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Lilly Resting by cookiefur

This is pretty good overall. I lake what you did there with the pencil shading and propotions are pretty good. I've Ive tried drawing a...

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Chapter 7: The Guardians Emerge: Reborn

Latimer groaned, opening and closing his jaw to try and get the ringing out of his ears when Ereve hit the ground knocking everyone to the ground. Everything hurt, not to mention the pounding headache he could feel as he tried to move with unsteady steps. Looking up, all he could see around him were bodies: some of them were people lying on the ground unconscious, but others could be seen writhing in pain, using their hands to caudle their bleeding wounds. Latimer did the best he could to stand, falling over time and again as he tried to get to the nearest person.

“Show me where you hurt.” Latimer asked, hoping that he wasn’t yelling since he couldn’t hear anything besides the ringing is his ears. The person moved as best he could showing him a large gash along his inner thigh. Latimer did what he could to keep from throwing up at the sight of so much blood, activating a simple healing spell that he had learned from his parents. However the degree to which this man had been hurt was worse than what the spell could heal quickly and the man was losing blood rapidly.

“HELP! IS ANYONE THERE?!” Latimer called. When he had come with his parents, the last thing that he thought he would need were healing potions, and so didn’t bring any. From the haze of the dust still in the air, a figure appeared wearing heavy armor while sporting a mace on his hip and a huge shield strapped to his back.

“I am an elemental knight, what’s wrong with this… oh my.” He said, kneeling beside him and pulling from his bag an elegant bottle with a strange purple liquid swirling within it. Taking the plug from the mouth, he then dipped a slender glass rod into it and drew it across the man’s lips allowing him to swallow the potion. Instantly the man’s wound closed over itself, relieving him of the pain that he felt, even allowing him to stand within a few short seconds. The knight then pulled another of the elegant bottles from his bag and gave it to the man he had healed as well as the rod he used.

“Go and see if there are others in need of assistance. Here, use this and only give them as much as sticks to this rod, otherwise it could have adverse effects.” The man nodded and headed off into the dust, as did the Knight with Latimer, coming with him for assistance. Latimer managed to find more people, seeing that they too were helping those around them as fast as they could and as best they could. Only a few priests and priestesses were among them to help heal the more serious wounds. The Heroes too were running back and forth as fast as they could; they had been taught a basic healing spell by Minerva, healing some of the less serious injuries such as scrapes and cuts. But amid the chaos of people being helped, there were those that lay still on the ground, their bodies covered by the cloaks and capes they wore when Latimer heard Vondra’s voice calling for him.

“Latimer! Good, you’re alright. I need you and Dumia to take some of the people here that aren’t injured and set up a perimeter. See if you can find anyone that’s still out there who’s injured.” she called, setting down an injured mage then streaking off to find more. Patricia was helping to set someone’s broken leg, when she happened to look up into the sky and catch a glimpse of it through the patches of dust that still hung in the air.

“Uh… I’m no expert, but I don’t think the sky is supposed to be doing that.” She said, pointing it out to Phantom who was walking past her with a handful of boards to use as splints.

“No, no it shouldn’t.” he replied, watching the sky shimmer as if watching the underside of a lake. Quickly Phantom zipped off to find the others and point out the phenomenon, as they too were confused, not sure what it was they were looking at. Mercedes quickly ran to the northern most boarder she could get to, seeing that the same shimmer came all the way down to the horizon.

“What in Minerva’s name is this?” She asked herself when she felt a presence come up behind her. Grabbing her bowgun as she turned around and pointed it into the face of an Elvin man with a large broadsword across his back dressed in a dark red cloak and gold laurel on his temples.

“Be still your majesty, I mean you no harm. What the legends say of your beauty does not do you justice I must say.” He said, holding out his hands from under his cloak before kneeling to the ground.

“Who are you? I was queen for nearly 100 years before I answered Minerva’s call to fight against the Black Mage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in Ellul, yet you call me your queen?” Mercedes asked; this man may look similar to her kind, but his ears were far too long and the power that emanated from him didn’t feel at all like the elves of Ellul.

“While it is true that we are of the same kind, we are by no means of the same blood. I am the High Elder of the sword, Harmonia. My colleagues and I have heard much of you Heroes and have come to lend our assistance in any way that we can.” Mercedes felt another presence begin to approach behind the first, but Harmonia wasn’t responding to this new presence, almost as if he didn’t care. She was about to fire off an arrow when another elf, this time a woman, stepped from the brush wearing a purple cloak and a crown of purple briars on her head.

“Peace your majesty, I bring you no harm. I only wish to assist in any way that I can. I am Gritto, High Elder of Magic. I am sure that you’ve already met Harmonia.”

“That I have Gritto.” Mercedes answered shortly, clipping her bowgun to her hip once she was sure that these new comers weren’t going to harm her.

“Is it safe to say that you were wondering what it was that has happened to the sky?” Gritto asked, at which Mercedes skeptically nodded in return.

“I take it this is your first encounter with Dream Fragments?” She asked. Mercedes furrowed her brow as a knot began to form in the pit of the stomach, which was never a good sign.

“This is her first encounter with Dream Fragments, but I am familiar with them Gritto.” Phantom answered with a grin, leaning against a tree.

“What are they exactly?” Mercedes asked, questions building in her eyes. Phantom’s smile faded away as he opened his eyes, holding up his hand and looking down at the finely designed portrait of a young blond woman on it.

“They’re pieces to a spell so to speak.” Phantom replied as Gritto continued.

“Depending on how many one gathers or uses, the stronger the spell and the larger the area one is able to effect.” She said motioning to the sky.

“So then all we need to do is find these Dream Fragments and destroy them.” Mercedes said, in response.

“It’s not that simple Mercedes.” Patricia answered, coming to find her when she saw her and Phantom run off followed by Luminous.

“How do you know about the Dream Fragments?” Phantom asked.

“It was part of some studies I did under Helen and read about them in passing, but she made me learn about them in detail even though they were outlawed centuries ago by the Order of Light, namely, Corus the Black.” Luminous looked up at her with surprise in on his face, almost as if he had become worried.

“Corus was a part of the Order of Light?” Luminous asked, as he came into the clearing.

“I don’t know any details about it, only that he was.” Patricia answered.

“Luminous, while I understand that you may have questions, we need to hear this explanation from Lady Patricia.” Mercedes responded, making Luminous eye her darkly with his right eye before nodding.

“Dream Fragments are far more than just pieces of a spell. When activated, the events that happen within the area are similar to that of a dream: anything is possible within the area affected and is controlled by the one who cast them. A powerful creature could just appear out of nowhere.”

“So then all we need to do is wake up.” Mercedes said happily, already trying to clear an area where she stood to lay down comfortably until Gritto chuckled and shook her head.

“It’s not that simple either, Your Highness. Once empowered, the Dream Fragments create a pocket dimension to which the affected area is taken. To those outside the area, they see an illusion where the area used to be, while at the same time making the area disappear completely. For all that is known, anyone outside this area could see an unaffected Ossyria, or not see Ossyria at all.” She explained. Phantom pulled his weight from the tree and walked over to Gritto with an untrusting light in his eyes, tucking the card into his sleeve.

“What are we to do?” Phantom asked as hope began to fade from Mercedes eyes.

“Destroying the Fragments themselves is the easiest path to take but it is also the most dangerous.” Gritto offered.

“How so? Smashing them shouldn’t be that dangerous unless there are creatures guarding them.” Luminous answered quickly.

“That’s not the danger. If you are going to destroy Dream Fragments, you must destroy all of them at the same time. As I said before, one fragment only affects a small area. To have done something of this scale, hundreds of thousands of fragments would have to be used. Unless there are that many people remaining here in Ossyria, there is no chance that you will be able to bring Ossyria back.”

“What happens if only one at a time is destroyed?” Patricia asked.

“When multiple fragments are used and only one is destroyed, the area that the one fragment affected disappears.”

“You mean, goes back to normal, right?” Patricia asked with anticipation. Gritto looked over to her and sadly shook her head.

“No Lady Patricia. It disappears, simply ceases to exist, in either plain. If all the fragments are not destroyed simultaneously, then Ossyria and everyone on it, will cease to exist.”

*******************************

“So how exactly are you planning to get to them?” Jack asked apprehensively.

“The phenomena created by the dream fragments art similar to that of a dream. By falling asleep I can, in theory, enter that dream via mine mind and speak with mine grandfather and high elder Gritto to find what can be done. ” Helen responded as she disembarked the Queen’s Wing and into Edelstein.

“So what exactly did we see surround the ship when you cast that protection spell?” Matthew asked.

“What thou witnessed was Ossyria being taken to ‘pocket dimension’, and in its place the illusion of the flote. However real said ocean may seem, it remains as nothing but an imitation. One couldst yea swim in it and not wot of the landmass that once resided hence.” Olsen worriedly put an arm around her waist, falling into step but remaining silent as he walked. Helen could feel the unease within him, but asking about such things would only get her the reply of him being alright. She didn’t need to ask him, she already knew that he was worried for her since even she herself didn’t know whether or not she could get into the dimension, or even if she would be able to get back out once there. Olsen gently pulled her to a stop before beginning to speak, worry already making his voice begin to crack.

“Helen, I don’t…”

“Oh! Thank the goddess I found you!” a voice called, cutting Olsen short and catching their attention as he stumbled up to them trying to catch his breath.

“Geridon the Temple Keeper, what brings you here?” Aran asked as she placed her hands on her hips.

“I have been running through town looking for you all afternoon. I was beginning to worry that you had been taken away with Ossyria.”

“Is there something wrong with the Temple of Time?” Jenny asked; her shoulders and legs already itched for the excitement of battle. Being the Master Bowman of Henesys was enjoyable, but she missed the action of the battle field.

“No no no, quite the opposite. Rhinne is returning at last and she wishes to speak with you!” Olsen turned to him with wide eyes, reaching to his belt for the large half moon blade of his Pyrope Lunar, while his right arm tensed ready to draw shuriken.

“Does that not mean she will destroy Ossyria? Is she not still under the Curse of the Black
Mage?” he asked, approaching Geridon.

“For now just come. All will be explained once you are there.” he panted, as he turned to leave again when Jack stopped him with a firm pull on his shoulder.

“How exactly are we supposed to get through the sheering winds that surround the temple? Cobra the Halfring was the only one that knew the spell to get us through them, and he was in Leafre which has disappeared with Ossyria.”

“That is of little worry Jack; I have a portal that leads straight to the temple, but you must come with me quickly, or else it will close soon.” There were questions still to be answered, but Geridon had no reason to lead them astray. They double checked their equipment before following him as quickly as they could to a glowing portal on the outskirts of town. Taking a breath, the six of them stepped through the portal as a strange feeling passed over them for a moment then allowed them to step out onto the marble floor of the Temple of Time, where they saw Cobra hovering in mid air as he always had suspended by his long beard.

“How did he get here?!” Jenny squeaked.

“Eh? What was that? Do I have something to fear? What kind of question is that?” Cobra asked through a dry voice when Geridon called for them.

“Rhinne asked me to retrieve him not long before Victoria was once again in contact with the Continent.” Geridon responded as he led them through the temple to an area that opened up into a courtyard of sorts with fountains of sand everywhere and hourglasses suspended in small coves of the walls.

“Welcome Guardians. It is an honor to finally meet you in person.” A graceful voice echoed, making them all stop and reach for their weapons, listening to the far off sound of gears clicking.

“Be still, I mean you now harm. It is I, Rhinne.” The voice continued as a figure began appearing behind them. The woman looked to be no more than a teenager, with long white hair dressed in a flowing single shoulder toga, the bottom moving slowly around her slender legs. Behind her were glowing blue gears, rhythmically turning like a heartbeat, rearranging themselves as she floated down to the ground and opened her blood colored eyes.

“Thank you for bringing them to me Geridon, I am sure they have many questions.”

“That we do goddess, but the one I am sure all of want an answer to is how you are able to once again be awake? From what we were told about you, there is a curse still very much alive within you that does not allow you control of your power.” Matthew stated, still apprehensively resting his hand on the pummel of the Glory Sword.

“Yes, the curse that was put upon me by Arkarium is still active, but the temple itself has never ceased its quest in ridding my body of it. What he has managed to create is a counter spell, these gears you see behind me, to keep the Black Magic suppressed. There is a negative to this spell however: while this counter spell suppresses the Black Magic within me, the only way to make sure it wouldn’t take over, was to suppress my natural powers to near nonexistent levels as well.” Helen stepped forwards, concern written across her face.

“Thou art powerless?” Rhinne smiled and gently shook her head.

“No Lady Helen, but I am limited to the extreme in what power I can use. I feel almost as if I am a child once again. But this is not why I have called you here. Recently, the monks and Guards of the temple and even the temple itself, have said that Arkarium has been seen walking the halls, concentrating his activity around an area that leads into the past.”

“Haven’t you tried to stop him? If he goes into the past he could be trying to undo everything that we fought for.” Olsen growled.

“I know that all too well Olsen, and we have managed to slow him down, but we haven’t been able to completely stop him. He hasn’t returned in quite some time, and the Knights as well as Lilynouch and Lyka have been able to keep him at bay.”

“So then what else is there? If you’ve been able to keep Arkarium away why call us here?” Aran asked with an edge in her voice.

“Because his endeavors have made something else possible: a doorway into the dimension Ossyria was taken to.” Rhinne answered, motioning for them to follow her as she led them to a corridor where three huge doors stood, and walked up to the middle door which was slightly ajar.

“Behind this door here is where Arkarium has made a hole into the past, but since we’ve been able to hold him back, I have also managed to use this hole to create a path into Ossyria.”

“I hear a ‘but’ in this.” Jack said with a chuckle.

“There is; I was only able to allow any to pass through it for only three hours. Once that time is up, you will be brought back here and must wait for the same amount of time before returning.”

“Is there a reason we are only allowed three hours?” Matthew asked, slowly beginning to trust that she indeed wasn’t going to hurt them.

“That is all the power that I can muster. As I said before, this counter spell seals off most of my power in order to keep the curse at bay. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be of anymore help.”

“Where in Ossryria will this portal lead?” Helen asked.

“It should lead to Leafre and the Minar Forest.”

Should lead?” Aran asked with doubt in her voice.

“I can only hope Lady Lillianne since I have no positive confirmation that’s where it will lead you.” Rhinne replied sadly.

“Well if we only have three hours then we’d better not dilly dally when we go through. Thank you Rhinne, for all that you’ve done.” Olsen smiled taking a small bow before turning to walk through the doors that stood guard before the portal. Rhinne did her best to keep her composure, and when at last they were through, she collapsed to the ground exhausted: even the strength that it took to walk was cut off by the seal.

“Oh how the mighty have fallen.” She whispered to herself, managing to sit upright while Geridon came over to her with a drink.

“You must not push yourself so hard so soon goddess, you’ve just awoken after hundreds of years under the sleeping spell and you are weak. You must regain your strength before doing anything more.”

“I had to open the portal for them Geridon. Only one of the three Transcendence are left in this world, and even she is at the risk of being tainted by the Black Mage.” Rhinne said disappointedly as Geridon tried to counter her.

“That isn’t true goddess, you are still alive and you are one of them.”

“I cannot be called as such in my current condition. I have barely the power to open a portal between worlds, how can I even begin to call myself the Transcendence of Time once again?”

“The temple has never given up on searching for a way to break the curse completely. You will be able to take up that mantle once again.” Gerdon reassured, although he didn’t believe his own words, Ossyria needed the Transcendences and without them, there was no telling what could happen.

**************************

“Are you sure you know where you’re going?!” Jack called, his voice echoing hundreds of times in the darkness that surrounded them.

“My guess is as good as yours! There’s only two things that I see here, and that one looks like it goes somewhere into the past!” Matthew replied taking blind steps towards a portal that was hanging in the air before them.

“How canst thou be sure the second leads to the past?!” Helen called.

“Guys! Why are we yelling? We’re standing right next to each other.” Aran pointed out as they all stopped and looked around, barely able to make out the silhouette of each other in the darkness.

“Oh, the darkness around me prevented me from seeing thee.” Helen answered sheepishly.

“I took a couple steps to it when we first got here, and the stuff that I could see through it looked old, really old.” Matthew answered, as they all turned and walked with Matthew towards the light. As they came closer, it felt as if they were being pulled towards it until they were thrust through the light and into what appeared to be the outskirts of Henesys, surrounded by giant mushrooms and snails.

“Is this, Leafre?” Aran asked as the creatures surrounding them suddenly looked to them.

“No, I don’t think so.” Olsen answered, reaching behind him and grabbing Matthew’s pauldron, yanking him down out of the way as a large thorn vine whipped past where he would have been standing a moment before.

“Scatter!” Olsen shouted, throwing down his hand and pulling a shuriken out of his Pyrope Skanda, hurling it at the vine and cutting it away. Just as he was about to reach for his dagger, Helen appeared before him. She held out her hand as a scorching flame erupted from it, engulfing the cloud of spores that had been hurled at him from a large orange topped mushroom. The mushroom looked as though it was getting ready to attack again as the stalk swelled and its cap and eyes began to glow a bright purple. Helen teleported away allowing Olsen to hurl the shuriken he had drawn.

In the air before him, a seal burst to life and just as he swung, shrinking around where his arm was going to pass through and just as his hand made contact, winds curled around his arm as he let one shuriken then another go with thunderous force. The shuriken easily passed thought the mushroom’s body, letting the air out it had breathed in with clouds of spores. Before it even had a chance to take another breath, Olsen had drawn his blade, streaking past it to split it in half. But even the hard swing he had dealt to the creature felt as if it did nothing; even the wounds that the shuriken had dealt looked to be healing over.

He then slammed the pummel of his dagger into his palm as the creature turned around, breathing in readying to spew another cloud of spores of him. Hot pink flames roared to life around Olsen while his eyes and hair shimmered, various seals flaring around him enhancing his strength. Like a comet, he hurtled around the mushroom, stopping on a single knee while the wind finally caught up.  

For a brief moment, the mushroom sat there until something like black aura swirled around it, shrinking into its body while its form began shrinking as well. Olsen looked back to see what it was that he had hit; it felt as if his blade had passed through nothing but air. What he had actually hit one of the less dangerous creatures in all of Ossyria, a normal Orange Cap mushroom, which then wheezed and shriveled away. Olsen was so enthralled by what had happened that he didn’t feel the giant snail creeping up behind him, swinging the thick vine at him until the clang of Matthew’s Gaia Shield woke him.

“Olsen! Are you losing your touch?! Come on this is battle here!” Matthew shouted, grabbing his Glory sword and swinging through another four mushrooms that burst through the ground readying to breathe a cloud of spores on them. But their wounds healed quickly as they readied to breathe again, this time being subjected to a swishing of the powerful Intrepid Slash. Again the wounds inflicted by the slashes began healing just as quickly.

The sound of a hard breath fell over Matthew while a seal shrank down over him. Again and again Matthew unleashed the Intrepid Slash , building up the Warrior’s Overcharge until he absorbed all the orbs and swung hard, unleashing a powerful shockwave that roared through the holes his Slash opened, punching through them and reducing them once again to the normal mushrooms.

Jenny stood back to back with Helen, firing arrows that became flaming streaks through the air, only to snap off the snail’s shells leaving behind the scars. With a frustrated huff she reached for her crystal power, her body taking on a bright green glow while the skin around her eyes took on a fern–like tattoo. As she drew her bow, winds howled around the Spine Arrow. As she released it, she turned letting the sheet of arrows cut through the shells of the snails.

They too looked as if black aura pulled back into their bodies, turning back into nothing but normal ruby shell snails before turning into a puddle of mush. A mushroom exploded from under the ground next to her, making Jenny swing her bow hard and catching the giant mushroom in a whirlwind, tearing it from the ground and into the air where Jenny hit it with a bomb arrow charged with crystal power. However the mushroom looked as though it popped rather than exploded.

“Helen, there’s something strange about these creatures! It’s almost as if they’ve been filled with some kind of Aura.” Jenny called before ducking to the left, avoiding the heavy vine coming down on her. Helen turned this way and that, sending plumes of flames or clouds of frozen air at these creatures, pushing some of them away or burning others to the ground, watching how each of the mushrooms and snails looked, returning to normal before dying.

“Aran! Jack! Use thy power and gather these beasts within one area!” Helen called, switching to her sacred abilities, readying to cast her Dispelling Method.

“Take mine light and let it descend upon thy soul to heal the scars that plague thee…”  Aran gathered her momentum, thrusting as hard as she could to unleash a beam of light. It first pierced the skin of the mushroom before her, tearing it from the ground and pushing it back through six others and a couple snails. Jack retracted the blades on his knucklers, hitting the creatures as hard as he could while pushing them back into the same grouping. Aran. Matthew, Olsen and Jenny did what they could as well, pushing back other creatures into the same group so that they could eliminate as many as they could.

“Let the wounds to thy heart be healed. By the power I have, may the power within thee be dispelled!” Helen called in a commanding voice, as wings spread from behind her centered on a black orb. Bright light then flashed from the wings as they spread wide onto the creatures, seeping into their skins and began to make a dark glow leak from them, shrinking back into their normal forms. Helen brought her hands before her as if holding a ball where the black Aura gathered in hers hands.

Before dissipating it, Helen almost seemed drawn to the power watching as it swirled within her palm. With a slow fascination she held out her free hand around the orb of energy, slowly closing her hand around it and her eyes darkening to near black when Olsen grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away from it. Helen almost looked agitated that he would dare do such a thing. As he gripped her wrist, he sent a pulse of Pink Quartz through her which loosed the grip of her darker self. Helen’s eyes slowly returned to normal and her person returned to that which Olsen knew.

“Forgive me Olsen. I lost mine self for a moment.”

