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The Eastern Section of Echo, covered in forests, swamps, and jungles.

East Flora Edit

They travel slowly over the mountain range, and as they travel down into thick forest, Seco feels a strange pressure build on him, as if something powerful is watching him, he quickly notices looks from his team that suggest a similar experience is occurring.

Seco: Kado, do you feel that? You know the 'I have a feeling i'm being watched' feeling?

Kado nods, and stops. "You might want to stop for a moment. The Grand Eye is watching you right now. He's going to decide if he's going to let you pass or not."

Out of nowhere, a large eye made of flames appears, and appears to be staring directly at Seco and the others. After a minute, a voice rings in their heads.

You may pass.A powerful, older voice rings in their heads.

Kado starts walking again. "You're lucky he let you come along. You would've been flung all the way back to Azure probably."

Gobble: Was that the eye of Jesus Christ?

5x5: Why can't you just shut you mouth, Gobble?

Seco: Because he doesn't want to get laid.

Avalia: *chuckles*

5x5: Oooooohhhhhh, burn.

Gobble: *is hurt* Shud up.

They wander deep into the forestland, before coming to a fork in the road, where Kado stops.

"You know the way right?" "...Yes. It's just that... I feel like I've been here before. This fork in the road... seems familiar to me."

Kado appears to have a troubled expression, and he keeps looking to the left branch of the road, which seems less maintained, possibly even overgrown.

Gobble: Man, attack of the plants up in here.

Seco: Watch your step guys.

Gobble: Yea no shit, old man. *is having trouble walking over some of the overgrowth*

All of a sudden, Kado comes to a dead stop.

"..."

He slowly turns to them. "Everyone. Wait here. I need to go alone. I just realized something." He starts to traverse the path again, not expecting any of them to follow, but Azula starts to follow him.

"What's going on?"

"....Please don't follow me Azula."

Seco: Alright we stay here and wait. If there something out here,we blow it the fuck up, got it?

All: Yes sir. *get into a circular formation*

"I'm worried. He won't let me into his thoughts. The only thing I'm reading from him is some sort of distress."Azula says to Seco. Meanwhile, Kado comes to a cabin looking as it was completely run down, and goes inside, already anticipating what he'll find. The dust and silence only adds to his confirmation. If she was here... or alive... he'd know. He spies a dusty journal, and reads a page, quickly growing pale at what he reads, and decides it would be best to read it later. After all...

If I'm here... that means... the village is not far away...

Seco: Tell him to suck it up. we gotta keep moving. He can sulk all he wants later.

She looks at Seco."He just literally cut me off completely. I can't even sense his location anymore. There's something up that he doesn't want me knowing about. I'm betting it has to do with... ...no, nevermind."

Seco: He better hurry up. Im feelin' abit uneasy about this.

Kado reaches the edge of the village border, and wraps his face in a black cloth mask, and steps into the village. Many faces he doesn't remember, but he still remembers the streets. It doesn't take him long to reach the place he had lived at for so long, the Phoenix Garrison. Abandoned as well. He should have known. He suddenly hears footsteps behind him, and he turns to face them.

"Who are you?" He says sharply. "I was told the village was never aware of this location's exact whereabouts. How'd you find it?"

"You don't think I would know where my own house would be?I live here you know Or atleast, I used too." Feels the edge of the house. "So many memories..."

"If you lived here, that means you were a lackey of the Phoenix! What do you know of this place?" Kado growls.

"That I lived here my entire life with a family. My wife and my child. As for Phoenix, I no longer associate myself with them, nor do I wish to hear that dreadful name." Clutches his fist.

"And why do you hate them? What did they do to you?" Kado asks. "If that's too much to ask of you, I understand." The wind blows, tugging at the loose end of Kado's cloth mask, which covers up to his eyes, but not past.

"They...threatened to kill my wife and my village... if i did not give them my son....I did so...but for my retributaion they killed them all anyway." Punches the side of his house hard enough for that side to fall over.

Kado puts a hand on the man's shoulder. "I'm sorry for your loss, sir. You're not the only one who has suffered because of them. Tell me something though, why did they leave this village?" He looks at Phoenix Garrison. "There would have to be a reason they would leave a base like this unattended for so many years."

"They probably just lost interest in it and decided it was time to move. Or atleast the only stayed long enough to get what they wanted."

Kado begins to remember the details of the attack, and starts walking up to the front gate, which is locked by a special lock system... the only way to enter...

Kado pauses, and takes out Dark Slayer.

"What are you doing?"

Kado inserts the blade into a thin slot in the door, and it slides open. "Opening a door."

The man suddenly realizes what sword he's holding, and what that means is...

"You....that sword...but you can't...be..."

Kado sheathes the sword. "I was trained to be one of their members. I was one of their many apprentices, and only I was chosen by Dark Slayer. However, they betrayed me and tried to have me killed. It didn't work, but it's left me scarred... in more ways than one."

"Then I have made a mistake. I should've died along with everyone else than give them what they had wanted. Now look at us. Two broken men, who seek retribution."

Kado takes his mask off, revealing his face. "Even though I have suffered greatly at their hands, I have decided to not let my anger cloud my judgement. I've taken what I've endured, and built others up. Even if we can't fix ourselves, perhaps we can help others who are still whole rise up out of the darkness. At least... that is what I've tried to do. I came here looking for answers. But even still..." Kado look back at the Garrison's buildings.

"...Perhaps I'll find them... but never understand them..." He trails off.

"All I ever wanted for you was to live your own life. To forget about the horrors that Phoenix can bring and hopefully not under their mercy as I did. You were cheated out of your childhood. Are you even content of what you've turned out to be?"

Kado turns to the man. "...Are you saying what I think you're saying...?" A long string of thoughts begin to enter his mind.

The man gets a more proper look at his face, and notices a peculiar color in his eyes, a mix of blue and gold, however his expression remains neutral.

"Im saying, you never had a choice in your upbringing. You never asked for any of this. Do you even know what you truly want?"

Kado looks away. "I've never felt a wanting for anything, for myself especially. All that matters to me is ending the injustice in the world. Even if I don't succeed in destroying it... at least the only thing I know is that I would be happy to die that way... instead of letting the world tear itself apart."

"I understand. That is the one thign that seperated us. You wanted to fight the injustice, I fled from it and wanted nothing to do with it. I was a coward for doing this, but you have the makings for righting the wrongs of this world. I just hope you wont use any means of doing so."

Kado looks back at him. "I must be on my way. If you would like to join us, my group is headed to Chinmoku for an important meeting. If not, there is always my city Azure. ...It's being rebuilt right now, but my people will still gladly accommodate you. You don't have to be alone anymore. Unlike me, you can still remember what life was before... you can eventually grow roots that you lost... as for me... I'm just a sapling strangled by the weeds and shaded by the great oaks... I probably will never grow tall."

Puts his hand on Kado's shoulder."There is no need to. You already have. Good-bye, my boy." Walks down the path and walks past Seco and the others. "Afternoon."

Gobble: Sooo we were hyped up on an old man?

5x5: Why wouldn't we be. *is referring to Seco*

Seco: Seriously, the hell is taking him so long? We wasted enough time already.

Kado appears behind them. "My apologizes. We'll get going right away." He heads off toward the right side of the path. He stops and looks back. "And no, if you want to ask, it'll have to wait. The nearest village is not for a good while."

Gobble: Aw geez. Probably should've taken some water.

Seco: But since you didn't, you might have to hold off until we get to the village.

Everyone continues to follow Kado

They manage to reach the nearest village just as the sun finishes setting, and Kado begins talking to a local inn owner about lodgings, the others are quite tired, after Kado had them travel with no breaks non stop to reach the village on time.

Gobble: *is breathing heavily* We would've been here sooner...if that guy...didn't stop...to fuck an old man...oh God...

5x5: *is breathing heavily* He just needed..to check something out....

Seco: We finally made it and that's all that matters.

After a minute, the inn keeper lets them in, and shows them their rooms, the best in the house. Kado sits down on one of the couches, and sighs. "Tomorrow I will contact the next caravan and request them to take us the rest of the way to Chinmoku. By caravan, it will only be another day. On foot, at least two. How are you all holding up?" He asks Seco and his group.

Seco: We'll be doing fine.

Gobble: *is lying on the couch tired* Speak for yourself, old man. I'm just glad we can chill out in this expensive-ass room.

"And my wallet is crying because of it." When Gobble gives him a questioning look, Kado returns it. "I may lead a entire city state, but if you haven't noticed, you kinda blew it the fuck up, so money will be tight until businesses get back in order and taxes begin flowing as normal. I'm operating on emergancy funds here, so if we don't make it to Chinmoku, where our stay will be paid for, we'll be sleeping in the streets on the next stop. So yes, I'm a politician, but I'm not a greedy money grabbing one. I'm one who makes sure his people get fed and sheltered, atmyexpense.

Though I guess I can always call in a favor from the other nations, considering how valuable Azure is for trade these days, they'll be sure to want to aid businesses recover for sure."

Gobble: We get it..you made your point... The Great Humanitarian.

5x5: Shut it, Gobble. This man is doing what is best for his people.

Avalia: Wish humanity was something like that.

Seco: There is hope for humanity.

Gobble: Yeah, but is it really worth it?

Seco: We gotta believe in the mission. Remember X-Men.

Gobble: Yea...X-Men..

Kado shakes his head. "I have no honest idea what these 'X-Men' are. You seem to talk about them though plenty enough."

Seco: If you watch, it surprisingly seems similar to our current problems of race. Maybe when we get on your good side we can show you.

Gobble:Ifwe can get on his good side

5x5: 'If'. 'If' sounds good.

"Well, you may get your chance." Kado chuckles lightly. "You may find that I won't have many more missions for you in the near future." The others interpret it as a humorous smile, but Seco notices the smile Kado makes is more sad than anything else.

"Dinner should be pretty soon."

Seco: *whispers to himself* Hmmm, what is to become of us after this? Or what might happen to Kado? He hasn't been really on his game today. What is he going to do?

"All will be explained at Chinmoku. No harm shall come to you, unless you bring it on yourselves. I cannot tell you anything, but we had an important meeting of the Azure Administrators. Before the council is to decide the course of action regarding Earth, Azure will make an announcement regarding our conclusions. Again, I stress that nothing shall happen to you or your men. But this announcement is not just for your ears. You will be joining us in the Summit itself. Kado chose you as his bodyguards for the meeting. ...Gobble. Any and all comments you make in the meeting that are disrespectful in any manner could result in severe punishment. ...All of you. When you are within the council chambers, the rule is unless you are a diplomat or leader, you are not to speak unless spoken to."Azula says firmly.

Seco: Understood.

5x5: Understood.

Avalia: Understood.

Gobble: Aw what? *is slapped in the back of the head by Seco* Understood.

Kado looks like he's going to say something, but suddenly doubles over in pain, and Azula rushes to his side, but he lets out a small noise barely detectable as "NO!", and she reluctantly steps back, and the episode continues for a full minute, before he loosens up, panting heavily, sweat dripping off him, and he is also shaking violently.

"I-I'm fine... it- it happens sometimes." He stutters. 

Gobble: Did you have a seizure or some shit? 

5x5: Are you gonna be ok, Kado? 

"...This is why I protect those who are trampled on by the strong. Because I was weak, and trampled upon. It would be so much better if it was just a mere seizure. ...I believe I once told you that my own family tried to kill me. ...I was always a weak willed child. Their betrayal crushed me to my core. Ever since that day, even though I am now twenty seven, I still look like I did twelve years ago. We shapeshifters don't age as much once we hit our twenties... but we still look like adults. What I am isn't normal. We don't age like normal Mythos, or humans for that matter. True, we have physical changes, but it is largely dependent on our mental maturity as well.  

...The events of twelve years ago, even the pain I felt as each of their blades and attacks ravaged me... I still live in that pain... constantly. Just when I am allowed a breath of peace... it returns in a endless roar of pain. In my waking and in my slumber, I relive the nightmare... again and again and again. My mind is literally broken like glass. I don't really even remember what I truely looked like. What you're seeing now is built on guesses, estimates. It's the closest thing to being who I used to be." He says all of this in a weak voice, pain clear in his voice. 

Seco: We've been in that same boat before. I was once a country kid who was born half human, theother half was a Variante. The towns people saw me as a demon of sorts and rand me off. My family was killed due to me for being even born. I made to the city where things were alot worst. Kids were helplees to defend themselves against the older children who often squeezed whatever they could out of the unfortunate. I played vigilante for a while, 'til I decided to teach those kids how to defend themselves, knowing I would't be around forever. Once I taught them how to fight baxk, the older children no longer messed with the unfoortunate and they could live on the streets with no worry of being robbed even more people. My tactical skills caught the attention of the M.C.C.P and I was trained by them and later on trained many others. I later got married to a Nymph and later had 5x5 and Gobble. My wife...died due to an explosion caused by Weopon Draconis. I was left to raise the boys by myself. 

5x5 & Gobble: *both look a bit upset* 

Seco: There is not one moment in my life where I wish I wasn't a mytho, but i am and nothing can change that. And one part of me is glad that I am. 

Dinner comes in, and they eat, Kado eating very lightly, mostly salad and a few sweets. Kado seems to be deep in thought. "...Tell me something, I assume you might know of this, considering you worked for M.C.C.P., you might have some sort of knowledge about this. I must admit I know little about Earth, other than the limited intel Azure has been able to gather. ...Can you tell me who this 'Sedition' is? I heard of it from the President and the Representatives, I assumed it was probably just some M.C.C.P. division or something."  

He smiles for some reason. "Tommorow, assuming we catch a caravan, we should be able to see the Twilight Lands. The whole east side of Echo is closely connected to Fantasy, and it has some truely amazing wildlife and scenery. You're going to be some of the first from your world to ever see the beautiful side of this savage land." 

Gobble: I hated the Twilight saga. *eaats his dinner* 

Seco: The Sediton was some sort of rebellion against he M.C.C.P. We were sent to capture a Nephalem of the name 'Dark Prynce' but some ho made a wager with him, if by the end of te year whoever came up with the best army vould take Prynce. We accepted and we used what species we had at the time. Dark Prynce's army consisted off Zane, Weapon Draconis. Lucime and Arachne, The Admin's Daughters. Umbras, Demon of Draconis. Evelyn, Battle Mistress of Light and Osiris, Egyptian God of the Underworld. They have a new recruit we had once trained at the M.C.C.P prior to Weapon Draconis. His name is Demgel, The Son of Good and Evil. 

Kado is even deeper in thought. "No wonder they were so cocky... it would be very hard to ever beat a group like that..." He laughs. "Espically with such pleasant titles as theirs. I would hate to come across them, friendly or not. Anyway, I suggest we get some early sleep. We'll probably need it for the trip tomorrow." 

Seco: Understood. Yo heard the man. Let's rest up. *get into the sleeping areas and tread off to sleep* 

Kado drifts off to sleep in his room, where Azula stands watch over him. She gets tired as well, and falls asleep next to him. When they wake up, they notice that Azula and Kado are both still sleeping, both look utterly exhausted. It doesn't take much imagination for Seco for him to guess that there will be a good show when the two wake up though, as Azula is sleeping with her arms around Kado. 

A full minute later, Kado yelps with surprise and accidentally falls out of his bed, falling on his head. 

"...Don't...you...say....anything...." He whimpers through the pain. Azula groggily wakes up, and looks surprised to see Kado sprawled on the floor. 

"You ok?" "Sure, totally didn't hit my head really hard on the ground or anything."

Gobble: *smiling* Awwwww, how adorable 

Seco: *helps Kado up* Nice to see someone caring for you on another scale. 

Kado forgoes breakfast, and instead prepares to talk with the recently arrived caravan. After they finish eating, Kado walks back in. "Alright, we have a ride. We leave in five minutes. Your feet can thank me later, we will arrive this afternoon. You'll soon see the greatest city in Echo, Chinmoku in its full glory. To be honest, it will be my first time there as well. But trust me when I say this, it is nothing like anything Earth has even concevied." 

Gobble: It'll be better than Atlantis, i'll tell you that much. 

5x5: What the fuck are you talking about? We haven't even discovered Atlantis. 

Seco: Quite, both of you. 

Kado gathers a few things and heads out. "Meet me at the front when you're ready." 

Seco: *signals everyone to follow him at a nod of his head and heads toward the front* 

White Maiden of Mist Edit

Shiori looks over at the remaining ones. "I forgot." She suddenly vanishes with a pop, and all but one of the crates lift up and dematerialize. She appears, looking a bit fazed. She leans down and picks up the last crate, it of course being the smallest and lightest of them.

"I forgot beings of tangible bodies had to carry things around with just their arms."

5x5 wonders what all the crates have inside them.

5x5: There better not be rocks in here.

"No. It's your food, plus a little extra for the clan back home." She says simply.

5x5: doesn't mean there not rock.

"What are you?" She asks simply and literally out of nowhere. "Where are you from?" Before he can answer, she asks another question. "What do you like to do for a living?"

5x5: *is a bit caught of gaurd by the questions* Well, I'm a mytho. A mythologial creature, brought to existence through man's belief in stories of the creatures. I' a hybrid Mytho. I am a Variante-a symbiote version of a Shapeshifter, and a Nymph-a water spirit. That makes me an Abyssal. I was born in an agency, calle The Mythological Creature Containment Program. Or The M.C.C.P. I grew up there and I never truly called it a home, more like scientific boot-camp. As for what I do for a living...*looks down at the ground as he thinks* I really don't have a living...All I did was fight those who were just like me and contained them, only for them to be experimented on for the use o mankind...that felt more like fate...*clutches his fist*

"Interesting. I see your past pains you. The stories I heard from the Wandering Ones were true about Earth, humanity truly has turned their backs on compassion."

She walks through the north gate of the city, and 5x5 notices she doesn't seem concerned by the name M.C.C.P. at all.

5x5: What do we do now, Shiroi?

"We walk. It will take us many days to reach the edge of Frontier. After that, there is a minimum of three days from the border to the clan. We are in no hurry to get there, so we can get to know each other more. After all, it will be helpful for the both of us if you are familiar with your Patron." She mentions the term as if it was the most logical thing in the world, while 5x5 is slightly confused by her meaning.

5x5: *scratches his head slightly* Patron?

"It is a strict rule that any spirit that lets a non-spirit into our realms take responsibility of them. For simple visits, a Patron is not necessary, but the spirit must ensure the guest behaves. But in the event you decide to live with us, I must become your Patron. Patrons not only are responsible for the care and legal affairs of the non spirit, but much teach them to adapt to life as a being who dwells within our world. We mainly exist off the energy of the world, from the sun to geo thermal energy. Because you do not, we have to stock to account for it. Most villages do not have non spirits for this reason. There are a few clans that do allow non spirits to become members of the clans, mine included."

She looks at him with a playful smile. "So I guess to sum it up, I'm like your babysitter, or your teacher. ...Or maybe it's both?" She says this last part with a coy, playful tone.

5x5: Sounds like familiars or Zanpakto or somethin' like that.

"Whatever suits you. Not that I know what those are." He takes notice of the markings on her body, and wonders once again their purpose, noticing Kukyo and even the dark side of Kado had ones, though red and angular in nature, in comparison with Shiroi, and the girl spirit of Kado's. Getting a good look at them, he notices they seem to faintly shift and glow, and are not actually tattoos, but some kind of energy.

5x5: Not being rude, but what are these markings for? Do they mean something or do all spirts have them?

"Both. Spirit Brands are something we have at birth, though they start out grey and change based on the spirit. When they are adopted or come of age to a clan, their spirit brand takes on the clan style. The color represents the type of spirit, blue means a positive spirit, and negative spirits have red, and also typically shows during coming of age." She turns to 5x5 as she walks. "You'll have to get one yourself though."

5x5: To show that I'm with a Patron?

"The brand marks you as one of our own, and will allow you to enter our realm. There are other advantages to them, though those are the only ones you will likely be interested in at the moment."

5x5: *thinks for a moment* Hmmmmmm...Why not?

She looks back at the road. "It's something that you can do if you truly decide to be a part of our clan. But I won't let you make that choice yet."

5x5: Ok, I'm guessing it's for my own good.

They come to a stop after many hours of walking through the strange yet beautiful forests and swamps of Echo, many countless werelights dancing and floating through the air, sometimes changing colors in many countless tones and shades. The land itself seems to be full of life and energy, something he's never seen on Earth before. A small over hang catches his attention, with a cave deep below it with a nearby stream and glass clear pond.

Shiroi looks at 5x5. "We'll camp here." She walks into the cave, all the way into the back, where the many crates she had dissolved appear from thin air and lower onto the cave floor. She also summons forth a mattress with intricately woven knitted cover and sheets. She looks at 5x5. "I didn't expect company, so unless you want to sleep on the floor, you'll have to share my bed. ...If that is acceptable to you." She walks up to the edge of the cave and assembles stones into a circle, and begins gathering grasses.

"Do you know how to hunt?" She asks softly. "Or are you vegetarian?"

5x5: I can hunt. I can only eat chicken , turkey, and duck though.

She looks off into the distance, and suddenly disappears in a flash of light, the only thing he sees is a swiftly moving orb of light that screams off into the depths of the forest. After a minute, the light returns appearing much bigger, and slams into the ground next to the rocks and grass. Shiroi reappears, holding a perfectly prepared chicken, and starts a fire, starting to cook it.

"Found one." She says simply. 5x5 thinks about the strange girl, and gradually realizes that Shiori and Kukyo seemed to know each other.

5x5: Im curious on how you know Kukyo.

She narrows her eyes, as if remembering something not exactly pleasing. "I was one of her servants for a number of years. A personal attendant in fact..."

She finishes cooking his chicken, and breaks it up, and fashions a disk of metal out of the earth, and then washes it in the stream, before putting the legs on the plate and she offers it to him.

5x5:*takes the the plate* I'm guessing it wasnt the best years of your life. *eats part of the leg*

"It was painful being away from my people, but she eventually released me before the war with Earth." She looks into the fire. "A tri spirit... his struggles are far from over..."

5x5: Who's? Kado's?

"Yes... him. For him to have two other souls present within his one body... and for them to be a negative and a positive... if they were to both become Enlightened... the only future I see is Kado's destruction... either from the hand of an enemy, or to be torn apart and remade by the dual forces within him... he will become remade, but no longer himself, never the same again.

I don't see another future other than those for him." She says softly. "If he should overcome his enemies, it is doubtless that they will eventually consume him."

5x5: *doesn't know what to say* This is something he might to figure out himself, isn't it?

"It is often so for those of his kind. He is a Justice after all. You've seen it yourself, haven't you? An unrelenting desire to make right the wrongs in the world, though blinded to the path beyond it, am I right?"

5x5: Yes, but there is a Mytho hybrid called a Justice. But I know what you are talking about.

"No one person is meant to have a dual nature. No matter who they are, those opposite yet equal forces will eventually tear a person apart if they cannot learn to balance themselves. ...Unfortunately it is easier said that done for us spirits."

She suddenly tilts her head, an aura of obvious curiosity about her. "So what's a Justice in your world?" He can already feel the tide of questions coming again.

5x5: Well..It's a Maenad, a hybrid of a Trance Elf, a telepathic elf and a Fairy, who is also hybridized with an Angel, Messenger of God. Those Mythos are quite commonly rare to find, but the have a good array of abilities to fight of any threats of harm to them or others who are being oppressed or wronged and maintain peace to the innocent.

She looks at 5x5 with an interested look. "So then Jon, can you guess what kind of Spirit I am?"

5x5: Are you a Justice? Not the one I was talking about.

She smiles. "Nah. I'm not up for the violence and caped crusader life. I just like to enjoy nature and make other people happy. If I could talk something out with another tribe rather than fight, it would be much more worth it. I guess that's why I'm the ambassador for the clan. We don't really need them, as we keep to ourselves in the Spirit Realm, but you never know I guess."

5x5: Yea...I guess. I would've prefered to escape to Fantasy.

She seems to look up, and starts walking towards the bed. "We might as well rest. We have a long way to go, and we need to rest up as much as possible." She gets into the bed and covers herself up, and look up at him with an eye.

"So where will you sleep? I don't have an extra bed, unless you're willing to share it with me. I won't mind if that's what you would like." She indicates the other side of the bed, more than enough room for him.

5x5: Fine. I don't mind. Thank you. *gets on the other side of the bed*

Once she closes her eyes, she falls asleep relatively quickly, and begins to give off a very soft glow, almost soothing to watch, her Spirit Brand also begins to shimmer as well.

5x5: *looks at the glowing of her glow* Hmm. I wonder what happens tomorrow. *goes to sleep*

Later that morning, he feels something against himself, and realizes she had drifted over to his side and is now laying against him, her head just below his chin. He feels very warm and comfortable, despite the fact he knows the cave itself was freezing cold. When he tries to get up though, he feels as though something is gently but firmly keeping him down.

5x5: *smiles* Well, isn't this just adorable.

She eventually stirs, and he feels the strange pressure lift in segments, as though something had wrapped around his whole body like a massive invisible blanket, and she opens her eyes.

"Good morning..." She says in a quiet, sleepy voice. "Could you see them?"

5x5: *is wondering what was that he felt* See what?

She looks a tad bit disappointed. "I was hoping you would see them. We can't move any closer to the Frontier until you can see them on your own. I guess I'll have to train you." He suddenly feels the pressure again, and he slowly is lifted into the air, until he is halfway to the cave's roof, and he looks down at himself, but sees nothing.

"Focus intently, Jon. I won't let you down until you can at least notice something."

