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 Arata's Chronicle

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Arata

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Posts : 74
Join date : 2010-07-21
Age : 23
Location : Under your couch

PostSubject: Arata's Chronicle   Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:01 am

Hey guys, I decided to move over my story and sequel from the old forum to this new one Smile This is story number one. Enjoy Very Happy

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Arata

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Posts : 74
Join date : 2010-07-21
Age : 23
Location : Under your couch

PostSubject: Re: Arata's Chronicle   Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:03 am

Chapter 1: Initiation


A frigid breeze broke Arata from his daze, sending a vigorous shiver through his body. His icey blue eyes snapped open, sliding around in their sockets as he gathered his bearings. He was at the shore again. And though he dressed warmly, the harsh cold of Arcterra still tore into him now and again. It took him a moment to remember what he had been doing out here. He had his knees drawn up to his chest, arms ontop with his face buried in the small pocket his arms created. That was right, he had come here to think. He must've dozed off while lost in his thoughts. The past week had sent his head spinning and his thoughts swam wildly. "Tomorrow is the day...When I finally become a man.." He spoke quietly. All the talk of the coming of age ceremony had finally sunk in. When he first heard of it, he almost dismissed it. It wasn't that big of a deal to him. But, now that the day was fast approaching, it truly sunk in for the first time. All the boys of the clan, age 16, had to pass a test. This would ultimately prove if they were worthy of being called men. When a boy passes this test, he gains the respect of everyone, and is responsible for the more dangerous jobs that were provided. Arata uncurled his body, then stood up to look out across the ocean. The sun was setting, a myriad of colors decorating the horizon. It was as if the sky itself was on fire. He sighed, shoving his gloved hands into his pockets, another cold, but lighter breeze caressing his face. Tonight, at midnight, Arata would have to enter the great Temple of Torrents. The Arcterrans worshipping grounds. Here, every year, his clan would pray to the gods in hopes of calm tides and bountiful harvest. Of course, on this frozen wasteland of the south, the only harvest they ever hoped for was the many fish that swam in their oceans. He exhaled slowly, his breath turning into wisps of vapor as it left his mouth. The Temple was large and dangerous. He wondered if he could ever be ready for such a momentus task. A familiar voice broke Arata from his thoughts.

"Hey, you'd better come inside! Unless you want to freeze to death!" The voice belonged to his brother Alastor. Arata turned to see the young man, a small smile creeping across his face. Alastor, or as Arata called him, "Al", was his brother. The two were around the same age it appeared. Though they were brothers, the pair looked nothing alike. Arata had a mop of dark blue hair, somewhat lengthy bangs acting as an azure veil over his crystal blue orbs. Al had long hair, tied back in a ponytail, the color a light shade of violet decorated with several silver streaks. His eyes were stormy mauve gems that rested in his visage. To contrast them even more, Arata, like most Arcterrans, had very pale skin, while Alastor was born with a light tan, unusually dark for clan members.

Arata allowed the smile to grow. "I suppose I should get some rest before my big night." He chuckled, walking to Al, his boots crunching across the mixture of ice and snow. Al had been taken into Arata's family eleven years prior. He could remember the look of surprise when he and his parents found a small boy, no older than 5, shivering on their secluded shores. The boy had been wet, appearing to have washed up on the snow. It was lucky for him the season had been summer, or else he would have froze to death in the waters surrounding the land. Seeing as nobody else claimed him, Arata's family adopted him, and the two have been inseparable since.

The siblings walked for a minutes before arriving at the large hut that was their abode. It was made especially to keep out the lethal cold of winter. The winter solstice took place tomorrow. Ceremonies always took place the very start of the winter season; the worst season for their southern civilization. Arcterra was the western part of the chunk of land that took up the south. It was separated by a large mountain range to the east, and any visiters from other parts of the world would be blocked by the large and deadly reefs that surrounded it. It was believed that the place was created by the Winter God Arcterra, its namesake. Arcterra brought people here, his own blood, to prosper in the harsh and unforgiving tundras, in hopes of creating a tough and hardy race to outlast all the others. He gifted the people with the ability of channeling water and ice magic, something Arata was exceptionally skilled at. He was considered a prodigy. Because so few outsiders came to the clan's home, Arata had little hopes of marrying here. Over time, variety in the clan had become lost, their society made of those with hair as blue as the sea, eyes as cold as ice, and skin pale as the moon. This made it more likely that he would marry someone distantly related to him, without his knowledge. With this in mind, Arata had always dreamed of leaving this place, to discover what else might await him in the rest of the world.

Arata's parents cooked up some food for the boys. Snow fox. A rare delicacy in this place. It must have cost them a fortune. This was truly a sign of how important this test was.
He almost felt bad, but the tantalizing scent of the meal was overwhelming, whiping the thought of apology from his mind. He shoved in mouthfuls at a time, unable to speak with the food clogging his throat. Alastor chuckled. "Try not to choke."

After their meal, Al and Arata climbed into the hammocks that were strung across their room, pulling their soft and warm fox-fur blankets over them. His mother had made these after finding and slaughtering a den of foxes. Survival of the fittest she called it. Soon, the two drifted off to the bliss that was sleep.


After several hours, Arata awoke to find himself being shaken by his father. Aside from the hieght difference and his father's stocky build, many said the two of them could be clones. His father's eyes were hard and serious. "It's time." Arata hopped out of his hammock, garbing himself in light blue and grey leather armor, warm fur boots and insulated battle gloves lining his hands and feet. Whenever this coming of age event went on, the temple somehow produced fiersome beasts, making the maze-like trek even more dangerous. It wasn't uncommon for a boy or two to die during this task. His father armed him with his own, custom-made dagger. The blade was ivory in color, the hilt lined with precious sapphires, along with a larger one in the blade. The minerals needed to refine these gems were scarce, having to excavate very deep into the ground to chance upon one. His dad lead him outside, the sky dark. In fact, it seemed as if the entire tundra had been blacked out. They made their way to the front of the temple, a row of boys his own age lined up, listening to the chief speak. They all held the trademark of the Arcterran race. Blue hair and cold eyes. All of them wielded either a dagger, like himself, or two knives. This was all the protection allowed. He took his spot at the far right end, glancing around to see his brother and mother looking at him encouragingly. Alastor didn't have to go through the arduous task, because he was not a natural born Arcterran, though he was accepted as one.

The chief spoke. "Welcome, young men. It is time for you to take your rightful place among the men of our clan, taking your first steps into adulthood. You all know the goal required to pass your Initiation. Make your way to the center of the Mighty Temple, and lay your hands on the Torrential Katana. Then, the Temple shall form a path for you to exit directly from its labyrinth. Perhaps, this time, we shall find a suitable wielder for the Sacred Blade." He said the same thing everytime. When Arcterra had created this land, he erected The Temple in his name, placing the legenday Torrential Katana at its core. This Blade would judge young men, deeming them worthy by reaching it, naming them men. Yet, nobody in the history of the clan had ever been accepted to actually wield the holy weapon. Legend said that the young man who held the blade would alter the course of the future. It was every boy's dream. Though, Arata was highly skeptical of anyone claiming the weapon.

The chief finished speaking, and held an orb of ice in his left hand. He crushed it, a loud crack resounding. This signaled the start, and Arata along with the others, ran up the steps to the Temple. The temple was a monolithic structure that had risen from the water, said to be made almost entirely out of ice, though it was as hard as diamonds. Here we go, he thought. The large doors swung open, all of the boys dashing through different paths within the Temple. Arata was now alone in the corridors of the labyrinth. Water surrounded his pather on each side, snow white pillars standing on pedestals ontop of the water, icecicles hanging from the ceiling. He ran, intent on finishing this quickly, his steps echoing in the halls. His path was fairly uneventful at first, the only frustration being occasional dead ends. He felt the incline of the building increase, noting that he was going deeper into the structure. Soon, many fish started leaping at him from the water, razor sharp teeth snapping hungrily. He dodged a good deal of them, slashing through one as it came close to biting off his face.

He soon saw the telltale glow of the Katana in a large chamber straight ahead. Suddenly, a large wall came crashing down, blocking off the entrance. He cursed under his breath in frustration. What would he do now? As he tried to come up with a solution, he heard something break from the water behind him. He turned around swiftly, his icey blues met by a large creature. The monster was humanoid in shape, covered in bright silver scales, large hands made lethal by the obscenely sharp claws upon its fingers. Fins ran down its arms and back, red eyes burning brightly in its sockets and sharp teeth filled its maw.

This abomination hopped from pillar to pillar, then launched itself at Arata, succeeding in pinning him to the cold floor. "Get off of me!" Arata struggled against its vice-like grip, its razor sharp fingers digging into his skin. He felt warm blood run out of his shoulders, threatening to freeze from the frigid air. He managed to twist his wrist around, stabbing the creature in the back of the wrist with his father's dagger. The creature shrieked and released Arata, carmine liquid pouring from the wound. He took this opportunity to summon his water control, the liquid floating around him, originating from the pools to the side. He solidified the water into jagged crystals of ice, flicking his wrists and projecting the shards at the monster. He watched as the crystals plunged into its body. He watched the creature fall to the ground, spasm, and lay still, soon melting into nothing but a puddle. Arata panted, walking forward to retrieve the dagger. He had the water form around his hands, placing them on his shoulders. The water glowed, sealing the gashes in his skin.

Arata turned, hearing a loud grinding sound. The wall lifted, unblocking the path to the main chamber. He ran in, meeting the rest of the boys. It appeared two of the boys had been killed, much to Arata's horror. The corpses of two young men were in the center of the chamber, having been dragged from there separate pathways by the remaining initiates. The crystalline floors were stained with streaks of crimson liquid, their bodies bloody and mutilated by what appeared to be claw and teeth marks. Probably creatures similar to the one he faced. As he edged closer to the blood covered boys, he soon came to recognize their faces. Two of his fishing partners, Picard and Froid. He sighed, blinking back tears of grief, bowing his head and issuing a silent prayer to them. The survivors were all either uninjured or suffered minor wounds. It appeared they all had been approved by the blade, a direct path to the exit already having been formed, although none could pull it out. "Alright, my turn." Arata doubted he would pull it out, but he tried all the same, just to humor himself. He gripped the hilt in his hands, the blade's glow seeming to flare up. His eyes widened as he pulled, the sword sliding directly from its home in the basin, and it soon broke free, effortlessly. He heard himself and the other boys gasp. He felt energy fill his body, and he soon blacked out.

Arata sat bolt upright, his hands tingling, staring unbelievably at the sword he had freed. He looked around in the chamber. The boys had been cleared out, and many of the clan's adult officials surrounded him, including his family. When they saw he had awoken, they all cheered, helping him up and clapping him on the back. His parents embraced him. He blinked, in a daze. "What...what happened?" They just shook their heads, parting as the chief approached him.

A large smile had been plastered on the normally solemn chief. "We now honor you, as the man who will change the future. After so long, the Torrential Katana has finally claimed its rightful owner." Arata looked at him incredulously. The sword seemed to be alive in his hands, water constantly swirling around it. His voice came out as a croak.

"Me? But...but how?" He looked at himself in the reflective surface of the ice wall on the other side of the room. He moved towards it, looking at his hair, of all things. The normally solid blue color was now altered with a large and noticeable turquoise streak that ran down the center of his hairline. His eyes now swirled with a strange mist. He laughed shakily, walking on wobbly legs to the group that awaited him. He couldn't believe it, zoning out in thought as they left the temple. They all spoke of the great things he'd do, but...what would he do? What could he possibly do now? He had a legendary blade in his hands. He could never go back to simple fishing.

As they reached the bottom of the steps, a loud thunder clap boomed. They all jumped. Arata creased his brow as he watched the dark and ominous sky, lightning slashing through the clouds in bright forks. His head swiveled on its axis, looking to the waters. The ocean crashed against the land, frozen spray flying. The waves seemed to get larger and larger. A storm was coming...


Chapter 2: Tides of Fate

After the initial shock, the Arcterran people immediately jumped into action, running for cover, gathering up women and children and pulling in the boats and fish supplies for fear of the storm devouring their supplies. The group from the temple were all bent over, arms in front of their faces as they braced themselves against the mighty wind that battered them mercilessly. Arata gripped his newfound weapon tightly, for fear of losing the grand Blade. He glanced up to look at their destination. The Shelter Dome, located in the center of their territory. It was basically a large, public crisis bunker, a place to go during invasion or natural disasters, the former of the two very scarce. Al pushed up his pace, staying beside Arata. He swept his hands to the sides, diverting the powerful gusts from their path, making the going little bit easier. But even so, even with Al's talent in wind magic, it was difficult to manipulate such gales. It was as if the winds were purposefully trying to carry them away. As commonplace as storms were, this one was not a natural occurence.

They all breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief as they entered the Shelter Dome, slumping to the ground. Arata looked up from the ground, staring at all the frightened faces of those gathered in the spherical panic room. They huddled together, the children hugging their mothers for comfort, the men speaking in hushed tones as to why, how this storm even started. He glanced around again. Large boxes and jars, filled with fish, meat, and fresh water. A person by themselves could live for at least a year in here without ever having to leave. The entire clan may last a week or so on these rations. Al looked at Arata. "It's brutal out there...my abilities had hardly any effect at all. How though?"

"I'm not sure...But I feel like it could go on for a while, until it gets what it wants." He shook his head. Gets what it wants? It sounded stupid, even coming from his own mouth. Storms could not want. And yet, he felt as if it were searching for something, or someone, seeking to snatch it away. He kept finding his gaze drawn to the Katana. The seemingly infinite stream of water poured forth from the hilt, swirling around the blade in tendrils of liquid and flaring out at the ends. The weapon seemed alive, resonating and humming with energy. Maybe..."Chief. Chief Badra." The Elder's head lifted, looking at Arata with a quizzical expression on his face.

"Yes? What is it my boy?" He scooted closer to the brothers, expression grave.

Arata cleared his throat nervously. Chief Badra had always scared him. To many of the trouble makers he was known as Whipcracker Badra, or The Chastiser. He would always lecture and scold the children who went out looking for trouble, often punishing them severely. Arata remembered one such time, when he was caught stealing snow fox from a special feast for him and Al to snack on. He still had scars on his behind from the whip. Ugh...the thought made him shudder. He shrugged off the memories. "Tell me Chief, does this storm seem...natural to you?"

The old man furrowed his brow, the tight, wrinkled skin of his forehead pulling together in lines. "Not natural? Well, it is unusually severe, yes, but I wouldn't say-"

Arata cut him off, trying to get his point across. "Don't you find it strange that such a dangerous tempest would flare right after I freed the Torrential Katana?"

He ran a hand across his chin, deep in thought. He looked down at the sword that rested in Arata's hands, scrutinizing every detail. "It is a bit...peculiar I suppose. But then again, that Sword is one of the great Elemental Blades. Nature would most likely be affected when the power of that sword is released." He looked at it again, noticing the energy it seemed to release, the Katana's fervent thrum. "It's like it's calling out to the world....Hmm" He stroked his chin again, then his eyes widened, as if remembering something. "Well, when we were on our way here, I did happen to notice what was going on around you two."

Arata and Alastor exchanged questioning glances, arching their eyebrows in perfect sync. "Going on?"

Badra nodded. "Yes, despite young Alastor's efforts, it seemed as if the wind was primarily focused on the two of you, pulling at your forms. It was as if.."

"...the storm is trying to take something from us." Arata finished the thought for him. So then, it was the Katana that was responsible for this. Maybe, now that it was free, it wanted to leave this place. Maybe, it felt it needed to be somewhere else in the world. As Arata pondered this, a bright flash illuminated the Dome, followed by an ear-shattering blast of thunder.

Al looked around worriedly. "That was a close one. That couldn't have been more than a several yards from here. If that thing," he pointed at the blade,"is responsible for this, it really wants us out."

Arata nodded, looking outside from one of the few windows that had been built in. It was getting worse. The wind was picking up, lightning flashed every few seconds, and it seemed to be getting closer and closer. Many of the men were out there, keeping back the ever-growing waves and retrieving boats and nets. Most protected the homes closer to the shores. He nodded at Al, then at Badra and his parents. "We need to go out there and help. C'mon Al."

Their father stood. "I'm coming with. Whether you have the Legendary Blade or not, you still can't take on this fierce a storm on your own." He made his way over to the boxes, taking out winter and protective clothing for the siblings and himself. Arata took his gratefully, donning himself in a thick, navy cloak, along with water-proof boots and a thick, fur-lined, tunic over his leather armor. Al wore a similar garb, only ash grey.

The three of them were just about to open the door outside when Chief Badra, placed a hand on Arata's shoulder. He held out his hand. "Here, take this. We made it especially for the choosing." In his outstretched hand was a sleek, deep blue sheath, trimmed with silver and made of the finest materials. One would have to leave their society for the outside to get any of these. Arata just blinked, astonished. "T-thank you..Master Badra." The old man smiled, clasping Arata in an awkward, but not unwelcome hug. "Be careful, Man to Change the Future." He nodded, sliding the Katana into the pristine sheath, pushing to the treacherous outside.

The waters were pitch black, churning and twisting fiercely. Men stood by the shores, breaking waves and sending them back before they could reach the homesteads. It looked extremely exhausting, especially against such overwhelming forces of nature. Arata looked at his dad, concerned. "What are you going to do? You know Water Manipulation isn't exactly your forte." It was true. His father was a warrior and fisherman. He possessed little talent in the area of Elemental Control. The only talent he had was catching fish and sword fighting, a talent Arata had luckily picked up from him.

He ruffled Arata's hair, which at any other time would've been embarassing, but now such embarassment seemed quite trivial in this situation. "I'll help free nets and boats, while I have a man cover me. I'll be fine son." He turned towards Al, embracing him. "Make sure you look out for your brother." And with that, he ran off.

Al nodded. "I will." He looked towards Arata, violet eyes hard and determined. But underlying that determination was concern. A concern that Arata shared, and seemed to know Alastor had it as well, without speaking. Why had his father's words seemed so...final? He stepped towards Arata. "Let's go. We need to hurry."

The boys rushed to a spot where huge waves had begun to develop, beginning to overtake the men fighting them. They nodded to the exhausted men, who proceeded to make their ways back to the Shelter Dome. From here, as one looked out upon the ocean, you could see how much turmoil it was in. Bolts of electricity were conducted through the water, forming bright webs of energy. Gigantic, menacing waves formed out there, crashing endlessly. Many dangerous eddies and whirpools could be spotted, the vortexes sucking in everything that had the misfortune of wandering too close. Above all, was the ominus fact of how dark the water was. A dark sign, seeming to say that once you step into those waters, you will never come back. The boys shook all of this off. They had a job to do.

Al stood by Arata, deflecting onrushes of wind while Arata forced the waves back. It wasn't too challenging at first, but as time went on, the tidal waves became stronger and stronger, becoming much harder to break. The wind pressed on tenaciously, seeming to have a need of pushing them into the spiraling dark depths of the sea. The waves, as Arata broke them, seemed to linger in the air, pushing forward a little more to grab onto his form like little, icy hands. "This is rediculous!" Arata had to shout over the sounds of the wind and waves.

Al yelled back. "I know! It just never seems to end!" They now stood back to back, so when one was pressed in one direction, the other served as a barrier to keep them steady. Arata decided to finally try using the Katana. He unsheathed the blade, slashing through the next wave. A large line shot through the water, breaking apart the waves in front of him and those following behind it.

Arata smirked. "Well, that seemed to work." Al chuckled a little, but stopped abruptly as a titanic shadow was cast over them. Arata swiveled around to face the origin of the sudden shadow, azure eyes widening as they were met with the sight of a monstrous wave. It's form rippled and churned as it rose, cresting high into the sky. It was as if it laughed at them, a condescending, pitying cackle. Arata's thoughts swam wildly. He didn't have enough time to build up enough energy to break such a massive figure. So, he did all he could think to do. He quickly sheathed his blade, not wishing to lose the precious weapon, and tackled his brother, gripping him tightly as the gargantuan wave crashed down upon them.

