I leapt off Shane and hit the ground by the bed much like a cat after hearing the thrumming of thunder. I stood up and went for my satchel, I had discarded my belt and sword right next to it. This was all happening too fast, I hadn't even thought about Shane in this situation. Bloodlust stained the air and heavy, evil intent lingered with it. I didn't need to see aura to recognize this much bad by pure instinct.
"Kasumi, what's wrong?" Before he could finish his sentence I headed towards the door with the intention of ramming my sword through the man standing behind it. Ultimately I fell on my face thanks to tripping over a heavy box left by our door. Son of a dick shit! I stood up and looked around for him in a feral manner. He was here, the bloodlust remained behind and I could taste it in my mouth.
"Kasumi! Stop!" Shane walked up to me and restrained me. Oh ho ho, was I annoyed. A nasty orb of bile started to boil inside me, the intense killer intent thriving me now in full. I had to kill him, he had done this to me.
"Release me!" I struggled in his grasp. He was employing all his strength to keeping me from hacking myself out of his grip. He was especially careful to restrain my arms so I wouldn't swing my sword around. "How dare you touch me?!"
"Are you listening to yourself?! Calm down! Come back to your senses!" The adorable human strained his grip and squeezed tighter. "Don't let it get to you."
"Do listen to your friend, he does hold your safety into account." Altos was speaking, the man sporting Kazuki's skin was standing by the stairway that led to our floor. His face wore the smuggest of grins. "I've been waiting for you both to get back. You see, I needed to see how you've been doing, princess."
I remained perfectly still yanking myself to think rationally. Acting like a psycho would please Altos, I did not want to do that. I dropped the sword and became limp in Shane's arms, my cheeks were dripping blood while my gaze focused on my enemy some feet away from us on the hallway.
"You're cool?" Shane asked in a whisper his gaze also not daring leave the newcomer's form. I shrugged failing to make up some sassy remark like I usually would.
"You cool down very quickly, guess that's a good thing for now." Altos dared walk closer to us, Shane tensed. My friend was probably thinking of a way to settle me down, fight Altos and come out of this alive. "I see you've moved on from my younger brother. Also a good thing. Now, you wouldn't mind if I were to take him from you, right?"
I pushed Shane inside our apartment with terrible ease, even though I was completely exhausted. Blood eyes had taken its toll this time for whatever reason and thankfully the adrenaline made me ignore how numb my body was. Streams of blood continued falling down my cheeks as I reactivated my power. In the blink of an eye I took up the sword I had previously dropped and got ready to strike. I dashed towards Altos aiming for his chest, right over the spot his heart should be. Altos laughed amused as he moved to the side and let me pass him all the way down the stairs. I managed to not trip and simply jump all the way to the end of the flight quickly running upwards and trying to dab at the brunet again.
"You're too slow, c'mon I'm giving you a handicap here!" Altos told me before he took my wrist and squeezed it hard. I dropped the sword unintentionally thanks to his gesture and he slammed me against the floor keeping me down with an immobilizing hold. "Come on out kiddo, your girlfriend needs your help."
"Shane run! Get the hell away!" It's not like he was going to listen to me but I still had to scream it.
A flash of light blinded me, one moment Altos held me down, the next I heard him grunt as he got off me. Blind or not, I got up and hurried my butt to run where memory served was the door to our apartment.
"Kid! Hold her!" A woman's voice rang in my ears and I was pulled by my arm almost immediately.
"Kasumi, someone came to help. Stay calm and let me lead you." Shane spoke up before he picked me up in his arms.
"Don't forget the box! He can't have what's inside either!" the woman's voice spoke once again, gosh I really wanted to know who it was! Wait…
The box I tripped on earlier?
"Right, Kasumi hold on to this." Shane gave me the box and I held it in my arms tightly. It was heavy, whatever could be inside? On a side note, whoever left it here is an idiot for not handing the thing personally to us if it was THIS relevant and important.
A few more seconds and out of the apartment we were. Shane probably went out of the balcony onto the streets and he kept running. He went through turns and jumped up towards what I imagined were roofs.
