One Year Ago...


A Black Flag location...

Approximately 11 pm...

(Past Official Academy Curfew)


"Damn, why tf am I doing this again?"

Jihan Johari grimaced as he eyed the chain of boulders before him.

Damn, Shit. Damn…Shit, damn, shit!

He really didn't know which one had come first - but it had been his 'mantra' for a solid ten minutes now.

This was the first time he had gotten this close to this place. If anything went wrong…

This was such a bad idea...

"Why?"

"Uh...credits?" Next to him, Nigel - also in black and who also wore the guild's signature ski-mask, shrugged. "We're both in debt, bro."

That they were. And to one of the much worse of the worst clubs out there, unfortunately.

Nigel sighed. "And you know the deadline drill right? Especially with the signing of the Involuntary Incarceration & Reimbursement Protocol - "

Spinning back around the tree, Jihan shot him a #done look. "Don't remind me."

Nigel held up his hands defensively. "Hey you're the one who asked for the reminder. We owe money to the Hoes." Nigel pointed up the hill. "And -

" - Because of you!"

Nigel winced but carried on. "And the only way to get that kind of credit asap is to take on the worst jobs."

Jihan scowled. "Fucking factions." Sighing, he adjusted his facemask. It was bad enough he had to get close to this place of all places - but if something went wrong and he was recognized…

He was wearing his enchanted mask as all guild members were required to but...

Yes this was a very bad idea…

"Best of luck bro." Jihan was pleased to note that Nigel at least, did look somewhat shamefaced. "You just need to get some info - and well, he said it could be anything right?"

Jihan didn't smile back. "Well it has to be something real good or we might as well kiss that payment goodbye." He mood soured. "And given who is requesting it…"

Yeah, let's not go there…

Nigel sighed. "You know we can't be picky right? We were assigned this one by price requested."

Jihan knew that. It wasn't like he and Nigel had been specifically picked or something...

It was just another job...but it seriously felt like something more. He couldn't explain it, but this felt different…

Maybe it was nerves. Or common sense. Or his sanity which he must at some point, between deciding to accept this job and actually signing to it, left behind.

It's cool.

Maybe I'll get something the client wanted, or maybe I won't...

But today is the last chance.

I have to try.

jihan nodded, more to himself than Nigel. He had to get some info -

Which he hoped he would be able to secure before tonight.

Before the Hoes came for him and dragged him and Ni off to be fertilizer of something…(and no that wasn't a joke)

This was the third day he had been here after all. And it was the last chance he had...

"Okay, here goes…"

Tapping the sword sheath at his side, he waited as the familiar miasmic aura began to drift from it in fumes of dark purple. Gritting his teeth, he allowed it to totally surround him, till his presence was all but invisible, not detectable by the senses of even the most powerful of Yokai students - like the one whose property he was going to unlawfully break into..

"Time to get to work."

Getting past the bounders was the trickiest part. The Leader of the Red Faction had a shield here, yet Jihan could cross it...possibly. Once, and only once, that is.

Never did I think I'd be wasting one of my ace skills on this…

Without any reward...

But that was exactly what he was going to attempt tonight - which would work, provided nothing went wrong, that is.

Like Haruka Hiwatari finding him out, and bringing him to a crisp, that is.

It's not like they hadn't seen that before. Only last week, as a matter of fact. A few classmate was recovering from second degree burns in the Ashwini grounds - woe betide those poor suckers - as that was where another great horror roamed about freely.

Shuddering, Jihan shook his head, shuddering slightly as he gripped the sword - which was now vibrating.

Concentrate

Sweat was beginning to drip as he slowly moved forward.

Shit, this was gonna be damn difficult...

Concentrate...

Where the yoki leads you...

Thirty feet away…

He inched closer to the boulders…

Yeah...the sweat was really dripping now…

The pommel of the sword was starting to get colder.

Twenty feet away…

By the time he crossed the Naur barrier, his arms almost felt like jelly. The effort from holding the now almost violently vibrating sword was taking all its strength. Which, from all angles, was really not good. Like, at all.

Fuck. I'll have to feed it earlier…

Till then...eyes on the prize!