The powerful wave pulled them away from the shore rapidly, sweeping them away triumphantly. It was a good thing Arata had decided to hang onto Alastor, otherwise they would've been completely separated from each other. The two tumbled on into the depths, being carried at a breakneck speed. The shocking cold caused Arata's azure eyes to snap open, though it would not have mattered even if they had been closed, so dark were the depths of the ocean. They were required to hold their breaths for extended periods of time, only able to burst rarely through the surface to swallow a mouthful of sweet oxygen for a mere second. The two eventually let go of each other, being carried through the water together and only ever staying a few feet apart. It could only have been minutes, though it seemed like hours on end, rushing through this endless darkness.

The sea continued to swirl violently, tossing the boys about like two semiconcious ragdolls. There was no time for thinking, only to ride the rapid currents and struggle to break the surface for air. Then, Arata felt himself being tossed and smacked against the sea floor, hard. He rolled in the perpetually blind waters, soon colliding with and somersaulting over a reef. The last thing he remembered in his last moments of conciousness were the vague outline of Al reaching out for him, a searing pain in his back, and the strong taste of blood.

Chapter 3: Lore

"You called, my Lord?" Two figures were present in the large throne room. A man knelt in the center of the room, draped in a pitch black cloak, his features thoroughly hidden by the dark garb. The man's low-voiced greeting echoed off of the polished stone walls of the room, though directed at the man who seated himself in the actual Throne.

The hulking, armored figure tapped his fingers against the pristine metals of his royal seat, voice booming about the relatively bare room as well. "Yes, I did." The man was covered in black and gold armor, and wore a magnificent crown. A rather large and formidable sword was propped up against the side of his throne, and a majestic wolf-like creature lay at his feet. The wolf's fur shifted endlessly from silver, gold, and black, twinkling like the ever changing twilit sky. The creature's head rose to regard the man addressing his master, then lay it back down at his lord's feet, content with knowing the visitor posed no threat. "I have an assignment for you."

The ebony clothed man lifted his head, a smirk splayed across his face. The hood of his cloak fell away, revealing some of his features. Shaggy black hair, with a rather young face, though the scar that ran down it betrayed him. "An assignment? Who is it this time?" The male's thoughts traveled to his numerous weapons, all hidden within his clothing and lining his belt. Knives, swords, and many other nameless tools of death were stored on his person.

The Emperor shook his head, the torchlight reflecting off of his crown in countless dazzling colors. "This is not an assassination mission, my friend. Not this time anyway. It is a simple 'Observe and Report' mission."

"Aw, that's no fun. So, who do I get to 'Observe'?" The Assassin chuckled, rising to his feet. The wolf lifted its head, growling, causing the man to flinch.

The Golden-Clad Emperor rose as well. A great cape flowed with a liquid movement as it trailed behind him. "Calm yourself Finrod." He said to the wolf. The animal growled once more, then lowered his head reluctantly. "'They' have arrived."

"They"? The Killer narrowed his eyes, expression serious now. "You don't mean-"

"Yes. I do." He said. The Assassin, looked down, slightly perturbed. "'A Child of the Myst.'"

________________________________________________________________


Arata's eyes snapped open as he sat upwards. His swift action was met with searing pain originating from the center of his back. He arched his back in agony and fell back against the floor, panting and sweating. Wait...floor? He should be dead now, lying on the sea floor beneath crushing amounts of pressure. He struggled to get up, to observe his surroundings, but found it impossible with the indesribable pain that ailed him. He could only stare at the wooden ceiling, a small skylight built in so that the sun beams landed directly on his body. He noticed the bandages that were wrapped around his torso, as well as a few on his arms and one on his left leg.

He twisted his head around as the sound of footsteps reached his ears. All he saw were two pairs of feet, then as he rose his gaze, the figures of an elderly man, and a young girl. The man was completely bald, with a thick, prickly beard of white grown out of his chin, wearing a simple working shirt and pants. The girl couldn't have been any older than Arata, dark brown hair tied back in a ponytail and emerald green eyes, dressed in an earth colored robe of sorts. The elderly man approached Arata. "Good, you're finally awake."

The girl knelt down beside him. "Here, let me help you up." She put her hand on his upper back and helped him sit upright. Soon, Arata noticed the feeling of warm, sticky liquid against his back. The girl gasped. "Oh my gods! You're bleeding terribly! Oh, you've reopened your wound..." She sighed, removing the bandages around his torso, the gash in his back open to the air. He winced. "Let me get you fresh bandages."

Arata managed to shake his head. "No, please, could you fetch me some water?"

The girl nodded, rushing from the room. Arata turned to the old man. "Do you have some mirrors?" He nodded also leaving the room, and coming back with two small mirrors. He handed Arata one and held the other behind him . Arata brought his mirror up to look at. He suddenly felt sick as he looked at the reflection. He could see the injury quite clearly now. The skin had split open wide, running from the middle of his back to just above his hips. Blood flowed freely from the deep and broad opening.

Moments later the girl returned, holding a bucket of water. She handed it to Arata. "Here. Drink slowly though."

He took the bucket, but instead of drinking from it, he rose it above his head and dumped it over his body.

"What are you doing?!" The girl said. The old man quieted her, telling her to watch.

Arata shivered, invigorated by the cold water. He placed his hands against his chest, the liquid gathering around the injury and glowing brightly. He breathed deeply, slowly stitching the skin back together. He stopped, panting. He took another look in the mirror, able to see a wide line of white in the same shape as his injury. He looked at the two of them. "That's all I can do for now...it'll remain a scar." He stretched, feeling a slight twinge from the newly formed scar.

The girl looked at him in awe. "Well. you certainly are full of surprises aren't you?"
She held out a hand for him to take. He grabbed it, allowing her to help him stand up.
She smiled, then stopped, a thoughtful look on her face. "That reminds me, someone else came by, looking for you."

Arata grew wide eyed. "Who??"

As if in answer to his question, the sound of steps echoed, leading Arata's icy blue orbs to the form of Alastor, standing in the doorway.

Arata and Al currently sat around the table in what appeared to be the kitchen area. Their bodies were draped in thick wool blankets, while their original clothing had been hung outside to dry.The old man had stepped outside for some fresh air while the girl had prepared what appeared to be a thick stew for Arata. He nodded gratefully, picking at the meal slowly though his stomach told him otherwise. It was details Arata hungered for at the moment. He looked from Al to the girl. "How did you find me? Us, I mean."

The girl had set about making a second bowl for herself. "Well, we found you, passed out on the beach. You suffered several bruises and cuts and were bleeding from your back pretty badly. We managed to move you inside, and then dry and bandage you up. Alastor came by minutes later, soaking wet and beaten up as well, asking if a boy name Arata had been seen. Needless to say, he knew it was you when we showed him."

Arata looked to Al, who nodded in confirmation. Now that he looked at Al again, he noticed the few patches of gauze scattered across his torso and arms. Multiple splotches of purple could be seen on both of the boys, now that the bruising had set in. The girl glanced at Arata. "So, your name is Arata then?"

"Yes," he answered quietly, looking down into his bowl of stew with a mild interest, stirring the contents about with a wooden spoon.

She smiled. "Well, my name is Leyla. My grandfather is Col."


Alastor nodded. "Thank you again Leyla." He returned his attention to Arata. "We must have only been washed away a short distance from each other. It didn't take me too long to find this place. It looks like Fate has smiled upon us."

Smiled upon us. Right. Like taking us from our homes in a violent and sudden manner? Yes, Fate had been oh so generous lately, Arata thought to himself.

He was about to say something, but was quickly interuppted by a gasping Leyla. "Washed away?! Like, from an island or a boat or something? Where are you guys from?" She sat next to Arata, looking at them curiously while her stew cooled.

Sheesh, what a nosey girl. Arata sighed, looking at Leyla, who was now quite close. He just managed not to scoot a way a bit. "We're from..." How could he tell her? It was forbidden of those who left Arcterra to speak of it to outsiders. He eventually settled on a response quite vague. "...far away." Leyla looked like she was about to inquire as to where exactly, when Arata burst out with a forgotten question. "Wait, when you found me, was I carrying a sword?"

Leyla, quirked a brow in thought. "A sword? Wait.." She stood and walked off into a connecting hallway. Arata stood urgently, as did his brother, following her to a small room. She came out into the hall, holding the miraculously unharmed sheath of his Katana. "This?"

"Yes!" He reached out and grabbed it, holding onto it protectively and breathing a deep sigh of relief. "Thank you for retrieving it."

"Why? Is it something special?"

Arata ran his pale, southern hands across the immaculate craftsman ship of the sheath. "Yes. It is very precious to me. I don't know what would've happened should it have fallen into the wrong hands." The girl nodded. Arata walked back to the kitchen, shoving the rest of his meal into his mouth. He was suddenly very hungry...


The three of them walked outside. Leyla helped Al retrieve the now dry garments, while Arata approached the old man Col, still toting his weapon. The aged man stood at the beach, turning to look at him as he neared. He smiled. A nice smile, crooked teeth and all. "It appears you've found everything you need. Did you need anything else before you depart my boy?"

Arata nodded. A smile was on his face, glad to be near the sea, though it was not his sea. "I have a few questions."

Col too looked out at the ocean, at mid-morning sun. "You want to know where you are?"

Arata couldn't help but stare, dumbfounded. "How did you-"

Col laughed. "It's easy to tell you boys are not from around here. Such pale skin. Your companion's eyes and hair. No, not from here at all. Probably from some remote area out to sea I would imagine."

Arata was silent, unable to know what to think of this man's perspicacity. Col went on. "You, my friend, have chanced upon the mainland of Lore. Where races live and thrive, and conflict and prosperity are present anywhere and everywhere."

Arata barely held back a gasp. He was here on Lore? Really and truly here? He had heard of the tales of the land of Lore, though he hadn't dared to believe them, for how could something so extravagant be true? Excitement bubbled beneath the surface of his emotions. "So, where are we now? On Lore, that is."

Col scratched his beard thoughtfully. "You are on the southern coast. The great capital of Swordhaven lies far to the north, with Greenguard Forest just to the west of there. And even further west is the dangerous wastelands that hold Shadowfall."

Arata arched a blue brow, unfamiliar with these names, though he vaguely remembered the mentioning of Swordhaven. "So, we should go to Swordhaven?"

"Well, if it's information you want, then yes, I would suggest making your way to Swordhaven. However, it is a few weeks journey from here, and that is if you travel at a consistant pace. However, there is a market town just a two hour walk north of here. The town is called Sayle. I'm sure if you ask around there, you'll be able to continue on to Swordhaven. Your best bet would be to stick with Leyla..."

Arata turned to look back at Leyla, who was in the midst of taking down and hanging up clothing. She turned to look as well, but quickly diverted her gaze from Arata with what he thought to be a slight flush. Of course, it was understandable, seeing as he remained without a shirt on. He looked at his labor developed body, suddenly very self concious. He shook his head and looked back at Col. "Stick with Leyla? Why is that?"

Col chuckled. "She has to run errands for me. She was planning on making a trip to Sayle anyway, and she can help direct you. Go on. She'll be leaving soon."

Arata took one last look at the ocean waters, which were, for once, warm. He also glanced back at Col. "Thank you."

He joined Al and Leyla, who handed him his armor and cloak, as well as his gloves and boots. She also offered him a light grey shirt, which he slipped on quickly, placing his other belongings in a rucksack. Al wore lighter clothing as well, carrying his things in a similar manner. Leyla grabbed a bag for whatever supplies Col had requested her to fetch. She looked at the siblings. "So, you're coming with me?"

"Yep. Hope that doesn't bother you," Arata said, a light smirk on his face.

Leyla mirrored his smug look, walking on ahead of them into the sun kissed valley that led to Sayle. "Not at all. Just behave yourselves boys."
____________________________________________________________________

A shadow darted from tree branch to tree branch, keeping close to the darkness of the foliage. The silhouette of a man could be made out, expertly concealed within the forest trees. Soon, very soon, he would reach his destination. Spears of light breached the canopy, illuminating miniscule patches in the all surrounding shadows. He was reaching the end of the treeline, larger and more numerous shafts of sunlight shinging down upon him. A lithe form of a man, covered in a cloak as dark as night, a vast array of blades lining his body, with two more prominent dual swords within the folds of his cloak. The assassin stopped at the final tree, standing out on the edge of the furthest reaching branch. He crossed his arms, looking down upon the trading center of Sayle. And now entering the market, his supposed targets. A group of three. Two male, one female. One stuck out in particular. Pale skin, azure hair with a distinguishing turquoise streak running through it, carrying a sword. The sword was held in a sheath of admirable and stunning artistic beauty. The other had long violet hair, touched by stripes of silver. Tan was his complexion. The wind flowed around him with particular care. This was where he would start.

The shaggy black haired assassin chuckled, murmuring to himself quietly. "I've found you, Myst Child."

Chapter 4: Discord

The town of Sayle was a bustling community, vendors and consumers alike moving about in small crowds. Arata, Alastor, and Leyla walked through the throngs of people carefully, making sure to stick together as they went to various shops and sales tents. They came to a stop at Sayle's main plaza, taking a rest at a small fountain placed strategically in the center. Both Arata and Al looked around with great curiosity, observing the many different people, animals, and objects that inhabited the market place. So many things, people...so very many sights to see. The brother had finally broken free from their icy prison and were eager to learn anything about everything. Al stood up suddenly, stormy eyes fixated on one shop in particular. Arata stood as well, following his gaze. "What is it?"

Al looked to his brother with an excited smile. "It's a weapons shop!" Arata smiled, knowing Al's excitement well. He had always loved fighting, having bested every boy in their clan. His only true rival being Arata. When he beat Arata, Arata beat him the next time, and so on and so forth.

Arata nodded. "Go right ahead. We'll meet back here when you finish browsing." Al barely managed to stop himself from jumping in excitement, pulling out the gold coins Leyla had supplied the boys with upon entrance into Sayle. He counted them, then raced to the counter at top speed. Arata turned back to Leyla, walking with her across the plaza. "So, what did you and your grandfather do?"

Leyla seemed puzzled at the sudden question, it taking a second for her to realize he was asking her something. "Oh, well my grandfather often fished and hunted game, despite his old age coupled with my protests. Me, I usually take walks to find herbs and other plantlife in the small wooded areas nearby to help cultivate our small garden."

Arata thought back. Now that she mentioned it, he had seen a relatively small patch of vegetables and fruit that grew around the back of their house. Leyla went on.
"I come here to trade and sell herbs that we can't use back home, and buy ones we can. It's funny...I talk to my plants, seeing as I have nobody else but that grumpy old man for company. And sometimes it sounds like they talk back."

Arata let a rather rude snort loose, laughing. He looked at Leyla, snickering, while she glared. He shrugged sheepishly, coughing to clear his throat as his laughing died down. "Sorry, it's just...plants don't talk."

Leyla just rolled her eyes and went on. "It's okay...People laugh at me whenever I say that. So what did you and your brother do?"

Arata leaned against a wall as Leyla stopped to buy what looked like large, red fruit, seeds dotting the surface. The label read something like "Strawberries." He felt bad, but didn't apologize and instead, he answered as she payed for the transaction. "Well, you could probably tell, Al and I aren't actually brothers. He's adopted. Because of that, he didn't have all of the talents we do in my family. He stuck to helping my mother, though he took an instant attraction to fighting."

Leyla nodded, gathering up the food and turning to face him. "And you?"

Arata shoved his hands in his pockets, eyes drawn towards the ground and what he guessed what the citizens of Lore called a "bug". "Me? I mostly fished with my dad, hunting on occasion as well. That is..until recently.."

"I see." She looked up at the sky. The sun had begun to sink into the later hours of the afternoon. "Al should be done now. Come on."

The two met the purple-haired Storm Gracer back by the fountain. Al had a particularly ecstatic air about him, face giddy in all aspects. He pulled out what he had apparently purchased. A spiked mace of fair size, black steel. He swung it about, a broad grin on his face.

Arata laughed, looking upon his brother warmly. "Perfect. Your favorite weapon."

"Isn't it though?" He stuck the mace into the loop of a bruise colored strap he must have bought as well, leaving it to dangle at his side. "Oh, right!". He shuffled through his pockets, handing Arata a dull blue strap. "Now you don't have to carry that sword of yours everywhere you go.

Arata smiled at his sibling gratefully, sliding the strap across his torso, placing the sheathed blade into it. "Thanks Al." He looked back at Leyla, who looked at them softly. "What?"

She gave a start, as if in a daze momentarily. "Huh? Oh, nothing. I just..wish I had a sibling. That's all." She fumbled through her pack, flustered. She pulled out a piece of worn parchment. "You two needed a map to Swordhaven, correct?"

__________________________________________________________________


The assassin stood atop the roof of an inn, looking down upon the crowds of people. The people who came here everyday to make their dues. He cursed himself, absentmindedly sharpening a knife that came from an unknown place within the folds of his clothes. He cursed again. He couldn't believe he had lost sight of his target. Or rather, targets. He was unsure which of the three could be the right one, though he had a good bet on the blue haired boy. The group had been absorbed into the mass of buyers and sellers, just faces in the crowd.

The cloaked man leapt up silently as the three came into view again. He smirked, knowing what he would do next. It was simple. Take them back with him, and dispose of the useless ones. He crouched on the edge of the shingling, ready to hop to the next building as the group moved again. He tensed his muscles, just about to take off, but found himself anchored to the spot at the last second. A familiar, and not to mention unwelcome, presence flooded his senses. The feeling of all his emotions spiraling out of control surged within him, though he kept it in check, refusing to give in, to keep himself balanced. Chaotic. That was the word for it. He cursed again, only now in a language unknown to most. And judging by the tone, a word much stronger than before. "Damn it all...it's here."

___________________________________________________________________


Arata and Al looked over the map that Leyla had handed them, going over it carefully. "So, we're here." He placed his finger on a small dot, labeled Sayle. Then he slid it northwards, landing it on a large dot labeled Swordhaven. "And this is where we want to be. So, judging by the map, I'd say we have about 60 miles to cover."

Al nodded in agreement. "Sounds like the better part of a two week trip to me."

Leyla smiled. "That sounds about right." She dug around in her pockets again, this time pulling out a sack. She dropped it in Arata's hands, the satchel felt much heavier than he expected, the familiar sound of metal jangling around. He peeked inside, eyes widening at the sight of at least one hundred gold pieces. "It's..it's so much Leyla."

She smiled. "It's for food and essentials. It's not a problem. It's my personal savings, but I thought you two should have it. You'll get much more use out of it than I will."

"I-I don't know w-what to say," Arata stammered. His cheeks grew hot. "Thanks Leyla." He took another look at her, standing there with a big smile on her face. The sight made him smile as well. "Look, Leyla-" He was cut off by screams.

Arata whirled around, watching as the many people of Sayle scattered apart, screaming. The slowest of the customers and entrepreneurs were quickly cut down, screams cut short as blood filled their throats, sprayed from their backs, and as blades stabbed through their lungs. The origin of the slaughter was made known, a large mass breaking through to the plaza. Knights and beasts of all shapes and sizes were present. These strange beings were disgusting, corrupted things, covered in sickly maroon and purple colored vines, something similar to large veings. The most prominent features however, were the monstrous eyes that adorned all of them. Large, purple and black eyes lay across their bodies, menacing and bloodshot, staring and moving to look at each of their victims. Even their weapons seemed to be affected by the energy and corruption. The grass around them died with every step.

Arata suddenly felt his emotions start to twist in and out of control. He fought to remain calm, to fight the chaos, and saw that Al and Leyla seemed to be doing the same. He focused again on the insurgents. The front line surged forward, and every able bodied and armed citizen came to fight against them. One of the Chaotic knights lunged at Arata, whose eyes remained closed. The knight rose his sword, preparing to bring it down upon the blue haired boy heavily. Arata's eyes snapped open with a flash of blue as he unsheathed his Katana and slashed forward in a horizontal arc, cutting through the armor like paper, all in one lethally graceful, and fluid motion. The knight fell without a sound, dark blood pouring through the holes in his armor.

