W.I.T.C.H Dreams of Lusteria

By Galistar07water

Disclaimer: W.I.T.C.H. is owned and copyrighted by the Walt Disney Company Italia and is in no way affiliated with the fictional works of Galistar07water.

Author's note: If you would like to see drawings of W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria, please visit my page and click the "W.I.T.C.H. Dreams of Lusteria" folder in the gallery section.

Chapter 02: Brave New World pt. III

The thing about traveling through a magical wind tunnel is that it'll make you dizzy. By the time the wind around them stopped swirling, the Guardians and Orube were no longer on the university campus ground, but smacked in the middle of the Dark Forest. Irma was the first to respond.

"Urgh…I don't feel so good…Guess I shouldn't have eaten all of those mini-meat pies for lunch."

"No kidding," Cornelia agreed, rubbing her temple as she tried to ease her headache. "I'd prefer to have my feet on the ground."

"The next time your uncle spirits to the Dark Forest, Kimi, tell him we'd rather take the traditional way by flying or teletransporting," Irma glanced at Kimi. Kimi rolled her eyes and ignore her. Secretly, Kimi agreed. She hated it whenever her uncle does that to her and Kyochi before, too.

"So where to from here?" Orube asked.

Kimi fiddled with the glass phial in her hands and concentrated her magic. Turning to her left, she pointed in that direction. "The ancient temples are located over there."

"How long do we have to go?" Hay Lin asked.

"About forty kilometers, I would wager," Kimi replied.

"Are you serious? That's like twenty-five miles away!" Taranee pointed out. "Why couldn't the Chancellor spirited us straight to the temples instead?"

"Had he done that, then whoever our enemies are would have been able to sense the wind tunnel, Irma," Orube explained, placing her hands on her hips. "We're here on a reconnaissance mission as well as a search for Kyochi. We don't want to alert whatever evil forces that are lying in wait for us."

"Orube's right, Irma," Will nodded. "C'mon, we can fly most of the way there. Then we'll walk."

Kimi turned over to Orube and held up her hand, covering Orube in a protective layer of purple aura light. As Kimi took flight, so did Orube behind her.

At first, they all flew over the canopies of the forest in silence. Being the one who couldn't stand the tension, Irma decided to break it by mentioning Kimi's cousin.

"So what's his deal?" Irma asked. She folded her arms as she flew, obviously still furious about being kicked around by those wizards. "Sure, I get why he wants to be a Guardian, I mean it's a nice job and all but without the paychecks…but does that Kenji guy really have to take it out on us?"

"Urgh, that guy was a creep," Cornelia sneered, remembering the small bruises Teppei and his friends gave her. "Some gentlemen he and his friends were."

"If memory serves correctly, you were the one who attacked my idiot cousin first," Kimi reminded her.

"Hey, he and his goons had it coming!" Cornelia defended herself. "You didn't expect me to just stand there and take his insults."

"Cornelia's right," Taranee said, the fire in her eyes lighting up. "How could you expect us to just stand by and let them condescend to us like that?"

"You know, I think the reason why is because Kimi's just like her messed up cousin," Irma added, shooting Kimi a glare. "After all, being patronizing against Earthlings must run in the family, if not your entire race."

"Irma, you are really stepping out of line right now, so shut it," Will shot Irma a warning glare.

"What do you lily-livers know anything?" Kimi demanded.

"Let me understand this clearly," Orube interrupted. "When Kenji Kinomoto and his friends insulted you girls, Cornelia threw a rock at them and that's how the fight started?"

The others didn't reply, but they didn't need to. Orube frowned and sighed in disappointment.

"What?" Irma shrugged. "If you were there, you would have heard what they called us!"

"And when we fought, they kept patronizing us and bragging about how inferior Earthlings are to Lusterians!"

"They challenged us and insulted us as Guardians!" Irma pointed out. "We had to do something!"

"Did you, really?!" Orube snapped at them. "It seems quite obvious that they were baiting you with insults and you didn't hesitate to take the hook."

"What are you saying?" Taranee asked.

"My cousin and his friends were nothing more than bullies," Kimi said. "Kenji was jealous because he wasn't a qualified candidate for the Guardian position."

"Why? Because he was adopted? That's unfair for him," Hay Lin said.

"I do not make the rules of who is qualified for the position or not," Kimi replied.

"Only members of the Kinomoto clan are qualified to become the Guardians of Light and Darkness," Orube stated. "The Gemini Council told us this already. Because Kenji isn't an official member of the Kinomoto clan by blood, his qualification was automatically null and void."

"So when his cousins were selected, Kenji became jealous and hated them?" Hay Lin asked.

"And when he saw Irma, Taranee, and Cornelia in their Guardian form, that fueled his hatred even more, so he took it out on them with insults to make himself feel better," Will stated.

"The point is you girls were foolish enough to take on his slurs," Orube snorted, shaking her head.

"Oh, so it's our fault?"

"At least I wasn't the one who threw the first blow," Kimi rolled her eyes. Cornelia shot her a hateful glare for stating the obvious.

Kimi ignored her and began to addressed Irma and Taranee as well. "If you lily-livers hadn't started the fight, we would have had more time to finish our missions today."

"What? You want us to act like you when all you did was insulted them back."

"Actually, I would have expected you to do just do nothing instead," Orube lectured her. "Don't you see? You should have just let the insult washed over you like water rather than let those boys goaded you."

