Novel for NaNoWriMo 2011
Power is nebulous, both utterly essential and absolutely worthless
To truly understand someone you must first see how they handle power
That will tell you more about them then anything else
How somebody deals with power, how they seek it, how they reject it, why they need it
Those are all essential to that person, it is who they are, there true self
I didn’t used to understand this but since then I have seen many people acquire power
They took on the mantle of power and showed me their true selfs just as I showed them mine
Some people never expect to have power
They live their lives in dull contentment until they suddenly receive power
They do not understand what to do with their power
They many mistakes and disappointments finally come to understand what their power is for
Not that you can ever truly know
There are those who always desired power.
Those who worked and sweated to gain it
They believe they know what they will do with power
Yet when they finally gain it they are surprised.
Their beliefs are tested as they discover that power is not what they expected
There are those with a dark fate
Those who gain more power then most people can imagine
With that cursed power there is no black and white
No truth and lies
Only walking through the dark desperately trying to find the light
Even in the end these people might never know if what they have done is right or wrong
Yet my story is different then all of these
There are those who can not escape power
Born to great power these people flee
Maybe they want a peaceful life or just want their life to truly be theirs
There is no escape
No matter where they go they find power, like a beacon of light they attract it
That is my story, my fate, my doom
When nobody else is capable will I be able to stand
Will I have the strength within me
Will I be able to overcome the obstacles in front of me
Will I be able to remain myself
I do not know
That is what terrifies me and make me try to free from power
The power that I can not escape
Chapter 1 - Magical
There was a barely noticeable flicker of shadows as the cat jumped from one fence to another. He was a black cat. He softly landed on the fence and began running down it like he had someplace to be and indeed he did. The cat was looking for somebody, somebody very important. The person was very close, the cat knew that, but he didn’t know the exact location. So he was searching, going between houses, looking for the person.
There was a large crashing sound and the cat’s ears perked up and he began running in that direction, jumping between the neighborhood fences as he weaved between the houses. There was yelling which grew loader as the cat got closer and closer. Eventually it stood on a fence looking out to the street that stretched between two lanes of houses.
There in the street were around a dozen of people, kids really, they must have all been high school age, somewhere between sixteen and seventeen. They were fighting each other. A little less then half of them were guys that had a violent look about them. They carried various things like metal pipes and baseball bats, definitely a dangerous group. The others however were girls, yet they looked even more violent then the guys. Maybe they only looked more violent because they seemed to be winning the fight with the guys.
Then there in the center of the mess the cat saw it. Huddled up into a ball was a small petite, small but likely the same age as the others. That was the person that it was looking for, that person would be able to help him. It was poised to jump off the fence when it heard a voice.
“Is that all that you have got Bloody John, I was expecting more from a gang that was calling itself the toughest thing in town. You aren’t going to get anywhere if you are going to just get beaten by a bunch of girls.” The cat’s attention was drawn two one of the girls in the middle of the fighting. She was a little taller then most of the other girls. She had her silvery hair tied up in a knot behind her hair and was wearing a practical set of jeans and plain black t-shirt.
The most distinctive things about her however was a baseball bat she was swinging back at forth at the boy in front of her. He was only barely about to keep fending off her blows with his own metal pipe. The boy was scrambling back as the girl swung at him and not moments later he yelled, “Fall back.”
The boys began pulling back. Several of them seemed badly bruised and a couple of them had some bad scrapes. As the boys retreated the boy who must have been Bloody John yelled back toward the girls. “We won’t forget this Luna Star. We will come back to make you pay.”
The cat stared dumbfounded at the girl. He had through the the cowering girl had been the person he had been looking for but he had been wrong. This was the girl, now that he could see her he know there was no mistake. Yet, that should be impossible, the person should have been like the cowering girl. He hesitated, the cowering girl have the necessary qualifications too, that was way he had initially made a mistake.
Yet, the delinquent, the one called Luna, she had potential. More potential then the cat had ever expected. He knew should would become strong, but now that he could see her he know that he was wrong. She wouldn’t just become strong, she would be invincible.
Luna reached out a hand to the cowering girl and helped her up. The girl stood, wobbled for a second, and then ran off away from Luna. Luna watched the cowering girl go and then motioned the rest of the girls who followed her in the other direction.
The cat hesitated for a couple of second trying to decide which one of them to follow. Then the cat jumped off the fence and began heading off toward Luna. There simply wasn’t enough time, he needed to go with the best that he could get first, the others would be able to come later.
Luna shut the door behind her as she stepped into her uncles apartment. He wasn’t home which wasn’t unusual because he had some sales job that required him to travel across the country a lot. The just meant that Luna usually had the house to herself. She dropped her baseball bat into the umbrella stand that her uncle must have gotten from whatever previous epoch he had decorated the rest of the house with.
It was already getting late and Luna had eaten cheap grocery store food with the rest of her gang earlier. She walked toward her room and fell back onto her bed. She lay there looking at the ceiling until she heard a scratching sound at her window. She looked up saw through the glass, a black cat sitting on the balcony just outside her window. It was perfectly black with smooth short fur.
This however was the third floor of the apartment building, not someplace a cat should be. The cat didn’t even have a collar. Luna stood up and walked over toward the window. She looked down at the cat through the glass. Then she drew the blinds and returned to her bed. Somebody else could deal with the strange cat.
The scratching continued, cat claws against the glass, which was painful to hear. Luna tried to deal with it by putting on of her pillows over her head but that didn’t help very much. Finally she stood up and began to walk out of her room, the couch in the living room was comfortable enough to sleep. However just as she was about to leave the room she heard a voice say “Please open the window. We don’t have much time and I need your help.”
It was a soft voice and when Luna turned around there was still only the cat. It stood on the other side of the window and it was watching her. The mouth of the cat moved and again Luna could hear the soft voice say, “The window please.”
Luna stood there for a second, contemplating. Time dragged out until the cat eventually spoke again, “This isn’t a dream or your imagination. I really am speaking to you. Now if you could please open the window so that we can talk better.”
“I know” said Luna. “My dreams are never like this.” She walked over to the window and unlatched it before sliding the glass door that lead out onto the balcony open. The cat stepped through the doorway and jumped up onto Luna’s bed. He turned around and sat down before turning his head toward Luna.
“Please Luna, I need your help. You are the only person who is capable of helping me.” Said the cat.
“I don’t have any cat food but if you want you can spend the night here but please be gone in the morning.” Luna began walking back toward the door to the living room.
“No, that isn’t what I need.” Said the cat looking as offended as a cat can look. “You have the potential that I need. The potential to defeat the Elder Darkness. Without your help it will rampage uncontrollably, you are the only person that can stop it.”
“Not interested.” She opened the door into the living room and walked through it. The cat barely had time to jump off the bed and chase after her before the door clicked shut. He cat ran passed Luna and turned around facing her.
“The city will be in peril if you don’t help me stop the Elder Darkness. This town, you friends, everything. They will fall if you do not help me.” With the constant rejections the cat was getting more aggressive with his tactics, he couldn’t just let her walk away like this. “I can give you the power to defeat it, to save everyone, to save yourself.”
Luna looked down at the cat, a tired look in her eyes, “Can’t you give this power to somebody else? I don’t really want it.”
The cat bristled and responded, “You are the only person who has the inborn talent to be able to defeat the Elder Darkness alone. I don’t have time to find enough people who are capable of defeating it together. Instead I have to rely on you. Please, you are the only one I can turn to.”
“Am I really the only one capable of defeating it alone?” Asked Luna.
“Is just once enough?”
The cat hesitated for a few moments, “Yes, just once is enough. There will be more but I will be able to find others if I have enough time.”
“I’m not going to be forced to wear a pink costume am I?”
Again the cat hesitated, “Not if you don’t want to.”
“And I have to fight this Elder Darkness? With whatever power you grant me?”
“Fine, just this once though.”
“Thank you Luna Star”
The cat moved toward Luna and as it did so a circle of light began to form on the floor around her. More circles formed and runes began to appear between the circles. Lines and diagrams forming complication symbols. Then they began to rise up off the floor and begin to rotate around her.
The cat spoke louder then it previously had, “Luna Star, hear my call. Let the light inside you envelope. Let your powers awaken. Let you soul break free of it’s shackles. Awaken the magic inside of you and become reborn. Let it be so”
There was a loud crackle as the lights above Luna broke leaving her only cast in the glow of the magical runes. Then darkness began to spill out from Luna, appearing from nowhere, darkness that devoured the light and spread out from her.
The cat took several long steps backward saying, “Wait, what are you doing?”
The darkness pressed up against the runes, eating at them, trying to overwhelm them. The darkness engulfed the runes and spread outward for one tense moment before runes of black and white spread across it. Like binding seals they pushed the darkness back. The runes of light which had been visible before mixed and merged with runes of black, runes the cat didn’t recognize.
The runes pushed the darkness back farther and farther until a form became visible beneath it. Finally the darkness broke like a bubble, leaving Luna Star standing on the floor where she had been before. However she looked a bit different then before, her clothes had changed to a dark black that seemed to been made of silk. Across the edges skirted pants and ruffled t-shirt were the white runes. Her hair was tied up with a strip of black cloth that also had the white runes on it.
She stood there blinking in the hallway as the light from the floor dimmed and finally the only light was from another lightbulb down the hallway, one that hadn’t been blown out.
The cat stepped forward a couple of paces and asked, “Are you alright? It wasn’t supposed to happen like that.”
Luna looked down at her clothing and then back at the cat, “I guess the powers of a magical girl don’t agree with me.”
Blackberry, that is what the cat called himself
Had I known what would happen because I accepted his offer things might have been different
Had I refused then everything would have been different
Yet I really never had a choice
Blackberry knew that when he made the offer
He also knew I wouldn’t be able to stop
That I would continue to use the power that had been given to me
Even then I knew that once I accepted that it would be too late
Maybe I was tired of running from power and decided to finally accept it
Yet I didn’t know the true consequences of my action
The difficult choices I was going to have to make
The trials I would have to go through
Those I would have to hurt to succeed
Had I know maybe I would have fled
Maybe I would have let the Elder Darkness rampage
Maybe I would have died
Maybe it would have been better that way
Instead I became a magical girl
And put the entire world at risk
Chapter 2 - Before Twilight
“You said it was Blackberry, right?” Asked Luna as she finished listening to Blackberry’s explanation. Blackberry nodded. “I think I understand. I just need to find the Elder Darkness and skill it before anything bad happens.” They had been talking in the living room since she had finished transforming.
“Yes, tonight. Should the sun rise it will go into hiding and you will have to wait until tomorrow night to fight it again.” Said Blackberry. “It has already reached midnight so we should find it quickly before it is too late.”
Luna nodded and stood, walking across the room and into the entrance, pulling her baseball bat out of the umbrella stand. Blackberry eyed her quizzically. “You shouldn’t need a weapon like that. The power that has awakened inside of you will be more useful then that bat will be.”
Luna eyed the bat up and down, “Think of it as a precautionary measure, an eccentric act from a rookie magical girl.”
“If you insist. It isn’t like it will make a difference either way. Instead we need to concentrate on finding the Elder Shadow. I will be able to sense it better I was higher up like on top of a building.”
A few minutes later the elevator dinged and they stepped out onto the roof of the apartment complex. Blackberry ran across the roof to the edge and looked out over the city. Lights shown here and there along the streets and in some of the buildings. Blackberry turned his head back and forth looking across the city in different directions.
“What are you looking for?” Asked Luna.
“The Elder Darkness is going to be awake at this time of night. I am feeling for it which will help direct us toward it. They are strong and should be sensible, even with you messing up by senses.”
Luna looked down at Blackberry intensely. Blackberry tried to concentrate on feeling for the Elder Darkness but the sense of being stared at grew until he finally say, “You magical powers are very strong. Even before I awakened you I had trouble sensing anything but you in the city. That is one of the reasons it had to be you that defeats this Elder Darkness. Now that I have helped you transform it is easier for me to filter out your power and detect something else.”
Luna broke her gaze away from Blackberry, much to his relief. She looked out over the lights of the city. Seeing the city at night was not usual to her, she was often out with the rest of the gang long after dark, but tonight the city seemed hushed in anticipation. Or maybe it was just her.
