Fandom: Magic Knight Rayearth
Publish Date: 9/2/2007
Disclaimer: I do not own Magic Knight Rayearth... *roasts Mokona to make s'mores*
The storm rolled in suddenly and with absolutely no warning at all. It was as though the clouds had somehow magically appeared in the sky over Cephiro’s capitol, thick and charcoal gray; they blocked out the sun entirely. Within moments of their appearance, the clouds opened and unleashed a frightening gale, accompanied by heavy winds, thunder, and lightning.
Within the safety of the palace, the three girls from a world called Earth stood and watched as the rain splattered itself viciously against the window. They were safe from the elements, and they hoped no one was caught out in that…
That thought was enough to make Umi again start wondering about Kagura and where she was, but she tried not to let herself fall into that depressing trap again. Kagura was fine—she was somewhere, safe and not outside in this. Furthermore, this storm reminded her of that night…had it really been that long since that happened? She sighed and turned her focus to her teammates.
“What a storm…” Hikaru murmured, letting one hand rest against the windowsill. She glanced down at her ovum-gem and grinned dryly. “I’d be absolutely worthless out there in that.”
“Water and fire really don’t mix well, do they? This kind of storm might wash you out,” Fuu chuckled. “If I were you, I wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with Umi. She’d have a distinct advantage.”
“Only that I’m better,” Umi said haughtily, betraying none of her earlier melancholy.
“Yeah right!” Hikaru pouted, and they all laughed.
Fuu looked back towards the window. “Oh…I guess it was just a cloudburst. Looks like it’s already slowly down…” They watched as the torrent slowed to a mere drizzle, running down the glass.
Umi tapped her chin thoughtfully. “I wonder if I could use rain…you know, since my powers are tied to water? And I always seem to be able to do more when I’m near water, like it makes me stronger. I’m wondering if rain would do the trick.”
“That would make sense,” Fuu agreed with a nod. “Since our powers are elemental, it would fit that they can be drawn from our surroundings. So being near fire should make Hikaru stronger as well…and that could be a very frightening thought.” The mental images were not very pretty—particularly Umi’s picture of Hikaru trying to fight monsters amidst a raging forest fire. “…so where would that leave me, I wonder?”
Hikaru bubbled up then. “Fuu’s power is in the sky!”
“Well, Umi’s power comes from the sea, and my power comes from fire, which is usually on land,” Hikaru tallied the points off on her fingers, “so the sky is what’s left, right?”
Fuu looked like she was about to either argue or crack up when a bright flare of lightning completely illuminated the sky outside. They all automatically turned to look…and were shocked to see a tree in the forest surrounding the palace burst into flames as it was struck. It toppled over, spreading the blaze; the wet leaves somehow ignited, and the first leapt from tree to tree, threatening to engulf the entire forest and potentially anything in or around it.
Umi and Fuu were sprinting down the corridor in a heartbeat. “We have to put that fire out!” Umi already had her sword drawn. “Hikaru, wait here! We’ll take care of it!”
Hikaru looked pained for a moment at the idea of sitting this out, but nodded. It had already been established that she was probably useless in the rain. And she knew that Umi and Fuu were perfectly capable of handling the problem. So she returned her gaze to the window to watch as her teammates handled the problem…and she wondered exactly how the wet leaves had ignited like they had.
Somehow, it seemed very strange to her.
Equipped with their mashin for the sake of expedience, the two Knights took to the sky to stop the situation from getting any worse. At this point, though, it seemed very manageable.
“Fuu!” Umi called, making a beeline for the woods. “I’ll handle the fire! Can you do something about the clouds?”
“I think so!” the Knight of Windam turned to fly upwards—and was stunned when a streak of lightning whizzed by her, missing her and Windam by scant inches. She spun away, startled. Umi, be careful—watch out for the lightning!”