“I said that I wouldn’t let this Black Magic have you back. It a promise that I endeavor to keep.” Olsen replied, moving his hand so that instead he laced his fingers with hers as she dispelled the energy she had gathered on her hand.

“They’re all just, normal creatures.” Jack pointed, out kneeling down to take a closer look at one of the snails, poking at its eye with his finger.

“Indeed. All these creatures were infected with some kind of power. T’was not Black Magic; this power felt as if it possessed life. However, it hath been twisted. It was…” Before Helen could finish her sentence, her eyes and hair suddenly glowed while small threads spread out from around her feet, crawling partway up her legs.

“Helen? Helen! What’s wrong? Helen!” Olsen called as he shook her shoulders, watching the small threads of violet light slowly begin to turn aqua. Olsen was about to pull her away from the area when a hand grabbed onto him and stopped him.

“Don’t touch her! Let her be; she will be alright.” Olsen reached for his dagger to ward off the person stopping him, but when he turned he was jarred to see the High Elder Hellin holding his arm.

“What do you mean let her be?! Something is taking over her!” Matthew shouted as he went to pull Helen away from the area when Harmonia stopped him as well with a hard jerk.

“Listen to Hellin.” Gritto called as she, Samuel and Legor came into the area.

“That is my wife you are letting be taken over!” Olsen bellowed, throwing Hellin to the side when he was standing face to face with Latimer.

“Dad, you know as well as I do that mom has always had a strange connection with nature around her. She can control five different types of magic for crying out loud!”

“Latimer is correct Master Olsen. This is not some form of a mental take over, this light comes directly from Ossyria itself.” Legor comforted. Olsen relaxed slightly, thinking back to when she would sometimes take on the same look she had now when something magical was trying to communicate with her, or was happening around her before they had defeated the Black Mage.

“Fear not Olsen, your beloved is in no danger. I am the life of Ossyria, Mundus Arbor. I must apologize for frightening you as such, but I have no other means by which to communicate with you.” Helen said, her voice sounding slightly deeper than normal.

“You must have many questions, but there is no time for them for she cannot withstand my power for long. As you have seen, some of the creatures within Ossyria have changed, becoming ferocious beasts that attack without provocation. My power within Ossyria is somehow being tainted by the power of the one calling herself Clytemnestra in Ereve, which has now made contact with the continent once more. You must stop her by any means you can, for if what I feel this woman intends then all of Ossyria is in grave danger.” All at once the small threads around Helen’s feet pulled away, letting her collapse to the ground where Olsen caught her, shaking her slightly to awaken her.

“I am alright my love. Thou needst not worry.” Aran knelt down before her, setting her halberd down as Maha appeared from it and sat on her shoulder.

“Helen, did you…”

“Aye Aran, I was able to hear the words of Ossyria. It hath me concerned as well.” She answered, looking up to see that the Heroes and the rest of their children had gathered around.

“Mom! Dad you’re here!” Patricia shouted, running at Jenny and Jack, enveloping the both of them tightly.

“How did you guys get here? I mean, into where we are…”

“There’s no time to explain Patty. We actually came here in hopes to speak with the High Elder Gritto about what’s going on. Helen filled us in on what might be causing it, but we wanted to be sure.” Matthew said, being tackled as Dumia and Vondra both put their arms around him. At the request of Gritto, Helen retold what she had explained to the others which she sadly confirmed.

“That being said, the only way to safely return Ossyria back to its place is to kill the one who had activated the Fragments.”

“Whoa whoa whoa! Back up. You said nothing about that Gritto. You just said that we needed to smash the dream fragments!” Patricia hollered.

“I said that was the easiest route, but also the most dangerous. Before I had a chance to tell you of the other option, you and the others simply left to come here before I could explain.” Gritto reasoned.

“In any case, now that our folks are here, there shouldn’t be any trouble with bringing down Clytemnestra.” Vondra said, leaning against Matthew who looked up to Aran with a disheartened look in his eyes.

“Vondra, sweety, there’s something that you should know. We won’t be able to help you this time.” Aran said, walking over to her daughters and placing a hand on Dumia’s shoulder.

“What do you mean? You guys are here now aren’t you? You broke through to help us didn’t you?!” Latimer asked, looking back and forth between his parents and Patricia’s.

“No Latimer, I’m afraid not. Rhinne was able to create a portal into Ossyria, but we can only stay here for a little under three hours at a time. In that amount of time there’s no way that we’d be able to help you.” Jack answered, swallowing knowing that it wasn’t the answer that he wanted to give.

“No… no that’s not fair! We don’t know the first thing about real battle! You guys do! And if this thing, this Clytemnestra was created by the Black Mage, you guys are the only ones who have faced him besides the Heroes!” Dumia said as she backed away from Matthew slightly.

“Trust me Dumia, we want to help you. But with our limited time here, the best that we could hope to do is come for a visit.” Aran reasoned walking forward and hugging her close, stroking her hair.

“Look, all of you just need to get over it! We have a world to save and there’s no use standing around here whining about who’s here and who isn’t!” Maha shouted, the cutting edge of the weapon glowing brightly. Aran lowered her head and smiled, shaking her head.

“Maha says that if you don’t act soon, there will be nothing worth saving.” Maha’s form turned red, leaning down to Aran’s ear and began shouting at her as loud as he could.

“THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID YOU…” But Aran simply tuned him out and listened to what the others had to say, thankful that no one else could hear the hot headed words Maha screamed. Mercedes turned to them with a smile, offering her own words of comfort.

“There is no need to fret young ones. If what I’ve heard about you and your parents is true, then you four are not simply their children, you are their essence. Yes they have faced the Black Mage and his powerful magic, but you have trained hard to arrive at this point. Not so that you could live up to the legacy your parents left behind, but so that you could protect those of Ossyria against the Black Wings.” Phantom smiled as he walked up to them, flipping his blond hair away from his eyes.

“If you haven’t been training as hard as you have for a time such as this, then what were you training for at all?” He asked smoothly, yet sternly as Helen rode the encouraging wave of words.

“Hear me Latimer, and all of thee. Verily thou art our children, and we hast watched three grow through thy years of life. Anon of all times Ossyria yerns for heroes; our time hath long passed, and anon 'tis thee who shall rise and become the beacon of hope to the people of Ossyria.” With each word that Helen said, confidence slowly began to build within them, the Heroes smiling their own approval.

“Patricia Waterman; Latimer Olman Da’lor; Vondra and Dumia Drake; we five masters of Ossyria hath seen thy power and hereby say that thou art anon, The Guardians of Ossyria.” Helen continued as Matthew stepped forward, gathering them all in the center and turning each one to their parents.

“And with this title we give you this charge: stay with the Heroes, help them regain their power that was once lost. If you are able, find others who will help you in your journey, and finally, defeat Clytemnestra and return Ossyria to its rightful place.” Matthew said proudly, holding out his hand where a red glow formed into a gem, each of the others holding out their hands with glowing gems in their hands as well when Jenny offered an explaination.

“This is a small portion of power we contain; the power of the Four Crystals. Should you need to, you will be able to use this and enhance your power many times over. However this power comes with a warning; do not use this power until it is that absolute last resort since it will push your bodies far beyond its limits. In addition, only use this power for short bursts, for when you cease using it, you will be exhausted.” She and the other Guardians maneuvered around until they had come to the one who the power would best suit.

“To Latimer, I Jenny bestow the power of the Emerald Crystal.”

“To Vondra, I Olsen bestow the power of the Pink Quartz.”

“To Patricia, I Helen bestow upon thee, the power of the Amethyst Crystal.

“To Dumia, I Matthew bestow the power of the Ruby Crystal.” As each of them made their announcements, a disk-like gem was placed in their hands, each of them feeling the power pulsing in their palms as though it were alive. Jack looked over to Matthew, reaching his hand over to his cloak with questions in his eyes. Matthew sighed, thinking about all the forms that he had made with this cloak knowing that once he gave it to them, those forms would be erased and they would have to start over. But it was something that they would need for the foes ahead. Sadly he nodded, reaching back and taking his Gaia cloak from around his shoulders, while the others did the same.

“In addition to these gems, we give you these, the Gaia Cloaks. These cloaks are far more than just a piece of cloth to hang from around your shoulders, they are tools. Listen to what they tell you, and they will intern help you on your journeys.” Matthew said, hanging the Golden Gaia around Dumia’s neck. Patricia shivered when Helen draped the Gaia of Shadows onto her shoulders. Vondra breathed in awe as the Crimson Gaia was placed in her hands, while Latimer grinned broadly as Jenny handed him the Azure Gaia. Jack folded the Emerald Gaia neatly, handing it to Dumia with a sad smile.

“Be sure to get this to Acer when you see him. I don’t know where he is, but he’s going to need this one. If you have any questions, you should be able to ask the Advance Masters or the High Elders for help.” Jack said. Dumia nodded, tucking the cloak under her arm and admiring the cloak around her shoulders, something that she had always wondered what it would look like around her neck. No sooner had they been given the cloaks, than the Masters began to fade.

“It looks as if three hours have passed already. Remember, you four are the new ‘Guardians of Ossyria’: You will defeat this new foe, and you will be able to overcome it.” Aran called, as she and the others faded from view. Luminous could be heard sighing heavily, all at once remembering that he still had yet to return to the Golem’s Temple and Beuwon to find out if the mine was indeed able to be restarted.

“Well, where to now?” Vondra asked tucking the gem she had received into the sleeve of her glove.

“I have business that I must attend to at the golem’s temple on the other side of Henesys. If you don’t wish to accompany me that will be alright, but I must go.”

“Well, as our parents asked us to do before all of this took place, we’re your chaperone until you three have gotten your power back up to snuff.” Dumia called, walking into the tree line and climbing up into her Mech, initiating the start up sequence as she buckled in.

You are going to be our Chaperones? Ha! What kind of prank are you pulling here? We don’t need chaperones.” Phantom huffed, smirking with confidence beaming from his being.

“No, I’m pretty sure that you’re gonna need us for a little while. Besides, the world that you knew is upside down now. But if you’re so confident that you don’t need us…” Patricia looked over her shoulder and saw what appeared to be a giant pig walking around, patrolling the area.

“…why don’t you take on that creature over there and prove that you don’t need us.” She finished with a smirk, hanging her wand on her belt and crossing her arms.

“No, I don’t think that will be necessary. I am the Phantom Thief, I shouldn’t need to prove myself.”

“Yeah right. You’re just scared; you do need us.”

“Alright that is enough!” Mercedes said, holding her hands out to her sides before turning to Phantom to try and convince him their need of these children.

“Phantom, the world we knew has long since gone away. We need these young people here to help us regain the power that we have lost.”

“Speak for yourself Your Highness. Remember it was you who needed me to defeat the Black Mage.” Phantom huffed, pushing out his chest proudly. Luminous lunged at him, grabbing him by the collar and pinning him against a tree red light in his eyes burning brightly, even streaming from it.

“I am growing SICK of your constant whining! First you’re too arrogant too see what Minerva asked us to do. Then you have the gall to come back and help us once your pathetic Empress was taken from you and ‘helped’ us break into the temple of time, too busy looking for valuables with the powers that Minerva gave you rather than helping to stop him! And finally, you leave us right as the battle with the Mage himself was reaching its zenith to save your own sorry hide! If you want to help us that’s fine, but leave your ‘mightier than thou’ attitude back on the ship. Otherwise, stay out of the way where you belong!” Luminous growled. Phantom grit his teeth, pushing Luminous away and grabbing a card from his belt, hurling it into the air which then took the shape of a bull, charging at Luminous and throwing him into the air. Quickly the card returned to Phantom as he drew another, throwing it straight into the air when the hazy image of a large knight appeared. This time it slammed its sword into the ground, bringing Luminous with it and returning to Phantom’s hand.

“Don’t you DARE speak of Aria that way again! Aria was much more than just a…”

“Just what Phantom? A treasure? A possession? A challenge? She was never anything other than an object to you!” Luminous howled in return, making Phantom charge at him. He knocked the staff from Luminous hand and stood with the point of a thin sword he had drawn from his cane aimed at Luminous’ neck.

“Aria was never an object I wished to add to my collection. She was the one person, the only person, I have ever let into my life! If that’s how you’ve felt even after all this time, then I want no part of you or these ‘Guardians’.” Phantom hissed, shoving the sword back into the cane hard and walking away from them with a haughty grunt.

“Phantom, where are you…”

“Let him go Mercedes. He’s made up his mind. We’ll continue on our own.” Latimer called, holding out a hand and bringing Luminous to his feet. As Phantom walked away, thoughts of his past came to mind when he first met his teacher Raven.

You can live or die; the choice is yours.” Raven’s voice echoed in his mind, still able to see the arm mounted cross bow aimed at him as a child. Shaking his head, he tried pushing the memory away which still haunted him to this day. He had come home to find that his parents had been killed by Raven.

And even after all the time that I spent learning from him, that bastard went and got himself killed, and not by me.” His thoughts raged as he walked into the forest, still seething.

************************

Dureau scanned over the miles and miles of forests below him, searching endlessly for the scent of his underling. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt a tight knot building in his chest, something that he had never felt before and wasn’t sure how to deal with it except to search. Now that the Dream Fragments had cut him off from the rest of the world, the only thing that he felt was worry for Mastema. But she was in Edelstein, wasn’t she? Moments after the Fragments had fully taken over, he caught a whiff of her scent and instantly began following where it had come from, leading him into the desert of Ariant. He stopped only for a short while in the desert town to get water, before continuing on following her scent. It took him towards a town that smelled of oil and plants: Magatia.

What would Mastema be doing in a place like this?” He asked himself, landing gently in the middle of town, aware that he had lost her scent and could now only smell oil and machines bustling about him.

“Well this was a massive waste of time.” He mumbled to himself when he caught her scent again, but this time, there was the smell of blood on the air as well; and it was coming from the north end of the town. With a hard push he glided over the people, heading straight for a building with a sign that said ‘Zenumist’. Bursting through the door, an old man looked up at him in surprise having a flasks in his hands. Dureau calmly walked up to him, standing a few inches taller than him while the light from his Ageis made the room glow a pale blue.

“Where is she?” he asked flatly as the man shook his head in confusion.

“Who are you talking about? No one has come in here or left all day!” the man said franticly. Dureau was about to reach for his mace when he heard the sound of something hitting the floor in the back as a weak meow. With a beat of his wings, Dureau went streaking through the building following the scent of Mastema’s blood, bursting through the door at the end of the hall. What he saw was something that looked be two flasks filled with red and blue liquid jumping one at a time as though they were legs towards Mastema. She lay still on the floor, part of her fur bloodied as well as the flesh of her right wing torn.

Dureau disappeared in a burst of speed, swinging his mace hard making a monster erupt from his mace and throw the flask creature back. Dureau then crossed his wings over himself while a deep green light glowed from around them. Characters of the Khyune language appeared on the membrane flesh of his wings. The flask creature tried to get up, once again walking towards them one step at a time and repairing the cracks in the glass as it went until Dureau lunged it. His left arm turned into nothing but Aura Claws that raked across the creature, scratching the glass in high pitch screams as he hurled it back into the wall. He held his mace back, enveloped by a black and red aura shaping itself into a large scythe.

“Stay away from her.” he growled, swinging the scythe so fast that the wind from it took nearly ten seconds to catch up until the glass of the creature first shattered, then exploded letting the liquids from within it spill onto the ground. As he put his mace back, Dureau walked back to Mastema, crouching down to touch her bloody violet fur. Out of reaction, Mastema quickly opened her jaw and clamped down on the hand that was touching her, still tense from the battle that she had been waging. But when she saw the hand was that of her master’s she quickly removed her fangs from his hand and shrank away from him, tucking her paws and tail under herself.

“I’m sorry master, I didn’t know that was you. I…” When she looked up, Dureau simply pulled his hand back, opened and closed his hand a few times and then reached for her again. Mastema shut her eyes and braced for whatever was going to come, but was surprised when Dureau simply put his hand on her head, running one of his fingers down the middle of her head as though petting her.

“Try not to let it happen again. What exactly were you after?” he asked calmly, gently petting her again.

“I had heard a rumor saying that a creature here contained a liquid that would turn anyone into the thing they desire the most. And what I desire is my human form! I can’t even battle a simple creature as this in this form and I am tired of being in this form!” She explained, fighting the urge to turn back and begin licking her wound.

“Mastema, you should have come to me with this information. I would have easily defeated this creature for you.” Dureau gently scolded. Mastema smiled, but it was somewhat sad since she knew he was still seeing her as his subordinate.

“You were looking for the Rurumo Liquid?” a voice asked. Dureau turned and reached for his mace, scooping up Mastema ready to attack. Mastema flinched in pain but was more surprised by Dureau’s actions.

“And who would you be?” Dureau asked as the man came more into view.

“My name is Bedin, assistant to Carson. That creature you just fought was actually a result of the Rurumo Liquid created in an experiment using the extract of the Rumo Plant. If you want, I can easily make some more for you. May I ask what you will be using It for?” He asked as he turned and motioned for them to follow.

“I require it to, experiment myself.” Dureau answered flatly. Bedin raised his eyebrows for a moment as he led them, shrugging as if to stop himself from further asking questions. As he said, the Rurumo Liquid was quickly created and given to him in a flask.

“Ah finally! I’ll be able to return to my former self!” Mastema said excitedly, ignoring her stinging side as she jumped up onto one of the desks, searching for other ingredients and herbs.

“Does she plan on using that on herself?” Bedin asked, sounding worried.

“Yes she does. It has been a very long time and Mastema wishes to return to her former self, a human form.” Dureau answered, watching Mastema as she sniffed around the desk for different potions, pouring small amounts into another flask.

“No! That liquid was never meant to be used by living beings!” Bedin warned, reaching for the flask in Dureau’s hand, but missed when he pulled it away, giving him a hard look.

“It’s a risk that I’m willing to take human.” Mastema said sternly, rubbing her paws together as she put the last of the herbs she needed into the flask.

“If you would Dureau, could you pour the Rurumo Liquid into this flask, since I can’t do it myself.” Over Bedin’s fighting protests, Dureau poured it in and waited with a tinge fear running through him. The last time she tried anything was when she shot herself with the strange laser from the aliens in Omega Sector, which thankfully only knocked her out.

Why am I fearful for her life to begin with?” Dureau wondered, still unsure whether or not it was a good idea to let her continue. Before he could voice any further concerns, Mastema had already consumed the flask’s contents, sitting impatiently on the desk waiting for it to take effect. Suddenly a pressure was building in her chest, becoming hard to breathe making her fall from the desk to the ground. Dureau knelt down and reached out a hand for her when Bedin stopped him.

“It’s the effect of the Rurumo Liquid: it’s a transformation catalyst. Whatever she put in addition to it must be clashing with it or had made it more potent. If you touch her now the effect could affect you as well. Who knows what would happen.” Dureau looked on with worry as Mastema twitched and writhed on the floor until a cloud began forming around her. Bedin pulled him away so that the fumes wouldn’t touch him and maybe adversely affect him. as the could thickened around Mastema, Dureau saw a hand reach out from under the cloud as it cleared.

“Ah, it feels good to be back… wait, why does my voice sound like Master Dureau!” Mastema asked, looking down at her hands before running to a window, looking at herself in the reflection as her cheeks suddenly became bright red in embarrassment. What she saw instead of her well known human form, it was instead an exact copy of Dureau. As her cheeks blazed bright red, the transformation canceled itself returning her to her cat form, hiding her burning cheeks.

“What happened? I though you said that it would turn you into the thing that you desire most, and you said that it was your human form that you wanted.” Dureau chuckled. Mastema looked away from the window so that Dureau wouldn’t see the look in her eyes, fighting as hard as she could to keep from looking into his eyes.

“I-I-I-I don’t know. Maybe some of the herbs I used were old or I put in the wrong amounts. Y-yes that its. I must have just done something like that.” Mastema stuttered, trying to explain the events.

Oh! Why did it have to turn out like this?! The one person I want more than anything in this world is Master Dureau! Even if I wished for my human form as hard as I could, I could never suppress the desire I have for him enough to…” Her thoughts were cut short when she felt Dureau’s hand wrap around her and pick her up, chuckling in a low voice and hold her close to his chest.

“We’ll find a way of retrieving your human form Mastema.” He said calmly turning and walking out the door. He felt relieved that Mastema was alright and that nothing serious had happened to her. Yes, there was the loss of his family, and even if the company of Mastema was annoying at times he was secretly thankful for her presence. Maybe it was his pride or maybe it was just some misplaced sense of authority that kept him from allowing himself to show his appreciation for her.

And then there were her actions as of late, especially when they were still back in the High Guard garage; she had nearly kissed him when she temporarily regained her human form while helping him heal a wound. Perhaps Mastema was more to him than he realized and maybe he would eventually be able to open up. For now, there was the matter of Clytemnestra and what she was doing in place of The Mage. If he couldn’t get to The Mage himself, then she would serve as the next best thing.

Mother, Damian… I will avenge you. Just hang on a little longer.
The Guardians L.O. - Ch 7, Re-E2
ALL RIGHTS OF THE MAPLESTORY GAME BELONG TO NEXON AND THE RESPECTIVE COMPANIES. THIS STORY IS PURELY FAN FICTION.

Chapter 8, pt 1: The Ghosts that Haunt Us


Check out the game here: maplestory.nexon.net/Default.a…

This is the Thrid Season of "The Guardians" saga, A fanfiction. Here is the First Season Beginning

Here is the Second Season Beginning

E.N. 1: I did moslt some minor updating: catching missing words here and there, adding in letters that were missing, and putting in a couple missing HTML codes.