Al stood by Leyla, defending the girl as he fended off one enemy after another, bashing in head after head with his newly obtained mace. "Step back," he said to Leyla. After she had done so, Al, narrowed his eyes, concentrating all of his energy into the center of his mace. The air hummed and heated, gaining an ozone-like aroma. Electricity crackled about him and the weapon, and in one instance, he slammed the spike armament onto the ground, sending a large bolt of violet lightning streaking through a line of corrupted creatures, frying them and leaving only a trail of steam behind.

Arata nodded in approvement at his adoptive brother, jumping back to join him and Leyla after having felled several of his own opponents. But, no matter how many he slew, more came to take their place. A large hatchet suddenly flew by, grazing Arata's arm and leaving the boy cursing. He stood, casting his hand to the direction of the fountain. He uplifted the water, sending it down to rain upon the invading forces with deadly spikes of ice.

This time a corrupted wolf creature leapt at Arata from behind, successfully knocking him down, as well as scratching his back. Blinding pain burst from his back as the creatures claws nicked the freshly formed scar. He fell to the ground, breathing hard and heavy. The wolf managed to scratched Leyla's leg, as well as bite deep into Al's arm before being fried to death by his electrified mace.

Arata stood up, wobbling, but managing to steady himself on his Katana. It was hopeless. There were simply too many. He sighed resignedly, just as a lone dark figure seemed to drop out of nowhere, landing in the center of the battle field. The black cloaked figure (a man, judging by his size) whipped out two formidable dual swords and began hacking away at these agents of Chaos and destruction. He sheathed the swords, getting out two handfuls of knives. He tossed them with a deadly accuracy, each landing exactly inbetween the eyes of his targets. Arata realized the man was backing up towards them as he fought, arching a confused brow as he licked his dry lips.

The man turned to look at the three of them, face revealed. A rather young complexion, though his appearance was soon marred by a conspicuous scar that ran across his face. Shaggy black hair fell from atop his head. He observed them, all while simultaneously dealing with his opponents. Suddenly, he was directly behind Arata, having moved with an astounding speed. Arata felt the man's hot breath in his ear, one sentence whispered. "You'll do." Then, everything went black.

Chapter 5: Abduction?


Arata awoke to the familiar sound of crackling flames, coals popping left and right, along with the grating noise of metal sliding across metal. His vision was not quite clear, dark blurs making up the pictures his eyes tried to decipher. He felt he was leaning against a tree, and as he rose to stand, something held him back, tied fast to the tree. His eyes opened wider, a panicked expression on his face as he struggled desperately against his bonds. The bindings cut into him as pressed against them, though he soon gave up, sitting back against the tree trunk again, forcing himself to calm down, not to panic.

A laugh pierced his ears. "Hehe, well looks like you're finally coming to, kid. That drug should be wearing off right about now." Arata's blurred sight soon came into focus. A bright fire blazed directly in front of him, and next to it a somewhat familiar man, running one knife across another. The somewhat young face of the male looked right at Arata, a long, nasty scar marring his complexion. Shaggy black hair fell from the top of his head, and a pitch black piece of material draped over his shoulders.

Familiar. He had seen him. Recently, it seemed. Arata looked down at himself. Leather bindings strapped his sitting form to the tree. Small nicks were present due to the edges of the bindings. He let the man's words sink in. He looked at him in outrage. "Y-you...you drugged me?!" He gave the male his fiercest glare, his face turning an angry red.

The man laughed again, giving one knife a particularly long scrape across the other, effectively causing Arata to cringe from the dreadful noise. "Of course I did. Rescuing a boy such as yourself was a bit of a challenge. Especially since when you woke up the first time, you nearly broke my nose in an attempt to get away. Drugging you was for your safety as well as mine." He gave the blades another scrape and Arata caught his meaning. Arata gulped.

It hit him. The man. The one who he had seen, hacking away at beasts with two lethally graceful dual swords. He had thought he had come to help. But no, he had only come to take him away. Just like the ocean.
Arata protested again. "Rescued?! You did nothing but kidnap me!" He narrowed his navy blues, the flush in his face even deeper than before. "Took me away from-"

"You're friends?" The kidnapper answered for him. "Please, I saved you from that doomed town! It was either, save one of you, or let all of you perish together. They're most likely dead now, considering the size of that insurgence." His face became stern as Arata's face fell in despair. "Collateral damage is part of war...a part of life! Get used to it!" He got up and jabbed a finger at Arata's face. Arata came close to biting it off before he pulled it away.

Arata fired off another curse. "You...you! You're nothing but dirt! Fox piss!" He hissed, then spat at his feet. He choked on his next words, trying to hold back sobs that he knew would come. "You took me away from my brother! The only one...all I had left! Damn you." He sobbed softly, looking down in anger and shame.

The male shrugged, sitting down again by the fire. "Think what you want of me. I'm just doing the job I was assigned. You can sit there and stew in your own anger if you want. I'll release you when you've finally calmed down. Makes my job a hell of a lot easier." He pulled out a piece of stale bread and shoved it into his mouth, chewing as he spoke. "Oh, and my name is Azkikr. I'd appreciate it if you called me by that. Far more preferable to 'Fox Piss'".

________________________________________________________________


Alastor trudged along beside Leyla slowly, the dark falling over the two of them like a blanket. He walked with his head down, his shoulders slumped forward. Leyla looked down as well, albeit with a better posture. The pair walked on in silence until they reached Leyla's home. It had gotten late. The starts had already begun to dot the sky, and the moon hung among them, a magnificent crescent in the dark.

Col sat on the beach, looking back as the two returned. "Welcome back-Wait...where's Arata?"

Al just shook his head, too ashamed and sorrowful to speak. So, Leyla did instead. "We...lost him."

"Lost him?"

Leyla nodded, dark brown hair falling in a sad curtain over her shoulders and face. "The town..it was attacked and almost completely destroyed. The intruders retreated however...and Arata disappeared. Some strange man took him..." She faltered.

Al took up where she lost the words. "And we failed to protect him..! We searched for hours...he was too fast. Dammit..I can't even protect my own brother.."

Leyla placed a hand on his shoulder, trying to offer the stormy boy some meager comfort.

Col got up and led them inside, the three of them sitting around the table. Al continued to hang his head, silent. The old man looked at the two distraught children.
"Do you two really think moping is going to help you get him back?"

Al looked up. "But we..."

Col held up his hand. "You've done nothing. If he's so important to you, then go after him!" He slammed his fist onto the table, startling both Al and Leyla. "Tell me...both of you...do you want to find him?"

They nodded vigorously. "Of course!"

Col smirked. "Then you both need to go. Find him."

Leyla looked at her grandfather, concern resonating clearly within her emerald green eyes. "But..who will take care of you?"

Col stood, crossing his arms. "I'm not some feeble old man, my dear. I can hold out on my own. I just want you to finally...finally do something that you want to do. You need to live a life other than taking care of mine. Do what your heart says you must."

She looked like she would protest again, but stopped herself, knowing he was right. "Thank you." She turned to Al. "What do we do now?"

He looked at her, amethyst eyes set and hard. "We find him."

___________________________________________________________________

It was late into the night before Arata had finally calmed down, realizing how useless being angry was. Azkikr was right. He had been saved, as much as he hated to admit it. Though there was one thing he would not concede to. Leyla and Al could not, would not have lost their lives. He had faith in them. Arata coughed to get Azk's attention, which was currently trained on the coals in the fire. When that didn't work, he spoke up. "Um..Azkikr."

The man snapped from his daze, as if waking from a dream. "Eh..?"

"Could...you maybe let me go?"

He ran a hand over his chin. "Maybe...will you promise to stay relatively calm and refrain from the name of 'Fox Piss'?"

Arata nodded, sighing. "Yes..."

Azk chuckled, getting up and walking over. He crouched, slicing through the leather bounds with a frighteningly sharp knife.

Arata leaned forward, standing up with a relieving stretch. He smiled shakily to Azk, who sat down by the fire again. Arata sat next to him, though a few feet away.

Azk looked at him sideways, eyebrow arched. "You got over that quickly."

Arata shook his head, staring into the blaze as well. "No..but it doesn't do me any good to linger on it." He blinked, tossing a twig into the fire and watching it be consumed by the flames.

Azk half-smiled. "Good..that's a good trait to have." He sat up straight. "Oh I almost forgot. This is yours." He picked up a very familiar looking sheath. "Finest I've ever seen."

Arata stared at it in awe. "Th-thank you..." He took his precious weapon, replacing it in his strap. He sat in another moment of silence before asking, "Why did you take me in the first place?"

"Let's just call it a recruiting mission," he answered rather cryptically. He too tossed a stick into the flames.

"Recruiting..? For what?" Arata felt a strange feeling at his gut. Excitement? Fear? He couldn't name it.

Azkikr decided to answer with another vague response. "A special force. You'll see when we arrive. I was sent out to find people with a particular 'trait' and you were one of the best candidates." Azk stood. "C'mon, we've got to be there as soon as possible."

Arata stood as well, shaking his head. "No..I have one condition."

"Excuse me?" Azk crossed his arms in return, his expression borderlining a scowl.

"A condition. While this whole..recruitment thing is going on..I want to be able to search for my brother."

Azk rolled his eyes "I don't-"

Arata said it again, teeth clenched. "Let me search for him! He's all I have left...Please.." He stood firmly. If they wanted him, he would need something done for him as well.

Azk sighed. "It's not up to me..but I'll do my best to see your wish granted. Now..let's go."


The journey was long and uneventful. The strange pair of kidnapper and victim traversed the thick forests of Greenguard, avoiding the main roads at all times, for fear of being spotted. The only thing they found to occupy their time was conversation. They talked about the only thing they could. Themselves.
Arata saw no harm in telling him about Arcterra..seeing as it was highly unlikely for him to ever go back. He told Azkikr of his family, his brother, the trials, and his weapon. He even spoke of his short time with Leyla.

Azk interrupted him during this particular tidbit. "So..that girl that you were with...was she your girlfriend?"

"N-no, of course not!" Arata sputtered, aghast.

Azk simply chuckled, finding an immense source of amusement from Arata's blushing face. Azk had decided to share as well. He had been raised in the slums of his hometown, never able to rise in social status, to be freed from the shackles of poverty. He worked at his swordsmanship and knife fighting at every chance he got. The local gangs had eventually noticed his prodigious abilities, hiring him as one of their top assassins. Soon, Azk had been assigned to take out a high ranking figure for a large sum of money. This certain authority (Azkikr had chosen to omit his name) had managed to knock Azkikr unconcious before too much damage had been done. He had woken up in "The Twilight Realm."

Arata questioned him. "The Twilight Realm? And that is?"

"Our destination, as well as my home. It will soon become yours as well."

The two continued marching through the woods, finally stopping at a large, intricate gate. The arched gateway however, was empty, onw being able to walk through it and go nowhere. Arata looked at Azkikr, confused. "What do we do now?" He looked out to the horizon. They would have to set up camp soon, for the sunlight was beginning to wane.

"We wait. In three, two, one.." The sun set the sky on fire, signifying the coming of dusk. The mystifying gate burst into life, glowing with an eerie light. Arata stared, dumbfounded. Azkikr smirked. "Ladies first." He placed a hand on Arata's back, shoving him into the Twilight.
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Arata

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Posts : 74
Join date : 2010-07-21
Age : 23
Location : Under your couch

PostSubject: Re: Arata's Chronicle   Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:05 am


Chapter 6: Twilight

A blinding light was all Arata could see as he was shoved through the gateway. Traveling through the crossing of planes was exhilirating and frightening all at the same time. He knew he was moving forward (or at least, that's what common sense told him), but it felt as though his body was being stretched and pulled backwards. It couldn't have lasted for more than 3 seconds, though it felt like the better part of an hour before Arata breached the other side of the gate, landing flat on his face with Azk stepping out behind him.

The assassin chuckled, looking down at Arata with an immensely amused look. "You alright down there?"

Arata retorted with what might've been a curse, but his insult was muffled far too much by the ground on which he lay to be heard clearly. He moved his hands to push himself up from the ground, spitting out dirt and whatever he may have the displeasure of crawling into his mouth. He dusted himself off and looked at Azk, slightly irritated.

Azk held up a gloved hand. "Now, now. Stop wasting your eyesight on glaring at me and focus on taking in your new home."

Arata snorted turning from the assassin. "Tch. New home..I won't be here long..." but he left the statement hanging as the sight of this new realm greeted him. The grass beneath his feet were a deep green and grey. The skies above his head were a brilliant and beautiful mixture of pink and orange. The clouds that drifted across these unreal skies were large and composed of black and deep reds. The moment he took all of this in, he felt completely whole and balanced. Any misconceptions, any twisted emotions within him completely unwraveled into perfect balance. He felt physically stronger and faster, not to mention more intelligent.

"That's the effect of the Twilight Realm." Azk stepped up beside the blue-eyed boy, looking up at the sky as well. "It creates an inner sense of balance. This allows our bodies and minds to focus on thought and physical activity. Of course, you can still get angry, or sad, or happy. It just retains those feelings to prevent them from becoming Chaotic," he answered, as if reading Arata's mind.

"I see.." Arata continued to gaze about the place that was "The Twilight Realm". The first thing that caught his eye was the enormous keep. It seemed to be the epicenter of the entire Realm, everything else built around it. High walls, made of some sort of stone he had never seen before, fortified the keep. A particularly tall tower could be seen, giving off the faintest glows.

Azkikr nodded in the direction of Arata's stare. "Yes, that is the central area, built for top ranked soldiers, scholars, and our Emperor, Steel Fire." Azk finished the rest of his thought ina low-voiced manner. "The man I was sent to kill before being recruited by him." He pointed to the tower. "That is the abode of Rayzer. You'll meet her soon enough."

Arata had meant to ask for an elaboration, but the rest of this unreal "home" distracted him. There appeared to be barracks for normal soldiers, a specifically designated training ground, as well as stables. A small village lay off to the left of all this. Designed for the soldier's families, Arata inferred. A small group of children played in an grass field just outside. Arata smiled at the sight. He wished he could go back to doing that.

The next thing Arata saw was the most beautiful thing in his eyes. An outstretched that overlooked true beauty beneath. A sparkling, magnificent bay, sloshing about contentedly within its landlocked borders. The water was an unnatural violet, which only offered a sad thought to his brother. No, he promised himself he would get back to him. Whether it was within here, or in the outside world, they would be together again.

And yet another sight piqued his interest. Or rather, two sights. Two large, celestial bodies hung in the sky, one on the far west, and the other on the far east. They resembled two blown up crescent moons, although the cuts in them were smaller than the one in the actual midnight light that was Luna. The one on the west faced east and was a dazzling ivory, luminescent with a soft, snowy glow. The eastern one faced the west and was a deep ebony, a sharp, shadow emanating from it. It was bizarre. The hovering rocks seemed like twins, creating a perfectly symmetrical atmosphere in the area, one half of the Realm exactly like the other, only parallel.

Azk took the liberty of informing Arata once again. "Those two forms are Luc and Nox. The celestial bodies our Goddess set in place to ensure perfect balance. Nox represents, the darkness, night, and negative emotion. Luc represents the day, light, and all positive energy. This balance is pivotal to maintaining the stability of the Twilight Realm."

Azk grabbed his arm and dragged him from his daze. "Alright, you can watch the water later. First things first. Time for you to be brought before the Emperor."

Azkikr managed to drag Arata along through the Twilit Keep, though it was slow going. Twilight Knights of various ages, heights, weights, and girth hustled throughout the halls, all stopping to give Arata a strange look. Arata constantly had to look at every painting and piece of decorum there was, suddenly very excited and anxious about being in the Twilight Realm.

Arata stopped for a 7th time, pointing out a large, ominous door. "What's in there, Azk?" The dark, wooden doors seemed to stretch in height as he stared up at them, sending Arata's heart pounding.

Azk pulled Arata away from there. "Nothing you need to worry about...yet." He sounded almost nervous as he spoke, leading Arata away with haste in his steps.

Finally, the two arrived before the elaborately decorated double doors of what could only be the throne room. A silver ivy pattern bordered the doors and handles, which were in the shape of a sun and moon. A diamond and an onyx were embedded in each door, encrusted with purified gold. Azkikr looked back at Arata. "Stay behind me when we enter, and follow my lead."

Arata nodded, following Azkikr closely as he pressed inward on one of the doors, which opened slowly, creaking loudly. The two entered, Azk kneeling before a large man, sitting upon a throne. Arata mimicked his actions, kneeling behind him. The figure who sat before them was clad entirely in golden armor and a golden crown sat atop his head. Black trimmed the entirety of the armor, the chest plate, the shoulders, the greaves..everything. A fluid cape flowed over his seat, dark and twinkling like the night stars. A formidable sword leaned against his royal seat. At his feet sat a majestic creature, resembling that of a wolf. It seemed to hold a godly and ethereal presence, observing him cooly, it's golden fur shifting to all shades of silver, black, and red. The entire atmosphere was...surreal.

A deep voice boomed from the man, though not quite as deep as Arata may have thought. He was still young for a ruler. "Returned so soon Azkikr?"

The assassin nodded. "Yes, I've brought the one you sought."

The Emperor nodded. "Good. You may rise, Azkikr. And your friend as well." The two rose, awaiting the man's next response. He tapped the arm of his throne, metal clad fingers creating a loud clack. "Step forward boy."

Arata blinked, being addressed so directly startled him. He glanced to Azk, stepping forward to look at Emperor Steel. "Y-yes sir?"

Steel chuckled. "No need to be nervous boy. What is your name?"

Arata relaxed a little, his rigid posture slackening a fraction. "My name is Arata."

"It's a pleasure to meet you, Arata. Tell me, do you know why you're here?"

He nodded, licking his dry lips. "Yes..to be recruited. I was told I possess and certain uh, 'trait'."

Steel nodded, face illuminated by multicolored torchlights that lined the walls. Arata had assumed correctly. His face was still quite young, though his eyes were older than his years, wisened by battle and loss. "That is correct. You are one of the candidates as a potential Child of the Myst." He paused, considering his next words. "Do you know what that means?" Arata shook his head. "Let me explain then. This place, is the Twilight Realm. A realm that exists between the dimensions. A place of perfect balance. Those creatures you encountered in Sayle were agents of Chaos. The Chaotic forces are led by a powerful man named Drakath, who seeks to disrupt the flow of Lore and accomplish his goal, which is still unknown to us."

Arata nodded, understanding it so far. His eyes hardened at the mentioning of Sayle, jaw set.

Steel continued. "This Chaos is the polar opposite of our Twilight. The Discord to our Balance. Our aim is to put an end to this man before he destroys everything. This is our duty. Now, when the Goddess created the Twilight and appointed me its leader, she created a shadow of me, my constant companion, Finrod." Steel gestured to the wolf at his feet, whose head rose at his acknowledgement.

The wolf was his shadow? His second self? What other wonders awaited to be discovered in this dream-like realm? Steel looked at Finrod, who had suddenly transformed into the form of a tall, cloaked man. "Well, does he have it?"

Finrod appeared before Arata in the blink of an eye, once again in wolf shape. It was this close to the creature that Arata realized it had two tails. The wolf appeared to sniff the air, nodding. A voice emanated from it, though its mouth did not move. Not only did it come from inside Arata's head, but all around him, omnipresent. "The Myst clings strongly to this one." And to Arata's surprise, the wolf moved forward, shoving his furry head up against Arata's hand. Soft as silk. As the contact was made, a vision flashed before him.

Lightning flashed everywhere, a maelstrom taking place in the water below. Arata stood atop the cliff of the Twilight Realm, overlooking the bay. Everything was dark and Arata felt as though he were truly soaked to the bone from the rain. A dark silhouette stood across from him on the edge of the cliff. It stood at exactly at his height, and build. Before he could do anything, the figure took a step back. Arata tried to yell, but nothing would come out. He watched helplessly as the figure fell, plunging into the raging waters.

The room swam back into view as his vision ended, and Arata came to see the shocked expressions on Steel's and Azk's faces. Finrod still remained under his hand, then soon stepped away. Arata blinked groggily. "Wh-what? What's wrong?"

