*Drumroll* recap time!!!
Up until now, the story has been following these parties: Meia and Joel, Nakari and Triston, Kimi, and Dayneth. In this chapter, that will change. Nakari, Triston, and Kimi joined together, Dayneth is still off somewhere, and Meia and Joel will separate.
The story thus far:
Nakari and Triston were forced to travel together because of inconvenient handcuffs that an idiotic policeman placed on them. On a train to Nanake'nor, they met July, who tried to kill them, and while escaping from her, they sought refuge in Meia and Joel's aircar. From there, they landed in Notor and remained for a little bit with Meia, until one morning, Lerner showed up disguised as Joel.
Triston and Lerner fight, and in that fight, the handcuffs were broken. A puppet named Mirako had been watching the scene, and when Joel and Meia arrive, Joel chases Mirako. While Triston and Lerner fight, April comes and kidnaps her. When Triston learns from Lerner that The Tatsu are on their trail, he rushes back to the house only to find that she isn't there.
Meanwhile, Kimi has been sent by Master Yosha, Nakari's grandfather, to find them. She arrives in Notor at about the same time that Triston finds April at the Docks and they fight. Kimi comes along and saves his butt, chasing April away. Joel, who was wandering around after he lost Mirako, finds Nakari and leads her to Triston and Kimi. After a short reunion, Kimi, Nakari, and Triston catch a train out of Notor and towards Master Yosha's Dojo, which is located close to Allineare.
When they arrive at Allineare however, July, Jan, and June (all from The Tatsu) are waiting for them, and Kimi doesn't want Triston to fight, so she helps them escape. However, July, not to be deterred, leaves as soon as she sees Triston and Nakari aren't there and Kimi is left to fight Jan and June. A new character named Rei enters at this point and helps her fight them. They defeat Jan and June and head off to find Triston and Nakari.
Meanwhile, Maurice and Roben, who have been following Nakari to get her to return to Nanake'nor, are captured by July to be used as bait. In order to save them, Triston must fight July (which they do). In this fight, Triston dies, and Maurice escapes, but Roben is left behind.
Meanwhile, when Triston died, Nakari passed out. Joel and Meia are still in Notor.
Hope that refreshed your minds a little ^_^;.
Ch23 - From the Ash
Someday, we'll come across better times.
Even if you pretend to be strong,
It seems like you're waiting for something to happen.
Alone, you can walk through life,
But together, we can fly.
Meia had found April relatively easily – it only went to show your past could never really be buried.
After leaving behind the broken house, she had set off across Notor, a few hours after Triston had left. Past all the bustle of the market streets, where stall owners sold paper lanterns in blue, white, and pink in tradition with the upcoming Grand Festival, where hordes of teenagers crowded the streets and shops talking excitedly about the six days left, and where mothers frantically dragged their children away from mounds of candy, past all the noisy din and blended murmurs that was Notor, she came upon April.
She had been sitting on top of a wooden crate at the edge of a well-lit yet obscure alley, carefully wiping a shiny green apple and seeming to take no notice of her surroundings.
Meia had thought how fitting it was, to have found the Tatsu back where they had come from in the wake of July's leadership.
At the sound of footsteps, April stopped moving. Her head turned up and she caught sight of Meia, standing at the entry of the alleyway with a serious expression on her face.
April looked away. "I've been insulted." She sniffed.
"How so?" Meia raised an eyebrow, her arms crossed.
April gestured further down the alley and Meia, cocking her head to the side, caught sight of five bodies on the ground, slumped over and unconscious. One of them groaned and rolled over.
"I didn't kill them if that's what you're thinking." April said. "I'm not July."
"I never thought you were." Meia said.
"Stefanski would have done better to send her after me instead." April said bitterly, still insulted.
Meia laughed. "Maybe so." She put a hand on her hip and shaded her eyes to study April more thoroughly. "But since you failed your mission, you became unworthy of a better death."
A moment of silence passed between them in which April sighed and crunched into her apple.
Then, April looked up again, put down her apple core, and jumped down from the crate. She wiped her hands on her short pants and stood up, her long blonde hair swinging around her. "So it WAS you." She said. "Back then, in Minage? I saw you. Why did you come back now?"
Meia vaguely remembered that night in East Nolbrooke when April had fought Dayneth after getting ahold of Joel.
She shrugged. "A couple of reasons. The point is, I'm here. And now that you're not on Stefanski's side anymore, what are you going to do?"
April thought carefully.
"It's time for some changes around here." Meia said. "July never belonged in The Tatsu. Someone should have kicked her out a long time ago." She clenched her fists.
April nodded in agreement.
"Are you ready to go?" Meia asked.
- - - - - - -
"It'll be okay, Naka!" He hugged her tightly as she cried. "I promise!"
"No!" she screamed. Tears poured out of her eyes as she sobbed and clutched his shirt. "NAT!"
His arms released her but she didn't let go. "Nat, don't leave!! Stop!" she cried harder.
He looked at her and she knew he was crying inside too. "We'll see each other again. Don't worry about it!" He hugged her again and tears began to drop on her head.
"I can't let Papa die like that." Nat said. "I have to go. Stay here and don't let her find you."
He reached into his pocket and pulled something out. It twinkled in the dim light, and he handed it to her. "Remember this?"
Nakari sniffed and looked at the object. The softy rosey color of the crystal seemed to glow in her hand brightly.
"Take it." He pushed it in her hand.
Her hands shook, but her fingers closed around it with trembling resolution.
