Disclaimer - I do not own MapleStory.
Chapter 6 - A Stolen Heart
It was a bright and shining morning on Maple Island. The day was beautiful and everyone was rising to get ready for another profitable day. In Al's room in the Human Village that was high in the tree, light from the sun shone through a small window of his room and bounced off mirrors around the room to hit directly on Al's pillow to wake him up. At least it would've woken him up if his face was actually there. He was actually half off the bed; his feet near the pillow and his upper body hanging off the bed. His hair barely touched the floor.
Al's mother, Sora, was standing at the doorway to his room with her arms crossed, "Al, wake up."
Al's eyes opened as his mother walked over and squatted down in front of her son. Al looked up, "Oh, good morning, mom."
Al's mother held out a white letter with a heart seal, "A girl sent this letter to you."
"What?!" They both looked up to see Aran with a shocked expression on his face. Apparently, he'd been walking passed the room when he heard Sora speak. They gave him an odd look before Aran calmed himself down and gathered whatever dignity I had left.
"Why so shocked, Aran?" Al asked him as he took the letter.
"Because," Aran sighed as he crossed his arms. "Up until a few years ago the only reason a girl would send me a letter would be to either chase evil monsters out of their town or to let me know my rent on something was up."
Sora snickered while Al looked confused, "Huh?"
"You'll find out when you're older," Aran grinned and rolled his eyes. Al blinked but looked at one side of the envelope. It had 'To Al' written in big, blue, fancy letters. "Ah, this must be from Nina."
At Al's smile Aran couldn't help but blink. True, Nina was the only girl Al knew but he thought Al was only means to entertainment to Nina. Aran suddenly thought of all the scenarios that a man thinks when they think about a boy and a girl and the only person they know their age is each other. Bah, curse his so-called 'always'-observing mind! Why didn't this ever work during a fight like it did for Mercedes, Luminos, hell, even Phantom?! Then a loud scream of pain caught his ears and Aran was shaken from his train of thought.
Apparently the envelope held a very angry bee that stung Al directly on the nose. Aran sighed, "It's going to be one of those days, huh?"
After no time at all, Al and Aran were busy running through the forest trying to find Nina. Al was holding his nose cursing all the way, "Dammit. Dammit."
Aran couldn't help but feel sorry for the boy, "This reminds me of the time Hawkeye dyed my hair blue while I was sleeping in Ereve right after the war ended. Oh dear God did get his ass kicked by legitimately everybody: Lilin, Mihile, Irena, Oz, Nienheart, me, hell, even Empress Cygnus. Something about direspecting one of the world's saviors?"
Aran couldn't help but smirk, "Ah, the screams of terror. Now that look back, Hawkeye's terrified face when I shouted out his name does make me pity him. Too bad I didn't feel the same way back then."
They found Nina and Puudou by the river floating one her disk about it. They looked stunned to see Al's face due to where the bee stung him. Aran was a couple of feet behind Al waiting for the reaction he knew was coming. Al literally looked like he was wearing a clown nose.
"Nina," Al said slightly angered, which was still quite the show of anger for Al Aran had to admit. "How...dare...you..."
Nina and Puudou struggled to hold in their laughter but were obviously failing. It wasn't long before the rolled around laughing out loud. Aran and Al just looked seriously annoyed.
"What's with your nose?"
A ticked mark formed on Aran's head as he mumbled, "You should know..."
"You've got to admit, Aran," a mentally image of Maha smirked flashed in Aran's mind. "It is pretty funny."
"Shut up you egotistic spirit."
"I was stung by a bee!" Al shouted at her. "You sent it didn't you?"
Nina finally calmed down a bit, "Why are you so mad? You were the one dumb enough to open it."
Aran's tick mark grew, "In his defense, a envelope usually contains a letter."
That didn't stop them from laughing which caused Al to shout out at them to stop. Aran sighed, "Enough Al, you'd have better luck getting Barrow and Gallus to sit down for tea."
Al grunted and continued to watch Nina and Puudou laugh hysterically with a tick mark ever-present on his face.
Nearby, two goggled, red eyes stared out from a bush watching them," So is this is the indomitable Al and the unstoppable Aran? I've decided that it's them."
Aran and Al heard the rustling of the bushes over Nina's laughter and turned towards the bush. A shining gleam shone from deep inside the bushes darkness. Al looks on curiously, Aran warily. Suddenly, a pair of red, glowing eyes shown out as darkness spread around the area. A ghostly form in a grey cloak and red goggles charged at Al who jumped over it leap-frog style while Aran side-stepped as a reflects. The figure hits Nina and then floated right through her. She gasped as her wand suddenly appeared in the hand of the spirit who floated away.
