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*
Two days had passed since Caliana’s arrival, and the Magic Knights still hadn’t managed to find out exactly what was going on. The young woman was like a ghost—she seemed to appear and vanish, without anyone seeing her. And truthfully, Umi had said, it was getting annoying.
There had been a couple more monster attacks, which had been dealt with easily by the Magic Knights. As yet, they had not even had to call upon their mashin again. But during one fight, Fuu had later sworn she had looked up and seen Caliana watching from a window.
It was a mystery, an enigma to them.
But it was not to remain so for very much longer…
The dark-haired woman turned away from the window to take in her visitor. It was a Magic Knight—the blonde one. The newcomer was smiling cheerily. “Hello. I don’t know if you remember me, but my name is Fuu.”
Fuu. That was it. The Knight of Windam, if she remembered correctly.
Caliana had stopped at one of the many palace windows to simply take in the scenery. She must have been standing there for a lot longer than she had intended—but it was a beautiful country from this vantage point. It reminded her a little of her own homeland of Aldarba, and with that reminder came a pang of homesickness that she didn’t want anyone to see.
She managed a slight smile in response. Not that she really felt like smiling. “Hello. I was just admiring the view.” That, at least, was the truth.
“It is beautiful,” the one called Fuu agreed, and stepped over to stand beside her at the window. “It never ceases to amaze me.” She chuckled. “It’s only the third time we’ve been here, and it seems like the scenery changes each time.”
“You’ve only been here three times?” Caliana was surprised. Though she knew the legend, that these girls came from another world, she had always assumed that as the protectors of this realm, the Magic Knights would live there, or at least visit often.
“Is this your first visit to Cephiro?” Fuu asked.
Caliana nodded. “It is.”
Fuu frowned, but decided to keep trying. “What position do you have in the nobility of Aldarba?”
They didn’t even know that much? Good gods...and she said so. “You haven’t been told anything have you? My father is the king.” She noticed that Fuu’s eyes widened. “I am the Princess, and the only heir to the Aldarban throne. Someday, I will rule.”
“Why exactly are you here?” the Green Knight seemed to recover herself and went on. “I mean, I know it’s some diplomatic thing, but nobody will tell us exactly what’s going on.” She paused. “I guess it might not be any of our business…but we’re just curious, that’s all.”
“Do you not want me here?” Caliana asked, trying to get a measure of this strange young woman from another world. For some reason, she couldn’t quite get a reading on Fuu and whatever her motives might be. She possessed an innate ability to read people, but this girl eluded her. Could it be that she really did just want to talk to her? No…people weren’t like that. That was why she further tested the waters with a question of deliberate misinterpretation.
And Fuu seemed genuinely taken aback. “No, that’s not it at all. We just wanted to know a little more about you.” She was telling the truth.
Caliana sighed. “You really don’t know. I can’t imagine why Guru Clef wouldn’t tell you.”
“Tell us what?” Fuu asked.
A moment later, there was a sickening crunching sound as Fuu’s heart shattered.
There was a knock on the door, and before anyone could answer, the door opened, and Umi walked in. She closed the door behind her before strolling casually to the center of the room. Everyone watched her somewhat warily; she was smiling far too sweetly for any of their tastes. And they all suddenly felt quite uncomfortable.
Clef, Lafarga, Presea, and Caldina all waited, knowing full well that she would eventually tell them exactly what that evil, saccharine smile was for. And everyone knew that it wasn’t anything good.
“Excuse me, but have you seen Ferio?” she asked conversationally.
Ding ding, red alert. Danger!
But Presea’s curiosity had already gotten the better of her, and she pointed towards the door at the opposite end of the room. “I think he went through there. I don’t know where he went from there.”
“Thank you,” Umi said with a million-watt smile. She put her hand to her glove-jewel, and in a flash of blue light, she was armed with her Escudo sword. Without another word, she stalked towards the appointed door, with menace written in her very movements.
“Umi, what are you doing?” Clef asked, alarmed.
She didn’t stop, but replied, “I’m going to kill Ferio.”
The two other women proved to have remarkable fast reflexes, and were on their feet in an eye blink. Both Caldina and Presea leapt into her path, blocking her way. “Whoa, kiddo!” Caldina put her hands on Umi’s shoulders to further restrain the Magic Knight. “Calm down! What’s the problem?”
Umi’s eyes flared; the fake cheeriness was gone, and it had been replaced by a rage that was only barely contained. “What’s the problem, Caldina?” Her voice was a snarl. “Why didn’t anyone think it was important to tell us that Ferio was engaged? Were we not going to be invited to this wedding thing?”