5x5: *sees some sort of energy wave coming from Shiroi* I think...I can see it

"Good. Though with your reaction time, against a hostile Spirit you would likely have been killed by now though. I'm glad you can at least focus in on it. You already have some spirituality then."

He is slowly let down, and the energy dissipates. He wonders just what it was that she was using though to do that.

5x5: *lands* How were you able to do that?

She gets up out of the bed slowly, and walks over to him silently, and then presses her hand against him, and something like a sharp zap goes through his body, and his vision is completely changed. She is still in front of him, but now appears not as solid, and is radiating soft waves of energy, which break apart into small spheres of energy, some of them wizzing back into her form, and some flying off into the enviornment. From her back eight long tendrils sprout, and one of them unwinds and reaches over and touches him, gently going against his arm and wraps around it, the sensation comes to him a minute later as a soft hugging sort of sensation. Her dress is different, broken up into eight points toward the end, shapped almost like tear drops. These eight pieces float about in an invisible wind, and he notices she isn't standing in this form, but merely floating, no sign of legs attaching her to the ground. 

In this form, he can clearly see the full extent of the Spirit Brand, it travels all the way from her right cheek and branches off to her chest, back, legs, and right arm, each fully intricate and delicate designs. On her chest, it accents her figure, while on the arm and legs they end at the elbow and knees, a circle connecting the upper and lower sections of her limbs.

The tendril on his arm slowly travels to his chest, and appears to enter it, he only registers it as a faint increase in energy, and he realizes after a minute that the tendril is putting some of her energy into him, and she slowly begins removing her hand from him, at first he almost loses sight of her, but after a minute of the tendril pouring energy into him, she begins to come back into focus, and only then does she remove the tendril from him, and he feels as though he had a full course meal.

"Can you still see me?" She says after a minute.

5x5: Yea...What was all that about?

"I quickly altered you with Spirit Energy. I broke down part of your soul's natural borders, so it would be more receptive to spiritual energy. The tendrils you saw... I believe there is a story about a faceless man that might help you understand them. There's no specific word, but 'Soul Hand' and 'Spirit Ripper' are two phases that could come close to describing them.

You have the sight for now, because I opened up your spiritual 'eyes'. However it will depend on you to learn how to see for yourself. There are many uses we have for them, including as I said, soul modification and manipulation of the environment. More powerful spirits don't need them though." Already, he is losing sight of her spiritual form, and her physical body slowly starts to appear instead.

"Which one do you prefer?" She says after a moment, when she completely comes into focus. 

5x5: I like either or, as long you stay you and you like the body you choose. I'll be fine with either.

She smiles. "I change my body depending on who I meet. Though it's usually a deviation of my usual form. I try to guess what forms will put people at ease when I reveal myself. I figured you might like this appearance."

5x5: I like them both because it's you.

She looks at him, and he starts to feel the sensation take hold of him and he is starting rise up again. "Focus as hard as you can on it. Try to push past your normal vision. Your mother was a Nymph. You already have the potential therefore to see much easier than most beings of mass. If you can't focus your vision, then I have an idea on how to train your mind to connect easier. Do not tell me that you see it unless you become able to see an actual outline."

He focuses, and after a minute is able to the waves, but no actual shape occurs in his vision.

5x5: I can see waves, but I don't see any shape.

"I would then try to clear your mind of any unnecessary thoughts, try focusing on something like water ripples gently ebbing away until they become smooth. Once your mind is still and focused, you might be able to see it." She looks up at him. "I only suggest this because like you told me, you have Nymph heritage. Perhaps that connection can help you still your mind."

5x5: Alright. *focuses on the stillness and vastness of water, he's starting to see the shape* I...I can see it.

She smiles. "How clearly?"

At first he says only just barely, but his eyes gradually seem to sharpen in on the form, and notes that it has wrapped itself under his arms, but the section wrapped around it appears to be much much larger, the width of a beach towel across, covering down to near his waist. The whole form is solid enough to have definition, but is transparent, much like how he had heard ghosts were. He naturally begins to follow the 'Soul Hand' towards her, but it becomes blurry and eventually disappears still a good few feet ahead of her.

5x5: I can see the 'Soul Hand', but I can't reach it. What should i do?

"Nothing. Seeing it is good enough for me. I assume you cannot see my actual spiritual being, which makes sense. The hand is a very low key spirit projection. I would understand if you had difficulty seeing past a certain point. You're doing better than I expected. I am a mid class spirit, so I'm using relatively low level energies to make it detectable towards your levels. I don't sense any mid tier spirits, which means you won't have to worry about Spirit Blades. But that's good enough for me."

She looks at him with a please smile. "Enough for now." She puts him down, and the tendril slips out of his vision, as he becomes too exhausted by the effort to keep focusing on it.

She looks at him for a moment. "I realize you haven't eaten, and I would rather not risk expending any more energy, as I have to lift a lot of crates, so unless you really are hungry, would you settle for me replacing energy you've lost practicing?" She directs a tendril at him, which becomes visible after a few feet, and he can tell it is brimming with extra energy than the last one.

5x5: *is exhausted* Sure. If it keeps me from being so tired. Nearly forgot about the crates.

After she gives him a quick boost in energy, she makes the bed and crates disappear, save for hers and 5x5's. "Let's be off then."

5x5: Alright. *carries 4 crates,2 on each shoulder and exits the cave. He looks at the sun* So bright...

They travel for a good while, and eventually 5x5 begins to notice it is gradually getting colder, and the forests appear to be slowly becoming deciduous and pine forests. Off in the distance whenever they reach a overlooking hill, he can faintly see a vast blur of white, and to the west of them he can see a different shade of blue than of the sky's. Near this off path of 'sky' is a series of tall mountains. As a gust of wind blows by, he can't help but remember the terrifying gale that had heavily damaged the CRAzy.

5x5: *is starting to feel cold* Are we half way to the Frontier?

"No. We passed into the Frontier an hour ago. We're just now seeing what most people think of when they mean The Frontier though. The white beyond is the snow of the North. Fortunately the village lies within the outer regions of the Frontier, so we won't have to travel much farther once we arrive at the borders of the snow and ice.

However, we won't make the trip today. There is a small community ahead that my clan is on good terms with. We will stay there."

5x5: Ok. So where do we drop of the crates while we stay there?

"We'll have to find out. Their storage rooms aren't always available."

5x5: Ok, so how much longer till we reach it?

She points to a distant opening in the trees ahead. "It's over there. Let's keep going." She doesn't wait for him, and starts walking.

5x5: *keeps walking* So hope there is no rocks in here.

Shirori looks back. "Why would I put rocks in there? I told you that's all food."

5x5: Just makin' sure. So what do spirits do around here?

She blinks. "Live off the land and build the community. We live simplistic lives. Depending on what kind of spirit we are depends what we do around the world, or worlds in some cases. Justices tend to not linger at home, they're always off fighting their battles. A spirit like myself, I don't care much for anything but my family, my neighbors, and the peace of the world. Though in times of great need, Tranquility spirits seek out the most grievous periods of unrest and attempt to soothe the peoples affected by them. Some of us were used in the wars to still the minds of the soldiers and let them focus on fighting... not their fears."

She smiles wearily. "I'm sorry if our lives just seem terribly boring... we really don't care for material things as much as other races. We more or less just care about the relationships we build around each other."

5x5: Tell you the truth, Man kind should be more like you guys. I'm tired of our urges and desries getting the best of us and the fact they only care about themselves instead of one another

Shiori looks at him. "...Tell you the truth Jon, we're not all rays of sunshine. While it's true most positives are generally not harmful, there are a few minor exceptions. And then there are Negatives."

5x5: Yea, I suppose. I want something better for humans and Myths, it's going to be hard. We tend to make the same mistakes all the time.

Suddenly, he feels a violent force rip him off the ground, the motion so powerful that he drops all of the crates. From about him, he can hear a steady vibration, as if a motor was on near him. But also something distrubing. Something throbs at a steady rythmn, almost... organic. He makes the mistake of looking up at the source, and the sight immediately tells him he'll have nightmares for weeks. A horrid face leers out at him, looking like a charred, burned mummy's face, rippling in shadow, with soul piercing red eyes and a jagged grin, all throughout its body red angular markings run along its body.

With a searing pain suddenly igniting his body as it pulls him through some thick 'barrier', and he can suddenly see the landscape is completely different, glowing white and abyssal black is the only colors that stand out, and thethingseems to literally drain everything of its light, and he can even feel it sucking away... at him.

Below him, Shiori appears in her full form, looking terrified. She begins swinging strange blade like extensions at it, and one of them finally manages to cut off the arm that grabbed him, not before the horrible beast sinks its jaws into 5x5's shoulder and tears it open, greedily devouring it, sending pain he couldn't begin to describe throughout his being. He falls down, and his vision becomes blurry, as a large shadow and a brilliant light begin to tear each other apart in battle.

5x5: OG CRAP! IT HURTS! DANG IT, SATAN! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU TEARIN'UP MY ARM! *can't see very well* Where'd you go, you sick man-eatin' bastard. This would neeeeeever had happened if I had a gnblade. So wish I had one right now, I'd shoot you SO hard.

He falls unconscious, the sounds of something terrifying screaming echoing into silence.

When he wakes up, he is almost immediately hugged by Shiori. "...Thank goodness. I thought you were completely devoured...!" 5x5 feels as though he cannot move his arm, and he looks to see his arm and shoulder completely bandaged. Around them are several elves, as well as a human or two.

5x5: Didn't tell me you got elves here. Sorry I blacked out. Did we make it?

"No, we're at the small town I told you about we would visit. ...You've been out for days. After I... ...kill... the spirit that attacked you... I ran to them as fast as I could. ...You were lucky. It didn't just bite your physical shoulder... it literally ate a part of your spirit. ...I've been mending you for a number of days, but these are slow healing wounds, even for a spirit like myself. I'm not trained in healing arts... or at least, I haven't been trained for something like this."

She hugs him tighter. "If you died because I wasn't paying attention to you then I don't know if I could live with myself..."

5x5: *hugs her back* Didn't mean to have you guys worry so much about me.

A elf with ash brown hair coughs. "I will be delivering my report to your father, Shiori. The Misuto clan will be glad to know you are returning home soon." He walks out without another word.

"The elves didn't come from here originally," Shiori explains. "They were originally from Earth, though they've lived here in Echo now for hundreds of years."

5x5 realizes he's never asked her about her family at all yet.

5x5: You have family? I never knew. But I guess I never asked.

"Yes. A father and mother. I have siblings, though they live throughout Echo. I'm the only one who remains at home with mother and father. Father is head of the clan, and I do diplomatic excursions should he request it."

5x5: Hm, pretty neat. *gets up* Is there anything else that needs to be done?

"Yes. Please lay back down. You will need to finish healing."

The elf returns, with a tall man with long silver hair and gold eyes like Shiroi, and carries an air of great authority. 5x5 cannot read his expression, but he knows the man is definitely reading 5x5, he can feel the man judging him based on his appearance, and possibly more. After a moment, he looks towards Shiroi.

The elf looks at the man. "Your father is here. We will leave the three of you be." The humans and elves all leave, and close the door behind them.

After a tense moment, he looks at Shiroi. "Is this the one you've been bringing home?"

She silently nods.

"I see."

He looks at 5x5. "Young man. Who are you?" He asks in a firm tone. Unlike Shiroi, who 5x5 can only really tell the power of when she's in spiritual form, the man practically radiates power.

5x5: My name is Jonothan "5x5" Waltz, former leader of Domino Squad from The M.C.C.P. Sor if it was too detailed or too under detailed.

He looks at Shiroi. "He has yet to find himself, yes?"

Shiroi briefly nods.

He looks at 5x5. "How long do you intend to stay with us, Jonothan Waltz?"

5x5: As long as it takes to find what my heart yearns for. And that is unity.

"Very well then. Shiori. Brand him."

"A-are you sure you want me to do it Father? He was severely injured by a Gluttony."

"After I heal him, yes." He walks over to 5x5. "Let this be a lesson young man. While many of us choose to use our powers with care, there are those who just like man are equally capable of using them for only their self gain. There are few things that are true to the desire for unity. Perhaps only heaven is the true and final place of unity. But until we join the maker, we must overlook the flaws of life and endure it. But I hope you come to understand what exactly it is you're looking for. Even if you believe you know what you want, always remember life is ever changing and can force you to reexamine even the most profound belief in your heart."

He puts a hand to 5x5's wound, and a sensation like a thousand needles jabbing him goes over him, until it becomes subdued and the limb feels briefly numb.

"Let it rest for a few hours. Shiroi. When he is finished mending after that time, I wish you to brand him. Then we will return home. You should have told me you were coming, Shiroi. Don't bring people to us unless you can guarantee their safety."

He walks out.

5x5:Well your father is a very dutiful man.

Shiroi looks at him. "I'm so sorry... he's right... I should have waited and asked for escorts... I put you at unnessisary risk..."

She hugs him again, crying.

5x5: Hey. It's not your fault. It was my decision. You warned me this was a treacherous world and I still dove in. *wipes Shiroi's tears of her face* It's not your fault. You did your part. I'll do whatever it takes to find my path in this world. Your father actually reminds me ofmyold man.

Shiroi stops crying, though her embrace remains tight. "...I'm...sleepy...I didn't sleep...at all..." She suddenly sounds weaker, and he can feel her trembling. "I'm...so...glad...you're ok..." She falls asleep in his arms.

5x5: *holds her* You deserve some rest. Get all the sleep you need. Serves me right for blacking out so easily.

A few hours later, her father comes in again, but silently watches her in his arms. The look in his eyes seems to soften a little when he looks at her. His gaze shifts toward 5x5, and the look hardens again. He clearly doesn't seem to like 5x5, or at the very least he doesn't appear to trust him. He eventually shifts his head in 5x5's direction and then leaves just as quietly as he had left.

5x5: Man...I'm getting sleepy too...*silently yawns*

A sudden rush of wind can be felt outside, and her father returns, wielding a sword. "...Boy. Do you have a weapon?"

5x5: No...*is excited* Oh.Oh. Is this part where I get my...Ok.Ok. Hold up. *closes his eyes* Ok, i'm ready.

Her father stretches his hands out, and to 5x5's amazement, something metal begins forming in his hand.

5x5: *is even more excited* Oh my gosh!Oh my gosh!Oh my gosh!Oh my gosh!Oh my gosh!Oh my gosh!

5x5 watches as he makes a pair of gun blades that seem to radiate with some kind of light.

"You sound like Shiroi when we gave her first flute to her... in other words like a little girl. Take it, if you wish to prove yourself and protect Shiroi."

5x5: *is so happy* YAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! OH GOD I ALWAYS WATED ONE.! *getd up and hugs Shiroi's father* I will protect you daughter with my life. *looks at his gunblades* Now dat I got deeeeez! *is still so giddy*

A massive black claw tears open the building wall, revealing a towering black monster that almost looks like... a dragon. Only with red markings and looking distinctly like it was made from shadows. On seeing him, it lets out a terrifying roar and attacks.

5x5: YAAAAAAAY. *voice shifts into something more sinister* My first victim. *jumps at the dragon and slices its neck twice, then maneuvers behind the dragon's neck and shoots at it from behind and finally lands behind the dragon.*

The wounds quickly heals, and the dragon simply turns around, and lets out a wave of pure negative energy from its maw.

"What pathetic energy... you have a weapon gifted by spirits, yet your power is so... puny... you should be ashamed to even be touching such a fine weapon!"

5x5: If I'm so unworthy, why don't you have one?

The dragon lets out a dark chuckle. The sky begins to darken, and seven large tendrils with blades on the end sprout from its side.

"Ido....and now I shall end your life and consume your soul." He plunges the swords with lightning fast speed, and at the last second an explosion of darkness knocks the swords away, and a woman emerges from the thick darkness. She turns and looks at 5x5, and his heart stops with disbelief at the sight of the person.

5x5:..Kukyo...

"How dare you?!" The dragon roars, but Kukyo simply looks in its direction and it freezes. "Begone." She says in a low tone, and it growls, before slowly fading away.

She looks back at 5x5. "Jon. How are you getting along with Shiroi?"

5x5: I'm getting along with her just fine. How have you been doing?

She gives him the ultimate 'really' expression. "Inside a sword. Can't get much duller than that. But I would like to say something to you... in private."

5x5: Sorry, I should've known. Ok, what is it you need to talk to me about?

Kukyo takes him off to the side, and then looks at him.

"What was your thoughts of Avalia? What did you think of her as?" Her tone is serious.

5x5: She was the only friend I had outside my family. She is strong, rather silent but she displayed her emotions when she wanted to. We were close and at one point I started developing feelings for her...but those went away.

She continues the look. "And why was that?" She asks simply.

5x5: My beliefs sort of separated us due to our separate opinions. Avalia believed what we we're doing to our kind was necessary to keep man safe. I believed Mythos weren't bad at all, just misunderstood. I had endangered my squad trying to reason with my kind, but every time I do...They only reached the point of hating everything. Harlem Squad would have to deal with the threat if I couldn't do it.

Kukyo sighs. "Yet despite those differences... Jon... she didn't stop loving you. In fact even up until your little performance you pulled... she still loved you. I could feel it. I can't sense positive emotions as well as negative ones... but it was because of those negative emotions I realized. You may have lost your feelings, but I don't doubt that she still has them... though it has transformed most likely into love tainted by grief and loss."

5x5: The reason why I did it, is because, I didn't want them to get hurt over what I believed in. I knew me 'dying' would hurt them on the inside, but atleast I know they don't have to die because I'm around.

Kukyo suddenly pulls him up next to her, and forces him to look her dead in the eye. "All I have to say to that is this,Jonothan,is that better not be the excuse I hear again. Shiroi would gladly die protecting you. Your family would gladly die protecting you. Not just because they might cover for your mistakes, but they would protect you regardless because they care for you. What do you want people to do? Let you die for a mistake? I will not forgive you if you hurt Shiroi like you did your family. You're not the first one she...."

She pauses. A depressed air comes about her.

5x5: I left them to start a new life and help those who need it. Shiroi is a part of that life. I will protect Shiroi with my life, the same way she did for me.

Kukyo lets him down with a sigh, though he finds he can't move still. She walks up to him, and embraces him. She says nothing, but he can almost feel something like desire coming from her. With her head next to his, she says in a low whisper, "I don't know what this feeling is... ...but it feels so good... ...but it hurts so much... ...take care of yourself 5x5. ...I'm afraid that even though I discovered this land and made it my sanctuary... I am no longer wanted here... this will likely be the last time you and I meet... though I will always keep an eye out for you.

Thank you for giving me the gift... maybe one day on my lonely travels I will find another who can look at me as I am... and not as just some monster or something to be used...."

She pulls away from 5x5 and begins walking away, but stops to look at him one last time. The red markings all over here seem different, almost purple in color and more graceful and less angled. As he looks at her, her eye turn amber colored, mix with flakes of gold, the two differences, along with her face and hair color, begin to remind him of Shiroi and her father, but also of the little girl spirit within Kado... and he can even vaguely remember Kado's face as having a similar quality to it.

She closes her eye and he catches a small glimpse of a smile, and her form begins to destabilize, as if little by little she is disappearing into the wind.

5x5: *reaches out to her but she disappears* You are no monster to me...Kukyo. *sits down next to Shiroi and thinks*

"...Jon... why is there a hole in the building...?" She whispers as she wakes up.

5x5: Dragon came in. Don't worry, it went away.

A fierce prickling sensation rises on the back of his neck, and he turns to see her father, seemingly shimmering. His eyes look at 5x5 with what could only be fierce disapproval.

"What were you thinking? That was no mere dragon. That was no run of the mill wyrm. That was a low-high tier Spirit. You could barely handle the attack of ONE Low Class Gluttony. If Kukyo had not come here, your very soul could have been easily devoured!"

5x5: Then I should've been given gunblades sooner. Atleast I did something. Where the heck wereyou?

Her father narrows his eyes. A blast suddenly sends him into a wall, but it is Shiroi, not her father who had done so.

"...Jon...please...do not speak against my father so... ...he is a Protection Spirit. His first thought was the secure the safety of the villagers and their homes. He would have helped you against it, if you had been patient instead of jumping in alone. ...Please don't fight..." Her voice is minced by hurt.

5x5:..My apologize...

Her father walks over to 5x5 and offers him a hand. "It is as my daughter said. I was attending to the rest of the village. Most of us Spirits, unless we are combat aligned, do not immediately engage an enemy. I should not be too harsh on you... it is in your nature to fight after all. You were born a soldier, not as one of us. I must set my own expectations back."

5x5: I maybe a soldier, but do admit; I should've done a better job.

"What's done is done. What we do is what we do. But in the future, please don't charge in head first. In the world of our affairs, those who charge in first are the ones who fail to live long. But those who linger too far behind can be picked off by wolves. Remember that balance is an important part of who we are. Not just spirits. But all races must learn to balance themselves. If they don't... they are prone to allowing their emotions rule their heart, when will should temper them. When the fall comes, they are not prepared and will lash out, and hurt others around them. Then begins a cycle you're very familiar with.

Take my hand. How is your arm?"

5x5: It's better. Alot better.

"I see. Rest until tonight, the village would like to treat you to a dinner."

5x5: Dinner? *hears his stomach sort of growling* That sounds great. Thanks.

Shiroi idly climbs into the bed, and just lays there. Outside there is a lowering afternoon sun shining in the window, a number of flowers can be seen outside, including some blue lilies. She appears to be looking out at the sun, giving her blue eyes a very light cast than normal.

5x5: *sits in the bed next to her* You okay?

"I'm thinking about them." 5x5 presses her for answers, but she remains silent. "Why don't you talk with my father? You need to get onto a better start with him."

5x5: *is unsure about it* Sure.

He walks outside of the building, to find her father sitting on the porch. He notices 5x5's approach and indicates a spot to set next to him.

"Don't be shy boy. The wolf only bites if you ignore its warning growl."

5x5: Same goes for a rattlesnake. Shiroi wants me to be acquainted with you and since I basically have no questions, you can start first.

"How is she, for one? I don't believe she would pass up any opportunity to be with one of her... guests."

5x5: So far, she's great. She's been showing me the ropes and everything. You must be real proud of her.

He closes his eyes. "...I am. ...But... you're not the first person she has tried to bring to us... ...Some of them died on the way... but the rest... ...took advantage of her. ...She loved them..." He closes his eyes.

"Shiroi was desolate each time it happened... she only wishes to bring happiness and peace to those she encounters. It tears her apart."

He looks at 5x5. "I thought you might want to know." He picks a soft blue lily and gives it to 5x5. "She likes blue. Blue anything really. My name is Kyōdaina. Attend to her, I don't like it when she is alone and thinking about the past."

5x5:*takes the lily* Me and her both.*goes back inside and sits next to Shiroi* Heard you like blue. *gives Shiroi the lily*

She slowly looks at 5x5, and takes the flower, slowly holding it in her hands. She then looks at 5x5 and leans against him, her body suddenly feeling quite warm to the touch, her Brand beginning to glow strongly.

"...Jon...?" She asks softly.

5x5: Yea? What is it you need, Shiroi?

"Don't leave me... I don't want to be alone again..."

5x5: *puts his hand on her shoulder* It's ok. I'm not going anywhere. You wont have to be alone anymore.

One of her Soul Hands forms a small blade of blue energy and points it at 5x5. "Trust me..." Shiroi sits up and looks at him. "Lie down and hold still."

5x5: *does what Shiroi tells him* Okay.

The blade quickly but carefully slides into his right cheek and begins carving into him, slowly moving down to his neck, and gradually moving down to his chest and there it splits, traveling to his right arm, both legs, and his back, all carving some sort of lines into him. When the blade reaches his right hand and both feet, they remove themselves from his body, and the blood that comes out of him quickly rises up and seem to become energy right before his eyes, taking on a white appearance, and then reenter his body at the cuts, and the Soul Hand loses its blade, but enters into the long elaborate wound and begins flowing through it, at the same time he hears an audible 'SNAP!' from near Shiori, who momentarily cries out, a stream of energy flowing out of her from her right side, which eventually subsides.

The Soul Arm travels through the length of the cut, and suddenly he feels the pain from the carving finally enter his body, as he sees a purple light begin glowing from the wound. He can feel the wound close at a supernatural rate, but the glowing remains, but eventually subdues until it appears as though it is a tattoo.

Shiroi gives him an apologetic look. "I-I'm sorry... that it hurt you..." She holds up a mirror, and shows him the result. "But now I've given you your spirit brand."

He notes that it isn't like hers or Kukyo's, but rather is a purple brand with both angles and gentle swirls, the complexity still amazing, even though he had felt her carve it, there are details he didn't expect to see. The color is very dull though, almost black, only the center shows any sign of purple.

5x5: Looks cool. *smiles as he rubs across his spirit brand* Atleast it was worth it, right?

"Yeah... unless of course you don't end up... nevermind..." She trails off.

5x5: *looks at Shiroi* I know...

She sniffs the air. "I smell food. It must be close to dinner." She looks at him with a small smile. "You haven't gotten much of a chance to bathe, have you?"

5x5: *smells under his arm and displays a look of disgust* No...no I have not

She smiles. "Don't worry. After dinner we can take care of that smell. There's a hot spring and a lake nearby."

5x5: Then a better eat quickly.

She shakes her head. "Take your time. We spirits rarely eat, as we lose very little energy in a day. That's why the majority of the food in the crates is for you."

5x5: Imma be stuffed as a pig then. If I had known that, I would've tried to eat sooner.

Shiroi takes his hand, and leads him outside where the community sits around a massive bonfire with tables stretching around the logs on which they sit, with a lot of appetizing food on them.

