Oh, hello everyone, it is I again! Prepare yourself for a long note to explain what you are about to read:

This is...well, it's actually kind of a scary project for me since it's a chapered story! I know, I know, calm yourselves everyone, it will be alright. Although, I'm not sure how I feel about it because it will be on-going, even if I know everything that will happen.

Before reading this I suggest reading my other IV stories, especially Fire and Ice, Choice and Duty and Imperfection, as I consider those in the same 'timeline' as this. Also, I must say the following to make it clear: I have not played TAY, I don't really want too, either. I have, however, read about it and watched way too many gameplay videos on YouTube so I pretty much know everything. I have altered some things, obviously, so I think it should go without saying that this story really isn't cannon.

This story also takes place post-TAY, which should be obvious as well once you start reading it.

Anyway, I will try to update as much as possible, but I'm not promising anything because...well, the minute I do, there will be a day/week/month where I can't keep it.

Enjoy the first chapter and special thanks to Mythweaver who not only proof-read this chapter for me but as been nice enough to listen to me blather on about it!

Oh yes, and I don't own the stuff that you all know I don't own, execpt the stuff that you don't know I might have created, thereby possibly owning it.

Cuore kept reminding herself that here, in the Overworld, only a few months had passed, and this was why the city looked unchanged. Only she was different. Only she had changed.

Only she was unrecognizable-though, she kept drawing double looks from people as she passed them.

It was probably her vibrant teal hair that caught their eye, and maybe they remembered an untamed little princess with hair a similar color. Since then, she had grown her hair out, all the way down past the small of her back, very different from the bobbed cut she had worn previously.

Then again, maybe it was the fact that she was treading over the stone pathways in bare feet that was odd.

Cuore ducked her head as another person gave her a suspicious once-over.

Hopefully those closest to her would at least recognize her; if she could find them. She could wander up to the castle and demand entry, but that would result in an arduous explanation and a bigger deal out of her return then she wanted. That was the whole purpose of coming back quietly anyway, without letting her parents know.

Despite the looks and whispers, she looked over the familiar pathways with a sentimental smile tugging on her lips, remembering past times here, memories surfacing of years past.

Years for her-months for them.

She had to keep reminding herself of that.

Cuore sidestepped a puddle and caught her reflection briefly, biting her lip as another wave of apprehension over her sudden return washed over her.

Despite her best efforts to push those unhelpful emotions away, it was proving far more difficult then she would have liked.

Thoughts of all the good times had helped distract her from any hesitation.

She made a face as she squeezed through a tight passage between some of the homes; she had forgotten how strangely this city was set up. It was like a maze, and although she was good at finding her way through mazes, she remembered the first time she'd ever been here.

She hadn't been in this world very long and had spent over an hour lamenting the aggravating layout of the city and how illogical it was. All her tirade had earned her was a laugh and a pat on the head, but she at least felt justified to have voiced her concerns over the design.

The castle was worse, but over the years she had gotten used to it.

Cuore paused and looked around, knowing exactly where she was, and taking a second to glance up at the sky that was currently threatening rain.

Changes in temperature rarely affected her, and she happened to find rain fascinating to this day. What some people might describe as gloomy weather, was beautiful in its own right to her.

She scanned the rooftops for a second, letting her eyes trail down the familiar buildings nearby, and smiled to herself when she spotted what she was looking for.

This particular house had, for as long as she had lived here, always had a set of crates stacked up next to it.

What was actually in those crates, she didn't know, but they were placed almost perfectly to become steps.

With a nostalgic smile, Cuore hurried over and hopped on top of the first one, looking around before easily making the climb to the top of the pile, and from there, to the roof itself. Her increased height certainly made the trip easier then she remembered and once on top of the house, she spared a moment to take a deep breath.

This had always been her favorite place in the city, mostly because no one else had ever found it. From here, she could see beyond the walls to the plains and the mountains, and in the other direction, the rest of the city spread out before her.

