Mystical wish

A/N: Happy Canada Day! Haha, I wanted to upload this as soon as possible because i'll be gone for the day, but I have finally went and edited it, so there should be less problems now (yeah, don't want to have Edwin "shitting" when he should be "shifting"... that was fail). Woot, chapter 20. hooray! Hopefully this will be alright. I'm really sorry that I haven't written in so long, I've been kept really busy, though that's not the best explanation or excuse. Well, hopefully I can't update faster now, though I have to prep for a music history exam. Anyway, once again i had to split the chapter into two parts again and oh my gosh this is longer than i expected! Well, this part of the story is important too as I have to advance the plot and such. I want to thank my friends Missingo and Gare-bear (Haha, hope he doesn't find out that i'm calling him that) for helping me when I'm stuck in a bind, you guys are great! Hope you enjoy and thank you for sticking with me until now, you guys are great too! And please message or review if you have any comments you want to make! I want to know what you guys think!

Chapter 20: The Need for Answers

Far up in the north among the mountains was an empty wasteland deprived of all things living. It seemed to be untouched for many moons, offering nothing but a threatening silence that washed out over the land. Even the sky seemed to share in this impenetrable darkness, eternally shrouded by a thick continuous layer of dark clouds.

A distance from this land was a village that appeared unfazed by such a mysterious phenomenon, though none dared to travel too close. The feeling of terror was too great for the villagers to bear, and none tried to venture into that unknown territory. Nobody knew the reason for the fear they felt towards that land, but even the children knew from raw instinct that this warning was not to be trifled with. There were always a few exceptions though. Those who were brave or stupid enough to go against their instincts were never seen again. This gave the villagers even more reason to stay far from that place. And so, the barren land lay empty and void of visitors, …or so it appeared.

In actuality, the wasteland was far from unoccupied. In the midst of the barren land stood a dark foreboding castle, whose dark aura resonated across the deserted grounds, and extended past the invisible barrier that shielded it from the naked eye. The castle itself stood on top of a high cliff to the side of the wasteland. The cliff itself was flanked on three sides by dull grey mountains, and a trail was engraved to its side. This trail was surrounded by blackened trees whose gnarled branches reached out menacingly, as if ready to ensnare anyone who dares to go near. The trees continued down the path onto the grounds below and intertwined with the thick bushes of thorn that seemed to prevent the land from flourishing, adding to the foreboding atmosphere of the setting. All of this seemed to be put in place to further protect the castle from unwanted visitors. Even though all of this seemed to reside within the mountains, only a barren ground deprived of life could be seen through the eyes of the villagers- and that was how it was intended to be.

The day was like any other day; thick grey clouds still decorated the sky, and the villagers continued to ignore the wasteland close by, choosing to explore and cultivate lands from the other directions. Unbeknownst to them, a dark speck in the sky was swiftly making its way towards what they termed the "Dead Lands". Within moments, that speck had disappeared from the sky spontaneously, as if it had suddenly vanished into thin air. Of course, that speck had not truly disappeared. It had simply crossed the invisible barrier into the hidden land, and was now heading directly towards the silent castle.

Upon closer inspection, the dark speck was actually a demon with large wings that resembled that of a crow's. This demon was the size of a human and had the appearance of a young man. His short black hair moved gently against the wind while his piercing red eyes stayed alert, darting back and forth across the territory. Around his head was a pale green bandana that was secured above his pointed ears. Light, black armour covered his chest and ended with shoulder pads that settled snugly on his shoulders. His forearms and shins were also covered by armour of the same material. Underneath the armour, the demon wore simple clothes of white, decorated only by lines of blue at the edges.

Flying through one of the numerous windows of the castle, the demon proceeded to continue his journey on his wings, soaring swiftly through the dark hallways that seemed to have never been touched by light. Finally, the demon arrived at his destination. Rising slightly upwards to straighten his body, the demon folded his wings behind his back and landed softly on the cold stone floor of what appeared to be a large chamber. The blue flames that sat flickering silently on the various torch stands around the large room was the only source of light in the otherwise dark room, but even they failed to completely rid the chamber of its dark depths.

