A/N: Alright, here's the last chapter of Crimson and Clover before it goes on hiatus. Not as many people read this as they do Sacrifice, which is funny considering the fact that Sacrifice is a sequel to CCC. I'm actually going to work on this after Sacrifice when I have more time. Sacrifice takes up nearly all of my updating time and I want to spend a good chunk of time on this piece as well.

At least when Sacrifice is completed, those who want to read the prequel will have five chapters to read. Please read and review before this piece takes a hiatus.

XxXxXx

Crimson and Clover Chronicles

By: Melissa Norvell

Journey 5: Ouron the Rock Dog

XxXxXx

"You are the Mountain King?" Gastov asked the man who stood above them on the mountain ledge.

The Mountain King was a young, elfen man with long, hip-length straight hair and slanted eyes. His features were young and beautiful, nearly prince-like. He wore a form-fitting Chinese shirt, white belt, baggy purple pants and a matching purple shirt with wizard sleeves. In his hand was a large staff with a giant black star on top of it.

"Yes, I am," the elven man introduced himself.

Gastov bowed, "Greetings, Mountain King."

"Yes, greetings," Teruna curtseyed beside of him before standing up fully to look at the man. "We really need your help. You see, Ouron-" The wavy-haired princess started to explain but she was cut off by the purple-haired king's young voice.

"Ouron…He's definitely out of control…" The man glanced down with a saddened expression on his face. "…and it's my own careless mistake that caused it." The king decided to come down to the traveler's level so he disappeared in a puff of purple smoke and reappeared in front of them, the solemn expression still clung to his face as he continued to explain why exactly Ouron was the way that he was. "You see…I needed a guardian to protect the Mountain Ore, a stone that was capable of giving life to inanimate objects. It was also seen as a source of power by many. The ore possesses the power to bring inanimate objects to life. I created Ouron to guard the ore when I was gone, but I neglected to give him any feelings. I created a cold, vicious beast but I discovered my mistake too late. My spell was off and I accidentally gave Ouron the power to turn things into stone. There's only one thing powerful enough to defeat Ouron, and that's the Mountain Ore. We must place a piece into his body. I'll assist you. I'll go in and retrieve the ore."

"We'll wait here," Shizure told him.

"Look!" Sulphur gestured to Ouron as he came up over the hill alone.

"I found you. So who else wants to become statues in my art show?" Ouron taunted and intimidated them.

"You've gone too far this time, rock dog!" Sulphur decided to take a stand against the stone creature. Soon, the Mountain King would be back with the piece of Mountain Ore and they would soon have the problem dealt with. Now, all they needed to do was buy some time until he returned.

"No! Sulphur!" Teruna shouted as the bird flew from her shoulder.

"Don't! Stay here!" Shizure tried to convince him, but by this time, there was no convincing the bird to simply stay back.

"Go ahead," the two women heard the white-haired knight speak clearly. They turned in unison to see the man standing there with a stern look on his face.

"What?" Ouron seemed confused at this turn of events. Something was definitely wrong here. Why would the white-haired knight all of a sudden turn against his friends?

"What the hell are you talking about?" The blonde maid shouted back at him, clearly confused by this.

"What's the matter with you, Gastov-san?" Teruna asked with a slight look of confusion and sorrow. Was her own knight truly going against her?

"I mean it. Go ahead; I do not care what you do with Sulphur," Gastov continued.

"You're out of your mind if you think I'll buy that," Ouron, on the other hand, was not convinced. It seemed like some sort of trap.

"I'm serious," the man walked in front of the group of people he was surrounded by and placed his hand on his hip. "I have been surrounded by these fools long enough. It is refreshing to find someone like you." The knight gazed into the unfeeling eyes of the rock dog.

"Gastov-san…" Teruna's green gaze hit the ground. She couldn't believe what she was hearing. Would her knight truly be so cold as to allow Sulphur to be turned to stone? Would he really abandon her in her time of need? Would he truly just throw her to Ouron?

"Gastov, how could you?" Shizure was outraged at what had just happened. She could not believe what she was hearing.

"Ignore them!" The Russian shouted strongly, ceasing the words of his team mates.

"So, you really don't care what I do with him?" Ouron gave Sulphur a toothy, evil smile. This sent shivers up and down the small, black bird's spine. He was in a real pinch and that rotten knight was just going to allow him to be turned to stone just like that, as if he had no regard for him at all!

"That fool, certainly not," Gastov closed his eyes. For some reason, his words felt more painful than he was willing to show but he knew that he had to do this, no matter what.

"Good," the rock dog replied as he turned the bird to stone with his mouth blaster. Sulphur's hardened form fell to the ground with a clatter as he lay frozen in place. "Because he's a statue now!" The dog replied with a laugh as Gastov's eyes glinted with sorrow.

