Spark was staring at the spots where Hope and Despair had just been. "Hope…Despair?" Genna put a hand on her shoulder, glaring daggers at the witch-spirit in the rapidly weakening bubble. "Don't worry, Spark," she said. "We'll kill her for that…"

Mina growled, flexing her arm, causing claws to pop out of her fingertips like a cat's claws. "Genna, give me your blood, now!"

Genna was about to brush her hair back from her neck to expose her throat, when Desmonenda laughed and slapped her hands together in front of her, yelling "Don't think so!" Genna was hit with a blast of purple light, knocking her off her feet. Mina ran to help her, and to get some blood, but when she reached her, as she tried to bite Genna, some of the purple light surrounding Genna surged up towards Mina's mouth and covered it completely, forcing her mouth shut!

Mina let loose a muffled cry and tried to claw the light, which was now goop, off of her mouth, but it refused to budge.

Dione slashed her hand with her blood-sword, allowing the demon blood to soak into the red blade. "Witch, it is past your time," she said coldly. "Hell has been waiting for you for a long time now!"

"I'll never leave this place!" shrieked Desmonenda. She lifted her hands into the air and swiftly brought them downward, a red light forming between them, creating her very own blood-sword. "Think you can spar with me?" she sneered.

Dione swung her sword. "You think your fake sword can take mine?!" She swung the sword downward, puncturing the bubble. Desmonenda smiled evilly. "You know what? That's what I was hoping you'd do…"

"Dione, stop!" yelled Phantomme, holding her arm out.

Too late. The shield that had contained Desmonenda for years had finally broken.

Dione gasped, but swung her sword once more. "I won't let you-"

"You think you can?!" Desmonenda hit the elf-demon hybrid with her own sword. Dione fell to the ground, hitting her head on the stone floor. A little bit of blood fell from the wound in the side of her head. "AH!"

Desmonenda stood over the elf-demon hybrid once again and raised her sword high over her mid-section, and sent it downward.

Phantomme leapt forward, holding one hand above her, creating a shield above the two. Using her free arm, she slid it beneath her friend and lifted her up, carrying her away from the witch as Desmonenda's sword hit the shield.

The two Exorcists rolled to a stop a few feet away from the battle. Phantomme shook Dione's shoulder gently. "Are you okay, Dione?"

Dione groaned and put a hand to her head. "I think so, but I'll feel a lot better once that witch is gone…"

Phantomme glared at her sister with contempt. "Me, too."

Alison was meanwhile trying to get the goop off of Mina's mouth, helping her claw at it. "You can still breathe through your nose, right?"

Mina nodded, uttering muffled cries. The goop was refusing to budge. Alison dug her fingers underneath of it and tried to pull at it with all her might. "Mina," she cried softly, eyes lighting up. "I think it's coming off!"

Genna sat up, rubbing her arms. Shakily, she got to her feet, holding her arms out in front of her. She tried to concentrate, tried to think of what sin Desmonenda was not feeling. (It was lucky for her that Desmonenda was preoccupied at the moment with Phantomme.)

Lust for Kaden and power…Greed for power…Envy of Phantomme…Gluttony for power…Pride…Wrath…That leaves-! Genna clapped her hands together, muttering some magical incantations under her breath. She began to form intricate symbols with her hands and fingers, still muttering. "Se yen e imre o befre nisn thohn wraro uyvier lendde miay ote mocn isni omed snand stip ris...SLOTH!"

A flaming red kanji appeared in front of her hands and vanished, reappearing on Desmonenda's chest. She leaned backwards, screaming loudly as the symbol burned into her body. She then hunched over, clutching her heart and glared at Genna. "You are going down!" she hissed, swinger her sword to point at Genna.

"She is not!" Mina appeared behind Genna. The goop was missing from her mouth, excepting some tiny patches that stuck top her chin like gum. She smiled wickedly, exposing her sharp fangs. "Genna….I'm gonna need your assistance…"

Genna smiled and quickly brushed her hair away from her neck. Mina wasted no time in sinking her teeth into it. Suddenly her eyes grew wider, and the pupil of her red eyes became a slit of black. Claws sprouted from her fingers. She dropped Genna to the floor, where she lay in a heap, eyes closed and regaining some of her lost energy. Mina herself lowered her body a little and charged forward, moving fast. Desmonenda tried to swing her sword at her, but Mina moved out of the way, evading the blows. Once she was close enough to Desmonenda, she surged herself upward, hands in the air, knocking the sword away from her. "Gotcha, didn't I?" she snickered, swiping at Desmonenda's face.

