is trying to kill us!"

"These woods are full of monsters, there must be hundreds and thousands of them out there," said Ferio warningly.

"Cool!" cried Dan excitedly. The girls looked at him oddly and Ferio continued.

"I work as a hunter in these woods..."

"Shut up, you're just a lost swords man, of no potential use to us," Dan snorted and looked the boy in his eyes. "I've got better things to do with my time than play guide boy."

Ferio looked surprised and embarrassed as he hung his head. "You're right, I'd really appreciate it if you'd let me tag along. I can't seem to find my way out of these woods."

Dan got a dark smile on his face as he looked towards Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu. "If I let him tag along, I can have a scapegoat. If somebody dies they'll blame it on him," he nodded his head and smiled warmly. "What the heck, you might come in handy, all I was given was a crummy dagger to defend myself with when I got here."

Ferio looked confused and simply nodded. "All right then."

"Wait! Mr. Dan, I don't know if we should trust him completely! I mean he was going to lie to us before, why wouldn't he just agree to your story to come along with us?"

"Shut up wind bag! I'm in charge here got it?" he snorted angrily.

"Who died and made you king?" snapped Umi.

"You did, if you don't shut up! I'm sick and tired of all your whining! All you women do is complain, with the exception of Hikaru, and she's way to cheerful and trusting to let her handle anything important!" the red head looked at her friends and shrugged her shoulders.

"Traitor," whispered Umi to her.

Fuu frowned and glared at the boy, "Who are you to talk about being too trusting!? All right, fine, but if something happens because of him, I'm holding you responsible."

Dan made a small choking sound, "That could mean if someone gets killed and I try to pin it on him too! Damn you Fuu, this is all your fault!" strangely enough as his thoughts wandered a traveling pack with a bamboo umbrella appeared on his back again.

"I hate to push my luck, but do you have anything to eat? I haven't had a decent meal in a long time," Ferio looked even more embarrassed and rubbed at his stomach.

"I'm sorry but..." Fuu started to speak until Mokona puu'ed again. This time the jewel on its head lit up and a large pile of food appeared on the ground in front of Ferio.

Dan was angry, "You've been holding out on me you little bastard!?"

"Well, you did try to eat him," said Hikaru with a small sweat drop appearing on her forehead.

After a few minutes the pair of boys finished eating, Dan was shooting nasty looks at the rabbit creature and Ferio simply looked contented.

"I don't trust him," said Umi with a frown.

"I'm sorry, but I can't just let such a good looking young lady can walk around these woods unescorted," Ferio smiled as he hung his head down dramatically.

"Did you say good looking?" asked Umi as she brightened up.

"Hey! What am I? Chopped liver?" Dan was miffed, but not really all that angry.

"You are hardly an escort," replied Umi.

"It's dangerous for such a beautiful lady to walk these woods without a body guard," the boy smiled to himself as he got the desired effect easily.

"Yea, lay it on thick pal," muttered Dan with a sick look on his face.

"He said beautiful! That's total and complete honesty!" cried the girl happily.

Nighttime fell and the group was still inside the forest of silence, they found themselves in a small clearing that seemed relatively safe from monsters. "We have to sleep to prepare for tomorrow," said Hikaru cheerfully.

"Sleep?! How are we supposed to do that out here?" screeched Umi in shock.

Off to the side Ferio and Dan where already setting up bedrolls on the ground and making a camp fire. "How do you think?" said Dan in annoyance as he pat his mat down and lay out on the ground.

Mokona puu'ed yet again and a beam of light formed from it's head. Dan rolled his eyes and snorted as a small egg shaped cabin appeared in the clearing. "What next? A car? You might as well just pull Tokyo out of that thing."

"That's great Mokona!" cried Hikaru as she squeezed the creature again.

"Hey, if you can make Tokyo appear I can go to my fencing match!" cried Umi.

Mokona gave a frightened squeak and shook its head vigorously. "I suppose that's a bit much, even for Mokona," said Fuu with a giggle.

"Stop laughing, I was serious!" said Umi.

"Come on, we need to get some sleep!" said Hikaru as she carried Mokona into the hut.

"Damn, now she'll never leave the damn thing alone long enough for me too..." muttered the boy angrily.

"What's the matter with you?" asked Ferio.

"Huh? Oh it's nothing, just those girls can be so whiny," answered the boy cheerfully. "I'll get you yet barbecued rabbit," he muttered under his breath.

Inside the small structure the three girls where amazed at the luxury they found themselves in, there where three beds with pajamas and a small table with baskets of fruits on them.

After a few moments of acclimating they found themselves conversing about the journey.

"Hikaru, what do you think of Dan?" asked Fuu pleasantly.

"Huh? Oh he's great! He's cute and funny and..." the girl was cut off by her friends worry.

"I-I don't trust him," she said quietly.

"He's a real jerk Fuu, but he's been helpful so far," offered Umi with a slightly callous look.

"You saw what happened when that thing caught us, he just stood there; and when the cold mud monster attacked us as well," Fuu felt tears forming in her eyes. "He watched as if he didn't even mind that we might die."

Hikaru spoke up in his defense, "Fuu, he's a magic knight too! Besides, there wasn't anything he could do to help you; You saw what he got from Precea, there wasn't anything he could do to hurt a monster like that one with the tiny knife he had."

Umi frowned at her friend's worry, "I think you're just dwelling on it to much, he can use magic and he's stronger than the rest of us, he's no idiot either; no matter how he acts sometimes."

Hikaru pulled the pair of pajamas Mokona had made for her off the bed. "Well, he does keep trying to eat Mokona, but that's the only bad thing he's really done the whole time we've been here. He might seem a little gruff, but I don't think he'd let anything happen to us."

Outside Dan tried his best to think of ways he could kill the girls without getting caught or blamed on the deaths. "If I kill a small animal and put it just outside the house thing, I might be able to attract a monster that could get them in their sleep. Unfortunately there aren't any small animals around here. Damn, maybe if I dug a pit just outside the door and made some sharpened stick spikes out of th..." his thoughts were cut off as Ferio flipped the sword of light in his hands a few times.

"Hey, that reminds me, where the hell did you get that from?" the boy sat up and looked at his companion in mild interest.

A wandering mage gave it to me a few days ago, he said it had the power to take out Zagato if I could make it to him. He also said it was only a lone, and once Zagato was dead I had to return it, as you can see, I was more than glad to oblige him." The blade erupted from the holster as he concentrated his power on the sword. Ferio smiled to himself as the light blade slid back into its place once he broke contact.

"Well, that's certainly interesting," muttered Dan, he had a pretty good idea who the so-called 'wandering mage' might be.

Fuu stepped up to the pair with a basket of fruit in her hands and placed it between them. "I have brought you something to eat, I will leave it here for you."

"Afraid Hikaru might invite us in?" asked Dan casually.

"It's not you I'm worried about," said Fuu defensively.

Dan smirked, "That's a lie and you know it."

Fuu fell silent and blushed, it was true. "Am I that transparent?"

Dan nodded calmly and smirked at her with a slightly crazed look in his eyes; after a moment is softened slightly and he chuckled to himself over the worry on her face.

Ferio frowned at him slightly and shook his head, "Why don't you stay out here and eat with us, I'm sure we could use the company."

Fuu looked at him in surprise until Dan spoke up.

"Yes, that's right, there's nothing I'd rather do than listen to the two of you flirt with each other all night," said Dan as he relaxed and closed his eyes. "Don't speak for both of us Romeo, you're the only one who wants her company right now."

"Just shows you've got no taste," snorted the boy in retort.

Dan smiled as he watched Fuu step back and jog towards the shelter. "Don't say a word, you and I both know she wasn't going to stay regardless."

"Yea, well you didn't have to be that rude ya know," said the boy.

"Ferio, I don't like it here, I'm irritated beyond belief and I'm grouchy. Cephero is not my idea of a fun vacation, I want to go home and I'll do anything it takes to get there. Even if it means killing every living thing on this planet."

"Doesn't give you the right to take it out on everyone else," snorted the boy.

"Ferio, if you like Fuu you're going to have to work on it, she's flighty and very distrusting," he rolled on his side and faced away from the boy with a scowl on his face as he tried to sleep.

His companion looked at him in surprise and smiled to himself. "Well, we'll see," he muttered before lying down himself.

The next day was full of uneventful monster killing, Dan had fun.

As the day came to a close the group walked along through the forest at a brisk pace. Mokona hopped ahead of the group with Dan in hot pursuit.

"Come back here you little dinner platter!"

"Man, what's with this guy?" asked Ferio as he watched. "He's been at it all day."

"Apparently he's got it in his head that Mokona might taste good," said Umi with a sigh.

Dan stopped his chase and stared at them, "At this point I don't care if it tastes like shit, I'm still gonna enjoy eating it!"

Umi became annoyed at he fuzzy creature again, "Mokona, every path you take us down leads to another monster!" the creature looked at her and hopped onward merrily. "please let it be a path with no monsters."

"Fat chance of that happening," muttered Dan as he stepped out into a large clearing and found himself staring at a huge number of monsters surrounding a large floating rock. "See."

Mokona started to hop forward and Umi dashed around in front it. "No way!" she gasped. "Mokona, you don't mean we have to go through that?"

The animal nodded and she held it by it's hears and carried it back to Hikaru. "Even with our weapons there's no way we can fight that many monsters!"

"Hey, I think we can do it!" said Dan looking very gung-ho about it.

"This is a bit much, Mr. Dan," said Hikaru apologetically.

"Well, you've certainly got yourself in a pickle now don't you?" said a new voice.

The group turned to see a robe clad figure emerging from the forest with a small smile on his face.

"Carrot!" snarled Dan as he stepped forward.

"No, no, my young friend. I merely look like your friend. You can call me Xellos." The man shook his finger and winked at them with a smirk firmly planted on his face.

"Mr. Dan, you know this person?" asked Fuu in shock.

"Yes, I do," he replied simply.

"You want to destroy that rock there, it will get rid of the monsters," said the mage casually.

"Can we trust him?" asked Fuu.

"About as far as we can throw him," replied Dan angrily. "But he isn't working for Zagato, I'm certain of that. He won't lie to us, but he won't tell us everything we need to know either."

"Ah yes, the perils of staying in character so to speak, you are quite right about that my friend," Xellos stood at the edge of the clearing with them and smiled. "Zagato can't see into these woods while the magic suppression is in place."

"How do you know that?" asked Hikaru.

"That's a secret," replied the mage cheerfully.

"See what I mean?" said Dan with a sigh.

"This is the guy who gave me this sword," said Ferio with a nod of recognition to the man.

Xellos returned the courtesy and turned to face the magic knights again. "I might suggest a plan, but you don't seem very trusting at the moment, besides most of your magic is blocked."

"Most of?" asked Hikaru in surprise.

"Yes, that's right!" Dan looked at Mokona in shock. "He can still use his powers in here!"

"You're right, Mokona's storage power does seem magical," Fuu smiled a little and then looked serious again. "But how does that help us? I mean our magic is still locked."

"Perhaps it is, but the right kind of spell should work," Dan closed his eyes and frowned, "but we really don't need that much power if we handle this right."

"Well my fledgling magic knights, you have a long way to go now," the mage smiled at them and sat down on a near by rock waiting to see what they might do next.

"Magic knights? You guys are trying to save princess Emerad aren't you?" Ferio looked at them in surprise.

Xellos chuckled to himself at the man's words and smiled. "Are you sure she wants to be saved?"

"Of course I'm sure! What kind of stupid question is that?" Ferio was angry to say the least.

"Perhaps she doesn't really need as much saving as you imagine," said Xellos with a knowing smile.

"What do you mean?" asked Ferio as the sword of light ignited in his hands.

"That's a secret," replied the mage with an unimpressed smirk.

"Yea, yea," said Dan carelessly as he watched the crowd of monsters in anticipation.

"I don't care what you say, I'm going to save Emerad, I owe her!" Ferio went into a tale about how princess Emerad saved him from execution for attempting to steal a small jeweled object from the palace, and of his vow to save her.

"I've got a plan, Fuu, Umi, and Hikaru, you three go and destroy those monsters while I take out the rock with Ferio." Dan stood up and winked at them with a confident smile.

"For once you've come up with something useful," said Fuu with a sigh.

The girls dashed forward into the crowd of monsters and attacked, the beasts turned towards them after a few seconds of confusion and where easily led away as they surrounded the girls easily.

Dan frowned as he noticed Xellos had vanished and stepped forward signaling for Ferio to follow. The boy complied and they rushed towards the rock with Dan allowing his companion to take the lead with an evil smile on his face.

Ferio collapsed and fell on his knees as he neared the stone. "Don't come any closer!"

"What's wrong?" asked Dan his smirk never fading as he looked at the boy with hungry eyes. It was a shame he had to die and he would not enjoy watching it, but with Fuu off fighting monsters and getting herself killed with Hikaru and Umi, there was really nothing he could do.

Ferio felt a force lift him into the air and drag him towards the evil stone through the air, his body slowly started to turn to stone and he heaved his sword at it in a desperate attempt to strike it. The gamble failed as his sword deactivated and fell to the ground at least ten yards short of the stone. "No! Those girls will die!" he struggled and tried to claw at the air in an attempt to save himself, but there was nothing to grab. Suddenly he felt his hands clutch something, he looked forward and saw Dan holding a rope and pulling on the other side, he had a serious frown on his face as he glanced back at the three girls battling the monsters.

"There's no point in killing him too I suppose, all I have to do is get rid of the girls and the fic should end, his conscience had gotten the better of him when he realized Ferio didn't have to die. "Damn, stupid moral standards."

A figure stood on top of the stone with a wicked grin on his face. "Xellos!?" gasped Dan in anger as he finally pulled Ferio in and noticed the man.

"Did you really think I'd let you off that easily? Come on now, the show must go on!" he tapped his staff on the stone and the dull glow that surrounded it grew brighter. Dan's eyes went wide as he saw the stone continued to grow over Ferio's body despite the distance he was away from the rock.

"No!" gasped the boy as he realized what had just happened, Xellos had powered up the stone and made it stronger, it's influence was now reaching him as well. He felt the invisible force pull at his body as Ferio started to float as well. "You bastard!" screamed the boy.

"Oh, come on! You and I both know you can get out of this, stop complaining," the figure vanished from the top of the stone with a small chuckle.

"Damn you Xellos!" growled Dan as his dagger appeared in his hand. "I almost had them! I had almost ended this madness!" he stared at the stone with a renewed hatred as he closed in on it. "Eat this! Bakusai Tenketsu!" he tossed the knife and it impaled the rock, after a moment it started to crack and eventually shattered leaving a mess of stones that littered the ground.

The three girls stood back to back and glared at the monsters that surrounded them, it was over, the next attack would be clearly too much for them to handle. "Don't give up!" cried Hikaru as she tried to get her friends spirits up again.

Suddenly the creatures became bathed in a soft white glow, they slowly transformed into small cute forest creatures, some looking somewhat unusual.

Dan stood up and gaped at the sight. "My god! They've all turned into pokemon!"

"Will you please tell us what the hell a pokemon is?" asked Umi.

"It's far to complicated for your fragile little minds to handle," stated the boy arrogantly.

"Ferio!" Fuu rushed up to the fallen boy as the stone receded down his body, he lay there unmoving and quiet. Fuu took him up into her arms and tried to wake him with a worried expression.

Dan frowned as he saw this and looked on in what seemed like bewilderment.

"If you don't know how to break that old rock you have a long way to go," said Ferio as he opened one of his eyes.

"If you can make comments like that, I assume you're all right," said Fuu with a relieved smile.

"But we can't be certain can we?" asked Dan belligerently.

"I told you there is no such thing as certainty," retorted the girl.

"You know how to spell assume in English?" asked Dan with a smirk on his face.

"Of course, A-S-S-U-M-E," said Fuu proudly.

"Do you know why it's spelled that way?" asked the boy unimpressed.

"No?" Fuu looked uncertain.

"Because it makes an ASS OUT OF YOU AND ME!" screamed the boy in anger. "Never assume, always be sure! Just like on a target range. You study archery, I know you know better than this!"

Fuu looked at him in shock and blushed, however harsh his words were, he was right.

"Well that ruined the moment," snorted Ferio as he sat up and walked towards the other side of the clearing.

"Come on! This is no time to be hurt Ferio! We must vanquish the foul sorcerer Zagato and free the lovely Akane Tend-errr, Emerad from his vile grasp! I the mighty Blue Thunder of Cephero shall personally vanquish him so that she may be free to date with me!"

"What the hell are you talking about?!" exclaimed Ferio in shock.

Xellos smirked from the shadows nearby at the boy's words. "Well, that's irony for you."

Less than an hour later they found the edge of the forest.

"I thought for sure that Ferio would come with us to Eterna," said Hikaru looking sad.

"I told ya, I was only lookin for the way out of this place. It should be obvious we go our separate ways," Ferio looked out at the Horizon from the edge of the forest.

"We have to get set up for the night girls, Xellos probably has a surprise set up for us outside of the forest," Dan smiled at them in an obvious attempt to hide his disappointment in the fact that they still lived, unfortunately no one noticed.

"You think Xellos is our enemy?" asked Hikaru with a worried expression. Ferio was about to speak up when Dan stopped him.

"No, he's just here to make things difficult, for both sides; I guarantee you he's just as big a pain in the ass to Zagato as he is to us." They all looked at him in surprise and he continued to set up camp just inside the forest.

"Well, I'm off," said Ferio as he stood and faced them again. He walked up to Fuu and handed her something, both of their faces became surrounded by a fuzzy white screen and their hair blew in a small wind for dramatic effect. "I want you to have this, if you use it to make a wish, I'm pretty sure it'll be granted."

"Hey! How come Fuu is the only one to get a present?!" said Umi with a slightly jealous look.

"Well, that's the difference in how much I care," said Ferio pointedly.

The two girls stared at Fuu and she blushed and shrank down in embarrassment. Dan snorted impatiently. "Are you gonna stand there and look at each other or are you gonna help?"

"Why should we? We can just use Mokona's cabin for the night!" answered Umi.

"And you, Ferio gives you something and all of a sudden you've gotten all quiet, come on we have things to do before I cook Mokona-uhh I mean dinner."

"What is it with you and Mokona?" asked Hikaru impatiently.

"It's either him or one of the cute animals we saved at the clearing, all this fruit is gonna give me the runs, I want meat tonight!"

"You can't eat Mokona!" screamed Hikaru defensively as she hugged the creature to her chest.

"I bet you're enjoying that pervert! Come on, quit hiding behind that girl! Dan seemed angry and Hikaru blushed again, seemingly the object of his jealous attention.

Umi frowned, "Don't those two ever stop flirting?"

Fuu frowned to herself, "I don't think it's that bad."

Umi glared at her, "Of course you wouldn't! You and that Ferio guy are just as bad!"

Zagato frowned as he looked into his mirror and saw the inside of the forest of silence. "Those children are still alive."

Inova spoke from behind him and he frowned. "What are you doing here? Get out before you're destroyed fool!"

"Hmm, Mega brunt." A strange sound came from behind him and he turned to see Inova writhing on the floor in silence as smoke billowed from his body slowly.

Xellos appeared from the shadows and smiled at him, "That didn't quite have enough oomph to it, I'll have to try something different next time."