"Heh, I thought so. You do care."

"Run!" Shizure saw her chance and called out the word as everyone headed deep within the cave as quickly as they could. "We have to find the Mountain King before Ouron gets there first…or gets us first." The maid stated as she ran with fierce determination down the corridors of rock, leaving the knight to deal with the rock dog.

"Now we part!" Gastov slashed his sword across the ground and split it beneath Ouron's feet. Both he and the two turtle-like rock creatures fell into the hole.

"What? No!" Ouron tumbled into the large crack in the ground.

XxXxXx

Everyone ran as quickly as they could through the darkened tunnels of the cave. Each one of them glanced around in search of the Mountain King but no one found anything so far. Deeper and deeper they headed into the giant mountain and still, their searches came up empty.

"I don't see him anywhere," Shizure stated after nearly ten minutes of failed searching.

"I don't hear him either. Usually the ground trembles when Ouron runs," Teruna noted. The trembling ground was a definite signal that the rock dog drew near and being as large as he was, he should have caught up with them by now.

"Yeah, it sounds like a volcano about to erupt!" The maid noticed the same thing. It was odd that the ground didn't shake as it normally did.

"If Ouran was created in mountain area, then he knows other paths," Gastov caught up behind them. No doubt there was more than one way to get to the ore and Ouron undoubtedly knew all of them.

"The Mountain King is in here somewhere. If we get to him before Ouron does, we can find the Mountain Ore." That was Teruna's goal. It was best to find the thing that would cure the situation then chase Ouron around and chance him getting to it before any one did.

The group turned one of the corners of the pathway. It led into a large room that glowed with a blue light. Their forms were bathed in blue as they entered the room.

"Is him!" Gastov said in surprise. He was happy to know that they had finally found the thing that they had sought. It was the Mountain King, who had been running down the path in search of the ore. He turned around with a shocked look on his face to find out that they had followed him in the mountain instead of staying behind to wait.

"Ouron came, and turned little bird Sulphur to stone…" the white-haired knight informed sadly as he was shot a glare by Shizure.

"We're trying to escape. We have to get to that ore before Ouron the Rock Dog does," the wavy-haired princess told him. Time was of the essence and if he knew any way to obtain the Mountain Ore faster, then it would help her greatly.

"Are there any hidden paths in this mountain?" Shizure asked. It would a piece of important information that would definitely help them get ahead of the Rock Dog.

"Yes, there are many hidden paths and corridors…and Ouron knows them all. No doubt he's taking one to find us quicker," the Mountain King informed.

"What are we talking here for? Let's go!" Shizure said as they all began to run down the path that they were on. More than anything they knew that time was of the essence. They had to hurry and get to the Mountain Ore, no matter what the cost. They ran as quickly as they could, each fueled by the desire to reach the Ore first.

They could only pray that it would not fall into the Rock Dog's clutches first.

"There are a lot of traps set here, in case someone was to get past Ouron, so be careful," the king explained, as Teruna let out a small yell as she tripped over a rock and fell to the ground. The purple-haired king went over and pulled her up.

"I said watch your step."

The wavy-haired princess apologized and continued to run. She and the king eventually caught back up to the group. They ran in front of a small rock that tipped to the side after they had all passed. The panels of the ceiling pulled back to reveal a large set of spikes that covered the entire area of the ground below.

One of the spikes fell in front of Teruna, nearly splitting her outfit down the middle. The terrorized princess screamed and took off running. Fueled by fright, she ran ahead of the group.

"Look out!" The Mountain King shouted as the spikes began to fall and rain from the ceiling. "Follow me!" He instructed as the group took off running and dodging the spikes. They ran for what seemed like half a mile, each one trying desperately to avoid the raining spikes and a few members of the group nearly had limbs taken off because of the dangerous objects.

After a while of running and dodging, it seemed that they made it out of the way of the falling objects. Once they were certain that the spikes were not falling anymore, they stopped and panted heavily to catch up their breath. The group looked relaxed and was even proud of themselves for their accomplishments.

"Don't relax yet. We've got quite a way to go," the king educated. There were many more traps that lay ahead of them yet. They were far from being in the clear. Suddenly, he heard a rumbling. "Huh?" The Mountain King said as his amethyst eyes widened and he looked behind him to see that a large boulder was rolling their way with great speed.

"Oh great, if it's not one thing, it's another," Shizure complained.

"Is not my day!" Gastov saw his impending doom gaining speed as everyone took off running as quickly as they could.

"It's gaining on us!" The maid continually glanced over her shoulder to check on the rock's progress.

"Look!" The white-haired knight exclaimed as he pointed ahead.

It seemed that there was a large hole in the ground just ahead that covered the entire path. Everyone skidded to a stop and looked down at the bed of spikes that littered the ground below. One wrong move and they would be a human pincushion.

