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The Exploration

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Yoshimitsu, Jun 5, 2010.

  1. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    (Redux. ohhh yeeeahhhh, where doing this man.

    okay so it's not that epic. i'm just gonna repost all the chapters i've already written and let you guys have at it)

    Prologue - The First Occurence

    The other dimension, with the other world inside of it. The sky a solid black, the sun a cold blue, the landscape hazardous at the best of times. Home to one city, protected from intruders by the magical barrier erected around it. Outside was an alien wasteland, rocky spires and uneven platforms above a black void below. No one had ventured down. No one dared to. No one dared to even move to far from the city.

    This, of course, meant that most of the world had been left undiscovered. Despite all his claims, Lord Dran had not ventured past the black expanse. Most of the map was undocumented, and many who ventured out did not return. The few that did ultimately did not get far. The only thing known by those in the city was that the rocky land outside stretched on and on. Even the size of the world was unknown.

    And naturally, there were a few select individuals who were curious. Out of the few that knew the world, there was one who belonged to it. Yoshimitsu. The warrior who had embraced his light, fought his darkness, conquered the greatest enemy and beaten the biggest challenge to himself. The blue haired, blue eyed, eighteen year old boy who had fought battles he had no chance of winning, who had taken on challenges that no teenager should have to, who had gone through everything and come out smiling, a better person than he was before.

    And it was Yoshimitsu who had noticed it first. The tears between the dimensions used to be regular and small. A single, small tear a month for a short time. However, the tears were no longer regular, and no longer as small as they should have been. They were erratic, lasting anywhere from a few seconds to a few weeks. With his knowledge gained from his visits to that world, and from the few of that race who had come through to live peacefully, he knew that there was no chance they could have anything to do with it.

    The boy knew that he should do something, and that something would involve exploring his home dimension. Whatever was causing it was big trouble, and it lay beyond the reach of the city. So Yoshimitsu gave himself the task. His people and his world were his responsibility, so he made it his top priority.

    He only hoped he could succeed.

    One of the first things Yoshimitsu had done was tell Alex. Despite disliking Alex's superior attitude and infuriating half-truths, Yoshimitsu had to admit that Alex was easily the best at gathering and interpreting information quickly. As soon as Yoshimitsu had given the information, the water adept got straight to work. Barely an hour later, he had contacted Yoshimitsu with his findings.

    According to Alex's information, the dimensional gates had a pattern to them. The times they were open went seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, then reset to seconds. The locations alternated between uninhabited and inhabited. The majority of the uninhabited areas were at sea, and the majority of the inhabited areas were busy cities. And according to Alex's information, there should be a tear above the Pokemon Islands happening very very soon. Armed with this knowledge, Yoshimitsu set off.

    He arrived just in time to witness the event. The swirling colours within a gouge mark in the sky. The dimensional gateway. With no hesitation, he shot into the sky, aided by Bahamut and the unique use of summoning the dragon into his shoes to form jet boots. He passed through the swirling colours, and into the darkness on the other side.

    However, Alex had left out some key information. These rips between the barrier were not isolated. In many cases, several formed at once. The pattern held, but it meant that Yoshimitsu could not have known that he was not alone in passing through the gateways.

    One such individual had not anticipated it at all.

    Antonio was a thief. He was not the conventional thief, however. The objects he stole were not stolen due to monetary value or supernatural capabilities. No, Antonio stole things when it seemed challenging to do so. There was no fun in robbing a bank or a museum unless there was a chance he could be thwarted. Of course, if an object was of monetary value, that was a bonus. He typically sold whatever he stole anyway, just because he had no use for it.

    His latest escapade had lead him to a heavily guarded and nearly impossible to steal artefact in a wealthy man's mansion. The man was begging to be stolen from, despite having taken nearly every precaution. Armoured guards, laser trip wires, motion, sound and heat sensors, a complicated trap system designed to ensare within the room containing his rarest artefacts. Antonio had found this out by chance, having been invited to a formal party at the residence. The poor man was cautious but overly trusting.

    The theft had been simple in design but difficult in execution. The guards were no problem, but the system of complicated laser patterns and sensors had proved more difficult. Nevertheless, Antonio excelled. No trap had ever stopped him before, and he was not willing to let this one do so now. Through a combination of careful planning and quick thinking, the artefact was with Antonio and away from the man's mansion. Another flawless success.

    Or so he thought. He had not counted on some of the sensors to have been specifically engineered to ignore his powers and his face had been captured on tape. The authorities had been alerted, and he was on the run temporarily until the artefact turned up in a pawn shop. While his initial plan had been to pawn it immediately, he had to lay low. The police had somehow tracked him down and contained him within a city.

    Upon being spotting, Antonio ran. In his flight, he managed to overlook what he was running into and ran straight through a tear in the air. He only realised when his foot failed to connect with the ground and he felt his body being sucked through what felt like an uncomfortably thin tube with colours swirling all around.

    Another individual who knew about the other dimension had been monitering the situation, but not even remotely as closely. In his mind, it was a minor concern and something he would deal with if it became a genuine threat. He had more pressing matters to attend to, the most important of which was keeping himself under control. He was more determined to prevent himself becoming the biggest threat to the world again.

    Not that it was that difficult, all things considered. His darkness was now under his complete control. It would no longer taint his mind and affect his actions. The warrior of darkness, Vincent. The boy who had fallen to his inner demons and been saved. The boy who had always found comfort and safety in that boy, that wonderful boy who could solve anything. Yoshimitsu. Vincent had always depended on the blue haired teenager.

    However, the black haired boy was determined to do this on his own. For one, he knew he couldn't always rely on Yoshimitsu to help him. He had to stand on his own two feet for a change. To better himself, to keep himself alive, he was working alone and away from those he could hurt.

    That was his other reason. He had caused Yoshimitsu too much pain. To stop the boy from hurting any more, he had distanced himself. Vincent would stay away from those who could get close to him again. In his mind, it was the best for everyone.

    Unfortunately for him, he started to notice that the dimensional rips were a bigger problem than he had initially thought. It did not take him long to realise the frequency of the rips appearing was increasing at a steady rate. What he had known to have been a monthly occurance was turning into a day routine. More rips, at more regular iuntervals, in more places. Something was going on. He knew that the barrier between the worlds had been fixed perfectly, and hence could not understand what was happening.

    His instinct was that the Ryuga would know something about it. Based on that, he decided that challenging them was the best course of action. After requesting details of the next tear from Alex, he set off and sought it out. It was above an ocean, but luckily he had borrowed magic from Alex that would allow him to reach it. The familiar sensation gripped him as he shot through the portal.

    There were two major organisations who had caught wind of the occurances, and in very different ways. The first of them was the Burmecians. The Burmecians had one of the most sophisticated defense systems in the world, with technology far more advanced than the rest of the population. This technology not only allowed them to remain off the map through a series of cloaking and distortion devices, but also allowed them to moniter a good proportion of the world.

    Of course, the Burmecians were not a violent race. Even their technology was not used in a violent way. It was all organic. Due to the nature of their environment, the vegetation had to adapt to constant rainfall. The adaptations were incredible, in some cases helped along by the Agricultural Mages of the empire. They transformed the crops into a complicated technological system that spread across the Burmecian boundries. Through this complicated system, they could moniter other parts of the world by planting seeds across the world.

    And so, Sir Fratley, the Dragon Knight, became aware of the issue. The Research and Development members had noticed the occurances, and hastened to inform the right people. The Dragon Knights, the King. It was on the King's orders that Sir Fratley went to investigate.

    His immediate thought was that Yoshimitsu may know something. However, his second thought was that Yoshimitsu was likely to be doing something about it and, knowing Yoshimitsu, that something involved entering the other dimension. There was no other choice, he concluded. He would have to enter the other dimension and seek out Yoshimitsu to ascertain what was occuring.

    The Research and Development Department informed him of the closest tear between the worlds. Using the coordinates provided, Fratly hastened to the location and jumped through the portal.

    The second of the organisations was the South Pole Summoners. The Summoners were an isolated race, residing in the chilly ice caps of the Antarctic. The green haired race were feared by most of the world, ever since the Slateport Incident. The Incident which had lead Miko to destroy the port city and kill all too many people. The media coverage was immediate. The entire world knew about the threat of the South Pole Summoners.

    However, it was not the majority of the Summoners who had discovered the tear. It was a single one, a girl by the name of Illiana. She was one of the strange girls who had not been thrust into either the male or female roles, neither healer not military. Her prowess with basic combat had lead her to learn. Her capabilities with basic healing had allowed her to provide support in the field. She was not as efficient as the other summoners in either field, but she was more versatile.

    So it was Illiana, who had been on the surface of the ice training her magic. She was the one to notice the dimensional gap in the sky. As her fireball fizzled out of existence, she stared into the colours. Half of her was telling her to investigate. The other, more sensible half was telling her to inform her superiors immediately.

    Illiana was never one to act sensibly.

    Her teachings in summoning were the same as any of the other female summoners. She was taught to direct her summon into existence. With a graceful sweep of her arm and then a short thrust, her dark blue wyvern melted into existence as he ripped through the sky at a great speed. Illiana ran to the edge of the ice and jumped, the wyvern swinging round in the air and diving to catch her before ascending directly into the portal.
     
  2. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 1:1 - Yoshimitsu Notices The Problem

    Vincent had gone.

    Well, not gone. But still gone. He'd lived through that disaster and lost his traces of Yisimentsu. He'd survived and made himself a new man.

    But still, he'd upped and left Yoshimitsu.

    Yoshimitsu wondered about this often. For some reason, he thought their friendship was strong enough to survive, and that they'd be back to normal after this whole thing. Vincent would be the collected but pretty cool guy that Yoshimitsu knew and everything would be cool with them.

    Well, that didn't happen.

    No, Vincent had gone. He's mumbled some rubbish about it being "for Yoshimitsu's own good" or something. Yoshimitsu summarized it every time he thought about it, just because the reasoning was completely... unreasonable. There was something about "I've hurt you enough" in there too. Yoshimitsu tried and tried to figure out Vincent's motives, but it just made no sense to him.

    The blue haired boy returned to his and Vinc... no, back to his home now. Not Vincent's. Vincent had left. The home was the same, exactly how he'd left it, but it felt strange. Not colder, not unfriendly, just... not right. The television was even still running, on the same news channel that Yoshimitsu had left it on. He guessed there was some irony in there somewhere, but he didn't bother trying to figure it out.

    He was kind of glad the television was still on, though, because it was the first thing that tipped him off. The news was reporting something very strange indeed.

    "Reports are coming in about a strange gouge mark in the sky," the news reporter said, her too-white teeth gleaming every time she opened her mouth. "They are similar to the break in the sky from a few months ago that promptly vanished. No cause has been discovered so far, and experts are baffled."

    Yoshimitsu turned the television off. It was just the same portal that appeared once a month. A niggling feeling at the back of his head kept on annoying him, as though he was missing some important detail about the situation, but he didn't care enough to think about it. He couldn't get over Vincent leaving.

    "Stop being stupid," he muttered to himself, rubbing his temples. "He's gone and you should have expected it. Don't be such a needy child."

    If only it was as simple as he made it sound.

    A few days later, he was sat in his kitchen. Still he couldn't figure out why he had a living room. At a guess, he'd spent five minutes in the fully-furnished and much more comfortable room. The kitchen was where he watched the smaller TV on the wooden chairs and the circular table. It was silly, but he just couldn't bring himself to go to the living room. It was just more comfortable in the kitchen. After pouring himself another cup of coffee and musing that maybe he spent most of his time in the kitchen because he could get coffee easier, he turned the television on to the news again.

    It was only a small mention this time.

    "More rips in the sky are appearing across the world," the news reporter said, her bleach-blonde hair bouncing in its perfect curls. Sometimes Yoshimitsu wished he could afford a personal stylist. "Other nations are meeting later this week to discuss possible causes of this strange phenomenon."

    Now that wasn't right.

    Yoshimitsu knew for a fact that the break between dimensions was only supposed to appear once a month for a few hours, in a set pattern across the Earth. "More rips" meant that they were appearing more regularly.

    "Maybe the barrier's taking some time to readjust..." He mused, not really believing it. The barrier had already reset perfectly. He knew that for a fact. Together, he and Vincent had seen to it. vincent...

    No, time to get off that train of thought. Yoshimitsu focused on what was happening right now. Rips. Tears. Gouges. Things that shouldn't be there. Right. Okay.

    He'd just moniter the situation for a bit. Find out what was going on, but not intervene until he had no choice.

    He lasted three days.

    On the third day, nearing sunset, his resolve finally broke. Well, it had been cracking already, but it shattered then. Like very, very weak glass. He just had no willpower sometimes.

    There was no doubting that it had nothing to do with the barrier reseting, which meant that something was going on in that dimension. And he knew, for a fact, that his race had nothing to do with it. They didn't have the technology. Hell, they barely even knew about the dimensional gates. Well, a few did, but mostly they didn't care. Which meant something else was going on.

    He got to thinking, there was so much about his home that he just didn't know. What lay beyond the black wasteland? The city, the rocks, but then what? No one knew. Anyone who had gone out to explore had either never come back or not got that far.

    Could it be something to do with that?

    Yoshimitsu didn't know, but it was as good a start as any. But first, he had to ask Alex for help.

    Alex.

    Yoshimitsu didn't like Alex. At all. That superior attitude grated on his nerves. He didn't always feel stupid when talking to the water adept, but he did always feel like he'd been left out of the loop. It was so annoying. And when he had to fight the water adept, he always left without being able to move for a few days. How was he so fast? And strong? And somehow able to predict what was going to happen next? Ugh, so annoying.

    But Alex was the best. Given the smallest piece of information, he could unravel any mystery. So, loathed though he was, Yoshimitsu used the thing, that weird glowing rock thing, that Alex had given him to teleport him about a mile away from the water adept's tower. A tower. Seriously, why a tower? Yoshimitsu rubbed his temples again as he rummaged through his room.

    After that unpleasent sensation of being ripped from one place and thrust into another through a hole as bit as an atom at ridiculous speeds, uphill, sideways, Yoshimitsu found himself in the cloudy wasteland surrounding Alex's tower. He didn't turn, because the teleporting automatically pointed him in the right direction. Not wanting to waste any time, he set off running towards the tower.

    After a very short while, the hovering disc appeared. Yoshimitsu really wanted to know what it was made of. It looked a bit like a mirror, but it wasn't really there. He could see through it, but into it at the same time. It was surreal. In the world full of weird things, it was unusual to find something so surreal. Anyway, he saw Alex's face in the disc. Even the aqua-blue, shoulder length hair pissed Yoshimitsu off.

    "Yoshimitsu, just a moment," Alex's voice came. Another uncomfortable teleport brought him to the inner chamber in Alex's tower.

    "Can't you do something about that damned teleport?" Yoshimitsu complained, stretching him arms.

    "Learn to teleport, Yoshimitsu. My residence is perfect," Alex replied, his voice cool. "So, what do you need help with this time?"

    Yep. There it was. Stupid attitude.

    "Have you been keeping up with the news?" Yoshimitsu asked, taking a few steps along the red velvet carpet. The room was made out of polished black stone. Yoshimitsu was slightly tempted to throw a load of dirt over the ground, but he knew it was very immature and he should just get over it.

    "I keep up with a lot of news. What, in particular, are you talking about?"

    Still there. Yoshimitsu spared a second to grit his teeth before regaining his composure.

    "About the dimensional rips. The Ryuga aren't capable of that, so I need to find out more. Might have to go in there too," Yoshimitsu explained very briefly.

    "Hmm... You think something in that dimension is the cause?" Alex asked, his voice curious.

    "I'm guessing so. No government here has the technology for it, and no one I know has the magic," Yoshimitsu answered, shrugging.

    "Interesting. And you want to find the cause," Alex continued, more to himself than to Yoshimitsu.

    "You know it. Can't just sit around and do nothing when something could be wrong, right?" Yoshimitsu replied. "Anyway, know anything about it?"

    "I heard a whisper here and there. If you can wait here, I'll have some answers for you."

    "Sure thing."

    Alex vanished, that weird teleport kicking up a gust for some reason. Flashy, arrogant, annoying. That was Alex. Yoshimitsu parked himself on the floor, sitting crosslegged. Alex hadn't teleported him out, so he figured it was okay to just sit around and wait. Still, maybe Alex was just making some kind of torture for him. He could never tell with the adept.

    Still, an hour later, the aqua haired man returned. Yoshimitsu stood up, shaking out his joints, and looked at Alex expectantly.

    "Well, you've discovered something."

    "Gonna tell me what?" Yoshimitsu asked, his voice a bit harsher than he intended. Oh well.

    "In short, these dimensional breaks are appearing on a daily basis. There is a pattern, mostly," Alex explained. "They appear for seconds, then minutes, and so on. The longest appearence so far has been all week. I anticipate that one will last weeks."

    "So they're changing... Right. What else?" Yoshimitsu asked.

    "They alternate between appearing over uninhabited and inhabited areas, and more specifically, mostly over the ocean and busy cities. There's no clear link between any of the locations so far," Alex continued. "This is unusual behaviour."

    "That's far too common, not isolated enough and weird behaviour. Where's the best one I can get to?" Yoshimitsu asked.

    "Hold on. What are you planning on doing?"

    "Simple. Whatever the cause is, it's happening outside of known Ryuga areas, so I'm gonna explore that world until I find the cause," Yoshimitsu replied. "Now, where's the best one I can get to?"

    Alex sighed.

    "Very well. The best one would be the skies above Mahogany town. I shall teleport you there," Alex stated. Yoshimitsu saw that he had no choice in the matter. Figures.

    After another uncomfortable teleport, Yoshimitsu found himself in the small town. The first thing he did was look up.

    There it was.

    "Bahamut, I need jet boots," Yoshimitsu said, jumping high. Immediately, his shoes began to change. They warped into the shape of Bahamut's feet. Clawed feet, dark blue, almost metal in appearence and brilliant blue and golden flames exploding out of them. Yoshimitsu shot straight upwards.

    It was a good job he was used to the journey through the portal. It was uncomfortable, but not as much as Alex's teleports were. It was just like trying to fit through a tube that was too small for him. Ignoring the swirling colours around him, no matter how pretty they were, he kept his eyes forward and accelerated towards the exit. That familiar blackness.

    Yoshimitsu flipped in the air as soon as he cleared the portal and slowed his descent to the dark rocks. Nothing had changed since his last visit.
     
  3. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 1:2 - Antonio Makes A Mistake

    Life was very rarely boring for Antonio, very rarely indeed. The tricky teenager barely made it through a day without making it exciting in some way, be it through clever card tricks or casual theft in the most nonchalant manner possible. It was what he did, what he excelled at. Parting people with their valubles was his life, and there was nothing he was willing to do that would change that.

    He had a flawless record. Over a hundred thefts and not a single capture. Antonio was the best. Among the underworld, Antonio was renowned as the ultimate theft. He had even acquired the nickname of "The Butterfly", due to the accessory he wore on his face. A half-butterfly mask that covered one eye with its intricate design. If anyone needed anything stolen, Antonio was the first person they asked.