E.N. 2: Did some minor updating.
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“Tell me something. If you ‘High Guard’ were the ones to take out the last cell of the Black Wings, then tell me why there are still Black wings Soldiers running around Ossryia like they own the place?” Yoshumari asked with a sharp edge in his voice while folding his wings behind him.

“You do know that you’re still wanted by the Empress for your crimes against Ossyria don’t you?” Evan asked, trying to make the edge in his voice match that of Yoshumari’s, only to be humbled slightly when he turned to lock gazes with him.

“The Empress? As I’m sure you are no doubt aware that her Identity is seriously being called into question right now. This man on the other hand, has no such uncertainty, do you?” Yoshumari asked of the man, making the energy around his hand form into a sword once again and stabbed it through the man’s hand.

“What the hell are you doing?!” Dumia squealed.

“AAHH!! YES! YES I WORK FOR THE BLACK WINGS!” the man screamed out in pain as Yoshumari drove it deeper into his hand, kneeling down to face him.

“Then tell everyone here what you have in mind.” The man looked him in the eyes gritting his teeth against the pain before gathering his saliva and spitting it into Yoshumari’s face. Yoshumari closed his eyes and took a long breath before defusing his power and wiping the spittle away with the back of his sleeve.

“Very well then, if that’s the way to want it, so be it!” He growled, holding his hand high in the air while a giant axe formed around his hand.

“STOP!” the blond yelled just as Yoshumari was about to swing, making him look back at her with wild and angry eyes.

“We can use him for interrogation. We are not savages in the Silent Crusade! I don’t think even Black Phoenix would authorize this kind of force, not on enemies that we can use.” The blond shouted.

“Starling, there is no getting information out of them, you know that as well as I do! And if they are allowed to run around freely, they will only bring more chaos to this world then they already have which is why they must be stopped here and now!” Yoshumari screamed, raising his axe once more ready to strike when Starling ran between the man and him.

“Star, move!”

“No!”

“MOVE!”

“I said no!”

“I am your commanding officer and I order you to move!”

“Then that is an order that I cannot obey! Our orders were not to be a mobile execution unit!” Yoshumari reached out his hand, clamping down hard on her shoulder and neck when a voice broke the silence.

“Hey guys, I think we have a problem: I found the Seal, but I found this there as well.” Latimer said, holding up a small sack, from which he pulled a small red-orange gem. Yoshumari’s eyes went wide when he saw the gem, looking back to the man that was supposed to be under Mir’s foot and not seeing him there.  When he looked back, the man was drawing a dagger, lunging at Latimer from behind.

“YOU FOOL!” Yoshumari roared, opening his wings and disappearing in a streak of light, pinning the man to a tree with a sword through the heart.

“Heh, looks like he still got me anyway. TECON NOW!” the soldier screamed, when the man that Vondra had tied up sprang from the crater, ran as fast as he could at Latimer and grabbed the bag with his teeth. He then sprinted away into the forest as fast as he could while dark power began surrounding him.

“No you don’t!” Vondra shouted, swinging her arms up as lines of mana streaked across the ground towards him. Yoshumari swung hard, sending an arch or power screaming through the air at the man’s neck. Just as both attacks were about to hit their targets, the man disappeared in a plume of black aura.

“Please tell me that you didn’t put all the gems like that into that bag.” Yoshumari hissed, pulling his left hand from the man’s chest who sank to the ground in a lifeless pile.

“Yes, I did, was I not supposed to?” Latimer asked. Evan hung his head in disappointment and defeat while Yoshumari’s body tensed, every vein in his body bulging with blood.

“Those were the Pillars of Time! You just handed them THE PILLARS OF TIME!” he roared, rushing to Latimer and grabbing him by the shirt collar, shaking him back and forth violently. Latimer’s panther Blaze jumped onto Yoshumari’s right arm, clamping down as hard as he could with his jaw trying to pull his grip off Latimer’s shirt while Mir reverted to her human form and began pulled him away on the left.

“DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’VE JUST DONE!” Yoshumari shrieked, as Mir struggled to keep him within her grip until he finally shoved her off, and charged for Latimer once again, this time with his sword fully empowered and stabbing forward as hard as he could. But his charge was brought to an abrupt halt, making dust a dirt fly everywhere. When it settled, it revealed Yoshumari’s sword a hair’s breadth away from Starling’s neck. For a few moments, neither of them did anything until Yoshumari defused his sword and bolted into the sky, allowing Starling to let out the breath she had been holding.

“Please forgive him; when he went to help you in the fight against the Black Mage, I managed to slip into the castle before your parents, staying out of sight and trying to stay as quiet as I could since the only weapon I know are these.” She said, producing one of her custom twin pistols.

“While the Mage was busy with taking The Guardian’s crystal power, I snuck into the room and took all of the Pillars as well as Yoshumari himself. Ever since then we’ve been laying low and helping where we could. When he found out that I had the Pillars of Time with me, he insisted that we hide them but only in a place that he would know. After we heard that Victoria was moving, Yoshumari decided that it was time to retrieve the Pillars since the Black Wings would no doubt be looking for them as well as the Seals. When I asked him why, he told me that he had found one of the Seals and had hidden the Pillars there, since the Seals themselves give off a self hiding aura from anyone that doesn’t have a means of detecting it. We were in the process of retrieving them when we were ambushed by those soldiers. I just thought that you should know.” Starling said before turning and running in the same direction that Yoshumari had flown off in. Latimer hung his head, opening his hand to reveal the one Pillar that he had pulled out and had managed to save.

“Now what happens?” Latimer asked mournfully.

“Now, we just fight harder. Come on; let’s get back to base with the Seal.” Evan answered as the procession sluggishly pulled into motion. As they walked, Vondra could see that Latimer was walking with his shoulders slumped lower than normal. Anyone would crumble under the blasting that Yoshumari had given him. To make him feel better, she jogged up beside him but once there was unsure of what to say.

“You don’t have to say anything Vondra. I screwed up. I brought those gems to the battle scene and announced it to the enemy.” Latimer grunted. Vondra ran in front of him and stopped him.

“Latimer, it could have been any one of use to make a mistake like that. Hell, if it had been me, I probably would have yelled that I found them where they were and lost the Seal too.” She soothed. Latimer chuckled weakly and smiled.

“Look, I know you’re trying to make me feel better, but it’s really not helping.” he said, when he heard the canopy of Dumia’s mech slide back.

“Yo, Latimer. I know you fee down, but Yoshumari was just tiffed. You know what his history is with the Black Wings. It wasn’t you he was mad at. In the mean time, just suck it up and move forward. Mistakes happen; we’ll get passed it.” Dumia smiled when Patricia jumped up onto the shoulder of her mech.

“Dumia, you’re not helping.”

“What? I’m just saying it like it is.” Dumia answered, the two of them arguing as they walked into the distance. Latimer let a small smile play across his face as he heard the two of them arguing. These three were the only girls in his life the he could trust not to railroad him just because of how he looked.

Thanks guys, really. You don’t know what it means to have you guys around.

*************************

“At last he’s finished!” Clytemnestra cheered to herself as the large incubation tank drained away of its gel and the sides of the tank sank into the ground.

“I must warn you that because his growth from conception to now has been exponentially accelerated, his life span has been significantly shorted.” Arkarium explained. Clytemnestra looked over to him with seething light in her eyes before holding out her hand, lifting Arkarium off the ground and tossing him to the side.

“I don’t care whether or not he will live for long. I just need him long enough to move Ereve into position. Once that is complete, I could care less what happens to him.” she sneered, waving her hand and drying Shinsoo’s feathers instantly. The motion woke him, revealing luring deep blue eyes while his feather’s radiated with a dull violet power, lighting the ground around him dimly.

“Shinsoo, listen to me; I need to move this Island to meet Victoria in just under a day and I need your help to…” Before she had a chance to finish, Shinsoo was already getting up and walking around the room, looking around as though gaining his bearings before walking out. Curious, Clytemnestra followed him, soon realizing that Shinsoo was headed for the palace where the true Shinsoo would often sit with Cygnus.

Of course, why didn’t I think of that before?” Clytemnestra thought, laughing to herself as Shinsoo made himself comfortable, followed by Clytemnestra. No sooner had she made herself comfortable in his feathers than the ground trembled, making her smile: at least one thing was going according to plan. But as she was readying to drift off to sleep, a huge cloud of black smoke appeared, spewing a man from it with a small bag in his teeth as he sprawled to the ground. Clytemnestra teleported over to him, crouching down to see who it was that had come and recognized him as the spirit that had been trapped within Eckhart for so many years, now with a body of his own.

“Well well, what have you brought to me?” she asked alluringly, reaching for the ropes around his wrists and burning them away. He quickly shrugged them off and reached for the pouch in his mouth, handing it to her.

“There is one missing, but I believe these are something that you will need.” He said as Clytemnestra smiled, reaching into the pouch and pulling out one of the red-orange gems.

“You’ve done well Tecon. Now another piece of the puzzle is in our favor.”

**********************

Nervously Claudine looked around at the huge crowd of people gathered in the center of Henesys including The High Guard and the Heroes at the summons of the Empress. With each attempt they tried to make the people leave, even evacuate, they would only be met with people laughing at them or saying that they were there under the invitation of the Empress.  Dureau smoothly walked through the crowds, watching everyone with his keen eyes, trying to find the one spark that would show what this meeting was about. He had heard the rumors, but couldn’t spot anything that would give it away.

“This isn’t working! We need something far more drastic to…” Claudine hissed on her com system when a shadow passed over her, making her turn to see Ereve in the distance. She turned to the south to see where the Island was in proximity to the continent when the entirety of the ground shuddered and jerked, making everyone lose their balance.

This isn’t good… there is only an hour or so before Ereve is going to drop into the center of this town and crush everyone here! Alpha Leader Actual, come in!” Claudine hissed through her com, giving quick orders to Belle and Daren to begin ushering people put of Henesys.

Alpha leader, what’s your status Overlord, over?

“Alpha leader we have a red level alert in progress. Ereve is just out of missile range and we haven’t been able to get anyone to budge, not to mention that the Guardians and their kids are still looking for the Seals. I need you and your squad to get here ASAP, or else there won’t be anyone to save. Leave Silver Squad in charge of guarding the Time Sphere. Over.”

Roger that Overlord. But even at top speed, our mechs won’t be able to get there for another 20 minutes, over.

“Do what you can. I’ve brought enough transport ships to carry at least 30 kilo heads, but from where I’m standing there are at least 100 kilo, over.” Claudine was taken by surprise when she was tapped on the shoulder, reaching for her pistol and turning around as quickly as she could to see a woman with jet black hair standing before her having a very familiar face.

“Empress Cygnus?” Claudine whispered, when the woman put a finger to her lips.

“Keep it down; right now I’m going by the name Black Phoenix and am leader of the Silent Crusade. I’ve come to help. Brilli… I mean Mihile and the other knights found the ship that Athena brought the survivors from Leafre in to Victoria. It’s not in the best of shape but it should be able to hold at least five thousand people. Yoshumari has made contact with the Guardians to convince Shanks and the Tickets to bring their ships as well. All in all I have ships that will be able to carry just under seven thousand people out of here.” Claudine sighed in relief: they would still need more ships, but at least this way they had a way for getting more people away from Victoria in one pass.

“Thank you!”

“So where are we meeting up? I imagine Victoria is no longer going to be safe after this.” Phoenix surmised, looking around at the people.

“I had originally thought of getting everyone back to Mu Lung as we had before, but if whoever this is knows about 18 years ago, they’d know that’s where we’ll be and decided to rally in Edelstein.”

“Good call.” Phoenix replied when a flapping sound could be heard as Shinsoo glided down to a stage set up before them, allowing the Knights and the Empress herself to climb down from his neck.

“I thought Shinsoo was in a contract with your daughter?!” Claudine hissed to Phoenix.

“He is: Change of plans, we move now. No time for waiting.” Phoenix commanded as she and her knights began weaving through the crowd, while the empress began to speak.

“Dear citizens of Ossyria, thank you all for coming to Henesys for this wondrous occasion. As you can see in the distance, Ereve is making its way over Victoria as we speak, and it is you who will be able to make it possible. You may have heard the rumor about the goddess and I am saddened to say that, yes, the goddess is dead.” Gasps washed over the crowd while the High Guard and the Crusade agents pushed their way through the crowds.

“But fear not; with the help of my knights I have found a source of power left behind by her that will enable us to defeat any foe.” A hush fell over the crowd as The Empress smirked, beginning to rise into the air catching the dumb gazes of the people while her skin paled and her hair became platinum blond. As she floated higher, a large glowing apparatus appeared behind her wrapping part of its metal frame around her waist, a feeling of power washing over the people.

“With this power, a new world shall be created where there is no more hate, no more hunger, no more tears. You, here today, should feel honored, because you will be the first of this new world. You will lay the ground work for your fellow Ossyrians…” the woman looked around with a suddenly evil smirk, making Claudine and Phoenix begin pushing people away from the stage telling them to run.

“You will be the first… To die!” More and more people began running away from the stage in fear, some even sprinting as fast as they could until they saw four newly graduated Rank 200 Ninja standing with poised arrogance. Phantom ran to them, swatting one of them in the knees and turning him around.

“Go! Run, there’s nothing you can do here.” He said when another of the ninja pushed Phantom to the ground.

“Hey, back off chuckles. You’re dealing with the founding members of the elite guild known as the Night Terrors. It’s taken us years and millions of coin, but we’ve managed to gather enough enhancing scrolls that nothing can touch us!” the middle one said, crossing his arms and looking back to the woman on the stage.

“Is that so? Well then, perhaps I should tell you my name before we begin battle.” She answered in a rather playful tone.

“No need, you’ll be dead before you have chance to scream.” The young man said, drawing his dagger and taking a lowered stance. Mercedes and Luminous had also been watching and began to think that maybe these new ‘adventurers’, as most people called them, were really better than they let on. In a flash, the young man had jumped to the stage, planting a foot firmly in her gut then back flipping off, kicking her in the chin. Before she had a chance to recover, a large seal appeared behind him with red orbs that quickly spun and shrank as the orbs turned blue while wind curled around his dagger.

In a flash he ran past her, cutting her across the chest, then back flipped over her throwing his dagger into her forehead. He then pushed off a seal which launched him forward, grabbed the dagger and moved in a whirl of slashes before jumping back, while the cuts that had been inflicted opened simultaneously, showering the stage with blood. The young ninja reached into his shirt pocket and pulled out a small towelette to wipe the blood from his blade as he walked back to his adoring ‘brothers’. From the sight that had played out before them, the people began to return to get a better look at the now limp hanging body of the woman within the apparatus.

“That was far too easy.” Luminous growled.

“What are you talking about? Those are the best of the best right there. I bet that not even the mighty Olsen would be able to stand up to them.” a passerby said who quickly trotted over to the growing crowd to thank the young ninja when a low female chuckle began to rise from the stage. Slowly everyone turned to watch as the apparatus glowed brighter before the wounds on the woman’s body all began healing, the final wound to heal being the one inflicted to her head.

“I knew it; anything created by the Black Mage wouldn’t die so easily.” Luminous growled, taking off his outer robe and preparing for battle when he saw the young ninja turn around and face her with a cocky chuckle.

“You just don’t know when to give up do…” the young ninja never finished as metal arms from the apparatus shot out and pinned him down to the ground through his extremities.

“Is that really the best you can muster?” she asked with a chuckle.

“Hilla, summon your army to contain these weaklings, I think it’s time that you see what kind of power you are up against.” She smiled drawing her hand to the side, making the man that was under the apparatus become nothing more than a wave of ashes. Hilla then stepped from the shadow that was next to the stage, firmly planting her staff on the ground which heaved and buckled as skeletons rose from below the ground all around the crowd of people, cutting them off from the ships that were just outside the village.

“It appears as though I’m the one that killed him before he had a chance to scream.” She chuckled as the others of his guild stared in shock while she pulled the arms of the apparatus back. With a nod to Hilla, the skeletons began advancing on the people, swatting at them with their claw like hands while the unfortunate lower rank adventurers were put on the front lines.

“You… you killed our leader! YOU BASTARD!” another of the ninja yelled, fueling the rage in the other two as they reached for the blades and lunged for her. The woman simply smiled, drawing her hand across to turn the other three in the ash as well, when she heard the spell ricochet, turning a nearby tree into ash instead. She looked up to see what had happened, and was somewhat surprised to see Luminous kneeling on the ground between her and the three ninja.

“Oh man, I thought I was a goner!” one of the ninja said. Luminous looked back to them, his right eye glowing fiercely.

“Then go before you are.” He growled, instantly making them scramble to their feet and run as fast as they could towards the others. Mercedes and Phantom soon joined him as he stood once again to his feet.

“Luminous, Mercedes, and the elusive Phantom; my my this does bring back fond memories.” The three of them looked at each other, wondering what she could possibly mean since this was the first time they had even seen her, and yet she remembers them?

“But alas, all of your power seems to have drained away. I on the other hand have been tapping into the power left to me, and this body is a mere extension of his will. Soon all of Ossyria will be nothing more than a burning pile of ash: the perfect slate to start over with. As is wanted.” Phantom lost his cool, gritting his teeth while reaching for a card.

“One of your Officers killed Empress Aria. Tell me where I can find her!” he demanded, but the woman just laughed.

“No Phantom, it wasn’t one of my officers who killed her, it was you. What about that pendant you gave her as a small gift to try and woo her emotions into giving you the Skaia? The one that she wore in her hair? Wasn’t it said to be cursed by a woman who’s love had been scorned and that anyone who wore it would be victim to her wrath?” She baited, making Phantom fight himself with all he had to keep his head about him. Mercedes drew her guns, readying to fire when the woman locked eyes with her.

“Ah yes, the Queen of the Elves: how did that unicorn of yours fair in the end?” Tears stung the corners of Mercedes eyes, still able to hear the shrill whinnies of Onora while the last bits of light in her eyes faded away with her life, making Mercedes drop to her knees. Luminous grabbed his staff from its standing position, whirling it around before taking and aggressive stance.

“Ah and Luminous, the precious…” But she was cut off when he thrust the end of his staff forward, making her have to call up a barrier spell to deflect the incoming spear of light. Before she could speak again, rings descended around him and then another powerful spear came shooting at her, which she easily deflected.

“You may be seeking your vengeance on me for something that happened to you long ago young mage. But don’t you think that you should be more worried about the people trying to escape? Even with your Silent Crusade and your High Guard, and even that traitorous demon with you, it seems that you still can’t overcome Hilla’s army. So what will it be? Let them die and face me? Or fight with them and die anyway?” she asked with a smile. Mercedes and Phantom looked back at the struggling people behind them, trying to fight their way through the skeletons but having no success what so ever.

“It doesn’t matter anyway. For it is now time, for the great descending. I am Clytemnestra! Remember it! For it shall be the last name on your lips!” she called, holding her hands wide to the missive boil of earth above them, before she and Hilla disappeared. The Heroes turned and began fighting as hard as they could, trying to punch holes through the line of skeletons with even less success than the younger adventurers while the higher ranked ones would only make sure that they made it through and no one else. The High Guard and Crusade were managing to get small pockets of them through, but with the Island of Ereve now descending on them, it wasn’t enough! They needed to get through to the ships now!

“OUT OF THE WAY!” a voice shouted as the crowd parted and something hit the ground hard while a shock wave ripped through the line of Skeletons, followed by a blast of ice to form a small corridor allowing them all to charge towards the ships. No sooner had that opened up than the skeletons began trying to break it down and close the hole in their line when Jack and Olsen both dropped from the sky and began tearing through the lines of Skeletons as Shank’s and the Ticket’s ships descended. With each punch, Jack would smash through a skull, elbow another that tried to attack from behind then grab his pistol and shoot one of them through the head as well as the one behind it.

Olsen threw spreads of shuriken, each one slicing through the spines of the skeletons making then disappear in a cloud of dark vapors before grabbing the huge half moon-like blade on his belt, cutting through skeletons left and right as though he were an invisible streak. A shrill scream came from the crowd further up, catching Matthew’s attention as he sheathed his Pyrope Rohen and drew the Glory Sword in its place, rushing to the aid of the woman who had screamed, slicing through the arms of the skeleton that had grabbed her before turning back to the wall of soldiers behind him, stepping forward as he yelled at the top of his lungs while the Dragon’s Roar appeared behind him, howling out its own roar and pushing them back.

Jenny and Aran were that last to descend, winds curling around them lovingly as they glided to the ground. Powerful arrows or heavy waves of ice blazed through the hundreds of Skeletons, keeping them away from the people. Jenny reached for and arrow, taking aim and obliterating the skeleton that stood before her and was about to turn to face another, when a breeze began to build behind her. Turning around, she could see the grasses swaying towards her while in other areas the grass was bent towards another direction. Closing her eyes she listened, the hem of her Gaia cloak beginning to glow with a comforting blue light.

Danger…” the winds whispered, making Jenny look up to see that Ereve was falling even faster than she previously thought.

“LETS GO! WE HAVE TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!” She shouted over the howling winds.

“THERE ARE STILL HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE HERE! Claudine shouted in protest. Jenny closed her eyes and again and listened to the winds once more, but they remained silent.

“COME ON, THERE’S NO TIME! DO WHAT YOU CAN!” Jenny screamed, grabbing Claudine by the arm and pulling her along as they made their way to the ships. Shanks did what he could to keep the Queen’s Wing stable until he had filled the ship to capacity, the last to board being Olsen.

“GO GO GO!” He shouted as Shanks spun the wheel, turning the ship away from their position and pushing the throttle into overdrive, hurtling the ship away from under the falling island followed by many others. Clouds of dust and screams of people who were still too close to the impact point could be heard in a shrill howl; Jack looked back and hung his head watching through the side window of the helm room as the Nautilus pulled away as well with is cargo hold full of people. On the Queen’s wing, Shanks circled high above Victoria, allowing those on deck to look below as the shockwave of Ereve’s impact on Victoria leveled the entire town and hundreds of trees around it.