"Where are we going?" I asked, by this point I could see vague contours against some white. Definitely not enough to know where we were heading.
"We're heading to Leone's, your eyes are still bleeding shouldn't that have stopped?" Shane asked worried and I remembered I hadn't really stopped using Blood Eyes after I forced them on again, which meant the throwback was going to be harsh considering I was already tired to begin with.
"Sorry but if I stop now I'll become dead weight," I'd blank out and Shane would have a hard time carrying us and the heavy box in my arms. "Do you really think he won't find us? Because I believe that if we believe in ourselves hard enough…"
"Oh for the gods' sake. It'll be okay, idiot!" Shane was amused by my statement, the man chuckled as if I wasn't being legit serious. "The woman who came to protect us said she was going to have a little talk with Altos, she seemed strong enough to shake him."
There wasn't a lot of people who could go up against Altos, I was convinced that woman was going to die. The question was, how long until he came after us?
My vision fully recovered just when Shane came to a stop by the gate to a fancy yet cozy looking wooden house. The house had a garden laid before it and the small picket fence was a lovely contrast to the purple tinged flowers decorating said garden. I looked around and noticed that we were in the forest area inside the Sakurakouji walls, the air was cool and there was a faint smell of lavender in it. Shane crossed the fence and quickly kicked on the door.
"Leone! I'm coming in!" Shane exclaimed before we heard some noise from inside the house. Our leader opened the door and with no look of surprise whatsoever, took me from Shane's hands and let him in.
"You can rest now milady, we'll keep you safe." Leone said as Shane took the box from me. "I'm sorry I wasn't there to protect you. I have failed as your guardian."
"It's okay." I replied, I pictured his aura must've been tinged with guilt. He had one job after all. "I'm gonna go ahead and collapse, do wake me up if we're about to die for sure."
I giggled a little before I let Blood Eyes cease to work. My body shook, I went cold as my power took its toll. I cocked my head back as a ridiculous amount of pain circled my body. I screamed, I could compare it to every single bone in my body shattering. My scream drowned as my throat filled with liquid. I coughed trying to breath, red splashed over me and Leone tightened his grip on me to make sure he didn't drop me and made matters worse. It hurt, everything hurt so bad and the pain wouldn't let me fall unconscious.
"Shit what do we do?! Is the toll too much for her?" Sound was distorted in my head, I wanted to keep screaming but the constant gurgling in my throat wouldn't let me.
"She's going to choke at this rate," Leone moved me and soon I found myself laying face down on some sofa. I vomited blood all over Leone's floor, more was coming up. Oh shit, I was going to die. Ana wasn't going to get to me first, this absurd recoil was about would kill me. "I was told she might get episodes like these after she fought, I wasn't told she'd get like this."
I'm not supposed to! This was triple the toll from what was usual!
"I don't think she's supposed to, shit that's a lot of blood." Shane had despair tainting his voice. God, I didn't want to worry him, please let me stop spewing my bloody guts all over the floor.
Noise became incoherent and incomprehensible. My vision went white, sparks igniting every now and then. I could scream now, my body convulsed more with each passing second. My bones were breaking; my organs were being torn. I was dying! I was dying… I'm going to die…
"Kasumi... are you with us?" Shane's voice was clear in my mind. My sight returned and I found myself staring right at his face. He looked like he had been through a shit storm. "Hey, welcome back… feeling better?"
My mouth tasted sweet, like honey. Maybe I had been fed something?
"Yes… a lot better." I tried to move but found that every movement was straining. Everything hurt but only when I moved, unlike earlier where pain had become constant.
"Try not to move much, your body paid a big toll… if it weren't for Chou you probably would have died on us." Shane placed his hand delicately on my shoulder so I wouldn't fathom getting up.
"Chou?" I mumbled trying to look around for clues as to where I was now. It was an unfamiliar bedroom and the lavender smell suggested that perhaps we were still in Leone's cottage.