“I found it.” Said Blackberry. He raised one of his paws in a pointing motion off across the city. “We need to go that way and quickly.”
Luna walked over to the edge of the building next to Blackberry and picked him up. She looked down at the street far below and held that look for a couple of long seconds. Then she looked out toward the roof of the building across from her. Her body told her that she could do it, yet her mind continued to scream in rejection of the impossible act which would certainly end in her death.
Then she jumped. It felt like flying for those few seconds that she sailed through the air toward the other building. She landed softly on the top of the neighboring building. At that speed it should have be a hard impact but gravity seemed to be on vacation and there didn’t seem to be any signs of the impact.
“What is wrong? We need to be hurrying.” Said Blackberry who Luna was still carrying. She realized that she had just been standing there holding Blackberry tightly. She loosened her grip and began running across the building. For a while she lost herself in the moment, running along the roofs of buildings and leaping between them.
That peaceful moment didn’t last very long though. Eventually Blackberry say, “Stop, down there. That is the building that the Elder Darkness is in.” Luna stopped and moved toward the edge of the roof.
Looking down she asked, “Are you sure? That is a shopping mall. It doesn’t seems like a sinister enough place for an evil creature to live.”
“I’m certain. If you concentrate then you should be able to sense it too.” Said Blackberry.
Luna squinted and tried to feel the Elder Darkness. There was nothing, only the streetlamp lit streets and the occasional glow of neon. “Nothing. Though I don’t really know what to feel for, or even how I should feel for it.” Luna jumped off the roof and landed on the sidewalk just across the street from the shopping mall. Blackberry jumped out of her arms and began walking across the street.
“Maybe that isn’t something you are good at. All magical girls are different and have different strengths and weaknesses. If you can’t sense it then you should keep wary so that it doesn’t surprise you. Your magic will offer you some measure of protection but it could still kill you. Be careful.”
Luna smirked as she followed Blackberry across the streets. “Don’t worry about me. I have been in plenty of fights before, I can handle myself just fine.”
“Has your life ever been on the line before?” Blackberry turned his head as he asked Luna the question.
Luna stopped in the middle of the street, quiet for a time before finally answering, “Yes.” Then without another word she began walking again. Blackberry wanted to ask her another question but the brooding gloom surrounding Luna was more then he wanted to deal with.
The shopping mall has large glass double doors. Inside it was dark, there should have been some lights on inside, maybe for the security guard’s sake or from store lights that never got shut off. Instead the entire building was pitch black, only illuminated by the outside street lights.
Blackberry looked at the doors and up and Luna. Finally he broke the silence by asking, “Do you have a plan for getting inside?”
“The front door.” Said Luna as she hefted her baseball back and quickened her pace toward the doors.
“Just because you could break the glass doors doesn’t mean it is a good idea. If somebody sees you do it or calls the police then you might not have time to defeat the Elder Darkness and then escape”
Luna reached the doors and pulled on the handles. Silently the door opened and Luna looked over her shoulder saying, “You where saying?”
Blackberry lifted up a paw and give it a lick. “Nothing. Good idea checking the front door. It is a bit unusual that it is unlocked at this time of night.”
“No really. This shopping mall stays open until ten and since an Elder Darkness doesn’t awaken until sundown then it would have time to take over the mall before it closes for the evening.”
“Then the people that were inside…” Blackberry paused, leaving the sentence unspoken.
Luna didn’t speak, she just stepped through the door and held it open long enough for Blackberry to join her. It was better not to dwell on that sort of thing.
As Luna stepped farther into the darkness and out of the light from the street lights she noticed the white runes on her clothes begin to glow a faint white. It wasn’t much but it illuminated a couple of feet in front of her, allowing her to walk without problems. She walked father on into the mall until Blackberry’s voice came from behind her.
“Luna” Blackberry was standing on the very edge of the street light. “I won’t be able to help you against the Elder Darkness. It is more powerful then I am. Will you be able to do it? If you want to turn back now is your chance.”
“It is already too late for me to turn back.” She paused, “It was always too late for me to turn back. I just tried to delay it.”
Blackberry ran through the darkness until he was standing in Luna’s aura of light. He wanted to ask her questions, to discover what she meant by that. However while he had only known her for a short time he could already recognize that brooding look which meant that she didn’t want to talk about it.
They walked together through the darkness in the shopping mall for a while before Luna asked, “Do you know where it is?”
“Above us somewhere, probably on the second story somewhere. However it is not uncommon for an Elder Darkness to be guarded by the Lesser Darkness or by beings of its-own creation. If fact you had better hope that it does because those that don’t tend to be the most dangerous.”
Following Blackberry’s directions, Luna headed toward the stairs and began to head up them. As they reached the top of the first landing a still figure was illuminated by Luna’s glow.
“A mannequin?” Said Blackberry, “What is that doing outside the clothing store.”
Luna stepped closer to it and said, “It isn’t a mannequin, it is a person.” The man stood there, near perfectly still and gave no reaction, no movement at all, as Luna reached out and touched him. She drew her fingers back quickly, “He seems to still be alive.”
“It must be the work of the Elder Darkness. I normal human would be as weak before one of them as a kitten would be before a bulldog. If you can defeat the Elder Darkness then they should return to normal.”
“Look at this, he seems to be holding a sign. It is pointing up the stairs. Do you think it is inviting us up there?” Said Luna.
“Into a trap probably. It probably sensed us just like I sensed it. “ Said Blackberry
Luna looked up the stairs and then back at the perfectly still man. “Then we had better not keep it waiting.” She then began climbing the stairs again. When she reached the top of the stairs she pointed and said, “Look, a light. That must be where it is waiting for me.”
Blackberry followed her, keeping just at the edge of the light. It had been going too smoothly.
As they approached the light they could see that it was coming from inside one of the shops, a toy shop. Luna Star stepped inside the shop and was greeted by a cheery voice, “You made it. I was worried that you were going to be late. Please take a set, Mr. Bear is about to pour us some tea.”
The shelves had been pushed to the side and in the middle of the shop was a short circular table. Around the table were half a dozen equally short chairs. All but one of the chairs were occupied, the chair closest to Luna. The chairs were filled with children, perfectly frozen in motion and they were dressed in a variety of animal costumes. The one to Luna’s left was dress like a bear and in his hands was a small teapot.
Luna’s eyes were drawn to the speaker. Only one of the kids wasn’t wearing an animal costume, the one on the far side of the table. A beautiful young girl with pale white skin and a frilly red dress. Yet as Luna stepped closer she could tell that that was wrong. The girl didn’t have pale white skin, the girl had porcelain skin. The porcelain doll reached out with a teacup and with stiff movements the bear kid filled it with tea.
“What’s wrong, please have a seat so we can have tea.”
It was strange how normal everything felt
The magical power, the talking cat, the porcelain monster
It was like that world of strangeness was the place that I belonged
I probably did belong there
I had just been denying it
Ever since I had practically run away from my parents I had been trying to avoid it.
To live a normal life
Though most people won’t call skipping school with other delinquents normal
To me however it was peaceful
A kind of peace I don’t think I will ever have again
Meeting that porcelain doll, the Elder Darkness, was what really changed me
Those kids that say there nearly motionless set something off inside me
A kind of hatred, a feeling of suffocation
And memories that are better left forgotten
That was probably the reason that everything felt so normal
Because it felt like returning home
Memories of the Star family are not something I try to remember
The winding passage ways, the dark hidden rooms
The blood, horror, and necessity that made up life
Yet that served a purpose, everything in the Star household served a purpose
The porcelain doll and the frozen bear boy
It was just the whims of a terrible evil, something that was not human
Even a human with a pitch black heart would feel something seeing that
It might have been joy but it would still be a feeling
Yet that doll didn’t even have that
Chapter 3 - Inhuman Evil
Luna began taking slow steps toward the table while the bear boy twisted awkwardly and began pouring tea into the cup at the empty table. Then Luna’s bat came down on the cup held by the doll. The tea splattered everywhere. The doll released the broken handle of the teacup and blinked with its solid eyelids and long fake eyelashes. Then they arrived.
There was the shattering of the glass door into the toy store as mannequins stepped into the store. These were real mannequin not the frozen forms of real people, except that real mannequins didn’t move with unearthly quickness or carry an array of dangerous weapons. The mannequins must have visited the cutlery store before arriving because long sharp knives seemed to be the weapon of choice.
The mannequins were racing toward Luna faster then living humans, raising their knives to begin the assault. Yet something welled up inside of Luna Star, a warmth maybe, a desire, a strength. Her bat swung in a long arc, knocking the mannequins away before they could even reach her. The crashed into the nearby shelves of toys which scattered everywhere. With a swiftness that matches the mannequins Luna leapt through the door out of the toy shop and back into the darkness of the hallway. The mannequins began to pull themselves off the floor and began picking back up their knives. Then they turned back to Luna and followed her out into the hallway.
“Good,” Said Luna with a smile on her face. “Now I won’t have to worry about the kids.” That was all the time that she had before the mannequins reached her again. This time however they didn’t stand a chance. Faint white and black runes began to appear on Luna’s bat and when she brought it down on the closest mannequin it slammed down to the floor and its head broke open on the floor showing the emptiness inside.
Expending the effort to deal with one of them however left her open to the other five. A wide swing of her bad managed to keep two of them at bay while her free hand grabbed one of their wrists. She pulled it backward and with an expenditure of effort managed to throw it into the fourth mannequin. It was the fifth one that finally got her however. It sunk the knife it was holding into Luna’s shoulder and Luna screams as she swung her bat forcefully at it, sending it tumbling into the wall with a large crash.
Luna pulled the knife painfully out of her shoulder and tossed it on the ground. It was painful but not as much as it should be. She glared at the remaining four mannequins which were about to renew the assault of her. The glow on her clothing and her baseball bat intensified as she reach out her hand toward the mannequins. Lances of merged black and white energy shot toward them, a mixture of the light from Luna and the darkness surrounding her. Large gapping hole appear in the mannequins when the energy passed through them and moments later it was over.
All that was left of the mannequins was broken parts scattered around the floor of the hallway. Luna sunk to the floor gripping her bleeding shoulder in her hands. She looked back toward the toy shop and saw Blackberry standing on the table near the frozen kids. The porcelain doll was nowhere to be seen.
“What happened to it?” Asked Luna.
“It escaped during the fighting. By now it must have hidden itself. I doubt I can find it again before the sun rises.” Blackberry looked at the kids in animal costumes around him. “However once the sun rises these people should be fine. There will probably be some strange questions that the police will ask but everything should be fine until tomorrow night. We should get ready to face it again.”
“With this shoulder? I don’t know if I will be ready to fight again by tomorrow night.” Said Luna with a grimace.
“It will be fine by then. Just being a magical girl should be enough for your wound to help in a few hours. By tomorrow night you probably won’t even be sore.”
“How convenient.” She sat there in the darkness for a long time. Then she said, “We should find somebody else. There is a limit to how many enemies I can fight on my own. And that… thing I did. I doubt that I would do that more then once at a time.”
“I agree. Your magical power is strong but your control over it isn’t enough for you to single handedly fight that many enemies. I have some leads to check out but you should probably get at least a few hours of sleep.”
Luna nodded and stood up, “Plus if whatever the Elder Darkness did to these people wears off when the suns rises then we should be out of there before then.”
Less then an hour later Luna was laying on her bed again. It felt very comfortable. Her clothing had returned to what she had been wearing before the transformation. While she hadn’t been tired before releasing her magic the exhaustion had rolled over her as soon as she had dropped it. Blackberry had said that was normal and that her magic could keep her awake for days at a time if needed but that normal resting was the best way to recover her magical powers.
A few hours later Blackberry returned. The window had been left open so that he would be able to enter. He jumped up onto the bed and looked at the sleeping Luna Star. To him she basically glowed beneath his vision. Her aura of power was incredible and should she be able control it then she would be incredibly formidable. Maybe even strong enough to beat the Evening Queen or at least he hoped that she would be.