“My god…” Jenny breathed when a pulse of something dark in color spread from around Ereve like a ripple. Black Phoenix stumbled, quickly caught by Brilliance as he too stood near the railing and watched the massive dust cloud spread out from beneath Ereve.

“I thought that this time I could make some kind of difference… I thought that this time I could make sure that no one was lost.” Phoenix said with a quiver in her voice. Claudine looked up slightly at her, lifting her hand to set on her shoulder when she hesitated. This woman was the reason that her brother was killed so many years ago because she couldn’t help Edelstein. Why should she comfort her? On some level or another she actually was getting a sick pleasure out of watching the Empress crumble the way she was. But when she thought about her brother, it was almost as she could hear him speaking to her.

Claud, what the heck? Yeah, you lost me, but she has an entire world to help, give her a break.” Claudine swallowed hard, knowing that what she thought her brother would say was right and made herself reach up and place a hand on Phoenix’s shoulder.

“This isn’t the end.” A stern voice said, all of them turning to see Dureau partially sitting on a crate with his legs crossed.

“What do you mean? So many lives were lost just now, and you say that it isn’t over? Victoria is once again connected to the continent, Ereve has been embedded in the ground of what was once Henesys, and they have the Pillars of Time. How can this not be the end?” Phoenix demanded as she walked one step at a time towards him.

“Because if this woman Clytemnestra is a creation of the Black Mage, then there are already a set of stages put into motion. Bringing all of this together was only the first of phases. If I remember right, she also needs the Seals of Ossyria as well as the remaining Pillar of Time that was held onto by Latimer. We still have a bit of an upper hand on this situation.”

“But it will only be a matter of time until Clytemnestra figures out where the Pillar is being held and come after it, as well as the Seals: how do we still have the upper hand?” Holocaust asked when Dureau looked up at her from under his brow, his red eyes glowing in slight anger.

“Because we still have the Heroes of Ossyria, or did you forget?”

“Speaking of which, have any of you seen them?” Jack asked when he realized that they weren’t on the ship.

“No I haven’t. Wait, where’s Patricia?” Jenny asked, looking around on the ship, and then looking to the other ships for her. Olsen grabbed his cloak and held it up as it transformed into a great fiery phoenix perched on his arm awaiting a command.

“Point us in the direction of the Heroes.” He said, as the bird flew off of his arm, landing on the railing and looking down and Victoria.

“How did they… phoenix, point us to Latimer.” Again the phoenix just stared at Victoria. Olsen named off the others that had come with them after they heard the distress call from Claudine to Checky: Patricia, Dumia, Vondra, Acer, Tzarax, Ashura, Mir, and Evan were all still on the Island.

“I’ll go a search for them.” Dureau said, jumping from the side of the ship and tucking in his massive wings, falling like a hammer back into Victoria. He couldn’t explain why, he just knew that he had to be down there, almost as if her were trying to save his brother and mother all over again. But it was a different kind of urgency; yes it was to keep a treasured connection, but one of a slightly different nature, he thought. Helen suddenly felt a strange power begin to wash over her, rushing to the middle of the ship as her cloak diffused into the giant boosting spell behind her, reciting another one of the many spells hidden within it.

“Life and Death, light and dark. With heavenly light thy deeds laid bare, and thou wilt be saved. I call to the ancient force of mine magic, empower me with thy divine authority, and protect those within from this darkness that stands before me!” she shouted, slamming her staff on the deck of the ship while her hair and eyes glowed brightly. A massive protection spell bubbled out from the top of her staff, encompassing all of the ships surrounding them while something like smoldering paper climbed up the outer walls of the spell. When the phenomena was half way up the spell, the ragged line all around them faded away allowing Helen to drop her protection spell, staggering slightly from the massive use of power.

“What was that?” Olsen asked, running to her and reaching out, ready to catch her.

“I know not Olsen, only that the spell coming was one of vast power.” Matthew ran to the edge, his eyes becoming wide in shock.

“I really think the rest of you should look at this.” He called as they walked over to the edge, staring in surprise and disbelief at what they saw, or rather what they didn’t see: the entire continent of Ossyria, including Victoria, Ereve and Ludibrum had disappeared and was replaced with nothing except a vast ocean.

“What happened?!” Jenny screamed.

“Shanks! Take the ship down!” she ordered.

“Nay Shanks! Stay on thy course!” Helen shouted back.

“What are you doing Helen?! Our child was still down there! Your child was still down there! We need to see if they can still be rescued!” Jenny demanded when Helen grabbed her arm as hard as her slender hand could.

“JENNY! Thou wilt hark unto mine words 'ere making any rash choice!”Jenny pulled her arm away from Helen roughly.

“What do you mean by rash choice?!”

“She means that you have to think through your actions. I’m just as worried as you are Jen, but getting these people to safety takes priority. If we let on to the rest of the people that there is something seriously wrong, it will begin to affect them for the worse.” Matthew answered.


“I know thou must worry, however Patricia would not become faint to something as this.” Helen pointed out, making Jenny let out a ragged breath.

“Our daughters are down there too Jen, but they are all strong, and they have a bond between them that won’t allow them to fall apart.” Aran said, but even she had trouble believing her own words since she too was worried about Dumia and Vondra.

“But what of the people left behind? What will they do?” Monsoon asked.

“They will most likely be gathered together by them. No doubt there will be some casualties, but I’m sure that they’ll do everything that they can. The Heroes won’t let something like this shake the world so easily.” Firebolt replied, his eyes stern and focused on the railing while he leaned against the main sail.

“What are we going to do about Ossyria though? It can’t have just disappeared: I didn’t sense that kind of power coming from Clytemnestra.” Holocaust commented, pulling the hood from her mass of red curls and looking over the edge of the railing at the churning ocean below.

“We wilt seek counsel 'ere I am sure, but I hath formulated an theory.” Helen said in a low voice.

“Some time 'ere we faced The Black Mage 18 years yore, I hath visited the house of Gritto for furthering mine understandings. 'Twas then that I stumbled upon spells and descriptions concerning powerful illusions conjured from a substance known as Dream Fragment. These fragments can then be gathered amass and ‘programmed’ to bewray whate’er the person intended. However, neither can one simply find these fragments once they art factious, or simply walk into or out of the area in which the fragments effect.”

“So then how do we get to Victoria now that it’s gone? And how do we get this ‘higher counsel’ if our parents and the High Elders were both on Ossyria?”

“I spoke of one not being to ‘walk’ into the area. However one can ‘dream’ into the affectioned area. Let us return to Edelstien, 'tis thither that I can dilate further.” Helen answered. Holocaust sighed as she listened to Helen's theory, before asking a question that everyone thought, but no one was willing to ask.

"Will the iron grip of the Black Mage ever be broken?"
The Guardians L.O. - Ch 6, pt 2 - Re-E2
ALL RIGHTS OF THE MAPLESTORY GAME BELONG TO NEXON AND THE RESPECTIVE COMPANIES. THIS STORY IS PURELY FAN FICTION.

Chapter 7: The Guardians Emerge: Reborn

Check out the game here: maplestory.nexon.net/Default.a…

This is the Thrid Season of "The Guardians" saga, A fanfiction. Here is the First Season Beginning

Here is the Second Season Beginning

E.N. 1: I tried to make the Guardians on the ship seem a bit more worried than the first time since I didn't do a good job of that the fist time around. Hopefully its a little better.

E.N. 2: I just did some all around updating and added some missing HTML codes

E.N.3: Did some basic updating, and added a scene near the beginning.
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Chapter 6: Broken Dawn

Evan was feeling rather apprehensive about going to see Cygnus, now that he knew the rumors that had been circulating about her. It had been just over a week when he said he would bring the Ossyrian Seals to Ereve, but the time that had passed wasn’t his main concern; it was the fact that at Helen’s insistence, they were to be brought to Edelstein instead where Claudine was the one to take them and hide them: not even Checky knew where she kept them. If the rumors about what had happened to the Empress were true, he was walking into a rather dangerous and hair triggered trap.

“Evan, what’s the matter?” Mir’s soothing voice asked as she walked beside him in her human form.

“I’m just worried is all: what if she doesn’t buy the story Helen and Claudine fabricated about me not being able to find them?” Evan said with a melancholy tone. Mir turned the corners of her mouth up and stopped him with a hand, looking intently into his eyes.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that nothing will happen to you. Our lives are linked remember, and I still have many more years that I would like to live myself.” she said firmly, somewhat reassuring Evan as he took a breath and walked on, hand in hand with Mir as they entered the throne room.

“Evan, thank you for coming: I trust that your search for the Ossryian Seals is coming along well?” Cygnus asked with an optimistic luminosity in her eyes. Evan swallowed hard, looking to Mir for a moment and then back to Cygnus.

“Regretfully, the search has been fruitless; the places I thought they would be have been disturbed and the Seals are missing.” Cygnus nodded and sighed understandingly, but Mir could feel a hostile presence coming from somewhere around them, making the patch of scales on her torso feel itchy. Upon a closer look, Mir noticed that Cygnus’ eyes had a dim red glow within them for a moment.

“I see. Keep Searching Evan, we must keep the seals out of Black Wings hands.” She said calmly as they bowed and turned to leave.

“There is something seriously wrong here master, I don’t even see Neinthart here anymore.” Mir whispered after they left the throne room. Evan looked back and breathed a sigh of relief, rocking his neck side to side to rid his neck and shoulders of their tension.

“Yes Mir, I know, I just don’t know what.” He answered before jumping onto Mir’s shoulders as they took to the skies, turning towards Edelstein once they were sure no one could see them from Ereve. In the palace, Clytemnestra watched as they took off before quickly getting up and running for her room, only to be overcome with a massive headache. Clutching at her head she struggled to get up, fighting the feeling of another presence trying to take over. Oz and Mihile appeared next to her, picking her up and beginning to make a mad dash for her room when they noticed that her eyes were slowly beginning to take on a maple brown color. Just when her eyes were almost completely changed, Mihile and Oz propped her up in the apparatus which wrapped its arms around her, instantly making her eyes return to their dark blue color. No sooner had Clytemnestra been embraced than Arkarium appeared next to Oz.

“Please tell me that you managed to get her into the Apparatus before it was too late.” He wheezed, looking to Oz with a stern face.

“Barely; her eyes almost went completely brown this time.” Oz replied while Arkarium stepped closer to Clytemnestra, holding his hand out as he looked her over.

“Clytemnestra, you have to make sure and come back to the apparatus more often, otherwise you will lose yourself to whatever this presence is.” He wheezed as she slowly began to wake up.

“Don’t you think I already know that Arkarium? This is becoming more of a bother than you realize and I want it fixed now.” She snarled from under her eyebrows.

“Master, I have been trying to find a way for that to become possible, but with each discovery I make, it only shows the solution of being in constant contact with the apparatus. Otherwise you will just have to endure coming back to this apparatus for recharge…” Arkarium grew still while his neck felt tight, lifting him from the ground as burns in the shape of fingers began to appear around Arkarium’s neck.

“Is there anything that you can tell me that is of ANY use?” she growled as Arkarium was brought closer to her in mid air.

“I have… but if you… could set me down… I can…” Clytemnestra tilted her chin out slightly, making Arkarium fall to the floor in a heaving heap.

“Speak quickly; my patience has been worn quite thin.” She hissed as Arkarium stood with the help of his cobra familiar.

“Yes… well, while my research on the project you’ve given me is incomplete, Hilla has found something quite extraordinary, involving Ereve, Ludibrum, and Victoria Island.”

*************************

“Can you believe it?” Patricia nervously laughed, flopping down on the old vinyl couch in the High Guard’s garage, just as Dumia parked her mech and powered down.

“We finally brought down all of the Black Wings cells: It’s almost too good to be true.” Abi said in reply, wiping her hands of the heavy grease and slumping down next to Patricia, almost launching her off the couch.

“We can’t relax now. There’s still some very serious rumors going around about the Empress and her chief knights.” Belle called as she walked in with her panther Jack padding in beside her.

“Way to spoil a buzz Belle.” Dumia called as she walked over with a few sodas in hand, passing them to everyone before sitting on the arm of the couch. But even after they had all settled in on the couch, there still hung an odd air around all of them: Yes they had just taken down the last Black Wings cell, but things with them were always more dangerous than they really seemed. Checky was about to speak when hard wing flaps could be heard, claws shrieking against the concrete as Shinsoo skidded to a stop in the garage. Ashura, Lillianne and Matthew hurriedly dismounted and jogged over to them, making the whole group that had gathered stare in confusion until Claudine broke the odd silence.

“Matthew? What are you doing here? I thought that you would be…”

“Victoria is moving.” Matthew interrupted.

“Well, that’s not really all that surprising since it is an island not bound by any land mass.” Daren answered matter-o-factly.

“That may be true, but from what we were able to ask Athena, Victoria has never moved from its spot in over 600 years, almost as if it were held there by some force.” Lillinanne replied as she looked around at the others.

“Ashura and I monitored the island’s movements for the day and charted its course.” Matthew replied, almost seeming hesitant to tell where it was heading.

“Well, spit it out! Where’s it headed?” Patricia demanded, laughing nervously to try and lighten the heavy mood that had fallen over the room.

“It’s headed for the Continent.” Claudine lifted an eyebrow and smirked.

“What does that matter? From what I understand, Victoria was once a part of the continent. So what’s the harm in it coming back together?” She was about to say another good point when another dark sounding voice answered.

“Because Victoria was not split off from the Continent just to protect the people on it.” this made everyone turn to see Mercedes, Luminous and Phantom standing before them.

“What exactly do you mean?” Dumia asked, getting up from her perch and walking over to them with a confident swagger. Mercedes looked to Luminous who nodded.

“I think the goddess’s words would best explain that.” Mercedes replied, setting a small stone on the floor before backing away where a holographic image of Minerva appeared.

“If you are listening to this message then it means that Corus, no, The Black Mage has found what I hoped he never would. When we first created Ossyria, there was one thing that had to be re-established when Olde Sapp destroyed itself: the World Maple Tree. All worlds have one; some are hidden far better than others to support the life that will live there. It is a direct line into the Life Stream. As a safety precaution, I built under the ground of Ossyria a worldwide converting circuitry made of Rue to enable myself the use of the Life Stream’s power as a weapon, should a foe greater than the combined power of Corus and myself could defeat appear. This circuitry was then centered on what will become three Islands: The southernmost town of the Victoria Province, the floating Palace Island, Ereve, and the time center of Ossyria, Ludibrum.” The picture then shifted to a diagram, showing Ereve above a town in Victoria, and then Ludibrum above Ereve.

“Ereve must first be brought down to the ground of Victoria, and then over Ereve, Ludibrum will then straddle it to become a key. This will open the conduit that feeds directly into the converting circuitry, giving the one who opened that conduit the power of the Life Stream without restraint. Unfortunately, whatever is on the southern part of Victoria will most likely be destroyed if preparations weren’t made ahead of time.” Vondra and Dumia both threw up their hands, while Claudine held out her hand to the hologram in anger.

“You’re coming to us with this information now?! This would have been good to know a few years ago!”

“Just wait, she explains.” Phantom said calmly, motioning back to the Hologram which had already continued speaking.

“…made sure to implement a few safety precautions, should this ever be discovered by the Black Mage; First is that Victoria Island must be in contact with the Continent for the circuitry to complete. Second, the only way to move Ereve is though the power of the Feather Dragon, Shinsoo. Third is that Ludibrum will only move once all twelve Pillars of Time have been set in place around the Time Sphere and Ereve is in place. Lastly, the Conduit will only activate once the barrier around the Tera Forest has been broken. This barrier can only be broken by setting the Seals of Ossyria on the access pillar marking the entrance to the forest. I am giving this information to the Heroes of Ossyria before I split off Victoria from the Continent; should the need arise, I want you six to give this information to anyone who will listen to you, and do whatever it takes to stop The Black Mage.” Minerva said before shrinking back into the stone, leaving everyone at a loss for words. Claudine sighed heavily, looking to the Heroes and shaking her head in disbelief of what she had just heard. All of what she had known, her entire world and home village, was actually a massive weapon.

“So now what?” She asked, crossing her arms and looking to those around her for answers when Latimer spoke up.

“From what it sounds like, there are two things that this whole thing pivots on: the Seals of Ossyria, and the Pillars of Time. To my knowledge, the Pillars of Time have been missing ever since The Mage was defeated, and the Seals of Ossyria are here in Edelstein.” Latimer held out his hand for a moment until Claudine shook her head.

“That’s not entirely true Latimer. Evan is bringing them here, yes, but has only managed to find a few of them. Not too long ago, Evan was called to the Palace to give a report on his progress, saying that he hadn’t been able to find them. Since that isn’t entirely false, it has given us a bit of a cushion. Matthew, can you estimate how long it’ll take Victoria to make contact with the Continent?” Claudine asked as Matthew looked to be writing numbers in the sky.

“It might take a week, possibly less.” Lillianne answered before Matthew had a chance to finish with his calculations.

“Alright then, The High Guard is going to be working in round the clock shifts to help Evan search for the remaining Seals; so far we’ve only managed to gather seven of them, so the help should speed that up. Matthew, you and the other Guardians should probably search for the Pillars of Time since you are the ones most familiar with their energy.”

“I wish it were that simple Claudine.” Matthew sighed disappointedly

“I’m not sure that even Helen would be able to pick up their energy since the only way to find another Pillar is to find one in the first place.” Matthew protested.

“You five are The Guardians of Ossyria, I’m sure you’ll be able to think of something.” Claudine responded, making Matthew chuckled in agitation as he turned back to Shinsoo.

“I sure hope so.” He said under his breath before taking off with Ashura and Lillianne.

“Checky, You and Abi take Alpha and Silver Platoons to Ludibrum; nothing gets to the Time Sphere.  You kids, I want you to see if you can find Yoshumari; you find him, you have a key to find the Pillars of Time. Let’s move people!” she yelled as everyone jumped from their seats, engines of mecha whining to life throughout the garage. It had been twenty years since a mobilization of this scale had been called for within the High Guard. Even with only two platoons being dispatched, war could be felt on the winds.

************************

“It has been a two days Arkarium, and while I am able to move Victoria back into place, the plan is moot if I can’t move Ereve.” Clytemnestra said with an edge in her voice, looking out from the balcony of her room, testing the limits of not being in direct contact with the apparatus. Arkarium smiled darkly, reaching into his sleeve to grab the item that would allow movement of Ereve possible.

“That is not entirely true, Master.” he wheezed, making her look over uninterestedly at the feather being twirled in Arkarium’s hand.

“A single feather? Arkarium, I fear that so much time alive has made you become senile: a single feather is useless to me.” Clytemnestra said, readying to raise her hand and destroy the feather.

“Yes the feather itself is useless; but allow me to explain Master.” Clytemnestra turned her torrid eyes to him, still ready to sweep her hand to the side and turn the feather into ash. For a brief moment, Arkarium thought that he heard whispers swell from around her, filling the room like an uneasy breeze then fading away just as suddenly.

“Speak.” Clytemnestra said shortly.

“With this feather, you will be able to create your own Shinsoo: a copy, bent to your will.”

“And how does that benefit me? A copy of him is just that, a copy.”

“Not entirely. How do you think your body and the knights were created making them look exactly like the originals, and fooling the populous into thinking that you are the Empress?”

“Your point Arkarium; you don’t know how I tire of your constant riddles.”

“My point being is that with this, you can recreate Shinsoo as your own beast. Ereve needs Shinsoo to move. But it will not know if it is a copy or the original.” Clytemnestra sighed hard, nodding to him with an agitated glare. Once He left, she then returned to the apparatus and closed her eyes once in its embrace: so far the limit that she was able to stay away from it was only two days at maximum, and that was not using any bit of her powers. If she did, it would be reduced to only a few hours before she would need to come back to it.

The only drawback to using the apparatus was that if she wanted to be fully rejuvenated quickly, she would need to be asleep, leaving her body and mind vulnerable to whatever it was trying to take over. However that entity only seemed to rear its presence when she was weak and running low on power, so she didn’t think that there was any need to worry over something so infantismal: soon there would be no need to hide.

********************

Phoenix tossed and turned, trying to find a comfortable spot so that the weird dreams she would have would just end and she could sleep in peace. But the dreams would only come every couple of days, and even then they were short but would last in real time, not the strange dream time where one could live out a day in thirty minutes. She found herself walking through a strange hall, doors lining every inch of the walls, recognizing them as doorways to memories she had cherished or had wished never happened. The strange thing was, when she tried to venture further down the hallway towards the memories of when she was younger, they stopped just before the defeat of the Black Mage and continued to the present.

“Hello? Is that you again?” a voice called, which Phoenix then recognized as her own voice.

“Who are you and why do I feel as if I am speaking with myself in the third…”

“There isn’t much time before he wakes up, but there is a plan that will kill hundreds. You must keep everyone out of a town called Henesys.”

“Why? What kind of attack is it? Does it have anything to do with the fact that Victoria started moving four days ago?”

“I don’t have time to explain, just do what you can to keep everyone away from Henesys, and if you can’t, try as hard as you can to protect those that go!”

“But why would you trust me with this information?! How do I know that you’re not just trying to lead me into a trap?!” Phoenix felt the presence surrounding her smile while a smile spread across her own face, the kind of look that one gets when trying to explain something to a child.

“Because I want the same thing you want.”

“And that would be?” Phoenix asked, suddenly feeling like she were being pulled back away from this presence.

“The safety of everyone in Ossyria.
” Phoenix woke with a start, sitting up with a shout and tossing the covers away, waking Brilliance who was startled when his arm was pulled from around her waist.