Kyōdaina waves them over to sit by him.

5x5: *sits next to him and looks at all the food* And asllthe majority of it is mine? *looks back at Shiroi*

She laughs. "No silly! Your food is still in the crates! This food is for the elves, humans, and you. Plus us, we haven't eaten in a while."

5x5: Oh ok, Thank goodness. Then I'll stick with the food in the crates. *goes over to where the crates and opens one. A sweet roll rolls out the crate* Ah snap, It's a sweet roll. Sweeeeeet. Totally. *eats the sweet roll while mildly laughing*

Shiroi and her father eat, but he notes they only really have one or two chicken legs before they finish. When she finishes, she eyes a particularly delicious looking cake, but her father tells her no and to wait for desert. She grumpily walks over to 5x5, a slight pout on her face.

5x5: *looks at her and rips of a part of his sweet roll and gives it to her* Wanna sweet roll? *is still eating on his first bite*

She quietly takes the piece and eats it. She then spots a decently thick stick and takes a knife out, and begins drilling a hole into the end.

5x5: You doing ok? *takes another bite of his sweet roll*

"Yes." She continues drilling the hole until the hole is a certain width across and deep, and she takes the other end and begins to carve something out of it. As she continues carving the stick, he notices it's starting to look a whole lot like a flute.

5x5: Are you makin' flute?

She nods. After drilling more holes, she lifts it up and peels the bark off, and then it strangely turns blue. She then hands it over to 5x5. "Here."

5x5: *looks at it* Never played an instrument before. *blows a note, then looks at it again* Thank you, but why give me this?

"I wanted to give you a gift. Something made with a personal touch. I make them and trade them with any mortal traders who happen to be in our area. My flutes are sought after by many."

5x5: *plays little tune* It sounds divine. Thanks again. What are we gonna be doing after we eat? *plays another tune*

"We'll go down to the lake nearby and wash. Father wouldn't approve of us being filthy on arriving to the village."

5x5: Ok. *smells himself again and displays a disgusted look on his face* We can't go right now?

She appears to blush faintly. "W-we can, if you want. I can show you the way...."

5x5: Lead the way. *is ready to follow Shiroi. Is still eating his sweet roll*

She leads him through some thick trees, and eventually they come to the edge of a rather large lake, a few crickets can be heard beginning to chirp. You coming in too?

5x5: *gazes at the lake* Preeeeetty...I'll go first. *goes behind a tree and takes of his clothes and puts them on a bush and enters the lake* Feels nice. You coming in too?

Her clothes suddenly dissolve, and before he can process the mental image, she dives straight at him and sends them both crashing into the water. When he opens his eyes underwater, she has a impish smile a mile wide.

5x5: *is abit caught of guard but he smiles back. Swims back up*

She pops up out of the water as well, still smiling with that impish look.

5x5: Heh, you have a weird way of saying 'yes'.

Her smile gets a bit softer. "Well I thought I would make your evening a bit more eventful."

5x5: *chuckles* Yea, tackling some dude in the lake naked can really change a guy's life.

She pauses and blushes, a thought coming to her mind. "S-sorry if that was... uncalled for..."

He notices that she's tensed up and anxious.

5x5: It's alright. I was just surprised that's all. You ok? You seem abit..tense. I know. It's because we're both naked in a lake isn't it?

She blushes again, and then closes the distance between them and embraces him, shaking as she does so. "All of the others... I wanted to be with them so badly... but one way or another... I was left all alone... either by death or leaving me behind and never coming back... so can you please... tell me what you think of me..." Shaking, she embraces him tighter, her head lowered, and her breath is rapid and shallow. "If...if you don't... it'll drive me insane... I need to know..."

5x5: I think....No, Iknowyour kind, beautiful girl, who values the lives of others no matter who they are and who's had her heart crushed too many times. And it's about time that changed. *remembers Kukyo* cause she doesn't deserve that. *embraces her back*

The Search for HopeEdit

Kalin stepped out of the portal first, looking out at the surrounding area. "Is this the right place, Aoi?" he said, facing back to the portal.

She looks at the ruined landscape of Azure. "....Yes. We need to head into the east mountains."  

"Right. Okay, let's go." He said, forming a wave of darkness over them. "This should keep White from sensing us for a little while. Although Azula may still be able ot sense us normally..."

She nods, and begins to lead the way.

"So, tell me what you learned from Noriko." Kalin said, falling in step alongside her.

"Well, from what she said, the data on the Chaos Engines should largely still be kept there. If we can find White's personal notes on them, we could potentially find a major weakness. That's what Noriko said at least. She also told me where to go, and oddly enough mentioned something about data on the other members. I don't know what she meant by that though."

"Other members? Members of what?"

"Phoenix, Kalin. Down this path and... ....woah... you feel that presence right?"

There is a sensation as though a powerful eye is looking upon them.

"Yeah, I feel it. Maybe we should move a bit faster. To hell with stealth." Kalin said, erasing the dark aura around them, as he began to shine brightly. 

At ease. I, the Grand Eye of Chinmoku grant you permission to set foot upon my lands. Be welcomed and at ease.

"Oh...sorry, it's just that I've had a bit of bad luck with beings watching me without consent." Kalin said, his aura calming down to a normal level.

Aoi walks him down a long dirt road.

"The majority of Shapeshifter villages aren't actually connected by roads. Some haven't seen outsiders in more than a century."

"Interesting. Did you come from one of those villages?"

"Not exactly... my mother and father raised me and my brother and sister in a isolated homestead in the forests on the other side of the central valleys. This way, Kalin."

She points out a over grown path.

"You know, for everything I know about you, there's two things I dont...well, we can always work on that when we get you out of here safe." Kalin said, scratching the back of his head with a grin on his face.

She gives him a confused look. "...If you say so?"

They eventually come to a deserted run down village. "...This was once Kado's home, where he was born," Aoi explains. "The old Garrison is somewhere nearby."

"So this is where the masked man got his ninja talents..." Kalin said, as he made his way towards one of the decrepit buildings. For a moment, he could feel the faintest trace of the Kado's spirit still in the area.

Aoi sighs. "There used to be so many happy memories here. Many lives were torn as well. Hmmm....?" She suddenly mutters.

"What's up?" Kalin said, stopping in his trascks to turn towards Aoi. "Is somethimg wrong?"

"....Don't hate her.... ...hate who?"

Aoi seems to be listening to a voice of a spirit.

"....Shinwa? ....Who- wait you mean... ....interesting.... that's..." Aoi seems to consider something, then starts walking on.

"It was nothing, a spirit just wanted to talk to me about something he thought I should know."

"Alright then..." Kalin said, beginning to walk again. "So, who is Shinwa?"

"...Shinwa is White's real name. ...A spirit also told me her soul was recently split in two... a good, and an evil one. The spirit knew her when it was alive." 

"Two halves, huh? Well, isn't that a development. Maybe we should find the friendly version when we're done here. She might be able to give us a hand."

Aoi shrugs. "Perhaps. It's this way." She walks up to an old abandoned fortress, built in the style of a japanese castle. She pauses, and looks at the gateway, then slides Ice Slayer's blade into the keyhole, and it slowly opens the gate, and she withdraws the sword.

"Come on inside." She guides him inside the fortress interior, which is more preserved than the outside, the place was likely once much more refined, but still is in good condition, despite being abandoned so long.

Kalin walked in, but seemed to have a weird reaction as he did. crap...not yet. Clutching his chest, Kalin tripped down a few of the stairs, managing to catch his his footing at the bottom without falling. He was unsure if Aoi noticed, however.

Aoi runs over to him. "Kalin, are you ok?" She asks cautiously.

"I-it's alright, Aoi. I just slipped, really. Let's keep going." He said, smiling at her. It seemed that whatever had bothered him had ceased. He placed a hand on her shoulder, sliding it up slowly to her cheek. He kept it there for a moment, and continued further into the base.

After a while, Aoi starts checking the walls, giving frequent glances at Kalin while she does. Eventually, she finds what she is looking for, and carefully starts fingering a crack in the wall, looking for something. Eventually, she hears a click, and a door slides open.

"According to Noriko, the archives are down here." She says quietly, and proceeds down.

Kalin proceeded down beside her, trying his best to maintain the facade of being at fulll strength. Unfortunately, he could feel the affliction in his body as clearly as the beating of his heart.

Aoi looks back at him after a while. "...Is there something bothering you, Kalin? ...Your energy is off."

"It's nothing. Look, we're almost there." he said pointing further down. Kalin ran ahead of her.

Aoi gives him a look as she walks. "...Don't lie to me..." She says in a quiet voice, borderline hurt. They enter a massive room full of books, scrolls, and loose papers.

"I'm not lying, I swear. Nothing is bothering me. At least, nothing I didnt ask for in the first place. Now what are we looking for?" He said, immediately walking in and throwing himself into the search.

As they search, they learn of various things, such as a weak spot on the back of the neck, as well as something about the human name of a Chaos Engine causing a disruption in their system, something yet resolved in their design.

"Finally, we got some good news that we can make use of...Aoi, do you see anything on the true names of the chaos engines? If we have that, we might just be in the clear for a while." Kalin said, his eyes beaming at the intel they came across so far.

Aoi narrows her eyes as she searches. "There's no names I can find anywhere. ....Hang on... I found something though. It's a record of the captures of individuals used as Chaos Engines... not the names, but... ....it lists the Chaos Engine's names. ...And Azula is on here. ...She was captured on an island somewhere south of Downation... ...a village... ...I think this is where Azula came from..."

Kalin ran over, and looked over the file alongside her. "Interesting. I always assumed she came from Earth, but this would make sense for someone with her talents. Should we head there next?" He said, proceeding to look through more documents.

She nods, then looks at him. "We should go before-"

"Before, what, Aoi?" A man's voice says behind them, and they turn to see a man with a grey cloth mask, and a heavy fur coat with dark grey hair and yellow cold eyes standing behind them, along with a white haired male who smiles eerily. The two agents of Phoenix from the North.

"We seem to bump into each other more often these days," The white haired male says with a smile. "There's nowhere to run this time, villains."

"Oh great. These guys agai-ah!" Kalin said, clutching his chest once more.  " I'm sorry, but we don't have time for makeovers, so you guys will have to stick with the ugly faces you have. I truly epathize with you, though..."

"Hand over the pretty lady and I might let you off easy." The white haired male replies.

"Now, why would I do that? I'd really like to hear your reasoning."

Aoi abruptly exhales and blasts the two in a huge wave of ice from her mouth, and immediately grabs Kalin and starts running, almost dragging him by the hand she runs so fast. "Let's go Kalin!"

Kalin runs behind her, concetrating on the shadows behind them. As they ascended the stairway,  he focused the shadows into a small sphere, which he drops behind him.

They hear a shattering sort of noise, and loud running.

"Why didn't you counter that Kagerou?!" The masked man yells.

"I just thought it was too hot in here," The other one replies.

Kalin smirked, and gave up his focus. At that moment, the sphere he dropped exploded within the hall, causing it to collapse."Well, there goes the intel...but those Phoenix guys should be delayed for a while."

"I'll teleport us to Downation, and give you the coordinates from there, alright? We need to hurry-" BOOM! A large blast blows away the rubble just as the two exit the Phoenix Bastion.

"Yeah, I get it. Let's gooooo-!" Kalin said, emitting a large wave of black flames from his mouth, aimed at the interior of the base.

Aoi begins to teleport them, as the two rush out of the base, the white haired one, Kagerou raises his hands and deflects the flames, then charges and leaps into the air, swinging a chainsaw like blade. At the last second, they teleport to Downation.

Reaching The Border Edit

After a few days of travel, Drake, Kanashimi, Noriko, and Seriah arrive within sight of a massive mountain range sprawling north to south.

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"That's the East Chimera Mountains! It borders the Empire of Chinmoku, if we can get there, we'll have a chance!" Noriko exclaims. Drake has noticed during their travels that Seriah has been growing older and older, and her hair is now mostly brown, with tiny black streaks growing on the edges. She appears to be a very young adult, and has been speaking in a mature manner, her intelligence of an average adult's now.

He's also noticed that she has become rather clingy, often lingering very close to Drake. The one time he offered to put her back in the Processor caused an unexpected reaction: as soon as she saw it, she began to violently kick and punch at it, and once put away, she would fiercely cling to him and keep him away from the device, never offering an explanation for her outburst, even though she had been more conversational with her age.

"Get to the mountain and we're safe... Got it, but another thing is if there are any creatures or the sorts that'll come for us... I know that the wound heal but still, it'll be a massive pain..."

Noriko looks out at the mountains. "There's always something out in the woods, big bears, jackels, wolves, some strange bog beasts with tentacles... we should be fine though."

They suddenly hear vibrant thunderstorms, and the wind picks up.

"....I don't think thunderstorms just whip up like that... ...is there a fight?" Noriko looks back, and her eyes widen. "Woooooooah," She says, her jaw dropping.

Behind them, further toward the valleys, is an enormous thunderstorm stretching from one end of the horizon to the other. There is many countless thunderclaps and flashes from the storm, well over a thousand lightning bolts must be going off every other second.

Drake looks back and smirks. 'Thank you, Razorwind.' He then looks ahead of the group and begins to walk, scanning the area around while doing so. "Just to be safe, we better move fast, we don't want to be food for any creature now do we?"

Seriah once again follows him closely, even occasionally grabbing onto him for a while. After a while though, she seems to force herself to stop clinging, her wings wrapped around her and a look of intense frustration becomes apparent to him.

Noriko looks at Seriah. "What's got Fluffy Wings so worked up?" She asks curiously.

He looks at Noriko and shrugs. "Beats me, I asked her if she wanted to go into the Processor and she went mental at it..." He then looks at Seriah. "You alright?"

She shrinks back a bit from the gaze, trembling, though not from fear. "I like you." She says abruptly, not looking at him. "I am... supposed to like all of... my partners. Make more Alphas. I am... confused. ...I hate... the Machine. I have... ...to relearn everything, be recycled... I remember... growing up again and again... having partners... again and again... experiments... modifications...

...Why can't I stop being born again? Mistress is gone, my children and brothers are sleeping, where are they?" She doesn't appear to be speaking to Drake anymore, rather, she seems to be having a breakdown and is losing control of her mind. An itching sensation from Corruption tells him that she's not keeping her powers in check.

Finally after several more minutes of her mindlessly talking about her state of mind, her confusion and her anxiety about being Processed, she snaps, breaking down in to hysterical tears.

Drake's eyes widen when he hears this, he looks at Noriko and Kanashimi before looking at Seriah, sighing. "Seriah, I'm not your partner... I'm not here to harm you, I'm here to protect you... Trust me, you'll be fine, you won't have to make any more Alphas, no more partners, no more experiments, no more modifications." Drake takes Kurai out of its sheath and places it away next to Noriko, he then wipes away Seriah's tears, a smile on his face. "Don't worry, I'll protect you to my last breath, that's what a bodyguard is supposed to do. I'll drop dead before I let anyone harm you."

She doesn't respond, curling up while crying even worse. "I don't... understand..." She says nothing further, crying until she ends up crying herself to sleep.

Kanashimi looks at her. "...It's my turn to carry her, isn't it?"

Drake takes a slow sigh, before going over and picking Kurai up, sheathing him afterwards. "Yeah... It is."

Kanashimi makes a grunt as she lifts the archangel child, letting the arms drape over her shoulders.

"Alright then, let's get you comfortable..." She looks back at the storm.

"Dang... that's one epic showdown."

Drake simply nods his head in agreement before walking again. "I hope you can cheer up soon, Seriah... Noriko, how long will this walk take?"

Noriko eyes the mountains, and their surroundings. "...The mountains are much bigger than they look. We're actually still far away. Five or so days left until we reach their edge. One to two days of hard hiking most likely to clear the mountains and reach the other side."

She further analyses the area. "I think we're traveling along a dirt road, they probably don't bother to go any farther... I think judging by the way the terrian is built, we'll come across another valley with a town in it by the third day to the mountains."

"So we'll take a rest for a day or so at the town, that way we can get everything sorted and start to plan out for what happens if the two show up... So at least we're looking at six or seven days until we get where we need to go. I guess by now, we start to pick up the pace..." When he says that, he begins to walk faster.

On the second night, Drake sees the strange figure that had been following them off and on again, much closer, and its the first time he has seen them up close.

While he is watching out for any threats, he hears nearby bush rustling, they had stopped near the edge of a forest. Out from the trees, he sees the figure walking out a distance away, the face obscured by a green cloth mask. They wear a greyish green kimono, and fans are strapped to their sides. He notices the person is feminine. After a few footsteps, she pauses, and her head looks in his direction, her body language suggests she didn't expect to see him, nor for him to be looking straight in her direction.

Drake glances at the woman, resting his hand on Kurai's handle as he stands perfectly still for a moment. "...Well then, what do you want?"

"..." She doesn't move, nor speak, her hands hidden in the sleeves of her kimono.

"Fine then." He begins to walk towards the woman, his grip on Kurai beginning to show. "One more time, what do you want?"

She makes a tiny movement, and suddenly a shuriken slices his cheek, mere seconds after the movement. He can see a tiny glint of steel in the depths of the sleeve now, where more shuriken can be seen, the tips of her fingertips slightly visible now. She backs up for each step he's taken. Her movements are strangely ghost like, he can't hear a sound from her, not even a faint rustle of cloth from her, nor even a footstep.

"I didn't even see that one coming... Ok, let's do this..." Drake unsheathes Kurai and Shizuka and sprints towards the woman, only managing to deflect the shurikens. When he gets close enough, he quickly ducks down then springs himself up and over her with a single flip, landing perfectly on his feet with his back against her own. Drake then quickly spins around and hits her arm with the dull sides of the blades.

With a flicker of movement, she has drawn one of the fans, and extended it and blocked the blade. The movement of the fan seems so fast that a cut forms on Drake's face, and she hasn't actually struck him. With another flicker of movement, she spin kicks him into a tree, which breaks like a toothpick. He notices the blow is soft and was actually more of a repelling manuver than an offensive one.

She backflips multiple times in a short span of time, and only stops until she has gained considerable distance, and stares at him from across the field. He cannot believe how quick she is moving.

"God... This speed is a pain to deal with... Ok, let's try this..." Drake sheaths Shizuka and places both hands on Kurai, he closes his eyes and begins to focus, after a moment, he opens his eyes and begins to make multiple slashes. And in a blink of an eye, multiple streaks of light slash across the woman's body, finally one more streak races towards her torso.

She doesn't appear to move, until she strangely turns blue and disappears, a explosion occurring behind Drake as she reappears behind him and kicks Kurai right out of his hand and pins him to the ground with a foot. She brandishes one of the fans, which he realizes is actually composed of finely sharpened blades.

After a minute, she puts it away and lets him up, but walks away, not allowing him to get close again.

Drake growls and opens his hand out as Kurai flies towards him, catching it with ease then sheathes it. "So then, do you talk? You're the one following us, what the hell do you want?!"

After a moment, she pauses, then appears right next to him the moment he blinks, and she taps his forehead, making him fall into a deep sleep. The next morning, Noriko gently shakes him awake.

"Hey, you alright? I guess the nightwatch is tiring, huh?" She grabs something out of his vision and makes a jingling sound. "What's this necklace around your neck?"

"What?" Drake instantly springs up and grabs the necklace. "...I have no idea... What the hell...?" He then annoyingly sighs and remembers. "Right... Anyways, are the others awake?"

Noriko looks over at Kanashimi, who is being laid on top of by Seriah, who seems to be sleeping, though fitfully.

"Alright... I'll wake them up." He walks over to them, still removing sleep from his eyes, he then kneels down and taps their heads. "Wakey wakey you two... We need to get a move on."

As Seriah begins to wake, he notices half of her hair has turned black, and what looks like stars can be seen in it, as though he was looking in space itself.

"Oh no..." Drake suddenly remembers what Eien warned him, he opens the HSC and looks at the Processor. He sighs as he takes it out, he looks at Seriah with a saddened expression. 

As she fully wakes up, her gaze fixates on the machine, her pupils dilating to thin points.

"I'm sorry... But you have to go in, only for a short time... I know you hate this machine, I do too... But it's only to make you safe."

"No!" She starts crying, both angry, afraid, and sad. "No! I don't want to go back! You can't make me!" She cries out.

Drake simply gives Seriah a hug, hoping to calm her down. "Now listen to me... I promise you that we will find a way so that you will never have to go into that machine ever again. But for your own safety, please... I promise it won't take long."

"No... No no no no!" She pleads desperately. "I don't want to be born again!"

By now, Drake himself is shaking, making it obvious that he doesn't want to put Seriah into the Processer. The tone in his voice growing soft and sorrowful. "Seriah... I'm sorry for doing this... You have every right to hate me... But I promise that I will find a way to make it so that you never have to use this ever again, but please... Don't worry, we'll protect you, we'll make sure that no harm reaches you." Once more, he wipes away Seriah's tears, he then hugs her once more before having to let go. Drake then takes the Processor out and opens the panel on the front of it, but only slowly. 

"No... please...." She weeps.

After a moment of silence, Drake goes through his HSC and pulls out a sapphire and cups it in his hands. His eyes begin to glow a faint white as faint tribal markings can be seen on his hands, after a moment, he goes back over to Seriah and opens her hand and places the gem in her hand. When she looks at it, she can see it's anstonishing blue glow. "It's a little trick for mercenaries who go through some heavy stuff, it calms their mind and puts them at ease... It also alters the way the mind works so that when they sleep, nothing but positive dreams are experienced, no nightmares of the sort. In short, it puts peace in the person who's holding it... You have to go into the machine, I'm sorry but it's true... But for the time being, that gem will make everything better for you while you're in there." 

Her head sinks low, her wings now lie completely limp and on the ground. "Please... I...." Her voice chokes up. 

Drake says nothing but takes her hand, he slowly takes her to the Processor, he then lets go and opens his arms out. Offering a final hug before she has to go in. "Don't worry, we'll be here when you come out, I promise."

"I... I won't... ....remember.... ....please..."

"...Maybe there is a way to remember... The stone..." Drake places his hand on the sapphire and places another on Seriah's head, tribal markings and runes appear all over Drake and on Seiah's head as he closes his eyes. Suddenly, absolutely everything goes silent and all that can be heard is a energy and faint voices, soon the sapphire shines brilliantly. "There... Keep that with you, hold onto it tightly... I have a surprise for you when you come back out."

She does nothing but cry now, unwilling but lacking the energy to fight being placed inside now.

"Please don't cry... I promise you'll remember." Drake says as he softly places Seriah inside, he makes sure that she's holding the sapphire. He looks at her one more time and puts on a small smile. "We'll see you soon, Seriah... Sleep well."

After he closes the door, he can hear her after a minute crying out: "Drake..." pitifully begging.

By now, Drake his holding back his own tear as he looks through the panel in the door. "I'm sorry... If I didn't have to do this then I wouldn't have put you in. Please, rest easy, you will remember us..." He expands the HSC and puts the Processor inside, he then closes the HSC and keeps it in his hand. After a moment he turns to look at Kana and Noriko. "...Let's go."

Noriko hugs Drake after a moment. "You ok Drakey?"

He sighs and holds Noriko's hand, tightly. "I could be better... What I just did felt... Inhuman..."

She messes with his hair. "I know... I'm sorry. But you keep your promises right?"

"Yeah..." He nods and starts to walk. "I do... Let's just get to that village."

Noriko stays right by his side as they walk, wanting to try and comfort Drake as best as she can.

Meanwhile, Seriah slowly begins to dwindle in size and age, her hair slowly becoming blonde, and her eyes dull and blank, as her memories start to get depositied into storage. 

Noriko notices that Drake has been holding her hand tightly, tensing whenever a unnatural noise is heard. His other hand is firmly gripped on Kurai's handle as he scans the area, more fuequently as usual. "Noriko... I know I don't say this often but nevertheless it doesn't lose its meaning... I love you." 

"I love you too. What's got you worried?" 

"Not worried at all... Just shaken up, that's all..."

"Why don't you rest for a while, take a moment to gather your thoughts? It'll help, even if it is only a little. There's a big log over there, let's sit down ok?" She says gently. 

"Yeah... Alright." Drake then walks over and sits down on the log, just taking a moment to breathe and to look around.

She watches him for a moment, before deciding to rub his back and shoulders for a few minutes, hoping to help him feel better. "You worried about her?"

"Of course... Did you see the emotion in her eyes when she had to go in? For her to deal with that again, it must be horrible... I just hope the stone works..."

"Every crusade has its victims... it's tragic really... For one's supposed justice, they're willing to break the lives of others and use and abuse them to get what they want. For one's ideals, they're willing to hurt others. It's no longer a righteous cause..."

She hugs him. "I want to fight for you, by your side. You told me that you wouldn't let anything happen to you? I won't let anything happen to you either. Promise me that if there must be fighting, at least let me stand by your side, alright Drake?"

"...I promise, you've always been there for me, so I'll do the same for you." He softly smiles and hugs Noriko. "Thank you."

"Any time, that's what err... girlfriends? Are for after all." She playfully kisses him in response.

"I'd say get a room, but I don't think we'll find one here. So, I guess find a shrub." Kanashimi says with a joking smile.

Drake laughs and playfully kisses her back, he then looks at Kanashimi with a smirk. "What's the matter, Kana? It's only love, trust me, you'll find yours someday... Probably be a robot, but still."

"I. am. NOT. A. ROBOT." She snaps, but there is the tinest hint of a blush to her face that is gone soon.

