Ok it's been what? 3 years since I updated last? And I'm really really truly sorry. It's an exam year and whatnot and all I seem to do these days is work and it was kinda a choice between writing and my boyfriend, can you really blame the choice? Well I guess I'd better give a summary but to be honest with you I can hardly remember what's happening myself. Phoenix is still driving herself crazy, or reminiscing, or sitting in the dark or however you see it – I'll let you choose. And Dragon's still on his quest with Azar but doesn't really know what's happening. Puss and Wolf have become a joined force but are still fighting for Phoenix. If you want a real summary just skim over a couple of previous chapters – you know what I'm like – they're only 6 paragraphs long. But yeah, no more rambling, if you haven't given up on me please read on!!

Dragon swore. He was already asking himself what he had got himself into.

Behind him, Azar was completely motionless. There was a slight blur to his hands. He was moving them ever so slightly but at extreme speed.

With a worried expression, Dragon drew his hefty sword. He didn't doubt the man possessed a witchcraft, the nature of which he didn't want to know. This worried him, far more than the sound of level denizens ascending the stairs, far more than the eerie sensation given off by the crystal shard. He could fight men-like creatures, he could ignore feelings, but if it came to it he wasn't sure if he could match witchcraft.

Dragon drew his sword; it glided smoothly, silently out of its sheath. It was his most prized, and his most loved, possession and he took a lot more time over it than he did anything else.

It was sharp, as sharp as intelligence, as sharp as perfection and he wielded it as such. It looked heavy and unyielding but anyone seeing him fight with it would have that opinion instantly dismissed, along with their life if they weren't fast enough in reply.

A man - no, Dragon corrected himself - what looked like a man, burst through the door. Dragon treated him with a menacing smile but he was a creature of the levels, he couldn't fear and he would probably return once the levels readjusted.

Dragon watched as more of his kind filed in through the door and began to line the walls. They were silent now, no shouts, no calls, even their footsteps seemed to have been hushed. The alarm still blared throughout the building but in this one, calm room it seemed to dull.

Twelve. Dragon watched as they walked around him until they stood at each point on the clock. They didn't look to each other, they didn't need to, they were each only tiny parts to the whole.

Dragon's expression was reserved.

He wasn't playing.

Neither were they.

With one last glance to the frozen man, between him and the shelter of the crystal, Dragon stepped up. His movement was mimicked and twelve blank sets of eyes remained fixed on him as twelve glittering swords were drawn, rasping, from twelve different sheathes.

At the first level they shouldn't be armed.

It didn't matter.

Dragon rubbed the soft piece of material over the flat of his sword again. It didn't matter that it had never really dirtied, men falling to find themselves swallowed back into the whole of the level didn't bleed and they didn't make a mess. Unless the mess was you.

Smiling to himself, Dragon flipped the sword over and rubbed his cloth along the other side.

He was surprised he'd been left alone, but then again, it was the first level and he'd been careful not to set off any more traps now that the ear wrenching alarm had finally blown itself out.

He chuckled.

It had been so long since he'd found himself in an honest fight. He, like everyone else, had been kicked out of the levels, had the duelling arena closed on him and been forced into an idle life. He was glad that his beloved sword had finally found itself some action.

Dragon felt the jolt travel along the floor and looked up instantly to Azar. The man was still concrete-like but behind him the giant crystal had begun to shatter.

Large shards of deadly crystal began to break away from its surfaces as the trembling increased. They slipped to the floor, impact causing them to crunch and break up further, tiny pieces flying outwards, all sharp edges and nothing else.

Rushing forwards, Dragon went to carry the little man away before anything heavy could crush him but he was stopped by the memory of a warning and he held back, hovering by the door as the shuddering set off yet more raucous alarms.

Azar's eyes snapped open and he took in the situation. He stepped back and cupped his hands. The room was instantly still, allowing alarms to show louder still.

Dragon was breathing quickly, hand resting on the pommel of his sword, and he watched as the room was filled with a blinding flash.

When he was finally able to see again the alarms had died and the crystal vanished. Azar still had his hands cupped but they were now filled with something heavy. Dragon watched as he leant across and, with an almost reverence, placed it on the desk.

"I couldn't fix it properly." He said, "But I did my best to patch it up."

Dragon dropped his gaze to the little crystal hawk, sitting on the desk.

"Why that shape?" He asked.

Azar shrugged as if it didn't particularly matter.

"I don't know." He said.

"What did you do - back then - what did you do?"

Azar looked uncomfortable and Dragon took the hint.

"I'm sure you'll tell me later." He said in a tone that said very clearly that Dragon would find out when he wanted to.

Azar nodded.

"Onto the next level up?"

"Just one more…" Azar paused. "Yes," he said. "Finished."

Dragon went to the window, looking down he was relieved to find only two floors below. With a shove he slid the lower piece of glass upwards and then swung his legs out over the ledge. He didn't have his rope but it was only two floors down and he could just jump.

"What are you doing?"

Dragon turned to face Azar.

"I'm finishing the level." He said, "Why?"

"We should just go down the stairs."

"I had to fight twelve things while you were 'occupied'." Dragon replied. "I'm not risking any more alarms."

"There won't be any more alarms, Blue Dragon. Don't worry."

Azar left the room; Dragon could hear him begin to descend the stairs.

He only paused slightly before swinging his legs back into the room and skirting the desk, making sure he kept his distance from the hawk and its unnerving, crystalline gaze, and following out of the door. He didn't like this witchcraft but it was useful.