The tall dark clad figure turned back to his mirror ignoring the man.

"I slowed their progress in the forest of silence a little, they are behind schedule now," said the mage pleasantly. "I warned you not to underestimate them, Alcione will not be returning to you this time."

"You taught her a new trick, and still you do not believe she will triumph?" Zagato gave the man a sidelong glance.

"It wasn't enough, you can still save her if you'd like, or not. It doesn't matter, I'm certain that if she properly motivates the male magic knight she will be destroyed. If she manages to take down a girl or two with her it's her own problem. I'm not taking responsibility for her incompetence if she fails to destroy even one of them." Xellos smiled and turned away from Zagato leaving his back completely open and showing the man just how little he feared him.

"Interesting," said the man as he stepped over Inova's steaming form.

The Three Magic Knights.

Part 4

Dan, the Vengeful Sorcerer!

The four Magic Knights walked away from the forest of silence with Dan in the lead; for once he wasn't chasing Mokona. The boy looked irritated more than anything else, more so than usual.

"What's wrong Mr. Dan?" asked Fuu with a worried look on her face.

"It's nothing," said the boy as he glanced back at the girls.

"I bet he's angry about that Xellos character we met back there. Ferio told us he almost got all of us killed!" said Hikaru sounding sure of herself.

"Almost is right, damn you Xellos," the day before he had been forced to save the girls in order to save his own life from the dark stone that had once kept magic out of the forest. They had won and Ferio had gone off on his own journey. "Something else I can be thankful for, I don't think I could take Fuu flirting with him for another day."

Mokona skipped merrily on his way ahead of the group puu'ing cheerfully as he went. The creature seemed to be in a hurry, but Dan's lazy stride had kept the group from running blindly after it.

"Mr. Dan, we should hurry to the spring," said Fuu impatiently.

"Why? It will be there when we find it regardless, I'm not running around blindly waiting for who knows what to find us," said the boy harshly.

The girl's eyes fell and she blushed in embarrassment, "I suppose you are right."

Umi got an enlightened look on her face and stopped suddenly. "Hey I got it! We're out of the forest of silence now right?"

Dan frowned, this would be good. "Yea, what of it?"

"That means we can use our magic now right?" asked the girl with a smirk.

"Hey, you're right!" agreed Hikaru cheerfully.

"So why don't we just fly away? We can fly to the Spring of Eterna!" Umi seemed quite proud of herself.

"But you don't know any levitation spells do you?" asked Dan with a smirk.

The girl fell face first onto the ground. "No."

"Well, that's the end of that then isn't it?" he walked past them with a sigh and continued onward.

Mokona burst from the bushes ahead with a look of fear on its face as it charged into Hikaru's chest in an attempt to hide.

"What is it Mokona?" said the girl in concern.

"It's probably another monster," said Dan with a heavy sigh.

Various birds flew out of the undergrowth as a creature of some kind made it's way towards them. They stood waiting for it in the clearing with battle ready grimaces on their faces. "No, no, you have to put more anger into it like me!" said Dan as he pointed at the angry look on his face. "In order to have a truly menacing grimace you must put out absolute contempt for your enemy!"

Fuu and Umi looked at him and blinked while Hikaru smiled slightly before trying her best to make an angry looking mug. "Like this?"

"It's a start I suppose," replied the boy with a shrug.

Suddenly it burst through the undergrowth and charged them; all that could be seen was a swirling shadow on the ground that moved under them. Dan jumped up immediately into a tree with Mokona as the girls where sucked into the vortex. He had a smile on his face, no one had seen him catch the vine that Mokona had unwittingly knocked off. The three girls vanished into the black vortex and Dan grinned at them.

"Good bye Cephiro!" he turned and saw the rabbit creature staring at him with huge pleading eyes. "Now, I've got you trapped. Let's see, do you think I could find some mint? I wonder what kind of native spices this place has?" he wondered out loud as he stared at the creature with an evil smirk.

Mokona Puu'ed and jumped away in fear, not from Dan, but from the shadow creature as it moved up the tree with amazing speed towards him. He frowned and jumped away narrowly avoiding capture by the thing. "Get away! Haven't you eaten enough?" snapped the boy as he watched the monster charge back towards him. It was fast, too fast for him to escape it on foot, he turned away and jumped into another tree. This time the creature followed by turning into a small black ball and flying through the air and charging at him. He ducked barely in time and spun with his dagger appearing in his hand.

"Damn you!" he snarled as the thing kept him on the move with it's erratic movements along the ground. "Levitation!" he cried as he rose from the ground and smiled. Unfortunately the creature merely turned back into its airborne form and slammed into him. He frowned as his legs started to vanish into the swirling blackness.

Gritting his teeth he slammed the blade into the vortex and was blasted away into the ground. The creature appeared in front of him, it was a tiny black cloud with two white eyes that glared at him angrily. Just below it was a vortex of some kind where the three girls seemed to be floating in the darkness. Dan could not move in time as the fall had knocked the wind out of him; he snarled as it moved forward and raised his hand, "Fireball!" The creature disintegrated in a massive explosion leaving its three victims lying on the ground, all of them were still alive and breathing heavily.

Hikaru jumped up on her feet first and ran into Dan's arms. "You saved us! I knew you would!"

The boy blushed and frowned at them as he scratched the back of his head. "S'not like I was tryin' to."

Fuu smiled at him while Umi stood up next to her. "Thank you Mr. Dan, I don't know what we would have done if not for you."

"Died?" he offered with a small grin, his face fell again slightly as he sat there with Hikaru on his neck. "Man I need a cigarette." The three girls blinked as he finally stood up and shrugged Hikaru off, "Come on we need to get moving."

Mokona jumped in front of him and puu'ed happily with the small crystal on it's head glowing again. Dan looked down at his hand in shock and gaped at the small red and white package that appeared in his hand with a small white lighter. "N-no way!" He grabbed the creature and pulled at its cheeks with a huge grin on his face. "Thanks pal! You're my new best friend!"

"I hope this means you'll stop trying to eat him," said Fuu warily.

"Hey, who am I to eat a cigarette vending machine?" he dropped the creature like a rock and started off again while lighting up.

Another roar echoed through the forest and the girls clustered together in fear. "What was that?"

"Probably another monster," said Dan lazily.

The three girls looked frightened and ran around in confusion for a moment before rushing past him.


Xellos smiled from the shadows as the glow from the orb in his staff died down. It was difficult to control Cepherio's monsters, but not impossible, especially for someone as powerful as he was. "That was too close Dan, I'll have to watch you closely."

The group came upon a small town and Dan sighed to himself as he hung back and took his time walking. Ahead of him the girls stopped and glanced around at the seemingly empty village.

"I wonder..." said Hikaru to herself.

"You wonder?" asked Fuu.

"What Clef said, "Zagato has turned Cephiro into a land where monsters roam free." The girl stepped forward into the village and stopped again a few feet ahead of her companions.

"You're right I..." Umi stepped forward and stopped as a net appeared from under the ground beneath them, as a trap was sprung that hung them from a tree branch. The three girls screamed and Dan walked out of the woods.

"I'm not certain, but it appears that we've been caught in a trap of some sort," said Fuu with her usual air of intelligence.

"So, not certain are you?" asked Dan as he looked at them cheerfully. "Oh, look here come the villagers to kill you. Once Fuu is sure you're trapped I'll come back and help. Ja!" he dashed into the forest and vanished into a thicket of bushes.

"Hey!" cried Fuu angrily.

People emerged from the seemingly empty homes armed with various weapons as they cautiously approached the Magic Knights. "Um, we aren't criminals or anything, we just got kind of trapped..." said Hikaru nervously, as the villagers closed in on them.

"I don't think they believe you!" cried Umi.

One of the men pointed a spear at them and she got an angry look on her face. "Hey! You shouldn't point sharp objects like that at people! You could hurt somebody!"

"Where did Mr. Dan go?" asked Fuu as she glanced back into the forest with a small hope forming in her heart.

"Hey! Help us you jerk!" screamed Umi into the brush behind them.

A nearby explosion caught everyone's attention and the villagers hesitated for a moment, and the woods became deathly silent.

Inside the forest, Dan looked at a huge monster that was closing in on the village. He smirked as he held a small ball of light in his hands and stepped in front of it. "Well, we can't have you interfering now can we?" the fireball slammed into the creature's chest causing a small explosion that took out the creature easily. "So much for the Magic Knights."

The villagers backed away in fear as the man holding the spear fell to his knees clutching his throat in agony. "Hey! Are you all right?" asked Hikaru with a worried look on her face.

"He's fine, well not really...he'll die if I don't release him soon," said a familiar voice from the forest behind the girls.

"Xellos!" cried Umi in shock as the mage walked out of the woods with his hand held up. He was holding his hand as if he was clenching someone's throat and a dark smile was on his lips. "Why don't you girls just cut yourselves down? You do have swords you know."

"Hey, that's right," said Umi as a comprehending look crossed her face. The rapier appeared in her hand and she cut the top part of the net out over their heads sending all three of them crashing to the ground.

Xellos released the man from his hold finally and he collapsed. "You killed him!" cried Hikaru as she kneeled down next to the man in shock.

"He's only sleeping," replied the mage casually. The other girls where behind him rubbing on their butts from the fall.

"Where did Mr. Dan run off too?" asked Fuu with a half-angry and half-worried look on her face.

"Oh, him. He's fine, just had a little run in with a monster back in the forest," snorted the mage with a slightly disgusted sound in his voice.

"He just abandoned us in there," said Umi angrily.

"You aren't helpless, he knows that," said Xellos with a shrug. Umi nodded and seemed to accept his explanation.

"Why are you helping us?" asked Fuu.

"Now a secret," replied the mage as he vanished into the forest.

Dan walked out of the woods and almost fell over in shock as the three girls stood in front of him. "Y-you're all right?" he stammered in shock.

"Yes, Xellos saved us," replied Fuu with a pleasant smile. All three of them took his shock as worry and immediately forgot that he had abandoned them there.

Alcione stood on a large pillar of stone that overlooked the village and smiled, she was dressed in a flowing black cloak that covered her body and blew dramatically in the wind.

"Well, how are you holding up?" asked Xellos cheerfully as he appeared behind her.

"The price you asked of me was nothing, I will have my revenge now," said the woman angrily.

"Remember, you can never dress in anything else, if you do you lose your powers. I remind you that you won't get your old power back either." He smiled at her as the woman's face fell.

"You never told me that!" she snarled.

"I told you the price would be high," he chuckled at her and vanished.

They walked through the village and frowned as the people peered at them through the windows and doors of their homes in anger.

"All right, shall we get a move on? To the Spring of Eterna!" cried Umi cheerfully as she stepped out ahead of the group. Before anyone could react she was enveloped in a ball of flame that exploded sending Hikaru and Fuu to the ground. Dan simply watched in a slight daze as the girl fell to the ground after the blast cleared and lay there unmoving staring out into space.

"Oh shit," he said calmly as he looked up and saw Alcione standing above the village.

"Umi!" screamed Hikaru in shock as she rushed forward and clutched her fallen friend. "She's not breathing!"

Dan turned to face her with a hopeful look on his face. "What?"

The girl in Hikaru's arms jerked forward and sucked in a deep breath before she coughed up a small amount of smoke. "H-Hikaru..." she managed.

Dan casually lit a cigarette and turned to face Alcione again. Her laughter echoed through the town as she watched them. "I was growing tired of waiting for you, little eggs that would have hatched into Magic Knights. You can't use magic in the forest of silence, so I've been waiting here for you, to give special thanks to what you did to me."

Dan looked at her as her cloak flew open and gasped in shock. "Wha?"

"Hikaru never took her eyes off the woman. "Listen, Fuu you take Umi," she handed the injured girl over to her friend and stepped forward.

Dan finally composed himself after he almost fell over in laughter. "What the hell are you wearing?!"

Alcione frowned and blushed slightly. She was dressed in a pink and white sleeveless shirt with long white pants; she also had on a small white cape, on her wrist where two bracelets with small balls attached to them with mystic stars inside of them.

"Xellos right? I'm surprised he didn't make you cut your hair too." The boy smiled at her and stepped back while Hikaru moved forward.

"You won't get away with this," spat the girl angrily.

"You've learned a little magic, but do you really think you're any match for me? A student of Master Mage Clef and sorceress of Princess Emerad?"

Hikaru gasped in shock, "A student of Mage Clef? Why are you doing this? Don't you know that Cephiro is in danger? Didn't Clef tell you High Priest Zagato has kidnapped the princess? I thought she was the pillar of your world!" a hurt and confused look was in her eyes as she pleaded with the woman.

"Of course I know, but what does it matter to me? I am here on behalf of Zagato, I was able to wait here thanks to my gracious lords permission," Alcione smiled at her.

"Why would you work for such an awful man?" pleaded Hikaru.

"Because I love him," replied the woman simply. "Elmechia Lance!"

A blast of white light shot towards Hikaru and shattered the ground beneath her throwing her away and sending her to the ground.

Alcione laughed, "You're a nimble one, but this time I won't go easy on you. You'll end up dripping in blood, just like your friend over there."

Hikaru clenched her fist in anger as a deep red aura surrounded her body. "You hurt my friend Umi. We're stuck here in Cephiro, me, Fuu, Umi, and Mr. Dan. They're the best friends I've ever had. FLAME ARROW!" the girl screamed in effort and set a blast of fire at the woman.

"Stop calling me that!" cried the boy in annoyance.

Alcione raised her hand and sent up a shield around herself. "Balus Wall!" the flame attack bounced harmlessly away and she smiled at the girl. "Well, you're no match for me."

Hikaru growled in frustration and stepped back from her opponent. Dan merely stood by and watched as Hikaru battled the woman, he was standing between the battle and the other two girls and Hikaru assumed he was guarding them.

"You have to help her!" cried Fuu.

Dan merely looked back and smiled at her. "Don't worry so much." If he had his way the three of them would be in worse condition than Umi by the end of the battle.

Meanwhile Hikaru was desperately trying to dodge a huge amount of small fireballs that Alcione had launched at her. The girl did her best but was repeatedly thrown around by the blasts, her armor was a mess and she was bleeding in several places. A few of the homes had been destroyed and Hikaru felt her eyes burn with tears as the families inside of them had obviously not escaped the woman's wrath. Her power increased with each body she saw, but she was unable to penetrate the wall spell the sorceress had used.

"Damn you!" screamed the girl angrily as she faced the woman again during a pause in the battle.

Alcione smirked and looked over at Dan and the girls as they patiently stood by while Hikaru fought. "Don't think I've forgotten about you!" she said as she raised her hand and sent a white bolt of energy at the boy, it was an obvious attempt to get Hikaru even angrier. Unfortunately the blast impacted an invisible wall remarkably similar to hers. "What?!"

Dan frowned and looked at the impact point on the wall, his hand went down and he checked himself just to be certain his spell was holding out. "What the hell are you aiming at you bitch?"

Alcione ignored Hikaru's useless fire attacks and stared at the boy angrily. He was blowing smoke out of his mouth and sucking on a cigarette, he took half of it down in a single drag and frowned at the woman angrily.

Xellos appeared behind Umi and Fuu with a small smile on his face. "Well, that's the end of Alcione," he said cheerfully.

"What?" asked Fuu in shock as she held the girl in her arms. The mage touched Umi with a white glow forming on his hands and she healed instantly.

"I hear a voice!" she said as she woke.

"That's your magic, use it well," the mage's hand blurred for a moment and he touched Fuu's forehead creating the same effect.

"Just a word of advice, if you ever see him smoke a cigarette like that, it's a good idea to get clear of him," the man stood up and pat Fuu on her shoulder as he walked away into the forest.

"Wait!" she stopped cold as Dan's words became clear to her.

Mage Clef felt something ripple in the land of Cephero. "What is this power, it is so strong...NO! This is impossible! Such a terrible force, no such power should exist in Cephero! How could this happen?" his image appeared from the creature known as Mokona as it stood behind the two who had been healed. His eyes went wide with terror as he gazed upon Dan's lips and saw the cold smile there.

"Darkness beyond twilight, crimson beyond blood that flows..." said the boy as he glared at Alcione with a mad insanity in his eyes.

Hikaru stopped her useless assault and watched him in confusion as a strong wind seemed to form around his body.

"Buried in the flow of time is where your power grows..." said the boy as the woman started to realize something was wrong. She stepped back and held her hands up to reinforce the wall.

"No! Don't do it!" screamed Clef, but it was far too late. His image vanished as the power emanating from the boy disrupted his communication.

"I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, against the mighty gift bestowed to my unworthy hand. DRAGON SLAVE!" a deep red bolt of power blasted forward, in a solid beam, from his hands and slammed into Alcione's protective wall shattering it as if it where merely glass. She screamed as the power enveloped her and watched in horror as her limbs vaporized in what seemed like slow motion. Finally she vanished as her body was completely destroyed by the wave of energy. It spread out and grew into a massive explosion that destroyed everything in its path.

Ascot looked out over the horizon from a balcony in Zagato's castle. A strange light formed on the horizon and he frowned slightly. "Hey Caldina, what do you think that is?"

"I don't know hon, it sure is big whatever it is," she said as she turned from her game of solitaire and peered at the unusual phenomenon.

Dan smiled to himself as he looked at the huge smoking crater he had created just outside the town. It was easily three times the size of the small village and easily twenty feet deep at its center. "Come on, we are leaving," he said to the girls. He turned and was only slightly surprised to see them healed.

Fuu looked at the crater in awe, "That's the power, the heart that believes," she gasped.

"I'm afraid not, that power comes from...somewhere else." He turned away from the girls and started walking.

"Wait! That was amazing! We can do it I'm sure of it now! We'll become the magic knights and save Cephero!" cried Hikaru with a huge grin.

Fuu was distracted by Dan's words and a small smile formed on her lips after she realized what Hikaru had said. "Yes, we are in this together."

"Partners in Cephiero!" chimed Umi as she grabbed the girl's hands. They all clenched each other's hands and smiled at one another.

Dan stopped for a moment and looked back at them with an unreadable gaze. He stopped and stared for a long moment before turning away and starting to walk again. Behind him the girls rushed towards him in order to catch up.

The Three Magic Knights

Part 5

Dan vs. The Legendary Spring of Eterna.

Zagato frowned as he stared at the mirror and watched the magic knights walk towards the spring.

"Alcione has been destroyed my lord, what should we do now?" asked Inova as he kneeled behind his master.

"I had once thought of these magic knights as mere children, but the male is a most worthy adversary," said the robed figure as he continued to watch their travels.

"Indeed, perhaps I should go and remove him personally?" Inova had a hint of anticipation in his eyes as he said this.

"I don't think that will be necessary just yet," Zagato turned away from the image and smiled at Alcione's old place in the waterfall. "Don't you agree Xellos?"

"You catch on fast," said the mage cheerfully as he emerged from his hiding place. "I can see you are keeping busy to help you cope with the grief of your lost comrade."

The elfin servant jumped to his feet and snarled at the man angrily. "You dare return here after getting Alcione killed?!"

Xellos snorted and smirked at him lazily. "I know you know what's coming now; really Inova-chan, I'd think you would learn after a while." He raised his hand and blasted a bolt of energy into the man's chest sending him to the floor in pain as it seemed to make various parts of his body glow for a moment before subsiding. The elfin man slumped to the ground and tried desperately to catch his breath as the pain slowly subsided. "Alcione got herself killed by toying with the male magic knight despite my warnings."