"I know you're not, I'm kidding. Although, if you do get a boyfriend, he has to check with me first."

She looks away. "W-whatever. Like you're my real dad anyway." She sticks her tongue out as she crosses her arms.

"Real or not, you treasure me as one anyways." Drake says, then chuckles.

Noriko looks at Kanashimi. "I think she's embarrassed about something."

"I am not!"

"Teeeell uuuuus, Kana... We wanna know!"

A rather heavy rock flies in his direction in response.

"JESUS!" Drake quickly leans back far enough for the rock just to miss him, he then sits back up and looks at Kanashimi. "That was a bit much... Ooooh... Hehe, it was that boy at the party, wasn't it? What was his name... Eisen, was it?"

Kanashimi takes several deep breathes, and Drake wonders for some reason if Kanashimi inherited the ability to breath fire.

He sees this and smirks, unsheathing Kurai and looking at it. "Fire won't work on me, Kana..."

She lets out a jet of fire at his face, and under the cover of flames delivers a jaw snapping uppercut.

"Drop it, or I'll drop you!"

Drake looks at Kanashimi and leg sweeps her with one swift movement. "What are you trying to do?"

"..." She gives him a glare, her face slightly red from humiliation and embarassment. 

He sighs and offers a hand to Kanashimi. "C'mon, up you go, we don't have time for fights."

She refuses to take it and instead gets up on her own, her arms crossed and wings folded tight. "Hmmph. We don't have time to be discussing if I like anyone. Which I don't."

"...Girls... Anyways, let's get going now, shall we?" With that, Drake begins walking.

Kanashimi trails along behind them, not feeling particuarlly social.

After a moment, Drake looks behind him and sighs. "You wanna come up here?"

She flips him off and throws a rock at his head again. "No."

Luckily, Drake catches the rock before it hits. "Ok then..." Drake then looks forward and sighs.

Noriko looks back at her. "I think she was embarassed about what you said. Maybe she just doesn't want to admit her feelings."

"Yeah... Probably, but there's no point confronting her about it now, might as well wait until she's calmed down..."

They catch sight of the town far up ahead, and still hours later, Kanashimi is avoiding talking.

"Finally... My legs are aching and I'm starving, although I wonder who sets up a town all the way out here."

"People like their space on Echo. They get to make their own rules. They're like micro states." Noriko replies.

"...Oh, own rules, eh? ...I wonder what the chances are for this town being hostile towards outsiders." Drake says, chuckling.

"Most towns are friendly to travelers, well, most of them."

"...So what are we looking at? What are our odds of this one being hostile? One to five?"

"Well, if they're humans, they're not gonna really be able to do anything. And I haven't heard much about shapeshifters being hostile to new comers, we should be fine."

"Ah, alright... So a peaceful town it is! Honestly, I just need a place to rest, I'm also tired..."

They finally arrive, the people seem pleasant, and show them to a inn house. Kanashimi has still managed to avoid communicating with the others.

Drake looks at Noriko. "Please talk with Kanashimi, it seems that you two will get along more than me and her right now, as for me... I need rest..." Drake opens a door to an empty bedroom and instantly collapses onto the bed, fast asleep.

Noriko looks at Kanashimi. "Uhh... Hi?"

"....That was the most stellar pep talk I've ever got, and you haven't even started yet."

Noriko desperately looks at Drake. "Gaaah! I'm no good with motivational speaking!" She runs to Drake and pounces into the bed, landing right next to him. Kanashimi just shakes her head with a weary smile, then picks a bed opposite of them.

Drake sighs. "You are the worst sometimes." He yawns and sits up and looks at Kanashimi. "Fine fine, sorry for getting into your personal life, like my blonde haired sweetie right here, I'm no good with motivational stuff either, so I'll just say... Unless you want me to, I won't get into your personal life, ok?"

She looks at him quietly for a moment. "...I wanted to be like you, you know."

He says nothing, instead sitting up and walking to the door. "Kana, come with me..."

She doesn't move, quietly eyeing him.

A sigh can be heard. "Kanashimi, please follow me."

She quietly follows him, her eyes tense and guarded.

After a moment, Drake goes outside and sprouts out his wings then flies up to the roof. He then looks at Kanashimi and notions her to come up.

She flies up with her angelic wings, a luminous glow in them which he hadn't noticed before.

When she lands, she sees Drake lying down, looking up at the stars with his hands behind his head. When he speaks, his voice is softer than usual. "Why do you want to be like me?"

He hears a rustling of armor, and when he looks at the source of the noise, the armor that Eien gave Kanashimi is on her, the armor is extremely reminiscent of her old armor, yet like he said, it doesn't seem to affect her. Six floating blades on each side of her take position along her wings.

"I don't know what you see me as, or what you think I'm like but... it's because I look up to you. You don't have to obey anyone, you fight for those you want to. You obey your own code. ...Unlike I, a weapon, who wasn't given that choice. I asked you if you would teach me to be a mercenary. I didn't ask it out of naivity. ...Did you know... that the old me is gone? I could hear her voice you know. I think her name was Shimo. ...She was picked on a lot, other people hated her because of something she was born to. She was born in a good home, a pampered life. That wasn't her fault, but people still hated her for it. Her schoolmates they... in order to avoid getting killed by Phoenix, do you know what they did?"

"They sold her out to save themselves, then soon after... Came the first of the Eta class of Chaos Engines who originally had no name... It's a tragic story, isn't it? But look how far you've gotten now, you got brought back to life... Twice I might add if we include Shimo, so I'd say despite the depressing middle of the story, I say that the ending has turned out pretty well, considering the situation." He lightly chuckles, but Kanashimi notices a change in Drake's face, like he's thinking back to his memories. 

"Also... You're wrong, I used to obey, I used to be told who I had to fight, I followed a code, I was restricted... It's only when I came to Earth, that's when I had my freedom, much like you have now... As I've said a thousand times over, being a mercenary isn't right for you. And Kana, I see you as someone I care about, someone I look after, someone who I cherish as much as Noriko, and I know what you're like, you're like me... The reason I don't want you to be a mercenary is because I'm worried about you, I couldn't forgive myself if you ever got hurt, that's why I refused... But then again... I did promise you that I'd train you, didn't I? And apologies if anything I said didn't make any sense, I tend to go on."

"...Shimo is gone, Drake. I could still hear her deep within my soul, wanting to be brought back to the light. When you brought me back Drake... ...you didn't see her. You only saw me. I came back as the person you saw, not the person I was. Now there is no Shimo. Only Kanashimi. A girl made into a weapon, reborn as a force of redemption and restoration. An uncommon theme amongst my kind. Even now though... ...I am still a weapon. That's how I look at myself. A weapon. But I choose to be one by choice.

I am like you, but not like you. I was already born a weapon, and it's all that I know. It's all that I know how to be. So I'll be one. But I'll fight for what I want, not what others want to do."

Her blades suddenly point themselves at him. She glows more strongly. "If you know me as well as you claim, then you will know I won't back down."

"Then tell me, if you had the chance to be Shimo again, but to sacrafice this lifestyle away... Would you?" After a moment, Drake sighs. "Put the blades down, dammit, just relax and watch the night sky..."

"I told you. Shimo is gone. Banished from life forever. She is lost in darkness. It's because, as I said, I was brought back as Kanashimi, not Shimo. If you don't want me to pursue the life I chose, then you'll have to make me."

"Then what do you want, make it fully clear to me, Kanashimi. What. Do. You. Want."

"I told you! I want to fight for those suffering like I was! I want to fight to protect those people! That's why I want to be a mercenary! If you want to protect me, then that's fine, but I've already gone through my own shit, in case you have forgotten the fact I've died before, and because of a friend of yours and mine! Do you think fighting every day of your life for control of your own mind, killing people because someone else doesn't like them and not having any control of it, is what normal people go through? I've already gone through plenty of hell, do you really think if I didn't know what I was doing, I would keep going on about this? I want to help people! I don't know what kind of merc you were back in the day, but the merc I want to be, is a strong, happy Kanashimi, one who helps others fight back against those who put them down!

You should be proud of me for wanting to help people with my power! But you act like I'm a sheltered little girl who can't bear hard work or endure hardship! I'M NOT SHIMO, NOT SOME PAMPERED GIRL WHO HAD IT EASY, OK?!

....I just... wanted to do something I could be proud of... but you can't see that!" From behind her headgear, she seems to be crying.

"...Fight for those who have suffered, fight to protect, putting them ahead of you... That's not what a mercenary is, Kana, a mercenary is someone who is sent to do missions for some coin... What you're speaking of isn't a mercernary, but a hero..." He then chuckles, which is then followed with a sigh as Drake stands up and looks at Kanashimi. "But if you so desperately want to be a mecenary like me... Then fine, I'll see if I can help in any way I can..."

"...Thank you." She hugs him tightly, Drake notices she seems to have gotten stronger, as her hug is actually hurting him unintentially.

"No problem... Just try to lighten up those hugs." He says, his body starting to ache due to the hug, but regardless, he hugs back. 

"...Sorry..." Her armor folds up into a decent chestplate. "....Earlier, I was just embarassed... ...I... ...kinda did like that guy, it's just... ...I don't know how to be normal. I know how to fight, but... ...I felt so lost and confused near him. ...I must sound like a babbling idiot..."

"No one knows how to be normal, all people know is how to follow a set of rules that make them seem normal... If we meet him again, I promise that you'll know what to do, just don't get hostile alright? That's the last thing you want to do if you're trying to impress... Now c'mon, it's getting late and Noriko's probably took all of my bed."

She quietly follows him, and lies down in her bed. As he had foretold, Noriko had wrapped herself in a cocoon made of the bedsheets, though not quite asleep.

Drake looks at Noriko with a tired face. "...That's not fair, I want the covers too!"

She giggles and allows him to come under the covers with her, giving him a playful kiss once he's joined her.

He smiles and kisses her back, before letting out a soft yawn and wrapping one of his arms around her as he slowly dozes off.

Some time during his sleep, he starts to get images of something in his head, which slowly build into a full on vision, though he himself is asleep, his mind is free to explore this event, as it lies just beyond his line of sight.

After a moment of curiosity, Drake nods to himself and walks towards the vision, a curious but cautious expression on his face.

717hg6

Shimo

He finds himself on the streets, to his back is a large high school, the dismissal bell has just rung. While a whole bunch of kids come out, one catches his eye out of nowhere. A girl wearing a black jacket, with reddish brown hair and red brown eyes walks out last, alone. Her face is eerily familiar, but at first he cannot place how.

She slowly walks toward the school yard exit.

"Hmm... She seems a bit down..." Drake begins to watch and follow the girl, without getting himself caught.

She doesn't seem to be able to see him, as her eyes, even when looking right at him, don't even reflect him in her eyes.

As she walks, he sees a group of shabby clothed kids walking on the other side of the street, who eye her with resentment, her clothes are obviously high quality and new, while their's are old and worn. They start walking toward her aggressively, she appears to notice, but doesn't seem to let herself be concerned, as if she was resigned to what was coming.

"I can't even do anything to help the girl... This sucks..." He sighs as he stands by and watches what happens, an annoyed expression on his face.

He watches as they proceed to beat her and even tear up her jacket a bit, before leaving, spitting as they leave. She slowly gets to her feet, even though she has a black eye and scrapped knees and elbows from being forced to the ground. She quietly limps home, with quiet tears, where her parents begin to display outrage, suggesting body guards, calling the police, along those lines. The girl merely tiredly dismisses their concern and heads to bed, not even bothering to eat dinner.

Drake happens to notice the two parents arguing for an hour, then call the police, and Drake feels a tug on his mind to head elsewhere.

He appears from flames into a house of one of the kids who beat up the girl, he takes a look around before spotting the kid. "There you are, you son of a bitch..."

He gradually hears sirens as police arrive and apprehend the kid, as well as all of the others, but there is clear hateful mumbles about 'Going to make the bitch pay for this' heard.

Drake clenches his fist and attempts to punch the kid, but only for his fist to go through him with no effect. "You're so lucky that you can't feel that, punk."

Later the next day, he is watching the girl heading to school, when several escaped kids come with clubs and start beating her violently, this time she screams in pain with every blow. Only a minute goes by however, when portals begin opening nearby, and Drake sees soldiers from Phoenix pouring out of the portals.

They eye the kids, who have stopped beating her, and begin to make their way towards them.

"H-hey, take her, not us!" They cry out, running. One of the soldiers stops by the girl and examines her, she is unconscious. Drake is able to get a good look at her face, and after a moment, he realizes why she was familiar. Mix his own features with hers... ...and he'd get Kanashimi.

Drake glares at the kids. "You fucking bastards..." He then looks at the girl, trying to place a hand on her shoulder, but it just passes through. "...I think I've seen enough..."

One of the soldiers proceeds to follow the bullies, and Drake watches as the soldier begins to hunt them like animals with a rifle, cackling like a psychopath as he shoots them down. The last one he hunts down he smashes the head open, then proceeds to search the town for other victims. 

The soldier that found the girl, which Drake has identified as Shimo, places her inside a capsule. Once this happens, the scene changes to a scene of the girl becoming Kanashimi, her face slowly being largely overrided, though keeping a general vissage of herself, it is only vague. He then sees two other scenes, one of Shimo slowly being taken over by the light of another soul, and then of Shimo falling into an endless void of darkness, one which bares a unsettling aura, that of death, of nonexistence. The visions finally end.

Drake then suddenly wakes up, instantly sitting up, sweating and breathing heavily. He takes a moment to recompose himself and look around, his eyes then fall onto Kanashimi, he sighs. "Jesus... What the hell..."

She is sleeping softly and at peace, he notes a faint smile that seems to grow on her face once he looks at her, but she doesn't wake up. The moonlight coming from the window helps make evident her angelic glow.

He smiles back as he looks at the window then back at her. "Like I said, you're more fit to be a hero than a merc... But I'm proud that you want to be like me... Sleep well, Kana." He then lays back down and falls asleep.

In the morning, Kanashimi wakes up, but doesn't really move, just lying there.

When it gets exactly to 8:30, Drake springs up awake, he stretches his arms and yawns. "Aaand morning..." He looks over at Kanashimi. "Morning."

"Good morning... ...I'm hungry." She grumbles, her eyes fuzzy, still sleepy.

"Alright, let's get something to eat then..." He then nudges Noriko's shoulder. "Wakey wakey..."

"Nu...!" She says sleepily, trying to pull him back into bed with a hug.

He groans as he sits back up, being Noriko up as well. "C'mon Nori, we need to get a move on anyways..."

Kanashimi laughs as Noriko now hangs from Drake's neck and shoulders, her arms stubbornly wrapped around him, still sleeping.

"Zzzzzz..."

Kanashimi shakes her head and goes to the shower.

"..." Drake stands up, which causes Noriko to hold on. "Wake up Noriko, we need to get ready for the day!"

She lets out a sigh of disappointment and opens her eyes. "Aww... I wanted to sleep longer... .......Good morning..." She yawns.

"I know you did... I'm sorry." He smiles and hugs her. "Good morning though, how'd you sleep?"

"Fine... I think you woke up late at night though..."

"Yeah... Nothing but a bad dream, that's all... So we're waiting on Kanashimi so we can get ready for the day..."

Kanashimi is soon out of the shower, for a minute her eye color seems to be a red brown, but when she looks at him it's back to normal. "I'm all done."

Drake blinks for a moment before rushing into the bathroom and locking the door. "Me next!" They soon can hear the shower running, a small laugh coming from Drake. "Haha, beat you to it, Noriko."

Noriko puffs her cheeks in protest, but slowly a evil grin crosses her face, and she shrinks into her fairy form and slips under the door, and sneaks into the shower, and then...

"Guess what Drakey? Shocky shocky shocky!" *ZZZZZAAAAAAP!*

What can be heard is Drake shouting in pain as thuds can be heard, suggesting that he fell over. "NORIKO YOU EVIL EVIL EVIL EVIL GIRL!"

"A pride before a fall!" She cheers.

He groans once more before grabbing a towel and covering himself with it. "Not fair..."

"At least I did a light shock this time~ It could have been so much worse! ....And I'm sorry."

"It's fine... Just please let me finish up here, then you can get ready too." 

She gives him a tiny kiss before flying out the door.

After a while, Drake exits the shower, with him drying his hair with a towel before grabbing his jacket. "Ok, Nori, you can go now, me and Kana will find something to eat, alright?"

Noriko nods, heading into the shower room after resuming her usual size, while Kanashimi joins Drake.

Drake looks at Kanashimi. "So then, what do you want to eat?"

"Steaaaaak... with lots of spices...!"

"...It's the morning... But ok, let's see if they have that somewhere in this town, shall we? I doubt that this inn would serve something like that in the morning."

"I was kidding. But ask for porridge and I'll kill you. Bacon and eggs, I'd like that."

"Ok then." Drake goes down to the main floor and finds the inn keeper. "Umm, yeah, hi... Do we go to you to ask for food... Or?"

"The dining room is just down the hall, you can place an order with a waiter there."

"Oh ok, thank you." Drake then makes his way to the dining room and finds a table to sit at. 

Kanashimi sits next to him, and gives him a hug, strangely more open than usual.

"Hmm? You seem more cheerful than usual, what's up?" Drake asks as he returns the hug, smiling.

"I... don't know." She says, shrugging. 

He blinks at her response. "Oh... Ok then? Well if that is the case, keep it up... I guess you had a good dream?"

"...Something like that? I just felt... at peace last night?"

"Well, regardless of what happened, I'm glad that you're feeling like that."

"Thanks I guess." The waiter arrives. 

"May serve you this morning?"

By this moment, Drake hits a complete blank, before looking at Kanashimi then back at the waiter. "Serve her first, I've kinda... Lost my train of thought."

"I'd like bacon and eggs." The waiter nods and goes to the kitchen.

"You... ok?"

"Yeah, just forgot what I wanted to eat. Strange..."

"You sure you ok? Did you say something about a nightmare last night?"

"I said nothing about a nightmare... But I did have a weird dream..."

"Weird dream?"

"Yeah... It's nothing though, it looked like someone's past... That's all."

She blinks, but says nothing else when the food arrives.

"Have you come up with anything you'd like to eat?" The waiter addresses Drake.

"Umm, I'll just have a drink please."

He nods, and departs for the kitchen, Kanashimi is busy eating, a less tense air about her than she usually has.

"I'm sorry about yesterday, Drake." She says after a while.

Drake chuckles. "It's fine, I understand that you would be angered like that... Although it was a bit much, so apology accepted."

"Can you teach me to fight while we are traveling again?"

"I can't promise that since you know who we're getting chased by... Here and there, I'll see what I can do, but until we can get out of the heat, I can't give you full training."

"Thanks anyways. I'll look forward to it then."

He smirks. "But, I will have to hold back... Don't want to dying a third time now do we?"

She doesn't smile. "I should kill you, just to give you the experience. You won't joke then."

"I doubt anyone would come back to revive me, and besides... Corruption, remember? Not a good idea."

"I could. Then kill you again. And then bring you back. You know, having the ability to kill people, and bring them back, only to kill them again? That's quite the punishment, don't you think so?" She says with a smirk.

"Any death I get is more than deserving due to what I've done... But I don't think you'll have the will to kill me."

"Neither do you have the will to kill me. So let's leave it at that." The waiter brings his drink.

"Thank you." Drake says as he takes a sip of his drink, a satisfied sigh escaping from his lips afterwards.

Noriko soon joins them. "How's the father daughter talk working out?" She says as she takes a seat.

"It's going fine... You took your time, didn't you?"

Her hair seems to still be wet. "Wanted to make sure I was nice and clean!"

"Ok ok... So, what are you having to eat? Kana is having bacon and eggs, I got a drink, so what 'bout you?"

Sparks fly as she shocks herself, releasing a thick cloud of steam into the air.

"Huh, I'm thinking... pancakes?"

"Alrighty then... Pancakes it is." He looks at the steam and sighs. "You really should just do that in the bedroom, I doubt that others enjoy steam in a dining room."

She only laughs. "It's not that bad..." The waiter returns soon with pancakes, and Noriko dives in.

"Even so, it's called being polite..."

Noriko tilts her head to one side. "Huh, I suppose so. Seems odd hearing that from you though," She remarks.

"Everyone has a sense of politeness, even me." He says, smirking as he takes another sip of his drink.

"Yet you can't even be nice to Aoi sometimes."

"H-Hey! I apologised, that's a good start!"

"Did you apologize for calling her a skimpy woman? ...Among other things? And yes, I know about that."

Drake goes silent for a moment, taking a rather large sip of his drink. 

"Is that a no?" She says with a sweet smile, though a large yellow bolt of electricity arcs from her.

"...Don't judge me."

"....Shocky."

"Oh good, a lover's quarrel." Kanashimi grumbles.

Drake creates a small fireball and smiles. "Burny burny..."

Kanashimi grabs Drake's wrist and crushes it.

"Stop. Don't make me have to be the mature one here."

Drake glances at Kanashimi and sighs. "Yeah yeah, alright." He yanks his hand away as he tends to it. "Then again, why was it just me?"

"Because she's on the other side of the table and you were the one about to torch the inn."

"...Because that's fair." He replies as he waits for Noriko and Kanashimi to finish their food.

Kanashimi soon finishes, then spends the time resting her head on Drake's shoulder.

Noriko orders another helping of pancakes, still hungry.

"Nice to know that being hunted down by Torrent and Kagerou makes you hungry... Huh, surprised you didn't ask fo--" Drake quickly puts his hand over his mouth before he mentions the dreaded cake.

She looks up, sensing that he was about to say something he didn't want her to hear. "Hmmmmm?"

"Nope! Nothing! Didn't mention a thing! Just eat your pancakes and lets go!"

"Awww..." She finishes, then reaches into a bag she had been carrying, and pulls out a cookie with a yellow frosting.

Drake blinks. "...Y'know, you seem very calm about the whole thing."

"Nom! .....DRAKE!" She cheers, tackling him mere moments after devouring the cookie clear out of his seat.

"LET'S GO!" She cheers again, her hyperactivity kicking in.

His eyes widen as he looks at Noriko. "Ok ok! Let's head off!" He says as he gets back up, he places a tip on the table and walks out the inn. He takes a look at where the group needs to go, he then looks back at Kanashimi and Noriko. "Ready?"

"YES!" Noriko chirps, then shrinks into her fairy form, orbits his head a few times, and then lands on his shoulder. Kana just laughs.

"Well, she's wound up. This should be amusing."

"I noticed... Well, might as well make this entertaining for me too..." Drake sprouts dragon wings and flies up above the village. "Time for a race!"

Kanashimi yawns. "I think I'll walk."

"You win and I'll train you in an instant."

"I'll lose anyway."

Drake blanky looks at Kanashimi before landing down, his dragon wings dissipating into a blaze. He then starts to walk instead. "Buzzkill."

"You're the speed demon, I can't compete with that. But I certainly brought you back down to earth."

He laughs. "Yeah yeah, fair enough... So we're gonna be walking... Although, I doubt it'll be long now..."

"Long until what?"

"Until we get to Chinmoku... If we fly, we get there much faster, but I imagine that walking it shouldn't be long now."

"Chinmoku is clear in the center of the country, we're arriving at the border! ...Though we will be safer at the border than out here. ....SWING, YEAAAAAAAAA!" Noriko starts using some of Drake's hair as a swing.

"See? It won't take long." He then begins his walk towards the border, tickling Noriko at times.

After a while, Noriko starts buzzing about Drake's head, making a noise akin to a bee as she races around his head in circles.

"WHEEEEEEE!"

"Nori... How long are you gonna do that for? Because I know you need a way to exert all of that energy, but you're gonna give me a headache." 

In response, she immediately begins orbiting around Kanashimi's head, which causes the former CE to start running, trying to keep her out of range of her hair. 

"There we go! Thanks Noriko, you've made a race!" He also begins to run, laughing at Kanashimi's desperation to escape from Noriko.

"Run angel run!" Noriko cheers, while Kana swears in frustration.

"Now now, Kana, enough with the foul mouth!" He says as he looks at Kanashimi, just now reaching up.

Noriko divebombs into Kana's hair, who furiously tries to get Noriko out. "OUT OUT OUT OUT OUT!" She barks, as she swats repeatedly at the fairy.

"Alright... Noriko! Into my hair now!" He says but then smiles. "Hey, at least you're running now."

"Nevar!" Noriko proclaims.

He rolls his eyes and he runs up to Kanashimi and picks Noriko up. "C'mon Nori!"

"Awwwwww.... I was having fun...." She tries wiggling out of his grasp.

"I know I know, but it's best to leave Kanashimi as it is." He says as he places Noriko in his hair.

"....Giddy up horsey!" She starts pulling his hair, her wild hyperactivity not so easily daunted.

"Ow ow ow ow! I'm no horse I'm a dragon! OW!" He shouts as he reluctantly speeds up, grabbing Kanashimi's arm. "Since you're slower, you'll need to hold on!"

"Hey hey hey hey! Don't pull so hard!" She barks.

"Fine!" Drake picks her up and carries her on his back instead, he then smirks as he begins sprinting.

"Woah! Geez, you are just all cylinders today!"

"Well, considering the situation we're in... Obviously..." After a long while, Drake eventaully slows down to a stop and looks at Kanashimi. "Alright... Maybe now we can actually begin a bit of training." He says as he gets Kanashimi off of his back.

"Ooh! Yes! Let's!" Kanashimi says immediately.

In response, Drake takes off his jacket and places it on a nearby rock, he then gets into a wierd stance where his left arm is over his chest, crossing up to his right shoulder while his right arm is infront of his left. The right hand clenched into a fist while the left is loose, he closes his eyes for a moment then opens them, looking directly at Kanashimi. "You ready?"

