Note: Howdy. Been a long long long long long time, hasn't it. If you are still reading this, I love you. If you are not... well, you won't be seeing anything hahaha. My excuse is simple: school, college, last year, four classes, no time to write. Now, it's summer, and I have yay, more time to write... just not this story, but other stuff. Ahahah... Anyway, read on. If it makes sense, then yay. If not, give me all the constructive criticisms you can produce in one day lol. That's all, thanks for those that are still reading. I heart you (laugh)
Chapter 54: White Dreamscape, Peripheral Gateway
"… Final round." I muttered beneath my breath, staring at my opponents. By the way, I happened to believe that I had also become like them; perpetually drunk.
"Yupper, Z's final cards… hehe." Sumire said with a soft, waxy voice down my left ear.
"N-no matter what result, Z… will lose to my cards, and then… he'll be by my side… hah…" With her face unusually red, Aria had continued to embrace my right arm, and of course, her cards were as obvious as day… not one with high luck, but then I didn't really care.
"Ooh… thiz waz rather hard… fo'sure, ugh. Z… c'mon, help me already; I 'aint wanna lose to that big silly goose sitting yonder." Unfortunately, while my two arms were taken, Narci's two arms had folded around my neck, and she was pressing against my back, her cards held up for me to see.
"Eh? What? Silly goose ya call'd me? Why I 'aughta spank- eh, anyway, like ya said, Z, final round; as soon you set down them cards, the final cards be laid out. Ya'ready?" Completely oblivious to the fact that certain three players had completely ignored the rules and that I was almost completely restricted of movement and soon to suffocate, Kiri eyed me with misty irises; yup, he's drunk, and his jaws were slacken, but like he'd care.
Little information could be drawn from the above dialogues, so allow me to depict a better scene that fit the present situation. Actually, the whole reason why I didn't bother to stare at any opponents other than Kiri was because I feared that the shock would be too much that I'd be instantly sober and drown in my own nose bleeding; if such were the case.
Sumire, losing to the point of wearing nothing except black lingerie, had ensnared my left arm of most of its movements, and her presence was awfully close to my ear. Since when had it gotten to her to dress in such a… sexy attire?
Narcissu, embraced against my neck, breathing down from above the sitting me… I reckoned that she was wearing bra… or it might have just been her clothes; whatever was the case, it felt like there was nothing that prevented her from assaulting my back with those… so naturally, I was distracted enough to not catch her cards at all.
Aria... no, I refuse to look. If I looked, I might as well just pray to Buddha and then commit seppaku; neither choice my real fancy, or even made the least amount of sense - I'm Christian damn it. She… had about as much luck as me, and if I were to think any harder than my drunken state, then I'll have to rethink of what was really coming in contact with my right arm, or how white/pink/I don't know what color it was/I don't want to know her underwear looked. Wait, did I just utter something completely inappropriate for young adults? Ugh, it's just so hard because I'm a guy and all, and the three of them had shocked me so much with their drunken actions that I've become desensitized.
Kiri, to my complete and utter amazement, was down to only his t-shirt and shorts, while I… yes, a pair of boxers; great, just great. Now it made sense, right? Yes, I was drunk, very; I'd like to stay drunk, away from actual reality for reality's sake…
"… Alright, flip over your last cards!" I announced, somehow possessing coherent speech.
The other four flipped over their last pairs of cards. I had two Kings – diamond and clover. Sumire had an Ace and Ten, both diamonds. Narci had a nine, and ten, both spades. Aria had a two and three, both spades. Kiri had a nine and a ten as well, both heart.
"Well, this can go either ways, but it looks like I won't lose this time!" I exclaimed, betting on the high chance that my pair would lead to something good.
And so the five of us, drunk, wearing barely anything, watched as the three final cards were turned over on the table. End result: Jack, Queen, King, all spades.
"… You've got to be KIDDING ME!" I howled in anguish, the grip of others somehow increased as a surge of unease washed over me.
Final results indicate that Sumire's cards became a straight, Aria's a flush, Kiri's a straight, and Narci… what the hell… a Straight Flush!? Oh and I had a triple. It's obvious that I… lost. It's even more obvious when the two 'very attractive and barely clothed' sisters turned around and stared at me like hungry predators. I had a great desire to flee just then, as aqua and violet irises gazed at me with intoxicating and seductive luster. However, they had me in arm lock, and I was busy trying hard not to stare and quell this raging… eruption that's pulverizing my sanity like a charging tank.
Did I mention also that any help from Narcissu and Kiri was impossible? Since in the very end, Narci's cards defeated that of Kiri's, her sapphire irises had an unusual flare in them, something that's not icy, but instead burnt with certain flames akin to the color of her flushed cheeks. Last I saw them with my limited attention span was Narci standing over a defeated Kiri, a mischievous grin over her face. There was sound of impacts, yells, screams, laughs, and I concluded I no longer remembered anything after that.
"NOOOO I DON'T WANT TO STRIP!" I yelled, last thing I remembered as the twins locked on to the target – me, and pounced.
When I opened my eyes once again, it appeared that many hours had passed and I had lost track of where I was. A white ceiling greeted me, and I realized that I had fallen asleep. There was no lingering headache or any source of dizziness that would normally accompany one intoxicated with liquor the previous night. That hangover would hopefully never arrive till I was at least legal enough to drink. Still, the events that transpired last night were convoluted and hazy. So then, would someone explain to me why did my limbs and body felt so heavy?
I put more strength into them, but to no avail. Something was in contact with my bare skin, and when I struggled to move, soft sounds came from around me. Cold realization hit me hard then as senses came back to me; I was surrounded by something, warm, soft, pressed against my sides, my arms, and parts of my torso. Warm breath blew past parts of my neck and arm, and Red alarms flared inside my mind, telling me that somehow I knew what the sensations were, and that my heart rate was working like an over-clocked piston driver, and my blood was boiling well above boiling point.
Now, the question remained: did I want to confirm with my own eyes, the soft and smooth flesh that caressed my body, and this warm sensation of 'them' so close to me, because right now, I could set my mind to denial and perhaps evade over-thinking and possible repercussions that involved all the blood rushing up to my head followed by an unpleasant "pop", or the fact that in the morning, with this much shock treatment, what was already a phenomenon of the male anatomy now induced even more pain than it ever should, poised for… forget it.
