"Lowe, are you feeling okay?" Amelia asked the man as he grit his teeth and continued limping along with her. Lime and Noah walked ahead of them, pausing every so often to check on the limping Lowe. He hissed lowly, and continued along. "I'm fine. Stop worrying about me, we need to find Speka again."

Noah sighed. "I'd love to say it was your fault she left, but she would have left anyway."

"Yeah, that's just the problem." Lime muttered. "She just comes and goes whenever. Not like I give a rat's ass though, she can go get eaten by her own stupid bat for all I care-"

"Which is what I was wondering about." Amelia cut Lime off. "Why didn't she have Angkor with her? What happened to her staff? And were those some how connected to why she was looking for Valak?"

"Actually, I think I might have heard of a bit of this." Lowe said. "Let's take a break here."

The group sat down, Noah starting a fire. "Times like these, I wish I could still use my fire magic."

They laughed, but started listening to Lowe again. "I seem to recall a bit ago, something about someone stealing a staff from a great witch. With that staff was a contract and a demon from the depths of Hell itself. Perhaps what I heard was someone stealing Speka's staff, and with that staff, Angkor."

"But who would want her staff?" Amelia asked. "A fellow mage? No one is powerful enough to wield that weapon though, did they want to disable her?"

"You saw how she still used her magic. Even without her staff she's dangerous." Noah responded, shivering at the thought of the poison.

"But then what would they- Oh my god, that's it. The staff is Angkor's... anchor. It's what keeps him bound to this world. In oder to render Speka's Angkor attacks useless, they would need the staff. And why not the contract? I'd guess that if something happened to it, Angkor would go back to Hell." Amelia said, taking a quick breath. "Why would she suspect Valak?"

"... Maybe it's not Valak-" Lowe started but was cut off with a, "It's Edan I'm looking for. He stole my staff, and my little Angkor."

Speka softly landed on the floor with a graceful spin, placing one hand on her hip. Her hat was completely fixed, but she was in shorts with thigh-high boots and socks, and a half cut jacket over a shirt that showed her stomach. "Everything that you guys have predicted is exactly true, but I suppose even an idiot would have thought of that..." She said, examining her nails.

"You're not putting us on the same level as you, are you." Noah hissed. Speka nodded curtly. "Not in the least. You'll have to retrieve my staff and then defeat me at my full power to be on my level."

Noah growled. "Speka, I am just about sick and tired of your stuck up attitude and how we're lesser than you in your mind. In case you haven't noticed, you're the one coming to us for help, and in case you haven't noticed, your staff and your ridiculous little pet are missing, so please, before you come begging to us to get you your staff, get down on your knees and plead for forgiveness from your past actions, or so help me, I will freeze both of your arms and your mouth you ungrateful little twit."

Everyone was taken aback. Noah must have been really pissed to go off on Speka like this, even though she did usually speak her mind. Speka looked angry, her face red with embarrassment and anger, but she didn't say anything. Finally, she smacked Noah's cheek and pushed her face aside, brushing past her. "I never said I was asking for help. I said you'd have to find me my staff. Not like I need your help anyway, but I could use the meat shields and backup. Hurry up, we should get going."

As she left, Lowe growled under his breath. "Such a nuisance..."

Lime punched the wall, shaking her hand and cursing lowly. "Damn that brat, I should just go and kick her damn ass right now."

"Noah, Lime, Lowe, this isn't the time to worry. I'm starting to feel like we're getting close." Amelia said, placing a hand on Lowe's shoulder and Lime's arm.

"I thought you said your sense was cut off." Lime asked, placing a hand on her hip.

"I did." Amelia replied. "But I'm getting some huge feedback from deeper in that forest. There's a group of people, and two of those signals, I'm pretty sure, are Edan and Valak."

Lime took a sharp breath. "Do you think..."

"I know. Valak was right, Edan has come back."

The grave tone in her voice made her sound more spooky than serious, even though everyone knew how deadly serious she was. "Hey! Slowpokes! Hurry up, I'm not getting any younger here!" Speka yelled, waving them over.

"Jesus, shut up Speka! We'll be over in a minute!" Lime yelled back.

Speka huffed. "Don't shush me! Just wait till I get my little Angkor back, I'll make you eat those words-"

Lime's eyes widened as a mushroom cloud appeared behind Speka. It was closer than she had thought, debris and trees flying this way and that, the ground and side of the mountain being torn up by the explosion. "Speka, look out!"

Lime dashed forward and tackled the witch to the floor, tumbling out of the way of a few trees. After the dust cleared, Speka stared up at Lime, who was leaning half over her with a gash and a large chunk of wood in her shoulder and staring back at the forest. She gasped and ducked, protecting Speka's head and upper body with her back as another explosion sounded, and a Nasod Spear came spinning past them.

"That's Code's blade!" Speka shrieked, attempting to get up. Lime held her down for a little longer, listening. "Speka, quiet for a second."