The torch stands stood in two rows, both rows leading to a set of stone steps. On top of those steps, only the bottom half of what seemed like a grand throne was illuminated. Resting in front of the throne was a pair of legs encased in heavy dark armour, with blade-like fixtures protruding from the side of the figure's shins. The rest of the figure was cast in shadows, too far away for the blue flames to illuminate, allowing the figure to be continuously cloaked in darkness.

The demon walked down between the torch stands and stopped a few feet in front of the stairs. Going down on one knee, the demon then lowered his head and bowed deeply with one of his hands grasping his knee, and the other touching the ground in a fist.

The figure on the throne raised one of his armoured hands and gestured for the demon to rise. In response, the demon stood up and stayed in place, waiting for the figure in front of him to speak.

"Have you taken care of them?" The figure asked, his voice came out deep and throaty. It sounded like the voice of someone who was calm and authoritative- one that belonged to a strong leader.

"Yes, my lord." The demon smiled, revealing fangs that further proved that he was no mere mortal even without his wings exposed. "They will never set foot in this world again."

"Good," the figure replied, a hint of a smile evident in his tone. "I specifically set up this barrier so that no human will come near… but there are always those exceptions… It is quite troublesome."

"You need not worry about that my lord," the demon replied. " We will take care of it."

"Good," the figure replied once again. "Now onto other matters… How goes the war, Axiel?"

"Last I checked, the other side's troops seemed to be retreating. We have won the last battle. If my guess is correct, we should be at their border within days. That's when the next battle will begin."

In the darkness of the room, only the shadow that the blue flames cast on the wall showed the figure to be nodding. "Very good. I expect to win the next battle as well."

"Yes, my lord." Axiel answered. "We will not fail you."

"Any word on the stones?"

"Not yet, my lord. But we did hear of a rumour that some of the stones have gathered near Hollings Town. They seem to be moving towards us. I have already sent someone to investigate."

"Very well then." The figure replied. "We must claim those stones at all costs. Those who have the stones in their possessions are a threat to us. And if they are the ones who are chosen to wield them, the stones will be even more powerful. They can wield the stones at full power while our machines only let us use 60% of that power. They are the ones who pose the biggest threat and must be eliminated at all costs. Nothing else will be tolerated."

"Understood," Axiel replied firmly. "I shall relay that to Aviel."

Bowing once again, Axiel turned to leave, leaving his leader to his own thoughts.

Farther south in another continent, four people were slowly making their way north under skies that were brighter than their northern counterpart. They were travelling through a forest of moderate size that stood above a small ravine. The lush green setting provided a peaceful atmosphere that made the group feel at ease as they continued their journey.

After a while, the group decided to take a rest under the shade of some trees. Edwin was the first to sit down, resting against the trunk of a tree of moderate thickness. With evident swiftness, Shine plopped down right beside him, a little too close for Edwin to feel comfortable. Core and Emerald said nothing, sitting down on either side of the two while glancing at the girl occasionally, weary of what she was doing.

Feeling slightly out of place, Edwin shifted a little more to the right towards Core to give Shine more space to sit, but Shine shifted with him, easily closing the gap between them. At this point, Edwin was no longer feeling just slightly out of place; he was completely confused and uncomfortable with the current situation.

After a moment of contemplation, Edwin decided to move over and sit beside Core. Before he could do so, Shine's outstretched hand caught him by the elbow and dragged him back down to sit beside her, clinging to him with what could only be a pincer-like grip.

Edwin broke out into a cold sweat.

"Come on now," Shine giggled. "You don't have to be shy, there's plenty of space here. Sit with me."

"Uh…" Edwin tried to search for the right words. "Sorry, but I don't really feel too comfortable with you sitting this close. Do you think you can move over a bit?"

"What are you saying?" Shine asked, opening her eyes wide. "We're friends, aren't we? Friends have to stick together. Unless… you don't like me!" Shine pouted.

"Um… that's not what I was saying…" Edwin tried again to explain, then sighed. "Alright, fine. You can sit with me. Just… please let go of my arm."

