Hello again! I won't go on as long this time around and just say thanks again for the support.

We finally get into the real story, which starts out shorter than the prologue. I know, but trust me, I could write a whole other story for that (and I probably will).

Not much happens this chapter, as it's really just a set up to the story, but bear with me. Gotta build it up gradually.

A world is only foreign if you don't embrace it. - BM

Chapter I

The sound of the wind blowing through the streets of the decrepit town before them, slowing down and picking up again like steady breaths echoed the impermanence of the world. The colors of the Spireflies, fluttering in the air, were proof that the ambitious, the brave and the strong must eventually decline. Their lives, now only these spheres of light, passed to the next plane as fast as a dream on any given night. As quickly as the mighty had built up their power in this world, so had they lost it just as fast in the afterlife.

This much was revealed to Yumie as she walked onto the grounds of a war long forgotten. The remnants of the dead were scattered about the ground like macabre confetti.

"You know, I was kind of hoping that my sending would be more like the dances back home, instead of just for…bones," She said to her companion, whose face was emotionless as she gave him a nervous smile.

"It's a Sending, Yumie. Not a bonfire festival."

"I know…I know. I haven't done this before, that's all. I'm…nervous."

"Don't be. This is what you've worked for. Hesitate and these souls will become the Departed. Spare them that suffering and send them to the Everglow."

"You're right…of course you're right. Thanks, Ouren. I can't have them suffering. I am an Evoker, after all."

Raziel had been in a deep, almost comatose-like sleep for what felt a very long time. He was accustomed to the darkness. He was used to nothing but black. He heard nothing, he saw nothing. It was the perfect situation to rest. At first he had no problem with it. He needed rest anyway. He needed to be away from the pain that he faced before. He needed to be away from the images that flashed in his mind almost every minute. Images of fire and brimstone, of pain and suffering. Of a family that had been separated in an instant by a single incident. He needed to get away from it. His slumber was a nice escape.

That is, until a voice rang through his ears, penetrating the stillness of his sleep, disrupting the deathly tranquil world around him. He didn't know whose it was, but it was…comforting. Comforting in the way a mother lulls a child to sleep with a sweet song. It warmed him, gave him life again. After the voice faded, a small, white light peaked out through the darkness. It was then his body started to move, reacting to the light. As it got larger and larger, he felt warmer, stronger, and ready to break out of the solitude of slumber. The light continued to grow until it encompassed Raziel's vision entirely.

And then, as if it had never happened, he woke up.

His eyes opened, painfully ripping the skin around his eyelids, which told him he had indeed been asleep for a very, very long time. Colors and shapes of all varieties painted his vision and fresh air filled his lungs. He let out a big sigh as he exhaled, relieved that he was finally awake again.

He struggled to get to raise himself, his body stiff from lying for so long. Doing so took a lot of effort as his muscles were not responding immediately to his demands. He thought he heard a voice as he lifted himself up to his knees, but wasn't sure as he could only focus on the pain shooting through his body.

After the pain rescinded and his senses started to refocus, he tried to track where the voice was coming from. From what he could tell, it was a woman's voice, not too far from where he was, but getting there in itself would present a problem.

He looked for something to help prop himself up as he finally managed to bring himself to his knees. He found an old, brittle sword next to him and despite having the feeling it would break as soon as he put his weight on it, he dug it into the ground next to him and used it to lift himself up.

As he finally rose to his feet, he took in his surroundings. Though it could be described as drab at best, it was better than the darkness he had gotten used to. Even an unsaturated sky would do over that.

Once again, the sound of a woman's voice rang in his ears. It was melodic as if she were singing a song, yet as staccato as a hymn. Regardless, it was beautiful to Raziel, since it had been what felt like an eternity since he last heard singing. He decided to follow it to the source, or at least as far as his legs would take him to it.

After what felt like forever, putting in all of his effort to make each step, he finally found what he was searching for. He spotted two figures, one of a rather large and muscular build and the other much smaller and slender, moving about as the larger figure stood motionless.

As he made his way to approach them, he was stopped in his tracks. The effort he put into every step was drained as he watched, mesmerized has he saw the smaller, female figure clearly now. Her motions hypnotized him.

Her movements were graceful, as if she were performing a majestic dance, but also forceful, giving it a more ritualistic nature. Her body moved fluidly, her staff moving circularly as if she were trying to create a vacuum to suck in the world around her. Her voice was as smooth as silk, as warm as the summer air and as gentle as a lover during the night. She drew him in from her very first note and now had a vice-grip on his soul.

But it wasn't just him. As she continued her rhythmic ritual, hundreds of florescent lights rose from the ground beneath her. They too, were drawn to this enigma of a woman, whose dance and song were transcendent.

As she continued to draw them in, she dipped low and shot back up, arching her back and raising her staff in the air. As if on command, the lights that were surrounding her began to ascend to the sky above, illuminating the clouds above them. Raziel had never seen such a sight before. Was it a dream? Was it magic? He wasn't sure, but it took all of his strength not to be drawn in by her performance and sent to the heavens as well.

After she finished, she knelt to the ground, obviously winded from it all. Raziel was too, as his breath had literally been taken from his chest. He inhaled and exhaled deeply, trying to regain his strength.

It was then that the two realized he was there. Before he had realized it, he had taken steps closer during her dance and was literally pulled in by the beauty of it. He was far closer than he had thought.

As he approached them, he wasn't greeted with the niceties he was expecting, but instead with hostility. The strong, imposing man took out his sword that was sheathed on his back, a sword almost the same size as he was and flew at Raziel without warning.

"Yumie, get back!" He yelled as he lunged forward, his sword poised, ready to pierce the chest of Raziel.

Raziel tried to react, but he didn't have enough strength. He knew his opponent was too fast, too strong for him to combat in his state. He closed his eyes, praying in his mind to survive this attack. He knew what it was like to be asleep for a long period of time. He didn't want that feeling for an eternity, not yet.

Suddenly, a burst of energy surged through his body. Adrenaline mixed with some kind of force that was beyond his control willed his body to move. Before his mind could react, his body not only dodged the blow by a hair's length, but he raised his old, decrepit sword in a sweeping motion upward, effectively parrying his opponent's attack.

But the man was more skilled than that. He came down again with a blow so hard that it could have split Raziel down the middle, had he been there that is. He had already whirled around his opponent as the sword came down to the earth, breaking the ground where it struck with a loud thud. It wouldn't stop him though, as he came back around with a horizontal cut to the midsection of Raziel. Yet Raziel was again able to block the blow. He didn't understand how he was doing it, but he did know one thing: he needed to survive.

The powerful man tried to use his strength to break Raziel's guard. It seemed to be working, but just as he was about to give, a blue light radiated from his right arm. His muscles bulged and he felt even more power surging out. The light surprised his opponent, leaving him open-mouthed. Raziel took the opportunity to power his opponent out of his attack and set the two of them at a stalemate.

It was then that the girl, the one Raziel heard being called Yumie, came in between the two of them, facing towards the large man.

"Ouren, that's enough! He's not one of the Departed! He's human!" She cried out.

With a little bit of hesitation, Ouren relented and she turned back to Raziel, putting her hands on his arm.

"Are you okay?" She asked him.

He tried to answer, but nothing came out. His body was completely tapped from exerting himself in the fight. The last thing he remembered was the warmth of her soft hands before the world went black again.