Claim of Ownership: All characters and situations presented in this story are copyrighted (©) as of February 17, 2005 by Lauren Kollett, AKA the Dragon Mistress. All characters and situations are entirely fictional and exist wholly in the author's imagination; any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Warnings: Mild language, yaoi (m/m) content. Nothing graphic.
Note: All full names are written in the traditional Japanese format of Family Name-First Name.
"The... Oracle?" Mayumi was confused, but Hikari and Kurai surprised her by bowing deeply to Mirei. Mayumi straightened up and looked from her guardians to the transfer student. "Umm... is anyone going to tell me what's going on?"
Hikari rose. "The Oracle was the great Seer of our lifetimes. You might call her a fortune-teller."
"Then... she's as old as you two?" Mayumi asked. "She sure doesn't look old... have you had plastic surgery?" she asked Mirei suspiciously.
"No," Mirei said, gritting her teeth.
"The Oracle does not possess her own body, my lady," Hikari explained. "She is born again and again in different reincarnations, using the person she chooses as her vessel until that person's death. Her spirit enters a child at birth, and she becomes that child."
"Oh." Mayumi was still confused, but she tried to appear as if she understood. "So you can see the future?"
"Yes. But my powers have been useless for a long time. Something is preventing me from seeing most of the future. I can see some things - for instance, two weeks ago I foresaw the awakening of Kurai and Hikari. After beholding that vision, I hastened to be transferred here to Tokyo. I knew I would be needed, but for what, and when, I could not tell." Mirei smoothed her skirt.
"There's not much that can interfere with your powers, Oracle." Kurai frowned.
"Please, call me Mirei. And no, there isn't much... except for very strong demon magic. Can't you sense it? The demon force is growing every day. I've only been here for two days, but I can sense the powers which are converging. Angel forces are becoming strong as well. It won't be long before the war begins."
"War?" Mayumi asked, alarmed. "What war?"
Mirei fixed her with a solemn stare. "You haven't told her yet?" she asked the two creatures.
"Not all of it," Hikari answered softly.
Mirei sighed. "Well, then. You, girl, listen - when you awoke Hikari and Kurai, you brought a curse upon the kingdom you love. The angels, the Seraphim, will come to exact punishment for sins that took place centuries ago. As the one who broke the imprisonment of the sinners, and allowed them to live freely together once more, the Seraphim will punish you as well. And the demons will arrive. While the Seraphim will have mercy on you, the demons will not. They will kill you without a moment's hesitation. Their lust for blood and violence precedes all else, and their leader, Kurai's brother Wolf, has instructed his followers to kill anyone who stands between himself and his brother. A war between angels and demons is inevitable, and I'm afraid the human world will be involved."
"What was that about Kurai's b-brother?" Mayumi whispered, looking at Kurai.
"Kurai is second-strongest only to his elder brother, Wolf. That monster has ravaged the human world, and in centuries past has been the creator of the chaos that leads to all of mankind's gravest grievances. Do you not understand the name?" Mirei looked hard at her. "He is the Wolf, the Serpent, the Fallen Angel. He is Lucifer, Satan, Emma. I believe your kind calls him the Devil. He is the fiend responsible for the death of the angel Haruna, and of the confusion and anarchy following her departure. It takes a supremely evil being to kill an angel, and Wolf is probably the only one who could do it."
Mayumi couldn't breathe. Her heart was pounding in her chest. She swallowed hard, and found that she was trembling violently. She clutched at her collar, whimpering slightly. Until now she had not realised what danger she was in. But Mirei's words had hit home, and suddenly Mayumi wished she had never wandered into the antiques shop at all.
Hikari bent and embraced her. Mayumi was flooded with a warm, tingling feeling. She stopped trembling, and hope blossomed in her chest. Hikari was so warm, so soothing. Mayumi was instantly comforted. Though she had by no means forgotten the terrible news, she felt better about it now.
"We will do our best to protect you," Hikari whispered. "To us, Mayumi-sama, you are a goddess. You set us free and have agreed to help us achieve our goal. If we die protecting you, it will be an honour. Now, please, have courage. You must put your trust and hope in us - and in Mirei-sama, as well."
"Okay," she whispered back.
"Good girl." Hikari released her, and Mayumi smiled at him. It was hard to be afraid when she looked at his gentle, smiling face.
Kurai reached out and squeezed her shoulder. Mayumi smiled back at him as well, and looked at Mirei. Well, if she had to work with the girl... "We should properly introduce ourselves. Kawanami Mayumi."
Mirei looked surprised, but she bowed back. "Nagayama Mirei."
"Er... would you like to have lunch with us?"
The smile on the girl's face was answer enough.
"Kurai... why didn't you tell me about all this earlier?"
Mayumi and her guardians were on their way home. Mirei lived in the opposite direction from school, so she had not accompanied them. Kurai sighed and reached up to touch the broken chain hanging from his collar, looking suddenly miserable.
