Etsuo walked along the tar road, scraping his feet against it at regular intervals. His thoughts ran through the past few weeks, from the longest time away to the current day, and finally 'Are you sure..?' He paused at this thought, looking at his surroundings. A tarred road, coming at a halt at the sidewalk, then meeting grass which ran from the cememt to the white houses. All of the houses were the same size and color, same shape and everything. What was the point of going on in a place so much like this one? He couldn't answer this thought. But as he walked by his house, he decided not to stop. There was one thing to do before he ended his life, even if it was so small and simple as what he was going to do. He kept on moving forward, until the tar and cement fell away and the reign of grass began...and about a quarter of a mile in front of him, the forest began. Running towards it, the sun seemed to shine a spotlight on him. Paying no heed to this minor change, Etsuo continued running, even when he was at the edge of the forest. Running through the fringe of trees until all there was, was trees and dirt and grass and rocks and...peace. Etsuo let a small smile cover his face, beside the fact of what he would do in a few hours. Suddenly, something caught his eye. Looking around, he saw nothing. Shrugging the strangeness away, he continued forward, determined to say good-bye to his friends, the birds of whatever species they might be. But there it was, again, at the corner of his eye. This time when he turned, though, it was still there. A sort of glimmering oval standing straight up, like a mirror, but it was translucent. Suddenly, he lost control of his body, and moved towards it, step after step. It was like a silent calling of 'come, come, come away from it all, come' was directed at him, but only his subconcious was aware of it. He lifted his hand to prod at this; what material was it made of it? what was it, then?; so many questions running through his mind, making him wanting to touch it even more. His finger was an inch away, when he heard something from behind him. He started to turn, but then with a mind of its own, his hand shot forward and hit the sparkling shape. Only, it didn't stop. His hand continued to move forward, even though he couldn't see it behind the translucent... thing. The rest of his body was yanked forth along with his hand, and suddenly something hit the base of his head from behind, instantly knocking him from conciousness.

He groaned quietly, lifting his hand to his head. Suddenly, everything came back to him as he opened his eyes. But then his jaw dropped.

"Where am I?!"

His voice sounded strangely out of place, though he barely registered this because of the sight that lay before his eyes. Beside him was a sheer cliff, a pure vertical drop with not one foothold. He quickly rolled to his left, away from the drop, and then slowly stood up. His head throbbed, but again he was surprised at what he saw. A circle of grass, a few meters in radius, with cliffs on all sides. Looking beyond his own little mass of land, it looked like there were many other pillars like his; for what he was on was far above the ground, miles and miles, but even so he could see the searing flames that were there instead of land. Some of the pillars were taller, others shorter, though one thing stayed the same: they were all placed at regular intervals. The boy wiped his hand across his forehead, was this what Hell was? But no, he noticed that a fair bit away, the flames faded away to voids of nothingness, which then diminished to waves.


Etsuo spun to face the speaker, ready to fight. The black cloaked figure laughed mercilessly at his lifted fists,

"Obviously you don't know how to fight." .

"Then kill me," Etsuo said carelessly. The figure, a girl by her voice, laughed again.

"You want to die? Then jump. If you are so ready then why didnt you just roll off the edge before?" she asked dangerously. Etsuo moved back a step.

"Who are you!" his voice was more of a demand than a question.

"Does it matter?" she said, but nonetheless pulled the hood off her head so as to remove the shadow covering her face. She had tan-colored skin, ebony hair and black eyes, almost as dark as her hair. She looked to be about the same age as Etsuo, 17 or so. The boy quickly glared at the girl to stop any other feelings.

"Maybe I should ask of what you are!" he said sharply. She smiled, then suddenly looked wistful as she faced the darkening sky. After a moment, she realized this, and quickly wiped emotion from her face.

"I am what I am, mortal!"

Then she turned around and pulled a reed pipe from some fold in her cloak and started to play a short melody. Etsuo found himself captivated by the haunting song, but all too soon it ended. He blinked in surprise and dismay as the silence suddenly seemed to be far too loud. She laughed as she turned her head and saw his face, then looked back. Seeing whatever she was looking for, she suddenly jumped into the sky. No, not jumped, flew. Etsuo's eyes widened in surprise as she flew speedily away, soon disappearing altogether. Etsuo sighed. Great, now i am stuck here. But then another idea hit him: what if he could fly, too? No, he quicky wiped that thought aside.

Before he could ponder upon this more, something started to appear in front of him. It was like something fading away, except the opposite. Something fading in. He recognized the girl from before, eventually, but something else was coming, too. Etsuo looked at her, confused. She smiled mysteriously. Suddenly, the other creature was completely there. Etsuo was speechless, more so than he had been when they first started fading in. A pure black tiger, much larger than usual, was standing in front of him, white-flecked black eagle wings folding on the creatures back. But the most surprising thing about this animal was not the wings, but the tails. There were three somewhat larger than usual tails, all tipped with deadly-looking razors.

Etsuo moved back a little bit, the creature looked dangerous.

"Bry says to relax, he doesn't eat junk food," the girl said, smiling slightly. At Etsuo's puzzled face, she motioned towards the tiger with the wings.

"You're from Earth, am I correct?" she asked a moment later. Etsuo nodded dumbly.

"I've been there before, it's an alright place."

Etsuo somehow knew the words meant more than they seemed, even if he couldnt figure out what. Nodding his head slightly, he asked her if she could help him get home. Her reply surprised him, not by the words but by the hidden meaning he could just barely know was there by the manner in which she said them.

"I guess."

Neither of them spoke for a while, the girl lost in her own thoughts and Etsuo pondering her words. Finally, Etsuo broke the silence.

"So are you going to get me out of here soon?"

The girl looked at him as if she had just saw him for the first time. Then remembrance seemed to strike her, and then she nodded slightly.

"Know how to fly?"

Etsuo's spirits soared, maybe she could teach him how to fly like her!

"No time to teach you, so get on his back," the girl replied. Etsuo stared at her, heart sinking, but also shocked because she had read his mind.

"What did you say your name was?" he asked suddenly, getting onto the wild-cats back.

"I never said it," was the girls reply, followed by a slight smirk.

"But it's Aeriyukari," she added slowly. Suddenly, Bry lifted off into the sky, following the girl.