Staring up at the Hiwatari estate in front of him, his eyes narrowed. From what he could sense, there was only one occupant.

He was in luck...hopefully!

Pointing his sword towards the house, he waited, eyes closing as till he felt the familiar power begin to swirl around the dark blade length, even as the temperature cooled around him.

And best of all...this area was not as deeply protected…and not protected against his particular type of power...

His eyes snapped open.

Which meant…

He could hear - for a little while. His power was effective -

For just one time - and the moment it started to fade, he would have to run. And by the time it was completely gone - he would have to be far, far away.

Otherwise….

Well he didn't want to dwell on that that (highly) probably but (horribly) gruesome reality - even in his imagination.

Well, time to play I Spy, Soon I might Die...

He could only remain there for a short time at best...


At the same time..

Hiwatari Estate...


"It had been confirmed...the child is coming to St Warriors. You do know what all this means right?"

The dark haired teen's eyes narrowed, flashing red as he whirled around. "There's no need to remind me."

Haruka Hiwatari ground out as looked up at the shimmering form of a shadowy man in the mirror.

The small golden mirror was hanging from a golden stand in his main chambers - where all but three people were ever allowed to enter.

Of course, if anyone tried, they would end up fried - literally.

A musical laugh reverberated around the room, which was strangely high pitched for a male voice. "I just thought to remind you if you had forgotten of our - "

" - As if that is possible." Haruka sneered. "As if. As...if."

His expression cooling as he turned back, he shook his head. "There is no need to worry - I have it under control."

"That's good to hear. However..." The mirror's surface flickered, almost as if reacting to the sudden tension which suddenly ratcheted up in the bedroom.

"However?" Haruka's lip curled. "Things will go on as planned, will they not? Even if they somehow managed to conceal the fact that that brat - who by all means is a human - was accepted into St Warriors?" He lifted a hand towards the mirror. "You were supposed to look into that!"

The person in the mirror let out a mournful sounding sigh. "Well, apologies, for the thirty seventh time, my Lord...but even you do know that even I cannot do much when the Elders themselves seem not to be particularly inclined to help." There was a small pause before the person continued. "And by that you know exactly what I mean. It is not possible that all of efforts, proved to be fruitless."

Haruka snarled. "It's obvious someone is making sure that we get nowhere - "

"As the last three years can attest - " Another mournful sigh followed. "No information, hardly anything…"

Haruka gnashed his teeth.

"Outrageous! Even with the personal command..." His eyes narrowed. "It is for sure someone is ensuring we find out nothing."

"Does that matter though?" The person sounded amused now. "After all, you seem to be in a more advantageous position now."

Haruka frowned. "What?"

"Even if our efforts have been futile till now - it hardly matters now. The game might actually have changed."

"Carry on."

The person nodded, and as they did so, the mirror seemed to shimmer more brightly, and golden specs of light seeming to float out of the surface.

"After all, the child is finally returning - and more importantly - she is coming to you, is it not so? Even if the latest rumors are correct - then it's highly likely that she will come here first and not the Clan lands."

Haruka's eyes narrowed. "I see your point. But...now that the Clan knows, how will they act?" His fist clenched. "More importantly how will Grandfather act?"

A chuckle filled the room. "I'm monitoring the situation. And it is rather hilarious. Till a week ago, all mention of them was, mind you, literally punishable and now - it is all that everyone can talk about! It's almost as if your father's declaration has no power any more now that the Head himself heard that the child was confirmed to be well and al-"

"Enough!"

The person stopped speaking immediately.

"This is still uncertain." Haruka exhaled, a glint of crimson seeping into his pupils. "It is all still unclear. Now that it is known, the Academy is definetly involved. So what the Clan does and doesn't do - we cannot judge or base our evaluations on those."

The person in the mirror gasped. "You mean to say -"

"Isn't it funny that the child already isn't on Clan Lands? Even if it was only a day, I'm certain the Elders would have found her by now - and brought her back. I for one know a very interested two who would do anything to ensure that - even if that would mean going against any orders imposed. Or, rather, the Head would have ensured it either ways - as he would have the right."