And of course, the castle, which she was simultaneously excited to get to and dreading. She spent a few minutes scanning the town below her, trying to braid her unruly hair at the same time with little success.

Then her eyes spotted the perfect person to both welcome her back without making a huge deal about it, and to get her into the castle.

She flipped the partially done braid over her shoulder and pattered across the roof top, hopping to the next one over, and then zigzagging across an alley to another set of roofs. Not only was this a much faster and easier way to get anywhere in the city, but she also had fond memories of the first time she ever got caught doing this. Her mother had thoroughly scolded her about not being careful, to which Cuore had asked innocently: "Aren't I always?"

She could of course see the danger in what she was doing, but if she lived her life too carefully, what was the point? Besides, she hadn't been able to do anything this fun the last four years of her life, and it felt freeing to be able to do it now.

Cuore slowed her pace and came to a halt on the tips of her toes, peering down at the street below. It was probably good no one was around, or else she might be in real trouble.

"I didn't consider how to get back down," she mumbled, looking around. A minor set-back that she soon remedied by judging the distance from her current location to the ground, and deeming it mostly safe to merely jump down. After all, her current perch sloped towards the ground.

Cuore still hesitated, hung up by her practical side, but then shrugged and jumped down, absorbing the majority of the impact by bending her knees.

She stood and dashed around the corner of the building, letting her hand catch on the edge of the wall as she swung around, smiling.

"Hi Izayoi," she greeted cheerfully, gleeful at the little start the woman gave; after all, rarely was it possible to sneak up on her.

Izayoi nearly drew one of her weapons, but then paused and blinked. "Cuore?"

She giggled and nodded, both nervous and relieved to finally be back.

There was a pause and then Izayoi moved forward to set her hand on Cuore's shoulder and said, "You're so grown up!"

She laughed and nodded as she was pulled into a brief hug before being released with a question: "How are you?"

"I'm…fine." she replied, smiling.

Izayoi was exactly how she remembered her, imposing and beautiful-untouchable, even. Kind of like Shiva, if she had to put an Eidolon to her. They had always gotten along, and Cuore was delighted to see her again. She guessed that, despite the calm demeanor of the other woman, Izayoi shared her happiness.

"Where did you come from?" Izayoi asked, looking around.

Cuore grinned and pointed up. "The rooftops."

"You're going to kill your mother with that, you know."

Cuore dropped her gaze, a smile still on her lips. "I promised her I wouldn't climb trees anymore. I said nothing of buildings."

"Speaking of your parents," Izayoi said. "They will want to know you're back. We should go and tell your mother as soon as possible and…well, I would say we should tell your father, too, but I have no idea where he is-as usual."

Cuore giggled. "So, nothing's changed around here?"

"Very little."

The dark haired woman steered her in the direction of the castle, and Cuore gladly followed; trying very hard to maintain the slow pace Izayoi had set for some reason.

"What brings you back, now?"

Confused, she glanced at the other woman. "I wanted to come home, I…missed it here, and I missed everyone."

"And your magic?"

Cuore stiffened and took a double-step away from the woman, so she could glare at her. "What is that supposed to mean?"

Izayoi sighed. "It means exactly what it sounds like it means, Cuore. You left us with an unstable skill and I'm asking you if it has been corrected."

She looked away, trying very hard not to be insulted. Izayoi was right to ask, and technically, it was her job to ask.

"It's better. I have control of it now. There won't be any accidents."

There was an awkward pause and Cuore relented, not wanting to start off her return this way. "I'm sorry, I just…I don't really want to talk about it. Not now."

Izayoi rested her hand on her shoulder. "I know, and I only needed to know that you are satisfied with how much control you have over it now. I didn't mean to imply anything less."

Cuore grinned at her. "So diplomatic."

Izayoi rolled her eyes and they started walking again. As much as Cuore wanted to ask numerous questions about how everything she had missed, she knew that there were others who would want to tell her, so held in her questions.