“Honey? What’s wrong?” he asked, just as Holocaust and Shadow swept aside the tent’s front flap leading to the main campfire.

“Black Phoenix, what’s wrong?” Shadow asked calmly, pulling his hands under his cloak.

“I just had another one of those strange dreams. This time it said that there was going to be an attack in Henesys, and to keep everyone away from it or to protect those that went anyway.” Phoenix mumbled in her half awakened state, now that the adrenalin had worn off.

“Did you happen to ask if this was because of Victoria’s movements?” Holocaust asked, coming into the tent and setting her staff down while the torch light that sat atop it lit the dark space with a comforting glow.

“No, the presence said that it didn’t have the time.”

“Are you sure that it didn’t mean you any harm? It could be a trap.” Shadow asked. Phoenix was about to answer, tilting her head a bit as though thinking of an answer to give.

“It’s hard to explain, but the presence, almost feels as if, it’s another me. But that is beside the point: where are Monsoon and Firebolt?” Phoenix asked. Holocaust only shook her head.

“I’m not sure; Firebolt disappeared into the woods about an hour ago and Monsoon went after him.” Phoenix huffed: this had been happening a lot lately, but lives were in danger and the Silent Crusade had to do what they could to keep lives from being lost and there were only a few days left to make provisions.

“Fine, there’s no time to look for him. Wake the others, we need to get started right now.”

“But Phoenix, it’s the middle of the night and the soldiers are tired, they need their rest as do you.”

“Holocaust I appreciate your concern, but if we don’t start now it’ll be Edelstein all over again. I don’t intend to make the same mistake twice.” Phoenix commanded, throwing the covers off and reaching for her armor. Holocaust only shook her head, knowing that starting like this was going to be taxing on all of them. Yes the Chief Knights had a higher resilience and more stamina than the other soldiers, but even they had their limits. When Holocaust came outside, she noticed that Shadow was standing by the middle bonfire, almost seeming to be entranced by it, deep in thought.

“You miss her don’t you Eckhart?” Holocaust asked, walking up beside him and casting a spell that perked up the flames.

“Yes I do. I just hope that whoever it was that replaced me didn’t say or do anything to hurt her.” Shadow answered, staring into the flames for a while longer, turning the ring on his finger before turning to wake the others.

“It’s been almost 12 years since the two of you got married, do you have any plans to have kids?” Holocaust asked as she followed after him making Shadow stop and sigh heavily.

“I’ve thought about it and spoken to Athena. Unfortunately, despite her Elvin heritage, she’s told me that she has moved past her prime, beyond that of child bearing. She will retain her youthful appearance for a while longer, but biologically she’s become too old.” Again, Eckhart could be heard sighing, but Holocaust could see a small smile turn up on the corners of his mouth.

“I supposed that would make sense, seeing as she is over 600 years old. I’m surprised that she was even able to have Jenny since she already had lived quite a few years.” Holocaust pointed out as she packed a few knapsacks with potions and supplies for the soldiers.

“I asked her about that as well, but the only response I received was a smile and a kiss. I guess I’ll never know.” Eckhart smiled, looked down to his ring once more, then walking beyond the light of the fire, waking soldiers that he felt were more rested than the others.

Deep within the woods, Monsoon had been following who she assumed to be Firebolt when he had left the camp, but everything that she had been hearing and seeing pointed to the contrary. The footprints, the broken branches, even the strange growls she had been hearing. Was she following Firebolt, or was she following some sort of creature? Sometimes she would be able to see the silhouette of something in the moonlight, but it was misshapen and somewhat grotesque: it almost appeared to be a huge humanized shark. Many times over she would fearfully hide when it looked to her, waiting and trying to keep her breathing silent as it would walk over to where she was before being distracted by something else.

This is stupid Irena! You’re a chief knight for crying out loud and your hiding in fear like a little girl!” she mentally scolded herself. Gathering what she had left of her bravery or insanity, she stepped out from behind her current hiding spot as the creature walked away, drawing an arrow while winds began to gather around her bow. But as she took aim, the creature stopped walking, turning to look at her over its shoulder with its narrow, glowing aqua eyes. She pulled the sinews tighter, but remained still. Somehow she knew that while her arrow might do some damage it would more than likely just make it really mad.

Her fears intensified when the creature began walking back to her baring its sharp teeth, flexing its fingers and tensing the muscles in its arms and presumed neck until it stood over her. Edgy seconds passed as the two of them just stared at each other. The creature seemed to be waiting for a moment to strike while threads of bright green electricity felt over its arms. Monsoon stood ready to let the arrow shoot as the winds surrounding her began to glow in a light blue. Monsoon’s finger twitched on the bow making the creature pull its arm back to strike as the electricity intensified, making her skin itch as she aimed up slightly to its heart. But something made her stop, watching in surprise as the creature’s eyes began to dim and the lightning around his arms diffused.

“I-ire-nnna?” the creature asked, relaxing its stance and standing back, shaking it head and holding up its hands to its eyes.

“Irena? Is that you?” it asked again, turning its head to see her better when Monsoon recognized the voice speaking to her.

“Hawkeye?” Monsoon asked, lowering her bow and putting the arrow back in her quiver.

“Hawkeye, what happened to…”

“STAY AWAY FROM ME! I’m not sure that I can control what I’m going to do.” Firebolt growled, stepping back away from her when his foot snagged on something and brought him to the ground on his stomach. Before he had a chance to try and get up, Monsoon was already kneeling next to him, placing a gentle hand on the side of his head. But the touch to him was cold and unwelcome, making him snap at her, opening his jaw wide enough to bite her in half while sparking something in his mind of him feeling cold, out of breath and petrified, clamping down hard on the arm of the person that had set their hand on the side of his head.

He tried to shake as he was used to, but something hit him hard in his side, feeling like he had been punched in the heart making him let go in the moment of pain. When he opened his eyes again, he saw that another person was bringing down a cylinder with a sharp metal needle towards his fin when a loud hissing whisper flowed through the room. He turned his eyes this way and that, trying to find where that whisper had come from when he was suddenly staring into the eyes of a man with redish-violet eyes, making him feel even colder and more frightened than before. He was one of the most powerful hunters of the sea, and yet a mere human was making him feel fear? He tried again to thrash around, but his tail and body had been strapped down. Again whispers filled the air as the man he had seen walked out of his line of sight and placed a clammy hand on his skin, when another cloaked human asked:

“What is it that you want us to find out master?” Whispers hanging in the air for a moment as the men in cloaks nodded, grabbing something metal and beginning to cut into his skin on his side, making him thrash in pain. He tried over and over again to break free, but the pain only continued until he was again staring into the first man’s eyes once more while his voice seemed to speak to him in his head.

“Struggling will only cause you more pain. I don’t entertain the notion of loosing something I’ve invested so much time in capturing, Sunil.
” Firebolt managed to stop himself before he clamped his jaw around Monsoon’s waist, carefully pulling himself away from her and forcing himself to calm down. He then felt his form begin to shrink down into the person that he knew himself to be before all strength left him and slumped down into Monsoon’s arms.

“Firebolt, I know what you were like before you came to the knights, but this is much worse than that. Ever since that battle where the Guardians faced Balrog you have these moments when you revert to your old self. Lately though it’s gotten much worse: now you’re turning into this shark creature. What happened to you that you aren’t telling?” Firebolt sighed, shaking his head while Monsoon helped him sit propped up against a tree.

“I’m… I’m not sure. I keep having visions…. But they, I don’t know. They feel like more than that.” Firebolt said, holding his hand up and turning it this way and that in the moonlight; what was it that was plaguing his thoughts? Were they actual memories? Or just strange wakened dreams?

************************

“How much further to the seal, Evan?” Vondra called.

“Not much, it should be just around this corner.” He called back over the wind rushing past his ears as he sat atop Mir.

“What are you complaining about? You’ve been sitting for the past hour!” Dumia called through her external com speakers. Vondra looked down at her sister inside the cockpit and laughed.

“Well the ride hasn’t exactly been the smoothest.” Vondra retorted, when Patrica began to look as if she were acting strange.

“Dumia, is your radar picking anything up?” she asked, when Latimer who rode on his panther beside them grabbed the large crossbow from his back, springing the tension arms out and readying for an attack. Dumia looked down at her HUD for any red dots to indicate enemies, but even when she extended the range, she still could see anything.

“I’m not getting anything on radar, are you sensing something?” She asked Patricia, holding out her left arm and readying the chain-gun that rose from the forearm.

“I’m not sure; it feels almost like a…” her sentence was cut off when a black sheet of power crashed into the ground, tossing dirt and dust into the air in a huge wave, covering Patrica and Vondra in damp soil. Latimer managed to dodge it, but he was thrown from his panther when an enormous ball of flames exploded upon hitting the ground next to him. Latimer managed to correct in time to land on his feet, but the force of his momentum caused him to fall on his back, opening his eyes just in time to see something come streaking down at him.

His body tensed in preparation for impact when a wind rushed over him, making small clods of dirt hit him in the face. Evan watched as the black thing spread its massive wings just before hitting Latimer, rocketing up at him and Mir just as fast making her have to roll out of the way so that she wouldn’t be hit. Above them, the black winged being slammed into another black streak making showers of black sparks rain down on them all. Evan was about to try and get closer when the two black streaks disappeared in opposite directions, only to slam into each other again and again, making even more sparks explode in the sky.

Gun shots could be heard from the ground below making Dumia look down at her HUD for a moment seeing two red dots 20 yards ahead and slightly to the right. Looking up, she saw a strawberry blond jumping from perch to perch in the trees, firing of rounds from guns that looked too big for her to handle. Her opponent on the other hand made Dumia look more carefully: it almost looked like it was Eckhart, but something was off about him. His skin was pale and his hair was almost pure white.

“DUMIA! What are you just standing there for? We’ve walked into a war zone here!” Vonrda called. Dumia shook her head, looking around a bit to try and get a handle on their situation before doing anything when Evan and Mir landed hard.

“Vondra! You and Patricia take the ones on the ground. Dumia will help me out with the one in the sky. Latimer, I want you to try and locate the Seal. Take this ring, it’ll help you find it. Let’s go go go!” Evan ordered, bracing himself as Mir shot into the sky once more. Vondra drew both of her knives, holding her blades up with her arms crossed while a symbol appeared before her as though she had slashed the air. It then slithered to her feet, the same symbol appearing on the guards of her daggers.

With a nod to Patricia, the two of them streaked into battle being sure to watch out for the blond girl’s bullets so they wouldn’t get hit themselves. Patricia’s wand fizzled with mana as swung as hard as she could, holding her wand forward as a chain of dark violet lightning swung a ball out to make a barrier that the man tried to avoid by sliding under it on his knees.

However the electricity intensified reaching out to the man and shocking him hard leaving him stunned. This allowed Patricia to swing her wand again throwing out a seal attached to her wand by chains and pull the man to her. The blond watched for a moment in confusion as Patricia then struck the man hard, each swing of her Battle Wand followed by a streak of dark or black power.

With another swing of her wand, she sent the man streaking across the area to where Vondra sprung from her hiding spot, swinging her blades forward making chain scythes shoot from the ground and hurl the man into the air. In a flash, Vondra had jumped up to the peak of his ascent where she looked as if she split into two people and disappeared.

The man twitched this way and that while flaming slashes of light appeared on his body, the only indications that he was being attack besides his bleeding wounds. When Vondra finally reappeared, she held the pummels of her daggers downwards while tongues of fire began appearing around her, taking on the form of ninja. The man panicked and was about to react when Vondra drove the pummels of her daggers down hard into the man’s chest. The ninja all attacked at once, sending him streaking to the ground in a fire ball as a result of the explosion. Patricia teleported to where the man was falling, as a seal in the shape of a skull hung behind her.

Just before the man hit the ground Patricia swung up, catching the man in the middle of his back, then swinging down as hard as she could to the ground. As she swung down, a giant hazy image of a reaper appeared, swinging its blade down hard driving the point through the man’s chest and into the ground. Vondra landed silently beside her as Patricia brushed her hair back and smiled when their attention was drawn to the battle still going on behind them.

“They still aren’t done?” Vondra asked, walking down into the crater and pulling a rope from her knap sack to tie around the hands of their defeated enemy. Yes, using the Reaper’s Song had been a bit extreme on Patricia’s part, but she had restrained herself and the wound was only topical at worst, despite what appeared to have happened.

“Well, whoever their third dance partner is, I’m sure that they have to watch out for him since they were already moving pretty fast, maybe even faster than you.” Patricia laughed making Vondra shake her head.

Evan cast his fire spell before Mir, trying to time the initiation just right so that when the two fighting parties came back together, the resulting fireball would hit at least one of them; he couldn’t tell who was the good guy. Dumia could only stand by and watch, holding her arms up aiming different directions but not being able to do anything. Even her advanced tracking system couldn’t keep up with the invisibly fast people above her. Without warning the attacks stopped altogether when the proximity warnings on the sides of her HUD began to flash red.

Dumia had just enough time to jump up with the help of her boosters when the two black streaks hit each other so hard it pushed Dumia away with the resulting shockwave.  She managed to reach out her hands and somersault back onto her feet to see Yoshumari and a Black Wings Soldier holding each other at bay; Yoshumari’s Nalcana energy sword hissed and sparked against the Black Magic sword of the Soldier. Dumia was about to take aim when the bottom of her HUD pulsed red indicating danger behind her. She whirled around and took aim at the first thing she saw, spinning up the chain gun seeing the Strawberry blond from before. She instantly held up her hands when Patricia teleported between them.

“Dumia wait! She’s a friend! She’s with Yoshumari!” she yelled as Dumia spun down the gun and turned back around to watch the fight still brewing behind them.

Evan took the chance that he was given, patting Mir’s neck as she tucked in her wings and plummeted from the sky, aimed for the assailant fighting off Yoshumari. But just when Mir was extending her claws to pulverize the soldier, the two of them disappeared again letting her crash in the ground alone. The two fighters exchanged blows that were only visible because of the flashes of light erupting around them until they finally slammed together again. This time Dumia ignored any warnings that her Mech told her, taking aim at the Solider with her guns and making a hail of gunfire fill the air. The soldier looked to the side and smiled when he saw the bullets and began to pull back, when Yoshumari disappeared entirely, causing the Soldier to fall forwards instead.

The fall made him avoid the bullets, but he wasn’t able to recover fast enough to avoid being pinned to the ground by Mir’s hand. The soldier was about to try an attack spell, but when he looked up, he was staring down the blurred barrels of Dumia’s chain gun, while the rest of the people that had reduced him and his partner to nothing stood around him.

“Go ahead, give me a reason to pull this trigger.” Dumia growled, her finger twitching within the control glove, itching to get it over with.
The Guardians L.O. - Ch 6, pt 1 - Re-E2
ALL RIGHTS OF MAPLESTORY GAME THE BELONG TO NEXON AND THE RESPECTIVE COMPANIES. THIS STORY IS PURELY FAN FICTION.

Chapter 6: Broken Dawn, pt 2

Check out the game here: maplestory.nexon.net/Default.a…

This is the Thrid Season of "The Guardians" saga, A fanfiction. Here is the First Season Beginning

Here is the Second Season Beginning

E.N. 1: I have changed Eckhart's story to the fact that he did get married to Athena and that he's missing her.

E.N. 2: just did some all around updating, and made a couple thing that didn't seem to be clear, and made them a little clearer.

E.N.3: Did some more updating, and added a scene in the next part.
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Chapter 5: Tensions of the Heart

After a few good night’s rest in the familiar soft beds of the Order, Luminous woke up feeling refreshed, as if the day could never be spoiled by anything. And then he looked down to his arm, seeing the strange substance embedded his skin reminding him of the terrors that he had unleashed on Lania many a time in the past few days.

“Oh Luminous, you’re awake, I wasn’t sure if I should come and get you since Beuwon is already, um, up and expecting you.” Lania smiled as she came into his room, bringing with her a clean robe and a cup of a hot drink called Seron: a tea-like drink with honey and basil. Luminous was already regretting going out to the front chamber where he no doubt was going to receive a scolding from Beuwon about how he was a few minutes late. But there was none and was surprised to see his master completely engrossed in a book before him.

“Master Beuwon?” Luminous called, instantly making Beuwon hold up his finger, finishing a sentence before turning back to him.

“Ah, Good morning Luminous; I trust that you had a good night’s rest?” Luminous felt suspicious: why was he being so unexpectedly nice to him, even after being tardy by a few minutes which he never let slide.

“Yes I did. Is something wrong Master Beuwon? You seem as though, something is.” Beuwon smiled nervously, walking over to him as another crystal came down and picked up the book so that it would follow him.

“I have some good news for you and some rather, disheartening news for you as well regarding your Aurora.” Luminous felt a wave for the shadow magic wanting to push him over the edge and rush Beuwon, but wanting to stay in control he managed to keep it from doing anything.

“So what’s the bad news?” Luminous asked shivering slightly as the wave passed.

“The bad news is that the crystals used for making an Aurora in Serenity have all been destroyed.” Luminous opened his eyes slightly and furrowed his brow.

“Destroyed?! Why?” Luminous almost shouted.

“The Order of Light was witness to a massive decline in apprentices after you had been declared missing. And despite Serenity being well hidden and protected, we the elders feared the Black Wings might come for the Aurora crystals since there weren’t many mages advanced enough left who could defend against such a powerful foe.”

“So then you’re saying that I can never restore my Aurora?!” Luminous shouted, feeling a cold shiver of shadow magic well up within him and turn his eye a bright red.

“I said that the crystals within Serenity had been destroyed. That doesn’t mean that all the crystals were destroyed. When the Order of Light had first convened, the mines of crystal were created by six Master Crystals. Once the mines were created, those six Master Crystals were hidden away throughout Ossyria should the Black Wings come searching for The Order.” Lania came walking out of Luminous’ room after donning her new clothes, rather liking the way the poofy sleeves and pants fit her somewhat small frame. For brief moment, she stopped and felt the strongest sense of Déjà vu she had ever encountered in her life. Sure she had felt this way before, but this time was different, almost as if she had seen Luminous in that exact stance before.

That can’t be, this is the first time that I’ve ever been to this place, let alone heard of it. So why the Déjà vu?” she thought to herself as she approached where Luminous was standing.

“I must ask you Luminous to go and retrieve the Master Crystals since I can no longer do so. Once you have found each Crystal, I ask that you bring it back here so that I can restart the crystal mines.”

“Do you foresee a surge of people wanting to join the Order of Light?” Luminous asked with a devious smile.

“Magic such as yours hasn’t been seen by Ossyria for over 600 years, and if what I understand about the people of the era is true, there will be a great surge. However there won’t be many who will actually earn the title of Mage since all they are interested in is power.” Beuwon growled, already dreading the hundreds of young people coming into Serenity wanting to be made a powerful mage without going through the motions of actually trying to help others. Luminous chuckled as he watched his master’s face distort at the thought.

“Once I have restarted the crystal mines, I will leave the Master Crystals in your care.” Luminous jerked his head back in surprise at his statement.

“With me? Why would you do such a thing?”

“The Master Crystals are more powerful than the ones that will come from the mines. In addition, they will not fade if not used. A friend of mine brought a book to me just a few days before you arrived at my request which depicted the history and acts of you who were called “The Heroes of Ossyria”. I must apologize for my previous judgment of you being a power hungry child: you and the others gave your own lives to protect all of Ossyria. Now that I know what you have done, I have faith that the Master Crystals will not be used in malice; at least not intentionally. Now go, I only know of one crystal’s location in Orbis guarded by a fairy named Kriel; she will be able to tell you where and who is guarding the next one.” Luminous grinned broadly and began jogging out of the entrance when he noticed Lania standing near the sleeping quarters with a blank stare on her face.

“Lania, are you coming?” She shook her head for a moment before quickly walking after him arm in arm. Beuwon watched her closely while lights in the crystals above him flickered for a moment: that girl looked strangely familiar. Who was it that she reminded him of?

When they finally arrived in Orbis, Luminous could only stare at the scenery around him: so many memories were held in this place for him, especially the nervous lump in his throat he felt when he first saw Minerva. Upon entering the city itself, he was somewhat shocked to see so many people running around as if this place were nothing more than another city.

“Don’t these people know where they are?” Luminous asked, looking around and catching sight of the giant pair of wings on the sides of a building in the center of the city that had served as Minerva’s throne room.

“I believe they do. However they care little for what this place once stood for.” Lania answered, her voice almost sounding wistful, as though she were recalling something from the past. When Luminous turned to her, her face almost looked saddened and her voice sounded as if she were older.

“Lania?” Lania shook her head slightly and turned to him.

“Yes, what is it?”

“Are you feeling alright? You looked like you were on the verge of tears.” Luminous asked, while Lania lowered her brow in confusion.

“I was? I don’t feel sad; why did I say something?” She asked, wiping her eyes. Luminous shook his head, telling her disregard his question.

“So we need to head for Kriel’s house? I’ve heard that she was one of Minerva’s personal attendants back then.” Lania said as she led Luminous through the city. But Luminous’ mind was elsewhere: there was the way she had spoken earlier, sounding markedly similar to the only woman that he had known within the Order of Light by the name of Lucia, Beuwon’s daughter. Now that he thought about it, Lania looked quite a bit like Lucia did save for her height since Lucia was a bit taller, making memories come back to him.

“Luminous, you must get up, or else Master Beuwon will scold you again.” Lucia called, shaking his shoulder.

“Come on Lucia, its three in the morning! Beuwon’s lessons don’t begin until six.” Luminous answered back, still half asleep when he was suddenly met with a blast of cold air as Lucia pulled the covers off.

“Alright fine, there’s just something that I want to show you. Quickly! Get dressed.” She called, tossing his cold clothes at him and leaving his room. Once dressed, Luminous was taken by the hand and dragged outside to the top of the Golem’s Temple with Lucia’s hand over his eyes.

