Fandom: Magic Knight Rayearth
Publish Date: 5/2/2004 through 12/24/2005
Disclaimer: I do not own Magic Knight Rayearth... *roasts Mokona to make s'mores*
The ceiling was not particularly interesting, Umi realized very quickly. Too bad. There wasn’t really much else for her to look at. She’d already examined and half-memorized everything else in the room—the ornate mirror, the drapes, everything.
Her thoughts were the same as they had been for the past several days now. She was wondering about her dreams, and their meaning.
Experience had taught her not to simply dismiss things out of hand. Given that this particular nightmare had repeated itself over and over, growing clearer with each repetition, she figured she could safely assume that it was a warning. A foreshadowing dream, perhaps?
She closed her eyes, choosing to dive into the darkness behind her eyelids. Whose face appeared in the shadow that swallowed her friends? And who was the one who stood in front of her, protecting her and only her? And why did that person only protect her?
She needed to tell Clef about it, she decided. Granted, he might not be able to do a damn thing about it, or provide any sort of explanation. But there was just the off-chance…
Oh, this was hopeless.
A knock on the door made her jump. “Come in!”
The door opened soundlessly, and a curly brown head popped in. “Are you busy?”
Umi shook her head and sat up, crossing her legs comfortably. “Nope.”
Kagura inched in and pushed the door closed, then moved across the room and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Hey, I wanted to ask you something. We’ve been here for a few days now, right? Well…won’t anyone notice that we’re missing? I mean, we haven’t been in class or called our parents, and nobody will have seen us in the dorms either. What if they call the police or something?” She almost looked frantic. “And then we all come home, and they want an explanation…how do we explain this?”
To her surprise, Umi actually chuckled. “I had those exact same thoughts the first time we came her. But we very quickly discovered something interesting. I found this out when I somehow was zapped back onto Tokyo Tower. Everyone was frozen in place, right where they’d been when we had left.”
“Time moves differently here,” Umi explained as one hand absently combed through her hair. “I told you what happened when we came here the first time, right? Well, all that happened to us in the few seconds it took for that flash of light to disappear. So while we were here for what felt like months to us, on Earth it was just a couple seconds.”
Kagura shook her head. “That makes so little sense, I can almost understand it.”
“I don’t understand it, I don’t pretend to, and I don’t try to,” the Water Knight said wryly.
“So what is this place, exactly? I know it’s another world, but what is it?” Kagura threaded her fingers together and stretched them over her head as she asked. “Are we in another dimension or what?”
Umi shrugged. “Don’t know.”
Chocolate-colored eyes narrowed, and one dark brown eyebrow arched in amusement. “You’re just a bloody well of information, aren’t you?”
“I’ll tell you anything I know. You’re just asking the wrong questions.”
“Oh, sure, just blame it all on me!”
“Okay, if you insist.” Longstanding friendship made little bickers like this far more fun then they otherwise could or would have been.
“Okay, Umi, let’s see if you know the answer to this one,” Kagura said thoughtfully. “Something I’ve been wondering about since day one. You said something about will being power here. Could you explain that a little more, pretty please?”
“That one, I know!” Umi nodded. “In Cephiro, the strong will can be the greatest weapon of all. Better than one of Presea’s weapons, and more powerful than magic. If your heart is strong enough, you can accomplish almost anything. However, there are downsides to a world controlled by the heart. For example, a child afraid of the dark could unconsciously project his fear and create a twenty-foot monster who thinks you’re lunch.”
“Ugh, no thanks,” Kagura shook her head. “I taste terrible, I’m sure.”
“Of course. But it used to be that this entire world was ruled, ordered, and supported by one person’s will. The Pillar. I already told you about her.”
“Yeah. Esmeralda or something.”
“It’s not that way anymore, though. Cephiro belongs to everyone now.”
Kagura mulled over this for a moment. “It’s all so weird.”
“I should take you back to the Fountain of Eterna. You think you’re confused now, you should see that place,” Umi half-winced at the memory of the two-dimensional spring that held the legendary mineral Escudo. That damn puddle had nearly killed them.
“I’m not sure I want to!” Kagura yelped. Then she smiled. “So will power can create things, right?” At Umi’s nod, she continued, “So…I don’t suppose you could will me up a bottle of Maui and some Sprite? I really need something to help me relax.”