Aran and Al turned around. Nina was emotionless and the sunlight that had shone in her eyes a second ago was no longer there. Aran raised his eyebrow, "What the hell?"
As Al rambled on about how that thing scared him, Nina began to bob back and forth. This got the boys' attention. "Nina?"
She then proceeded to fall over and land on the ground as her energy disc faded. Aran and Al looked at each other stunned before rushing to Nina's side. "Are you okay?"
Nina's face was still emotionless, but Puudou had the poor luck to be stuck underneath her back, "It hurts! It hurts!"
As Puudou struggled under Nina, Al and Aran put their hands to their faces and chuckled. Puudou shouted out, "Hey! Don't laugh!"
Al then looked at Nina and asked, "Nina? What happened?"
She suddenly blinked and awoke from her trance, "You..."
"You?" Al asked. "This is giving me a bad feeling."
"And the fact she was in a trance, lost her energy disc which always seems to be active, and the fact we just got attacked by some form of spirit didn't clue you into that already?" Aran deadpanned.
She sat up and looked at Al, "Who might you be? What happened to you nose?"
Al gasped a bit. Nina, surprisingly, looked sympathetic, "You poor thing."
Aran blinked, "Add 'Nina's memory and emotional loss' to that list."
Puudou and Al blinked before they both go wide-eyed in surprise.
"Nina's acting strange!" Puudou shouted.
"She's stranger than before," Al commented.
Nina gives the two a schoolgirl's smile as she says, "Nice to meet you."
"Nice to meet you?" Al, Aran, and Puudou asked simultaneously.
"Stop acting so weird," Al asked politely and Nina's reply was, "Please treat me well."
Aran blinked and then gaped the last time he'd heard a female say that was-... "No, Aran, not the time to think about your wife!"
Aran shrugged, "Well, it's official. The Nina we all know is gone."
A cheerful gasp came from Nina as the trio looked up to see her look through some trees towards the sun, "What nice weather."
The three face faulted, "Case in point."
Al gets a worried look in his eyes, "Nina..."
"Hey Al," Aran says.
"I'm pretty sure Anji's been around."
Al blinked, "Anji?"
"Yeah, maybe we can ask him who that guy was."
Al could only nod.
Later, at Seron Kerning City, they met with Anji and tell him the story.
"A guy with goggles?" Anji asked.
"Yeah," said Al, whose nose-swelling had gone down. "He had goggles just like your's. He suddenly came at us, attacked Nina, and ran away."
Anji turned around, "Maybe..."
Aran cut off, "You know something about this guy?"
"Was he a comrade of your's?" Al asked.
Anji turned back around and nodded, "Battol was a subordinate whom I discharged."
Al smirked as he turned around and glanced back, "Weren't you discharged?"
Anji jumped at Al shaking his fist, "Shut up!"
Al jumped back as a reflects while Aran didn't even blink. Anji calmed down and continued, "Battol was with me a long time ago."
Anji and Battol were across from each other in Seron Kerning City. Battol's gray mouth moved as he insulted Anji, "Don't you have any pride as a first-class Thief?"
"Are you saying I'm not a first-class Thief?!"
"All you do is gather junk, so the other Thieves think you're an idiot," Battol smirked at him.
"What are you talking about, Battol? This has nothing to do with the other Thieves. It's enough that I'm happy with my own collection."
"No," Battol sneered. "If you don't show everyone even greater power..."
"All you do is gather things with physical form," Battol snickered. "You can't really call yourself a top-notch thief."
"You idiot!" Anji shouted. "You can't add things without physical form to your collection!"
"What pitiful words. Is this really who my boss is?"
"What did you say?!"
"I can't depend on a boss like you," Battol smirked. "From now on, only those with power like mine can live on."
"You bastard!" Anji shouted loud enough to scare other Thieves in the area away. "Who are you to speak to me like that?! Get lost! You're fired!"
Al sat in a thinking pose, Anji was still think standing up, and Aran was thinking leaning against a wall.
"Gathering things without form..." Al muttered. Aran's eyes shot open, "Wait..."
Anji and Al looked at him strangely. Aran grinned, "I think I may know what he's talking about!"
"Really?" Anji blinked. "What?"
Aran smiled faded, "I have a friend who is a Thief. His name is Phantom. He was very well known around my homeland for being able to steal the abilities of other people and classes."
Anji and Al blinked, "What?!"
Aran nodded, "Obviously, Battol's method of stealing goes a bit deeper than that considering what happened to Nina after the theft occurred."
"But what?" Al asked.
Aran thought for a moment then suddenly came to a horrible realization, "...her soul..."
"So a thief called Battol stole Nina's soul?" Puudou asked. They had found Nina and Puudou around sunset in the fields. Nina was looking out over the sunset while Puudou was off to one side talking with Aran and Al.