Umi made a sound of agreement as she readied her magic and summoned water, casting it across the burning trees. The fire went out, sending a cloud of smoke billowing into the air. Umi sat back, breathing a sight of relief…
…until a crackle of lighting zipped past her, grazing Selece’s wing and going down to hit the forest again. The trees reignited, and the forest began to burn anew.
Clutching her shoulder (which felt like it was on fire from the nearness of the strike), Umi stared at the newly-reborn fire. No way… she gaped. I just put that out…it’s all soaked! It shouldn’t be on fire! And lightning isn’t supposed to strike the same place twice, is it? But she shook it off and called water again to put out the blaze a second time.
But she didn’t get to cast it this time.
She saw the light behind her at the very last second, just before she was struck by lightning full-out. It hit her lower back and coursed through both her and Selece from head to toe.
Umi thought she screamed in pain. But she wasn’t sure. She half-felt Selece give a great shudder as they plummeted together to the ground, landing with a crash in an immobile heap.
From her vantage point in the air, Fuu saw the whole thing as she herself tried to keep dodging lightning strikes. She reached for her magic, pulled it, and waited until just the right moment to cast it—that moment being immediately after spinning out of the reach of another bolt. She cast Healing Winds towards Umi and hoped that it would be enough—she knew that strikes like that could have potentially devastating side-effects, some of them permanent.
She did not fear for Umi’s life, though; her time in the spirit world had granted her a unique sixth sense, and even from as far away as she was, she could see two auras. Selece’s was a rich, dark sapphire blue, and Umi’s was a lighter color. Both seemed a bit faded, but were still there and still strong enough to allay any doubts about their survival.
With that knowledge, she allowed her attention to be drawn to something else that was bothering her a great deal. Fuu knew a fair amount about science, and one thing she knew was that lightning almost exclusively strikes the highest point on the victim. For a normal person, that was usually the head or even the shoulders. For Selece, it should have theoretically hit his head, shoulders, or even his wings. But to come in at an almost horizontal angle to hit at the base of his spine? To Fuu’s well-trained mind, that sounded very improbable.
And then there was the frequency of the strikes. This many? In such close proximity? In such a rapid succession in such a short time? Mother Nature might be capable of a lot, but the laws of probability were called laws for a reason. They followed logic, and Fuu had a great trust for logic amidst all the magic that tended to inhabit her personal world.
That was in addition to the fact that no matter where she moved, the lightning seemed to center around her…like it was following her. All of these small facts added up in Fuu’s mind, and ultimately led to a single, rather frightening conclusion.
If the lightning really was tracking her movements…then that had to mean that someone was controlling it. Which meant that all of this—the forest fire, the strike on Umi, and the attempts to hit her—were attacks, not accidents or chance.
But now realizing that someone had intentionally hurt Umi like that and could have potentially killed her…it made her blood boil like few other things could.
She looked up at the clouds and made a very quick decision. If she was right, maybe she could find the assailant. If not, maybe she could at least try to blow the clouds away and drive the storm off. As the next attack blew past her, she changed direction and shot straight up into the air, moving right through the clouds at a break-neck speed and up into the space above them.
She had half-anticipated having to search for the culprit or even not finding anyone at all—if it was magic, the user didn’t necessarily have to be present to accomplish whatever it was that he or she wanted to accomplish. However, she was startled to realize that searching would be unnecessary. There was someone there, as though waiting for her.
Hovering there above the clouds was what seemed to be a giant yellow serpent. Its nose was long and square-ish, and its flanks were visibly moving and gyrating; it appeared to be very much alive.
Fuu’s eyes widened. Is that…a mashin?
She was alarmed into that thought, for the beast gave her a feeling similar to the one she had experienced the first time she had gazed upon Selece and Rayearth in their true forms: awe coupled with a complex sort of fear.
Windam had been different—Windam was her mashin and her partner. The fear was lessened, and there was an additional feeling, one that she still had difficulty putting into words. It was…like a bond or something similar had just grown inside her, a feeling of accepting and being accepted and knowing that some small part of her would never know loneliness again.