Oddly, the witch stayed quiet, allowing Lime to hear the clanging of blades. A small round of gunfire echoed in her ears, and a sharp yell. "I think I hear Valak down there."

"What? Let me go, I need to go find him! He knows where Edan is!" Speka struggled. There was a round of clashing blades, and then Valak and Code:Q-Proto_00 rose into the air, before charging each other. "There's Valak for you!"

Lime staggered to her feet, clutching her shoulder. Over the roar of the battle, Amelia yelled, "Guys, can you hear me?!"

"Loud and clear!" Lime yelled back.

"Great, I was worried. It seems this tree has effectively cut us off. Me and Lowe are gonna head down to see what's the commotion, you two should do the same." Amelia instructed. "We'll meet you down there."

"Got it!" Lime yelled, and then there was nothing but Valak and Code:Q-Proto_00 fighting. Lime watched Valak slash twice across Code's chest, before sending her spiraling back with an explosion, but she retaliated with a spiral of Nasod spears before she jumped above him and sent him crashing to the ground with four glowing spears to the chest. Lime started to rush to the edge of the mountain, when Speka caught her arm. "Why did you save me?"

Lime was silent. Speka pulled her arm back and yanked the wood out of her shoulder, before channeling her energy and healing it. Lime turned to her and smirked. "I'm not as low as you are. It may have been instinct, but I'm not just going to stand by and let someone get hurt."

Speka huffed, turning away from Lime. "You're such an idiot, you know that? I could have protected myself...!"

"... You're welcome." She muttered, still smiling. "Anyway, let's get going. I bet Lowe's foot is already healed and Charon and Persephone are making tea for them. Let's get going before we get too old."

Lime slid down the side of the mountain, while Speka just floated her way over the rubble. As they got to the thicker part of the forest where the battle was happening, Lime yelped as she tripped over a conveniently placed, very sharp rock. She put her hands out to catch herself, but saw the oncoming crater and yelped again, closing her eyes. The fall never came, and she stared back at Speka who was slowly lowering her to the bottom. "You... Saved me...?"

"Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not helping you or anything. I'm paying you back so we're even and you can't use that against me. Also, I need the meat shield, so don't die until I have Angkor back." Speka stated, huffing.

"Right. Of course not." Lime replied, rolling her eyes. Suddenly, the smoke was cut through by a spinning blade that had both Lime and Speka flinching out of the way. "Hey, isn't that Lowe's...?"

"Oh, god no, they got involved in Valak and Code's damn argument. We might as well just make their grave markers now." Lime sighed exasperatedly. "Keep moving, come on!"

They entered the smoke screen, Lime's eyes and throat burning from the fire. Speka wasn't much better, but she hid her mouth with her hat so she could breather better. As she scanned what little she could she, she tripped over something, that triggered and explosion next to her. She screamed in surprise, even though she wasn't hurt, and could hear Lime calling for her as she was thrown into the air. She felt herself falling, her stomach dropping as she gained speed. The ground was approaching, fast, and if she didn't do something, she'd be flatter than a pancake in a matter of seconds.

Speka geared up to cast a spell, when something rammed her from the side. It nocked what little breath was left in her lungs out of her and she blacked out for a second.

Next she awoke, Edan was still holding her upper back and legs, moving quickly. He ducked behind a tree and glanced out the side, before glancing back at Speka.

"You woke up." He stated.

She flushed in anger and tried to kick him, but he dropped her to the floor. She yelped as her back and butt connected with the hard ground, and then coughed upon sitting up. She glared up at Edan. "What did you do with my darling Angkor?"

Her staff was thrust in her face, Angkor materializing from it's shadow. He charged her, Speka wrapping her arms around the bat and hugging him. "Angkor, Angkor, my darling, I missed you so much! Are you okay?"

"Take the damn staff, I don't have all day." Edan stated, smacking her in the side of the head with it. She yelped and snatched it, backing away and taking an offensive stance. "Where's my contract? Why did you steal it?"

"It wasn't me who stole your staff." Edan sneered. "I have no need for such a useless piece of junk."

"It wasn't... It wasn't you?" Speka tightened her grip on her staff and pointed it his way, her eyes and the tip seeping a shadow-like energy. "How do I know you aren't lying?"

"Why would I need something as useless as this? I'd only use it for firewood." Edan snorted, crossing his arms. "I wasn't the man who stole your staff, but I found the person who did."

"You- What- You did?" Speka asked, but yelped loudly as Edan grabbed her arm and jerked her to her left to avoide a volley of arrows and a few of Code:Q-Proto_00's blades. Before she could move, Edan was charging forward, getting ready to execute a Hypersonic Stab. His bellowing voice echoed through the area, and he caught Code:Q-Proto_00, Noah, and Amelia in the attack. They fell to the floor, Amelia gasping for breath as Noah helped her up, and Code:Q-Proto_00 spun to her feet. Speka looked passed them all to see Edan and Valak locked in a stance that warned death to both of them if either were to move.