“Why did you want to drag me outside again, I could still use another three hours sleep.”

“Oh be quiet and just go where I’m leading you.” Lucia hissed, stopping him on what felt to be a patch of grass before pulling her hands away. Below was a pool of water, which Luminous had often seen during the day while training. But he had never seen the pool at night, dazzled by the sight of hundreds of fireflies hovering across the surface and dancing in the air above it.

“They only come out at night.” Lucia said, sitting down in the grass and watching the bugs as they danced before looking up to Luminous with a slightly sad smile.

“They’re so much alike.”
Luminous thought. It took a bit finding Kriel since everyone never knew who they were talking about, but at last they found her managing a small general store.

“Welcome to my little Shoppe, I hope that you can find everything that you need. My name is Kriel and if you can’t just call for me and I’m sure that I’ll be able to find it.” a voice said and when Luminous turned to see who it belonged to, he was unexpectedly embraced.

“Luminous! I thought I’d never see you again!” the voice said as he tried to pull out of the embrace to try and see who it was. When he did manage to finally pull her away, Kriel beamed at him, spreading her wings and hovering in place.

“Have we met before?” Luminous asked.

“Have you really forgotten?! I was Minerva’s attendant when you came for training: it’s me Kriel!” Luminous opened his eyes wide, looking her over for a moment, recognizing the thoughtful silver eyes and short ruby red hair he remembered as Minerva would train them.

“My my, you’ve grown some since I last remember you. This here is Lania.” Kriel nodded to her for a moment before folding her magnificent wings in and landing on the ground.

“What happened to you? After 600 years I thought for sure that you were dead.”

“It’s… not a story that I like to tell. We did come here on another matter: my master Beuwon said that you are guarding one of the Master Aurora crystals.” Kriel seemed surprised that he would ask such a thing.

“The Master Crystal? What do you need that for? I thought you had your own crystals?” Kriel asked as she turned and began looking through boxes and shelves.

“I did, but I need the Master Crystal to help get mine back. It’s a long story too.” Luminous answered as she came back with something wrapped in burlap and tied with a shredding twine string.

“Well, you’ll have to tell me about it some time. I’ve kept it safe all these years.” She smiled as Luminous pulled on the twine to open it, revealing a glowing light blue sliver of crystal no bigger than his thumb. Gently he wrapped the burlap around the crystal once more and tucked it into his pocket. After saying their goodbyes, Luminous turned to leave and was just clearing the threshold of the door when something felt like it was coming for him through the air. Quickly he spun his staff as fast as he could and deflected the object before turning back to Lania.

“Lucia, stay back.” he commanded, pushing Lania back into the shop.

Lucia? Who is Lucia?” she wondered.

*************************************

Athena absently drew her bow time and time again, using her day off to practice her art behind the grand lodge in El Nath. Though she cursed herself with each arrow she shot as they would only hit the outer ring of her target, or only hit the hay bales. She tried to quiet her mind, but the questions would only swirl and plague her focus: what had she done to prompt Eckhart no longer loving her? Was he truly using her all this time? Was he cheating on her? Why did he suddenly hate her? Why? Why? Why? Why?!

With a frustrated swing of her hand, she sent what remained in her quiver scattering across the ground, moist from the partially melted snow. She felt the tap of a hand on her shoulder, turning to see Kyrin with a cup of hot tea for her.

“Here, you look like you could use this.” Athena thanked her, warming her hands while trying to hide the tiny tears threatening to escape her eyes.

“It’s alright to cry you know.” Kyrin said, stepping up beside her watching Athena out of the corner of her eye while her grip tightened on the cup and she grit her teeth.

“Why? Why did he do it?” She hissed through her teeth.

“It could very well not have been him that acted that way you know.” Kyrin said, instantly making Athena loosen her grip and ease her tense jaw. However she quickly dismissed it. She knew Eckhart, and there were time that he would keep something secret from her, even his feeling sometimes so this could just be part of that secret side of Eckhart that she didn’t know.

“There is no need to try and tell me that it wasn’t him Kyrin.” Athena answered, her voice cracking as she spoke.

“I’m not trying to make you feel better Kyrin. I was speaking with Matthew before I came back here. Ashura has been sent to the Warrior’s Temple for protection at the Order of Mihile. According to the princess, there is something seriously wrong happening with the Chief Knights as well as the Empress herself, as if they’ve been replaced.” Kyrin said, making a sting once again hit Athena in the heart. She heard the words Kyrin was speaking, but they almost refused to be registered.

“Are you trying to tell me that Eckhart didn’t say those things? That he didn’t tear out my heart and walk all over it?” Athena asked, drinking her tea slowly as tears began brimming.

Your Eckhart would never say those things. I’ve known his as long as you have, and I know that he would never say those things. He may be mysterious sometimes, but there is one thing that he would never, ever just give up: you.” Kyrin said, her own words even triggering an ancient memory of when her first crush dumped her and Athena was there to help put her shattered heart back together.

“I know that you may be grasping for some kind of truth to ease the pain, and I am here offering it to you. Eckhart didn’t disown you. Do you see that ring on your hand? Both Oz and I spent weeks helping him choose a design that would best suit you. You know him; the shy but earnest man that he is. He would never simply abandon you for no reason.” Athena picked up her hand and let the diamond within it sparkle, remembering the day that Eckhart asked her to marry him. Aran, Kalib, and even Jin had all been men in her life that she loved, only to eventually leave her. But Eckhart didn’t: since all the men she loved in her life had moved on or were taken from her, she feared that Eckhart would do the same. Perhaps that is what her real fear was, and she feared losing him forever.

The cold that still hung in the air began to chill her once her tea was gone as hope began to take root: was there a chance that the Eckhart within Ereve was indeed an imposter and she hadn’t been disowned by the man that she loved? Was she indeed allowed to have the love she longed for? Kyrin saw her begin to crumble, tears running down her cheeks from under her long hair glistening in the sunlight.

Eckhart, please, come back to me. Where ever you are, please come to me and tell me that you love me.

*******************************

“How many valuables did you steal after getting those cards from Minerva? I thought your ship was where you kept all your spoils?” Mercedes asked as she let herself be led to a rocky formation in the middle of Cloud Park and into a cave, housing a large elegant door held shut by a huge padlock.

“Mercedes, didn’t you learn anything from when we trained with her?” Phantom asked with a suave reply, taking off his hat and walking up to the lock while looking into the air as if trying to remember the combination.

“You never taught me anything. The only thing I was told was that you were from a desert town south of the Victoria Province, and even then that information was questionable.” Mercedes huffed. Phantom smirked, rolling the tumblers to a combination and pulling on it, only to be disappointed when it didn’t open.

“Well that’s a good thing, since a thief never gives up his trade secrets, unless it’s to an apprentice.” Mercedes crossed her arms and leaned against the door, smiling deviously.

“Like Raven?” Phantom looked at her in the middle of a combination, questions burning in his eyes.

“When did you…”

“You told me just before we finished our training. He was a great man from what you told me, almost like a father to you.” Phantom swallowed hard, the mere mention of his mentor’s name taking him back to when he first met him.

“He was the closest thing I had to one, that’s all.” Phantom replied coldly as he finished the combination and was once again frustrated when it didn’t open, even more so now that he could hear Raven’s voice in the back of his mind taunting him.

What’s the matter? The greatest thief ever can’t even break into his own treasure vault after forgetting the combination? And here I was thinking that your will to live all those years ago actually meant something.” Phantom grit his teeth as the grip on his cane became tight enough that it began to bend in his hand.

It’s no wonder that waste of time died; you couldn’t even see what was going to happen to her worthless hide!

“ENOUGH!” Phantom suddenly shouted, slamming his cane over and over again on the lock.

“I… AM… THE GREATEST… THIEF… IN… OSSYRIA!” he shouted, finally breaking the lock and kicking it out of the door rings hard as hazy black feathers flashed into existence when he jumped at it. Looking back at Mercedes, he composed himself opening the doors to his vault with a hard pull and storming over to one of the heavily weighed down tables of gold and gems, looking through a few jade encrusted boxes here and there.

“What was that all about back there?” Mercedes asked gently, picking up a palm sized diamond and admiring the way the light reflected off its facets.

“Just some, unresolved issues I’ve had with Raven.” Phantom grunted, searching through box after box, mumbling to himself and naming off different treasures until he found what he had been seeking.

“Ah, here we are.” From a rather long box, he pulled some weathered papyrus scrolls, opening them on the floor side by side which once they were all open, formed a circle with runes written all around its rim.

“What is this? Are you cheating your way through the Orders?” Mercedes asked. Phantom chuckled half heartedly and stepped into the circle, striking a gentlemen’s pose while putting both hands on the top of his cane.

“My dear Mercedes, cheating is such a strong word. I prefer the term, accelerated. Besides, I don’t want to be left in the dust by a queen.” he answered, closing his eyes as the circle imprinted on the papyrus glowed and the light emanating from it was absorbed by Phantom making him begin to glow until the light stopped all together.

“Ah, there; that’s better. Now I finally have the power to use… this!” He reached to the small deck of cards on his belt, pulling out a single card and slinging it out, making a few cards made of red light appear around him, then shoot forward and burry themselves into the wall of his vault. But no sooner had he performed the attack then the newly forming cards around him fizzled out and the card that he had slung returned to his hand.

“Impressive. Too bad you can only use it once.” Mercedes teased.

“Ha ha! Now you’re getting into the spirit of it! But the fact still remains that I can use it.” Phantom smiled, putting on his hat once again and rolling up the papyrus before beginning the long walk back into Orbis. They were just crossing into the city when Mercedes felt a familiar tinge that signaled Black Magic was near, very near.

“Phantom, do you feel that?” She asked, reaching for her guns and priming the Spirit Arrows.

“Mercedes, relax. Besides you’ll cause a scene if you start an attack here.” Phantom chimed, placing a hand on her shoulder as he walked out into the open, feeling the wave of cold settle into his chest. It wasn’t anything like that of the Black Mage’s power, but it was defiantly Black Magic and brought back terrible memories of when he and the others stormed the Temple of Time. Despite the feeling he kept his cool, walking around the city as though nothing were wrong while the scores of women and female fairies would all be drawn to him as though he were a light, making Mercedes boil and stand with her back against a wall trying to look away from him.

She was just about to break up the gathering when the feeling became stronger, causing her to look all around to find where the feeling was coming from. Phantom on the other hand simply turned around in the sea of his admiring fans, shaking some of their hands or posing for a picture until he reached to his belt and flung one of his cards directly at a young man walking out of a shop.

The young man then looked as if he pushed someone back into the shop and twirled the double ended staff in a blur that knocked the card away, lowering his stance and readying to attack with bright light flashing at one end of his staff.  Phantom cocked his head to the side when something about the young man looked familiar, especially his fighting stance. There was only one person he knew of to use a stance like that.

“Luminous? Is that you?” Phantom called as the young man relaxed and squinted his eyes slightly, studying him.

“Phantom?!” Mercedes was about to jump out from her position when she too recognized him and jumped down, wrapping him in a tight hug.

“Luminous! You’re alright!” She shouted with happiness as Phantom pushed through the crowd and made his way over to them, draping his arms over them both in trying to give Luminous a hug as well.

“Mercedes?! I can’t believe this! You guys made it out! What happened to you guys?” Luminous asked after being able to pry them both away from him. It felt like a blur, but Phantom and Mercedes filled him in on what had happened once the battle had been won.

“So what about you? You don’t look anything like the scrawny little kid I remember.” Phantom taunted. Luminous laughed quietly.

“Actually, I was unfrozen a few years ago and have been living with a girl who found me by the name of Lania. In fact she’s just inside the shop. Lania, come on out it’s alright.” Luminous called. Nervously she came out, recognizing the two heroes from 600 years ago from paintings she had seen in books and felt at ease, but still stood close to Luminous. Just as he was about to introduce her properly, Latimer came running to them, quickly saying hello to Luminous before delivering his message.

“The empress just announced that she wants you present in Ereve: it sounds important.” Phantom chuckled, leading them to the pod that he had used to come down and hauling the four of them up to his ship pointing the helm to Ereve. Luminous stood at the bow, letting the wind blow through his hair coming down off the nervous high he had been pushed into when Phantom attacked as well as getting the Master Crystal from Kriel.

The feeling of power that came from the crystal was amazing, but there was a sinister side to it. He could feel the shadow magic within him becoming stronger, and he hadn’t even put the Crystal into his staff yet. Or was this feeling coming from Ereve since it was known for having a strange empowering energy emanating from it? In either case, it was rather unsettling, being taken aback when Mercedes put a hand on his shoulder.

“Luminous, what happened to your eye?” Luminous sighed hard and looked away, trying to make his hair cover it before beginning his explanation, one that he had been dreading for some time.

“This came from The Black Mage…”

**************************

It had been at least a week since Dureau had been recruited into the outings with the High Guard of Edelstien, looking for the cells of Black Wings and he enjoyed it thoroughly. Maybe even a little too much. Often some of the others that were assigned to his squad would arrive on the scene just before he was about to kill the last of them. But sometimes they would arrive too late, finding him holding a corpse and shaking the blood from his mace, ready to reach for another.

“Dureau! How many times have I told you that we of the High Guard aren’t judge, jury, and executioner? We are to apprehend them and bring them to the Empress for their punishment.” Claudine scolded, suddenly finding herself skidding backwards when Dureau opened one of his wings and hit her.

“And I’ve told you time and again that I am not a part of you ‘High Guard’. I am simply coming along since I don’t have the resources to track said disciples of my former master. You wouldn’t understand what it means to lose family and have the ones responsible for it receive ‘justice’ in allowing them to live.” Dureau answered sharply, walking quickly away with Mastema trotting close behind, jumping on his shoulder until Claudine’s voice cut through the air in an emotional scream.

“I do know what it’s like! Those bastards killed my little brother!” she screamed tearfully, making Dureau look back over his shoulder and grin.

“Then why refuse the revenge that you too so desperately want?” he asked softly.

“Because that would be the easy thing to do! My job is to find out anything I can about them and use it to stop them before they hurt anyone else so that no one ever has to go through what I did!” Dureau simply looked forwards and shook his head slowly.

“Then you fight a losing battle Claudine.” He said quietly, walking back to his room once more while Mastema spoke into his ear.

“Master Dureau, you don’t have to stoop to the level of these humans.” Dureau said nothing as he stormed through the base until he reached his living quarters where Mastema jumped off and sat in her little bed with a bright orange blanket.

“Granted that you are no longer part of the Black Wings, but neither are you from this world and you aren’t part of their ‘High Guard’. So why do you even listen to that woman’s constant nagging? I’m this close to putting my paws...” she held up her paws a couple inches apart before stopping and looking at them for a second.

“… I mean, hands, in her mouth and ripping out her tongue myself.” Dureau sighed, hanging his coat up and when he turned, revealed a gash from the top of his right shoulder to the base of his right wing.

“Master! You’re injured!” Mastema cried, jumping from her bed and over to a shelf next to him where she began licking the wound. Dureau reached up, grabbing her by her nape and putting her down on his bed, craning his neck to see the wound better.

“This is nothing that will slow me down.” he said with a sneer, taking off his shirt and turning to see the gash in the mirror while tenderly touching the flesh around it.

“How did this happen?” Mastema asked, walking across the bed and worriedly lifting her paw as though she were trying to touch his wound before catching a glimpse of Dureau’s rather pleasant physique in the mirror.

“Someone tried to sneak up behind me when I entered the base.” Dureau grunted a bit as he touched the wound, trying to close the skin while activating his Ageis and speeding up the healing process. Mastema wanted to help, but in her current state it just wasn’t possible until she began to just get up and walk over to him, assessing the wound. She put her hands on either side, pressing the flesh together so that it would heal more quickly. Dureau rocked his head side to side for a moment as the pain began to die down when he realized there was another pair of hands pushing his flesh together. He turned around to see Mastema back in her human form and for a moment they just stared at each other while Dureau could hear her heart begin to beat harder.

Mastema’s cheeks flared bright red when she realized that she wasn’t touching his back, but rather his firm upper chest, just staring into those ruby red eyes of his. She almost felt as if she weren’t in control of her actions, feeling herself rock up onto the balls of her feet and close her eyes as she craned her neck slightly to reach his lips. All at once, she reverted to her cat form and fell face first onto the ground. She could hear Dureau chuckle under his breath, but in her embarrassment she didn’t want to look him in the eyes and instead ran out of the door and down the hall, beating herself up as thoughts raced through her mind.

Stupid stupid stupid stupid… There’s no way that Dureau would feel the same way I do! He’s so hell bent on avenging the deaths of his brother and mother that there isn’t any room left for me in his heart. And besides, he’s a prince and I’m just a servant, not a drop of royal blood in me!” her thoughts screamed until she reached the roof of the High Guard garage and sat just watching the world go by her below. Inside Dureau continued pushing his flesh back together until it had fully closed. It would be another day or so before it was completely healed, so until then he would need to find someone to repair his shirt. Or find a tailor’s shop to make him a new one which was actually the more favorable decision given that the shirt was stained. He threw his coat back on, walking out of the garage with intentions of finding said tailor when a mech with the young human woman, Dumia came running in calling for Claudine.

“Over here Dumia, what’s the big hurry?” Claudine asked as Dumia turned and opened the cockpit.

“I just got word from my dad that something’s going on in Ereve and that the Empress wants all of you there.” Claudine nodded and reached for her top hat and mask.

“You too demon slayer.” She called with an edge in her voice.

“I won’t be going, I have other matters that need…”

“If you want to be treated like one of us then you have to do as one of us. You’re coming to Ereve if I have to drag your sorry ass there myself.” she shouted as she climbed into one of the carriers for the SG-88 armor. Dureau huffed, jumping up and forcing his wings down hard to get into the small flyer.

“What happened to your shirt?” Belle asked when she saw the torn shirt with partially dried blood in his hand.

“The doings of my latest outing to find Black Wings.” He replied shortly, tucking the shirt into one of the pockets of his coat. Looking back to the garage, he saw Mastema sitting atop it with what he guessed as a look of confusion on her face: she had been acting strange the past few days. Maybe it had something to do with that odd laser beam she had fired at herself in order to regain her human form. But that was some time ago: was it something else? Being that he had come to this world as a baby, he knew little of the Khyune Law or customs beyond the fact that he was supposed to be the prince and almost instinctively knew that Mastema was of a lower class than he. He would have a talk with her later to find out what it was that had been affecting her. She was a good servant and he considered her a friend, and when something was affecting one of his own, it worried him.

*****************************

“But why can’t I go? It’s Ereve we’re talking about here.” Ashura whined.

“Ashura, your father said that he would send word once it was safe and until then you were to stay with me here in Perion.” Matthew said firmly.

“We may be The Guardians, but we still have to follow the words and requests of the Royal Chief Knights, even if they are our friends.” Lillianne added as Talu jumped onto her shoulder and rubbed his head against her cheek. Angrily Ashura crossed her arms and stamped her foot.

“But I’ll be with you guys. Not only that but Shinsoo and Tzarax will be there too; I’ll be protected.” Ashura argued.

“And if that isn’t enough? For all we know the Empress could be an imposter as well as the other knights, waiting for you to come back and spring a trap to kill you. Once that happens there’d be no one left alive who could dispute their validity besides Mihile. One voice speaking against the Empress, imposter or not, carries quite a bit of weight as I’m sure Mihile told you.” Matthew explained. Ashura nodded her head sadly as Matthew hung his head and put his arms around her.

“It’s not that I don’t want you to go back to Ereve, but orders are orders. You father trusts me enough to take care of you until whatever is happening is over, so trust me at least that I have your best interest in mind.”

“But what about the order for you to go to Ereve?” Ashura asked when Lillianne set a gauntleted hand on her shoulder in reassurance, holding up a small scroll.

“This is a letter of representation. I am going as a representative of Rein as well as Perion, so there shouldn’t be any problem. The others are going to be there as well and once the meeting is over, I’ll speak with them to see what it is they think is going on. Helen should be able to pick up on any of the minute details that we’ll miss.” Matthew nodded and kissed Lillianne, watching her as she rode on Tzarax’s back towards Ereve.

************************

The Empress took a breath and stepped out from the elegant gateway and into the large courtyard where everyone had gathered around a large table circular table.

“Thank you all for coming. In the past week, I have received reports from my knights that the activity of the Black Wings cells has been on a steady increase and I wish to confirm that with you Guardians and High Guard.” She asked, turning to those of the High Guard.

“So it seems. The High Guard has also noticed this steady increase in their activity, especially in moving back through Edelstein.” Checky replied.

“Oh my, are you in need of any assistance at this time?”

“No your majesty, not at this time.” Claudine replied shortly. The Empress turned her eyes down slightly and nodded.

“Very well. I understand your hesitation, but I do not intend to repeat what happened in the past. What of you masters? Has there been any increase in activity lately?” she asked, nodding to Mercedes and Phantom when she saw them walk up to the table with another young man. Helen noticed that the Empress’s eyes looked as if they widened slightly when she saw him, as if she were surprised to see him.

“Perhaps nothing as bold as what’s been happening in Edelstein but yes; we have noticed that their actions have become bolder in the past few days such as making random attacks within the villages, even in broad daylight. However it is strange to note that most of their activity seems to be centered in and around Henesys.” Jenny answered, again Helen noticing that the Empress eyes changed slightly, this time looking as though there was a hint of satisfaction in them.

“I see: Are you in need of any assistance at this time?” The Empress asked, to which Jenny shook her head.