He smiled at her, his eyes shining in the dark night. "I'll be back! I promise! Don't cry, Naka."
He hugged her one last time. "Don't cry, Naka." He repeated.
Outside, the dark night descended upon them and the dour rain poured down heavily.
- - - - -
Far away, a song played in the dimness. Nakari walked, wondering where she was. The town of Allineare had changed around her when she'd opened her eyes again. She rubbed her stomach, feeling slightly uneasy and queasy, remembering the pain and the burn she'd felt inside of her. What had happened? Rising waves of heat flooded through her as she panicked, looking around. Everything about this place seemed slightly different, almost faded and old. Even the air was heavier – mustier, and Nakari had a feeling of nostalgia.
The most notable difference, though, was the fact that the Business District was not as empty as it had previously been. Every now and then, she spotted a faint trace of people walking around. She would squint, frown, and rub her eyes, but no matter what she did, these people remained looking fuzzy, almost barely there, or faint, faded like the rest of the place. Even when they spoke, she couldn't hear what they said unless she passed by extremely near, which she avoided doing at all costs. She would peer closer, wondering what was wrong with them – and her heart would thud harder. They drifted around and took no notice of each other, eventually disappearing when she looked away.
Were they ghosts?
Nakari panicked and backed away, throwing her head around wildly and wondering where Triston was. Triston...where was he?! Nakari realized that she couldn't here the sounds of the fight occurring anymore. That meant it was over, wasn't it? Where was he? Was he safe? Was he okay?
It began slowly, but it swelled suddenly and built up. Worry – confusion. Dread. Nakari covered her mouth, wide-eyed, as she held back a choke and bumped into a crate. Scared and terrified, she tripped over it and ran as fast as her feet could take her down the street.
- - - - - - - -
With every step, I drew closer to the great building and its quiet square. Large and majestic, it seemed out of place in a small town such as Allineare. Already, I could feel the magik become stronger, resonating, from the area. In the past few months I'd been in Dream, I'd become used to the idea of magik; after all, I had already known about it through Manar in Minage, and the legend of the Centrale Wars.
Suddenly, I heard the unmistakable sounds of running down below. I moved and looked over the edge of the roof, peering into the depths of the alleys and streets that wound through the Business District of Allineare. A figure was stumbling through the street below clumsily – panicked - moaning something about a mad woman, and clearly terrified. He passed through a shaft of light and I recognized him at once. "Rei!" I called out.
Rei, who had been picking his way across the rooftops ahead of me, stopped and looked back. "What is it?!" He shouted two roofs away. For some reason, the wind was picking up. I pushed my hair back behind my ears and squinted up at the sky. It was past noon.
"Maurice is down below!"
Concern filled his eyes and we both turned. I scrambled down the tile roofing, dropping lightly to the street below, but my feet stung at the impact and I winced. I was definitely getting out of shape.
Maurice screamed when we dropped down in front of him and automatically tore the other way, but I ran forward and grabbed his shoulder.
"ARRGHH!!!!" He spun around and flung his fist.
I ducked under it and tightened my grip on his shirt. "Maurice!!" I shouted in his ear. "It's okay, it's just me! Maurice!!" I shook him, hard. He stopped suddenly and looked at me. Recognition filled his eyes but the panic remained.
"Where's Triston? Where's Nakari?" I demanded urgently. I scanned the street behind him. I hesitated, "...And Roben?"
"Triston!" Maurice wheezed, wide-eyed. "That woman killed him! Triston is dead," he sobbed. "Roben told me to run. Naka's next!"
"Take care of him." Rei said instantly. His face was grim and his brows were contracted. "I'll go ahead."
"WAIT!" I whirled around, but he was already tearing down the street at an impossible speed.
Worry filled every corner of my being. No, it wasn't worry. It was... dread. Denial rose.
Triston couldn't have died. It was impossible. But he HAD been tired from the fights from yesterday... could he have...? Was he...?
Suddenly, the street seemed colder. The clouds passed over the blinding sun, and another gust of forbidding wind blew through the dark Business District. I looked from Maurice's sobbing form to the sky, and slowly, felt the first drops of water as the sky pelted us with despair and rain.
- - - - - - - -
"YOU IDIOT!!!" July screamed. She lunged at Roben, who tried to leap out of the way. But July knocked him off balance and he fell, stunned. A second later, she was on top of him, wrapping large, calloused hands around his neck. A murderous rage flooded her eyes.
Roben gagged and felt the blood rushing out of his head.
Nearby, Triston lay on the ground, his eyes closed, his chest still, and his heart cold.
Maybe this is how it ends, Roben thought. He could feel tears welling up as his lack of oxygen began to take a toll on him. In the end, was it meant to be like this?
"Robeeenn!!!" Naka laughed and jumped up and down on the hilltop, waving down at him. "Come on!!"
Nat appeared behind her, wiping hands stained with dirt on his pants excitedly. "We found it!"
"Jump on in Maurice!" Roben waded happily in the swimming hole.
"But it's coolld..." Maurice whined.
"No it's not." Roben lied bluntly.
"It's ALWAYS cold though." Maurice said doubtfully.
"It's not!" Roben denied. He turned around and dove into the water, diving as far as he could before reaching his limit. On the way up, his lungs burned and the surface seemed like an eternity away, but he was happy. The sun shone distorted on the cool, clear water and broke upon crystal drops. When he finally broke through the surface, he gasped for a breath of air and grinned at his twin. "See? It feels good!"