The Chizetan dancer’s face screwed up in confusion. “Wedding?”
The rest of the room had gone very quiet.
“A wedding is what we call the ceremony when two people get married,” Umi replied, and before another question could be asked, she went on, “Marriage is when two people make a promise to be together forever. And from what I’ve been told, Ferio and Caliana are looking it in the face. That’s the nature of this little diplomatic visit. An alliance-marriage. Care to tell me why nobody bothered to tell us?”
Everyone suddenly found something else to stare out.
“So if you’ll excuse me, I hope none of you have a very strong attachment to your Prince,” she tried to push past the two blocking her way. “Because he’s got a date to keep in hell.”
“Umi, Umi, calm down!” Presea begged. In an attempt to distract Umi, she asked desperately, “Where’s Hikaru, anyway?”
“Hikaru?” Umi cackled. “Hikaru’s chasing down the Bitch-Bride with intent to kill. Don’t think Caliana’s getting off scot-free. Now if you’ll please get out of my way, I’ve got a murder to commit.”
“Umi, come on! Stop this!” Caldina protested. “I know yer angry, but—“
“Oh, I’m beyond angry!” she snapped. Then, to everyone’s surprise, she stepped back and glowered at them. “Caldina, Presea, come with me. Please. Just for a minute. You’ll understand why I’m so pissed off, I promise.”
The two obediently followed her, unsure of what they were going to be shown. Clef and Lafarga, both of whom had jumped to their feet at Umi’s declaration of murderous intent, were left in blank confusion. Neither moved, though; both knew, instinctively, that in a moment, all would be revealed.
They were right.
A few minutes had passed before the door opened again, and Umi stepped back inside with Presea in tow. But to the open amazement of the two men, not only was Umi still holding her sword, but Presea was also armed with a blade. Both stalked wordlessly across the room towards the door. Beyond that door was the target of their anger—Ferio.
“Umi, obviously you’re still planning on killing Ferio,” Clef said, looking completely confused—probably for the first time in his life. “But Presea, what are you doing?”
“Helping!” the artisan replied with a little bit of a bloodthirsty smile on her face. “So is Caldina. She went to find Hikaru. Now if you’ll excuse us—“
The pharle stopped and turned a glare on them. “You haven’t seen Fuu, have you? Apparently, she got the news from Caliana, and none too gently. So if there are no more questions, gentlemen, we have important things to do.” And with that, they were gone.
The two men waited.
After a moment, there was some yelling, a few loud obscenities, and some crashes.
And suddenly, both had to wonder if the two women were actually serious about spilling blood.
It wasn’t often that she cried like this. But for some reason, Fuu was unable to stop.
This was a broken heart. It had to be. Nothing else could possibly hurt this much. It was like someone was ramming her with a fistful of glass, ripping her to pieces from the inside out. She’d been like that for quite some time, since about mid-morning, when her talk with Caliana had given her the truth.
The sun had moved across the sky, revealing that it was earliest evening.
Fuu had never felt like that about anyone, before or since. Ferio was special to her, more than special. The first time they had met, back in the Forest of Silence, she had been suspicious of him, but he had helped them. After that, she hadn’t been able to get his face out of her mind.
Finding out he was actually the Prince had probably been the most horrifying moment of her life. To realize that the man she loved—for by then she had realized that love was, indeed, what that emotion was—was the younger brother of the Pillar they had killed was agonizing. And yet he bore her no ill will. He did not blame her at all. And his kindness had helped her heal some of the pain she still carried from that last terrible battle.
Being unable to return to Cephiro, she’d still never been able to put him from her mind. She’d known that they would probably never see each other again. It was more than likely that they would only be reunited again in heaven. But then the attack, and Mokona’s intervention had brought them together…
Only for Fate to slap her across the face again.
Was Destiny really so determined to keep them apart forever?
She was angry, so angry with him. She remembered the few times he’d be trying to say something to her, to tell her something, and he would never be able to say it. Had he been trying to tell her then? Ferio should have just told her, not let her hear it from some woman who was all but a stranger.
She felt selfish, worrying so much about herself. She didn’t even know how Ferio felt about his impending union. But it wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair…
A tap on the door roused her, and she quickly dried her eyes. No use in making a scene or worrying anyone else. A glance in the mirror proved that she looked far less than presentable, though. So she opted for a middle ground, and asked in a surprisingly steady voice, “Who is it?”
“Fuu, please open the door,” Umi’s voice came back softly. “It’s us.”
