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"Now, it's showtime!"

This article Into The Shadows, is the sole property of Per and as such, no user may edit this article without explicit permission from the aforementioned creator. If you wish to use this article in any way, please ask me first.
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"Even if you beg for mercy, I won't listen!"

This article Into The Shadows, is the sole property of CPU Noire and as such, no user may edit this article without explicit permission from the aforementioned creator. If you wish to use this article in any way, please ask me first
New Beginnings Arc

Face-To-Face

Rea was absolutely amazed at Jason. He had such power. And he was so young too. "...Well, that was fast."

Countless numbers of red eyes appeared in the room, and they created a mysterious glow. The faint tracings of the humanoid figure took tangible form as it started to walk towards the group—it had the presence and movements of a creature that didn't exist in the real world; no matter what they did, it wouldn't stop the advancement as the darkness was manifested further, taking the form of a young woman with long bright pink hair with bangs that covered her left eye and yellow eyes.

"Wahahahahahahahahaha! Welcome to the Magic Council, pitiful worms!" That certainly was Alexis.

"Talk about a spectacle..." Jason looked at this woman with utmost distaste. "...Wait a moment. You." His eyes narrowed. "I saw you before, a few days ago in fact, in passing. Right before those two girls attacked me."

Alexis paused. "...Huh? You are? Sorry, I don't remember the names of losers like you." She began to pick her ear for earwax. "Seriously, refresh me. For you, the day that the almighty Alexis Tenjouin shook you to the core. But for me...I think it was a Tuesday. It's always karaoke night on a Tuesday." It was hard to tell whether or not she was taunting him or she really didn't remember.

"We never bothered to introduce ourselves." Jason replied. This woman was already a pain. "Alexis is your name? Very well, I'll see if I can remember the name of a piece of trash like yourself. I won't even mince words, I assume you know why we're here?"

Alexis continued to pick her earlobe nonchalantly, sighing. "Hmm, let me think..." She took out a notepad, flipping through it as to find her busy schedule and where that group fits in. "Oh yeah, you wanted to save Historia Fiore. Ah, so THAT's where you dweebs fit in." She straightened up as her voice became deeper. "You come here prepared to save the girl and come home free, and instead you found waiting for you, A GOD?!"

"A God? Been there. Done that." Jason said irritably. "Your little performance is only distracting us right now. You're just a sideshow. We're here for Gaikou, or, if you insist on calling her Historia, then yes, we are here for here. Where is she?" Jason and Alexis were a perfect match. Both were equally unimpressed by the other.

Alexis laughed it off. "Ah, you see..." She clicked a button on the panel besides her; as an unconcious Gaikou appeared besides her, levitating in midair. "Now, have you ever heard of a Life Link? Simply put, it's a link between two people in that if one person dies, so will the other, but both deaths have to occur at exactly the same time. In this case, Historia and my lives are linked. But I don't like to play fair. So any damage you do to me will be reflected unto her; and I'm unharmed unless I hurt myself. Oh, what's that? "This can't get any worse?" Oho, let me tell you how it can. This is unbreakable." She smirked as her magical aura flared up, preparing to fight the group.

"Gaikou can handle a bit of damage." Jason brushed this off. "It's simple. I'll take you down without killing you, and force you to undo the link."

"Jason...." Alaskiel's voice was cautious. "You're gonna over do it..." He was apprehensive. Jason had more power than he himself seemed to be aware of. If he went overboard...

"Leave this to me, Alaskiel." Jason's eyes were glaring at Alexis, hate stemming for her from two sources; her status within the Council, his hate for everything it stood for and the fact that this woman was a pillar who held it up, and for what she had done to Gaikou here. "I will crush you beneath my foot."

Alexis laughed. "Pah. You're a pathetic weakling. You still refuse to accept...my godhood?" Her insane cackling reached a feverish pitch. "Now, watch as you fail and the crowds cheer!" Out of her cloak, the pink-haired woman withdrew a serrated dagger- clad in rust, it looked fragile, like a blade composed of glass. With an insane look in her eyes, Alexis Tenjouin gripped the weapon before plunging it into her stomach.

Flipping a button on the knife's hilt, this damage transferred to Gaikou. Instantly, her eyes snapped open like clockwork as she jerked as if she were yanked upright by the string of a puppeteer. Her eyes suddenly became white with shock as blood pooled in her stomach, coughing it up from her mouth while she ceased to levitate- sure enough, that was a fatal wound- one without any hopes to recover from.

"Gaikou!" The cries from Jason and Alaskiel were simultaneous and pained as they watched the girl writhe, gush blood, and then collapse heavily to the ground. Alaskiel, surprisingly, moved before Jason, lunging for Alexis, who was suffering from a similar wound, his hand coated in a mysterious aura. However, before he could so much as get close to the woman, he was impeded by the force of a strong barrier.