"True…"

Haruka continued, his frown getting darker. "But since it hasn't happened immediately, it seems that perhaps - at this point, you are right, she will, most likely come to the Academy first." He looked up, nodding slowly. "Not many know this, but the Academy can choose to exercise certain powers before the year of formal admission - that is - for the entirety of the year preceding that."

"Hmmm." The person suddenly sounded excited. "So the child comes first…to you!" An amused chortle broke out. "This is just too good! Of all the Clanmates she could have met first, it is you - the one person who has the most -"

Suddenly the voice cut off, even as the person in the mirror let out a savage, almost animalistic hiss. The mirror suddenly flickered violently, the surface now emitting golden colored sparks.

Haruka stopped pacing - looking up, eyes widening in surprise.

From the shadowy haze, a face with a red half mask with the pattern of feathers suddenly drew closer...and as it did so, also became startlingly clear. Dark gold eyes, with unnaturally large black pupils were looking past Haruka, as if trying to look beyond the walls of the room.

"What is it?"

The person's eyes narrowed, his mouth opening to reveal a mouthful of sharp, sharp teeth. "You have been lax, Haruka."

"What!?"

"It seems that you have an intruder - one who is eavesdropping - and quite successfully might I say. And with, what I believe to be some sort of rare Raks - oh well..."

He stopped, as well, Haruka Hiwatari was no longer in the room.

The person in the mirror tutted. "Oh dear...how very impetuous he is…" They let out a chortle.

"Which is why I cannot wait for next year!"


At the Bottom of Hiwatari Hill...


One second, Nigel was looking up at the summer moon and stretching, and the next moment he was being shaken - and violently.

He started to scream and would have succeeded if it had not been for the hand over his mouth.

Recognizing it was Jihan, he relaxed, only to freak out more the next instant.

"We need to go - now!"

He only needed to look into his best friend's pale, pale face and terrified eyes to know what had happened. And the sudden burst of fire front the top of the hill was the other indicator.

Either Jihan had run out of time, or he had been spotted.

"Activate the teleporter now!" Jihan moaned as they hid behind the tree. "He's coming!"

There were second guesses requires to know who 'he' was.

Hands shaking, Nigel was punching in the code as fast as possible on the slim glass cube he held. Which was proving to be difficult, given how slippery his fingers were." "Trying to, trying to!"

"Hurry!" Jihan was panting now, his face almost white as he held his sword. "I won't be able to hold this for long."

Nigel blanched.

"I thought you said you had like twenty minutes more!"

Jihan gulped. "That's before Hiwatari suddenly strengthened the boundary spell - I didn't know he could do that! Must have purchased some super illegal additions to the barrier and it suddenly and totally drained me…" He panted, "I cannot believe I didn't think of that!"

Nigel suddenly sniffed. "Hey...do you smell smoke?"

Jihan peered round the tree and his face lost all his remaining color. On top of the hill, stood Haruka Hiwatari - who, from the looks of it, had started what could only be described as an hellish inferno encircling the entire hill outside of the boulders. Red and gold flames, at least five meters high were moving down the hill like it was feeding on gunpowder, oil or both or something. Moving ...right towards them.

Crap, crap.

CRAPPPP!

"Hurry! He - He's burning the whole Beasts damned, entire freaking hill!"

Nigel spluttered, jaw dropping open, like he couldn't believe his ears. Looking past the tree trunk, he screamed as he took in what could only be described as a fiery avalanche descending towards them.

"Ni, just get the fuck working on the teleporter!" Jihan screamed.

"Right." Shaking even harder, Nigel returned to the device. "Hang on - almost done -"

"What's taking so long?"

"The client, he's the one who decided on this one!" Nigel wailed. "I'm not used to this, but you know the deal - the client gets to choose! It's the expensive direct ED version - it has a longer unlocking spell, dammit!" Cursing, Nigel's fingers flew across the cube. "Last part - we are almost done…"

Jihan gripped his pommel with more strength, channeling the yoki with more strength.

Damn it…

I really didn't want to do this...

Muttering under his breath, he chanted a few words of protection as he created a Vilya barrier.

Fire, fire, down below...

