Chapter 27: Eternal flame

"I heard screaming."

"You hear lots of things in a place like this, you will get used to it."

"But I felt..."

"Surely Miss Grace, there is nothing you need to worry about at this time." Raguel grinned from the other end of a grand dining table.

The two dined alone, although Grace technically was the only one eating. Raguel knew the dangers of letting her and Runa spend too much time together as well as reuniting Grace with Hylia too soon. He couldn't have the two together building strength for like their mothers, they would always be more powerful when they were together.

Raguel watched her intently, staring at her pink lips as they parted to sip from her glass, the way her delicate fingers held her fork and knife. The scent of her sweet warm blood was almost overwhelming, pouring from her and into his nostrils. He wanted her, her bare creamy white neck called out to him. His urge to take her and drink from her right there on the table was intense, so much so his nails had dug away quite a bit of wood from the table.

"Aren't you going to eat?" Grace looked at him innocently, resting the utensils down on the plate.

"Soon Miss Grace..." his lips curled into a sinister smile, "soon."

Elric sat out front of the hospital on a bench checking all his arsenal twice over, thinking of some sort of a game plan. Although he was capable, he had never been in a major battle like this, not since the beginning days when those of his kind battled each other for the skies. Even then he chose not to be apart of the bloodshed. This upcoming battle was surely going to be legendary and most likely there will come a time when the weapons run out or stop working and he'll have to become his true form in order to fight. He wasn't sure he was ready to be that person, he had been running from becoming that person all of his life.

"Heh your forehead always wrinkles up when you're thinking deeply." a soft giggle drifted into his ears from behind.

"Mink I..." he turned and looked back to greet her but she wasn't there.

"Don't try and lie to me, when you worry I worry, I feel all the things you feel." her tail brushed against his cheek.

"Hey, heh Mink." he turned back, still unable to catch her in the act.

"Don't be afraid." she finally came up behind him, wrapping her arms around around his neck, kissing the side of his head. "Just do your best, that's all any of us can do."

"I know." he sighed and leaned back into her, watching the sun as it began to set behind the trees. "Hey Mink?"

"Yes?"

"If we get out of this alive..."

"When." she interrupted.

"Heh, WHEN we get out this alive...no more of our old routine." he stroked her arms. "No more running around, scheming for money, playing games. I don't want that anymore. I have all that I need right here. I want to marry you and live in a little house and make a honest feline of you." he laughed a bit.

"Sounds good." Mink grinned ear to ear trying her best to mask her excitement.

"Think you two could save the romance until after we kill Raguel?" Vega stood before them, arms crossed and glaring.

"You sound confident." Elric stood up, Mink by his side.

"He's going to kill Hylia, I cannot allow him to live, period."

"I see, well then let's get going shall we?"

"Well Mink? What's this plan you had?" Vega was already getting impatient. "I thought you said there was a way we could get to the castle quickly without a problem."

"I did, keep your pants on." she grinned.

Mink held her hand up and wiggled her fingers, mainly her middle finger on which was plain silver ring. She took it off, held it in her hand and gave the two men a chance to look at it, as if she was performing another one of her magic tricks. Next she blew on it gently and almost instantly it grew into a large hoop. She swung it around her arm, then threw it in the air and caught it.

"How's that for a plan eh?"

"You never told me you had that." Elric pouted a bit.

"You have your secrets I have mine."

"Look what does that have to do with anything?" Vega snapped, impatient once more. He had no time for parlor tricks.

"It's a disappearing ring." she snapped right back at him. "Anything you put through it disappears like so..." she put her hand through it and the other two watched in surprise as her hand didnt come out the other side. "Elric and I will get inside, then blow on the ring, shrink it back down and put it on your finger. Then when you get to Raguel's castle you can let us back out."

"Well well well look who suddenly got smart." Elric joked.

"Hmm, good thinking Mink. I'm sorry I was rude."

She smiled as a sign she forgave him, then motioned for Elric to come toward her. After a bit of assurance that there was nothing dangerous about the ring and that they wouldn't disappear into nothingness forever, Elric finally took a deep breath and went first. Mink got on her tippy toes and held it over his head, then dropped it, watching him vanish.