"What the...!?" Alaskiel tried to pierce it, but it rejected him. From the shadows leapt a figure with short, spiky brown hair, and dressed in a rather casual black jacket, red pants, and boots. He bent close to Alexis, his eye full of concern. "Alexis-sama, are you alright?"

Alexis nodded. "Eh, I'll be fine. 'Tis nothin' but a flesh wound." She dusted herself off- clearly satisfied with her goal being achieved so effortlessly. Naturally this did bring up the question of why she didn't just stab Gaikou without going to the trouble of setting up a Life Link in the first place. "Oh...those expressions. The look of absolute despair. Tell me, how does it feel about failing?!" She regained her composure, telling the man, "Now, let's go. Our work here is done."

"Alexis-sama..." The man looked at her wound. "Are you alright? Even for you, such a wound shouldn't be left like that. If it makes things easier for you, I can carry you."

Alexis continued to cackle like a madwoman- which she actually was. "Ahahahahahahahaha. That'd be delightful. Almost as delightful as watching these fools suffer, mind you. Now, post haste!"

The man immediately picked Alexis up, cradling her in his arms like one would a bride, before turning his back on the Akatsuki, preparing to depart with the girl in hand.

"You truly are foolish." Jason spoke, his voice full of what sounded like barely suppressed rage. His hand began to glow, an energy, bright and vibrant, seemingly trying to take form. "You think I'll just let you waltz out of here with her, after what she did to Gaikou?"

The man let out a sigh; it sounded rather drawn out, turning to face them, his blue eyes looking down at them with the air of indifference. "Would you be mad if I said yes? Fighting you would be far too much trouble, Jason LaHote. Not even the likes of you will slip past this barrier." He turned his back on the group again. "Besides, Alexis-sama's condition is the more pressing matter. It is here where we part." Swiftly, he jumped, vanishing into thin air.

Rea was absolutely terrified by the sight of this; blood pooling from Gaikou's stomach via the Life Link, she could only cover her eyes with her hands, afraid to watch any more of this. She was just too shocked to do anything about this situation. In one fell swoop the Akatsuki had lost a member, as their enemies had escaped. 

Jason's aura dissipated as the barrier itself faded. It appeared to be connected to the man who had just left; Gaikou was now bleeding out in easy access to them.

"What do we do..." Mary looked around. "We didn't bring Wendy or Chelia...we can't heal her!"

Alaskiel walked over to Gaikou, bending down so that he was sitting next to her. Gently, he picked up her limp form, cradling the girl in his arms. Whatever he was thinking, he wasn't telling anyone, however, he placed a hand over the girl's head, clearly working with her memories.

Gaikou paused momentarily- not realizing what just happened. She looked up at Alaskiel, with a pained expression. However, by the looks of things, it seemed that she would pass on soon. "Oto...is that you...? You finally came back...!"

"Historia..." Alaskiel recognised the name she was using to refer to him to, having tampered with her memories to make it so she recognised him as Oto — his plan basically involved letting her die with as little misery as possible. "I'm sorry....I didn't come back in time. When I heard you were in danger, I'd joined up with the Akatsuki..." He jerked his head towards Jason and company "...but it was too late when I got here..."

Gaikou's vision was becoming blurry- her body felt like it was going limp, and it was becoming more and more difficult to breathe. "....I barely remember that. ...I think I'm forgetting a lot. Everything's becoming so vague, it's like I'm vanishing."

Alaskiel tightened his hold on the girl, as if trying trying to transfer his warmth and life to her. "You're not fading....that's not it. This wound isn't fatal. The blood loss is making you tired, that's all. You're going to fall unconscious, but they'll get the medic to patch you up. You'll. Be. Fine!" He placed a hand over the wound, wrapping tight bandages around her waist. "That's the most I can do for now...Historia, I'm really sorry, for everything."

Gaikou smiled gently. For once in herself, a smile appeared upon her lips. "It's fine. Since you were there in the end. Thanks for everything, Oto. I think I may have a little sleep now..." Her body went limp as the light faded from her eyes while she slowly closed them. With that, the one known as Gaikou Ryuusei passed on. She appeared so...peaceful in death.


"So what do you think of this place, Historia?" Alaskiel spoke to the young woman before him, however, it was in a voice that was not his. "This town...far away from the likes of the Council. Does it suit you well?"

Gaikou continued to stare at the skies in wonder. The azure basking the land surely was...peaceful. A nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city- even though she was sent to infiltrate, she had settled down. This place was her new home. "...Yeah. It's so peaceful. I just wish, I could stay here forever."

"That isn't impossible." Alaskiel smiled, a gentle smile. He wanted this woman to feel comfortable. "In fact...I've been meaning to ask. Would you consider staying with me? Stay with me, here."

