Since I don't have anything important to say here, I'll get to the point. The songs featured in this fanfic don't belong to me. They all belong to their respective band. Whether you like it or not is fine, but they are what they are. I chose them because I believed they suit each character, so take what I say with a grain of salt, Nevertheless, enjoy!


Under Shattered Skies

Somewhere far away from the eyes of the common public rested a sleepy town, tightly tucked away in the heart of the mountains. A chilling, but not quite bitter wind gently blew across it keeping some inside their homes, safe and warm. Within one of those homes existed a small family of two, a married couple waiting in anticipation for their third family member.

The two sat by the fire chatting happily as they discussed what they would name their child. The room itself was a small den with a couple chairs gathered around a fire, a table with three seats not too far from where they rested, a coat rack with torn robes hanging from them, and a sturdy door keeping the cold out. The walls were painted a gentle red, and a long worn-out staff rested above the fire. A thick rug rested beneath their feet and was spread out across the room. Beside the man rested a wolf with thick silver fur and a scar across it's left eye.

A middle-aged man with short chestnut hair, kind emerald eyes, a short-boxed beard and a couple visible scars rested on a chair across from his wife. He wore a green robe over his white pants, blue slippers, and he also wore rings on his wedding and middle fingers.

"What do you think of Sophia?" He asked her. His voice was gentle.

His wife chuckled to herself and shook her head. She was a woman who seemed to be not much younger than he was, but still managed to retain her youthful beauty. She had long blonde hair that extended to her back, gentle blue eyes and a devilish smile. She wore a blue hoodie and a purple skirt underneath a thick red blanket with a flower pattern on it.

"Your naming sense is rather feminine don't you think?" She sneered with a gentle chuckle. He blew a raspberry at her and smiled in turn. "I was thinking something like...like Victoria. It just shouts bravery doesn't it?"

He smiled and shook his head. "It's just like you to want our daughter to have a name such as that. Personally, i prefer Grace. It would be a beautiful name for her."

"Maybe you've forgotten, but the saying is, 'like father like son'. One fine lady in the house is more than enough." She gave him a stare that seemed to be hinting that she was referring to him. "Our daughter deserves a better name, like Brianna."

He laughed heartily. "Maybe you've forgotten also, but we're raising a child, not a warrior. Our daughter deserves a name like Emma. Certainly, she would live up to the name."

She seemed to be thinking for a few moments, then she nodded. "I don't think so. It never ceases to surprise me that you wouldn't want to have your daughter's name in your honour. Nevertheless, I suggest Alexis. Truly a magnificent name."

"A name in my honour? I believe it's safe to say that was well covered." He smiled. "Her middle name will be Terra, in light of her ancestry." The wolf beside him suddenly arose and approached the door excitedly. "I think we know what time it is." He stood up and approached the door at a steady pace, opening it just as a man stepped up the stairs.

"Little bro!" He shouted excitedly opening his arms wide. A man that seemed to be just a few years older than his younger brother stood in the doorway, his expression youthful and full of vim. He had shoulder-length chestnut hair, a freshly shaved face, and light brown eyes. He wore a long brown overcoat over a pair of ragged blue jeans, brown loafers, and a light brown fedora. He carried a pipe in his left hand.

"It's been a while since you came to visit us Sam." He replied giving his brother a hug. "What's the occasion?"

"It's big bro or Samson to you mister! Psh besides, you know me! I just so happened to be in town so I decided to come and pay you guys a visit!" The wolf beside the man began to pant excitedly at Samson's feet.

"A town in the middle of nowhere? This place is so far from the main cities that it can't be found on any of the Jienda world maps. But I can only assume all the Havens are that way. This was surely out of your way." He grinned.

"Clever as always, aren't we Julius? So how's my favourite dog and wifey?" He knelt down to pet the wolf and it glared at him. "Come on Bane, you know I'm just yankin' your tail. Lighten up a little you sassy puppy." It let him pet it anyway, seeming to ignore the other comments. "Can't forget the kid on the way." He turned to Julius' wife.

"You'll forget again if you disappear for another six months." She said with a devilish smile. "By the way, I'm taken. You can have Bane if he's your type."

"Mm mm mm...keepin' your tongue sharp aren't you Rosetta? I Might just take you up on that offer though." He winked at Bane and he whimpered in turn. Samson looked around and sighed happily.

"Why the smug expression?" Rosetta asked.

"Smug? Psh not at all!" He laughed. "I'm just really thankful for all of this. No matter how many times I visit, I still have this lingering uneasiness from before. But every time I do visit, you two are always here, safe and sound. I had thought that you two wouldn't have survived the war...I had spent years searching for you guys." He smiled gently and somberly. "I really should have paid attention in class. Had I known what a Haven was I would have found you two a lot sooner. I travelled all over Jienda in hopes of finding you two, and you were right under my nose, just off the path towards Soprano Snowfield."

"You should know by now that the Havens are a set of colonies hidden away, and enchanted so that mankind will not stumble upon them. As for you, considering that you are one also, finding them shouldn't be a challenge for you."

"I do like surprises." Samson said.

"Your sense of direction always was awful Sam. You used to get Rosetta and I lost with you on your ridiculous adventures. Somehow we're all still in one piece." Julius laughed. "Lemme' go make some coffee for you two. How do you want it Sam?"

"I like it black."

"Double-double? That hasn't changed either." He smiled as he walked away.

"I said black! Black! Ah well. So how you been Rosy?"

"Pregnant. And don't call me Rosy."

Samson grinned again. "You're doing great huh? Thank goodness." He nodded slowly and solemnly. "I'm still surprised you could believe any of this. I mean, Julius, I, and everyone else around here...we're the stuff of fairy tales. Even in a world like ours there are some things that mankind couldn't believe actually exist, even if they never know what to expect. In this world, science and magic are both very prominent, but what they know of it doesn't even break the surface of what lies beneath it. The secrets we keep...the legends, and the immense amount of power we contain could throw this world out of balance. The Havens are necessary for keeping these things secret, at least for those who would prefer staying out of the sight of humanity. As for me, there's nowhere I won't go."

"It's because your an indecisive man."

"You mean child at heart? Oh you're such a sweetheart Rosetta!"

"I think you're looking too deeply into that my dear. But if it pleases you, I may allow it." She smiled.

"You're a very interesting lady you know? Being the only human among all of us...that must be quite the experience. After this long, is it really fine by you? To be a Confidant...mmm that sounds so exciting!"

"It isn't the concept of being a Confidant that excites me. Rather, all I really need is Julius. The secrets that the gods keep, the ancient spells, the ruins and the traces of their ancestors...they truly aren't my forte. Of the hundreds, even thousands of women in the world, Julius not only had chosen me to be his partner in marriage, but also to form a contract with him. Me, a human. The sword and shield I bear are a symbol of our unity. So long as I live, I will protect Julius with my life. And our daughter...I honestly wish for her to find a place in this world where she truly belongs. To find friendship, love, and a place she can call her sanctuary."

"Sounds like you really care for your daughter. Even the icy beauty can show a little bit of emotion when talking about her lovely unnamed daughter."

"Icy beauty? I told you not to call me that years ago. But alas, our daughter is yet to be named. She is quite vicious...though she hasn't been been born yet she kicks rather hard."

"Lemme' take a listen."

"You could if you like, but I don't advise it. There is a very high chance I may throw up."

"Oh you!" Samson laughed. "I always knew you were graceful and you don't waste a moment in showing it." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm...A name befitting for your child huh? Your child...ah! I know!" Rosetta raised her eyebrows. "Name her...Kasumi."

"Kasumi...? Kasumi...it's perfect...I'm almost impressed Samson."

"I'm a genius, I know. You can stop applauding me now."

"Don't get too self-righteous. It was nothing more than a mere compliment." She smiled.

"Well, I've given my two cents. Catch you later Rosy!" He bent over and scratched behind Bane's ears, and he looked rather pleased. He then stood up and ran towards, leaping towards his shoes and successfully landed in them. "Perfect ten!" He turned to Rosetta. "Make sure Julius writes to me regularly alright? I wanna know how you guys are doing! Take good care of yourself and your daughter also. If I hear that you've been treating her badly, you're gonna have to deal with me!"

Rosetta raised her eyebrows again. "I'm rather positive that you'll be deftly handled. Do come again though. It's always a guilty pleasure to see you."

"Ooh! Burn! Fair enough." He smiled, putting on his coat and placing his fedora on his head. "Be well, and be safe."

"I'm sure we will."

Samson smiled, but there was no humour in his expression as he tipped his hat over his eyes and opened the door. "I'll be watching...so you two will never have to suffer like you had then, ever again." He whispered as he closed the door. The wind gently blew and he placed his hand to his hat as he walked towards it, slowly fading away into the snow that blanketed the town.

Julius exited the kitchen and looked around for his brother, but he was nowhere to be found.

"Oh not again...for God Ah's sake Samson! Can't you sit still for five minutes?" He complained.

Rosetta chuckled gently. "That's one thing that certainly hasn't changed at all about him. He still worries for us, but he tries to hide it. He escaped before I could tease him for it."

"One of these days I'm gonna tie him to a chair and make him sit still for a few hours. He moves around way too much for his own good."

"Being nomadic isn't always a bad thing Julius. The world is a very vast place...if we only stayed in one place we would never know how wonderful it really is, as a whole. Someday, I too would love to see the world with you and our lovely daughter." She smiled dreamily.

Julius chuckled as he rubbed the back of his neck. "Well...while I was making the coffee I thought about it a little and decided that maybe Alexis is a befitting name for our child, so if you want to settle for that, I'm in agreement."

Rosetta raised one finger and Julius looked puzzled. "That...is not the name that would suit our daughter most."

"You don't want to use your suggestion?"

She shook her head and smiled. "Julius, I strongly believe that we should name her Kasumi."

"Kasumi?" He looked dumbfounded for a few moments. "Kasumi..." He seemed to be thinking really hard about it. "Kasumi huh...it's perfect! You are a genius my love!"

She smiled. "It is not me you should be loving. It is your older brother. He suggested it and made a tactical retreat."

"Knowing him, he probably thought long and hard about it before he decided to show his mug around here. On top of that, I'm almost positive he knew where the Haven was, he was just trying to buy time to hide his insecurity."

"His insecurity? Ah..."

Julius nodded as he half-smiled. "It's just as you said Rosetta. He was worried about us then, but he didn't want us to know about it. For an elder brother, he's not all bad."

"I think someone needs to be more honest with himself also." She raised her eyebrows.

"I think Samson does too my love." He winked at her with a smile. "I'll be in his debt this time. Wherever he's headed, I pray that he returns to us safely, awaiting the day that he can meet his niece."

The next few days passed peacefully and uneventfully for the married couple. They bided their time reading and talking, often times making plans for leaving the town for some time to see what they could not from the tiny town on the outskirts of Jienda's Snowfield.

Julius leaned over the chair Rosetta normally sat on as he gently hummed a tune, while Bane rested beside her and she gently petted him.

"What are you singing Julius?" She asked him glancing in his direction from the corner of her eye.

Julius rubbed his chin thoughtfully, but he looked rather puzzled. "To be honest, I'm not quite sure. Some time ago as I was leaving the city of Elias, I had heard someone singing it. Do you recall the trip I had made some time ago?"

"Do I seem senile to you?"

"Of course not." He laughed. "Your mind is as formidable as your beauty Rosetta."

"Should I feel insulted or pleased by that comment?"

"Take what you may from it." He grinned. "Nonetheless, I had met a boy and his pet at what seemed to be an old-fashioned cafe. He was quite the strange one...he wore a hat similar to Samson's that seemed to cover a large portion of his face. But the bandages over his right eye did not look normal in the slightest...they didn't seem to be human, and the runes on them were nothing I recognized either. Aside from him, his pet...I believe the humans named them Brownies? Both his Brownie's hair, eye colour, and outfit were green in place of brown. My visit to Elias was short, but in the time I had spent there I had not seen anything like it!"

"Julius...off topic."

"Ah you are right." He cleared his throat. "As I was saying, he seemed to be singing...singing a song I had never heard before. He had music too! Almost as if there were bards and others playing alongside him...it was truly incredible. The song he had sang still remains in my mind to this day..."

"Serenade me." She smiled.

He smiled back at her. "I shall sing in an a Capella style to the best of my abilities." He cleared his throat.

(Be Still-The Fray)

Be still and know that I'm with you

Be still and know that I am here

Be still and know that I'm with you

Be still, be still, and know

When darkness comes upon you

And covers you with fear and shame

Be still and know that I'm with you

And I will say your name

If terror falls upon your bed

And sleep no longer comes

Remember all the words I said

Be still, be still, and know

And when you go through the valley

And the shadow comes down from the hill

If morning never comes to be

Be still, be still, be still

If you forget the way to go

And lose where you came from

If no one is standing beside you

Be still and know I am

Be still and know that I'm with you

Be still and know I am

As Julius' singing came to an end Rosetta slowly opened her eyes and nodded gently. She rubbed her stomach gently and smiled.