She gets into a ready stance.

"As good as I'll be..."

"I want you to strike first... If you can, at least."

Kanashimi creates a glowing sword of energy and slashes at him. "HA!"

Drake quickly sidesteps to the left, turning towards Kanashimi's side while doing so. He then sends a fast strike towards Kanashimi's forearm before leg sweeping her all in one combined motion.

She rolls back onto her feet and rushes forward, then abruptly turns her body and smashes her wing into his face.

He gets knocked to the right but manages to stay upright, he then lunges forward to Kanshimi, using his left arm to push aside any strikes. Drake then turns his fist into an open palm and strikes her abdomen which causes her to get pushed back a strange amount.

She grabs onto his hand and forces him closer, slamming a fist into his stomach.

Drake sharply responds by bringing his right knee into Kanshimi's gut, he thenreaches out and grabs Kanashimi be her shirt and pulls her close, headbutting her. He then lets go and kicks her back, Kanashimi notice how Drake is completely focused, not saying a single word.

Kanashimi staggers back, dazed.

Seizing the opportunity, Drake runs towards her but jumps over her, landing behind her. He then quickly turns around and kicks the back of Kanshimi's right knee, causing her to kneel down. Drake then places his thumb against Kanashimi's neck. "I think I win."

In response, Kana flares her wings, completely toppling him over and she dive kicks him in the chest, a crack can be heard.

Drake handsprings back up and takes a moment to let his cracked ribs regenerate, Drake then narrows his eyes and gets back into the fighting stance. He then rushes towards Kanashimi and kicks her right side then makes a powerful strike to her stomach, he then finishes off by grabbing Kanashimi's left arm and tossing her to the floor. 

She gets to her feet, panting for a moment, but does not stop. When she next attacks, she acts more defensively and focuses more on blocking and counters, occasionally attempting to exploit any openings she can find.

"You're doing great, Kana." Drake says as he sweeps his right foot across the floor, causing dust to fly into Kanashimi's eyes. Drake then sends a multitude of strikes around pressure points which in turn numb Kanashimi down until Drake clasps both his hands together and swings at Kanashimi's chest, knocking her back on the floor.

Kanashimi tries to stand but has great difficulty.

He walks over to her and holds out his hand. "Wanna hand?"

She takes it with a grumble. "Well that was embarrassing."

"You went against a heavily trained mercenary who knows military CQC, you had little chance." He jokingly says as he helps Kanashimi up.

"Hmmph."

He smiles. "Don't worry, soon, you'll be great."

"Sure, then you'll have to treat me to this legendary lemon cake you and Noriko are so obsessed over."

"DID SOMEBODY SAY, 'LEMON CAKE?!" Noriko cries out.

"...God dammit Kana, nothing Noriko! Just settle down!"

"WHEEEEEEEEE!" She starts flying around, darting all over the place.

"Well that went out the window pretty damn fast... And I'm not obsessed over the cake, it's just Noriko and her entire family."

"Huh, I thought you liked it too. ...And oops."

"I like the cake, I'm just not obsessed." He says, chuckling, he then grabs his jacket and places it on his shoulder as he begins walking again.

Noriko after a while settles down and flies into Drake's hair.

He reaches his hand up and strokes Noriko's back as he smiles. "Are we calm now?"

"Ahhhhhhhh....." She purrs at the touch. "Maaaybe."

"That's good to hear, I have a feeling we're getting close... Not long now, girls..."

Noriko climbs around on his head for a while, then eventually she crawls to the front of the top of his head and her tiny head peers down at him upside down.

"Drake, what do you think of... us?"

"I'm proud of us... I'm happy that we're together, that I'm not alone, that I have a companion and loved one who stands by my side. It's a bit of a silly question, Noriko, especially since you know the answer."

"No no... I should have said... ...what's a good way to put it? What do you think of us in the future?"

"In the future...?" Drake asks, before chuckling. "...I don't quite know how to answer that, really... I'm not one who thinks about the future, I worry about now. But if I had to say, it looks positive." 

"...I love you." 

"I love you too." He says as he strokes Noriko once more.

"Ooooooo..... ....That borderline tickles!" She giggles.

He smiles and traces his finger over Noriko until he finds a ticklish spot on her, he then focuses there and begins to tickle her.

"AHHH! NO! No tickling! No tickling!" She laughs.

"Hahaha! Tickle tickle tickle!" He says, chuckling.

"Nom!" She bites at his finger tip.

Drake puts his hand in front of his face as he looks at Noriko now dangling just by her teeth, he then wagles his finger around in an attempt to shake her off.

She wraps her small arms and legs around it stubbornly. He sees her stick her tiny tongue out playfully.

He smiles once more as he hovers his hand over his hair, allowing Noriko to sit back in it.

Kanashimi shakes her head. "She really likes that hair of yours, doesn't she?"

"Yeah, but I guess my hair is comfy... Somehow... The others enjoyed sitting on my hair too." When Drake says that, he has a quick silence before forcily coughing. "Uuuh anyways..."

"Soooooooft..." Noriko purrs.

"See? Apparently my hair is soft." Drake says before walking again.

Noriko begins to sniff. "Huh..."

"Hmm? What's up, Nori?"

"...I thought for a second I smelled Kado's scent on the wind..."

"...Kado's scent? ...Surely he isn't in Echo too, right?"

"No, I can smell it. He either is in the world, or just left. But I can smell the scent in the air. It's not unlikely though, he may be here on personal business."

Drake blinks. "...I find it kinda weird how you can instantly scent out Kado just like that, maybe we can say hello?"

She crawls down into his face. "The scent feels like it's been wafting around a while, I'd say a few hours. I just now picked it up, and I had to make sure. Besides, scents of people closer to us are easier for us to memorize. I bet you're just jealous that you have a evolutionary inferior sense of smell!"

"Hmph... Jealous, yeah, why would I be jealous of someone who has the same sense of smell as a dog?" He playfully says.

"Well I'd be a better bounty hunter, 'cause I'd be able to find them faster than you~" She replies.

"But seriously though, you'd never look at flowers the same if you had this nose..."

"...Then I'm glad I don't have that kind of nose, I'm happy with the nose I got." He says, he then looks at Noriko. "Pfft, bounty hunters... Mercenaries is where it's at, Nori."

She giggles for some reason.

"What is it now, Noriko?" He asks.

She starts growing to full size, still sitting on his head.

"Wow... You're lighter than I thought... Now why are you sitting on my head?"

"Because I can."

"...Oooook." Drake then takes a look around. "So you're saying that Kado is in our area?"

"His scent is. I don't know how far ahead he would be though. Why?"

"Well, it would be nice to say hello, wouldn't it?" Drake says before he begins to run. "Better catch up!"

"Wait, shouldn't we go to Chinmoku? What if Torrent catches up?!" Noriko yelps, trying not to fall off as she shrinks again.

"Me, You, Kado and Kanashimi versus a CE and Torrent, I think we have a chance to win if they do catch up... Besides I always have a quicker way to get to Kado."

"Huh? Quicker way? You don't know where he is! ...I just know he's somewhere, in a general area, I don't know where exactly he is!"

Drake smirks and opens his HSC, pulling out a pink mask. "I got this from our little scuffle in Upnation... Get scenting, Nori."

"I'm not your bloodhound!" She protests.

"Don't you wannna see your bestest friend Kado?" He asks, a coy smile on his face.

"...Gaaaaaah... ...wait, aren't you my bestest friend?"

Drake blinks. "...Your OTHER bestest friend."

"*Yawn* ...I'm gonna take a nap... ...zzzzzzzz..."

"Ok then..." Drake says as he takes a prolonged look around, shrugging afterwards as he starts to pick up his walking pace.

Kanashimi catches up with Drake, and casually elbows him. "You get a weird feeling?" She asks as they start to climb up the mountains.

"Hmm? What do you mean, weird feeling?"

"...There is... something watching us. It feels as though there's an... eye."

"Of course, because us getting a break for longer than a month is a damn myth to us now." Drake gets to a place where he can rest for a moment and takes a look around, his hand firmly gripping Kurai's handle.

"Who are you? And why do you have a member of Phoenix in your company?" A old man's booming voice rings out of nowhere as a large flaming eye appears in front of him, its dark pupil staring at him.

Drake blinks for a moment, retaining his confindent but stern expression. "She's an ex-member, she defected from Phoenix, why are you asking."

"Because I am the Grand Eye, the great Emperor of All East Flora, of the great Empire of Chinmoku. None enters my borders without permission. Name thyself and thy purpose, or you shall be denied entrance!"

Drake says nothing before standing up, looking at the Grand Eye, he then shakes his head in annoyance. "I am Drake Ryunexo, my group and I are seeking refuge, either that or to leave Echo if possible."

"...You seek refuge? From whom?"

"A member from Phoenix and a Chaos Engine."

"...Very well. Enter."

Drake looks at Kanashimi and nods before taking one giant leap down the mountain, bouncing from rock to rock as he scales down to the ground. Reaching Chinmoku territory, he then takes a sigh of relief. "There... We're finally here."

Weathering The Storm Edit

Kanashimi elects to take a more safe route, landing behind him after a few more minutes.

"I guess I should wake her up now..." Drake taps Noriko's back. "Wakey wakey."

"Mmmmpph..." She stirs.

"We're in Chinmoku, Noriko."

She quietly looks about after rousing. "...Still looks like forests and swamps to me."

Drake rolls his eyes. "We're in Chinmoku territory..." He then sprouts out dragon wings and flies up above the trees and takes a look around. 

He sees countless miles of forest and swamps ahead.

"...HOW BIG IS THIS DAMN PLACE!?" He shouts. "...Noriko, you do know where the city is, right?"

"....You could fit Euroasia inside each respective region of Echo," She yawns. "In the heartlands of East Flora."

"The heartlands..." Drake sighs as he then asks Noriko. "Is Echo always this tedious?" He says as he lands back down and walks to the heartlands.

Noriko hops down and grows to full size. "To adventure!" She cheers. They soon find their way into a large swamp. As they walk, Drake thinks he sees a flickering light in the nearby water.

Drake takes a look at the water for a moment before glancing the surrounding area. "...I swear, Echo just keeps getting weirder and weirder..."

Noriko comes up close to the water. "Ooooh, shiny!"

"Is it normally like this?" Drake asks as he goes up to the water.

A huge pale tenticle like that of a squid suddenly lashes onto Drake and pulls him in the water, where a absolutely giant squid attacks him. The water of the swamp is actually somehow incredibly deep, he can only see black below him.

He quickly gains tribal patterns as he creates an air dome around him, an orb of light circling around which lightens up the water which reveals more of the squid. "Ok then... Time to make some calamari."

He notes even with the light, there is pitch black immediately below, implying the depths of these waters is truely monsterous. If one were to drain the swamps, there would likely be sheer cliffs for miles down. The squid smashes him into a jagged cliff with one of its tenticles, and attempts to bite him with its giant beak like jaw.

Drake quickly unsheathes Shizuka and Kurai and holds one up and one down to stop the beak from biting down. "NORIKO! IF YOU CAN HEAR ME, YOUR HAIR IS A HORRIBLE COLOUR!" 

He hears: "No, Noriko! Don't zap the water!" 

"WELL YOUR HAIR LOOKS STUPID!" She retorts as a large lightning bolt blasts the water. 

Drake smirks as he sees the squid react painfully to the lightning. "Hehe... NORIKO THAT WAS PATHETIC! YOU CALL THAT A LIGHTNING BOLT?! WHAT ARE YOU, AN EX-MEMBER OF PHOENIX OR A TINY SPARK!?"

Drake hears ominous thunder rumbling.

"Here it comes..." Drake says as he creates a shielded dome around himself, preparing for the storm of lightning to happen.

Many numerous even bigger bolts of lightning shock the water repeatedly.

"You. Are. MEAN!" Noriko snaps.

Drake sees the squid begin to screech in pain as it gets eletricuted, it ends up retreating deeper into the waters. Drake takes a sigh then flies back out of the water to see a very angry Noriko. "Uuuuh... Sorry?"

"Grrrrr.... Shocky."

She can hear Drake gulp as he prepares to get shocked.

She swats him in the face instead. "Next time just ask for help, jerk!"

"Ow... Ok ok... I'll ask for help next time."

She slaps him again.

"Ow! Ok! I take back what I said about you."

"..." She slaps him again. "You haven't apologized."

"Ow ow ow! Ok, I'm sorry!"

"Yes you are. Hug!" She gives him a bear hug.

Drake blinks before rolling his eyes again, hugging her too.

Kanashimi rolls her eyes. "Now that's out of the way, the moral of this story is to leave shiny lights in the swamp alone!"

"Yeah, no wonder." Drake laughs as he treads through the swamp, his left hand clenching a black fireball just in case.

Nothing really occurs, though as they continue through the swamp, they notice plenty of animal noises.

"Hmm, well at least Echo is populated with animals... Some that like to kill me, but still... So we're in Chinmoku's territory... Massive city I'm guessing."

"It is! Miles and miles and miles and miles of gardens and temples and towers and cities..." Noriko carries on, mentioning every possible thing she's heard about it for the next hour. Drake suspects she's been at the lemon cookies again.

"Ok then, Chinmoku is a biiiiiiiig place. I got that Noriko, thanks." He says near the end of it, not being as eager to listen to Noriko about how the grass is the perfect shade of green. "For now, let's just hope that we can get there soon."

"Awww, but the grass is supposed to be like emeralds shining in the sunlight... ...or moonlight in this case."

He chuckles as he reaches out with his right hand to holds Noriko's hand, he then smiles. "I imagine they do, but I don't need to be told about a planets beauty since I can witness it myself."

"...Ok... ...." After a few moments... "Do you think they have a museum about cake?"

"...I need to hide those cookies from you."

"Nu~" She protests, holding her bag out of his reach.

When Drake sees the bag, his pupils widen like a cats as he focuses on it. He then playfully smirks and quickly sidesteps around Noriko, suddenly she can feel a tug on the bag.

It suddenly slips out of his grasp as it flies away on its own, Noriko has a playful expression. "I may have learned some fairy magic from Michi~" She says cheerfully.

Drake looks at Noriko and pouts. "Pleaaaaaaaase can I have the bag?" His wide pupil eyes show a hint of sadness behind them.

"Very well... ...you may have a cookie. ...Or maybe half of one."

He smiles as he looks at Noriko, looking similar to a cat who is about to get food. 

The bag tilts and drops a cookie on his head, then flies even higher out of reach.

Drake grabs hold of the cookie and takes a single bite out of it, he then smirks as his dragon wings suddenly sprout out, stretching out fully before he looks at Kanashimi and Noriko. "...I wonder how fast we can get to the city..."

Noriko shakes her head. "It's like you keep forgetting that you leave us in the dust."

"Pretty sure you control lightning, Nori... And Kanashimi-- ...Yeah ok fair enough." He replies as he shrugs and continues to walk. 

Kanashimi growls. "Sure, pick on the girl who can't run fast, that's cool."

Drake blinks and looks at Kanashimi. "...You have wings, don't you?"

"That doesn't equal speed, o boastful one."

"Ok ok... So that's another thing I'll have to teach you." 

"Rub it in. See where it gets you. Better than me blah blah blah, original superior blah blah blah..."

Noriko later finds a cave. "This looks like a good place to set up camp."

"Alright." Drake enters the cave and starts to create orbs of light so the group don't stumble into anything, he then looks at the two. "Should I make a campfire?"

"Burn! Burn!" Noriko cheers as she quickly stuffs a slice of lemon cake in her mouth.

"Ok then, campfire it is." Drake responds as he goes out and gathers some wood before going back into the cave, he stacks the sticks and such and circles it with some stones, he then clicks his fingers which cause sparks to fly onto the sticks. Causing the wood to set ablaze.

Noriko then takes out a pack from her backpack revealing... ...Cyanic food. "Mother prepared some for you before you left!"

He smiles softly as he takes the Cyanican food. "Thank you Momoka..." He then looks at Noriko. "Your mother is amazing!" He exclaims as he starts to cook some of the food, a couple of minutes pass and he is delightfully eating. 

Noriko makes Kanashimi and herself some food, though she is a little quiet, looking around.

He looks at Noriko. "Hey, you alright? Something caught your nose, what is it girl? Did you find a bone?" He playfully asks.

"Oh it's nothing. I'm just thinking. Taking in the surroundings. I haven't been around here in a while."

"Ah alright, that makes sense... It's nice to be somewhere you know, isn't it?"

"Yeah I guess." After a while of silence she finishes her meal. "...I'm going to sleep now." She says, walking to the wall of the cave.

Drake takes a moment to look outside the cave before looking over at Noriko with a slightly concerned face, he then looks at Kanashimi. "Maybe you should get some rest too, Kana."

She nods. "Yeah, I guess I will. Good night."

"Goodnight, sleep well." He finishes his food and stands in front of the cave entrance with his hand on Kurai's handle, a shadowy figure forms beside Drake, also looking out. "What is there to worry about? You've made it here." Drake sighs. "Somehow, I don't believe that..." Corruption shrugs and leans against a cave wall, looking at Drake. "And if they do arrive, do you think you can beat them?" A moment of silence passes by. "...Honestly, I can't think I can beat them... I have to hope I can."

The night is still, oddly enough.

"...This night is gonna take forever..." Drake says as he takes one more glance around before shrugging, he then calls out for Praxi and opens his spellbook. The werelight and Drake then start to practice with more Cyanican spells until sun rises.

When it is time to wake up, the girls are still asleep.

Drake looks over at them and sighs. "...I'll give them ten more minutes." During that time he snuffs out the campfire, erases the rune circles and takes care of the leftover food. As he puts stuff away into his HSC, he sees the Processor with Seriah inside, he takes a sigh. "Well... Let's see..." He takes out the Processor and looks at it, seeing the asleep face of the girl inside, he hesitates for a moment before opening the panel. He clenches his fists. "Let's hope the sapphire works when I activate it..." 

When he opens the device, he sees a girl no older than five years old sleeping inside, Seriah has been completely reverted back into a child.

He looks at her hand and sees the sapphire still intact. "Ok..." He then lightly bops her nose. "Seriah? Wake up, it's me."

She quietly begins opening her eyes, her eyes don't seem to reconize him right away. "Mmmmm....?" She moans, waking up.

Drake reaches in and picks her up, he takes the sapphire and places it in his pocket. "Seeeeeriah, do you remember me...?"

"Mmmm.... .....Dra...Drake.....? Friend?" She asks, her voice weak.

He smiles and hugs her. "It's ok, take your time Seriah."

She cuddles up against him, her slim childish body cold. Neither Noriko or Kana have woken.

Drake walks over to the two and nudges them. "Wake up you two."

Once he touches Noriko, she bursts into lightning, dissipating into nothing. Drake can no longer sense her presence in the area.

Drake's eyes widen as he tries to sense her presence over and over but to no avail, he then starts to shake Kanashimi. "Kana wake up! Noriko's gone!"

"Errrmmmm.... ....Wuuuut?" She says groggily.

He shouts loud enough for Kanashimi to spring up. "NORIKO IS GONE!"

"HOLY CRAP! Wait, Noriko is gone? Gone where?" She says, now alert.

"I don't know, that's the thing... Why would she have gone like this, there's no nee-- ...Oh no, Torrent and Kagerou..."

"...She isn't that headstrong is she?"

"She's dating me, of course she's headstrong... Alright, let's find her." Drake puts the Processor into the HSC and stores it away, he then sprouts out dragon wings and exits the cave, he then looks at Seriah. "Hold on tight, it may be a bumpy ride."

A Battle of FateEdit

For the next thirty minutes, there is no sign until Kanashimi sees a massive storm raging further to the west.

"Holy crap look at all the tornadoes and lightning!" She yelps.

"That'll be them!" Drake turns West and races towards it, gritting his teeth along the way. "She better be ok..."

In the far distance, explosions of lightning and wind can be seen on the ground. Drake notices it is very difficult to even fly, and it only gets worse the closer to the ground they get.

He manages to land but due to the strong winds, Drake gets pushed back and starts to struggle to stand. But nevertheless, he continues to reach his destination, a determinded expression on his face.

He is barely able to make them out, but he can see two figures clashing, Noriko and Torrent, though they appear to be exchanging blows, not dueling with Slayers. Noriko is faster, but Torrent is stronger.

"...That's two... Where's the other one..." Drake firmly grips Kurai's handle and attempts to intervene.

The two kick each other in the stomachs, and separate. The din dies down.

".....Now then... ....if we're done smacking each other, can we please quit with the drama already? Noriko. White has sent me to ask you to return. Your services are not yet at an end." Torrent says cooly.

"I refuse." Noriko says equally as coldly.

Drake notices she's wearing the same battle armor as during the battle with Valeric and Jibaku.

"Noriko. You're eccentric, but I know you don't do things without your reasons. Not when it matters. So I'm going to ask you again. Return. Quietly. There will be consequences if you do not."

"And you don't know me if you think I'll change my mind!"

"So, I'm going to have to beat the tar out of you then."

Drake creates a black fireball and clenches it tightly. "Corruption, you know what to do." A shadow forms out of Kurai's sheath and slithers off as he looks at Seriah. "I need you to hide somewhere, alright? I'll be back soon." Drake then creates a volley of black fireballs around him then points towards Torrent, which cause the multitude of them to blast towards him. Each one causing a dark explosion on contact, engulfing Torrent within. 

Torrent dodges them while charging at Noriko, who charges him in turn, striking him with a lariat to the neck.

"Drake, just leave! I'll be fine!"

"Not a chance Noriko, there's no way I'm leaving you be to fight him by yourself." Drake clenches his fists when he looks at Torrent. "Besides, the bastard pissed me off at Yosai, so I'll enjoy this..."

Torrent ignores him, focusing his attack. Meanwhile however, Corruption has been intercepted by Kagerou, who eyes him with a deadly grin, then impaling the shadow.

"Hmmm.... why don't you... kick Drake's ass instead? Take over his body and betray him?" The CE suggests with a smirk, but it's no mere casual taunt. Corruption suddenly finds himself turning on Drake instead.

Corruption lunges forward and strikes Drake which causes him to crash back into a tree, with Corruption swiftly reaching out of him. Drake quickly grabs his arm and throws him to the ground, rune circles appear around Corruption as a dome of light encases him inside. "Corruption? ...What the hell?" He sighs as he steps away from the dome. "I guess that means that the CE found you... Ok then Kagerou, come out where ever you are."

From behind him Kagerou appears from the shadows, Drake barely able to dodge as the large sword slashes his back.

"I knew what you were doing the moment you tried it, 'dad'. You're going to have to be more clever than that!" He says, blasting Drake with a wave of ice.

Drake jumps back and sends out a wave of fire which melts the ice. "A bit hypocritical, isn't it? 'yeah, I'll just attack a fire user with ice!'" Drake sighs as he gets into the same fighting stance he was in when he sparred with Kanashimi. "Come on then 'son', how me what you got!"

Kagerou makes a hammer made of ice, then charges Drake, swinging to smash his head.

Drake uses his left hand to redirect the arm to the left of Drake, missing the smash. He then lunges forward and strikes Kagerou's throat with his right hand before grabbing his shirt and pulling him in for a headbutt.

Just as he is about to get bashed in the head, he winks, as Drake is suddenly smashed in the head with a several ton sledgehammer from behind, and then shocked with lightning as Kagerou jabs him in the back.

"SURPRISE!"

"Hmph..." Drake quickly turns and sends out a wave of black fire at Kagerou, then dashes at him only to sidestep to the left and elbow Kagerou's jaw before firing a blast of fire in his side.

The Kagerou he was attacked by from behind merely explodes in a blast of earth, partially locking Drake in place as the real Kagerou slashes off one of Drake's arms.

Drake makes a roar in agony as he grasps the wound, he glares at Kagerou before fading away from black fire. The dome Corruption was in shatters as he stumbles back up, Drake appears beside Corruption. "Now... Now you fucked up, boy." Corruption then merges back into Drake and a demonic black slickly arm replaces the missing one, sharpened claws and spikes traliing up the side of the arm. He unsheathes Kurai and to Kagerou's surprise, it changed into what seems to be a demonic greatsword yet Drake swings it around with ease. One of Drake's eyes is dyed completely black as he smirks, a big fang showing.

Kagerou only smirks. "That all?" He is not intimidated at all.

Drake takes a single step towards Kagerou, but once he does, black fire erupts from under him but causes no harm. Drake then lunges towards Kagerou and swings the greatsword horizontally, which causes a massive wave of light to blast out of the blade, slashing across Kagerou's body.

Kagerou merely jumps over the slash and lands on the blade itself, then gives Drake a grin before flicking him on the nose, followed by a foot smash straight into Drake's teeth, breaking over a dozen of them, then flipping back several yards.

"Youuuuuu'll have to do better than thaaaaaaaat~" Kagerou chirps, amused.

In response, Drake right arm stretches out and wraps around Kagerou, he then smashes him through multiple trees and then the floor. Kagerou then gets pulled back to Drake as he creates a rune circle which causes bone-like spikes to rise up and impale Kagerou's arms and legs. The arm retracts as the claws extend, Drake stomps down on his abdomen and slashes his chest enough for one of them to get forced open.

No damage is taken.

"Seriously? And you're using your Primative Mode for fucks sake Drake! What was all of that original crap anyway? Pathetic! I was holding back, and I haven't even released my Aura Dragon! Pathetic!"

Kagerou's fist smashes into Drake's chest, breaking through and tearing up a lung. He then throws Drake off with an annoyed grunt.

