ALL my girls are in this combined story, so yeah, I hope you enjoy.
This place looks so much happier with everything settled. I heard a child say the other day, "Let's play hide-and-seek!" Not to me because I was about to train, but the fact that they can play hide-and-seek without being seen in the intense lights is an improvement of the sad life they lived before. People still go to the Temple of Light but the villagers aren't afraid of the other Shade anymore. Everyone living in harmony; I wish Moonlight Town was like this.
I shake my heavy backpack to ease the weight off my shoulders and step outside to absorb the tranquility of the Village of the Light. I'm gonna miss this place just a little bit, but I'm glad I'm leaving here a stronger person. The little girl that came here almost a month ago was practically a baby-here I am going on as if I've truly changed.
"Hey there Mia," a familiar voice from behind me greets warmly. "Why are you heading to the Dark Forest with your backpack?"
I face Mr. Daniel. "Today I'm going to a place, far, far away from here," I reply, knowing very well I'm going nowhere near home. "Did you forget?"
"I guess I did," he says disappointingly. "Did you say goodbye to Master Wisp already?"
"Can I accompany you to the exit of the village?"
"Okay." I take in all the sights before entering the Dark Forest. Dawn is just about to shed its dim-lit blanket over our heads and for once, the street lamps are all off. There is a small group within the village that still detests the Shade and scowl as I pass by. They are the Light Monks who spend most of the day with Master Wisp. Speaking of her, she didn't seem to care much for my departure. "Safe travels Mia. I know you're going be fine out there," she assured me.
"What if I'm not?"
"Then you're not," she said without a hint of a joke. I know she doesn't hate me but she could have sounded nicer. When we reach the gate, Michele doesn't even acknowledge me and Mr. Daniel. "It means she likes you," assures Mr. Daniel, hearing my thoughts as we enter the Dark Forest. It isn't as cold as it had been the past couple of days but blustery.
"Good tidings to both of you," a Shade spirit says as he flies past us. Mr. Daniel jumps, being startled a little, but I keep cool.
"Good tidings, Mia," another passerby greets. Who would have thought that there would be so many Shade living in this forest?
"Morning." The tiny, flying eyeball zooms up into the trees and flies forward into the shadows of the forest.
"I'm still getting used to all of them," whispers Mr. Daniel nervously. A drop of his perspire hits a dead leaf.
"Me too," I whisper back while following after the Shade spirit. Master Shade's farewell was a little more awkward than Master Wisp's. It was right after we had that discussion about him opting not to kill me. "Have courage. Make sure your pure Darkness stays strong against the bad kind."
"Yes sir. But what if Seth' s Darkness is stronger than mine-?"
"His isn't," he stated firmly. "Take care." I doubt that very much. Seth has been in the Darkness for so many months and I've been tampering with mine for about a month. How's mine going to be stronger than his? "Weakling," Mental Seth snickers. I can't let him stay inside my head beating me down all the time. It's only going to make me weaker, like Master Shade said. "I head off on my own now," I say to Mr. Daniel. This is the same vicinity where I first met Master Shade; it has become more populated with Shade spirits and looks fresher with them around, if that makes sense.
"You better pay me-excuse me, the village a visit," he replies with a bashful look. "Keep yourself safe."
"I will try." I shouldn't try to keep any promises I can't keep. Maybe I won't ever see this place again, just like home.
' ' '
"Shut the door tight!" says Mr. Erick when I try entering. Spring definitely descended upon Metropolis when I arrived-I was greeted with turbulent winds and a cruel thunderstorm. It reminds me of the unpredictable, powerful storms that would send us Lunarians-that's the nickname given to people who were born in Moonlight Town-scurrying inside for shelter. I forcefully slam the door shut and then look down at the puddle of accumulating rainwater from my drenched clothes.
"I'm so sorry about this," my head sinks in embarrassment.
I hear Mr. Erick chuckle teasingly. "How can I blame you for the weather? Mia, you haven't changed at all." My jaw tightens. "Don't take it the wrong way. Your mannerisms are still the same is what I mean." When I gain the courage to pick my head up, I notice another girl in the room, also soaked. She looks very uncomfortable in this room-wasn't her name something exotic? As if the familiar peer hears me, she smiles at me as if she understands my embarrassment.
"It's really bad out there isn't it?" I strike up conversation to conceal my discomfort.
"Have a seat Mia, I'm glad you've come back safe and well trained I assume," says Erick, slumping in his spinning chair. Bitter cold water soaks through my new outfit, which might as well look like wet poop. I've been sitting here for almost an hour waiting for these girls and I'm still wet and cold. God I hate the rain. Spring has officially come with vengeance. I lean my soaked head back against the tattered, beige wallpaper and stare up at the ceiling. Taking a sick day would have been the best option for me today, but Erick here told me when I got here, "This mission requires all three of you ladies."
"Oh yeah? What's so special about this one? Inquiring minds would like to know."
"When the rest of the inquiring minds arrive." I hate it when people keep the suspense going like this. That's why I could never get into soap operas. The sapphire-haired girl named Mia takes her seat to the stool in front of Erick tentatively. I wonder why she's so awkward and timid. Well she's still in that stage everyone has to go through, she'll eventually grow out of it. Her face is nice to look at when I steal a look at her; I knew a boy who had similar green eyes like hers, but hers are big and scream "innocence". His eyes were sharper by a huge contrast.
"How much longer?" I can no longer keep quiet patiently. Also, the awkward silence besides Erick's pen scribbling on his papers is ear-gritting. "I can't do this anymore Erick."