Umi stared at her blankly for a minute before both burst into hysterical fits of giggles. And neither could stop; they would get themselves under some semblance of control, but the moment they would so much as glance at each other, it would start anew.
The door opened, and Takeshi’s head popped in. “What in the world are you two doing?”
Two pillows, randomly ripped from Umi’s bed, flew across the room in response. One struck the wall beside the door, but the other managed to catch him straight in the face.
From there, it was a rout for poor Takeshi, who quickly found himself on the loosing end of the Great Pillow Battle. The three engaged in their duel until one of the pillows split wide open, sending a snowfall of soft white feathers all over the room.
After they recovered from their laughter, they spent quite some time cleaning the mess up. When the last feather had been tucked away into a bag, they said their goodnights. Umi tumbled into bed as soon as they were gone; in spite of herself, she fell asleep the moment her head touched the pillow.
And much to her relief, she did not dream that night.
The next morning, Fuu emerged from her room with a yawn—and stopped.
There were people everywhere! Palace servants and guards, running this way and that, shouting directions to each other. It was utter chaos, and she had inadvertently stepped right into the middle of it.
Then she remembered Clef’s announcement of the previous afternoon. The ambassadors of another country in this world—she couldn’t remember the name of the place—were arriving here today for in order to settle some diplomatic affairs.
Weaving her way through the maelstorm, she managed to make it to the throne room. Umi and Hikaru were already there, discussing something with Presea. Hikaru noticed her presence first, and waved at her. “Fuu! Good morning!”
“Morning,” she replied amiably. “It’s crazy here right now!”
“I’ll say,” Umi tossed her hair. “I stepped out of my room and nearly got mowed down by some guy carrying a bunch of flowers. I tried to check on Kagura and Takeshi, but they said they’re just going to hang out in their rooms and wait for the chaos to die down.”
Hikaru giggled, and put a deranged look on her face. “Chaos…chaos is good!” And everyone laughed. Umi had actually made a signs for their dorm room doors that read, Lord Chaos, bless this unholy lair of darkness. (AN: A thousand nerd points to anyone who knows where that joke comes from.)
“Good morning,” Clef entered.
“How goes it? There’s people everywhere!” Fuu gestured around the room, where a multitude of palace servants and laborers were making sure that every inch of the room was scrubbed to its shining best. The same was going on all over the palace. “With all these people around, are they actually managing to get anything done?”
“Amazingly, yes,” Clef explained. “As chaotic as it looks, everyone actually has a very specific job assigned to them. They do that job and that job only. So while it looks like mayhem, everything is getting done, right on schedule.”
“What was the name of the country who’s visiting again?” Umi asked. Obviously, she couldn’t remember either. “And when are they supposed to get here?”
“The ambassadors are from Aldarba,” the Master Mage aswered. “And we received word that they will probably arrive in the early afternoon.” He smiled at them. “Ferio and I will be extending the official welcome. But you are welcome to wait and meet them.”
“I might do that,” Fuu nodded cheerfully. “But first—breakfast!”
This proclamation was met with hearty acclaim, and the three girls scampered off towards the kitchens in search of their morning meal. Presea and Clef remained behind and watched them leave.
“They don’t know yet, do they?” the pharle said softly.
“He didn’t tell them,” Clef shook his head. “I don’t think they would be this happy if they knew.”
No sooner was the last flower arrangement in place and whatnot did they arrive. Their fortress-ship actually landed beside the palace ahead of schedule. Clef and Ferio were already in place, but the Magic Knights had not yet returned from their quest for sustenance.
As Prince and Mage waited for the ambassadors, Clef turned a death-glare on his young student. “You do realize you have just dug yourself into a hole, Ferio. Don’t you?”
Ferio sighed. “I know. I’ll…I’ll deal with it. Somehow.”
“I hope so. For your sake as well as everyone else’s.”
The conversation was stilled, then, as the doors opened wide, and Lantis led the arrivals into the throne room, like a very small parade. For the most part, they were men, ten of them; all were dressed richly, and carried themselves as men of breeding and probably aristocracy. A council of sorts, undoubtedly. They were all looking around, examining the place, and Clef was surprisingly pleased to see that they were suitably impressed.