"More spikes!" Teruna looked down. What were they going to do now? The boulder was gaining fast and any moment, they would surely either fall into the hole or be rolled over. The princess didn't like those choices at all.

"Jump!" Shizure backed up and grabbed Teruna and Gastov's hands. The three of them ran across and took a flying leap over to the other side, landing safely. The Mountain King hesitated, and then took a flying leap across just as the boulder fell into the bottom of the pit. Due to all of the debris, no one saw any sight of him and gasped, but then he pulled himself up over the ledge and onto the land.

"We made it," he sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow as everyone celebrated and cheered.

"Don't congratulate yourselves yet. I fear that the worst is yet to come," the Mountain King informed as the group walked slowly down the path, worn out from trying to dodge spikes and jump over holes. They soon came to a small opening and the purple-haired king stopped and looked at the group with a serious expression, "Ouron's lair is right beyond this door. He can get to it from every path. No doubt he's waiting for us."

The king then turned to the stone door and tried to push it open but the door didn't budge. "I can't get in!" He exclaimed as a slight panic went through his form. This could not be happening! At the moment that he needed it the most. The man began to back up and run into the door, ramming it with all of his might. After he tried this tactic a good three times, the door still did not move. The only thing that he succeeded in was injuring his shoulder.

"We break it down then!" Gastov swung his sword across the door, slicing it in half. The knight then rammed the door, breaking through it and running into the next room to see Ouron, standing there. The group stumbled through the debris of the door and into the room. When their sights lay upon Ouron, they stopped dead in their tracks.

"Master, you disappoint me," Ouron stood in front of a blue, sapphire-like stone and stared the Mountain King down.

"No more then you've disappointed me, Ouron," the elven man narrowed his eyes at his creation.

"That's my duty, stand aside, master!" The dog inched closer to the group, threatening to turn all of them to stone with just one mouth blast.

"Ouron! No!" The king shouted, but it was too late, the dog's mouth blaster had already gone off. Thinking quickly, the king jumped into the way and was struck by the beam. The black star staff hit the ground with a clink as everyone fell dead silent. Even Ouron was shocked at what had just happened.

"Oh my!" Teruna threw her hands up to her mouth as horror spread across her face.

"Well…Uh…" Ouron stammered, trying desperately to keep his composure. "Prepare to be turned to stone?"

"But, what about the Mountain King?" Teruna looked to the elfen man, who was now reduced to a stone statue standing before them.

"Well…" Ouron's composure was still breaking as the guilt leaked through more and more with each word. "I don't know…He shouldn't have tried to interfere," his expression was one of growing worry and conflict of feelings. The stone dog was fighting his ability to care and the new found feelings that were surfacing on his heart.

The princess decided that perhaps the dog needed something that would truly touch his heart. There had been a song that she had thought of on a whim that she wanted to convey to him. Now was a good time, more than any that she should show the dog how cold he truly was being. He was vulnerable and she could tell that he truly was confused about his feelings and whether or not to let them in.

Teruna began to ask him questions.

How can you be so cold?

So unmoving and controlled?

How can your heart be so small?

Don't you have any feelings at all?

How can you be so void?

So similar to an asteroid?

You have a heart deep inside. Why should that be the feeling you hide?

We can all get along with everyone in this world where we live.

Can't you find it in your heart to forgive?

Why don't you show some love?

Some deep and tender love.

It'll come back one million fold and you'll wonder how you could have been so cold.

Tears began to flood down the dog's cheeks as he nuzzled his master, the tears falling on his hardened face and turned away from everyone in shame and wept silently to himself. "Nothing is worth the loss of my master." The dog's deep voice was low and depressed.

"Maybe if you undo the spell's side-effects," Shizure mentioned a possible solution to the problem.

"It's not reversible," Ouron's tone said it all. "What's done is done. I blame myself for my own downfall. It was my cold heart that-"

"But Ouron-" A familiar young, male voice interrupted the dog's speech.

"Master! How many times do I ha-" Ouron turned around and a surprised expression crossed his tear-stricken face. "Master?"

"Yes Ouron, you did it! Only you can break your own stone spell," the Mountain King stood before him, just as normal and breathing as any other living thing.

"But how?" Ouron was completely floored by what he had done.

"Because you loved him," Teruna responded. "Your tears melted through the stone and broke the spell. It proves that you did have a heart all along. You just covered up your kindness with cold feelings."

"Or maybe he gained them over time by caring for his master," Shizure concluded. It was a possibility.

"Whatever the case, he reversed the spell," the purple-haired king pointed out.

"But, I can't go around crying on everything to undo what I've done," the Rock Dog explained. He didn't feel the same way about the others that he had turned to stone. Their fate had been sealed and they were to forever be lost as statues in Stone Country.