    They didn't always receive his help.

    After all, if Antonio just helped out anyone, his reputation would be tarnished. The brown haired boy would not steal just anything.

    No, that simply was not fun enough.

    Antonio specialised in impossible thefts. The type of theft that most people would never dream of doing, where the object of desire was so securely guarded that only a ghost would be able to reach it. Even then, the ghost would be spotted and stopped. Antonio found those challenges the most exciting. The most worthwhile. They were what he lived for.

    The current object of his desire was in the possession of a wealthy noble he had met in a cocktail bar not too long ago. Considering himself above most dives the common rabble relegated themselves to, Antonio would be found no where but the most expensive places. He had expensive tastes and, with his lifestyle, he could easily afford them. What was the point of being a world renowned elite thief if you couldn't enjoy the luxuries on offer? Why, there was none.

    This associate, by the name of Richard Jules, was not a quiet fellow. The bar conversation had Jules sharing about his extensive collection of rare and, more importantly, valuble artefacts that he had accumulated through a combination of travelling, bribery and blackmail. There was a man that Antonio could respect. A man who considered petty laws beneath him. Antonio felt a vague kinship with this man, despite his immediate decision to relieve the man of a few of his precious objects.

    The invitation came while the thief was still at the bar. Mister Jules had been polite, and possibly drunk enough to offer a tour of his mansion. The insistance that it was only for close personal friends almost flattered Antonio, but he was not about to turn down such an opening. A chance to scope out his challenge.

    The night would surely be entertaining.

    And so it was that Antonio found himself in the luxurious mansion of Richard Jules. The noble had certainly extended a warm welcome. Antonio stood, mingling with other nobility, enjoying a glass of five thousand dollar champagne. It was all a very formal affair, which Antonio enjoyed despite the slightly incredulous looks from certain individuals. An eighteen year old boy can have the proper etiquette and social standing to be considered nobility, thanks.

    "My friends, welcome to my humble abode," Mister Jules announced from the top of the marble staircase. Antonio joined in the polite applause at the man, who bowed his head modestly. The dark haired boy did not miss the various cameras hidden across the room, nor did he miss the laser trips dotted around the staircase. Mister Jules was clearly as paranoid as he was rich.

    "I trust you all know why you are here," the man continued. "You have all been invited to witness the unveiling of my most recent addition to my museum. If you would all be so kind..."

    Jules gestured to the stair case. There was another polite round of applause, before the party-goers began the walk to follow.

    "I wonder what he's found this time..."

    "Do you think he bribed for this one as well?"

    "I hope it's something glamorous, that old chunk of rock from last time..."

    "It must be worthwhile for him to break out this champagne, he saves it for the best things."

    Antonio listened to the mutterings of the crowd, pondering. It might be very beneficial for him to make several trips to this mansion if it transpired to be as stocked as people suggested. The crowd was very excitable, and slightly uncomfortable. Antonio prefered for people to stay out of his personal space, would they mind taking just a few steps away from him? He was not among the common folk who stood shoulder to shoulder.

    As any true mastermind should, he kept his eyes on the hallway and examined the security systems. He had noticed, so far, more cameras and motion sensors, several heat and x-ray scanners, more laser trips, many metal doors waiting to descend and trap any potential robbers and even a cage or two. Jules was more paranoid than he was rich, it seemed. Antonio made note of these details.

    The crowd gathered in a very spacious room. It had intricate paintings hanging on the walls and the floor was perfectly polished marble. Pillars and statues. Very ornate, highly sophisticated. If it weren't for his immediate plans, Antonio knew he and Mister Jules would be the best of friends.

    Hmm... Maybe not, though.

    "As you can see, this is no ordinary object," Jules said, striding in front of a box. The box had a velvet cover, obscuring its contents. "You all know, I never bother to hide my treasured posessions, especially not when I have visitors. I want you all to fully appreciate the majesty of this object."

    There was a murmer of excitement. Antonio did not join in.

    "Without any further ado... Voila!"

    Mister Jules whipped the velvet sheet from the case to reveal its contents. Antonio had to admit, he was a little stunned. He had expected something boring or mundane, like a giant diamond or sapphire necklace.

    No, he was not expecting a figurine. A figurine of a woman, only barely covered by a tunic. Using his expert eye, Antonio recognised it to be made of white gold for the base. Covering her body were multicoloured jewels, gems. Sapphires and rubies and topaz and pearls... All intricately placed to make the features of the woman in perfect colour. It looked like a glittering woman. Perfect in every detail, even the folds of the tunic and the creases of the skin.

    There was a collective gasp. Antonio did not join in.

    As soon as he was over the shock of such a magnificent piece of work, his keen eyes began to sweep the case. He could see no trip wire visible, which surprised him very slightly. Then he looked again, and realised there was a specialised laser pointing up. Obviously, if it was moved, the alarms would sound. Looking around again, Antonio saw a net of lasers and more sensors dotted around.

    Completely unnoticed, the boy slipped from the crowd and into a nearby bath room. Of course he would be unnoticed. He crafted an illusion around himself that made him completely invisible to the naked eye. Now, taking the object would be child's play. Escaping the mansion was another problem, but it seemed almost easy to him right now. While he was hidden, he took a moment to compose himself and check his inventory. On his two belts, the four decks of cards he had sat comfortable in their holders. The magical bag he had acquired not long ago, bigger on the inside, hung at his waist too. Inventory done.

    He did not have to wait long for the crowd to disperse and return to the hall. The promise of free, expensive champagne was alluring to most people. Antonio made a note to return and steal some of that champagne. It was exquisite. Not the best he'd tasted, but not the worst either. Maybe several bottles...

    No, keep on track Antonio. Using his brief opening, the masked boy stepped out of the bathroom to a dark hallway. Already, the defenses had been set up. An intricate web of laser beams, motion sensors and cameras. Antonio looked around. There had to be some kind of activation switch somewhere, or at least a power supply. Despite the noble's paranoia, Antonio had a sneaking suspicion that he was not the sharpest tool in the well-stocked and varnished shed. Sure enough, opposite the door Antonio had just passed through, was a metal box.

    It was laughable, really. For all the aristocrat's paranoia, he had still left one integral element of defense out in the open. It was a simple matter for Antonio to flick through one of his card decks and withdraw the Ace of Diamonds. Treating the Ace as a one, he slid it through the casing of the box. An electrical current surged through, short-circuiting the laser trip wires. If he were not on a stealth mission, he might have laughed. It was a simple matter of removing the figure from the case. With the laser sensor deactivated, it was laughable. He returned to the party with the figure safely stowed away.

    It was a few days later that Antonio realised he had made a mistake. There was a knock at his expensively decorated door. It had been quite some time since someone had knocked. Anyone who sought him would usually attempt to phone instead, rather than make a physical appearence. Less chance of being identified. It was with a cautious air that Antonio cast an illusion over himself, appearing as a middle-aged, balding man rather than the late-teen boy. If it was someone requesting his assistance, he would offer them a glass of wine over the business talk.

    "'Scuse me, sir," Antonio heard as he opened the door. There were two police officers stood on his doorstep. Inviting them into the house was out of the question. "We're looking for a robber. Calls 'imself the Butterfly."

    "I'm sorry, who?" Antonio asked, his inflection just right to indicate confusion. He was, after all, an expert at acting.

    "The Butterfly. Caught 'im on tape at old man Jules' 'ouse, nicked off with some priceless heirloom or something," the officer replied. "Tripped the laser security somehow, but got 'im with the motion, 'eat and x-ray cameras."

    "Extraordinary," Antonio commented. "I'm afraid I don't know who this man is."

    "Funny, 'cause we've got info on 'im. Lives in this 'ouse," the police officer stated. "One of them powers too. Illusions. Know anything 'bout that, eh?"

    "Well, in that case, I guess the metaphorical jig is up," Antonio replied, dropping his illusion and reaching for his belt. He pulled out the two of spades, immediately melting out of sight. Using his split second advantage, he pushed past the officers and set off running. Unfortunately, the duration of the card was only mere seconds. Almost instantly, the police officers were on his tail.

    It was in a moment when he was checking his behind him that a portal opened in front of him. In that moment, he was completely oblivious to events before him. He only noticed when his foot no longer met the ground, and he felt his body being sucked through what felt like a very small rubber tube.

    A swirl of colour, and then blackness.
     
  4. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 1:3 - Vincent and an Old Friend

    It was unusual, implausible to most people, the reason behind Vincent inhibiting his own vision. A black bandage tied tightly over his eyes completely robbed him of his sense of sight. Of course, to Vincent it made perfect sense. It was perfectly logical to strip himself of a key sense, and rely on his others instead.

    His eyes couldn't lie.

    Looking at himself and the world around him, everything was tinged with darkness. With everything so dark, he didn't trust himself to contain his power. Not after everything that had happened. Not after he had nearly ruined everything, after he'd had to be saved again. Causing damage on that scale again was out of the question. It, and he, would kill Yoshimitsu.

    Yoshimitsu...

    Vincent's heart ached. Leaving Yoshimitsu had been his hardest decision, the hardest thing to do. Leave the boy who had saved his life, who had fought for him, who loved him more than anything or anyone else? It was nearly impossible, but he couldn't hurt Yshimitsu any more. He'd hurt himself. Vincent would put himself through the pain instead, to spare Yoshimitsu.

    So why did he feel like he was making the wrong decision?

    No doubt. He could have no doubt in his heart. Doubt and fear and hate. He just couldn't. The darkness in his heart could not, would not rise up again.

    His footsteps were even, perfectly spaced, an equal time between each step. His breathing was regular, calm and collected. Even the rustling of his clothes followed a strict pattern. Everything in his body was under his control. He couldn't afford for it not to be. The chill wind and craggy ground had not slowed him down. Nothing could.

    No surprise crossed his face when someone appeared near him. He came to a complete stop and turned his head slightly. His black hair fell over his eyes.

    "Who's there?" He twisted his hand.

    "I gave you that body," the stranger said. His voice was devoid of any emotion.

    "Araini. It's been a while," Vincent replied, turning to face the mage. "How's the hunt for knowledge going?"

    "As well as any hunt goes," Araini answered. "You're blind."

    "For all intents and purposes, I guess," Vincent agreed. He moved his hands, holding a relaxed posture. "I can't see anything, so I guess I'm blind for now."

    "The world's not as dark as you think."

    "It is through my eyes," Vincent replied. Araini hesitated for just a second.

    "Why here? There's nothing to see," he asked, looking around. He had already scoped out the area magically.

    "Exactly."

    "Vincent..."

    "How did you find me?" Vincent asked, curiously.

    "I made that body. Tracking it was simple," Araini replied airily. "Even if I hadn't, magic makes life much more convenient."

    "I see... so why?" Vincent queried. "I'm pretty sure you didn't come here just to catch up."

    "You've noticed it too, haven't you?"

    Yes. Vincent had noticed it. If he had been stripped of his other senses, he might have overlooked the detail. The rips between the two dimensions had been occuring again, and at a much greater frequency than before. There was no reason for it. The barriers had reset perfectly, completely sealing off the worlds again. There was no logical explanation as to why the rips in the barrier were appearing, unless...

    "Is this being forced to happen?" Vincent asked, running his fingers through his hair out of habit.

    "There's no real way to tell, unless you go to that dimension."

    "Then that's what I'll do."

    "Is it? Yoshimitsu's going," Araini said.

    Vincent froze.

    "You know?"

    "That you've seperated from him because you think he'll hurt less this way? Yes. I do," Araini replied. Vincent couldn't quite decide on the tone.

    "He'll hurt less this way."

    "If you think that's best, then you do that. I wont force my opinion on you," Araini conceeded. Vincent rubbed his temples. "Will you still go?"

    "What choice do I have?" Vincent asked, resignation in his voice. Yes, he had to go. Stopping this was top priority. The barrier couldn't be weakened again.

    "Well, you could not go. You could trust Yoshimitsu to handle it himself, but we both know you wont," Araini commented. "You worry about him. You don't want him to get hurt, so you'll go too. And when you're there, you'll stay with him. You wont let yourself get too attached again, but you'll stay by his side anyway."

    Vincent said nothing. It was true.

    "You're better off finding Alex. He'll direct you to the best rip," Araini said. Vincent nodded and turned to go.

    "Thanks, Araini."

    "One more thing," Araini said quickly, before Vincent could take off.

    "Yeah?"

    "The world's not as dark as you think, not even through your eyes. You just need someone to show you that."

    Araini did not wait for any reply. He gestured vaguely, and Vincent felt his body gripped by an invisible force and thrust through space.

    The black haired boy reappeared in a surprisingly light chamber. The room was very similar to the guest room somewhere else in Alex's tower, but the content was very different. There was no thick, velvet carpet leading to a highly elaborate throne. Vincent could sense all around him. It seemed more like a magical laboratory.

    Around him, he made note of what he could hear and feel. Vials and vials of magic, some pulsating, some shifting and swirling, some expanding and contracting. Magic was floating freely through the space. Vincent took a step backwards to avoid touching some. This magic was all experimental. He had no desire to discover what it did.

    Vincent quickly moved his arm back, his sword materialising as he did so. A foot connected with the blade, then the owner of the foot jumped back.

    "How did you get in here?" Alex demanded.

    "Araini teleported me. Maybe he thought I'd want to see this," Vincent replied softly.

    "Perhaps we should move this-"

    Vincent sent an orb of darkness blasting at Alex.

    "I see... Very well. Why did you come?" Alex asked. Vincent could hear the water adept's voice. There was something else behind it, behind the shock of Vincent being where he was.

    "The rips."

    "Oh, of course." Alex's tone lightened. "Yoshimitsu was here, not long ago. You missed him by minutes."

    Vincent was silent. He would not allow Alex to taunt him.

    "Well, I take it you know more than Yoshimitsu does. Why, exactly, did you come?" Alex asked.

    "I need to go to the other world," Vincent stated, his voice full of determination.

    "Even with Yoshimitsu there?"

    Did everyone know?

    "Yes."

    What choice did he have?

    "Very well," Alex said with a sigh, brushing past Vincent. He examined some of the vials for a moment before selecting one and handed it to the black haired boy. "Take this. It will give you a temporary flight ability, just to pass through the next rip. It wears off once you breach the barrier."

    "No problem," Vincent replied, accepting the vial. "I just smash it?"

    "Smash it, open it, anything to let the contents out. I'll send you to the tear," Alex confirmed, gesturing carelessly. Vincent felt his body gripped again, and forced into another entirely different place.

    Not a favourable place either.

    The rip was in the sky, yes. However, the ocean was below him. It took a second for gravity to take effect and send him dropping like a stone. Vincent sent a pulse of darkness running through the vial, causing the glass to crack and shatter. The effect was immediate; the glowing substance within expanded and circled the boy, slowing his descent until he came to a complete stop. Vincent had enough experience flying to know what to do. He rocketed into the sky like a bullet, the wind rippling his clothes and ruffling his hair.

    For a few seconds, he just allowed the sensation to take him, to feel nothing but the wind on his face. He blasted through the rip at breakneck speeds.
     
  5. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 1:4 - Fratley's Mission

    The Burmecian Kingdom was one of the greatest in the world. It was also the most secret. Only people who had been there knew where it was. It was completely cut off from the rest of the world, surrounded by mountains that were impossible to climb, one pass through that was dangerous and guarded. Natural perception filters stopped people from noticing the place. There was a permanent rain cloud in the sky above the area, meaning any planes passing over did not see it. It was better that way.

    The Burmecians were a race of humanoid rats. They shared many features of humans. Two legs, two arms, the basic body dimensions and a similar organ structure. However, they also shared the features of rats. Long pointed faces, tails, their hands and feet, the legs had different muscles and structure, they were covered entirely in fur. Being so different had caused them to retreat into seclusion, away from the human population of the world. They chose the realm of eternal rain.

    And how glorious the rain was! The soothing rhythm, the cold prickles, the refreshment and sensation of having water constantly. It was magnificent. All the plant life had adapted to the constant downpour, had become tougher, stronger and more complicated. It had evolved to become linked, all the flora and fauna connected by a series of electrical currents. With some magical and technological intervention, the plantlife had become a natural technology. Unique and perfect in every way.

    Burmecia had benefited in the last few years. Ever since the invasion of human purists, those who believed the planet was better without these semi-humans, the kingdom had been steadily getting back on its feet. It had been ruined, many inhabitants killed and their bodies desecrated. In the end, it was the actions of Sir Fratley and the Dragon Knights who had stopped the fighting and forced the humans out of their realm. Together, they scoured the Earth in search of the survivors who had fled the city and told them it was safe again. Sir Fratley and the Dragon Knights had been honoured and praised for their work, and finally the Burmecians were back on track.

    There was a cost, however. Sir Fratley had lost his love. His true love. Imprisoned, tortured into revealing the location of Burmecia, dragged to watch the destruction of her home and then killed, alone. It was that, the murder of his love, that gave Fratley the incentive and the rage to lead his friends and his comrades into battle. To victory. He had vowed to avenge his love, and so he did. The battle was won.

    He never filled the gap that his love's death had created. However, he did form a close friendship. A girl named Setsuko Mitsuyama. The blonde haired survivor of an attack on their family, caught in a constant battle with her twin, Kazuhiko. Despite this, Setsuko had such a positive outlook on life. Sir Fratley admired her.

    It was Setsuko who had come to visit. Fratley had taken the day off from his duties to show her around the city.

    "Sets, it's been too long," Fratley greeted his friend, a smile on his rodent features.

    They stood at the gates to the city. Setsuko had the foresight of bringing an umbrella, remembering the torrential downpour. Fratley laughed at that, his face protected by his tall hat. Protocal required that Setsuko was met by a guard and verified before being allowed into the city, but Fratley had insisted that he would be responsible for her actions.

    "Yeah, it's been a while. How've you been?" Setsuko asked, an Essex twang in her accent. Her voice was friendly and relaxed.

    "I've been well. The reconstruction of the city has been moving swiftly and smoothly. We have little left to do," Fratley replied, gesturing that Sets walk with him. The pair strolled casually through the streets, Setsuko attracting a certain amount of attention. "We recently discovered a new form of technology."

    "Oh really?" Setsuko asked, curious. She wasn't that technologically minded, but Fratley was sure she would understand anyway.

    "Yes, the plantlife in the area has been evolving a network of sorts, connected through electrical signals transmitted through their roots," Fratley explained. "Our magical and engineering departments found a way to utilize the network without harming the plants and turn it into a fully functional technological marvel. We have biological computers, cameras, lighting, water heating, everything. It's truly wonderful."

    "'Bout time you had some good luck," Setsuko replied with a laugh. The light in Fratley's eyes was sign enough of his happiness, to have some good news for his old friend. They turned a corner and reached the marketplace, a metropolis of stalls and stands and noise. "How're the other Dragon Knights? And the king?"

    "We are well. Life is peaceful, thankfully, and our combat services have not been required in some time," Fratley answered. "We are in a glorious age. The Burmecian Kingdom at its finest."