The only one who wasn’t gazing about was the young woman in the lead, the only female in the group. Judging on looks alone, she was at least ten years younger than the youngest man in her entourage. She was the head of this party, Clef already knew, and the ten who followed her were her subordinates.
She was quite pretty, with black hair pulled back into a complicated arrangement of braids and buns, with a few decorative hair ornaments intertwined into it. Her clothing was like something out of ancient China: long, brightly colored robes, with sleeves that swallowed her hands. Her face was pale, oval-shaped, with wide, dark eyes.
But her expression was…unreadable. It was impossible to tell what she was thinking. For all anyone knew, she was bored out of her mind. She almost seemed arrogant—for a woman of the upper class, as she was, that very well have been the case.
Clef, however, ignored her immediate mannerisms, and smiled warmly. “Lady Caliana, welcome. We are honored to have you with us.” Behind him, he heard Ferio make a small noise that sounded vaguely like agreement.
Caliana’s eyes slid over them, and Clef swore he saw a flash of emotion there. But it was gone in a heartbeat as she bowed her head respectfully in a nod, then raised her chin. “Thank you, Master Mage, Your Highness.” She had gone unreadable again.
“If there is anything you need,” Clef continued, “do not hesitate to ask.”
“Again, thank you,” Lady Caliana said.
“I’m sure you are tired from your journey,” Clef went on. “We can show you to your rooms for the time being, and worry about the political matters at a later time. Feel free to make yourselves at home.”
Caliana bobbed up and down in a quick bow, and turned to the door. There were servants waiting there to show the young woman and her entourage to their rooms for their stay.
As she was leaving, the Magic Knights returned. Hikaru reacted first. “Aw, we missed it!” Then she waved over the girl’s head. “Hi, Ferio!” The Prince looked startled, then gave a halfhearted wave back.
Caliana stared blankly at the three girls. “May I ask who you are?”
“These are the Magic Knights of Cephiro,” Clef called.
One dark eyebrow arched. “The legendary girls from another world?”
“That’s us!” Hikaru beamed. “What’s your name?”
Amazingly enough, not even Hikaru’s contagious cheerfulness brought a smile to the young woman’s face. “I am Caliana of Aldarba. I am pleased to meet you.” She nodded her greeting.
“Nice to meet you, too!” Umi smiled. “I’m Umi, and this is Fuu, and Hikaru. We’ve got two other friends here with us from our world, Kagura and Takeshi. You’ll have to meet them sometime, too.”
“Indeed,” Caliana’s tone was as unreadable as her facial expression. “If you will excuse me.”
“Of course,” Fuu stepped aside to let the girl pass.
They watched Caliana’s retreating back; as soon as she was out of earshot, Umi frowned. “Did you see that? She was rude!” She folded her arms. “She almost seemed arrogant.”
Hikaru nodded. “I don’t get it.”
Fuu, however, was tapping her chin thoughtfully. “I’m not so sure…”
He moved his wrist a tiny bit, causing the crimson liquid to slosh about in the wine glass he held.
A lazy smirk crossed his face. He never tired of watching those silly Magic Knights.
When first he had learned of these Magic Knights, he would admit he had been alarmed. He knew of their power, and there were…other things to consider. He had tried to have the problem dealt with early on, attacking them in their own world. But something had interfered, and they were now under the protection of Guru Clef and, in all probability, the rest of the Cephirean inhabitants. The Magic Knights were their protectors and saviors, after all.
But the more he saw, the more he found himself amused.
They were barely out of childhood! Three silly girls, no less. They couldn’t possibly pose a threat.
But that one…the blue one.
He often found himself watching her more than the others. She intrigued him as few had ever before. She was so much the Water Dragon—beautiful, intelligent, sharp-witted, and if properly provoked, downright deadly. Of the three, he saw her as the most dangerous, for those, as well as other, reasons.
He took a long drink, and snapped his fingers. Instantly, someone appeared at his side.
“Yes, sir?” the newcomer asked rigidly. He was a tall man, wearing black armor with a cape. One hand rested comfortably on the hilt of the sword hanging by his side. Long, blonde hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail.
“Aeric,” he barked, “I believe…it is time.”
The newcomer, Aeric, smiled, a smirk just as cruel and bloodthirsty as his lord’s. “Yes, sir.”