Steel crossed his arms, pondering something. "That's interesting. Finrod rarely comes into contact with others other than myself. He must find you very important to the ever intertwining web of fate Arata."

Arata swallowed uncomfortably, feeling suddenly very vulnerable. "Um..what did he mean by, the Myst clings tightly to me?"

Steel nodded. "Ah yes. Myst. The very energy and material that makes up the Twilight Realm, as well as everything in it, including Finrod. While it's true that a person can enter the Realm between Dawn and Dusk, they can only live here or stay here for a short amount of time unless they are accepted by this ethereal energy called Myst. All of the knights you see here have been accepted. However, there are some, including myself, who are born with a natural touch of the Myst. It clings to them, is a part of them, and therefore makes them a part of the Twilight. It allows them to be particularly powerful in certain aspects, often said to be linked to powerful events or items. Like that sword of yours.."

Arata glanced at his hip, and at the legendary blade that hung against it. He was surprised anyone outside of Arcterra even knew of the Torrential Katana. "How did you..?"

Steel smirked. "It is easy to tell when one of the Great Elemental Blades has been released to its rightful owner. You can feel it. It is an immense responsibility to wield such a weapon. Use it well Arata."

Arata shifted anxiously under Steel's scrutiny. "You were saying..?"

"Oh yes. These people that have an affinity with the Myst unlock unique abilities only to them. It makes them more powerful than the average Twilight Knight, enhancing their abilities with its presence. It often takes a powerful trigger to activate this Myst however. Like so.." Steel snapped his fingers, a loud crack and a bright flash created from his finger tips. Soon, wisps of roiling mist rolled off of Steel's form. Golden was its color. Arata looked back and saw that a dark grey mist rose from Azkikr. And then from himself, a blue hued, energy filled vapor surrounded his own skin.
Steel snapped again and the Myst faded.

Arata looked all over his body, trying to see where it came from. "Azk is a Myst Child too?"

Azk nodded. "Yes. I am one of the Myst Children we've been seeking."

Arata crossed his arms. "And I'm one as well..." He couldn't believe it. First his choosing by the Blade and now this. Was he really so special? He looked up from the ground. "How many Myst Children do you need...and why?"

Steel stood. "We currently believe there to be eight Myst Children in total. We already have myself, Slayer and Razer, my two most trusted generals, Azkikr, and now you. We have yet to locate the remaining three. As for the reason...well for one thing, Myst Children, since they are imbued with the power of Twilight itself, are far more efficient at killing the Chaos Agents than regular knights. But the most important part is the Seal. The Seal with which we need all eight to unlock. Finrod believes the key to victory is hidden within the chamber that lies behind the sealed door. "

Arata's eyes widened as he tried to imagine such a power. "What is it?"

Steel shrugged, much to Arata's disappointment. "We don't know for sure. All we know is it's powerful. Leave your own imagination to what it could be." The Emperor descended the steps from his throne and held out a hand to Arata. "Are you ready?"

Arata warily stepped forward, shaking. "For what?"

"To become one of us..."

Arata swallowed, mulling over this tremendous decision. Was he really ready to surrender himself to these people? But, it was the only way to find his brother. Was he ready? Yes. He nodded firmly. "Yes."

Steel retrieved his blade. He held it up Arata, and placed it on his shoulders. "With the divine blade of Shadikal, with the sign of Myst to condign thee, I make you one with the Twilight.."

A bright light overtook Arata's vision once again, and a magnificent warmth his body.
He felt...balanced. Completely. He began to see again and found Steel's hand on his shoulder. "I dub thee..a Knight of The Myst."

Chapter 7: Adjustment

The monolithic buildings of Swordhaven loomed over Al like a foot over a helpless ant. The city was absolutely massive, a vast array of structures by the looks of which Alastor had never seen. It was truly a fitting place for a capital. Amongst such giants, Alastor had begun to feel very vulnerable, especially now that Leyla had left alone in the center of town to go check in at a local inn. It would take a while to search for Arata in this entire city.

There were so many people here, King Alteon's knights among them. Their presence frightened Alastor. It seemed as if they were ready to attack at any time. The great Castle of Swordhaven was a truly imposing building, watching over the massive town with an inhuman vigilance.

Alastor let loose a deep sigh of relief as Leyla returned to him, a slight smile on her face. "Well, the I found a relatively cheap place to stay." She tried to smile, but it looked very forced. She seemed to realize this and looked down. "I don't know how we'll find Arata with just the two of us. In this gigantic city. He could've already left by now. Heck, we don't even know if he ever came here."

Al shook his head, looking at her with a fierce gaze. "Don't say things like that! We'll find him. I know it." Lightning seemed to storm within his violet orbs as he spoke these words, giving his stare an eerily convincing feel to it. He softened his gaze. "I'm sure of it. We can't give up."

Leyla nodded at this, sharing a mutually determined glance with Al. The two dropped off their meager belongings in their rooms, then headed back out into the streets to scout out the city, in hopes of coming across Arata. Knowing Arata, he'd probably be looking for them too.

___________________________________________________________


During the first two weeks of his induction to the Twilight Knights, Arata had been made to get to know the entire realm, being subjected to countless tours and introductions, as well as memorization of buildings, their purposes, and locations. Arata enjoyed spending much of his time in the village, getting to know the regular folk, as well as supervising the children. Not quite the action he had been expecting, but he enjoyed it.

One morning (morning was signified by a bright orange sky, and night was signified by an ever darkening shade of fiery orange and pink), when Arata had just broken up a little spat between two of the playing children, Azk walked up. The shaggy haired assassin popped up behind Arata seemingly without a sound and poked him, causing him to jump.

Arata leered at the man, who simply leaned back on his heels with a grin. "What're you so happy about?"

Azkikr chuckled in his usual, annoyingly cryptic way. "You ready to get started?"

Arata arched an eyebrow, meaning to ask him what he meant, but the assassin had already begun to walk away. Arata jogged after him, slowing down to match his strides as he reached his side.

Azk walked with his arms behind his head, giving Arata a slightly apologetic look. "Sorry we haven't given you very much to do since joining. Things have been a little hectic with the search for the next Myst Children, coupled with fighting against Chaos."

Arata shrugged, as if it were no big deal. Though in all honesty, he had been getting bored and agitated, feeling as though he may go crazy if he couldn't search for Al soon, though he masked this feeling well. "It's alright, I've been passing my time by hanging around the village, and looking out across the water."

Azk nodded. "I've noticed. Why do you do that?"

Arata gave a melancholy smile. "It reminds me of home."

Azkikr, looked away, not wishing to press further, seeing how obvious it was that Arata missed his home. He smiled again. "Well, be bored no more my friend. You are finally going to see some action today!"

Arata blinked in surprise, smiling as well. "I am?"

Azkikr nodded. "Yes. You'll get fitted for armor and weapons as well as have your first round of training today." He scratched his chin, which had only the slightest bit of stubble around it. "Though, Rayzer wanted to see you before you did anything else. Something about that weapon of yours."

Arata didn't know whether to be honored or afraid. Rayzer was one of the most powerful and respected magic wielders ever to exist. She was also one of the most frightening, due to her hot temper and demeanor. Arata waved goodbye to Azk, and ran off to meet with Rayzer.

_____________________________________________________________

Alastor bent over, supporting himself with his hands on his knees. He panted heavily, and sweat dripped from his brow. Leyla sat on a nearby bench, resting as well, her elbows on her knees with her chin cupped in her hands. Al squinted up into the fading daylight, taking a seat next to Leyla with a frustrated grunt. It was getting late, and they had found no sign of Arata. Even though he promised not get too upset on the first night (seeing as it was such a large city), he still felt the sting of failure.

Leyla patted him on the back. "It's okay. We can try again tomorrow. We're both tired. Right now, what we need is rest."

Al nodded glumly, keeping his gaze to the ground. It was not the sound of chain mail clinking, nor the sound of the person bearing that armor walking that alerted Al. He took no notice of the person approaching until a pair of feet obscured his view of the oh-so-interesting-ground.

Al looked up to see a man, around his late twenties at least, standing above him. He was donned in brown and white chain mail, with an odd looking purple and red blade at his side. A crimson and gold ring rested on his finger, giving off an eerie feel. The man had fiery hair, and strange purple eyes, though a shade unlike Al's own eyes.

The man smiled, looking down upon Al kindly. "Do you need help with something, boy?"

Al quirked an eyebrow, sitting upright, still taking in the man's appearance. He shook his head. "We're looking for someone...but it's no problem. We can find him. Thanks for the offer though."

The man smiled softly. "You look as if you've been searching all day, without bearing any fruit. I'd be happy to help."

Al grew thoughtful. He seemed sincere enough. And, if they added another person, they could cover more ground. There appeared to be no harm in telling him of their search. Al nodded. "Thank you sir...We're looking for a boy around my age. Same height, pale skin, blue hair with a tuquoise streak in it. Icy blue eyes, most likely carrying a sheathed katana. His name is Arata."

The man nodded. "Good, I will keep an eye out for this boy. What is your name by the way?"

Al returned his gesture. "Alastor, though most call me Al. This is Leyla." He moved his hand in the direction of Leyla, who nodded to the man." He looked back at the fiery haired knight. "And yours?"

"I am William. Though, you may call me Bill."

__________________________________________________________


Arata sat in Rayzer's study patiently, waiting for the woman to return. As soon as he had walked in the door she had ordered him to sit and wait until she returned, storming out of the room immediately. And so he did, glancing around at the contents of her personal quarters. Scrolls lined the walls, and artifacts lined the shelves. Books and tomes were littered everywhere, loose pages obscuring nearly the entire floor from view.

It was night upon an hour before Rayzer returned, slamming the door and sitting down across from Arata. She kept her nose in a book, seeming to forget he was here. It was several more moments before Arata worked up the courage to speak. "Um, Miss Rayzer?"

Rayzer shut the book, shooting Arata a look of disapproval, then her face relaxed, appearing to remember why he was here. "Good, Arata."
She gestured to the sheathed weapon he carried. "May I?" Arata nodded, handing her the sheath. Rayzer proceeded to unsheath the weapon. The Katana's blade flashed even in the dim light of her study. The ivory blade was constantly surrounded by water, the surreal liquid seeming to endlessly caress the sword. A faint blue glow emanated from the weapon. Rayzer closed her eyes and muttered something inaudible, her hand hovering above the length of the blade. Bright blue runs popped up from the weapon, even though they hadn't been there before. Rayzer offered a few more mutterings, then stopped. Her eyes widened at the sight, smiling broadly. "Arata, do you know what you have here?"

Arata shrugged. "An elemental weapon. The Torrential Katana."

Rayzer shook her head. "No, you have much more than a mere elemental blade. Your sword's true name is Hokkyoku, one of the most powerful Water Weapons in Lore! The Arctic Blade! With proper training, you could learn to freeze your enemies in a split second, command the fiercest waves, and cleave buildings with the power of water!"

Arata's mouth hung open, refusing to close. So it was true...The Torrential Katana was truly that powerful. But...

"But you don't know how to even use it properly."

Arata shook his head, shoulders slumped. "I...no..I don't."

Rayzer gave the weapon back to him. "Well, that's what you're here for. To train and master Hokkyoku, so that one day you will be a mighty asset. Now go and Train. Stop by the armory to pick up your armaments."

With that in mind, Arata left, making his way down to the armory, daydreaming of all the things he may one day do.

Arata stepped through the armory entrance, admiring the multitude of weapons and armors that lined the walls. Two men stood in the armory. One was quiet, a broadsword equipped to his back. The other smiled broadly at Arata. He was of a very tan complexion, and had a formidable looking sword, similar to Steel's. His smile only grew wider as Arata neared.

"Hello. Arata, correct? My name is Slayer." Arata nodded, remembering the name as one of Steel's most trusted generals. "Now let's see...Razackie!" Slayer turned to address the man with the broadsword. "Fetch Arata some light armor, to get him started. Seeing as you already have a weapon Arata."

The broadsword user, Razackie, ran to one of the walls, coming back with a light leather armor of a dusty blue color, trimmed in ash grey. The armor nearly covered Arata's entire body, falling just short of his knees and halfway between his upper arms. It also had tough cuffs around his ankles and wrists. He put on a turquoise fighting shirt, with white along some of the border and small white stripes in other seemingly random spots. The shirt was loose fitting, good to move around in, and revealing part of the armor on the right part of his collarbone. He wore fighting pants as well, which cut off just below his knees. These were a dark navy, almost black, and were loose fitting as well.

To Arata, it was perfect for his fighting style. Meant to be. Slayer and Raz seemed to share his sentiments, for Raz gave and approving nod, and Slayer said "Perfect fit! That should do you fine kid."

Slayer sent Arata down to the Training area, wondering who his partner might be. Arata stepped through the training gates, into a generic sparring area. Several obstacle courses were located off to the side in the large area, though apparently his focus was on the sparring grounds.

Azkikr again appeared behind Arata, seeming to make no noise at all. "Boo."

Arata jumped, barely stopping himself from screaming like a little girl. He glared at Azkikr, too mad to say anything.

Azkikr just laughed. "Now now Arata. No need to get mad. Come on. You can vent your frustration against me on the sparring field."

Arata cocked his head to the side. "You're my partner?"

Azkikr nodded, stepping out into the field, Arata following. "Got a problem with that?"

Arata smirked. "Of course not. But, you shouldn't have done that. Now, I won't go easy on you." He unsheathed Hokkyoku, the water flaring with his determination.

Azkikr smirked in return, pulling out his dual swords. "I wouldn't have it any other way."

Azkikr lunged. He was fast, almost a blur. But, Arata had learned to track such quick movements during his fights back at home, as well as hunting fox. Azkikr flipped over Arata, slicing downwards in an X-shape as he landed behind him. However, Arata moved his own sword behind him, blocking the lethal strike and pushing away from Azk, spinning to face him.

Azkikr blinked. "Nice. You're faster than I thought you were. More of a challenge." Azk waited calmly for Arata to strike.

Arata took the bait, lunging at Azk with a simple strike, which Azk easily block with his blades. Arata pivoted on one foot, moving around in a fluid motion to slash at Azk's side. The assassin danced to the side, though not before the edge of Arata's katana nicked his left flank.

Azk looked pleased. He drew up a sword to slash at Arata, which was parried. As Arata did this, Azkikr brough the second sword to strike Arata's legs. The water manipulator jumped, swiping at Azk's head. The assassin tilted his head back just enough for the swipe to miss and turned the blade around in his hand, cutting upwards to slice Arata's shin. Small flecks of blood flew from the wound, and Azk twisted his torso and threw an elbow at Arata's jaw.

Arata was pushed back a few feet as Azk's elbow connected with his jaw bone, which would surely leave a good sized bruise there. Arata got into a defensive stance, but was interrupted as a guard came running into the sparring grounds.

The two opponents turned to look at the messenger. He said, "Emperor Steel summons thee."

Azk sheathed his blades, as did Arata. "Where?" The assassin asked.

The guard answered, voice shaking slightly. "At the Sealed Door."

-

Arata and Azkikr walked briskly through the castle after having healed their wounds.
Arata struggled to keep pace with the older man. "What's the Sealed Door?"

Azkikr continued to walk in long, urgent strides, gaze forward. "The entrance that the Myst Children are required to open."

The two stopped at the dark wooded door that Arata had seen previously. Azkikr placed his hand on it, and the door opened up. The two quickly descended down a long, twisting stair case. At the bottom, several people waited. Steel, Finrod in his man form, Rayzer, Slayer, and a mage in white. All but the mage were enveloped in Myst.

Steel nodded to Arata and Azk. "Good, you're here. We have news."

Azk crossed his arms. "What kind of news?"

Steel responded, tone grave. "We've located the other three Myst Children."

As the two spoke, Arata looked around. Behind all of the Twilight Knights stood a large, circular door. Eight golden rings were located on the door, with bright circles in them. Four glowed different colors. Each appeared to match the color of the strange Myst that came from the Knights. A bronze orb match Slayer's Myst. A silver one for Rayzer and a Gold for Steel. A dark grey, almost black orb matched the shadowy Myst that came from Azk. Arata soon realized that he too was enveloped in the roiling Myst. He looked up to see a blue orb fill in, matching his aura.

Azk looked at Steel. "Where are they?"

Steel looked back at the white mage. "Where are they, Xavier?"

Xavier stepped forward. "All three signals are coming from Swordhaven sir."

Arata frowned. Swordhaven was where he had been headed towards. "Why didn't you just locate all of the Myst Children at once, instead of looking for them individually?" Arata asked.

Steel turned to Arata. "We didn't have enough Myst Children with us. With the addition of you, we were able to strengthen the Myst's energy stream for Xavier to locate the others."

Xavier snorted, looking towards Arata with an irritated look. "You? A Myst Child? Tch, hardly. You're not fit to bear such a title! There those who are far more worthy!"

Steel glared at Xavier, causing him to shrink back. "Xavier! Hold your tongue!"

Arata looked down, stung by Xavier's words. Azkikr whispered in Arata's ear. "Don't pay him any mind. He's just envious. The Myst clings to him tightly enough to allow him access to its energy stream and read it, but not enough to classify him as a Myst Child. He is scornful of those who possess the Myst's talents when he does not."

Steel coughed. "Anyway, I'm sending you, Azk, and Xavier to retrieve the three remaining Myst Children. You must hurry, before our enemy gets to them first."

Arata nodded and muttered,"Chaos."

_____________________________________________________________

Alastor, Leyla, and Bill all walked side by side, exploring reaches of Swordhaven they had yet to scout out. So far, they had been unsuccessful in finding Arata.
The were currently walking through the slums of Swordhaven, where the less wealthy resided. To pass the time, they spoke of themselves to each other. Leyla had already explained her situation and Bill and Al were currently sharing theirs.

Bill looked at Al with a wry smile. "A Storm Gracer eh?"

Al nodded, allowing a small bit of wind to twist around his hand. "Yes. I can control certain aspects of weather, such as wind and lightning."

Bill looked ahead, tossing a coing to a beggar that lay against a wall off to the side. The beggar scrabbled after it desperately, like a ravenous animal. "So what is your relation to this Arata?"

"He's my brother...well I'm his adoptive brother. I was taken in by his family."

"I see.."

Al looked up at the man while simultaneously replacing the piece of cloth that held his long silvery purple hair in a ponytail. He then glanced at the man's sword, and then his odd ring. "That's an interesting blade..and ring."

Bill looked at the ring as if he had just realized that it was slipped onto his finger. "Oh yes. The sword is a Vampiric sword, called Mandurugo. I won it after slaying a vampire in Darkovia. And the ring..." He looked away at an angle, face growing dark. "It's a keepsake...a dangerous keepsake. Please, do not touch it."

Al took the hint and left it at that. Now Leyla piped up. "Your eyes...they're an odd hue of purple aren't they?"

Bill grunted in response. "Aye. I'm half-drow you see. That's where the purple comes from."

Both Al and Leyla seemed shocked by this. Al, because he didn't even know what a drow was, and Leyla because cross mixing like that was rare indeed.

Suddenly, Al stopped and fell, bright colors flashing before his eyes. All shades of yellow, green, blue, and red and everything inbetween. He stood up shakily, with the help of William and Leyla. He looked around at the people. One man walked around with a rather neutral expression, giving off a green vibe. Another, hungry beggar gave off a sickly yellow. And Leyla and Bill were both surrounded by a faint Grey-ish magenta. Their mouths moved,but their voices came out as garbles. Then, Al blinked and everything seemed normal again. Nobody was surrounded by colors. Just..normal.

"Are you alright?" Leyla asked.

Al shook himself free of his daze. "Uh..yeah." That was...wierd.., he thought.

The trio continued to walk. Bill stopped abruptly, causing Alastor and Leyla both to bump into him. Al looked past Bill, trying to see what he was looking at. "What is it?"

Bill squinted. "Can't you see it? Everything has gone dark, and there's a large mass of orange and red, heading for the town." He sounded worried.

Al raced in front of him, looking at his narrowed eyes. The irises had shifted to a fiery red. "Um, Bill?"