Aria was resting with her amber hair disheveled caressing against my bare chest, her warm breath tickling against my skin and her beautiful visage that would make even angels jealous. Needless to say, she was barely clothed, as much as I was, and the softness of her well-endowed chest against me was seventh heaven, despite losing circulation on my right arm. Did I mention that her legs were locked against mine in a tight embrace, her thighs pushing close to where they shouldn't?
As if that weren't enough, her sister, Sumire, just happened to occupy my left side, her face so close against my neck and left cheek that I was paralyzed, for fear that if I turn to look at her dreamy face, her eyes would snap open and turn this scandalous fantasy into a hellish nightmare. Apparently, one of her arms was placed nearing my nether region, and the other hooked around my neck halfway through a hug.
I won't deny it. I was one-hundred-percent guy, and this was the cruelest torture and the most euphoric nirvana I had ever experienced in my life. In fact, I'd be rather sad if it ended right now, because the caged animal in me was screaming in fanatic rage, and it was taking all my willpower to keep it in check. It made me recall something that I had seen before, when a guy woke up with several girls in his arms: harem. What should a healthy guy like me do in this situation?
Option A: pretend to fall asleep while praying to the lord so that if they had woken up I won't be obliged to answer why they woke up seeing me half naked and staring at them with bloodshot eyes.
Option B: wake them up gently and try to keep it civil so as to not induce them into panic, since it's probably the first hangover they had ever experienced. Pretty sure that they'll understand this was all just a misunderstanding.
Option C: Screw options A and B, and just escape. Escape because I was a man and I'd like to keep everything important intact.
Well, since I possessed an uncanny power, it's best to escape from this situation as soon as possible, so all I needed to do was to concentrate, lace that image correctly in my mind, and execute. Sounded simple, right?
"Teleport!" I whispered through my teeth, trying hard to pit my mind to direct the destination at the living room. The world grew dark, the sounds grew fainter, and I thought I had gotten away from it all, except-
"Huh?" I said out loud in surprise. The power had activated, but instead of getting me where I should be, I found myself on a spacious and soft bed with both Sumire and Aria still attached to me. This was the first time my power had completely failed me, and what was even worse was that the two girls were stirring, and I was still in my boxers! Could this somehow be… subconscious-level factoring that affected my powers?!
"Mmm… ah… hey, Z…?" My blood froze when I heard Sumire's voice breathing down the pit of my ear.
"… Where… are we? Huh? … why… am I...?" My head stopped functioning from the next second as Aria too woke up beside me.
"Um… Hiii, good morning…?" I made my arms go limp, and trying hard to keep my interest on that one spot of the ceiling, a patch that obviously looked no different from other regions.
Of course, trying to pretend I was innocent was about as effective as throwing sticks at a giant beast, as the two girls around me quickly overcame their morning drowsiness and instead noticed their positions against me, and the fact that they were… well, from their colored expressions as realization struck them at light speed, I concluded that I won't live past morning. God, might I be seeing you soon?
"Yaow! No, please don't press any harder, please, I surrender!" I found myself breaking into a basin of sweat, in the aftermath of what could be a very traumatizing experience; Aria was placing cotton swabs soaked lightly with medicinal alcohol on my numerous wounds. Although her touch was gentle, my skin had became way too sensitive, a testament to the fact that I was brutally killed once, figuratively of course.
"Ah, so sorry; here I'll try to be more gentle…" Replying apologetically, she made eye contact with me, but as the events from the morning flooded back to our minds, Aria avoided my eyes, and I likewise.
"… Sssssst… it's okay, it's really… my fault." After a moment's silence, enduring the alcohol that was rubbed across my blue and purple body, including some blood wounds, I apologized for the hundredth time since this morning.
After that crucifying moment in time, I barely survived with most of my body intact. I could understand Aria's reactions back then, when she had enacted judgment upon me with a scarlet face, but Sumire simply gazed at me with eyes ready to kill. Needless to say, I shall leave the… inquisition afterwards to imagination, as I preferably wanted to take it to my grave.
Looking back, Jesus, these girls sure were terrifying… my lifespan probably decreased by at least a dozen years after that horrifying yet unforgettable moment in time, a time when I had ventured… where no man I knew had went before.
"There, all done. Just stay put and the painkillers should activate in a minute or so." Finalizing work, Aria stood up to reveal my body covered in bandages and a few splints here and there. There were also handprints across my face, still throbbing and red. I should be amazed that I managed to get away with my life, but it's good to know that they were merciful to begin with.
"Well, I hope you are thankful that I didn't decide to kill you right there." A lot calmer now, Sumire came into the room and stood beside her sister, but I could still see that popped vein at her temple. She's still angry; who wouldn't be… in that situation.
During my incapacitation, the twins took that opportunity to redress themselves, probably discovering the fact that like everything else, pieces of clothing were scattered all around the living room of the mansion. When they finally decided to return, with Aria first to wrap me up like a mummy, I was not surprised to find both of them dressed in more layers than usual – as if that would help – understandable, I guess.
"Sis, it's not really Z's fault- I mean, yes… he… did this, and that… but knowing how he is, I'm sure whatever the cause was, it was last night…" Oh thank you so much, Aria... for defending me… even though your punches, slaps, and kicks were the most painful of them all.
"I see, of course… if only I can remember… ugh, my head feels like it's going to break…" Sitting down, ignoring my existence completely, Sumire leaned back against a nearby chair and closed her eyes.
Ever so diligent, Aria quickly arrived by her side and placed a wet cold rag against her forehead. I watched the two sisters' interaction, and noticed that Aria was sweating against her forehead beneath those long bangs.
"Aria, you don't look well. I think you should rest too, just in case." I called back to them. Sumire's eyes glinted distrust, but when she looked back at her sister, I guess she could tell after all.
"What? But I am fine, really… I mean, yes it does feel a little dizzy from time to time, but you two are in a worse condition…" As if unwilling to let go of her tray with the bandages, the rags, and medicine, Aria kept her standing position.
"No, Aria, Z… is right; come and rest by me. Looks like we took in something bad last night… ugh, makes me wonder… where are those two anyway?" Still massaging her aching head, Sumire looked around, and at this, I realized she could only mean 'those two'.
"Yeah… you're right, where're Narcissu and Kiri… I hope they didn't get into any sort of tro-" Before I could finish, a strange sound came from outside the room. It sounded like a percussion of buzzing and crashing sounds.
Then, one of the walls in our room simply disintegrated following sound of heavy impact; debris exploded in all directions, and as one of the small pieces struck me in the forehead, and what looked like a person flew away as well, and only seconds later, from the smoke and dust emerged the devil we were all talking about.