He'd been counting the seconds – his time was getting better everyday.
Maurice looked at him and decided his brother's happy face might be conveying the truth. He dipped his toe into the water but immediately screamed and withdrew. "It's cold!" He gave his brother a look of hurt betrayal.
Roben laughed. "But it feels good once you jump in!"
"Never!" Maurice refused.
Naka appeared suddenly, over the grassy hilltop, peeking meekly over Maurice's shoulder. "Is it cold?" She asked.
"No." Roben lied bluntly.
- - - - - - - -
Nakari was alone; alone with the empty district and her heavy breaths. She willed her legs to run faster out of sheer panic and she squeezed her eyes shut for a second. Triston, where are you? Where was everyone? Maurice, Roben, Triston, Nat, or Kimi? She would do anything to see a familiar face at that moment, but nobody came, and she was alone. But eventually, as she got wind that nothing was chasing her; she managed to calm herself down and slowed to a depressed walk.
It was then that she noticed the music. It was soft but enchanting, and she wondered why she hadn't noticed it before. As she listened more and more, it grew louder in her ears. Its melody was gentle but something about it seemed sad. Nakari paused, and realized that it was familiar. Where had she heard it before?
Nakari continued walking, glancing around and wringing her hands worriedly, looking for Triston. Everything certainly looked like Allineare... in almost every aspect, save for the strange figures and the song that she couldn't get out of her head – for she was sure that it was only playing in her mind. All that, and the fact that everything seemed too quiet. No birds chirped, no winds blew, no leaves rustled. Dogs didn't bark in the distance, children's laughter couldn't be heard, and little to nothing moved.
Unknowingly, her walk carried her deeper and deeper into Allineare; towards the large, grand building that stood alone, presented by a small square. She looked into the sky and shaded her eyes, preparing to be hit by blinding rays of sun, but instead, to her surprise, she squinted up at the Blue Moon as two other faint orbs hung in the sky behind it.
That meant that the Grand Festival was nearing, didn't it? She stared up for a while, all of her attention and thought taken away. The Grand Festival celebrated the appearance of the three moons, even though their date of appearance was almost completely random. No scientist had yet been able to track them, but it was said that when they did appear, that was when Dream and Minage were nearest to each other.
Suddenly, something caught her attention down the street, and she looked away. It was another person, but she didn't seem as faint or faded as the rest, and Nakari could hear her words almost distinctly, even from so far away. Recognition struck her, and she ran forward.
"Kimi!" she burst out. "You're here!! Do you know where we- " She stopped short when Kimi continued to speak as if she hadn't heard her.
"... whatever it takes to find them again."
"What's the use?" a boy with brown hair and dark blue eyes appeared across from her and spoke. "It's just like digging up the past, what if they're dead?"
Kimi gritted her teeth and glared at him, her usually warm brown eyes suddenly shut off and angry. "They can't be! If Master Faltin survived – "
"You would be happier if you let it rest, Kimi!" the boy suddenly yelled. "And don't say I don't know you enough to say that, because I do! You're never going to find all the answers you want!"
"I never would've thought you'd be like this." Kimi gave him a look of pure anger. "How can you say that?! Are you saying I shouldn't even try?! You can't stop me from leaving, Kelvin! Even if you don't understand –"
"You're right, I don't understand!" He interrupted. "Because I think you're only doing this because of what happened last week. You just want to... to leave." Kelvin said his last sentence quietly, and cast his dark blue eyes to her face.
Kimi stepped backwards, holding something to her chest. She looked at him with denial, surprise, anger, and confusion written on her face before she tore away from him, stomping off without a backward glance.
Nakari let her pass by in wonder. As Kimi left, her image slowly faded into nothingness and when she turned around, the last of Kelvin had disappeared too.
They weren't ghosts, Nakari realized. So what were they?
Feeling slightly weary and confused, her head spinning with thoughts, she stayed rooted to the spot for a while. What WAS this place? It wasn't Allineare. Not the same Allineare she had arrived at this morning. But it looked exactly the same. She looked around worriedly, feeling lonelier then before. But standing around would do nothing, so she continued on the road through the Buisiness District.
But still, as she continued on the road, heading instinctively towards the place where she knew Triston had gone, she recalled what she had seen over and over again and became curious.
Who was Kimi Ritsuko? She had saved them and brought them this far to Master Yosha. She was willing to risk her life to help them, and Triston seemed to trust her enough. Still...
Kimi had said she'd come from Minage. How did she get to Dream? Was the boy- Kelvin- with the brown hair and dark blue eyes from Minage as well? What had they been arguing about? She thought back to the scene and decided that Kimi had looked younger. Was it a memory?
The air was dry, and the sky became cloudy. A darkness descended upon Allineare and Nakari tucked her hair behind her ear again, frowning at the sky. It thundered, but it didn't rain.
Nakari stopped suddenly. All of her breath escaped her and she clutched her skirt as all thoughts of Kimi left her mind.
She'd wandered into a square. It reverbated a feeling of quiet and mysteriousness, yet still held a glamour lost among the years. Perfectly smooth limestone spread across the ground and a circular marble fountain centerpiece graced the middle of a circle of stately houses, buildings, and shops. At the end of the square, an enormous gate closed the path to the large, grand building that she had noticed before. It was blocked. Milling all around the square, a crowd of shadowy people milled around with no real purpose. They were dark and faded, blurred around the edges, almost like an illusion. But they were there, and Nakari was reluctant to enter the square until she saw someone in the middle:
A shrouded figure propped up against the fountain. His brown hair was completely ruffled and drenched in the same sweat that poured down his face in torrents, and he was slumped over so that she couldn't see his eyes.