But staring across the gap at this being, there was that same awe…and volumes of fear. Assuming that this was the originator of the lightning, even without that evidence, her instincts told her that this being was not a friend.
As she cautiously drew closer, however, she noticed more details, like being able to actually see individual scales running up and down the serpent’s great length, and strange white fin-like appendages protruding from its sides. But the biggest shock when she got close enough to take a really good look at what she had initially thought was a horn on its head.
It was a person.
She didn’t dare get much closer for fear of attack, but she could tell a few things. For one, the figure seemed to be female, with short hair. She was clad in some type of cloak or robe or cape that hung down around her and moved in the atmospheric wind. But most of the potentially important details were obscured both by distance and by a strange mist that seemed to float around the figure and the serpent.
As she stared at the form, Fuu had the sudden, chilling sensation that she was being…was sized up the right word? She was certain that this person was watching her, evaluating her…but for what purpose?
And even more disconcerting was that something about this figure was wrong. But try as she might, Fuu couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was about the whole scene that seemed off. And she had the feeling that it was going to bother her until she figured out what it was.
They stayed there like that for a long moment, floating above the clouds and simply staring at each other. Lightning crackled in the air around them, almost as fierce as the tension.
When Hikaru’s voice cut through the silence, it startled both of them out of their inaction. Fuu watched as the female figure raised a hand—and a crack of lightning split the sky, bright enough that she had to shield her eyes from it. When she lowered her hands and looked again, they were gone—both the large serpent and the form.
Fuu stared at the spot where they had been for a moment before turning and flying down below the clouds. Hikaru had summoned Rayearth, and was at Umi’s side, helping Selece and his Knight to their collective feet. “Fuu, are you okay?” she asked.
“I’m fine! Is Umi all right?” Fuu called back. Almost as an afterthought, she turned and called the winds to blow the remaining clouds away, letting sunlight once again spill on the land. But she seriously doubted that what was left of the storm would cause any such damages.
“I’ll be fine…” Umi said, her voice weak and trembling slightly. “Your magic worked wonders, but I still feel like I got the wind knocked out of me.” She was leaning heavily on Hikaru. “But I think that might be more a mental thing than anything else. Oooh…that hurt…” She looked up at Fuu; her eyebrows drew together in a frown. “Fuu, what happened?”
“I saw…something. Or someone,” Fuu said slowly. “There was something in the sky. I’d almost say it looked like a mashin, but I’ve never seen it before. It was a snake…or a serpent. A giant yellow serpent. And there was a girl…I think she’s the one who called the lightning.”
“You mean this was an attack?” Umi said incredulously.
“I think so,” Fuu nodded grimly. “Let’s get back to the palace—maybe Clef can tell us something about it. Who knows—maybe it’s another Cephirean legend?” Still, as they flew back to the safety of the palace, she couldn’t help but notice that Windam was strangely silent in the back of her mind…
Kagura was becoming very acclimated to this room of stone. And the girl she had met there—Cristal, she of the incredibly white hair—was being extremely friendly, despite the fact that they were little more than strangers.
Still, she couldn’t bring herself to feel anxious or nervous about her situation. It seemed like every time a thought of uneasiness so much as flickered across her mind, it was gone in an instant. She was worried that she was losing her mind—it would certainly be anticlimactic, but logical at this point.
There was no overt sign that she was in danger here, though. If anything, it seemed like Cristal (and to a lesser degree, even Aeric) had gone out of their way to make certain that she knew she was not in immediate danger; even Aeric’s attack on her with a sword now seemed little more than a sparring match, possibly to test her somehow? All things considered, she ultimately decided to stick it out and see where this whole situation would go.
Cristal was telling her all about the pool in the center of the room—the one that resembled a waist-high stone well. It was a way for them to view the outside world, she explained.
“Why don’t you just go to the outside world and look?” Kagura asked in the midst of this. “It’s a lot nicer to see it for yourself then to just look at a picture of it.”
