Disclaimer: I only own Maria. Rayne and Lizzie are owned by The-Darklight-Angel.
Author's Note: This one is dedicated to my best friend and little sister, The-Darklight-Angel. This one's for you, sis.
Know I Will Always Love You
The sun poured through the little open window, flooding across the floor of a certain Raven-haired Guardian's bedroom. Sound asleep, her covers pulled over her head, Rayne Anasi slowly grumbled as she rose from slumber, silently cursing Evil Mr. Sun. From the wooden door came a series of knocks and bangs, each one like a strike of thunder in Rayne's head.
"You awake in there Rayne!?" Came a female voice outside the door, and even in Rayne's sleep-adled brain, she could connect a face to a voice. It was Elizabeth Miura, her good friend. "Rayne! Rayne! Rayne! Rayne! Rayne! Rayne! Rayne!" She continued after Rayne failed to answer after a set amount of time.
"Fuggin'... I'M UP!"
"Good!" Elizabeth, or Lizzie as her friends called her, giggled a little behind the door. "We're supposed to be training with M'ria today!" Lizzie continued, slurring the name of their mutual friend and intermediet trainer, Maria Despair.
"Mmmmmmmmmm... crap..." Rayne groaned, still soar from last night's training session. Maria was powerful... perhaps a little too much for her own good. She had a habit of not toning down her fighting style for people who weren't quite at her level yet. 'It builds character' is always her answer when this was brought up. "I don't wanna train with that psychopath today Lizzie..."
"Come on, Rayney! Open up!"
"I dun wanna..." Rayne continued to whine. For a few moments, there came no response from Lizzie outside, and Rayne and thought, for once, Lizzie had taken her words to heart and left. Rolling over and giving a content sigh, Rayne cut the light from Evil Mr. Sun out and slowly started to drift back to sleep...
Kth... takka takka takka takka... kachunk. Takka takka takka takka... tak... tak tak... takka... kachunk... click.
Puthmp. Puthmp. Puthmp. Puthmp. Puthmp. Puthmp.
Pppphhhhhhh! Pppphhhhhhhhhh! Pppphhhhhhhhh!
The sounds that filled Rayne's head left her confused, trying to attach the strange sounds to whatever it was that was causing them. Half asleep and not at all awake, the next sound caught her more then off guard.
The sound of something exploding with a ear-splitting bang startled Rayne so badly out of her sleep she clattered to the wooden ground with a shrill yelp and the sound of a body thudding loudly to the floor. Quickly righting herself, she saw the grinning face of Lizzie standing over her bed with a brown paper bag in her hand, the bottom of the bag broken open, almost as if she had popped it.
"What. The HELL Lizzie! Are you trying to give me a freakin' heart attack!?" Lizzie just smiled a mile-wide grin, bag in hand, laughing through her teeth.
"You flail like a beached fish..." She muttered as she watched Rayne; really saw her for the first time that day. "Rayne... you really shouldn't sleep in your clothes. You'll get a bad fungus... and then you'll be all itchy." Lizzie noted her shorts and neutral-colored tunic she was sleeping in.
"How the hell did you get into my room!?" Lizzie dropped the destroyed bag and reached into her pocket, taking a little small sliver of metal out and showing it to Rayne, who only blinked. "Is that a lock pick? Where did you get a lock pick?"
"I can't tell you that Rayne. You'll cut off my supply."
"Darn straight I would." Rayne slowly got off the floor and dusted herself off as her heart rate slowed to a normal pace. "I take it Maria told you to go get me, right?"
"Yep." Lizzie responded.
"By using any means necessary, I assume?"
"Yeeeep." Rayne groaned as she started to collect the various pieces of her everyday clothes, grumbling to herself. Lizzie couldn't make out any of what Rayne was muttering, but she imagined it was all focused to Maria, and not herself.
"Give me a hand here, would you, Lizzie? Room's a freakin' mess, and if our hall monitor comes in here, I'll be up crap creak." Lizzing laughed a little at Rayne's predicament. She must have been exhausted after training yesterday, she just threw everything everywhere and went to bed. The two spent a few minutes picking up the loose odds and ends around Rayne's room, Rayne slipped off into the small half bathroom to change into clean clothes for the day. "Did that overcompetent Guardian Maria tell you what was lined up today?" Lizzie nodded unseen by Rayne, letting her out of the bathroom. "What was it?"
"We'll be covering one-on-one sparring today." Rayne groaned again, knowing full-well Maria would use her as a damn test dummy again. Walking over, she grabbed a bat, one she used to play baseball with some of the other younger Guardians, and walked to a table.
"Lizzie. I want you to do me a favor." Handing her the bad, Rayne sat on her bed and laid her head onto the table, pointing at the side of her head. "I want you to hit me as hard as you can."
"Oooooooh! Don't be like that Rayney! It'll be fine!"
"Don't call me that."
"Let's go!" Putting the bat down, Lizzie grabbed Rayne's hand and pulled her up, practically dragging her along for the ride. Rayne hated training with Maria. Vehemently. Between training with Maria... and eating a bowlful of razor blades for breakfast... Rayne would choose the Razor Blade Breakfast nine out of ten times (The one time she wouldn't was every other Monday when they had Free-For-All Brawl Day. Only day she got to beat the tar out of people she didn't like. The few there were.)