Once the castle was in view, she was hauled back, and Izayoi gave her a disapproving once over.

"What are you wearing?"

Cuore frowned. "Clothes?"

"And what did you do to your hair?" Izayoi asked, tugging on the loose ends that had fallen out of the braid.

"Grew it out?" she answered hesitantly.

Izayoi sighed and shook her head so hard that her own long braid swung over one shoulder. "Your clothes look like they have been through a world tour, but your hair looks quite nice long-what exactly do you call this style, though?"

Cuore's frown deepened. "Thanks a lot."

"Wait here."

"For what?"

"For me and the necessary items to make your homecoming not turn into a disaster," Izayoi replied.

Cuore rolled her eyes. "I don't want to make a big deal out of it."

"It's going to be a big deal," Izayoi shot back, over her shoulder. "As much as you seem to forget, you are a princess, Cuore."

The teen whined. "Izayoi."

All Cuore got was a stern look that made her sigh in defeat, and lean against the nearest building. She inspected her clothes, the only set she had that fit her now that she was older, and conceded that they did look a little worn. Honestly, she could care less.

As for her hair, she wanted to see Izayoi try to style the disorderly locks.

Waiting the few extra minutes was irritating, and she fidgeted uneasily, wishing the older woman would hurry up and come back.

Finally Izayoi returned and handed her a dress. "Put that on."

"Isn't this one of yours?"

She nodded and shooed her towards a dead end. "Yes, but I haven't worn it in ages."

Cuore bit back a round of grumbling and did as she was told, changing into the dark blue dress she was given and marveling at the fact that it actually fit.

Next Izayoi pushed her to sit on a nearby fence and raked a comb painfully through her teal hair.

"Ouch! Izayoi, careful," Cuore complained, gripping the fence with both hands so hard it hurt.

"When was the last time you brushed this?" Izayoi asked, sounding frustrated.

Cuore winced as there was a snapping sound. "Before I left, but I have my mother's hair. It gets tangled so easily."

"I can see that." Izayoi replied, ripping the comb through the ends of the hair once more.

Cuore made a little whiney sound and was glad when the ordeal was over; only to groan when Izayoi began tugging it every which way to form an impressive rope braid.

Cuore admired the work when it was finished, though she could have done without the ribbon, and commented: "You're pretty good at doing hair, Izayoi."

"Probably the only useful thing I learned in Troia."

Cuore grinned but was promptly dragged forward and towards the castle.

"Come," Izayoi urged her, leading the way to the courtyard before the actual castle.

The castle was equally as unchanged as the town, and Izayoi hung to the right of the entrance and led her down the recognizable path towards the library-the obvious place to begin searching for her mother at this time of day.

Cuore smirked and followed along quietly, already feeling her hair protest the style it had been forced into, and start to pry itself free of the confines.

She had ditched her borrowed shoes without Izayoi noticing, and now walked barefoot through the stone corridors, happily feeling the cold beneath her toes.

The hallways became tighter as they went and once they reached the staircase that spiraled downward, they had to walk single file. Cuore followed after Izayoi, wondering what sort of reaction she could expect from her mother. Granted, Rydia would be less surprised by her transformation from a little girl into a young woman as she had gone through it herself. But still, it would take them all time to readjust to everything now that she was back.

The door to the library was always a little temperamental, and as Izayoi fussed with the latching mechanism, Cuore wondered why, with all the trips they made down here, no one had ever just fixed the problem.

The door creaked open with an annoyingly loud sound, and Cuore hesitated for a single moment before taking a deep breath and following Izayoi inside. Since the library was in the very bottom floor of the castle there were no windows to let light in. Numerous candles had been lit and they filled the space with a cheery, yellow-toned light. Rows of book cases were against the walls, and some spanned through the room as well, with a few scattered tables and chairs around.

"Rydia?" Izayoi called, looking around as she walked forward.