“Because the outside world does not understand us,” Cristal replied. “Us, or our powers. So we stay here until the time is right. Then we will go forth and do what must be done.”
“When will the time be right?” Kagura asked. “And what is it that must be done?” She didn’t ask about their powers, though; her hand slid unconsciously to the ovum-gem on her own glove, and she thought she could at least guess the nature of their powers. And in that light, her claim that they would not be understood made a certain amount of sense—Cephiro already had the Magic Knights of legend. If three more girls appeared, claiming the titles…there was every possibility that they could be rejected or treated as imposters or worse.
Cristal’s smile grew a bit wider. “Once you’ve awakened to your true self, sister. That is when the time will be right. And as to what must be done…that is something I cannot tell you just yet.”
“My true—“ Kagura started to ask, but she was interrupted as another person swept into the room.
“I’ve returned,” the newcomer said softly; she wore yellow, and had short, dark hair. “Mission accomplished—I have seen the Knights of Windam and Selece, and I have seen a display of their power.”
Selece… Kagura’s eyes widened. Umi… She thought of her best friend for a moment, then let the thought go before it could be pulled away. But she was hard-pressed to name the alien emotion that tried to rise in the back of her throat at the mental image of Umi’s face. So she ignored it and instead addressed the new face. “Who are you?”
Cristal spoke up to handle the introduction. “Kagura, this is Malia. She wields storms and lightning. Malia, this is Kagura. She is the one who was promised to us.”
That apparently had some significance, but Malia betrayed no expression at the mention of whatever this “promise” was. Instead, she smiled cheerily and said, “I’m pleased to meet you!” She seemed very open—moreso than Cristal did, at least. Then she turned back to Cristal and frowned. “By the way…the Knight of Windam saw Galen and me. She flew through the clouds and we came face to face across a distance.”
“It is of no consequence,” Cristal said briskly; she tossed her hair back with one hand. “They cannot possibly know who you are or why you were there. So it’s not important.”
“What’s not important?”
Yet another new voice joined the conversation, this one also female. This girl wore brown, and bore a striking resemblance to Umi, only with brown hair and eyes instead of blue. She was leaning against the room’s entryway with her arms folded across her chest and a mildly menacing smirk on her face.
Cristal’s expression darkened ever so slightly, and Kagura didn’t miss it. But before she could say anything, Cristal spoke up. “If it’s not important, then I won’t bother repeating it,” she said in a clipped voice. “What do you need?”
The brown one moved into the room. “I’m here on orders.”
Malia chose that moment to pipe up. “Before you do that—Kagura, this is Nairi. She’s one of us as well.” She turned her attention back to the newcomer. “What are the orders?”
Nairi smiled. “Sorilbran asked me to tell our guest a story.”
Kagura frowned. Sorilbran…?
“You saw what?”
“Are you sure?”
“Is that even possible?”
“It can’t be possible!”
“Did you imagine it?”
Fuu shook her head against the barrage of questions and repeated her story for what felt like the thirtieth time. “I know what I saw. I didn’t imagine it. It was a serpent—I swear it looked like a mashin! And there was a girl riding on it. And I’m very sure that she was causing the lightning. That’s all I know—she just vanished.”
Upon their return to the palace, Fuu had immediately told her story. Clef had listened intently before closeting himself with Mokona and Lantis. Fuu had been left to the rest of the palace inhabitants, all of whom were torn between being fascinated by her tale and being dubious of it. The conversation weaved back and forth between begging Fuu for further details…and debating about the validity of it.
When Clef returned with word, everyone fell silent to listen intently.
“There was something—this was not a normal storm,” Clef said. “But the person who cast the spell has gone beyond Cephiro’s borders. We lost the trail at the northern border. This is the path that leads towards Aldarba, but there is nothing to suggest that whoever it was that was here is now hiding there. Still, perhaps it would be wise to contact the Aldarban government and inquire about any strange activities.”
The new voice at the door stopped the conversation flat as everyone turned to regard the visitor. He was a fairly nondescript man, holding a piece of parchment in one hand. “Pardon the interruption, but I have a message for Guru Clef,” the man explained.