"Nobody can see a soul, right?" Al asked. He was sitting on the grass looking at Puudou. Aran sat Indian-style next to him.
"Speaking of which," Puudou said. "Where does the 'soul' reside?"
"In your case," Al frowned. "You might not even have one."
"What! Why?!" Puudou asked horrified which earned a snicker from Aran.
"Hehe, I'm joking," Al smiled.
"Don't scare me like that," Puudou muttered.
Al's face then melted into a saddened one, "But now Nina's like this..."
The trio look towards where Nina was standing. She had a calmed and sweet expression on her face as she gazed at the beautiful sunset. Aran's grin fell; it was kind of creepy seeing Nina like this.
"The setting sun is so beautiful," she said dreamily. "It'll be clear tomorrow, too."
Case in point.
All three of them blinked. This was not the Nina they were used to. Al grinned, "Yeah, it'll clear up tomorrow."
Puudou sagged his shoulders, "Somehow this bothers me."
"Ditto," Aran added in.
Al then frowned determinedly, "Puudou, I will get Nina's soul back from Battol!"
Puudou then smirked evilly, "But isn't it better for her to be quiet like this?"
The bottom of Aran's fist found it's way into Puudou's skull and smacked him into the ground. Aran had a tick mark on his head, "I'm pretty sure Al was right when he said you had no soul."
"Yeah," Al said. "That isn't Nina!"
Recovering from Al's blow before, Puudou dared to comment again, "Does that mean you like Nina the way she was before?"
Al answered his question with another question, "Isn't it boring for an important friend to act so dumbfounded?"
Al stood up, "I want Nina to be Nina."
"Besides," Aran grinned. "You can't say it was boring with her old self around."
Meanwhile, Battol was testing out the soul he capture deeper into the forest. Oddly enough, he spoke with Nina's voice, "What's this? This is completely useless!"
As his voice faded back to normal he commented, "This Nina's soul is certainly twisted. I need to teach her a lesson."
Then, an idea of brilliance struck him, "Oh yeah. It's because he avoid me that things ended up this way."
His eyes narrowed, "Alright!"
During the night, Gallus had summoned the Warriors in Seron Perion for a meeting.
"Alright!" he shouted. "We shall begin our nightly exercise!"
As the other Warriors shouted their agreement, Nina's purple energy disc flew overhead. This got the Warriors' attention. They looked up towards where Nina's disc was and her voice spoke out, "Good evening members of the Warrior clan!"
"Is that you, Nina?" Gigan asked. "What are you here for?"
"I just wanted to say hello."
"To say hello," Gallus asked a bit confused. Battol's eyes narrowed behind the wand, "Don't lay a hand on my pet from now on."
With that, Battol shot into the raised, raised the wand, and fired a thunder bolt into the Warriors. The light from the thunderbolt blinded the Warriors. Gallus was enraged, "Nina! What are you doing?! Take off that robe and show me your face!"
"It's all Al's fault," Battol said as he stopped the thunderbolt. "If you have any complaints, go see him."
He laughed in Nina's voice as he flew off into the night sky. The Warriors, meanwhile, went to the aid of the fallen comrades.
"Are you okay?"
"Hang in there!"
Gallus raised his arm and clenched his fist in fury, "Those cowardly Humans! Did Al use Nina to attack us?"
Gallus threw his arm aside and shouted out in a sheer rage, "This is unforgivable!" (A/N - Sheesh, how many times are they going to fall for this stuff?)
Soon, Gallus and the Warriors had Al, Nina, and Puudou tied to large punching bags. The Warriors managed to nab them while Aran headed back to Al's house to inform Sora they'd be staying with Nina until she recovered her soul. Gallus had just finished giving Al the reason for their capture.
"You're accusing us of what?!" Al shouted out.
"Ah, this has nothing to do with me!" Puudou squealed.
"It's as clear as day!" Gallus stated. "You used Nina to hurt us!"
"What are you talking about?" Al shouted again as Puudou continued to struggle to break free.
"Did you hear that everybody?" Gigan asked as he turned to the other Warriors. "This is the trickery of the Humans!" (A/N - Racist!)
"Those interfering Humans!"
"We don't know anything!"
"Take a look at Nina!" Al said as he looked at her. She was absolutely emotionless.
"You're a real strong and wonderful man," she said innocently, which was completely unlike her. Gallus blushed at the comment.
"Lord Gallus!" Gigan called. "Don't be fooled! This is human trickery!"
"We're not trying to fool you!" Al said. "Would Nina say something like that? Nina's in this state because her soul was taken!"
"Her soul was taken?"