Blackberry curled up next to Luna Star, he could afford to let her sleep a little longer. It was past noon when Luna Star finally woke up. She practically rolled out of bed like usual however this time it was accompanied by a loud cat yowl. She managed to roll over Blackberry in her attempt to make it out of bed. She pulled the sheets off of him and said, “Sorry about that. I’m not used to cats.”
“Easy for you do say. You didn’t just get rolled on.” Said Blackberry. He lifted his paw up and licked it a couple of times. “Here I was kindly waiting for you to wake up and you go and roll all over me.”
Luna shrugged. She had already said her apology. Instead of repeating herself she yawned and exited her room. Lunch and a shower later she returned in better spirits. “Did you find anything? Some new helpless girl you want me to help you bully into assisting me.”
“That is a strange way of putting it but yes I have a couple of leads. The first is probably the best chance because you should be able to help me with it. Yesterday I say you fight a bunch of guys with a gang of girls, do you remember that?”
“You were watching? Sure I remember that, is there another member of the gang who would be suitable?” Then she paused remembering the event. “There isn’t is there. It was the other girl who has the potential to become a magical girl.”
“Exactly, you catch on quick. I initially thought that she was who I was looking for when I watched the fight but when I finally say you then I knew that it was you that I was really sensing. However I wouldn’t have made that mistake if she didn’t have potential too. Since you were there I though that you might know something about her.”
“Sure, although not much. She goes to the same school as me. Her first name is Joy and I think her last name is Lamb. She is a year younger then me so we haven’t really interacted much.” Said Luna.
“I see. Well she had potential, not as much as you but still enough to be a useful ally. We should speak to her and try to get her to join us.” Blackberry paused, “Speaking of students, aren’t you supposed to be at school or something?”
Luna glanced casually at her clock which was showing that it was a little after 1:00pm. “Probably. Although I’m not certain if they will accept my explanation that I was out all night fighting a porcelain doll and knife wielding mannequins.” She waved her hand in dismissal, “Don’t worry about it. I miss school fairly regularly so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
Blackberry eyed her for a second and then asked, “How is your shoulder? You have been moving your arm normally.”
She raised her other hand and massaged the shoulder that had been injured. “It is still feeling sore but I checked it while I was taking a shower and it looks like it has already been healed. I’m not sure if I should be glad or worried that it healed so quickly.”
“It is probably the reason you slept as long as you did. Healing wounds with magic is quick but is taxing on your magical powers. I can try teaching you a few tricks tonight if you want. It should help you if you get injured again.”
Luna nodded, “We also need a recruitment plan for Joy. I have a few ideas if you want to listen to them.” Blackberry nodded and they discussed the strategy for a while before they left the apartment.
The bell rang signaling the end of the school day. Joy Lamb smiles and stood, picking up her bag. She spoke with her friends for a few minutes, finalizing their plans for this weekend. Finally smiling she began to head home. When she reached the gates to the school her pace faltered a little bit. There standing on the wall near the gates to the school was a black cat. She looked around at the rest of the students leaving the school. A black cat is a sign of ill omens but she though certainly not for her.
Ignoring it Joy continued on her way home. It became harder to ignore the cat when she realized that it was following her. Maybe it just wanted some cat thing, like a bowl of milk or something. Joy satisfied herself with that explanation and picked up her pace home. Maybe it would get bored and stop following her.
Joy Lamb’s parents ran a small restaurant. It was rather nice place which got a rather respectable dinner crowd. Since it was a family business Joy had been helping out here and there for a long as she could remember. Since she had entered high school this year she had upgraded to official part time worker so most school days she headed home to work at Little Lambs.
She didn’t think she had ever hurried this much to get home before. The cat simply kept following her despite her attempts to lose it. She was relived when she finally reached the door to Little Lambs. She would be safe from the stalking cat once she got through that door. There was a little dingle of the doorbell as she passed through the door into the restaurant.
Then she metaphorically jumped out of her skin when someone sitting in the booth just inside the door say, “Yo, Joy. Sorry about yesterday. I hope that you are alright.”
She twisted around and saw the girl from yesterday, the boy had called her Luna if she remembered correctly. Joy raised up her hands in defense and said, “I’m not with them, please don’t hurt me.” Luna burst out into laughing but Joy continued to hold her hands raised for a little longer, just in case Luna decided to hit her.
“Don’t worry, I know that you aren’t associated with Bloody John. He isn’t the type of person to recruit somebody like you. You just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Said Luna. “Beside that isn’t what I wanted to talk to you about anyways.” Luna was about to continue when Joy’s mother appeared.
“Oh Joy, your home. You can probably already tell but your friend was waiting for you.” Joy’s mother smiled irresistibly before continuing. “Things aren’t very busy today so you can bring your friend up to your room. I’ll call you if we need your help.” And with that Joy’s mother was gone, back into the kitchen to help Joy’s father in the kitchen.
Joy’s eyes turned from the door into the kitchen back to Luna. There was fear in her eyes. She didn’t know what to say to her mother. Luna stood up and grabbed Joy’s hand. “Come on, you heard your mother, let’s go.” Luna pulled Joy along through the door out of the restaurant and into the back rooms. Joy’s family lived behind the store.
As they went Joy stammered, “Where are you taking me?”
“Your room, isn’t that what I just said.”
“But… but… how do you know where my room is?”
“But that…” Joy was lost as she tried to argue against Luna.
Finally they reached Joy’s room and Luna pulled open the door. She gently pushed Joy into the room before stepping in herself and shutting the door. Joy has stopped in fear just inside the door. Her window was open and sitting on her desk looking at her was the black cat that had been following it.
“Hello Joy, please have a seat. I would like to take to you about something important.” Said that cat. Joy’s eyes widened and she sunk to her kneels shacking.
Joy crawled along the floor and pulled at her bed. Finally she got the covers loose and slide between them. She lay in her bed muttering, “It’s a dream, only a dream. I’ll just fall asleep and everything is going to be fine when I wake up.”
“Not to interrupt your little delusion but we really did come here to talk to you about something important.” Said Luna who had taken a seat in the chair at Joy’s desk and was now leaning back it it.
Blackberry jumped off the desk and onto the bed. “I can assure you that this isn’t a dream. We need your help. Please take control of yourself and listen. Time is important.”
Joy continued to huddle under her blankets trying to fall wake up, surely it would happen any moment now.
“Listen” Said Luna in the voice she used to command her gang. “If this is really a dream then why are you so worried. Isn’t the standard procedure to play along with a dream until it ends and you wake up. Since it doesn’t look like you are waking up, is there any harm in just playing along.”
Joy peeked out from under her covers and toward Luna. It was hard to argue with that logic without admitting that this was real. “How do I know that this isn’t a nightmare?”
Luna shrugged, “It might be but you don’t want to be helpless and hiding when the monster comes. It would be better to be prepared for it.” Luna smiled, “At least that is what I think.”
Joy kept quiet under the blankets. It felt safer under there, away from the crazy girl and the talking cat. This couldn’t be anything except a dream but something nagged at her at the back of her mind, something comforting that shouldn’t be.
Luna continued, “After all that is why we are here. There is a real nightmare, something of inhuman evil, that we need your help defeating. Without your help the reality you wake up to will be a worse place. A lot of people will die if you don’t help us.”
Joy shivered under her blankets. “A monster? How would I be able to help you with that. I’ll just a girl who works at a restaurant. Even if I wanted to there is nothing I would be able to do to help you.”
Then Blackberry spoke, “Ah but there is something that you can do. Like Luna Star you have the potential to become a magical girl. With your assistance Luna will be able to defeat the Elder Darkness and protect the town. Even with the power that Luna has she will not be able to defeat the Elder Darkness without help. Please we really need your help.”
“You must be mistaken.” Said Joy who had pulled the sheets closer to herself, leaving only a thin line of visibility. “I couldn’t do anything like that. I would be impossible for me.”
Luna star stood from the chair, “Possibly, but is that the kind of person you want to be? Do you want to wake up a coward, somebody that could have done something but didn’t. Even if this is a dream then that choice is still real. Think about it. Tomorrow morning you will wake up from this but things will be different. You will see something evil and know that you could have tried to stop it but you decided not to. Is that the world you want to wake up to?”
Luna stared at her through the sheets. “I know what it feels like. If that is the world I would wake up to then I would rather stay sleeping.” Luna pulled a small piece of paper out of her pocket and placed it on Joy’s desk. “Think about it. We will be here when the sun sets.”
Luna moved across the room and opened the door, “Come on Blackberry.” Then together they left Joy alone with her thoughts.
Did I meant what I told Joy
I am still not certain
I understood her position because I had been in it
Before Blackberry found me I had been trying to stay hidden
I could see the evil around me and know that I had let that happen
But there was something else
That the evil around me could have been me
By pretending it didn’t exist I was also avoiding the evil inside me
Those lingering doubts was what let Blackberry convince me
Yet there was something I hadn’t told Joy
The despair of those who can do nothing is only rivaled by one thing
The despair of those who can do something but fail
One trades a lesser despair for a greater because they are innocent
I feel sorry for dragging Joy into my darkness
Out of all us she is probably the only one
Who could have lived a normal life
Who could have been truly happy
Yet I took that from her
And I knew it would eventually hurt her
Maybe I am more evil then the Elder Darkness
Chapter 4 - Second Twilight
It was long after Luna had left when Joy finally left her blankets. She was still shacking but she no longer knew why it was happening. Luna’s words had resounded with her and she was doubting herself. Carrying her sheets she moved over to the desk and down at the piece of paper that Luna had left there. It was a news power article. It said that there had been a gas leak which had sprung on a local shopping mall. Apparently a lot of people had been in the building at the time and it had been most of the night before the police arrived.
A lot of people had been hospitalized but the leak had been relatively minor and nobody had died. Instead the leak seemed to have caused hallucination and paralysis in those who had been in the building. The police currently had the building in lockdown and were investigating the source of the gas leak.
Joy read through the article again. Was this what Luna had wanted her to read. Did Luna really believe that something evil had caused this instead of it being a real gas leak. That would be something impossible, something out of a fairy tail. Something like a talking cat. Joy shook her head and dropped the sheet of newspaper. Maybe it would be better if she went out for a breath of fresh air, maybe that would help clear her mind.
Soon she found herself standing outside a convenience store. The sun had set not that long ago. She had found the newspaper there and confirmed the news report. It wasn’t like the one Luna left could have been forged, just that she had wanted to make sure that she hadn’t imagined it. She could also see it from here, the entrance to the shopping mall was mostly visible from where she currently was. She could even see the light of the police cars which were parked outside of it.
She shouldn’t be worried, the police should be able to take care of everything. Luna was probably just a crazy delinquent and Joy had been imagining the talking cat. Joy knew that her mother was probably worrying and that she should be getting home. She would have school in the morning and she would need sleep to make sure she could do her best studying. She shouldn’t be out her worrying about the impossible.
At least that was what she kept trying to tell herself but something inside her continued to worry. Finally she decided to head back home and was about to look away from the shopping mall when something suddenly felt wrong to her. Her gaze shot back to the shopping mall and flickered back and forth. Then she finally realized what it was that felt wrong to her.
She had been standing near the convinance store and watched the shopping mall for more then thirty minutes but she had yet to see one of the police. Their cars where sitting outside the front of the building be since she had gotten there nobody had gone in or out of the building.
Joy moved closer to the shopping mall. Soon she reached one of the police cars. She looked around at them and tried taping on one of the car’s windows. There was no response and there was really nobody outside. She looked at the glass double doors leading into the shopping mall. She took a few steps closer and reached for the handle.
“Are you going to go inside?” Came a voice from just beside her.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when she twitched her head and saw the black cat Blackberry sitting on the roof of one of the police cars. She pulled back her hand a little bit and concentrated on the cat who continued talking, “If you open that door and go inside you will never be the same again. I asked for your help but I can not force you.”
“What is happening inside?”
“Luna is fighting the Elder Darkness.”
There was a shake in Joy’s arm, “How is she doing against it?”
“She is stronger then it but that is not enough. It is wearing her down little by little. The night is still young and Luna is already beginning to tire.”
“Will she be able to win?”
“Maybe, but it is unlikely. The Elder Shadow is cowardly and is avoiding a direct confrontation. It is also forcing her to fight enemies she can not win against. No amount of force can defeat the enemy she is currently fighting.”