“Who is that?” Hikaru whispered.
Fuu smiled—she’d had the pleasure of meeting this person not long before, a chance encounter in a hallway. “He’s a diplomatic envoy,” she replied. “Ironically, he’s the representative from Aldarba.”
Hikaru’s expression brightened. “So he knows Caliana?”
“Yes, he does,” Fuu nodded. “I met him yesterday—I asked him. He says she is safe at home, doing very well, and will be a fine Queen someday. I should ask him if he would send her a message for me…just to say hi.” She remembered well the Princess who had been intended to Ferio. She was silently and eternally grateful to Caliana for breaking the engagement, though she would never say it aloud in such a manner. And then the Princess had returned to help Cephiro turn the tide of a great battle.
During this explanation, Clef had moved to receive the message. The parchment was folded, and bore the seal of Aldarban royalty in blue wax. As the mage went about opening the letter, the envoy crossed the room and addressed Fuu. “I informed the Princess that I had encountered a friend of hers, and she sent this with the official correspondence.” He handed her a second, smaller letter, also sealed.
Fuu accepted it with thanks and broke the seal to unfold the parchment. She looked down at the message written there…and turned back to the envoy with a sheepish look on her face. “I’m sorry, but I can’t read the language. Could you please…”
“Of course,” the man said, taking the letter and clearing his throat before he began to read it in a low voice. “Fuu, I am glad to hear that you and your friends have returned to Cephiro. I hope you have been well. There has been trouble in Aldarba as of late. Father does not know that I have sent you this message, but we are requesting assistance, and I would feel greatly at ease if the Magic Knights were the ones to come. I hope to hear a favorable response from you. Best wishes, Caliana.”
“Thank you,” Fuu took the letter from the envoy.
“A pleasure,” he said. “And I assure you that the King will hear nothing of this from me.”
Fuu laughed. “Again, thank you!”
Judging by the conversation floating around Clef, his message was essentially a more official version of the note in her hands. They inched closer to listen a bit more carefully—it seemed that they were discussing who they should send to Aldarba to handle the difficulties there.
After listening a moment, Fuu spoke up. “Let us go.”
That sent everything to a screeching halt. “What?” Clef asked, startled.
“Let the three of us go to Aldarba,” Fuu repeated, hoping and praying that Umi and Hikaru would agree with her. “We can handle it. And if it’s related to what just happened outside, then I think it’s almost our responsibility to go. We made a pledge to protect Cephiro. If this turns out to be a threat, then it’s our duty as Magic Knights.”
Silence fell, and for a moment she was afraid her suggestion would be rejected.
Then a voice spoke up behind her. “I agree with Fuu,” Umi said softly. “If this is a threat…we should be there. We can help. And I won’t lie—I also wouldn’t mind seeing Caliana again. She turned out to be all right in the end.”
“I’m in, too,” Hikaru added.
Clef’s brow furrowed in thought. “Your arguments are valid…”
Surprisingly, Ferio stepped in. “I think they should go. And I’ll go with them. They can handle the magic, and I can handle the diplomatic matters and the government issues. That should take care of most of the problems, shouldn’t it?”
“Ferio’s right,” Hikaru nodded emphatically. “We don’t know anything about the politics of these worlds. So if he goes to handle that stuff, then we’re free to track down whatever it is that’s causing the trouble there and take care of it, right?”
“I’ll go too!” Ascot spoke up, then blushed faintly. “If it’s a monster or something, I can help.”
Lantis cleared his throat. “I will go as well.”
The three girls looked grateful.
After a moment, Clef nodded. “All right. If you’re certain that this is what you want to do, I will send word to Aldarba, and we will make the preparations for you to leave as soon as possible.”
The Magic Knights cheered out loud. “We’re going to Aldarba!” Umi said happily.
“Did you hear?”