Bill looked down at him, eyes going wide with fear. "Alastor?! What happened? I can see your shape, but, you're entirely orange! It's like you're made of...heat..of fire..."
Suddenly, his eyes returned to their normal drow purple. "What...? It's back to normal...now."

Al and Leyla both looked at Bill. Leyla turned to look at both of them. "Body heat? You saw body heat maybe? That's strange...unless you have a large amount of magical ability...but wouldn't you have been aware of it?"

Before they could ponder it much longer, a loud explosion shook the city, followed by the sound of screaming. Al squinted, able to see all too familiar looking soldiers in the distance, all emitting that same chaotic energy. "Chaos..."

Chapter 8: Reunion

The spiked head of the mace fell hard into the skull of another Chaotic warrior, causing flesh to sizzle and rendering bone to nothing but an imploded mess of marrow. Al swung around to fell another enemy, and another, electricity crackling through his weapon of choice as he fought. Creatures and opponents of all shapes and sizes attacked, but all bore the same trademark violet eyes and tendrils of Chaos. A skeletal creature made a move to cleave Al in two, but was smashed to pieces by a quick counterstrike by the cunning Storm Gracer. He looked to Bill, yelling over the fighting. "They just keep coming!"

Bill swept the red,black, and purple blade of Mandurugo through his own set of assailants, felling each of them. His brown and white chain mail rattled with each swipe, each dodge. He looked back at his young friend. "I know! It's neverending! Just remember, protecting Leyla is our priority right now!"

Al nodded, looking back at Leyla, who remained without a weapon, inbetween the space between Al and Bill. She signaled them when to look out or dodge, and tried her best to swat away any oncomers for the two males to take care of. "To your left!"

Bill spun to his left, parrying a strike from a Chaotic Knight and stabbing through its torso. He turned to thank Leyla. "Thanks L-"

Her scream cut him off. A wolf leapt at her, and she had backed up to the point of being too far away from either man to recieve immediate help. It pinned her to the ground, breathing into her face, breath smelling of blood and flesh. Leyla struggled desperately beneath the Chaotic creatures bloody paws, emerald eyes wide with fear. "No! Stop! Someone...help me!" She screamed, pressure building up within her. A fierce heat spread throughout her body, and a piercing ring sounded in her mind, similar to a bell toll. Suddenly, a long green root burst from the ground near her pinned form, impaling the wolf creature that sat atop her, knocking it off.

Leyla got up to her feet shakily, Al and Bill running to her in a frenzy. "Are you alright?" Al said, panting with worry.

Leyla gulped and nodded shakily. "Yes..." How in the world..?, she thought.

Another line of Chaotic creatures advanced towards the trio, other squads of them being faced by the Knights of Swordhaven.

Bill stared down the line. "Here we go..."

_________________________________________________________________


Arata, Xavier, and Azkikr landed in the middle of a battlefield. Knights defended the fair city of Swordhaven, pushing back the forces of Chaos that attacked. Arata wobbled on his feet, still unaccustomed to the twisting sensations of teleportation. He looked around. "So, how will we know who the Myst Children are?"

Xavier rolled his eyes at Arata, as if the answer were obvious. "I can read their Myst levels. You're lucky you have me."

Azkikr threw a knife at a Chaos Wolf that was in mid-leap, aiming for Xavier. "Then stop talking and start looking genius. We don't have a lot of time."

The going was tough. The white mage had to keep all of his attention on reading the Myst levels, slowly guiding them throughout the twisting capital. All the while, Arata and Azkikr had the task of guarding the cynical magic user from the seemingly endless stream of chaos warriors.

Azk picked off wolves, skeletons, soldiers, and all sorts of enemies from a distance with his knives, occasionally hacking apart an enemy that got too close with one of his dual swords. Arata stood guard as well, slicing through soldier after soldier, the ivory white blade of Hokkyoku cutting through the metal like sheets of paper.

The three of them soon stood near the center of town. Xavier opened his eyes. "They should be around here somewhere."

Arata backed up over to the assassin and mage, finishing off a rather tenacious undead. "Where exactly?"

Xavier closed his eyes again, then pointed. "There."

Arata followed his finger, icy blue eyes widening in shock. He whirled around to look at the trio Xavier pointed to. A man with fiery red hair, wielding a blood-sucking sword...and the welcoming sight of Alastor and Leyla! But that meant...

Arata looked at Xavier. "They're the remaining three Myst children?!"

The white mage nodded. "And it would appear that they are in need of assistance. Shall we?"

Azk nodded. "Let's."

_______________________________________________________________

Alastor panted heavily, sweat falling down his face in bright beads. This was getting to be too much. He wouldn't last much longer, and he saw Bill was running out of energy too. It wouldn't be long before they fell. And then what? What would become of Leyla? What about finding Arata? They would fail....

And then, like a bright beacon in an impossibly dark night, a familiar form came running from the distance. A mop of blue hair, streaked with turquoise, and a pristing Katana in his hands. No..it couldn't be. He must be dreaming. But he wasn't, for he was soon being shaken by the very boy he had been searching for.

"Al! Are you okay?" Arata's familiar face was marred by concern mixed with relief and surprise.

The violet haired boy blinked dreamily. "Ar-arata? Is that really you?" The two stood up straight.

Arata smiled, tears leaking from the corners of his eyes. "Yes...it is me. I'm here."

Al looked around, noting that the others were protecting him. Bill, a mage in white, and the very man who had taken his brother away from him. Rage boiled within Alastor. Lightning crackled around him, wishing to strike the man down that instant.
But, Arata touched him on the shoulder. Soon, all of his emotions melted down into a perfect balance, the rage within him dying away like a long burned out fire.

Arata smiled. "It's okay. He's a friend."

Azkikr looked at him. "Sorry to break up this teary reunion, but we should probably get out of here." The assassin returned his attention to the fighting, unleashing another volley of knives at oncoming assailants.

Arata nodded and turned his attention to Leyla. The dark hair girl stared at him disbelievingly, then lept at him, wrapping him in a tight hug. "Oh my gods..! Arata! I..I..we've been looking all over for you! I.." Leyla stopped speaking, simply embracing Arata. She seemed to notice the sustained hug and stepped back, face flushed a deep red.

Arata scratched the back of his head, his pale face an equal shade of scarlet. He returned his attention to the issue at hand, turning his blade towards the monsters. The five men fought fiercely, wittling down the numbers one at a time. Xavier cast various spells, one creating a spontaneous combustion that launched the creatures into the air. The man with fiery red hair sliced and hacked away with his seemingly vampiric sword, while Azkikr attacked with unmatched speed.

Arata panted, Hokkyoku glowing brightly in his hands. There were only a few stragglers left. The ethereal water that churned around the sword squirmed around Arata's arm. He brought up his arm, the water flying out in all directions. Swirling orbs of liquid now hovered around Arata, poised to strike at the flick of his wrist. And flick it he did. The orbs shot forward, slamming into each enemy with such force, that they created lethal shockwaves, travelling throughout the bodies of their targets.

As the remaining soldiers crumpled to the ground, the six of them all breathed a simultaneous sigh of relief. Arata looked at his brother, friend, and new ally. "Are you ready?"

Al arched an exhausted eyebrow. "Ready for what?"

He smiled. "For the Twilight."


Chapter 9: Unlock

The large-scale battle had crippled Swordhaven. Structures had become quite damaged, the now unstable foundations causing the buildings under which they supported to crumble. Many stores and other structures had been lit aflame. Signs and doors hung off of their hinges, and bodies littered the ground. Some were civilians, many knights, and numerous Chaos Agents. Apparently King Alteon himself had stepped out to defend his castle, which had remained untouched. He could not fight further into the capital due to an injury he apparently recieved from a recent fight with Sepulchure, Lord of the Shadowscythe, and Drakath, the enigmatic harbinger of Chaos.

Arata had made his way to the moat around the castle, drawing water from the dividing rut to heal himself and his friends. He withdrew his hands from Bill's (he had learned his name shortly after the fighting) wounds, and moved onto the last person who needed tending to. Leyla sat in the grass awaiting treatment to her small amount of wounds. She had suffered minor scratches and bruising, but a large cut could be seen on her arm due to a wolf pinning her to the ground.

The water squirmed and coiled around Leyla's injured arm, Arata's hands hovering over the opening slightly. The liquid glowed faintly, eventually seeping into Leyla's skin, sealing the wound entirely, not even leaving the trace of a scar. Arata hesitated, his hand close to her skin, then eventually settled on placing a hand on her shoulder. "Feel better?" She nodded, and Arata walked away, trying his best to hide the pink on his face.

The six of them had offered to help the knights, with anything really. Healing, lifting debris, feeding the victims. But, their generous offers were turned away by the overly prideful knights of Swordhaven. They believed Swordhaven and its denizens needed no outside help to recover from its own battle. Swordhaven affairs were dealt with by Swordhaven.

Xavier lacked the energy to perform another teleportation. This meant that the group was required to make their way to the Twilight Gate in a fashion similar to the way Azk and Arata had first gone. On the way they had all gone through the customary introductions, most sharing what little they had to share. The man with fiery hair, William, was a half-drow, wielding a vampiric sword named Mandurugo, that which he had won from a vampire in Darkovia. He had worked with his father in a monastery since he was a child, though his father had died twelve years prior to this day. He wore a ring, of ruby red and gold, and became very evasive when the subject came around to it. He claimed it to be nothing more than a trinket, a memento from his father, though Arata could feel the strange energy that pulsed from it.

Xavier refused to speak about himself, while Leyla simply shared the rather uninteresting origins she possessed. Alastor needed no explanation, for his situation was nearly identical to Arata's, and Azkikr retold the story he had told Arata previously. Unfortunately, they had gone through all of these histories within the first day of travel, having to withstand a crushing lack of things to talk about during the next two days of their trek.

They all finally stumbled through the forest of Greenguard, coming upon the mysterious Twilight Gate. The sun behind them set dramatically, the gateway flaring to life within the dusk. Bill, Al, and Leyla all stood, stunned, mouths agape, while Arata, Azk and Xavier simply shrugged, walking on through. Arata went through the inverted pushes and pulls of the interplanaric gateway, this time actually landing on his feet instead of on his face. Although, as Bill, Al, and Leyla entered, they all fell to the ground in a similar fashion as Arata's first time.

Arata smiled as the three of them took in the entirety of the Twilight Realm, just as Arata had. It had only been two weeks, and Arata already felt like it was his home. He no longer felt like it was a temporary arrangement. Especially, since he knew he would be unable to return to his previous home. He sighed. How he would miss the South. His mother, his father, even Chief Bhadra. Fishing in the Twilight Realm just wasn't the same as the wrangling that took place in the frigid, crisp air and icy waters of Arcterra.

Azk clapped him on the shoulder. "You coming?" He asked, walking on ahead with everyone else.

Arata blinked. "Hey! Wait for me!"

-

"Wait...why can't we open the door now?" Arata's voice echoed off of the hard and massive walls of Steel Fire's throne room. Alastor, Leyla, and Bill, stood behind him, all looking thoroughly confused.

Steel sighed, sitting patiently in his regal throne. "I understand your eagerness Arata, really I do. I'd like to unlock the door as soon as possible as well. However, we will have to postpone it for the next week. You see, we have the Choosing."

Arata arched an eyebrow. "The Choosing?"

Xavier stepped up in front of Arata, once again giving his characteristic eye roll. "The Choosing of The Shade Amulet Holder."

Steel nodded. "Yes. You see there is an artifact called 'The Shade Amulet'. It grants the user a large amount of Twilit energy. It is made up of Myst, and gives the wearer temporary abilities with that Myst. We Choose them over the course of a week, every Season. It requires my full attention. Besides, this will give our newest recruits time to get used to the Twilight Realm, as well as learn about themselves as Myst Children."


Arata soon came to understand what Steel meant by the Choosing requiring his full attention. The next day, a large ceremony was held, with all of the Twilight in attendance. The candidate stepped forward, where Steel bestowed the Amulet upon him. The Amulet was in the shape of a downward facing crescent moon, with a star hovering inside of the whole of the crescent. The object radiated a multicolored Myst.
The candidate was a man by the name of Frozen Fighter. A ranger, who had been with the Twilight Knights for some time. He was highly skeptical of "Frozen Fighter" being the man's true name, but he knew nothing else to call him by. He had also heard that the man was a personal hater of vampires.

Steel and Slayer had then brought him to a secret chamber within the Keep, where he would face trials to be officially ordained as Holder of The Shade Amulet until the Spring time.

Over the week, Arata took the liberty of showing his friends around, having them go through the same memorization and introduction process he had. After all that had been done, he spent as much time as he could with his brother. The two got along, as always, joking, laughing, mock fighting. It almost seemed like they were back home. Almost.

Leyla tagged along as well. Arata made it seem as though he found her annoying sometimes, though in truth, he was glad she was here. Arata had also found himself becoming fast friends with Bill, enjoying the older man's stories. He was also not too shabby a swordfighter.

Nearing the end of the week, the four of them had been called to Rayzer's study. As they entered her tower, they found the sorceress moving about the room frantically. She rifled through drawers, eventually finding what appeared to be a journal. Leyla edged forward as Rayzer pulled it from the drawer. "Um, Lady Rayzer, what is that?"

Rayzer stiffined, just now realizing they had arrived. She glanced first at the journal, then back at Leyla. She stuck the journal back on the desk behind her. "Oh, this? This is just a diary that belongs to my apprentice, Selena. She's away right now."
She fidgeted, then seemed to register the presences of Bill, Arata, and Al.
"Oh, sorry to keep you waiting." She smiled. "I called you up here, so I we could isolate and identify the cognitive energies that inhabit your physical structures."

"Eh...wha..?" All three males said simultaneously.

Leyla turned to look at them. "I think she means we need to conciously use the powers given to us by the Myst."

Rayzer beamed. "That's correct, Miss Leyla." She began to walk outside. "Follow me please.

-

Rayzer led the four of them outside, in the spacious field between the village and the Keep. She stopped, turning to face them. "Now, some of you may have noticed some odd things about yourselves. Sounds, feelings, vision...anything. I already took samples of the specific Myst that is bound to you, so I have a pretty good idea of the abilities each of you possess. Each Myst Child possesses a unique power granted to them. Here, you will learn what that is, what it does, and get a feel for how to use it." She held out her hand, middle and index finger pressed against her thumb. "I will trigger the Myst, and then you will most likely experience the instance of your abilities. You first, William."

Bill stepped forward, and the sorceress snapped her fingers. Little wisps of red Myst roiled off of Bill's shoulders. He closed his eyes, appearing to concentrate. When he opened them again, the irises seemed as if they were lit aflame. His face shifted into something like fear, though it relaxed slightly. Rayzer narrowed her eyes. "Now, what do you see?"

Bill gulped. "Uh..almost everything is dark, except for you, Mistress Rayzer. But, you're..uh.." he licked his dry lips nervously. "...you're glowing a bright orange. You're radiating heat."

Rayzer laughed, then snapped her fingers again. The Myst disappeared, and Bill's eyes went back to normal. "I guess I should be flattered." She grew serious again. "In all seriousness though, it appears to be what I thought. You can see people's body heat. That could actually be quite useful, especially for seeing far off enemies, or in the dark."

She gestured to Leyla, who stepped forward next. She brought Leyla near one of the few trees by the village, snapping in the same manner as with Bill. She smiled. "Now, Leyla, do you hear anything?"

The long and dark haired girl nit her eyebrows together, as if trying to catch a faint whisper. She nodded. "It sounds..deep and rich. But..a whisper. Like it's coming from..the tree itself."

Rayzer nodded. "What's it saying?"

Leyla giggled a little. "It says...Hello."

Rayzer smiled. "Well, it appears I was right again. Your Myst appears to allow you to speak with the plantlife around you. If the report was correct, a vine threw off an enemy that pinned you, correct?" Leyla nodded again. "It appears you can command them in times of need." Rayzer dismissed Leyla, though stopped her as she walked back. "I see potential in you Leyla. How would you like to become one of my apprentices?"

Leyla grew wide-eyed, green irises reflecting her excitement. "Of course, my lady!"

Rayzer glanced towards the village, where two guards appeared to have gotten into a fight. One was raging and angry, while the other seemed frightened. She beckoned Arata and Al to her. "Good, perfect for the both of you." The brothers glanced towards each other in confusion. Rayzer looked towards Alastor, snapping her fingers.

Al blinked as the world around him changed. Everything seemed muffled, and it felt as though the emotions of all the Twilight were pressing in on him. He looked around, seeing Arata enveloped in a calming blue aura, and Rayzer in a vibrant orange. Rayzer spoke, her voice clear and piercing. "Look towards those knights. What do you see?"

Al did as he was instructed, observing the fighting men. The timid one was surrounded by a fearful charcoal, and the raging knight by an angry red. He rubbed his eyes, unable to comprehend what he was seeing. Rayzer put a hand on his shoulder. "What you are seeing is the emotions of people, represented by different colors. Each color correlates with a different emotion." Alastor nodded. So...red for anger, charcoal for fear. Blue for calm...orange for interest. Rayzer spoke again. "You may also be able to sense the location of others by the strength of their emotions."

Alastor nodded, his vision slowly returning to normal. Al arched an eyebrow a Rayzer as he walked back to her side. "That reminds me. What is Azk's power?"

Rayzer smirked. "Our great assassin has a power truly befitting his job. His Myst gives him the ability to mute any sound he wants. He could make it so only his comrades hear what he is about to say, or mute the sound of his own footsteps, so his target never sees him coming." Al blinked, wide-eyed. As he got over his shock, he hung back, waiting for Arata.

Arata stepped forward. Rayzer looked at him with a smile. "Now Arata, all I want you to do is place your hand on the angered man's shoulder. See what happens." Rayzer snapped her fingers, concentrated Myst building up within Arata. He furrowed his brow, walking up from behind the man, who whirled on him.

"What do you want squirt?! Get outta my way!" Arata took in a deep breath, and clamped down on the man's shoulder. He stared angrily at Arata, but soon, his expression began to relax, until he became totally calm. He shook his head, walking off in a rather confused, but calm manner of fashion.

Arata turned to look at Rayzer. "What was that?"

Rayzer crossed her arms. "Your Myst gives you the abilities of an Empath, Arata. You can sooth and calm the emotions of anyone you are near or come into contact with."

Arata nodded assuming it was time for him to leave. But, Rayzer stuck a hand on his shoulder, stopping him in his tracks. "That's not all. With this ability, you can amplify the feelings of anyone else. You can make someone paralyzed with fear, berserk with rage, stricken with sorrow. If your own emotions go out of control, they can affect the emotions of those around you. This ability is more powerful than you think. You could overwhelm a person with emotion, putting extreme stress on the brain, and incapacitating them. You could permanently damage their mind. It is not something easily mastered, nor to be played with. Do you understand?"

Arata nodded, swallowing back a sea of anxiety. Could he really do that? Why did it seem he kept on getting the paticularly powerful abilities...as well as the most dangerous? He could never do that...he woudn't. Would he? "Yes, Lady Rayzer."

________________________________________________________________


A lone, dark figure sat on a seat of stone, in a valley of eternal Chaos, waters purple and skies violet with Discord. Thick, steel plating covered him, a single eye stationed in the center of the chestplate. Large, ominous bat wings wrapped around him, a glowing, Chaotic blade in his hands. A soldier approached. "Lord Drakath. We have news of the Twilight Realm."

Drakath sat upright, a dark smile splitting across his face. "Oh do you now?"

The soldier took a knee. "Yes. The object you seek lies within the Hidden Chamber. We can sense it through the gate."

The bat-winged Lord stood up, wings flaring outwards. "Good....the weight to tip the scales out of balance has been found. Perfect. We strike as soon as you can get the troops ready."

The soldier stood, bowing. "Yes, my Lord."

_________________________________________________________

Arata and his brother ran through the halls. The week was up, and Steel had summoned them to the Seal Door, declaring it to be of the utmost importance. The siblings ran as fast as they could, barreling through the dark-oak door and down the staircase, stumbling and panting as they reached the bottom. The other six waited patiently. Steel, Rayzer, Slayer, Azkikr, William, Leyla, Alastor, and himself. All eight Myst Children were finally present. Once again, this close to the Sealed Door, the Myst responded fervently.