"Then I think it's settled." Alaskiel's smile spread from one side of his face to another; having this woman stay with him was something he really wanted, Ever since he'd met her, she seemed so pained. Her frequent visits to this town, whether she wanted to admit it or not, was how she got away. And now, she'd be staying with him. To say he couldn't be happier was an understatement.


"These...." Snapping back into his his own body, Alaskiel felt a new sensation; tears streaming down his face. "These memories....they aren't mine...what is the meaning of this?"

Gaikou herself had passed on—all signs of life had left her body by the time that the whole spectacle had faded. Right now, Gaikou Ryuusei had died; there was nothing but absolute silence.

"Gaikou..." Alaskiel hugged the woman into his body, tears still streaming down his eyes. "You only wanted a place to stay...a place to belong...and he provided that. When you lost that, it was only the Akatsuki that gave you another haven you could call your own...and then Alexis took it away. I know you have to be enraged..." He and Gaikou began to glow with a bright. "It is not time for the Boatman to take you just yet, Gaikou."

The glow increased in brightness, but it was a soft light now, as Alaskiel focused his magical energy. "Memory-Make: Reverse Possession." From Gaikou's body, a formless white mass began to rise from her mouth, hovering over her until it took the physical form of Gaikou herself, albeit silvery and translucent. "Gaikou...come with me. Stay with us for a little longer, and I will make sure you pass on without regrets."

Gaikou's silvery body appeared near robotic—possessing a cold, monotonous voice; perhaps this was the true form of a being's soul? "...Of course. Wherever I'll go, I'll always be with you."

"Then come with me." Alaskiel extended his hand, and the spectre that was Gaikou Ryuusei reciprocated, and, embracing the girl one more time, she slipped into his body. Alaskiel breathed, and it was quite clear that now, he had calmed down. He turned and looked at Rea. "Are you okay with this?"

Rea nodded, still completely thrown back by what had happened. "...Yeah. It's best to let her save you one last time. I think it's what she'd want."

"Thanks, Rea." Alaskiel cast her a surprisingly gentle smile; in fact, his entire behaviour in this ordeal was far gone from the man everyone knew him to be. He picked up Gaikou's body, cradling it. "We'll bury her back at the guild, alright Jason?"

"Of course." Jason nodded curtly. "I would have tolerated nothing less for one of our own. She'll be laid in the fore of the guild."

Mary finally spoke for the first time in several minutes. "She...she's really dead." Her voice was horse, though it was unknown how several minutes of underuse did such a thing.

Rea was just...completely overwhelmed by the fact that somebody had actually died—normally they were invincible for all intents and purposes, and just then, they had failed utterly in their mission. It seemed that in these seven years the enemies had also grown. "...I don't know how to deal with this."

"We can't let it drag us down now." Jason said quickly, already catching onto the despair befalling the group. "Yes, Gaikou is gone, and that is painful, but she's still with us, in a way, and if we succumb to despair now, we're going to fail. Also, as harsh as this may seem, it's already in the past."

"Yeah, but it still hurts!" Mary snapped, looking at Jason with a bit of incredulity. "We just saw a comrade get brutally murdered in front of us, not only that, we just saw her soul."

"Yes, the past can hurt." Jason replied, his eyes misting over. "However, the way I see it...you can either run from it, or, learn from it."

"Master...I understand your intentions." Olivia sighed, her watery-blue eyes meeting Jason's earthen brown. "And I can see that you are trying to hold yourself together as well as us...however, this will take time and it will require grieving. Even wise words right now cannot curb this..."

Rea immediately pointed out, "Shouldn't the Guild Master be breaking down? Like, that's what a normal person would do. Maybe he is inhuman. Or something." Quite possibly the most accurate thing the woman had ever said- and an inhumanly subtle bit of foreshadowing.

"There are various factors as to why I am not breaking down in plain sight for all to see, Rea." Jason replied, a tad coldly. "I would appreciate it if you did not make harsh judgement about one's character when you aren't aware of everything."

Olivia cast him a look, an odd look, but Jason ignored it for the moment. "If I was truly inhuman, I would simply say to cast Gaikou's body into the furnace. I'm not as cruel as you think, and the moment we arrive back at the guild, I will arrange funeral services."

Rea sighed. "Fine, fine. Don't blame me for pointing out the obvious." Even though she was exceedingly blunt here- so uncharacteristic of her, but true nonetheles. "Anyway, what do we do now...? We failed here."

Jason frowned, and cast a look outside. "She's on her way...I wonder what she found."

"What?" Mary looked confused. "Jason, stop speaking in vague terms. It's like if the guild caught fire, and I said we need to call 'them', and you would ask 'the fire department' and I'd say 'No, them'. Be specific for us!"

"We have a few guests coming in from down below." Jason said, ignoring Mary completely. "I didn't think she'd bring an entourage."

"Dammit, just spill i-!" Mary growled, but Jason interrupted her. "Come on, follow the glow of my orange hair."

END

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