"What do you want?" asked Zagato calmly as he turned back to the mirror yet again. He didn't care much for the mage, but he had a slowly growing respect for his power, it could be useful to him in the future.

"Nothing much, just checking up on things as usual," Xellos jumped down next to the imposing figure and glanced at the mirror. "Oh, the Spring of Eterna? They must be after Escudo. Useful stuff for a magic knight, once it's formed into weapons that is. I'd suggest removing the possibility of that happening," Xellos smiled warmly as he looked up at the much larger man.

"How do you suggest I do that?" asked Zagato calmly.

"Why, simply remove the only person who can make weapons from Escudo before she has the chance to do so," the mage smiled as he looked directly at the waterfall behind him. The shadowy figure cringed slightly behind it.

"Assassinate Precea?" said Inova in shock as he finally recovered from the painful spell.

"Of course," said Xellos with a smile.

"How? She is protected by the forest of silence!" snapped the elfin man angrily.

Zagato seemed to ignore the conversation as he stared intently at his opposition in the mirror.

"It's a secret," said the mage cheerfully.

Finally the high priest spoke up. "If you aren't going to offer anything useful..."

"Oh, all right. The Forest of Silence is not immune to magic any longer, as I'm sure you know Zagato. Young Askot should fit your needs quite nicely," once again he turned his eyes towards the waterfall and watched the shadow jump in surprised fear.

Zagato turned away with his cloak billowing dramatically behind him. "Askot go," he said without looking up at the boy.

"Y-yes Lord Zagato," said the boy uneasily.

Xellos smirked and turned to look at him again as the waters parted revealing a small child with sandy blonde hair that covered his eyes. He was dressed in very baggy clothes and had a large hat on top of his head. The mage had a strange smile on his face as he stared the boy down with his disturbing golden eyes.

Dan frowned as the group continued to follow Mokona through the wilderness, he sighed heavily as he glanced back at the cheerfully chatting girls behind him. "Would you three shut up? You're going to attract every monster from here to those mountains straight to us!"

"You worry to much Mr. Dan," said Fuu with a snort.

"Yea, we can defeat any monsters that attack us!" agreed Umi cheerfully.

"Whatever, I recall you getting your butts whipped most of the time," he turned and saw a small body of water in front of him. "Hey, dirt rat, is this the Spring of Eterna?" Mokona looked up at him and Puu'ed again shaking its head from side to side. He was at the end of his rope, Carrot had sent him into this particular anime not only because he hated it; but also because it was one of the few that he had never finished watching. He had only seen the first tape so anything else that happened from now on would be a complete surprise.

"At last we found the Legendary Spring of Eterna!" chimed Umi happily, Fuu was dancing with her merrily while Hikaru looked apprehensive.

"This isn't the Spring of Eterna," said the boy after slapping both girls in the back of the head.

"What do you mean Mr. Dan?" asked Fuu with an uncertain look on her face.

"I agree with him," said Hikaru with a shrug.

"You'd agree with anything he said!" snapped Umi, Hikaru shrunk back with an embarrassed blush, but said nothing. "What do you mean this isn't it? We've been following Mokona forever!"

"I mean this isn't the spring of Eterna, it's just a pond," snapped the boy with a snort.

"How do you know this?" asked Fuu warily.

"How do you think braniac? I asked our guide," he jerked his thumb back at Mokona who was currently playing with the water in the spring cheerfully.

"You can understand Mokona?" asked Fuu looking bewildered.

"I can't understand it when it talks no, but any idiot can tell the difference between a nod and a shake." He turned and continued to walk around the edge of the water ignoring any further protest.

Mokona burst through the brush and puu'ed again, this time indicating a strange rock formation in the center of a clearing.

"This must be it," muttered Dan as he glanced around at the site and noticed there was no water.

"Are you certain?" asked Fuu looking skeptical as usual.

"This is where the rabbit led us," replied the boy with a shrug.

"There is nothing here that resembles water," said Fuu reluctantly.

Hikaru blinked and stepped forward from the group. "What's that line?"

"What are you talking about?" snapped Umi.

"I think she means this thing," replied Dan as he walked up to the strange phenomenon and pointed directly at it.

"What's this line doing here?" asked Umi bitchily.
"I do not know, the line is simply there," said Fuu as she walked up next to him and inspected it closer.

Dan had to resist the urge to shove her into it in the hope that it would cut her in half or something. "Somehow I doubt it," he sighed to himself.

"What was that Mr. Dan?" asked the girl looking at him quizzically.

"Huh? Oh, nothing just thinking out loud," he replied nervously. "Oh, what the hell."

Gently he shoved at her back and she fell forward through the line. Umi and Hikaru gasped as Fuu sat on the ground sputtering and coughing up water. Her head and the upper part of her torso were drenched. "What happened?" she gasped.

"I'd say you just fell into the Spring of Eterna," replied Dan with thinly disguised disappointment in his voice. He glanced around and noticed Hikaru was missing, a small smile crossed his face as the hope of another magic knight eating monster appeared in his head. The hope was crushed when he heard her call to them from the top of a rock formation just next to the spring.

"Hey you guys! You've got to come and look at this!" she cried excitedly.

A few moments later they all stood on top of the rocks looking down at the waters of the spring from above. The two girls gasped in shock and Dan frowned. "I figured it out before I shoved you into the spring wind bag," actually it was immediately after that, but he wasn't going to say anything.

"But there wasn't anything there a second ago!" cried Umi.

"It's flat, this must be that line we saw, I can't believe it took you guys this long to figure it out, especially since one of you is supposed to be a genius," he gave them all a disappointed look and sighed heavily.

"Yes, it must be two dimensional!" cried Fuu looking proud of herself.

"Actually there's no such thing as two dimensional, every object has depth, even if it's only a molecule or less deep. If it was truly two dimensional we wouldn't have seen it from the side either," the boy's grin widened as her face fell.

"Well, it is really flat," said Umi, this seemed to cheer Fuu up slightly and she stared back down at the spring.

"Well in what part of this completely flat, completely weird Spring of Eterna do we find the ore Escudo?" said Umi.

Mokona hopped cheerfully by them making its trademark sound as it dove into the water. Dan smirked to himself slightly and stared into the waters. "Maybe we'll meet a dangerous monster in there?"

"It must be inside the spring!" said Hikaru as she watched the creature disappear under the surface.

"But we don't even know how deep it is, and how are we supposed to breathe under the water?" whined Umi. Dan frowned, the girl was a bitch, and god did she whine!

"She dies first!" he thought to himself as he looked her up and down planning many ways to kill her, none of which could actually be used without turning him into a villain.

"Yes..." said Fuu looking thoughtful. "I guess we'll never know until we try!"

Umi dropped her head in frustration, "Oh, this is just one disaster after another!"

"I'm gonna go in!" said Hikaru suddenly.

"What?" cried Umi in shock.

"I believe that Mokona is trying to tell us that we'll find the legendary ore inside the spring! I've decided that I'm going to become a..."

Hikaru was cut off as Dan promptly kicked all three of them in the butt sending them into the water. "Shut up and get in the damn spring!" He snorted and dove in immediately after them.

The four knights found themselves sinking rapidly in a seemingly bottomless pool of water. One by one they vanished into thin water. [The couldn't very well vanish into thin air at the time now could they?]

Hikaru stood up in the strange room she found herself in, "Where am I?" she gasped as she searched around the room. The whole area seemed to glow with a red light that grew into a fog surrounding her and keeping the shadows hidden away. A lone figure approached her and she stared at it for a moment before gasping in shock. "No way!"

Umi frowned as she stood with her weapon drawn in her own room, this time it was a blue haze and two figures approached her from the shadows. "Mom? Dad?" she gasped as they became clear.

Fuu stared at her reflection in the green room she had found herself in. A shocked and horrified look crossed her face as she looked into her own vacant eyes. "It can't be!"

Dan frowned deeply and lit a cigarette as he stared at the strange yellow room he had found himself in. Surprisingly he and his property were completely dry, he had cursed himself when he jumped into the water without removing his smokes first, but it was already too late when he realized it. Glancing over to one side of the room he noticed various small objects were piled up and strewn across the floor. He walked over to the mess and gasped in horror at what he saw.

"MY GOD! IT'S MY ANIME COLLECTION; AND IT'S COMPLETELY DISORGANIZED!" he almost fell over in horrified shock as the Dragon Ball Z tapes mixed in with the Ranma 1/2 episodes, and horror of horrors, a single Pokemon tape was actually touching Ninja Scroll. "NOOOOOOOO!" He jumped into the mess and screamed out his battle cry. "Katsu Tenshin Amaguriken Revised! Anything Goes Speed Organization!"

He promptly assorted all the various tapes in their proper places and sighed in relief; that is until the tapes moved and formed themselves into a giant monster that loomed over him angrily. "Well, shit."

Dan backed away as the creature's fist slammed into the ground in front of him, it froze suddenly and watched him. "Magic knights!" cried a small feminine voice.

"Uh oh, this can't be good," he muttered to himself.

"Young girls from another world!" called the young blonde girl who appeared before him.

"WHAT DID YOU CALL ME!? FIREBALL!" he attacked it, but the energy simply passed through the image.

"I am Princess Emerad of Cephero, magic knights you must not let sorrow take control of your hearts no matter what happens! Young girls from another world..."

"Stop calling me that!" screamed Dan in frustration.

"You must ask yourself are these the ones who you hold most dear to you?" Dan frowned as the girl went on, he raised his hand and frowned muttering something under his breath. "Silence," he finished at last causing the girl to stop making noise as her message continued to play.

Hikaru killed her dog realizing that her beloved pet would never really hurt her, so it wasn't really her dog.

Umi had about the same realization about her parents and killed the two of them.

And Fuu, well Fuu realized that she was a self-centered bitch and promptly killed anyone who would dare to look like her. That's not her version of the story, but hey, I'm trying to cut corners here.

He frowned when he looked at the monster and glanced on either side of him. "This has got to be some kind of test!" he growled to himself as he avoided the strike. "If I don't get it right I'll be stuck with this dinky knife!" He charged forward and his mind reached far back into its darkest neither regions. "Fiend! I value all life more than my personal belongings! My friends are more important than stupid toys! Using someone's darkest secrets and personal desires against them is unforgivable! On behalf of the moon I shall punish you! Fireball!" He blasted the creature to a melted mass of plastic and a single tear ran down his face as he watched the anime burn for a moment. "Such a waste."

Finally he found himself standing in the middle of a large room with the girls. He glanced over at them and they all had proud looks on their faces. Above them over the spring the Escudo hung suspended in the air.

"Umi, Fuu, Mr. Dan, you're all here?" asked Hikaru in shock.

"Yea, yea, let's just get this stuff and jet," he muttered angrily.

"What was that we were just fighting?" asked Umi looking bewildered.

"I have a feeling we were being tested, to see if our hearts were worthy of becoming magic knights. I am relieved to see Mr. Dan could pass such a test despite his gruff nature," she actually looked visibly relieved and Dan gawked at her in shock. It was now clear that until now she had been onto him.

"I hate tests! Especially pop quizzes!" snarled the boy as he slammed his fist into the ground in frustration. He grimaced slightly when he realized that if he encountered another such test...well let's just say he might not have seen enough Sailor Moon to sneak by again.

The Escudo started to glow and was promptly pulled into the gloves.

"The Escudo!" cried Fuu.

"It's being absorbed!" continued Hikaru.

"Into the ornaments on our gloves!" finished Umi.

"You jerks didn't leave anything for me to explain for no reason!" cried Dan. The girls looked at him and blushed slightly when the armor on their chests started to glow as well.

"Our armor! It's changing!" cried Hikaru.

Dan turned to face the other two girls with a fireball in his hands. "Don't you two dare start!" They wisely kept silent until the armor completed its transformation. A light formed around them and they were transported out of the spring with Mokona. Dan watched the creature and wondered where the hell it had been for a moment before dismissing the matter. He calmly stepped down from the spring as the three girls fell on their faces.

"It's inside our gloves! Escudo!" said Hikaru in wonder.

"Yea, let's hurry back and get our weapons! Besides, Precea is waiting for us!" Dan had a slight daze to his eyes as he said this. Hikaru took notice of it and growled while she held her breath for a moment.

"He's right, let's go!" cried Umi as she started forward again.

The Three Magic Knights.

Part 6

Dan vs. The Mashin of Earth.

"What is this thing an orange?" Dan gazed quizzically at the fruit in his hand as the group of travelers sat around during a meal break.

"I think so, does it seem weird to you that Cephiero has the same kinds of foods as earth does?" asked Fuu as she popped another piece of the fruit in her mouth.

"Not really, it surprises me more that I haven't been able to catch any meat. I was a fairly good hunter back on earth," he looked towards Mokona again and sighed. As much as he wanted a decent meal, he wasn't about to kill the only source of smokes he had on the planet.

Fuu sighed heavily as she looked at the small object Ferio had given her. "Ferio."

This of course caught the boy's attention immediately. "Thinking about that guy again?"

"No, not really," lied the girl with a slight blush.

"Hmm, I don't think you're a very good liar," retorted the boy with a wry smile.

Her blush deepened and she glared at him in anger. "Something that takes a lot of practice I guess."

"What's that supposed to mean? What the heck is that thing anyway?" he leaned in and frowned as he inspected the object in her hands. Fuu responded by pulling it tighter to her chest.

"It's a gift!" she snapped.

"Say, isn't that the thing he gave you that's supposed to grant wishes?" asked Umi suddenly becoming interested in the boy's teasing.

"Yes," replied the girl.

"Did your wish come true yet?" Umi appeared beside her with an excited look on her face.

"Not yet," admitted Fuu.

"Are you nuts? That's the sort of thing you're supposed to try out right away! Let me try it!" Umi scrambled after the girl and forced her back, eventually Fuu relented and handed the object to her.

"Great! I wish that we get back to Tokyo real soon, and that I win that fencing tournament!" cried the girl triumphantly.

"You mean the tournament that you had in a week when we came to Cephiero?" asked Fuu.

"Yup!" replied the girl cheerfully.

Hikaru looked confused and thought back to the days they had been in the strange world. "Haven't we been here more than a week?"

"Yea, but Cephiero is the land of the will! Time will pass more slowly if I will it to be so!" reasoned the girl.

"When Miss Umi says it like that it almost sounds like it will happen," commented Fuu.

"It's your turn Hikaru!" said the blue haired girl as she handed the object to her.

Dan quickly snatched it away and inspected it closely. "I don't trust this thing," he muttered under his breath.

"Hey! Give that back!" exclaimed Fuu angrily as she rushed towards him. Hikaru looked miffed, but not really angry. All of the girls gasped in shock when the boy snorted and popped the object in half along a clean cut line along the side of it.

"What did you do! You broke it!" exclaimed the blonde in horror.

"I didn't break anything, this is some sort of electronic device," said the boy in annoyance. "I can't believe you wouldn't look more closely at something a complete stranger gave you. You're usually pretty distrusting," the girl blushed again at his response as he started to poke at the insides of the device. "I has a speaker in it? Maybe, I don't recognize a lot of these parts, but it looks like a transmitter. That right there looks like a microphone."

"A transmitter?" asked Umi.

"Yea," said the boy giving her an annoyed stare.

"But, how would you know that?" asked Fuu warily.

"I work for a computer company back home, I build them; I make custom computers for people. I can also repair radios and most other electronic equipment. This set up is a little strange, but I think I can figure out exactly what it does pretty easily given some more time." He put the cover back on and handed it to Fuu. "Just don't say anything you don't want as public knowledge into it."

Fuu turned completely red and then shook it off with a disbelieving stare. "How can someone as young as you have a job building computers?"

Dan blinked and stared at the three of them as they looked on expectantly for the answer. "Fuu, I'm twenty-three years old."

"What?!" screamed the girls in unison.

Hikaru got some sort of small dark cloud over her head as she fell to her knees and stared at him. "He's almost ten years older than me? But that means...we can never..."

"Wow, you look so young!" exclaimed Umi.

"I think it happened when I came to your world just before we got shoved into this one," the boy shrugged his shoulders and leaned against a tree.

"You did say something about being from a different world than us didn't you," Fuu looked thoughtful as she tied to remember exactly what it was he had told them.

Hikaru sunk even lower as her schoolgirl dreams were not only shattered, but also crushed into tiny little sparkling bits.

"Yea, I can't go home until we're done here. I wouldn't be surprised if I got home and no more than a half-hour had passed. A friend of mine does this sort of thing to me all the time."

The girls all looked at him for a moment. Fuu stepped forward. "You have a friend who sends you to other worlds as a joke?"

The boy nodded not quite getting what the excitement was about. "Yup, that about sums it up."

"You're joking right?" gasped Umi.

Hikaru had yet to pay much attention to the conversation after finding out his real age and being reminded that he wouldn't go back with them to her own world.

Dan frowned and turned away realizing that he was being awfully nice to the girls he had plans to kill in the near future. "Forget about it, we need to get moving again, my being from somewhere else doesn't change anything right now."

Fuu frowned and looked at he object again, "We came so close before he shut us off again."

Umi nodded in agreement and started after him. "I think he's coming around."

Fuu wasn't paying attention at the moment though as she looked at the jeweled object in her hand. "Does Ferio know what this is? If he did, why did he give it to me?" She wasn't quite sure if she should be angry with him. After all, if his story was true there was a chance he didn't know. A moment later she realized she had been left behind and jogged after her companions.

The all came to a stop as the ground began to shake again, Dan growled slightly and turned back to see the girls shaking around clumsily.

"Oh, don't tell me Cephiero is crumbling again! We're not even magic knights yet!" cried Umi.

Fuu sighed as she watched Mokona bounce around on the ground coming to a stop in its head. "If only there was some way we could gain the knowledge on how to become the magic knights!"

The crystal on the creature's head started to glow as it lay on the ground and Dan frowned. "It figures."

"Hello little ones!" said Xellos as he appeared in the image before them.

"You again?! What happened to Cleff?" cried Hikaru.

"Oh, him? He's just encased in stone with no power left, don't let it bother you," said the mage cheerfully.

"What?!" cried the girls in shock.

"You heard him," grumbled Dan as he walked in front of them. "Hurry up and tell us what we need to know monster."

"Tsk, there's no need for name calling Dan!" retorted the man playfully as he gave him a warning glare.

"Whatever, I'm in no mood for pleasant conversation," the boy popped a cigarette into his mouth and lit it casually.

"That's easy enough," replied the mage. "In order to become the magic knights you have to revive the rune god, or Mashin if you'd prefer."

"Mashin?" Dan looked at the image quizzically and blew a puff of smoke into Xellos's face.

"How do we find this rune god?" asked Fuu with a glance of slight annoyance, Dan had obviously gone into full blown asshole mode again.

"Your cute little guide knows the way, I wouldn't worry about it. The sooner you restore Cephiero the sooner Clef gets back to normal and you go home," the image faded away after giving them a final wink.

"That was relatively painless," muttered Dan as he started walking forward and kicked Mokona ahead of the group. "Let's get goin dirt rat."