Taranee thought for a quick moment before she finally understood. "Orube's right."

Irma stared back at her in shock. "What? You're taking their side, Tara?"

"Irma, don't you see? We fought back against those bullies because of our pride and we're facing the Deadly Sins!"

Something clicked and Cornelia understood what Orube was trying to say. "Right…Pride is one of the Seven Deadly Sins, isn't it?"

"But didn't Ngọc Long told us that they were only able to detect the other five sins?" Irma protested. "Aren't Envy and Pride like…went AWOL or something?"

"We can't be too sure about this, Irma," Will pointed out. "Darkness is fueling these Sins and if we let ourselves be baited by them like you did back there, we would only be aiding our enemies."

"You really can't expect us to do nothing when someone insulted us like that, do you?"

"You can retort, but it's probably best not to throw the first attack and start a real fight unless absolutely necessary."

Irma didn't like it one bit but she sighed with agreement. "Fine, the next time those bullies insult us with nasty slurs, I'll just cool their heads off with a nice, small bucket of cold water."

The others giggled, saved for Kimi and Orube.

"So what will your uncle do with your cousin?" Hay Lin asked curiously.

Kimi shrugged as if she could care less. "Hopefully with whatever fitting punishment my uncle can conjure up."

"I still can't help but wonder how those bullies could have taken us so easily," Taranee said, pondering.

"Oh, please don't go there, Taranee!" Cornelia warned. "That Katsuharu, Teppei, and that Hiro boy already went on and on about how stronger Lusterians humans are compared to us and how much training they had since they were in diapers—"

"Yeah, and the last thing we need is to have Kimi here," Irma gestured a thumb at the Guardian of Light, "lecture on and on about how weak Earthlings are again."

Kimi sighed in exasperation and rolled her eyes.

"Actually, that's not what I was referring to," Taranee pointed out. "I was talking about their magic." Turning to the Water Guardian, she continued, "Irma, didn't you mentioned through telepathy that the water snakes' binding was strange?"

Irma dodged a tree that was coming up at her and nodded. "Yeah…it was as if it was infused with dark magic or something…but I wasn't entirely sure."

"Well, it does look like he and his friends were tough opponents," Will suggested.

"No, they're not," Kimi waved her hand at the suggestion. "Orube and I could toss them around the training court any time of the day and so should have you lily-livers. My cousin may be tough, but he's weak compared to me and all of my other relatives."

Will raised an eyebrow. "What do you mean?"

"Your friend there may have a point," Kimi replied. "Even in their Guardian forms, they should have been able to take on my idiot cousin and his friends."

"Are you suggesting that Irma was right and that Kenji and the other three might have used the darker side of their elements to increase their abilities?"

Kimi frowned, obviously not liking the idea. "If they did, then I will show no mercy the next time we meet."

Again there was another silence as the seven of them continued to fly over the dark, misty forest below. Will began to notice that the deeper they flew into the direction of the temples, the darker and thicker the mist became. Will didn't like it one bit. It was getting colder, too, and sometimes, she thought she saw something moving below in the corner of her eyes.

"Eeek! What was that?" Hay Lin squealed when she felt something brushing against her shoes.

"Um, girls? I think I just saw something moving down there," Irma said, her voice quivering. Although cold doesn't usually affect Irma as it is a part of her element, it doesn't mean that she couldn't shiver.

Whooo-ooo…

"Okay, don't tell me that you didn't just hear that?" Irma gasped.

"We're getting closer to our destination," Orube stated. Looking up and projecting her cat-liked vision forward, Orube squinted and saw a dark and towering shape. "I can see the ziggurat part of the temple from here."

"I think it's best that we should land and walk the rest of the way so we are not detected," Will suggested.

The other four Guardians looked down hesitantly. "You mean down there?" Hay Lin asked. "Will, something just touched my shoes! And the air is telling me now that this part of the forest is crawling with something."

"They're called shadow spirits, fruit-cup," Kimi noted. "And trust me, they are not the most pleasant ones."

Orube pointed to Will. "Will, we'll have to turn invisible and try to use the Heart to cloak our presences from these shadow spirits. They won't bother us if they cannot see us."

Will nodded and began to turn invisible. The others followed her example. Kimi turned to Orube and mentally altered the light particles around her, rendering the Basilíadian invisible as well before Will took out her Heart and asked it to cloak the seven of them.

Once they landed, they immediately saw shadow spirits with glowing red or yellow eyes moving around them. They didn't look human. Some looked more grotesque than others while some towered over them by several feet.

This is freaky! Taranee said, opening up a telepathic channel throughout their minds. Kimi was not pleased.

What the hell are you doing in my mind, lily-liver? She demanded.

Kimi, chill… Irma suggested. It's not like we can read your deepest thoughts and know all of your secrets.

My mind is NOT a nice place to be in, Kimi warned. If you know what's good for you, you should know your place and not read my thoughts.

Don't worry, Kimi, I promised to respect your privacy and not invade your thoughts, Taranee assured her. My telepathy channel will allow us to communicate with each other without fearing the enemies eavesdropping.

Kimi, I trust Taranee and I promised you that she will never intrude into your most private thoughts, vouched Orube.

Kimi shrugged. Fine, but for her sake, she better not.

After walking ten minutes through the dark spirits-infested forest in silence, it was Hay Lin who decided to break the silence.

So, Kimi…um… Hay Lin began to ask. I have a personal question to ask, if you don't mind?