"I am positive that Kasumi will be calm so long as you continue to sing for her."

Julius smiled dreamily. "I pray that she'll find solace in my voice for whenever her heart has lost it's way. No matter when and where...she will always be the light in our lives, and we shall guide her way."

Rosetta lowered her head backwards so her eyes met with his, as she gently placed her hand on his cheek. "You have always been a hopeless romantic...what was the adage? Don't quit your day job?" She chuckled.

"You asked, and I delivered." He bent over and kissed her. "Now it's your turn to deliver, my love."

"And deliver I shall."

The two smiled at each other as they began to gently sing Be Still in the warm windy night.

Seven Months Later...

Samson steadily trudged through the frigid Snowfields holding his hand up to his face to block the barrage of snow and harsh winds that ailed. His feet uneasily moving along as if his shoes were filled with lead. The sound of his footsteps in the storm were drowned out by the sound of the cruel winds as he silently traversed the night in search of the town he had come to know once more. Through caves and past cliffs, avoiding the Snow Ladies and Selki Clan that patrolled the area he pressed on, eventually passing some of the mountains and coming to a clearing in them.

(The Wind-The Fray)

Oh, my God, I think I'm lost at sea

These silent waves are my company

And, I lost the line between the sky and sea

I'm wondering will the wind ever come for me.

Yeah.

'Cause I don't know, I don't know where I am

Can you tell me, will I break or will I bend?

Will the wind ever come again?

He began to slow down searching in bated breath as he nervously searched the surrounding area, but he could only see naught but a vast expanse of snow before him.

"What...is this? I was positive this is where the town was...I couldn't have lost my way!" He said looking around, the desperation in his voice increasing by the second.

I feel the sun coming up, rising from the east

I see the empire falling to her knees

I lost the line between her and me

My troubles are gone if the wind ever comes for me.

Yeah.

'Cause I don't know, I don't know where I am

Can you tell me, will I break or will I bend?

Will the wind ever come again?

He pressed on moving faster but taking long deep breaths as he moved forward. The land seemed to be much more steep than he had remembered as he struggled to traverse the massive hill before him.

"This...this is wrong...there's something wrong here. This isn't right at all..." He surveyed the area once more and noticed something peering through the snow a matter of meters away from where he stood. He quickly made his way over towards it and examined it. "This is...a chimney...but how could..." Samson froze. The blood from his face drained as terror filled every crease in his expression. The youthful emotion he once had quickly began to seem non-existent. "It couldn't be...he didn't..."

Samson desperately dashed across the hill of snow towards the original location of the couple's home, purely from his memory. He stopped where their chimney was and desperately began to dig, his fingers steadily getting frostnip. He continued on, no matter how little breath he had and continued to throw the snow aside, his goal seeming unattainable.

"JULIUS! JULIUS!" He shouted. But to no avail...

I dreamed I found the shoreline

You're standing there

I dreamed I found you waiting.

You were waiting for me, waiting for me.

As he continued to dig he began to slow down, eventually to a stop.

"Julius...you didn't do this...did you? You couldn't...you wouldn't...right? Julius?" Tears began to well up in his eyes and fall onto the back of his hands.

I try to kiss the emptiness,

I lost the line between the sky and sea

I feel the sun coming up, coming up, coming up, coming up

"Why Julius? Why?"

Samson raised his hands from the ground beneath him and turned them over, revealing a few frozen grains of sand from beneath the snow.

And I don't know, I don't know where I am

I will break or I will bend

Will the wind ever come again?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ten Years Later...

Sometimes...sometimes I dream of people. Happy people, sitting there and smiling while waving over to me. I could never see their faces...but they always gave off this strange warmth as if it was a part of me that was missing, and without it...I'm just not me. But no matter how much I run they always disappear from my sight...and then I wake up...

A girl steadily walked through a forest, her footsteps gently sounding throughout the surrounding area as she walked across leaves amidst the dim light of the sun bathing her through the trees. Tiny yellow balls of light drifted throughout the area adding a mystical ambience to the surrounding area.

I don't care who they are...I mean, they're probably not important. 's not my job to care. If I was supposed to, I bet I would by now. Dreams are dreams, and if they have no meaning like these ones then they mean nothing to me. They're just wasting my time. I've got a life to live, and I could sure as hell do without that in it.

An aged silver wolf followed along in her wake patiently, but uneasily watching her from behind. A long thin scar was visible across it's left eye.

I have everything I need...Mom and Dad...and Bane...the rest of the world can burn for all I care. It means nothing to me. All of those stupid brats too. I don't need any of it. When I'm older I'm gonna leave this crappy village and go see the world. I'm not gonna be tied down like all of them...I'm gonna live my life the way I wanna live it.

She sighed.

Mom's gonna give me hell when I get home...

(I Can Barely Say-The Fray)

I said I told you everything I left something out

Underneath the stairwell.

That I'm under lock and key, but you can probably tell

A powder keg in a prison cell.

The girl silently walked through the forest towards a clearing showering her in the sun's warmth. She raised a hand to block out the light as she steadily approached a small village in the heart of the forest. Log cabins were scattered across a small portion of the vast field the town had occupied. There was also a well and what seemed to be a place of worship. With her wolf by her side she continued on, gently sighing as she raised her head. She had bruises and cuts all over her face and arms, a swollen lip and a bloody nose, that seemed to have dried up.

I wanna return but all you will do is turn to leave

If I can find my way home, will you take hold of me?

I've been gone so long

I can barely say

All I know is now I want to stay

Has it been too long since I went away?

Cause I'm trying to find the words but I can barely say

Well I used to be the sun

Waiting silently but they barely noticed me

But I've been talking in my sleep when anybody sees they turn and run from me

As she passed through the town many of the villagers turned their heads in her direction and stared as she solemnly walked past them without even turning in the direction of any of the people who stared. Many stopped the tasks they were working on and watched, while others shook their heads and muttered to other nearby citizens. The fact that she was infamous among the villagers was clearly not a surprise to her.

I want to return but all you will do is turn to leave

If I can find my way home will you take hold of me?

Cause I've been gone so long

I can barely say

All I know is now I want to stay

Has it been too long since I went away?

Cause I'm trying to find the words but I can barely say

I wanted to run

I wanted to love and be loved in return

But will I ever get back, do I know too much to return.

She eventually came to a log cabin closer to the outskirts of the village. She stopped before the tall wooden door and sighed once more. She reached out to the rusted iron handle and gently pulled it, the door slowly creaking open, leading her to a dim hallway and a worn out purple welcome mat. She removed her shoes and closed the door after her companion who followed her in and wiped his paws on the carpet, following her as she set her sandals aside among two other pairs and went inside.

I've been gone so long, I can barely say

All I know is now I wanna stay

Has it been too long since I went away?

Cause I'm trying to find the words but I can barely say.

She came to a fork in a hallway, where a tall table stood housing a small vase with three Gardenia resting within it. She turned to the right and walked into a small kitchen within the house.

The kitchen was very simple, housing a table with three chairs around it, a small area with two three counters taking up a majority of the wall, what seemed to be a sink without a tap, and a middle-aged woman standing before it by the window. Upon the walls rested pictures of a man and a woman together, some of them just the two, and others with many others, all monochrome. A plaque rested on the wall above the table that read:

Where He is, is where I shall be

For I belong to Him, and Him alone

In mind and body He is with me

And forever shall He remain my light.

Cupboards were scattered above and within the counters, possibly containing their ingredients for meals.

The woman turned in the direction of the girl and stumbled back as she gasped; the shock was clear in her weary brown eyes. She wore a white long-sleeve blouse and a long faded green skirt with a zig-zag pattern on it. Her greying brown hair was tied back in a ponytail and the wrinkles in her face were fairly evident.

"Oh child..." She said slowly approaching the young girl, placing her hands on her cheek and inspecting her wounds. "How many times have I told you not to fight with the neighbourhood boys? You never learn no matter how many times you get hurt..."

The girl's cheeks were pressed together and her head was turned in every which way as her mother inspected her. The girl herself had short messy blonde hair, and bright emerald eyes on a bruised and beaten face. She also wore a torn top and shorts made from animal pelt.

"'s not my fault...they started it." She muttered.

"It's not about who started it or who said what. A young lady like yourself shouldn't be fighting with the boys! Girls are delicate, and should be handled delicately. They should also act in a graceful manner! I've told you that many times. If you continue fighting with the boys, you'll become one yourself!"

"If it means I can beat 'em up again, that sounds good."

Her mother pinched her cheek and pulled it slightly. "Just who do you think you're talking to young lady?"

"Okay, okay I'm sorry Mom...ouch..." She was released.

"No matter how hard I try to teach you to conduct yourself as a fine lady, you never learn. What am I to do with you?" She exited the kitchen and eventually returned carrying a small pelt bag. She unzipped the top and began to remove all sorts of antibiotics and creams. She applied them to her cuts and others to her bruises, then wet a cloth and wiped up the dried blood. She held her hand over the child's cuts and it began to emit a gentle blue glow. The wounds began to heal slightly immediately. "Now open your mouth."

The girl opened her mouth slowly and her mother placed her face in her hand. The girl's teeth were soaked with blood and saliva, and it seemed she was trying to refrain from swallowing it so a small pool gathered further inside.

"Go outside and spit that out." Her mother said pointing to the hallway.

"Yes Mom." She replied awkwardly as she stood up and began to walk away.

"If you're going out to play don't fight with the boys again! And be back home by dinner time!"

The girl slipped her sandals on as her companion lifted himself from the ground and stretched, patiently waiting for her by the door. She scratched behinds his ears then exited her home taking an immediate left after shutting the door and leapt over the fence with one hand. Her companion quickly followed behind her as she went behind the house and spat out everything she could.

"Next time I'll send them all home with bloody noses...they got lucky this time." She muttered under her breath as she wiped away the blood. She began to return the way she came, turning slightly in the direction of a nearby well. She turned the crank clockwise, lowering a bucket into the well and counter-clockwise to receive the water within it. She cupped a bit in her hands and washed away the lingering taste of blood. "Let's go Bane."

Her companion barked in response and the two began to walk again.

They walked through the town and continued on towards the fields-green grass and flowers basking in the sun's light, and surrounded by a protective barrier of trees. The girl casually walked through it all stretching as she watched the clouds gently drifting through the blue skies. As she walked she bent over and pulled a dandelion puff from the ground, curiosly examining it. She quickly stopped, turned around and blew the seeds into her companion's face who immediately stumbled back and shook his head in complete shock. He sneezed and the few dandelion seeds around his face scattered into the air, steadily drifting down to the ground.

He glared at her and growled lightly, but she did not seem fazed by it at all.

"Lookin' for a scrap?" She asked him matching his stare with her own. He stopped growling and looked at her innocently. "That's what I thought." She laughed. She looked at the ring on her middle finger and smiled. "I'm the boss here, after all." The ring was golden, with a design that seemed to be a small leaf cradled by two angel's wings. "This place is so boring...let's go on an adventure in the forest Bane!"

Leading the way the two took the forest by storm excitedly dashing through, dodging trees and avoiding broken branches and rocks. The girl picked up a stick and bravely pressed on, battling and successfully defeating her imaginary adversaries.

"Mom always said that I shouldn't wander too far from the village 'cause there are monsters out there. Think she said they were called Aya-Aga...Aga-something." She snorted. "That's just kids' stuff. They're just stories so we'll be good and won't leave home. But I'm not afraid of monsters!" She took two quick swings with her stick and thrusted forward. "If I had a sword like Dad's I bet I could beat them no problem! I could do it all on my own too!"

Bane barked indignantly causing her to stop in her tracks. "Fine fine...you can come too. You can be my cheerleader dog." He groaned. "Did you believe it? I got you good there!" She patted him on the head. "I couldn't do that to you Bane. You and me are an unbeatable pair!" She seemed to be growing tired after the many vicious battles she had faced, and began to walk around with a limp while holding one hand to her stomach. "We fought well Bane...but I think this is the end for me..." She spun around once and collapsed to the ground dropping her weapon by her as she did, letting out a defeated groan.

Her trusty partner fell to his side letting out a defeated groan also.

She placed one hand to her forehead blocking out the light from the top of the trees gently shining upon her. "I wanna go on real adventures...Dad always says that when I'm older he'll tell me about some of his but he still won't do it...I'm old enough to know now! I'm ready for my own adventures..." She sighed. "He keeps saying that I have a talent with magic and that it's a rare thing...that I can't be a warrior and he's always goin' on about kids like me having a 'pledger'. I don't need some stupid knight to protect me...I already have you Bane. I don't need anyone else's help!"

He turned himself over and sat beside her, then licked her face gently a couple times.

"Come on..stop that you big butt-kisser!" She smiled and rose to her feet. "Someday...I'll become a super mage with all sorts of amazing powers. I'll beat bad guys and save people and they'll all love me and come to me when they need help with stuff." As she began to walk she twirled her fingers and the leaves from the ground began to rise and gently dance around her with every gesture she had made. "You and I will be super heroes! We'll get all sorts of cool stuff and people will be glad to see us no matter where we go! We'll travel the world and have people from every village asking to join our team but we'll tell them no anyway..."