"Triston!?" her voice broke the silence involuntarily. Was that really her voice? It sounded so different. The music ended abruptly.
"Triston?!!" she rushed forward through the crowd, and as she ran, they payed attention to her for the first time. As she neared them, they turned to look at her expectantly, but when it became clear that she had passed them, they turned back around and slowly dissolved into the air. She wasn't afraid of them anymore.
"Triston!!" she shouted again, frantic when he didn't respond. She crashed into him and grabbed his shoulders, shaking while worry, fear, nervousness, dread, and panic all reached its height within her. Her usually neat hair spilled over her shoulders as she bent on her knees. Then she gave a gasp. Triston's head rolled back and his light green eyes gazed into her own, but he didn't move.
Was he breathing?
Nakari held her breath and didn't dare do anything. She stared back into his eyes, and the entire world around them disappeared in darkness. They were suddenly enveloped in an impenetrable black air - It was as if they were on a stage, and the lights had gone out. She let go of him in surprise and looked around fearfully. What was going on? What was this place?
Looking back at Triston, she saw that his eyes had lost their hard, wary look that they always held. It had been replaced with emptiness and she felt like a void separated them.
Somewhere in the distance, it began to rain. She could hear the soft pitter-patter clearly, but she didn't want to move. Not without him.
"Triston...?" her voice broke. Why wasn't he responding? She was afraid, she was alone.
She shook him again. "Triston...! Wake up. Come on, you said you'd come back." But he didn't answer, and her words fell silent in the dead atmosphere.
- - - - - - - -
Roben couldn't breathe, and July's grip around his neck wasn't loosening. The lack of oxygen was affecting him and his arms felt weak. He gagged and his vision blurred. Vaguely, he was aware that it had begun to rain, but the drops were slow and dry, just like everything else in the square. Nothing could get rid of the dustiness of the area.
"Now would you like to know what your father's been doing?" July sneered. "It would give you something nice to think of in the last few seconds of your life, wouldn't it?"
Roben couldn't respond. He was running out of air. When he tried to breathe, his throat hacked and made an awful, hoarse sound. But throughout the ordeal, rage boiled in his veins. The nerve of this woman...!!!
"Have you ever tried to think back before you were seven, Boy?" July asked. "You were born in Minage, and the only thing your father ever wanted was revenge because of what happened in Hitachni." She smirked. "He doesn't care about you at all."
Lies. Roben snarled at her even though he couldn't say anything. He kicked up weakly with his legs, but he no longer had much strength. His father wasn't like that! His father wanted to help Dream. They weren't from Minage. It was ridiculous. And anyway, when he was seven, he'd moved to Take and made friends with Nat and Naka. When he was six –
It was hopeless. He couldn't think properly... He needed air... His brain was straining under the lack of oxygen... he was getting light-headed... his vision blurred and he felt lighter. Roben's hand fell to the dirt and his eyes rolled back as he closed his eyes.
Again, he watched the scene unfold before his eyes. Again, he was unable to help. Again, all he could do was nothing. He watched Nakari run across the grassy plain, clutching something to her chest, from the rain-splattered window of his locked room.
And Maurice cried in the corner, obscured in shadow.
Three years later, he would see her again in Nanake'nor. It seemed as if nothing had changed; she was still Naka. Except she was stronger then before – it seemed as if the strength Nat had possessed that all three of them had relied on so dependently in their bright childhood days in Take had passed on to her. She smiled and laughed, she listened, she gave hope, she had faith, and she refused to give up. She never cried.
And he remembered, once, only one time that they ever spoke about Nat.
It was after school, and he and Maurice had caught up with her on the way home. He'd asked her how she could still be so happy without Nat, without the person they'd all looked up to.
She hadn't said anything for a moment, but then she smiled and looked up into the sky, and said that Nat was the one who gave her the strength to live on. She wanted to try and do everything he would have done, in his place, because he wasn't here to do it. He wouldn't want them to build a fortress around their hearts; he'd want them to build a village to help others. At the time, he remembered thinking that that was what her father was doing - building a village to unite everyone, because nobody could make it in this world alone.
July paused. She looked at Roben's chest and saw that it wasn't moving – he was no longer breathing. Satisfied, she stood up and gazed in satisfaction at the two murders she'd committed that day. But just to be sure... she pulled her gun out of her belt and loaded it.
Roben's fingers closed around the dirt and he opened his eyes.
July's head whipped around, but, caught by surprise, a cloud of dust and dirt exploded in her eyes and she pulled the trigger blindly. A shot rang in the dead stillness, and in that same moment, something sliced through the air, spinning and casting yellow light in all directions. It hit her gun just as it went off and her bullet went vastly off its mark.
For four seconds, everything was silent. Roben gasped for lost air, clutching his side, and the dust cleared.
July turned to meet the newcomer.
Standing in the entry to the square, a tall figure silhouetted against the dark light. His hair was a dark brown, and his eyes were a deep blue. Pure hatred was written all over his face.
July smiled. "So a dreamer finally makes his appearance." She turned around and mused aloud, "Now I wonder what would cause a dream to come here?"
"It's nothing you should be concerned about." He said coldly.
"Oh but I think I am." Her eyes glittered malevolently.
Rei glanced at Roben and motioned for him to leave. Roben obeyed almost immediately, his footsteps pushing off the limestone and echoing in the tense air.