"What do you take me for, a clone?! Pathetic, Drake Ryunexo! You gotta earn this ass kicking!" The CE finally draws his sword, but seems in no hurry to take a combat stance.

Drake simply laughs as he looks at Kagerou. "This isn't even a Primitive form... It's simply me allowing Corruption to take some control." He looks at Kurai then back at Kagerou. "I don't take you as a clone, nor as an equal... To put it blunty, I'm ashamed that you were made using my DNA." Drake spins Kurai around then sheathes it. "Let's put you through a bit of mercenary sparring, kiddo." He then clicks his fingers as massive amounts of spikes form out of the ground around the two, red tribal markings appear on the right arm as Drake rushes towards Kagerou and punches him in the guy. Kagerou then feels like he was impaled but no wounds show it, Drake then jumps back and glances at Kagerou.

The form of Kagerou disfigures, then is blown apart by a burst of lava, which despite the presence of Kurai still burns him severely. Kagerou's hand, dripping with lava, appears out of a tree, and he slips out with a smirk on his face.

"Confused, Drake? Don't blame you. Look at it this way... lava is both fire and earth. ...unfortunately for you, that means that you can't properly fight against it. Only reduce the damage. There's a nice lesson, eh? Learned it from White. Might want to lose the cocky attitude, or you'll die. Painfully. Remember that I'm packing the genetics of multiple Myths, an archangel, and you. Now fight seriously, villain, or I'll have to make you get serious."

He takes his sword, and disassembles it into its dual blade form. Black flames begin to flicker about him.

"A villain wouldn't fight to protect the one they love, as for you. You're simply following orders like a drone, you're no hero, you're a slave. You're a slave to someone who wants to enslave everything and everyone, a hero fights for a cause while the villain will seek to aid only themselves. So tell me then, Kagerou, what do you fight for?" Once that is said, Drake unsheahtes Shizuka and gets into a stance.

Kagerou flourishes his blades. "That's something you, villain, will have to find out on your own. Or rather, should I say, you will have to earn." With a flicker of movement, he attacks, his attacks far faster than the ones Drake dealt with back at the palace, difficult to counter and keep up with.

Meanwhile, Noriko and Torrent continue their duel, but have now begun exchanging steel rather than fists, the swordsmenship incredibly to behold, Torrent is like a living incarnation of every storm known to man, like the fiercest tornado, the mightiest hurricane, but also graceful in movement as a breeze, all in an continous line of attacks. Noriko's attacks are fast, furious, and impossible to follow, she moves as though she were electricity herself.

The tribal markings on Drake's right arm glow once more as he sends out a quick shockwave to give himself some breathing room. He charges towards Kagerou only to dissipate into black fire, disappearing for only a moment. Just to appear behind Kagerou in a split second to elbow his back, sending the spike sensation throughout his spine and blasting him across the floor.

Kagerou effortlessly flips back onto his feet and slashes at Drake, the slashes travel across the distance between the two fighters.

"Hmmm, you know, I thought you said you were going to fight side by side on this one? What a terrible liar you are..." Kagerou says as he ducks under Drake's guard and repeatedly stabs him in the stomach after lifting him off the ground with a single hand.

He smirks at Drake. "It looks like she isn't doing so hot right now."

As he says this, Noriko charges Torrent, preparing to body slam Torrent, who feigns to be taken off guard, but sidesteps and grabs her by the hair as she sails past, then grabs her head and slams her into the ground, shaking the area violently. Torrent jumps back as a bombardment of lightning nearly hits him.

"Get up, I know you have more spunk than that. Or are you all talk?" Torrent says.

Kagerou chuckles. "Hmmm, I wonder if I should end this already..." He sneers.

In a rush attack, Drake goes in and bites down on Kagerou's shoulder, hard. He rips through the shoulder and slashes Kagerou across the chest once more, Drake then kicks him off of him and looks at Torrent before looking back at Kagerou. He then grabs him, sets him ablaze then tosses him towards Torrent. Drake then makes a demonic roar as his wings sprout out, with the one on the right being demonic instead of draconic. He flies towards the two in a blink of an eye and smashes them into the ground, simply giving them a cold stare.

Torrent seems to have not been affected, the blow does seem to have properly connected. With a flick of his wrist, he blows Drake straight into a mountain, then dusts himself off. He pulls Kagerou up, who chuckles. "That actually hurt for once." His shoulder and chest wound heals.

Torrent looks at Noriko, who is now getting on her feet. "Kagerou."

"Yes?"

"Play with her a bit. I want to teach the pup a life lesson."

"As you wish."

Torrent sheathes his sword, and walks forward, while Kagerou watches as Noriko gets to her feet.

Drake appears right in front of Torrent and growls, he kicks him in the stomach then smashes a black fireball into his chest. 

The kick doesn't even budge Torrent, and the fireball is dissipated by a shield of wind.

"Is that it?" Torrent asks, as a blade of wind slices off Drake's hand.

"...I know that this battle, I won't win. Such as fate goes, but, I'll make sure I remember that disgusting face of yours... And just to be sure." He charges forwards and extends his claws out as he slashes Torrent's face, causing his mask to get ripped to shreads, he then swings Kurai which causes a wave of light to erupt from the blade and collide into Torrent. 

Right next to Drake, Torrent suddenly stands and grabs Drake's face hard, then with his bare hands rips and tears Drake's skin, causing a horrid gash on Drake's forehead, then he punches Drake straight in the eye, the force breaking Drake's skull around the eyehole.

"You're right. If pathetic insults are the best you have, you don't have a prayer."

Despite all the damage, Drake just sniggers as he looks at Torrent. "Eien... You bastard... Heh." Any wounded areas gets coated with the same black material as Drake's entire right arm, he then unsheathes Shizuka. The tribal markings on both blades begin to glow as he begins to slash Torrent's chest, Torrent then notices that Shizuka's tribal markings turn yellow as a bolt of lightning spews out and goes right through him, shocking all his insides with imense pain. 

Torrent merely dodges the slashes after the first strike, then karate chops Drake's normal shoulder, to Drake's surprise the strike completely cuts the shoulder and arm off, making him drop Shizuka. With his next strike, he makes a claw motion, slicing Drake's chest open.

Drake takes a couple of steps back, looking at his wounds, he then sighs. "Fuck it..." He makes one final charge to Torrent and grabs hold of him. "Shadow Cast: Oblivion Equalizer!" The two get covered in a black substance, Torrent then feels the sensation of all the pain Drake had done to him but to himself. But it doesn't last long as Drake is forced to let go, he coughs up a worrying amount of blood as he takes a glance at Torrent. "Fuck you..." Drake roars as a black draconic aura surrounds him, his eyes glow red as his entire left arm and shoulder regenerates, he then smirks. "Regeneration... Hehe." Drake flickers like a flame as he disappears for a moment, as Torrent looks around, he suddenly gets grabbed from behind. Drake then throws him over his shoulder and spin kicks him into a tree, shattering a couple of Torrent's ribs. 

Torrent gets to his feet with little trouble, then looks over at the battle between Noriko and Kagerou, which Drake notice is not going well at all, as Noriko at this point is just being toyed with by the CE, dodging her moves and occasionally attacking with overwhelming force. One of her arms is broken, and she has a small cut on her stomach. She overall is basically holding on as best as she can.

Torrent then looks back at Drake as Kagerou leaps back from a strike to his side.

"I think your party is ready."

Kagerou makes a large grin. "Oh? Is the slaughter set then?"

"They are but lambs to the slaughter."

Kagerou's eyes get a strange, sinister look to them, the look makes Corruption nervous, just like before.

Drake looks at Kagerou and growls. "So then... I'm guessing if he has a branch of you, he can go Primitive just like Daikeim and I..." He turns his body to look at Kagerou, he smirks. "This will work wonders..."

Noriko looks over at Drake, and seeing his wounds, she looks almost heartbroken. She looks away, tears on her face.

"...Why....? Everything would have been fine...." She grips her sword tight.

Torrent walks back to his position facing her. "Noriko, this childishness has gone on far enough. Your childish attitude needs to be put to an end! You chafe on responsibility and refuse to accept the way of things. Neither you or Drake can stand against us. So for the last time. Come now."

"NO!" Noriko screams in anger. "NO, NO, NO, NO! I WILL NOT!"

"...Emotions serve nothing but to cause one pain, Noriko. Why is it that you drive yourself to pointless anger, raise your sword and fight? You are being a child, just as you've always been! When are you going to grow up?! I grow tired of this. Why will you not make this easy on yourself and just go?"

She clenches her teeth together, grinding them in her agitation. "I love him, damn it! I'm tired of the fighting! Tired and tired of her lies! Her schemes, her endless fighting and destruction! Above all, I'll fight to remain free of the poison she has fed us all these years, so I can be happy for once! He makes me happy, which is why I'll never go back, not to that empty existence!"

Torrent is silent for a moment. "...Then it appears... ...that before I beat you senseless, and take you before White... I'll be sure to tear him apart... limb from limb... ...when I'm done... I won't leave even his head intact.... so you can look at his bloody heap as the last memory you have before you understand true emptiness, true despair... ...and the meaningless of it all."

He draws his sword and points it at her. "You might want to say goodbye... ...because he'll be dead soon." A green aura begins to surround him, and the wind begins to pick up. Violently.

She snarls, and her whole body becomes charged with intense electricity, her hair going wild, and she practically glows golden.

"I won't say goodbye.....! BECAUSE I WON'T LET YOU TOUCH HIM!" She roars, as the cry of an eagle echoes loudly, and about the same time, the howl of a wolf goes off. The two slayers become cloaked in massive spheres of lightning and wind.

"Lightning.....!"

"Wind..."

"PHOENIX MODE!" They roar, and a massive eagle of every color of lightning bursts into being, and a massive wolf composed of howling winds tears through the sphere of wind, and howls, sending twisters rampaging through the valley.

Drake looks at the fight with slight amazment. "So that's a power of a Phoenix member... Impressive... But as for you..." Drake looks back at Kagerou, his draconic aura tail swaying behind him. "So then, did you listened to what Torrent said? Sounded 'heroic', didn't it." Drake says sarcasticlly. "I find it hilarious how you see yourself as a hero in this story, Kagerou, when in reality, you are what I said you were; a drone. Someone who just follows orders, but I'm done repeating myself..." Drake clenches both his fists and makes a confindent growl. 

The section of the valley begins to tremble, as an insane grin begins to spread on Kagerou's face.

"Ha ha ha... you done barking, bitch?" His voice is completely different, deeper, darker, like that of a monster. A powerful, dark aura is present.

"A bit ironic, coming from the lecturer." Drake doesn't seem phased, infact he smirks at Kagerou. He then flickers out of sight then smashes down on top of Kagerou with a forceful kick before flipping backwards, landing on his feet with a black fireball in his hand. He then drives the fireball into Kagerou's back which causes an explosion which knocks the two back.

When Drake delivers the kick, Kagerou doesn't seem to budge, and the following explosions do little to budge the CE, Drake realizes why when he sees Kagerou again: he is covered in twisted black dragon armor, pulsating with a fiendish aura.

"As I was saying," The CE jeers, sounding not affected at all, "Done barking? Perhaps you're as block headed as you seem. The words you spoke just now? The seeing myself as a hero thing? Those were just the pointless deluded ramblings of a tattered mind. You could say that was the old Kagerou... the one before White completed her experiments. She just... what's a good word? Stretched what was left back over me so that she could at least keep me from blowing up any living thing I happened to see. That's all. This, is the true Kagerou. A weapon of war, as you say, so it is.

But... hahaha... I don't blame that ragdoll. I mean, when you live your life as a fake, not even real anymore, and you just want to be important, to not be yesterday's trash, I do suppose one goes any length to delude themselves so. Even more so... ...if they find an existence superior to themselves. One which they can't help but admire, to look up to... ...to want to be....

Oh you didn't know? Kagerou is absolutely obsessed with you.... ....and you've done nothing but degrade every ounce of his already worthless pathetic existence. Oh the hatred, oh the pain, the misery he feels, knowing that not only is he a fake, he isn't loved or even accepted by the one being he looks up to, Drake Ryunexo."

The CE chuckles darkly.

Drake simply shakes his head. "Loved or accepted? Hmph, if you want that from me, you have to earn it." His hands get engulfed by black fire, he glances back at the Chaos Engine. "I'm tired of you talking..." Drake reaches both his hands out at Kurai and Shizuka fly back into his hands, the two change into greatsword variations of themselves. He then points one of the greatswords at the Chaos Engine. "If we don't end this here, we end it at Yosai."

"Still a fool. I will enjoy crushing you."

In moments, he closes the distance and smashes his fist into Drake's face, sending him crashing into a mountain with a mighty bang.

A shockwave can be heard and Drake soars back, delivering a strike into the Chaos Engines's chest, slamming him down into the ground, causing a crater. "Fool? They say there's a thin line between bravery and stupidity... And most times, people will mix up who's being who, but I promise you... This fight will not be fought with a fool, but with a Ryunexo and his Chaos Engine offspring..." Drake then jumps into the air and dives down onto the Chaos Engine with enough force for it to cause a deeper crater.

The Chao Engine raises his hand high after the dust settles and suddenly meteors begin bombarding the area, one smashes straight into Drake. He then swings his sword, unleashing a wave of red and black energy akin to lightning, which carves snake like rifts into the ground.

Back over with the two Phoenix members, huge monstrous bursts of lightning and high pressure wind explode throughout the valley, the din a sight to behold.

Drake jumps out of the crater and starts to create rune circles around the area which causes chains of energy to momentarily restrain the Chaos Engine, Drake then lands and swings Kurai in multiple directions, which cause a slight delay. But when Drake clicks his fingers, out of nowhere, waves of light suddenly appear like they're frozen in time, some slashing across the Chaos Engine's body and some slashing through the aura. They soon fade away, along with the chains, but Drake suddenly flickers and appears in front of the Chaos Engine and headbutts him hard enough to crack his skull.

The Chaos Engine takes a deep breath, then lets loose a beam of red energy formed in the shape of a sword out of his mouth, both piercing and sending Drake flying through the air.

"Necrotic Pierce!"

With a swift movement, Drake flips back upright and deflects the beam with his hands, he then flickers out of sight and appears only a couple of feet away. Drake sheathes both swords and charges towards the Chaos Engine, ducking under his attack and uppercutting him into the air. Drake then jumps above him and slams his heel down onto the Chaos Engine's chest, cracking some ribs then firing a fireball directly into his face, blasting him back down.

While the CE stands rather quickly, he shakes his head for moment, briefly stunned. He begins firing multiple shots of the Necrotic Pierce.

Drake's hands soon get rune circles on them as he starts to deflect the shots, only firing back a couple of times.

Kagerou then holds out his hand, and a red and black sphere charges. "Necrotic Pulse."

A huge wave of red and black energy surges forth from him in all directions into the air.

"This is gonna hurt..." Despite the damage it'll do, Drake charges headforth at the Chaos Engine, he coats his hand in black fire and clenches it into a fist. "You better grit those teeth you bastard!" Drake then strikes the right side of the Chaos Engine's face.

Kagerou loses balance and crashes into one of the craters, getting up with a smirk.

"Not bad."

The Chaos Engine swings his sword at Drake, causing a massive slash of negative energy. "Take this!"

He takes the entire slash, causing a massive cut across Drake's chest, he then unsheathes Kurai and charges towards him again, swinging his sword down at the Chaos Engine.

Their swords collide, and Kagerou chuckles.

"You're going to need a lot more than that, 'dad'. I'm just getting started."

Drake kicks the Chaos Engine back a bit then makes a slash across his chest, a wave of light disbursing out of the blade. "Oh trust me, I haven't even begun."

Kagerou merely smiles, amused. "You're hurting me, but that's it. Pain is nothing. You'll never defeat me at this rate."

"Hehe... Then we'll meet at Yosai if it comes to it." Drake smirks as he punches the Chaos Engine's chest then headbutts him, he then jumps into the air and slashes down, another wave of light is sent flying down at the Chaos Engine.

Kagerou gives him a bored look. "Really now?" He slashes right through the light, then slashes with a wave of molten steel.

Drake quickly sends out a shockwave which blasts the molten steel away, he then dives down and lands in front of the Chaos Engine, Drake grabs him and knees him in the chest, breaking a few ribs before punching his gut hard enough that he coughs up blood. 

He quickly returns the favor.

Over at the other side of the battle, the two Phoenix members continue their clash, tearing at each other with violent powerful attacks that shake the whole valley. Noriko charges Torrent, who manages to dodge the faster of the two and bites down on her form, a loud screech results from her.

"Noriko! ...Ok, I need to finish this with you..." Drake flickers and disappears, a slight chuckle can be heard. Meanwhile somewhere not far from the battle, Drake appears in a tree, back to his normal form. He takes a look around and finds Seriah. "Thank God..." He jumps down and looks at her. "Hey there, you alright?"

"You can't hide from me!" He can hear Kagerou yell from where Drake had left him. Noriko twists out of Torrent's grasp and continues bombarding him with lightning, though it is clear that Torrent has gained some ground on her.

"...I am... alright....." She says quietly. "Are we going to play a game?" She asks curiously.

He nods. "Yes, we're gonna play hide and seek, me and you are hiding, ok? And remember to be quiet if you can."

"Who are we playing with?"

"I'll break you in two you little shit!" Kagerou roars.

"...Him." He looks around. "He may seem a little scary, but trust me, you'll be fine."

"He sounds mean..." She whines.

"He is mean, but don't worry." He gives Seriah a small hug. "Now quickly hide."

"Where?"

Drake wonders for a moment before smirking, he summons Praxi. "I need you to cloak Seriah, can you do that?" Praxi nods and hovers around Seriah. "Ok, now... My guess is to hide behind a big tree or rock, somewhere safe though, alright?"

She nods, then starts flapping her wings, gently fluttering into the dense leaves.

Just to be sure, Praxi faintly glows then cloaks itself and Seriah so that they're invisible, Drake then jumps back up into a tree and hides among the leaves.

Not long after, Kagerou shows up, annoyed. "Come on chicken shit, where are you? If you don't get your ass out here, I MIGHT just go help kill the bitch instead!"

Drake continues to wait until the Chaos Engine is about to leave, he then drops down ontop of the Chaos Engine and smashes his head to the floor. Just as the Chaos Engine gets back up, Drake kicks his face, knocking him back into a tree. 

"Coward, hiding will do nothing for you! And you left Primitive Mode, how conceited!" He charges a powerful orb, intending to erase Drake.

"Hehehe... I don't need to rely on Primitive, like I said, a thin line between stupidity and bravery." Two rune circles form on Drake's palms as he smirks, he then taunts the Chaos Engine. 

He fires the beam at Drake.

Drake places his right hand in front of him as a black circle appears in the middle of that rune circle. Suddenly the beams goes through the circle as it forms as the orb in Drake's left hand, Drake then speeds towards the Chaos Engine and smashes the orb against his chest. 

Kagerou coughs up a lot of blood, and jumps back, gasping and gagging.

".....GrrrrrrrraaaaaaAAAAAHHHHHH!" He roars, as his figure is distorted in a manner similar to Drake, but the corrupted form gains an actual metal skin, with red and black energy, his hands now monstrous large claws of this energy.

He suddenly swings his giant claws at Drake, tearing open his chest.

Drake gets knocked back but stands up, he looks at his wound as he glances back at the Chaos Engine, he chuckles as a trail of blood pours from his mouth. "Primitive or not, you wouldn't kill someone you admire." Drake staggers back a bit, near Seriah. "Well then? COME AT ME YOU BASTARD!" 

He smirks. "Fool. Do not mistake me for that fake. I have no such admiration." He charges, his sword pointed to stab him in the heart.

"I only have one shot... So let's make it count!" Drake quickly unsheathes Kurai and directs the Chaos Engine's sword so that it impaes the ground, he then creates multiple rune circles around the Chaos Engine. "Now!" The rune circles glow as multiple chains wrap around the Primitive's arms and legs, they tighten up, restraining him. "Seriah, I think we've won." He says.

"You think you've won?! Who do you think you're talking to?!"

"First of all... Get out of that shield of yours, you pathetic runt, how dare you use something that belongs to me. If it wasn't for that, you'd be a damn corpse back at Yosai being treated like a lab rat once more... Now as for being more literal, I was talking to a small little girl." 

Seriah drops out of the tree, and as she does, Kagerou's eyes glow red violently, and he abruptly howls in pain, igniting in black flames.

"CURSE YOU! FUCK! SHIT! DAMN! OW! WHAT THE HELL IS THIS- ARRRRRRRRRRRRRGHHHH!" He roars.

Drake smirks. "Hehe, thanks Eien, I owe you one... Meet Seriah, she's a sweet little girl, isn't she? To let you know, she is the first of your kind... So think of her as your great great great grandmother or something. To put it bluntly, she's the first Chaos Engine."

His only response is a long string of vulgar curses and screams, finally collapsing. At the same time however, Torrent sidesteps Noriko again, this time biting her throat and shaking her violently, until her form violently explodes, and Noriko falls to the ground in a heap. By the time she has gotten to her feet, Torrent is already next to her and slugs her repeatedly in the face, until she is hit one final time, and moves no more.

Torrent quietly turns toward Drake and points his sword at him.

"Now then... I will show you... ...what a REAL Slayer can do... amateur."

Drake looks at Torrent. "Seriah, I need you to hide, this may get dangerous..." Drake tightens his grip onto Kurai, he chuckles. "...I guess it's ironic now, I consider people like Kagerou, Kanashimi and Silent Angel to be knockoffs to me, yet here I am wielding a hybrid Slayer... Going against someone who has a true Slayer, there's no doubt I can win against someone who can be counted as an original... But." As Drake says this, he gains a firey black aura, he smirks. "That doesn't mean you should consider me weak, Torrent... Regardless of who or what I am, I will prove it that I'm not one you should underestimate." Drake gets engulfed by a black dome of fire, a laughing can be heard as it turns draconic yet avian. "Darkness and Fire..." Torrent can hear what seems to be a mix of a phoenixs cry and a dragons growl. "Phoenix mode!" Suddenly the same creature that appeared before Eien prowls out of the dome and glances at Torrent. 

Torrent quietly grabs Noriko, and begins walking forward, apparently not intimidated. 

"In the case of Slayer, there are two things the term refers to. The actual weapon, and the wielder. In this case... I will show you the difference between us... how best to describe it?" He puts Noriko in a cloud, which floats high above them. He then draws... ....another Wind Slayer.

"It's like comparing a grain of sand to the mountain. It's only been a month, yet you think you can challenge me so easily? One can only boast so much, before their hubris catches up with them..."

He points this second Wind Slayer at Drake. "You are not worthy of this blade. Yet for the purpose of enlightening you to how much of a greenhorn you are... ...I'll make an exception. The art of wielding a Slayer is more than just swinging a sword... ....it's being one with the sword."

Out of nowhere, a violent wind begins sucking Drake in toward Torrent.

He takes the opportunity and lunges at Torrent, the wind infact speeding him up as he swipes downwards at Torrent, three waves of black fire come crashing down too.

Torrent shuts off the wind, then slices with the other Slayer, causing a massive gale of wind which blows out the fire. Torrent then uses the other Slayer, and suddenly the fire of Drake's Phoenix mode is extinguished, and Drake finds he cannot breathe.

For a moment, Drake stands unphased but soon his vision becomes blurred and he staggers a bit. "You... Cheap... Bastard..."

"Problem?" Torrent says with a slightly amused smile.

Drake quickly rushes Torrent and blindsides him with a strike to the chest, crashing him into a tree, but Drake staggers even more, slowly going blue.

Torrent gets up, simply looking at him. "Is this all that Drake Ryunexo can do? In the end, you are nothing. With my bare hands, I could accomplish the same thing, so adept I am with the power of my Slayer. Yet you cannot accomplish anything without your sword in battle. And to think you prided yourself on strength that never was there. Perhaps you should have tried to synergize with the spirit within, rather than clash for control. True understanding of one's blade, and the blade the understanding of the master, is required to achieve the truest level of power a Slayer can bring.

If you were to survive this encounter, I would tell you: come before me when you have attained true synergy with your blade. But this is as far as your worthless tale goes."

"I can last... For a little... Longer..." Drake unsheathes Shizuka and charges at Torrent and makes one final attempt for an attack. 

Torrent makes a sidestep, and is about to bring his sword down on Drake's neck, when suddenly he is disarmed, both Slayers clanging to the ground, and the air rushes back in force, Drake however too close to unconsciousness at this point to make a comeback. The last thing he sees before he passes out is a woman in a green kimono...


Searching For One's RootsEdit

Kado appears next to Akami on top of a mountain, overlooking a series of sprawling forests and swamps.

Akami: Well your a bad advertiser but this place sure is pretty. No smoke, no polluted skies, and no scorched earth.

Kado grabs Akami and pulls her down just as a massive black bird bigger than the two of them soars overhead, letting out a mighty screech as it flies by. After it disappears, Kado helps her up.

"Oh, sorry. Nightcaller Hawks live in this area. They'll eat anything. But yeah, it's pretty nice, once you memorize Giant Bird Calls."

Akami: This place may not be mutated, but I assume your creatures sure look and act like it

"Nah, this world is just big, and the animals happen to be big to match. We got a couple of weird ones, but nothing too dangerous. Except a few oddballs like Inland Swamp Beasts."

Akami: Don't we gotta go through the swamp?

"Let me see... ....Oh yeah. Well then... ...just don't touch the water then. Even if you perchance like shiny things."

Akami: Oh...then I might have to go in blind.