What is it, fruit-cup?

Um, well, your uncle told us that the previous Twin Guardians were his great-grandfather and his twin brother—

My great-great-grandfather, yes, Kimi nodded. And?

Well, my grandmother and her friends were the previous five Guardians before us W.I.T.C.H.—

W.I.T.C.H.? Is that what you five called yourselves? Kimi smirked as if the name amused her.

Well, yes, it's just our initials put together, Hay Lin continued. Anyway, when I mentioned this to the Chancellor, he said that Lusterians have longer life spans. So…

Hay Lin trailed off, afraid that she might hit something too personal. Cornelia raised an eyebrow. Let me get this straight, you Lusterians are stronger, more skilled in martial arts, and you live longer? No wonder your kind is so condescending.

For your information, Cornelia, my people on Basilíade also live long lives, Orube remarked.

Right, I've almost forgotten that you're several thousand years old, Orube. Not bad for an old cat, Irma laughed quietly and the others joined in. Kimi and Orube did not find this amusing. Turning to Kimi, she asked, So what about you? Don't tell me that you're a thousand year old woman.

Lusterian humans don't live that long, Irma, Orube retorted. Only spirits and dragons do.

Eighty-nine, Kimi smirked.

Wait, what? Irma replied.

I said that I am eighty-nine years old, Kimi repeated.

Are you serious?! You can't be that old!

Orube and Kimi glanced at each other before they both burst into laughter. Will and Taranee joined in. This attracted some of the smaller shadow spirits' attention, but with the Heart cloaking them, the spirits went back to sleep.

Looks like you're not the only one who can joke, Irma, said Will.

Kimi and Orube suddenly stopped dead in their tracks.

Oh, you were joking, Irma folded her arms, pretending to be insulted. No, seriously, how old are you?

Shh! Kimi hushed her.

Oh, don't give me that excuse, because no one can hear us when we're talking psychically!

It seems we're finally here, Kimi said, pointing to the remains of a series of temples in front of them. Although parts of it were in ruins and covered in invasive species of plants, the giant temples towered over them in an ominous way.

Irma gulped nervously, fearing that the building itself might notice them and decides to squash them like insects. Instead, she joked timidly, Wow…n-nice place they got here.

Don't joke about this, Irma, Cornelia warned her. Seriously, this place really reeks!

Yeah, of evil, I know! Irma added.

So where do we start first? Taranee asked.

Will looked up at one of the temples' sinister looking towers. Let's try up there first, she suggested.

No, Will! Hay Lin spoke up.

Surprised, the others turned to her curiously.

I…I think…I can hear voices…and they're coming from the courtyard… Hay Lin pointed to the ruins to their left. I can pick up some faint sounds from the wind blowing from that direction.

So it looks like we're not the only ones here, Cornelia said.

Let's go find out who our real enemies are, said Orube.

The seven of them quietly followed Hay Lin as she leads them by sound. The closer they crawled to the ruins of the temples' courtyard, the louder the voices got.

I'm sensing something, Kimi said, frowning with concern. These auras…they're…they're immense and powerful! I fear that our enemies are not entirely humans…

"How goes our conquest in Nihon, Seiryuu?" said a voice. From the sound of it, it was as if it had come from a man.

"Discreetly enough, Hwang-Ryong, at least for my army," replied a voice…a female this time. "However, the humans are starting to notice the other Sins we've been inducing. It won't be long until the Prince of Darkness finds out."

"He shall not find out, I can assure thou," replied a third voice, another man. "Come now, in this grand scheme of ours, there can be no dismay. Thou art worry for naught!"

"What makes you so sure, Zhu Que?" the woman, Seiryuu, questioned.

The Guardians and Orube inched themselves closer and peaked over a wall. Before them, they saw four figures, each wearing elaborate outfits that symbolizes an element. Their appearances were nothing like any Lusterians Kimi had even seen. While they do appear humans, it was the way they talked and carried themselves, almost as if these figures were godly. But that wasn't what was worrying Kimi. It was their names…

Hwang-Ryong…Seiryuu…Zhu Que? Hay Lin asked. These names seemed familiar, even from my world…but I can't remember where.

Quiet! They're talking!

"Art thou not advised?" said Zhu Que, mockingly. "Thou have forgotten for the Guardian whose power ruled over the Shadows has been taken care of. Without him to inform the Prince of Darkness, he shall not be advised of our plans."

I knew I should have paid more attention to literature class when we were learning about Shakespeare's plays, Cornelia complained. I seriously can barely understand what this Zhu Que is saying!

Me, too, Irma agreed.

Will you two just shut up! Will shot them both a warning glare so that they can still listen in on their enemies' conversation.

Kimi, on the other hand, clenched her fists, the fury inside of her was burning up.

A fourth voice laughed at Zhu Que as she joined the discussion. "Even if you are right, Zhu Que, and that the Guardian of Darkness is incapacitated, you cannot count his sister out of the picture yet."

"Silence, Xuan Wu!" Zhu Que snapped, his fist bursting into flames.

"Or what? You'll make me suffer your Wrath?" Xuan Wu laughed. "Don't be ridiculous, brother. The Guardian of Darkness may have been captured, but his twin is still out there. I've no doubt that the Guardian of Light is searching for her missing brother as we speak."

"Rest assured, Xuan Wu, she will not find him," Hwang-Ryong stated, small statics of electricity danced through his body. "Even if she were to search this entire forest, there will be no fruition for her persistence."