Shine smiled and complied, settling down next to him in a distance that was less of an intrusion into his personal space.

While all of this was going on, Emerald and Core were silently watching from the sidelines. Both members of the group were slightly annoyed by the new addition to their team, but for varying reasons. For Core, it was because the girl herself was annoying, clinging onto Edwin like a bee to honey. He actually pitied Edwin, having to deal with something like this. It would have driven Core himself crazy a long time ago.

Emerald, on the other hand, had a different reason altogether. She could feel her chest constricting painfully, making it hard to breathe, but the origins of this feeling was completely unknown and foreign to her. Why was she so bothered by the way Shine treated Edwin? It shouldn't be any of her concern… was this jealousy she was feeling?

Before Emerald could ponder any further on her feelings, she found Edwin glancing at her. It was for only a moment, but when their eyes met, Edwin gave her an apologetic smile. She didn't know why, but that action alone released the imaginary bonds that seemed to be constricting her heart and she smiled back in return.

"Okay," Shine spoke up, catching everyone's attention. "Since we're all sitting here and doing nothing, let's talk and get to know each other a bit."

The other three stared at her, confused.

"Oh, come on guys!" Shine exclaimed. "I'm new to this team, remember? It would be nice to know all of you, since I obviously haven't been with you guys for long. Plus, we need to figure out what we should be doing next."

"True," Edwin replied, "We really should be trying to figure out our next move instead of just plunging forward aimlessly."

Core and Emerald nodded in agreement.

"Alright!" Shine cheered. "Now that that's settled. Let's choose someone to start with. Hm… why don't you start? Tell us something about yourself."

She nodded her heads towards Core.

Core stared at her incredulously. He didn't really want to talk about himself, especially not first. But when he saw the other two staring at him so intently, he couldn't bring himself to keep quiet.

Sighing, he began, reluctantly, to talk about himself. "…I'm Core, just turned 15. I am from the Aswan village. …I have a little brother and a little sister who are living with my grandmother right now. My parents died when I was still a child, so she was the one who brought us up. I also had a master who taught me everything I know. He taught me how to use the scythe, and many lessons about the world. My master was a good man… he passed away a while ago… but he was someone I really look up to. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for him…"

As Core spoke about his master, the others could see that the man was indeed very important to their companion. Core spoke proudly of his master, a smile faintly playing on his lips as he spoke. Emerald and Edwin had never seen Core with such an expression before. This made them wonder what kind of man Core's master was. If he was someone Core looked up to so much, then he had to be a really great man.

"… and he's the one who I don't want to let down most. Regarding my stone… I have in my possession the yasunamiya stone. My grandmother gave it to me… said it belonged to my father, though my master was the one who taught me how to use it. As for this journey, I am not entirely sure of our role in this, just that we are the ones who can control the stones and we must somehow prevent some sort of disaster from happening to this world. My master never really told me the details before he passed away…"

At this, Core stopped talking. He had said all he wanted to say. Looking down, he waited for the next person to start.

Shine turned to Edwin, "Okay Edwin. Your turn."

Edwin shifted a little and cleared his throat, contemplating from where to begin. After a moment's pause, he spoke. "I come from the Punyo village. I'm still 14, but I'll be turning 15 soon. I have the tasunamiya stone. Um… I don't really know who my parents are… never really met them or was old enough to recognize them even if I did. I also had a master. He was the one who brought me up and trained me. He told me a lot about my father- the days before he died, 'cause he was a close friend of my father's. He told me all the things my father did in life, and because of that, I guess I was able to become proud of my father. I look up to both of them a lot. As for my mother, I don't know if she's still alive. I have not met her… maybe I will one day- I can't be sure. As for our role in the prophecy… all my master told me was that we play a huge role in stopping the war that is raging in the north right now, as well as bringing peace to this world… about the same as Core. But I'm not exactly sure how we are going to do it and what our ultimate goal is? It may be just to protect our stones or actually trying to stop the war ourselves… My master doesn't really know the details either, but we do know that the answer will come once we gather all seven stones. I guess that means we have to find the rest of the destined ones."