"Mr. Dan! That was mean!" cried Hikaru in shock as she chased after the animal.

Ferio growled as he put the counterpart to the transmitter in his pocket. "That jerk, ruining my fun that way. I'd better just be glad he didn't break it, it'd be a lot harder to follow them without her carrying it. "Still, the way she had whispered his name a moment ago made him feel strangely warm inside. "I'd better get going so I don't lose them."

A sound in the forest distracted him for a moment and the boy rushed towards it with the sword of light in his hands. He stopped and looked on in awe as Ascot appeared before him with a large sand covered beast in front of him.

"I can't believe those magic knights are still alive, and they killed poor Adalante! Hojino, I know you can do it, but we need to come up with a plan to lure those magic knights into the open for you!" Ferio stepped forward and stopped cold as a figure passed by him.

"I didn't even hear him!" thought the boy as Xellos turned around and smiled at him.

"Well, are you coming or not?" Ferio stepped up and walked next to the man. "Hey, Ascot!"

The boy turned around to see one chillingly familiar figure walking towards him with a new stranger by his side. "What do you want?"

"Watch your mouth kid," warned the mage as he looked at him coolly for a moment.

Ascot quieted down and looked away. "Wow, that's a pretty scary looking monster," commented Ferio.

"I want a favor of you boy," said the mage coolly as he turned towards Ferio.

"Who me?" said Ferio in confusion as he pointed to himself.

"Yes, I want you to lure the magic knights into the desert. That's all you have to do," The mage smirked and turned towards Ascot. "There's your plan, if you screw it up it's your own fault."

The child's eyes widened in surprise and he simply nodded.

"You want me to set a trap for those girls?" asked Ferio warily.

"No, I want you to lead them to the desert. It's important, you'll see why if you stick around long enough," the mage made sure the boy wasn't paying attention and clutched him on the shoulder. "This will seem benefit both sides, Ascot is dangerous, but no real threat to the magic knights."

"Just who's side are you on anyway?" asked the boy as he carefully assessed the man.

"Now that, is a secret," replied the mage with a wink as he walked away.

Ferio seemed to consider it for a moment before nodding to himself. "All right, I'll do it, if only as payment for this sword."

Dan frowned as the three girls stopped and looked at an armed guard standing before the gate to a village. "I hope we're not required to have a passport," commented Fuu.

"Hey Mokona, you have everything right?" asked Umi as she looked at the creature in Hikaru's arms.

Dan merely walked through them blowing a long column of smoke as he walked. He stared at the guard and the man stepped back nervously. "Come on."

The girls nodded and followed him into the gates. "Mr. Dan, what would you have done if he had not allowed us to pass?" asked Fuu nervously.

He didn't look back as he answered and glared at the goings on around him. "Gone through him."

The three girls shuddered and distanced themselves from him even more. "Hey!" cried a familiar voice. They all turned to see Ferio leaning against a wall, "What a coincidence meeting you here!"

"Coincidence my ass, you've been following us using that transmitter you gave Fuu. What do you want?" snarled Dan, he wasn't in the mood for delays, but Ferio would probably lead them to what they needed to do next.

"Hey! I don't know what you're talking about!" cried the boy defensively, unfortunately he was a bad liar. Fuu didn't seem to notice as she was preoccupied by looking embarrassed. "Look, I'll treat you to lunch! What do you say? You hungry?"

Dan seemed to consider this for a moment but Hikaru answered first. "You bet I am!"

Umi smirked and elbowed Fuu in her ribs lightly before pushing her forward forcefully. "Come on, don't be shy!"

Dan smiled to himself as he pulled a small bottle from his shirt while walking behind them.

A large friendly looking woman placed a plate in front of the group. "There you go, these are our famous pastries."

Ferio looked up at her, "Hey lady, tell us that story you told me."

"I'll pay twice as much if you tell the truth," snorted Dan lazily as he placed a coin bag on the table. Ferio twitched and glared at him.

The woman looked at him and he tossed her the bag lazily. "Well, this young man paid me to tell you about a monster in the desert just outside of town. He said to make it sound like an old legend, and that we were terrified of it."

"I thought as much," muttered Dan. "Was it Xellos?" asked the boy as he turned towards Ferio.

The boy hung his head and sighed. "Yea, I had to do it, he gave me this sword and I had to pay him back! Please believe me, I'd never let you guys get hurt out there! He said it was important for you to go and that I only had to lead you there!"

The mage in question appeared suddenly at a neighboring table. "Well, at least he's honest sometimes."

Dan sat calmly while the three girls whirled around with weapons drawn. "Sit down!" he snarled angrily.

The three complied reluctantly as Dan faced his most annoying rival. "Well, you want to tell us why we have to go out there?"

"No, not really; I'll only say that it's important." The mage sat back and sipped at a cup of hot liquid carefully eyeing the food for a moment. "Ooh, that's a nasty looking poison on those pastries, good thing you didn't eat any of them yet."

Dan looked over at him with a look of pure rage and said nothing. The bottle empty bottle clattered on the ground next to him between himself and the woman, Ferio jumped up in shock pointing his sword towards her. "Poison?!" The three girls looked at the woman in shock and Dan realized that they thought it had been her.

"Lord Zagato has a fearsome hold on these people, she was probably trying to keep him away by getting rid of us. From what I understand so far, it's common knowledge that his minions follow us around, let her go." Dan pushed the woman through a doorway before she could protest and sat back down at the table again. "We can't trust anyone anymore."

"That would explain the village where we killed Alcione, ne?" said Xellos with a knowing smile.

"Least of all you Xellos, I know you aren't working for Zagato, but you've obviously got your own agenda!" retorted the boy angrily.

"Careful knight boy, you aren't ready for that just yet," whispered the man. Dan frowned when he realized that no one else had heard him.

"One of Zagato's minions is waiting in the desert for us, I was gonna try and get him to take me to Zagato himself, but you've pretty much blown that now," said Ferio with a disappointed look on his face.

"The sword of light alone won't be enough Ferio," replied Dan cautiously.

"What? But he told me..." the boy was cut off by Xellos's laugh.

"I only said that the sword could kill him, and it can. Just not the way you're thinking boy," replied the mage carefully.

"What's that supposed to mean?" snarled the boy angrily.

"That's a secret."

Dan stood up from the table and started walking with the other five following closely behind him. "Where are you going?" cried Hikaru as she ran up next to him.

"Obviously we have to go into the desert, I'm tired of sitting around here wasting time," he replied while lighting up another cigarette.

The group stood at he edge of the desert and gazed into the dunes. "Here we are," said Xellos cheerfully. Ferio stepped forward and put his leg up onto a rock gazing over the horizon carefully. "We'd better get going Ascot is waiting for us somewhere."

The rest of the group plodded forward with Hikaru, Xellos, and Dan taking the lead. They stopped cold as the ground began to shake again shifting the sand around them. Fuu and Umi gasped in shock while Ferio held them back, before their eyes the other three seemed to be swallowed up by the sands.

"Hikaru!" cried Umi in shock.

"Mr. Xellos! Mr. Dan!" cried Fuu as she broke free of the boy's grip and charged forward. In the center of the sands a large hole appeared in the ground between them, they could see only blackness below.

Dan landed hard on the stone ground and was about to stand up, suddenly a heavy blow sent him back to the ground and he looked up angrily to see Hikaru sitting on top of his back. "Get off!"

The girl looked down at him with an odd expression on her face. "Yes, darling..." she started to remove her clothing slowly and within a few moments Dan was still staring in shock.

"That's not what I meant!" he cried.

"Take me!" cried Hikaru as she threw her arms around him rubbing her chest against his. The boy threw her arms aside and stepped back in disgust.

His sword appeared in his hand as his mind worked. "I can use this! If I think Hikaru is possessed I can kill her and get away with it!" The ten foot long Katana shined from the light of the small hole he had fallen through far above them. The rest of the room appeared to be pitch black and only a few rocks littered the sand covered stone floor around them.

"Darling, I need you!" cried Hikaru passionately. "Can't you tell I love you?!"

"Put your clothes on, you're only fourteen girl!" he stepped forward cautiously and glanced around. It was odd for Hikaru to be acting this way, and he knew it. After he killed her he'd probably have to take care of whatever it was that was forcing her to do this.

Without warning the girl fell to her knees in tears, "If you don't love me, then please just kill me!" she rushed forward and put her chest against the blade. This threw the boy off amazingly and he dropped the sword to the ground staring at the long mark that started to bleed along the girl's naked body now.

Suddenly he threw his hands up into the air and screamed. "Lighting!" A ball of light appeared over his head illuminating the cave. A large stone tiger statue appeared on the wall opposite him with faintly glowing eyes. A voice spoke into his mind.

"I am the tiger of earth, show me the proof of the strength in your heart!" Dan stepped back and looked to Hikaru. "Is this what's causing it?"

The doors behind him blasted open suddenly as Xellos walked in followed by a still fully dressed Hikaru. "Mr. Dan we found you!" cried the girl happily. She froze in place as she noticed her counterpart standing beside him in the nude.

"What the hell are you doing to me?!" she cried in shock.

"Hey, you threw yourself at me! I had nothing to do with it!" he retorted defensively.

The girl noticed he was still fully clothed and let the matter pass. She froze however when Xellos grabbed her by the back of her neck. She fell with a slump and passed out on the ground. "Alone at last. Well Dan, I can see that your ego needs a little deflating, come on." He waved his hands in front of him and whirled his staff around skillfully in his hands. The bottom portion of the staff slid away revealing a long blade.

"If I kill you?" asked Dan hopefully.

"You get to return home early," said the mage cheerfully.

Dan rushed forward and grabbed his sword off the ground as he rushed forward meeting the mage's blade head on. Xellos smiled watching his face with his golden eyes as he blocked and parried every blow, but still allowed himself to be pushed back through the large doorway.

Dan snarled and spun around once they were through the doors forcing his opponent to jump upwards and back onto a long narrow stone walkway that crossed a seemingly bottomless pit.

Dan charged forward and met him in the center of the bridge and the blades clashed again sending sparks flying in every direction.

Hikaru stood from her place on the ground and turned to see that the false Hikaru had vanished. Apparently the tiger god had found a better test for Dan, not that she was aware of it. All that crossed her mind was that he seemed to be doing this in her defense. "Mr. Dan?"

Xellos smirked as he pushed Dan back after another easily blocked strike throwing him to the ground. Dan was forced to crawl backwards on his back. "You are beaten, it is useless to resist!" True to form Dan parried the blade pointing at his throat away and rolled to his feet.

"You shut up! I'm going to kill you and get out of this nightmare!" he roared as he charged forward forcing metal against metal creating another shower of sparks.

"Release your anger! Only your hatred can destroy me!" quipped Xellos with a wry smirk appearing on his face again.

Dan grunted as he hacked downward with a double handed strike attempting to cut the monster in half. He was surprised when Xellos simply blocked the strike and rotated his own blade throwing Dan's sword over his head. It clattered to the ground and the boy fell to his knees as a sudden pain erupted through his arm. His eyes went wide as he pulled his right hand back revealing blood covering his hand. He looked back and saw that his left hand was still holding the handle to the sword. He felt a sharp point against his neck and froze in place.

"How ironic," muttered the mage looking at the result of the fight.

"What, aren't you going to turn me to the dark side?" snorted Dan through the pain managing to let out a short laugh.

"Why bother, you're already there," replied the mage. "Fool, don't you realize yet?" The boy looked up at him not understanding what he meant.

"You'll find out soon enough, in any case you don't need to be turned; you're already there." He looked up and saw Hikaru watching the scene with a complete mask of horror on her face.

"Please don't! Please don't kill him!" she called as she fell to her knees with tears in her eyes.

"All right," replied the man as he walked forward and grabbed Dan by severed arm. The boy screamed in pain and a smooth rounded metal piece with a hole on the end of it appeared where his limb used to be.

"What?" gasped the girl in shock after realizing what Xellos had said, she blinked and stood up.

Dan frowned as he lifted the blade with his right hand. The sword took on a strange glow suddenly and became flattened and wider. Three small circular holes appeared at the base of the sword on the blade and the handle seemed to vanish. Almost as an after thought he placed the bottom of the blade into the hole on the arm piece. He wasn't surprised when it fit perfectly.

"Next time I won't be able to just knock it away," replied the mage. "Bet's off though, you lost. Even if you kill me you won't go home yet."

Dan turned around and muttered something under his breath. He slowly turned around and Xellos narrowed his eyes suddenly.

"Ragna blade!" roared the boy as he spun around slashing at the mage. Xellos was long gone and the bridge was shattered in front of him blocking the way they came in. "I'll get you for this!" screamed the boy angrily as he walked back to find Hikaru waiting for him.

"Dan, are you..." she trailed off and looked at his arm.

"Do I look all right to you?" he replied lifting the blade up so she could see it. His features softened slightly as he turned away. "It doesn't hurt, he healed it when he did this." Silently he walked forward and looked at the tiger god. "Now what were we saying?"

The statue glowed and changed before him, a large golden robot appeared before him with a few tiger like qualities. He gasped in shock and stared at it greedily. "Cool!"

"You have proven yourself worthy! Now gaze upon my true form, you cannot yet accept all that I am, when that time comes I shall return to you!" said the booming voice from all around the cave. Hikaru shrank back slightly frightened by all of this.

"Yea, yea. This is just like Gekkigengar three! Well, not really, but cool!" he seemed pleased and almost as if he had forgotten completely about the battle he had just lost, he also appeared to be ignoring the very important speech he had just gotten.

"I shall await that time, be well magic knight!" the robot glowed with a golden light and vanished into the crystal on the front of Dan's armor.

The boy suddenly became angry. "Hey! Gimme back my Gekkigengar!" he cried as he pounded on his chest in annoyance.

"Dan, I hate to bother you, but...did we just wake up the rune god?" asked Hikaru sheepishly.

"Yea," he replied without looking back at her.

"How are we supposed to get out of here? I mean, you destroyed the other way..." she looked back at the broken bridge and sighed heavily.

"All right, all right," He muttered while looking upwards. "Levitation!" the pair flew upwards towards the light.

Xellos smiled as he emerged from the shadows. He had enjoyed doing that to him, and was lying about transporting him back if he had won. Still, the boy would have surely failed the test the Mashin had given him originally. It was a lucky break the god had decided to switch at the last minute. The two floated up and vanished into the light causing the mage to smile again. "I'm just glad he didn't think to get rid of her by leaving her down here." Still, he supplied Hikaru with a backup levitation spell just in case.

Dan frowned when he emerged from the hole with Hikaru still in tow. He had pulled his own levitation spell off of her about halfway to the top expecting her to fall to her death, she didn't though and he found another reason for killing Xellos later. He would have just left her, but assumed that she'd just find a way out on her own if he did.

Hikaru looked around after landing and saw her friends rushing towards her. Umi and Fuu both attached themselves to her neck violently while the two boys watched.

"What happened to you?" asked Ferio as he noticed Dan's arm. The boy was currently placing small colored stones into the holes on the blade of his sword arm.

"I lost a fight," he replied simply. "We also woke up one of the rune gods, we'd better get going." With that said he turned into the desert and started walking again.

"That's wonderful!" cried Fuu cheerfully. "Wait did you just say..."

"One of?" asked Umi in shock.

"There's one for each of us, we'd better get going if we want to get them all," replied the boy simply without looking back.

A short distance away young Ascot smiled as he looked into the small sphere in front of him. "Too bad they didn't die in that hole, I guess we'll just have to take care of them then huh Hojino?" His question was replied to by a deafening roar from under the sand.

The Three Magic Knights.
Part 8
Dan in desperation-a killing in the desert

Dan grumbled to himself as he walked across the burning sand and glared at the backs of his companions. "Are we there yet?"

Umi spun around on her heals and snapped at him in frustration. "Will you quit whining? None of us know! We don't even know where we're going OK?"

"I'm whining? Who the hell are you to talk bitch? All you've done since we came here is complain! Besides, I don't see any of you wandering around with a giant solar panel strapped to what's left of your arm!" he raised his blade threateningly and swung it down to make his point. The much wider surface of the evolved blade was indeed gathering heat very quickly.

Fuu and Umi jumped out of the way of the strike while the boy feigned embarrassment. "Sorry still trying to get used to having this thing on all the time." He lied. "Damn, I missed!" he thought to himself as he sulked and continued to trudge onward.

"We should be running into him soon, we're about to run out of desert," commented Ferio as he pointed to the forest line in the distance opposite them.

"He's right, I wonder why young Askot hasn't attacked yet?" said Fuu with a thoughtful look.

"Don't strain your brain darlin, we've got a ways to go and I wouldn't want you to overheat," commented Dan lazily as he pulled a canteen of water off of his belt and took a quick gulp.

Umi raised her finger and Dan paused for a moment before he fell on his back clutching his throat. The water seemed to solidify in his mouth into a tough gel that was nearly impossible to swallow or spit out. "Muh fuhr!" he growled and shook his fist at the water knight.

"Hey, that's a neat trick," said Fuu cheerfully.

"Yea, I just figured it out too," said the girl proudly as Dan tried his best to chew on his mouthful of solid water as he glared daggers at her back.

A short ways away behind a clearing of rocks Askot floated above a large pit in the sand holding his hands over what appeared to be a crystal ball with the magic knights' image inside of it. "Now be sure to memorize their voices good Hojino."

A smooth, red, crystal like object poked out of the sand followed by a roar.

"Good thing we left dirt rat behind at the edge of the desert, if he fried on the sand out here I'd be out of smokes for sure," said Dan as he lit himself a cigarette.

"What the heck are those things anyway?" asked Ferio as he leaned in for a closer look.

"It's a plant, a mild narcotic. On my world they are fairly common," replied the boy with a shrug.

"You mean it's some sort of drug? Like medicine or something?"

Dan looked at him and blinked. "Well, no. It isn't medicine; it's just a stimulant. It's also pretty addicting; but not too much. Basically if I didn't have em I'd just be in a real bad mood for a very long time. Ferio tensed up at this and moved back with the girls who were now trailing slightly behind. "You mean he gets worse?!"

Fuu and Umi both nodded in unison with downcast looks on their faces.

None of them noticed Dan pause and turn slightly before jumping into the air and land on some nearby rocks as a moving pit of sand slowly crept up behind the group. "What the hell? He squat down and narrowed his eyes waiting patiently for whatever it was to appear. He was not disappointed.

Hojino burst from under the ground blasting a wave of wind and sand at Ferio and the female nights while Dan looked on with a small frown on his face. "Well, it seems little Askot's made his move." He promptly sat down on the rock comfortably and watched the fight passively.

Hikaru was the first to rise. "Where's Mr. Dan?"

"Worry about that later!" cried Ferio as he produced the empty hilt and smiled as the light blade burst forth humming lightly.

"Fine! Flame..." her spell was cut short as the beast blasted them with another wave of sand and wind scattering them all across the dunes.

Dan smirked as the girls were losing quite nicely, and Xellos didn't appear to be around to save them this time either. "Well, it looks like I might finally get my way." He paused as a small floating rock appeared next to him with a small boy watching the fight intently with a scowl on his face.

"Damn! Where is he?" snapped the boy angrily as he saw only Ferio and the women fighting.

"Where is who?" asked a voice from beside him. Askot turned slowly and looked the male magic knight dead in the face, mere inches away from his own.