“I personally am not in need of assistance since there has been a recent surge of new archers, but perhaps the others are in need.” Then Empress looked to each of them, and each one declined the need of assistance, but all the same were thankful for the readily available help. Phantom listened quietly in the back as he casually leaned against a tree and watched the Empress’s actions carefully: they all seemed to be a bit overly pronounced, as if she was indeed trying to pretend to be the Empress.

Closing his eyes he activated the spell within his left eye, staring at her intently for a few moments trying to see behind the mask that she obviously wore and reveal who she really was. However all his attempts seemed to be failing: every look that he passed only revealed that this was indeed the Empress. Finally he quieted the spell when he couldn’t find anything, but just knew that she wasn’t the right one; it was hard to explain.

“Very well then, here is what I need from all of you: the Black Mage’s rule 18 years ago was almost set in stone because of the Pillars of Time, something I’m sure you all remember.” Mercedes looked to Phantom who raised his eyebrows and shook his head, then looked to Luminous who seemed to be deep in thought.

“Pillars of Time? Why the interest all of a sudden? They disappeared after we defeated The Mage.” Lillianne asked with surprise, leaning forward to the table as Talu jumped down and sniffed the table in interest. Helen noticed that the Empress looked uncomfortable, shifting in her seat slightly and looking to Oz who answered.

“I intercepted some inelegance from a Black Wings cell that stated they were looking for the Pillars of Time as well as the Twelve Seals of Ossyria. You should know the power of the Pillars more than anyone, and if they manage to get their hands on them, well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.” Helen looked to Olsen, meeting his eyes for a brief moment as an entire argument flitted between their eyes on whether or not such a request should be honored or denied, esspecially with suspicions of the Empress’s legitimacy. But then again, no one knew where the Pillar were. For all they knew, Yoshumari might know where they could be since him and the Pillars both disappeared after the battle.

“I can find the Seals your majesty.” Evan said, seated on the far side of the table across from Helen.

“Thank you Evan, that would be most appreciated. I think that it would be in our best interest if the Pillars and the Seals were to be brought here to Ereve where the royal guard can keep a close eye on them, out of the Black Wing’s hands.”

“Very well then, we The Guardians shall search for the pillars. Though I wouldst stress to thee, nothing may come of them for they hast been missing from the defeat of The Black Mage.” Helen answered confidently, making Mercedes and Luminous both look to her with a worried expression: how could she agree to something like this so easily? The Empress could very well be an imposter that worked for the Black Wings!

“As will we of the High Guard. I’ll be sure and ask The Guardians for information regarding them.” Claudine replied as well. Mercedes looked to the young man sitting across the table and recognized him as the man she had seen flying into Edelstein and disappeared, mistaking him for Frued. The woman standing next to him she didn’t recognize since she seemed to be one of the… what were they called? The Nova? Her mind suddenly processed what it was that the young man had said: bring the Seals of Ossyria here to Ereve?! Was he out of his mind!

“Thank you all for coming here to hear my request. I await news of your finding them: May the goddess guide you.” Cygnus said with a pleasant smile as she rose from her chair and went back into the castle. No sooner had the meeting ended than Mercedes was walking with great strides over to the young man, trying to keep her calm.

“Excuse me, what was your name again?” she asked, just as Luminous and Phantom caught up to her.

“My name is Evan, Dragon Mage. And you must be Mercedes, Phantom and Luminous.” Phantom smiled and nodded while Luminous did as well, but Mercedes’ grin seemed forced.

“How very astute: you wouldn’t happen to know who Freud was, would you?” Mercedes asked.

“Yes, yes I do. From what I’ve read of history I’m supposedly his great great successor. Before I go on, I must say that it is an honor to meet…”

“Are you trying to send all of Ossyria to hell?! Do you realize what handing over the Seals of Ossyria to her might cause?!” Mercedes seethed.

“They’ll be here for safe keeping.” Evan said with an unsure tone.

“Can you not feel it? There is Black Magic emanating from the Empress like a stench, and you’re telling me that you can’t feel it? Freud would never have missed something so important. And he would never think of bringing the Seals here to her.”

“Mercedes, perhaps we should inform him of what’s…”

“No Phantom, I will speak my mind. This young welp is barely old enough to be out on his own and he is making decisions as if he knows what is best.”

“What is so wrong about bringing the seals here to Ereve where they will be safe? And what’s this you said about Black Magic coming from her?” Evan asked, suddenly feeling a spike in Mir’s power who stood just beside him, seeing that her eyes had narrowed to mere slits as Phantom explained.

“Not long ago, The Guardian’s children, Mercedes and I found a doll in one of the Child Puppeteer’s hideouts containing a message. Apparently there was a contingency plan, should the Mage fail in his attempt.” He stepped before Mercedes as a precaution to the young man.

“But do you know what this back up plan was?” Evan asked.

“Not without some doubt. But Princess Ashura has said that there was something wrong with the Empress, and who better to know her own mother.” Lillianne replied. Evan sat thinking for a bit, before Mercedes came at him again.

“Freud would never think of stooping to something like this. Even if Aria had requested it, he still would have found it suspicious.” Evan became agitated, standing to his full height and leaning in closer to Mercedes.

You weren’t around to watch the hell that The Guardians and I had to endure when the Black Mage was resurrected. If you had been around then, you would know that any precaution that we can take to avoid the Black Wings from getting the upper hand is a calculated risk! We even managed to keep four of the twelve Pillars of Time out of the Mage’s hand for a time, and even that plan failed. So what would you have us do? Sit around and leave the Seals where they are and wait for the Black Wings to find them? Or actually go out to retrieve them and bring them back to Ereve where they stand a better chance of being protected?” Evan asked loudly, staring Mercedes in the eye for a long while before turning away and running after Mir who transformed and flew off in the direction of Victoria.

“He does have a point Mercedes.” Luminous said finally. Mercedes looked back at him hard, fighting every fiber in her body to reach for her guns and shoot him through the heart.

“And what do you mean by that?” she asked with a hard tone.

“In my studies during my time in the Order of Light, I came across these, Pillars of Time. They were actually similar to the Seals of Ossyria; a way for a mage to encrypt their spell so that only they could break it.” Helen nodded to him, picking up his explanation.

“Marry. However the pillar’s whereabouts art currently unknown, and hath been so for 18 years. Yea if we wast to search, as I said 'ere, I doubt they would be found.” Mercedes shook her head, crossing her arms.

“That still leaves the Seals. Minerva herself said that those seals were the keys to the World Maple Tree. Even if there is a seal protecting it from any malicious person, anyone who has the Seals can undo the spell and open the gateway to the tree.”

“All the more reason to bring them here to Ereve for safe keeping.” The voice of Claudine interrupted, making everyone look back to her.

“Sorry, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation. But with what you say, then it is all the more important that we get those seals into safe hands.” Claudine argued, but Helen countered her.

“I agree with thee that the seals wilt be protected, however the rumors of this place art too great to endue them hither.” Silently she nodded to Claudine who momentarily raised her eyebrows and nodded in return before turning to leave for Edelstein once more. Mercedes still didn’t like the idea of having the Seals moved from their place, but at least the perceived hiding place for them now was better than here in Ereve where Black Magic could be felt everywhere.

“It was good to see you two again, and though a bit tense, to see Evan. He resembles Frued quite a bit as well as seen and done much, but he still has a lot to learn before he is on the same plane as Freud. Alas I must return to Serenity, so Phantom if you wouldn’t mind taking Lania and I back to the Golem’s temple outside of Henesys, I would be very grateful.” Luminous requested. Phantom bowed his agreement and turned to leave, noticing that Mercedes stayed, staring at the castle intently as though trying to see within it.

“Mercedes, are you coming?” She hesitated for a moment, but peeled herself away and followed after him: the Empress still seemed like the one she had met when Phantom appeared, but there was just something about her that didn’t sit right, not to mention that the cold feeling of Black Magic was everywhere on this island now. What did it all mean?

*************************************

“I trust that your request went heeded as anticipated Empress?” Magnus asked in a cool tone while leaning against the far wall of Clytemnestra’s bed chamber, where the large apparatus hovered just beside the soft bed.

“That it did, and far more easily than expected.” Clytemnestra replied, letting the gold disperse from her hair for the platinum blond and the paleness of her skin return as she let herself be embraced by the apparatus.

“However I do think that The Guardians and the Heroes suspect something; be sure to keep an eye on them. How is Arkarium’s task progressing?” Clytemnestra asked, turning her gaze to the Nova. Magnus chuckled under his breath and picked his weight off the wall, walking before her with his arms crossed then reached for the massive sword on his back, thumbing the edge thoughtfully.

“He’s a bit slow, though things have been progressing.”

“I sense a snag Magnus, out with it.” she demanded, making Magnus turn a wild and sick grin towards her, cutting the skin of his thumb and letting the blood run down the honed edge.

“There is a faction that has recently begun pulling its own weight again and has been interfering with his work.” Magnus said, putting his thumb in his mouth and sucking on it for a moment. Clytemnestra thought about it for a moment before nodding her head in understanding and letting out a long sigh.

“The Silent Crusade; I thought Bastille had laid them to ruin when the Black Wings offered him a seat of power?”

“Not from what I hear.” Orca’s playful voice said, appearing from thin air and hovering on the balcony.

“From what I hear they just melted into the shadows and helped where they could. Now it seems they’ve gotten a new leader and are beginning to move quite quickly.” Orca continued, making Clytemnestra purse her brow.

“Do you know who their leader is?” Orca shook her head, filing her nail again to make sure that it was perfect.

“The only lead I have is that it’s someone going by the name of Black Phoenix. Beyond that there isn’t much else I can tell you.” Clytemnestra nodded, turning to Magnus.

“Go and assist Arkarium in any way you can to help speed up his research. Orca, I want you to find out anything you can on this Black Phoenix and report back to me as soon as you do.” Both of them quickly disappeared to their tasks, leaving her to her thoughts and rest within the embrace of the apparatus when a gentle breeze blew through the window. Clytemnestra casually opened her eyes to see a man in a leather trench coat with enormous black angel’s wings tucked neatly behind him.

“You must be Yoshumari. I have read quite a bit about what you did, infiltrating the Black Mage’s castle as a spy.” Yoshumari let a grin play across his face before becoming serious again and locking gazes with her.

“Don’t patronize me. I know who you are, and you will fail, just as you did before.” This time Clytemnestra smiled darkly, her pale lips revealing her white teeth below.

“My my, aren’t we perceptive.” She said in a whisper, until Yoshumari held up a thumb sized, red-orange gem, then placed it on the small nightstand next to the bed.

“You are either quite bold, or quite foolish to bring me the first of the Pillars of Time. You do realize that with this, I am one step closer to controlling a power that not even Minverva herself could stop, if she were alive that is.” She sneered as Yoshumari walked away and stepped up onto the balcony railing, looking back at her over his shoulder.

“Perhaps. But she could, and she is the only one that you truly fear.” Holding out his arm, his hand was engulfed by black power, solidifying into a large sword that looked like it was full of stars. Clytemnestra readjusted herself within the apparatus while a scowl came over her face while Yoshumari continued.

“And when the time comes, I will be there you kill you myself. You may have had the power to overcome me then, but now you possess a body with far lower limits and I will easily kill you this time.” he growled, dispersing the sword into the air, crouching as though ready to take off.

“So what is stopping you from killing me now when I am at my weakest, Prince of the Seraphim? Or should I call you, Dragon?” Clytemnestra asked. Yoshumari simply looked over his shoulder and smiled.

“I want the people of Ossyria to see you for the monster that you really are. Once you have been subjected to the full measure of the wrath that you have sown, and all your dreams have been reduced to ashes, only then will I kill you.” He said before bolting into the sky, making a wind follow after him. Clytemnestra could only chuckle to herself, shrugging off the apparatus and reaching delicately for the gem while pressing her thumb and forefinger together around it. It was disappointing when nothing happened, so she pressed again, pushing a bit of her power through the gem, and still nothing happened. Again and again she pressed and pushed, but nothing happened until in her agitation she pinched her fingers together hard, breaking the glass imitation and slicing her fingers open, making black blood drip to the ground and burn a hole in the carpet below her.

I should have know as much. YOSHUMARI!” she howled, but only Yoshumari heard, smiling to himself as he flapped his wings harder to return to his hiding place where the Silent Crusade was slowly getting back on its feet. It was a place on the northern coast of the Minar Forest near the Nihal Desert where Victoria Island was said to have once been. Once landing, Yoshumari quickly made his way back to the leader’s tent, kneeling down to one knee in front of the woman that had taken command.

“Rise Yoshumari. Did you complete your task?”

“Yes Phoenix, and she couldn’t have been more eager.” The long black haired woman nodded, allowing Yoshumari to return to the others within the camp and help with anything that he could while Phoenix returned to her tent. She wore close fitting, black leather armor, as well as a black cloak around her shoulders. In addition, she had painted her eyes heavily with black eyeliner and even black lipstick.

“Babe, the black is just not befitting you.” a man said, as he came into the tent.

“Brilliance, I’ve told you that if I am to help the People of Ossyria, I must do so as another. I’ve spent too long away from everyone as some kind of untouchable thing that lords over them. Even though I know of their suffering, one can never truly understand it until one has experienced it.”

“But why black of all colors? Couldn’t you have picked a color that was a little more, you know, hope giving?” Phoenix let her shoulders drop, looking in the mirror and seeing the first signs of the black dye she had put in her hair give way to its natural golden color.

“Yes I could have. But at least this way I am less suspicious to the Black Wings. Are Holocaust and Monsoon ready to begin?” Phoenix asked as she turned around. Brilliance sighed heavily and walked to her, placing both hand on her shoulders.

“Cygnus, you don’t have to do this. That is what we are for, to fight for you.” Cygnus looked down to the ground, taking a deep breath and looking back into his eyes.

“Mihile, I’m done sitting on the sidelines asking others to fight for me. It’s time that I did some of the fighting too. Now come on, Oz and Irena… I mean, Holocaust and Monsoon are waiting for us.” She called, walking out of the tent with her sword and shield in hand while Brilliance could only laugh to himself and shake his head. She was stubborn as always, but she would do great as leader of the silent crusade: he could feel it.
The Guardians L.O. - Re-E2
ALL RIGHTS OF THE MAPLESTORY GAME BELONG TO NEXON AND THE RESPECTIVE COMPANIES. THIS STORY IS PURELY FAN FICTION.

 Chapter 6: Broken Dawn, pt 1


Check out the game here: maplestory.nexon.net/Default.a…

This is the Thrid Season of "The Guardians" saga, A fanfiction. Here is the First Season Beginning

Here is the Second Season Beginning

Editorial Note 1: I added a scene where Luminous gets the first master Aurora Crystal from Kriel and changed some of Yoshumari's dialogue.

E.N. 2: not much changed from one version to the next, But I did do some all around updating as well as included a little bit about Talu, Lillianne's Life Binding Dragon.

This is similar to what Talu looks like: www.deviantart.com/art/Little-…

E.N.3: I did some more updating. added a scene with Athena
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“Acer! If you use that thing in the stairwell, it’ll bring the whole thing down on us!” Eva hissed, her eyes narrowing to slits in her concern.

“Relax, I don’t have any ammo loaded in it. I’ll just be using some Mana attacks I’ve learned and modified from Jack’s training courses.” Acer smirked back, leading them down into the dark corridor which was illuminated by the lights coming from the cannon. But upon reaching the village, Acer set the Cannon down with a loud clank, all of them looking around to try and find a single person there, but coming up empty handed everywhere they looked.

“So you’ve come, Mercedes.” A voice said from somewhere.

“I expected that you would have come alone, with your Elvin Pride and all.” Mercedes reached for her bows and lowered her stance, listening to the area around her as small glowing vines reached up her calves and extended around her arms.

“Your note didn’t say that I needed to.” Mercedes replied with a playful grin, standing to her full height and putting a wrist on her hip, still holding onto her gun.

“What did you do with all the people that were here?” she asked, waving her other arm to make her point.

“People? There were people here? When I arrived the place looked like it had been abandoned, recently too. But that leaves it perfect for our fight; now there’s no one to interfere.” The voice said, as the sound of a sword being drawn rang in the air.

“I’ve fought with every type of weapon’s master there is, but I have yet to have the honor of fighting one who wields the unique Bowgun. This should be an interesting fight.” There was a smile in the voice that time, making Mercedes nervous: did this person have some unbelievable strength? Did he have some kind of mysterious weapon that she wouldn’t be able to win against? Was there even anything to worry about? Her attention was drawn away when she heard a loud clank from Acer pulling the bolt back on his cannon, looking this way and that as he braced himself.

“No Acer, this fight is mine. If I am to fail, then I will call for your help.” She said, holding up one of her guns and walking quietly further into the town, listening for any hint as to where her opponent might be. As she rounded a corner, the sound of sprinting feet caught her off guard when someone or something dressed in dark clothes rushed her, the neck of his shirt pulled over his face and a straw hat covering his eyes. Mercedes quickly jumped out of the way as his blade came down, taking aim and firing as green corkscrews rocketed out. Each stuck the ground hard but the unknown assailant moved out of their path.

Mercedes was readying to land when the hairs on the back of her neck began tingling. She threw her head forward as she readied to carry a somersault but heard the blade of the assailant pass just over the back of her head. She then aimed one of her guns at him, pulling the trigger only to watch as the arrow passed through his cloak. She was about to take aim with the other when she hit the ground, making her lose focus for a moment. That lapse gave him enough time to back up and charge at her with frightening speed. Mercedes tried firing to stop his charge, but she was too slow allowing him to send her flying as he swung the katana in a hard upward cross, making her come to a skidding stop before the others.

“Mercedes are you…” Eva began, looking down at her arm when she smelled blood, seeing a trail of blood running down the side of her arm.

“You’re injured!”

“This is nothing Eva.” Mercedes replied, pressing her thumb knuckle into her arm. She then charged with her arms behind her as she once again called on nature, her arms and legs glowing with the same vine design as they had before. With a quick jump, she sprung off a barrel then to the side of a house across the street and into the air. Taking aim, the Spirit Arrow orbs glowed with an intense bright light, winds curling around the guns. The arrows flew with enough force to bend the air around them, shaking the houses as they whizzed past the man’s head while he weaved back and forth, slicing through the arrows.

So far I have only enough power to use that once. I have to wait for the right moment, otherwise I’ll be too drained to fight any longer.” Mercedes thought as she sprinted down the road to keep up with the assailant, skidding to a stop and firing a barrage of arrows, deflected by the man’s sword, flashing with each swing. The assailant then sheathed his sword and began to back up, looking up at her from under his hat with ire glowing eyes. Something was coming, and it was most likely some kind of powerful technique. In flash he was running at her in a full bore sprint. Mercedes lowered her stance, calling on nature one again as the Spirit Arrow orbs on her guns began making a climbing buzz while he reached his hand across for his sword.

Now!" Mercedes thought, holding her guns straight out with a death grip as the glow of the orbs became brighter. Eva and Acer became concerned when Mercedes didn’t move and were about to run to assist when Phantom stopped both of them and shook his head.

“Just watch.” He said in a mysterious tone. All at once a bright streak of blue light erupted from the backs of Mercedes guns, shooting her forward like a rocket and hitting the assailant hard enough that the sound could be heard from where the others stood. Even after impact, Mercedes still charged forward knocking him back making him look down at his chest where two puncture marks were leaking blood onto his white shirt. Mercedes cringed at her actions; she hated to kill unnecessarily but there were times when even if a kill could have been avoided, it just wasn’t possible.

Still using the momentum from her charge, she slammed the front of her left gun into the ground. Pulling the trigger released a blast of blue energy into the ground, erupting underneath the assailant as a drill shaped arrow, tossing him into the air. While he reached the zenith of his ascent, Mercedes then turned her body parallel to the ground, supporting herself in mid air for a moment as she took aim at him with her second gun. Arrows made of light sprayed from the gun, some of which stuck in the man’s back, carrying him further up. When the man hit the ground, the arrows shoved through his chest before they dissipated leaving him unable to get up. Even if he could, he knew what was waiting for him when he returned to his commissioning officer. Sadly, Mercedes clipped her guns to her hips and knelt next to him, putting her knapsack under his head trying to make him comfortable in his last moments.

“Tell me, why is it that you wanted to fight?” she asked, reaching for the mask that covered his face, but was stopped when the other three walked up behind her and he began to explain in heaves and sputters.

“I have gone by many names, but the name I chose is Shade Knight.” He reached to Mercedes shirt and pulled himself up, looking into her eyes with the look of a man already lost.

“May the Black Mage curse you!” he growled before breathing his last and slumping to the ground when the man and entire village began to waiver and sway like a mirage. Another few seconds later and they found themselves in the Sleeping Wood village with everyone staring at them as they stood around in the center of the village. Someone from the crowd recognized them, coming over to Mercedes, kneeling down to her when Eva recognized the girl as Jenny, the Guardian Archer.

“Come on, let’s get you cleaned up.” Jenny said kindly, helping Mercedes to her feet, letting herself be led to a building within the village that smelled of herbs and steam. But even in the perceived relaxing air, the words of Shade Knight made her worry: was the Black Mage truly still alive? And then there was that message she and the others had seen about something going on below The Mage’s castle.

Phantom and Acer seemed to have already forgotten about it as they readied to relax in the sauna, as did Eva, even though her seemingly emotionless face at the moment was hard to read. It might have been providence that Jenny had come here when she did, but Mercedes needed to speak with her about that knight and the doll that she had found. Once they had made themselves comfortable in the sauna room, Mercedes took a breath and began.

“Jenny. There is something that I need you and the others to know.” Jenny sighed in agitation that ‘business’ was being discussed in a place of relaxation but felt that she should at least be given a moment of her time.

“Oh? And what would that be?”