"I'm sure our third employee will be here soon," he replies nonchalantly with his eyes on his papers. "Maybe she's waiting the weather out."
"That's what I should have been doing," I snap, wanting to lie down in that hotel bed and sleeping through the wild climate. "We can't start without her?"
"I'll do anything."
"Good, then wait a little while longer." I groan as loudly like when I was at school and I would forget I had a test that day. "I hate storms." That makes me wonder, I wonder what's happening in Tokyo. When I was tossed off the ship like dead weight, I left that place in the middle of a sea storm. It's hard to imagine Tokyo even functionally normally while I'm not there. The sound of a slamming door shakes me from the maundering "nostalgia". I jerk my head to the door and then regret it.
The girl in the kimono and hood called Risa couldn't have made her entrance scarier than she did. Even if a serial killer charged in declaring that they were going to kill us all, I would be less concerned than I am about Risa's precipitated presence. Even Innocent Eyes across the room seems pretty perturbed.
"Pleasure to see you Risa," he receives her entrance as nonchalantly as he can, but even Erick can't hide his astonishment. "Don't mind my expression, the weather just seems to have worsen and I didn't expect you to get in here so quickly." Risa nods a "whatever" nod, and sits down on the stool closest to me.
"Bad weather huh?" I start light conversation despite the tense atmosphere surrounding her. She indifferently nods, keeping her eyes to the floor. "Okay then…so Erick, now that we're all here, can you tell what's so important about this mission?"
Erick clears his throat. "Gladly. Normally I would send you to decrease the population of Heartless, deal with thugs, etc. But today you have a specific target, an uncanny assassin who's been traveling worlds just like you three. I've received a flood of requests from different places, here's one: 'To Whom It May Concern, please send help for my family. It seems as though an assassin has it out for them and has already murdered my mother and older brother. Help please, the Fruve Family'. And here's a more detailed one. 'This cutthroat has attacked several of my citizens. Relatives of the victims have reported that this agile bandit breaks into their homes and murders people in their sleep. So far, her targets have been wealthy citizens, but she does not seem to burglarize. There are always stab wounds to the center of the chest, but organs are still intact. I request aid from your company, Mr. McGraw'."
"I've deduced the pattern of the killer. They have a special liking for rich families and are very slippery. I heard a report of the assassin being reported in another world and I need the three of you to kill this murderer on sight. Understand?"
"No prob," I answer determinedly. A universe-traveling assassin who hates rich people? This is what my life has come to?
The foreigner's eyes were as wild as the lightning streaking across the grey sky. Her livid eyes will be the last thing I see in this world. In her unbreakable grasp, I snatch her soaked hands and threw them off me. I was not ready to die yet, not until I get back to my village and find Clancy. The sorceress opened her palm and shoved it towards me-a thorn protrudes from it abruptly. I was too stunned to retaliate or even dodge it-I stood there as the thorn pierced my chest, leaving me with wide hole where my heart was supposed to be. Maybe I heard Knuckles scream, or maybe it was the foreigner screaming "Daughter!"
"Risa are you listening?" Erick McGraw's serious voice snaps me back to the present. I sigh deeply, clutching my chest. I shake my head. "You should be. I'll let your teammates fill you in on the details." That is not what happened. It almost did, but it did not.
I took her hands off me and kicked her in the side. She flew back while holding her sides and her braid flipped over her head. When she stomped, I leaped out of the abrupt, stone pillar's way from under my feet and threw my periwinkle blade at her. An off-green mist from the clouds surrounded the young sorceress and it lifted her feet off the ground. My blade was chucked into the ground as I land safely. I thought that it was another trick or a special move but her surprised countenance as opposed to her furious one told me otherwise. "No! Jenuy…" she went back to speaking her strange language as she ascended into the sky, where she most likely came from. Her wiggling bare feet were the last trace I saw of the sorceress. That is when the rain poured heavily and lightning flashed less than a mile away from me.
I hear the gruff sounds of vines crawling back into the ground and a soft thud. "What the hell…was that?" Knuckles demanded. He had cuts and scrapes from the thorns of the vines but he is a fast healer so I had no reason to really worry.
"I do not have an answer."
"What did she want?"
I turn to him just as thunder roared. "I would tell you if I really knew." I pace towards him. "I have no idea who she was and why she attacked me. I will apologize for putting your life in jeopardy but do not assume I knew who she was. I am as dumbfounded as you are." That made his eyes narrow and his tone became a sharpened blade.
"She knew you pretty well. Maybe you're hiding something," he says accusingly. My head ached, my body shook every time I spoke-there was one other time when I felt like this. That was because I was young and disobeyed. I did not want to stay on the island any longer and when Knuckles presented me with the opportunity, I left.
I almost died by the hands of a stranger. The thought infuriates me-she knew who I was, where I was, and more about me than I do apparently. She kept tell me to tap into my powers but I have no idea what she was talking about. Her eyes had an angry story behind it. But if I come across her again, our battle will have a different outcome. Without realizing it, I am walking out in the rain alongside the girl I met before named Mizuki and another girl with blue-hair. My head is not with me anymore, I do not have the slightest idea as to why I am going anywhere with these two girls. Whenever I heard someone, I simply nodded or shook my head without truly understanding. That stranger has thrown me off balance in more ways than one. "I'm glad we don't have to go that far," comments Mizuki, drenched in the rain. "I don't want to be out in the rain for too long."
"Me neither," replies the blue-haired one. Her name also starts with an M, I just cannot remember it.
"I just hate rain!" I do not mind it. Looking up at the thick, grey covering with blotches of black and streaks of lightning, I think I see a face within the angry clouds.