Okay, I've got this major exam coming out next week. I have no idea what I'm doing in front of the computer, but this is the first time I'm updating after… almost a month! Feels longer than that, though… Anyway, thanks to:-
FenrirRagnarokRabbit-Girl and Tears of Blood and Diamonds!
I really appreciate all your reviews! It inspires me to write more! XD Enough of small talk – on with the story…
There was a time…
Long, long ago...
I came here before, right?
So many times…
Climbing and spinning…
Tripping and falling…
Whimpering and crying…
Going all the way here…
Just to meet with…
Lightning drummed in the far distance. The wind was picking up and getting stronger by the minute. The rain hammered down jus as mercilessly here. Yuu, Rei and Kakeru had landed in a small stream that had already started to overflow due to the rain. Yuu felt her throat tighten as she looked over the expanse of land.
It was barren, other than ten massive barracks. Each had a space of about five hundred meters from each other. Foliage and creepers grew here and there. Dust covered every single thing and the entire place released a sense of abandonment. In the far distance, they could see another cluster of barracks. Even further behind, small blocks of light from the city could be seen.
The way in to the barracks was fenced.
"It's kind of funny to build a city so close to this creepy place, huh?" Rei murmured. Yuu didn't reply, but Kakeru took a step closer to Rei.
"I couldn't get us closer. I'm sorry… It's like there's something that's blocking the way in." he said, reaching out for the rusted fence. He frowned. Rusted? A place like this would usually be more… maintained.
The wind whistled noisily and the shutters on the barracks banged open and close. Kakeru scanned what he could see. Sensing no danger, he reached further for the fence.
And he instantly got jolted backward.
Rei's voice brought Yuu back to reality. Her head snapped to them and she readied herself to fight someone, only to see Kakeru sitting on the dirt with Rei over him. She instantly relaxed.
"You tried to touch the fence, huh?" she said. Kakeru scowled. So did Rei.
"Apparently, yes." Rei replied sarcastically.
"And apparently you know more about this place than I think you do." Kakeru continued, feeling irritated. His grandfather had thought him of many ways to detect danger, enemies and barriers. He hadn't felt anything. And even now, after being repelled by the barrier, he still couldn't sense it.
"Apparently, you're right." She replied as she turned away from them and looked upon the fence. "This land here doesn't belong to the Council. It belongs to the Ishida. And whatever that belongs to them, they protect with their lives. You can't destroy something you can't see, or something you can't sense. The wards surrounding this place… the traps… the defense of this entire thing is flawless. Only those with a key can enter. Attacking the barrier is suicidal." She continued. Rei's scowl deepened.
"You could've told us that." He snapped. She shrugged. Kakeru stared at Rei. "You didn't know but she did? How come?" he asked. Rei's scowl still hadn't disappeared. "Yuu's mom is an archeologist. She always followed her around until she was seven. That's when she entered school." He replied, standing up while offering a hand to Kakeru. Blinking, Kakeru accepted it.
"Oh." Was all he said.
Yuu, on the other hand, was facing the fence. Her hair whipped in the wind and her eyes were expressionless.
"Kakeru, can your Spirit feel Rin anywhere?" she asked. Kakeru called out Zin. His Spirit pointed to the west of them where the other barracks were. Yuu nodded.
"I'll explain a few things. There are four places here within a league in radius. They are all the Old Barracks. This," she gestured to the rusted fence and what was beyond it. "Is one of them. You're Spirit may be able to feel Rin, but that's about it. Over here, your sixth sense is dulled. You didn't realize the difference because it's been this way since we left the city. I don't know why it happened in there, but this isn't the time.
"Right now, the only one with enough power to track Yui is probably Rin. She led us here. But that's the only lead we have. We'll have to split. Yui's definitely not here. I can't sense her side of the bond here. It feels further off. Kakeru, you go over to help Rin. Rei, you go over to the barracks to the north of us. I'll be going down to the east of us." She replied. Rei grabbed her arm before she could leave.
"Wait – these barrier things. The other barracks have them, right? What about us? There's no way we can break through it." He snapped. She raised an eyebrow.
"Don't 'oh, yeah' me! What the hell are we going to do?!"