As she walked on she continued making her gestures and more leaves began to gather followed by small rocks and tiny balls of light. The warrior had suddenly become a maestro, conducting for the forest orchestra. As she did the animals of the forest began to gather, the birds and squirrels and all sorts of other tiny creatures came to her side singing along with her. She closed her eyes and gently hummed a familiar tune as she walked, conducting her symphony as she slowly twirled. The sun began to paint the sky as it pleased when dusk settled into it's given time. The girl's humming slowly came to an end as she stopped and opened her eyes, gently leaning against a nearby tree.

She glanced up towards the sky once more as she sighed. "Someday...when that day comes...when my dreams come true...people will finally accept us. They won't give us scary looks or say bad things about us and our magic...and all the stupid boys in the other villages will be jealous..." She began to notice all the creatures gathered around her and frowned. "What are all of you staring at? You beady-eyed critters! Go! Shoo!" She flailed her arms and some of them began to leave. A bird stubbornly remained perched on her shoulder and she glared at it from the corner of her eye. "That includes you too...stupid winged rats!" She gestured for it to fly away with her left hand and it did as she suggested. "Better!" She shouted after it.

As the sky began to turn a light crimson, the girl and her wolf steadily approached a river and carefully crossed it, leaping across a set of large stones making a path from one side to the other. They silently went on until she suddenly stopped and her companion bumped into her.

"Do you see that Bane? There's something over there...let's check it out!"

Her companion immediately barked fiercely and she looked at him completely shocked. He looked at her innocently and immediately rushed over to the anomaly on the ground near them. He began to sniff it, then glanced to her.

"Is it safe?" He barked. She slowly approached and carefully examined the anomaly from what she deemed a safe distance. "Bane, get me that stick over there."

He obeyed quickly picking up and bringing a broken stick for her. She slowly approached the anomaly and at first, gently poked it and then with much more force. It seemed to make an odd groaning noise. She stepped back and took a defensive stance, but the anomaly had not moved in the slightest. She approached it once more and began to push it with all the might she could muster, steadily turning it over revealing what seemed to be a person.

"What the-a dead guy? He stinks!" She said.

She crouched down and got a closer look at the man. After flipping him over, the leaves and dust that piled up on him began to fall aside, along with his fedora. He had a thick beard, greying chestnut hair and an exhausted, aged face. He wore a ragged brown overcoat over a white t-shirt and brown pants. He wore beaten-up brown shoes and carried a dagger in a case around his waist.

"Check this out Bane! It's a real weapon! This geezer must have been an adventurer from the outside!" She held the weapon tightly and took a couple swings with it. "Wonder how many baddies he beat up with this...bet if he was still alive he'd tell me all about his awesome adventures..." Bane barked to get her attention and she quickly snapped out of her reverie. "Oh..that's right...it's really dark out. Mom's gonna get mad again. Let's hurry home and tell them!"

The two quickly turned back and set off for home once more.

Outside the cabin Bane rested quietly chewing on a bone while guarding the house. Inside the family gathered around the table, preparing for their meal. The girl's mother began to place food down on the table while taking angry glares at her child. The girl, once again, did not seem fazed at all by the glares.

"I thought I had told you to be back by dinner time young lady." She hissed.

"You did, we were just having a lot of fun and then it got dark. so we came home now." The girl responded.

"If you knew, then why did you not come home on time?"

"Bane and I found something really cool out in the forest."

"I told you to stay away from the forest's barrier."

"I know I know...if I leave I might not be able to find my way back, and there are humans and monsters out there. I didn't forget that. But Bane and I didn't leave the barrier. We weren't even close to it, I promise!"

"So what did you find out there anyway kiddo?" An elder man asked. He had short grey hair, copper brown eyes, bushy eyebrows and a Burt Reynolds moustache. He wore a simple red fox pelt shirt and pants, rectangular framed glasses and sat at the table reading a book. For a man his age, he was in very good shape-he appeared to be rather fit, and muscular from rigorous training.

"A dead guy." She responded bluntly. Both of her parents looked appalled.

Her father laughed first. "Kids these days." He said. "They have the most vivid imaginations."

"That is not funny at all. My goodness...I was sure we raised you better than that." Her mother said.

"No it's true! See, look!" She drew the dagger from her pocket and the two looked appalled once more. Her father dropped his book and her mother's jaw dropped.

"Where did you find that?" Her mother asked.

"Like I said, it was a dead guy in the forest!"

"Tell me the truth."

"It is the truth!" Her mother glared at her.

Her father shook his head as he bent over to pick up the book. "Let's give her the benefit of the doubt Beatrice. Other than fighting with the boys, she doesn't tell us much so why not hear her out this time? I'm sure there's a good reason she found this dagger and why there's a dead person in the forest. If what she's telling us makes sense then I'll go with her and check it out myself." She scoffed in response. "So, what did you see kiddo?"

"Bane and I were walking by the river and we saw this thing that looked kinda like a rock covered by leaves and dirt and stuff. But when I went to see it Bane stopped me and checked it first. I poked it with a stick a bit and then I rolled it over and it was this dead geezer..."

"You shouldn't call people geezers. It's bad. You should say elder man kiddo."

"I can call them geezers when they're not around right?"

"Atta girl." Beatrice glared at him too. "I'm just teasing. Only do that if your mother's not around." He turned to her and grinned guiltily.

"But that geezer looked like an adventurer. He had this dagger and everything." She handed it to her father so he could get a closer look at it. He shifted his glasses as he examined it thoroughly.

"How strange." He said. "This dagger certainly isn't from Atlantis. The only weapons we receive are from there, and that happens very rarely. The Atlantis Merchants rarely visit our tiny village. Supplying Havens never was something they enjoyed doing." He laughed. "Hanamah isn't an exception."

Beatrice took an uneasy glance at the weapon her husband held. "But for what reason would any traveller come to Hanamah? This village is protected by the Forest's barrier, so nobody would wander in unless they were searching for it, or had a way to bypass it. The traveller's of Atlantis do, but I still don't feel safe around them...delivering weapons and such in broad daylight...they set a terrible example for the children. If they were followed, humans could enter this place...and if they did, the Agasuras would likely follow!"

Her husband held one finger to his lips as he grinned again. "Calm down Beatrice, it'll be alright. They rarely visit, and when they do the barrier would keep the humans and Agasuras away. Hanamah will always be a safe haven for our colony. But this is quite strange...who could that traveller be? And how did they bypass the barrier? He may be one of us...if he is, I'm sure he came here for a reason." He stared at the dagger sternly. "For him to come bearing a weapon...could he have been in danger? There's no reason for him to need any in a Haven other than hunting...I've got a bad feeling about this." He closed his eyes and thought for a moment. "If you eat all your dinner, you and I will go on an adventure and find that dead geezer you were talking about." He said to her.

"Really?" She excitedly responded.

"Really really."

Beatrice frowned as she sat down. "I would prefer if you went alone Grant." She said sternly.

Grant lowered his eyebrows. "Oh come now, let the kid have a little fun. We won't even be leaving the safety of the barrier. There's nothing dangerous out there except a few forest animals. That's nothing I can't handle. She deserves a chance to go on a little adventure doesn't she? She's already old enough to start studying magic and finding her pledger."

"It doesn't mean she's ready to take on dangerous tasks."

"Like I said, it's not dangerous in the least, and if there was even a slight chance there was any, I'll protect her." He smiled somberly. "I might be a retired Temple Knight, but I've still got it." He turned to their child and smiled. "Sorry kiddo, but I can't be your pledger. Most knights who find their mage and take the pledger's vow, take the marriage contract. It's the final piece to fulfilling the contract and binding the two together forever. And I'm happily married to your mother. Someday you'll make that vow with one of the boys in the village too."

"Gross." She retorted.

"I used to say the same things when I was your age." He laughed heartily.

"Okay enough talking. Let's eat before the food gets cold." Beatrice said impatiently.

As the night pressed on, the two equipped themselves and prepared to set out to find the dead man by the river. Grant armed himself with a longsword with a golden hilt, and a bright blue shield with a leaf cradled by two angel wings emblazoned on the front. He gave the girl the dagger to hold onto just in case she needed to defend herself. The two wore fur coats to protect themselves from the chilly winds.

"Ready to set out kiddo?" Grant asked her. She nodded sternly and vigorously. The two began to slip into their shoes and sandals as Beatrice watched them from the hallway. "We'll be back before you know it honey."

She looked uneasily at him. "Keep a close eye on her okay? Don't let her wander off too far. Take Bane with you too in case she gets lost...and be back as soon as you can! I want her to be in bed before it gets too late!"

"Yes Ma'am!" He said standing up straight and saluting her.

Her eyebrows sunk. "And...be safe...okay?"

"Count on it." He quickly approached her, kissing her gently and heading towards the door again, where their daughter stood covering her eyes.

"Gross..." She muttered as Grant laughed.

"Alright kiddo, let's go find that geezer!" Grant said enthusiastically opening the door and pointing forward into the night.

The two exited the house and the girl called over her companion. He immediately leapt to his feet and dashed to walk by her side.

Grant shuddered and looked out into the darkness before them. "Almost forgot." He climbed over the fence and disappeared somewhere on the other side of the cabin, quickly returning with a lantern in hand. He quickly lit it and held it up revealing a bright glow on his daughter's face. "Now we can see where we're going." He said with a grin. "I'm still finding it rather hard to believe that you found someone within Hanamah's borders kiddo. Dead or alive, this'll cause a big stink among the villagers."

She looked at him curiosly. "Why's it such a big deal if somebody comes around here? You two never told me why we have to avoid humans. Are they evil monsters like the Agasuras?" She asked him.

"Not quite." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Humans are...they're a lot like us. But they can't use really cool magic and whatnot like us. They rely on machines and other sorts of technology."

"So why can't we just get along with them too?"

Grant sighed and smiled, fairly earnestly. "The thing is, there's a lot of differences between us kiddo. One of the things about mankind is that they're afraid of change, and they don't really...like things that are different. If they don't understand it, then...they'll try to rid themselves of it, especially if it's dangerous in their eyes. As for us, though we're similar in some ways, there's still a lot of things about us that makes us different from them."

The two entered the forest, Bane cautiously sniffing the area for anything approaching the three. Grant gave the lantern to his daughter and she lit the way as best as she could, counting on Bane in case she lost her way.

"So they'd do bad things to us if they came to our village?"

"It's possible. But I don't want you to believe that all humans are bad kiddo. There are good humans and bad humans out there, and it's the same for us. I know your mother might have said otherwise, but she means well, in every respect. She hasn't had many good experiences with them so she doesn't take well to them." Grant replied.

"So you and Mom have met humans before?"

"Yeah we've come across a few in our adventures." He chuckled. "Even if many of us may dislike them, building a strong relationship between Man and God Ah's servants is our duty."

"Are there still people who do that? That help the humans?"

"Curious aren't you?" He beamed. "Yes there are. There are hundreds out there who live with the humans on Jienda. But! Only the really, really hard workers were given permission to come to Midgard! All those who did received permission from the royal family themselves."

"The royal family?"

Grant nodded. "Mm hmm. A real life king, queen, and their very own princess. Beatrice and I had met them too. It was one of the highlights of my adventures, and that was only the beginning!"

"Do you think someday I could meet the humans too? And get permission from the royal family?"

Grant looked alarmed for a few moments, then his expression turned to a somber smile. "You sure can kiddo. If you work really hard in the village and do your best to get along with everyone, someday you can too."

As they continued on the sound of the crickets quietly chirping their song amidst the serene night created a gentle ambience under the night sky. They began to approach the river they could hear the frog's croaking as the water steadily flowed downstream.

"We're almost there Dad." She said following her companion across the river.

"I'm getting a tad excited." He said with a gentle chuckle.

She shined the lantern around while Bane sniffed the ground. He barked and dashed toward the location then barked again for them to come over.

"Looks like Bane found it." She said.

The two quickly followed behind him and came across the body once more.

"It's as you said kiddo...a dead guy in the forest. I wonder how long he's been here...it doesn't look like he's been dead for very long. The flesh hasn't begun to rot at all. I can still sense his mana also. It's faint, but it's still there." He placed his fingers to the man's neck. "There's still a heartbeat too. He must be unconscious. Let's take him back to the house. If we do leave him here, he'll actually be dead soon."

Grant hoisted the man onto his shoulders and began to walk. As they crossed the river, the lamp went out and they all froze in place uneasily.

"This isn't good at all is it?" He said.

"Yeah...it's bad." She said.

Bane whimpered.

"What should we do Dad? Can you light it again?"

"I forgot to put more oil in the lamp." He said laughing.

"Where can we get light from now?" She asked glancing around. She spotted a group of tiny balls of light off in the distance. "I know you guys are out there! Help us out!" She shouted to the darkness. Little by little, the tiny balls of light which, upon closer inspection, proved to be fireflies gathered around the three and lit the path they walked.

"Amazing kiddo! Where did you learn to do that?"