    Fratley and Setsuko browsed the stalls, seeing all that was on offer. Hand made rugs, dolls, food and drink, flowers, games, weaponry, basic magic, anything the market had to offer. Being the head Dragon Knight and his friend, they did not have to pay for anything. It was an honour for the Burmecians to meet Fratley and any friend of his. Setsuko was quickly judged as likeable and friendly, news of her visit spreading quickly among the city. Fratley laughed as Setsuko showed embarassment and pride, mixed in together.

    From the marketplace, Fratley took Setsuko to explore the residential area of the city. It was divided into clear sections, according to price of housing and class of people. His expression had changed subtley as he had explained how nobility had claimed the larger, more expensive houses while poorer Burmecians had taken the smaller. Setsuko did not need to ask why he seemed to find this distasteful. Fratley's biggest motivation of equality. His only wish in the world was for everyone to be equal. What a wonderful world that would be.

    They continued to the shopping section of the city. Different from the marketplace, as the shops were more like human shops. Indoors, shelves of merchandise, orderly queues. It was much more peaceful than the market. Fratley showed Setsuko the different shops. The equivalent of a supermarket, where the many unique foods of Burmecia were on offer. The upper-class jewellery store, with gemstones found only in the Burmecian territories were found. Various coloured gems twinkled at the pair of them, ornately cut into wonderful shapes and patterns. A clothing store, with the unique fashions and designs. Many of the clothes were cut to fit Burmecians, so Setsuko opted not to buy any.

    "I didn't realise how much there was to see here," Setsuko admitted, as they left another store. Frately removed his hat briefly to tip water from the rim, where it had been gathering for some time.

    "Well, we are a kingdom," Fratley replied. "A lot here is new. We've expanded outwards greatly. It's been a good few years."

    "Yeah, everything seems so much nicer," Setsuko agreed. "I'm so happy for you, Fratley."

    "Thank you."

    The pair approached the palace courtyard. There was a slight issue with security. Some Burmecians did not believe humans could be trusted, and were reluctant to allow Setsuko to enter. Fratley insisted he would take full responsibility, and they were allowed admission.

    "I didn't realise-" Setsuko began, but Fratley quickly cut her off.

    "Some have deep-rooted prejudice. Don't judge them too harshly," Fratley said calmly. "They are the ones who lost their friends and families. I am hoping your presence will help assuage their hate."

    They entered the palace. Fratley was amused to see Setsuko's reaction to the grandeur. While most of the building was contructed by stone, it was lavishly decorated. Paintings and banners hung on the walls, the floor was covered in a smooth velvet carpet and many of the pillars were inlaid with precious gems. Every door handle was encrusted with gems of a single colour, with gold running over the surfaces of the stone. The rooms were all spacious, with many of the different departments occupying several. Fratley took Setsuko through the Magic Department to show her the ongoing magical experiments and their applications and the engineering department who were optimising the biological systems. They took a brief tour through Research and Development, who were testing out some of the various features of the plantlife.

    They stopped in the Security Division, with Fratley's assistance required.

    "Sir Fratley, we've discovered a problem," a Burmecian in military uniform said urgently.

    "Very well, show me," Fratley ordered. He gestured for Setsuko to follow. They approached a widescreen moniter, made up of millions of tiny flowers that changed colour to display an image.

    "That's impressive," Setsuko said quietly, so that only Fratley could hear. He smiled.


    Sir, we've noticed some disturbances over the world," the soldier said, typing away on a keyboard made of sturdy leaves. It had taken some time to determine which buttons did what, but most of the Burmecians who worked here had figured it out. "All over, these rips in the sky keep appearing."

    An image appeared on the screen. Fratley could only describe it as a gouge mark, as though some giant beast had torn apart the fabric of reality. Beyond the tear, Fratley could see nothing but swirling colours.

    "Has anything come through?" Fratley asked, examining the image.

    "Not that we're aware of. The frequency of the tears is becoming alarming," the solider answered, tapping away. The image divided to show several of the rips, but in different locations. "Some only last a few seconds but some have lasted much longer. We can't determine the cause, so we don't know how dangerous they are."

    "Interesting... Wait, bring up that image and rewind several seconds," Fratley ordered, pointing to a particular image. He could have sworn...

    The soldier did as instructed. Fratley watched the image carefully. For a moment, he thought he saw...

    Yes, he did see correctly. Something had moved into the rip at a great speed.

    "Can you rewind again and play it slowly?"

    "Yessir."

    Again, Fratley watched the image closely. There it was. A human was moving, apparently flying into the rip.

    "Pause it there."

    Fratley studied the human. It took a few seconds, but then the recognition hit him. Blue hair, a blue t-shirt and jet boots. There was no doubt, that was Yoshimitsu.

    "Very well. I must speak with the king," Fratley declared. He pulled Setsuko to one side.

    "You're going to go through, aren't you?" Setsuko asked.

    "I think I must. If Yoshimitsu is involved, that means his race are likely to have some hand in it," Fratley answered, keeping his voice low. "I know enough about that dimension to keep myself safe. I will find Yoshimitsu and assist him however I can."

    "I'll go with you," Setsuko offered immediately, but Fratley shook his head.

    "No, I have a request," Fratley said. "I must ask the king first, but I would have you stay here in my stead. I doubt anything would happen, but I would like to someone reliable and trustworthy to take my place in my absense."

    "I'll do it," Setsuko agreed immediately. Fratley smiled.

    "Then we seek counsel with the king."

    They were admitted immediately. The Security Division had already sent word ahead. Fratley and Setsuko entered the throne room. The Burmecian King was pacing in front of his throne. Fratley kneeled on one knee, Setsuko quickly following suit.

    "Your majesty," Fratley said respectfully. The pair stood up again.

    "Fratley, the security division has already informed me of the issue at hand. What would you do?" The king asked.

    "I would take myself through the tear. An ally and friend of mine has already gone through. Once there, I would aid him in whatever he plans," Fratley explained briefly. "I know the man, Yoshimitsu. He has saved the world before. I would help him save it again."

    "Very well," the king agreed.

    "I would also have Setsuko take my place for the duration of my absense," Fratley continued. "She is capable, respectful, trustworthy. I believe she will perform admirably."

    "I'll do everything I can, your majesty," Setsuko offered, bowing respectfully. The king considered it for a moment.

    "Very well. You are an excellent judge of character and aptitude, Fratley, I trust your decision," the king agreed.

    "Thank you."

    Fratley and Setsuko left the room quickly. They did not speak until they reached a corridor, outside of the Dragon Knight Lounge. Fratley looked at Setsuko for a moment.

    "The king will have sent word to the Dragon Knights, informing them of the arrangement," Fratley explained. "They are respectful and cooperative. I doubt you will have any problems with them. Any questions about what to do, you can ask them. I can't imagine there'll be any problems."

    "Fratley, what will you do there?" Setsuko asked.

    "I don't know. The situation is unusual, and there is not enough information. I am placing my trust in Yoshimitsu," Fratley replied, frowning. "However I can assist him, I shall. Whatever it takes."

    "Be careful out there. Come back in one Fratley-shaped piece, okay?" Setsuko said, pulling Fratley in for a hug.

    "I will. Don't worry."

    Research and Development and the Security Division had compiled a list of the rips and predicted several more appearences. There was some element of luck; the next rip was predicted to appear outside of the city but within the mountain range. Fratley gathered some essentials and, halberd in hand, departed the city. With one powerful leap, the Dragon Knight propelled himself into the air and through the rift.
     
  6. Linkachu

    Linkachu Hero of Pizza
    Staff Member Administrator

    To comment on chapter 5... Lovely descriptions, El. The way you described the area surrounding Burmecia, and the inner city itself, is really imaginative and beautiful. It really brought the environment to life.

    I quite like how Fratley speaks very differently than Sets. It does well to show the type of character he is, all refined and knightly. I like him already. ♥

    Lastly, interesting turn of events. I guess to really understand what's going on I'll need to read more, eh? As always, I love your ideas. Hope you can stay interested in this story and share more of it. :)
     
  7. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 1:5 - Not-so-typical Girl


    Illiana was only the half-typical South Pole Summoner.


    In many aspects, she was perfectly normal. She came from a middle-status family within the tunnels of the Antarctic. Somewhere around the middle tunnels, not too close to the surface but not too close to the bottom tunnels. She had the basic expectations of a female summoner placed upon her. Learn to summon, start combat training, learn to heal and craft weapons, earn a summon and perfectly execute missions. In that respect, she kind of succeeded and proved herself.


    Except, a few things were off. She didn't really follow the rules like she should have done. She skipped important things to see the surface. The sun and the sky, or the darkness. The endless expanse of ice. She wasn't meant to stay underground, she preferred the fresh air and the freedom. So maybe she wasn't all that typical, as far as summoners go.


    She stuck to the normal routine of the summoners. She ate the same fungus foods, sometimes fish when it was available. She underwent her combat training, but immediately found that she was more of a natural with combat magic. Healing was not beyond her, so she was special. Kind of. Basics of both style. She could heal, she could fight. She was more versatile than many of the other summoners when it came to field work. Useful. And not at all expected.


    The summoning ritual was simple enough to pick up, though unnerving the first time she had to acquire her first summon. Like all the other summoners, she went deep into the tunnels. Deeper than she'd ever been before, but maybe that was because she usually went up instead. Much to her surprise, there were worms. Minhocaos. Giant worms. Massive, wriggling, slimy worms.


    Gross.


    And kind of absolutely terrifying. The sight of a thirty foot tall worm was not something she had ever expected to see. The fear of it falling on her was also strong. She staggered back a few steps, not like that would save her from being crushed and slimed. Nonetheless, she crafted the spell and performed the ritual, ensnaring the worm and containing it within the summoning bead. Breathing a sigh of relief, Illiana ascended the tunnels and back to what she considered normality.


    Only a few years older, she acquired her first real weapon and her first real summon. Her spear, she helped crafting like other young summoners. It was designed more towards practicality than grandeur, but the sapphires inlaid along the blade were appealling enough. Magically protected and virtually indestructable. She was an expert with the weapon. The feel of the spear in her hands was natural as she twirled and struck her targets. Shortly after having the weapon crafted, Illiana was sent on her first assigment.


    "Acquire her first summon."


    Absolutely terrifying. There was no kind of about it this time. She'd found her first summon, not far from the tunnels. A sapphire wyvern, that had been picking at scraps of food on the surface. A wolf or a penguin, anything unlucky enough to cross its path. Illiana discovered that she was not an easily frightened person, but an angry blue wyvern looking for food was enough to send a shiver down her spine.


    The fight was short, which was some small comfort. The wyvern was weakened by its hunger, which gave Illiana enough of an advantage. She danced with her spear, twirling the weapon like a baton but stiking like a snake. She was agile and quick on her feet, moving around the strikes and blasts of ice from the dragon's mouth. One misstep had caused the wyvern to get in one heavy blow, swatting Illiana with the force of a wrecking ball. She rolled away, focuing on healing spells and fixing the bruise that was already forming.


    That was when the wyvern stopped attacking, instead watching the green haired girl warily. She used the opportunity to catch the dragon, sealing it within a summoning bead. The bead flashed and turned a sapphire colour, matching the dragon's scales. She'd done it. She'd got her first real summon.


    Right in time for the Slateport incident.


    News spread fast. Some of the stories were warped, but the gist of it was the same. Miko had destroyed Slateport. His summon, Bagan, was the strongest summon of any South Pole dweller. The reception was mixed. Some thought Miko was brilliant, finally giving the rest of the world what was coming to them. Some thought he was an idiot, declaring war then not following through.


    Illiana didn't have an opinion. She understood, sort of. She hadn't been there, so she hadn't seen what had happened and why Miko had summoned Bagan. There could be any number of reasons for it, any number of reasons why he might have been forced to summon Bagan. She didn't know, so why should she have to pass judgement? None of her business, not really.


    She thought Miko was respectable. Maybe not the best leader ever, but he kept on trying and that was what mattered. That's why she kept on trying. Why she'd always keep on trying. That was why she was never really typical in the first place.


    At eighteen, she was on the surface again. She wasn't meant to be. She was never really meant to be, but that had never stopped her before. Illiana, the problem child. The one who followed orders but never followed rules, the one who loved to breathe the fresh air of the surface instead of the stale air of the tunnels, the one who loved more than anything to be out under the real sky and just be herself.


    The summoner got most of her training done on the surface. There couldn't be many more people in the world who could wield a spear with as much grace as her, spinning it round her hands and her body lightly and efficiently, striking blows that could shatter ice and ruin bodies. Her magic was still not on the same level as those specifically trained, but she didn't mind it that way. She was who she was, and she wouldn't have it any other way.


    A fireball was the simplest offensive magic she had learned and the one that came most naturally to her. With a sweeping movement, she conjured the flame and threw it forward like a baseball. In the same movement, another flame erupted in her other hand and she spun elegantly, throwing the second fireball ahead. As she gathered up the energy for a third, she noticed it.


    A rip in the sky. Like some inter-dimensional monster had torn open a breach.


    Illiana stared for a moment, frowning as she tried to understand what was happening. It was like the barrier breach from not that long ago. The crack between dimensions that Vincent had opened, the one that had threatened to destroy the world. The only difference was that this seemed much less hostile. No black tendrils, no black thunder. Just swirling colours.


    She had two options.


    The first was obviously to enter the tear. Reckless, foolish, but oh so tempting. The second was to inform someone. This was a serious issue. Anything could come through the breach. It was a serious issue that should be taken seriously.


    Yeah. That'd happen. Illiana snorted, and felt a little silly for thinking something like that.


    Like the other female summoners, her art of summoning involved directing the summon into existence. She gestured in a sweeping motion over her head, then brought her palm into a thrust forward. As she did this, a ghostly figure melted into view and followed the motion of her arm until she thrust her palm. The sapphire wyvern exploded forward, fully corporeal. Illiana ran towards the edge of the ice and threw herself off the edge. The wyvern swerved in the air and caught her smoothly on its back. With a beat of its wings, the dragon shot upwards, into the unknown.
     
  8. Okay y'know people you could atleast respond to this story like you do with the art threads. Mostly because El hounds meee to comment when nobody else does D:<

    Anyway, I do like Illiana here, along with the description of summoning, cause I never quite got how that worked with you. The whole worm thing scared me to bits, and I'm just hoping that the rest of the story will not be drop-will be super-fun! ♥

    So, I think that's all the people you explained, so I assume the next chapter heads into the land where the vortex leads which I will not spoil, yes? :>
     
  9. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 2:1 - A New World. An Old World.

    Yoshimitsu was the first to pass through the portal. The shock of bright colour suddenly shifting to blackness was nothing new to him. Expertly he flipped, landing crouched on a rocky platform. It was exactly how he had left it. The black sky and black below, the sapphire sun hanging in the sky creating a pale glow, the dark spires ending in platforms stretching from the abyss. Exactly the same.

    It didn't take long for him to realise something was wrong. There was more than one portal open, leading to this area. Looking around, he could see at least four others. What's worse, he could see more bodies falling through them. Half of them landed smoothly, one landed painfully and one landed on a dragon. Great. Just what he needed. Yoshimitsu rubbed his temples, wondering just who bothered to explore a potentially dangerous phenomenon.

    Wait.

    Was that..?

    Yes. Vincent.

    Yoshimitsu's eyes locked on the boy. The darker haired teenager stood up and turned his head in Yoshimitsu's direction. Yoshimitsu frowned. Vincent was blinding himself. Those black bandages. Why? What was Vincent trying to hide?

    "Yoshimitsu," a familiar voice said. Yoshimitsu's eyes snapped to the source. Sir Fratley, Dragon Knight of Burmecia. Yoshimitsu felt his spirits lift very slightly. Of all his friends, Fratley was the most level-headed and rational. It was a comfort to have him here. With the plan to venture into the unknown, having a calm ally would do a world of good.

    "Fratley, it's been too long," Yoshimitsu replied, smiling.

    "Excuse me, but where are we?" Antonio interrupted, brushing himself off. Yoshimitsu looked at the brown haired male. He looked barely any older than Yoshimitsu, dressed immaculately in a waistcoast and shirt with dark pants and smart shoes. Yoshimitsu couldn't immediately feel anything special about the boy.

    "This is your dimension, isn't it?" Illiana asked. Yoshimitsu turned on the spot. Another person, and another friend. The green haired summoner, sliding from her blue wyvern. She was clad in her usual attire, a dark cloak covering the majority of her body.

    "Yeah. This is the Ryuga dimension," Yoshimitsu confirmed. "Guys... what are you all doing here?"

    Fratley jumped to the same platform as Yoshimitsu, a graceful and easy movement.

    "The Burmecian's caught wind of the portals appearing. We saw you advancing through a portal, so it was only natural for me to follow," Fratley explained. "After all, help of the finest Dragon Knight could never do harm."

    Illiana jumped too, crossing three platforms to reach Yoshimitsu. She ran her finger over the summoning bead at her waist as she moved. There was a slight hesitation before she spoke.

    "I saw the thing, the... it looked like a rip in the sky. I wanted to know where it went," Illiana admitted, her face turning a little pink. Yoshimitsu turned to look at Antonio.

    "Accident."

    The blue haired boy rolled his eyes. Accident. Right. Okay.

    "What about you, Vincent?" Yoshimitsu asked. "Why are you here?"

    Vincent was the only one who hadn't moved.

    "There was a threat to the world. I must help, however I can," Vincent replied, his voice impassive. His head was turned away from the group.

    The tension between the two was electric. Yoshimitsu's eyes were locked on Vincent, but the black haired boy had turned his head away. Illiana, Antonio and Fratley observed the two, unsure on what was happening. Yoshimitsu's look was challenging yet inquisitive. So many questions were in a single gaze.

    "If you need help, I'll help. I'll stick this out," Vincent said, breaking the silence. "What's your plan?"

    Yoshimitsu said nothing. He was conflicted. One part of him wanted to try to fix things, to be back with Vincent, to be close to the boy and love him again. Another part wanted to give him a swift kick to the backside. It was a difficult decision.

    "I don't know. The Ryuga aren't capable of this, of breaking the barrier," Yoshimitsu said, keeping his voice even. "No one's explored past this place. There's more to this world, there has to be. The plan is to explore this dimension until we find the cause."

    "What if the cause is on another planet?" Antonio said. His skepticism was evident in his face.

    "It wont be. This planet is the only one capable of sustaining life," vincent replied, catching Yoshimitsu by surprise. "It's like Earth. It's in the perfect position within the solar system. Everything here is just different."

    Yoshimitsu stared at Vincent. How did he know all this?

    "So how do we decide where to go?" Illiana asked. Yoshimitsu just shrugged.

    "Pick a direction and walk in it, I guess," he replied. He gestured vaguely in a direction. "We can't go that was because that's where the city is. I guess the opposite is fine."

    Fratley nodded.

    "Heading towards a place that we know has no connection seems like a wasted exercise," he agreed. "We need to construct or acquire some kind of map at some point. Accidentally re-tracing our steps would be a fruitless display."

    Yoshimitsu nodded. It made sense, after all. Yes, Fratley would help him so much.