Seiryuu smirked, placing her hands on her hips with the leaves around her dancing coldly. "However, Xuan Wu does have a point. The longer that little brat searches for her twin, the more likely she'll inform the Gemini Council of it."

"Let them be informed," Zhu Que laughed maniacally. "Kandrakar is naught but full of senile fools! I pray thee, what can those bastards do once we've conquered all of Lusteria? We have the Darkness and with it, our powers over the elements have peeked tenfold! Less thee forget that we each control the Deadly Sins. With it and our magic, we shall induce it into the weak hearts of the people and soon even the Five Great Elemental Kingdoms will fall under our control. Canst thou wit what this shall bring?"

Xuan Wu smiled wickedly, her long dark, brown hair gleaming like the depth of the ocean. "Once this world is ours, we shall not stop there. We will spread our conquest to the other worlds and declare war on Kandrakar. Our small invasions have already been sent out to these other worlds. It won't be long until our units have fully infiltrated those planets and induce our Sins into the indigenous populous."

So that's why we were attacked on Earth and in Meridian! Hay Lin gasped mentally. They were sent by these guys!

"And how discreetly have your infiltrators been?" Seiryuu mocked. "Did you think I would not notice, dear sister?"

"I do not know what you mean, Seiryuu," Xuan Wu replied lazily.

"Don't try to hide it, Xuan Wu," said Seiryuu. "I know that you, Zhu Que, and Byakko have been trying to show your influences on your victims with those medallions."

The three of them did not deny it, yet the news infuriated their leader."YOU FOOLS!" Hwang-Ryong roared, electricity sparked from his finger tips. "How could you be so irrational? If the Guardian of Light finds them on your pathetic little monsters, she'll surely be able to link them back to us soon or later!"

"What are you afraid of, brother?" Xuan Wu shrugged, unaffected by Hwang-Ryong's fury. "By the time Kandrakar finds out, it'll be too late to stop us. With one of their Guardians out of the picture, we'll have one less to worry about."

"You're more of a fool than Byakko!" Hwang-Ryong snapped. "Haven't you heard? Kandrakar doesn't have two Guardians, it's seven! Rumors are spreading fast and the last thing I need is to have six Guardians interfering in my plans for this planet and the universe."

"So what? All the more pleasure for us to squash them like the insects that they are," Seiryuu laughed wickedly. "After all, the Guardian of Darkness has been captured and he's the most powerful of all seven of them. The other six will be easy picking for us."

"Such confidence," Zhu Que chided her. Turning his attention back to his brother, the fire warrior said, "Has thou kill the boy?"

Hwang-Ryong shook his head. "There is no need to kill the Guardian of Darkness, yet," he said. "Besides, there is still a chance that we might need him to defeat his sister."

I am going to kill him! Kimi thought. She wanted nothing more to do but to jump in and take on all five of them and then demand where they're keeping her twin.

Orube and Will pull her down before she could do anything rash.

No, Kimi! We can't reveal ourselves, Will said. We've already found out who our new enemies are and from the looks of them, they're dead serious.

We have to do something! Kimi protested.

Yes, we do, and that is to report back to Kandrakar of our finding and then warn everyone what's going on, Orube said harshly. This looks like the start of a Lusterian war and this time, it also involves all of our worlds!

But my brother!

You've heard that Hwang-Ry…whatever his name is! Irma said. It looks like he's being held captive somewhere but he's still alive.

We'll have to find out more where they're keeping him, Taranee urged. We'll come back for him later. But now we really have to go.

Before Kimi could say anything, Hwang-Ryong spoke up again.

"Byakko!" he called.

A fifth figure, emerged from the earth. He was tall and muscular with broad shoulders and strong muscles. No doubt his element must be earth like Cornelia's. However, when the Guardians tried to see his face, they couldn't see his eyes for they were covered with a dark, green blindfold. They thought he was blind, but it was clear that he could see where he was going.

"You called, brother?" Byakko folded his arms as if annoyed to be summoned.

"Have you made any progress in the west?"

"No need to worry, brothers and sisters," Byakko assured. "My influences are building up and my armies are ready. Soon the Western Earth Kingdom of Zhong-guo will be the first to fall to its knees."

"And those blasted monks from the Siulahm Temples?"

"Bah! Those fools are pacifists. They care too much for the safety of the people," Byakko replied. "Once my Sin has induced the Emperor and his nobles, those monks cannot do anything but be occupied with their own problems to fight us."

"Excellent. And see to it that you've all stop using those medallions when inducing your monsters," Hwang-Ryong smiled with satisfaction. "And the other problem?"

"I'm already on it," Byakko grinned and stomped one foot into the ground.

The next thing the girls knew, the earth beneath them moved and they were thrown up into the air. They screamed in surprised as they landed in front of their five adversaries.

"Pathetic," Hwang-Ryong seemed amused. "Do you Guardians really think that I wouldn't know where you were hiding?"

"So these must be the other five Guardians you were talking about," Seiryuu smiled with a savage glee. Turning to Orube, she laughed. "Oh, look…a Basilíadian. This will be so much fun."

"Who the hell are you guys?" Will demanded.

Kimi didn't wait for Hwang-Ryong to answer. She stood up and glared at him with such hatred in her eyes. All the while, her fists clenched as she emitted glowing spheres of red light. She was really pissed.