"I dunno...the animals and other things in the forest just do what I say sometimes. Sometimes they're helpful I guess."

Grant looked around, completely dazzled. Then he smiled somberly again. "You seem to fit in right here in the forest. Knowing you, there's nothing in the world that could keep you in one place is there?"

"Nope."

"But are you sure you wanna go kiddo? Outside of Hanamah is a whole new world. The forest is only a tiny part of it. The rest of it is vast, and quite unsafe because of the infestation of Agasuras. It can be very cruel at times too...for you to go out there will be quite the change for you. If you do leave, you might not ever find your way home."

"I don't wanna leave you and Mom but I wanna go on adventures like you two did. I know it's dangerous and stuff 'cause you two always told me about it, but I'm not scared. I wanna see the world and Humans and Agasuras and whatever else is out there. I don't wanna be in the forest forever."

Grant gave her a gentle pat on the head. "If that's what you really wanna do, don't lose sight of it kiddo. Follow your dreams and keep following them until you can make them come true. Someday when you become a fantastic mage and find your pledger, try to find a chance to come home and see us. Beatrice and I have to make sure he's suited for you."

She frowned. "I told you that I don't need to be protected by a knight. I'm fine on my own! Why would I need one of them anyway?"

"Being a mage isn't safe you know. You have powerful spells, but weak defenses. The knight is there to protect you so you can cast safely. By making the contracts, the two of you are much stronger than you would be alone. Also you can do many incredible things, like instantly warping to each other. Besides, everyone falls in love someday."

"I don't need it."

He laughed. "Kids will be kids I guess." She seemed to be thinking awfully hard. "What's on your mind kiddo?"

"If I did wanna make a contract with somebody, does it have to be a knight? Can't it be something else like a warrior or an explorer?"

"Of course it can!" He ruffled her hair and she smiled. "Knights and mages forming contracts is just the traditional thing to do. We didn't always have such diversity in our jobs. There's a lot we learned from humanity you know."

"I bet there's a lot they could learn from us too isn't there?"

"Darn right there is! There's a world of things they can learn from you too kiddo. When you're older and you think you're ready for the world, remember that you're representing Hanamah out there." He chuckled. "You'll be our town's poster girl."

"What's a poster girl?"

"Means you're what everybody wants to be."

"I already knew that." She said smiling.

"Oh you're a smart one." Grant teased.

The three approached the house and Bane took his position in front of the house while the other two went inside. Beatrice hurried down the hallway with a lit lantern and stared at them appalled.

"Grant, get that corpse out of my house...right now." She snarled.

"He's not dead Beatrice, just unconscious. You can feel it too right? That mana. It's too strong to be a human's, but it's faint so we can't be entirely sure whether he's one of us. But if he was, how could we just leave him to die in the forest?" She lowered her eyebrows but her expression kept it's intensity. "We were taught not to leave any person behind, especially those in need. Even after all that's happened, we can't let our integrity be broken."

She sighed. "Have it your way. Bring him inside. But if he shows any signs of being an Agasura, he's getting knocked out and brought as far away from Hanamah as possible! Understood?"

"Yes ma'am!" The two said in unison.

"Don't you start following in his footsteps."

The next morning the girl had sat in front of the unconscious man staring at him curiosly, as if he'd wake up from the sheer force of her stare. The smell of breakfast wafted into the room where he resided on a few blankets stacked on top of each other.

He immediately sat up and looked around with a shocked expression, muttering something nonsensical. "Who...what? Oh hey there kid."

"Hey mom! The geezer woke up!" She shouted towards the hallway.

The man glanced around him familiarizing himself with a small cozy room within a house. Beside his makeshift bed rested an actual bed, a small table with four silver legs that curled at the bottom next to it; a monochrome picture of a Temple Knight and a Sorceress. It appeared to be Grant and Beatrice in their younger days; the two looked awfully camera shy but happy nonetheless. A closet with a folding door rested against the wall and a window on the wall across from it. Three dressers were scattered around the walls.

"You know young lady," He began as he looked around curiously, "it's rude to call an elder man a geezer."

"What's it to you?"

"It means the world to me." He raised his eyebrows. "What's your name young lady? And where am I exactly?"

"Mom told me not to tell anything to strangers. You're about as strange as they come."

As he was about to speak again Beatrice entered the room and crossed her arms.

"I told you that you shouldn't speak to strangers before we can identify them and gauge their hostility. As for you..." She glared at the man. "Identify yourself."

He chuckled as he brushed the greying chestnut hair from his eyes with the back of his hands. His weary light brown met her stare. "My name...is Samson. I've been searching for a town...rather, a village, by the name of Hanamah I believe."

Beatrice was shocked, but quickly regained her former expression as she asked, "A village named Hanamah you say? What do you know of it?"

"The town Hanamah was founded prior to the second war, to create a safe haven for those who had come to Midgard-rather, Jienda, to increase and solidify the ties between mankind and the creator. Here, God Ah's servants are safe from the eyes of humanity while still being close to them."

Beatrice closed her eyes and sighed. "That's more than enough. The fact that you know of our existence is proof enough, but I can also sense the mana from within you. It's much too strong to be that of a human's. Nevertheless, what brings you to Hanamah?"

He gently rubbed his beard. "There's someone I'm searching for...a child...more specifically, a girl. I've been searching for her for ten years now, but to no avail." At that moment he looked older than he ever had before. The sorrow in his expression had seemed almost natural, like a friend he had known all his life. "She was my little bro's kid. I know he would have given anything to save that kid's life...even his own. I have to find her. Wherever she is, I'll do whatever it takes to get even a little bit closer to finding her."

Beatrice glanced uneasily at her daughter who watched Samson curiosly. "You say you've been searching for this girl for ten years. How would you recognize the child if you saw her? Would she recognize you?"

He shook his head solemnly. "I don't know what she looks like, and she doesn't even know that I exist. But I know she has to be alive and out there somewhere. If she is in Hanamah, I have to find her."

"It's a noble cause, but what do you plan to do if you find the child?"

"I'll take her with me on my adventure. I won't let her out of my sight-"

"Could you really just walk into this girl's life and take her from the only family she's ever known? From the town she calls home and the people she's come to know?" Beatrice placed her fist to her chest as she quietly exhaled. Her daughter and Samson stared in awe. "Forgive me for raising my voice. I'm sure you know how dangerous the world outside of the Havens are. Outside of the cities, the Agasuras run rampant. If it wasn't for the protection of the Derr Clan through the stones in each city, they could easily be invaded and mankind would be wiped you, an adventurer, cannot have the luxury of that protection because you live to fight the Agasuras. Do you really think you could raise a child while living that lifestyle?"

Samson closed his eyes. "You're right...how could I have been so foolish? The fields are no place for a child. They should be safe at home with a family and friends. In a place they're familiar with, and where they can feel at home..."

After being quiet for so long, the girl finally decided to speak. "If everyone felt that way, who would stop the Agasuras?" The two adults both began to look surprised and curious. "Both Mom and Dad had formed a contract and fought Agasuras before. And I'm sure the geezer did too. How old were you when you started adventuring geezer?"

"I already said not to call me geezer." He muttered. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a few moments. "The old man put me in weapons training when i was eight. Crossbows, daggers, bows, you name it, I learned it. All the things a guy like me would need. By the time I was ten, I was in combat training. I sparred with my old man, a couple of the guys from his party, and even some of my friends. A couple bruises and scrapes didn't hold me back!" He said nostalgically. "And by the time I was twelve, I was already assigned to patrol the city with a couple of friends. They were my first party."

"See Mom? The geezer had been learning to fight before he was even my age."

"Don't call me geezer please."

Beatrice frowned. "People like him were bred for combat. For some, it's all they ever knew. I studied until I was thirteen. At that age, they were only teaching me the basics of spellcasting. I had to study for hours on end, taking tests and learning the lore of our colony just to understand how the spells are created. The usage of mana is nowhere near as simple as what a warrior-esque class would learn. You will have to learn many of these things before you are ready to master your element."

She frowned. "If I learned to be another class, I wouldn't have to spend so much time studying all that junk. I never said I wanted to be a mage anyway...if I could have been something else then I could be out helping people and fighting monsters by now."

As she spoke her father entered and looked at their guest curiosly. "Now now kiddo, why would you want to learn to do something else if you're already good at something?" Grant asked.

"So I don't have to study all the time."

He laughed. "You know, in our colony Mages are a very rare class. It's a gift some have the privilege of being born with. Often times it's an inherited gene, and other times some children are born with the ability naturally. As for the other classes, each have specific requirements and training methods for those who wish to learn them. No matter which class you study or aim to become, it's hard work. As for what you are now, you're a natural at it. In all my years as an adventurer, I've never seen an Earth Mage such as yourself."

"Whaddya' mean?"

"At such a young age you're already so talented with your spells. Not even Beatrice could successfully perform hers when she was your age." He laughed as Beatrice glared at him. "Take pride in your specialty and don't be afraid to show it. You're fine just the way you are kiddo."

"Why would I be proud of it? All the other kids leave me out of stuff because they think I'm different or something. Just 'cause I'm better at my class and stuff they act like I'm weird."

Her parents looked at each other uneasily. Grant smiled gently as he said, "Just give it time kiddo. You're all still so young and maybe they just haven't come to understand how difficult it can be to become skilled as a mage. When they're older I'm sure they'll acknowledge your efforts and admire you."

She muttered something inaudible.

"Now as for our guest, what brought you to our part of the forest?" Beatrice filled Grant in on what she was told and he seemed rather amazed by Samson's story. "So you're looking for your little bro's kid huh? That's quite the mission you're on. But, if you do want to find her, you're going to have to try and stay alive." He laughed. "If our daughter hadn't found you out in the forest you might have started growing fungus by the time someone had."

"Thank you for your hospitality sir, madam. And of course, thank you for finding me child." Samson responded. "I don't want to intrude on any of you any longer than I already have." As he rose to his feet Grant placed a hand on his shoulder.

"Slow down there friend. You don't think we'd just have you here for a night and send you packing would we? You've come to Hanamah and we've taken you in as our guest. No need to be in such a hurry to leave! If you want to find the girl you're searching for, why not stay a spell and get acquainted with the other villagers?"

Samson considered the thought and nodded gently. "If you don't mind my intrusion, I'd be honoured to be your guest."

"We can keep him right Beatrice?"

Beatrice frowned. "He's not an animal you know." She said.

"Oh...you spoiled the joke." Grant and their daughter laughed.

The four sat down for a meal(Samson excluded. He did not seem to mind eating and standing, due to the lack of chairs) and the two male adults and child promptly left afterwards. Grant called the villagers over to the center of the village to introduce Samson. Beside them stood a tall stone statue of a tall, slender robed man bearing a staff and sword in both hands. A hood covered the top portion of his face. He seemed to be standing on a rock while looking down upon the tiny village.

The young girl rested in the grass by the house with her companion by her side watching the crowd flock towards her father and company.

"You can probably see it too Bane. Everyone's giving Dad and the geezer funny looks. They probably don't like the idea of having someone new here do they?" Bane whimpered. "I think they think he's a human too. If any of them used their heads they'd know he isn't." She snorted. As the people who gathered began to respond to Grant's introductions, his expressions began to seem ailed. "Looks like Dad is in trouble. Ready to bail him out Bane?" Her companion stood up and stretched, then wagged his tail. "Right. Let's go." She stood up and approached the crowd.

"...should show as much support and hospitality as we possibly can to any guests that may arrive in Hanamah right? No matter who or what they may be." Grant said nervously.

"How do we know we can trust this guy? He could be anything! If he isn't one of us he could easily bring the downfall of our village!" A young man said. The crowd began to mutter in agreement and turn against Grant.

The girl stepped into the crowd and raised a hand to silence the crowd. "Stop and think for a moment." She said looking around to them. "Weren't we all taught to do well for all? Isn't that why we're all here? To do good for both man and god alike? If you guys are just gonna doubt and point fingers at every person that comes to town we'll always have enemies, but not many friends. Open your eyes and open your hearts to more than just the people around you...and stop being so...so stupid! If you haven't tried before you can start with this geezer."

Some of them began to murmur in agreement while others called her cheeky or precocious. The general consensus came to the conclusion that Samson would be accepted into Hanamah and work his way into the society.

"So basically just doing random tasks and helping out wherever I'm needed is my main focus right? I can do that much for you guys." He said smiling. He was happier than he was letting on.

"Thanks for your time everyone. I'm sure Samson will work equally as hard to make Hanamah a better place." Grant said smiling upon the crowd. "If he doesn't feel free to give him a slap on the wrist. Now where did that little rascal of mine go?" He glanced around for his daughter and noticed her headed off into the forest. "Think you could keep an eye on her for me Samson? I don't want her getting into any trouble, or running into any more unconscious travellers."

"Leave it to me boss." He said waving to the crowd and walking through as they created two lines and watched him pursue the young girl.

Samson soon caught up with the child and began to call out to her.

"Kid! Hey kid!" He shouted.