"I think we should put this ore into Ouron," the maid chipped off a piece of the ore and held it out. "…before he decides differently."

"Right," the Mountain King nodded, "we'll worry about what to do afterwards."

"Are we going to tell them about Stone Country?" Gastov asked.

"Of course," Shizure replied.

"Ready, Ouron?" The king held the warm ore in his hands.

"Yes, master," the dog replied and even though he felt a little unsettled, he knew that it would be for the best. The elven king picked up the stone and pointed his staff at it, sending straight into the dog as a piercing blue light. Ouron closed his eyes as he let the new found feeling take over his body as the ore was absorbed into his being.

'I feel so different…Not as if I'm just a cold, hard stone…but dry and warm.' The dog sighed peacefully as the warmth washed over his body and the affects of the spell began to wear off on the people of Stone Country. They slowly began to turn back into the human beings that they once were.

The girl and her two friends had been reunited and all hugged each other happily. Zazzie slowly turned back into flesh and the curious girl glanced around in confusion. Sulphur also turned back and flew away in search of the princess and the others.

XxXxXx

Everyone turned their heads to see Sulphur flying up to them. Teruna smiled happily and quickly grabbed him, pulling him to her face in glee and giggling as she hugged him close.

"Sulphur!" The bird then made a disgruntled noise as he was smashed into the girl's cheek with both hands.

"Hey guys!" Zazzie waved and ran up to everyone happily.

"Hey, it's Zazzie!" Shizure replied with a lazy smile, happy to see the younger princess returning safely.

"I suppose the moment that the Mountain Ore was absorbed into Ouron's body, the stone curses' affects were reversed," the Mountain King deduced.

"Thank goodness," Teruna looked to the black bird on her shoulder, who beamed. He was happy to see the princess smile once more.

"The people in Stone Country must have been turned back as well," the maid noted.

"I had turned them into stone first," Ouron mentioned. His voice was happier and calm, fuller of emotion than it had ever been. He even had a smile on his face. It was as if the ore had transformed him into a different being.

"We thank you for all that you've done," the elven king bowed, grateful to the travelers for what they had done. "If there's any way that we can help you, please don't hesitate to ask."

"We're pretty much adventuring from here on out. We'll be stopping by the next village," Shizure told the two of them with a smile. They had made a new alliance, and were eternally grateful to the Mountain King and Ouron the Rock Dog, who would be in their debt and wished them happiness in their travels.

"Well, good-bye, good Ouron the Rock Dog," Teruna smiled at the stone creature before her.

"It makes me proud to call my pet good Ouron the Rock Dog," the king smiled.

"I plan to live up to it, with my master's help," Ouron smiled. It was a promise that he intended to keep for as long as he would be in existence.

"I'm sure you will," Teruna was glad that she could help the two of them through all of their perils and she wished them happiness as they lived out their lives in the Ouron Mountains.

Everyone soon said their good byes and the group was headed to their next destination. They walked away from the Ouron Mountains with a new found hope and happiness as they gained new allies and helped someone in need.

"Gastov…" Zazzie finally spoke up after what seemed like an hour of silence. The girl wore a guilty expression on her face as she placed her arms behind her back and looked down. "Uh…We're sorry we said that you have no feelings."

"And we want to thank you for what you did," Sulphur added as he too, looked down.

"Why? It would be pain dragging around heavy statues…" The knight paused as the two looked offended, and then he smiled happily, "just kidding." The three of them laughed a little before they noticed a shadow growing larger above them.

The group looked up to see that something was falling from the sky and headed straight towards them.

"What's that?" Shizure looked up in confusion. What in the world would be falling from the sky at a moment like this?

"It's headed this way!" Zazzie continued to watch the large object that quickly fell towards them.

Gastov held out his hands as he caught the object. He called out that he had it as the human-like being came down in a mass of white robes and feathers. It was a young man with shoulder-length blonde hair that was tied back in a long, white ribbon with thick, longer bangs and eyes that were closed, a concealed color. He had ivory, flawless skin and was dressed in elaborate white and gold robes with golden bracelets on his wrists and ankles. Several ribbons and sashes surrounded him and were wrapped around his body and from his back protruded two large, white wings that were as pristine as the winter's snow.

It was an angel that had fallen from heaven, straight into the knight's arms. Who was this angel and why did he fall out of the sky? Nonetheless, they had to see if he was alright.

To Be Continued…

A/N: Well, if you read Sacrifice then you know who it is, if not then I'm sorry that you have to wait but this story is officially on HIATUS for now. I'll resume it after Sacrifice is completed, probably at the end of the year sometime. Sorry to tell you all that but I can't afford to work on more than two large projects at once.

Please favorite this and watch it. Updates will come, I promise! I always finish what I start and this story is not being abandon, just put on the back burner until I finish something else.

Please R&R for one final time before my long HIATUS.