"What have you done with Kyochi? Where is my brother?!" Kimi demanded.

"Such impudence!" Zhu Que declared. "How dare thee speak to us in such a manner. Do thee not know thou stand before the Celestial Warriors?!"

Orube gasped upon Zhu Que's designation. Kimi was also surprised, but continued to glare at them, ready to fire her red light spheres at any time. "Traitors! Give me back my brother or so help me, I'll separate your heads from your bodies!"

"Ha! I like to see you try, Guardian of Light," Xuan Wu laughed.

"I don't have time for this nonsense," turning to his four siblings, Hwang-Ryong snapped his fingers. "We have business to take care of and these little girls cannot interfere. Get them!"

"With pleasure!" Seiryuu replied. Suddenly, she manifested a pair of silver metal fans and threw them like discs at them. Kimi manifested a red shield from her spheres to block the first fan. As the second one came closer, she scattered along with the rest of the team.

Soon, they began to battle with the five Celestial Warriors with their respected element. Cornelia tried to dodge Byakko as he aimed for her. She tried to break the ground beneath his feet, hoping to trap him underground. Unimpressed, Byakko summoned his own weapon, a guan dao, and struck the bottom end of the shaft at the ground, causing the earth to tremble. Cornelia fell to her feet and immediately tried to scramble away when he jump at her. Looking at the spot where she was, she breathed a sigh of relief because if she hadn't moved, Byakko would have chopped her up with his guan dao.

Orube and Will battled Hwang-Ryong at the same time. Truthfully, they were having a lousy time doing it. Every time Will shot bolts of lightning at him, the Celestial Warrior intercepted and threw them back at her or at Orube thrice the amount of damage.

"Why? Why would the Celestial Warriors betray their own world?" Orube demanded as she swung her sword at him. "Have you no honor!"

Hwang-Ryong sneered. "Honor is nothing when your talent is wasted away in the depths of the people's memories. The Celestial Warriors have so much more potential and power and I will not stop until our dreams for this world are realized."

"You will not win!" Will declared, throwing another bolt of lightning at him, but he simply dodged it with ease. "The Guardians of Kandrakar will stop you."

"And that is why you all must die!" Hwang-Ryong replied. From his left shoulder-pad in the shape of a golden dragon's head, the Celestial Warrior pulled out a hoister. It sparked and extended a long electric whip. "Do not attempt to challenge this brave new world!"

Hwang-Ryong whipped it at them and Orube made the mistake of trying to cut it with her sword. Her blade didn't cut through because the rope was made entirely out of electricity. The whip curled around the metal blade of the sword, and was about to shock Orube had she not abandoned it.

Will emitted bolts of pink energy from her hands and threw them at Hwang-Ryong. This time, he absorbed them with his body and lashed his whip at her. Will could feel the intensity of the electricity running through her body and screamed. Orube took her chance and blasted purple chi at the Warrior to distract him and freed Will.

"It felt…it felt like my energy was draining," Will gasped as Orube tried to lift her up.

"Are you okay?" Orube asked.

Will nodded hesitantly. "Yeah, I think so…as soon as my vision stops spinning."

Meanwhile, Taranee shot volleys of fire at Zhu Que only to have him either blocking them with a sword, or absorbing them with his free bare hand. Suddenly, he erupted into a pillar of blue fire and blasted some of them after Taranee. She tried to hold them off with her own wall of fire, but her orange flames were no match for Zhu Que's blue fire. Eventually, one of them broke through her fire shield and it began to engulf her.

"Tara!" Irma cried. Turning to her friend who's on fire, Irma conjured up a column of cold water and doused her friend.

"Thanks, Irma," Taranee said. Before Irma could reply, Zhu Que threw another column of blue fire at her. Taranee tried to counter it with her own column of orange fire, but it was clear that she couldn't keep this up. Eventually, she had to break free and fly somewhere else in order to have an advantage. But every time she tried, Zhu Que was right behind her, firing volleys of blue flames hotter and more destructive than her own.

"Don't worry, Taranee!" I'm coming!" Irma cried.

"I don't think so, little girl," said a voice behind her and Irma was instantly knocked back by a water whip.

She groaned and got up to face her opponent.

"Wanna dance?" Irma challenged her. Irma pulled out her magical tambourine, ready to strike down the Celestial Warrior of Water. "C'mon, gimme your best shot! I can take ya!"

"Oh, you don't want to fight me," said Xuan Wu slyly.

There was something wrong with her voice as she spoke. Irma couldn't put her finger on it, but she could tell something was wrong. She tried to listen closely to see what's the matter with it. Bad mistake.

"Didn't you hear me, little Guardian? I said that you don't want to fight me," Xuan Wu repeated in a mesmerizing voice. The way she spoke made Irma want to nod and agree.

"Yeah, I don't want to fight you," Irma replied, clearly falling under Xuan Wu's hypnotic spell.

"Don't fight me. In reality, you want to help me."

"I won't fight you. I really want to help you…hey, wait a minute!" Irma protested as something in the back of her mind was telling her to wake up. "This is just like the Jedi mind trick thing!"

Xuan Wu intensified her charm speaking, intending to place Irma under her absolute command. "This is not like the Jedi mind trick. I'm just telling you how to have fun."

Instantly, Irma was under her control again and nodded dutifully. "Yeah, you're right. I want to have some fun."