Narci was fine alright, except for her beet-red face and a vivid icy-blue aura concentrated around her body. She was still wearing black lingerie that were easily out of Victoria's Secret's monthly catalogues, and while this didn't surprise me much, the two sisters stared… no, gaped, was a better word. Narci's pretty well-endowed, after all, oh and she looked pissed, as if hell had frozen over at her whim.
"W-wait, Narcissu, hold on a sec, I can explain!" From the dust, the figure that flew out before managed to stand back up to negotiate.
Kiri's face was red too, but nothing compared to that fine handprint tattoo on his left cheek, and the odd implication that Kiri appeared to be wearing nothing except mere fragile garments.
"What, is, there, to, explain, Kiri, huh? What is there to even talk about, when you dare to intrude me on my sleep, and even… even… undressed me to such length. You… you PERVERT!" Looking less angry now and more embarrassed, Narcissu held her arms around her body trying to cover up that beautiful and pale skin of hers.
"Well… like I said before, surely, something of a misunderstanding had happened… last ni- Yowch!" Before saying anything else, what looked like a large icicle came out of nowhere and struck squarely against Kiri's forehead, and a trickle of fine blood began oozing out of the wound.
"Why, of course something happened l-last n-night… you imbecile… otherwise, why would we end up on the s-same bed! Now give me a good reason why I shouldn't just freeze you to the bone right this instant, you pervert!" Wielding her hand as if it were the flat of a sword blade, Narcissu's frozen radius expanded while she walked closer and closer, her eyes reflecting the image of the very hell I was thinking of.
It was when us the observers thought surely Kiri's life was at a forfeit after such a shocking revelation, someone uttered a "Um… Hi, you two" – not sure if it was one of us, but someone did – and the two of them finally realized that we were all present, that we probably heard everything they had just said, and that we probably saw and made our own assumptions after seeing these two nearly-naked people. Well, after what us three already experienced, I guess it wasn't all that surprising after all to see the other two sharing a similar fate.
"… H-hi… glad… to see you all here; why does Z look like he's all beat up…" Completely oblivious to his bleeding forehead, and any possible consequences soon to follow, Kiri raised a questioning finger at me.
"Uh, it's a long story, ahahaha…" I chuckled nervously, avoiding eye contact with Sumire and Aria. There's no need to bring what should already be buried back to the surface.
"Y-you saw, didn't you? All of it… us two, this mess, the conversation… everything… you saw, didn't you?" Narci's face became even paler, her body trembling.
We could only nod back, unable to say anything else.
"NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! My life's now ruined… now I'll never marry… or something. Well, it didn't matter anyway… Kiri already took care of that for me…" Like a marionette with her string cut, the black-haired girl collapsed on her knees, crestfallen; her shiny blue eyes quickly fading from anger and rage back into despair and relinquishment.
Watching her expression, hearing her words, I felt my head going a mile a minute, and as if that same realization struck the two girls beside me, their complexion glowed pink.
"No… I assure you, it's a complete misunderstanding… I mean, geez, all that happened was for us to wake up next to each other on bed. We slept, nothing more, okay?" Standing up, Kiri walked over by Narcissu's side, and for the first time I just had to note how muscular and well-built his body was.
"B-but, how would you know? None of us remembered what happened last night, or how I ended up on to- AH! Don't make me say it out loud you pervert!" Triggered by yet another unpleasant memory, Kiri's attempted kindness was repaid with another fine handprint on his already red face.
It took some time, but finally, Narcissu had calmed down, just like Sumire and Aria had before. However, the air of the room still felt awkward, so us guys and gals were split into two groups instead. By this time, I had forcefully healed my own injuries with my power, and Kiri looked like the whole world was against him.
"I tell you; women are damn scary. One of these days, instead of dying on the battlefield like we ought to, we'd die in our sleep, when we go out with them, and when they decide to punish us despite a misunderstanding." Kiri complained in a low voice, as we sat on a sofa a good twenty feet away from the others, who were having some sort of intense girl talks. Well, alien or not, I guess in terms of culture and customs we weren't THAT different.
"I might have to agree with you, I guess. If it weren't for their mercy, I'd be dead already… but hey, are you sure you didn't do anything with Narcissu? I mean, personally, I'd rather see you two as a couple more than just battle partners." For the first time, I spoke my mind, but maybe I was just adding on a layer too thick, since it should have been more than obvious.
"W-what?! Me and her?" Kiri objected, much to my surprise. Suddenly an image popped up in my head while watching his face pales and flushed red at the same time.
It was the sort of romance comedy movie where the whole point was to throw these two through crazy and ridiculous stuff just to have them finally realize that they were right for each other all along, just that they were too near and in denial to realize it.
"Hey, don't give me that face, Z. I assure you, nothing happened; I simply had a bad headache while we were partying, and probably crawled to bed or something. Next thing I knew, it was morning, and I was suffocating. You know why? She was lying on top of me, in that… that… well, I must say, black looks really nice on her… That's not the point. The point is, she woke up before I could shift myself from underneath her, and… that's when she starts screaming, refusing to hear a single word from yours truly." After Kiri finished a rant so uncharacteristic of him, he simply laid back and stared into the space above.
Perhaps, I should offer some advice to this lost soul, back to where his sojourn originally intended.
"Kiri, even if you didn't remember anything from back then, and even if Narcissu probably concocted everything due to that misunderstanding, you should take responsibility anyway. After all, she's important to you, isn't she? Despite all that had happened, perhaps it's because you are important to her that she had felt that way, and thus acted all irrational. I think you should both talk it over, and let your feelings be known to her." I explained slowly, giving an advice of a lifetime that I'd never imaging giving. Since when was I even remotely close to being a love guru anyway.
"Take… responsibility… wait, how do you know all this? I mean… ugh… I already said too much, eh? When did you realize this; what made you so certain that… everything should work out?" Eyes glinting dangerously despite the surprise, Kiri glared at me, wanting a satisfactory answer. Well, I couldn't just tell him the truth, or… maybe I should?
"It's pretty obvious that you two should have been a couple; it was confirmed before we escaped from Spartan Command, and after last night… and this morning, it's even more obvious. Believe me, Kiri, just… treat Narcissu right, let her know your feelings, and have a proper talk over it. As long as you can take responsibility for that and be a man, I think… I don't have one hundred percent guarantee, but I am quite sure that she'll come around." I reasoned. God did I sound like a marriage counselor.
"… You won't tell me, or the others what happened last night, would you?" As possible scenarios already formulated in Kiri's mind, he asked without giving me an answer.