She and her companion slowed down near the rim of the forest. "It's the geezer." She said. "What're you doing out here?"

He chuckled quietly as he muttered geezer. "The big cheese assigned me to look after you."

"The big cheese?"

"Your daddy."

She glared at him and turned away as she walked. "Don't call him that. It sounds weird. And I don't need anybody to look after me; I can do it myself."

"What papa wouldn't be worried about their daughter?" He said with a teasing grin. "I"m sure if he could he'd keep an eye on you himself."

"He and mom are busy with stuff in the village. I have to work hard too so I can stand on my own feet."

Samson raised his eyebrows. "That's quite a bold statement for such a young girl. You must have had a hard time growing up."

She snorted. "Ain't none of your business."

"Oh? What if I said I want it to be my business?"

"You'll never make me talk!" She signalled for her companion to follow her and dashed off.

"Hey wait!" Samson shouted clumsily chasing after the two.

The girl and her companion skillfully swerved through the forest, past trees and over their roots while Samson desperately followed her often falling or running into things. She often stopped to laugh at him or mock him as she continued on.

"Slow down kid! I'm not as spry as I used to be! I'm a tad on the elder side if you haven't noticed!" He shouted gasping for air.

"Say you're a geezer and I'll stop!" She called back to him.

"No!"

"Then keep running geezer!"

The girl stormed through the forest, over the river and past some of the puzzled forest animals that fled as she came by, Samson in tow. As she ran she raised her arms and grabbed onto a low branch from one of the trees, swinging up onto it in one motion and leaping from there to the next. Bane stopped, then leapt up onto the branch quickly following after her.

As she continued higher up Samson stopped and watched with a completely astounded expression. "How did she-I've gotta catch her!" He quickly chased after her from the ground floor watching her leap from branch to branch of each differing tree. Then he stopped. The tree she landed on shook violently causing her to stop and grab hold, then look down. Samson had collided with the trunk and collapsed to the floor.

"Looks like we beat the geezer Bane." She said glancing at her dog and pulling a leaf from the tree.

Samson lifted himself up and gently rubbed his nose while he sat on the ground. "This girl could give more trouble to her pursuers then they could give her." He muttered.

He glanced up as she slowly drifted down holding the stem and tip of a giant leaf. As she landed, in a whirlwind of leaves her companion appeared beside her. She tossed the leaf away and it quickly returned to its original size. Samson was speechless.

"Give up yet geezer?" She asked with a victorious smile.

He glanced around and noticed a stick which he quickly picked up and pointed at her as he rose to his feet. "I've got you now!" He said pointing it at her.

She quickly looked around but did not find any that could prove useful to her. Bane barked and she snapped her fingers. "That's it! Great idea!" She placed her hand to the ground and the ground beneath it cracked, shattering slightly and pushing some of the dirt aside revealing a thick stick.

Samson frowned but thrusted his weapon once as he said, "En garde!"

She rose her weapon on par with his and rushed towards him, their weapons clashing. She took fast, reckless swings at him which he easily blocked. The training he had received began to show as he preemptively guarded against her attacks. Over-hand, under-hand, thrusts and hooks, she threw everything she possibly could at him and he blocked all of it without counter-attacking. Finally, she raised her weapon making another under-hand swing which Samson prepared to block. She purposely missed, leapt towards him and brought her weapon down on him which he desperately blocked, shattering his stick into two pieces.

"Uh oh!" He said as she pointed her stick at him. He quickly fell backwards as she stood over him and sneered, keeping her stick trained on his neck.

"Utter defeat! Time to admit you're a geezer, geezer!" She said grinning. He looked at her completely dumbfounded for a few moments. Her face got much closer to his as she began to take light jabs at his stomach. "Say it!"

"Okay! Okay! I'm a geezer! You win!" She stood up as she cheered and happily danced around him singing about her victory. Bane sat beside Samson and watched as his owner danced around the two. Those eyes...they reminded me so much of Rosetta's...Samson thought. For a moment he glanced toward the wolf, and the wolf noticed him. The two looked shocked. "Bane?"

The girl stopped and stared at Samson for a few moments. "How'd you know his name?"

"Huh? Oh! Y-your father told me." Bane seemed to be acting as if he had not noticed anything either.

"So why'd you have to go and act all surprised? It's not like he was chewing on your ear or something..."

"Didn't notice him there at first." He laughed nervously. "He just kinda caught me off guard." Samson rose to his feet and dusted his clothes off. Those eyes, that familiar...I can't believe that I didn't notice sooner! She was right underneath my nose and I didn't even see it !It has to be her...right? No...not enough proof...that might be Bane, but the ring he's been contracted to could belong to anyone about now... "So why don't you tell me your name kiddo?"

"'Cause it's none of your business." She said blowing a raspberry and walking away.

Samson gently brushed his hair aside with his hand as he sighed and smiled. "Ahh...kids. Gotta be patient with them. If it really is Julius' kid...if it really is Kasumi...I'll find out. I'll get her to open her heart to me a little bit at a time, and together we'll heal the scars she's suffered."

The girl turned back to him and shouted. "I'm going now geezer! Are you gonna stand there all day?"

"I"m coming! Just hold onto your horses!" He replied quickly chasing after her and Bane.

For months Samson had worked tending to animals and lifting heavy objects; cleaning and doing all sorts of other tasks around the town. His relationship with the villagers and his overall disposition among them had appeared to make great strides in their improvements. People often came to him for help throughout the week, and on the holidays he would often spend time with his host's' daughter. On his working days she would occasionally sit and watch him in places out of his sight, and on his free days she would show him some of her favourite places to go in the forest.

The two had sat on a pair of stumps on a cliff a fair distance away from Hanamah itself.

"Sometimes I come up here when I just wanna get away from the town and the boys and stuff." As she turned to him he winced as he got another glimpse of her black eye.

"You really should try to avoid getting into fights with those kids." Samson said looking rather sullen. "It's really bad for you to get hurt like that, and hurting others isn't good either."

"'s not my fault Yuta's such a snot!" She frowned. "He always comes to me and starts being a jerk, and then those other boys follow him. I just hit them a little and Mom got mad."

"You gave two of them bloody noses and another a black eye. I wouldn't say that's a little."

"They started it."

Samson laughed as he gave her a little nudge with his fist. "You're a tough cookie aren't ya'? You should save some of that toughness for the big bad monsters out there. Someday you'll be out there kicking butt and taking up quests too you know."

She smiled, then quickly tried to hide it. "I know that! I'm gonna be a great mage that can use cool spells and stuff! I'll turn all of those stupid boys into rocks and stuff too!"

"Come now," He said laughing, "there's no need for you to be fighting them after you get older. Aside from them, what about the girls? Why don't you play with them?"

"They all think I like playing with the boys. The other girls are afraid of Bane. I told them he's a good dog."

Samson snorted. Guess she doesn't see a wolf there. Bane began to look fairly sullen. "Girls can be more hard-headed than boys can sometimes." He rubbed his beard thoughtfully. "Being a tomboy is okay too I guess. Why not try and get along with the boys instead of fighting them?"

"They call me an Agasura and stuff and hit me with things. They're too stupid to listen anyway. They only stop after I beat them up."

"Sheesh...kids these days." Samson rubbed his hair nervously. "What are we gonna do with 'em." Probably just doing that 'cause they like her, but if I say that, she's gonna hit me too. "If you get some more practice with your magic, I'll teach you a little bit about fighting with daggers so you can make the boys jealous."

"Really?"

"You bet."

She beamed. "Just you wait geezer! I'll get really good and I'll show you!"

He smiled in turn. "Can't wait to see what you can do."

Over the next few weeks Samson often noticed the child in her room studying, or out of the village possibly practicing her magic. On the days he worked she was nowhere to be found, but on his off-days she would always take the time to hang around with him and speak highly of how much she had been working and how much she improved. Upon her disappearances, Samson used the opportunity to ask people around the village if they knew anything of Kasumi, and many of them suggested that the Beatrice and Grant's daughter may have been her. The days eventually turned to weeks, and the evidence had all pointed towards that girl.

On one of his off-days, Samson had sat in his makeshift room reading a letter on his bed while twirling a small deep blue stone between his fingers.. All around him were boxes full of materials, foodstuffs, and any other household necessities. His bed lay in the center of it with his bag resting against a box next to it.

There's no other way around it right? The girl clearly has both Julius and Rosetta's genes within her. Her skills as an earth mage are astounding, and her resilience to harm is equally incredible. The things she can do at her age...I haven't seen anything like it since Julius was just a boy...and she's even better than he was at the time. The difference in skill between the two is great...the girl is a genius. Given the time, I'm sure she could master the element. Just that is proof enough of her relation to the two. The villagers have told me that Grant and Beatrice found the child out in the forest years ago. She didn't speak, nor did she understand them, but she seemed to have created some kind of relationship with the animals and found protection within the forest. Her memories of it aren't very clear. The fact that she has Bane also raises the chance that she might be Kasumi. Today's the day she said she wants to show me how much she's improved. I know that this will exceed my expectations, but this could be one of, if not, the final factors in deciding whether that's her or not, and what my next course of action will be.

Samson thought. He layed back down in his bed and closed his eyes. "I dunno if I'm ready for this." He said laughing. "Even I never thought I'd never find the kid. Haven't considered what I'd do if I did." He sat up again and read over the letter once more.

Dear Sam:

How have you been? It's been quite some time since we last heard from you. But that's just like you isn't it? You must be out on some great adventure as you always are. Be sure to be careful and if you're anywhere nearby come and pay us a visit. Rosetta and I would be delighted to see you again, and I'm sure when the time comes, Kasumi would be enthused to meet you. But yes, we did decide to name our daughter Kasumi by your suggestion. Rosetta adored the name but she won't admit to it easily. Alas, we are doing fine and our daughter is well on her way. She also has quite the kicking power according to Rosetta. She's a warrior before she even left the womb! That is all for now, please be safe, and be sure to come and see your niece soon "Uncle Sam".

Love, Julius

He folded the letter and placed it back in his bag then stared at the stone. The Mino Gemstone...an heirloom of Dark Moon Castle...a symbol of fate. He placed it in his pocket then looked down at his hand and clenched it into a fist. I couldn't protect them...Julius, Rosetta, Mother and Father...but Kasumi...I can still save her! There's still hope for her yet, and I'll protect that with all my might! He picked up his weapon, and its sheath and wrapped it around his waist. It's time to come to a conclusion for this entire ordeal.

The day pressed on and before he knew it, Samson was following the girl to her favourite destination on a ridge far off into the forest. The girl led the way with her companion as they walked up the steep hill grabbing hold of trees and hanging branches, furthering their expedition. Samson struggled further behind them catching his clothes on branches and bushes, and often slipping.

"You're slow geezer!" She said to him reaching a landing and walking along without a care.

"I'm a newbie at this!" He said chuckling and tightly wrapping his arms around a tree. "Do you do this often?"

She shrugged. "I don't. I don't come here often either. This is where I do all my fancy spells and stuff. I don't want anybody to see...here is too far from the town for most of them to want to try to get to. Nobody can be hurt by me either."

Samson finally got to the landing she was on and she had already disappeared behind some brush. His expression was sad, but empathetic. Julius had said something similar when we were still young. Whenever he wasn't practicing his magic alone he always stuck to me like glue. Samson chuckled again. I was always so jealous of him...that stupid bastard...Samson chuckled again as a tear began to well up in his eye. Now I've got something on him...

"We're almost there geezer so don't die!"

"If you keep saying those things you'll hurt my feelings kid." Samson followed her through the brush and eventually came to a small wall of rock. Tangled vines hung from the top of it to the ground where they stood, and the girl quickly took hold of them and made her way to the top. Bane tightly holding onto her back as she climbed.

"Up here!" She shouted to him, waving from her vantage point.

Samson took hold of the vines and began to climb up attempting not to look back. Where they stood was awfully high, but the girl had not shown a hint of fear.

He finally managed to reach the top and pulled himself up to a small field of flowers. Above the forest the two stood in a small garden basking in the light of the sun. A ring of white tulips surrounded a wide open patch of grass.

"This is...incredible..." Samson said utterly appalled.

"This is my secret garden...you better not tell anyone or I'll beat you up geezer!" She said glaring at him.

"My lips are sealed." He made the gesture for zipping his lips and swallowing the key. She laughed.

She looked around and smiled gently. "There's a lot of bad things out there but...here everything is just right. There's no stupid boys or monsters or nagging parents. It's just Bane, flowers and me." She lead the two through the flowers right to the heart of the landing.

"So this is it huh? Are you ready to show me what all your training was for?"

She turned to him and smiled. "I was born ready." She knelt down and patted her companion on the head. "You're gonna have to sit this one out wolfy." He lowered his ears and whimpered. "Quit complainin'." She grinned. "I'll be fine." She stood up and cracked her knuckles, taking on a battle stance. "Let's dance geezer!"

Samson looked absolutely puzzled. "What?"

"What do you mean what? You said to show you what I can do so we're gonna fight right?"

"Wait wait wait! I can't fight you!"

"Why not?"