Three long scratches appeared in her eyes. Desmonenda screeched and brought her hands to her face. She backed up, bumping right into Spark.

Spark threw a hand around her neck, raising a free hand to the side of Desmonenda's head, a flame dancing around her hand. "Hey there, murderess…" Desmonenda looked at Spark from the corner of her eye, looking scared for the first time in the battle. Spark brought the flame closer. "This is for Hope and Despair." The flame grew stronger, as if gasoline had been dumped onto it, and it spiraled around Desmonenda's head.

Phantomme looked away from Dione at her sister. "It's time…" she whispered. She stood up, keeping a firm hold on Dione. "Guys, I need you to hold her in place for me, if you can!"

Mina, still in "savage" form, gave a thumbs up. "You hear that from down there, Genna?!"

"I could hear you," Genna muttered as she shakily rose to her feet.

Spark smiled, keeping the flame hot. "I think I'm doing a good job so far, Phantomme."

"Yeah, you're doing great, but let's see if we can reinforce those shackles," laughed Mina. She ran toward the two, leaping to the ground and gripping Desmonenda's ankles. In response to Phantomme's raised eyebrow, she shrugged and said "Hey, it's old-school, but it works!"

"Oh brother," sighed Phantomme. "Dione, now!"

Dione raised her hand, and slit the palm with her sword. The blood dripped onto the floor. Phantomme dropped to the ground, drawing a pattern in the stone floor with a fingertip. She arranged it so that the large circle was surrounded by three triangles, and drew the kanji for "death" in the center. Dione's blood moved on it's own accord, moving around and tracing the pattern and moving toward the center, forming a tiny pool right over the kanji.

Phantomme's gray-green eyes looked sad for a moment, then she closed them and clapped her hands together before bringing them to the pattern, channeling her own power to the center of the circle. "Spark, Mina, get out of there now!"

Mina and Spark glanced at each other before releasing Desmonenda and leaping away. The pattern vanished from where Phantomme was and reappeared under Desmonenda. She was instantly surrounded by red and black light, streaked with green and gray. "Wh-what!?" She looked panicked, looking to Phantomme. "Sister…come on…no hard feelings, right?"

Phantomme shook her head. "I have no hard feelings towards you at all, sister dear…that's why I have to send you away."

Dione slit her other palm with her sword and flung the blood into the circle around Desmonenda. The blood expanded and formed another circle, began to close…and then stopped.

Everything had stopped.

Alison glanced around. "What?"

Everyone in the room was frozen. The entire scene was stopped, as if someone had hit the "Pause" button. Only Phantomme and herself were still moving.

"Phantomme…what's going on?"

Phantomme walked toward Alison and put her hands on her shoulders, moving her in front of the frozen Desmonenda. "Stand right here…"

Alison looked at Phantomme. "What's-"

Phantomme reached up and removed the chain from around her neck. "Alison, you need to take this, now."

The chain snaked away from Phantomme's fingers and wrapped itself around Alison's neck. "Huh?"

Phantomme stared into Alison's eyes and hugged her tightly. "Alison…I'm sorry I never told you until now…"

"What are you talking about?!" Phantomme's touch was getting colder by the passing second…

Phantomme drew back. "Alison, I'm the Lady of Death. You know that. But the thing is…there were many others before me, some of them actually Lords of Death. The thing is," Phantomme sighed, tears springing to her eyes. "We only live in this world for a few centuries at a time…Kaden was the Lord of Death, and I was his apprentice…you were my apprentice, Alison."

Alison gasped. "What? Does this mean-?"

She looked down and saw that Phantomme's feet were beginning to become trapped in crystallization. "What?"

"My time's up now…I have to go, and you have to take my place." Phantomme leaned forward and read Alison's unspoken thoughts from the beginning of the fight. "Hope and Despair are fine, now. They're spirits, not ghosts; therefore, they'll be back soon. Okay?"

"Okay…"

Phantomme gripped Alison by the shoulders and looked into her eyes. Alison could see the crystal forming a coffin shape as it crept up around Phantomme's middle. "Alison, you have to promise me that you'll be a great Lady of Death. Promise?"