Joy looked through the glass of the doors into the darkness. Her hand drew closer to the handle. “Will I be able to make a difference?”
“That is up to you.”
She battled her own mind then finally came to a conclusion.
“Let me help her.”
The cat hopped off the car and walked toward Joy and as it did so a circle of light began to form on the floor around her. More circles formed and runes began to appear between the circles. Lines and diagrams forming complication symbols. Then they began to rise up off the floor and begin to rotate around her.
The cat spoke louder then it previously had, “Joy Lamb, hear my call. Let the light inside you envelope. Let your powers awaken. Let you soul break free of it’s shackles. Awaken the magic inside of you and become reborn. Let it be so.”
The light from the runes continued to grow brighter and brighter. Soon nothing more then a glowing outline of Joy was visible. The light began to swirl around and around growing tighter and tighter around her. Then with a pop and a sparkle of light the glow broke up into mots spinning through the air.
Standing in the center was Joy. She was wearing a pink skirt which almost reached her knees. Frills and embroidered white runes spread across the skirt. She had a pink vest like shirt that had the same same white runes and exposed most of her arms which were partially wrapped in pink ribbons. Her long hair was tied up in an equally long pink ribbon.
“This, what is this?” Asked Joy is confusion. She felt light and free, like she was capable of anything.
“Your magic.” If a cat could smile then Blackberry would be doing so, After what happened with Luna he was worried that something would go wrong in the transformation but it seems that was just part of Luna’s powers. “It will protect you and make you stronger. There are other things you will be able to do as well but those depend on your own affinity and what suits you.”
Joy hesitated and then reached out once more and pulled the door open. Blackberry walked along side her as they walked into the darkness of the shopping mall. Like with Luna a glow spread around Joy, illuminating the ground around her. There were differences however, Joy’s light was much brighter then Luna’s and they could easily see the front of shops and a fair bit down the hallway. Joy’s light was also a different hue, hers was tinted red matching her pink clothing.
The only sound was the click of her shoes as she walked down the hallway. She could tell they were something heeled because she felt a little taller but somehow that didn’t seem to mess up her balance or make it more difficult to walk, it must have been a result of the magic.
Then there was that feeling again like something was wrong. She looked up at the ceiling and frowned. Blackberry’s gaze followed hers and he said, “You can sense it then, the Elder Darkness.”
Joy nodded, “It feels wrong. Out of place. There is something else too, something big.”
Blackberry nodded, “That is probably Luna. We need to hurry to assist her. Quickly, the stairs are this way.” Blackberry bounded off into the darkness and Joy began running after him. As she run up the stairs she had to stop at the top and step around the shattered remnant of a mannequin. It had been shattered by a large blunt object.
“Is Luna’s doing. It is one of the servants of the Elder Darkness. They are fast, resilient, and strong. Try to avoid fighting any of them until we meet up with Luna.”
“Fight them?” Joy sounded scared, her knees were beinging to shake again. Maybe it really had been a mistake for her to agree to help. “What would I even be able to do to them?”
“Believe in yourself.” Said Blackberry, “It is your strength that is set free, think of your own weapon, your way of fighting. It will come to you when you need it.”
Joy gathered up her courage and stepped over the broken mannequin. She could still feel the two strong forces and headed in that direction. As she walked she noticed more of the mannequins. They were broken and cast aside. Around them were broken shop windows and ruined merchandise. Then Joy saw one of the frozen people. She gasped and took several steps back.
The police man was frozen is place. He had been reaching to pull his gun when he stopped. There was a look of horror and fear on his face and Joy could only imagine what he must have been thinking when he froze like that. “What, what is this?” Stammered Joy.
“It is what this Elder Darkness does to people. It freezes them in place, they can not move or do anything. Unfortunately I think they are still aware while in this state.”
“Aware? Then…” Joy shivered and moved closer to the police man. She reached out and put a hand on the man’s shoulder. It was warm.
“Joy get down.” Came Blackberry’s shout from just beside Joy. She barely had seconds to register the incoming mannequin that was barreling toward her. She pushed at the police officer and he began to topple over. Just as he began to hit the ground the mannequin crashed into Joy. Had she not pushed the police officer or had she gotten out of the way it might have gotten both of them in its charge.
There was intense pain as she crashed into the wall and crumpled to the floor. She could blearily see the mannequin stand little more then a few feet away. She could hear Blackberry shouting something but she couldn’t make it would. All she could remember was Blackberry’s advice to believe in herself. She struggled vainly to think of a way to fight the mannequin as she scrambled out of the way of its second charge.
She couldn’t think of anything, different types of weapon flashed through her mind things that she had see on TV but none of them seemed like they would work. She wasn’t a fighter and had no idea what to think of or what to do with it if she did make a decision.
Her backward retreat pushed her up against the wall. She could see the mannequin quicker then she could do anything about. In moments it was next to her grabbing her with one of its hand and holding her to the wall. Its other hand held a long kitchen knife.
She thought that if she only had a weapon that could fight by itself that she could do something about it. In her fear she didn’t notice the glow that was beginning to form around her right hand. Instead she was concentrating on holding back the mannequin’s hand that held the knife with her own hands. Yet whatever dark energies powered the mannequin was stronger then Joy and the knife drew closer and closer to her.
If only she knew how to fight then she could win, if only she had the will to win, if only she was willing to be violent to win. That crack in her own heart spoke louder to her then anything else. If only she was willing to do what she need to to win.
There was the softest whisper, so soft it might have not even been a voice. “If that is your desire.” Two red sparks appeared in the glowing light around her right hand. There was a roaring of fire that erupted around her hand pushing the mannequin back a couple of steps. When the flames died there was a bracelet hanging around Joy’s right hand in the form of a snake eating its own tail.
“Speak it.” The voice whispers, “Speak my name and I will save you from the fear.”
Joy shook, not in fear but with something else. Her arm raise slowly and with the name bubbling to her mind she said, “Ouroboros awaken.”
The teeth of the snake released and in a ripple that took no more then a second it change into a sword. The blade shined green in the glow of Joy’s clothing. It wasn’t an instant after the sword fell into Joy’s hand that the blade sliced across the air and the was a slight whisking sound. Then there was a clatter and clink as the top half of the mannequin and the knife hit the floor.
Joy stood there shacking with the sword in her hands for a few moments trying to figure out what just happened. Then as swiftly as it had changed the first time the sword rippled and returned to the form of a snake. It clamped its teeth on its tail and settled around Joy’s arm.
Blackberry stepped over the form of the mannequin and said, “That was, impressive. I’ve seen some strange magical tools but that was quite interesting. What did you do?”
“I don’t really know. I was just desperate. Then Ouroboros was there to help me. I can’t explain it better then that. It wasn’t even me fighting there it was Ouroboros.”
“Maybe you managed to call some strange being to your aid or it might be your unconscious strength rising to the surface in physical form. Magic is strange like that. Whatever it is it will be a useful addition. The strength you showed will be useful. Now let’s get going, Luna needs our help and that mannequin has already delayed us longer then it should have.”
“Right” Joy shook the hand with Ouroboros on it and then headed in the direction that she could feel Luna and the Elder Darkness in. She wondered about the voice that had spoken to her, had that been Ouroboros? She wasn’t certain what to think but the weight on her arm felt comfortable like it was supposed to be there. There were currently more important things to worry about anyways.
Each of us magical girls has different powers
Blackberry once called me an energy type
I have so much magical power that it seeps out of me constantly
This buildup of energy enhances my physical abilities more then the other girls
It also means that I heal faster then the others
More importantly being an energy type lets me make attacks like my black-light beam
The disadvantage is that my reserves of magical energy is always strained
No matter how much power I can release eventually I will run out
Joy is different, Ouroboros lets her use her energy efficiently
She has the ability to tackle multiple different threats at the same time without wasting energy
Yet against larger threats Ouroboros has problems
There are limits to both the total strength and the amount released at the same time
For dealing with extremely powerful enemy or for large hordes my power is superior
Really it was like Fate had handed my the perfect partner
I hate Fate
It is always working for somebody else
I just didn’t know who until later
Chapter 5 - Team
Luna Star staggered and fell back before the mannequins. She had left quite a pile of them destroyed in her wake but that didn’t deter them. She had used the black-light beam several times already when things had seemed almost hopeless and each time it had helped for a while. However the Elder Darkness seemed to have a never ending supply of the mannequins. Luna had caught sight of the Porcelain Doll a couple of times but each time it had managed to escape because of the horde of mannequins.
Luna knew she probably had about one more use of the black-light beam before that was it. She would need it for the next time she caught sight of the doll. It was her last real chance to defeat the Elder Darkness. Until then she needed to hold out against the horde of mannequins. Her endurance was already flagging and she was already bleeding in several places. There were more holes in her clothing from other injures that had already healed. The fact that her current injures weren’t healing was even more proof that she was reaching her breaking point.
“Ouroboros awaken” Luna heard the voice speak from nearby. She turned to look when suddenly green feather-less arrows sprouted from the mannequins surrounding her. Across the hallway surrounded by her pink glow was Joy. In her hands was a long green bow and in a single motion she pulled it back and drew an arrow out of the quiver on her back then in what seemed like no time the arrow was sailing through the air and into one of the mannequins who collapsed.
The arrows continued one after another in one continuous fluid motion on Joy’s part. Once the four arrow in the sequence hit one of the mannequins Luna had reached an understanding of what was happening. By the time the fifth arrow hit its target Luna was already in action. He bat swung out and crashed into the nearest enemy knocking it back into the team of them. Several more swings of the bat and an equal amount of arrow managed to push the mannequins back into a circle giving Luna a bit of space.
Then half of the broke off and began running down the hallway toward Joy. Luna broke into a run after them but the remaining one blocked her path. Several arrows took down the mannequins that were heading toward Joy but when they reached her there was a flicker of motion and instead of a bow and quiver she was holding a sword with that same green color.
The sword flicked back and forth in swift waste-less motions. It danced across the mannequins that approached Joy and in moments all of the were in pieces across the floor. The distraction and the splitting of resources had been all the advantage that Luna had needed. Her strength broke across the mannequins in switch brutal efficiency leaving tangled piles of limbs twitching on the floor.
There was a moment of silence as Joy and Luna stood on opposite sides of the hall looking at each other. Then the sword rippled and returned to the form of the bracelet around Joy’s arm.
“No bad Joy. Glad you could join me.” Luna smiled a little. She then staggered a couple of feet and sat down on one of the shopping mall benches.
“Um, thanks. I’m happy that I managed to get here in time.”
“You handled yourself great. You were like a pro back there.”
“I..” Joy stammered, “I don’t know. When I hold Ouroboros everything just seems to happen. It is like I am on autopilot or something.”
“Well that certainly sounds more convenient then the way that I do things.” Luna stayed seated for a couple of minutes before stretching and standing back up. Her wounds were healed again and even the cut in her clothes had vanished. She still was running close to empty but the short rest was enough to get everything back together. “Alright, we can talk about Ouroboros later. Let’s find that doll and make sure it never bothers us again.”
Luna turned to Blackberry and asked, “Do you know where it is?”
It was Joy that answered instead of Blackkberry, “It is on the roof. It moved there shortly after the fighting ended and hasn’t moved since then.”
Luna flickered her gaze between Joy and Blackberry a couple of times before she seemed to accept what Joy said, “It is waiting for us then. It is still many hours before dawn so it knows that it won’t be able to avoid us for that long. Considering how many mannequins we defeated here it can’t still have an army. Otherwise they would still be attacking us.”
“Now is the best time to hit it then.” Said Blackberry.
“Exactly. It probably still has some mannequins left but those we can deal with. The only real problem that we need to deal with is its trump card.”
“Trump Card?” Asked Joy
“Right, how it plans to beat us. Since it hasn’t fled it must still believe that it can beat us and that means it still has something we haven’t seen. An ability would be the most likely option but a super powered mannequin also wouldn’t be out of the question.”
Blackberry nodded, “Yes that seems to be most likely. Do you have a plan for dealing with it.”
