I really have some inspiration this week! But no one ever reads this story, do they? It would be nice if someone did…well, enjoy!

Zataki sat on the ground, his eyes never leaving the sword. He leaned forward, chin in hand, meditating on the event just revealed. Who was that girl? Why wasn't the sword in the hands of its owner—no, not owner, for he was the true owner—that girl? He knew she still had a part to play.

Arashiko blinked, "How do we know where we're going?"

Noboru playfully tapped the side of his nose. "Oh, you'll just know." Secretly, he knew his brother's exact whereabouts. Now that the sword was awakened and freed, it was calling all its masters. Wherever it was, that's where they'll be.

Kaoru stopped straightening her already-spotless room and looked around. "Did somebody call me?" Silence. But someone, something had called her, a voice as soft as a whisper but as cold as ice. She tried to shake it off but it began to tug at her. Now she could hear the icy voice inside her head, telling her where to go. She dropped her duster and headed out the door.

Arashiko was feeling the same tug, hearing the same voice. She looked over at Noboru. "C'mon, follow me."

Zataki descended to Earth, concealing the sword beneath his heavy trench coat. He moved slowly through the crowded streets, looking for the girl his Aoku had revealed. A flash of blonde here, a blue-eyed girl there, but the qualities never completely fit. There was always something not quite right. He turned the corner—and there she was: young, round, blonde, and blue. She was looking around with obvious hesitance, as if she didn't know why she was there. Zataki smiled and slid into the shadows. A girl's innocence led to her vulnerability.

Kaoru sighed and panned the street once more. She knew that whoever had called her was here. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a dark figure emerge from the shadows. She let out a little squeak of terror and began to run, but was stopped by a hand on the shoulders.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to frighten you, pretty one."

Kaoru looked up into the face of her captor. Gentle yellow eyes smiled out of a sharp, lean face. Spiky black hair stuck out at all angles, giving this mystery man an almost dangerous look. But Kaoru did not see any danger; she was locked in his eyes.

"Hi…"

The man smiled at her. "I'm Kiritsubo Aki," he said, extending his hand, "and you are? Besides beautiful, of course."

Kaoru blushed. She could get use to this! "I am Hanayashi Kaoru. Nice to meet you, Kiritsubo-san."

Arashiko's heart was palpitating and a layer of sweat plastered her bangs to her forehead. It was calling, closer, closer!

Noboru kept a firm grip on his axe handle. He could smell Zataki…

Zataki took an ominous step forward. "The pleasure is all mine, Hanayashi-san." His fingers gripped the handle of the precious weapon concealed in his coat. He ignored the pain long enough to pull it out and plunge it into the soft flesh of her diaphragm. The girl let out a pitiful cry of pain and stared up at him with shocked and tearstained eyes.

"KAORU!" Arashiko suddenly appeared, riveted with surprise.

"Zataki…" Noboru snarled. With sudden brutish fury, he charged at the evil man, swinging his great axe as if it were a toy. Zataki's yellow eyes filled with triumph and he quickly vanished. The blade of the immense weapon disappeared farther into Kaoru, the point clashing with the brick siding in a shower of sparks.

Arashiko knelt, pulling the beloved weapon from her friend, feeling hot tears of sadness and anger well up in her eyes. "Kaoru-chan…"

Kaoru gasped for breath, her eyes meeting Arashiko's in shock. "He…stabbed…it…hurts…" Tears rolled down her pale cheeks. "Make it…go away, Ara-chan."

Arashiko was filled with fury. If she hadn't taken the sword, Kaoru wouldn't be hurt. She furiously flung the weapon with all her might.

The sword flew into the air and stopped, poised above them. In a flash of brilliant light, black and white. Two swords now dangled above them silently. Arashiko stood still, her eyes glued to the split weapon. Then another flash of light and the sword became whole once more.

Arashiko turned to Noboru expectantly, but the tall man's attention was on Kaoru. His face filled with concern as fresh blood gushed from the wound.

"We need to get her help." He gingerly picked the wounded girl up off the ground and began to run. Arashiko looked at him in disbelief.

"Where are you going? You can't just walk into the nearest emergency room! 'Help me, this girl has been stabbed by an evil man with a magic katana! I can't tell you anything about him because his disappeared into thin air soon after the attack but—" A glare from Noboru shut her up.

"Just follow me, Arashiko."

The trio ran down a dark alley near the pier. Noboru knocked on a large wooden door and waited anxiously for a response. Finally a tiny man appeared, glaring up at them suspiciously through thick glasses.

"Mei akiea Noboru?"

Arashiko raised an eyebrow. What had this nutcase been smoking? She looked at Noboru to see his reaction.

"Tyia mei gura, ges toh ep mome." Noboru gestured to Kaoru. Arashiko felt her heart flutter; Kaoru-chan's face was so pale…

The suspicious little man squeaked and ushered them in, glaring at Arashiko as she passed.

Arashiko squinted in the darkness. How the hell did the creepy little thing see? As her eyes finally adjusted, she found herself looking at a room most fitting for its owner. Musty bookshelves lined drab gray walls in the cell-sized room, groaning under the intense weight of moldy old books. Broken tea mugs were scattered all over, some of them completely covered by fuzzy mold. Arashiko was afraid to touch anything, lest she awaken an army of dust bunnies.

The tiny man cleared off a table set in the middle of the room and gestured to Noboru. Kaoru shivered as her skin came in contact with cold metal; then she lay deathly still. Arashiko took one pale hand into her own. So cold…

"Arashiko, put the sword down."

Arashiko jumped out of her reverie at the sound of Noboru's voice. She gave him a nervous smile and began to place the sword down.

As soon as Arashiko lifted her hand, Kaoru's body jerked. She sat up, chest first, head back, like a puppet on a string. An ethereal glow surrounded her and slid down the table.

Arashiko watched her transformation in silence; she had seen this before. The long curls, the electricity underneath her friend's skin—it wasn't a surprise. She didn't react until Kaoru's hand shot forward, reaching for the sword.

Arashiko immediately dove, snatching the weapon out of Kaoru's reach. The sword hummed with energy, and for a split second Arashiko felt a resistance to her touch. Then the sword fell silent and Kaoru changed back into her normal state. She flopped back against table and lay still once more.

The little man squeaked in shock and chattered to Noboru for a good five minutes, gesturing first towards Arashiko and then to Kaoru. Noboru merely nodded, sometimes grunting in agreement or disagreement.

Arashiko stood there in silence, letting her thoughts whirl around her. Why did Kaoru transform? She didn't unsheathe the sword. Why was the creepy little dude so excited about the transformation? What did it all mean?

"Ara-chan?"

Arashiko whipped around and came face to face with a pair of blue eyes, filled with confusion. "Kaoru!"

The girl sat up easily and shook her head. "I just had the weirdest dream. But now I don't remember…oh my god! Am I losing my memory? Maybe I'm like that one woman I saw on TV who lost her memory and had to be hypnotized and then had her life ruined because she—"

"—Kaoru, shut up," Arashiko said with a relieved smile. It was good to have her friend back. "Come on, let's go home."

As she turned around, Arashiko didn't see how Kaoru's eyes lingered on the weapon, or the unnaturally evil grin that spread across Kaoru's delicate face.