"Good, now attack your friends for me, won't you?" Xuan Wu asked, looking up at Taranee and Cornelia as they battled against her brothers.

Irma nodded eagerly and rose up her arms. Suddenly, two geysers of water shot up at Taranee and Cornelia, knocking them out of place, giving Zhu Que and Byakko the chance to fly in and slam them brutally to the ground.

"There, wasn't that fun?" Xuan Wu asked slyly. Turning her attention to Hay Lin who was trying to counter Seiryuu's blasts of hot wind at her while trying to dodge her two flying fans of death. Below her, Orube and Will were both trying to take on Hwang-Ryong. Xuan Wu was about to give Irma the order to strike down those three next, but unbeknownst to her, Kimi had turned invisible sometime during the fight and was making her way to her.

"Now, why don't you be a dear and take down your three little fr—AHH!"

Xuan Wu didn't get to finish her sentence because Kimi and knocked her from behind. She turned visible again and tsked at Irma.

"Wake up, lily-liver!" Kimi said. Irma didn't respond so she did the one thing she could think of. She slapped the Water Guardian in the face. It worked.

Irma stumbled back a bit and rubbed her soar face. "Ow, what the hell did you do that for?"

Xuan Wu moaned at their feet as she tried to get up.

"No time, let's get out of here," Kimi said and the two of them made for the sky.

"You'll pay for that, you little…" Xuan Wu didn't bother to finish her sentence. She snapped her fingers and a giant snake-liked stream of water grabbed at them.

Irma tried to counter it with her water magic, but it was clear that it wasn't working. Before she knew it, the tip of Xuan Wu's water tentacles froze, encasing her left boot in an ice coffin.

"My leg!"

"Now you're mine!" Xuan Wu declared as she manifested a silver and gold bow and three arrows made from ice. She aimed three of them at Irma and Kimi and fired. "No one makes a fool out of the Celestial Warrior of Water!"

Kimi grunted as she shielded herself and Irma with another light shield. "Yeah? Well, no one touches my brother! Now where is he?!"

Irma fired more water bullets at Xuan Wu, but the Celestial Warrior smirked as they hit her harmlessly.

"Urgh! Why isn't this working?" Irma demanded. She broke the ice from her foot and freed herself.

"Ah!" Cornelia yelped, trying to hit Byakko with her boulders all the while dodging the blade of his guan dao. "Our powers barely have any effect on them!"

"Urgh! Element versus element isn't working because they have ten times our power!" Taranee stated, as Zhu Que transformed into a giant flaming bird. Taranee didn't even want to try and fire her flame spheres at him, knowing that it'll just make him even bigger and worst than before. She'll have to try to hold back his fire before he sets her ablaze again. "I can't…take the heat…it's too intense!" Taranee strained.

"C'mon, let's trade dance partners then," Will suggested.

The Guardians flew into the center of the court and took their chances to switch partners, hoping to gain the upper hand. It didn't work.

Cornelia took her chances with Hwang-Ryong. When she tried to smash him with two giant boulders after immobilizing him with vines, the leader of the Celestial Warrior merely generated lightning out of his eyes to free himself. The vines were quickly vaporized and the boulders crumbled into dust. Then he flew up to her face faster before she could react and made a grab for her. Cornelia gasped as she could feel her energy being drained before he threw her several meters across the court and she slammed into a series of stone columns.

Taranee switched with Irma and tried to evaporate Xuan Wu's pillars of water. But when the Warrior combined them with ice and pellets of hail the size of baseballs, Taranee became overwhelmed. It got worse when Xuan Wu generated a blizzard around their feet, icing up the ruins around them.

Irma faced off Seiryuu. "I'll handle the beauty queen here!" Irma declared, readying her own water pillars should Seiryuu decided to use her deadly metal tessen fans at her.

Seiryuu seemed amused. "Really? You'll handle me?" she asked mockingly. "Water Guardian, can you really handle the Celestial Warrior of Air?"

Irma immediately launched the water pillars at her, and threw in a flurry of ice daggers for good measure. Before Irma knew it, Seiryuu inhaled and emitted a sonic scream. The sound wave destroyed her attack and threw Irma back several meters. Irma struggled to get up, but the sonic scream was still reverberating in her head and it was giving her a hell of a dizzy spell.

The others weren't faring any better. Orube, Will, Hay Lin and Kimi went off to face Zhu Que and Byakko. Kimi kept throwing knives made out of constructed light at Zhu Que while Hay Lin tried her best to blast Byakko away with a whirlwind. Things got worse when Byakko and Zhu Que combined their powers and their area was soon consumed by a cloud of hot ash and dirt, causing the four of them to have trouble breathing.

Will decided she have had enough. She summoned the Heart of Kandrakar and instinctively, a huge light and energy knocked everything back. The elemental attacks from some of the Warriors' powers wavered a bit and the Heart's wave of magic did manage to push everyone a step back.

"Enough is enough!" Will declared. Turning to Hwang-Ryong, she glared at him. "You will give us back the Guardian of Darkness or so help me I'll—"

"You'll what?" Hwang-Ryong laughed, unimpressed by her show of power. "Use your little pendent against us? I'm afraid you'll find out that the light of your crystal won't be enough to affect us, for the Darkness is too powerful here."

Byakko smiled. "And you'll find out that you're in no position to bargain with us. Look at what I've caught."

Will turned to see Byakko holding up Kimi by her collar. She appeared to be slumped and unconscious.