"… I don't know. If they had known what happened last night, you can probably guess there'll be a lot of chaos. I've always been good with secrets, so I'll keep it down to my own grave, unless everyone else also demands the truth. Otherwise, rest assured; what you did last night, and what anyone else did… will be kept buried." I quietly promised.
"Alright then. I shall not ask any further… heh, I guess it's best not to ask or else I might have to kill you. Fine, I shall take your advice… once everything is over, and these worlds are saved. There is however a question I wished to know, if I may." Massaging his temples, Kiri looked at me and gave me a very serious look. I had no doubts then, that if I had told him what happened last night he might actually kill me.
"That depends, on whether I can answer it or not." I responded, feeling a chill.
"Just what had happened between you, Sumire, and Aria? There must be a reason you were all wrapped up in bandages." Kiri once again, just had to ask that question.
Images of all that had transpired less than an hour ago struck me hard. I felt my face burn, and saw that Kiri's eyes had widened and a small smile had formed about his lips. Great, now he was the one making the assumptions and drawing various conclusions.
"N-nothing really, uh… well, I suppose, if you want a more concrete answer, so as to stop making assumptions, it was a situation much like yours, a misunderstanding. That's why I can relate to you and give you those advices. That's all, nothing more." I answered with a nervous laugh.
Giving me a long stare, as if pondering the validity of my answer, Kiri stroke his chin of nonexistent beard. Finally, after what seemed like a minute's contemplation, he took a quick glance at the girl group, and returned to me.
"Let's ignore my case for just a second. What about you, eh? Now that both Sumire and Aria have safely returned, what are you going to do about your ties with them? I don't know what your Earth's custom is like, but… you can only choose one, you do realize that?" So said Kiri, bringing up something he probably had asked before.
"Hey, why are we going back to this…? I mean, you can't possibly ask me to choose! It… I haven't decided… this… I'm going to have to think this through before I can give you an answer." I apologized, hoping to wing it through and smother over the issue, but he wasn't taking the hint.
"… Sometimes I wonder if you are a hypocrite, or just loves to contradict yourself. Z, just as you had given me great advice, how about listen to that same advice as well? Listen, you probably have a much larger problem at hand than this, but you do realize that… one way or another, you have to make a choice. Being indecisive is what makes us stuck in limbo like this. So, ask yourself, where your feelings lie. You probably can't find the answer right now, just as how I can't confront it on my side. Just don't ever forget how much they meant to you; we have some time left, I suppose…" Returning to his moodier self, Kiri remonstrated upon his past actions and left the room, while trying hard not to go near Narci.
I sighed; it was a difficult matter after all. I tried hard to understand what Kiri had meant and mulled over my own advice to him. Great… looked like we were both quite indecisive on this matter… or perhaps I just wanted to ignore the issue until everything else was taken care of.
"Z, can I have a moment with you?" Although I expected it coming, Narcissu's direct approach still managed to catch me unaware.
"Ah, yes, what is it? Huh? Why are you two here as well?" I asked, even more surprised when all three girls were present, each taking a spot next to me on the sofa or on the carpet floor. Need I mention that Narci was fully dressed as well?
"We're just here to eavesdrop, so don't mind us and just spill it, Z." Narrowing her eyes, pouting, Sumire declared with one eye shut.
"Um, what she meant was that we just want to listen, so please don't be distracted by us and instead converse only with Narcissu." Aria, sitting next to her sister, managed a smile as she wrapped an arm around Sumire. However, something was not right here.
"So, as I was saying before, you and Kiri seemed to have a very personal discussion going on, and I was wondering… I mean, we were wondering, if you… can tell us something about that, and perhaps relating to what exactly happened last night… you see, we are all very interested…" Ah, so that's where I sensed such strangeness. Kiri you lucky bastard… looked like my inquisition were only just beginning… and they probably knew I couldn't deny their request. Great… it felt at least ten times worse than the hot seat of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.
Evening came at dusk, as the sun set outside the rim of the walls of Icaria, a floating fortress city. The chaos and aftermath that came after my alien friends' drunkenness and hangover had subsided. I had explained to a surface level that what happened last night was that we played a game of strip poker, and fell asleep afterwards. I also placed emphasis that I too was tipsy, so I didn't remember everything. As for the actual private discussion between Kiri and me – I promised him I'll take it to the grave until it's no longer a secret – the three girls gave up against my stubbornness.
So, all the misunderstandings were taken care of, somewhat. I played the innocent card and they appeared to let me go, which was good. Narci was no longer looking for Kiri to freeze as well. Thus, after a relatively quiet but relaxing dinner, I found myself taking a walk through the many hallways this mansion possessed.
I had only one place I intended to go, and that was the room which Lycoris the Arkrusha was waiting. It was a serious matter, for it concerned our future steps to take. After our daring rescue of Aria from Azurei, I heard from the others and Nels that chaos broke out within the Empire, its military distraught and possibly remobilizing in the near future. ISA also repeatedly issued warrants for the location and arrest of our little infamous group. The only issue was how much time we had left before even this safe haven was lost to us. We were fighting for them for so long, only to be betrayed, and now, the only ally was the Agency, while we were in the middle of a possible three-way war. Focus, Z… now was not the time to falter against the pressure!
So, when I found that single opened door at the end of this dimly lit hallway, I took a deep breath and ventured forth.
"I am here, as requested. Is Aria h-" I made my entrance, expecting the large dragon to be poking its head toward my direction and greet me in its ancient visage.
However, what I saw was that Aria and Lycoris – his head and parts of his body – positioned on the soft white linen bed. They were playing a deck of cards, and it looked like a game of Old Maid.
"Ah, glad you can make it. Aria's just showing me how to get this to work, and… ooh, okay, here… I… pull! ... Zrah, I pulled the Joker again!" With his leafy snout, the dragon snagged the joker card out of Aria's hands, and as she giggled, declaring victory with a bright grin, Lycoris looked like he was having second thoughts about the game.
"Three and zero; do you still want to challenge me?" Opposite Lycoris, his master with flowing golden hair asked with a smile.
"Hmm… a good question. It seems that you have a more powerful poker face than I previously anticipated… what to do… my limbs are not suitable for this game at all." Only when Lycoris channeled this line of thoughts did I realize that he was right; Lycoris grew limbs from his originally serpentine body – long claws armored with leaves and gnarled like branches of sickles. Two pairs of claws I could see, but there could be more, since at least half of Lycoris's body was outside the window.
"… Well, since we are all here, isn't it a better idea to get on with the actual discussion than playing card games?" I suggested.