    "If what he-" Antonio pointed rather delicately at Vincent "-says is correct, it's a safe bet that there will be more life here than what we can see presently. Perhaps gathering a map would be easier within the confines of a city or town."

    Yoshimitsu nodded again. All very valid points, and he appreciated them. If it hadn't been for everyone else appearing, he realised, he would have done everything all wrong.

    "I guess we should start walking then," Illiana concluded.

    The group started their walk. It was not the most eventful thing in the world. Yoshimitsu, Fratley and Illiana made small talk and caught up on events in each others' lives, looking like three best friends out on a shopping trip. Vincent and Antonio remained mostly silent, aside from the odd comment. It was clear that Antonio felt somehow superior to the group, the distaste in his voice and his upright posture. He did not trust them, and least of all Vincent. The dark haired boy was walking seperate from the group, speaking only to correct facts or details.

    Yoshimitsu observed the smartly dressed boy as they walked. There was nothing immediately noteworthy about him. No obvious weaponry and no immediate supernatural talents. The boy seemed to be... just a boy. The blue haired boy did notice the belts. Two belts, each one with two rectangular-shaped pouches of sorts. For some reason, those pouches made him nervous. They were locked and well-contained. Antonio clearly treasured whatever was in those pouches. Was it dangerous?

    "Hey, uh... what did you say your name was?" Yoshimitsu asked.

    "Antonio, the Butterfly," Antonio replied.

    The Butterfly? That mask? What?

    "Okay, er..." Yoshimitsu started, staring at the half butterfly mask on Antonio's face. Fratley nudged the blue haired warrior slightly, snapping him back to his senses. "Yeah. Are you sure you want to be here? I mean, the portals will open up off and on for a bit. You could jump back through one."

    Antonio appeared to consider it. Yoshimitsu frowned. He'd seen that look before, which meant...

    "No, I think I'll accompany you. This world is interesting, I'd like to explore it," Antonio replied. Fratley nudged Yoshimitsu again, but there was no need to this time. The teenager dropped his voice slightly, so that only the Burmecian could hear him.

    "He's lying. He has some other reason to be here," he muttered. Fratley opened his mouth to reply, but came to an abrupt halt instead. So did everyone else. Yoshimitsu stopped too, eyes scanning around for danger.

    There. In the sky. A girl. Stood on nothing, apparently. Yoshimitsu was not surprised. Flying people were more common than he'd care to admit.

    She stood in the sky, her shoulder-blade length black hair glinting in the blue light and her pale skin a beacon against the black sky. She wore a black corset-style top and worn jeans, with combat boots that should have dragged her from the sky. She had two guns, one hanging on either hip and what looked like a handle to a weapon hooked on to her belt at the back. Yoshimitsu summoned his weapon, the Bahamut Blade appearing in his hand. Vincent did the same, his curved sword forming out of nowhere.

    "Trouble?" Illiana asked, looking at the girl.

    "Maybe. Why's she here? How did she know we'd be here?" Yoshimitsu replied.

    "It's a nice spot for an ambush, if they knew we were coming," Vincent added. Antonio pushed the button on one of his pouches and slipped five cards into his hand. Illiana and Fratley both readied their weapons, the spear and the halberd respectively.

    Nothing happened for a second. Antonio was the first to react, throwing a six of diamonds into the sky above them. A semi-transparent hexagonal barrier appeared between the group and the girl, just in time to catch a barrage of bullets. As the card floated back to the ground, Yoshimitsu was on the move. The jet boots on his feet already, he shot into the sky with his sword gripped firmly in his hand.

    The girl was fast. She took Yoshimitsu by surprise, the telescoping baton only just missing his head as he instinctively dodged. With more grace than should be possible, he spun in the air and brought his foot swinging round. The jet boot was met by the baton, but Yoshimitsu pointed his palm at the girls' abdomen. Before he could fire any Light blasts, she jumped back to a safe distance. Vincent appeared from nowhere, launching a powerful sweeping strike to the back of the girl's head but she ducked immediately, the sword not even touching her hair.

    Fratley and Illiana stood on the rock below, watching the events play out before them.

    "Someone who can match Yoshimitsu's speed and Vincent's power... How unusual," Fratley commented, sounding impressed. He relaxed his grip on his halberd slightly, but his stance did not change.

    "She's come out this far to meet us. What does that mean?" Illiana asked. Antonio snorted.

    "It means someone knows we were coming and did not want us here," he replied. "You saw how she opened hostilities without any hesitation. Doubtless, whoever the mastermind here has plans that are not to be ruined."

    "This is a surprising turn of events. They've sent someone who can match Yoshimitsu and Vincent, blow for blow," Fratley continued. "I wonder just how important it is to remove them."

    "Them? Not us?" Illiana asked. She was itching to enter the fight. Yoshimitsu and Vincent fought well together, reading each other's movements easily, but the girl was fast enough to dodge and strike back with deadly precision.

    "Sad to say, their power levels far exceed our own. Therein may lie our advantage," Fratley replied. "Our presense is an unknown variable. We shall have to see how this transpires."

    Yoshimitsu started soaring around the girl in a wide circle, his speed increasing rapidly. As he flew, a trail of light followed his palm like a ribbon. With a jerk of his arm, Yoshimitsu brought the light constricting in, trying to ensnare the girl. She jumped up and out of the Light's reach, but Vincent was there. The black haired boy sent a series a Darkness blasts cascading down like a hail storm.

    "Are you done playing with them now?"

    The voice was a different one. A stranger. And an older voice. Yoshimitsu and Vincent both moved back, Vincent landed smoothly while Yoshimitsu remained in the air, looking for the source of the voice. A few platforms over stood another man. He was tall, well-built, an imposing figure. Grey streaked his mane of dark hair. Affixed to his chest was a subtly designed breast plate, worked into the material of his dark leather jacket. Black gauntless, black metal boots and dark grey trousers. He was unarmed but, for some reason, Yoshimitsu could not help but feel like this man was dangerous.

    "Sorry, sir," the girl replied. "I was testing their strength."

    "Indeed. And what did you deduce?" The man asked, his eyes locked on Yoshimitsu.

    "They are trash. Not worth the time it would take to destroy them."

    The man looked like he was considering it. That look on his face worried Yoshimitsu more than staring in the face of a dragon. The blue haired boy took the initiative, shooting forward at a blinding speed. Whatever the man was planning, he had to be stopped. Vincent must have known that, why wasn't he moving?

    The blow came from nowhere. Yoshimitsu was stopped, cancelling his attack as he felt a blade slice straight through his flesh along his collar bone. The actual strike had been enough to rip his shirt straight from his body. This was a warning shot. Yoshimitsu jumped back again, grinding his teeth. Something about the cut felt off. It was not a normal wound.

    "I agree," the man said, sliding his knife back into his sleeve. "To destroy them would be a waste of time. Still, one can never be to cautious."

    He clapped his hands together. As his palms met, each one of the unlikely group was faced with a strange and complicated symbol that appeared in the air. Yoshimitsu tried to move, but found his limbs had all been locked in place. He was like a statue, completely still save for his eyes. The symbols shrunk, smaller than the group, smaller than their torsos, the size of their hands. Each symbol printed itself on their body.

    On Yoshimitsu, his left breast.

    On Vincent, his right.

    On Fratley, under his eye.

    On Illiana, her hand.

    On Antonio, the back of his neck.

    "Have fun surviving in this world," the man said, his condescending voice full of scorn.

    ~*~*~

    "So no one has their powers?" Fratley asked. It had been an hour since their encounter with the pair. They had continued travelling, unsure as to what the symbols had done. It was only when Illiana had tried healing the cut on Yoshimitsu's collar bone that they had noticed. No one could use their powers. Yoshimitsu and Vincent had been the ones to confirm that. Both Light and Dark had gone.

    "Do I look like a middle aged man?" Antonio asked.

    "No, you don't."

    "Then yes, I would venture a guess to say that my power has gone too."

    "Don't get snarky," Illiana scolded. "We're here for the near future now, until we figure out how to get rid of these seals."

    "And we can't continue until Yoshimitsu and Vincent are finished," Fratley added. All three turned to look at the pair, sat a few platforms over.

    Yoshimitsu was sat cross-legged, his torso stained with blood. They had no supplies, so no way to stem the blood. It couldn't be healed. He hadn't mentioned it, but Illiana's healing would not have worked anyway. The knife that the man had used, it was charmed or poisoned somehow. The cut couldn't be healed by supernatural means. It still hadn't stopped bleeding.

    "Hold still," Vincent said, kneeling in front of the wounded boy. "Light and Dark are two opposite forces. I don't know if this will work."

    "If it stings, I can handle that. I just don't want to die for a stupid reason like this," Yoshimitsu replied, half-joking.

    There had been one slight difference between the pair and the rest of the group. Because their powers were already so strong, the symbols had not completely removed them. Yoshimitsu could still summon Light, likewise Vincent could summon Darkness, but their power was limited greatly. Useless offensively and defensively. Vincent ran his finger along the cut, a blackness following it. The cut was completely sealed by darkness, a plug to stop the blood flow.

    "Does it hurt?" Vincent asked, his voice low. It had been low throughout the conversation.

    "No... It feels not right, but it doesn't hurt," Yoshimitsu replied, moving his arm to flex his muscles. The darkness stayed in place, no more blood was spilled. Neither of the pair made any move to rejoin the group. Not yet.

    "Vincent... Why did you come?" Yoshimitsu asked. Vincent turned his head slightly, as though to divert his already concealed eyes.

    "I couldn't leave the world in danger. Not after what I've done," Vincent replied. Yoshimitsu could hear the guilt in his voice.

    "No one thought it was you. No one though you did everything," Yoshimitsu said, his eyes downcast and his voice quiet.

    "It was me," Vincent replied. "It was my heart that lead to everything. My heart was too weak to withstand. It was my fault."

    "I never blamed you. Not once," Yoshimitsu said, looking up at Vincent's face. Vincent turned his head back, as though his eyes could see through the blindfold and into Yoshimitsu's. "You came for me. That's all that matters."

    The two sat there, perfectly still. Unspoken words and questions floated in the air between them, but neither one wanted to break the silence. In this moment, it was as though nothing mattered. No one else existed. Nothing else existed. It was just them, in a moment away from everything. Everything that had happened was forgotten, and the pair just sat in each others' presense. The closest they'd been for a long time.

    "We should get going," Vincent said softly.

    "Not yet. Just a few minutes longer," Yoshimitsu replied, shaking his head lightly.

    "Yoshimitsu..."

    "Please," the blue haired teenager insisted, his voice barely above a whisper. "I've missed you so much."

    Vincent didn't say anything for a moment.

    "I've missed you too."

    The pair remained still, just a few minutes longer.

    "I just can't." Vincent's voice was full of sadness. "I'm sorry."

    "I know, Vince," Yoshimitsu replied softly. He reached out and took Vincent's hand. "But I'll always be here."
     
  10. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 2:2 - Onwards

    "I wont promise you anything," Vincent said, standing up. Yoshimitsu followed him, brushing off his jeans as he stood.

    "I don't want you to," Yoshimitsu replied. There was a short distance between them and the others. They could finish the conversation then. "Things aren't the same. We both need to do different things."

    "I'll still help out here. I owe the planet that much," Vincent continued. Yoshimitsu nodded, then realised Vincent would not see and gave an affirmative grunt. He didn't agree with the reasoning, but he couldn't argue with the act. After all, he was there for the very same reason. The boy hopped across to the neighbouring platform.

    "So even though we've got no powers, no idea what we're doing and no real plan, think we can do it?" Yoshimitsu asked. Vincent landed next to him.

    "It's never stopped us before."

    They rejoined the rest of the group without comment. No one thought it was strange that they had been sat away from them for so long. Antonio raised an eyebrow, but refrained from commenting. Just as well. Yoshimitsu had little patience for sarcastic comments right now.

    "Where to now?" Illiana asked, looking between Yoshimitsu and Vincent.

    "Either forward or backwards," Antonio stated. "We can continue in this world and pray we find a way to remove these seals, or we return to our own and seek help."

    "There's no sense in going back," Yoshimitsu argued. "This magic is completely different to anything on Earth. Not even Araini could get rid of this. Not even Alex."

    "I need to speak to you about Alex later, Yoshimitsu," Vincent said.

    "So the only choice is to go forwards," Yoshimitsu continued, after a quick glance in Vincent's direction. "We carry on in the direction we were going in and see where it leads us to."

    "Let's review what we know so far," Fratley suggested.

    "Well, we know that someone expected us," Illiana supplied hopefully, looking around the group.

    "And in particular, Yoshimitsu," Vincent agreed, his head turned in the lithe teenager's direction.

    "It's a safe bet that they're the masterminds," Yoshimitsu added, shoving his hands into his pocket. "Also that I need a new shirt."

    Fratley and Antonio both nodded.

    "Also that our powers have been sealed away, presumably to slow or remove us," Fratley continued. "The magic used is from this world and unknown to anyone on Earth, therefore the counterspell is also in this world somewhere."

    "We have no map, no idea where we are and no real destination in mine," Antonio said coldly. Illiana scowled at the boy.

    "That about covers it," Yoshimitsu concluded. "Let's move."

    The mood around the troupe as they walked was much more sober and cautious. The fact that they had been challenged, and beaten, so easily felt like it had been put on the table as a constant reminder. It hung over them like a storm cloud, every drop of rain dampening their moods further. The conversations got shorter, responses less commital, until it ceased entirely. They moved onward in complete silence.

    The landscaped seemed to stretch on forever. The same dark sky and bright sun, the same black expanse beneath them and the same tall spires jutting out of the abyss. They had no idea whether they were making any progress, the sun hanging at that same spot in the sky. Never getting lighter or darker. No perception of the passing of time, no idea on how far they moved.

    Yoshimitsu jumped a few platforms in a row, speeding up to walk alongside Vincent.

    "The platforms are getting closer together," he murmered, looking ahead. The distance they had to jump from step to step was decreasing steadily. They were almost making a full landmass.

    "Which means we're making progress, just slowly," Vincent replied. "Hopefully we'll hit some civilisation soon."

    "We need to stock up. Do you know what they use for currency here?" Yoshimitsu asked. He was worried that they might not be able to afford supplies.

    "The Ryuga city just used gold. A universal constant, apparently. Or multiversal constant," Vincent answered. He kept his pace steady and unfaltering. "Maybe they like unusual stuff from our world. Things are different here."

    "So we just sell off our useless stuff and hope that works?" Yoshimitsu asked.

    "It seems like the best bet, at least for now."

    Yoshimitsu nodded, then turned and hopped back to the rest of the group to relay the information. They accepted it, considered it, questioned it but ultimately it was a relief. News that their walking was finally going somewhere, not just into a limitless void with no life. They had a new sense of purpose, and the buoyancy that came with it.

    Vincent still walked ahead of the group, as though he was scouting or protecting them from an unknown danger. Yoshimitsu didn't comment, and no one else asked. Illiana kept on looking between the two, as though trying to piece together the story. The way Yoshimitsu had described their former relationship had seemed so perfect. This just seemed so wrong, so different to what it should have been.

    As she watched, she saw the expression on Yoshimitsu's face change every time he looked towards Vincent, every time he looked around at the steadily changing landscape, every time he looked at his friends. It kept in switching, flickering between worry, confusion, hope, adoration, trust, anger, sadness, comfort, so many emotions portrayed, some with others, some alone. It was making Illiana a little dizzy trying to read them all. He probably didn't even realise that his expression was changing, even if it was only subtle changes.

    He looked at Vincent with adoration, with sorrow, with anger, with confusion. He looked at the landscape with worry and determination. He looked at his friends with comfort and love, hope and trust. Illiana didn't comment. She guessed it would only make Yoshimitsu worry and stress more. His emotions were in complete turmoil.

    Instead, he moved a little faster to catch up with Vincent.

    "I don't think we've been properly introduced," she said casually, extending a hand as she walked alongside him. "I'm Illiana."

    "Vincent, a pleasure," Vincent replied, shaking her hand briefly. His grip was firm but gentle. A handshake that put her on the same level as him, psychologically speaking. "The land's getting more fertile. There's some life."

    Illiana looked at the ground as she walked. A dark grey that felt like soil underfoot. Small tufts of sapphire grass were growing, sparce but nonetheless alive. Sapphire grass. How unusual. She supposed this wasn't altogether that unusual, since they were in a completely different dimension.

    "So we're getting somewhere, finally," Illiana stated, almost a question. Vincent nodded. Illiana ran her hands over the soft material of her cloak. Soft, but weather resistant and heat retaining. Perfect for the South Pole.

    "It looks like it. We've ventured the furthest away from the city," Vincent replied in a neutral tone. "We should be proud. Not even the Ryuga race knows what's out here."

    "I always wondered why the Ryuga race didn't explore the world," Illiana admitted. "You'd think they'd at least do their research before claiming to be kings of this dimension."

    "Par for the course," Vincent answered in that same tone. The pair looked around as they traveled, for any signs of where to go next. "Yoshimitsu's probably told you about his race before. They're arrogant. They basically claimed a piece of land and said the whole world was theirs."

    "Yeah, he said," Illiana agreed.

    They continued walking for a few more minutes in silence. There was no real way to bring up the questions she wanted to ask. After all, how could she find a way to ask what was going on with their relationship in a polite and sane manner? She couldn't. Not easily, at least. She decided a different tactic.

    "I was a bit surprised they don't all have weird names, though. Yoshimitsu's a bit oriental, but it's still fairly normal a name."

    "Oh, they do," Vincent stated. "The previous king of the Ryuga was called Lord Dran. 'Dran' literally translates into 'Worthy'. Fitting, if a bit arrogant."

    "Oh wow."

    "Yoshimitsu's actual name is 'Nasuk', meaning 'Dedicated Warrior'. He doesn't use it, though," Vincent continued. "He doesn't like to admit his roots."

    "Well, would you?" Illiana asked, smiling. She understood why someone might feel that way, though she was proud of her heritage.

    "His planned carer, father for all intents and purposes, was called Furrien. It meant 'Ambition', but he was killed shortly after Lord Dran," Vincent added, ignoring Illiana's comment. Illiana made a mental note of that. "Even the name 'Ryuga' means 'Ultimate Glory'. With a name like that, their general attitude is no surprise."

    Another pause while Illiana processed the information. There was more to what Vincent had said than he was saying. Something lying under the spoken words. Her initial intention put aside, she focused on what she had just learned. Vincent must have gathered this information for a reason. Could that have been because of Yoshimitsu?

    "You know a lot about the Ryuga," Illiana commented innocently. She glanced at the ground again. The grass was growing more frequently now, and more vividly. The sapphire seemed to sparkle.

    "I wish. I know bits of trivia. It's Alex who knows it all," Vincent replied, shaking his head as if he was shaking off a bothersome fly. "Still, guess it could come in handy. Yoshimitsu's real name is only used among Ryuga nobility, so that might give us some advantage if we hit civilisation."

    "You think he'll actually use it?" Illiana queried skeptically.

    "Yeah. He wont like it, and he wont accept it from anyone but me, but he'll do it anyway," Vincent answered in a matter-of-fact tone. Illiana noticed the subtle change in Vincent's posture. He had tensed up slightly. "I'll have to tell him away from everyone though."