"So wait... You like treasure like actual dragons do?"

Akami: Well...not exactly. Western dragons, yes. Me. Obi says I liked...lights basically...just lights. I do also like to see what those things are though.

"Hmmm... well, with all of the werelights around, the water might not be too much of a problem."

Akami: Werelights?Do they turn you into a werebeast of sorts?

"Uh... no. Not sure why they call them that. They're like... mirco spirits."

Akami: Then why not call them that? You know what? Whatever, we need to get going if your going to get help.

Kado nods. "Watch your step, theses mountain slopes are treacherous." He says, leading the way.

Akami: Doubt it's anything we can't handle

Once they reach the bottom of the slope, Kado looks around for a moment.

"We should reach the road I'm looking for after we quickly cross the swamp beyond this forest. We shouldn't run into trouble, just keep your guard up. Shapeshifters are cautious hunters, so they may avoid us, but there are some of us who aren't quite level headed. Monsters are... not too much of an issue out here."

Akami: There was pause right there.

"Well you can't rule out anything. I mean, you never know what's beyond that next bush."

Akami: Something that's gonna get punched in the face beyond the mountain

Kado just shakes his head. After a while, they enter the swamp. "Alright, if you see anything moving in the water, look up and don't look back down. Also tell me, so we can run."

Akami: Gotcha. You lead the way.

The swamp appears to be full of various noises, and after a while, as they near the exit, Akami notices a strange iridescent ball of light appear from the trees, lazily floating about.

Akami: *whispers* Psst. Kado. Look. Is that one of those werelights you were talking about?

He nods, as a strange, ethereal singing like noise starts up. "They make noises like that a lot." He says quietly.

Akami: Better than hearing frogs and crickets.

"Ehh, we have those too." They continue on, finally reaching another stretch of forest, a road visible ahead.

Akami: Huh, felt like this swamp would be longer, but whatever.

Kado shrugs. "Some are long, some are wide." They eventually reach the road, and begin traveling east.

Akamai: So do you know how far we're going?

"Right now, I'm going on the only lead I have. The location of my old village."

Akami:And how did you get that lead?

"I've been there once before. I'm just hoping to find out where my clan is now."

Akami: I meant like how do you know?

"The lay of the land. These are familiar lands to me. It only takes a while for one who has lived out in the wild to learn to adapt and understand their surroundings merely based on the geography. Plus the fauna and flora."

Akami: Was that suppose to be the answer to my overall question?

"...Look, Akami, I don't have any answers. The whole reason I'm going to the location of my old village is because it's the only place that might tell me anything. I don't know if there's anything or anyone there, just that it's the last place my people were. ...If I have any hope of finding answers, it's there.

...The only other place I can imagine has the answers I need is... ...Chinmoku. But that's a ways away."

Akami: Like several days away or several weeks away?

"Several days to a week. Exact time unknown, never know what conditions are like."

Akami: Yet, you've been there before with little-to-no problem, right?

"Yes, but this is the wild. Things can change very quickly."

Akami: Talk about a jungle out here.

After a couple hours, they come to a crossroads. "...This way." He leads Akami down a long, degraded dirt path.

Akami: Do you have any personal hobbies? Or atleast professions you enjoy?...I think that's the same thing...

"...No... ...though one time when I was young, I did play a game of cards with my master, Hiroshi. ...that's where I got my name from, you see. My name means 'Card'. ...I haven't lived much of a fullfilling life. Even when I was in a position where I could do whatever I desired, I never once thought about enjoying life. A mistake, in hindsight. In that regard you're better than me. You and the others have a goal, but you at least remember to live. ...Spending time with you guys has opened my eyes, you know?"

Akami: Heh, that means alot. Here. *takes out 2 gifted-wrapped objects: One is oval shaped an
Wildcard mask

Wildcard mask

d the other is small rectangle block shape* Managed to save this before Obi blew up our cabin. *hands them to Kado* "...Thank you. ...Wait, he blew up- ...Oh, thanks Ace. ...Heh, he never was easy to deal with, it
Wildcard's card
's taken a lot of control on my end not to lose my mind from his antics."

Why didn't you let me beat the shit of out him? You know he was asking for it, Neo's voice lightly echoes from near Kado.

"We do not need the opinion of the kid with a perpetual temper tantrum."

He quietly opens the two presents up.

He opens it to find a customized mask and custom made deck ofcards saying 'Wildcard' on each of them.

Kado smiles faintly, then puts the gifts away.

"I'll have to tell him thanks."

Akami: You should. He said he mustered as much love he could put into it.

Kado remains silent, she looks up to see off in the distance, a group of ruined buildings.

Akami: Is that suppose to be your village?

"It was. What is left of it, at least." He begins to quietly approach.

Akami: *follows behind* Was it raided?

"....They left after sis... ...took me away."

Akami: Pauses. Like I said, we can be real with each other.

"She took me away to Phoenix after wiping my memory when I was ten. That's all. ...Come on, I need to look around."

Akami: Look for what? That? *points at a small rebuilt house. A light is coming from the house*

"...What dishonorable person would build on the bones of those who have suffered...?!" He growls, now marching up to the house, seemingly incensed by the sight of the house.

Akami: *grabs hold of Kado's arm* it only depends on whoe the person is. For all we know, that person could've lived here before and couldn't think of any other hometo be in. There's always two sides to a story. Remember that.

He tenses, but he knocks on the door, though harder than necessary.

"Come on in. The door is open."

Kado comes in. "Who are you, and why are you living here?" Kado says just short of an antagonistic voice.

A man sitting in front of a fire place get's up from his rocking chair

"I don't know who you are, but I certainly didn't invite you to come in just so you can-" Pauses once he sees Kado and Kado sees the face of his old man. "Kado?"

"...That's not my name, is it? ...Never mind that though. ...I didn't realize you came back. ...I thought you... ...though maybe you're stronger willed than I."

"There is many things a man can do without, but home...it's something that everyone goes back to. Something everyone needs...*sigh* Anyway, come son. Sit. Have some hot tea. This old man doesn't get enough visitors in a day."

Kado looks at Akami. "...Oh. ...This is Akami. ...A friend." He says nervously.

Ooooh, someone's embarrassed, afraid to introduce your girlfriend to daddy?

Neo, I swear I will kill you if you do not shut up.

"Specify 'friend'..."

"You know, a good friend who has helped me out of a tough spot, a good friend, comrade in arms...." He says uncertainly. "I'm not sure what you mean by specify friend."

He looks over at Akami. "You can have a seat instead, I can sit on the floor."

Akami: If you sit on the floor, then I sit on the floor. *sits down on the floor near the fire place*

"...Ok." He says reluctantly.

"Help yourself with some tea*

Akami: *pours herself a cup of hot tea* So what made want to, you know...rebuild here? No place like home

"Preciseley. When a traveller gets tired of travelling, he wants to go home. And since my home was reduced to rubble aswell as my life, I sooner or later felt compelled to come back here. Part of me hopes that this place can be rebuilt again."

A large rock falls on Akami's head and breaks but Akami contiues to drink her tea like nothing happened.'The man is simply amazed by what he just saw

Akami: What?

"Though alot more sturdy than this...Are..you ok..."

Akami: Well I got some hot tea in my hands but nothing worht worrying over. Why?

"Hospitality..."

Akami: Ah, I see. Thanks. *sips her tea*

Kado is quiet for a moment. "...Do you know where the others went? I need to... ...find them."

"Their everywhere, Kado...As much as I travel I hardly run into any of them. But you'll find some within the wilds close to the Yokai Village and a few more just outside Chinmoku, but you'll mostly find the most of them in Central Valley."

"...Any idea where I can find one of our old spirits?"

"Heh. Those old bastards are harder to find than anyone else. They don't normally stay in one place. Try either Chinmoku or that place where those positive spirits live. Heck, some might be in the wilds way out there. Echo is a big place after all. *sips some more of his tea*

"...What about everyone else? ...The rest of the family?"

"After what happened here, me and your mother sort of...you know...split...She couldn't handle the lose of our children and she partially blamed me for not preventing something like this. Part of feels like she's right, but I haven't fought in decades...but that's no excuse....I don't know where every one is, but I do have a slight idea where your eldest sister maybe...Last heard from her, she was in the Central Valleys. either that or she lives their. You might wanna see there if you want.

"....I see." Kado glances at the window and frowns.

Akami: My sincerest apologizes for what had happened to your village and family, sir. I couldn't imagine lossing your life like that.

"Some gain some loose. Life is life that way. It's still what we make the most of it that counts."

Fire sword unnamed by guiltyremnant-d4q8qh0

Rūn'ejji

Akami: If you wan, me an some others can come by and help you rebuild your village. Maybe it can team with life again and serve as homes for those who don't have one. Who knows, maybe the former inhabitants me come back.

"That is a nice thought. A really nice thought. I'll think about that. Kado. There is something I want you to have." The mane gets up and takes down a one-handed greatsword from a mantle over the fire place and hands it to Kado "Take this, my son."

He takes it silently. "...Thank you." He looks back at the window though. "...There's... ....someone out there."

Akami: Then we get out and ask who the person is. *goes outside* Alright, whoever you are, show yourself right now!

Up in a tree, a white cloaked man sits, looking directly at Akami.

"....Are you the one...? ...Hmm, I suppose I'll find out." He drops down, and begins to approach Akami, his posture as he approaches indicates he is likely going to attack.

Akami: *gets into a traditional karate stance*

"Hmm... ...self taught or...?"

Akami: I can take a nap when you're ready...*eyes intensify*

The next instant, she is suddenly floored by a single strike. "You might want to wake up then."

Akami: *her eyes open wide and takes both her legs and sweeps the stranger of his feet, she uppercuts him into the air* Shuyoken! *sends the stranger flying several paces* I don't get tired. Your standing-around is making hibernation look like a good choice right about now.

The man looks outside his window. "Tough one she is."

The uppercut doesn't even phase him, and he lands on his feet without effort, shaking his head. 

"Good spirit, but too presumptous." He closes in fast and strikes her chest with a one inch punch that breaks her ribcage and smashes her into a wall, firmly stuck, then easily ducks as Kado comes in swinging, kicking him aside without even having to look at him into a tree, he hangs by his arms.

"As for you, that was careless. And you wield a katana for crying out loud."

Akami: *removes herself out the wall and resumes her stance spit out some blood*

The newcomer enters a stance, and a green energy field forms. At the very center where he stands is a yin yang.

A golden yin yang symbol appears from under Akami, only hers has a dragon circled as the rim. Two small fire balls take her side and begin to orbit around her

"Alright, that's enough you blowhards," A voice says just as Kado frees himself from the tree. Standing on the house is a green robed woman, with two fans strapped to her waist. Her arms are crossed.

"Well, I might aswell head out there then." Exits his house. "Is their anything either of you guys need or want?"

"Nobuyuki, I'm surprised. Was picking a fight really all that nessisary?" The woman asks.

The man shrugs. "I wanted to see how skilled they were. The boy is reckless, of course. The other seems like she has talent."

"...And by chance, did you not notice which one was the one we came for?"

"...I might have not been paying attention..." Nobuyuki says innocently.

"....Figures. The boy is the one we're looking for. I can sense the three souls from here."

Kado starts. "...Three souls? ...How do you know that, more importantly, who are you two?!" He brandishes Dark Slayer at them.

"...And from Phoenix to boot..." The woman grumbles.

Akami: *coughs* Well all this was pretty-*coughs* pretty sudden...

The woman jumps down to Akami. "Ah, yes, let me treat that." She says, putting a hand to Akami's chest and begins healing her.

"What is it about Kado that strikes your interest?"

"He has a Dual Nature. Do you even understand how rare that is for a spirit, for anyone to have?"

"I suppose? I mean...what do you guys do with people like him?"

The man called Nobuyuki speaks up. "Help him. He's not exactly... err... stable, is he?"

"I woudln't know. He seems pretty stable to me."

"Has he changed into a golden eyed girl, or a bat shit insane boy before?" He says with exasperation.

Akami: Yea... he has...

"So wait,my son...is a girl?"

"...No. His soul fragmented, a couple years ago from what it looks like. One of the resulting fragments is female. Kado himself is male, though the souls switch places. Hence why I asked if he has changed before. He's unstable. Undoubtedly he came because of the instability and was trying to find a spirit from the village who would know how to help."

"Ah, I see. He's here to fix himself up."

"I would call it at this point merely slowing down the inevitable. Has your wife ever told you of Spiritual Fission?"

"She might have brought it up at some point. Why?"

"Do you know what it is?"

" You plan on splitting him up, aren't you?"

"No. I mentioned prior to my mention of Spiritual Fission that I would call it merely slowing down the inevitable. That is the opposite of 'splitting him up'. I very much doubt you would let me do that, even if that was an option I would consider. Doing it by force is basically torture."

"I imagined you guys were professionals at what you do."

The woman shrugs. "Not really. I'm just an attendant of the Queen. This man over here however is the great Sword Sage Nobuyuki. You probably haven't heard of him before, but he's a dual nature like Kado."

Nobuyuki looks at Kado's father. "Might we... start over our introductions? I happen to have been hunting and found a nice stag, I could prepare it if you'd like. We could have a nice dinner." He humbly bows.

"Hm. After putting the beat-down on a couple kids, you can work up quite an appetite, can't you?"

"...Sir, with due respect. I meant no true harm. I wanted to see the capacities of the two. You misunderstand my intention and my character."

"Well when a complete stranger shows up, is warned to leave, then assaults a girl, there is only so much one can understand about a character like that..."

The woman gets between the two. "Enough. There is no need for this foolishness. Have you forgotten your manners, or are you arrogant enough to refuse a offering of repentance? We came here to offer help to your son, but we can leave, and you can have the guilty consciousness of not having done anything to help him. You should be thinking with your son's best interests in mind, not complaining about someone challenging another to a duel, which is not outside the law, I may add."

The woman sighs with annoyance.

"I'm complaining, that someone could've died and that you dare bring a fight on grounds of my home...You want repentance? Take my son and go and I better not catch you on these grounds again..."

She takes her hood off, revealing her face, sharp gold eyes glow in the midnight, soft blue Spirit Brands run along her cheeks. Her hair is short, except for two exceptionally long bangs.

"You do not have the authority to dismiss me from my own home anymore than I you. For that matter, that is not how you address your great, great, great grandmother, Kyoshi Spiritwood." She says flatly. Kyoshi recalls her from a old family picture, and even once remembers seeing her on a birthday.

"I did not realize you had become such a upstart troll under a bridge since your fifteenth birthday."

Kyoshi: I've become an old hermit amongst the ashes of his home brought down by his own kin. How did you expect me to turn out?

"I expect nothing of you." The woman says. "I, Sukina Spiritwood, have never expected anything of others. Yet when I meet someone, I set a personal standard I expect them to uphold. Suffice to say you have fallen short of my expectations. I can't say I'm pleased. What's done is done. Let it go. Besides. I have words I must speak unto you. It would not do to leave you unaware of events you would do well to know."

Kyoshi: Something about the Dark Slayer or a man wearing yellow?

"....Not sure what that would mean..." The woman says slowly.

Kyoshi: Huh. Must be just me then. So what is it you need to say to me?

"Well, before that, can we please go inside and sit down, have a cup of tea, you know, relax and act like civilized people? We've been walking for days without rest. The one thing I can't stand about my partner is his insufferable tendancy to march relentlessly. Doesn't know how to relax enough."

"And you're too relaxed."

"Oh shush, you remind me of my nagging right hand man. Man he could carry on."

Kyoshi: Alright alright. Come one in sit wherever, I already got tea made and such.

Sukina and Nobuyuki seat themselves at the far end of the room, while Kado sits more in the middle.

Sukina looks at Akami and Kado.

"I didn't catch your names. And I apologize again for my partner's behavior."

Akami: It's alright.I'm just as guilty too. My name is Akami.

"I am Sukina. History knew me as White the Fourth."

Kado's eyes widen. "...You've kidding right? That was.... four whole generations ago! You're still alive?!"

Sukina shrugs. "Age is just a number for spirits."

Akami: I mean look at Obi. He's 123, yet he looks like he's between his 30's or 40's.

Kado smirks slightly. "Yeah, but he has a stick up his ass like he's a hundred. ...just kidding." He adds, looking at Akami, not sure if she would take offense.

Akami: Please, if you're gonna joke about my Dad much less insult, do it in your head and pray I don't hear it then...*her eyes slightly intensifies*

"...I'm sorry Akami." He looks away guiltily.

Akami: *walks up to Kado and flicks his ear* Wrong word.

His eye twitches. "You're not Obi. Don't. Please. Don't."

Akami: I am an extension of Dad. You either deal with it or take it up with me.

"Just as there are multiple uses of 'clear', there are multiple uses of 'sorry'. Yours and Obi's is not mine."

Sukina sighs. "This one certainly inherited the stubborn spirit of the Spiritwood Clan for sure."

Akami: That trait is gonna make him loose his teeth. Real fast. *walks outside the house*

Sukina scratches her head. "And you are certainly a hot head. Loosen up." She yawns.

Kyoshi: Got my door wide open, so you can come in at any time. *he says sarcasticly*

Sukina looks at Kyoshi. "Have you heard anything from your younger daughter since she left the village and took Kado with her?" She speaks up.

Kyoshi: Definately not. And if she did, the message would've killed me. *sips some tea*

She looks at Kado. "Well, your son would know about this, at least a little. There was an incident at the Phoenix compound, and she underwent a Spiritual Fission. Along with that, her Negative half has taken her place as leader. As for the positive half, I believe Kado could tell you more. How long until tea is ready?" She asks politely.

Kyoshi: Tea's right there. *points at the hot tea pot with his pinky* Help yourself to some. *takes another sip*

Sukina takes a cup and pours some tea, having a sip. "I assume you have questions, do you not? Why not ask?"

Kyoshi: I only ask what my boy is doing now. I also want to ask why now do you decide to confront my son on this?

"Because until then his nature was unknown to us. We also happened to be in the area."

Kado looks at his father quietly. "You're asking what I'm doing now? Or rather, what I've been doing with myself I suppose?"

Sukina pauses in middrink, then sighs, setting her tea down, then looks at Nobuyuki. "Answer any questions they have, then when it's time, take them to the Queen. I will meet you there. I have something to interfere in." With a flicker of movement she is gone.

Kyoshi: Yes. I heard you relinquished your position as leader of Azure. So that's why I ask what are doing now?

"For a time, I was lost and confused. Akami and the rest of a group called 'The Party' helped me pick up the pieces. Even though there's still something things that don't mend so easily... I would say the whole name, but it's too long for decent conversation."

Kyoshi: Well I can definately say that you being around with someone like that one out there, you're in the right place.

"She and Obi drive me crazy though, well, Obi more than her. She kind of reminds me of Azula. ...Kind of. They both had a strong ambition. Akami has the Party, Azula had Azure. In any case, I am glad that they put up with my shit. ...Even though Akami is mad at me, she's put up a lot with me. ...Suppose I should apologize, huh?"

Kyoshi: Surely. *smiles* They did take the time to take you in, it doesn't seem too hard just to follow some of their standards. You are under their roof after all, the least you can do is abide by some of their customs. It's not exactly Azure after all. They might rub off on you for the better. *sips his tea*

"Yeah I know. Some things will be harder to adapt or deal with than others. Like the sorry thing. THAT, I'll never get used to. Be right back, ok?"

Kado walks outside. "....Akami?"

Akami: *is looking to the sky* Yea.

"Listen, I'm... ....geez... ...I apologize. I didn't mean to offend you. I... I won't joke about Obi again. ...He's your father figure, I didn't have a right to poke fun of him. ...Please forgive me. ....And please don't wreck my face....?"

Akami: He's not my father figure. He's my father period. He has raised ever since I was just an infant. Taught me everything any father would teach his daughter and taught me everything any father would never teach his daughter. He may be a madman, but he did a beyond outstanding job bringing me up into someone I am now...I won't punch your face in, it's alright. Dad maybe crazy, but just know he's doing the best for us despite his mental inabilities. *turns around and faces Kado and puts her hand out*

He takes it in a shake, slightly weary, knowing her strength.

"Two things about you that remind me of Azula: your passion for your cause, and the ridiculous brute strength. You'd like her. ...If White wasn't controlling her at least."

Akami: If you truly want something, you must put in the effort. Do you really want her back?

The emotion in Kado's eyes seems to become difficult to read. A natural gift of shapeshifters is disquising their emotions, even through venues such as the eyes.

"Do you really want peace between humans and myths?" His voice matches the change in his eyes, steeled and just barely detectable, a razor edge.

Akami: *nods* My entire life is for that goal respectivley.

"Then understand that my only goal and drive right now is to defeat my sister. Defeat her and make up for all of my mistakes. My biggest one of all, is merely being alive, rather than truly living. If I had truly lived... ...we might have been happy for once." His last statement causes a fracture in his emotional armor, she briefly catches a flash of bitterness, but it fades back behind his iron wall.

"My second being allowing my emotions to rule my life. Not anymore. That one I realized thanks to you guys." He hugs her briefly.

"Specifically you, Obi, and Torem."

Akami: Our life can only be counted as living if we live to better the lives others. Man that was alot of 'lives'.

Nobuyuki pops his head out of the door. "Not that I mind the pearls of wisdom, but don't you two want to come in?"

Akami: Sure. *pats Kado on the back and heads inside*

He feels his head where she patted him, then stares after her a moment.

"...." He closes his eyes briefly. He slowly opens them, then walks in, sitting down quietly.

Nobuyuki looks at Kyoshi. "I'm not going to put pressure on you, but I would like to leave with Kado and Akami if she so chooses to continue with us in the morning. Is that acceptable to you? I am not on an incredibly urgent schedule, but I do think Kado's condition is still dangerous at best."

Kyoshi: If my son can manage an entire taskforce, then I can trust him to manage his own decisions. If this truly what must be done, then I'll allow it.

"Thank you sir. I realize you may still have amimosity towards me, so I will remain outside for the night."

Kyoshi: You stay in here for tonight. It's not like you're gonna be staying here forever.

"As you wish."

Kyoshi: I got coverings if you need any and I'll have the fire going tonight. *sips some more of his tea*

"Thank you." Nobuyuki sits down in a corner and meditates, eyes closed.

Akami: *begins to meditate herself in front of the fire. A blueish light outlines her as she does*

Kado watches the two of them, laying down on the couch.

Kyoshi: After you spiritually split, what next?

He looks up. "Huh? What next?"

Kyoshi: After your rid of those others who supposedly make up your being.

"Father. Every soul, from what is understood, has an Origin. The basis of its being. If that is severed or destroyed, then in my case, Soul Fission becomes basically... ...eternal death. One without afterlife. You just... ...disappear. When I am 'rid' of these two, is the day I die."

Kyoshi: Then why do this if you know that?

"You were listening right? I'm pretty sure he was talking about something other than Soul Fission. He said Soul Fission would basically just be commiting murder at this point. He probably has something else in mind."

Kyoshi: I apologize. I'm going a bit deaf you know. But what will you do next after the procedure?

"Gather followers. Defeat sister. Save Azula. Probably die."

Kyoshi: Simplicty. An admirable quality in our side family.

"It keeps things going rather than being confused and disoriented."

Kyoshi: Simple. *sips his tea* But I am glad that you've found a place that could change your view on how you orginally saw them. Mostly nothing good ever comes from Earth.

"People overlook how much good exists in the world. They choose to only see the darkness."

Kyoshi: Maybe because all there is, is darkness..

"Father, I have been down in the dark. I know better than most what darkness is. People aren't seeing darkness. They're just seeing what they want to see. If they believe the world is shrouded in darkness and refuse to accept otherwise, then they really are in darkness. It's only when someone realizes that there are other paths, that the light becomes apparent."

Kyoshi: You have come a long way from all those years. I never thought under those conditions you underwent, that you would become such a fine man.

"....If only that was true."

Kyoshi: Regardless, I am proud of you, son. And I have no doubt in my mind that in the end that you will make it through the end.

"....Thank you... ...father."

Kyoshi: I'm just sad that I couldn't be there to help mold you into finer man.

"Don't be sorry. You have nothing to be sorry about." Kado looks tired.

Kyoshi: It sure feels like it..

"Do not bemourn my hardships. At least you got to see the end of the road, rather than never at all."

Kyoshi: It's not just that...I feel like I faild like our whole family...i should've fought....I should've fought for your, your sisters, our village, but...I didn't...I just let it happen...

Kado begins to drift off to sleep slightly. "Look at me, I'm back aren't I? Just because something is broken, doesn't mean it can't be mended."

Kyoshi: I had a chance to keep it from breaking but I didn't take it...Our family is everywhere. I doubt mending would be easy, much less possible.

"Nothing is... impossible. ...if you succeed... depends on how strong your will to do it is..." Kado falls asleep.

Kyoshi: Hm. Good night, my son...

Overnight, Kado's hair grows longer and turns white, and Ace gains dominance, though the changes aren't known for a while, as Kado had covered up with blanket.

Morning

Kyoshi: *stretches and slowly gets up from his rocking chair* Morning. *looks to see that the fire went out* Hm. *he looks to see Akami missing. He then looks outside his window and sees Akami doing alternating push-ups with her thumbs* Hm. I like her. *turns towards the couch and goes over to the body on the couch and shakes it* Wake up, boy. Today's the day. *scratches his head out of tiredness*

"Mmmmm...." He hears a groan, though the voice is strange, Kado's but, different.

Kyoshi: The sooner you get up, the sooner you can get yourself fixed. I can try making breakfast, but I haven't done that in 5 years. Everyone's up so might as well get up too.