"Good luck, and try not to lose us ok?" she smiled, winked, then dropped the hoop down over herself and vanished as well.

Vega picked up the hoop and blew on it. He let it shrink into his hand and slipped it onto his pinkie. Slowly he turned toward the direction of Raguel's castle. It could be seen from almost anywhere in the land. It towered atop Mt. Ulara, the sky always darkened and clouded around it. Vega glared at it, the rage could be seen even in his white eyes. With quick swift motions he ripped off his shirt and tore his pants off at the knee. He needed to be able to move as quickly as possible and wanted nothing to get in the way of that.

"I'm coming Hylia" he whispered. A wind picked up and carried dark blue strands of hair across his face. He then took off running on all fours and with great swiftness like a cheetah.

"Vega?!" Hylia jerked up in her bed, breathing heavily. She heard his voice, she could have sworn it.

She looked around for him, called out to him once more and when she realized he wasn't coming she lay back in bed, fighting back the tears that were welling up in her eyes. She closed them and let the tears roll down her cheeks. Happy thoughts, she thought to herself, just think about something good to get through this until he comes for you.

In her mind she pictured a large grassy field, filled with beautiful flowers of every kind and color. She sat calmly within the flowers wearing a dress similar to that of the one she wore the day Neil left, only more of a fluffy gown. Her hair sat on her shoulders in perfect raven curls, adorned with light pink ribbons. She was simply breathtaking. She waited for him, but he didn't come. Her smile turned to a worried frown. This wasn't supposed to happen like this. Why wasn't he appearing? Suddenly she felt a hand on her shoulder and her worries melted away. He had arrived. Looking up, her mouth opened slightly in shock as she came to find someone other than Vega standing in front of her.

She was the most gorgeous woman Hylia had ever seen. Her hair was as black as Hylia's, so long it dragged along the ground, bound in vines and roses. Her skin was flawless, her face a perfect peach with soft pink cheeks and lips. She looked like a porcelain doll. Every hue of red glittered from her long gown. She peered down at Hylia with deep jade eyes. No words needed to be exchanged at that moment. One look into her eyes and Hylia knew who she was.

"Hylas...m...mother..." the words barely escaped Hylia's lips in a quiet whisper.

Hylas smiled and knelt down before her, cupping Hylia's face in her hands. A wave of warmth immediately washed over her.

"The one thing I regret most, is not being there to watch you grow, to see the beautiful woman you've become. There is so much I wanted to share with you, so much I wanted to tell you, but time would not permit me to do so."

"I felt so lost without you...without papa..." tears flooded Hylia's eyes once more.

"I'm so sorry. I cannot say it enough for it will never fill the empty space that was created when we left you. All I can do now is watch over you in your dreams and guide you the best I can." Hylas gently wiped her cheeks with her fingers.

"What can I do? I can't control myself and I'm so scared. I'm so confused."

"Do not be afraid. Find the strength within yourself, within Grace and the people who love you."

"Grace?" she held her mother's hands in hers, pulling them away from her face and holding them in her lap.

"You've felt the bond. It seems unexplainable, more than coincidence. The same blood flows through you both. You feel her presence and she feels yours. It is the same bond my sister and I felt. It was destiny that our daughters found their way to one another."

"Sisters? But that would make Grace and I..."

"You both are destined to carry out our legacy and you will do so when the time is right. In that time you will know no confusion, no fear, and you will see with great clarity. Believe in yourself. I will always be with you." Hylas pulled Hylia close and held her tightly in her arms, stroking her hair. A gentle breeze swept by, the flowers swaying with it. "My flame has been passed down to you my sweet daughter. Let it burn bright within you and never extinguish..."

Her words were carried away with the winds, as did her mortal form which fluttered away into the air in a flock of red rose petals. A single petal slowly descended into her open hand. She clutched it, holding it to her heart.

Hylia's eyes opened slowly. She lay alone in the dark with only the moon to illuminate the room. For once she felt at ease. Turning her head to the side she glanced at her hand, which was clenched into a fist. She slowly unraveled her fingers, revealing a perfect unwilted rose petal resting on her palm.