    "Why's that?"

    "Because he wont like it."

    "Oh. Like sad wont like it, or angry wont like it?" Illiana asked.

    "Angry. Like I said, he doesn't like being reminded of his roots," Vincent replied, his words heavy with meaning. Illiana frowned slightly. She had never known Yoshimitsu to be angry. He was a little more serious than the last time she had seen him, but he was still a fairly calm and upbeat person. Could he hate his heritage so much?

    They stayed silent for a little while longer while Illiana mused over what had been said again. Vincent broke the silence first this time. Illiana had glanced at him as they walked. He looked like he was trying to pick his words carefully, sometimes as though he was about to start talking but then decided against it.

    "I don't know if we can go back to being how we were," he admitted. Illiana reached out and placed her hand on his arm, hoping to console the boy. He didn't react at all. "I know he misses me. I know he thinks we're making a mistake, that I shouldn't go off on my own but I'm not so sure."

    "Why? Why don't you go back to him?" Illiana asked.

    "Because things aren't the same. We're completely different people now," Vincent said. "Not just our powers. Being trapped inside Yisimentsu's soul for over a year gave me time to think and re-evaluate myself. It's not just the fact that I nearly destroyed the world. I changed. I just don't know how much Yoshimitsu's changed since everything happened."

    Illiana understood what he was saying. She understood his decision completely. In the same situation, she probably would have acted the same as Vincent was now. It was a sad situation. Two people so completely suited to each other had been forced to realise that things weren't as perfect as they thought.

    "Look. Civilisation," Vincent said, interrupting her thoughts. Illiana followed the direction of his pointing finger to see a sight she didn't think she would for a while.

    A town.
     
  11. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 3:1 - Civilisation and making their way

    As far as settlements went, it was not a huge town. A few houses, a few shops, a few people. A border town, at best. It was unlike towns from the other world. The buildings were crudely designed and hastily built, constructed out of whatever materials could be found. Due to the nature of the world, though, each building looked like a work of art. A mesh of colours thrown together on the canvas of the structure, blues and greens and reds aligned hastily to create a bright masterpiece. Vincent was the only one who did not register the unusual appearence of the town. Unsurprising, given his lack of vision. Everyone else regarded the dwellings differently.

    Illiana looked at the town in adoration. Though a small part of her mind realised that it was a town constructed with scraps of material that had been lying around, no better than a slum, the different colours that wove in and out of each other with such intricacy to create an image of light and colour was amazing. The walls created out of bits of metal and wood and rope, tightly bound together as a weak shelter against the elements. It was amazing that something so wonderful could be so fragile in this world.

    Antonio eyed the buildings with monetary interest. Stealing from this hovel would be laughable, ridiculously easy. He had no immediate desire to relieve the inhabitants of any particular possesions, but in the future it could prove to be a fruitful endeavour. Why, the objects in this world alone would land him a small fortune back in the real world! He stopped to pick a blade of sapphire grass and examine it. Even without any visual aid, the grass was not of the same biological makeup as grass in the real world. It was more crystalline and fragile. This world was full of, hopefully profitable, surprises.

    Fratley regarded the town with mild admiration. His feelings were hard to describe. He was reminded of Burmecia during the early stages of rebuilding. The only real difference was the colour. Burmecia had been a wash of greys, bleak and hopeless. It took the dedication of the Burmecian race to rebuild in such a lifeless setting. The colours in this town showed hope and willpower, the desire to become bigger and better despite the disadvantages. An admirable feat and a worthy cause.

    Yoshimitsu could not decide what he felt. His personal feelings, the vivid display of colour and the clear run-down appearence of the town were all warring in his perspective. The bright colours filled him with hope, but the degraded buildings filled him with despair. It was an odd feeling, having two completely different emotions at once. The world was not good for him right now. He needed time to stop and re-evaluate himself and his goals. For now, he decided to refrain from passing judgement on the town. Not that he had any right to.

    "Hold on," Vincent said, stopping and raising a hand. The group immediately came to a halt. Yoshimitsu stared at Vincent expectantly.

    "What's the issue?" Illiana asked.

    "Here, everyone take one of these," Vincent ordered, pulling a number of necklaces from his jacket. Everyone accepted one, with Vincent putting the spares back into his pocket.

    "What're these?" Yoshimitsu enquired, slipping the necklace over his head. He raised the glowing jewel pendant to his eye and examined it.

    "A gift from Alex," Vincent explained. Yoshimitsu's eyes narrowed at the mention of the water adept. "A universal translator. It uses a simple form of magic to break down language and re-assemble it so that the wearer can understand. Since we don't know what languages are used here, I figured these would help."

    "A little convenient that you happened to have these," Antonio commented slyly. Yoshimitsu couldn't help but agree. Vincent seemed to know more than he was letting on. He did not press that matter, however. He would ask Vincent later.

    "Kinda handy though," Illiana said, watching how the gemstone's glow pulsated. She slipped it underneath her top and out of sight.

    "Is that everything?" Fratley asked.

    "The plan is basically to see if you can sell anything spare you have on you and do some recon," Yoshimitsu took over the explanation. "We'll designate a meeting point and all meet back there. After that, we'll decide where to go."

    There was a murmur of agreement, then they all set off again. Many of the townsfolk eyed them warily. Yoshimitsu made a mental note that the residents of this backwater town were as human looking as they were, sans Fratley. Strangers were clearly not common in this town. Yoshimitsu wagered that it was only travellers or trade routes that brought people here, a sort-of pit stop on the way to the Ryuga City. It would explain why the shops were still open. Yoshimitsu paused to examine the window of one store. The current fashion of this area, undoubtedly. What looked like leather armour. The teenager pulled a face.

    It took them less than an hour to fully cover the town. Easily more houses than stores, though the stores were by far larger. It seemed everyone in town had a job in the stores, which were immaculately kept. Shelves stocked perfectly, weapons shined, clothes washed, food organised. Definitely a trading post of sorts, both to and from the Ryuga City. The group decided on who was to do what. Yoshimitsu would gather information, Illiana was to stock up on food, Antonio and Fratley would deal with weapons and Vincent had clothes duty. They agreed to meet up at the town centre, a small water feature filled with crimson liquid.

    As they split up, Vincent followed Yoshimitsu.

    "Hang on, Yoshimitsu," Vincent insisted. Yoshimitsu stopped and turned, a confused expression on his face.

    "I thought you were on clothes?" Yoshimitsu asked.

    "I am, but there's something you might want to consider," Vincent replied. "Your Ryuga name, 'Nasuk'."

    "What about it?" Yoshimitsu prompted, his expression frozen in place.

    "It's a name taken from Ryuga nobility. Using it could give us an advan-"

    "No."

    "Yoshi, be reasonable."

    "Don't 'Yoshi' me, Vincent. I am being reasonable," Yoshimitsu shot back, clenching his fists. "It's my goddamn name and it's up to me if I want to use it or not."

    "Yoshimitsu," Vincent ammended. There was no easy way to discuss the subject, especially not when Yoshimitsu looked ready to hit someone. "This is about more than your grudge against your people. There's more at stake than that."

    "I don't care, Vincent. Nothing is worth using that name."

    "Just consider it. People might be more welcoming or quicker to help you if you use it," Vincent said. Yoshimitsu turned and walked away without another word.

    Fuming, Yoshimitsu made his way around town. The logical part of his brain told him to calm down before attempting to gather any information. Attacking people verbally because he was in a bad mood would destroy their chances of success in this town. But how dare did Vincent say that? Vincent had no idea what Yoshimitsu's real name was. How offensive it would be, how it would shatter his pride and his beliefs to use the name he had tried so hard to lose? How much he'd loathe himself?

    It was an hour before the gang regrouped at the square. Yoshimitsu was the last to return. Everyone had pooled their purchases to compare what they had found and what would be useful. The teenager immediately noticed a collection of weapons.

    "What're those for?" He asked, gesturing to the items in question.

    "Vincent couldn't summon his weapon," Illiana replied. "We guessed you'd have the same issue."

    "Not to mention our weapons all changed," Antonio added. "Most of my cards are unresponsive, as though the magic was torn from them."

    "My spear's too heavy to use like I should be able to," Illiana agreed. Yoshimitsu turned to Fratley.

    "I sold my halberd. It was the same as the next," Fratley replied, shrugging. "It was unremarkable."

    "So we've got... these?" Yoshimitsu asked, taking one of the swords. It was heavier than he liked, a little longer and the blade felt uneven. He flourished the weapon experimentally. It had a good momentum, but it still felt alien to him. Yoshimitsu looked back to Illiana.

    "No, I didn't sell my spear," she said quickly before Yoshimitsu could ask. "Fratley was kind enough to keep a hold of it. He's got a pouch thing that can hold anything."

    "Oh, I have one of those somewhere," Yoshimitsu said.

    "So, Yoshimitsu, what did you find?" Vincent asked, as though they had not argued an hour previously. Yoshimitsu spared just enough time to shoot Vincent an angry glare before answering.

    "Not a great deal. No one could understand how the seals work, so that was a bust," Yoshimitsu answered, directing his words to the rest of the group but not Vincent. "I did sign everyone up for some bounty hunts, though."

    "Bounty hunts?" Illiana asked.

    "Yeah. Looks like the main occupation for adventurers or whatever is bounty hunting," Yoshimitsu explained, running his fingers through his hair. "There's good money in it. A lot of cities apparently have at least one bounty list. Places like this are usually like, stop such and such a monster from eating our livestock and that kind of stuff, but others get stuff about criminal syndicates and stuff."

    "So you signed us up for them?" Antonio asked, his tone a cross between disgust and impatience.

    "We'll pair off. Vincent and Antonio, Fratley and Illiana," Yoshimitsu continued, ignoring Antonio's interruption.

    "What about you?" Illiana asked.

    "My bounty asked for someone fast. I'm the fastest guy here, so I'll be able to handle it fine," Yoshimitsu answered dismissively, pulling a few sheets of parchment from his pocket. "Here, these give the details of what you need to do."

    Antonio took one sheet from Yoshimitsu, deciding that he'd have to read it out for Vincent. Fratley took the other, and immediately turned back to Illiana to show her the information.
     
  12. Sem

    Sem The Last of the Snowmen
    Former Administrator

    Yaaay I finally caught up. Anyway, I really like where this thing is going. You have a colorful cast and I like your style. I'm a bit sad that this isn't an RP - it sounds like it'd make a good one.

    Aside from a few typos here an there it's a pretty decent job ^^
     
    #12 Sem, Jul 26, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2013
  13. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 3:2 - Vale

    Help needed against a trio of monsters

    Trio of canine-like beasts

    Extremely fast

    Last spotted to the west of the town

    Reward: 20000 Cryns​

    Yoshimitsu read the bounty listing again, for the fifth time, just to confirm the details. A quick check with a local had told him that the Ryuga City was considered to be the North Pole of the planet. No wonder they were so superior. Still, it gave him the information he needed. Due west, into the endless expanse again. He stopped just long enough to grab a new top, a sky blue tunic-style top with a leather belt, before setting out.

    Being on his own as he walked gave Yoshimitsu time to think. It was kind of nice, to only have to worry about himself instead of the entire group. He hadn't counted on there being anyone else. It had been a solo mission, something he would take care of himself because it was from his home dimension. Sure, he should have guessed that Vincent would have turned up as well. After all, Vincent was ready to stop any potential threat to the world. After what he had done...

    And yet, he wasn't sure if Vincent understood. There had been no damage. Vincent hadn't caused the Earth any harm. Everyone knew it wasn't really him. No one blamed him. What was the issue? Why was he being so stoic? Why was he removing his eyesight? Yoshimitsu couldn't make any sense of it. Was there something he had missed? An important detail, overlooked in his haste? No, that couldn't be it. What was Vincent's problem?

    The teenager considered what Vincent had said. The name, using his name. Nasuk. Yoshimitsu's face scrunched up. It was repulsive. A reminder of what he was, what his original purpose had been. A killing machine. Merciless, ruthless, deadly to the tinest detail. One of Lord Dran's Elite Guard, designed for the protection of the ruler and the destruction of his enemies. Lord Dran's Elite Guard, the ultimate combat team that had felled armies on their own, that no one dared to cross in battle. Disgusting. Yoshimitsu was supposed to be a weapon. A blade, to be used when needed then sheathed again.

    "Bastard."

    Yoshimitsu spat the word out. To use that name would be accepting everything that he wasn't. To admit that his original purpose was to be a killer. To end the lives of innocent people who had somehow offended his lord and master. He couldn't do that. He just couldn't. But... was it worth protecting his pride? Couldn't he just swallow it, if it meant getting through this mission easier? If it meant his friends might be at less risk? Yoshimitsu didn't know the answer to that.

    Yoshimitsu looked around. It was still an endless expanse, but this time there was life, grass and a couple of trees. Not like any tree he had ever seen. They were a mass of intertwined vines, bright pink bark that wrapped around itself to hold its shape and extend to the sky. The leaves were jagged circles, crimson and sturdier than stone but lighter than feathers. Yoshimitsu plucked one of the leaves, examining it. The surface was smooth, but underneath was a mesh of white veins. So strange, but so similar. He dropped the leaf, and carried on walking.

    "Look out!"

    Yoshimitsu spun on the spot, then ducked just in time. A blue and purple blur shot over his head, moving too quickly for Yoshimitsu to tell exactly what it was. He slid his new sword from his belt and raised it, ready for the thing to come back round and attack again.

    "To your left!"

    Yoshimitsu ducked again, but this time he swung his sword overhead. It sliced through something, a second blurred creature of orange and red. The teenager glanced at his blade, only the tip of it bloody. The strike had been enough to cause the creature to falter. It slowed down for an instant, but that was all Yoshimitsu needed to know that this was the bounty. A red and orange canine creature, its front paws slightly larger with sharp claws and its body covered in what looked more like solid skin than fur.

    Two of them so far. Yoshimitsu bent his knees slightly, watching the two blurs circle him. Where was the third one? While he watched, he flourished his sword. The weight was still taking some getting used to. He should have been able to cleave that wolf in two, not barely nick its hide. Even though he hadn't tried summoning his sword, he could feel its absense now. Was Bahamut..?

    "Watch yourself, this could be a bit of a shock."

    A violin note played, the sound filling the air easily and swelling to deafening volumes. As the note reverberated, the ground underneath Yoshimitsu started to shake. The boy visibly flinched when a number of thick, crimson vines burst from the ground. Two of them shot out and grabbed the wolves, trapping them completely. Yoshimitsu didn't hesitate, running forwards at the nearer of the two canines and throwing himself into a violent vertical strike. He put his weight behind the weight of the blade and sliced through the vines and a chunk of the animal neatly.

    "You're not bad."

    The owner of the voice finally made himself visible, stepping out from behind a tree. A male figure, moving with remarkable grace. His dark brown wavy hair bounced a little as he walked, a small goatee under his lip and stopping as it touched his chin. He looked about the same age as Yoshimitsu, but Yoshimitsu knew that age wasn't a factor with people any more. The stranger wore a black jacket, with white fur lining, cuffs and collar, over what looked like a rough cotton t-shirt with string through the v-neck. His trousers were rough and coarse looking, but designed to endure more difficult weather and terrain. He carried a metal violin and bow, the silver glinting in the pale light.

    "You're the one who posted the bounty?" Yoshimitsu asked. He kept his eyes moving, looking for the third wolf.

    "I am, and you're the one to come," the stranger replied. "I'm Vale."

    "Yoshimitsu," Yoshimitsu said. There wasn't really much time for pleasentries, though. "What about the third wolf?"

    "That's... The third beast appears when we incapacitate these two by inflicted life-threatening injuries on them," Vale explained. "The third one is the reason this fight is so difficult."

    "I've just gotta take these two out then? No problem."

    Yoshimitsu lifted his sword again and shot forwards. As he struck downward, the vines seemed to part to allow easier access to the wolf. With a deadly, precise strike the sword cut straight through the wolf's side, neatly cutting several of its ribs. There was little sound, only the light ring as the bone and metal connected.

    "Clean cut. Why not just kill it outright?" Vale asked curiously, holding his violin ready as Yoshimitsu hopped back. That was both wolves with life-threatening injuries.

    "Murder's not on my to-do list," Yoshimitsu replied with a shrug. "What now?"

    "We have a few seconds before the third creature arrives. Keep on your guard, it's tough," Vale answered, his eyes darting around. Yoshimitsu kept his grip on the sword firm, his senses on edge. Where the third would would come from, and how fast it might be, Vale had neglected to mention. There was no sound, aside from the blue haired boy's slightly quickened breathing. The air was still and silent.

    They both felt it at once. A slight shaking in the ground. With Yoshimitsu's senses so charged, it felt like an earthquake. The boy listened harder, hearing the footsteps from a muted paw. Far too fast to be a normal animal, far too heavy to be a small one. A regular rhythm, but something was off. He couldn't decide what was wrong about it, just that something was.

    "Here is is," Vale muttered. Yoshimitsu turned in the direction of the sound. It was a slight haze that told him where the third wolf was. He recognised that haze. It was close to invisibility. The light being refracted differently around the subject. Close, but not perfect. Yoshimitsu could follow the movements easily. The imperfect shape was moving quickly, slowly fading into view as it approached them.

    "Fuck, it's a werewolf," Yoshimitsu breathed.

    "A what?" Vale looked confused.

    "Never mind," Yoshimitsu replied dismissively, jumping away from Vale and launching into a run. As soon as the beast came into sight properly, it ceased trying to mask itself. Each footfall cracked the ground sending chunks of black dirt and sapphire grass into the air. It was not a subtle creature. Yoshimitsu had been right, it resembled a werewolf most closely. Silver skin over bulky muscles, half humanoid and half canine. Its white fangs glistened with saliva, its claws stained by blood and its amber eyes full of malice.

    The beast was fast, but so was Yoshimitsu. He kept pace with it easily, sliding underneath as it lunged at him and pushing himself up with remarkable grace. He stayed on his hands and swept his feet into a strike aimed at the beast's legs, a movement close to dancing. As the wolf fell, Vale played a scale on the violin, starting with low, deep notes and soaring up to high, nearly inaudible tones. As the notes sounded, the ground underneath the beast shudders. A solid wall of earth shot up, like it was punching the animal, sending it skyward.

    "You're a geomancer, aren't you?" Yoshimitsu asked as he jumped back, skidding along the grass slightly.

    "Well done. Most people take longer to realise," Vale replied.

    "Can you get me up there?"

    "No problem."

    Yoshimitsu braced himself as Vale played the scale again, the ground shuddering and shaking. As another pillar ascended, Yoshimitsu launched himself from it like a bullet. Still stunned by its sudden ascent, the werewolf had no chance of defending from the strike. A flash of silver, then a neat cut, perfectly straight along its chest. Yoshimitsu landed again, turned and ran at the point where the animal would land. He flexed his arm as he ran. The silver animal's skin was tough like stone.

    "Yoshimitsu, that sword should unlock some of whatever powers you have," Vale called, already back on his violin. A sequence of notes, intricately placed for a melody.