Alison nodded, tears forming in her eyes as she saw the crystals reach Phantomme's chest. Phantomme, pulled back, removing her hands from Alison's shoulders. Alison leaned forward, placing her hands on the crystal coffin. "I promise…"

Phantomme smiled weakly, the coffin reaching her neck. "Okay…no one else will remember that I ever existed…but Alison…" She leaned back, smiling. "Never forget that I love you…" she whispered, using the same words that someone very special had used a long time ago.

The coffin completely covered Phantomme now, her eyes closed behind the coffin, and it shimmered away.

Alison whimpered, the tears falling down her face. "Phantomme?"

Alison suddenly heard a scream. She looked to the source, wiping the tears away. Desmonenda was being forced into the sphere of blood that Dione had created. Finally, she was completely stuck, and the blood formed a tiny red crystal that looked like an earring, and dropped to the floor. Spark picked it up and studied it, smiling brightly. "Cool, Alison!"

"What?" Alison blinked. Spark smiled at Alison.

"You know! Come on, it was pretty cool with that spell you pulled."

"But I didn't-"No one else will remember me… "Oh…I guess it was cool…"

Dione snatched the crystal away from Spark. "Look, I need that back! I'm going to give it to Dad and he can put it away…"

"When? You hate going down to Hell for a visit."

"Shove it…"

Alison sniffled.

Genna smiled. "Come on, Alison, you're Lady of Death. You've done stuff like this all the time!"

Alison nodded, trying to swallow the lump in her throat. "I guess." She turned toward the exit. "Come on…"

PBPBPBPBPBPBPBPBPBPBPBPB

Move a step closer you know that I want you
I can tell by your eyes that you want me too

"You're doing pretty well with those clocks, Emi," smiled a young woman in blue and white.

Emi Tenoz, looking a few years older, smiled back from the large clock on the wall. "Thanks!"

Alison smiled. Her hair had grown towards the middle of her back and was held away from her face by light blue ribbons. Her dress now had a longer skirt over a pair of tight pants, and still held the same color scheme as before. She smiled at Emi again, looking her up and down. "I see the Time Master allowed you to change your physical appearance."

Just a question of time I knew we'd be together
And that you'd be mine I want you here forever

Emi laughed. She had appeared to be older now, and still wore the same dress as before, but her pigtails were missing, now cascading down her shoulders. Her lips were covered in subtle pink lip gloss. "Heh heh…yeah, he said I could alter my appearance if I felt like it, so I told him I want to look sixteen."

Alison laughed a little. "Hey, I'm gonna go round up the exorcists, we're going to hang out and visit with Tolap for a bit."

Emi nodded. "Oh, I forgot to ask, is Tolap still speaking in rhyme?"

"Yeah, she is…but the good news is they're better rhymes than she had."

"Okay, I think it's great that you're spending time with her…she's kinda lonely…"

"Yeah, look I gotta go. See ya, Emi!" said Alison as she turned around. "Good luck with the clocks."

"Thanks!"

Do you hear what I'm saying gotta say how I feel
I can't believe you're here but I know that you're real
I know what I want and baby it's you
I can't deny my feelings because they are true

Alison walked down the hallway, towards the party room. She smiled wider when she opened the door and saw a familiar sight to her. A girl with blue hair, the bangs sectioned off with red barrettes and the rest of it falling around her shoulders, was holding a microphone and singing into it loudly. Behind her were two others, dressed in black and red, with black hair and smiles on their lips as they either strummed their guitars or pounded on their drums. A banner above the stage read "Live: the Sparks of Hope and Despair".

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong

Spark ended her song and took a bow to the thunderous applause, while the re-born Hope and Despair smiled and hugged it each other. Spark raised the mike and said into it "Sorry, guys, concert's over now! But hey!" she said in response to the groans. "You can catch us later, next week, when we'll be back!"

The crowd began to cheer manically, as Spark descended from the stage and walked toward Alison. She glanced over her shoulder to Hope and Despair. "Don't let them spoil your mood, you two!" she called teasingly. Hope laughed and flung her arms around Despair, who was meanwhile waving to the audience and blushing in response to their chant of "Kiss! Kiss! Kiss! Kiss!"