"Forgive me, my lady. I should have, but I was afraid you would refuse to help us if you knew what danger you were putting yourself in. I have nothing but concern for your well-being, but reaching Xanadu is important. My brother... truly is evil, and if he succeeds... in his plan to destroy us... he could bring an end to the human world, and attack the angels' realm. My lady, you are one of few humans imbued with powers that can help keep the human world from destruction. And in doing so, you keep the angels' realm safe. Though you play such an important role, I was simply afraid you would refuse your task if you knew what could happen."
Mayumi was speechless for a second; who ever knew she would be looked to to protect the world? But she managed to pat the demon on the arm and smile reassuringly. "It's all right. Don't feel bad. I'll work hard to improve my skills, and I have complete faith in you and Hikari. I'm sure everything will be all right."
Both creatures smiled back. Mayumi decided to ask another question while they were in an answering mood. "Mirei mentioned an angel named Haruna," she said brightly. "Who was she?"
If she wasn't mistaken, a flash of unease passed over their faces. There was something odd about Hikari's voice when he answered. "Haruna was one of the Seraphim, my lady. She was held in high regard and was known as the wisest, fairest judge in the angels' realm. But sadly, she was murdered by Wolf shortly before Kurai and I met."
"Oh." Mayumi was mortified. She could tell the topic was not one which Hikari wanted to discuss, and she regretted asking. "I'm sorry."
He only smiled faintly and looked up at the bank clock. Nothing anyone could say would dull the pain of Haruna's death. "I think it is time to be getting home, my lady. After all, you have homework to do before you practise your magic."
She brightened instantly. "Will you teach me something new today?"
"I think I shall. You are doing quite well with levitation."
Mayumi skipped down the sidewalk, tugging impatiently at her guardians' hands. None of them noticed the shadowy figure perched in the tree nearby. Narrow eyes focused on the trio, and the shadowy figure spoke.
"I've found them, my Lord."
"I'm done, Hikari!" Mayumi slammed her French book shut.
"Very good, my lady." Hikari had been lost in old memories, but he shook them from him as his lady sunk to the floor next to him. "You've done quite well with levitation."
"Thanks, but I'm not that great," Mayumi said modestly. The truth of it was, though she hadn't been practising long, her levitation skills had doubled since her first attempt. She kept trying to lift things whenever possible - last night she had been able to lift the shampoo bottle for the duration of her bath. It was an immensely satisfying feeling.
"You're doing better than expected. Now, we will halt levitation for awhile in order for you to perfect a much more important spell - the magic shield. You will find it will come in handy, and it is the first Defensive spell a novice magician learns to wield. Attack magic takes a long time to perfect, but a shield is easy. In case of an unexpected attack by demons, you will be protected long enough for someone to come to your aid."
"Okay," Mayumi said.
"Defensive magic is almost the same as Attack magic. An incantation must be said in order for the spell to work. In this case, all you need to say is 'Magic Shield!' and you will be protected. As with levitation, the shield will increase in strength as your powers mature."
"Okay." Mayumi tried to remember it all. "I'll do my best."
"I'm sure you will." Hikari finally smiled. "Forming a shield is a bit more difficult than levitating an object. To create a shield, you must manipulate both the air and your own chi to form an impenetrable barrier. The best way to do it would be to imagine a dome or bubble of sorts surrounding you. You must concentrate in the utmost, or else the shield will have weak points vulnerable to enemy attacks. Do you understand?"
"Yes." Mayumi sat up straighter. Hikari backed away, and motioned to Kurai.
"I will attempt to attack you, my lady," Kurai said quietly. "Do not be afraid - I'm not going to hit you with anything strong. The worst you should feel is something like a mild breeze. But if you form your shield correctly, you won't feel anything at all. Are you ready?"
She took a deep breath and nodded. "Yes, I'm ready." She kept her eyes on him, waiting for his attack.
He extended a hand. "Razor Breeze!"
Mayumi summoned a mental picture of a dome in her mind. "Magic Shield!"
Nothing happened; she winced as the attack blew over her. It didn't hurt, but it was cold. It had a feel to it that was deadly. She was sure even such a mild attack could severely wound someone, and was glad Kurai was making it weak on purpose. "Why didn't it work?"
"Just picturing the shield won't do," Hikari said. "You must focus your energy on that image, and will it into existence."
"Okay." Mayumi turned back to Kurai. "I'm ready!"
Mayumi concentrated her will on the image in her mind. For a brief second, the air in front of her flashed golden. Then the cold breeze brushed her arm, and she cried out.
"That was better!" Hikari beamed. "You made the shield appear, and it deflected most of the attack. But you didn't quite make it. There was a breach in the shield. Try again."
"Okay!" Mayumi turned to Kurai, determined.