    "What?" Yoshimitsu shouted back, closing in on the bounty.

    "Just try to use whatever you can, I'll explain after!"

    Yoshimitsu gritted his teeth. He hadn't noticed until Vale had said it, but he felt a tiny bit of his power unlocked. Just enough to manifest. His fist sudden flared up with white and yellow flames, the power of Light. Not a lot, but just enough. He threw his fist forward and fired a ball of Light at the werewolf. As it impacted, throwing the agile beast slightly, the ground underneath the animal opened slightly. Its hind legs fell into the gap, and the earth sealed itself up again.

    Even locked in the ground, the werewolf was not beaten. As the blue haired boy went for it again, it swiped back with surprising speed and raked its claws through Yoshimitsu's top. It was only his quick reflexes that stopped him from being sliced to pieces.

    "That's the second top today," Yoshimitsu muttered, running his hand over the three scratches on his chest. Nothing serious, just annoying.

    "Not a bad view..." Vale muttered, a playful smirk on his face.

    Yoshimitsu faltered as he went to attack again, thrown slightly by Vale's comment. Unfortunately, though par for the course with the way Yoshimitsu's day was going, the wolf was quick to abuse the advantage. Diamond claws shot out at Yoshimitsu's chest, ready to tear through his ribs.

    The violin bow struck from nowhere, Vale's attack slowing the wolf just in time for Yoshimitsu to dodge. The blue haired boy ducked under the claw and slashed vertically along the animal's side, opening deeper cut. Both fighters jumped away before the counter attack could come.

    "Sorry, I didn't realise I'd distract you," Vale apologised quietly, raising his violin again.

    "I just didn't expect you to..." Yoshimitsu replied, not quite finding the words. "We should end this quickly."

    "Let me. It needs to be a lethal strike," Vale offered. Yoshimitsu shrugged, but agreed. Killing still wasn't something he felt comfortable with.

    It was quick, and mostly painless from what Yoshimitsu could tell. Vale played another intricate tune, the notes soaring and dipping. Two vines shot up out of the ground, moving as though they were intelligent life forms. At a blinding speed, they wrapped themselves around the wolf's neck and twisted. A quick, clean break. Yoshimitsu did not watch the murder. He watched Vale instead. Vale was not just a geomancer. He was an artist. The way he moved the bow over the strings with such certainty, the grace and strength with which he moved his arms, the way the music swelled and filled the air with such sweet sounds.

    ~*~*~

    "So that's twenty thousand cryns," Vale stated, handing over a pouch filled with circular crystals. Yoshimitsu took one and examined it closely.

    "A crystal, cut down into a coin shape," Yoshimitsu commented, turning it over between his fingers. "Everything in this world is crystals. It'd be pretty if I was on a day trip."

    "You're not?"

    "No, I'm from another dimension."

    "Huh."

    The pair were sat a short distance outside of town, on the blue grass. Even though the sun had not moved, its colour had changed slightly. It had become a colder blue, paler but somehow less bright. Yoshimitsu assumed this was night time in this dimension. The temperature had dropped significantly. Yoshimitsu could not suppress a shiver. Something Vale noticed. The brown haired boy shrugged off his jacket.

    "Here, it can get pretty cold," he said. Yoshimitsu took it gratefully, slipping his arms through the fur-lined sleeves.

    "Thanks," he replied, pulling it around himself to ward off the chill.

    "You'd better take care of that. Cost me three times that bounty," Vale warned, though the slight smile on his face ruined the impact.

    "Where'd you get the money?" Yoshimitsu asked, looking at the coin again. "You don't strike me as a bounty hunter."

    "I used to be," Vale answered. "But it's difficult to hunt bounties when your main ability is music. I had to get a specialised violin for combat, most of them snapped instantly. Broke my heart every time."

    "Broke your heart?"

    "Music is my life. Seeing an instrument broken or mistreated is like a physical blow," Vale explained. Yoshimitsu nodded. He could understand that.

    "And the geomancy?"

    "I've always been able to do that. Manipulate my surroundings for battle. My violin is just a way for me to focus and direct it, otherwise I can get carried away and do more damage than good."

    "And my first question? Where'd you get money?"

    "I'm a performer," Vale said, a true smile shining through. "Mostly on corners for scraps of change, but sometimes I get major concerts. I save the money for when I need it, like today."

    Yoshimitsu nodded again. There was something genuine about Vale, something honest, kind and open. A boy who had no issues with talking to strangers and making friends. What Yoshimitsu was like before everything happened, just smarter.

    "How far does twenty thousand go anyway?" Yoshimitsu asked, nodding at the pouch that lay on the grass between them.

    "It's half of what I have, more or less," Vale replied.

    "That's not quite what I asked," Yoshimitsu pointed out, a faint smile on his lips. He splayed his hands across the grass and leaned back, looking up into the black sky.

    "Far enough. Twenty thousand lets me live for a week with a fair amount of comfort," Vale answered. "For a traveller, it'll let you buy some supplies, get to the next town and restock."

    "That's good to hear," Yoshimitsu replied, nodding again. The pair were silent for a moment, before Yoshimitsu realised he had an important question. "How did you know I'd be able to use my power?"

    Vale raised an eyebrow.

    "Don't you know? Weapons unlock your potential," Vale said, sounding skeptical. "Isn't it like that in your world?"

    "No, not really," Yoshimitsu replied. "If you have a power, you can use it. It just takes practice to get good with them."

    "Same principle, essentially," Vale stated thoughtfully. "A lot of people with stronger powers have the seals placed on them. They lock away whatever power you have, and you have to earn it back by mastering it bit by bit."

    "So these seals..."

    "They lose intricacy as you learn more about your powers," Vale explained. He rolled up the sleeve of his shirt to reveal several intertwined black lines. It was, by far, less complicated than Yoshimitsu's forced tattoo. "With every new weapon you get, your powers start to come back and manifest themselves in a new way to master. Any powers you learned from your previous weapon stays as well."

    "Huh. I guess that makes sense," Yoshimitsu said, letting himself drop so that he was lying on the grass. "Looks like we'll be buying weapons in every town then."

    "I guess I'll see a fair bit of you, then," Vale said with a smile.

    "What d'you mean?"

    "I have a place in pretty much every town and city. Took me a while to get the money," Vale explained. "But it beats camping out. I'm headed back to the neighbouring town to here in the morning."

    "Could you show us the way?" Yoshimitsu asked hopefully.

    "Happy to."
     
    #13 Yoshimitsu, Jul 30, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2013
  14. I have to stop and catch my breath for a moment here, that was a lot of reading to get through and I think they've been forever imprinted into my retinas.

    Anyway, El, I really love the cast of characters that you've assembled here. All of them brings their own thing to the table, and they've all got such great personalities that really shine through. Also, reaching waaaaaaaaaaaaay back to the beginning, I like the way that you were separating the chapters between them (I also like that you have the creativity to name your chapters individually).

    I'm really excited to see more of this, I like where it's going and I like the cast of characters.

    And as Sem said whenever that post was, I'm a bit sad that this isn't an RP as well, but I'm quite content to keep on reading it as it's own entity. Keep up the great work ^_^
     
  15. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Kinda cack chapter, just getting back into the feel of the fic.

    Chapter 3:3 - The Dragon Knight's Honour

    Golem destroying crops of the village

    Large monster, very strong

    Destroy it before it comes too close to town

    Last spotted north of town

    Reward: 20000 cryns

    "Intriguing how this dimension uses language similar to our own," Fratley commented as he and Vincent walked through the outskirts of the town. Here, the slums were more vibrantly coloured and more haphazardly thrown together. A stiff breeze could have knocked them down.

    "That's the translator," Vincent explained, checking over the blade hanging at his waist. It was a fairly simple weapon, sword, handle and guard all in place correctly. "It deconstructs the language so that we can understand it better."

    "Clever piece of magic. Who gave you these?" Fratley enquired. They passed the outskirts and continued heading north. The sun in the sky still hadn't budged. Was this planet suspended in place within space, or were the physics of this place completely different?

    "Alex, who else?" Vincent answered. "He knows more than anyone about... well, anything. I asked for these a while ago, just in case."

    "In case of what?"

    "Anything."

    The pair continued walking, this time in silence. Fratley was the finest Dragon Knight of Burmecia, but even his curiosity could not be held in check. The boy walking beside him was an enigma now. He was no longer that relaxed, happy boy that the Burmecian had met so long ago, but neither was he the murderous demon intent on destroying the world. The outcome had been advantageous, despite injuries to all parties involved. The boy walking beside him... Fratley did not blame him. Back then, that night in the sky, that was not Vincent.

    "You know a lot about this situation," Fratley commented. Vincent didn't reply. Fratley chose another question. "But if you don't mind my asking, the blindfold..?"

    "The world is very Dark," Vincent answered. "Or rather, I see the Dark everywhere. I don't want to run the risk of that Darkness overrunning me again."

    "The world's not as dark as you think, Vincent," Fratley commented. Vincent laughed.

    "That's what Araini said, too," Vincent replied, the shadow of a smile on his face. "I'm surprised he didn't grasp what Darkness was. He's as academic as Alex, he just doesn't like playing around with dangerous variables. He could probably use it as well as I can, if not better. He's smarter than me."

    "What is Darkness?" Fratley asked.

    "Negative energy. It's the fruits of storing negative emotions," Vincent explained. "Every emotion and its intensity has a certain amount of power attached to it, which gets stored up and manifests as an unholy power."

    "Negative emotions?" The Burmecian unhooked his new weapon from his back. A strange spear, instead of the typical spearhead there was a short sword.

    "Hate, anger, jealousy," Vincent replied. "I had such an excess in the past that the amount stored up is nearly limitless. The power intensifies if I'm angry when fighting, too."

    "I see. And Light is the opposite?" Fratley asked.

    "Spot on."

    "If I might argue semantics with you..." Fratley started, trailing his sentence to allow Vincent to agree or disagree.

    "Go ahead."

    "What exactly consitutes a positive or negative emotion? Anger, for example, could be seen as a positive emotion in certain situations," Fratley said.

    "Such as?"

    "Perhaps in an act of righteous fury?"

    "Good question. If I had to guess, since Light and Dark are very personal elements to the wielder, it's whether the person themselves see it as a positive thing," Vincent explained. "In the fight against Yisimentsu, Yoshimitsu was full of anger at the abomination, but it was for the greater good in his eyes so he found limitless power. Yisimentsu saw anger at Yoshimitsu for never allowed him to be his own person, which is a negative view on things, so his anger was channelled into darkness instead."

    "Interesting," Fratley commented.

    Around them, the sapphire grass was getting denser and taller. Trees grew thicker, like a forest. So much brighter and more vivid than any forest on Earth, yet the mangled shapes of the trees presented a much more sinister appearance. Each vine was like a road in a maze, twisting and turning everywhere to distort the path. This mission felt like that. They knew their final destination. That man, who had effectively rendered them helpless. Fratley twirled his spear briefly, getting a feel for the weight of the weapon.

    "I always meant to ask," Vincent started, breaking the moment of silence. "Your powers... what are they?"

    "Armour," Fratley replied. "Specifically, dragonic armour. Each item I don increases a trait. Gauntless make me stronger, boots make me faster and so on. All of the Dragon Knights can do this, but we all have our specialties. One streamlines her armour for speed, another bulks it out for endurance. As you would imagine, their essential pieces are more elaborate."

    "And what's your specialty?"

    "Helmets," Fratley answered with a smile. "I take the face of a dragon."

    "I see. And what-"

    They were interrupted by a violent tearing sound, followed by a crash. Vincent's head turned in the direction of the sound, while Fratley's nose twitched as he picked up on an alien scent. Strange... It was like he could smell the emotions, not the actual thing. It smelled like hate and anger. It wasn't bloodlust, though. What a curious sensation, to be smelling the atmosphere around the entity and not it's own unique scent or the scent of anything it had come into contact with recently. Was that true for just this thing, or the dimension as a whole? Fratley readied his spear.

    "Looks like we have our target," Vincent said, before taking off into the trees. Fratley followed quickly, his footfalls silent.

    The creature was obvious, nearly as tall as any of the trees. A golem back on Earth would have been a straightforward afair, at least as far as image was concerned. The monstrocity before them was anything but. A mesh of colour, bright and dim, light and dark, a head that was too small for it's body and asymmetrical limbs. Vincent and Fratley crept behind the trees, every footfall silent, every movement precise. As they circled around the beast, Fratley sniffed the air again. He pinpointed the exact scent coming from the golem.

    "Vincent, don't attack it!" Fratley called out. He didn't care about revealing his situation, something worse was happening. Something he hadn't even considered.

    "We have our bounty, Fratley," Vincent replied.

    "Vincent, this thing in front of us... It's scared," Fratley argued, his grip on his spear tightening as he surveyed the area around the golem. "It's not doing this because it wants to."

    "What do you mean?" Vincent's voice was urgent now. He recognised the danger immediately.

    "The golem isn't in control of its actions. It's bait. Stay on your guard," Fratley called. He spun away from the golem, surveying the forest behind him. The bright colours were throwing off his sight, his nose detecting scents in the air around him. Faint, but present, there was something. He couldn't pinpoint it properly.

    "The finest Dragon Knight of Burmecia," a female voice came from above. Full of scorn and disgust. "I should have known you would see through my deception."

    Deception. That was what Fratley could smell. He could tell now, he would be relying mostly on his other senses and not his sight for his stay in this dimension. The smell was surrounding them, as though the forest itself was a lie.

    "Your name, girl," Vincent called out. Fratley couldn't pinpoint his location. This was good. Silently, he moved around the trees to put more distance between himself, his ally and his enemies.

    "And the deluded warrior who thinks he can use Darkness," the voice came again. Fratley could hear the location now. Somehow, Vincent knew what to do. He knew to keep her talking so that he could locate her properly. The boy was clever.

    "How do you know so much about us?" Vincent asked.

    "You think we didn't know about you? You nearly tore apart both worlds," the girl answered, her tone condescending. "We observed you and your allies. We expected you, and the heartbroken doll who defies his nature."

    "That's enough from you," Vincent roared. There was pure anger in his voice, Fratley noticed.

    Of course there was. The Burmecian knew, as well as Illiana and Alex and Araini, the strong bond Yoshimitsu and Vincent shared. It would be hard to find a pair closer and more suited to each other, regardless of their current situation. Yoshimitsu would have responded the same, with rage. It was a credit to his character that Vincent hadn't unleashed a devastating attack in his anger. He was more level-headed. Fratley bent his knees. Just a few more words...

    "Oh, I'm sorry, did I touch a nerve?"

    Fratley shot from his position, spear at the ready. He was right, and her location was exactly where he figured it would be. With a powerful thrust, he aimed to stab the woman through the arm. She was fast, though, and her telescoping baton knocked the blade away. With a rapid change in his grip, Fratley spun in the air and aimed to slice his enemy. Again, it was blocked, but by this point Vincent, too, had pinpointed her. He appeared from nowhere, his sword coming down like a bolt of lightning.

    The blade met nothing. Fratley could smell her now, having gotten close enough to pick out her scent among all the others filling the forest. She was below them. Right next to the stench of fear. Fratley dropped down, and saw her. Holding a gun to the golem's head.

    "This thing has outlived it's usefulness."

    "Don't!" Fratley called, lunging forward to stop her.

    Too late.

    With a sharp bang and a rush of crimson, the golem was dead. Lay on the floor, missing most of its head. What an unnecessary death. The golem had been innocent, forced to lure them out for elimination. Or maybe just to test them. Or for sport. No matter the case, it was appalling. Killing a confused beast purely because this woman wanted some fun. Fratley lowered his head, a silent salute to the fallen creature.

    "You are overcome by emotion. You wont last in this world," the woman mocked, before vanishing completely.
     
  16. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 3:4 - A Couple Of Unlikely Friendships

    Lizard based creature

    Strong, manipulating the landscape

    Last seen south of the town

    Reward: 20000 cryns

    "Lizard based?" Antonio asked with contempt in his voice as he and Illiana walked through the sparce field neighbouring the town. Illiana rolled her eyes at his tone of voice. She guessed that Yoshimitsu thought she could rein the snobbish boy in somewhat, though it was unlikely. This Antonio guy clearly thought everything was beneath him.

    "Probably some kind of dragon," Illiana replied, keeping her head forward. She wouldn't be caught off-guard, and she wouldn't allow the teenager with her to distract her. "At a guess, they don't have a word for 'dragon' here. We don't even know what sort of creatures live here."

    "We've stumbled upon an alternate dimension by chance, and are not immediately leaving," Antonio commented, smoothing out invisible creases in his waistcoat. "The best thought out plan? This does not even come close. This is among the worst plans in the world."

    "And what do you suggest, huh?" Illiana demanded, rounding on the boy and jabbing him in the chest with her finger. "What gives you the right to pass judgement on anything? You're stuck here, just like the rest of us, so stop acting like we're not as good as you. Unless you have something supportive to add, keep your mouth shut."

    Antonio blinked, apparently not used to being criticised so freely. Illiana turned around again and carried on walking. Something about this guy just irritated her. His condescending attitude, his constant checking of his appearence, the sneer that seemed glued on his face. It was all infuriating. She had grown up being from a race that was rejected and feared, despite not deserving it at all. Sure, Miko had done a few crazy things, but he wasn't a bad person. Neither was she. The hate thrown in their direction upset her, so having a boy barely older than her acting as though she was scum...

    "My apologies," Antonio said, though he didn't sound entirely honest. Illiana ignored him, and carried on walking.

    The scenery around them was mostly unremarkable, aside from a few mounds that looked like they were covering up holes. Maybe something that was tunnelling? Or maybe something that had been planted recently. There was a single tree, with a black trunk and pink leaves completely covering one side. It was the only thing on the expanse, aside from the mounds and the blue grass. Illiana paused though, slowly revolving on the spot to make sure she hadn't missed anything. There was nothing. Just... nothing.

    She glanced at Antonio. He had a strange expression on his face, as though he was trying to figure something out. He was looking directly at the tree. Illiana looked at the tree, too. There was nothing noteworthy, really. The top was a bit thicker, but that was it. Weird tree anatomy was probably common in this world, so she wasn't surprised by the pink leaves only being on one side and running down to its base. Still, Antonio's expression remained unchanged.

    "I was certain..." He muttered, his mouth moving slowly. "No, I must be mistaken."

    "What's up?" Illiana asked, readying her spear just in case.

    "I thought... I was certain that this tree just moved," Antonio said slowly, his eyes not leaving the tree. "I realise we are in a different dimension, however... I find it unlikely that any flora in this world would rotate in the ground..."

    Illiana was suddenly on red alert. No matter what, she was a soldier. As much as she spent all her time on the surface, ignoring her training, she had a soldier's instincts beaten into her. If Antonio thought he saw the tree move, then she wasn't about to ignore it, especially not in this world. Without warning, one of the mounts of dirt exploded, a vine slapping out of it and swinging round at Antonio. She had to give him his credit, he was fast. The same card he used earlier that created the barrier was out again, and the vine bounced off harmlessly. All of the other mounds burst open to reveal more vines.