"By a Thief named Battol," came a voice and the Warriors and Al looked to see Aran walking towards them. Obviously, he wasn't happy with Gallus and the Warrior Leader could already feel a sense of unease at this. Aran had already proven to have a godly amount of strength, skill, and power behind him and Gallus had already suffered a couple of humiliating defeats by this human. He was not looking forward to another.
"You say Nina's soul was taken by a Thief?" Gallus asked.
"Impossible!" Gigan shouted. "No Thief can steal a soul! You Humans and your dirty lies!"
"Look," Aran said after he had taken a deep breath. "I'm trying to be civil here and not whoop your asses to get what I want. As far as I'm concerned, it's just proving your statements right. Can't we just negotiate on this?"
Gigan snarled, "Why you-!"
Suddenly, Gallus moved his arm in front of Gigan, who, needless to say, was very surprised, "Lord Gallus!"
Gallus looked at Gigan to shut him up, then back at Aran, "What do you have in mind, Aran?"
Gallus looked on at the Pride of All Warriors. He knew Aran had a point. He could just utterly destroy them to free Al, Nina, and the pig, but he was trying a more civil approach here. And deep in the back of his mind, he was grateful. Aran slightly nodded his thanks at Gallus hearing him out, "I propose a deal, Gallus."
"What kind of a deal?"
"I bring Battol the Thief back and prove to you he stole Nina's soul and you let Al and Nina go."
"Hey!" Puudou shouted drawing the attention of the two. "What about me?!"
Aran smirked, "Oh, and the pig, too."
"And if you can't?" Gallus asked curiously, though he wish his voice hadn't sounded so arrogant when he did.
"I'll work for you just as another one of your soldiers, not questioning a single order," Aran bowed and grinned with a line that sealed the deal. "My lord."
Gallus couldn't help but smirk. In his opinion, either way he won. Either he let the two and the pig go without Aran forcing them to or he gain a valuable ally. Gallus raised his arm to shake hands to seal the deal.
"Good," Aran smirked as his shook Gallus's hand. He clenched his fist a bit to prove to Gallus once more he was stronger. Gallus got the point.
"Aran," Al asked worriedly. "Are you sure about this?"
Aran simply smiled and gave him a confident nod, "Don't worry, Al. You'll be free before you know it!"
With that, Aran ran off, determined to capture Battol. Al, Nina, and Puudou remained tied there as the Warriors went off to their houses to rest. They would stay there for much of the night.
Later that night, Al and Puudou were both asleep in their uncomfortable position tied to the punching bag when they awoke to Nina's laughter. At first the two looked at Nina but she was still completely emotionless. Nina's voice suddenly came from the sky, "What a shameful look."
The two looked up and to their horror there was Battol, wielding Nina's Wand and on Nina's energy disc, floating down towards them.
"Aren't you embarrassed?" he asked still using Nina's voice.
"Hehehe," Battol snickered in his own voice. "I've finally caught you, Al!"
"I know this is all you're doing," Al shouted at him. "So return Nina's soul, now!"
"Fine then," Battol said causing Al to look up curiously. "I don't really need souls from girls like her. They're full of pride and hard to handle."
Puudou smirked a bit, "It's this girl..."
Battol leaned towards him, "The soul I really want is...The indomitable Al!"
"Your soul!" Battol charged right for him. Al was terrified, "No way!"
But before Battol could achieve his prize, Aran struck the punching bags out of the way, allowing himself to take the blow from Battol. Al was horrified as was Aran as the last image Aran had was actually the mental image of Maha with a horrified expression, which was an expression he had never seen him with.
Battol landed nearby as a pink essence fled from Battol and into Nina. Al looked up. Battol now had a little bit of a blue tint to him. Battol was studying himself, astonished.
"Such...strength...," he whispered. "Such...pure, raw power!"
Battol raised his head up to the sky and shouted, "I am invincible!"
Battol picked up Maha from the ground next to Aran's soulless body. Maha was still in shock by what had happened. Battol floated away, leaving Al to weep at the hopelessness of every retrieving Aran's soul from Battol...
It was a little while later when Nina woke up, still tied to the punching bags which were now on the floor. She could hear Al softly crying and Puudou still struggling to break free. Nina laughed, "Haha! Crying Al? How pitiful! What a shameful face!"
Puudou deadpanned at Nina, "Looks like Nina is back to normal."
"Huh?" Nina looked confused and it was then she realized she was tied to a punching bag on the ground. "What is this?!"
Puudou urgently said, "Do something."
Nina glared slightly at the pig, "You don't have to say that!"
"I'm in the same situation!" Puudou replied waving his feet in mid-air. She then pointed his right index finger at the ropes beside him, "Fire arrow!"
A small fireball flew out of her finger and hit the ropes. Puudou was legitimately scared, "Hot! Hot! HOT!"