This time, the air turned golden; a small dome surrounded Mayumi, lighting up the room. Kurai's attack bounced off harmlessly and vanished.
"I did it!" Mayumi jumped up and down. "Did you see?"
"Quite excellent!" Hikari looked proud. "Very magnificent! That's what a magic shield should do!"
Kurai smiled down at her. "Good job."
"Thanks!" Mayumi couldn't help but feel pleased.
"You'll have to practice against stronger techniques, though," Hikari continued. "Kurai has been taking it quite easy on you so far, but next time you will have to face a stronger version of the attack. But now I think you should go to bed."
"One more go?" Mayumi begged. "Please, please? I want to try again!"
Kurai shrugged. Hikari sighed. "Only once more," he said sternly. "Then bed."
"Okay!" Mayumi looked at the demon. "Go ahead! Make it stronger this time!"
Kurai looked as though he was doing this against his better judgment, but he complied. "Razor Breeze!"
The shield flickered to life. Mayumi whooped, then gasped as the shield split in front of her. Kurai's attack washed over her. It hurt this time, and Mayumi gasped again and sank to the carpet. There were small gashes on her legs, arms, and neck, each dribbling blood.
"I'm sorry, Mayumi-sama." Kurai knelt beside her with a box of tissues. He began to dab lightly at the tiny wounds, as Hikari disappeared to fetch band-aids. "I should have gone with the less powerful version..."
"No, it's okay!" Mayumi reassured him. "It was my fault... I told you to make it stronger..."
"This is why you shouldn't press yourself," Kurai told her. "You are still a novice, and using spells, no matter how small, wears you out very quickly. It will be awhile before you can use magic for a long time without getting tired."
"I'm sorry," Mayumi mumbled, feeling ashamed.
"Don't be." Hikari had returned. He knelt beside her, and he and Kurai began applying band-aids to Mayumi's wounds. "It is important for you to know your limits. If that had been a real battle, you would have been killed. But now that you understand your limits, you can better use your magic. Under no circumstances should you ever use magic if you are the least bit tired."
"Okay." Mayumi really was tired. She waited until they had finished cleaning up the band-aid wrappers, then climbed into bed. "Thank you," she said shyly. "I know it must be a strain on you both to try and teach magic to someone as stupid as me. But I'll try hard, and I'll do everything you tell me to."
"You have a good heart, Mayumi-sama, and a pure soul. It is no hardship to serve and teach you. Goodnight."
"Goodnight." Mayumi smiled as they left, shutting off the lights and closing the door behind them. She hugged her stuffed unicorn and closed her eyes. Even the faint stinging of her cuts couldn't keep her awake, and she was asleep in seconds.
In a house not far away, someone else was sleeping less easily. Mirei had been tossing and turning in her sleep for several minutes before waking with a gasp. She sat up, looking around her dim bedroom, clutching the sheets to her chest.
Her dreams had been haunted by several disturbing, fragmented images she couldn't make hide nor hair of. Normally, her dreams were crystal-clear testaments to the future, but the veil of demon magic hanging over Japan now was interfering with her visions.
The foremost figure in her dream had been a shadowy figure wielding two sharp blades. Mirei had an uneasy feeling that the figure was a person Mayumi would meet quite soon. Troubled, Mirei laid back down, frowning at the luminous glow of her alarm clock.
To Be Continued.
A/N: Hello, all. Another chapter gone. I was slow on this one. I apologise. I'll try not to do it again! Anyway, how are you all liking the story so far? Are you all curious about this 'shadowy figure'? What about Haruna? All I can say is that you must read on! All will be revealed as we go along. Have patience! (I'm so cruel, to bait you like this...) Would you like to know more top-secret information on our four main characters? Yessiree! Some more info, coming right up! Mayumi: Favourite Colour, purple; Favourite Food, crab; Hobby: Watching anime and playing video games Hikari: Favourite Colour, blue; Favourite Food, sweets; Hobby: Taking naps and being with Kurai Kurai: Favourite Colour, black; Favourite Food, tuna; Hobby: Daydreaming and being with Hikari Mirei: Favourite Colours, black and dark red; Favourite Food, ramen; Hobby: Sitting quietly and reading a good book They're a very peaceful bunch, it seems. I love them all so much. How do you feel about them?)
Would you like to know more top-secret information on our four main characters? Yessiree! Some more info, coming right up!
Mayumi: Favourite Colour, purple; Favourite Food, crab; Hobby: Watching anime and playing video games
Hikari: Favourite Colour, blue; Favourite Food, sweets; Hobby: Taking naps and being with Kurai
Kurai: Favourite Colour, black; Favourite Food, tuna; Hobby: Daydreaming and being with Hikari
Mirei: Favourite Colours, black and dark red; Favourite Food, ramen; Hobby: Sitting quietly and reading a good book
They're a very peaceful bunch, it seems. I love them all so much. How do you feel about them?)