    Illiana turned to look at the tree. Finally, it was showing itself. It bent down like a neck, revealing a dragonic face at the top. The pink leaves were like a crest, and the eyes were black with yellow slits for pupils. Even though it looked like bark, Illiana guessed that its hide was a lot thicker. At least five tentacles were writhing around, scattered across the plain, though they could easily lengthen from what she could tell.

    "Oh, hell," she muttered to herself, before turning her attention to Antonio. "What can your other cards do?"

    "Nothing noteworthy, currently," Antonio responded. He looked visibly panicked at the prospect of fighting this thing. Illiana knew that look. He wouldn't be much good in this fight, aside from being a target. "The six of hearts and the six of clubs seem to be the only cards that are active, and both are barriers."

    "Right..." She muttered. There was no way she'd be able to fight this thing and protect Antonio. "Get out of the way and keep yourself safe."

    Antonio just nodded, that panicked expression still on his face, though lessened somewhat. Apparently, being asked not to fight had helped calm him down. Clearly the boy only has self-preservation on the mind right now. Illiana twirled her spear experimentally. It was lighter than her normal one, not weighed down by the jewels encrusted in it. Luring out potential summon creatures was great, but the jewels did made it impractical to fight sometimes. She gripped the spear tightly and readied herself for combat.

    There was a moment of silence, and the best Illiana could figure was this thing watching them, sizing them up. She had to admit, they probably didn't look like much. Without warning, one of the tentacles snapped round at her. With a quick movement, Illiana spun the blunt end of the spear into the tentacle and knocked it up over her instead. With a graceful twirl, she stabbed the spear as the tentacle retreated, opening a neat cut. The dragonic head howled, as though it had never felt pain before. As it mouth opened, Illiana thrust her palm at it and sent a small fireball flying down its throat. The creature howled again, but seemed more or less unfazed.

    "Behind you!" Antonio's voice came, and the sound of impact behind her as a tentacle struck one of the barriers. Illiana shot a grateful glance in Antonio's direction, then ran at the dragon's head again.

    Suddenly another tentacle whipped round and caught Illiana's arm, sending her sprawling across the floor.

    "Hmph. Amateurs," another voice came. It wasn't Antonio's. Illiana scrambled to her feet. Odd... She could feel some of her magic. A tiny little fragment. She ran her hand over her arm after stabbing her spear into the ground briefly, and the blossoming bruise vanished. She grabbed her spear again, and looked for the stranger.

    He looked like a kid. He looked about Illiana's age, only a shade taller than her. Dark brown, shaggy hair swept to one side with blue headphones pushing some of it down. A top, with a high neck that covered his mouth, black with blue stripes, one on either side, and blue sleeves. Faded jeans and dark grey boots. He was gripping something, and his eyes were lit up with some small power.

    A tentacle swung round at him, and he pointed at the ground between him and the tentacle. A pillar of ice rose, shattered by the impact but stopping the attack. The boy moved quickly, pointing with his other hand at one of the other writhing shapes and drawing a small circle in the air. Fire erupted at the base, causing the creature to howl again, its eyes full of fury.

    "Can you distract the tentacles while I go for the head?" Illiana asked.

    "Hmph. Fine," the stranger replied.

    Illiana ran at the head again, hexagonal barriers forming at her sides as she moved. Antonio clearly realised that she was the best bet for tackling this beast now, and was at least trying to help. As she ran, the head turned at her. Instantly, a jet of blue flames blasted her way. She dived to the side, but was on her feet again in a second and charging again. Even as a second and a third jet came her way, she dodged from side to side.

    Behind her, the stranger was moving very quickly, quicker than his frame would suggest he was capable. As he weaved around the tentacles, he pointed with alternate hands, using the ice to block incoming strikes and the fire to burn each tentacle from the base up. One rushed round at his feet, aiming to trip him, but he stepped on it as it came and kicked off, using the elevation to aim another pillar of ice. This one burst up from inside a tentacle.

    Illiana seized her chance while the dragon was distracted. She jumped up and swung around its neck, latching on to the head. While its mouth was still open, she shoved her hand in and unleashed a rapid series of fireballs down its throat. To round it off, she gripped her spear tightly and jumped off the head, then plummeted down again and shoved the point right in between the hate-filled eyes.

    There was a moment, where all the air seemed to freeze, become completely still, save for the crackling of the fires. Then, one by one, the tentacles all dropped. Antonio jumped out of the way of one before it could crush him, or ruin his suit. With a mangled weep, the dragon head was the last to drop. Illiana stepped away, quickly checking herself for any injuries she missed during combat. Nothing immediate, a small scrape that she was sure she could fix anyway. She glanced over to Antonio. He looked a little shaken, but the neutral tones were slipping back into his expression.

    "Hey, thanks," she said to the stranger, who was pointing at the flames he had created, each one flickering out instantly.

    "Whatever," he replied, not even looking at her.

    "What's your name?" She asked. She wouldn't be deterred by his abrasive attitude. At least he wasn't being snarky, like Antonio constantly was.

    "Phones. I'm leaving."

    "Aren't you going to claim the bounty..?" Illiana asked, confused for a moment.

    "No. It's all yours."

    With that, the stranger started walking south.
     
    #16 Yoshimitsu, Jun 18, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2013
  17. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 4:1 - The Elite Guard

    The group reconvened at the run-down fountain at the centre of the settlement, having all traded in their success for the money promised. Every member briefly examined each other, checking for cuts and bruises that Illiana could patch up with her limited magic. The poisoned cut on Yoshimitsu's collarbone had lost its infection and healed up just as neatly as everything else. As much as everyone was curious about the newcomer among them, no one immediately questioned him. Yoshimitsu had brought him, it was his duty to introduce him.

    "Everyone, this is Vale," he said, a lopsided grin on his face. "He's the one who issued my bounty, and he's gonna lead us to the next city once we're set to go."

    "Hi, everyone," Vale greeted, putting his hands in his pockets. The metal violin was slung over his shoulder on a temporary strap, the bow hanging at his waist like a sword. "Nice to meet you all."

    Everyone greeted him back, though Vincent's greeting was less enthusiastic. A handshake, but no words said. Vale looked a tad confused, but refrained from commenting. He didn't know the group, after all, so it wasn't his place to make judgements. He maintained his relaxed stance, and allowed the conversation in front of him to progress.

    "So our bounty was a dud," Vincent stated. "That girl from earlier must have made it before we got here."

    "It transpired she was testing us," Fratley agreed, nodding. "She enslaved the golem and murdered it in cold blood, in the interests of evaluating us."

    "There was something about her, too," Vincent continued. "I couldn't figure it out, but that amount of boasting and how merciless she was..."

    "I concur. There is more to that girl than she immediately lets on," Fratley stated. "What about you, Illiana?"

    "We found the dragon, some sort of subterranean one that looked like a tree," Illiana explained. "Bunches of tentacles. Antonio could block most of the strikes for me while I charged the head."

    "Not to mention that uncouth individual," Antonio chipped in, his voice a sneer.

    "Yeah, he wasn't the friendliest person ever," Illiana confirmed. "Good in a fight, he could start fires and make ice appear."

    "That must be Phones," Vale interjected politely. Everyone looked at him, prompting him to explain furter. "He's a good kid once you get past his abrasive attitude, though somehow odd. We see him from time to time when seeking out bounties. He's never interested in the reward, no one can figure out why."

    "He was helpful, at any rate," Illiana said, nodding at Vale's explanation. "He didn't look like a native though, and as far as I could tell he was speaking English."

    "English?" Vale asked.

    "Long story," Yoshimitsu replied. "Took on a werewolf on this end, or the nearest alternative this world has. Tough one, skin like steel. Got him just fine though."

    The group continued their conversation, while checking over their equipment again. Each of their tattoos had simplified by the tiniest amount, just a stray line vanishing or the pattern unfurling slightly as their powers unlocked slowly. Fratley's was the most visible one, and the one they used as a base mark. Though he had still not regained any of his powers yet, he could sense inside that they were growing once more. His pattern, underneath his eye, had lost the red mark in the centre.

    "We may as well set off now," Vincent said calmly. "There's no point in lingering, and I'm sure we'll find somewhere to rest in the next town."

    There was a murmur of agreement, then everyone looked towards Vale. Vale had produced what looked like a watch from his pocket, though with more hands and much more complicated symbols around the edge. After staring at it for a few seconds, he looked in a direction and gesture the group to follow him. There was no hesitation, as the group had agreed to follow the boy with his better knowledge of the world than them.

    Once again, the group seemed to pair up. As with the walk from the Ryuga city, each member had found someone else to talk to. Yoshimitsu and Vale led them, talking casually. Just behind, Vincent and Antonio walked side by side, though they were keeping exchanges to a minimal. Bringing up the rear, Illiana and Fratley kept alert to everything around them. The progress was slow, though given the landscape they were not surprised. An even plain with sapphire grass once more.

    Illiana's eyes kept on straying back to Yoshimitsu and Vale.

    "Those two are fast friends," Fratley commented, though he was looking to the side. Every so often, he would sniff the air. "It is a good thing."

    "Is it?" Illiana asked, skeptically. "What about Vincent?"

    "Vincent is keeping neutral about it, though I can smell his sadness underneath," Fratley commented. "It was his decision to part with Yoshimitsu, and he wont try to interfere."

    "I guess that's true," Illiana agreed. It took her a second to realise exactly what he said. "Wait, you can smell it?"

    "I would wager physics do not apply the same to this world as they do to our own. I cannot detect scents the same here, instead I detect the abstract. I can smell the fear or the sorrow, the deception or the truth, the happiness."

    "That... must be confusing for you," Illiana said with a laugh. "Handy though, I guess."

    "It was an aid against the golem, otherwise we may have been the ones to unjustly murder it."

    Just ahead, Vincent and Antonio walked in near-silence. Though removed of his sight, Vincent kept on turning his head to the side slightly. Antonio kept on glancing sideways at the boy, his face torn between a frown and a scowl. Antonio had always checked the eyes of people while conversing with them, so this pairing was not at all favourable. In his opinion, anyway.

    "Pray tell why you would handicap yourself with such a debilitating garment," Antonio queried, choosing his words deliberately in the hopes of provoking a more heated reaction.

    "Tell me, Antonio, what do you do for a living?" Vincent fired back, his voice calm.

    "I am a professional thief, who excells in impossible heists," Antonio answered. He had no qualms with sharing this information with the members present. The word of Powers was usually dismissed instantly in most courts.

    "And what's the worst thing you've ever seen in your life?" Vincent asked. "What's something that makes you sick to your stomach, or fear for your life or your sanity?"

    Antonio remained silent. Truthfully, there was nothing that provoked any reaction even close to that, unless seeing his supply of his favourite champagne dwindle counted. Vincent seemed to take his silence for an answer anyway.

    "I nearly destroyed the world once because I couldn't tame the darkness in my heart. Because of that, I see darkness everywhere I look and I can't run the risk of letting it be cut loose again. I took away my vision because it was the only way I can keep myself in check."

    "How poetic."

    And at the front, Yoshimitsu and Vale were chatting easily. Yoshimitsu's entire posture had changed into his old relaxed one. He was laughing with a smile constantly on his face, his hands in his pockets and his pace constant. It was like seeing Yoshimitsu from before the darkness ran riot in his life, the cheerful teenager who never let anything get him down.

    "And that was when he burst into the room, ready to beat up whoever was responsible!" Vale said, with a laugh.

    "No shit," Yoshimitsu replied, laughing too. "What did you do?"

    "What do you think? We ran! No one was messing with someone who spent all of his time bulking up so he looked like a golem!" Vale finished. He checked the strange watch again, confirming how far they'd travelled.

    "What is that thing anyway?" Yoshimitsu asked, nodding at the watch.

    "It's like a map," Vale explained. "It tracks my location, distance from the nearest landmark, points me in a direction I want to go and tells me how long I need to travel for."

    "I must be the only person without a cool gadget here," Yoshimitsu joked with a laugh. "Vincent's got these translators, you've got the watch, Antonio has those cards..."

    "I don't really need the watch to be honest," Vale replied. "I know my way pretty well without it, it's just useful for double checking. One time, I completely misjudged and set off about twenty degrees out than where I was aiming..."

    The group continued, chatting easily between them, sometimes switching up their partners to confirm details or share information. The hot topic of the hour was how their powers were working, and how they were coming back slowly. It was quickly deduced that Fratley's powers were more complicated and hence taking longer to restore, while Antonio's cards were regaining their magic due to the battles he was engaging in. The order switched up again, Illiana taking point with Vale and Vincent falling behind to walk alongside Fratley. The soldiers kept alert as Vale guided them.

    After walking for some time, Illiana and Fratley slowed their pace before coming to a complete standstill. Something in their stances was alert, their hands straying to their weapons. Once again, they'd found themselves in a nice spot for an ambush. Providing someone knew they were coming, they were sitting ducks. The soldier's impulse was pounding like a drum on the inside of Illiana's head as her eyes scanned the area quickly. Fratley sniffed the air experimentally before jogging up to Illiana.

    "What can you smell?" Illiana muttered out of the corner of her mouth as the rest of the group drew their weapons.

    "I'm not sure... It's similar to the deception that the girl showed, but something smells off," Fratley responded quietly. "It's almost condescending."

    "Can you pinpoint it?" Illiana shifted her gaze to the sky, remembering what had happened earlier. No one above, either.

    "It's not underground, there's no earthy element," Fratley responded. "If I'm right, it's... maybe twenty feet in front of us, give or take. Someone's masking their appearence."

    "So we have to lure them out..."

    Illiana snapped her fingers, a flame blossoming there immediately. She threw it forward like a tennis ball, in a rough estimation of what should be concealing itself. It impacted on the ground harmlessly. She threw another, and another, hoping one might hit something other than the ground.

    "Did you see it?" Fratley asked, though there was no need to.

    The light cast by the flames had briefly, very briefly, illuminated an area apart from one solitary, humanoid figure. It had been invisible, but the light cast on it had not shown. It had looked like a shadow, stood tall and waiting. It was at this moment that the figure decided to reveal themselves. It was a man, walking forward, his body coming into view with each step. Some kind of light-refraction, Illiana wagered. He was wearing what almost looked like a uniform, but too torn to be standard issue, a padded black top to absorb physical blows and loose-fitting cargo pants that didn't restrict movement. Black hair glinted under the blue sun, the edge of the blade shining as the man held it in a reverse grip.

    "Lord Dran's elite guard," Vincent breathed from behind them. Yoshimitsu immediately jumped forward, sword drawn.

    "I thought you'd all be disbanded, since Dran's dead," Yoshimitsu called to the man, gripping his sword tightly. The man laughed in response.

    "We serve a new master now," he replied. "With Lord Dran gone, we have allied ourselves with the most powerful man on this planet."

    "That'd be the guy from earlier," Illiana muttered. "What's this all about..?"

    "So why are you here?" Yoshimitsu demanded. "If you don't serve that bigot any more, then why are you blocking our path?"

    "Because I was ordered to," the man responded. "I am the first of the elite guard, Asculta. I had been in Dran's service for nearly thirty years, and I obey every order put to me perfectly."

    "Thirty years?" Antonio scoffed. "You barely look old enough for pre-school."

    "Dran's elite guards were all biologically engineered to be soldiers, which included slow aging past a certain point," Yoshimitsu said over his shoulder. "In a few years, I'll probably stop aging too. But that's not the point. Who ordered you here?"

    "I told you, I am under orders from the most powerful man on this planet," Asculta repeated. Yoshimitsu raised his sword, but then someone grabbed his arm.

    "Allow me," Vincent said, stepped past the blue haired boy. His sword was drawn already, he flourished it as he walked to meet the guard. Several meters away, he pointed the unremarkable blade at Asculta. "Out of our way. Don't make me go through you."

    "Our master is anticipating you, Vincent," Asculta stated in a mocking tone.

    In the blink of an eye, their swords clashed. Asculta was just as fast as Vincent, and apparently just as strong if their stalemate was anything to judge by. The blinded boy jumped back, light on his feet as he spun round and lunged again. Asculta sidestepped, but Vincent shifted his weight and turned the lunge into a cartwheel and caught Asculta's jaw with his foot. As Asculta staggered, Vincent was on his feet and on the offensive again, a series of rapid strikes to keep his opponent off-balance. as Asculta jumped back to put some distance between them, Vincent shot after him, his spare hand erupting with blue and black flames.

    Yoshimitsu watched the fight carefully. If this single guard was any indication of the rest of their strength, the Elite Guard were formidable. Of course they would be, though. They were just like he was, bio-engineered to be the ultimate soldiers. The only difference between them and him was that he had a heart. They were just mindless fighters, blindly following orders. As Vincent and Asculta duelled in front of him, he mentally prepared himself. Sooner or later, he would have to fight one of them himself, and he had to be ready for it.

    Vincent released a flurry of black blasts, each one alone fairly weak but the quantity was giving him the advantage he wanted. Asculta ducked and darted out of the way of them, more concerned about them hitting him than Vincent running forward. The bandaged boy flipped over his opponent and brought his sword swinging round behind him. Another clang, as steel met steel. Asculta snapped his foot out and kicked Vincent in the ribs, then kneed him in the face, causing him to stagger. However, even when caught by surprise, Vincent was not vulnerable. He fired another blast of darkness, catching Asculta's foot and causing him to stumble.

    "Have you noticed," Fratley commented to Illiana, "that their battle styles are very similar?"

    "I was just thinking that," Illiana agreed. "The only real difference I can see is how they hold their swords. That and, I guess, Vincent can't see."

    "He seems to be able to fight just as well, if not better than he could before he removed his vision," Fratley concurred. "I wonder if this is telling of the rest of the guard."

    "I hope not, I'd hate to have to fight myself," Illiana said with a shakey laugh. The fight in front of them was tense, and she could tell that Yoshimitsu was restraining himself from jumping in. She knew, though, that he wouldn't be able to kill the man Vincent was fighting. Vincent could make that decision.

    "Asculta, you know how this tattoos work, don't you?" Vincent asked.

    The messy-haired boy weaved around a flurry of attacks, each one narrowly missing taking a chunk out of his skin. With impressive strength, he met one of the attacks head on and knocked the incoming blade away, giving him an opening to kick Asculta away.

    "Of course I do, though I am fortunate enough not to have one," Asculta replied, his tones neutral even in the heat of battle.

    The guard ran back into the duel, on an all-out offensive that left him more open to counter attacks than he realised. As Vincent dodged one strike, he would immediately strike back with a kick, or a punch, or a cleverly placed slash that caused Asculta to falter.

    "So you know some of my power has come back to me, don't you?"

    This time, it was a more careful assault with fewer openings. Vincent kept on the defensive now, blocking and dodging attacks, dancing just out of reach. Very subtley, he was crafting something in his free hand. A point, completely black though with a hint of blue when the light caught it. Out of nowhere, Vincent stuck a powerful blow. A jab from the hilt of his sword, right into Asculta's chest that winded him, causing him to double over. Vincent kneed the man and knocked him to his back.