The royal Gold rose off of Steel, as well as Silver for Rayzer, and Bronze for Slayer. Ash grey Myst smoked off of Azk's form, and a flaming red steamed from Bill. A gentle green Myst rose from Leyla, and a stormy violet Myst swirled around Al. Finally, Arata's own icy blue Myst roiled off of his body. Each of the eight ringed orbs lit up with their corresponding Child's color.

The sound of wheel's turning, gears clicking. The golden rings around the orbs rotated and clicked, the door, slowly sliding open...



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Arata

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Posts : 74
Join date : 2010-07-21
Age : 23
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PostSubject: Re: Arata's Chronicle   Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:07 am



Chapter 10: Split

The sky was lightening, the long hours between dusk and dawn coming to a close. Heavy steps fell on the dew-covered grass of Greenguard forest, stamping down the wet tendrils of green in a merciless march. Unnatural, cancerous eyes flicked back and forth, protruding from the oddest places on the Chaotic bodies of their hosts. Twisting,purple-cordivan tenrdils coiled around their limbs and torsos, parasitic outgrowths of chaos.

A large, bat-winged figure stood at the front of the army, marching ahead with a mighty sword, humming with a raging energy. The insurgence marched on through the early hours of the morning, walking with the rising sun. The battle-ready force stopped at a mighty gate, in the middle of a particularly obscure area of Greenguard. The sun continued to rise, eventually rising to the top of the horizon, flooding the area with Twilight. The gate flared to life, emitting an energy that completely and utterly repelled the opposing army. Drakath puth his hand to it, a shock sparking into his outstretched fingers, causing him to recoil.

The Chaos leader muttered to himself angrily, then pointed his sword at the gate. He concentrated the Chaotic energies within and slowly charged through the gate....

_________________________________________________________________


The Sealed Door opened slowly, splitting from the middle with each half going to their respective sides. The room was pitch black, and as hard as Arata tried, his vision could not pierce the absolute blackness that filled the room. Suddenly, Finrod appeared beside Arata, causing the young boy to jump back in surprise. Finrod held a finger to his hooded face. "Shhh..."

The Twilight Beast stepped in front of the group of eight, waving his hand in front of him as he stepped into the darkness. Lights flared to life, prismatic torches similar to those in Steel's throne room blazing across the walls of a circular room. However, for all of the light in the room, one could not help but notice a dimming source, seeming to draw all of the light into the center of the room. A large, dark stone, almost as large as Arata's body sat in the center of the room. A sharp, groping shadow was given off by the stone, sucking away all the happiness and warmth from Arata's body.

A large, golden ring was embedded in the floor, surrounding the rock. In designated spots within the ring were glowing, colored orbs, similar to the ones that Sealed the Door. Myst rose from each circle like smoke from a chimney stack,and each appeared to have some sort of image on it, though from this position, Arata couldn't tell.

Everyone marvelled at the hidden chamber, even Finrod for a time. Soon, however, the Emperor's Shadow turned to face all eight Children, arms outstretched. "We have finally discovered the resting place of the Eight Locks, as well as the crash site the Nox Shard."

Steel stepped forward, eyes wide. "This is where that damned piece of rock landed? Well then, we must be very careful about removing such a thing."

Azkikr stepped up beside Arata, answering before the question even left his mouth. "The Nox Shard is a fragment of the celestial body Nox. It fell from the face of Nox during a large battle. Just remember, do not touch it."

Arata looked at the dark, foreboding hunk of stone. "Why not?"

"It amplifies the dark thoughts and feelings that a person has. During the explosion it created, a knight was too close to the shard. It made him go berserk, killing anyone he saw. It is very dangerous." He looked nervously from the Shard to Arata. "It crashed through the Keep and all the way down here. We could never find it, even while we were repairing the Keep. It was a mystery..until now."

Arata half-snorted. "So what? It didn't leave a hole that led to this room? It's not like it fixed itself before you go to it."

Azk shrugged. "Who knows? This room is full of Myst. There's a very good chance that it could've mended itself. But, who can say?"

Finrod cleared his throat, calling the attention of the group. He nodded. "All of you, please step onto your respective platforms."

The eight Knights looked at each other in minor confusion before walking forward. Each came to stand ontop of the spherical bases that held the color of their unique Myst. They all turned to face Finrod, who stood in the center of the circle, seemingly unaffected by the cold aura of the Nox Shard. Arata looked down, noticing the thin tubes that ran into the center towards the Shard. It appeared to him that energy the Myst provided kept the Nox Shard mostly in check. Otherwise, who knows what effects it could've had on the Twilight Realm?

Finrod brought his arms up, the Mysts of all the Children seeming to be drawn to him, forming a rainbow of energized vapor around his body. He took in a deep breath, muttering a chant in an unrecognizable language. Arata felt dizzy. Myst flared to life all around him...until a crash rocked the Keep!

Arata wobbled, then fell as the floors beneath their feet shook. He soon got to his feet, looking around as everyone else struggled to balance themselves. The Myst had disappeared, and Finrod looked about warily, shifting into his wolfen form. Shouts could be heard from outside the keep and above the chamber. Metal clashed against metal, creating a sound that sent shivers through Arata's spine.

Steel cursed rushing to the door. "Damn it, Chaos. How'd they get through the gate?!"

Azk rushed to the door as well, a fistful of knives ready. "Drakath must've brought along enough Chaotic energy to force his way through. But, even then, the resulting reaction would most likely kill most of his men. So why?"

Bill unsheathed Mandurugo, and Arata Hokkyoku. All nine of them got into battle ready positions, waiting for the onslaught that would come. Arata shouted. "We need to defend this room at all costs!"

Steel nodded back at him, Shadikal at the ready.

But, the onslaught did not come at them through the door. A loud crash resounded as the ominous figure of Drakath burst through the ceiling. The harbinger of Chaos landed neatly on his feet, rubble falling down around him from the ceiling. He chuckled, voice dark and dissonant. It was as if more than one person existed inside of him, all speaking the same thing at once.

Steel rushed the man, Shadikal ready to come down on his head. However, Drakath was quick, bringing up his Chaotic blade to meet Steel's, their swords locking. Arata stood there, frozen in fear, unable to help. So this was Drakath. The moment Arata looked at him, he felt all hope within him die away. How could he beat that?

As Steel kept Drakath occupied, Finrod took the chance for a surprise attack. The majestic wolf leapt at Drakath from behind, biting deep through the metal and into his left shoulder. He cried out in pain, throwing the Beast off of him and into a wall. Alastor launched a bolt of lightning at him, which was easily deflected by the man's hand. Slayer and Rayzer looked ready to jump in, though soon became preoccupied with other Chaos soldiers, attacking through the door. Bill went to help the two Twilight Generals, slashing away with Mandurugo.

Drakath turned to face the ring and the Nox Shard. He strode towards it, lifting up the huge rock with a single hand. Azk shouted. "No! We can't let him take it!" He unleashed a volley of knives at the Chaos Emperor, though they were blocked with relative ease by one of his hardened bat-wings. The man began to rise into the air, preparing to take off.

Arata heard this, and spun to look at Drakath, broken from his frozen state, the severity of the situation just now dawning upon him. He sheathed Hokkyoku, running towards Drakath at full speed. He launched himself at the man, pale hands landing hard on the Nox Shard as he struggled to get a grip. The moment he made contact, a cold emptiness had spread through his body. Fear, anger, sadness, pain, envy, greed...all of these filled his heart, soul, and mind, threatening to burst. His hands became icy, eyes rolling back in his head. Do not touch it.. He heard these, spoken in Azk's voice, only a few minutes prior. And he fell back and knew only darkness.

-

A lone figure stood at the very edge of Arata's vision, and conciousness. He wasn't sure if this was real, or not. A young man stood there. He had his back facing Arata, with an eerily similar scar to the one Arata bore on his back. He soon turned to reveal himself.

He was naked. Ash grey skin of a sickly pallor. Small cuts and scars marked his body. His eyes were a pitch black, as was his hair, though a prominent streak of grey could be seen in it. His face looked nearly identical to Arata's, only aged. He couldn't have been any older than Arata himself, yet signs of malnourishment and stress were there. Sunkes in cheeks, dark rings under his eyes, dangerously thin stomach. He carried a sheathless sword, a dark, onyx colored blade with black, murky liquid pouring from the handle to the ground.

One word was whispered from the boys lips, a truly evil, raspy voice. "Fuketa..."

-

Arata's icy blue eyes fluttered open, flicking around in confusion. He felt extremely tired and empty, cold on the inside. Leyla sat by him, looking down with concern. "Are you alright?"

He nodded sitting up and using Leyla's arm for support. They were still in the Sealed Chamber, soldiers carting out bodies of Chaos soldiers. Arata shook his head, still a little dizzy. "W-what happened?"

Azkikr stepped forward out of nowhere. "The enemy retreated. As soon as Drakath took the Nox Shard, they pulled back." He held up Arata by the collar of his shirt. "I told you not to touch it, damn it!"

Arata looked at him tiredly, guiltily. "I'm sorry. I knew we couldn't let him take it though."

Azkikr set him down. "It's alright...But, that was extremely dangerous! You could've died. It seemed to pull a shadow right out of you....A dark figure..appeared almost right after you touched it, following Drakath..."

Arata put a hand to his head, an ache beginning to form. He couldn't take all of this right now. He needed to rest. He looked around, making sure everyone was alright. Leyla was fine, as was Azk. Bill suffered maybe a cut or two, and Slayer was still untouched. The same went for Steel, and Rayzer simply looked tired from casting spells. And Al....

"Where's Al!?" Arata exclaimed fearfully, unable to catch sight of his adoptive sibling. He looked at Azk, who looked down shamefully. "Where is he?!"

Leyla got up. "Look, Arata...Al was the one other than you closest to Drakath and the soldiers...and.."

Azk finished for her, staring at Arata with a hard, and yet sad expression. "He's gone Arata. They took him.."

Arata felt as though he had been punched in the gut, piled ontop of the rest of emotional strain he felt. Al...was gone...

Chapter 11: Shift

Alastor woke up slowly, vision blurry, unable to make out anything definite. His head throbbed painfully, and warm liquid slicked the side of his head, giving him the impression that he had been hit hard in the temple. The floor was cold beneath him, and something bound his arms to his body. He looked around frantically, trying to clear his vision, though he stopped his movements as he heard voices.

His vision cleared as the voices continued, no longer sounding like mindless garble. He was in an impossibly deep valley, skies a chaotic violet, clouds and weather in constant turmoil. A single throne stood atop of hill in the valler, and below marched thousands of Chaos soldiers. He looked up slightly to see the imposing form of Drakath, arms crossed with wings flared, speaking in an interested tone to someone across from him.

"So...you wish to join me? Well, I'm sure a young man of your...interesting origins would be an invaluable asset."

Alastor looked around to see a young man standing across from Drakath, skin ash-grey, dressed in dark battle garments. From what he could tell, a black and grey battle shirt and pants, with leather armor beneath. He looked up further. Fear and despair struck his heart as he looked up to see the face of his brother, Arata. Only, he looked different. Hair, black as night with a prominent streak of grey, eyes as deep and dark as the Abyss. His face was lined with age that he couldn't have possibly possessed. The words came out as a croak. "...Arata?"

The pair turned to the tied up Alastor. The warped Arata turned to look at Alastor, an evil grin cracking open across his face. He moved to Al with an inhuman speed, lifting the boy slightly by the hair, causing a grunt of pain to occur. He chuckled darkly. "Well, sleeping beauty is finally awake."

Drakath placed a hand on the young man's shoulder, who then dropped Al flat on his butt. He took a step back as Drakath removed his hand, but his coal black eyes remained just as menacing. Al breathed heavily, tears welling up in his stormy eyes. "Arata...why?"

The dark Arata arched an eyebrow, then broke out laughing. A maniacal, insane cackle. He went on for several more moments, before finally sobering himself. "Not Arata...Fuketa," he chided. He ticked tocked his right index finger back in forth in a correcting manner of fashion.

It took Alastor a moment for this to sink in, as well as the relief that came with it. Not Arata? So, his brother had truly not betrayed him? Despite his situation, happiness welled up within Alastor, allowing him to look up at Fuketa firmly, with an undertone of defiance.

Fuketa turned to Drakath, his raspy voice echoing throughout the valley. "Why do we need this brat anyway?"

Drakath chuckled. "Without him, they cannot break the seals on the Beings."

Fuketa snickered. "That's right...without that, you have no hope, little boy."

Al shook his bloodied head, spitting at the pair. In a flash, Fuketa was right in front of him, a dark blade pressed up against his throat. The sword was eerily similar to Hokkyoku, aside from color, the aura felt similar yet at the same time, very different. Dark liquid poured from the hilt, splashing onto the floor. "You'd best watch yourself, before I have to stain the floor with your blood."

The blade was soon withdrawn from the nape of Al's neck, allowing a fearful gulp to take place. He looked up desperately at the warring sky. How was he supposed to get back?

________________________________________________________________

Arata punched the wall of his room for an eigth time, finally creating a dent and causing his knuckles to bleed. They had searched for days and come up with nothing. He had allowed Al to leave his sight...and he was gone into the hands enemy. Just after they had been reunited. "Damn it!" He shouted.

Azkikr shook his head as he walked back in, looking at Arata with concern. It seemed he would have to pay the innkeeper for the damage done to his wall. He sighed, placing a hand on Arata's shoulder, which trembled with frustration. "Arata...it's the middle of the night. You'll wake the others."

Arata clenched his fists, placing them on his lap, the right hand still bleeding. "I'm sorry...I'm just.."

"Frustrated, I know. But don't worry. If anyone can track your brother, it's Xavier. And, Bill and Leyla came to help too. We'll find him." Azk smiled. He tightened his grip a little. "As much as it may not seem like it, the rest of us want him back too."

Arata nodded as Azk slipped away to do whatever it was he did at night. He sighed, sticking his bloody hand into the glass of water that sat on the room's nightstand. The water glowed at his touch, seeping into the broken skin until every cell had been repaired. He pulled his hand out, leaving the glass dry. A sigh escaped him as he slipped inbetween the covers. "I'll find you Al, no matter what," he muttered.

---

Azk sat atop the inn's roof, right leg outstretched with the other bent at the knee. Left arm rested at his side, the right atop his knee. He sighed into the night air, a soft breeze causing his shaggy black hair to sway back and forth. He shook his head, looking up at the stars. "I know what it's like to miss someone...Arata," he whispered to himself.

The assassin reached inside the folds of his cloak, fingers outstretched to grab hold of something. They groped about, finally closing on something that jangled softly when touched. He pulled out a golden locket, , the chain clinking as it dangled from his fingers. He placed it in his left palm, flipping the locket open to reveal what appeared to be a magic-generated image. A young woman with sandy brown hair, shoulder length. Her brown eyes seemed to spark with life. He whispered again, looking down at the image with a melancholy smile. "Selena...when will you come back?"

_________________________________________________________

Alastor looked down wearily. A Chaos guard paced around in front of him. The Chaos Valley seemed to be lacking in buildings, other than those at the very bottom. So, Drakath had made his "prison" the top of a hill, shorter than his own, but nearby so the Chaos Lord could keep an eye on Al.

The Chaos guard made his dreadfully boring rounds, the repetitive pacing taking a toll on Al's patience. He was getting irritated with the guard, constantly watching him. Al pulled on the ropes that bound him. A slight creak was given, though the guard gave no notice. He looked down at it, behind his back. The rope had become frayed and thin, as if someone had made numerous small cuts. And so he had.

Al looked up again as the guard passed him. He was so close. Over the time he had been here (had it been days, weeks?), when nobody was watching, he had worked his wind talents. He simply concentrated the air around him into small, sharp bursts, working on silently cutting through his bonds. But now, so close to the final cut, he had been assigned a watch man. He'd have to make his move now.

"Hey! What's that?" Al called out to the guard. The guard grunted, turning to look in the direction Al had looked. The young man took his chance, standing on his feet, creating a particularly sharp wind and sending it through his bonds. With a snap, the rope broke, falling to the ground. Before the guard knew what was happening, Al blew him off of the hill, sending him falling to his death.

Al glanced around frantically, looking for a way to exit the valley. There were no paths. It was impossibly steep to climb. The forces of Chaos most likely used portals to travel. He gulped. Perhaps he hadn't thought his plan through enough. Soldiers began to make their way up to him. Even more concerning than that were Drakath and Fuketa on the alert, approaching him from below at an even faster speed.

Al looked up at the hill that held the throne. He concentrated his energy into his feet, launching himself upwards with the help of wind and onto the hilltop. Unfortunately, Drakath simply flew to meet him, and Fuketa seemed to possess an equally impressive jumping ability. Fuketa closed in on him from the left, and Drakath stood off to his right. Fuketa neared, drawing his vile blade. "Where do you think you're going, fox piss?" The twisted mirror of Arata sneered, a stream of black liquid whipping forward to slash at Al.

Al moved to the side, just barely dodging the lethal tendril of fluid. Fuketa's eyes once again took on a hopelessly insane aspect, as if he were already dissecting Alastor in his mind. Al looked around himself again, the forces of Chaos and Fuketa pressing in on all sides. Escape seemed hopeless....Unless...

A piercing bell toll rang in Al's mind. He closed his eyes tightly, the air around him humming with energy. A stormy, violet Myst swirled about Alastor's body, bursting and exploding from him in all directions. He opened his eyes, blinding colors flashing everywhere. He concentrated his energy, threatening to explode from within. Lightning crackled, thunder boomed, and wind tore around the valley.

A bolt of violet electricity struck Fuketa in the shoulder, sending him flying back, causing the skin to sizzle. Al looked up. To the sky, he thought. He exploded upwards, the wind pushing him up and out, electricity flying out in all directions. He soared, breaking through the chaotic cloudbursts.

-

Alastor didn't know how long he flew. Or how long he could keep it up. All he truly sensed was the light around him, and the familiar feeling of his brother's emotions. He tried to steer himself towards his beloved sibling, but he had no control over his course. But, soon enough, he felt the energy that had once filled his body, his essence, fading away. He kept going, until it flickered and died, sending him crashing into the ground. The last thing he remembered before he blacked out, was the feeling of strong hands lifting him.

Chapter 12: Flux

Drakath was steaming. He stood atop the highest hill, glaring at all of the surrounding soldiers. His wings flared out angrily, and his eyes glowed like raging coals on a fire. "How could you idiots let this happen!?" He grabbed the soldier nearest to him by the throat, and chucked him off the side of the hill. The others moved anxiously, not wishing to be the next victim of Lord Drakath's rage.

"You fools! You let the Myst Child escape!" He whirled around, knocking another three unfortunate guards off with a swipe of his hand. His shoulders heaved up and down, panting with rage and anger. The very ground shook at his discontent.

"Oh, quit your whining Lord Pansy." Fuketa's voice came out in a low, raspy taunt.

Drakath spun around to face Fuketa, the air around him heating up with his rising temper. "You dare speak to me like that?!" He about ready to disintegrate the man right then and there.

"Stop freaking out and do something about it." He chuckled. He stared Drakath full in the face, his Abyssal eyes glaring straight into Drakaths pits of fire. "If you need the brat so badly, let me go and find him."

Drakath regained his posture, seeming to calm down, if only slightly. "Fine then...It will be your task to recapture the boy...But-"

"I know I know. Don't kill him. I got it. I won't hurt the kid," Fuketa said, his impossibly dark eyes twinkling with mischief. "Not too much anyway."

Drakath crossed his arms. "We utilize the Nox Shard, tonight. Fuketa, I want you to oversee the results, regardless of your success in finding our young jail breaker."

Fuketa nodded. "It would be. My. Pleasure..."

_____________________________________________________

Alastor awoke to a strange scent. The aroma of boiled lilac struck his senses, the smell very familiar to him, though he didn't know how he knew it. He sat up slowly, violet eyes flicking down to the floor. He was laying on a soft wooden floor, on a bedroll with sheets over him. The room was awash with sunlight coming in from a window, as well as small spears of light shining through little chinks in the wooden walls. Small, unlit lanterns hung from support pillars and beams in the house, and sure enough, a large pot was boiling with little purple petals floating at the top.