I hope it won't go too badly…

The thought had barely left his mind when -

One second they both were talking and the next second - all around them...was…

….fire.

Gold flames, red flames. Flames all around.

Both of them screeched as the vegetation around them, the trunk of the tree they were standing against, and the very glass beneath their feet burst into blazing red and gold flames.

Yet even as he was relieved that they weren't burning - for the time being that is, Jihan was momentarily mega confused.

This was too soon...

By my estimate we had a minute...so how come…?

It was right then he realized what had gone wrong and how Haruka had been able to find him so quickly. Which basically had been more or less unavoidable, given the fact he had almost used up all of the sword's power dealing with the strength of the barrier.

The empowered Barrier atop the Hill must still have been active - and so, draining his energy as effectively as he had been channeling it. And as he had just added another spell to protect against fire - the sword's original ability - the one off thing he had been counting on to keep them undetectable to the senses - must have finally drained.

As Jihan combated to now channel his power to protect himself and Nigel, the last of his sword's one time sense-cloaking ability fell away.

Ohhhh fuck…

Which meant - that the Leader of the Red Faction would now be able to sense them as easily as he could see his own hand in front of his face in bright sunlight.

They were, well and truly, screwed. Possible dead if they didn't escape asap...or worse.

"I KNOW YOU ARE HERE!"

Jihan cursed, and turned to Nigel, who admittedly was going his best to not scream.

Surrounded by flames - which ordinarily would have done a lot of damage already, Nigel had a good reason to be terrified.

"Ni, hurry! We need to gtfo!"

But Nigel was frozen in terror. Which wasn't his fault technically - but now was definitely the worst time to have a panic attack - which Jihan was damned sure Ni was nearing.

"COME OUT RIGHT NOOOW!"

Crap. Shit, Crap…

Shit, crap...SHIT!

Both flinched as they heard the Leader of the Red Faction - who was from the rage of his voice - hardly fifty meters away.

"JUST YOU WAIT, YOU, FILTHY, EAVESDROPPING, GUTLESS WRETCHES!"

Even from here, Haru's voice was literally vibrating.

Jihan gulped. His original hypothesis was that Haruka Hiwatari had issues, and he was willing to bet they were some fucked up major ones. No one could naturally have such a rotten, rotten temper. Even Ryuu, as insane as he was in his own way - hardly got angry to the point of derangement on a regular basis.

Now though, he was sure he was just plain bat shit +INSANE. The diagnoses was probably some category of ABnormalus Insaneus or something in some wretched dictionary which listed psychos like Haru and whatever unnatural state of mind that troubled them...

"HOW DARE YOU TRESPASS ON MY LAND?"

"Ni!"

"I'LL BURN YOU WHERE YOU STAND!"

Not if I can help it!

"NI!?" Abandoning all protocol, and common sense, Jihan did the one thing he had sworn to never try to do.

He pointed the sword - which was still vibrating with yoki - barely enough - but still adequate enough - and pointed it at Nigel.

"Feed."

Immediately, the dark energy lashed out, almost eagerly, enveloping the other boy in what looked like a smoky silhouette. Nigel's eyes rolled back into his head, then closed as he suddenly collapsed, shuddering a little.

Jihan flinched as his boy hit the earth with a dull thud.

Damn...

So...sorry...Ni.

He cursed as he heard Haruka's voice - this time, barely twenty meters away.

"I'm looking forward to this! Come out now and I may not burn you that badly!"

Jihan's mouth dropped open.

And people think he's actually smart?!

That said - yeah right!

Like hell I'm that dumb.

Of course you'd have to be a special kind of nuts like those Haruites to actually like Haruka like a person. Ugh. Of course there was no hope for those fruitcakes.

It was a cult after all, wasn't it?

Man this Academy is so, so messed up...

Sorry, Ni. Don't worry, you'll be fine.

I'll take care of this...and you...

Hefting the other boy up, he sighed in relief as the sword's pommel suddenly flashed a dark violet color. Finally good news. It was almost recharged...a little.