When he had left, Rei spoke. "I want you to leave."
July laughed. "Now why would I do that?"
"You know there's no way for you to kill me. You don't have any other choice before I kill you."
"I really think it's quite annoying that you people keep interfering with my plans. Lerner is meddlesome enough as it is." July said. "And I DO believe you're wrong –"
In a flash, she summoned up some of her magic and blasted it at him. He dodged – something that she had anticipated, and she leapt forward, whipping out her crystal and grabbing his wrist. He froze when he felt the coldness of the crystal pressing against his skin and July smiled. The crystal's ruby color glinted in the dark light.
- - - - - - - -
When Triston opened his eyes a second time, he was sitting down. Everything around him was dark – like midnight without the blue moon to illuminate the world – and he only registered vaguely that he was sitting at the top of a hill. There might've been grass or dirt or sand under him – he didn't know. He didn't notice.
But the air was cooler here, less musty – but something about it was hot and dry too. His hand reached out and he grasped a handful of feathers that had been billowing in the air.
- - - - - - - -
Nakari found herself sitting on the ground in a lonely courtyard. She looked around, confused. The darkness had dissipated, and her surroundings had been replaced, but she was no closer to finding out where she was.
Was this a Dream?
Triston still lay on his back in front of her in the grass, and she looked down at him, brushing the sweat-soaked hairs back from his forehead. This had to be a dream, she decided. It was a dream. Triston wasn't gone; when she woke up, she'd laugh at herself for being so worried and then she'd find him, and he'd be there to tell her that it was okay; that Maurice and Roben were safe; that he had come back like he promised; and that it had all been a dream. When she woke up...
But she still couldn't stop tears from welling up in her eyes and she blinked, sniffed, and wiped them away. Still, she couldn't stop the hollow feeling that enveloped her heart when she looked at this false Triston; the one that couldn't be real.
Footsteps disturbed the quiet, dewy grass, and she looked up. A small boy who looked about the age of six with brown hair and light green eyes approached them. He looked at her, and she looked back at him, and he turned his eyes down towards Triston.
Somehow, something about him didn't feel right. He wasn't an ordinary six-year-old boy – something in his eyes showed that he was more intelligent, but his gaze was empty, and it bothered her, so she said nothing. Instead, she joined his gaze and looked back to Triston. She didn't feel quite afraid of this boy, but she was wary of him. He wasn't human – the light shined on him differently, just like back in Notor, when she had been locked into the storage room at the Docks while Triston fought April. She hadn't been able to get out, but a child had appeared, and the light had shined on her differently too, and after they had spoken, the door was unlocked. At the time, Nakari remembered realizing that that child looked exactly like younger self. Looking from this boy to Triston, she recognized the similarities in their features. Both had a mop of dark brown hair and pale green eyes.
But they weren't the same, and somehow, on this boy, when light shined on him, it fell into an abyss. This boy's eyes were empty while Triston's were usually just indifferent on the surface.
Finally, the boy spoke. He knelt down in the grass beside her and tore a blade of grass, playing with it in his fingers. "Did you know he's dead?"
"He's not dead." She said instantly.
The boy turned his hollow eyes up to her and said, "He's not coming back. Ever."
"He didn't go anywhere." Nakari said forcefully.
But he seemed almost disinterested, uncaring. "He died in the same war as his father."
"That war's over."
"It never ended. Did you think it did? It never ended."
Again, the same tone shone through his voice. It was as if he didn't care if she believed him or not, but he still wanted to correct her.
Nakari remembered her grandfather telling her a story once, a long time ago, about why Dream had made it a law that no one could cross worlds again. It was dangerous for other worlds to come into contact with this one, he'd said, because of all the spirits that inhabited Dream. Even though not many encountered them, they were still here. In Dream, dreams lived and died, and memories were born or trapped.
This boy; he wasn't a dream or a memory, but he was a child. This legend was one that Nakari wasn't as familiar with, but she knew that they weren't human, or partly human. They weren't spirits either - they were something else. And nobody knew why they appeared.
"It never ended." The boy repeated. He looked up, across the courtyard, and towards the other end. Before her eyes, Nakari saw a crowd of figures materialize.
- - - - - - - - -
Triston sat staring at the feathers in his hand in interest as a spotlight appeared a few feet to his right. A boy stood in the middle, but Triston was unfazed. Something about this place made him comfortable, as if he could sleep forever. But the feathers held his attention, and he stared at them with such utter fascination that it confounded even himself.
Triston was the one who spoke first.
"Am I dead?"
"Do you think you are?" The boy asked.
"I should be." Triston let out a sigh and looked up. There was nothing above him; no stars, no sky. Everything was dark.
He closed his eyes and let his memories wash over him.
- - - - - - - -
A mother and two boys stood, each with a guard standing close by, and Master Hyane. Nakari recognized him at once, because he was always skulking around Nanake'nor with Stefanski. Her eyebrows contracted in worry. Across from them, three men – one with a parchment stood and droned something incoherent. In front of the three men, another man stood, his face stolid and impassive. But when his eyes flickered over towards the woman and the two boys, she saw fondness reflect in his face. She studied this man's face and recognized the man Darryn Senuset, the man who was executed on the eve of the Tillion Wars and whose death sparked the first attacks.
One of the boys struggled against the hold of the guard and ran up to the man with the parchment, yelling something at the top of his lungs.