"Not now!" he yelled.

"Not in front of you guys!" laughed Hope.

Spark laughed as she and Alison walked out of the Party Room. "Those two rock!" she smiled. "They're the best band-mates I can ever ask for!"

"I'm sure they are," said Alison, smiling back. "You know where Dione is?"

"Oh, yeah, she should be in the main room."

I've seen you sometimes on your own and in crowds
I knew I had to have you my hopes didn't let me down
Now you're by my side and I feel so good

Dione sat, leaning backwards in the sunlight. Her hair hadn't grown much; it merely touched the tips of her shoulders now, curling backwards. Her sleeves from her outfit were ripped off now, exposing her pale arms. She had also gotten several new piercings in her ears. She opened her eyes as she heard Alison and Spark come in, spotting them in the middle of the crowd of other souls. "Hey," she said, nodding her head.

"Hey, yourself," smiled Alison. "You ready for Tolap? I heard she's made a new book of poetry."

Dione smiled gently, standing up and adjusting the new belt that held her blood-sword. "That girl is always writing new poems. At least her rhymes are much better now."

I've nothing to hide don't feel that I ever could

Do you hear what I'm saying gotta say how I feel
I can't believe you're here but I know that you're real
I know what I want and baby it's you
Can't deny my feelings because they are true

Genna meanwhile was walking down the hallway, her long hair pulled back into a ponytail. She had been doing that for several years now, so that Mina would have easier access to the power she needed. She nodded her head as her team approached. "Mina's over in the Hospital Ward. I tried to warn her about chopping carrots with her eyes closed, but you know she never listens anymore…"

"I do so, Genna!" Mina slunk forward, her fingers of her left hand in finger-casts.

Her hair had grown longer as well, but she kept on cutting it off, excepting for the thin braid flowing down her back. She sniffed, looking away. "I just want some excitement in my life, okay?"

"Exorcising lingering spirits isn't exciting enough, eh?" laughed Alison.

"Oh, shut up," Mina said, lightly punching her on the arm…with her injured hand. "OW, THAT HURT!" whimpered Mina, clutching her fingers. "Oh…sweet sugars…I think I bent them…"

The exorcists laughed, some pounding her on the back as they walked down towards the room they shared. Alison picked up the mirror, calling the door to them.

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong

As they walked down the smoky hallway, talking and gossiping about some of the spirits they had found, and Spark kept on providing juicy details about Hope and Despair's relationships.

I'm not making plans for tomorrow let's live for tonight
I know I want you baby so hold me so tight

Alison felt a sudden breeze brush past her and fly upwards, and she swore she heard a voice. "Alison! Alison, look up!"

Put your arms around me you make me feel so safe

Alison looked up, up where other walkways criss-crossed over the main walkway, leading to other realms, other spirits' lairs…and gasped.

Then you whisper in my ear that you're here to stay

Leaning over the railing of the walkway clsest to her was a see-through, yet familiar figure. It had long white hair and smiling gray-green eyes. The figure lifted a hand into the air and waved at Alison.

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you

Alison continued to stare, unshed tears gathering behind her eyes as another figure joined the first. This one was dressed all in black and silver, with black hair, one eye red and the other blue. Phantomme's spirit turned to say something to him, but Alison couldn't hear what she was saying. The other figure smiled at Alison and waved to her, placing an arm around Phantomme.

You know you gotta have hope

Alison hesitated, then lifted her own hand and waved it slowly.

The spirits of Phantomme and Kaden both smiled and waved harder, before Kaden placed a kiss on Phantomme's cheek. Phantomme smiled and waved once more to Alison before the two of them turned around, walked a few steps, and vanished.

You know you gotta be strong

"Hey, Alison," said Mina, right next to her ear. "Who are you waving at?"

"Huh?" She looked over toward the others. "You guys didn't see…?"

The others shook their heads. Alison turned away, a faint smile crossing her lips. "It was…someone who was very precious to me…"

"Oh…" Dione whispered. She looked to the others then back to Alison. "Are they gone?"

"Yeah…they wanted to say goodbye, is all." Alison smiled a little more and wiped her eyes on her sleeve. "Come on, girls…let's go see Tolap."

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong

Dreams can come true
Look at me babe I'm with you
You know you gotta have hope
You know you gotta be strong