“It’s about the Black Mage.” Jenny instantly opened her eyes and sat up, leaning towards her with interest as her voice took on a serious tone. Normally she wouldn’t give much weight to anything that anyone had to say since most of it turned out to be pranks put on by the Black Wings cells, but since it was coming from someone who had fought the Black Mage in the past, she decided that this was worth listening to.

“What about him?”

*****************************

Clytemnestra huffed angrily, getting up from the chair next to the pool of used suspension gel that had served as her and her Shadow Knight’s home for the first few months of their life. She now used it as a sort of Crystal Ball to watch the people of Ossyria and the Black Wings soldiers from time to time. This particular time she had been watching the warrior sent to deal with Mercedes only to be disappointed when the assassin lay dead on the ground of the alternate Sleeping Wood village created via a powerful spell.

“Hilla.” Clytemnestra commanded.

“Yes master?” Hilla answered in return, cocking her hips to the side and leaning against her staff.

“I thought you said that your resurrected assassin could do the job?” Clytemnestra asked angrily.

“Could? My assassin can do the task given to him.”

“Then tell me why he is lying on the ground of an alternate Sleeping Wood once again rather than Mercedes.” Hilla’s face became worried and serious, picking her weight up from leaning against the staff.

“Impossible, even when he was alive in Azwan before the death of the king, he was the best assassin there was, not even Minerva or Corus was able to…” Hilla was brought to an abrupt halt when Clytemnestra held her hand up next to Hilla’s face, her palm facing back to her and fingers pressed together tightly as Hilla reached for her throat and began to float in the air.

“Then if it was so hard for Minerva or Corus to do him in, then why was a weak ‘Hero of Ossyria’ able to best your assassin?” Clytemnestra demanded, lifting Hilla higher, her toes just far enough off the ground that she could no longer support her weight.

“I don’t know Master!” she wheezed, struggling against the unseen hand wrapped around her throat.

“Then tell me what… AH!” Clytemnestra suddenly collapsed to the ground, gripping her head in pain. Hilla heaved for breath for a few seconds before getting to her feet and quickly helping her ailing master to the apparatus which quickly surrounded her, glowing with an intense blue light for a moment before dying down and easing her pain. When Clytemnestra looked up, her eyes weren’t their normal dark blue; they were a comforting shade of brown. But the moment passed and her eyes returned to their normal color.

“Hilla, what happened to her?” Arkarium wheezed, appearing from thin air.

“It happened again, but this time her eyes changed color.” Hilla explained. Arkarium sighed and looked back at Clytemnestra.

“Why does this keep happening to me Arkarium? I though you said that you could fix it. Eradicate this thing that trying to take over me!” she asked sharply.

“Something like this takes time Master Clytemnestra. You have been able to stand longer and longer periods away from this apparatus have you not?” Arakrium asked, at which Clytemnestra nodded, fire still in her eyes.

“Then my procedure is working. With more exposure to the power within that apparatus left to us by The Black Mage, the longer you will be able to stand away from it, giving you the power needed to keep this, presence, away. However using your powers will deplete the amount of time you can be away from it, causing this pain you are feeling.” Clytemnestra cocked her head to the side slightly, furrowing her brow.

“Are you saying that as long as I don’t use any kind of power that I will be able to stay away from this apparatus indefinitely?”

“No. Think of this apparatus as a power source, and you are a battery. Your body can only hold a certain amount of power from this apparatus left to us by The Black Mage. Time away from it drains that power. Using any spells or abilities drains that power even faster.”

“I thought that spells and abilities were empowered by Mana?” Clytemnestra asked with an edge in her voice.

“Normally it would, however you were born without the ability to create mana, and so spells and abilities use that power instead. With continued exposure to the power within the apparatus, your capacity will increase, allowing you to be away from it for a full day, maybe even longer.”

“So I can never truly be free of this apparatus?” She asked, once again a sharp edge in her voice.

“Not if you don’t want to lose yourself to whatever is trying to take over you.” Arkarium replied. Clytemnestra lowered her eyebrows and narrowed her eyes.

“If we are to proceed, how will I be able to get to this apparatus once a day has passed?” she asked, looking hard at Arkarium.

“Do not trouble yourself with something so trivial. I and the other disciples will make sure that it is nearby.” Clytemnestra’s eyes narrowed further as she thought, nodding slowly as she processed what she had been told before taking a breath to sigh.

“What of my Shadow Knights?” she asked, feeling the edge of the pain and presence die away. Arkarium looked to Hilla with raised eyebrows as if asking for her to explain since she was the one in charge of such an operation.

“They have been progressing. Your transition into the Palace should be a smooth one, Mast… excuse me, Empress Cygnus.”

“Very well then; how many of the knights have been replaced? It’s been three days since you’ve replaced Eckhart.”

“Only Mihile remains and the empress of course. But what of the princess Ashura?” Hilla asked. Clytemnestra’s face lost all emotion, turning to her and staring at her for almost a full minute before responding.

“What about her?” she asked flatly.

“Well, she has recently formed a contract with Shinsoo, and she is no doubt going to notice a change in the Knights and most definitely will notice once you take her mother’s place. It would only be a matter of time before our plans are derailed.” Hilla explained as Clytemnestra nodded in understanding.

“Eliminate her.”

***********************

Ashura eventually heard about what had happened between Athena and Eckhart. It was hard to believe that something like that had happened: those two were perfect for each other! How could he simply throw their marriage away? Only a few days had passed, and now Hawkeye and Irena were acting differently as well, even Oz wasn’t as bubbly as she normally was. Shinsoo seemed to constantly be on edge as well, as if his Protection State would activate at any time and he would go ballistic on the entirety of the palace.

But neither of them said anything since such accusations against the Chief Knights were taken very seriously, and without hard proof that whoever had taken their place were without a doubt fakes, she faced a serious punishment. But the strangeness of it all began affecting her dreams, sometimes seeing herself as her mom, but with slightly paler skin and long platinum blond hair. When the sun finally rose and the nightmares were finally over, she opened her eyes to see Mihile slumped over in a chair beside her bed with his cape pulled around him for a blanket while his guardian spirit of light kept watch and kept him warm.

She smiled, feeling somewhat embarrassed since he had stayed by her side the entire night to be there when she woke up. At least her mom and dad still seemed to be normal. At the breakfast table, Ashura was surprised to see Cygnus already seated and eating. Normally she wouldn’t be here this early in the morning since Ashura liked to get up a little earlier and walk with Mihile to get the reports from the Night Walkers night watch after breakfast.

“Good morning Ashura. Did you sleep well?” Cygnus asked once Ashura had come around into her line of sight. Ashura swallowed hard; she just knew something wasn’t right. She still sounded the same, and still looked the same, but something didn’t feel right. She looked over at Shinsoo who had taken on his human form, but he seemed to be more relaxed than usual.

“Yes, I did. Thankfully dad was there since I was having some nightmares.”

“Oh? What kind of nightmares?” Ashura looked at her mother for a moment, not sure if she should tell her, but if this was indeed an imposter, her life might be in danger should she let on that she was suspicious.

“I don’t know what it was really; I kept dreaming that I was someone else, trying to figure out who I was and asking myself who I was.” Cygnus then got up and walked over to where she was sitting, putting her arms around her and holding her close.

“I’m sorry Ashura. But I’ll tell you a little secret. I had some rather strange dreams myself after I surrendered the power of Shinsoo, very similar to those that you are having now.” Shinsoo smiled slightly as he turned to them both.

“You never told me this Lady Cygnus.” He smiled, at which Cygnus returned it.

“Your father is one of the best Knights that I know, and I can rest easy knowing that he’s there. Tell you what; perhaps tonight you can sleep in my chambers while your father watches over us both.” Perhaps Ashura was just being paranoid since the other Knights were acting a little strangely. Ever since they had convened a meeting with the Guardians, Phantom and Mercedes who told them about the doll they had found, things seemed to be different in Ereve. Even the island itself felt like it shuddered in frightened anticipation. But Cygnus was the only one that she knew that could calm her like she was doing right now.

“Mom, there’s something that I need to tell you, both of you. But it’s something that I know is rather serious.” Mihile looked up into Cygnus’s eyes and nodded, signaling for all the guards, and cooks to leave closing the doors tightly behind them.

“Tell us Ashura, there is no one here but us.” Mihile assured as he sat across from her. Ashura swallowed hard, but was eased when Shinsoo placed his hand on her back in reassurance.

“It started when Eckhart just about disowned Athena. Yes Eckhart has always kept to himself mostly, but marrying Athena was something that I don’t think he would have ever cast off. And then after we received that message from The Guardians and the Heroes, Ereve has felt different, the Knights have been acting, strange.” Mihile nodded, holding out his hand as he offered an explanation.

“Perhaps it is because of that message that they have been acting…”

“No dad, this isn’t the kind of strange before a big battle. This is the kind of strange where something about the people you know just isn’t right, like they’ve been replaced with someone that looks exactly like them. I have no hard proof of this and I know that something of this caliber can be quite serious, but it’s been gnawing at me and I don’t know what to do about it.” Mihile sighed and nodded; yes Ashura had always been slightly higher spirited than most kids her age, but even she knew when to separate a hoax from something so serious.

“Very well, I’ll inform my troops to keep an eye on the others and investigate this quietly. We may have a bigger problem on our hands than we first thought after hearing that report from Mercedes and Phantom.” Ashura nodded, looking down at her hands in uncertainty.

“Perhaps we should make a flight around Ossyria, get you away from this place to calm your nerves a bit?” Shinsoo suggested at which Ashura nodded and went back to her room, changing into some clothes that didn’t flap around so much, quickly taking off from Ereve. It seemed this was the one thing that her mom and dad actually approved of her doing; it felt so good to be away from all the pressure of the palace life, and there was also the fact that she could talk to Shinsoo about what she was going through, albeit, telepathically.

What’s wrong lady Ashura? You seem unnerved.” Shinsoo asked, as they rounded a mountain peak of Perion after about an hour.

I could ask the same of you Shinsoo, you’ve seemed tense, I mean, really tense the past three days.”

“Then I’m glad that I’m not the only one to see the difference in the knights.”

“You’ve sensed it too?
” Ashura asked with a hopeful tone.

Yes; a slight air of Black Magic has descended onto Ereve, but it is just small enough that it doesn’t call on my Protection state.”

“So I’m not just seeing things right?
” Shinsoo shook his head, looking over his shoulder at her and smiling, about to answer when a shadow passed over them as Eva and Mir glided next to them waving.

“Hey, I’ll race ya to Kerning! I hear there’s a cool place called The Fusion that I wanted to take you to!” she called, patting Mir on the neck who responded back by beating her wings harder and pulling ahead, making Ashura lean down and pat Shinsoo on the neck.

Come on, you aren’t going to let that upstart Mir outrun you are you?”

“Ashura, my duty is to protect you, and a race is not under that description. Besides, do you know how worried you will make your mother?”

“Shinsoo, it’s just for fun, it’s not like we’re going to be dodging fireballs or anything.
” Shinsoo sighed hard as if to say ‘alright’, and drove his wings down with a will. Ashura screamed out her approval as they rocketed through the air past Mir in which Mir gave chase, both girls giggling and screaming in delight as they spun, dove and squeezed through the tight canyons of Perion and through the buildings of Kerning, skidding to a stop just before The Fusion.

“You so tried to knock me off!” Eva laughed as she jumped down and ran over to Shinsoo.

“I did no such thing! You were the one that crossed under me next to that sky scraper.” Ashura shouted back, stepping off Shinsoo’s hand as he put down on the ground.

“She is right Eva, you did have me cross under her.” Mir called once she had shifted into her human form, huffing slightly out of breath, but still able to manage a laugh until Tzarax, Cygnus’s new pact dragon landed before them hard enough that the ground shook, his claws sparking from the ground.

“Lady Ashura! I’m so glad I found you.”Ashura huffed hard and rolled her eyes.

“Did my mother send you…” Tzarax leaned down to Ashura’s level and spoke in a low voice.

“I wasn’t sent by your mother, I came of my own volition. There is something wrong with your mother and I want to be able to have a second opinion. Yes, Cygnus is my master and half of my life, but even my word can be considered treason and I didn’t want to start a panic. I need your opinion.”

“Why didn’t you go to my father?” Ashura asked, more worried than ever now that Tzarax was beginning to sense something was wrong.

“Because while he may be married to her, you have a much deeper connection to your mother and father; you were brought into this world because their life forces became one, and created you. You share their life forces and you are able to tell who your real mother is.”

“But how?! I don’t even know how to do that!” Ashura exclaimed until Mir put a hand on her shoulder.

“It’s alright Lady Ashura. Detecting a life force similarity is something that we dragons do naturally. You humans used to be able to do such things according to records found in a vault in the Tower of Orbis. But since such a thing had been taught less and less, you eventually lost the conscious ability to do so.” Ashura nodded to Shinsoo who transformed back into his dragon form while Ashura mounted his shoulders once more.

“How can you tell that something is wrong with my mother?” Ashura asked Tzarax before they took off.

“Ever since the contract I formed with your mother, I have been able to feel a directional pull of her life force. The pull that I am feeling is not coming from the woman that is standing before me.” By the time Ashura and Shinsoo had returned to Ereve it was early evening and armed guards were already standing at attention near the exit of the palace, looking as though they were ready to launch a full scale assault. When she touched down, Cygnus was the first one to come storming over to her with eyes ablaze in anger.

“Where have you been?” she demanded, grabbing hold of her arm hard enough that Ashura pulled it away and rubbed the area.

“Why the sudden armed strike mom? I was out with Shinsoo to clear my head remember?” Cygnus eyes flitted back and forth as though she were trying to remember, her facial expression lightening slightly.

“I see. Next time, be sure and tell your father or I when you are going to be leaving rather than just disappearing. I thought that someone had kidnapped you!” Ashura swallowed as Cygnus wrapped her arms around her in a concerned hug. In that moment Ashura knew; this wasn’t her mother and this time she was sure. Her mother never would have scolded her for flying with Shinsoo, maybe for slipping out of Ereve alone, but never for having Shinsoo with her. Ashura swallowed her concern and returned the hug when Mihile came running up to them.

“Ashura, what are you doing back so early? Usually your flights with Shinsoo last for much longer.” Ashura looked back and forth between Cygnus and Mihile before quickly formulating an answer.

“I was just tired that’s all.” She said, rubbing her eyes to try and make her point while Shinsoo walked up to them, noticing that Cygnus looked slightly nervous.

“I see, perhaps you should get some rest then, after all a princess needs her rest.” Mihile suggested, at which Ashura and Shinsoo both quickly walked to her room.

“Cygnus, why the guards? You know how Ashrua is.” Cygnus sighed hard, and shook her head, pinching the bridge of her nose while raising her eyebrows.

“I’m sorry love; the news that the Guardians and the Heroes gave us has had me worried about what action to take.” Mihile smiled and put his arms around her understandingly, waving to the guards telling them that they could disarm but to stay on alert while he led Cygnus back to her chambers.

“It’s been a long day, and a lot has happened; get some rest. Things will look better in the morning.” Mihile kissed her forehead, saying good night and closing her door then walked out to the court yard where he unexpectedly met Shinsoo and Ashura.

“What are you two still doing up? Ashura, you should be sleeping, a princess…”

“Mom’s not right.” She said cutting Mihile off.

“Ashura, what I have I told you about…”

“She’s right Sir Mihile. Something is definitely different about Lady Cygnus. It’s as if her presence has shifted altogether.” Shinsoo cut in. Mihile became skeptical, but none of the other Chief Knights seemed to notice anything, especially Oz. However there was the interesting conversation he had with Hawkeye earlier that day, and the worries that Ashrua had spoken to him about in the morning.

“Are you sure Shinsoo? Making such an accusation against Lady Cygnus for being an imposter as I’m sure you’re aware holds a heavy weight, and not only because she is Ashura’s mother and your former master.” Shinsoo hung his head and swallowed hard, the muscles in his neck tensing in a strange wave-like motion.

“I cannot say without doubt that Lady Cygnus is not who she claims to be. My powers have become somewhat sharper since I have bonded with Ashura, but she does not have the same air around her.” Mihile narrowed his eyes, looking back towards her room and then looking back to Shinsoo, beckoning him to lower his head.

“How is the air different? She is still the same woman that I married 18 years ago, so how and why does something change all of a sudden?” Mihile asked with an agitated tone, making Ashura back away from him slightly towards Shinsoo; she was always slightly afraid of Mihile when he became angry, but this was different. She was trying to tell him that something was wrong, that the woman in that room was not the mother that she had grown up with.

“To me, the air that I know around Lady Cygnus feels tranquil, assured, and confident. But who ever this woman is, she gives off the same feeling, but with an addition that…” Shinsoo shook his head and lowered his voice even further until it was nothing more than a whisper.

“She is giving off a tinge of Black Magic.” Mihile’s face became serious, throwing his cloak aside and exposing his sword.

“You’re telling me that she’s been dabbling in Black Magic?!” he hissed.

“No, not dabbling. I’ve felt the presence that comes from someone who’s experimented with Black Magic, like Grendal; this feeling if coming from within her. And unless the other Chief Knights have been experimenting as well, I suspect that they too have also been replaced.” Mihile nodded and looked around before reaching out and pulling Ashura close, motioning for Shinsoo to come close so that he could speak into his ear.

“I’ve tried to find out what’s been going on since you talked with me at breakfast and haven’t been able to come up with anything solid, but from what you’re telling me the situation is already much bigger and much farther along than I thought. Ashura, go to your room and grab some clothes; don’t take any more than you need to. Shinsoo I want you to take her and Tzarax to Perion and stay with Matthew. I trusted him and the other Guardians with my world, I think that I can trust him with your life. Don’t return here until I send word and when I do, do not return without at least two of the Masters, Guardians, Heroes or High Elders, do you understand?” Ashura nodded, quickly putting her arms around him and ran to her room while Shinsoo and Mihile stood guard, keeping a sharp eye on any and everyone that walked within 20 yards of her room until she came back out with a knap sack stuffed with at least six changes of clothes and hugged Mihile once again.

“As I said, I’ll send word and when I do, don’t come alone.” Ashura nodded tearfully as she climbed onto Shinsoo’s shoulders.

“Where is Tzarax?” Ashura asked.

“I’ve been in communication with him telepathically after he went to search for Cygnus and told him to meet us at the Warriors Temple.” Shinsoo replied, bolting into the sky making winds rush after him as he left. Mihile took a breath and reached for his sword, drawing the blade with an angry ring. He walked towards Cygnus’ chambers on the verge of tears hoping that whatever Shinsoo had been sensing was wrong. A heavy hand clamped down on his shoulder and turned him around roughly and as the light from the torches hit the person’s face, Mihile was shocked. He stepped back to swing when something heavy hit him over the head from behind knocking him to the ground. He remained awake only long enough look up at the person, trying to reach for his sword before everything went black.

“What about the Princess?” Irena asked, walking into the light of the torch, smiling darkly.

“Leave her for now. We can always track her down.” Oz answered, the fire on the end of her staff glowing just brightly enough that the shadows on her face made her look like she were deprived of food.

“That shouldn’t be too hard, seeing as how we were able to replace all of the others so easily.” Hawkeye chimed, leaning against the wall under the torch and jerking his head to push the hair out of his eyes.

“Not only that, but you have me.” Eckhart said smoothly, stepping into the light with his cloak pulled around his shoulders.

“And with Mihile finally replaced and Cygnus poised to strike, the people should follow her as blindly as they always have.” Mihile answered, reaching down and taking the sword from the Mihile lying on the ground, shoving it into his sheath.

“Dispose of him as you did the others. On the marrow, everything begins.” He said as Hawkeye threw his over his shoulder and walked to the edge of the floating island, tossing him off into the sea waters far below.
The Guardians L.O. - Ch 4 pt 2, Re-E2
ALL RIGHTS OF THE MAPLESTORY GAME BELONG TO NEXON AND THE RESPECTIVE COMPANIES. THIS STORY IS PURELY FAN FICTION.

Chapter 5: Tensions of the Heart


Check out the game here: maplestory.nexon.net/Default.a…

This is the Thrid Season of "The Guardians" saga, A fanfiction. Here is the First Season Beginning

Here is the Second Season Beginning

Editorial note 1: Not really much has changed from the First edit to now. If you think of something that I should add or take out, let me know

E.N. 2: As EN 1 says, not really much of anything has changed, just more so some all around updating, and I think there were a couple HTML codes missing, I'm not entirely sure, but if there was, I added them.

E.N. 3: Added a scene with the Guardian's Children and made some small changes here and there that could hopfully make this chapter better.
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Ok... so as you know... i've been trying to update my icon every year. But I've come to a rather annoying block because I have NO idea how to change it for next year since the new year is just around the corner.

So Ii turn to you my watchers... how do you think I should change my icon next year?

Y.K.

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Yoshumari
Yoshumari Korisuno
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As you know, Dragons possess many treasures. But what you may not know is that not all that treasure is gold.

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:iconnyappysofie:
NyappySofie Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
ASDFGHJKL Thank you so much for the watch! [EXO] Xiumin Emoticon 
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:iconyoshumari:
Yoshumari Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
you are welcome.
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:iconcimenord:
Cimenord Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014
Thanks for the fav' on my Siegfried perler work :P
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:iconyoshumari:
Yoshumari Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Your welcome

Siegfried/Nightmare (SC2) are my favorite characters from the SC series.
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pritken Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
thank u so much for the fav :)
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:iconjirinri:
Jirinri Featured By Owner Jun 17, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Just came to scroll through Yoshumati's page and your adorable icon caught my attention. SO CUTE.
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:iconyoshumari:
Yoshumari Featured By Owner Mar 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
you are very welcome
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:iconrandomgreeter:
RandomGreeter Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014  Professional
Hi! Have a nice day! :wave:
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:iconyoshumari:
Yoshumari Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
uuh... many thanks!
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