Cuore followed slowly, letting her fingers glide across the bindings of books as she passed, books she had read and studied until she'd memorized all of them. Each line, every ounce of information. She had taught herself languages from them, and even more, once her mother doubled the collection down here.

"Rydia?" Izayoi called again, pausing to look up and down the back wall of the room.

Cuore smiled as she remembered the months it took her mother to break the habit of certain people calling her by one of her titles. She had taken to using a low level magic spell whenever they slipped with one, and for the most part, it had worked. Her father had joked that he wished he had thought of that years ago.

"Rydia?" Izayoi called a third time, a little louder, and got a response from the left corner of the room.

They paced over and saw books opened on two tables that had been haphazardly pulled together to offer more space. A stack of books was present on the floor while one chair had a pile of scrolls tossed onto it.

Sitting in the other chair, with a book open on her lap and held open with one hand, was Rydia, engrossed in whatever texts she had found.

The scene was familiar; it showed her mother was researching something.

"Sorry," Rydia mumbled, eyes still pinned to the papers. "I was trying to recreate this missing piece of this spell, and then I got started on trying to figure out what the point of this section is in it, and well…I'm not even sure what time it is."

Rydia smiled a little and added. "So, what can I do for you, Izayoi?"

"Oh, I don't mean to disturb you, but we have a visitor I thought you might want to see."

Cuore knew this was Izayoi's way of teasing; regardless of her composure, she was really quite sarcastic.

"Who?" Rydia asked, finally glancing up and away from her massive amount of information.

Cuore smiled, swallowing down her nerves, and watched her mother's eyes widen and the book slip from her fingers.


In a flash, her mother was up from her seat and had pulled Cuore into a bone-crushing embrace.

She giggled. "Mom, I can't breathe."

Rydia released her but left her hands on Cuore's shoulders and studied her for a few seconds, tears in her eyes and a smile on lips.

"Look at you!" she exclaimed, lifting one hand to her cheek. "My little girl!"

Cuore ducked her head, embarrassed, but unable to keep the smile off her face as her mother continued to speak, "Your all grown up, and so beautiful!"

She hugged her again, sighing and whispering into her ear, "Oh Cuore, I'm so glad you're home."

Cuore closed her own eyes and returned the embrace, wrapping her arms around her mother and replying with: "Me too."

They stayed that way for a few moments and then Rydia let her go, brushing at her eyes while Cuore shook her head. "You don't have to cry."

"But I'm so glad your back!" Rydia explained before her expression shifted from elation to confusion tinged with annoyance. "And why did you just show up? Why didn't you let us know you were coming home!"

Cuore nervously rubbed one of her arms. "Well, I didn't want…everyone to make a big deal about it. I just wanted to come home."

Rydia sighed again and brushed aside a stray blue hair from her face. "I still wish you would have given me warning, but I'm very glad you're home."

Cuore smiled at her and Rydia's eyes suddenly widened. "Oh! I need to pull Leo out of classes. He'll be happy you're back, too. I would tell your father, but," she glanced over Cuore's shoulder at Izayoi, who rolled her eyes. "Let me guess, he didn't go to that meeting he was supposed to attend?"

"Well, I don't know. I've been down here all day, but I would be very much surprised if he did."

Izayoi frowned, but nodded, and Rydia returned her attention to Cuore, giving her shoulder a squeeze. "Welcome home, my little one."

Cuore giggled. "I'm hardly little anymore, and I'm almost as tall as you."


Cuore felt herself being tugged backwards, and Izayoi mentioned, "I know three others who will be happy to have you back, and we'll tell them while your mother finds Leo and your father."

Rydia nodded and scurried to the door, talking as she went. "Yes, go and continue to celebrate your return. I'll find you once I've found them."

They climbed the staircase together and before they parted ways at the top, her mother caught her arm and smiled at her. "I am glad you're back, Cuore."

Cuore returned the gesture and nodded. "Me too."