Luna shook her head, “Not really. If we are lucky it is something that Joy and Ouroboros will be able to deal with. My plan is to get as close to the doll as I can and then use the black-light beam. I plan to pump it with everything I have left and take the doll down in a single hit. I only have one shot with it and I have to make sure that it counts. With the Elder Darkness defeated its trump card should be void. In the case that it is not then we should be prepared to escape from it.”
“That certainly sounds like a plan.” Said Joy. “Certainly a lot better of a plan then I could come up with.”
“A plan requires information. I’m really just deciding on a contingency. There is a second contingency that needs to be in place. Once the doll reveals its trump card, if we don’t think we can defeat it then we leave then.” Luna paused, “However we can not leave until then. If we don’t defeat it today then we must be prepared to beat it the next time otherwise everything we have done today will be wasted.”
“That…” Joy sounded a bit horrified, “Your just really willing to leave? To escape? What about the people.”
Luna sighed, “They will probably die. However if we can’t beat the Elder Darkness tonight we will need to be able to come back tomorrow and defeat it then. We won’t be able to do that if we are dead. I hope it won’t have to come to that but you need to be prepared if that is the case.”
Joy swallowed and looked up at the ceiling, “Do you think it will come to that?”
Luna began walking toward the stairs. Joy and Blackberry followed her. When they reached the bottom of the stairs Luna finally said, “I hope not. I think we will be able to deal with it. After seeing you and Ouroboros in action I knew that we should have a chance against whatever the doll can throw at us. Your versatility will be an asset when faced with the unknown. Jump make sure to call upon Ouroboros as soon as you see anything strange. Hopefully we will have enough time to deal with it.”
The slowed walked up the stairs. Joy tried calming her nerves by breathing deeply in and out. The suspense was making it difficult for her to continue walking up the stairs. When they reached the third story Luna reached out and grabbed her shoulder, “Relax. You won’t be able to do anything if you are like that. You don’t need to worry too much, if things get too rough get out of here and I will finish things on my own.”
“But..” Joy began to say but Luna just continued up the stairs away from her.
“Like I said relax.”
Despite those few words Joy felt better. It wasn’t the relief from knowing that she could escape, she had not plans to leave Luna alone, but instead it was the feeling of fellowship that somebody would be there for her if things went badly. Somehow that made things feel better.
Blackberry watched the two of the walk up the stairs surrounded by a glow of white and pink light. He didn’t know what to think. Luna had changed since they encountered Joy, before Luna had been more uncertain. Luna seemed to take comfort in there being another person around, somebody that fought beside her. She was acting more like a leader, being tough for those around her. Blackberry felt a little bit miffed that it seemed that he didn’t count.
They reached the door to the roof after a few more minutes of climbing stairs. They stood on that side of the door for a little bit.
“Is the Elder Darkness still out there?” Asked Luna
“Yes. It is still out there” replied Joy
“Are you read?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be. What about you.”
“Sure, not much else I can be at this point.” Said Luna.
Then they pushed open the door to the roof and stepped through.
When we talk after fighting the mannequins I felt something from Joy
Blackberry said it was something he called resonance
The feeling that one magical girl gets from another
I think it was something else
When I saw Joy as a magical girl I think I felt a kind of jealousy
It felt like she was the kind of person that I had always wished that I was
The life where you had a happy family and looked forward to coming home
The life where doing your homework felt like a major hassle
It was the life I had dreamed of late at night back at the Star household
I think that it why I felt like I should protect Joy
That as long as she lived a happy life that I would be happy because of that
I felt that this must be what being a sister might sometimes feel like
Or maybe I feel responsible
Like I do with the members of the gang
Showing real fear or uncertainty in front of her felt like I was betraying myself
Chapter 6 - Doll
The good news was that figuring out what the doll’s trump card was easy. The bad news was that the roof was crowded. It was full of frozen people. All of the cops who had been in the building were up here. Across the roof Luna could see the porcelain doll. It was floating, holding motionless in the air waiting. Then the meaning of the trump card hit Luna and she dropped, pulling Joy along with her.
In staggered jerky motions the cop fired, their guns going off in an explosion of sound. She pushed Joy to the side as she staggered up. There was more jerking motions and she was forced to dive out of the way of another volley of gunfire. Had she just been a regular girl she would have certainly been dead by now. However the magical power she now had allowed her to perceive and react faster then normal, especially in stressful situations.
Luna heard from nearby Joy saying, “Ouroboros awaken” but she didn’t have time to look. Instead she ran forward avoiding the police officers in the best methods that she could. Had these been mannequins she would have had no problem destroying them but these were regular people, real live humans who would certainly die if she attacked them.
Instead she needed to dodge not just the bullets but the officers. Their jerky motions kept placing them directly between her and the doll. If she could just get past them for a few moments then she would be able to use the black-light beam on the doll but while they were in the way she couldn’t do anything against it.
There there was the grate of metal against metal and long green chains wrapped around several of the police officers in from of Luna. The chain tightened and they were pulled away from her and toward Joy. Joy was standing there with chains wrapped around both hands. The chains were spread out restraining more then a dozen of the police officers.
“Go” shouted Joy, “I can’t hold all of them off.”
Luna didn’t wait for any time before agreeing. She sprinted past the police officers. There were two more in front of her between her and the doll. She whispered, “Sorry” before spinning and knocking both of them to the ground with a long hard kick. She thought she heard the crack of bones breaking and hoped it wasn’t anything too serious for them.
When the doll began floating backward Luna knew that they had it. She forced what little energy she could spare into her body, dashing toward it faster then it could escape. As she reached the doll she could feel pain across her back but she ignored it there was something she needed to do and she wouldn’t let something minor like gunshot wounds stop her. She grabbed the head of the doll and could feel it struggling beneath her fingers.
Then she drew on every last bit of reserve power that she had left. She pulled it out, struggling to get the amount of power that she needed. Black and white lines shimmered In the air around her and she watched the light of her aura wax and wain. Then there was a loud thunderous crash and bolts of brilliant light and utter darkness exploded from the doll. There was a moment of silence and then the soft clatter of porcelain on the ground. It was swiftly followed by the thudding of bodies on the ground as the police officers collapsed. Without the support of the doll they couldn’t even be straight.
The last thud was Luna dropping to the ground after the police officers. She could feel the world swimming and couldn’t managed to rise to her feet or even bring her mind out of the fog it seemed to have retreated it. All that she knew was that the cool roof felt very good. That seemed to be enough at the moment. Eventually she could blearily see the outline of a cat against the sky.
“You did good Luna. Joy too.” It was the voice of Blackberry. Luna wanted to say something, probably some sort of sarcastic comeback but her voice didn’t come to her. Instead Blackberry continued, “I’ll deal with it from here. The two of you should rest instead. It has been a long day for both of you.”
Luna didn’t really have anything else that she could thing of so she followed Blackberry’s instructions. She sank into sleep. Yet even in her exhaustion she had dreams, the dreams that she was never able to escape from. The darkness swirled around her, yet there was a little different this time. There was a small glow of light from her, instead of being completely alone in the darkness she had light. Not very much light but still light.
With that small amount of light she could see of the outline of something in the darkness. Something huge, something moving. She huttled in the small light shrinking away from it, somehow the light made it even more scary. It moved out there in the darkness, waiting, always waiting. Luna knew it had always been out there in the darkness, she had felt it moving before. It didn’t speak, it never spoke. It was like Luna’s fears, her desperate thoughts were all the voice that it needed. She could see it reaching for her but before it could reach her she felt something shake her. It wasn’t a very strong shake but it was enough.
She clawed herself out of the dream to find herself laying on a bed, her bed. Blackberry and standing right next to her head and was pushing back and forth with his paw. She reached out and grabbed Blackberry pulling him to her chest. She held him there for a little bit before he eventually said, “Could you please let go. This is starting to get uncomfortable.”
Luna held him for a few more moments before releasing him. She brought her hand up to her head and rested it across her eyes. She lay there is bed for a while longer before asking, “What time is it?”
“A little after sunrise. I had planned on letting you sleep longer but you were tossing and turning in your sleep and looked like you were having a bad dream.”
“Yes.” Luna hung on that word for a while before continuing, “Yes, a bad dream. Nothing but a bad dream.”
More time passed before she spoke again, “How did I get back here?”
“Joy brought you. She was basically passed out standing but Ouroboros was still active so she was able to help bring you home. I walked with her back to her home but as soon as she reached he bed Ouroboros deactivated and she instantly fell asleep. I think Ouroboros is more exhausting for her to use then I had initially expected it to be. I expect her to be sleeping most of today. Frankly I expected you to too and I didn’t think my prodding would be successful in waking you up. However it seemed that among your other abilities you regenerate your magical powers quite quickly. “ Said Blackberry.
“I see. Well I’m glad she is alright. I was worried that something bad would happen to you during that last battle.” Luna continued to lay there thinking for a while, “We beat it then. The Elder Darkness is dead.”
“Basically. They don’t really die in the same way that humans do but it no longer exists. Hopefully you did enough damage to it that it will continue to not exist for a long while.”
“It might come back?”
“Possible. Elder Shadows are strange that way. The world they come from doesn’t follow all of the same rules that this one does and when they die here they return to that world. Yet even then they don’t come away completely unscathed. It will be weakened and will need to rebuild its power. Maybe something else from that world will keep it from ever gaining the power it needs to come back here.”
“But something else might. There will be another Elder Shadow won’t there?”
“There is always another Elder Shadow.”
“Joy won’t be able to defeat it alone.”
“She will need me.”
“Kind of a crummy choice that I am left with. I can’t really leave her to be a magical girl alone.”
Blackberry didn’t respond this time. He just stood there waiting.
“When will there be another one?”
“Soon probably, a couple of days. I week or two at the most.”
“Not very long.” Said Luna.
“It will likely be easier though. The one you fought tonight was stronger then usual.”
“Small favors I suppose. Any news on any other magical girls that you can sense?”
“Unfortunately not. The background magic makes detecting potential magical girls at long range sketchy at best. You were strong enough that I could detect you even through that and Joy was a lucky conincendence. There are almost certainly other girls who also have the potential but I will have to look for them the standard way.”
“Some help you are.”
“You must still be grumpy from lack of sleep of something. Try to go back to sleep. Considering how much power you used you should still be resting regardless of how quickly you recover magical energy.”
Luna shrugged and turned over. It wasn’t too long before she was asleep again. This her new dream might not have exactly been pleasant it was better then standing in the darkness.
The next several days passed fairly uneventfully
Later Joy told me that see was surprised when she woke up
Her mother was tending her, apparently she had been sick most of the night before
Somehow that all seemed too convenient so I asked Blackberry about it
Apparently he has a trick which lets him trick people into expecting the ordinary
It seems rather dangerous and abusable to me but some things are too convenient to question
My absence from school was not explained however
This would have been a problem except missing two days in a row was not usual for me
Returning to school however felt strange
After fighting the Elder Darkness ordinary life seemed too normal
It was relaxing in a way but I found myself excited
I kept waiting for Blackberry to tell me that there was another Elder Darkness
Sometimes my own hypocrisy is not lost on myself
Then there was the rainy day
It always seemed to rain on that day
Or at least that is always what I remember
It was just one of those days, a day you never forget
I knew it was coming just I tried to ignore it until it was here
People try to forget things that are afraid of
Or that make them say
For me this day was both
Chapter 7 - Those Left Behind
It was a rainy weekend. Normally Luna would have spent the time with the gang. They like to hang out at times like this. They had an abandoned building that they used for shelter and when everybody got together things got really interesting. However today was one of the days which Luna wouldn’t be able to be there. She had already made plans for today.
Blackberry was nowhere to be seen. That hadn’t been unusual recently because Blackberry had been off searching the town both for prospective magical girls and in case of an incursion of Elder Darkness. Luna thought that is was probably for the best that Blackberry wasn’t around.
Luna trudged through the rain across town. Eventually she got on a bus and took it to the very edge of town. From there she walked out of the town. There was a small weed covered trail leading up the mountain and she took it. Part way up the mountain she stopped and stepped off the trail. The was a meadow and Luna knelt to pick a few flowers. Then she returned to the path. Several minutes later she stopped in front of a large iron gate. There was a large wall stretching out on either side of it.