"You're just a kid! If I hurt you Beatrice and Grant would have my head! Also, it's against my policies to hit children."

"You're scared."

"Don't be ridiculous."

"I won't hurt you too bad..."

Samson sighed. How can I do this in such a way that I can solve this without fighting? Wait a second...this might be my chance to find out if she really is Kasumi! Julius' abilities as an Earth Mage far surpassed those of any of the others in the entire world because of our lineage. If what she's shown me before means anything, then her skills in battle should be on par, if not superior. I can use this to kill two birds with one stone! Samson grinned. "Tell you what, kid. Let's play a game."

"A game?"

"Yep. It's easy. All you have to do is hit me once, with anything, so spells or your fists. I'll give you ten minutes to do it. If you can get me before time's up, you win, but if you can't, then I win. Sound fair?"

"Too easy." She sneered. "Make it five and I'll still crush you."

Samson smiled. "Ten minutes it is." She glared at him and he checked his watch. "On the count of three we'll begin." She readied herself and Samson smiled coolly. "Three...two...one...GO!"

She placed her hand to the ground and Samson watched closely. A piece of the earth beneath him shot up from the ground on an arc and cause Samson to stumble and fall forwards. The girl quickly dashed towards him as he rose to his feet and drew his weapon. She leapt at him reeling her right hand back for a punch as he somersaulted and avoided her initial attack. She rose from the ground and stormed at him again with a right hook as he swung his dagger in an upwards arc and slid backwards.

"That, my little lamb is called Dancing Dagger." She frowned.

"You haven't seen anything yet!" She pounded her left hand with her fist once, then slammed it into the ground causing the earth to shoot up in a rising formation towards Samson. He dodged aside and rose to his feet wiping the sweat away from his head.

For such a young girl, she's using some advanced stuff. It's nothing too legendary, but still not something kids would know.

She blew her bangs aside and pounder her hand with her fist again. She knelt on the ground placing both hands against it and causing the earth beneath the two to shake. Her hands seemed to be steadily merging with the ground as she proceeded.

"Not good..." Samson said trying to regain his balance. Merely seconds after, massive thorny vines shot up from the ground and collided where Samson once stood. As he evaded the ambush he quickly distanced himself from them and looked back as he took quick gasps of air.

"Dance geezer!" She shouted to him still rooted in place. He turned to her, then dodged aside as another vine shot up where he stood and attempted to crush him.

"There's a fine line between hitting me with a spell and murdering me with a giant vine kid!"

"Don't care! I play to win!"

"...That was pretty good. I'll give her that-holy-oh my god!" He stepped aside looking absolutely terrified after narrowly avoiding another attack. "Close call." He quickly ran away and vines sprung up in front of him and caught him off guard in every direction he turned. "Looks like the maximum she can do right now is two. I can use that." He began to run in her direction and she grinned devilishly. Another vine sprung up in front of him, and another following the last from where he once stood. "She's catching onto me." He smiled.

Samson began to move in an unpredictable fashion, running in each and every which way and causing the girl to miss her attacks. Her expression began to seem fairly agitated, and much more exhausted.

As long as I keep this up, she'll get exhausted before I need to time her out. Samson thought as he ran around her.

"You're gonna need some new tricks geezer! 'Cause I've got a surprise for you! GO!" She shouted. Six pillars of rock emerged from the ground and trapped Samson in. "Nowhere to run!" The ground beneath Samson began to rumble violently and he began to sweat profusely. As the earth shattered and another vine rose up to impale him, he quickly leapt towards one of the pillars and leapt off of it, quickly jumping off each of them to rise above the thorned vine and escape his prison. He landed outside of it unharmed and very close by to the girl. "How did you-" He walked over and flicked her forehead causing her to fall back.

Her hands emitted a gentle green glow and returned to normal as she glared at him while rubbing her head. With a wave of her hand another, much smaller vine sprung up from the ground and caused Samson to leap backwards. She dashed towards him as the vine was cute in half and he skillfully twirled around her into a spinning slash.

"Masquerade." He sneered as she began to flail in an attempt to land a single attack on it. "you're gonna need some well-timed attacks kid. Waving your arms around like that will only tire you out."

"I don't need you telling me what to do geezer!" She snapped her fingers and a leaf appeared and drifted into her hand.

"What're you gonna do with that?" He asked earnestly.

"Watch and see." She placed it between her hands and as she dragged them apart horizontally, it grew in size, alike to the giant leaf she had created earlier. She tightly gripped the stem and began to spin towards him at a rapidly increasing pace creating a strong gust of wind around her.

"Oh! Oh that's bad!" Samson began to run but he was steadily being pulled into the whirlwind the girl had created. Blades of grass, flower petals and dirt were pulled from the ground and surrounded her storm creating a vicious whirlwind of earth. Samson began to run more desperately but it did not seem that he would be successful in escaping the storm. Suddenly he was able to break free of her pull and he began to increase the difference between the two as the storm seemed to calm down. He looked back and the girl had come to a halt, sitting on the ground in an attempt to shake off her vertigo. "Ready to give up?"

"I won't lose to you geezer!" She stood up and struggled to lift the leaf along with her. She then stood it up as straight as she could with the stem touching the ground, then released her grip on it. "This is the end for you!" She closed her hands on both sides of the leaf as hard as she could, and it broke into hundreds of tiny leaves that surrounded the area.

"What did she-" Samson covered his eyes expecting an attack but nothing had happened. As he removed his arm he could only see the forest while leaves rained all around him. "It couldn't be...phantasm magic? How did she..." It's Kasumi. The thought rang in his mind. "How did I have any doubts in my mind?" The sight of a figure dashing through the trees caught his attention. She's going to try and use the spell to catch me off guard and ambush me. I can easily predict her movements and stop her in the act. The shadow of the figure dashed past a pair of trees again and his eyes darted in its direction. "You should save yourself the embarrassment and give up while you still can!"

"Don't hold your breath." She responded from all around him. Her voice did not assist him in pinpointing her location in any way. The figure came by again and Samson turned around completely to guard against it.

"Above!" He quickly looked above him and guarded as she dove down on him, freezing in place for a single moment then exploding into leaves. "She's trickier than I thought." He said shaking them off. He caught another glimpse of his target and quickly pursued her, losing her amidst the forest's trees. "No good. Chasing her is out of the-" He turned around and blocked another attack by something that was nothing more than another body made of leaves. "Oh that's hilarious!"

"I bet you're jealous. Were you scared geezer?"

"Not in the slightest! Why don't you come out and settle this game?"

She laughed. "If that's what you want, you better prepare yourself."

"I was born ready." From the shadows of the forest a shadow emerged and quickly zig-zagged behind various trees as it quickly approached Samson. "I've got you now!" He took a step forward and guarded against the jumping punch she threw at him, the two colliding with great force. Samson's daring smile turned to a pained expression as he reeled back and tossed his dagger from the shock. "What the-that isn't the real-"

The sound of footsteps echoing behind him caught him off guard as the dagger was caught in mid-air and held at his neck as the girl grabbed his left arm and held it behind his back. The copy she created stood in front of Samson as the leaves fell off revealing nothing more than a mere stone golem created to be her height.

"A golem? You used the phantasm magic to cause it to looked just like you..."

She smiled. "Congrats smart one. You've got me all figured out. But I've got you caught."

Samson raised his right hand innocently. "Alright, alright, I'm caught. You beat me fair and square kid. And you even went for the flashy win. It's your victory." As she fell away from him, the leaves began to dance around the two again and everything had returned to normal. The stone golem shattered to pieces and the stones rested in place before Samson. He sat down and sighed happily.

"You better keep your promise geezer." She muttered.

"I'm a man of my word." He responded holding a hand to his chest. "But say, kid, will you play one more game with me? It's not for prizes or anything. Just for the fun of doing it."

"I'm listening."

"It's a game called 'Ten Minutes of Honesty'. My little brother and I used to play this all the time when we were young. Whenever we did something bad our we'd play that to confess."

"Okay...so why do you wanna play that with me? I haven't done any bad stuff."

"Don't worry, I'm not suspecting you of anything. But I'm interested in you. I've seen the world but I haven't ever met anyone as mysterious as you are."

She snorted. "I guess I'll play. What are the rules?"

"There aren't any. Except one I guess." He chuckled. "I'll just ask you things for ten minutes and you answer them honestly. Once your ten minutes is up, you can ask me whatever you want for ten minutes. Sound fair?"

She shrugged. "That sounds okay I guess."

Samson looked at his watch for a few moments. "Right then let's begin. When did you come to this town, to Hanamah?"

She frowned. "I dunno. When I came here I was just a little kid. I don't remember it too well. I think Pops found me and Bane in the forest one day and he brought us to his house. Bane didn't trust him at first, but he gave him the okay."

That's one more sign that she could be Kasumi. I need to find out more to solidify my investigation. "Pops? Is pops Grant?" She nodded.

"I only call him that when he's not around or he gets mad. He says it makes him feel old."

Samson chuckled. "As for Bane himself, you often say things like he says things are okay or some things are safe to him. Do you decide these things by your intuition, or do you think he's talking to you?"

"Bane talks." She said earnestly. "He doesn't say much and he doesn't talk often but he sometimes talks to me. He worries a lot."

That's the second sign. "Yeah I could see it in his expressions." Samson laughed. "He doesn't hide the way he feels well does he?" She shook her head. "How long have you had him?"

"Bane's been with me since forever. As far back as I can remember, Bane was always there."

Not the most helpful response. "Did you name him yourself? And that ring...where did you find it?"

"Bane told me his name was Bane. And I've always had this ring too. Bane said to work really hard to keep it safe because it's important."

Interesting. Samson rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Hmm...what about your magic? How long did you have to study to learn the spells you know?"

"I didn't study any spells. Mom gave me some books on using mana and gathering it and stuff for casting spells. It's important stuff for keeping your spells from going nuts. All the stuff I did I made up."

A natural? I must have underestimated Grant when he said she was 'talented' with her spells. I knew the girl was a genius from what I had seen prior to this, but this exceeds my expectations. Casting spells without incantations should be at a level she couldn't hope to achieve at her age, but she's mastered the technique subconsciously. Truly incredible. "So what makes you wanna leave this village and be an adventurer anyway? You mentioned that before but I wanted to know more about it."

She stared at him for a few moments, then looked away. "I wanna help people...and protect my family. Bane and Mom and Dad...they're all really nice to me. I wanna become strong and protect them and stuff. Dad said if I work really hard and help a lot of people and join a guild and stuff, I can raise my 'rank' in the guild and get stronger too. But right now...I'm only an Angel." She placed both her hands to her chest and a small blue glow appeared. It began to fade and in her hands rested a small blue cross emitting a dim light. "He said if I do really really good, I can meet the princess and she can give me super powers! He said she can only pick seven people though so I have to work really hard to be the best mage I can be." Tears began to well up in Samson's eyes as he heard her spill her heart out. "Why are you crying geezer?"

"I'm not crying! I've just got a bug in my eye." He retorted rubbing the tears away.

"Where's the bug?"

"Oh hush you. You're too curious for your own good." Samson took a deep breath and nodded. Now seeing what Beatrice had meant for myself, I wonder what I'll do if, or when, I found out if this girl really is Kasumi. How could I take her away from this family she's come to love? She belongs here. And she'll belong here until the day comes that she's ready to leave home and set off on her own adventure. She doesn't have to spend her whole life pursuing the remains of her deceased parents and exacting her revenge...she deserves better than that. Someday...when she's older, I'll tell her the truth. As for now, that, will be my secret. "Seems my time is almost up. I only have one more question. Will you tell me your name?" She shook her head. "Why not?"

"You said you only had one more question geezer." She smiled.

"Oh you're good. You're real good! But I'm onto you." He said in a silky voice, then smiled. She laughed. "Fine, fine...have it your way. Right then, ask me anything you want."

She seemed to be thinking hard. "What's it like being an adventurer?"

Samson chuckled. She may be a genius, but she still is a child nonetheless. "It's everything you'd expect it to be kiddo. I go all around the world hitching rides on caravans and staying up as late as I want. I get to sleep under the stars every night and fight Agasuras during the day. I've met a lot of people, taken up quests and I've even explored some of the legendary dungeons."

The excitement in her expression was evident. "Did you find cool treasures and stuff too?"

"Only the finest. I've seen creatures you could only find in the dungeons, fought them, and won. I have a talon form the dragon Invoke in my bag if you wanna see it." She nodded vigorously. "I'll show you when we get back, but don't tell your parents okay? They'll be really mad." He chuckled.

"You've met other people too right? What were they like?"

"Throughout my adventures I've met a lot of people who studies all sorts of different classes. Warlords and Temple Knights, Gunslingers and Bards, you name it. One thing i noticed about all of them is sometimes the classes really represent the person. I guess in a way, it suits their personalities. The fact that we have the ability to choose what we wanna be allows us to do the thing we enjoy most."

"What about your brother? What did he decide to be?"