Puudou burst free of the ropes then flew into the air. He landed face first on the stone ground. He groaned, "I knew it'd be like this if she went back to her normal self."
She then freed herself and then Al, who immediately went to Aran's side. Aran was still unconscious even though clearly Nina was awake long before then. Nina looked at Aran confused, "What happened to him?"
Al sniffed, "The Thief Battol took his soul."
"Battol attempted to take Al's soul but Aran knocked him away and took the hit," Puudou said walking up.
"It happened to you, too," Puudou pointed out. "Unlike you, however, Aran still hasn't woken up. I wonder why?"
Nina just looked on as Al continued to stare at Aran's body. Al knew the power Aran held and knowing it was in the possession of someone else meant there was little chance of getting it back. Nina sighed and walked away, "They're boring like this."
She summoned her energy disc and stepped onto it. As it floated up, Puudou jumped onto it, "You can't do that!"
The jump stopped it from rising, "You were strange before your soul was returned."
"I mean they wanted to return your soul," Puudou told her. "And they never said anything about abandoning you. Aran even left to inform Al's mother that they'd be staying with you until you returned to normal. That was when we were captured."
Nina grabbed Puudou and lifted him up into the air, "What do you want me to do?"
"If you can, you should get Aran's soul back from Battol," Puudou said. "Besides, with a power like Aran's in that Thief's possession who knows what he could do."
"I don't have any interest in getting Aran's soul back."
"But they're good people. Both Al and Aran."
Nina looked at him with a surprised expression. Puudou smiled at her, "Right?"
It was then Nina floated back down to Aran and Al. Al looked up surprise. Nina looked at him with a calm face, "This is only supposed to be for two people...but I suppose I can strain the effort to carry both of you."
Al sniffed and rubbed his eyes. He looked up at Nina and smiled, "Thank you."
Soon, they were flying off into the sky. Aran's body was laying on a slightly bigger version of the disc while Nina was holding Al out off the disc. Puudou snickered, "You helped them in the end."
Down in Seron Perion, watching them fly off, was Gallus. He stared off to where they had flown to...
"What is the meaning of this?!" Anji shouted as he look on at Battol who had gathered Anji's followers behind him. Anji was also shocked to see Aran's polearm in Battol's hands and resting on his back. Battol snickered, "As you can see, I have taken your place as boss."
"Everyone has acknowledged my strength and power, right?"
"This is impossible!" Anji shouted. He was being forced to leave the city. He was on the bridge over a chasm into the forest.
"I already warned you," Battol said, pointing the polearm at Anji. "When the world ends only the strong will survive. You've seen it too right? The hatred between the tribes?"
Anji stepped back. He did not like where this was going.
"They curse each other and use their power to bring down others. Now those you've seen before prostrate themselves before my power. And now I've become the new boss. The one who bears the ultimate power... is me!"
Anji noticed that the last words spoken were in Aran's voice, "That voice is...!"
"That's right. The soul I've stolen is the soul of Maple's strongest being, Aran the Legend!"
Battol flew up to one of the buildings in Kerning, "Behold my overwhelming strength! With his power and strength, I can rule all of Maple Island!"
"Taking his precious soul... Aran would dare allow you to!"
"He didn't," Battol smirked. "He took a blow for Al, whose soul was the one I was actually trying to steal, but Aran's power more than makes up for the miss. Aran is nothing but an empty shell now."
Battol then looked up to the sky, "Actually, it may not be a bad idea to get rid of any hindrances now."
Soon, Al, Nina, and Puudou had taken Aran's still-unconscious body to their little island next to the waterfall at Scary Mountain. Puudou looked at Nina, "Nina, why'd you bring them to this dreadful place?"
"Because Al loves to train," Nina answered. "We can get his mind off of Aran for right now while we figure out where Battol is."
Nina points at him, "Right, Al?"
Al looked up at Nina with a slightly angered face, "How can I keep training when the person who has been my only real mentor is like this?"
Nina then angrily stopped over to Al and pushed him into the water, "I went through all the trouble of bringing you two here! You should at least be a little happy!"
Al managed to climb back onto the island but he look a bit out of it. Puudou helped pull Al back onto the island, "Come on. Snap out of it! Would Aran like to see you in this funk?"
"What do you know about what Aran wants of me?!"
"Because he says it all the time! He's proud of you and what you've done! I've even heard him boast about how could you're getting training under him! He's proud that you are trying to bring peace and harmony to all and that you're trying to befriend people from every faction. How you put up with all the demeaning things said by the others! How you still want to be their friends no matter what they do to you!" Puudou shouted at him. Al looked ashamed and Nina, who was facing away from them, looked sad. "Would Aran want you to stop everything just because he isn't around?"