Luna pulled a key out of her pocket and unlocked the gate. She pushed it open with a grating sound. Probably nobody had been here since last year. She stepped through the gate and shut and locked it behind her. Probably nobody else would be coming. They never did, usually it was only Luna who was here.
There was a graveyard inside the walls. Stone graves spread out across the area many of them were fancy and included large statues of angels above them, kind of ironic considering who was buried here. There were even a couple mausoleums in the graveyard. Many of the graves were well worn with age and ill care. Usually the only time anybody came here was when somebody was getting buried.
Luna walked through the graveyard, past many of the grander looking graves. The one that she was looking for was a humble stone grave at the very back of the graveyard. Luna knelt before the grave and brushed off the accumulated dirt that had collected on it. She then placed the flowers that had picked right in front of it.
“Hey Terra, how are you doing?”
The inscription on the gravestone read, ‘Our Dearly Departed, Terra Star’.
“It has been, what, six years now since you died.” Said Luna, “It looks like I’m the only one who still visits you however. Mom and dad are still pretending that you don’t exist, not that that is surprising. I’m still living with Uncle and I still don’t plan on returning to that household.”
Luna sighed and looked up. The rain pored down into her face. “I’ve been doing some strange things recently. I think it is the right thing to do however. But it is dangerous, it is possible that I will end up in a grave too. There is another who is helping me however, I hope I at least will be able to protect her. I would rather not have to visit two different graves.”
The graveyard was silent except for the patter of rain on stone. The silence continued for a long time.
“I have a new power, something that isn’t part of the Star legacy. Maybe using that…” Luna paused, “Maybe using that I can find out how you died. Maybe I will find enough strength to be able to confront father. I don’t really know.”
The rain fell heavily over the graveyard after that. Luna just knelt in front of the grave. After a long time Luna shivered. “Sorry Terra but it looked like our time is up. Sorry I couldn’t stay and talk with you longer. I’ll try to come back sooner this time but it is possible I won’t. After all if I happen to die then there won’t be anyone left to visit you. Sorry about that.” Luna stood up and stretched a little.
“Bye, I still miss you.” Then Luna began walking away through the graveyard. She felt like there was more that she should have said but even when speaking to the dead there were some things that she didn’t want to say aloud. She reached the gate and unlocked it. When she stepped outside she saw the dark form of a cat standing a few feet away from the gate.
She waited to finish shutting the gate behind her and locking it before she spoke to him, “Blackberry, where you waiting for me.”
The cat nodded, “Yes” He didn’t feel like saying anything else at the moment. It didn’t feel like the right time.
“I see. Were you waiting long.” Luna began the walk down the trail toward the road.
“A little bit. It didn’t feel right to interrupt you.”
“Thanks.” Luna was glad that it was raining. Her face would have been stained with tears had she not been completely wet anyways.
“Is there something you want to talk about?” Asked Blackberry.
“Not really.” Responded Luna. The continued to walked down the trail. After a few minutes Luna spoke again, “My older sister is buried there.”
“Ah, I see. I’m sorry.”
The silence then continued and the rain fell around them. Eventually they had returned to the main road. Finally Luna asked, “Why are you here Blackberry? Good news or bad news?”
“Bad news I’m afraid. During my search of the city today I felt the signs of an intrusion by an Elder Darkness. It must have broke into our world last night. I was lucky to have sensed it when I did, in a few days the signs of entry would be gone and we would have only found out about it when it attempted something.”
“How strong is it?”
“It should be weaker then the one you fought before. Elder Darkness’ of that strength leave much larger signs when they break into our world. Both you and Joy should be able to defeat this one on your own but it is better to be on the safe side for something like this.”
“I agree. Do you know what it is hiding?”
“I got a rough sense. Once the sun sets and it becomes active then I will be able to pinpoint it and lead both of you to it.”
“Good. Any other information about it?”
Blackberry scratched his fir with a paw and then licked it. “There were some oddities.”
“Oddities? Speak clearly and tell me what you are trying to say.”
“While I was scouting out the location of the new Elder Darkness I felt like I was being watched. I know it wasn’t the Elder Darkness because I would have been able to sense that. However it wasn’t purely normal either.”
“What, like another magical girl or maybe a second talking cat which is trying to recruit his own team of magical girls so that he can defeat you in the magical cat defeat Elder Darkness contest?”
Blackberry blinked a couple of times trying to comprehend the question, “Um, no. As far as I know there isn’t anything like a defeat the Elder Darkness content. It also wasn’t a magical girl, at least not like the magical girls I can help create.”
“Really? Then what do you talk about in the meeting with the other magical talking animals?”
“I’m afraid you have lost me now. Was there a point to this conversation.” Said Blackberry in an annoyed voice.
“I was thinking about it and if Elder Darknesses are common enough for there to be magical girls who need to protect this town then wouldn’t there need to be magical girls in other towns as well. Then wouldn’t there need to be people like you in those cities too. I was wondering if you were part of some organization or something. You don’t seem like the type to have put all of this together yourself.”
Blackberry snorted, “So that is what you were thinking. Unfortunately I’m not that high and mighty. There is no secret organization. I *think* there are solutions to dealing with the Elder Shadows in other cities but I am not associated with that. I just have this city that I am going to protect. There isn’t much else to say about it.”
Luna scrunched up her brow, “That is weird. I thought for certain there would be some sort of secret organization or reason for you actions. Why are you protecting this city Blackberry?”
Blackberry ran ahead a little bit down the road. The bus stop was nearby so he jumped up onto the bench under a hanging. Out of the rain he stopped and waited for Luna. Once she reached him he said, “What is your reason for helping me Luna? Is simply protecting the city not good enough of a reason for us? Need there be another reason?”
Luna contemplated the question. While protecting the city was an important goal that wasn’t the only reason she was protecting the city. She knew it must be the same for Blackberry. He was obviously avoiding answering the question directly but Luna thought better then to confront him on it. She had secrets that she wanted to keep from him too. So Luna let it go, sometimes it was better not to ask questions.
Instead she asked a more relevant question to the problem at hand. “Do you have any idea of what it was that was watching you? If it wasn’t an Elder Darkness or a Magical Girl then what could it have been?”
Blackberry looked relieved to answer that question instead of having his past forced out of him. “There are a lot of things that it could be. There are certain naturals who are very difficult to detects.” Blackberry paused and then explained, “Naturals are similar to magical girls except they learned to unlock their own power. You were bordering on a natural before I found you which was one of the reasons you were easy to detect. Elder Darknesses come from a alternate world which is called the Abyss and there are other things that can come out of the Abyss that are not quite as sinister as an Elder Darkness. For example, Ouroboros might be a creature that Joy summoned using her magic.”
“Might?” Asked Luna.
“It is difficult to tell the difference between a thing like that which summoned from the Abyss and between one fabricated through magic. Being from the Abyss that are summon that way usually have a physical body created for them out of the summoners magic which makes sensing the difference all but impossible.”
“So naturals and other creatures from the Abyss. Are there other plausible answers?”
“The other possibility is enhanced magical beings. Usually they are created in some form by a natural. It is a rather broad category because it is common for these being to be able to reproduce and depending on the strength of the enhancement it could pass on to their offspring and permanently create a line of unusually powered creatures.”
“Is that what you are?” asked Luna.
“More or less. Awakened magical girls like you and Joy might qualify too. Instead of awaking to power naturally it was forced open by another being, in this case me, and that causes unusual shifts in how your powers work. The reason there is some similarity in both your and Joy’s powers is because of me. The fact that you transform and have runes of glowing light on your clothes after that is an example.”
“Sounds like an extremely broad category.”
“Yeah. This is also just my method of classification. I’ve met a couple of other people who disagree and like to make a bunch of extra categories but I find Naturals, Abyssals, and Awakened to be the three overarching origins of most magical powers in the world.”
“As interesting as your description of the way magical power works it that doesn’t really help.”
There was the sound of a bus driving down the street in the rain. It stopped in front of the stop that Luna was standing in front of and she got onto the bus. When she sat down in a seat at the back of the bus she felt Blackberry settle down between her feet.
She whispered down at him, “Is not getting noticed by bus drivers another one of your probably illegal tricks?”
“It is more like he just doesn’t notice me.” Came a whisper back.
“Great, I’m traveling in a bus talking with a cat that can control people’s minds. My life just keeps getting better and better.”
“Your sarcasm is noted but I should mention that I can only suggest possibilities to people. I can’t get them to believe anything that they wouldn’t already be willing to believe. Plus anyone with even a moderate amount of magical potential is unaffected by it.”
Luna rested during the remainder of the bus ride back to the city and her uncle’s apartment. It was still a few hours until nightfall so Luna took the time to change out of her wet clothes and into something dryer. Blackberry meanwhile went off to collect Joy and soon enough Joy was knocking on Luna’s door.
Luna answered and let Joy and Blackberry into the apartment. Joy had been there before when she dropped Luna off after they beat the doll but she had been mostly out of it then so she took the time to comment on the place. “Your taste in gothic interior design is quite usual.”
“It’s my uncle, the collects the stuff. He isn’t often around though so I usually have the apartment to myself. However I can’t say that I actually dislike his choice in decoration. The suit of armor however is still a little disturbing. It used to watch over the dinner table but I found that was a little too creepy for my tastes.”
“So you moved it into the entrance way so that it watches visitors enter the house?”
“What can I say, I don’t get many visitors she that hasn’t really come up.”
“Are you sure your uncle doesn’t have a secret laboratory where he raises corpses as animate golems?” Asked Joy.
“Not as far as I know.”
“Enough.” Called Blackberry from the top of the table. “I have brought Joy up to speed about what I know and night is swiftly approaching. If you could both transform then we can begin heading toward the point where I sensed the Elder Darkness. We should get there before it awakens so that we can catch it by surprise.”
Luna stretched out her hands and spoke, “Magical Power hear my call and be set free.” Then the runes of light surrounded Luna. The same darkness as before spread out from her but was eventually captured by the runes of black and white. Soon she stood there in her black costume with white runes embroidered on it.
Joy shuffled her feet and raised her arms as well. She spoke as Luna did and one glowing transformation later she was standing there looking incredibly pink. Luna glared at Blackberry who shook his head trying to deny any responsibility for Joy’s uniform.
Then together the headed to the room. Light was swiftly fading as the two of them began leaping between the roofs following Blackberry’s directions. Several minutes later they were on a roof near an intersection. Blackberry said, “And now we wait. It should show itself any moment now.”
They waited and then the sun set.
I remember the day that my sister Terra died
It is a clear in my memory as it was when it happened
I was still living in the Star household at that time
Terra had been out of the house
She had been living alone for a few years at that time
Father and Mother were quite disappointed in her and told us not to speak of her
The event started when some of the servants began to scream
Those in the household began to arrive to find out what the fuss was about
It was Terra
She was deathly pail and bleeding immensely from numerous cuts
It looked like she had been attacked by people with knives or swords
Father and Mother arrived however they one took one look at Terra
Then they turned around and left
However Terra never noticed that
She was watching me intensely
I came close to her speaking pointless despairs
She reached up to me with what little strength she still had and caressed my hair
“Luna, I’m so sorry.”
“Please forgive me for leaving you here.”
“I’m sorry that I couldn’t be a better sister for you.”
Terra then took several broken rasping breaths
“There will be pain in your future”
“Pain that is my fault”
“I’m sorry I couldn’t have done more.”
“Please do what I was never able to accomplish.”
Her hand began to slip from my hair
Yet before she died she was able to say one last thing
“It was the woman on golden horror”
When her hand hit the ground my memory stops
I knew I cried and cried but that was nothing but a blur
I didn’t know what any of it meant or why my sister had died
Mother, father, and my brothers passed it off as inconsequential
But I had loved my sister and it was impossible for me to forget what happened to her
And her words stuck with me
I tried to figure out what they meant, what my sister had died
But it was in vain
Yet, the time when I found out why was soon approaching
Only a few weeks were left before a desperate awakening
And the first steps toward the horrors that awaited us
Chapter 8 - The Cold
The passed over the horizon. Joy and Luna watched Blackberry. As the last rays of sunshine passed out of sight Blackberry said, “I can sense it. It is beginning to wake up. Quickly, across the street and down the block.”