Making a quick decision, Fuu unlocked the door and opened it a crack. Umi was there, with Hikaru and Kagura in tow. “Can we come in?” Kagura asked softly.
Fuu stepped back and let them pass into her room before closing the door behind them. She also made sure to lock it again before returning to her perch on her bed. “What’s up?” she asked, a little too conversationally.
But Kagura wasn’t buying, nor was she bothering with niceties. She walked straight over to the bed, sat down next to Fuu, and pulled her into a tight hug. “You know…” she said softly, “you don’t have to pretend for us.”
For a moment, there was silence. Then, Fuu’s weak resolve broke, and she wept again. Hikaru and Umi joined them in a big group hug, letting their heartbroken friend lean on them for support.
“We’ll get through anything together!”
They had made that pact so long ago, the three Magic Knights. And though Kagura had sworn herself to it much later, her word was just as good. That was just one part of being a friend—you could get through the toughest times together.
If Fuu needed to cry, they were her shoulder.
And in the warmth of her friends’ embrace, Fuu felt herself begin to calm down just the tiniest bit.
The other three, however, felt nothing like that. They were furious.
Furious at Caliana for so callously breaking the news to Fuu. Furious at Ferio for not having the nerve to tell her the truth when he knew damn well that she loved him. Furious at everyone else here for not sharing the nature of Caliana’s visit with them.
Especially Umi. Fiercely loyal to her friends, Umi always watched over the others. And when they were hurt, she wanted to visit destruction upon those who dared to cause that hurt.
And right now, Ferio was very high on her list.
“Another attack…” Hikaru huffed, drawing her sword. “What’s the deal?”
“Let’s take care of them!” Umi grinned, though there was no mirth behind the smile; it was all anger. “I need to hit something anyway!”
Fuu just frowned. She wasn’t usually prone to taking out her frustrations on other people, but this was a case where she was delighted to have something she could legitimately beat on.
These monsters were comparatively smaller than the others they had fought, and proved not to be much of a challenge. Their strength, however, lay in numbers. They weren’t big or powerful, but there were a lot of them. And furthermore, there were actual people mixed in with their numbers this time. Most of these men were bearing bows and arrows, while the rest were armed with swords.
And the battle was joined; it was definitely destined to be a short one. The number of arrows flying through the air didn’t help the Knights much. But the enemy archers proved to be miserable shots, and the majority of the fired bolts missed any sort of target, and the rest managed to injure their own fighters and monsters. If it hadn’t been dangerous, it would have been hilarious.
The sky overhead was orange and red, painted in the glow of sunset. It would be dark soon, so best to finish quickly while they had light to fight by. And it seemed to be going well. Until…
“Umi, watch out!”
She didn’t know whose voice it was that called out that warning, but it was too late. Umi whirled around, and screamed in pain as she was hit; an arrow plunged deep into her shoulder, halfway up the shaft.
Her sword fell from her hand, and she instinctively fell to her knees and reached up to the wound. She felt something warm and very sticky on her fingers, around the arrow. Wincing, she gritted her teeth and wrapped her now-bloody fingers around the thin shaft. Better to get it out now then later.
Another cry of pain escaped her as she yanked the arrow out. Blood immediately began to gush from the wound, and she picked up her sword and returned it to the gem. Her sword arm was the injured one, anyway; she wouldn’t be much good with it now. Best to use her magic to escape and recuperate off the battlefield. The others could handle this without her, just this once. When this was over, Fuu could heal her, and she’d be back on her feet.
“Hikaru!” she cried to her redheaded friend, who was nearest to her. “I’m hurt! I’m going back inside the palace! Will you be okay?”
“We’ll handle it, don’t worry!” Hikaru called back, roasting a monster with her magic. “Go!”
Dodging in and out of fights and ducking arrows and swords, Umi wove her way back towards the palace. Almost there…almost there…
Suddenly, just ahead of her, there was an eruption of magic. Dark magic. It took the form of something black and circular, hovering in the air about two feet above the ground, and Umi had the distinct feeling that she did not want to know what it was. But she didn’t have much choice.
A man stepped from the circle, and Umi made a guess that it was some sort of portal or something. That was about all the time she had to ponder it, because this newcomer was upon her.
She saw blonde hair, dark eyes, black armor, and a rock swinging at her head…
The deep male voice was commanding enough to silence the entire battlefield. The monsters froze, and Hikaru and Fuu spun towards the source of the call. Both gasped in horror.