"But Master, didn't you all play Strip Poker last night? If I remembered correctly, you were all having so much fun." I froze when the Arkrusha said that telepathically, transmitting the words into both Aria and my mind. Oh no, he did not just say that he saw us?
"Ah, you were watching? That reminds me; since Z can't remember that well, can you tell us what exactly happened?" The next impossible thing came out of none other than Aria's own mouth.
"What? Why do you still want to know? I mean, nothing happened… I'm sure, so why don't we just forget about it and begin the real reason we are here today?" I pleaded.
"But I… I want to know; I… want to know what happened last night." As she said that, Aria's face went completely red. Suddenly, I felt danger approaching. I didn't know why, but somehow, I could tell how she would react when the truth resurfaced, and that I did not want to wait and find out.
"Well, if you insist. After observing the game, I concluded that Strip Poker's basically a game where after each hand is played, the loser of the round is required to lose a piece of garment from his or her body. You all looked like you were having fun; obeying your animal instincts and conducting mating rituals-" Lycoris had kept going, sounding quite excited for such stern looks, but I've had enough.
"Alright, that's it, stop right there. Too much details… so let's just stop there right now before things get ugly!" I waved my hands frantically to stupefy the dragon from spilling anymore details, but it was already too late.
"M-mating… ri…rituals!" Aria uttered with a horrified expression, as if she could actually picture herself and… uh, need I mention more?
"Stop stop; Aria, this is not what you think; that's not what happened… I mean, nothing happened-" I tried to explain, but what felt like a great surge of power resonated through the entire room; through every fiber of my being. It was energy unlike any other, and had sent the entire room lit like day, the cards flying away in random directions, and on the whole it looked like bursts of wind were storming through the room.
If I were to give each person what I felt from his powers, Kiri's would be a torrent of chi that swirled inside his body like a hurricane, ready to be released, shaped, and mend. Narci's would be like the arctic tundra that could even freeze the very air. Sumire's was cold and hard, like steel, but much of her power, especially that silver symbol replacing her cursed scars, and the stasis shell she was found in after conjuring a giant dragon of chains… anyway, last but not least, mine would equate to the bursting of electricity that sent currents through my body, kinda like I was a circuit of my own. Aria's was new.
How had I known that this burst of energy originated from her? Because around her burst soft white light that had reminded me of the time when I had tried to save her from the Te'anari, and when the reptilian major shot her with his gun. It varied in intensity, but the one thing that was clear was that this aura about her… felt… angelic; warm; the sensation that gave me uplifting strength… of course, in this case, I felt static charges bursting through my entire body, as if my own power was going out of control under that radiance. Of course, I felt no pain, but at the same time I felt paralyzed, as if my body had freeze. Still, something bad might happen if Aria's shock kept at where it was.
"A…Ari…a…. do you… hear me? S… sto…p…" I willed my mind to send words through; my lips felt like they couldn't move, but I tried hard anyway.
It was then that thankfully, Lycoris had taken notice, and had brushed his body against Aria's own. The impact, which probably felt like nothing to the Arkrusha, sent Aria knocked back onto the bed, but also snapping her back into reality. The hold on my body also faded away at that instant, and all I could do was to gasp for air and breathe heavily.
"Z? Are you alright? Oh my, you look all red on the face and drenched… what happened?" Unaware that the embarrassment had pushed herself out of bounds, Aria came over and helped me sit down.
"Well… you look pretty red yourself… heh… anyway, give me a moment… and… Lycoris, if you understand it, please tell us." Somehow, I knew that the dragon knew something we didn't. It was obvious from the moment he had informed us to visit him. Perhaps this was also within his expectations.
"W-what? What did I do? … Is it… something to do with my powers?" Ignoring my first remark, Aria looked between Lycoris and I with confusion in her eyes.
"Alas, I guess we are now moving on to the main issue, my original intention as to bringing you two here. Come, it's time we have a talk… about the impending future." Nodding sagely, Lycoris flexed his new claws and brought more portions of his body in; as if doing so would promote the secretive manner the talk should be conducted.
"So, what do you have to talk to us about?" I asked, barely holding back anticipation.
"And what about… these… powers of mine." Clasping her hands into small fists, Aria braced herself next to me.
"Masters, I shall tell you one thing at a time, so please have patience until then. Now, let's first begin with a series of questions. Master Aria, so far you have been kept well out of harm's way, and everyone had ensured to do their best to save and protect you. What is your true opinion of that matter? Our fight is not over yet between the military and ISA, and the Te'anari. What do you intend to do if things went out of hand, and trouble came our way once more?" The dragon asked telepathically, sending the same information into our minds.
"I… I want to fight alongside Z, and my sister, and my friends. I am tired of having been a burden to them… and if there's anything I can do with this… power in me, I am willing!" After giving me a swift look, the girl that I had tried to protect all this time finally came out, like a young fledgling with hardened wings ready to enter the outside world.
"Are you sure, Aria? I'm sure you are aware that it's really dangerous out there and … if it weren't for my sworn duty, and the power I possessed, I'd probably be hiding too. It is the safest option." I looked at her, looking for any signs of change, but she remained the determined girl that I thought she was.
"No… didn't I say this before? We'll get through everything together; don't forget our promise, Z. Anyway, my answer remains as before; I've already faced our enemies once, and I… don't want to be a burden to you guys anymore. I want to be useful and fight alongside you." She remained resolute on her words.
In my eyes, Aria had grown fast since the incident back on Azurei. I didn't know what exactly happened, but combining with her own, mine, and the Te'anari's efforts, she had become stronger… and perhaps, deep in my heart I truly wished for her to be that way… no, to be by my side. Was it… too much to ask? What of her power?
"And it looks like Master Z cannot object to your declaration. Very well; I shall offer you what I can, as the Cradle of the Ancients. First, you must be wondering just why we possess distinct titles, yes? Master Aria is the Dreamweaver, I am the Cradle, and I believe that the white orb is the Invoker, and the blade is the Executor." Suddenly, when Lycoris began explaining, and how he jumped right away into the vision I had back on Borealis, convoluted things became clearer and more apparent.
"Wait… I am confused now. You mean, there's more to our titles? The people in the lab kept testing me for some sort of peripheral or internal power, and how it related to dream states and my psyche… are you saying, we are a part of this… Ancient, and there's also a white orb and a blade?" Aria asked, her lips drawn in question, and how could she have known? That vision was known to me outside of her knowledge, and it felt as if the dragon alone knew everything.