Luna picked up Blackberry and they jumped across the street to the building on the other side. Then they raced across the roof and toward the next street corner. “Right” Said Blackberry and they took a right and moved down the street. The building cut off leaving a large open space in front of them.
“I can feel it too.” Said Joy and she looked down. “That is definitely where it is.”
Luna looked at the park. It was the largest in the city. It was the size of multiple city blocks and was normally busy during the day. “Would it really show up in a place that is as public as this?” Asked Luna.
Blackberry nodded, “There is no mistaking this presence. It is the same one that broke into our world recently. It is a bit public but some of them don’t care about things like that. It we are lucky then it will mean that it just isn’t very smart.”
Luna looked over the park and wondered aloud, “All of the streetlights in the park still seem to be active. Also I can still see people in the park. If it is active then it must not be doing anything yet, or if it is then it would be weak enough not to leave a noticeable trait.”
“It should be awake. A strength signature like this implies that it is awake. I could be waiting for something, although I’m not exactly certain what it could be.”
“What, what if it is waiting for us?” Stammered Joy
“Not likely. An Elder Darkness usually doesn’t expect things like that. There thought process is a bit convoluted. It is more likely it is waiting for some helpless mortal to come to it.”
“Like a spider?” Said Luna.
“Yeah, like that.”
Joy shivered. “That’s scary. Does that mean it might eat the human?”
“Some of them do eat humans. Another reason why we should find it before it can do anything.”
They jumped down into an alleyway. It was night but they could still be seen by people if they weren’t careful. Blackberry had told them that while he was with them that most people would ignore their strange costumes but if they did something strictly impossible then his power wouldn’t be able to prevent people from noticing it.
They crossed the street in the normal manner and entered the part. It was gloomy in the park at this time of night. There were still people around here and there but the place seemed to be emptying out.
“Can you tell where we need to go from here?” Asked Luna.
“Hmm, it is strange. I can sense that it is around here somewhere but it seems to be concealing its presence which is stopping me from pinpointing it exactly.”
“Then I guess we have to search the old fashioned way.” Said Luna. Together they began looking through the park. Neither Joy nor Luna had any good idea of what they were looking for but an Elder Darkness was unlikely to look like something normal so it would likely be easy to notice.
After more then an hour of searching Joy stopped and looked up into the sky, “Um, Luna. Is this supposed to be happening.”
Luna glanced over at Joy and then followed her gaze upward. She blinked a couple of times before looking toward Blackberry. “Blackberry, is this caused by the Elder Darkness?” There were small flacks of white falling from the sky. It was beginning to snow in the park. It was definitely not the season for snow.
“I see. This is what it is waiting for.” Said Blackberry. “Something like causing snow is slow. Soon it will be coming down harder then this and that is when the Elder Darkness is likely to reveal itself.”
“Then we should hurry. I would be best to find it before the snow gets worse. That would put it in an advantageous position against us.” Said Luna. The part was fairly large and there were still places that they hadn’t looked yet. “We should split up. It would be easier to find it quickly if we could explore the park faster.”
“But..” Said Joy. Then Joy appeared to grit her teeth and said, “Alright. Split up. We can do this.” She clutched at Ourorobus while she spoke trying to conform herself.
Luna watched her carefully before amending her statement, “How about Blackberry and Joy goes together. Together you two might be able to sense the Elder Darkness before it shows itself. If you find anything then call me. It seems that the transformation has left my cell phone mostly intact. Hopefully the weird white runes won’t effect reception.”
Joy looked relieved but Blackberry began to protest, “Wouldn’t it be better if I went with you Luna because you can’t sense…” Blackberry trailed off after Luna fixed him with a dangerous stare then he continued, “But your idea is good too. I will go with Joy.”
“Good.” Said Luna. Then she gan to walk off way from Joy and Blackberry before they raise any other complaints. She was alone soon enough walking alone through the park with the snow falling all around her. She actually had her own reason for wanted to split up. While it was true that she was incapable of sensing the Elder Darkness there was something else that she did notice. They were being watched. Since they had entered the part she could feel eyes on them. It wasn’t a supernatural sense just the odd intuition that something was out there.
After they had split up Luna could continue to feel the eyes on her. She wasn’t certain if that was good or bad but it did mean that whatever was out there was following her. She was glad that it wasn’t going after Joy. She was still deciding what to do when she saw something through the tree, a strange shimmering silvery glow.
Luna didn’t waste time running toward it. She ran off the path and through the grass and the trees toward the light. It was hard to make out because the snow was coming down even harder now which made visibility very difficult. It wasn’t too long however before she reached the edge of the lake. There was ice beginning to form across the lake and out in the middle of it was the strange silvery glow.
A girl stood there in shimmering silver colors. She flickered in and out like static like she wasn’t quite there. She was staring down into the lake. Then the girl started and looked over toward the edge of the lake. She meet eye contact with Luna. Luna could make out the girl’s lips moving, like she was saying something. But either there was no noise or the distance was too great and Luna didn’t hear anything. Then the girl flickered one more time and was gone.
Luna looked down into lake and stared there for a few moments. Then she smiled and pulled her phone out of her pocket. Something about the transformation changed the phone. Its style now matched with the rest of her costume. There were also a couple of other unusual differences, like it seemed to be running a different operating system then it used to, but otherwise it seemed functional. She pressed Joy’s contact and the phone began to ring.
Not too long later Joy answered with a, “Yes? Luna, is that you?”
“Yes. I found the Elder Darkness. I need the two of you to meet me at the lake in the park. Do you know where that is?”
“Yes, I think I remember. Blackberry and me should be there in just a little bit.”
“Good. I’ll see you there.” Luna hung up and put the phone in her pocket. She tested the weight of her baseball bat which she had brought with her. It was beginning to get colder at an alarming rate. She was certain that her transformation was the only thing that was keeping her from freezing to death. She only felt mildly cold while the blades of grass at her feet were being covered in ice.
The snow kept getting thicker and thicker and she could still feel the eyes of whoever was watching her. She knew that they could be getting into a lot more trouble then they had initially expected. She was relieved when she saw the faint outlines of Joy and Blackberry walking through the snow toward her. She raised her hand and began waving at them when something darted out of the lake and wrapped itself around her leg. There was one long moment before she was pulled backward into the dark waters of the lake.
She barely had enough sense to hold on desperately to her baseball bat as she got pulled into the icy waters of the lake. It was cold, colder then anything that she had experienced before. She could see some of the water crystalizing around her as she got dragged deeper and deeper into the lake. Even with the resistance qualities of her transformation she felt the cold biting into her.
Still she waited. The waters grew colder and the light from the lights in the park began to vanish leaving her only in the illumination of her own clothing. The she could see the bottom of the lake and the form of the Elder Darkness that had pulled her all the way to the bottom. It had been the moment she had been waiting for.
Do you know what dying feels like?
The dark frozen waters reminded me of that feeling
The feeling of certain acceptance that there was nothing that you could do
Yet the bottom of the lake wasn’t the worst time I have had that feeling
There were several times at the Star estate when I felt like that
My father standing over my broken body saying he was disappointed
Lost and alone in the darkness with no method of escape
Opening the sealed room in the basement of the estate
Those experiences made me begin to taste death
Yet that touch of dead was still minor compared to what would come
The depths of the lake would not be where I died
There were much more dangerous things that would try and kill me
Chapter 9 - Frozen Flower
The creature that dwelled at the bottom of the lake was completely different from the porcelain doll that was the pervious Elder Darkness. This was a large reptilian being lay there in water. There were chunks of ice surrounding it like a bed. It had long claws that could easily cut things into shreds. Coming out of its back were multiple long tendrils, one of which was wrapped around Luna’s leg.
The creature drew Luna closer to it and then Luna struck. She used as much force as she could to drive the bat into the creatures head. The water slowed the bat making it feel like it was passing through molasses but white runes glowed across the bat and then the water passed swiftly through it like it was little more then air. Still she had reduced leverage because she was being held by the monster.
The bat came down on the monster’s head. There was a spray of black droplets which must have been blood. The beast flayed and bashed Luna into the lake floor. She gritted her teeth in pain before clobbering the monster again with her bat. This time it released her and she pushed off the lake floor and began swimming to the surface.
She had been underwater too long. She could feel the pain in her lungs and she knew that she hadn’t much air left. If she stayed underwater much longer then she would drown. There were a couple glittering points of light above her which must be the surface. Then she felt the tendril grab her by the leg again. This time however she turned and raised a hand toward the reptilian monster and shot of blast of black-light beam. She saw it twist in pain and it released her again. Then she swam with all her strength upward. She broke the surface and felt someone’s hand grab hers. Luna took a deep breath and began coughing.
She was pulled to the shore and she heard Joy’s voice say, “Luna, Luna, are you alright? We saw you waving at us through the snow and they you were gone. We could feel you in the lake but what happened down there?”
Luna coughed a few more times. She must have gotten some water in her lungs sometime while she was underwater fighting it. After a few coughs she managed to say, “The Elder Darkness is in the lake. It grabbed me and pulled me under. I managed to escape after hitting it a few times. And wow is it cold down there.”
“I’m glad that you are alright Luna.” Stammered Joy.
Luna looked up at Joy and furrowed her brow. Joy was beginning it shiver and badly. Her teeth were chattering together and she was holding herself with her hands to keep warm. Luna looked over at Blackberry and asked, “What is wrong with her? She seems to be freezing up.”
Blackberry said, “A better question is why are you alright? You were dunked completely in a frozen lake but you aren’t even shivering. Are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine. It is cold but I’m fairly certain that my transformation is keeping me insulated. Without it I’m sure that I would be freezing to death.”
“Then the same principle should apply to Joy but she is suffering the full effects of the cold. It seems to be just you that is resistant to the cold. However I’m not exactly certain why.”
“I guess I’m just tougher.” Luna looked down at Joy, “But we need to help her before the Elder Darkness recovers from my attack and comes back up to attack us.” Luna knelt next to Joy and grabbed her arm, “Joy you need to get it together. Please, I have an idea but I need your help.”
“What…” There was the chattering of teeth, “What is it?”
“You need to awaken Ouroboros.” Instructed Luna.
Joy nodded not really certain how it would help but she whispered through numb teeth, “Awaken Ouroboros.” The eyes of the snake which still hung around her wrist glowed red. Then there was a burst of flame which engulfed Joy’s hand. Luna was forced to take a few steps backward to avoid getting burnt. The flames blazed for a few moments longer before the faded leaving only a thin red glowing band around Joy’s wrist.
Joy looked at her hand wonderingly and felt at her arms and legs, “I’m not cold anymore.”
Luna nodded, “Good, glad Ouroboros could handle something like that. Since it seems to change itself into whatever form is the most convenient for you I thought that it might be able to handle a problem like this.”
Luna turned and regarded the lake once more. The surface of the lake was silent and only moved by the snowflakes that continued to pour from the sky. “Now we need to deal with the Elder Darkness. Since it hasn’t attacked yet it seems to be content to stay at the bottom of the lake instead of attacking us.”
“Or it could be waiting for us to freeze to death.” Said Blackberry, “I don’t suppose you have a good idea for keeping me warm Luna. It may not look like it but I’m freezing here too.”
“You have fur doesn’t you? Isn’t that supposed to keep you warm?”
“Not against temperatures this low. Plus it is just continuing to get colder. If we wait much longer then the lake is going to freeze over and we won’t be able to get to the Elder Darkness.” Said Blackberry.
Luna nodded and turned back to the lake, “At the battle of the lake is where it is the strongest and there is only so long I can hold my breath. Going down there to fight it will only end in failure. I think we need to flush it out and force it to come out onto land. Then we will have a chance against it.”
“If it is at the bottom of the lake then how do we bring it out?” Asked Joy.
Luna thought for a minute before say, “We already have the tool we need to flush the monster out of the lake. Joy I need you to do something for me. Ouroboros is already producing a lot of heat. Since the monster is creating this level of cold then it probably doesn’t like it when things are warm.”
“No, no, no, no, no. There is no way that that will work.” Said Joy who managed to figure out what Luna’s plan was. “There is no way I am getting into that lake to warm it up so that the monster comes out of it. What happens if the monster decides to attack me because I am messing up its lake.”