Immediately, he muttered new words of concealment - one which would temporarily hide their yoki signatures. It wasn't like before with the one time spell - Haruka could still sense them, but not exactly pinpoint where they were. This was nothing more than buying time, given his limited yoki, but it was something. Especially as -

This might just give him a chance.

He let out a huge sigh of relief when he saw Haru stalking towards the trees on the other side.

Thank the Beasts he's alone tonight. If Zahra Shah had been here with him...

Jihan didn't even have to think what he already, instinctively knew - he wouldn't have stood a chance had Haru's Second In Command also been here.

Grimacing, he resisted the urge to cough. The fire protection spell could only save them for so long - and it was already starting to fade. He was pretty sure the soles of his boots were smoldering...and his eyes were starting to smart as more of the heat made it past the thin Vilya barrier.

It was only a matter of time before the smoke and the fire could get to them as Haru obviously intended them to.

Damn it...

He had known it, and wasn't that the reason he had chosen to break his oldest vow? Allowed it, the burden of his life, to actually feed on someone? Someone… who was also his best friend? The one person he absolutely did not want harmed by this burden?

Staring at the sword, he pursed his lips as he debated his options.

The sword could hide them for a while, but it didn't look like Haruka was going anywhere. Plus, since he only had strength to use only one - either the fire barrier or the concealment…

There were only two options left.

Option no.#1: Turn himself in to Haruka. His brain immediately vetoed the idea with a F*** NO!

That left Option no.#2 -

- do something totally insane. Something he would never really consider...

Which was probably why he had to do it.

Here goes...

Reaching out, he grabbed the glass cube from where it had fallen to the ground from Nigel's limp fingers. One he couldn't open - as technically the job was registered to Nigel, but he could do something that even Nigel couldn't do.

Concentrating on it, he reached out with his Yoki - tracing it, through the power to another person.

The client…

Almost instantaneously, he could sense the other person become aware of him.

I expected you to be back by now. What is it?

Trying to combat the fear and the utter ridiculousness of the situation, he began with an even more akward way. Uh...hey. Can you like, uh, get us out of here...please?

The person sighed. Like actually sighed like they were unimpressed with the level of desperation in his voice or something. Why?

Jihan gritted his teeth. We need help. Haruka...is onto us.

The person paused, sounding somewhat amused now. Oh? What happened to the teleporter?

Jihan cursed. Not possible! I can't activate it!

The person replied without missing a beat.

Oh that's too bad.

Jihan was literally starting to hop now, even as he tried to keep sight of Haruka - who was still wandering close by. I have info. Big info. Like super freaking important. Enough to make Haru freak out and set fire to the entire damned hill - which is WHY you have to get us out, okay? It's got to be something goddamn big!

He hoped it was. And he believed so...because he had to.

The person sighed. You do not appear to be lying...but, mind you - this will be deducted from the arranged fee.

Jihan could not give Beasts damned care about the payment. Just get us out of here!

Not even two seconds had passed when suddenly, he felt a slight tremor.

The next instant, there was a stronger tremor and the ground beneath his feet suddenly parted, sucking him - and Nigel deep inside…


Can't breath…

Choking?

Air!

I NEED AIR!

The next instant he was spluttering, coughing out what felt like way too much earth - even as he hastily gulped in sweet, sweet air. Rolling over he groaned, only to come face to face with a motionless Nigel.

NI!

I hope he's okay!

Shuddering, and gagging out more mud, he pushed himself to his knees as he checked over Nigel who was still face down in the pit of mud they had just been dragged out of even as he understood what has just happened.

Ugh...

Ardra summoning spell...

...one of the messiest ways to travel…

He was still spitting mud out of his mouth as he finished checking over Nigel - who from the looks of it, was more or less okay, if not a little yoki depleted at the moment.

The next moment he stilled.

For...he was no longer alone...

"And I thought you said he said he was in trouble." A musical female voice mused from somewhere to his right.

A very familiar female voice...though not an entirely unexpected one.

With resignation he looked up to see the almost impossibly hot blond - Freya, the Witch of the Blue Faction - staring down at him and an unconscious Nigel with an inquisitive look in her eyes.

Hot, but a total sadist, this one.

He remained absolutely quiet as she looked him over more intently.