Samson froze for a moment, and the expression on his face seemed to become cold and lifeless for a moment. But as he looked into the cheerful curious face of the girl once more the colour returned to his own as a gentle smile spread across it. "You know, he was an Earth Mage just like you. He was clumsy and kind, and he couldn't say no for the life of him. He was always so thoughtful of everyone around him and he did his best to make everyone happy. He was such a good guy it made picking on him my favourite past time. No matter what I did, I just couldn't seem to make him angry." Samson laughed. "Even if he got into one of his 'vicious moods' he wasn't actually angry. He'd forgive me right off the bat like he always would too..."

The girl smiled. "I haven't seen you like this before geezer. You must really like your brother."

Samson nodded gently. "I do love the guy. When we were young I was always so jealous of him because he had inherited my father's powers, while I had inherited nothing. He was a talented Earth Mage and I was a struggling explorer. He received all the attention from my parents and he was a big deal among everyone while I as just kinda ignored." He snorted. "I was so envious back then. But I was too young to see how hard it was on the poor guy. People had all these huge expectations from him, and because of his nature he did everything he possibly could to live up to them. He didn't get as much time as he deserved to just have fun as a kid. I should have been in his place. He deserved to live the carefree life I had, not me."

The girl blinked. "If you could change it would you?"

"Of course I would!"

"That would be bad though." Samson looked puzzled. "This is the life he got isn't it? It might have been hard on him but he got through it didn't he? Maybe he's really happy now and stuff. If you did go and change that maybe he wouldn't be happy, and you wouldn't be either. If that happened then you wouldn't have come to Hanamah either and we would never meet you. Would you really want that geezer?"

His expression was appalled, then pleased. "You know, you're right kid. If I had changed anything in his life he may have not been where he is today. But, for better or worse, this is what fate had chosen for him. The happiness he had found is his to keep. And to see that smile I'll protect that happiness." He smiled at her and for a moment he could have sworn he had seen Julius in her clumsy grin.

"You're okay geezer. Don't get too uppity over that though!"

"Too late!" She blew a raspberry at him. "Just kidding!" He stood up and stretched. "We should head back before it gets dark kid." He took a glance around the area and saw that it had become quite the mess from their battle. "I'm sorry...looks like we messed up your secret garden."

She snorted. "We can fix this, right Bane?" He barked happily. "Let's show the geezer what the two of us can do one more time!" She knelt down and the two closed their eyes as she gently rested her head against her companion's. Bane began to give off a faint green glow that began to become brighter as the aura seemed to transfer over to her. She slowly pulled away from him breaking the link as she rose to her feet and spread her arms out. She began to levitate where she stood as the aura that surrounded her shone brightly and sparkled, engulfing her entire body in a beautiful veil. A gentle wind began to blow and the flowers began to sprout new buds that grew and blossomed in a matter of seconds. All around the three new flowers began to grow and follow the same pattern as the others.

"Incredible..." Samson said as he glanced at the surrounding flowers. The girl slowly drifted down to the ground and the aura faded away. "Did you...create all of these yourself?"

She nodded as her face flushed. "This place was boring before me and Bane got here. Wanted to make it better."

Samson beamed. "You're a real piece of work kid. You never cease to amaze me."

She smiled in turn. "You've got a lot more to see geezer. Just you wait."

The trio had eventually returned to Hanamah while the remains of dusk steadily drifted over the horizon and disappeared behind the forest's veil. As they passed villagers from all over finishing the last of their work waved and wished Samson a good night. He returned their kindness with his own wishes. They approached their home and entered, taking off their shoes while Samson closed the door. Grant walked by and waved them over.

"Hey you two!" Had fun today?" He asked smiling.

"I kicked the geezer's butt today." His daughter responded.

"Did you give him the ol' one-two?"

"Darn right!"

"Atta girl! Just like I taught 'ya." He knelt down and nuzzled her face with his.

"Stop Dad! Your whiskers are itchy!"

Grant laughed and Samson smiled. "Go wash up for dinner kiddo. Mom will have a cow if she sees you looking like that." The girl nodded and put her shoes back on as she opened the door and exited the house once more. Grant turned to Samson and smiled gently. "You want one too?"

"Is that a challenge?"Samson asked.

"May the finer moustache win!" The two began to laugh. Samson nodded and smiled again. "Thank you Samson, for always looking out for our daughter. She can be a handful sometimes, and she can be hard headed, but I think she's really taken a liking to you. Normally, she wouldn't open up to anybody."

Samson shook his head. "You shouldn't be thanking me. I have you to thank for taking me in and saving me from...expiring. To be able to look after your daughter and see her growth over the past few months is a valuable thing to me. She truly is gifted. I'm finally beginning to truly understand that."

Grant smiled somberly. "Yes she is. And about that, why don't you have a drink with me after everyone goes to bed? I'd like to have a man-to-man discussion with you."

Samson nodded. "It's about time isn't it? There's some things I've been meaning to ask you myself."

The girl entered the hallway once more as she excitedly said, "Dad, the geezer promised to teach me how to use daggers and stuff for kicking his butt!"

Grant looked surprised, then he put on an obviously fake angered expression as he said, "Samson, I am sorely disappointed in you! Teaching my daughter naughty things!" The voice he created was much deeper and absolutely ridiculous.

Samson and his child began to laugh."Forgive me, father-figure! She hath bested me in mortal combat!" Samson replied as he laughed. He wiped his tears away. "Right I'm gonna go wash up too. Wish me luck in explaining that to our gracious hostess."

"I've got your back like a butt-crack good sir!" He saluted him as he exited the house.

The four sat at the table and Beatrice viciously glared at Samson for what seemed to be an eternity to him.

"So tell me again exactly what you promised my daughter." She said in a cold, deadly voice.

"I promised I'd teach her to use daggers if she could prove to me that she was ready." Samson replied nervously.

"And why would you do that?"

"Using shields and daggers is a very useful skill for any mage. They trade their accuracy and improved channeling abilities for close combat and increased defenses. It might be difficult to find someone as experienced with them in Hanamah as I am so I figured it would be a good idea."

"Did it not occur to you that you did not consult me on the matter?"

"Go easy on the guy Beatrice. He had our daughter's future in mind. Some people don't even get the chance to learn to use both types of weapons. If she does choose to become a Sorcerer, she should have an understanding of using the different weapons at their disposal. Besides, the safer it is for her, then the better right?" Grant said.

Beatrice looked at him and sighed. She seemed to be considering his suggestions. "That does not change the fact that she is much too young to be receiving combat training."

Grant rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a few moments. "Couldn't you say the same about her magical training though? She's already breezed through all of her stage's basic casting guides and mastered the abilities within them. I've even seen her reading some of the tomes that belong to you. She's way ahead of all the others in terms of understanding, and as far as we know, she may have more hands on practice than we know of. Isn't it time we gave her some practice with weapons in case she needs to defend herself?"

Beatrice's expression was proof that she did not approve of Grant's decision, but she was not able to argue her point any further. "Fine. If that's what you want then do it. But if she gets hurt in any way it's going to be on both of your heads!" She glared at Samson and Grant.

"Mission accomplished." Grant said with a wink. Samson gave the girl a high five.

The night pressed on and while most families were preparing to sleep, Grant and Samson sat outside on the fence while Grant opened a tall bottle of wine.

"Drinking isn't my specialty, I just save a little something for special occasions." He said as he opened the bottle.

"I'm honoured." Samson said chuckling.

Grant picked up two glasses from next to his shoes and poured a fair amount of wine into each. "Here you are." He handed a cup to Samson and the two toasted. "How's she been lately?"

"She's an angel." Samson replied with a chuckle.

Grant laughed. "Of course of course. But you and I both know that's not what I was thinking. You've probably seen 'it' right? You know who she is."

"Her powers right? As for who she is, I could only assume."

Grant chuckled again as he took a sip from his cup. "The legends say that long before our time, God Ah had created four people, each gifted with one of the four elements...fire, water, earth, and wind. Together with assistance from God Ah's 'Left Hand', they created this world. Throughout the years the four had been given various names...sages, wizards, mages and now God's Governors...and somewhere in the world, they were there. Constantly inheriting their powers through their bloodline or being reincarnated into new beings with abilities that excel above all else. The power to create, and destroy. Some never came to realize who they were or where the lineage began and ended, but somewhere out there, they existed. It's all things you can find in a kid's textbook, but some only believe that they're legends still.

You see Samson, I'm a simple man. I've lived my life, I've fought for my people and to protect my world and here I am today. I never expected to stumble upon this girl. I didn't have the slightest clue who she was or why she had come to Hanamah with her wolf, but there she was, a ragged looking girl and her guardian." He chuckled. "The Haven we once resided in...it was attacked...by the Dark Moon Kingdom. They had brought reinforcements from Owl Castle and destroyed our town with great prejudice. Our men were killed, many of the women violated, the children enslaved, and before most of them knew it, the town was buried in a storm of sand."

"A storm of sand...You mean..." Samson said. Grant nodded. "That's...what happened to Xenym? Why did the Dark Moon Kingdom attack them?"

"They were searching for something. Rather, someone. One of the survivors had told us they had broken into houses and demanded that they hand over the God's Governor of Earth. Somewhere in that town he resided, and they wanted to take him away. They promised the safe release of anyone who was held captive if he had shown himself, but nobody could trust them enough to sacrifice him. Sadly, all of the assailants were only mere humans, and none of our people would break their resolve to do any harm to mankind. The end result likely speaks for itself. Considering who they're after, their goal is obviously the revival of their 'Lord'. If that's what it was, then you could say that God's Governor's ends justified by his means."

"Julius...he must have...but why?"

Grant raised his eyebrows. "Did you know someone from there?"

"My brother...he was the previous God's Governor of Earth. Our lineage may have ended with him...but his daughter...my niece, may still be alive and out there somewhere. When we were young, Julius had summoned his first familiar, which was a wolf that he named Bane. Summoning familiars is something only Earth Mages can do, but only those who have truly mastered the art. If Julius had died, Bane would disappear with him...unless Julius had given the sign of their contract to someone else before he met his demise. The fact that Bane still exists is proof that it must have happened at some point in time before the fall of the village Xenym, but could it have been his daughter?" Samson sighed.

"That idiot...there was no reason for him to bury everyone in sand! He knew he wasn't supposed to use that spell! He knew what would happen if he did...and yet, he did...but that isn't like him! He didn't only kill our people, but he killed the humans with him!"

Grant chuckled gently as he twirled his drink slightly. "Here's something for you to consider Samson. Man had come to our village and tortured our people, murdered those they loved and came claiming they were going to take what they wanted and leave peacefully. Had they done what they had originally promised, things could never be right again. Some were tainted in ways that will scar them forever, and others had lost the precious things they held on to. For some, death may have been a blessing during those dark times. Should things have been left the way they were, Humans would have some of our people under their control, and that could mean not only the end of us, but the end of mankind itself. Could you live knowing you had allowed that?"

Samson was silent for a few moments. "I understand...Julius was always a good kid. Whatever his reasons may have been, I'm sure he did what he had to to protect our people. To let them continue suffering even after what they had been through wouldn't have been something he could bear to live with. But I wish that I could've been there to protect them...to change their fate. To fix the conclusions that could have been avoided. But I've failed him...and now, I want to make things right in any way I possibly can. Starting with finding Kasumi."

Grant took a sip of his drink and smiled solemnly. "You've probably already put two and two together to come to a conclusion on the whereabouts of your missing niece. Heck, I'm sure you've already seen it for yourself." Samson stared blankly at Grant. "Come on, don't give me that look." He laughed. "Our handful of a daughter is probably her. It all adds up doesn't it? The familiar and sign of his contract, her ring, her incredible ability as an Earth Mage, the fall of Xenym and the existence of the child raised in the forest...the list goes on."

"Grant..."

Grant leaned back and looked up to the starry sky. "I don't wanna lie to you any more Samson. You're a good man, and you deserve the truth. Both Beatrice and I knew we would have tell you someday. It was hard on both of us. We love that kid...we really do. She hasn't quite found a place she belongs here, and it might not be here...but even if she fights and keeps her distance from everyone, she's a good kid after all. Guess you can say we're just not ready to let her go." He chuckled. "We just can't bear to lose another one..."

"Beg your pardon?"

"Beatrice and I used to have a little girl ourselves. Had her before we left home and came down to Jienda. When the war broke out, we had sent our daughter along with some of the other escaping families in the care of a close friend. I wanted her to be safe, but I also wanted to save as many of the others as I could. Some of the warriors in that battle were only teenagers with the most basic training. They weren't ready yet! They still had a future...I wanted to give them a chance at that...so I fought alongside our forces and Beatrice stood by me right until the very end. But...the group with our daughter was attacked...most injured, few escaped alive...our daughter wasn't that lucky. Beatrice was heartbroken, and I felt like a broken man. It's a wound that we both felt would never heal.

Years passed and Xenym was attacked. The people we had come to know were gone...just like that."

"How did the two of you survive it?"