A young woman walked in, dressed in warm clothing, with a small apron down her front. Long, violet hair fell down to her upper back, with a few streaks of silver here and there. Her skin was a sun kissed tan. She turned to him, and Alastor saw the eerily familiar shade of stormy violet that made up her irises. Those purple eyes widened as she saw him and she called outside. "He's awake!"

Before Al could even tilt his head, a multitude of people stormed into the small abode, all crowding around him and looking down at him. They all bore the same features. Deep, purple hair with streaks of silver. Stormy, violet eyes. And lightly tanned skin. Just like him.

A large, muscular man with a short crop of violet hair stood next to the woman with the apron. He smiled broadly as he looked down upon Alastor. "Welcome home, Elheilin."

__________________________________________________________

Arata and his group stopped on the outskirts of the village of Hallas. The village was located in the Vale of Agora, and therefore, overshadowed by the enormous and looming figures of the Agoran Mountains.

Xavier led the group, eyes half closed as he scanned the air for Alastor's Myst trail. He stopped as they entered the town. "Odd..."

Arata walked up beside him. "What's odd?"

Xavier crossed his arms. "Well, he came through here alright. He released a large amount of Myst. But it seems he went through the mountains..."

Bill stepped up next to them as well. "Through the mountains? But, there's never been a successful climb, nor discovered path through those spires of death."

Xavier nodded in agreement, looking up to the mountains, so far that his cowl almost fell from his head. "That's what puzzles me...."

Azkikr and Leyla began walking ahead of them. Azk looked back at them. "Well, standing around won't help us figure it out. Let's ask some of the locals what they know."


The five of them split up into two groups of two, with Azk off by himself. Bill went with Xavier, while Leyla was paired up with Arata.

Arata and Leyla each took turns questioning the natives, though none were much help, most stating that they hadn't been awake at that time of night. However, a few answers consisted of a "brilliant flash of violet light".

Leyla looked at Arata, who kept his fists clenched and his head down. "A flash of violet light? C'mon Arata, that means that he was here!"

Arata shook his head, relaxing his hands. He rose his head a little, kicking at a rock on the ground. "Yeah...but it also means that he isn't here anymore..."

Leyla sighed, and without even thinking, laced her fingers through his. "Look, you can't keep on talking like that. It's progress...we'll find him Arata, I promise.."

He nodded, the two of them remaining silent for a few moments longer before Arata's eyes moved down to their locked hands. Leyla followed his gaze and released her grip, looking down and blushing hard.

Arata smiled. "Leyla, I-," he began, but was cut off by a bloodcurdling scream.

_______________________________________________________

Alastor sat on a rock, looking out over the ocean at the setting sun. The sound of the surf roared in his ears, over the laughter of children, the labor and talk of adults. All like him. He had always noticed he had been different from the people of Arcterra. He always knew he wasn't truly one of them. But, he had never questioned his origins. Not even once. He could never remember anything about his short life before he became an Arcterran. Nothing but the strange memory of the scent of boiled lilac.

The woman who had nursed him back to health walked bye, her apron discarded. She stopped off to Al's left. "What are you looking at, Elheilin?"

It took him a while to realize she had been talking to him. He turned to face her. The woman, Eyra, smiled. He tried to smile back, but could only must a pathetic half-smile. He didn't know what to think of these people. "Oh..hello Eyra."

Eyra smiled sadly, placing a hand on Alastor's arm, a feeling that felt completely alien to him. "You know, you can call me...mother."

Alastor tried to swallow as a lump formed in his throat. Mother...yes, Eyra was his birth mother. And Ico, the large man who had greeted him and now lifted lumber, was his father. He had been with the Agorans for at least a day now, and no matter how much he though about it, there was no way he could accept these people as his family. These people who were so familiar...and yet, so alien.

He turned back to the ocean, Eyra's hand falling away from his arm. "I'm watching the ocean...an old habit. And please...call me Alastor..not Elheilin." Before he had been adopted and renamed by Arata's parents, he had originally gone by Elheilin.
His "parents" (it felt so strange calling them that) had explained his situation shortly after he had regained conciousness.

Al had lived among his family until the age of five. His mother and father had taken him with them on a boat far off of their familiar beaches. But, a storm had come, and while they easily diverted the battering winds and the fiersome lightning, they could do nothing as a gargantuan wave had coming crashing down on their vessel, sweeping away their only son. "You must have hit your head and lost what little memory you had," Ico had said.

Ico and Eyra had been overjoyed when they found that their "little boy" had come back. Unfortunately, as much as he wished he could, Al could not return those feelings of love and happiness.

Eyra nodded. "Alright, Elhe-I mean, Alastor. Look...your father wanted to see you..."

Alastor nodded, hopping down from the rock, smiling to Eyra in hopes of being able to make her at least a little happier. He walked down to the center of their small community of wooden shacks. He walked past a group of children playing tag, an elderly couple sitting together, and finally into a small area, where the men were at work tending to fires, cooking game, and carrying lumber. Iko set down a large beam of wood, smiling as he approached Alastor.

"Hello my son! I assume your mother sent you down here?"

Alastor nodded, again trying at the pitiful excuse for a smile he had tried with Eyra. Ico reached into the pack he carried with him, pulling out a lump of something wrapped in cloth. Al tilted his head. "What is it?"

Ico chuckled unwrapping a magnificent mace. It was without mark or stain, a beatiful dark steel with lethally sharp spikes. It was quite large as well. He handed it to Al, who marveled at it, violet eyes growing large. He chuckled. "It's my weapon of choice. I thought you should take it. I don't need it anymore."

Alastor smiled genuinely this time, wrapping his arms around Ico in a grateful embrace, no matter how awkward it may have seemed. It now suddenly made sense to him how he was so adept at using the mace. Natural born talent.

He and his father walked back to the beach, joining Eyra. The three of them stood quietly. Alastor broke the silence. "Look..I just-" He never got to finish his sentence, as the entire ground began to quake.

_______________________________________________

Arata bolted in the direction of the scream, Leyla lagging behind his superior speed. The sound came from one of the houses. Arata burst through the front door, Hokkyoku drawn, ethereal liquid churning about readily.

Arata's eyes fell to the floor in horror as a woman lay there, crumple, impaled by the blackest of blades. His icy gaze rose to meet the gaze of the muderer. A man, who looked just like him! Except, something was different. Hair as dark as night, with a line of grey. Eyes as dark as the Abyss and skin an ashy pallor. The man yanked the black blade from the woman's corpse, sanguine liquid dripping from the tip. Dark liquid sloshed from the weapon to the floor, giving off an opposing aura to that of Hokkyoku.

Arata whispered, eyes wide with shock. "You...."

"Yes, me...Fuketa," Arata's doppelganger answered. He chuckled sadistically, scraping his blade across the floor. "Shimoyuke...the dark to the light of your Hokkyoku..." He whispered, looking at Arata maliciously.

Fuketa strut about the room, a thoughtful look on his aged face. He placed a hand on his shoulder, removing part of the sleeve. The grey skin was blackened and burnt. "Your brother got me good, eh?"

Arata smirked, imagining the look on Fuketa's ugly mug when Al must have struck him with lightning.

"More trouble than he's worth, that one," he said in a raspy voice. Suddenly, something rustled in the far corner of the room. Both Arata's and Fuketa's heads swiveled in that direction. Fuketa moved with an inhuman speed, yanking a young child from the dark reaches of the room. A young boy. He held the child by the collar of his shirt, who kicked and screamed and struggled.

Arata's eyes widened as Fuketa brought a blade to the boys chest. "No!" He shouted, lunging at Fuketa. The dark man simply struck out with a foot, slamming Arata into the wall. Arata fell to the ground, the wind knocked out of his lungs. Fuketa pressed the blade of Shimoyuke to the skin, drawing a thin line of blood. The child cried out. Fuketa appeared to pressed harder into the skin of the boy. Arata had his hands gripped tight around Hokkyoku, it's clear waters churning angrily.

Fuketa rose the blade up and put it at and angle, assuming a position at which to impale the frail form that he held in his hand. "Stop!" Arata lunged at Fuketa, pushing all of his energy into his blade and his body. Fuketa dropped the child relatively unscathed as Arata flew into him, sending the two of them crashing into the next building.

Fuketa kicked Arata off of him, standing up straight to dust himself off. Arata stood as well, panting with anger, clouds of dust and debris forming around them. Fuketa chuckled. "So, soft spot for the children?"

Arata glared, his Katana raised. "Shut up!" He slashed downward, a large blade of water energy released from his blade at Fuketa. Fuketa brought up his own Katana, parting the energy around him with the blade. The divided strike brushed against him, nicking his arms.

"Not bad at all. My turn then..." His face split into a wide, maniacal grin. He flicked his wrist, the constant outpouring of putrid liquid straightening. He flicked the blade this time, a long tendril of murky water whipping outwards at Arata.

Arata sidestepped and slashed at the tendril, blocking its strikes. Soon enough though, the sinister tentacle caught Arata offguard, wrapping around his leg and throwing him. The attack sent Arata flying back into the center of the village, where the rest of his friends had gathered. Fuketa was fast approaching.

Azkikr started to run towards Arata, though Arata shouted. "Stop! He's mine."

Fuketa unleashed a barrage of attacks on Arata, metal striking against metal. The two traded blows, seemingly evenly matched. Arata took a slash to the shin. Fuketa, a slice to the arm. Arata a nick in the side. Fuketa, a bite in the thigh.

Fuketa unleashed a large spike of black ice and sent it hurtling at Arata. The azure haired boy brought up Hokkyoku, a wall of ice forming in front of him. The barrier of frigid energy broke apart as the spire of dark ice struck, shattering as well. Fuketa cackled. "Give it up Arata. I was born from you. Heart, mind, and soul. There isn't a single part of you that I don't know." Fuketa brought a hand up, disgusting ice freezing over Arata's feet and legs, beginning to crawl up his torso.

Arata closed his eyes, concentrating. A bell toll rang out in his mind. Icy blue Myst roiled off of his shoulders. He opened his eyes. "You think so?" He furrowed his brow, bringing his Katana down upon the ice. The frigid prison shattered, and Arata rushed forward, taking advantage of Fuketa's surprise. He slashed upward, drawing a large line diagonally across Fuketa's chest. Black blood sprayed, and Fuketa staggered back.

He panted, shoulders slumped forward. "Not bad...Arata..." Suddenly, the ground began to shake. Fuketa stood up straight again, despite his wound. He chuckled darkly. "That's my cue." And suddenly, the doppelganger vanished into wisps of darkness.

Xavier and the others rushed to Arata's side. "C'mon we've got to go!"

Chapter 13: Conquer the Dark

Drakath drew his blade, slashing through the very fabric of space and time. He had one hand on the formidable figure of the Nox Shard, channeling its negative energies from his hand to his blade. He continued damaging the dimensional walls, until soon enough he had created a wide rift. The rip in space rippled and swayed, it's depths dark and enigmatic. Drakath chuckled, bringing his sword down in one last arc, finishing the job.

Suddenly, something burst behind him, and he turned around to see the injured form of Fuketa. "You're late," he barked, seeming not care about the damage Fuketa had recieved.

Fuketa sighed, placing a hand on the Nox Shard. Negative energy filled him, and his skin began to repair and stitch itself back together. "Sorry. Had a little run-in with my other self."

Drakath growled and shook his head. "Doesn't matter. What matters right now is the creation. Everything is ready inside, all we need is to insert the Nox Shard, and everything will be in perfect Chaos." He clenched a fist, holding it up in front of his face. "Soon, we will have a realm to rival the Twilight!"

Drakath laughed again, lifting the Nox Shard, and tossing it into the rift. Fuketa followed soon after, as well as a multitude of Chaos Soldiers.

And so, the Earth's shaking increased.

_______________________________________________________________

Xavier shouted above the quaking, which was steadily increasing from its earlier low rumble. "We have to get back to the Twilight Realm!"

Arata shook his head incredulously. "Now? But we're so close to finding Al!"

"We have to report this to Steel immediately! Something is disrupting the flow of space!" The white mage argued.

Arata opened his mouth, but Xavier would have none of it. "We're leaving, now!"

And the five of them disappeared with a loud POP!

-

Nine figures stood in the middle of the clearing. The orange-pink skies of the Twilight Realm rippled, the area becoming more and more unstable. Steel Fire, Rayzer, Slayer, Azkikr, Xavier, Leyla, William, Finrod and Arata. They all stood in a group, looking up and around as the Realm bellowed and shook in pain. Arata looked to Finrod and Steel, unable to contain his anxiety. "What's happening?"

Finrod stood, his unknown face obscured by his hood. "It would appear that doppelganger of yours has something to do with this. When you touched the Nox Shard Arata, it took the deepest fears, anger, and sorrows from within you and manifested them. And now if would appear this 'Fuketa' has allied himself with Drakath." He shifted uncomfortably, the ethereal materials of his cloak rustling. "Drakath must be using the Shard to throw the balance of space and time out of order."

Steel sighed, rubbing his brow in frustration. "And only two results can come of that scenario. One being, that space and time will unwravel, and so will all we know."

Azkikr scratched his chin. "Which hasn't happened, so what's the second result?"

Steel cross his golden-clad arms. "The other being, that a second realm will form. A chaotic, twisted version of our Twilight Realm. And if that isn't eliminated, then eventually, everything else will be destroyed anyway."

Bill spoke up. "Well, that means we still have time to destroy this Chaos Realm before everything unwravels. How?"

Rayzer looked down from the sky to everyone. "The way I see it, the best solution we have is to destroy the Nox Shard."

Steel nodded. "Alright then. Rayzer, I want you and Xavier to pinpoint the location of the nearest rift. Slayer!"

Slayer stepped up. "Yes sir?"

"I want you to keep everyone from panicking. Finrod will help you. Oversee the Twilight Realm. I will accompany William, Azkikr, and Arata to the spacial rip."

"You're coming with us?" Arata asked, slightly surprised.

Steel smirked. "Of course. I intend to give the Chaos a real taste of Twilight."

___________________________________________________

Alastor and his parents dug their heels hard into the beach, trying to stay balanced while the ground shook and the wind blew. The sky overhead grew dark, and a powerful wind came from a large tear in the middle of the air. The rift rippled and swayed, hovering over the now choppy waters of the ocean. Nobody needed to tell Al the cause of this hole. He could feel its energy emanating from the tear. Chaos.

His clan all huddled around the beach, staring fearfully at the unknown portal. Ico took a step into the water, towards the rift. Eyra put a hand on his shoulder, pulling him back. "Stop! You don't know what the hell that thing is!"

He looked back at his wife, then back at the rest of the people. Children cried and stared. Men and women closed their eyes and kept their heads down, muttering prayers in hopes of being saved by this ill-omen. "Then what do we do?! We have to protect our people!"

Eyra shouted over the shaking ground. "I don't know! But, we can't fight against something like that! We don't know what it is!"

Al looked down at the churning waters. "But..I do," he whispered. He looked up, saying it louder. "I do!" He set his jaw, running into the shallow waters.

"Elheilin! Stop! Come back!" His parents shouted.

Al stopped and looked back at them, eyes glittering with tears. "I'm sorry...but I'm not your Elheilin...not anymore. I wish I could be! But I have to do this!" With that, he turned, his mace gripped tightly, leaping through the Chaotic Rift.

_______________________________________________________

Steel, Azkikr, Arata, and Bill all touched down on the outskirts of Hollas, closer to the Agoran Mountains. The shaking was steadily growing worse. Bill looked to the other three. "Xavier said the rip could be found past the mountains!"

Arata's breath caught in his throat. Past the mountains? They'd never scale those monsters in time! Wait...that was the same way Al had gone...he had done it. They just had to find how! He looked at them. "Al's through those mountains! If he can cross them, so can we!"

The four of them raced towards the base of the Mountains, their sense of urgency growing with each passing second. They stopped at the base, studying the rock of the spires frantically.

Bill searched, running his hands over the wall. Soon, he felt a small crevice, almost unnoticeable. "Guys, over here!"

Steel ran a hand over the crevice. They all stood back, now able to see a small door. Steel grunted, concentrating energy in his hand, and blasting it at the week area of rock. A hole was blown open, and a hollow tunnel could be seen, seeming to stretch through the width of the mountain. The four Knights raced through the previously concealed door, running at full speed.

Their small group eventually emerged on the other side, stepping out onto a beach that was in turmoil. A fierce wind blew, and the shaking was severe. Palm trees bent at their bases, and wooden shacks creaked. As they walked further in, a large gathering of people could be seen.

"What..?" Arata said quietly, stuck in a cloud of his own silent shock. The people all bore violet hair, streaked with silver. Violet eyes, and tan skin. They all looked just like...Alastor. He rushed forward, elbowing his way through the crowd, Steel, Azk and Bill not far behind. He came to stand in front of a large man with a short crop of purple hair, who had an arm around a weeping woman with hair of the same shade.

"Have either of you seen a boy named Alastor? About my height and age?!" He shouted over the howling winds.

The man looked down at Arata, a spark of sadness in his mauve eyes. "Alastor....you know our son?"

Arata's eyes grew wider than they had ever been. So...these were Al's true parents. He didn't know how to feel...Would Al have chosen these people over him? Would he have gone back to his original family? No. That wasn't the priority right now. He needed to stop this Chaos and be assured of his brother's safety. "Yes.....where is he?"

The woman looked up, wiping tears from her eyes. "Elheilin..I mean Alastor, went into that monstrosity to stop it!" She pointed to the rift, which seemed to be growing wider and wider.

Elheilin? Had that been his name before they had renamed Al? He had gone in to stop the Chaos...

"Please! You have to go in there and protect him!" She pleaded with Arata as Steel, Azk, and Bill came up.

The four of them walked away from the crowd, walking through the water towards the rift. Arata looked back at Alastor's parents nodding. "I will. I promise!"

-

Arata felt as though he was being turned inside out. As he travelled through the rift, his mind felt foggy and twisted, and his body felt as though it was going through a blender.

The four Twilight Knights landed on the ground of the Chaos Realm, a little dazed, but relatively unharmed. Arata got to his feet. It was the exact opposite of the Twilight Realm. Everything was dark. The clouds above swirled madly, lightning striking out nearly every second, striking to close for comfort. It had begun to rain lightly, though it got harder with each passing second. The grass was black and dying. The buildings were twisted and inverted. A large Castle stood in the center, though the towers twisted around, upside down and to the sides. Windows were broken and parts of the structure crumbled. Numerous Chaos soldiers moved about. A deep, sharp shadow lay on a cliff on the other side of the delapidated village. The Nox Shard.

Steel shouted. "We must reach the Nox Shard at all costs. Be careful though! Once destroyed, this place will fall apart! We'll need to escape before that happens!"

And, we have to find Al, Arata thought. He and their small contingent race down the slope, heading towards the village.

Chaos soldiers came to intercept them. They largely ignored the lot, only cutting down the ones required to continue on the path. Steel came in front, Bill and Arata to the sides, and Azk with the back. Steel knocked aside anything in his path with his powerful blade Shadikal, while Arata and Bill sliced and diced those who would choose to flank them. Azkikr brought out knife after knife after knife, unleashing his killing prowess upon the soldiers chasing them from behind.

It was soon visible that a large crowd of soldiers were converging on the center of the village; the halfway point. Someone appeared to fighting them, flashes of electricity frying the oncoming assailants. Arata rushed ahead of his group, recognizing the person in peril in an instant.

Arata joined up with Al, back to back. "We have to stop meeting like this!" He laughed, cutting down an oncoming spear-wielder.

Al nodded, chuckling as he dispatched a soldier with an large axe, lashing out at his with his electrified mace. "Trouble always seems to follow us!"

Arata shook his head, freezing large amount of raindrops in mid-air and sending down a rain of needles upon the enemy. "No, we're the ones chasing trouble!"