Valak had Edan's blade at his throat, and if either he or Edan moved, he'd die. On the other hand, Edan had Valak's blade next to his side, the tip already piercing his skin. If he were to move, Valak would surly cut him in half.

Suddenly, Lime and another three people burst through the mess of rubble, fallen leaves, and bushes. They were locked in an intense battle, Lime pushed to the defensive while the other person was using... Wait, was that-

"Apple?!" Speka exclaimed, watching Persephone use a Spitfire before Charon blasted Lime backwards and into a tree. It was Apple, her hair was messy and knotted, her clothes torn and covered in dirt. She glanced over at Speka and waved with a smile. "Hello there, Speka~"

"Apple, it was you?" Noah asked, staring at the princess. She giggled, cantering her hip.

"Well who else would it be, silly~? Of course it was me! I wanted Edan's El, but to do that, I'd have to kill him first, so I thought, why not just pitt everyone against him? Valak was already on his tail, I stole all of Speka's valuable items and planted the evidence it was Edan, and finally, I blocked Amelia's sensing so she would kill Lime for me. Lowe was practically useless anyway, so I was just going to let him be..." Apple explained. She then turned a glare on Amelia and Noah. "But you decided that you'd go against everything and bring people with you to find Speka! It was such a terrible twist, I was so angry! So I sent Noah to do my dirty work. Who knew Speka was planning to use Noah to get to Valak? That would have gotten you all out of the picture at once!"

She smoothed what was left of her dress and took a deep breath, before turning back to Code:Q-Proto_00. "Code, dear, decapitate them all for me. Save Valak and Amelia, though, you know what I plan to do with him, and I want to kill Amelia myself."

The Code nodded and turned back to Amelia and Noah, when suddenly, a bolt of lightning and a red and white sword came flying at her back. The lightning had her sluggish, but she was fast enough to dodge the blade before it lodged itself in her back. She turned and glowered at Speka and Lowe, who were both glaring back. Lowe had a scratch over one eye that was bleeding down his face, and a cut on his upper arm, while he was limping on one foot. Speka was in much better shape, but her body was rigid and tense with anger as she hissed, "Apple. Give. Me. My. Contract."

The princess glared down at the witch and pulled the contract from her shawl. "Oh, this?"

She quickly unrolled it and skimmed over it with a bored face, before placing her hands at the top and tearing the top a little. Speka yelped and tried to rush forward, a, "No!" tearing from her throat. "Stay put!" Apple yelled, making another small tear.

Speka froze mid-step, staring at the princess. "Please, don't do that..."

"So this is important to you... I'll keep this with me, maybe then you won't ever challenge me again." Apple stated, tucking the scroll back in her shawl. Speka sighed and dropped to the floor, feeling more pathetic and useless than she had in... Well, in her whole life. Angkor materialized from the staff and floated to her lap, where she hugged him sadly.

"Apple, why did you do it?" Amelia finally asked, nocking an arrow. Valak and Edan detangled themselves and pointed both their blades at the Code as she floated over, while Noah surrounded her staff with ice crystals.

"To reign supreme, of course~! Because who else more fit than me?"

Suddenly, there was a loud shrieking noise and a volley of explosions as huge, indiscernible objects rained from the sky. It had everyone ducking for cover and holding their ears, the shrieking causing more confusion than the explosions. Apple fell to the floor with Charon and Persephone, the butler and maid short circuiting, while Apple writhed on the floor, her eyes rolling back in her head. Code:Q-Proto_00 dropped out of the air, Valak and Edan scattering in opposite directions of each other, blades still pointed at her. As soon as the shrieking stopped, she staggered to her feet and looked around, asking quietly, "Wh-where am I? This isn't the core..."

Another high-pitched shriek rang out, closer and much louder than the first. There were no explosions or falling objects, but Amelia swore her ears were bleeding. She glanced around to the others. Apple and Code on the floor, Lime and Speka had fainted, Edan and Valak seemed unaffected, and Noah and Lowe were both holding their ears.

When the shrieking stopped, Amelia and the others stared up at where the shadow was cast from. There was a man there, with long hair in a high pony tail, but the rest of him was blotched out by the sun. The group couldn't see what he was wearing, or what he was holding, hell, they could barely even tell if "he" was a guy. The only thing they could see was a vicious, cocky smirk and one glowing eye that seemed to be blazing with fire, and something in his hand.


So who do you think that person is? Is it even a "he?" What's that they're holding, and what was that attack?!

We from Vesper came up with a few ideas, including Elsa, an IS NPC, a Chung NPC, or even Penensio XD So really, even if you don't comment on the story, just tell us who you think this person is!

So yeah, now that that's over, I hope you enjoyed this story, as much as I enjoyed writing it! Sorry bout the ending, but it's staying like that!

... Shuffles off to the side with hands up, fake whistling to avoid the angry mob*