"Our dark element." Surprisingly, this came from Kakeru.
"Don't you get it, Rei?" Kakeru asked. "You're going to the north of us. I'll be heading to the west, and Yuriko will be going to the east. The way I'm going is the north. The place we are right now is the west. That means you're going to the east and Yuriko is going to the south."
"… I still don't get it." He replied. He was answered with a whack on his head.
"Remember what sensei taught us?" Yuu scowled, standing over Rei with her fist still in a shameless stance of proof. "North represents water. West, earth. South, fire. The barrier repelled him because he is of water, not earth. And we're all of darkness. That's common for the Ishida." She waited for him to stand up. "This is a pattern to unlock the seal. I want you guys to show it to me once, then we're splitting. And hurry – I don't want to know why they want to bring Yui here of all places."
'I know. I saw them. They've split up.'
"How are things on your side?"
'Boring. How's the kid?'
"Unconscious. She was making too much noise for my liking."
'... Will things be alright after this?'
'Yeah, I mean she's just a kid. Her powers probably haven't matured yet, so how's she gonna help us?'
"If we don't act now, it'll be too late. We have no other choice."
'… That other girl that came earlier – she froze the entire north barracks. Lash was there. I don't know the outcome, but he doesn't seem to be responding.'
'Lash's an idiot.'
'He is also the strongest among us.'
'But he's still an idiot.'
"The bothof you, shut it. I see someone coming."
'Oh? Who is it?'
"A black haired kid. Wind elemental."
'Is that so? Have fun then, Dart.'
'Make sure the girl doesn't get hurt.'
Dart looked behind his shoulder to the sleeping eight-year-old. She had barely reached his waist, and she had tried to attack him when he kidnapped her. Her power was puny now, but he could feel more than see the potential that she had. It was her. It had to be. Her Spirit should be surfacing soon… and it was the ability of her Spirit that he needed most.
He studied the black-haired child sleep for a moment longer, then walked slowly towards her. He watched her for a moment. The soft, shoulder-length black hair that cascaded over her face. Her closed eyes that would reveal silver-blue eyes. The small hands that supported her head. His expression softened for awhile, then he lowered his head next to her ear.
"I'm sorry…" he whispered, then stood and left.
For truly, he was.
The entire place was covered with ice. It was as if the barracks sat in an expanse of tundra. Most of the buildings were half-gone, blasted away. Chunks from some of the barracks hung in midair suspended in ice. A cold wind started moving towards the south due to the higher pressure there. One barracks that barely looked like one anymore stood at the far end, a big ice crystal. It stood like a frozen skyscraper.
The rusted fence were frozen and looked as if it would break with the slightest touch. The entire place was quiet except for the wind and the occasional crash of ice on ice. No windows creaked, and no doors slammed. Everything was frozen.
Even the barrier's interior.
Kakeru shivered slightly. The place here wasn't just cold. It was freezing. The interior of the barrier was frozen – and the barrier wasn't physical. From what he found out from Yuu, it was simply made out of power. Power had no physical form – at least, not in this world. If the barrier was frozen from the inside, it only meant that the people who had battled here had a lot of power. It would take about… twenty ordinary elementals in the least to make this possible.
He gulped and took a step forward. His finger brushed against the barrier. This time, it didn't repel him the way the barrier of the western barracks did. He idly sketched the pattern that he had learned from Yuu with then essence of his elements. He felt something click, and then he could hear something calling out to him, beckoning him to enter. He did.
Once he was within the barrier, it shut itself behind him. At the same moment, he felt a blast of icy wind hit him. It was freezing outside – inside was worse. He could make out the puffs of his breathing. Shivering, he walked forward to the gate. It was blown off and frozen like so many of the other things inside. He touched the ice – it was pretty recent.
His Spirit surfaced and took a look around. 'I feel her. She's over there.' He said, pointing to the ice skyscraper. Kakeru looked at it. Ishida Rin was there… trapped. By who? How? The moment he met her, he knew that she was special. Not to him, but to the element the both of them shared. Important. Crucial. She was all that.
She was powerful.
And she was trapped.