The man there was obviously a soldier—armed and armored. He radiated something of darkness. And he had Umi, unconscious, slumped in his arms. There was a small trickle of blood running down from a cut on her forehead, right beside an enormous bruise. And the shoulder-wound, caused by the stray arrow, was still bleeding angrily.
“I bid you farewell, Magic Knights,” he barked again, smirking. “And I’m sure your friend says goodbye as well.” The dark magic flared, and he leapt into the strange black portal, and was gone, taking Umi with him.
Around the shocked Magic Knights, the monsters vanished.
“NO!” Hikaru screamed.
Fuu’s eyes narrowed. “A set up…”
“I think she’s finally wakin’ up.”
The harsh, gravelly male voice made her head hurt even worse. Her ears were already ringing, and her whole body ached. As she slowly regained awareness, she realized that she was sprawled on her side on a cold, hard floor—probably stone. Her forehead was throbbing, and she thought she remembered being struck. Blonde hair…black armor…appeared out of nowhere…
She tried to move, and bit back a yelp as a shock of pain surged through her. Her shoulder. She’d been hit by an arrow there. And it hurt like hell now, so much that she didn’t dare move again.
“Well, well, well,” that same voice sneered again. “Sleepin’ Beauty’s finally up.”
Her eyes fluttered open, and slowly, the room came into focus. It looked like a dungeon of some sort. The whole place was made of stone, and there were bars all over the place. She seemed to have been unceremoniously dumped on the floor, and now a group of about five or six men were standing over her. They were all relatively the same—dirty, hairy, unkempt; they were all wearing filthy clothes and malicious leers directed at her.
“Are the new quarters to her Ladyship’s likin’?” a younger one taunted.
“Lady Magic Knight,” another added—this man had a long scar across his face.
“You and yer little friends killed our buddies,” one of the men, this one with a grizzly beard said. He climbed to his feet and cracked his knuckles as he took one ominous step towards her. “I think ya need to pay fer it.”
Their buddies? The archers…
Umi barely had time to process this, as the first blow fell; his fist collided with the side of her face. She flew back, hit the wall, and started to slide to the floor. But a hand roughly grabbed the front of her shirt, and she heard fabric rip as whoever had grabbed her pulled her back up and landed a second, equally hard blow, this one a sharp upper cut to the chin. She stumbled and fell to the floor.
And from there, it was a rout. She was assaulted by a barrage of hands, fists, and feet pummeling relentlessly against her. Someone grabbed her hair at some point and used it to hold her up to make a better target. And the onslaught continued.
Suddenly she felt a crack and a stab of pain, worse than the arrow-wound. It followed what felt like a kick to the stomach. Something was broken, probably a rib or two, and it was getting worse…
Two hands grabbed her roughly and threw her; she hit the wall hard again and stumbled to the floor. Her head struck the stone, and stars danced in front of her eyes before another punch landed on her face, and her vision clouded to red.
Instinctively, Umi tried to curl up and present as small of a target as possible, but it was a lost cause. They weren’t going to stop. And after the first few minutes, she became painfully certain that they were going to kill her. But she refused to scream or cry from pain; that would just make them happier.
Something harder than fists and feet began beating against her then. Had they taken weapons now? It felt heavy—something metal?
Then one of them kicked her wounded shoulder. She screamed in agony, and finally, blessedly, lost herself in the pain. She felt her body go limp, and she retreated back into a safe area deep within her mind. They continued to punish her; the more blows that fell, the further she fled away from them. And finally, she reached the edge and dove off, into the deep expanse of unconsciousness.
“Umi!” a bright, distinctly female voice spoke in her mind; it sliced through the darkness like shining steel. “Please, hold on! Don’t let them beat you!”
“Who…are you?” Umi whispered. And the images of the familiar dream began to play out again.
The shadow engulfing all that she held dear, and the figure looming ahead to protect her from the darkness. Was this the voice of her protector? She was wearing her standard armor, and her Escudo sword was clutched in her hand.
Again, she reached out towards the one who stood between her and the shadows. The female figure reached back towards her. They were so close…Umi knew, somehow, instinctively, that if she touched that hand, she would have the answer she so desperately wanted now.
And a voice echoed around her, the same female voice that had told her to hold on. But it was so soft that she could only make out a few of the words. “Open…to…” That was all she got; the rest was a strange buzzing noise.
The dream faded, and their fingers did not touch. But Umi fell into the safety of the darkness within her mind, and made her decision, a vow to her unknown guardian.
I will hold on. I won’t be beaten like this.
…but what do you want from me?