Lizzie drug Rayne, reluctantly, through the Guardian Tower to the sparring grounds below where most of the other Guardians were already immersed in their training. Rayne saw the familiar smiling visage of Maria turn to look as the two arrived. "And our last two members saunter in. Hello Lizzie, Rayne, pick up a sword and get to it." She motioned to the rack of blades, blunted to a painless edge, racked up against a wall. Lizzie smiled and walked over as Rayne made her slow way to the rack. "By the way, Anasi, I've got a special job for you today." Rayne rolled her eyes unseen to Maria and shuffled back to her.
"Yes?" Rayne said with a droll tone, Maria's smile never fading.
"I want you to climb to the top of the Guardian Tower, and go into Artix' office. Once there, open the left-side top most drawer and put this can inside the drawer." She handed Rayne a small tunafish can, which Rayne turned over, looking at it in disbelief.
"Tut tut tut... don't question me. Putting that can in Artix' desk will allow you to skip training today." Her eyes lit up. "Will you do it?"
"WILL I!?" She snatched the can in her hands and tore off to the Guardian Tower, smiling the whole way. Maria put her hands on her hips as she watch.
"So eager to please."
"Was that the-"
"Yep." Maria answered as another Instructor, Wolfblitzer, looked on.
"Is she gonna-"
"Yep." Maria answered again, nodding.
"You know you love it." Wolfblitzer nodded, unable to disagree with that fact.
-Later that Night-
"SNAKES! There were SNAKES in that can, Maria! Not FAKE ones either!" Artix wailed, clenching onto the chandelier of his room, staring down at all the little snakes squirming around his floor. "REAL! LIVE! POISONOUS SNAKES!" Maria couldn't help but laugh at the situation. "I swear, Despair, if I find out you had ANYTHING to do with this, I'm gonna MURDER YOUR FACE OFF!" Outside the office, despite being an unwilling associate to Maria's 'crime', Rayne couldn't help but chuckle to herself.
That... was the moment I realized I loved her. It's in that moment when you watch someone from afar... and see the face they put on for everyone to see... and when you get close... you see the one they wear... only for you.
-Seven Years Later-
"Ah, Rayne, Lizzie. Just the women I wanted to see. Take a seat." Artix muttered as the now nineteen year old Rayne and Elizabeth walked into his office, taking the two seats across from him at the desk. Standing in one corner was a woman with dark tan skin wearing some very exotic clothing; the style of which neither guardian recognized. Her long auburn hair tied into a pony tail that swayed gently in the stiff breeze coming in through the window. "As you know, Guardians Maria Despair, Natalya Despair, Serras Nerra, Orta Dragoon and Wolfblitzer were declared Missing in Action seven years ago when they failed to report in from a mission to the north." He turned to the strange tan woman and motioned her to come closer, which she did as Rayne and Lizzie nodded.
"Yes sir. We remember." The tan woman bowed deep at her waist, her ponytail flopping cutely over her shoulder.
"This is Vera Shal'aa, of Labryanna. She is Princess Ari-Ita's personal body guard and confidant. She claims to have some disturbing information that I think you two should be privy to. Vera? You have the floor." Vera nodded curtly to Artix and smiled to Rayne and Lizzie.
"Mistress Anasi, Mistress Miura. It is a pleasure to meet you. My Mistress Ari-Ita sent me to relay a message to you. As you may be aware of, Labryanna has recently shut it's borders off from external contact. As you may NOT be aware of, trade with the outside world is the life blood of Labryanna. If our borders remain closed for too much longer, the entire country will starve and die. I... do not know all the details, but my Mistress Ari-Ita does. She asked that I return with champions..."
"What about Maria and the others? Didn't she leave with them?"
"I know not whether your comrades are alive or not, I am sorry." Rayne and Lizzie both frowned, but nodded to the girl to continue nontheless. "Mistress Ari-Ita has instructed that I bring two people back with me, fresh faces to help us. Labryanna... is in serious trouble, and we require outside aid."
"We'll go." Rayne and Lizzie both answered in unison, prompting a smile from Artix. "If there's any chance of fixing whatever's wrong with your country, we'll gladly help."
"That's the enthusiasm I expect to see out of my Guardians. Good girls. Your primary objectives are to find out why Labryanna's shut off it's boarder and if they're still alive... find Maria and the others." The pair nodded and left to get suited up, another word from Artix stopping them. "Rayne... Lizzie... be careful. Vera will be leaving in the morning." The two nodded and went to get ready.
Rayne threw some clothes into a bag, ready for the trip. Pack light, her trainer had always told her. Packing only a few changes of clothes allowed you to move farther and faster, without being bogged down by the unnessecaries.
"Rayne...?" Lizzie's voice came from the door, the young Guardian giving the elder raven-haired one a look of concern. It had been a couple hours since the pair of them had their first real assignment alone, and both of them were nervous. Lizzie more then Rayne. "I'm worried..."