She hurried to catch up to Izayoi, mildly annoyed she was being tossed around and showed off to everyone, but also knowing that this was how it was after being gone for awhile.

"I know exactly where they are right now," Izayoi muttered, pushing open a set of double doors and walking into a large, and bright by comparison to the library, room.

Also, they stumbled into the midst of an argument.

"Can not."

"Can too!"

"Can not!"

Izayoi sighed and put her hands on her hips, shaking her head ever so slightly.

Cuore stifled a giggle as Tsukinowa bickered with Zangetsu.

"I'll prove it to you!"

"Fine, I'd like to see that."

Apparently they were having some sort of disagreement about a set of targets placed in the back of the room, quite a good distance away.

Tsukinowa threw something at one of them and missed, the projectile clanking onto the floor.

He grumbled and Zangetsu laughed. "I said you couldn't do it!"

"No one could do it," Tsukinowa shot back.

"You said you could."

"I still got farther than you because I'm not old and my eye sight is still good. And I did hit the target that one time!"

"Is your eyesight better? Because it looks like you weren't even close."

Izayoi sighed, and crossed her arms, looking like she wanted to interrupt, but Cuore touched her shoulder and shook her head, a better idea in mind.

She crept across the back wall of the room, and they didn't see her with their backs turned, engrossed in their argument. She picked up three shurikens, testing their weight in her hand, before she looked up and spotted Gekkou leaning against the wall and wisely staying out of the argument taking place.

Cuore grinned at him and pressed her index finger to her lips, making him nod in agreement.

She snuck back to her original spot and eyed the target, seeing that they had been trying to not only hit the targets that far away, but also in certain spots.

She smirked and fanned the throwing stars in one hand, gauging the distance, and threw.

All three hit the target in perfect succession.

Tsukinowa stared wide-eyed at the target. "Holy…"

Cuore snickered, unable to help herself, and they turned around, making her smirk all the more.


"Cuore!" They both exclaimed.

Tsukinowa dashed over and hugged her first, then frowned and declared, "You're taller than me."

"Everyone is taller than you," Izayoi reminded him, frowning.

He sighed. "Don't remind me."

Cuore accepted their hugs and endured the obligatory round of surprise at her return and her appearance.

"I thought you said no one could make that shot," Cuore said, pointing at the targets.

Tsukinowa frowned, and Zangetsu explained, "We didn't think anyone could. But of course, you've always been good at it."


Cuore glanced down at Tsukinowa. "I do not cheat! I just have really good eyesight."

"Really good? Try perfect," he grumbled.

She crossed her arms, "Well, it's not my fault that I'm a perfection on life."

He smacked her in the arm, she giggled, and Gekkou spoke up with something she didn't expect.

"Throwing things aside, you have been gone for a long time. Did you lose any skills?"

She grinned, "No."

"Are you sure?"

"Are you sure?" she repeated back to him, still grinning. "I would be happy to prove it to you, but I don't think that's a good idea."

"Not a good idea? For the first time in years, we might be able to actually beat you." Zangetsu joked.

She shook her head, but Tsukinowa was already grasping her arm, pulling her towards the alternate exit in the room. "Come on!"

"I don't-"

"Are you scared?" Izayoi taunted, smirking.

Cuore shot her a look. "Are you?"

They continued to pester her all the way outside, onto a wide square balcony, and someone, she wasn't sure which one of them it was, gave her a shove into the middle of the space.

She turned to frown at all of them, surprised she'd been home for less than an hour and was already into a fight.

"You guys realize I sparred with a guy who used six swords, right?" she said.

Izayoi smirked and tossed her a set of sheathed katanas. "I think you're trying awful hard to get out of this, little one."

"Yeah," Tsukinowa agreed, nodding.

Gekkou shrugged. "Are you worried about losing?"

Cuore smiled wickedly and took stance. "And ruin my twenty round victory streak against you four? Hardly."