"The orb and the blade… I saw them within my vision, and it made more sense now that I looked back. In that vision, on a table, I saw a basin filled with water, and it felt as if I could see someone's reflection on the surface, probably… that of Aria's. I also saw green leafy scales, which must be from you, Lycoris. I have no idea what the blade is. As for the white orb… as the invoker; well, I actually found the white orb on Borealis." I summarized the events, as parts of my mind had either forgotten the rest of the vision, or that I still remembered but refused to recall upon them.
"Do you still have the white orb, Master Z? It's essentially the energy core, and we cannot complete the prophecy without it." Turning his forest green snout to me, the dragon stared at me intently with his request. I could tell from his words that if he could actually speak with sound, it would have been a roar of urgency.
I took off my glasses then, and after some work, managed to remove the lens of the left side. As Aria looked over what I was doing, her face changed expression, from question to the surprised realization that she had in fact, held it herself.
"This is the orb… or, was the orb. I transformed it to fit my glasses, the best way to hide it in my opinion." I explained to them, and after refocusing my mind, I called upon my power and reversed the illusionary spell which hid such an important item in plain sight.
"Yes… that is the orb – the Invoker of the Ancients… good enough. You may return it to its original place. We… will not need of that until the very end, I suppose. Now, the Prophecy had indicated, to my knowledge, that the one granted with the power of the Prophecy is actually the fifth piece of this puzzle. Master Z, fate had called upon you, and invoked the power that had been a part of you, laying dormant until the time when everything is at its direst. I know that you have already accepted everything and wished to bear it all, but upon this knowledge, knowing now that you have no escape, no fallback, will you still fight on, for the sake of fulfilling the Prophecy?" His grave voice echoed inside my head and a flashback struck me; a question that asked me to reflect upon my past actions and whether I really was up to it.
"Geez… Lycoris, I don't know what to say… but, I am just not used to you acting so serious like this. Chill for a moment, okay? Aria looked like she'll collapse any moment now from pressure." I replied, relaxing my body and calming down my raging heart.
"H-huh? What? Oh… no, I am fine… you don't have to worry about me. I mean… we are in a serious conversation about our future… it's important." Surprised, Aria chose to pay rapid attention to the one loose seam on the mattress, her cheeks slightly pink.
"Well… of course, but seriously; I've already come this far, I've already fought with my life on the line for so many times… if I weren't ready from the start, I'd have run away already. For the sake of the worlds at stake, and for the sake of everyone that I want to protect… although my indecision prevents me from making an absolute clear answer, I think I am more than willing to jump to the very depth of hell to do what needs to be done." While I displayed such demeanor with coolness and aptitude, my mind was in an extremely self-conscious and nervous state.
It came so sudden that I couldn't prepare for it; for even while saying so with such confidence, I was nervous, wondering if Aria was looking at me, hearing what I had to say… could it be… that I said all that just because I wanted to look cool in front of her?
"Very well; hearing such clear vows from the two of you… I shall tell you what remains ahead. I serve as the Cradle, so just like Dreamweaver – Master Aria – I too possessed powers unlike that of my kin. I can feel and detect the last remnants of the Ancients, and I am… the circuit if you will, that serves to generate the last mechanism that is needed to fulfill the Prophecy. For as you see, whilst the Prophecy itself indicated you, Master Z, as the savior that shall work hand in hand with the Dreamweaver; you must also release the Ancients' power and fulfill the Twinstar Pact. I do not know yet the full details, but needless to say, you must obtain the last of the four catalysts – the Executor of the Ancients, and one last thing; probably the most important factor of all…" As Lycoris lectured on, and approached his last line, he suddenly gave a strange look between Aria and I, and ended it abruptly.
"Wait… questions… although I can understand that whatever Ancients were, they were a supreme race capable of great power, but just… who are they? Oh and also, what is the one last thing other than obtaining the blade?" I asked, feeling quite foolish that I had went along with Ancient this Ancient that for so long without wanting that single detail clarified.
"I too… want to know. This concerns more than just knowledge, for I am the Dreamweaver, but if I were to save the world, I need to know the role that I play." Aria seconded with even more questions. It seemed the night will be a long one.
"… Ah… fine… it looks like the explanations right now just won't do for you curious youths; not that I am any older. From what I have known since birth, the Ancients are the first inhabitants of Sirius II. They were great beings capable of interstellar travel and said to possess technology that could even bend time and space to their will. One could argue that the Ancients possessed enough power to even link the very existence of two star systems together, balanced by the Twinstar Pact. Of course, it's pure speculation whether that's true, and that our existence is fated to undo what had been done."Shuffling his entire length into the room and coiling up like a snake with claws spread out on the sides, the Arkrusha gazed softly with twinkling and contemplating eyes, if that were possible.
However, his words rang too many bells in my mind. Once again, my memories jogged, bringing me to Borealis, a mile or so underground, in that chamber, experiencing an impossible flashback of a past, where the two systems were not bound, where the fate of the worlds changed ever since that man came… bringing destruction and chaos to numerous worlds, planting a curse so deep into them… could it be… that he was from a race… the Ancients?!
"Z, are you okay? Why do you look pale all of a sudden?" The girl with amber hair gazed at me with aquamarine eyes full of concern.
"I… it's nothing, just don't feel that well… I guess I haven't fully recovered from this morning's injuries… haha- ow; why did you punch me all of a sudden?" Trying to shake off the cold sweat that stuck to my body, I tried to make light of the situation, but instead received her fist to my arm. Heh, sometimes the twins were really similar.
"Anyway, if the Ancients harbored so much power, then what kind of power do I have? Everywhere I went people were after me – they wanted what I possessed; even my father couldn't escape; but other than that… one time, when my life was in danger, and when Z was about to die… it just came; what felt like a great warmth enveloped me, and as light shone everywhere… things just happened." As Aria tried to express her words and the feelings of that time, she kept staring at me, as if speculating whether I remembered it and whether she should feel relieved or disappointed.
"I see… it's true, I felt the same way when your powers were invoked, and yes, I remembered you saving me, and for that alone, I had always wanted to thank you." I turned to look at her, not sure of what expression I had on my own face, but to see her beaming smile was enough an indication that the message came through.
"Hmm, the very power you possessed… I do not know exactly the true role of the Dreamweaver, but I believe – this is merely a speculation – that it has a strong correlation with Master Z's powers; you weave dreams of impossibility, such as bringing one from the brink of dead, and perhaps much more. Perhaps this is the reason you two alone are meant to be a pair… which is the next factor I must bring up. Do you remember the exact requirements to fulfill the Twinstar Pact, or its exact purpose?" He asked us, his body resting lazily on the bed, the fragile twigs on his body uncharacteristically hard as they poked through the bed sheet under the dragon's sheer weight.