"Hm…" Shine pondered for a while. "That doesn't really tell us anything. How about you, Emerald?" She turned to the remaining member of the group.

"Um…" Emerald stalled for a moment, trying to figure out what to say. "I'm 14… and I'm not really from Mystallion…"

"Huh?" Shine asked, confused. "Not from Mystallion?"

Emerald felt a stab of pain from that question. It was as if she didn't belong. As if she was the odd one out.

"Yeah, " Emerald replied. "I'm not from this world. …I was transported here from my home, Earth, when I made a wish on my stone, the kakunamiya stone. I lived with my mother there, and I also have a grandmother; she was the one who gave me the stone. My dad died when I was very little, though my mom didn't really give me the details…" Emerald went quiet as the memory that appeared when they were captured by Zane emerged once again through the hazy fog of her consciousness. Was that her father that she had remembered? And the young mother and the infant were actually her mother and herself? She couldn't be sure.

"So… why would you be in possession of a stone if you aren't from this world?" Shine inquired.

Emerald froze at the question, "I- I don't really know…"

"So you don't really belong here then."

Shine's words brought a new stab of pain to Emerald's chest and her face mirrored that stinging that was inside her.

"Shine!" Edwin spoke up suddenly in a loud voice. "How can you say that?"

"Huh?" Shine asked innocently. "Oh, I didn't mean it that way. It's just that she isn't from this world… and she doesn't know anyone here. She was sent here all of a sudden with no idea why. Wouldn't you feel scared and anxious?"

Emerald looked down, unsure of how to answer in this situation. The boys glared at Shine, both were angry at her for what she was saying to Emerald.

"I mean… doesn't she miss home?" Shine corrected. "She has a mother back home."

"She'll miss her mother just as you'll miss you're grandmother." Edwin intercepted, his voice taking on a dark tone.

"That's different. I can go back whenever I want. But how will she get back to her own world when this is all over?"

The other three became very silent. They hadn't thought about that. All of them had been so focused on the journey that they never contemplated the aftermath. Of course, they already had enough to think about with the journey itself… At this, the boys were suddenly plagued with guilt- they had failed to think about Emerald's feelings.

Emerald herself had some slightly different thoughts. She began to wonder if her mother was okay. Surely her mother would be worried sick about her right now… and what if she could never go back? What would happen then?"

Shaking her head to clear all her negative thoughts, Emerald regained her composure. "It's no use thinking about it right now. What's done is done and I can't do anything about it."

"Well, there's no use dwelling about it." Emerald began to speak, "If I have time to be sad, I might as well do what I was sent here to do... though I am still unsure of what that is. And maybe, just maybe that will lead me back home. Besides," she smiled. "Being with you guys already feels like home."

Edwin and Core listened intently, absorbing all of the words she had just said. They in turn, smiled too. She was right; thinking about it right now would do them no good. Finding out their role as the possessors of the mystical stones was more important. And if they can't do that, then what hope can they possibly have for bringing Emerald home? The two boys also didn't admit it, but they both knew that they did not want Emerald to go back. Keeping this thought buried deep inside themselves, Edwin and Core turned back to the conversation.

Shine smiled as well, "I'm glad you think that way. You are getting stronger each and every day."

The other three turned towards her, surprised by her comment. "Huh?"

At this, Shine's smile became wider and she reverted back to her normal ditzy self. "Ah nothing, ha ha. Let's continue on."

"Well, it's your turn." Edwin said.

"Ha ha, really?" Shine asked. "There's really nothing to talk about. You guys all know that I came from Hollings town and had already heard everything from grandmother." Then she stood up abruptly, "Well, that was enough of a break, let's go."

The other three stared at her, puzzled. Shine didn't seem like she wanted to talk about herself, and they didn't feel like they should pry unnecessarily. So they all stood up after her and began their walk again, but they still couldn't help wondering what Shine could possibly want to keep to herself.

Unbeknowst to the group, a figure was watching them as they made their way through the forest. His body was shielded from view by the branches around him as he crouched on top of a branch himself.

"Heh heh heh," the figure laughed, revealing his sharp teeth. "I found you~."

~End of Chapter… to be continued~