"No..." Al said as a single tear fell from his eye. Nina got up and walked over to them. Her face looked determined, "I said I would help retrieving Aran's soul back from Battol, and I will. But first you need to snap out of it!"
Al smiled at Nina and stood up. He raised his fist in the air, "Aran, we will get your soul back! I promise!"
"Can you keep that promise?" came a voice and the trio looked up to see Battol standing at the top of the small isle.
"Battol!" Al said angrily. "Give back Aran's soul now!"
"No," he said smirking.
"Why are you here anyway?" Puudou asked suspiciously.
"After going through everything to get Aran's soul it bothered me to see him still out-cold. Normally, they're awake and an empty-shell right now, but no one has been out so long," Battol looked at them and smirked evilly. "It bothered me and I assumed there was a problem. So I decided to eliminate the problem."
"I won't let you touch Aran!" Al shouted drawing his wooden sword. "You're the reason he's even like this!"
"I've merely decided to put an end to all this," I pointed to the top of one of the nearby eggs in the mountainside as a group of Thieves appeared there. The trio looked a bit worried as Battol pointed Aran's polearm at them, "Go!"
The Thieves, which included chronoses, bats, and mimic chests, attacked them. The trio was immediately overwhelmed and Battol simply laughed, "Do you see the power of us Thieves?"
In the brush nearby, Anji was hiding, "This is getting bad, but Aran's soul is just too powerful."
Suddenly, a rumbling caught Anji's attention. He looked up to see Gallus, Gigan, and a number of the other Warriors sliding down the ridge towards the Thieves, "What?!"
They landed near Battol and the others. Gallus didn't look happy.
"Gallus!" Nina shouted as she prepared her wand. The Thieves had backed away from them. "Why did you come here?"
"I came here to take care of that Human," Gallus stated. "Aran made a deal with me that he wouldn't break Al and the others free if he agreed to prove that Nina's soul was stolen. The bags were broken off their staves so I came here looking for him."
Battol laughed, "Well, this is interesting. Then let's all attack!"
"Wait!" Anji shouted as he ran out to face Gallus. "Gallus, Aran did it to protect Al! He was going to have his soul stolen!"
"Who said the coward I came here to fight was him?"
"HUH?!" everyone shouted out except the Warriors.
"The one I came to defeat," Gallus shouted as he pointed at Battol. "...is HIM!"
Battol looked startled while Anji, Nina, Al, and Puudou looked shocked to say the least. Though it soon melted into determination as the Thieves suddenly turned back to Anji's side.
"Calm down," Battol told me as he held out his free hand to wave them off. "I'm not a Human! I am a Thief Monster! Isn't that right everyone? Come on, Anji! Back me up on this!"
Anji looked away and crossed his arms, "That is certainly hard to say, but residing within him right now is a Human soul!
The Warriors, Nina, and Al all prepared to fight Battol. He began to laugh as he raised Maha to them, "Fine then! Fight me! I have the soul of Maple's strongest being! I have all the power I need to crush you!"
"If all you have is power," came a voice that startled everyone. They all turned to see Aran standing up. His eyes didn't look blank at all. "Then in reality you have no power at all."
"Aran!" Al shouted excitedly.
"B-but how?!" Battol shouted terrified. "I stole your soul! You should be an empty shell right now!"
"Half my soul."
"You only took half of my soul," Aran pointed out. He smirked as he saw their dumbfounded expressions. They were amusing. "Oh come now, give me some credit! I've been around Master Thieves long enough to prevent theft!"
"Wait!" Battol shouted as he came to a terrifying realization. "So all this power I have right now is only HALF of your power."
Aran smirked, "Indeed."
Aran walked through the crowd and up to Battol, "So it all comes down to whoever wields the polearm."
Battol then lost his terrified expression as it turned into a smirk, "I wield the polearm! I have already won!"
"You don't know much about Maha do you?"
Battol blinked, "Maha?"
"It has a name?" he asked when suddenly the polearm began to glow as a boy with a pony tail, a vest, and baggy pants appeared in mid-air. The boy was glowing orange and had a ring of spining runes behind him. He was not happy, "OF COURSE I HAVE A NAME, YOU IDIOT!"
The others were legitimately shocked, "Who are..."
"I am Maha," the boy said fiercely. "The spirit of the polearm! Now if you would be so kind as to return the rest of my master's soul I will promise not to RIP YOU TO SHREDS!"
Battol was terrified. Aran just sighed, "Calm down, Maha."
"NO! I WON'T! HE STOLE YOUR SOUL, ARAN, DON'T YOU EVEN CA-"
The spirit immediately silenced himself. And everyone around made a mental note that Aran was terrifying and formidably respectable when he was angry. Aran calmed down instantly, "Calm down."