The Witch of the Blue Faction pursed her lips as she looked him over, eyes narrowing. "Doesn't really look like Haruka got to them. Did I waste the spell? It was a long distance you know?"

Wtf?!

Even as he opened his mouth to answer, it was then he finally noticed where he was.

For one thing, the air was cold. Too cold.

And from where he was standing he could see the three prominent peaks…the Trident of the North...in a single line as just one collective Peak...

Which meant -

That would mean he was -

That behind him must be -

Spinning around, he took in who exactly was standing at the black and silver gates of what looked like one of those creepy European castles from the humans' 'dark' age or something…

Two teen boys stood there, two boys everyone knew very, very, very well - most not very happily, but all certainly by necessity.

One had longish pitch black hair and electric grey eyes, and the other had chin length hair the color of deep espresso, which were shorter on one side and eyes which never seemed to be able to decide whether they were blue or green. Most of the time they were like right now - a color which was both.

Fighting the urge to grimace, he nodded to them - and the girl who was now beside the two. "Seniors."

Oh well, it wasn't like he hadn't known who he had been spying for…

"So." Kezar Kuran loped forward, eyes cold. "I hope you were not lying when you told me you had big information."

Jihan gulped. "And I do."

He was looking at the other boy though.

Because, it was clear who really was in charge here. Kezar Kuran may have placed the order, but it was only for/or on the orders of Ryuu Mikage that he would have done so.

However the other boy remained silent, simply watching him expressionlessly.

"And?" Kezar smirked. "Don't tell me, Haruka wiped your memories before we got to you."

"No likely, Zar." Freya interrupted, shaking her head. "Look at the state of them. These two obviously didn't get caught. If Hiwatari had found them, then they would be in Ashwini's right now."

Too true..

Hadn't the Academy run out of its entire annual stock of burn medication in half a semester because of one person alone?

Frenzied Firestarter was too tame a term for Haruka...

"Let him speak."

Ryuu Mikage was still as expressionless. Jihan was grateful for the masks their guild was required to wear; for he did not want these three to know just how freaked he was. And more importantly - who he was.

As quickly as possible, Jihan narrated everything - from his step by step break into Haruka's barrier to being able to overhear his conversation with some chick who had somehow been able to figure out from somewhere else that he was trespassing and listening to them on Haru's end.

He narrated everything - talking about Haru's anger about some 'child' who was going to come to St Warriors, a child who was supposed to be missing.

As hard as he was concentrating on narrating it exactly - he nevertheless did not miss the looks Kezar and Freya were exchanging - and more importantly the ones they were giving to Ryuu - whose eyes were now no longer neutral, but a cool, icy blue.

Huh, as I thought. He was the real client after all…

Jihan had no doubt Ryuu could tell if he was being truthful. And no way iin hell would he attempt to lie. There were rules in St Warriors, some really, weird, complex ones sure, but also some damn simple ones like the super obvious ones.

Some rules you could dance around, but there were some rules which Jihan, like most kids at St Warriors knew - you did not do try to cross. One of those being attempting to pull a one up over someone like a Faction Leader. It just wasn't a good idea for the most part...

After all, hadn't it been on Ryuu's orders that the Red Faction's ClubHouse inhabitants had been trapped by a physical barrier while hundreds of flesh eating toads had literally rained down from above?

Yeah, that had been beyond gruesome and even the Teachers had to get involved for that one…

So, Jihan kept talking, being as truthful as he possible could be.

It was in his best interests, after all...

After he had finished narrating, Ryuu simply nodded, and walked back - literally walking through the black and silver gates as if they were made of smoke.

Not that he didn't think they were - even from the distance he could smell the acrid ozone like smell of a powerful Vilyara Barrier - one which was clearly as offensive as it was defensive.

Not to mention highly illegal af.

Just what was it with both the Faction heads and illegal barriers?!

"Okay!" Before he could even think, Kezar Kuran had tossed something at him. He caught it reflexively. It was pouchful of ...he unstrung it - and his jaw dropped open.

He had been expecting credits...but inside were, what could only be described as some sort of ice blue jewels.

Wtf?!

He couldn't cash those in! What the hell?!