Aria could only shake her head against his question, for upon it she drew a blank. Of course; how could she have known anything beyond what the Prophet could tell us? Even I only felt it being quite a convoluted and obscure contract of some sort. The most I could do was to hypothesize what the pact meant and how it acted as a curse that bound Sirius I and II together. Perhaps it had something to do with the red string that I saw in the vision; it was tied around my finger, into the basin, to the girl's reflection.
As if he could read my mind, Lycoris twisted his body forward and encircled us two. As if he understood what he was about to do, the Arkrusha constricted and sent us together in a tight bunch. Needless to say, his body exterior wasn't exactly smooth or comfortable, so this only felt like some sort of cruel action, despite the evident warmth of Aria so close by my side.
"What are you doing!" I asked.
"What is the meaning of this, Lycoris?" Aria said also in the same time.
We turned to look at each other, and noticing how close our breaths were, I spun my face in the other direction, but for only one second.
"The explanation is very simple. The reason they call the pact Twinstar is because the two stars are bound by a force stronger than any other. You two will most likely have to establish a strong relationship that is adequate to fulfill the prerequisites. As for how to do that, perhaps… you already know, and just won't accept it yet?" Eyeing us two with intensity unlike any other, his grip loosened, as if wanting us to answer.
Perhaps I was a bit too slow, because I hadn't much idea what he had meant. Even if I had understood his message, perhaps a mental block existed inside me that automatically locked up the rest of the thoughts. However, Aria was another matter; it looked as her mind was over-clocked, and then, just when I thought she was thinking too hard, Aria looked up at us with realization dawning on her face.
"So what you are saying is that we should have a relationship… like, a girlfriend boyfri-" Before she could finish, the door of the bedroom that was once closed collapsed, its ancient frame somehow unable to stop the weight of three people on top of each other in a pile.
"Uh… hi, nice to see you guys… drop in." I understood the situation immediately. They were eavesdropping – all three of them, Kiri, Narcissu, Sumire.
"Y-you know, we are n-not eavesdropping or anything… we just happened to pass by and heard you guys having such an important conversation." Sumire was the first to get off the pile of bodies and shot off an excuse, her eyes obviously straying away from us.
"That's right, of course! We also want to know what our next step is now, since Aria's returned safely." Narcissu was likewise, bad at making up an excuse somehow…
"Ugh… get off me, please… and geez, be at least a little more honest will you? You just want to know what happened last night and all that mating ritual bus- urk!" Before he could finish, or get up, Kiri became the receiving end of both Sumire and Narci's punches, as they looked at each other and were totally in sync.
"Sis… tell me the truth; how long have you been listening to us?" Rising from the bed, Aria turned to her sister in a slight scowl. Somehow, after the previous conversations, I was even more conscious of her existence so close to me now. I was slow, but not that slow damn it.
"Uh…sorry Aria, your sister shouldn't have done something as underhand as that. It's just that… you two were having such an intense, albeit strange and inconsistent conversation that… it just felt like we shouldn't interrupt. So; for the entire time you guys were speaking…" Reprimanded by her twin, the silver-haired girl casted her amethyst eyes downward, as if on the receiving end of scolding.
"I see… that's fine. Just remember to come in next time. I don't want to keep any secrets from my beloved sister, and I think this is as important a conversation to us as to everyone else here. Right, Lycoris?" Smiling softly, the girl with hair the color of golden fields and eyes the color of the ocean turned to look at the pensive dragon.
"I agree with you fully, Master Aria. However, I believe that the others-" Before he could finish telepathically speak to us, Kiri cut in.
"Lycoris can speak? Wait… you guys were talking to her this whole time?" Taking a step back in surprise, his blue hair swayed against the night winds.
"You can't hear him? I mean, he talks telepathically, but I am sure you can all hear him, right?" I asked, and had my suspicion confirmed. All three of them shook their heads, and made me realized the truth: any conversation would sound weird if there were three speaking but observers could only hear the two of them. That, and they thought Lycoris was a girl.
"As I was speaking before, no, they cannot hear me. I now believe… this has to do with the Ancients and what they had left for us. I, as the Cradle, can communicate with others not of my race. However, only those directly involved in the Prophecy and the Twinstar pact may hear. I apologize; I should have realized this sooner." Shaking his head, the dragon let loose a small flurry of leaves and twigs.
"You don't have to apologize. I don't think that's much an issue; just hold on a bit." I replied, and then as I took a glance at the three 'not directly involved' I concentrated on the concept of communication, and linked it through all three of them.
A ripple of electricity went through my body, and at the same time, I felt as if that electrical web could touch and sense the radiant warmth that resonated from Aria's, the ebb and tide change of flow within Kiri's, the frozen arctic winds of Narci's, and the metallic, brittle, yet eternal existence of Sumire's. With the blink of an eye, I could feel that my power had done its work, and while I found it amusing that four of them looked blank and confused, it's strange how Aria could see through what I was trying to do, and only offered an understanding smile.
"Lycoris, try to speak to everyone again. This time I think it should work." I backed away and allowed the Arkrusha to come face to face to Sumire, Kiri, and Narcissu.
"Can you… hear my words?" He spoke in a booming voice that echoed loudly inside my ears.
"Wow; I never knew you were a guy… I mean, Lycoris is a girl's name I am pretty sure." Narcissu was the first to respond, surprised that indeed, the Arkrusha named after Lycoris Radiata, the spider lily or Higanbana, was actually a guy, and a wise one at that, sounding quite close to how I'd imagine of say… Merlin, Dumbledore, or Gandalf.
"Well, um… I thought he was a she too, that was, before he grown to talk telepathically." Aria responded in embarrassment.
"It does not matter to me. For we of the Arkrusha rarely had names to begin with. For Master Aria to grant me such an honor, I am pleased regardless of its context." The leafy dragon said sagely, with pride not normally found on him.
"Well, it's certainly nice to meet you Lycoris… thank you for taking care of my sister." Somewhat hesitant at first, Sumire stepped forward and extended her hand to shake the dragon's claw.
"Wow, Z, can you believe it? We both knew it since it was a mere egg, and now it's a he, and all grown up… and so big… his claws are so massive…" I had a suspicion that she might have liked dragons or serpentine creatures – reflected by the visual display of her powers – but to have her react like an excited little girl was certainly refreshing. I had to try hard not to laugh at that thought.