All at once, Nakari realized what she was watching: his execution. She didn't want to see it. She couldn't see it. "No." She found herself saying. This was a memory – why was she seeing his memories all of a sudden???
But the boy continued to gaze at the scene, and she cast a glance at him. The hurt she felt in her heart was indescribable. Everyone always used words like "ache" and "pain," but when it came to feeling it, those words wouldn't match up to its par. It was an unsettling feeling, a dark beat in her heart. It came from deep inside somewhere, like a dark cloud, as black as the impenetrable darkness that had surrounded her before. She looked down at Triston and bit her lip.
Suddenly, the boy grabbed her wrist and she gasped involuntarily.
"Look." He said.
She followed his gaze and saw the memory continue to unfold. The other boy had torn himself out of the guard's grasp and took a step towards his father, unable to speak while the man with the parchment continued to drone. The other boy ran forward in his tantrum and grabbed the paper, tearing it to pieces and hitting the man as hard as he could. Another guard finally began to pull him back and the woman collapsed in a heap on the ground, her sobs filling the air. The other boy was screaming now, fighting against the guard that held him back.
The man who previously held the parchment seemed embarrassed about something, and the first boy's eyes never left his father's face. The other man who had been attacked by the other boy let his gun fire, and a muted shot deafened their ears.
Another round of despair rained upon them, and slowly, slowly, the memory faded.
Nakari's throat was dry, and she couldn't swallow.
- - - - - - - -
"Open your eyes." Said the boy.
Triston opened his eyes and looked at his hand again. The feathers were still there, billowing in the invisible wind, eager to float away.
"Why are you here?" He asked. "Go away."
"Do you want to be alone?" The boy asked. "Again?"
"Just tell me why you're here." Triston said. He was beginning to be slightly irritated.
"Because you want me here." The boy said. "Do you know who I am?"
Triston turned his attention on the little boy. He was small, less then half his size, with dark brown hair and blank, light green eyes. Seeing him sent a tingly feeling through him, but he wasn't afraid. Maybe seeing him here was to be expected.
"Yes." Triston said. "I know who you are."
- - - - - - - -
"How could it have ended?" the boy said softly. "The same people are still alive today. The same mistakes are being made today." He released his grip on her wrist. "You could never understand." He said. "Don't even try to help."
She didn't know what to say.
"You should leave."
He was right. How could she have expected to understand him? How could she have thought that she could help him? All she'd wanted was to help him, but even that, she couldn't do. She knew he was far from perfect – in the beginning, he had been mean and rude and impatient, but she hadn't let it bother her. After spending all this time with him, she still knew next to nothing about him. She wanted to see him smile instead of frown all the time; she wanted him to be happier. Maybe she'd never be able to completely understand all the pain he'd gone through during and after the war, or what was causing him to go to Nanake'nor just to avenge his mother, but despite all that, all she wanted to do was to care for him. She knew she couldn't help him in the ways that he helped her – she couldn't fight, and she couldn't save people like he could. But still, she couldn't leave.
Nakari didn't answer for a while, but the boy didn't seem to notice. His unconcerned eyes fell upon Triston and simply stared in silence.
Her throat was dry, and she had difficulty swallowing. "I can't leave."
"If you wanted to leave, you would leave." The boy replied automatically. "If you like him, you'll leave him." Silence descended upon them. "Leave."
Nakari gripped the hem of her skirt. "I won't leave."
"He's dead, there's nothing to stay for." The boy said. His vacant eyes looked at Triston, almost in distaste, if he could have conveyed such an emotion.
Triston couldn't be dead. He wasn't dead. He would never just die like that... he'd promised! He said he would come back, for certain! He'd said it straight to her face, just like Nat did. But Nat had died too, hadn't he?
"He's dead." The boy said again. "He's not coming back."
"Stop it." She whispered. "Why do you want me to go?"
"Because you can't help him." The boy's voice grew stronger and louder. "Even if you stay, there's nothing for you here.
"You should have left him alone in the first place - all he wanted was to be alone!"
Nakari turned and looked at him. "Why??"
"You can't help him." The boy said, staring straight into her eyes. "No one can help him. He's dead. He's dead!"
"Stop saying that!" Nakari yelled. "He's not!"
"Even if he wasn't, why would you stay?" The boy asked. "Even if he wasn't you wouldn't care. You don't care. Nobody cares, so they should all leave. He would have died somewhere along the way, anyway, and nobody would have known, nobody would have noticed. The world is too big for one death to mean anything, it's just one more casualty in war – people die everyday, why should one more make any difference – "
"I CARE!" Nakari shouted. "I don't want him to die!!"
The boy interrupted her, speaking loudly over her voice. " – It's all the same, one way or another, we all die, somewhere along the way – and in the end, we're all alone, there's nobody to save ourselves but ourselves, there's nobody to care about you but yourself-"
"Do you really believe that?!" Nakari asked. "Triston doesn't believe in it, does he? Triston doesn't believe in it – I know he doesn't! If he did, he would have left me to die so many times. He wouldn't have stayed with me!"
The boy's eyes widened and he muttered, "Even if he did, it doesn't matter –"
"STOP it!" Nakari yelled again. She began to cry – tears dropped down onto her skirt as she clutched her hands. "I don't believe anything you say. Triston might seem cold sometimes, but he's really a kind person."
"Why are you crying?" the boy said. "Stop it. Stop it!"