"Where are my credits?" He lifted one out - pointing it at Kezar - "These literally cannot be cashed in anywhere on the island!"

Kezar looked at him, then at what he was holding and began to grin. "Woah, you must have really done a good job!" Whistling, he began to stroll back. "Those are Yaksha Sky Sapphires, you know." He waved at him merrily. "That's a small fortune, like literally." .

Jihan could not believe his ears. This could not be happening. "Well anywhere else but St Warriors." He gasped. "Like, these are prohibited by the Revenue Department! This could get me in serious trouble! Just give me the credits!"

Kezar shook his head even as Freya sighed. "Ryuu's like that. We would have paid you, but we cannot supersede his authority...and as he has already done so…" She tutted sympathetically. "So, sorry...no can do."

Jihan was just gaping now. He stared at the jewels in his hand and then at Nigel, and then at the two.

He had to get the money…

The fucking Horticulture Club…

Dammit!...

Keep calm…

"Hang on." Kezar suddenly stopped him, a smile suddenly playing around his lips. "You really need the credits right?"

Glaring mutinously, he nodded.

Like do you think I want to be here or something?!

"Obviously." He grit out, alarm increasing as he saw the two exchange what could only be defined as triumphant grins.

He did not like the way Kezar's eyes had suddenly lit up - and not how Freya was now smiling.

This didn't feel or look good at all. And so, the sinking feeling in his stomach only got worse at Kezar's next words.

"So how about we make a deal?"

Jihan's eyes narrowed. "A deal?"

Kezar nodded. "I'll pay you your credits - in advance."

"Advance?" Jihan croaked. "For what?"

"An advance...for the future service you will render us." Freya smoothly answered him, even as Kezar nodded.

"And what is that service?" Jihan grit out.

Damn, damn, damn!

This was one trap I walked into…

"Well, that even we don't know...yet." Kezar sighed. "But the deal is, that you owe us a job in the future when we want it - and you cannot refuse." His grey eyes narrowed. "Do we have a deal?"

Jihan clenched his fists...and then he slowly unclenched them.

"Fine."

"That's great!" Smiling widely, Freya tossed him another pouch. This time, it was filled with the credits he and Nigel so desperately needed.

"Also, no need to worry, we asked the guild to send a carriage. It should be here soon." Freya added, waving as she and Kezar walked through the gates like Ryuu had earlier. "Take care!"

"Take care my ass." Jihan stared down at the pouch with the jewels piteously. "If I get caught with these...it's definitely one of the worse punishments for me…"

His eyes narrowed as he now observed surroundings, scanning the skies as he did so. Sure enough, she could make out a carriage drawing closed from the west.

Looking down at Nigel who was still out cold, he sighed. "We did it bro." He shook his head. "I just hope we don't live to regret it."


The Peaks…

Mikage Estate...


In the austere looking study, three individuals stood - two together, one alone.

"Well that was interesting." Kezar was grinning from the windowsill. "Seems like not all of the first years are as useless as we thought."

"True." Beside him, Freya laughed aloud. "He did manage to survive Haruka and also avoid getting attacked by him…we definitely need to use that." She looked over to the third figure - who was standing before a huge framed painting. "Is that why, Ryuu?"

It was clearly an old painting of a stone courtyard - within which a glorious crimson tower stood. A gloriously shining Crimson tower - which seemed to be glowing in the night - with such a brilliance even the age of the painting could not dim . It's door wide open, while overhead stars shone brilliantly white in the blue black sky…

"Ryuu did you think of that and is that why you gave him the jewels instead of the credits?" Kezar sounded intrigued.

Ryuu Mikage smiled, never looking away from the painting. "Yes...but more importantly...no."


Hey guys!

It's been a crazy ass year right?

I guess all of your probably lowkey (or highkey) hate me for my overly long break, but the writer's block just would not quit - I kid you not :(

Plus, on a more positive note I started a new Uni course, so I've been insanely busy as I got settled in till now xD

I hope all of you are doing well and are safe from the thing that shall not be named.

Feel free to leave your thoughts and PLEASE do find me on Tumblr (same name!)

See you soon!