"You!" he cried in shock. "You killed Adalante!"

"Huh? Whozits?" replied Dan in confusion.

"Hojino! Over here!" cried the boy as he pointed at Dan feverently.

He was stopped as the boy punched him in the face sending him flying off his floating rock. "Now, now, let him have his fun. You can't expect me to do everything for those girls now do you?"

Askot staggered to his feet with a look of anger and pain on his face. "No one has ever hit me before!"

"Well, its something every man should experience at least once in his life," replied Dan with a casual shrug of his shoulders as he turned back to watch the battle. The girls were finding out that their magic had no effect on the creature. "Tell me something kid, how does this thing see anyway. I'm assuming he's yours. It stays underground, but seems to know exactly where the girls are all the time..."

Askot blinked and puffed his chest out proudly. "He uses the sounds you make to track you down, he's invincible out here! You don't stand a chance!"

"Like in that movie "Tremors", noted Dan calmly.

"What?" said the boy in confusion.

Dan ignored the question and turned his head back towards the boy. "So, you're some kind of summoner?"

The boy nodded and looked at him again, "No one can beat my beasts! They're the strongest in all Cepheiro!"

He found himself smiling despite himself as he looked at the red jewel inside the blade of his sword. "Really?"

"You're darn right! After Hojino kills those girls, we're gonna take revenge on you for what you did to Adalante!" cried the boy as he balled his fists up and stared the much larger boy down hard. He froze in place as Dan's blade was suddenly touching the base of his neck.

"Don't make promises you can't keep kid," replied Dan darkly. Askot nodded slowly and backed away.

"Now, I think it's time you learned something about the world and the universe as a whole. There is always someone better than you." Dan grinned as he watched the carnage in front of him as the magic knights where thrown mercilessly across the desert sands by each blast from the beast.

Ferio landed next to Fuu and threw himself up in front of her as another blast came, he somehow managed to barely escape falling on top of her. All of them were covered in small cuts and bruises as the creature slowly closed in on them.

"Are you all right?" he asked her weakly as he fell to his knees.

"Ferio!" cried the girl as she rushed forward almost collapsing herself as she rushed to help him stay on his feet. She looked across her shoulder and saw
Hikaru and Fuu in the same situation nearby holding each other close. With each sand blast the creature grew closer, they couldn't get near it to use their weapons, and magic was absorbed by the sand before it could harm the creature as it spent most of it's time underground. The blasts that did get through didn't do much damage. A steady cloud of dust had also formed leaving their visibility of the ground almost nothing.

A sharp whistle pierced overhead and everything stopped for a moment while Dan suddenly emerged from the dust with a strange smile on his face.

"Mr. Dan! You've got to help us!" cried Fuu with hope in her eyes.

He merely glanced at her and sighed. "Kill it yourself, I'm not going to save you." He snorted lazily. Fuu's jaw dropped like a rock. He smirked and winked at her looking almost insanely cheerful. "You said yourself that this is like a role playing game. So get some experience on your own bitch." He turned and smiled at the boy who floated atop a rock and appeared through the dust cloud next to him.

Ferio growled, "You incomparable bastard! How could you abandon these girls that way?!"

Dan merely winked at him, and smiled. "It's a secret. You were willing to betray them for the mere price of a sword, or did he give you money to lead us out here before we discovered your little plot in the restaurant?"

Fuu looked up and noticed the horrified shock on the boy's face. "Mr. Ferio, is this true?"

Her answer was cut off by another sandblast by Hojino, Askot jerked away and realized something. "What's he doing?" he looked at Dan and realized exactly how close they were to the monster, and yet it wasn't even trying to attack its primary target. He was thrown back by the force of another blast and a horrified realization crossed his face. "He hasn't used any attack but that one since the battle started...he's firing blind!" He whirled around and growled at Dan. "What did you do to my friend?"

The boy smiled at him and winked. "You told me how to beat him you little fool.
I cast a silence spell on him. He can't hear anything. Still he's putting up quite a fight even now, just as I'd hoped."

"What's wrong with you?" snapped the boy in horror. "You fix Hojino right now!"

"All right, if that's the way you want it," replied Dan as he waved his hand.

Instantly the creature stopped moving and sat still in the sand for a long moment. "Well?" said Dan questioningly as he looked at the swirling vortex of sand.

Hojino gave a loud roar and rushed forward, right into the large rock Dan was standing on. "Oh, I bet that hurt," commented the boy cheerfully as the creature floated up to the surface for a moment with a large lump on its head.

Askot fumed with anger. "Hojino, get up! You can take this guy, smash the rock!"
Dan blinked and looked at the boy as he realized that coming this close to the battle was probably a mistake. "Uh..." The creature let out a deafening roar as it charged forward again shattering the boulder easily and sending the boy flying into the air for a moment before he crashed down on a nearby dune.

He stood and slowly turned around to see a massive form moving towards him under the sand. Gritting his teeth he braced himself and crossed his arms as the beast slammed into him sending him sprawling across the sand again.

"Damn!" he muttered as he stood up again and saw several colored blurs moving towards him. After a moment his eyes cleared slightly and he noticed the girls and Ferio running towards him from a good distance away waving frantically for him to move. He turned and saw a massive dune rushing forward again. This time, he smiled.

Time seemed to stop as Dan held his blade forward and raised it into the sky.
The red stone on his sword blade glowed brightly for a moment as Hojino rushed forward and attempted to ram him again. "Bahamut Zero!"
Umi, Hikaru, and Fuu all froze in shock as the sky blackened above their heads. Ferio and Askot looked up in wonder as they saw dark clouds for the first time in their lives. What happened next no one expected. The sky parted as rays of light appeared as a creature so massive that it took up almost the whole sky appeared above them, it was a great dragon that glared at Hojino angrily as it came to its master's defense.

"N-no way!" cried Askot in shock as he floated back away from the scene as the energy started to build up in the creature's mouth. Dan felt the impact of Hojino throw him into the air and out of the path of the beam that blasted into the creature from above, the resulting explosion sent him even further away and he rolled across the sand for several more yards before finally coming to a stop. He looked up and laughed as the crater that remained smoked leaving no trace of Hojino behind.

He staggered to his feet and walked towards Askot lazily. With a flick of his wrist he tossed a red and white ball to him. "Take your stupid bug back with you, and remember this next time you think about attacking me."

Askot said nothing, he simply ran.

Xellos looked on over Zagato's shoulder quietly and giggled to himself. "How many times do I have to tell you fools to leave him alone?"

The high priest merely looked at him and narrowed his eyes. "Yet, you seem able to kill him?"

"Now, that... is a secret," said Xellos with a smirk.

"How dare you speak to lord Zagato tha-" Inova was promptly shocked by a lightening bolt until he fell to his knees and collapsed to the ground.

"Honestly Inova-chan, I realize this is a running gag and all, but it is getting tiresome," commented the mage cheerfully.

"I didn't expect him to use Bahamut Zero so soon, ah well," Xellos shrugged his shoulders and twirled his staff in his hand. "I doubt he'll use it again."

"Why is that?" said Zagato sounding amused.

"Because the Dragon Slave is more powerful and less over dramatic. He was just showing up Askot, he never could resist a challenge like that."

Zagato didn't turn around and see Xellos's face though, the mage was confused.

"Why would Dan handicap Hojino in the first place?" The answer came to him rather quickly. "To keep the monster from coming after its real target. Him." That still didn't answer why he had saved the girls in the end. It was very unlike him. He knew for a fact that the boy would not give up a favorable and winning position in order to show up some child. He also knew from a small telepathic link that Dan had not wavered in his mission, he still had every intention of killing them off. "What are you up to?"

Hikaru lay in her bed next to Fuu and Umi in the portable cabin Mokona had provided for them after they had returned from the desert.

Fuu was the first to speak up. "I think we should leave Mr. Dan, he can't be trusted anymore; not after what happened today."

Hikaru jumped up from her sheets and gasped. "No! We can't do that!"

Umi looked at her and turned her head away in shame.

Hikaru's face turned into one of sheer and absolute disbelief. "You too Umi?"

"Hikaru, he didn't even try to help us when we almost died out there today, I agree with her," said the girl with a heavy sigh.

"No! He saved us in the end didn't he!?" cried the girl in his defense. "I can see now that he's right to do it too!"

"What do you mean Hikaru?" snapped Umi.

"He made us fight because we're becoming weak with him around! Don't you see?
Anytime we get in real trouble he's always been the one to save us, we never beat any of those things on our own! He always saved us in the end!" Hikaru was obviously closed to tears. "If you try to abandon him now I won't forgive you!"

"Hikaru?" said Fuu with a shocked look on her face.

"You weren't down in that cave! You didn't see him fighting to protect me down there!" replied the girl gently. She had a far off look in her eyes and a wistful smile. "Besides, do you think the Rune God would have chosen him if he wasn't worthy to become a magic knight? If he wasn't willing to sacrifice himself to save us?"

Fuu found herself blushing. Hikaru had made some good points, despite her obvious bias attitude. "Hikaru is right, if Mr. Dan is evil, then why would the
Rune God have chosen him?"

Umi nodded and rest her head on the pillow. "I guess you're right."

Outside Dan glared at the egg shaped structure and growled under his breath.
"Man what I wouldn't give for a little dynamite right now. Just five or six sticks under that thing is all it would take..."

"Keep it down would ya?" cried Ferio as he tossed a rock that hit the boy on the side of his head. Instinctively Dan reached up to cover the spot with his hand. Ferio blinked as he heard a strange clanging noise and looked over to see that Dan had hit himself over the side of his head with his sword for some strange reason. "Uh, are you all right?"

"I'm just fine," he answered. "What did I do to deserve this?" He paused as his mind started to make a list. "Murderous intent, evil thoughts, deception..." He sat upright and shouted to the sky. "All right, all right! I get the point!"
Ferio merely curled up in his blanket. "Weirdo. What the heck is dynamite anyway?"

The next morning Ferio stood with Fuu alone on the edge of the desert. "Are you sure you have to leave?" she asked.

Ferio nodded "I've got my own quest to complete. I'm sorry I can't be of more help to you."

"Yes, well. I wish you were coming with us," she said with a large blush forming on her cheeks.

Ferio didn't seem to notice and smiled back at her. "Your friend was right, this is a transmitter. I'm sorry for lying to you, but I needed a way to keep track of you in case you led me to Zagato. I hope you'll forgive me."

Fuu nodded and smiled slightly. "I'd be lying if I said I trusted you completely, but I think I understand. He's not my friend by the way."

"Whatever he is, I hope you're careful around him from now on. I'm more afraid of leaving you with him than the monsters; even after what you told me about yesterday," said Ferio with a scowl on his face.

"He seems gruff, but he's proven himself quite a few times Ferio. When he does things like this to us it always works out to be in our best interest in the end. We can't rely on him and he knows it, if something happens to him we still have to be strong enough to face Zagato, with or without him." Fuu smiled as she looked over at the still sleeping Dan sprawled out messily across the ground.

"If you ever need help just give me a call with the transmitter and I'll come running," said the boy gently.

"I'll think about it," answered Fuu.

"Ouch, that's cold," said Ferio in surprise just before he turned away and started his own travels again.

Askot floated along a path alone with tears in his eyes. "Why? Hojino! Why do you have to do such mean things to my friends?" he cried into the sky. "Magic
Knights!" He paused when he raised his fists and the red and white ball fell from his shirt.

"What the heck is this thing anyway?" He flipped it over a few times in his hands and placed it back inside his shirt. He could look into that later, for the moment he had other things to attend to, like revenge.

The Three Magic Knights.

Part 9

Sorcerer Dan's terrible dinner.

Ascot spread his hands and focused his energy. Two glowing balls appeared in his hands, working quickly he created a pattern on the ground before him. He stood before a great magical circle and screamed at the top of his lungs. "Beast I summon thee!"

A small flame formed in the ground and instantly changed into a pillar of light, a great beast appeared before him, it was like a great flaming wolf. It growled and stared at its master expectantly. "Those jerks defeated both Adalante and Hojino! I swore I would avenge them! Godiger!"

He watched as the beast changed into a ball of light and flew away. "Just wait you magic knights!"

His laughter stopped as a new voice interrupted him. "That was unwise."

The boy spun around and saw a familiar man standing beside him. "What do you want?"

That beast isn't enough to kill the magic knights. I told you people time and time again, oh well." Xellos smirked and looked at the boy. "You keep blaming the magic knights for defending themselves, and yet you keep sending your loyal servants after them."

"What are you implying?" cried the boy angrily.

"That you are just as responsible as they are for the deaths of your friends. Keep that in mind boy," the mage twirled his staff in his hands and turned away from Ascot, walking deliberately slowly.

"What do you know anyway? Who are you to tell me? Those are my friends they killed and I'll have my revenge!"

"Suit yourself, just remember what I've told you," said the Mage cheerfully.

"Why are you telling me this?" said the boy in confusion.

Xellos stopped and smirked. "Now that... is a secret."

Dan walked down the path with the three girls following closely behind with Umi and Fuu staying close to one another. Mokona hopped cheerfully ahead of them keeping the pace up.

"You know, this forest really gives me the creeps!" said Umi.

"I agree, I expect a ghost to appear at any moment," agreed Fuu.

Something large and dangerous flew overhead and Umi screamed grabbing onto her friend for protection. They relaxed after a moment and glanced around to see Hikaru walking down the path as cheerfully as Mokona.

"Where did Mr. Dan go?" said Fuu as she noticed the absence of their leader.

"Far away, I hope," commented Umi.

Something brushed against the shoulders of the pair and they screamed as two gnarled looking claws appeared on their shoulders.

Both of them rushed forward into Hikaru's back and grabbed her. "Hikaru! Help!"

She looked up and frowned. "Mr. Dan, that was mean!"

The boy in question was rolling on the ground in laughter holding a pair of claw like sticks.. Har har! You should have seen the looks on their faces! It was priceless!" He continued to laugh as the ground began to shake again.

The girls began to look around with worried looks on their faces as Dan finally calmed down. "Heh heh, you three worry too much."

"Cephiero is crumbling and you say we worry too much?" screamed Hikaru in shock.

"We're here to stop that right? Honestly, don't you people have faith in your own abilities? If we couldn't do it why were we brought here?" He smiled and walked forward with another smirk on his face.

In all honesty he knew he was right, but he had no intention of saving Cephiero. "They're too distrusting of me, if I can build back that trust again... they'll be vulnerable too me." He didn't realize he was cackling to himself and rubbing his hand on the blade attached to his wrist in an evil manner.

"What is he doing?" asked Umi in confusion.

"I'm reluctant to believe there is much sincerity in those words," noted Fuu.

"Even so, he is right," said Hikaru as she sighed and turned away from them. She didn't understand why her friends didn't trust him. He had saved them many times before.

They stopped as another small rumble started from the forest. Mokona puued in alarm as a stampede of small woodland creatures rushed forward towards the group. A cloud of dust formed and Mokona was trampled in the creature's wake.

""What's going on here? What was that?" cried Hikaru in alarm.

Dan narrowed his eyes and turned to the girls. "Wait here a minute will you?" He dashed forward into the forest and vanished into the bushes.

"Mr. Dan!" cried Fuu as she started after him. She stopped when Hikaru cried out in shock.


Fuu looked down to see the creature lying on the ground with various prints on it. One of them belonged to Dan. "Oh my, it appears Mokona is slightly dizzy."

Dan smiled as he walked into the clearing and found a hoard of dead animals lying on the ground around him. "Wow, someone's been busy." He walked around for a few moments and took in his surroundings. "Well, what have we here?" He stopped in front of a rock and kicked it lightly with his foot.

The stone emerged from the ground and growled at him. It was humanoid in shape and had a single eye in the center of the head. He spread his arms out and smiled at the thing dangerously. "You're no threat to those girls. I expected better." He charged forward and extended his sword arm. The blade impacted in the chest and he screamed. "Bakusai Tenketsu!"

In the forest nearby the girls looked around in confusion. "Which way did Mr. Dan go?"

"I don't know, I lost track of him when I saw Mokona," muttered Hikaru sheepishly.

"Great, we have to wait here and hope he comes back!" cried Umi angrily.

"He'll be back! I have complete faith in Mr. Dan!" countered Hikaru.

"I wish I could agree," whispered Fuu to herself.

They all stopped when an explosion ripped through the air from a few hundred yards away.

"What was that? It must be Mr. Dan!" cried Hikaru as she started towards the sound.

"Wait! It might be dangerous!" screeched Umi as she followed.

Dan smiled at his handy work and paused as the debris fell around him. "Weak." He glanced around and smiled as a small helpless creature looked up at him. It was a dog like creature, cute and very cuddly looking. It was injured and had its foot caught in a tree root nearby. "Well, what have we here?"

Hikaru breathed a sigh of relief as Dan emerged from the bushes with a wide grin on his face. "I wouldn't go in there if I were you, it isn't pretty." He almost choked when Hikaru threw her arms around his neck and squeezed.

"I was so worried!"

"Choking-must-breathe!" gasped the boy as the other two girls followed closely behind. They both turned around blushing and kept giving nervous glances as Hikaru hugged the poor boy into submission.

She finally released him and he sucked in a much-needed breath. He paused when he noticed the horrified look on her face. She was looking at her hand, it was covered in blood.

"Mr. Dan! You're hurt!" she flung herself on him again and he put his hand out to hold her back. He failed to notice her freeze in place or the fact that his hand was on her breast.

"Just a minute! I'm fine! Back off will ya?" he snorted in disgust. He threw something on the ground in front of him that was hanging over his shoulder.

About an hour later they all sat around a fire cheerfully. In the center of the flames was a small roasting animal, they cut pieces of meat away and ate it greedily. Dan still had a large hand print on his face as he cooked.

"Wow, it's been so long since I've had meat," noted Umi as she stuffed another piece into her mouth.

"I agree, I hadn't noticed with how busy we've been," said Fuu calmly. She was the only one attempting to be civilized at the moment.

Hikaru sulked as she poked at her food and slowly ate it. "I kind of feel sorry for it though."

Dan looked up at her and blinked. "Then don't eat it."

She looked at him and blushed. "I don't feel that sorry for it."

"Oh well then," the boy shrugged his shoulders and continued to eat. "It kind of tastes like rabbit."

"What was this?" asked Umi as she realized that she had no idea.

"I'm kind of curious about that myself now that you mention it," agreed Fuu.

"It was kind of a cross between a rabbit and a cat," replied the boy as he continued to stuff pieces of meat into his mouth.

The girls looked at their food for a moment and shrugged their shoulders before they continued eating.

Xellos was rolling in the grass in laughter. He couldn't believe what he had just seen occur. Beside him Ascot simply stared in horror. "They ate him? My beautiful trap was ruined! AND THOSE MAGIC KNIGHTS ATE MY FRIEND?"

"Don't say I didn't warn you kid," snickered the mage as he pat the boy on his shoulder. "Think of it as a character building experience."

"Godiger! They ate my friend!" cried the boy with tears rolling down his face.

"And how many has your friend killed before?" snorted the mage as he suddenly became serious.

Ascot paused and stared at him for a long moment. "What?"

"Remember something boy, 'those who live by the sword, die by the sword.' Your friend got the same death he gave countless others." Xellos turned away from him again.