Michiko looked up from the book she was reading—one nice thing about hanging around the palace was that she had access to the massive library. And now that their presence was known, Clef had no objections to her borrowing a tome here and there. “Did I hear what?”
“…that’s a no,” Amaya sighed. “Hey, Sachi! You should hear this too!” When the red-clad specter floated into sight, Amaya continued, “It was just decided that the girls are going to Aldarba.”
“Why?” Sachi asked. “And how did you find out?”
“I was eavesdropping,” Amaya said shamelessly. “But it seems there have been some disturbances that they believe are caused by magic. Very powerful magic at that. And Aldarba doesn’t have the kind of magical know-how that Cephiro does. So they’ve asked for assistance in accordance with the mutual aid clause detailed in the alliance treaty. And our cute little descendants are answering the call. With their boys in tow, of course. That prince boy isn’t letting Fuu out of his sight as long as he can help it.”
“Do you think it’s all related?” Michiko asked quietly. “These disturbances, the attack on Fuu, the girls coming here…the fact that the three of us are still here, period? We promised that we would remain until Cephiro was free of danger. If we’re still here…”
“It stands to reason that all of this is connected somehow,” Sachi agreed. “So many things happening all at once…it defies the laws of probability for everything to happen at once like that. And you forgot to mention that Kagura is missing. Her kidnapping is just another piece of a puzzle that’s still too fragmented to see the picture. It’s all tied together, but I just don’t know how.”
“We might be able to find out,” Amaya interjected. “That’s why I brought this up. The girls are going to Aldarba…and I’m wondering if we should go too. Or would we be better serving everyone and Cephiro if we stay here?”
The three ghosts looked at each other, each trying to reason through this. What was going on here? And what could they really, truly do to help?
“Once upon a time,” Nairi began, “there was very little. There was the land and the sky and the water, and two beings. One was known as Light, and the other was Dark. They did not get along, and their fear and hatred towards each other caused many clashes that split the land, shook the sky, and disturbed the water. It was a time of struggle for two beings who themselves had no beginning, but simply always were.”
“One day, it came to pass that the rivalry between Light and Dark because too great, and it exploded into a great battle of cataclysmic proportions. They fought with all the force of their power, both magic and brute strength.”
“It was a war between two, the likes of which was never seen before and has never been seen since, and it threatened to destroy what little there was. But then something incredible happened. The magic unleashed took form and gained sentience, and because another great being. This new being was not of the Light, nor was it of the Dark, but carried aspects and powers of both. And it ended the battle, calming the beasts and sending them back to their resting places. Having done this, the being vanished. No one knows what became of it.”
“But the legends do speak of Light and Dark. Those two great beasts are said to still be out there, waiting for another chance to finish the fight they began all those years ago and finally chose a victor.”
Kagura listened to the whole tale from start to finish with wide eyes. “Wow…what a story.” It sounds like a fairy tale.” She smiled and sat back, obviously amused.
“But there are those who say the legend is far more than a mere fable, Kagura,” Nairi said knowingly. “Some say Light and Dark are real, and waiting to be discovered by the one who is destined to gain their power.” Her smile shifted into more of a smirk, and it sent a shiver down Kagura’s spine. “And Kagura? We have reason to believe that you could be that person.”
“What? Me?” Kagura shook her head frantically. “No way!”
Nairi leaned forward and nodded. “Yes. Believe me when I tell you this—you are our sister. You are one of us. And like us, you are of the dark.”
PS. Whew…another chapter done! Finally! I’ve been working like crazy on my outline for a couple of weeks, and it’s finally starting to click back together. I’m relatively pleased with it. There will be a LOT of stuff in this fic. I’m also really looking forward to bringing Caliana back—I really did adore how her character developed in Tears of the Sea, and I’m excited to continue with that.
Thanks for reading, all! Much love!
NEXT TIME: The Magic Knights are off to Aldarba! There’s a reunion with Caliana and a whole new place to explore! And Kagura finally gets to meet the mysterious person who seems to be pulling the strings…hope you’ll tune in!