"We had heard that the human city Elias was preparing for a battle against goblin-kind. They were planning an invasion and King Hejong planned to create a counter-invasion to stop the problem at its source. We had joined in the battle, and upon our journey to return we had met the survivor I had mentioned previously. Bless her soul...wherever she may be, I wish the best for her. We searched for a different Haven that we could take refuge in. One of the Palace guards had given us some directions to Hanamah. He may have been one of the survivors of the war."

"I see."

"Eventually we had settled in, and our lives became what they were. Ordinary things alike to everyone else's...awaiting the day that the next strike begins...or the time where our Sovereign would rise up and bring light in these dark times in the name of God Ah. On one of my patrols I had stumbled upon the girl and her wolf by the river drinking water. She was vicious." He laughed. "It seemed that her primal instincts were much more active than her evolved instincts. It took some time to gain their trust, but little by little they warmed up to me and Beatrice and I took the two in."

"So she had never come to know interactions with other people since then I assume?"

Grant nodded. "Strange kid...the fact she had survived until then tells a lot about her. I won't bore you any longer with that story. That's something for another time. You've made quite the journey in search for her...haven't you? If it's what you want, I won't stop you from bringing her with you on your journey. I'm sure she'd be thrilled to know that she's found someone from her real family. And your search can finally come to a conclusion. Just do me one favour Samson."

"What would that be?"

"Be sure to tell her to write, and to come see us once she's found her pledger. I need to approve of him." The two began to laugh.

"Grant, I couldn't take her away from you two. Once she's ready, I want her to take her own destiny into her hands. She's a strong girl, and she's got her aspirations and dreams, and if I bombard her with stories of the past they'll only bog her down. I could never do that to her. Whatever bonds she's created here, I want them to stay the way they are and improve as they were meant to. She deserves this. She deserves to have a real childhood and a family to share it with. I want her to be happy here, so I'll keep those secrets with me until the day comes where she's ready to find out the truth."

Grant chuckled. "You're a good kid Samson. I know she can count on you."

"You need to teach her some of your flattery." Samson retorted.

"Someone's a little on the saucy side." Grant sneered.

The two men quietly laughed the night away.

The following week Samson had prepared a practice dagger for her to use until she was ready for a real weapon. It was simply crafted from wood, but with a fair amount of weight for a child. She seemed to handle it with a fair bit of ease. The two practiced not too far from Hanamah itself in the field right outside of the forest. A small crowd of boys and girls gathered around, some envious and some terrified. Samson and the child stood together, each armed as Samson gave instructions and requested she copy his actions.

"Alright kid, watch closely 'cause you have to be fast, clever, and accurate with all of your strikes. If your opponent leaves themselves open, go for the three basic strikes. First, thrust!" He made a thrusting gesture and she followed suit. "Next, downward slash. Then finally, upward slash!" He watched and nodded in approval as she followed his actions. "Good. If your opponent leaves themselves open, or if you successfully dodge an attack, go for a strong attack. Swing like this, then follow up like this, then dodge back before they can counter like so." He made a wide swing to the right, left, then dodged back. "Great. You're a natural."

She smiled. "With a bit more practice I can beat you again geezer." She said with a grin.

"Hey hey! That's our secret." He chuckled. "Once you've got the basics down, we'll move onto some real dagger skills. That'll be some handy stuff for fighting Agasuras. Now then, onto shield bashing and parries!"

The three continued on in that manner over the next three weeks, and by the end of the month she had mastered everything he had to teach her. The two sat on the small landing amidst the flowers as the wind gently blew.

"Dancing Dagger, Illusion Dagger, Masquerade, and Dark Dagger...seems you've mastered all of the skills I have to teach you right now." Samson said with a pleased expression. "You've come a long way kid, and in a short time too. I'm proud of you."

"I"m a natural." She said with a grin.

Samson chuckled. "Is there anything you're not good at?"

"Nope."

He smiled. "Quite the invincible little girl." She smiled at him. "So, which weapon do you think you like the most?"
"Daggers of course! I get to use cool dagger skills and magic too! The Agasuras won't stand a chance against me!"

"If you're gonna fight with daggers, you're gonna have to get real good with casting spells so you won't need help from a staff. Think you're ready for it?"

"I was born ready."

She has Rosetta's resolve. There was nothing that girl feared, and nothing that could cause her to lose sight of her goals. If only the two could see their daughter now, I'm sure they'd be so proud. For her sake I'll give my goals my everything. "When you're older maybe someday you could join me on my adventure, that is, if you think you can handle it."

She frowned. "Born. Ready."

Samson laughed. "Of course of course! You better make me proud out there. You got trained by the best so I expect you to follow in my footsteps."

"Second-best."

"Oh? So who's the first?" She pointed to herself. "And what makes you the best?"

"I beat you."

Samson looked surprised. "Touche." He checked his watch and rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "We should be getting back soon. Beatrice has been looking awfully angry lately 'cause we go home really late. I don't blame her." As he began to rise she grabbed the sleeve of his coat and muttered something quietly. "What was that?"

"Not yet...I...wanna talk..."

Samson stared at her blankly for a few moments. "What's on your mind?"

She fidgeted a bit, then looked at him earnestly. "Have you...ever had a dream that kept coming back?"

"A reoccurring dream?" Samson thought for a moment. Ever since Julius' death I've been haunted by nightmares of he and Rosetta...whenever I do, I fear for Kasumi. Everytime I do I wake in a cold sweat. I don't want to share that kind of experience with the kid. She's probably just dreaming of something silly where I'm seeing a tortuous reoccurring nightmare. He smiled. "Yeah I have."

"You too?"

Samson nodded. "Can you remember what you see when you have that dream?"

She nodded. "There are people...two of them..." Her expression spoke volumes of how difficult it was for her to speak about, but she tried her best nonetheless. "When they see me, they wave to me and call me over silently...and when I go to them they always move away...and they just keep on going no matter how hard I try to get to them or call them...and then I wake up. But everytime I do...it hurts right here..." She placed her hand to her chest. "I feel like a piece of me comes back when I see them and gets taken away when they're gone. I wanna forget so it stops hurting but I can't..."

He was surprised. She has memories of the two? It must have been before she had parted with them. It's been so long her memories are just vague images. "That's love kid. Somewhere out there, I think somebody is waiting to meet you. If you're patient, and you work really, really hard you'll find out who they are and that dream will finally be complete. I think...that it's better that you don't forget it. Embrace it, and carry on, and it'll lead you to your answer."

"You think so?"

"I know so." He ruffled her hair gently. "Hang on tightly kid. You'll make it someday."

She beamed. "Thanks geezer."

That night, the sound of footsteps quietly sounded throughout the hallways while everyone was asleep. Samson's door creaked open and a shadowy figure made its way into the kitchen then out the door, slowly closing it as it creaked and shut once more. Bane raised his ears and opened one eye slightly catching a glimpse of the figure as it departed from the cabin. He whimpered quietly and lowered his ears as the figure disappeared into the night.

Underneath the stars Samson rested once more in the child's 'secret garden' staring up at the night sky. His bag by his side resting with him amidst the bed of flowers, he sighed gently.

I knew the day would come sooner or later. It hurts so much more than I ever thought it would. I really like that kid...and it kills me to part with her...but what choice do I have? He reached into his pocket and drew the same tiny stone he was looking at before. Now I know the truth. The Dark moon Kingdom had destroyed Xenym and brought about the end of the lives of the innocent people of that Haven...including Rosetta and Julius. They tore our family apart, and that is something I could never forgive. To protect Kasumi, her family, and the many others who may be caught in the crossfire of their search, I'll go there myself and destroy it from the inside out. Starting with the Dark Moon King!

The sound of footsteps caught Samson's attention causing him to rise from the ground and look in the direction of the approaching figure in complete disarray. The young girl approached in her pajamas with a cute bunny design on them. Samson placed his hand to his chest and sighed gently.

"What are you doing here? And dressed like that too! You should be in bed."

She reached into her pockets and drew a small note. "I found your note first." She said. "Why are you leaving geezer? You don't have to go..."

He chuckled. "I wish I could stay kiddo, I really do, but I can't do it. There's still many things I have to do, and they can't be done here in Hanamah, even if I love it here."

"Can't they wait just a little longer? There's still lots of cool stuff I have to show you."

Samson stood up and rubbed his neck uneasily. "It won't be forever you know. I'll come back someday. After I kick some Agasura butt and go on some cool adventures, I'll come back with cool stories to tell you about."

She frowned as her expression began to look upset. "But you only stayed a little while. You should stay longer..."

He slowly approached and knelt down in front of her, placing his hands on her shoulders and smiling earnestly. "An adult's gotta do what an adult's gotta do kiddo. Sometimes we have to go away for a while for adult reasons, but like I said, it won't be forever. While I'm gone, I want you to work really hard to make your dreams come true. Make sure to practice your spells everyday, and practice with your dagger skills too."

"Okay..." She muttered.

"Listen to your parents, and try to avoid fighting with the boys. You're all good kids." He smiled gently. "Do your best to get along with them. If you work hard you'll fit right in, I'm sure of it. If you can build a good relationship with people they'll count on you to take on quests and stuff."

"Okay."

"Don't be afraid to be yourself. You're wonderful and talented with magic and just about everything else. I think you can teach everyone a thing or two with all the knowledge you've got in that noggin. Take pride in yourself, 'cause you're great."

She smiled. "Mm hmm."

"Lastly...be strong for your family. You've all been through some hard times, but you're the light in their lives. They care about you, and they love you with all their heart, so be good to them. Without you, their lives wouldn't be the same, so be a good girl."

"I know, I know." She began to laugh. "You better come back and be okay geezer or I'll kick your butt again!"

"Count on it." He said smiling to her.

"And...you better bring cool stuff too...like treasures you find and stuff. And new stuff to teach me so I can kick your butt again."

"Okay, okay enough with the butt-kicking." Samson laughed. "I've already taken quite a hit to my pride. I think that's more than enough." She grinned.

"Come back soon okay? I'll be waiting..." She leaned in and gently hugged him. "Uncle Sam..."

Samson looked absolutely appalled. He began to sob as he gently hugged her in return and smiled. "You take care of yourself too kid...you better be able to beat me again when I get back."

She pulled away slightly revealing a flustered expression as she muttered, "'s not kid...it's...su..."

He looked puzzled. Does she know that she's Kasumi? If she does I...

"...Suuba." Suuba muttered quietly. Samson smiled nonetheless.

"Suuba hmm? I've waited a long time to hear your name." He let go of her and stood up quickly collecting his bag. "This is for you little miss. Close your eyes and hold out your hands." She did as he suggested and he placed two things in her hands.

She opened her eyes and found Samson's dagger and its sheath, and the tiny stone he was looking at previously. "You're giving these to me?"

He nodded. "These belong to you now. My favourite dagger, and the Mino gemstone."

"What's a Mino gemstone?"

"He smiled. It's a symbol of fate...the one that I thought belonged solely to me, now one that we share. No, one that we've always shared. Pursue your destiny and it'll find you."

"You're a weirdo."

He smiled. "It's a guilty pleasure." He looked over the edge of the land they stood on. "Speaking of guilty pleasures, will you do me a favour Suuba?" She raised her eyebrows. "I always wanted to try that giant leaf spell that you used. Looked kinda fun."

She beamed. "I can do it for you."

He smiled. "You're such a sweetheart." She glared at him for that comment. Alike to how she had summoned one during their battle, she repeated the process creating one exactly like the other. She handed it to Samson and he took hold of it with his right hand, resting it over his shoulder. "Well, this it kiddo. It'll be some time before I see you again, so when I come back, make me proud."

"I'll be good enough to be your teacher when you come back. Geezer!" She shouted.

"You're not gonna let that one go, are you?" He laughed. He held out an arm and she came close enough for him to give her a one-armed hug. "You don't have to fear so long as you remember, under these shattered skies we'll come apart, but always pull it together again, because it's who we are. Every piece, of it tells a different story, but when you bring them all together it tells one story. And your story...is just beginning. Make it the best it can be!" He let go of her and ran towards the edge, leaping and tightly grabbing hold of the leaf as he soared through the air down towards the forest. "Until we meet again!"

"Better come back soon! Don't keep me waiting! Stupid geezer!" She tightly clenched her fist as her tears began to fall. "I'll be waiting...so come back someday."


A word from the Author:

For Su: I hope you really liked it. I really wanted to finish this a lot sooner, but things got a little crazy and I waffled about a lot of the content lol. But I hope I was able to convey the message of the story to you successfully. Whatever happened, and whatever's to come, keep doing your best, and be strong like I know you to. This is also a small thank you for reading the rough copy of Frequency and helping me to improve it. Without you I'd never be where I am today, so thank you. With that said, cheer up big sis!

For my readers: Yes, this actually is a part of Frequency lol. It does emphasize a lot of things that you might not yet understand, but if you use a bit of inductive reasoning with the help of Frequency you can piece it together before you even find out just what all these people are talking about. Even if you don't, everything will be coming to light very soon, because Frequency is on it's final five chapters so prepare for some major changes. It'll proceed with the next chapter once I write it lol.

To everyone, thank you for reading, and I hope you'll continue to read!