"No! He wasn't like that!" cried the boy in shock.

"Are you fool enough to believe that creature wasn't a carnivore? Please, he's had countless masters before you. At one time he was even wild, he's killed his fair share of men. If you are to be a true summoner you must understand the nature of those you control. You're just a foolish boy." Xellos gave a cruel smile and glanced back at the boy. "If you can't do your job right, I suggest you give up. Those magic knights are much more dangerous than you can possibly imagine."

The boy glared at him and frowned. "Who are you to tell me what to do! These are my friends!"

"Don't be so foolish. Friends indeed, they are your slaves boy. What do you think that summoning magic you use does? You don't just call them, you control them. You're a fool to believe they're your friends. You've never had a friend before, except maybe Caldina. Even she isn't much of a friend." The mage gave a final cold laugh and vanished into the shadows again.

Zagato frowned as a familiar sound came into the room. He turned away from the mirror and glared at Xellos as he entered. The mage raised his hand and Inova was blasted into the ceiling again.

"Best get him before he can be insolent," commented the man cheerfully.

"You dare appear before me after what you have done?" commented the high priest calmly.

"If Ascot chooses to stay he will be much more reliable now. If he leaves, well, lets just say he was useless anyway."

"How dare you say that about him!" cried Caldina from her place behind the water.

Zagato stared at the diminutive man before him for a long moment. "He is quite correct. Ascot would not have defeated the magic knights as he was. We shall see what comes of this."

Xellos smiled and bowed his head placidly. "Everything is going according to plan," he thought to himself. No one noticed the dark look he gave Zagato's back before he vanished.

The Three Magic Knights.

Part 10

The magic knights' greatest crisis... or Dan gets some curry.

Umi Ryuzaki stood facing her opponent, a faceless fencing opponent in full protective gear. She stared at the figure in confusion and gasped. "A man? In an all women's competition? Who are you?"

The figure did not answer; it simply raised its foil and assumed a ready position. Umi nodded and raised her own sword in defense. The battle was short; Umi stabbed through a sloppy slash and hit him for an easy first point. The figure stood silently for a moment and she looked over at the scoring board.

Nothing happened, the faceless figure assumed the ready position again and stepped forward aggressively. Umi could not believe she didn't get credit for her point, the match was quickly forgotten though when the figure slashed at her head.

"Hey! Watch it! I wasn't ready yet!" screamed Umi in shock as the judges watched on silently. In fact, there was absolutely no noise from the crowd.

The figure ignored her and continued its attack. She countered again angrily and jabbed him in the chest. "Ha take that you jerk!"

This time, the figure did not pause. He relentlessly continued his attack slashing wildly at her at very dangerous speeds. She barely managed to block most of the strikes. "Hey! What are you doing!?" she screamed as a well placed strike shattered her mask and cut down the front of her chest padding.

The figure remained silent and charged again. Umi stepped back and blocked another strike, this one even stronger than before. "He was just playing with me!" she thought in desperation as she pushed herself away from him and slashed up with her foil.

It was a reflex action, almost instinctual. The figure's head fell off and rolled across the floor as Umi stepped back in horror as it finally came to a stop at her feet. She watched in horror as the body fell to the ground silently. The foil it had been using was latched onto its arm where its hand should have been.

"What on earth?" gasped Umi as her eyes fell down to the head at her feet. The outer screen on the mask exploded revealing a familiar face staring back up at her. Dan stared her in the eyes with the most evil looking grin on his face that she had ever seen. She screamed.

Umi opened her eyes and stared at the sleepy looking mug that stared her in the face in shock.

"Could you quit screaming? Some of us are trying to sleep," muttered Dan grumpily as he stood over her with his face directly in front of hers. He looked half asleep.

Umi screamed again in terror. The girl's hand smacked him hard across his cheek and he simply stared at her dumbly. "Don't do that you jerk!"

Dan shook his head and moved back to his place at the foot of the bed. "Whatever, jus go back ta sleep."

Moments later he was rudely awakened again as the light from outside shone directly on his face as the sun rose over the horizon. He sat upright with the blanket he used draping over his shoulders and grumbled as he walked over to the door and sat down next to Umi. She was watching the world outside silently as her hair blew in the morning breeze dramatically.

"Are you going to tell me what's wrong so you'll quit moping around? Or do I have to slip something into your food tomorrow night just to make sure this doesn't happen again?" he muttered as he looked away in disgusted disinterest.

"Sorry if I woke you," she muttered half-heartedly.

"I don't believe you, but I'm up now so spill it," said the boy in reply.

"I want to go back to Tokyo," said the girl quietly.

"Oh, -this- again," muttered the boy drearily.

"If you're going to be that way..." snapped Umi angrily as she started to get up.

Dan grabbed her arm and forced her back down next to him. "There will be other fencing tournaments you know."

"But, I have obligations..." started the girl with an embarrassed blush.

"Made a promise didn't you?" said Dan as he finally seemed to get it.

"Yeah," replied the girl.

"You Japanese are so weird. If you can't do it you can't. Stop beating yourself up about it," snorted the boy.

"But, it's the championship! I could win it for the school, Captain would be so proud!" exclaimed the girl.

Dan ignored her and shook his head. "Do you really think that after all this combat experience you're getting that anyone will be able to stand up to you in a match when you get back home? You'll win the next match you're in. Your skills have improved ten times since you've come here. Stop selling yourself short, I hate people who do that." With that said he stood up and walked over to his spot at the foot of the bed and lay back down after moving comfortably out of the sunlight.

Umi just stared at him in shock with her mouth hanging open. "What? He said that..."

Umi and Hikaru simply watched the scene from the bed with equally shocked expressions on their faces. "I can't believe it, he's never acted this way before."

"I told you he was a great guy!" exclaimed Hikaru cheerfully.

"I told her that to shut her up so I could get some more sleep... and you're ruining it!" cried a voice from the foot of the bed as a pillow hit them both in the face.

"Puu..." whimpered Mokona nervously from his place in the bed.

Askot growled to himself as he walked by the waterfalls with Caldina.

"That's nothin to worry about. Don't let it bother you so much. I've got to get back to my post now, so take care," said the woman as she walked away.

The boy frowned to himself and punched at the ground as he ground his teeth. "She doesn't know, she hasn't had to fight them yet I'll get those magic knights for humiliating me that way!"

He paused and glanced around at where he was. Xellos was sitting inside the waterfall that Alcione had once occupied and was watching the scene with mild interest. He blinked and stared at the boy as he realized he was also being watched. "What?"

"You're a strong sorcerer right?" asked the boy quietly.

Xellos smiled and winked at him. "Now that..."

"All right! All right! I get it, do you have anything that will help me defeat those magic knights?" interrupted the boy impatiently.

"Possibly," replied the man with a sly smirk appearing on his face.

"Well?" asked the boy after a moment of silence.

Xellos blinked and reached into his pocket. He pulled out a small sphere and held it up to Askot. The boy grabbed for it greedily and he pulled his hand away. "No guarantees boy. This will make your monster a hundred times stronger; but there is always a price when dealing with me."

"I don't care!" snapped the boy angrily as he snatched the orb from the mage's hand.

"Not even if it will cost the beast's life?" said Xellos with another smirk appearing on his face again. He flashed his golden eyes for a moment and stared the boy down.

Askot paused and stared at the object in his hands for a moment. He then returned Xellos's stare with a firm look on his young face. "These are my slaves, I'll do what I want with them."

"Excellent choice," said the mage with an odd look on his face. Askot could not tell if he was being serious or not. The boy turned away and walked towards the exit to the palace.

Xellos leaned against the wall and started to twirl a small knife in his fingers. "That went well." He turned when a new figure entered the room and smirked at him.

"I'm surprised, you actually turned out to be useful," commented Inova as he walked to the center of the room and stopped. "To think you would be so good at corrupting a small child. You must be so proud."

"No more than your master should be for involving such a young boy in such a disgraceful act," replied the mage curtly.

"You dare!" snarled Inova angrily as he stepped forward. He stopped cold when a cut appeared on his cheek as if by magic. He growled and slowly turned to see the knife Xellos had been playing with embedded on the opposite wall.

"I don't care about his dirty and sorted laundry, but involving people who it doesn't concern is no more honorable than what I just did," continued Xellos calmly.

"Then why are you here?" snapped the other man bitterly.

Xellos smiled yet again. "It's a secret." He vanished into the shadows leaving Inova alone once again.

Dan took a long drag off of his cigarette as he watched Mokona bounce around cheerfully through the tall grass that surrounded them. He glanced back and sighed as the three girls had become suddenly irritable for some reason. It was odd, they all seemed to be in a fowl mood at one time, he kind of wondered how that had happened. Shrugging his shoulders he hacked at the grass in front of him with the blade on his arm again and trudged forward as Mokona hopped around obliviously.

He paused when they reached a fork in the small path they where traveling down. "So dirt rat...which way?" he glanced down and frowned as the creature pulled up a flower and sniffed it cheerfully. His face fell and he simply took a seat by the road.

"Sir Mokona, which way do we need to go?" asked Fuu vacantly.

"Yeah, tell us Mokona!" cried Hikaru cheerfully as she took a seat next to Dan. She even seemed to hop in place while she was sitting down.

"Mental note, cut down sugar intake for Hikaru..." muttered Dan under his breath.

"We have to hurry! Tell us which way to go Mokona!" cried Umi bitchily as usual, even more so today than normal.

The creature Puu'ed and turned to face them with a flower in it's hands.

Something in Umi just snapped. "You stupid rat! We have to hurry! I need to get back to Tokyo!" She pulled a wooden mallet out of her wrist gem and began to chase the creature through the grass in a complicated game of 'Whack-A-Mokona'.

"Hey, Squirt Gun just snapped," noted Dan lazily as he lay back and puffed on his cigarette.

"It would seem that way," commented Fuu.

"Miss Umi! Please stop! You need to calm down!" called Hikaru.

"I get the feeling this trip is gonna feel longer than usual for the next couple of days or so..." commented Dan as he furrowed his brow and finished his smoke.

Umi stopped her attack and fell to her knees. "I wish I could be able to enter that fencing tournament. I whish I could get back to Tokyo."

"Man, I thought I'd talked that out of her system," grumbled Dan as the familiar complaint surfaced again. He wanted to kill her more than ever now, just to shut her the hell up.

Ascot smiled as he stared coldly at the giant snail that towered over him. "Your going to take this and avenge your friends aren't you?"

The creature blinked and stared at its master in confusion for a moment. Its head slowly went up and down after a moment of thought.

"Good boy, now let's hurry up and get this over with," commented the boy darkly. He floated up and fed the pill to the creature smiling to himself as he watched its power work. He was thrown to the ground as a massive shockwave of energy blasted in every direction away from the beast. He stared up at the creature as it howled in pain and a horrified look crossed his face. "No! What have I done?"

Overhead Xellos smiled to himself as he watched lazily from behind a low cloud. "He's gonna do me proud, stupid kid."

The group was moving again, Dan stood next to Umi as she was the quietest of the three girls at the moment and he smiled to himself as he walked in relative silence.

To say that Umi Ryuzaki was sulking would be an understatement of extreme proportions. She moped along behind the group hanging her head low as she muttered to herself about going back to Tokyo. Every moment, every step she took made her a little more upset with the situation she found herself in.

The whole group turned as a strange sound rushed towards them, Umi and Dan stared wide eyed as a strange light rushed along the ground towards them and finally caught up before they could react. Then everything went white.

Umi woke up staring at a staircase as she lay on her back. She slowly sat up and whimpered slightly as she shook off the effects of whatever had happened to her. "Where am I?"

"It's about time you woke up," said a familiar voice from beside her.

"What?!" Umi shot up like a bolt and found Dan staring in her face again.

He had an armload of various foods and a large plate of curry in his hands. "Thanks for the wish Squirt Gun, I've had a craving for this for a while now."

Umi looked at him and blinked. "Where are we?"

"Looks like Tokyo tower to me," replied the boy with a shrug. He wasn't optimistic enough to believe he had really returned to earth, Xellos hadn't shown up and he was a long way from finishing up what needed to be done in Cephero. "Everything is frozen though." He poked a nearby school girl with his finger in her rear and she didn't move.

Umi jumped to her feet and glanced around angrily. "This has to be an illusion!"

"Probably, but it tastes good," commented Dan as he took another bite of his food and started to lift the frozen girl's dress up with his finger.

"What the hell are you doing you pervert?" screamed the girl angrily as she slapped him.

Dan moved like a flash and pointed the tip of his blade at her throat. "I never liked you much Umi, don't push it. If I killed you now no one would ever know."

She froze in shock and stared at him. "What?"

"That wouldn't get us out of here though, and I've got a funny feeling this is your fault," replied the boy reluctantly as he put his arm down and lowered the blade.

"My fault?" said Umi in shock.

Meanwhile Fuu and Hikaru stood together in the frozen wasteland they had found themselves in. "What happened?" said Hikaru. She turned towards Fuu. "You don't suppose that the crumbling of Cephero has effected the weather in strange ways do you?"

"I don't think so, it happened too quickly. It is most likely magic," said the other girl with a serious look crossing her face.

"An excellent deduction my dear. The question is, what do you plan to do about it?" said a new voice from behind them.

The two girls spun around and gasped at the figure who watched them from on top of the frozen Mokona. He smiled and tapped his staff on the ground lightly.

"Xellos!" cried Hikaru.

"Of course, I'm interested to see how you get out of this mess," said the mage calmly as he sat down and watched.

"You won't help us?" gasped Fuu.

"Not this time I'm afraid, this was partly my doing you see," said the man coldly as he stared at them seriously for a moment.

"What?" gasped Hikaru.

"I gave Askot the means to do this, getting out of it will be quite difficult you see. I have my reasons, but I won't tell what they are."

"But, why?" cried Hikaru in shock.

"Do I really have to answer that?" replied the mage coolly.

"It's probably a secret correct?" muttered Fuu.

"I'm glad someone has been paying attention. Now, what are you going to do girls?" he sat and watched.

Hikaru paused and glanced around in shock. "Where are Umi, and Mr. Dan?"

"We have to find them!" cried Fuu.

"Hmm, that might be a good idea," commented Xellos. He stood up and slowly drew the blade from inside his staff. "But... I'm afraid I can't just let you wander around unsupervised. You'll have to beat me first."

Dan frowned as Umi walked around the frozen people with her sword drawn in shock. "I've finally returned to Tokyo! I can compete in the tournament! Why won't somebody move?!"

The boy snorted as he tossed the empty wrapper to a meat bread over his shoulder. "What am I? Chopped liver?"

"It's not the same!" retorted the girl angrily.

Dan smiled and stood up from his place. "You want a fencing tournament so badly do you? Let's go then."

"What?" cried Umi as she stared at him. He raised his blade up and assumed a familiar stance. She spun around and held her blade up defensively.

"Are you really that dense? Cephero is the land of the will. This is just your stupid wish, you're here now. So let's have your stupid tournament so we can get back." The grin that crossed his face bordered on feral and he stalked forward slowly.

"You're out of your mind!" cried Umi as she backed into a wall.

"Maybe, but I'm the only one here who can move," replied the boy as he hacked a boy in two with a casual swipe of his sword. "If you don't fight me I'll kill everyone in the room one by one."

"You monster!" screamed Umi as she charged him. The blades met in a shower of sparks and the echo from the clash resonated through the silent building.

"Explosion array!"

Hikaru grunted as her blade contacted Xellos's sword again. She charged forward again and screamed as he raised his hand and an explosion sent Fuu flying across the ice from underneath her.

"Your skills are growing pup, but not enough just yet," snorted the man arrogantly as he slashed down and stripped Hikaru of her sword. She paused as he pointed his blade at her and waited. "Are you going to stand there or are you going to go get it?"

Hikaru blinked in surprise and walked slowly and carefully around and retrieved her sword. "Why are you doing this to us? What have we done to you?"

"You'll understand soon enough," replied the man with a shrug. He paused though and arched his back in pain. A blade protruded through his chest with Fuu on the other end behind him.

"I have you!" she screamed. "Give back Mr. Dan and Miss Umi!"

Xellos laughed slightly and fell forward. "I don't have them." He stepped forward and the sword slid out of his back. "Those magical swords do hurt quite a bit though. I think you should cool off for a bit."

Fuu's eyes went wide. "How?"

Hikaru gasped as Fuu was encased in ice the moment he said this. "Fuu! No!"

"Don't worry, she's safe...but much longer do you think you can fight in this temperature?" he smiled.

Hikaru growled, she knew he was right. She was freezing cold and getting worse by the moment. "I'll defeat you and make you pay for what you did to my friends!" She screamed again and charged forward.

Xellos avoided the strike and tapped the back of her head with his finger. "Really, I thought you were smarter than that. You are the 'Knight of Fire' after all, why should you allow yourself to get cold in the first place?"

Hikaru stopped and looked at him in shock. He was grinning dumbly and waiting patiently for her to reply.


"Shut up!" screamed Hikaru as the gem on her wrist glowed and surrounded her with flames. She charged forward again.

Dan parried another blow by Umi and slashed down cutting her armor slightly. "Another point for me, eh?" He spun around and cleaved another of the frozen people in two. Several of the bodies littered the floor around them. "Oops."

Umi was beyond angry. She snarled and charged forward again slashing at him over and over. He blocked each blow and smirked as she managed to push him back. She was covered in sweat and he was barely even breathing hard.

"Come on now Squirt Gun, I know you can do better," he chided.

He raised his blade towards a familiar girl and she gasped in shock as recognition came to her face. "Captain!"

"Oh, is this the one who you made the promise too?" snorted the boy as he paused and lifted her skirt up with his sword and mockingly looked up her dress to assess her rear. "Not bad..."

"I've had enough! Water Dragon!" screamed the girl in rage.

"Freeze Arrow!" retorted Dan as he raised his hands. He paused to consider the fact that the dragon was still moving towards him. "Oh shit."

Umi was afraid for a split second. The water Dragon froze as it flew forward, her fear was short lived as the giant ice creature crushed her opponent into the wall shattering on impact. Dan slumped down dazed and stayed motionless for a long moment. Broken pieces of ice littered the ground around him.

She stood over him and pointed her sword at his neck. He looked up and smiled at her softly. "Looks like you win. At least I have plenty of ice for my injuries, ne?"

"I'll kill you!" she cried in a rage.

"You don't have it in you girl," he snorted lazily as he moved to his feet. He froze in place when he felt a prick in his neck and realized that she had stabbed him with the tip of the blade. A slight trickle of blood ran down his neck and he narrowed his eyes.

"You aren't going to murder me are you?" his tone was almost mocking.

"You killed all these people!" screamed the girl.

"You really believe that these people are real? Let me ask you something, where do you really want to be right now?" Dan chose his words carefully and spoke slowly.

Umi paused and glanced around. "In Tokyo! The real one!"

"You really want to leave Hikaru and Fuu alone on Cephero?" He narrowed his eyes and raised his hand up slowly. She didn't notice the ball of orange light forming there.

"They're strong! They can...but I can't do that can I? I can't leave them in Cephero alone can I?" She lowered her sword and Dan breathed a sigh of relief. He pointed the ball of light at her head as she turned away from him and smiled.