Aran turned to Battol, "End this foolishness now Battol. I don't want bloodshed tonight. I am willing to be lenient if you surrender the other half of my soul, now."
Battol was terrified but at the same time relieved. He struck the polearm into the ground, "Here. Take it back."
Battol charged at Aran but this time bounced off him as he flew over the crowd and into the water due to the exertion of power he had when he gave Aran back his soul. Battol, however, sank like a rock and down the nearby waterfall. Al saw this and immediately jumped in after him, despite not being able to swim, "Battol!"
Al managed to swim down to Battol and grab onto him but the current of the waterfall made him unable to swim back up. Aran couldn't do anything, the sudden taking away and return of his soul had weakened him for a bit and he was barely able to remain standing. He was actually leaning on Maha for support. The spirit wasn't paying any attention as he to was horrified at what Al had done and the fact that he was not resurfacing. Everyone was just as horrified.
Anji was sat down, clearly depressed, "I wanted to help both Al and Battol."
Gallus grunted and Anji immediately held his hand up in a panic, "Don't get angry, Gallus! I know I'm saying some weird stuff. Al is a mean coward; Battol is a terrible traitor. But... Because of my trifling pride they... Don't get angry, Gallus."
"I'm not angry," Gallus said and everyone looked at him in shock. "I've had those kinds of feelings before. But the Humans don't understand."
"Ahem," Aran grumbled angrily. Gallus began to sweat as he forgot he was there. "Al is merciful, kind, and far more caring then you will every be. You should all be ashamed of yourselves for being so heartless towards him!"
Aran then heard Nina whisper, "Al..."
Aran blinked and looked up at her. She was crying and legitimately. He was certainly surprised about all else. "After all we did to return Aran to normal, you do this? You've done a such a stupid thing this time... Don't... Don't you..."
She surprised him even more when she shouted out, "DON'T YOU DO STUPID THINGS!"
She immediately summoned her energy disc, jumped on, and flew down the waterfall. This surprised everyone, especially Puudou. She flew down and shouted out his name. She finally found where they were and summoned her magic, "EXPLOSION!"
The water exploded on the spot and Al and Battol flew out onto her disc. She flew them both back up. They were both unconscious. They were all happy.
"Nina!" shouted Puudou. He was joyfully surprised by Nina's actions.
"Battol!" even Anji was happy to seem him okay.
"Al!" Gallus said happily. Despite himself, he had grown fond of the kid.
Aran sighed in relief. He hadn't failed, nor had he broken his promise. He knelt down onto his knee as he felt himself weaken more, "Uh, I got to remember that tearing your soul in half is a very poor choice of action. I haven't felt this weak since I came out of the ice the day Lilin found me..."
Nina smirked as she shouted 'Welcome back!'. She hit both of their stomachs causing water to squirt out in a jet-like fashion and drench Anji and Puudou. They coughed as they both woke up.
The next day, Nina and Puudou are in the forest. Nina is forcing another bee into the letter. Puudou sighed, "You really are twisted."
"You get to see his face like that again," she snickered as she closed the envelope up and hid it. And just in time to because as soon as she hid it Al came out of the brush and held both of her hands, "Thank you so much for yesterday!"
Nina blinked, looking down at her hands then back at all. "You saved mine and Battol's life yesterday. As I would expect from a member of the esteemed Magician clan!"
Nina was partially angry and partially embrassed. Oh, she would get back at him now. She pushed him off and retrieved the letter, "Hmph, your welcome. Now read this."
Al looked at the envelope strangely then thanked them. Nina and Puudou floated off into the trees. They were snickering to each other when they heard a voice say, "What are you two up to now?"
They turned to see Aran standing there with a suspicious look on his face. Nina shrugged, "Well, huh..."
"YEEEEEAAAHHHH!" Al screamed out, which caught Aran's attention. Nina and Puudou held back their laugh until Al charged out to where they were. Another red dot was on his nose as he had been stung by a bee again. He was clearly angry. Nina and Puudou burst out laugh until they heard an 'Ahem' behind them. They instantly remembered Aran was there and noticed he wasn't happy either. He picked them both up then smirked at Al, "Hey, Al. I think I saw an ant colony a few yards back. Shall I?"
Nina and Puudou blinked and looked at each other and then at Al. Certainly someone like wouldn't dare let Aran...
"Go ahead," Al said with a mischievous smirk. Nina and Puudou gasped horrified, "What? No! YOU WOULDN'T DARE!"
"You know what they say, Nina," Aran laughed. "Payback's a pain in the ass. Haha!" (A/N - Oh, come now, I wasn't going to say b****!)