    "And I'm learning how to use it more."

    Four spears shot from Vincent's palm. One planted itself into Asculta's left hand, one his right, one his left shin and finally his right shin. Each one stayed in place, pinning him spread-eagled to the floor.

    "Those shouldn't fade for a while," Vincent continued. "So I guess whether you live or die is your luck. Someone might come and find you, or maybe some of the local wildlife will beat them to it."

    The rest of the group watched in silence as Vincent resheathed his sword. Vale took charge again, leading them forwards once more. Everyone carefully avoided stepping over, or even looking at Asculta as he gasped for breath.
     
  18. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter ? - ?: Araini's Perception

    "It's funny, this woman knows more about magic than any average human. She's managed to deconstruct any known spell and reduce it to the exact components needed, be them physical, mental, lyrical or hypothetical. It's astounding, really. It's rare to find a human who is intelligent enough to analyze anything with such depth, let alone magic."

    Araini snapped the book shut, but continued pacing.

    "It's simple to people like me, those of us who are so steepled in heretical arts that we sweat and bleed them. Not that I sweat, and given my way I wouldn't bleed either. However, while these things come naturally to me, they are an object of study for those who don't use them. Magic is a simple thing. To humans, magic is an unknown variable. What do you think, Setsuko?"

    Setsuko blinked, unsure about how to respond.

    This man, this Araini man, had just teleported in, book in hand, and recited a lengthy segment. He was pacing back and forth, with all of the Dragon Knights on edge. There was no danger in his words, merely curiosity. The thing was, Setsuko knew curiosity. She had a healthy curiosity herself. However, this curiosity wasn't aimed at the book this Araini was reading. There was something more to it. Something she couldn't place her finger on.

    "I think... It's admirable that she's researched so intensively."

    "A fine answer, from the chosen replacement," Araini praised, though his words carried a certain sting to them. "You are no stranger to magic yourself, though I doubt you called it as such. You were chosen by Sir Fratley himself to take his place."

    "How do you know so much?" Setsuko asked, her hand keeping its firm grip on her sword.

    "You think the Burmecian Kingdom is alone with its hidden cameras? I know more about the Burmecians than I care to admit."

    "So, what, you want to blackmail the Burmecians? Threaten? Extort?"

    "None of the above. Setsuko, I came seeking you," Araini stated bluntly.

    "Why?"

    "My friends with the most significant powers have traversed to the other dimension," Araini explained. "However, there is more about you. You are an unknown variable. Tell me, have you ever heard of the Water Adept, Alex?"

    Setsuko racked her brains. The name rang a bell. She had heard the name. It was always said with contempt. Yoshimitsu, Fratley, even Kazuhiko had always said it with disgust in their voices. She had never met this Alex, but she knew from the way he was spoken about that he was no friend to anyone.

    "I've heard the name. Once or twice."

    "Come with me."
     
  19. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 4:2 - Resolve

    "What was that all about?"

    They had arrived at the neighbouring town without any further incident, aside from some local vicious plants that needed to be put in their place. It was very different from the brightly coloured slums they had left, the entire town cast in a dull red hue as the material quality improved. Truth be told, it was slightly unsettling, as though the town was angry at them for some reason and waiting to strike. The buildings were more built up, with beaten paths that made roads. It was somewhat like stepping into the eighteen hundreds, with people dragging carts of produce, but with much different fashion.

    They had split up again to restock, and find a place to rest. Vale had comandeered Yoshimitsu to find some kind of inn or hotel. Fratley had left to find weapons, dragging Antonio along with him. The snarky teenager hadn't seemed to have minded too much, probably because he had gauged Fratley to have a much higher intelligence than everyone else. That left Vincent and Illiana, scoping the city. They walked side-by-side, Illiana's eyes taking in every detail as Vincent's other senses governed his perception.

    "What was what all about?" Vincent asked, his tone neutral. It was unsettling, hearing his voice so devoid of emotion.

    "What you did to that guard. That was..." She couldn't find the words.

    "Harsh?" Vincent supplied. "Cruel? Unfair?"

    "Sort of, yeah."

    Vincent was silent for a moment, giving Illiana another few seconds to look around. Another water feature, which was at the centre of the town as far as she could tell. It was a tradition in this dimension, clearly. Crimson water flowed freely from a dragon head very similar to the one she had slayed not too long ago. She glanced at the sky, trying to gauge the time based on the brightness of the sun. It was still fading, dimming, so she assumed they were getting close to midnight. They approached the fountain, giving Illiana a chance to look at the water. It was the brightest red, almost blood-like but still transparent.

    "Lord Dran's Elite Guard are all bio-weapons. They've been genetically engineered from initial construction to be stronger, faster, smarter than the rest of the race," Vincent explained. "They can endure more pain than nearly anyone, and it takes too much to kill them. Yoshimitsu would never forgive me if I killed one, no matter how shaken he might be by this encounter. At the same time, though, we can't risk letting them live because they wont give us the same mercy. The wildlife around here is dangerous, violent and hungry. Pinned down like that, anything that wanders past will get a free meal, unless he's been saved."

    "Is he likely to have been saved?" Illiana asked, trying not to picture a half-eaten corpse.

    "Probably not. They're strong, yeah, but they're also expendable and replaceable," Vincent said, after a moment of thought. "If they're really working for that old guy, I don't think he'll get picked up again."

    "I see..."

    The two continued their walk around the town, mentally noting where important places were. A market, a food store, clothing shops. They stopped in long enough to pick up some fresh clothes for the group and a few spare t-shirts for Yoshimitsu since his kept on being torn apart. There were even a few places to have a sit-down meal, though they couldn't afford the luxury right now. Not that they couldn't afford it, they just didn't have time. They were all weary from the fights then immediate departure.

    "So what do you think about Vale?" Illiana asked cautiously.

    "Having him around will be a benefit, since he's a native," Vincent replied, his voice impassive. "He can hold his own in a fight, according to Yoshimitsu, and he can help us figure out these tattoos."

    Illiana noted everything said. Despite his blank expression and neutral voice, Illiana could tell that he didn't want Vale around. Or, at least, he didn't want Vale around Yoshimitsu.

    "He'll probably be good for Yoshimitsu. It's been a while since I saw him smile like that," Illiana commented. Vincent cleared his throat. "I know you might not want to hear it, but you made this decision. He'll just pine after you otherwise."

    "I know," Vincent said with a sigh. "Yoshimitsu's had his heart broken too many times, he doesn't need me to break it again."

    Illiana put her hand on Vincent's arm comfortingly. He didn't seem to notice.

    A fair distance away, Fratley was examining a glass cabinet of weapons. There was a fairly wide selection, ranging from various types of swords and knives to maces and flails, bows and crossbows, polearms and whips. As he looked at each weapon, his face flickered briefly. While it was true the selection was wide, many of the weapons were flimsy or meant for show only. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed Antonio looking around the building with a sneer.

    "You have a problem?" Fratley asked politely. Antonio scoffed.

    "Barbaric tools used when wits are not," Antonio replied. "No, no problem at all."

    "Words can be more powerful than any blade, but it is rare to find a beast that will converse," Fratley pointed out. Antonio scoffed again, but allowed Fratley to continue his examination of weapons.

    Each item he picked out, he felt the weight of the blade or the hilt, measuring each one up to what he knew of his companions. The lighter blades he ignored, as a lighter blade typically meant a weaker weapon that risked sundering on impact with anything. The heavier blades were considered, but he wouldn't dream of giving one to Illiana or Yoshimitsu who valued speed over anything in a fight. While the weapons he chose were pricier, he knew he was paying for something usable, not something meant for an exhibition.

    "Do you require a weapon?" Fratley queried, while Antonio looked at a selection of shields and armour with faked interest. He didn't look up immediately, but Fratley couldn't tell what the expression on the teenager's face was.

    "I do not believe so," Antonio replied. "Once my cards have rekindled their power, I should be more than capable of handling myself."

    "If you insist," Fratley stated, taking his selection over to the counter. "I have a few questions about your cards, if you have no objections?"

    "Ask away, but I make no promises regarding the answers you receive."

    Fratley poured a number of crystal coins into his hand and passed them to the man working behind the counter. While he didn't look impressed at being forced to sell anything at this time, his face lit up when he saw how much money Fratley was carrying on him. Fratley took the weapons and slid them into a pouch at his waist, where they instantly vanished. He gave a little extra money too, to make up for the late hour. Antonio had already stepped out of the shop, so Fratley followed.

    "That blindfolded one," Antonio started, his hands in his pockets.

    "Vincent."

    "Yes, him," Antonio said, nodding. "He mentioned nearly destroying the world."

    "He is altering the truth, though it certainly explains his new attitude," Fratley replied. "He thinks it was his weakness that allowed his heart to become so fragile and easily corrupted."

    "His heart?" Antonio repeated, scorn leaking into his features again.

    "Do not misunderstand. We are not talking of the organ within his chest. What we mean by heart is, essentially, his soul. The part of him that was dwelling on his mistakes of the past instead of trying to fix them. That's why he's here, to try to put right what he thinks he has done wrong."

    "But how does that link to nearly destroying the world?" Antonio asked. Fratley stared at the boy for a moment. For once, his face was devoid of spite or condescending expressions. He was genuinely curious, and a little afraid.

    "I would have to consult Araini for more details, but... I believe that his constant soul-movement when he was younger made his soul fragile and easily damaged," Fratley explained. "Upon his first death, he could not move on. His soul was not ready to depart, so it latched on to the nearest living thing available, and that was Yoshimitsu. Something was keeping the boy clinging to this world and he needed something before he could die in peace."

    "Something more?"

    "When I first met Vincent, his soul was still inside Yoshimitsu's body and I could see the violent youth that needed help," Fratley continued, beginning to walk. "An angry young man who had never known friendship and lashed out at others because he never knew what else to do. Much of his childhood is a mystery, even to Yoshimitsu, so no one knows where he came from or how he got to be the way he was. It was Yoshimitsu's influence that opened up his heart. Just as Vincent was slowly becoming a normal person, Hector Cruz stepped in and tore the soul from Yoshimitsu's body."

    "How does someone even go about doing something like that?" Antonio asked, easily keeping pace with Fratley.

    "Cruz had a blade, he named it the Kamiyami blade. From what I was told, it was a dark blade that corrupted its user, used only for stealing and containing souls," Fratley explained. He paused for a second to glance at Antonio, and saw the boy putting the facts together in his head. "Yoshimitsu was himself again, it is true, but that caused irreparable damage to Vincent's soul. Even as a blood mage found the shard of the blade and placed the soul back into Yoshimitsu upon revival, Vincent had been through hell. He was a broken man, kept sane only by Yoshimitsu."

    "You keep on mentioning Vincent's soul inside of Yoshimitsu," Antonio started, waiting for Fratley to fill in the blanks.

    "A twisted individual. You must understand that a soul is meant to remain intact and no two souls should inhabit one body," Fratley stated. "They would fight for dominance, compete for the body even if they did not intend to. That conflict gave birth to Yisimentsu. There was no denying it, Yisimentsu was a twisted indivudual who's only goal was power. Because of a plot by several individuals, Yisimentsu was allowed into Vincent's heart and corrupted it, taking control of the boy's body."

    "So when Vincent says he nearly destroyed the world..."

    "It was Yisimentsu, taking control of Vincent's body. I fought both of them to try to save the world. If Vincent feels that it is his own weakness that has caused all this pain, it must be him that fixes himself."

    Antonio said nothing for a moment, his face an expression of quiet contemplation. Fratley could smell the feelings within the boy. Fear, intrigue, worry and skepticism. However, he could see that the boy was accepting the words and beginning to understand.

    "Let us rejoin the others," Fratley said. "I will ask my questions later."
     
  20. Yoshimitsu

    Former Moderator

    Chapter 4:3 - Decision Time

    It was well into the night when something stirred in the room. Despite the sky constantly being black, it was easy to tell when it was night time. The blue sun was barely visible, dimmed to barely more than vague light. The air was completely still and silent, save for the light rustling as someone pulled themself out of bed. He dressed as quietly as possible, pulling a new dark purple t-shirt over his head and some too-tight jeans on. The plain sword by his bed was ignored completely. He glanced around the room to make sure no one else was awake, then slipped out of the room silently. The inn was quiet, too, but that wasn't really a surprise. His footsteps were muffled by the coarse carpet, making his depature smooth and unnoticed.

    He was outside before he realised something. Something was blocking his path. No, not something. Someone. He had spent enough time with the blindfold on to recognise the subtle changes in the air and the specific sensation given off by certain powers. The figure in front of him was not the most intimidating, with a slight feeling of warmth and comfort emanating from them. With the way the air moved around their figure, Vincent guessed they had their hands on their hips. That meant it was Illiana. Fratley and Antonio wouldn't have stopped him and Yoshimitsu would have said something by now. Vincent stood still, waiting for her to say something first.

    "You're leaving," she said plainly. There was no challenge or curiosity in her voice.

    "I am," he replied calmly.

    There was a moment of silence again. It was slightly unnerving, actually. Illiana, there was no anger or worry coming from her. In fact, there wasn't much of anything coming from her. She was a soldier, after all. Her emotions were closely guarded when they needed to be. Just like his.

    "Do you think it'll help?" She asked.

    "I do."

    "I see."

    "You guys will be fine. You have Yoshimitsu, he has a good head on him when it counts," Vincent said. He wasn't entirely sure why he was saying it, though.

    There was another moment of silence as Illiana processed what he was saying. He could feel her walking towards him, fully expecting her to hit him. He tensed his body, just in case. What he didn't expect, however, was for her to wrap her arms around him and hug him. The smaller girl was hugging him. Vincent took a moment before he returned the hug, even though he was confused. He was essentially abandoning them, why would she show him any sympathy? Especially after what he had done?

    "It's not your fault," she said into his shoulder. "No one blames you. If this is what you've got to do, then do it. We'll cope."

    "I know," Vincent replied. "You guys can do this."

    "Will you be okay?"

    "I might have to fight you."

    Illiana froze up, then took a step back. He could feel the accusatory look on her face. Even though he couldn't see her, he turned his head away. He didn't want to feel that look. This was what he had to do. Illiana placed a hand on his shoulder, once again surprising him completely. Why was she being so sympathetic?

    "I understand. You know something, don't you? You can stop this. You can save us all," Illiana stated. "Can you do this alone?"

    "I don't have a choice."

    "You always have a choice, Vincent. Never forget that."

    "I've lied to you."

    "I know."

    What? How the hell did she know? How much did this girl notice?

    "Your tattoo is either a dud, or you found a way to get around it. I can sense it, Vincent. Yoshimitsu's too caught up with his emotions to stop and consider it, Vale probably doesn't know anything outside of his own powers and Fratley and Antonio wouldn't even know where to start when it comes to this sort of stuff. I can feel it, though," Illiana explained. "It wasn't luck that I got accepted into combat training. I can focus on this sort of stuff. Everyone with a power has a sort of aura. When we all got these tattoos, everyone's auras dimmed and faded away, but your's stayed strong. You acted like you were limited too, so I didn't say anything because you must have your reasons, but I knew. I wont tell anyone, don't worry."

    "You... really are incredible," Vincent commented. "Yeah. The tattoo itself is useless. I know why, but I can't tell you."

    Vincent turned his head back to Illiana. He raised his hand and lightly pushed his bandage up off of one eye to look at the girl properly. Wavy green hair, a toned body, everything he'd expect from a summoner. More than that, though. Her expression, it was so... human. Sympathetic and caring. Her eyes spoke of maturity well beyond her years, of acceptance of what people needed for themselves. She was more than just a summoner or an ally. She was a friend. Vincent lowered the bandage again.

    "I wont keep you any longer. Do what you have to do, Vincent. We'll get by."

    "Thank you, Illiana."

    she hugged him again before returning inside. Vincent sighed, a long, deep sigh. There was no point in delaying now. He walked away from the inn, navigating the simple roads out of the town. While it was doubtful anyone else was awake, it wouldn't do to have any of them know just what he was planning. The sapphire grass crunched underfoot, the only sound piercing the still air. He didn't allow himself to look back, not even sensing the area behind him. He couldn't allow his resolve to fade now. If he felt even just an iota of Yoshimitsu's aura, he knew he wouldn't have the strength to keep walking. Shutting off his mind to those behind him, he gestured in front of him and opened a swirling black portal.

    The world of darkness wasn't unfamiliar to him. He'd walked the shadowy paths more times than he could count: the invisible path that stretched before him that he had to feel rather than see; the stone spires that stretched from the oblivion both above and below; and the constant, near-inaudible chattering he could hear coming from all around. Creatures lived in the darkness, just out of sight. They stalked any visitors with a keen eye, hungry and eager to devour their prey. They didn't scare Vincent but he knew full well that he needed to tread carefully all the same. Creatures that hunted the darkness within a person and helped it grow. He'd been through that once already. He wasn't looking to do it again. His pace had never changed, even as he'd entered this world between worlds.

    The funny thing about this world was that time and space had no meaning, not really. He could walk barely ten meters and when he left the world, he could be continents away from where he entered. No time would have passed in the real world. As long as he moved from one point to another, he could travel nearly anywhere in the world. That was another reason why he tended not to linger, though. Being trapped in a world full of creatures that would set his own darkness upon him for all eternity, with no one knowing he had gone, would be his personal hell. Probably a few peoples' actually, now that he thought about it. Though he did not show it outwardly, he could feel a shiver. He kept his pace normal as he opened a second portal and stepped through, his body not betraying that single spasm of fear he felt.

    Warmer air hit his face as he stepped back into reality, the chattering ceasing instantly. He didn't need to take off his bandage to know what his environment was. Aged stone, still strong but looking weathered, carved out of a mountain itself. Torches hung in brackets on the wall, a touch that Vincent just assumed to be a preference of the owner's. He walked forward, a solid door opening automatically as he approached. The way his footsteps echoed told him where he was, the adjoining corridor between two halls. One for visitors, one for personal business. Of course, he knew which one he was entering. After all, he had chosen the place and been before.

    "You're good at masking your presence," Vincent commented lightly. "If I hadn't known better, I would've guessed you weren't home."

    A man, just out of sight, laughed in response. He was sat at the top of a staircase that lead the way to a throne of sorts. The only thing in the building that wasn't made of stone. It had all been intentional, of course. He kept his face in shadow for those who did not know his true identity yet. Vincent had known for a long time now, though.

    "I should say the same to you. Until that door opened, I had no idea you had graced my home," the man replied. Vincent listened closely. The man hadn't moved yet. Maybe he didn't realise who had come calling?

    "And yet you didn't expect me to turn up?" Vincent asked, coming to a halt in the centre of the room.

    "Not as such. I barely recognised you," the man responded. He leaned forward, and Vincent heard the very soft rustle of clothes, jangle of metal. Grey-streaked black hair pushed from his face, battle scars adorning his features and neck. Near the door, soft footsteps made another person known. Light footsteps, belonging to a child... or a girl. "You've changed much in these years, I thought you had shed your old self and moved on."

    "Then you don't know me as well as you think you do, Uncle."
     

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