"Then, shall we?" Zangetsu asked.

She shrugged. "It's your defeat at hand."

They really didn't know what they were getting into. Not only had she sparred with a certain someone, but she was extremely fast and stronger then she looked. Not to mention the fact that her memory was exceptionally good; she had grown up watching and learning from the Eblan Four, she knew every move of theirs, each step, and she could remember all of it. In some ways, it gave her an unfair advantage in a battle, but they had challenged her, and she wasn't about to back down.

So she waited, and she stayed still, and they did exactly what she knew they would.

They tried to surprise her, but she already knew the tactics and blocked the first set of hits with her weapons still sheathed.

She loosened one blade and flung the sheath, grazing Tsukinowa in the shoulder as it flew past his him. There was enough time for him to glare at her, and if it had been a one-on-one match, he would have spent the whole time complaining about it.

Cuore smiled as she became re-accustomed to the rhythm of the duel; each time the blades stuck one another it made a sound, a certain chime depending on what section of the katana was hit. Like a song the beat echoed and made the steps and swings a dance, as if the fight was making itself into a performance.

Cuore could have probably won this fight by just using the tempo of the battle as her guide, but instead she left her eyes open.

She wasn't sure which one of them lost their blade first, but it didn't matter, because before long, they had each been disarmed and she still held her two katanas.

With a smile Cuore glanced around at them, trying to catch her breath, and was about to make a comment about her victory when she got the sense that something wasn't right.

Cuore spun halfway around and threw her sword up just in time to block what would have been a slash to her side.

"Sneaking up on me?" she asked, peering around the locked blades with a wide smile on her face.

"Trying to sneak up on you," her father replied, shrugging a little and swinging the second katana at her. She blocked that one, too, and then pushed him away, taking a few quick steps back and grinning, muttering just loud enough so he could hear: "Cheater."

She saw him smirk at the comment, but he didn't reply, and she took a deep breath. The Eblan Four she knew she could beat, her father was another matter entirely. The two of them rarely sparred anyway, and although she knew every move he would make, she was still unsure she had what it took to actually beat him.

Cuore slashed with one blade and it struck one of his, making a responding chime, the starting bell of a frenzied set of slices and blocks, each of them gaining no ground, although Cuore was already tired from the last set of fights. She caught his blade and wedged it between both of hers, but somehow he turned that around and her katana was the one that ended up clattering to the ground noisily.

As if that wasn't annoying enough, he kicked it away from her and she frowned at him briefly, wondering if that was really necessary.

A few blows were exchanged and Cuore was glad she was quick, because to only have one blade herself against an opponent that had two was a dangerous position to be in.

Cuore ducked a swing and flicked the other katana away with hers, bending low and side stepping, trying to get a strike in on his shoulder.

She expected him to know exactly what she was doing and block it, and that was what he did. She smirked and flicked her wrist, twisting his blade so that in its current position, it was too awkward to hold. She then gave a sharp motion with her sword and ripped it out of his hand, hearing it hit the ground somewhere nearby.

Now that they were on even terms again, they swapped another round of turbulent strikes that held a sort of cadence to them that Cuore began to memorize, to study, to understand. And, as if it was song, she heard a missed note, subtle and quiet, but there nonetheless.

As the beat continued she heard the rise and fall and threw her body weight to the opposite side as what was expected, turning that missed note into a glaring fall in pitch.

Cuore was in a perfect position to catch her father's blade, circling her own around and finally wrenching his out of his hand in the same motion of swinging her own katana, stopping it inches from his neck at the same time his katana hit the stone pavement.

Cuore was out of breath and exhausted, her hair had long since broken out of its binds, but at that moment, she felt strangely still.

Her expression obviously showed her surprise at having actually won, and she blinked, hand trembling slightly.

"You look surprised," her father noticed quietly.

She nodded. "I am, I…beat you," she said.

He batted the blade away, smiling at her. "Well done."