"Ye, I'd tell ya you took a big risk by using Blood Eyes so many times in a row, but you couldn't have possibly imagined the toll would be bigger than usual thanks to Altos removing Ana's seal." I recognized the voice of the woman who had rescued us at our apartment. So, she hadn't died? That was a plot twist. "Princess, you do have some vast amount of luck on your side… or perhaps a guardian angel?"
"Hilarious, did Destiny send you too?" I was grateful, honest, but the pain in my body had gotten me in a sour mood. Sorry guys.
"No, I work for someone else. How's your body?" The woman neared the bed and I could fully admire her appearance. She looked young with forest green eyes and a caring complexion. Her curly ebony colored hair was tied into a pony tail, lots of charms decorating it. She wore a sort of dark green tunic dress with a light brown sash tied around her waist. "I mean besides the body ache, no need to vomit blood or anything like it?"
"I'm good… who do you work for?"
"Someone your predecessor held very dear. Help her drink this, it'll ease up the pain." The woman searched around her brown, square bag, which she sported as a satchel, and took out a small vial full of purple colored liquid. "So, I know why Destiny really sent you here. Want to hear about it?"
Shane was about to put the vial against my lips when I abruptly sat up not minding the pain. She knew why I was here?
"Why am I here? Why won't she let me jump?" I asked, Shane sitting by my bed holding the vial in his hand quietly. Wait, why wasn't Shane asking Chou about any of the stuff we were talking about?
"Stuff is happening in New Iris, a war is coming and we need your help. Of course, the current you can't be the hope we need. That is why Destiny sent you here, to help you find yourself again." Chou rummaged once again through her bag and took out a sheet of paper. "We don't need the weak hearted child you've become. We need Serah Rose, Princess of the Black Flame."
She handed me the sheet and I looked over the words it had written on it. It was a request, the golden ink made it seem very important aside from the seal on the lower corner of it. It would have made sense if it had come in a fancy envelope but I guessed that was beside the point if someone was going to deliver it straight to me.
"Retrieve the Moon Blade… Kaleb of the Blood?" the sheet was full of information with regards to this 'Moon Blade'. What was this all about?
"That's right, retrieve the blade while holding Ana back and the Goddess will allow you free passage to other realms once again. Easy right? Iris is waiting for their hero to come back. Don't let us down, please?"
"Aaaaughhh why do these things happen to me?!" I exclaimed faking frustration. This was good. The Goddess was being a bitch to teach me a lesson huh? So far I had been doing fatal which is why Chou came along. I needed a shake and this was good enough. Goal I can see? Check. Death threat to Shane? Right where it hurts. Alright. Bring it on! "I got no time to be resting, I have to get back on my feet."
"You can't be serious." Shane said and before he could do anything about it I got up from bed and stretched. "Weren't you dying a couple hours ago? You shouldn't move!"
"Babe, Altos is out there waiting for Ana to come out and I can't afford to give him a bad image of me any longer. He wants the Princess to wreck his bullshit, he'll get the Princess to wreck his bullshit." I breathed out minding my strained body. I had made Shane worry, I had endangered all my new friends. How could I possibly stay about waiting for Ana to consume me?
"… HOW are you not freaking out about this absurd story again?" I asked him estranged.
"Chou and Leone explained everything while you were out cold."
"And you just accepted it?"
"I freaked out but that was hours ago, I'm over it."
"Oh. Alrighty, so uh, Moon Blade it is."
"Good, then my mission here is accomplished." Chou smiled and closed her bag. "I still do recommend you drink the painkiller. Ah! There's one more thing you should know. 13 days from now there will be an eclipse, have the blade by that day. Kaleb probably forgot to add the limit date. Have fun!"
She left just like that, sporting a grin on her face and leaving Shane and I both with puzzled expressions. Well this was great, no rush.
"Could you explain what just happened?" Shane asked as I huffed and went about making sure I had actual clothes on. I had been given a change of clothes and was now sporting comfy sweat pants and a tank top.
"That's how crazy my life used to be before everyone up and died." I wasn't kidding, this was pretty fucking normal. "I'm going out for a run. What was in the box?"