She turned back to Triston and leaned over him, brushing the hair out of his eyes again as a wind picked up around them. Her tears continued to fall and wet his skin. She sniffed and wiped her eyes. "You're right –" she said, "that I might not understand everything about Triston and his past, but its his past, and what he does with it is his own choice. But if you keep living in the past, there's no future for you. If you keep looking for one thing in life, you'll miss everything else along the way.
She squeezed her eyes shut and thought about Nat, Triston's father, his family, Maurice, and Roben, and Mirako. Another round of tears came and she cried again, her tears dropping on the surface of Triston's skin.
- - - - - - - -
The boy turned to him. "She cries for you."
"Cry all you want." He said, looking down at his brother with emotion void on his face. "Because it's your fault." His voice wasn't hard or gentle; it was completely emotionless; uncaring; unmoved. "But even if you cry, no one will ever cry for you. So you should stop wasting your tears."
Just then, a wind rushed past and the feathers in Triston's hand blew away. Light flooded into his sight and Triston stood up suddenly, watching them float higher. The world around him shattered.
Triston opened his eyes and looked up, wincing in the sudden light. What was going on? He felt sore. His back hurt and his shoulders ached.
He was lying on his back, in the grass, and staring up at a cloudless sky. The darkness was gone.
He glanced over and saw Nakari sitting next to him, her mouth open in surprise. She looked like she had been crying. He wanted to say something to her, but he looked down at his feet and saw the small boy, smiling at him as if he was relieved. Before he could register anything else, his surroundings swirled and faded away.
"Triston?? Triston?!" When Nakari found her voice again, everything was fading slowly. Something hot burned her hands and she opened up her clenched fists. A rose-red crystal dropped out and she stared at it. Her crystal! July had stolen it – why was it back here? She picked it up again and looked around for the boy. He was fading away too, with a small smile on his face, and the light shined on him differently then before. It reflected and shone brighter, as if he glowed.
"What's going on?!"
And then everything disappeared completely.
- - - - Kimi -
When the slight sprinkling began to slow, I looked back at Maurice, who was still shuddering in a hidden alcove by the side of the road. "Come on." I said. "There's no use crying about it – I have to go back."
"No!" Maurice shouted. "Don't go! She'll kill you too!"
I smiled wryly. "I appreciate your concern, Maurice, but I can't just stay here and wait for Rei. I have to see for myself whether or not Triston is dead or alive. I have to go."
Maurice whimpered something.
"Go look for Nakari." I said, preparing to leave. I strapped on my armband - just in case - and pulled back my hair. "She's somewhere around here, nearby. Wait for us, okay?"
Without another word, I took off down the street as fast as I could.
"Do you know Dayneth Cescent? Where is he?" I pressed.
Their expressions changed into identical concern. "You should ask July." They chorused.
The stone floor that had been previously caked with dust and grime over the years was now cleared by the rain, and my footsteps resounded loudly off of the pavement. My breath crowded all other noise out of my ears, and I was left completely alone with my thoughts. All I could do was look ahead, keeping my eyes focused on my goal at the end of the street. Each step took me closer to July, to Triston, and to Dayneth.
"You can't keep running off like this!! You have to face what you're scared of or you're gonna spend your whole life running. And until you face it, I'm going to keep following you. And if you lose me, I'll keep on looking for you."
I shut my eyes for a moment and continued running.
- - - - July and Rei -
The rain returned after the short break, heavier then before. It rushed down now, quietly, pattering onto the floor in an orchestral symphony, and drenched them. The sun disappeared behind the clouds again, and in the darkness, the crystal glowered brighter.
But suddenly, it disappeared as July and Rei both stared at each other. She gaped in surprise and he threw her off when she was distracted. She stumbled backwards and growled at him in annoyance.
"What are you going to do now?" Rei asked. "You can't kill me."
"What is it you want?" July asked. "You're a dream. What do the affairs of this world matter to you?"
"I want you to leave." Rei said, ignoring her last question. "Throw away your sword and live someplace where no one can find you. Never kill anyone again."
July laughed derisively. "There are just some things that can't be done."
The sound of running footsteps splashing through the wet puddles reached his ears, and Rei turned. His eyes widened. "KIMI! STOP!!"
"Rei! I need to talk to her!" I crashed into him, out of breath.
"Go back." He said.
I shook my head violently, the strands of my hair that I hadn't pulled back shaking. "I need to ask her something!"
Rei grabbed my shoulders and pulled me forward. A blast of energy passed by behind me – so close that I could feel the friction on the back of my shirt - and hit one of the houses. Brick exploded and debris joined the rain. I winced and shut my eyes, then looked to the direction of the attack.
July approached us with a sneer on her face. "You want to know where Dayneth is, don't you? I'll tell you. He's in Nanake'nor, under Master Hyane. But you shouldn't look for him. You'll regret it."
She formed a circle with her hands, and a yellow light began to glow around them. "I'm surprised Stefanski couldn't get rid of you, Miss Ritsuko. But I always did think he was incompetent in the first place. I will do what he could not."
I was confused. Looking around wildly, I saw the broken fountain, and Triston's still form on the ground. He was dead. I felt sick.
The thunder had returned, and I was soaked to the bone. My hair stuck close to my skin, and I shivered. It was cold.
Joel entered the room after Dayneth had left and I looked up, interested. "The Pinnochio returns." I joked.
He didn't look at me.
"What the hell were you thinking?" Joel asked. "Going into East Nolbrooke alone? Do you have a death wish?!"
I stopped and remained silent.
He sighed. "Just be careful. There are parts of people's hearts that you can't see."