Cuore broke into a round of giggling and took a step backwards, letting the blade fall to the ground as she tried to catch her breath.

She wasn't ready for her father to hug her and then lift her feet off the ground and spin her around. She giggled but demanded, "Dad, put me down, I'm dizzy from fighting you, you know."

He did so but hugged her again. "Welcome home, Cuore."

She laughed and smacked her hand against his arm. "This was the welcome I was expecting, not a duel!"

"But that was fun, you have to admit," he said, releasing her.

She rolled her eyes, agreeing with him but still exasperated.


Her eyes widened and she spun around, watching her little brother wave from a window above the training area.

"Leo!" she called back, waving. "Come down here!"

He pouted. "I can't, I'm supposed to finish class first."

Cuore sighed and glanced furtively at her father, who nodded slightly and called up. "Its fine. Come down here."

He gave a cry of delight at getting out of class earlier, and disappeared from the window to reappear a few moments later and run across the whole balcony, throwing his arms around Cuore.

She laughed and stumbled back a few steps, prying him loose so she could get on her knees and give him a proper hug.

"Sissy, welcome home!" he said, looking up at her with his light blue eyes and a smile.

Cuore smiled back. "It's good to be back, and did you get taller, little brother?"

"Nah, but you did!" he said, looking mildly disappointed, "Now we'll never be able to do anything together."

"How come?" she asked, puzzled.

"'Cause you're all grown up now and boring," he said, looking like he was trying hard not to laugh.

Cuore ruffled his strangely colored, light sage green hair. "Hey you, I'm still your sister, and that means we do anything and everything you want together!"

She was distracted from the conversation by her mother asking, "Where were you?" The question was directed at her father.

"Did you look in the meeting room?" Edge replied.

Rydia frowned, "…No."

"Why not?"

"Because you're never where you're supposed to be!"

He looked very proud of himself. "See, that's the great thing about only sometimes doing what I'm supposed to! Either way, no one can find me."

Rydia sighed and glanced at Izayoi, who rolled her eyes, and then back at Edge, who just grinned at her.

Rydia looked around at the scattered weapons across the ground and commented, "I see we had fun."

"We did!" Edge exclaimed, making Cuore giggle and Leo pout again. "I missed it?" her little brother asked.

"You missed me being awesome," she whispered.

He crossed his arms, "I always miss everything because of classes."

"At least you go to them." Izayoi said sarcastically.

Edge glared at her over his shoulder and she just looked back impassively, which made Tsukinowa snicker, though he tried to hide it.

Cuore shook her head, smiling the whole time and pleased to be home once again.

Author's Note: Something about this chapter bothers me, but I've re-read it over and over and I don't know why, so it stays the way it is...

I have decided that I adore Cuore, she is just...she's way too much fun to write. I see her as a borg, like from Star Trek, like Seven of Nine! A magic-casting, katana-wielding borg of awesomeness.

And now, as always, I leave you with a rant:

Eblan castle. Who designed this whacky place in TAY? Seriously...the hallways are so tight the little sprites can barely walk through them single file, never mind if you wanted to walk next to someone. Hallways just...end, and the rooms are so small! Then, to make it even better, we've placed NPCs all over that you must dodge. And these people say nothing useful. Yes, two losers talking about wanting to date Izayoi? Move it, your blocking my path to the shops. Don't even get me started on the inn that charges money...and the point of the maze room? I don't know. Someone I told about this suggested it's some sort of defense system, but...it's on the top floor and serves no purpose I can fathom execpt to annoy players and hide a chest. These things annoy me. And Cuore.

So, to summarize, I am...fixing it slightly for this story. If you've seen Narnia: Price Caspian and remember what the Telmarine castle looks like, that is now what it is like inside my head, thus inside this story. It's close to in-game but makes more sense. And sense-making is always good.

Expect long author's notes on every chapter, and more things to be explained as the story goes on! Thanks for reading.