Always Embracing the Darkness and Light

Part 2: Light

Riou slowly opened his eyes. His vision was blurred at first but it soon became more focused and clear. He realized he was lying on the ground and began to sit up. But upon doing so, he was suddenly very much aware of his sore body. He winced as every movement caused him pain. He made no attempt to stand, instead he sat there a little dazed and confused. Thoughts swam in and out of his head, but gradually, he became aware of everything around him.

Some how the night had passed and the sky was splashed with beautiful colors of a sunrise. Around him, the violent winds from before were replaced by soft breezes gently caressing the grassy plains and playfully tousle Riou's slightly messy hair.

Near him he found Jowy lying on his side asleep, his breathing soft and even. Riou gazed at his friend as if seeing him for the first time.

"J.Jowy." He began, but he stopped as a sharp pain raced up his arm and then throb dully in his right hand. In a flash, he remembered events from the night before with stunning clarity. His eyes widened in alarm and he forced himself to his feet.

"Mcdohl." Riou began to look around in panic. What had happened to him? But it was not long before he spotted the youth a little ways from where he was. But he was not alone. The boy whom he had seen earlier was sitting on the ground cradling Mcdohl's body. Riou thought he could hear the boy speaking and strained to hear.

"Don't worry everything is going to be fine now." The stranger said softly. "I won't leave you again, I promise. Can you ever forgive me for all the sorrow I've caused you?"

To Riou's ears the boy seemed to be talking incoherently. Riou opened his mouth to speak to the youth, but he saw something that made him shut his mouth again.

Upon the boy's exposed right had was the distinguishing black mark of the Soul Eater rune, and upon the Mcdohl's right hand was the same mark, only it was white instead of black. It shined faintly and glistened like the rays of the morning sun.

"There it is you guys, Toran Castle." Mcdohl said with a grand gesture.

"Ah, it's more amazing than I thought it would be!" Nanami said truly awe struck. Toran Lake stretched out vastly before them, and the sun over head caused the lake to sparkle in absolute beauty, complementing the uniqueness of the old castle that stood against its waters.

"Leave it to my little brother to come up with good ideas! Of course he gets it from me you know." She added brightly.

Jowy stood a little behind her nodding. "Indeed, the weather is perfect this time of year. The castle itself seems kind of outta place but I must admit, it does have a strategic advantage.." He pointed out. Beside him, Riou laughed shaking his head in dismay.

"Strategic? Who cares about that? I'll bet you can catch some great fishes from there!"

"If anything," A new voice diverted the conversation, "I'd like to see inside the castle. I'll bet it's more interesting." Mcdohl turned to regard the new youth with a pleased smile.

"Sure thing Ted, how about it guys? I'll give you a grand tour of the entire castle."

Nanami was barely able to hold in her excitement, but it wasn't like she was trying anyway. "That sounds great!" She turned to Ted then. "Luckily you decided to come visit Mcdohl today Ted. I didn't know Mcdohl had a child hood friend. Where were you all this time?"

Ted scratched his head and smiled some what awkwardly. "Errr.I've been around, but never too far off. Everyone knows little Mcdohl here would be lost without his best bud. Isn't that right Mcdohl?" Ted laughed clapping Mcdohl upon the back.

Mcdohl coughed for a moment trying to catch his breath. But he returned the smile with one of his own. Nanami cocked her head to the side, hands upon her hips.

"Well you must have been gone pretty long, Gremio almost had a heart attack when he saw you. Poor guy, he must have missed you more than Mcdohl. I've never seen a man cry so much!"

Mcdohl couldn't help but chuckle. "Well that's Gremio for you.."

"Well? What are we waiting for? We didn't come all this way to look at it now did we?" Jowy interjected.

Mcdohl nodded. "Right, let's head for Kaku village, that's where the boat is docked." Nanami ran up along side Mcdohl and looped her arm around his in a playful manner.

"Say, do you think we might be able to catch one of the stars around the castle?" She asked. Mcdohl looked upon the girl with something more than fondness.

"With out a doubt, If you want I'll personally introduce you to them Nanami." The boy offered. Nanami blushed slightly as she realized that she was staring quite intently into his dark tawny eyes. She broke the the gaze looking away quite embarrassed.

"That would be.great. Thank you Mcdohl." Smiling inwardly She gave his arm a gentle gratifying squeeze as they walked off. Ted, Jowy and Riou trailed behind immersed in conversation, with Ted cracking random jokes.

If the five youths hadn't been so distracted, they might have spotted two lone figures that stood a little distance from them. One figure was an older woman and a young boy.

The boy sighed impatiently and crossed his arms. "Everything seems all right now, don't you think Lady Leknaat?"

The old seer gave a small nod. "Yes Luc, the bearers of the Bright Shield Rune and Black Sword Rune have handled the situation with such grace. Riou is much stronger than he or anyone else realizes. He was ready to sacrifice all that he was in order to save Mcdohl."

The young mage watched the youth in current discussion. "I still can't believe the tremendous power he summoned from the Bright Shield rune. Was it actually so powerful enough as to bring back Ted?" He inquired.

"Yes, it is rarely witnessed as runes are usually never handled by people of his nature."

"If you approve of Riou so much, do you approve of Jowy as well? He was the one who 'split' the Soul Eater Rune in half."

"As Jowy is not as pure as Riou by nature, he is wiser far beyond his years. He realized that in order to fight the Soul Eater, the Shield and Sword needed to be one. And even as that plan began to fail due to their in experiences with a whole true rune, he called upon the Sword's abilities to cut the Soul Eater in half. But he could not have preformed such a feat if his loyalty and conviction to Riou were not strong."

Luc gave a small scowl, a little envious of the way Leknaat spoke so highly of Riou and Jowy. "Yeah well, as smart as Jowy was, I bet he never expected the Soul Eater to be split into two new runes."

Leknaat smiled upon Luc's statement. "He must be very pleased with the results. Now the Soul Eater suffers the same fate as the Rune of Beginning. But should the 'Holy Soul' rune that Mcdohl bears, rejoin the 'End of Soul' rune that Ted has, then and only then will the Soul Eater be awakened to it's full power. But for now, its dark power sleeps, and hopefully it will remain asleep for a long time." She said before quietly teleporting away.

Luc stood there a little while longer before replying; "Well if anything that's one less rune you don't have to constantly worry about anymore." He casted one last glace at the group who had entered Kaku village. "And anyways, that Mcdohl guy had already disobeyed you one too many times when you told him not to use the rune, maybe now he won't be tempted." He muttered under his breath as he began to walk off. In a few steps he was enveloped in a soft sphere of light and faded from view.