"Zin… who – no… what is Ishida Rin to us? To everything that is water…"
'I don't know. And although I really want to find out… I keep having this feeling that I shouldn't…'
Kakeru frowned for a moment, but then shrugged it off and walked forward. There were more important things to take care of right now. If Rin was trapped by someone stronger than her, then…
'You're thinking too much. Why did you agree to help them anyway? The Ishida have nothing to do with you.'
"Because I think too little so I jumped right in. Besides, I might as well help since I can."
'You can't contact your grandfather from here. He'll kill you when you get back.'
"Urgh. Don't remind me. Know any way to keep me warmer?"
Rei scowled at the barrier. He could feel Yui beyond it. His bond with her was just as close as Yuu's. The eastern barracks didn't seem that different from the western – as a matter of fact, it looked so similar he wondered if he had walked in a circle despite traveling in a straight line. If it wasn't for the presence…
He traced a pattern on the invisible barrier the way Yuu had taught him and felt something being unlocked. Then he heard something. Something calling. Something beckoning to him. Gulping, he entered the barrier. Immediately, it snapped shut behind him. Alarmed, he quickly called out his Spirit.
"You actually found us here. I'm impressed."
He turned away from the barrier just as quickly and looked at the owner of the voice. He stood on the roof of the nearest barracks. His clothes looked as if it hadn't been washed in months. His face was hard… and scarred. Rei prepared himself.
"Oh, the little girl?" the man sniggered. "There's no way I'm telling you."
"Then I'll just have to MAKE you tell me!" He yelled as he called upon his element.
Where were you?
I'm sorry I was late…
It was only once!
I came all the way here…
Just to see you…
Yuu looked upon the southern barracks. Her feet shuffled, causing a cloud of dust to stir up. Yui was not here. She already knew that from the start. She knew that Yui would be at the eastern barracks. That was the only place she was allowed to enter. She knew, but she had abandoned her sister to come here. She had left it all to Rei. And if Rin was trapped, Kakeru should be able to help her.
So why was she here?
She felt it again. The slam of power against her dam. She crouched and held her stomach, fighting the bile down her throat. If there was one way for her to explode to smithereens because she couldn't even contain her own power, this was the place. The barrier where she and only a selected few could. No one would be involved. She wanted to save Yui. She wanted to save here so much. But…
'I might just end up hurting her more..'
Her power was going out of control. The reason?
Her dark element.
-The darker element puts a lot of stress on the body, especially on children..-
Rei had a major headache. Rin was down with fever. She? She was a different matter altogether.
She had been suffering the side-effects until this day.
'Having an abundant power poured in at a young age… Eight years later, I still can't contain the power…'
She looked at the barracks, and stood up. It hadn't changed. At all. It was still the same. From the slamming shutters that used to make her jump ten feet in the air and the creaking doors. The same rusted fence that hovered fifteen feet above her head had reduced. She sketched the pattern that she hadn't used for years and waited for the barrier to open. It opened and welcomed her with that sweet calling…
She entered and didn't even turn around as the barrier snapped shut behind her. She walked closer to the gate and brushed the padlock with her hands. She had to stretch to reach it the last time, but now…
She hadn't been here since six years ago.
She lifted the lock, then realised something. It had been opened recently. Her eyebrows snapped together. Who? Growling under her breath, she stepped back. She continued backwards until her back touched the barrier.
"You watched me train as a child here… Watch me now." She whispered. She pulled back the long sleeves of her uniform. Cloth wasn't as fireproof as her. She held out her right hand towards the gate.
Her right arm burst into flame. With one swift motion, she sent the flame flying towards the gate. It smashed open. Nonchalantly, she walked towards it and passes it.
Only her eyes moved to his direction. He clapped his hands as he leaned against the rusted door frame. His eyes glinted as he grinned.
"Keep me entertained, girl. Don't disappoint me."
It continued observing. The time was soon… Very soon.
They were too young.
It had to call its followers now, although… It glanced at the four barracks'. Its eyes lingered on the ice skyscraper at the northern barracks for a moment before resting at the southern barracks. She was there. It bit back a feeling of sorrow and turned away.
It didn't have a choice.