"We don't know, Chou said only you could open it." Shane mentioned and slacked in his chair as I continued stretching. "You sure you're okay?"
"Yeah, let's open that box and then I'll go for a run." I replied heading out the door. Leone's cottage bedrooms were upstairs and the stairs were directly to my left. "The box is downstairs right?"
"Kasumi, we still have to talk…"
I poked my head into the room again and looked at him with a questioning look. He had already gotten a full explanation of my situation right?
"About what almost happened back home…do you think we could…?" I chuckled and went over to him. I sat on his lap and nuzzled his nose. The raven haired man turned crimson, he was so cute.
"We could try to make this work." I said and pecked him on the lips. "Don't pamper me too much but do spoil me."
"What's that supposed to mean?" He spoke in a low voice pressing his lips against the side of my neck.
"Ha! It means try not to die saving me and do cuddle with me all you can. I'm pretty needy and clingy." Not really, maybe just a bit.
I let him hold me for a while, he had gotten a big scare thanks to whatever the hell was happening with my eyes. He held his lips against my skin and breathed in my scent while I tangled my fingers between his silky black hair. It was nice, having someone hold me like this after everything that happened. I wanted to keep this safe, keep them safe. That was exactly what I was going to do.
I went downstairs not before leaving Shane sleeping on the bed I had been using. He almost fell asleep while I had been sitting on his lap and I ended up tucking him in so he wouldn't fall on his face or something. Leone was sitting by a small dining table on the lower floors, the white haired man was reading a book while drinking some tea. The thin box made out of burgundy colored wood rested by the table and I neared it wondering if Leone was as tired as Shane was.
"So, Shane is sleeping upstairs and I'm heading out for a run… sorry about the scare earlier…"
"It's alright Princess, Chou mentioned you shouldn't worry about Altos and that she'll take care he won't interfere with us while we're in Sakurakouji. Princess, I'm sorry for neglecting my duties. What happened with the bandits and with your enemy shouldn't have made you resort to such a dangerous and risky alternative. I am ashamed of my lack of action." Leone put down his book on the table and ended up kneeling before me. I sighed a little relieved he was actually talking to me now. I guess he really was trying to go about saying sorry for the bandit incident.
"It's okay Leone, we're all alive and well and that means a world to me…" I smiled and went about touching the famous box. "Rise alright? Let's see what's in this mystery box!"
I ran my fingers across the lid before I opened the box and peered inside, Leone looking at the contents from beside me.
A sword-like dagger lay inside over velvet silk. Huh? A weapon? I touched the blade and found myself realizing that this wasn't just a simple gift. This was always meant to be mine. The dagger possessed a shiny red blade, probably enchanted ruby, while the hilt of said blade was black with clear golden tribal patterns. A particular doodle in the form I recognized as being as a phoenix formed part of the hilt's design. No way… this was Gravain's signature, the Phoenix Clan most talented crystalsmith. Enchanted ruby was his favorite material considering the thing looked pretty and was as sharp and effective as the strongest metal alloys. This was without a doubt a Phoenix Blade.
"It looks like an antique… quite expensive." Leone noted as I held up the red bladed dagger in my hand.
"It must be, this one is meant for Phoenix Clan royalty. Who on this world would have one of these? This should be impossible to obtain." I looked at the sparkly blade intrigued before setting it aside. Inside the box a folded piece of what seemed to be parchment remained. I took it up and unfolded it, red inked words conveying a message addressed to me, Serah Rose.
It's been patiently waiting for a master. Use it wisely, princess.
I examined the letters on the parchment. I didn't recognize the writing style, just who had sent me this blade?
"I'm gonna need a dagger belt…"
"Whoever left it, did so without even being heard by Shane or being caught by Altos… the person must be skilled and apt at avoiding your kind of trouble." Leone mused and I continued looking in the back of my head for people who could fool Altos and also happened to be alive. No one I had met thus far was capable, and no one I had met could've gotten their hands on a Phoenix Royal Blade in such a good state as this one.
"I might just really have a guardian angel out there."