"You're right! We have to save Cephero! I can't leave until it's done! I want to go back!" She started running forward as the illusion vanished around her. Her sword flashed with a blue light and seemed to crack for a moment before shattering at the hilt revealing another evolution.

Dan blinked and found himself in a dark looking forest. "What the?" He shot the fireball into the woods and it exploded catching several trees on fire.

"Hey! Damn it! I was so close!" he charged after her and was washed in a white light.

Hikaru slashed wildly at Xellos and put him on the defensive. He smirked and jumped away from a particularly powerful strike that slammed into the ground. His smirk vanished when his sword fell into two pieces. "Well, looks like you win."

Hikaru blinked and noticed something. She had subconsciously charged her sword with magical energy and released it into the ground. Red cracks began to form in the ice and the hilt burst into flames transforming the blade.

Umi and Dan arrived just in time to see Hikaru break the ice spell as the ice shattered all around them and vanished into thin air. "What the?" muttered the boy as he stopped running.

"Hikaru!" cried Umi as she waved to her friend.

"Umi! Mr. Dan! You're all right!" cried the girl as she made a beeline for Dan and threw herself into his arms. He stood in a sort of surprised shock and said nothing until she released him. "Where did you go?"

Fuu walked up behind the group with Mokona on her shoulder. "We were both extremely worried about you,".

Umi walked over to him and hung her head. "Mr. Dan... I'm sorry I doubted you. I...I needed to hear what you had to say."

He blinked and looked at her for a moment before shrugging his shoulders and popping a cigarette into his mouth.

"It appears as though both Miss Umi and Miss Hikaru's swords have evolved!" said Fuu pleasantly

"Jeez, what are these things? Pokemon or something?" grumbled Dan.

"You never did explain what a pokemon was to us," commented Hikaru.

"You probably don't really want to know," muttered Dan half-heartedly as he lit his cigarette.

"Oh. Then why did I ask?" said Hikaru with genuine confusion on her face.

"I cannot return to Tokyo until Cephero is saved!" cried Umi.

"Yeah!" agreed Hikaru heartily.

"Brother," muttered Dan under his breath.

Inova stared at Askot with Zagato standing behind him with his back turned on the boy. "It seems you two have failed."

Xellos appeared in the room between Zagato and Inova with his familiar smirk. "Not really, I delivered what I promised. The beast was a hundred times stronger than it was before."

"You failed to kill the magic knights!" snorted Inova indifferently.

"I never said I would," replied the mage calmly.

Askot stared at him in shock. "I did only what I promised to do, it's not my fault the boy got squeamish at the last moment."

Zagato turned his head slightly. "Askot is just a boy. That is the only reason he is still alive for his failure. We will not rely on him any longer." He walked off into the shadows.

Inova smirked. "Looks like you're not as great as you make yourself out to be Xellos."

He screamed in rage and pain as a blast from behind his back sent him into the wall. He struggled to his knees while smoke rose off of the scorched portion of his back. Xellos lowered his hand slowly, "Watch yourself runt. You did not hear Zagato admonish me did you? I fulfilled my part of the bargain." He turned away with a smile on his face.

Askot simply sat on the floor and punched it in anger. "Damn you magic knights! I'll..." the words died in his mouth. There wasn't much he could do, his most powerful beasts were dead now. "Damn you..." he uttered the words with tears in his eyes.

The three Magic Knights.

Part 11

The revival of Celece, the legendary Rune God!

Askot floated over the ocean as a storm began to brew around him in the darkness. A summoning circle appeared in the waters below revealing a gigantic merman. The thing growled and looked at him dumbly.

"Good, you're here, we're going to destroy those Magic Knights. Take revenge four our friends," said the boy calmly.

The thing growled in protest and looked away.

Askot glared at him and snorted. "You'll do as I say, and like it."

The thing seemed to stop and look at him in surprise.

The boy pointed his finger at the thing and a green light slammed into its forehead. The monster roared in shocked surprise and fell under the waves.

To say Dan was grouchy was like saying Hikaru was cheerful. This day was special though, he had discovered that Mokona had been leading them around for the past week, just to look at a beach.

"It certainly is a beautiful view," said Fuu.

"Wow, I agree!" commented Hikaru.

Umi merely nodded her agreement.

Dan was sitting on the edge of the cliff smoking a cigarette and staring into the sea. "It's just some stupid water." He flicked his butt away into the foaming waters and sighed. "Can we go now? I'd like to kill the monsters and go home sometime during this life."

"He's right Mokona, we don't really have time for sight seeing," said Umi.

The small creature got a slightly defensive look on its face and shook its head from side to side while puuing loudly.

"I think he's saying we came here for a reason," said the aqua haired girl.

"Puuu!" cried the thing cheerfully.

"Great, the only place left to go is down," snorted Dan as he looked down at the water.

"You can't be serious! This isn't that crazy 'Spring of Eterna!'" cried Hikaru in shock.

The boy turned and looked at them flatly. "I don't have a problem, how the hell are you three gonna get down there?"

All three girls stepped back nervously as they remembered how they had 'jumped' into the spring. The boy flexed his one hand and smiled. "Who's first this time?"

Mokona jumped out in front of him and snorted.

"What? You got a better way of getting these whiny girls into the water?" said the boy as he completely ignored his companions' presence.

The tiny rabbit thing made his trademark call and what looked like a large winged metal pot appeared in front of them.

"You want us to get in that thing?" said Umi skeptically.

"Miss Umi, it seems as though you can understand what Sir Mokona is saying!" exclaimed Fuu.

"What the hell did you think he wanted us to do with this thing? Eat it?" snapped Dan.

"I...suppose not," replied Fuu.

The three girls jumped into the thing and turned to see the boy watching them from a fair distance away. "Aren't you getting in?" said Hikaru after a moment.

"No thanks, I don't trust that little rat quite that much thank you," replied the boy as he waved his arms out slightly. "Ray wing!"

The three girls looked at each other and sighed as the thing started to rise into the air. It floated gently over the edge of the cliff, and dropped like a lead weight.

Dan looked on in mild amusement as the three girls screamed as they plummeted towards the ocean. He knew better than to hope the fall might kill them and end his little problem. With a heavy sigh he floated down inside the metal boat. Mokona puued again and another beam of light formed from its head into a small ball that floated just above their heads. A bubble of some kind formed around them and the raft turned into a magical submarine of sorts.

"Damn it! You live to torture us don't you Mokona?!" screamed Umi angrily.

Dan thought about saying something and turned away, it would be too easy. "Hey, what's this thing made of anyway?" He reached his hand out to touch the edge of the bubble and paused. He had forgotten for a moment that there was no longer a hand there, but a large flat blade.

Mokona puued in alarm, Dan cursed, Umi, Hikaru, and Fuu started screaming as the shield collapsed around them forcing gallons of water into the space they occupied in a split second.

Dan smiled as the metal thing floated downward into the darkness below. All around him the three girls struggled to rise from the water only to realize they'd never make it to the ocean surface in time. They were doomed.

A wide grin crossed the boy's face as he watched them struggle in the water around him, all within easy arm's reach. He reached out and grabbed Umi's face roughly looking into her eyes as the life started to slowly fade from them. He almost screamed in triumph when he realized he had won. The Magic Knights would die, and he would go home at last. He opened his mouth to laugh and...realized that he couldn't breathe either.

His brain began to scream various obscenities as he worked on a solution to his problem. He hung in the water as the last few air bubbles escaped the girl's lips. He raised out his hand with his own last breath and the water pushed away around him forming a protective sphere, a protective sphere that was just large enough to accommodate all of them. He cursed again and looked down at the three hacking figures and one wet rodent. They gasped for breath and he merely stared at the ocean that surrounded them with a look of disappointed anger.

"You jerk! You almost got us killed!" screamed Umi.

"That was not very intelligent Mr. Dan," commented Fuu.

"Are you all right?" cried Hikaru as she grabbed him in a rough hug.

"Look, I saved you didn't I?" snapped the boy in retort. He neglected to mention the fact that he had only been trying to save himself. He pointed at an underwater temple that sat in a crevice in the ground below them. "Besides, we're here."

"Where is here?" asked Fuu vacantly.

"How the hell should I know?" snorted Dan lazily.

"Then how do you know we are here?" said Umi smugly.

"Where the hell else would we be going?" replied the boy as he sat down on the bottom of the bubble and sighed. "Let's just get this over with."

"Umi what's wrong?" said Hikaru as she noticed her friend on her knees with a weird blue glow about her.

"I don't know. All of a sudden I feel so hot," said the aqua haired girl with a slight worry in her voice.

"Hmm, maybe in two or three years you will be..." commented Dan as he looked her up and down appraisingly.

"This is no time for jokes Mr. Dan!" cried Fuu in shock.

"Tense adventurous moment, after escaping a narrow death. Hmm, seems like the perfect place for a joke to me."

The girls simply looked at him and blinked.

"Well, he's right you know," said Hikaru with an unsure look on her face.

The group ended in what looked like and underwater temple. Pillars rose high into the ceiling of the cave and large ornamented doors stood proudly on the opposite side of the room. The whole building was made of blue marble and it was dry inside.

Dan lowered the shield and stepped into the temple with an arrogant stride. "Every fuckin time..." he muttered quietly to himself.

"Where are we?" said Hikaru in wonder.

"If you say "It appears to be a large room." I'm gonna kill you," said Dan as he turned towards Fuu. He used a high pitched voice to mimic her and stomped off as she stood staring blankly at him with a blush on her cheeks.

"How did he know..."

Umi stopped them all cold. "This is the temple of the Legendary Rune God." Her voice was an unusual monotone.

"Yeah, yeah, well we found it. Can we go now?" snorted Dan.

Umi continued to walk forward ignoring her companions. Fuu and Hikaru didn't seem to notice and continued to walk around the ruins.

"It will be best if we split up and search more efficiently," said Fuu.

Dan looked at the two girls. He had yet to move from his spot and stood with his arms crossed. "Why bother? It looks like Squirt Gun knows where she's going to me."

Umi walked towards the doors and pushed on them opening a large room with what appeared to be a rather large dragon statue molded into the wall opposite them. The young girl stepped towards the statue and it slowly started to transform.

Dan had a realization while the other two knights started to panic. "Rune God."

Hikaru rushed forward and cried out too her friend. "Umi watch out!"

"Leave her be, we're about to have company," said Dan calmly.

"Umi!" continued the girl. She stood just outside the doors with a worried look on her face.

The completely transformed dragon looked up at the other two girls and its eyes began to glow. A violent rush of wind blasted the pair back just far enough for the doors to close on them.

Umi looked up without fear at the great beast before her. It spoke to her without moving its lips.

"I am the Rune God Celece, only a true magic knight may touch me," said the deep booming voice.

"Rune God?" said Umi with the haze clearing from her eyes.

"That boy, he is more dangerous than even he realizes," said the Dragon calmly. For a moment its attention was turned towards the doors. It turned back to see Umi staring up at it. "Now girl, prove to me thou art worthy of becoming a magic knight! Show me the strength within thine heart!"

Umi merely stared at it and blinked again. "Huh? Show you?"

"So, she's reviving another Rune God? Just like yours?" said Hikaru excitedly.

"I'm pretty sure," replied the boy with a shrug as he took another drag off of his cigarette and relaxed against a pillar.

"I guess she's all right then," said Fuu with an unconvinced voice.

"I just hope she doesn't take too long, there's nothing to eat here," said Dan with a slightly pained look on his face.

A cold cruel laughter that sounded strangely familiar rung throughout the hall as a shadowy area of the temple came to life. "I'll never allow that to happen Magic Knights! Prepare to die!"

A large ugly beast stepped out of the shadows and looked down at them with it's glowing eyes. "Brother," muttered Dan.

Hikaru and Fuu jumped into action almost immediately. Hikaru jumped into the air and shot a flame arrow at the thing but it merely blocked with the huge shield on its arm.

"Oh no! Magic doesn't work!" cried the redhead.

Dan blinked and looked at her in confusion. "But, you only tried it once. You're always the one babbling about not quitting, and yet you give up after only one attack? How lame is that?"

The creature thrust its shield forward creating a huge gust of wind that threw both girls into the wall roughly. They both fell to their knees and struggled to rise with weapons in hand.

Dan merely continued to sit calmly in the middle of the floor. The breeze created by the attack was nice. He leaned forward as Hikaru and Fuu's attacks met with pretty much the same results every time. They'd always seem to land back at the same spot. He sighed heavily and took another drag.

Askot laughed from inside the beast. "Ha, ha, ha! You'll never defeat me Magic Knights! I'll have my revenge for you killing my friends!"

That was when it happened. The beast thrust forward with its shield and created another gust of wind. This one a little closer to Dan's general area. He frowned and watched as the cherry flew off the end of his cigarette putting the smoke out and rendering the rest of the tobacco product useless.

"That does it. I'm sick of this kid," snorted the boy as he stood from his place on the floor and stepped between the struggling forms of Hikaru and Fuu.

"Darkness beyond twilight..."

"Miss Hikaru, isn't that the spell that killed that horrible lady?"

"I think so."

"What would happen if that blew up in a room this size?"

"What's he doing? That dope! Crush him!" cried Askot's voice from inside the creature's head.

"Buried in the flow of time, is where your power grows."

The stone thing slammed its foot down and Dan nimbly sidestepped quite easily. The two girls scattered as well, but for different reasons.

"I pledge my self to conquer all the foes who stand, against the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand. DRAGON SLAVE!"

The beast let out a final roar as the red beam slammed it in the chest sending it through the wall and into the ocean outside. The magic seal strained for a moment but held keeping the water outside.

"Well, that was interesting," said Dan casually as he dusted his hands off.

"Are you out of your mind? We could have been killed!" cried Fuu as she emerged from behind a nearby pillar.

"Mr. Dan! That was so cool!" exclaimed Hikaru.

"I wonder if Squirt Gun is finished with her test yet?" said Dan as he ignored them completely.

Inside the shrine the Dragon looked up for a moment and then back at Umi. The otherworldly boy had neatly blown his test away. The beast looked down at the girl again and quickly thought up another test. To put it simply, he fibbed.

"Your friends are facing a great peril outside these doors. You must escape before it reaches this chamber! Quickly, defeating Zagato is the objective, you must survive in order to save Cephiero!"

"Great Peril?" The girl looked back at the doors and blinked.

"Yes, go now, escape!"

"I can take it," said the girl defiantly as she started towards the doors.

"No, no! It's too perilous!" retorted the dragon.

Umi looked back at the thing. "Can't I have just a little bit of peril?"


"I really think I can," said Umi insistently as she continued to walk to the doors.

The dragon sighed and gave up. He never was very good at lying. "You have shown me the strength within thine heart."

The doors opened up and revealed Umi standing next to what looked like another mecha. Dan pointed excitedly and grinned. "Hey! Another Gekigengar!"

"What the hell kind of stupid test was this anyway?" snapped the girl as she glared at the giant.

"When your heart can fully accept what I am I shall return to you," the great dragon beast continued his speech ignoring all that was going on around him.

In a glowing blue light he vanished into Umi's armor. All four of the knights' protective gear turned into a white light and grew larger. They faded back to their original colors revealing a larger, bulkier chest plate and shoulder pads.

"Our armor evolved again! We'll find those other two Rune Gods and finally be able to defeat Zagato!" cried Hikaru.

"Whatever, where's dirt rat? I'm hungry damn it!" said Dan as he sat on the floor cross-legged.

Mokona Puued and emerged from behind a pillar. The three girls jumped up and down excitedly and Dan merely sighed.

Zagato looked into his mirror and frowned at the image of the girls. "Another Rune God has been awakened." A dark aura began to form around him as his anger built up. No real emotion showed in his features as he turned and walked away.

Emerad stared at the scene before her in terror. An image of decimation spread out before her of the towns nestled along the shoreline near the Dragon Slave explosion. It had created tidal waves for miles that almost wiped out several fishing villages.

"Quite impressive isn't he?" said an unfamiliar voice. She whirled around to see a strange man dressed in priest's robes standing behind her prison with an oddly satisfied smirk.

"Who are you?" she asked timidly.

"I am called Xellos. I'm an associate of your -ahem- friend, Zagato." The man bowed deeply to her and returned his gaze to the destruction. "The male magic knight isn't turning out quite the way you thought is he?"

"He's doing terrible things! I don't understand..." she was cut off as Xellos raised his hand.

"I'm keeping him in line somewhat, but in order to make an omelet you must break a few eggs."

A hint of anger showed in the girl's face for a moment. "How can you say such things? Those spells he's using are not from Cepheiro! They are terrible magic, I don't understand how he's doing it, but he must stop!"

"Well princess, you could try asking him. I doubt if that will work though," replied the mage with a knowing smile.

"Zagato will be angry if he finds you in here," said the girl as she turned away from him.

"Zagato is a lovesick fool. I have no fear of him, and with good reason."

This caught Emerad by surprise. "What do you mean?"

"If I told you, you wouldn't like it. Don't worry though, the Magic Knights will save your precious world. Even if it's in a way you aren't expecting." He looked at the shield surrounding her curiously and poked it a few times causing it to spark slightly. He shook his finger and winced. "That's a pretty good spell there."

"What do you mean?" A hint of worry showed in the girl's face.

"Now that, is a secret." Xellos vanished in a swirl of shadows leaving her alone once more.

After he reappeared in the chamber where Zagato had stood moments before he opened his eyes again with a wide grin on his face. "Everything is going according to plan." He paused and smirked as a soaking wet young boy stumbled into the room and fell face first onto the ground. Despite the fact that he was wet, a small amount of smoke rose from his body. "Perhaps you should get some help the next time you want to fight them?"

"Leeme alone," grumbled the boy without looking up.
The Three Magic Knights

Part 12

The final straw.

Dan watched passively as the scenery passed by below. Umi, Fuu, and Hikaru stood at the front of the strange winged transport that Mokona had produced to get them to the Rune God of Water. He had ruined the trip, by popping the protective bubble and nearly drowning everybody, but the transport itself was undamaged otherwise.

"Where the hell are we going anyway?" he asked impatiently.

"Puu!" cried Mokona in answer.

"That helps me," muttered the boy as he rolled his eyes.

"Don't worry Mr. Dan, I'm sure Mokona knows where the next Rune God is!" cried Hikaru excitedly.

"That's what scares me," said Umi as she eyed the creature distrustingly.

The clouds in front of them split revealing a large crystal structure that jutted out of a floating island. The girls gasped in shock and Dan stepped forward. It was an impressive sight to say the least.

"That must be where the next Rune God is hidden!" cried Hikaru excitedly.

"I agree, I doubt we'll have an easy time of getting it," commented Dan.

The three girls looked at him blankly. It was the first time he had spoken anything remotely like that to them.

The moment was quickly forgotten though, as the sky grew dark within seconds. Lightening crashed around them and the strange ship started to shake unstably under the winds that began to blow. An enormous dark figure appeared before them in the sky. The image of Zagato was even larger than the mountain they were trying to get to.

"Who are you?" gasped Hikaru.

The image smirked at them and glared at her. "I am the High Priest Zagato. I never expected you to make it this far, I commend you Magic Knights."

Dan felt the hairs on the back of his neck raise up as a power build up started to form around them. "Oh, shit."

"However, it is now time to end this," said Zagato as he pointed his fingers at the flying craft.