July released the blast of energy, and it rushed towards me. I couldn't think. I stepped back.
"KIMI!!!!" Rei yelled.
"Those damn traitors."
"You'll never survive alone. You citizens are worthless…"
Yellow light filled my vision and all I could hear was my own panicked breath. I stepped back and shut my eyes –
Someone rushed in front of me – all I saw was brown hair – Rei? His eyes narrowed at July and he pulled out his sword – it glinted white – and he held it horizontally in front of him with both hands, like a shield.
Heat rose, mixing with the cold rain, striking my face, and I shaded my eyes. The ball of energy glowed brighter and slowly dissipated.
Once again, darkness crowded the square, and the rain continued to fall. I slid onto my knees and sat on the floor, overwhelmed. Rei rushed to my side, and the figure remained standing. He sheathed his sword and turned around.
My mouth hung open. I stared at him. Too much was happening... I didn't understand. Triston was dead, wasn't he?! I looked at Rei, and looked away again.
"So." July said. "You did not die after all."
Her head was lowered- her hair obscured her eyes. "I might have made a few mistakes... but if I killed you once," She raised her eyes and flared. "I can do it again!!"
She pulled out her sword.
Automatically, Triston's face hardened and he clenched his fist. His sword appeared in his hand, hardening at first from nothing until it shone white, with a multitude of swirling colors beneathe its surface.
"Now return to your grave." July hissed. She attacked.
- - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - -
What have I been doing these past few months? Well... I only have weekends off to write now, and sometimes I draw instead. I've been working on this chapter for the past two weeks, editing, revising, and adding more ^_^;. It's pretty long now _;;.
Speaking of drawing, I also started posting my draws at deviantart.com! my username is stephu if anyone wants to check it out (so my userpage would be at ""). My actual art website is at "" !
And since I haven't done these in a while, and because I want to thank someone, reviewer replies! ^_^.
BUT FIRST SOME NOTES!! This story is pretty complicated. I'm sure most of you don't realize how complicated the plot is. =_=. Therefore, at the very end of BM, I will explain... EVERYTHING. HAhaha, even some aspects of the why and how that I didn't write into the story. I dropped a lot of small small hints in The Northern Dawns but since most of these readers have not read The Northern Dawns, it was worthless XD;;. But that's okay, don't be confused!! Just keep reading.
Oh, and some of the flashbacks were NOT included in the story before. I wrote them in for a specific reason that you will find out if you keep reading :D. Wow, I sound like a dork who only wants you guys to read -__-.
Notes for you!
blue raindrop: *glomps yew* XD. Someone from the we_ownz_it yahoo group alerted me to your profile!! It's so sweet of you!! I don't deserve it... truly ;_;. Seeing as you update more then I do *cough* I hope The Blue Moon isn't confusing for you ._. !!!
Aki1: *bestows a Triston plushie* Just for you! :D. can I have that giant Keiku plushie now? *points*. I'm glad you're being more active in we_ownz_it!! I don't use yahoo messenger at all, so that's like the only way I can talk to you ~ besides through reviews and stuff. :D
Tenshi Nekos: what?! You've read since the beginning!? You can review anonymously, you know!!! You don't need an account to review! No wonder I have ghost readers..!! But what?! Sure I'll check out your story!! *checks it* you haven't posted anything but ch1 yet though O_O;;. I'll get to it as soon as I can!
Katsumi-chan: You re-read everything, huh?? *applauds* I wouldn't be able to stand that. I re-read some parts of The Northern Dawns sometimes and I can't believe I used to write like that =_=! But thanks anyway! I hope you will keep up with the chapters from now on ^_^.
Anigal201: Internet limit? O_O. *dies* I hope you can come back soon! =_=!! How evil!! Being an internet addict, I sympathize with you! *concerned* Have a cookie =D
Moonflow: Hehe. Yeah, well, I changed this chapter around a bit, didn't I? It's got a little more scenes then when you edited it! Ack, this chapter took so long to write! But it's loonggg.. VERY long! Anyway, talk to ya later ~ :D
Foxdance: oh wow, I didn't notice that you reviewed! X_X Hahaha, I encourage you to concentrate on your studies instead of reading my worthless fic... *kicks it* I really REALLY want to read yours soon, but I'm all bogged down ;_;. In fact, I bet you're not reading this, because I'm not going to add you on my e-mail list anyway, because I don't want to bug you ^_^;;
Disguiz22: how do you put up with it?!?! ALsJFDLKAF I kick myself a million times because my rate has SLOWED DOUBLY. I used to update every month, and now it's every TWO months! *cries* Maybe November will be better!!! =(. I really REALLY want to finish The Blue Moon though, so it's ending pretty soon. And I think I'm going to write something new after that :D.
Cenya/Liz: heeey!! *glomp* how are you?!?? ^___^ Long time no talk!!!! Just use whichever name you feel like using.. haha it doesn't matter because I know who you are anyway. :D. Thanks for the luck!!! I may need a little more to get me through to the end of The Blue Moon, though. O_O;
Apples of Doom: *gives you a million cookies* XD XD XD. You are my hero!!! Thanks for reading!!! It REALLY pushed me to get this chapter out, just for you, haha. That was definitely not the end!! Don't worry! And yes, there will be a third book, but I'm not sure when that will come out. I think I should write something fresh to get my chapters out quicker, but then, I *really* want to finish this trilogy thing O_O. Never make a trilogy be the second thing you ever write on fictionpress. XD.
Review! Review now! *poke*