So much for being better than Earthlings, Irma thought.

"Kimi! Let her go!" Will said.

Seiryuu laughed. "I'm afraid she's not the only one you'll have to worry about, Guardian."

Will turned and saw to her horror that Orube has been captured by Seiryuu and Xuan Wu. They forced her to her knees to submit. Xuan Wu manifested a shield and spear and held up the pointed end to Orube's throat while Seiryuu held her by the hair mercilessly.

"Orube! No!" Will cried in disbelief.

"Looks like you only have one choice, Guardian," Hwang-Ryong smirked.

"Surrender now or this bitch dies!" Seiryuu proclaimed. She pulled Orube's hair back even more, causing Orube to cringe.

Orube tried to shake her head. "No, Will! Don't surrender to these traitors! Let them kill me!"

"With pleasure!" Xuan Wu whispered gleefully. She pressed the tip of her spear closer to Orube's throat. Any further would cause a trickle of blood to flow.

"Your magic pendent is impressive, Guardian," Hwang-Ryong noted. "Surrender it to me along with your powers and I'll spare your two comrades."

"Thou have a choice," Zhu Que stated. "Will thou surrenderth thy powers to save thy friends?"

What am I going to do? Will thought frantically. If I surrender the Heart, we'll lose. And if I don't, my friends are going to die!

"Make your choice fast, Guardian!" Byakko ordered. "Or do I have to kill this girl first to convince you?"

For the first time since Elyon and Cedric captured Taranee in Meridian, Will was at a loss. She doesn't know what to do. Back then, it was easier for her to make the decision to retreat and come back another time to rescue Taranee. But this time, there was no guarantee that the Celestial Warriors will spare the lives of her two friends.

There was only once choice she could make, and she doesn't like it one bit. Will clenched her fist and the Heart dissolved reluctantly into her hand.

"A wise choice, Guardian," Hwang-Ryong said victoriously. Holding out his hand, he motioned her over. "Now hand it over."

"Not even in your dreams!" cried a voice.

It sounded like Kimi. They turned to see her still unconscious in Byakko's arms and were dumbfounded.

"What the hell?" Xuan Wu raised an eyebrow.

The Celestial Warrior of Water unconsciously lowered her spear, and this gave Kimi the opportunity she needed. At that moment, she suddenly turned visible again in front of the three of them. Her hands were clasped together with two forefingers pointing at Orube like a gun.

"Orube, get down!" she ordered and fired a laser beam from her forefingers.

Orube ducked as the laser went straight for her. For a split second, it looks as if it was about to pierce her, but instead the laser split into two and bent around the Basilíadian warrior and hit the two unexpected Celestial Warriors behind her.

The two women doubled back from the attack. Orube balanced her weight against her arms, lifted up her two feet and kicked them both back further.

"What the—?" Byakko widened his eyes. He turned to look at Kimi and then back at the Kimi that was still unconscious in his arm. The one that was unconscious dissolved into nothing but tiny light and sparkles. It was a fake.

Hwang-Ryong frowned. "A holographic specter," he declared, disappointed in his brothers' failure to notice the difference. "You've been duped."

"Orube-neechan? Are you alright?" Kimi asked after pulling Orube away from Seiryuu and Xuan Wu.

"I'm fine," Orbe coughed. "But when did you...?"

"I took my chance when I was still in the cloud of dust and ashes," Kimi explained.

"Um…girls?" Hay Lin spoke up. "I don't think Byakko and Zhu Que liked that trick of yours."

Sure enough, Byakko and Zhu Que were losing their tempers. In empathy with their rages, the earth shook violently beneath their feet as giant woods uprooted themselves around them.

"NO ONE MAKES A FOOL OUT ME!" Byakko roared.

The Guardians braced themselves as he pulled the earth and the wood around them, trying to cage them in.

"I AM THE CELESTIAL WARRIOR OF EARTH! YOU WILL ALL FEAR MY MIGHT!"

"LET'S GET OUT OF HERE!" Cornelia cried.

The others didn't want to argue with her. Orube grabbed Kimi's wrist and pulled her along.

"I don't think so!" Seiryuu declared and summoned a powerful tornado. It sucked them back into the earthen cage, trapping them like rats. "After that nasty trick, you're not going anywhere!"

"What's happening?!" Irma asked, her voice nearly lost over the sound of whirling wind and crashing earth.

Trees began to spiral their way around the earthen cage, strengthening its support and blocking all of openings big enough for them to crawl through.

"We're trapped!" Will gasped.

"HOW DARE THOU MAKE A MOCKERY OF US?!" Zhu Que roared as he burst into a pillar of blue flames again. "AS PUNISHMENT, YOU WILL ALL SUFFER THE WRATH OF ZHU QUE!"

The Celestial Warrior of Fire set flames to the wood. Xuan Wu smiled savagely as she and Hwang-Ryong looked on. Seiryuu joined the fray by creating a whirlwind around the structure, magnifying the intensity of the fire. To make matters worse, the earthen cage got smaller and smaller, threatening to crush all seven of the girls.

"Will, get us out of here now!" Taranee begged. "I can't stop these flames!"

"And I can't hold Byakko's earth back much longer!" Cornelia added, her voice strained from the effort of trying to slow down the crushing cage.

Will couldn't agree more. Summoning the Heart, she said, "Right, it's time that we leave."

"No!" Kimi declared. "I'm not leaving without my brother!"