Dan screamed and jumped up into the air. The girls gasped in shock as the lightening slammed into him.

Zagato smirked at this. "A brave gesture, but useless!"

Everyone became silent as Dan continued to float in the air. His arms were crossed over his face and a familiar sound floated through the air.

"He's laughing?" said Fuu in shock as her brain registered what the sound was.

"Fool, you'll have to do much better than that to get rid of me!" Dan started to uncross his arms slightly as a visible aura surrounded him. His eyes were wild and dangerous and his hair seemed to stand straight up.

Another bolt of power slammed into the craft floating behind him and the girls started to scream in pain.

Dan never flinched, he continued to stare Zagato in the eyes. He clenched his single fist in front of him with a stern look on his face and stared hard as the figure stood imposingly over him. "You think you're strong enough to beat me do you?" said Zagato humorlessly.

"I know I am," replied Dan. Winds started to form around him and the aura burned ever brighter. Rocks below started to crumble and the damaged craft behind him shook dangerously and was blown back with the dazed girls struggling to get back on their feet and hold on.

Zagato pointed at him again and a bolt of lightening struck down towards him. Dan swung his arm in a wide arc and caught the energy with his bare hand sending it flying off in a different direction. Unfortunately for Umi, Fuu, and Hikaru it happened to be directly in their path.

In the space of a split second Zagato raised his other hand and three lightening bolts caught Dan in his chest. He could not block all of them while still dealing with the first one. He screamed in pain as he was thrown back into the ship again.

Zagato's image smirked again and raised both hands into the sky. "You are strong aren't you?" Several bolts of lightening converged together and slammed into the ship seeming to vaporize it in a moment. He watched as the charred metal remains of the vessel fell into the ground below.

Inside his castle Zagato frowned as the mirror he was using to project his image began to crack in front of him. He raised his cloak just in time as the glass shattered from the frame and onto the ground around him. He stood wordlessly for a moment before walking away from the magic mirror.

Emerad sat in her protective sphere and stared forward with a look of shock on her face. She was panting desperately for breath. "What just happened?"

"You just saved the Magic Knights?" said Zagato as he entered her sanctuary.

"! I couldn't!" she looked up at him and he realized immediately that something was wrong.

"Are you all right?" his features softened for a moment.

"I tried to save the Magic Knights from you, but I didn't have enough power to do it!"

"How can this be? Surely you must be exhausted from your emotional stress?" Zagato reached out to touch the barrier that held her in place.

"Y...yes, that must be it. You must stop this Zagato! Please!" the girl pleaded with him with tears in her eyes. "I cannot take it anymore, our world is crumbling away, and now this! My power is weakening!"

"I cannot," replied the man simply as he stood up and walked away.

In a forest somewhere in Cephiero a familiar looking man stood over the prone forms of the Magic Knights. Dan opened his eyes and slowly rose to his elbows. "What the?"

"Well now, glad to see you're awake. That was a close one, I almost didn't make it in time to save you." Xellos smirked at him as he groggily shook his head to clear his vision.

"What the hell do you want? I was handling it," muttered Dan darkly.

"You've been out for an hour, don't try and give me that. Face it, you lost," Xellos stood up and turned to face the girls. "I figured you'd wake up first, so I'm standing guard to make sure you don't try and take advantage of this situation."

"Yeah, well..." Dan scratched the back of his head and slumped against a nearby tree. "So now what?"

"We wait, someone's coming to help. It's just the next stage in the journey."

Dan nodded and looked at his right fist. "I...lost."

"Don't feel bad, it's not the first time you know," commented Xellos as he indicated the blade that replaced Dan's left hand.

"You don't count. I'm a self insertist, I'm not supposed to lose to a character," snapped Dan angrily.

"Hmm, not really a self insertist. A someone else insertist maybe?"

"The rules don't change," grumbled Dan.

"Since when do a set of rules apply?" said the priest casually.

Dan merely watched the trees above him silently for a moment.

Ferio stood at a bar in a small town in Cephiero. The barkeep smiled at him as he cleaned a glass and kept up conversation with him.

"Hey, what's up with this town? It's like everyone's depressed or something," commented Ferio as he looked to the bartender for an answer.

"It's just that we've been getting attacked by monsters more and more lately. It's all we can do to keep them away," said the man dejectedly. "And there's also...never mind."

"What?" asked Ferio, the man had caught his attention.

"Say, what's that thing on your hip anyway? I've been meaning to ask you all night," said the bartender as he attempted to change the subject.

Ferio looked down at his side where the Sword of Light rested. He had no blade in it and the hilt was hanging from a chord of leather from his hip. "That's just something I picked up on my travels."

"Weird looking," said the man with an unusual interest. Suddenly the man realized something. "Hey, It looks like a sword with out a blade."

"It has a blade," said Ferio with a knowing smirk.

"Uh, yeah," muttered the man in confusion.

A short time later Ferio was walking down the middle of a road. Several monster halves faded away behind him as he walked. "This is getting ridiculous. All these monsters..." The dark sky rumbled over his head and he frowned as a strange unfamiliar wetness seemed to cover him. He snorted in disgust as he realized there was another rainstorm. "Man, this weather is crazy! It was never like this when Princess Emerad was in charge!"

"Ferio," said a voice from inside his shirt.

"Huh? Who's there? Is that you Xellos?"

"Yes, I need you to come get the Magic Knights, they're in trouble."

"What?" said the boy in confusion.

"Come now boy, you don't really want me to leave your precious Fuu in the care of Dan do you?"

Ferio stared at the communicator in shock for a moment before he sighed and closed his eyes. "Tell me where you are and I'm on my way."

Ferio came onto a clearing near a lake; he paused when he noticed Dan resting against a tree. Xellos was already gone and the boy was simply staring off into space.

"What the hell are you doing just sitting there while these girls are hurt?" cried Ferio angrily. He rushed over to Fuu and pulled her into his arms. "Are you all right? Fuu, speak to me!"

"They'll be fine," replied Dan simply. He didn't move from his spot. "We just had a little run in with Zagato himself."

That stopped Ferio in his tracks. "What?"

"He's too strong for them, if we were to fight him now. I might survive, but they would die for sure. Don't think you'll be able to save Emerad without us kid, that sword ain't gonna be enough."

Ferio glared at him angrily and Dan laughed. "So what? What are you gonna do, cry about it?"

"No, I'm going to save Emerad," replied the boy sharply.

"Whatever, hey your girlfriend is waking up," Dan noticed Fuu was beginning to stir in his arms.

She was the first to awaken. "What are you doing here?"

"I got a call and came to help you out," said the boy simply.

At that moment Umi and Hikaru began to stir. Dan snorted and looked over at them. "It's about time."

"We're all right!" said Hikaru triumphantly.

"Hardly, you girls just got your asses handed to you," said Dan as he stood up.

"What about you?" grumbled Ferio.

"I wasn't going all out," replied the boy simply. "I'm going to kick that bastard's ass the next time we meet."

The three girls blinked and stared at him. The grumpy exterior they usually saw was gone, replaced by a mask of pure anger and rage. Dan was pissed.

"This might not be good," commented Hikaru.

The other two girls nodded in unison, they had seen some of the spells Dan could use. In his current state he wouldn't even notice destroying an entire village if he got into a fight.

"Please calm down Mr. Dan!" said Umi.

"Tell me one good reason why I should?" replied the boy.

"You could hurt someone if you're not careful!" cried Hikaru in her most pleading voice. The three girls took a step back though when he turned and looked at them again.

"I'm still waiting for a reason," he said in a deadpan voice.

"That's enough! There's a town near here, we can go there to stock up and get some rest. Everybody is tired I'm sure," said Ferio sharply. He put his arm around Fuu protectively causing her to blush slightly.

Dan smirked as the boy instinctively placed himself between the girls and him. This was going to be an interesting night indeed.

Caldina sat in front of a large group of villagers with a stockpile of weapons heaped on the floor in front of her. "So, you're trying to tell me that these weapons are not for a revolt against Lord Zagato?"

The mayor pleaded with her desperately. "No! Please! These weapons are only for fighting against monsters! I swear it!"

The woman smiled at them. "These lame excuses won't work against me!"

"But..." started the man.

"However, you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours."

"What do you mean?" asked the mayor. "Just tell us what you want!"

"Why money of course," said the woman indignantly. Just outside the building they stood in, a small group of travelers walked by in the rain. Caldina noticed them and paused. "I've changed my mind, all yall have to do is kill those strangers that just wandered in to town."

The mayor looked over his shoulder and paused. "I can't kill them, there nothing more than children!"

"Are you defying me?"

"I must, even if it's to save the lives of the villagers!"

"You're starting to annoy me!" Caldina waved her hand in front of her face and the man's eyes gazed over. The mayor walked up to the pile of weapons and picked up a knife, he stabbed himself in the leg and screamed in pain falling on the ground. She looked at the villagers and addressed them. "If yall don't want to end up like the mayor here, you'll kill those strangers."

The villagers reluctantly agreed.

Caldina smirked and turned her head in thought. "Well, aren't I just a lucky girl! To have those Magic Knights that defeated poor little Askot walk right into my trap! I'll have them fight against these villagers, then I'll know their power!"

Ferio walked back into the bar and sat down at a table with the group. Fuu looked at Mokona; he was still dazed from the lightning attack. "Poor Sir Mokona, he's still not back to normal yet!"

"He's just a little dazed, he'll be just as irritating in an hour or so," commented Dan dryly.

Ferio looked at them and sat back in his chair. "It's just like you guys to find another rune god, how many of them have you found yet?"

"Just two," said Hikaru.

"You'll find them all, I'm sure," said Ferio cheerfully.

"Not if I have any say in the matter," thought Dan to himself.

The bartender walked up with a tray of drinks and put them in front of the group. Everyone but Ferio got one. "On the house, seeing how you're friends of Ferio here." The man's hand shook slightly as he placed them in front of the Magic Knights.

"Why are there only four drinks?" said Dan coolly as he noticed how nervous the man was. "If Ferio is such a good friend of yours, he should get one too."

"I was just wondering the same thing," said Ferio as he turned towards the man. "Probably because they're poisoned."

A large group of villagers armed with swords and spears appeared in the doorway. They charged into the bar and attacked.

Dan stood up and smiled. "Just what I needed."

The girls dodged around several strikes while Ferio grappled with a man wielding a sword. He turned to face them. "Don't hurt them! These aren't Zagato's minions!"

Dan looked over at him with three people lying on the ground around him. "They should have thought of that sooner." He charged into the crowd that had yet to engage them and sent several more flying into the walls and tables with a few well placed punches and kicks. He spun around as someone charged with a spear in his hands and smirked.

Ferio's eyes went wide as a dark energy started to form around the boy. "No! Everyone drop your weapons or you'll die!"

The room froze as a red ball of energy formed in Dan's hands aimed at the villagers who were still standing in the doorway. "You'd better listen to him."

The room was filled with the sound of metal hitting the floor as the villagers complied.

Dan snorted in mild disappointment and the ball of energy dissipated as his aura vanished. "Why did you attack us?"

"Please! Our entire village will be destroyed if we don't kill the four strangers!" cried the bartender. He turned to look at Ferio. "This wasn't supposed to involve you!"

"Who would do such a thing?" gasped Umi.

"One of Zagato's minions! Her name is Caldina!"

"You were foolish enough to think she was less dangerous than us were you?" said Dan with a confident smirk. "If you had made me angry there wouldn't be a stone left standing in this village."

The girls all looked at him in shock and the villagers cowered back in fear.

"Where is this Caldina now?" asked Dan.

"Mr. Dan, you aren't thinking of..." said Fuu as she brought her hand up to her mouth.

"We'll have to deal with her sooner or later, I prefer sooner," said the boy indignantly.

"There's no way!" gasped the bartender.

"Hey, these guys have been able to handle Zagato's minions with no problem so far," pointed out Ferio.

"That's fine for you, you can always run if you fail! Our homes are here!" snapped the bartender angrily.

"You make it sound like we're asking permission," said Dan calmly.

The villagers backed away from him with looks of shock in their eyes.

"Mr. Dan, you can't be thinking of..." said Hikaru.

"Sure I am, would you rather just let them kill us? I'm in no mood to run away right now, I want to get that bastard back for what he did to us, and if he's not here..."

The girls nodded grimly and turned to face the villagers. "Unless one of you has a better idea," said Fuu.

"I do, I'll distract her while you get away," said Ferio sternly.

Unfortunately Dan was already out the door.

"Mr. Dan! Where are you going?" said Fuu as she rushed up next to him.

"To kill this woman of course. If we just leave this minion will only kill them for failing," he continued on his way without breaking stride. He stopped in the middle of the town square. "CALDINA! Come on out you sick bitch!"

From a building on the corner of the square a woman emerged dressed in a cloak. "That's not a very nice thing to say to a lady." She had pink hair pulled up into a ponytail and was dressed in a black bikini like outfit.

"Heh, let's see what you've got," said Dan with a smirk.

Caldina narrowed her eyes at him. "What ever happened to all those villagers?"

"You mean the ones that survived?" said Dan casually.

"You really expect me to believe that you killed them?" said the woman with a smile appearing on her face.

The boy simply raised his finger and smiled as a small red dot of light appeared just over his index. Without turning his head he pointed at a nearby building and sent the ball of light into it. The home exploded in a ball of fire. Caldina's eyes went wide and she glared at him. "Don't make the mistake of thinking that I care about these fools."

The woman backed away slowly and started to raise her hand. Dan simply pointed at her and scowled. "Do you think you can pull off whatever you're doing before I can finish this?" Another of the small balls of light appeared there.

"Mr. Dan!" cried a voice from behind him. Caldina watched carefully for a reaction, the boy kept his focus on her completely.

"He's good," she thought with a sudden chill running down her spine. She turned and started to run.

Dan smirked and stared at her as she rushed away. "I don't think so coward, goodbye." The ball of light flew from his finger towards her.

"No!" screamed Hikaru as she rushed forward suddenly.

Dan turned to look at her and blinked. "What the hell are you doing?"

Caldina fell flat on the ground as she felt the heat rushing up on her back. A searing pain ran down her spine as the blast sailed over her back she felt the cape burst into flames and screamed in agony. The magic spell continued on it's path over her and slammed into the building that had all the stockpiled weapons inside, it also exploded into a great ball of flames. Dan turned his attention back to the scream and frowned. He stood for a moment and watched her burn with the others. They all had horrified looks on their faces as they watched the woman writhe on the ground, that is, until she vanished in a flash of light.

Dan's expression never changed. "Interesting."

"What just happened?" asked Hikaru as the shock wore off of her face.

"Simple, it was just an illusion," replied the boy emotionlessly.

Several of the villagers rushed up to him with angry and frightened looks on their faces. "You blew up the general store!"

The boy slowly turned to look at them. "It could have been one of your houses."

They backed away from him with frightened looks on their faces.

"Um, Mr. did know that was an illusion the whole time right?" said Hikaru timidly.

The boy turned and looked at his three companions and blinked. He stayed that way for a long moment. "Umm, yeah."

Ferio glared at him, it was a lie and he knew it. He managed to keep silent and started to walk away from the village.

Caldina gasped in shock at the scene. The male Magic Knight had shown absolutely no mercy, not to the villagers, and certainly not to her. Her face had gone pale when she watched herself burn, it had been wise indeed to send out that illusion instead. She was becoming quite impressed with Askot for lasting as long as he did against such an opponent. Still, she would win, her powers relied on something other than strength. He seemed to be just as susceptible to her illusions as anyone else, she would have her revenge for her friend, and impress Lord Zagato at the same time. Somehow, that didn't make her feel much better at the moment. She rushed away from her hiding place in the shadows and vanished into the woods surrounding the village.

The next day, the Magic Knights were walking away from the village at a somewhat cheerful pace. "It was nice to see him again," commented Fuu.

"Well, he did come to our rescue after all, he saved us after Zagato defeated us. He's a great guy," said Umi in agreement. Dan had never bothered to tell them that it was Xellos who had saved them. It wasn't that important and he didn't need them sympathizing with him later when he had to kill him. Xellos was Carrot's creation, he knew that he wasn't going anywhere until he was dead. That would be the only way to get rid of him, none of this making friends crap that shows like this normally envisioned; Zagato seemed like the kind of guy they would have to kill as well.

Fuu's communicator came to life and she jumped in fright before pulling it out of her shirt. "Hey, I see you made it out of that village."

"Yes, the people there were quite upset with Mr. Dan. He destroyed their weapons and a lot of the villages food." Fuu blushed as she said this. "At least nobody was killed."

"That's an understatement, I'm glad you're all right."

"Um, thank you..." the girl blushed and smiled to herself as she said this. Both Hikaru and Umi were standing right next to her with huge smiles on their faces.

"Call me sometime, not just if you need help either," said Ferio before he ended his transmission.

"Fuu, you're turning red," said Umi playfully.

"Oh, am I?" said the girl as she tried to brush it off.

"As a beet, quit teasing her and lets get moving huh?" said Dan as he kicked Makona ahead of the group again. He had been remarkably slow today, still dazed from the attack the day before.

Caldina sat at a table in a small town a good distance away from the one where her illusion had perished. Her head rested in her palm as she thought.

"Well, that was certainly interesting wasn't it young Askot?" said a familiar voice that sent chills down her spine.

The young boy walked in with the priest at his side. "Compressing a fireball that way, it was quite impressive. He always did watch too much Dragonball though," commented Xellos.

"What's a dragon ball?" said Askot with a confused look on his face.

"It doesn't exist here so it's not really important," said the man cheerfully.

"What do you want?" snapped Caldina carefully. She kept her tone in check when speaking with the priest.

"Merely to see what you think of him now, he is quite an opponent you know," said Xellos calmly. "Dangerous and more unstable by the day."

"You're tellin me? He never did anything like that to me!" cried Askot in shock. Apparently the priest had told him of what had happened, although she didn't have a clue about how he knew in the first place.

"So you think you're going to give me a potion or something to boost my power? No thanks," commented the woman.

"I wouldn't think of it, there isn't really much I can do for you my dear. Illusions aren't really in my area of expertise."

"Do you have a reason for stopping by?" said the woman flatly.

"No, not really. You're rather cute, but not my type," Xellos caught the implication in her tone and simply brushed her suspicions off.

"Good, I don't like sneaky men," she snorted.

"I reserve my comments on that, but that's beside the point. I'm just here to warn you away from the male Magic Knight. He's mine, and far to powerful for you to take on with your illusions. Leave him alone, I doubt his opponents will survive from here on out. He has gone quite insane."

"That boy is more than nuts, he was ready to blow up that whole village. Even I would have just roughed the villagers up a bit in the end."

"Indeed," said the priest as he turned away from her and left her alone with Askot. His thoughts were an entirely different matter. "He is very unstable mentally. My counterpart put me here as an equalizer, but if he ever does get home...he'll probably kill him. It's a good thing I have no intention of allowing that to happen. Cephiero is in for a rather nasty surprise, an ironic twist indeed." He turned and took a last look at the shack where Caldina conversed with Askot, after that was done he simply vanished into the shadows again.


Dan is becoming more unglued as time goes on, but something important is going to happen next time that could change the fate of Cephero. In the next chapter, Caldina tries her hand against the Magic Knighs once again.

C&C to

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