Steel came in, blasting a large fraction of the opposing forces away with a shot of Myst. Bill leapt at a soldier, stabbing him through the gut. Azkikr flew at another guard, scissoring his dual blades around the man's head and effectively decapitating him.

Arata bit the inside of his cheek as more forces came to assault them. They would need to fight better than this. He concentrated, remembering Rayzer's words.You can amplify the emotions of others... He let the Myst come forth, sensing the emotions of his friends and allies. The feeling of the fight, the anger and force driving their battle. He picked out that emotion in all of them and increased it, like inflating a balloon. He felt himself become more energetic, more ready, and more powerful.

Sure enough, they began to fight better. Bill drew Mandurugo, cutting through an entire line of opponents. Steel ran through a row without stopping, and Azkikr moved about with an impossible grace, easily dodging and slicing his opponents. Al's swings became faster, more powerful, as did Arata's.

The group of soldiers died away into nothing, and the group of five ran in the direction of the Nox Shard. The stone was in sight! But, their enthusiasm soon fell away into despair as an overwhelming shadow blocked their vision. There, blocking their near goal, was a monstrous ogre. The beast's skin was purple, and dozens of chaotic eyes rose up from its flesh. The monster had been equipped with an enormous axe, and only had rags to cover it.

The axe came down, the Knights barely able to move out of the way in time before it created a split in the ground. It soon cornered Steel, Azk, and Bill. Steel shouted out to Arata and Al. "Go! Destroy the Shard! We can handle this thing!"

The siblings nodded to each other, racing towards the stone of darkness.

Again, their hopes faded as another figure emerged, although not completely. The unwelcome sight of Fuketa came into the picture, a crazed grin on his ashy face. He had been completely healed! A loop hung from his neck, and attached to it was a small stone that gave off the same aura as the Nox Shard.

"Miss me boys?" He said. He drew Shimoyuke, it's dark liquid gurgling hungrily. The rain was terrible now. "Wondering how I'm so fit again?" He looked to the Nox Shard, running a hand over it affectionately, as though the stone were his mother.

Arata and Al could guess, but they remained silent.

Fuketa looked at them mockingly. "It's energy feeds me my dear boys. It's a part of me, as much as I am a part of you, Arata." He fingered the necklace he wore. "I even went as far as to make a little trinket. Do you like it?"

Al was the first to speak. "Enough games! Move aside. We're going to destroy that wretched piece of rock, whether you like it or not!"

Fuketa lowered his hand to his side, rolling his eyes. "Fine then." His eyes narrowed. "It's your funeral..." Suddenly Fuketa lunged, at both Arata and Al. He struck at both of them, Shimoyuke in one hand and a large, black ice blade in the other.

Though it was two on one, you never would have been able to tell. Fuketa had spoken the truth. The Nox Shard made him stronger. He was just as quick as both Arata and Alastor, blocking each of their strikes, as well as attacking them.

Al blocked a swipe from the ice sword, then kicked upwards, knocking the weapon away from Fuketa and off of the cliff. Fuketa snarled, focusing his attacks on Al. Arata lunged at Fuketa, though his strike was met by Shimoyuke. Black waters swirled around Fuketa's other hand, working to hold off Al's blows.

Alastor swirved around Fuketa bringing his mace hard into his back. Fuketa howled in pain, which was doubled as Arata put a thin slice down his side. Fuketa pushed back from both of them. He panted heavily, glaring at the brothers with absolute hatred.

"You want to play dirty? Fine." He slammed his hands on the ground, the water beneath the cliff shooting upwards behind him. It was just as dark and murky as the liquid that poured from his sword. He shot his hands forward, sending blades of water at each boy, determined to cut them to pieces. Arata felt a bite in his leg, knowing one of the deadly blades of liquid had touched him. Al gritted his teeth as one sliced oped his shoulder.

Fuketa stopped his assault, solidifying the water into a pillar of ice. He cackled, slamming a fist against it. The wall of ice spread down into the ground, shooting upwards in spires of frozen water. One managed to scrape Arata's back scar, sending him to the ground in a fit of pain. Al turned angrily to Fuketa, creating a large blade of wind and launching it.

The wind blade struck Fuketa in the side, easily tearing open the skin and ripping apart his shirt. Al rushed to Arata, who got up, leaning on one of the ice spikes for support. Arata panted heavily, blood oozing down his back and side. He glowered at Fuketa.

"What? Upset? Tough luck, Arata." He stressed his name, speaking it in an annoying, whiny voice.

Arata spit blood from his mouth, laughing. "You think you're the only one who can control ice?" He struck the spire he had used for support, breaking it into numerous fragments. He shot his arm outward, and the shards of ice sped forward, slicing Fuketa and stabbing into his right arm.

Fuketa grunted, trying not to show pain. "Good...you've already gotten better."
He spit at them. "Looks like I'll have to-"

But, he never got to finish. Because by the time he had gotten to speaking, Al had charged up an immense amount of electricity. He sent the lightning flying in a large orb. A nova of lightning. The ball struck Fuketa head on, wracking his body with electricity. He fell to his knees, still breathing, but not for long.

Arata thrusted Hokkyoku forward, a large stream of energized water shooting forth, and slamming into Fuketa with a deadly shockwave. Arata's doppelganger flew back, hitting the Nox Shard with a sickening crack. No movement.

Arata turned to look at his brother, who was smiling. "Come on. Let's destroy this hunk of rock." But, Arata had failed to noticed Fuketa's hand slowly sliding back against the Nox Shard, absorbing its energy.

Al's eyes went wide. He pointed. "Arata, look out! He's healing!"

But when Arata turned to face Fuketa, the man was no longer there. He felt a rush of wind behind him, and whirled around just in time to see the cold steel of Fuketa's blade plunge into Alastor's heart.
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Arata

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Posts : 74
Join date : 2010-07-21
Age : 23
Location : Under your couch

PostSubject: Re: Arata's Chronicle   Thu Jul 22, 2010 12:08 am



Chapter 14: Raining Tears

"No!" Arata shouted out in anger and fear as Fuketa drove his blade through Al's chest, coming out through to the other side. He shot himself at Fuketa, even as Alastor's form crumpled to the ground. He slammed Fuketa against the Nox Shard, his hand gripping his throat, Hokkyoku pointed towards his chest. "Damn you!" He stabbed forward, his own, white, pristine blade going clean through Fuketa's heart. Fuketa's breath stopped, the gurgling of blood able to be heard as it filled his throat.

Arata pushed further into Fuketa's chest, twisting the blade so as to cause his dark copy even more pain. All the while he yelled, rage fueling him. He shoved his Katana all the way through to the other side of the Nox Shard. Myst energy filled him and Hokkyoku, creating a blinding light. The energy travelled from him into Fuketa, and the Nox Shard, causing the stone to crack, then fall apart, its pieces falling down into the waters below.

Arata yanked his blade from Fuketa's body, watching as his darkside shrieked in pain and agony, tumbling down to his death after the Nox Shard, his body falling apart as he fell away into oblivion. At the loss of it's anchor, the Realm began to shake, the area beginning to die away. But that was not what attracted Arata's attention right now.

Arata turned around, rushing to his brother's side. He knelt down beside him, propping him up with his arms. He dropped Hokkyoku beside him, and gently pulled Shimoyuke from Al's body, causing his sibling to groan in pain. The blade broke into pieces, being carried off by the unstable winds, not that Arata noticed.

"Al? Al! Can you here me?" Arata looked down at his brother, placing a hand on his chest. He sensed the liquids running out of him....these were wounds Arata would not be able to fix. Much to Arata's relief, Alastor's eyes fluttered open. But they were not his normal, vibrant violet storms. These were quickly dulling bruises.

Alastor managed a nod, and to Arata's surprise, speech. "I...it hurts, Arata," he gurgled. Al coughed, blood spraying from his lips. He tried to sit up, but fell back on Arata's now upright knee, hand on his chest under Arata's. His ponytail had come undone, his hair spreading out at full length around him, adding even more to his disheveled appearance.

Arata swallowed, trying to force down the lump that was struggling up his throat. He blinked as his eyes became wet, and not from the merciless rain. "Careful...You'll make it worse Al."

Al nodded, another cough escaping him. Blood trickled from the corner of his mouth. "Arata...tell mom and dad, I'm sorry..."

Arata felt like he'd been slapped. He shook his head. "No..no. I won't have to. You can tell them yourself..." He looked around him, noting the fact that Bill, Steel and Azk were running towards him. They stopped though and kept their distance as they saw what was going on, and for that he was thankful. He tried to think of something else to speak about. "H-hey...remember when we found that den of baby foxes? A-and..and Dad wanted to kill them?"

Al laughed, but that only seemed to cause him more pain. "Yeah...but you wouldn't let him...You thought the babies were too cute.." He smiled, lips bloodied.

Arata nodded in nostalgia, carrying on the conversation, just to keep his sanity over the situation. "But he got mad," he said softly, chuckling a little. "And he wouldn't let us take them home..no matter how much-"

"-how much we begged...yeah," Al finished for him, remembering the time well. He gripped Arata's hand as tightly as he could, though the grip was feeble.

Arata laughed, rambling now. "So...your real name is Elheilin? So, can I call you El instead of Al?" He tried to smile, face twitching with conflicting emotion.

Al snorted incredulously, though the action caused him to grimace in great pain. Arata squeezed his hand. Al shook his head, looking up at Arata, chuckling. "No way in hell...I'll kill you where you stand."

Arata bit his lip. "I thought as much...Sorry." He looked up at the waiting three. Steel looked nervous, the Realm now dangerously close to falling apart entirely. "Hey, remember when.." He began, but Al held up his hand, as hard as it was.

"Please..Arata." His breathing was becoming extremely labored now, and each word seem to take more and more effort. "I want you to know...you, and mom, and dad. You guys...are my true family." Arata's breath hitched in his throat.

"Look, Al-"

"Please, let me finish.." He gripped Arata's sleeve with his other hand, holding on for dear life. "No matter...who I was born from....you guys are my family..You guys took...me..in. Raised..me to...be a good...man..." A long, blood filled breath was taken at each pause. Arata's eyes were filled with tears, and he had to blink several times to keep the drops of sadness at bay. Al spoke again. "I love you Arata...don't forget that...Always remember..."

The tears were free flowing now. Rivers of sorrow ran down his cheeks, falling down on Alastor's face in salty drops. Now, Arata was having a hard time breathing, barely able to swallow down the sobs that tore the inside of his throat. Al smiled at him, his grip loosening on Arata's shirt and hand. "Hey...don't cry...Men don't cry...do they?"
His hands fell away, and he looked up at Arata a final time. "You're a man now...Don't...cry..."

Then, the bright spark of life that were once in Al's eyes died away, and his head lolled to the side. His hearbeat slowed, and then stopped, a final breath leaving his body. A surreal wind blew past Arata, sending the chill of death down his spine, and he knew...he was gone.

He let the tears fall. A rain of tears. He sobbed and bent over his brother's body. Arata looked up to the crumbling skies and screamed,"Alastorrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Chapter 15: Resolve in Sorrow

Bill, Steel and Azk rushed to Arata, shaking him in an attempt to get him out of his numbed state. He looked up, seeing them, but not really seeing them. It was like a dream...it couldn't be real. Yet, Arata knew that even if he had the will to pinch himself...he wouldn't wake up, safe in his hammock.

Azkikr shouted, his voice garbled at first, but slowly making sense. "....hurry Arata! We have to go before this place falls apart!" He shook Arata's shoulder again, but Arata shook his head.

"He's gone.." He mumbled. His head fell again, fresh tears springing into his eyes. Suddenly, violet Myst began to rise from Alastor, moving away from his body.

Steel's eyes widened and he looked to Arata with a renewed sense of urgency. "Arata! Alastor's Myst is leaving him! You have to absorb it before it fades away! If it does, we'll never unlock the seals!"

Arata shook his head. "No!" He cried. He couldn't do this...not now.

Bill placed a hand on Arata's other shoulder. "Arata...I know it's hard, believe me. But...think of it as a way to keep part of your brother alive within you."

Arata sat there for a few more perilous seconds, then finally seemed to take Bill's words to heart. He nodded slowly, only a small part of his mind actually on the task at hand. The rest was still coping with the fact that his beloved brother...was no more. He closed his eyes, willing himself to grip Al's fading essence, accepting it into the folds of his own. The two Mysts melded, and Arata felt a quiet storm within him. It truly felt just like...Al.

The four of them got up, Arata refusing to accept help with carrying Al. It was his burden to bear. They cut it dangerously close, leaping through the rift portal just as the realm collapsed behind them.

-

One month later

Arata lay awake in his bed, staring up at the ceiling. His crystal blues were open wide, though they were dull and glazed over. Dark rings could be found beneath his eyes, signifying a severe lack of sleep. He had gotten thin, due malnourishment and stress. Everynight since his loss, he lay awake, his mind running over what had happened since his brother's...death.

When the four of them had returned from the Chaos Realm, Alastor's clanmates wept, watching with tear filled eyes as Arata carried him. Another stab of guilt had struck his heart as he walked by Eyra and Ico, failing to keep to his promise.

When they had returned to the Twilight Realm everything had gone back to normal. Children still laughed and played. Knights still practiced. The water still flowed and night and day still came and went. Rayzer and Finrod had led a ceremony for the burial of Alastor. When they had finished their traditional ritual, Alastor's essence burst from his body in a display of multicolored Myst, taken off by the wind to return to the Twilight. He had been buried by the water, his grave marked by the words "A silent storm and a true Twilight Knight."

And now, instead of recovering from his brother's passing, Arata was getting worse, day by day. He refused to eat, or sleep. He just couldn't get back into his training. No matter how hard he might try, he couldn't break free from the chains of sorrow that bound him in his prison of darkness. What would he do now? His only reason to keep going after the separation from his family had been remaining with Al. And now, even that was gone.

Arata pushed himself from his bed, slipping past Azkikr so as not to wake him up. He stepped out into the cold halls of the Twilit Keep, walking along slowly, shoulders slumped forward. He had developed a habit of walking late at night, until he became completely exhausted and at last fell asleep, only to be tormented by horrifying nightmares of past events.

He padded softly through the echoing hallways, but stopped as someone slipped out into the hallway as well. It was Leyla, in her nightgown. She turned her head, seeming to be looking for something...or someone. She stopped as she caught sight of Arata, still in his state of emotional disrepair.

She stepped towards him, hands behind her back. "Arata? Why are you up again?"

He shrugged, looking at her tiredly. "I could ask you the same thing.." His voice was strange to him. An alien sound. It sounded tired,older...and heart-breakingly sad.

She sighed, looking at him with those worried green eyes. "I-I...was actually looking for you." She stepped forward, only a few feet away. "I'm worried."

Arata turned slightly from her, looking away. "Yeah, you and everyone else. But don't bother being worried...there's nothing you can do about it."

Leyla gripped his face and twisted it so he was looking at her, glaring at him. "Yeah, maybe you're right. I can't do anything about it...but you can!"

"But I-"

"No. No 'buts'. You can't hide within your sadness. You can't wallow in sorrow and self-pity Arata," she said, determined to make him listen. "Do you think Al would want you to be like this? No! He would want you to move on, move forward with your life! Even if it still hurts a little.

"It's not easy. You think I like being like this? I don't....But I can't get past it..." Arata said, flicking his eyes down.

Leyla shook her head. "No..you can. You have to decide you're going to get by...and be happy again. It's for yourself as much as it is for us Arata. Look at me Arata." Arata hesitated. "Look at me!" His eyes eventually rose to meet Leyla's emeralds. "You need to choose to live again...and don't worry..." She let go of Arata's face and wrapped her arms around his torso, her face on his shoulder. She whispered in his ear. "I'll help you too..."

And, Arata rested his head on her shoulder. Though he knew he should rest, Arata remained in Leyla's embrace, not wishing to leave it.

-

The next two weeks had gone by rather quickly. After that night of talking to Leyla, he had taken her words to heart. She helped him in any way possible, and bit by bit, his shattered heart began to heal. He found himself sleeping, eating, and working hard again. The Twilight Knights had been generous with their grace period, allowing him to recover at his own pace. The Twilight Knights...no...his family helped him through the days. And he may never be quite the same. He may still hurt, but he could still find joy in each day.

It was time now. Finrod and Steel had requested for everyone to meet in the Sealed Chamber. Arata had left the sparring arena, on his way to the Keep. He stopped though as he passed the livestock holds. The man who bore the Shade Amulet, Frozen Fighter, stood there, feeding and tending to the most magnificent birds Arata had ever seen. Arata had noticed them before, but now was the first time he had ever taken the time to truly look at them.

They were white, with swirling black on their stomachs. Within the black were specks of shifting white, like stars in the night sky. Gold edged their wings. They were like large, ethereal doves. Frozen took notice of Arata, smiling with a bird on his arm. "Hey Arata. Glad to see you back on your feet."

Arata nodded. "Thanks. What kind of birds are these?"

Frozen looked at the majestic creature that sat on his arm. "Oh these? These are Twilit Doves. They're our special messengers. Why? Do you have someone you want to send a message to?"

Arata was about to say no, but then a thought crossed his mind. "Actually, yes. Do they know where Arcterra is?"

Frozen shrugged. "He should be able to find it if he gets your scent." The ranger gestured to the bird, which then proceeded to hop on Arata shoving its face in his hair and neck and clothes. "Now, just whisper him your message, and he'll remember it, and repeat it back to your target."

Arata nodded, whispering to the bird. He asked it to tell his parents of his well being, and of Alastor's fate, as much as it pained him to speak of it. The bird seemed to nod, then flew off, disappearing through the Twilight's Veil. "Thank you..."

-

Arata and the others stood in the circle surrounding Finrod. It was the same as before, only now, the cursed Nox Shard was no more, and one spot remained depressingly empty. As Finrod spoke, Myst rose off of everyone. Arata's characterstic blue was now mingled with a stormy violet. Al's essence. The orbs glowed in correspondance, including Al's. The glow intensified, until the room was awash with colors. It became not blinding, but soothing. A warm, embrace of light.

Arata was met by a vision. Not of the future, like Finrod's vision that was given to him before. But of the present. Maybe it wasn't even a vision. But, perhaps a visit, to the world of the being that he now bore witness to. He was in an icy field, watching as a majestic beast materialized before him. An unusually large fox, of a perfect snow-white. Swirls of dark blue marked its underside, legs, and the tips of its ears. It had eyes of the deepest azure. Four large tails flared out from behind it.

Arata heard a screech overhead. It sounded like a cry of sadness...of despair. A large, powerful falcon appeared overhead, hovering above the fox. It had three legs, and two pairs of wings. Two large, powerful wings, and a smaller pair beneath them. It's feathers were a dark black, with other feathers here and there of a beautiful violet and magnificent silver. The wind howled with it, as did the fox, joining its mourning cries. It was Alastor's....

The falcon's image disintegrated, falling over the fox in the form of a deep grey-ish purple cloak of torn material. The ripped cloak draped over the fox's back and shoulders, and Arata knew it would never fall.

The fox moved towards Arata, nuzzling his shoulder. It breathed in his ear. "I am Kudaku...Who are you, my boy?"

Arata smiled, runnning a hand across the Kudaku's face. "My name...? It's...Arata.."

Arata came to, and everyone else seemed to step out of a daze as well. Finrod nodded. "It is done."

-

Arata sat again out on the cliff, staring down at the beautifully reflective waters. He found himself returning to his old ways, watching the water in a dream-like state. He was surprised though, when he found Steel Fire sitting down next to him. The normally intimidating, battle-ready Emperor now sat next to Arata, golden armor off, as well as his crown. How odd it was to see his fearless leader in regular clothing, a common man for a change.

Steel smiled at Arata, eyes kind. "What are you doing out here Arata?"

Arata smiled as well, extending his bent legs out in front of him. "Thinking. Admiring the scenery." He turned his head to look at Steel. "You should do it more often."

Steel chuckled. "That I should. So tell me, Nightbreak Captain. What are you going to do now?"

Arata blinked, both surprised by the question and the fact that the Emperor had called him by his new rank. He thought about it for a moment, and then turned his gaze skyward. "What am I going to do? I guess.....Follow the wind."
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