"Certainly magnificent. I would have never expected a creature such as you to play a role in this whole save-the-world business. So then, please tell us what we've missed, if you could. Oh and uh, also about those two's real involvement." Kiri was the last to speak, but as he pointed at Aria and I with his fingers, I had wished that he said nothing at all.
As we felt like we were in the hot seat – or at least, I felt like I was – Lycoris quickly paraphrased his whole explanation of the Ancients and their individual roles, and how closely linked it was to the Twinstar Pact of the Prophecy. At the same time, I didn't know if it was my imagination, but Sumire kept shooting looks at me, but when my eyes met hers, that girl quickly turned away. Sometimes I just couldn't tell what she's thinking. But before I could have the time to ask her what's wrong, the dragon's next words came by speaking directly to all of us.
"Now that all the possible information have been delivered, here is what our next plan of action may be. Contact Nels, the head of the Agency tomorrow morning, for your next destination is, unfortunately, Sirius II. I have a strong prediction that Sirius I does not contain the fourth piece of the Ancients – the Executor sword. Therefore, it's only likely that the other star system possesses that final piece." As his words resonated within our five minds, we each responded with surprise, shock, confusion, and fear.
"You can't be serious. The fourth piece is lost somewhere in Sirius II? That's preposterous! I mean, I do believe everything you have told us so far, but what makes you so sure that if Sirius I doesn't have it, Sirius II must?" Sumire asked, linking her hand with Aria's own. Perhaps she had felt the desire to protect Aria from an unavoidable danger.
"It's hard to explain and convince you with viable proof. That is why I hope for you all to believe me, and the fate that I am already bound to. The Prophecy and the Visions all pointed to one thing: the Ancients existed on these two star systems, and as far as I know, they no longer exist in the present. Their history did not bring them out into other star systems or other galaxies. So it's possible that if there's anything worth hiding, they will hide it in plain view or within the very worlds that they are made to save from annihilation." Once again, Lycoris had surprised me with his immense knowledge and intelligence behind those draconic eyes.
"Do you think that Nels guy will help us out?" Narcissu asked, bringing up a good point, since all of us were thinking: how much did he really know, and how much of the information we currently possessed should be shared with him.
"Well, it's not like we can just up and enter Sirius II without any worries. The Te'anaris are probably everywhere at that place, and we have next to no information regarding what it's like over there. It'll be like walking straight to death." Raising his hands in mock-hopelessness, Kiri replied with a sarcastic grin.
"But we must try anyway, right? If we can… somehow gain access to the military data, like how the military infiltrated them that first time with their fleet." Aria jumped into the conversation as well. The others looked a little surprised, but also smiled.
"Ooh, Aria, that's actually a great idea. We can just ask the Agency to hack into the network for us. That way, we might even get at least a squad or two to help us out." Embracing Aria with joy, Narci quickly showed her affection like an older sister to her younger sibling.
"Then, it's decided, right? Our next destination… is Sirius II. Tomorrow first thing to do is to obtain the safest route to Sirius II, and obtain any extra help we can." I spoke up after keeping silence till now.
"Heh, sounds like a plan indeed. It's about time we pay them back for what they did on their home territory." Kiri smiled dangerously.
"You idiot. We are going on an expedition, not just randomly invoke millions of them to kill us on the spot. Discretion is what we need, not headstrong blunder." Narcissu complained, her hand hitting Kiri on the head lightly.
"I shall stay behind; unfortunately I have no offensive capabilities to provide any assistance. I shall act as information gathering for now, and watch over the Agency for any changes." Lycoris added, and I understood now why he never showed up in areas of battle.
As the group meeting was dismissed, with everyone returning to their own chambers and rest up or make preparations for the upcoming journey, Sumire stopped me before I could exit the room.
"What's up?" I asked, keeping it short.
"… Nothing. Just don't do anything reckless when we enter Sirius II, and please… don't let any danger fall on Aria while we are there. Anyway, that's all I have to say; goodnight." With that said, she turned and walked away before I could make a proper response.
"I told her that I'll be coming with you all to Sirius II. I'm sorry; she gets like that a lot when she's really worried. I hope… she's not angry at my decision." Aria said as she came up from behind me, as the last person to exit the room.
"Oh, uh, yeah, I know. You don't have to be sorry for anything. You said that you wished to fight as well, and I respect your wish. I am sure she'll accept that too. Besides, if anything happens at all, I'll be there. We are kinda stuck to each other as it is haha… so for now, just think about how to use your power, and let me know if I can help." I laughed, hoping to boost her confidence in this manner.
"Then… I'll be counting on you, Z. I'll also do my best, thanks. Goodnight now." Smiling, her eyes lit up in relief, those aqua pools reflecting soft luminescence. As Aria walked away giving me a little wave, I waved back and smiled back.
As I wandered through the deserted corridor toward my own room at the opposite end, my mind felt the return of unease and apprehension as darkness chased me down with its claws that tore through the night. It felt as if I was walking a full circle, and what I had been ignoring for all this time, what I had tried to escape, something as obvious as what I was fated from the start, had returned and I must face it once more.
Sirius II, the star system of the cursed race – Te'anari – a deteriorating star system that I had imagined to only sustain with lingering misery. It was an abyss, a hell to which I shall brave and traverse through. It's the only option left, for who knew how much time we had left before the two star systems crumbled against each other and the lives we treasured extinguish within that devouring darkness.
This time, I won't run away anymore. The Te'anari's worlds were where I shall rewrite my fate and destiny alike!
Author's Comments: Sirius II is known as hell. Why? you'll see in the next chapter. I wished that there were more progression, but well, the words got heavy, explanations got very deep. So much dialogues. OMG. As an end result we see what may be of... yes, Aria's going to fight. That's new... ahahaa... you may wonder, just what can she do? Well... she's the Dreamweaver after all... and she's playing a more significant role than ever before... unfortunately, that smart dragon doesn't have all the answers, so there's still much we don't know about the Ancients, or why we need those four pieces, and etc etc etc. Look foward to them, when I get working on the story again. I am building up the momentum... slowly... hahaha... I have like, 2-3 more stories to manage. Oh hell lol. Oh and one last thing; fight scenes and Z's powers and whatnot are going to get an upgrade (I hope) from now on, because the 'serious battles' are coming, where even one as powerful as Z might have to face against overwhelming opponents. Lalalalalalallalalala... ta ta. Heart you.