"Mmmm.... where... am I?" He hears 'him' speak again, this time the voice definitely stands out as off.

Kyoshi: *is confused* Hm? *takes off the covers and sees a white haired girl instead of Kado* Who are and what have you done with my son?

Nobuyuki cracks open an eye. "Ah, so she stirred. Not surprised, considering his condition. That is Kado's positive spirit, Ace. Be nice, she seems easily distressed."

Kyoshi: Sooooo, my son is a girl?

He sighs. "I explained before. His positive soul is in fact female, but not Kado himself. They share one body however, which changes depending on which becomes dominant."

Kyoshi: Ah ok. Soooooo what do about it?

"Leave it be. I cannot truly do anything worth doing here. Child, do you need help?" He crouches down, and the girl wraps her arms around his shoulders, then Nobuyuki carefully takes hold of her, holding the spirit carefully.

He smiles. "Lighter than I estimated you would be."

Kyoshi: Ok, I feel vompletely awkward about all this. It's a good thing you're gonna fix him. I can't....I can't deal...with that...nah...can't do it...

The spirit's eyes open, revealing her golden irises, which look almost identical to the ones Kado had when he was young.

Kyoshi: *looks long and hard int her eyes, as if a pang of memories just hit his mind. He shakes his head and looks at Nobuyuki* You want breakfast or are you good?

"Breakfast would be appriciated. I will help though. In fact if you want, I can give you this book," He says, pulling out a large cook book. "You can find all of the stuff needed for these recipies around here I believe. I have a spare back with Sukina."

Ace quietly looks toward Kyoshi, curious. She regards him with an almost childlike air. "Are you... papa?" Her voice is quiet and soft.

Kyoshi: *feels abit uncomfortable in this situation* Uuuuuuuggghhhh...yeeeeesss....

She looks almost saddened by his response, and clings tighter to Nobuyuki, who walks outside to greet Akami.

"Good morning, young dragon. Training I see?"

Akami: Nah. Just morning excerise. *stops, then stands ond her fingertips and begins to finger-stand push-ups* So you did you sleep?

"I was meditating the whole time. Somewhat like sleep. The little one decided to say hello."

Akami: *looks at Ace and smiles* Goodmorning!

"Morning...." She says, her voice not very lively, in fact borderline sad.

Akami: Aw. *drops to her feet and stands up* What's the matter?

"Papa doesn't like me..."

Akami: Nooo. Don't say that. It's just his first time seeing you, is all. *rubs her head* Just give him time to ajust, alright?

"...." She doesn't reply.

Nobuyuki smiles when she closes her eyes. "Spirits like her are always very much sensitive. Easy to hurt their feelings, unfortunately."

Akami: *rubs Ace's head, then plants a kiss on top of her head* You'll be ok.

"...*sniff*"

Akami: Just give him time. *looks at Nobuyuki* So when will be leaving?

"We should be leaving sometime today, sometime after breakfast. I won't push you too hard. I do want to get going before the midday."

Few minutes later

Kyoshi: Come and get it!

Akami: *enters the house*

Kyoshi: *hands her a plate of toast, turkey bacon, eggs, and a bowl of cereal* not much but it's breakfast.

Akami: Doesn't matter to me. As long as I eat. *hands the plate to Nobuyuki who had just walked in* This is for her. *turns back towards Kyoshi* I'll take the next one.

Kyoshi: Ugh, ok. *hands her another plate and a bowl* you know we all got the same thing.

Akami: We let the little ones eat first. *takes the plate and bowl, sits on the floor and begins eating her cereal*

Nobuyuki sets Ace down with the plate, who begins to quietly eat, her head down.

Kyoshi: *hands him a plate and a bowl* Eat up.

"Thank you for the food." He quietly eats.

Akami: *finishes her plate and bowl* Thank you, Mr.Kyoshi.

Kyoshi: Mr....Hmmm...Nah, I'll stick to Kyoshi. You're welcome.

Ace finishes, but doesn't initally say anything.

"...T...thank you for the food..." She says, avoiding eye contact with anyone, her head still down and hair obscuring her eyes.

Kyoshi: You're welcome. Sorry for my awkwardness. Im just not...used to seeing something like that.

"..." Ace is unsure how to respond.

Akami: *turns to Nobuyuki* You almost done?

He appears finished. "I've been done."

Akami: Ok, so can go now then right?

He looks at Ace. "Soon. But first. Is there anything you want to say to them before we go?" He indicates Ace.

Akami: I know what I'm gonna say. *goes over to Kyoshi and shakes his hand* Thank you so much for letting us spend the night. My offer to help you rebuild your village still stands.

Kyoshi: Thank you and your welcome, but give me some more time to think about it.

Akami: Sure.

Kyoshi: I like you. You remind me so much of my wife, when we were younger, and older. *chuckles to himself* You're welcome back anytime. But there is one thing I would like to say to my son before he goes. *walks up to Ace* There's nothing much I can say, than I know you can pull through. You've come along way from where you from a simply village boy, to a enforcer of an evil organization, to the founder of a vigilante organization, to war hero, to a...what do you people call yourselves?

Akami: Martyrs.

Kyoshi: Yea, marty-....*turns to look back at Akami*

Akami: What?

Kyoshi: *turns back around, weary* Ugh..Martyr. All of them were to bring a change to how the world is. You have a sense of justice, a sense of doing right. I know you've hit a few bumps ahead on your journey, but not everything can run too smoothly. You have to push your way through, and that's exactley what you've been doing. Never stop pushing, son. Life is endless and you've come too far to turn back now. When it begins to get harsh, never stop pushing, even when no one else is. *puts his hand on Ace's shoulder*

Her head lowers for a moment, before she starts trembling and fiercely hugs him abruptly.

"Thank you... father..." She says, though Kado's voice can also be heard.

Kyoshi: *hugs Ace tightly*

Akami: *slightly smiles at the sight*

"Papa.... ...I wish things could go back to the way they were..." She hugs him tighter.

Nobuyuki watches quietly, his face a mask, unreadable.

Kyoshi: I do too...but don't worry. We may not be together, but we will be alright. Cause believe or not, we still have each other.

After a minute Nobuyuki looks away. "We should go. It is a long journey."

Akami: Come on, let's go.

Kyoshi: It's time for you to go now, alright?

"..." She sniffs, getting upset.

Kyoshi:No need to cry now. We'll see each other again. Until then, take care.

She doesn't move, but that doesn't last long as Nobuyuki picks her up and hands her to Akami.

"Might as well move this along."

Akami: You'll see him, ok? Maybe on our way back.

"Maybe..." She doesn't seem convinced.

Akami: A little bit of faith can move mountains. *smiles* Come on, let's get going. Bye Kyoshi. *exits the house*

Kyoshi: Bye now.

Ace merely holds onto Akami, silent as they start their journey north.

Akami: How long do we have to go, Nobuyuki?

"We're going to Echo's North Pole. Very long."

Akami: Alright then. Well it looks like we got a long way to go, Ace.

"Ah..."

After a long while it begins to rain.

Akami: Rgghmm. We might need to wait the rain out. We'll wait it out there. *points to a jagged mountain*

Nobuyuki looks up at the sky. "It's only a little rain."

Akami: When it rains, it pours. Come on. *heads under a mountain covering*

"Why pray tell are we stopping? It's not even evening."

Akami: Myabe for Ace. Give her chance to stretch. Also for me, cause I am half-human.

He sighs. "I forget that beings of the flesh have limits. Rest for a few minutes at least, I don't want to take too long getting back."

Ace sneezes.

Akami: *sits down* Bless you. *slays back against the mountain and hears a metallic sound as he lays back* Huh? *knocks on the ground and hears a small hollow sound* What the...*rubs the grime away and sees and 'X' symbol on a metal surface. As she observes the rest of the mountain, she sees the rain gives it a metallic look* Hmmm? *looks back at the surface*

"...Are you done? I'd prefer not to dally. We've got a long way to go."

Akami: *wipes down more dirt and finds an outline. She then removes the door and puts it to the side, revealing a stair well* Hope you don't mind me doing a little expedition. *makes her way down the stairwell*

"No. Actually. No. Not with the girl. The last thing I need is to have to make a scene."

Akami: Then you watch her. It's shouldn't take me longer than five minutes unless something happens.

"It's at least a week's trip to the North. You get in trouble down there and I have to come after you, so help me I will make you walk the whole way non stop. The only breaks will be when you eat and when you sleep at midnight. Got it?" The look on his face tells her he is not kidding around.

Akami: Sorry, can't here you over the sound of me getting deeper. And deeper...and deeper...and deeperrr....*Akami is completely out of view*

Nobuyuki looks at Ace. "No offense, but I am gonna kill her before this is over." He grumbles. He takes his sword out and idily looks it over, occasionally sharpening it.

Akami: *makes to what looks like and examination room. There are multiple papers scattered around the place, as well as blood stains and cuts all up on the wall * Man...like im in some kind of sci-fi horror book... *she continues to look around and finds a desk with a computer and a note bad* Huh...? *walks up to desk and inspects the notepad*

She see notes on how to merge multiple bodies into one and manipulate the usage of the body itself

Akami: Huh...

As she continues reading she sees skethes of some sort of 4 eyed creature with giant steak knifes for feet.

Akami: Well someone's got a vivid imagination. *she puts the notepad down and presses a key the keyboard*

The computer turns on and a videos begins to play

"Video Log 104 of the 20th experiment of the Sentōki Project. The experiment has gone in our liking, but it has been struggling to get free from quite some time. Everyday it's been trying to break away from it's chains and it's strength grows exponentially. It is quite the foe, but it may or may not be the tool Director Yokan wants it."

Akami: Experiment? Explains what could've happened here.

"Video Log 108 of the 20th experiment of the Sentōki Project. We have developed a name for our new found experiment.: Quadhemoth. We have made a 15 foot tall, four-eyed giant. We used and imported a skeleton of a real cyclop. Ofcourse a few things had to go, such the head and feet.It is rather intelligent though it does prefer its strength and persistence, it is very adaptable in combat situations and has quick counter reflexes. We had also had to git rid of some filth to make up it's legit body, but it struggle way to much when we gave it life prematurely. It has no head but he does have a neck(s). I say that cause they are actually four neck that each have and eye, but Quadhemoth like to to keep them together as one. The neck is malleable, able to stretch to great lengths. The body itself was only able to be composed of muscle from the filth we slaughtered. It made the body vulnerable for a time and after the moisture dried out, the muscles was no longer a problem. We did have a problem with it go. One time it escaped and ran off into the wilds. We found it hiding in a swamp and took it back to the lab. We decided to do something about that, hence why it has two new sets of feet: giant steak knives."

Akami: You bastards...

"Video Log 112 of....exper..ment.....Sen. Project.....The experiment has....a number of our best scientist is gone!....Years of completing this experiment.....It was a failure......They decided it was too dangerous.....closed this place down and the....with it....no one is to enter unless direct orders..."

Akami: Yep, just what I thought. *hears clanking* Hmmm? *begins to veture deeper in the lab*

She sees a giant, blood-stained examination table

Akami: Man...poor thing. *sees broken chains on the floor next to it* Serves them right...*sees a bolted up door and punches it clean off and enters*

As she makes hr wake slowly into the room, she sees a dim light and she hears thunder from outside. After a a couple of minutes of snooping around, she finally makes it to hole abover where the light is coming from, aswell as the rain pouring down. When she gets to the center, she finds a red giant curled into a ball with its 'head' tucked in and is chained by its arms and legs. The rain begins to pour on it and small faints of read can be seen in the water. She sees the steak knives.

Akami: I've dealt with my fair share of fucked up things, but this...like...what the hell where they even doing? *she slowly walks up to it* H-hello?

The giant opens it's legs up, then opens its arms up and an eye appears from the darkness. It is side ways and it seems to be pieced together with various other eye colors. Then two more appear next to the first but below it. Then one more appears below the two but is in the same position as the first, then a thunder strikes as akami slowly backs up in horror as it stands and reveals it only have four long attached necks and the eyes the only thing present on the bending stumps of it. The red giant grab the chains and begin to pull.

Akami: Nope! *sprints right out of there* Nopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenopenope!

The giant pulls the first chain aloose, then the second,then it pulls off both of it's leg chains and lets out a muffled roar to the raining sky ans another thunder strikes.

Akami: *makes it out and grabs Ace* We might wanna get going now!

Nobuyuki gives a stern 'I told you so' look, before heading off in a northernly direction.

The red giant jumps from ontop of the mountain and lands right in front of them. It makes amuffled grumbling sound.

Nobuyuki stands his ground, while addressing Akami without turning his head. "I told you not to, and you ignored me. I'm the adult here, you're just a child. So next time, do as I say."

He looks up at the creature. "If you are here to fight, arms will only result in your death. Leave us be, you are free."

Akami: You maybe the adult, but that's a monster. Monsters don't listen, but this is just-

The giant raises it's hand and brings it down on them, but they both move out the way just in time.

Akami: Just don't kill it, ok?

Nobuyuki didn't move, but when the dust settles, he is unaffected, having blocked it with a single hand.

"If I end up killing it depends upon if it knows how to back off. Now tell me something," He says as he casually tosses it against the mountain, then looks back at her.

"What's the difference really between you and a monster?" He says, indicating it. He blocks it again.

"You reallllly need to stop, child." He says, as its hand is cut off by an invisible blade.

"In the world you live in, you would be regarded as a monster. Should I then think of you the same way, that you are incapable of listening? No. All must be given the chance of acknowledgement, even if they cannot understand it, on the off chance that it has a mind of its own, reason is always an option."

Akami: Like you said me being a child, so is it. It might take it longer to back off

The giants muscles wraps around its cut wound and creates a substitue hand and tries to stomp on Nobuyuki with its knife feet.

Nobuyuki rolls under the creature, standing up behind it just as a series of energy ropes lash around its leges and goes taunt, bring its legs together and sending it toppling to the ground.

"I would not get up again," He warns.

The red giant stands up once again and dives his into the ground, it's muscle mass comes from under Nobuyuki and Akami and entangle them.

Akami: Maybe instead of trying to hit back, maybe we should just let i have at it. Maybe it's just angry.

Nobuyuki merely touches the entangling mass, and a irritating itchy aura begins affecting the creature, as if it was being covered in lice.

The red giant begins to try to sctrach itself, but then it stops for a moment and looks at the raining skies. It lets out a muffled roar and begins to attack frantickly  at a near unpredicable pace

Akami: Seriously! What the hell, man?! I told you to let it blow off some steam!

Nobuyuki shakes his head. "Quiet." He manages to grab it again, and this time, a powerful, surpressing aura enters its being, calming and pacifying, but also restraining.

The giant falls to its knees all tired-like.

Nobuyuki sighs. "Seriously, what the hell, lady? You're too quick to judge." He subtly also mocks her earlier statement.

The red giant throws a puch at Nobuyuki, but flies straight past him and at Akami

Slow motion

Akami: *eyes widen. She tosses Ace in the air and catches the monsters fist*

The giant's arm then drops in tirdness

Akami: *lets go of it's fist, then jumps and catches Ace**panting*

Nobuyuki mutters, and a flurry of symbols appear over Akami and Ace. "As if I'd actually let you get hurt."

Akami: Doesn't matter now. *sets Ace down and walk up to the giant* You ok? We don't want to hurt you...any further.

The giant tries to hammer fist Akami but she dodges to her left, then the giant arm-sweeps into her.

Akami: *blocks*

The giant tires to punch her but misses and it drops again in tiredness.

Akami: *touches the giants hand and kneels down* It's going to be alright. Your free now. You don't have to worry about anything hurting you again.

The giant grabs Akami and brings her closer to its four eyes as it begins to rise.

The pressure of the aura increases.

The giant falls back to it's knees, but still holds Akami

Akami: Nobuyuki, stop! You don't need to hurt it anymore.

"Child, I'm not hurting it. I'm feeding it a pacifying aura. As well as a restricting aura, I'm limiting and slowing its movements. There is a very big difference."

Akami: Yes, but it's infuriating it. It's probably like the same way they tried to restrain it. It's only responding this way because it's afraid your going to hurt it. You might wanna stop it for right now. We gotta make it feel like it's not in danger. This thing has must have been restrained for it's entire life...do you think it's time that changed?

Nobuyuki closes his eyes and the creature suddenly lets go of Akami, and falls over, silent. He then grabs Ace and Akami and begins walking away.

Akami: *yanks away* No! We're not gonna leave it there! Atleast, I won't.

Nobuyuki looks at her sternly. "And what, might I ask, might you do with it?"

Nobuyuki and Ace are walking along with Akami behind them, carriying the giant over her body.

Nobuyuki stops only a few feet after he had started.

"No. Absolutely not. We're not taking it with us."

Akami: No. I am taking it with me. I just happen to be going the same direction you are.

"You cannot bring it with us to the Tower of Heaven. Leave it."

Akami: Heaven excepts everyone and everything, especially this. Even if it is Heaven, I hate to call the owner of such a place a 'liar' for false advertising a name such as that and not take this thing in.

Nobuyuki sighs and rubs his temples. "It's not a matter of if the lady will accept it. It's a matter of getting it there, the fact we've already got a short leash on time, and we don't know if it can be kept there. It is violent."

Akami: Only because it was made that way. It's not its fault that it can't help itself.

"If it has no control over its actions, then we cannot guarantee its safety or our own. That is not an acceptable condition. Out in the wild it can better take care of itself without causing harm to others."

Akami: Out there, it can be taken back by it's very creators. They will subjugate it to even worst procedures just for the sake of making it battle-worthy! You'd rather have that?

"This world is huge, Akami. Whoever did that to this thing, well, I doubt they'll find it again. Besides, the facility was abandoned."

Akami: Then there's no doubt more. The world maybe big but that just leaves room for more possibilites. Especially to what could happen. All it takes is that one-percent...one-percent can screw you up. And that's just one out of ninety-nine.

The giant lets out a muffled groan

Nobuyuki sighs. "Akami, the Tower of Heaven can't keep him. There's no room for him, and it's in the North Pole. He'll freeze before we even come close to the tower."

Akami: Then is there any other place we could take him?

"Perhaps one of the spirit villages close to the border would be better suited. But he can't come with us the whole way."

Akami: Fine. I'll stop half way and you two can go ahead. I'll stay with Quadhemoth.

He looks at her critically. "And why would you stay behind? Didn't you come here for your friend?"

Akami: I did, but this is his journey. This is for him. Besides, my friend isn't hurt. This creature needs my help more than Kado needs me. He needs you. You can help Kado, I can't. It's not like I'm abandoning him. I'm simply going to wait until he comes back.

Nobuyuki looks at Ace and points at the treeline. "Go over there, I'll call you back in a second." Ace quietly but reluctantly leaves.

He looks back at Akami. "He needs you too. You help him in ways we couldn't. We can merely set up the blueprints. It's up to people like you, who he cares about. ...Who he loves, that build the foundations. ...That build him and raise him up strong. Never forget what I tell you now: He loves you, take that as you may. Never betray it. Even if you find that you do not love him, taking that as you may, never betray his. I'll repeat myself. He needs you, perhaps more than I."

Akami: *thinks for a moment, then drops the giant. She kneels down and touchesthe giants hand* I'll come back as soon as I can.

The giant holders her hand for a moment, then completely passes out

Akami: *stands up and tunrs towards Nobuyuk* Let's go.

Nobuyuki looks at her quietly for a moment. "I swear it's like a little girl who's found a lost puppy. Alright, here." He creates a stone with a glyph, then hands an identical stone to her. He attaches the glyph to the giant.

"It's a emblem I use for protection and quick travel," He explains. "It will prevent anyone without the glyph from approaching or otherwise interacting in harmful manners with it, it will even act as a shield in general. It also serves as a transportation method. You'll be able to go back to it as much as you need. Now before you put it down, there's a nearby spirit village I will take you to, where they'll be able to shelter him. Alright?"

Akami: Why didn't you suggest this until now?

"Well, you never asked. You don't ask, you don't receive."

Akami: You're the one who made it sound like there was no hope for it.

"I just said that bringing it to the North was a really really bad idea."

Akami: Then you should've been the first come up with an alternative, caus I don't know a single thing about this place.

He clamps his hand over her mouth. "Enough, bickering is pointless. Should, should have, should not, makes no difference. Just pick him up and let's go." He releases her mouth.

Akami: *picks up Quadhemoth and continues to follow behind*

"We will be back soon Ace." He calls out, then leads Akami off onto what seems like a game trail, until it slowly becomes a paved road. He then stops at the entrance to a valley. A strange tendril appears from Nobuyuki, and suddenly makes a strange mark on her forehead which begins to glow, and Akami's vision begins changing until an entire city lays before her inside the once empty valley.

Akami: *eyes slightly widen at the sight* Any reason for that?

"Temporary spirit brand. You won't be able to interact with the city unless you have one. Follow me." He walks into the city.

Akami: *follows close behind him as she observes the invisible city*

He eventually takes them to a large building with a rather large door, and indicates it to Akami. The interior is nice enough to leave the beast in, but isn't decorated with anything except paintings. He writes a note on a sheet of paper and puts it on the wall.

Akami: So I put it in there, right?

"Yes."

Akami: *takes it inside and sets it down* You'll stay here for awhile until I get back. Don't try to mess up anything. I'll check up on you whenever. Bye.

The giant simply grumbles tiredly

Akami: *leaves* It's done.

Nobuyuki closes the door gently, then begins walking her back to the exit. "The mark upon your brow is, truthfully, not a normal spirit brand. It is the mark of the queen. While temporary, it will last you long enough for this trip."

Akami: Alright.

They eventually come back to where they left Ace, but she seems to have vanished.

Akami: Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no! Ace! *looks eveywhere* Where did she go? Ace!

Something lands on her head. "Gotcha~" Ace chirps, now laying on her head.

Akami: *grabs Ace* Don't do that! Something could've happened to you!

"I was only having a bit of fun...." She whines.

Akami: There are other ways to have fun, but you don't do that to me, cause I really thought you went missing.

"....I'm sorry..."

Akami: *hugs Ace tightly* I just...I just don't wanna loose you.

She starts to look worried, that and confused. "Akami...?" She asks, her voice reflecting it.

Akami: I apologize...*lets go of Ace and wipes her eye*

The girl looks at Akami, unsure of what's happening. "Are you... are you ok?"

Akami: Yes I'm...I'm fine. I was just really scared, was all...

Ace suddenly looks tired. "Can you... ...carry me? I feel... ...sleepy..."

Akami: Sure. I gotcha. *picks up Ace*

Not long after setting off, Ace falls asleep in Akami's arms, and after hours of walking, when the moon has fully risen, Nobuyuki stops at a dry cave and sets up wards at the entrance to keep intruders out, then looks at Akami. "We camp for the night. In the morning we will get an upgrade to our travel plans. I will make a meal."

Akami: Thanks, but I don't think I'll eat tonight.

"Akami, you need your strength, you need to eat. What's wrong?"

Akami: Just that when I get spooked, I loose my appetite.

"It's been hours, are you really that scared?"

Akami: Missing children is a real thing. It's even scarier wondering what's happening to them.

"....Is that the only reason?"

Akami: No. Ofcourse there's more, but I don't know you like that to be telling you my personal feelings.

"Orrrrr I could read your completely unguarded mind and learn that way," He comments. "But I won't. I respect your privacy. But I imagine whatever feelings you mean are already known to the half a million spirits in the vicinity, who don't seem to understand the meaning of privacy," He seems to be chiding the air itself.

Akami: *groans*

He smiles. "Would you like it if they 'accidentally' forgot?"

Akami: *sigh* It doesn't matter.

"It doesn't? It is your private feelings and it's not too much trouble on my part..."

Akami: It's not like it's anything embarrasing they should know about, it's simply something I don't like bringing up.

"I see. I am sorry that happened, it was an unwelcome interruption."

Akami: It's nothing to worry about. It's not like I know any of them anyway. Besides, what would they do with information like that?

"Gossip to anyone and anything in sight about it. I swear some of these folks are eager to talk about anything that happens in these wilds."

Akami: Really? It's a really sad thing talk about.

"Possibly not in this case. They might. Epsically if a certain someone told them to can it. Are you sure you're ok?"

Akami: I just need to shake it off is all. I'll be fine by tomorrow.

"If you say so." Nobuyuki finishes making dinner and has his meal, then finishes and goes to sleep.

Akami: *sits on her knees and begins to meditate near the entrance of the cave*

Late in the morning, Ace begins to turn back into Kado.

Akami: *is doing alternating finger push-ups*

Kado appears to be starting to wake up, though Nobuyuki has yet to do so.

Akami: Morning.

Kado makes a groan, sounding off.

Akami: Slept on your bad side?

Nobuyuki wakes up, just as the sound of something running can be heard.

Akami: Do you hear that?

Nobuyuki does not seem concerned. "It's our ride."

Akami: Ride?

A giant eight tailed fox appears out of nowhere.

"Her." Nobuyuki says casually. "I imagine Kado isn't feeling well, mind sitting him on her?"

Akami: Alright. *lifts Kado over her head and sets him on the fox*

In the actual light, Kado appears to be a bit pale, his eyes a bit unfocused.

"His being gets more unstable the more he changes into either or. At this rate, he may absorbed by the positive spirit," He explains.

Akami: Hm. So this fox is going to get him to the Tower faster?

She is hoisted up onto the fox's back.

"Well, us, but yes." He sits on the fox's back as well, and almost without warning the scene drops behind them as they begin to race north at high speed.

Akami: *is clutching onto the foxes fur as tight as she can*

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