"Kimi, no!" Orube stopped her. "Don't be rash. There's nothing we can do here. The Celestial Warriors are too powerful for us."

"If we stay here, we'll be crush and burned to death!" Irma pointed out.

"Don't worry, we'll come back for your brother later, but right now there's nothing we can do for him and nothing at all if we're all dead!" Will ordered.

Kimi wanted to protest but didn't. Instead, she submitted to defeat and summoned her Jewel of Life. Together, she and Will asked both of their pendants to take them back home to Kandrakar.

The cage collapsed after a brilliant light emitted from its center. And then they were gone.

"They got away, brother," Xuan Wu shrugged.

Hwang-Ryong smirked. "It matters not. Nothing they can do will stop us. Soon, Kandrakar will have to fear the might of Lusteria. It's a brave new world…"

Xuan Wu nodded with a sadistic smile on her lips. "Oh, I'm sure they already are."


After the Guardians finished explaining their findings, Yan Lin and the members of the Gemini Council exchanged concerned looks.

"I'm guessing you guys know of these Celestial Warriors?" Irma asked.

Lord Araël nodded grimly. "Unfortunately, yes. And what you've told us of your finding bodes nothing but ill news."

"This is something we did not expect," Lady Verlona said.

"So who exactly are these Celestial Warriors?" Cornelia asked. "And why are they so powerful? We have never faced any opponents like them before."

"Of course not, because you have never faced demigods before," Yan Lin noted. When they gave her a blank look, she continued, "The Celestial Warriors are not humans, nor are they spirits."

Ngọc Long looked on grimly. "They are the offspring of the Celestial Sovereigns, the old gods of Lusteria eons ago. Molded from the very elements themselves, the Celestial Warriors were created to protect Lusteria from its darkest evil, but it seems evil have consumed them."

"In any case, we cannot stand by and let them take over Lusteria, much less than watch their monsters infiltrate the other planets," said Lord Mathis.

"Only the Prince of Darkness can stop them, but we do not know where he is or how to find him, save for the Guardian of Darkness," Lord Gaël noted.

"But the Celestial Warriors have implied they have captured Kyochi!" Orube said. "They somehow knew about his connection with the Prince and so they have incapacitated him."

"Let me go back and find my brother!" Kimi demanded but the Council shot her down with glares.

"You will do no such thing!" Lord Araël stated. "None of you are in any condition to fight the Celestial Warriors again. But mark my words, you will return to fight, but not today."

Kimi wanted to scream, but instead she went over to one of the base of the tall thrones and punched it with all her might. A chuck of magical marble crumbled and the throne's occupant jumped off to reprimand her, but she didn't care.

"So what do you want us to do?" Will asked, trying to change the subject.

Yan Lin sighed. "There's no hiding the fact that you will have to return and stop the Celestial Warriors and their plans of conquest. If we let them continue to induce their Sins wherever they pleased, they'll make the Darkness more powerful than before. Should they succeed in taking over Lusteria and declare war on Kandrakar, we'll be too weak to stop them."

"But how are we going to do this without Kyochi's help?" Orube asked. "He's supposed to be the most powerful out of all seven Guardians and even he has been taken out."

"It'll be difficult indeed, but not impossible," Lady Verlona nodded. "I fear that you'll have to defeat Hwang-Ryong and his fellow Warriors to find Kyochi. But you must get stronger if you are to stand any chances of surviving the next battle against them."

"How?"

Glancing over at Lady Ngọc Long, Lord Araël said, "The Jade Dragon can oversee your training. It'll be vigorous and brutal, but with your current fighting abilities, I see no other choice."

Irma held out her fingers and began to count them off. "Okay, so we'll have to get stronger, stop the spreading of this big-baddy Darkness by taking out the Deadly Sins…and we can only do that by defeating these five demigods…prevent them from taking over Lusteria and the universe, and we also have to save Kimi's twin brother. Oh, yeah…that's a fine list of things to do."

"You'll have one less to deal with," Yan Lin said. When the Guardians gave her a confused look, Yan Lin looked over to Kimi grimly. "Forgive me, child, but I see no other way."

"What do you mean?" Kimi asked.

"In order to prevent the Celestial Warriors from spreading their Deadly Sins to the rest of the universe, we'll have to cut off contact with your planet."

Five of the Guardians' eyes widen in shock. They exchanged worried glances…

"Wait…you don't mean…?" Will began.

"I'm afraid so, Will," Yan Lin said. "To protect the rest of the universe from this new evil, I have no choice but to draw the Veil over Lusteria and isolate it from the rest of the universe."

To be continued…

Cultural references

The Celestial Warriors are based on the Four Symbols (although, there are actually five of them), mythological creatures in Asia that corresponded to the four seasons, directions, and elements.

Hwang-Ryong is the Yellow Dragon of the Center and represents the element of Earth. In this version, his element is Chi/Energy.

Xuan Wu is the Black Tortoise of the North and represents the element of Water. In this version, her element is still Water.

Zhu Que is the Vermilion Bird of the South and represents the element of Fire. In this version, his element is still Fire.

Byakko is the White Tiger of the West and represents the element of Metal. In this version, his element has been changed to Earth.

Seiryuu is the Azure Dragon of the East and represent the element of Wood. In this version, her element has been changed to Air.

Fan arts of the Celestial Warriors are located in my Dreams of Lusteria gallery on my Deviantart dot com account.