Nina and Puudou screamed the entire way as Al triumphantly walked off behind Aran deeper into the forest.
Thank you all who have reviewed. And I am going to start an Omake after every chapter. This one will be an Al/Nina side story. It's going to be at least 3 parts and is going to start a couple of days after the incident in this chapter. It's not going to be part of the actual story, however. Thank you again for your patience and I hope you enjoy!
An Al/Nina Story: Part I - The Storm
It was a cloudy day on Maple Island. Al was off going laps around the entire place. Aran was waiting for him back at his house. He was keeping track of the amount of time Al took to complete these trips. Al had to follow a specific course to Serion Perion, Seron Henesys, Seron Kerning City, then Seron Ellinia in that order and Aran warned him that he if he thought Al didn't go in that order he would go to the village leaders themselves and ask the about time Al came by. Needless to say Al needed no more convincing then that.
It was deep into the afternoon, almost towards the evening, and Aran had made him start his day of cardio training after breakfast. Al was on his way back home that day. He was very tired as instead of dragging around the weights he usually uses Al strapped weights to his ankles, wrists, and neck. Needless to say this new way of pulling around weights was a lot more difficult than Al original thought. Scratch him being tired; he was exhausted.
He was about halfway to the Human village when he heard a familiar voice, "Al!"
He slowed to a jog as he looked to see Nina floating up to him, "Hey, Nina."
"Training again I see."
"Yeah," Al said as he sped up a bit. "Aran had me on this one. Said that cardio is important in a long fight. He wanted to see where I was in that area."
A boom of thunder struck near them and it began to rain, hard. Al and Nina blinked. Puudou commented by saying, "Looks like a storm and a bad one. We should be heading back to Seron Ellinia."
"Yeah, see ya," Al said as he continued on but then he heard Nina and Puudou scream at the same time another boom of thunder struck right behind him. Al stopped and turned around in time to see Nina and Puudou flying through the air and into a tree after lightning had struck right next to them.
"Nina!" Al shouted as he ran up to them. "Puudou."
They were both unconscious. Al worried but determined to save them picked up Puudou and wrapped Nina's arms around his neck as he ran off towards his home. Aran and his mom could help them. They had to. The weights and the weight of his passangers, however, took their toll on him. Especially when the rain poured down so bad that he could barely see.
"That's one bad storm," Aran said as he looked out the window.
"I'm worried about Al," Sora told him as she walked beside him.
"Me to but I trust he knows what to do in this sort of situation," Aran said as he walked away and sat down in one of the chairs. "Besides, he left this morning. He should've been almost back here when the rain started. He should be here soon."
Sora looked at him, "I hope you're-"
BANG! BANG! BANG!
A pounding came from the door, someone was begging to be let in.
"Al?" Sora opened up and at first saw only her son. "Al! Thank goodness you back! We were so worried-"
"Mom! I need help!"
It was then she saw Nina's and Puudou's unconscious forms and she gasped, "Oh my! Bring them in here!"
Aran looked up and saw Al holding Nina and Puudou and jumped up instantly, "What happened?!"
"I was on my way back," Al explained. "When Nina and Puudou floated up to me. It was before the storm and as soon as it hit they began to fly back to Seron Ellinia. But lightning struck near them and Nina hit a tree."
"God..." Aran said rushed up to them. He looked at Nina then at Puudou and sighed. "Puudou's fine. He's just unconscious and I'll bet dazed when he does wake up. Nina, however, is hurt. I can probably guess a couple of broken ribs from hitting that tree."
"Will she be okay?" Al asked worriedly.
"Yeah, eventually," Al sighed in relief and Aran looked at Sora. "Do we have an extra room for her?"
Sora shook her head no and Aran sighed. "Looks like Nina's going to have to take your room, Al."
Al nodded, "That's fine."
"Okay. Sora, could you take Nina to Al's room?"
Sora nodded, "Yes, and I have a spare nightgown from when I was a little girl. We need to get her out of those damp close."
"Right, and grab some for Al while your at it. I'll grab a towel for him and Puudou."
They all did what they needed to do. Sora carefully carried Nina upstairs while Aran stood up to grab some towels from the cabinet. Al took Puudou over to the fire to warm up. Al wrapped himself in a towel when Aran brought it while Aran wrapped Puudou up in another one. Aran chuckled to himself, "Even with weights on you managed to carry both Nina and Puudou through a storm you could barely even seen through..."
Al looked up at him, "Yeah..."
Aran smiled and patted Al on the shoulder, "That was a very heroic thing you did Al. You're strong in both mind and will. I am proud to call you my student."
Al smiled widely, "Thank you, Aran."
Aran smiled again, nodded, and walked away. He sighed. All they could do now was wait...
Thanks again! And tell me what you think!