"About Maria? Don't be. She's a big girl, she can take care of herself."
"No, Rayne... I'm worried about us..." Rayne looked up from her packing, a look of silly stupification upon her face. "Maria and Natalya... Wolfblitzer and Orta... they're the best of the order... if they've gone missing, what's to stop US from doing the same?" A little smile crept across Rayne's face as she tried to reassure her friend.
"Don't you worry, Lizzie. We're going to be just fine." Rayne answered, a hand finding it's way to Lizzie's flush cheek.
It was strange... Rayne and I have been friends since we were both little girls, and I, above everything else, enjoyed spending time around her. But it was in this one, gentle, innocent motion where my feelings for her started to really form in my head. Her hands were so soft so... caring. The way she held my cheek... her gentle, but powerful hands soothing my worries... I wanted more... I craved more. I demanded more.
-One Year Later-
Rayne fell to the ground, a slight, nearly invisible trail of blood rolling down her lip, dropping onto her armor, the red drop invisible against her black platemail. Her staff spiraled out of her hand, clattering against the ground in a strange mix of wood and grass. "Rayne!" Lizzie called, pushing back against the skeleton soldier as it attempted to run her through with it's rusted, damaged blade. "Get back you sack of useless bones!" She growled as it clattered to the ground, the girl rushing to Rayne's side. "Rayne, are you alright?"
"I'm fine! But this thing's about to feel like a forest in a TORNADO!" Vaulting to her feet, Rayne channeled arcane energies through her hands, unleashing a powerful blast of wind, the skeleton she was fighting exploding into a storm of bone, some of the larger pieces, like it's ribcage and skull slamming into other skeletons, causing them to scatter as well. "Lizzie, behind you!" Grabbing hold of Lizzie's shoulder with one hand, she shoved her down and blasted the encroaching skeleton with a fireball.
"Haa!" Lizzie gasped in surprise as she fell to the ground, her sword falling out of her hand as her rear connected with blood-stained grass, bones littering the field. With the skeleton a smoldering pile of bone, Rayne looked down and smiled shamely at Lizzie.
"Sorry, Lizzie..." Reaching down she helped her up and took her sword from the ground, handing it to her, their gauntlets touching for a moment.
Even in the heat of life-or-death combat... surrounded by the undead... Rayne always found a way to make those moments special... to make them mean something to me, beside just being another fight that we couldn't avoid.
"Miura! Anasi! Look alive!" Came the command from a certain green-haired commander, the red eyes of Maria Despair, softening a little as the pair faced her. "We got incoming Doom Knights! Give 'em hell!"
"Long Unlive the Shadowscythe!" The booming voice of the undead soldiers echoed, the red-armored knights advancing with unholy speed.
-Six Years Later-
Of all the times I remember of Rayne, the most was that day, three years ago, when all of the races of Lore met on the field of battle to deal a death blow to the one-true enemy of Lore. The Devourer. We shared... something special the day before the battle, holding one another in our arms, fear gripping us that tomorrow may be our last day. We were married, yes... but in a world of constant conflict... we hardly had time to ourselves. Truly to ourselves.
"Doom Knights of Shadowfall! Guardians of Battleon! Those of you who have fought beside us! The Devourer is DEAD!" A tall, menacing figure of a woman bellowed, her red armor that of the Shadowscythe Empire, the cursed blade in her hand seeming to glow with an almost holy aura. "Elves! Drakel! Humans! UNDEAD! TODAY BELONGS TO YOU!" The howl of multiple soldiers on the battlefield, some dead, most alive, filled the evening air as a clatter of steel and spell rose over the din. The Doom Knight, a Drakel by the name of Mish'ka, held her blade aloft in victory as the sound penetrated into everyone's very soul. The Devourer; the Un-Maker... the consumer of souls... was dead. Permanently and completely. Rayne and Lizzie stared in disbelief at the feat, they hardly believed was real, despite taking part in the fight. Rayne was first to drop her sword to the ground and sigh. A long-hard battle... finished. Lizzie watched as Mish'ka and Artix spoke, Maria listening in. With a happy giggle and two arms around Rayne's neck, she gave her a hug.
No matter what, Rayne... you were my shield when I was down. My sword when I needed one. You protected me with a ferocity I've never seen before... now... it's my turn to protect you.
Elizabeth Miura stood, her plate-mail clad boots crunching the fresh dew one the ground beneath her feet. The sound of a sword sheathing at her side echoed across the dead graveyard. Lizzie hadn't been back to Rayne's grave since before Gale's death. "You're my everything, Rayne Anasi. The sun on my face, the wind at my back, the life in my heart and the death in my hand. I don't know what's going to happen to me. I don't really much care. But everything I do, Rayne... know that I do for you gladly." She wipes a single tear from her eye and pressed a kiss to her fingers, transferring the kiss to the mossy grave stone. "Know that I will always love you..." With a swift motion, Lizzie turned on her heel, her black cloak swaying behind her as it nipped at her heels, a constant reminder of what she can never have back.
Ending Author's Note: This is just a 'where are we now' for my sister The Darklight Angel. Hope you enjoyed it.