“Then I will come into the lake to free you. I would do it myself but I don’t seem to have a useful versatile special ability like you do. Instead we need to rely on you to warm up the lake.” Said Luna.
“You know that this is an insane idea. If I die I’m going to come back as a ghost and haunt you.” Joy began wading into the lake. Around Ouroboros the lake began to steam and bubble. Joy stood there for a few moments and the bubbling spread but eventually it reached its limit and stopped spreading about three feet awake from Joy.
“Luna, it doesn’t seem to be working right. The water is heating but this is an entire lake. I don’t think I can heat up this much water.”
“Yes, it seems that Ouroboros doesn’t have the power. But maybe…” Luna stepped into the water. The water she stepped into was icy cold but as she stepped next to Joy the water became warm. Luna stepped up next to Joy and placed a hand on her shoulder. “Now be warned I’m just trying stuff here. Don’t blame me if I manage to blow both of us up.”
“Blow us up? What are you trying to do?” Stammered Joy. However Luna ignored her and concentrated. She remembered the feelings that she used to call upon her dark-light beam but instead of using it to shoot something she pushed that energy into Joy. The water around the boiled and frothed and the heat spread out and across the lake. The heat grew and she was beginning to feel a little bit hot.
There was an eruption of boiling water as the Elder Darkness burst from the water and pulled itself onto the shore. Luna passed some more energy onto Joy and then pulled herself away and stepped back onto the shore. She picked up her baseball bat and began walking toward the monster. “Alright, time for a rematch. I hope your ready for what is coming to you.”
The beast turned toward Luna and lashed out at her. Its claws ripped toward her and she blocked with the baseball bat. The runes on the bat glowed bright but she managed to hold off the attack despite sliding back a few inches in the snow. Then the things tail wiped toward her in a blaze of speed. She jumped nimbly over it and came down on the monster’s back. She brought down her bat on one of those tendrils that were on its back.
There was a shriek of pain from the monster and the remaining tendrils grabbed her and pulled her off its back. They held her in front of it while it reared up on its hind legs and raised its claws to hit her. She readied her bat to fend it off when something came slicing through the air. One of the tendrils was severed and on the ground in front of the monster was a single silver dagger laying blood stained in the snow.
Both the monster and Luna turned toward the origin of the dagger. There standing across the path near the trees was a man. He was wearing robes of deep purple. On his head was a circlet which was encrusted with several valuable jewels and on his belt was a silver sword and several more of those silver daggers.
“Unhand her you horrible monster. You shall not harm her while I am here.” He drew the sword and pointed it at the Elder Darkness, “I am your enemy now. Leave her and fight me.” The reptilian creature bellowed loudly and charged the man, towing Luna along with it. The man’s blade moved in a hypnotic fashion and the monster fell back and Luna was free of the things grasp.
The man caught her preventing her from hitting the ground. “Are you alright. I hope you weren’t harmed by this thing. Please stay behind me as I dispatch this foul creature.” He turned to face the Elder Darkness one more and it pressed toward the man in purple.
However Luna had enough of this. She didn’t know who this man was and why he had interfered but she found him incredibly annoying. She raised her hand and pointed it at the two engaged in combat. Then her black-light beam shot out from her hand and struck both of them. Good riddance.
The man and the monster fell back before the assault. The Elder Darkness writhed in agony and fell back into the lake. Since the lake was still boiling over it screamed some more and struggled to escape the waters. The man however reeled back in shock more then in injury. He had managed to escape the main volley before it hit the monster and only got a few tears in his robes. Luna could see a purple glow around the tears and it seemed like it was closing.
The man smiled in a charming manner, “Good job hitting the monster while I was distracting it Luna Star. You aim was impeccable. I’m just glad I could distract the beast long enough for you to attack it. Quickly deal it the killing blow before it can recover.”
Luna didn’t know what she found the most annoying about it. It could be his attitude which he seemed to project out of him all the time. It felt like the thought he was incredibly important and the he needed to be the star even when offering to left Luna defeat the monster. Or it could be that she found him annoying because she was absolutely certain that he was the one who had been watching them. Of it could be that she had been doing just fine against the Elder Darkness and hadn’t needed his help at all.
So she pointed her arm toward the man and the white and blackness began to gather around her again. The man’s eyes widened as he noticed what was happening and that Luna was pointing directly at him. “No, what, I’m your ally. I’m trying to help you.” Luna didn’t pay attention to him and instead the beam was released. The man dived out of the way at the last moment and the beam struck the Elder Darkness which was just beginning to pull itself out of the water.
Luna released the restraints on her power and the beams thickened and pierced through the monster. It writhed and then began to devolve into shards of frozen darkness that then began to melt and evaporate. Then the air suddenly began to warm. It had been way below freezing and now the air was beginning to feel warm again.
The man struggled to his feet. Luna could see his knees wobbling beneath his robed. After he managed to get to his feet he began to laugh. It was the haughty laugh of victory. “Good job Luna. Together we have defeated this most dangerous foe. Until next time. The Prince of the Firmament bids you ado.” Then the man ran toward the tree. He jumped and landed easily on one of the branches and then a second leap put him over the trees and out of sight.
The Prince of the Firmament
How I dislike that man
He never listens to anything that I say
That would be the reason that I dislike him the most
Although there are many other reasons
That never seems to matter to him however
He always seems to rationalize away the fact that I don’t mind attacking him
He always seems to be in the way of my attacks against the enemies
Of at least I make sure to position it that way
He also seems to completely ignore other magic girls
It is like he doesn’t even care that they are there
Blackberry said that he is probably has natural access to magic
Magic that is apparently similar to magical girls
There is also something about his obsession with me
Again Blackberry says it might be resonance
He can feel the great power within me and that it was causes him to act
I however will just chalk it up to insanity and inflated self worth
If he were to just act like a normal person and offer help before thing happened
Then I might have accepted
Or at least I would have considered it
And I probably wouldn’t have shot him
Chapter 10 - Normal Life
Luna stood near the edge of the lake and the last of the snow began to fall on the ground and the swiftly melt. As quickly as the cold and snow had arrived it was beginning to go away. With the Elder Darkness defeated its sway over the environment was disappearing. Joy stepped out of the lake and Ouroboros returned to its normal bracelet state.
“Who was that?” Asked Joy in wonderment.
“You know as much as I do. Apparently the Prince of the Firmament. He was the one who has been watching us. It gives me a bad feeling.”
Joy looked toward the trees where the Prince had vanished. “Well at least this Elder Darkness has been defeated. And it are less difficult then last time.”
“You two are just more experienced. You know how to use your powers and you are getting better and working together. It is only natural that it was easier this time. Plus this one didn’t have the same kind of power that the last one had.” Said Blackberry. “But don’t let it go to your head. There are Elder Darknesses that are very strong and even the weakest one can kill you if you let your guard down. No relaxing just because you were able to defeat this one.”
Luna nodded in agreement then she remembered something and said, “Oh, Blackberry. There was something I mentioned. Something strange happened before I found the Elder Darkness. I saw a glowing light through the tree and it was that light that led me here. When I arrived I say this translucent girl who was flickering in and out over the waters of the lake. It was her that let me find out where the Elder Darkness was hiding.”
“I see. It is possible that it was natural magic or possibly the partially awakened magical talent of a potential magical girl. Do you have any clues on who they might be?”
Luna thought about it trying to remember any details of the girl. “She was shortish I think with hair in pigtails but she still looked about the same age as me or possibly a year younger like Joy. She had glasses and it looked like she was wearing some sort of print pajamas. I don’t think I can any more details then that.”
“Around the same age as us? Would it be possible that she goes to the same school as us?” Said Joy
“I suppose. There are a couple of other schools but ours is the closest one to the park so that is probably the best place to start searching however. I don’t remember anybody who goes to our school who looks like that.” Luna shrugged, “However that doesn’t mean too much. I miss school a lot and there are lots of people that I don’t know. It is possible that I have met someone like that but don’t remember. That sort of thing happens.”
“Yeah, I can’t think of anyone matching that description. If she is a student at our school that is a bit unusual. I know I lot of the people in the school and I can’t match any of them with her. I guess I will have to ask around and see if anyone knows her.” Said Joy.
“I’ll do that too. If she is a student there then somebody will know who she is.” Said Luna.
“I don’t think she is a student at your school.” Said Blackberry, “I already checked out your school remember. If she has magical girl talent then I would have sensed her when I checked out the people there. That was why I visited your school that time after all.”
Luna considered that briefly, “That is a good point. There are reasons why she might go unnoticed by you however. She could have been absent from school that day for example. While you are probably right we could check out our school first just to be certain. After that we will expand our search to other schools.”
Blackberry nodded, “Alright. Now we should head back home. We had a lot of searching ahead of us and you both will need your rest for tomorrow. It is already rather late.”
Luna nodded, “Blackberry, make sure Joy gets home safely. I’ll head back by myself.” Then with a could light steps that functions light magical leaps she was leaving the park. Not long after she was on the balcony outside her room. She had left it unlocked when she left so that she would be able to get back in this way. She entered the room and collapsed on the bed. She was pop and flash of white and black and she was back in her regular clothes. She was exhausted and she lay on her bed not moving to tired to even change her clothes.
It was a while later when Blackberry entered through the window that she hadn’t bothered to close. He jumped on the bed next to her and said in a concerned voice, “Are you alright Luna? You look worse then usual.”
Luna groaned and said, “I’m trying to sleep. I’m simply exhausted. Is there such a thing as being too tired to sleep because that is how I feel.”
“Your reserves of energy must be almost empty. Considering everything you did I’m not surprised.”
“I didn’t do that much.”
“Sure you did. You kept your energy going full tilt all of tonight. It was what kept you warm during the freezing weather and what kept your from boiling to dead when Joy and you drove the Elder Darkness out of the lake. You pushed lots of your energy into Joy to accomplish that as well. Not to mention you used your black-light beam three times. If you don’t pace yourself you are going to burn yourself out.”
Luna through a pillow at Blackberry. “Stop lecturing me and let me sleep. I’ll use all the energy that I want. It is mine to use after all.” She groaned a few more times and then finally managed to escape into the world of sleep.
Blackberry still stood there and after a minute he said, “Yes, it is yours to use but I wish you would use it a little wiser. It will matter when you mean one of the Shadowed Souls. I hope you will be ready by then.”
Hours later Luna was roused from her torpor by the bleeping of her alarm clock. It was a poor abused thing that never managed to catch a break. This time was no exception and Luna hit the poor clock to make it shut up. It dutifully did. Blackberry however wasn’t going to let Luna snooze her way through the day so he jumped on top of the bed and scratched at her.
“Will hitting you stop you from waking me up?” Asked Luna in her grumpy voice.
“Wasn’t it you that said we should search your school for that girl. I don’t want to hear you complaining about your own plan.”
Luna glared at her clock and Blackberry with hate before pulling herself out of bed. Her hair was tousled and it looked like she had just gotten out from a train wreck. “I’m going to quit being a magical girl if it keeps up like this. Or at the very least demand a raise.”
“Earth to Luna, you must still be out of it. After all I don’t really have anything to pay you in the first place.” Said Blackberry.
“No wonder this was a rotten deal. At least I got magical powers out of it.” Luna then proceeded to change her clothes and dress in something more appropriate to go to school it. She even remember to grab her bag which she thought contained all of her school books. The she headed out the door and began walking to school. Her uncle’s apartment was conveniently located only a few blocks away from the school so walking was never very difficult, when she decided to go at all.
Freedom High had a pretentious name and like expected didn’t quite live up to its name. Luna had hoped that they would be more lenient about absentees and instead they always seemed to bug her about coming to school. The only thing that kept them from breaking down her door and forcing her to school was the fact that she still somehow managed to get passing grades in most of her classes.
Luna though it was best to keep the fact they her parents had been incredibly strict about education when she was young, among other things. Most of the stuff had already been covered by the schooling she had already received. Luna wasn’t the best student but her parents had exposed her to repetition and harsh punishment both of which had insured that she remembered all of the stuff that she had learned.
She was almost thankful for it because it allowed her to shirk a lot of class and hand out with the other girls in the gang when they skipped out on class. However since then never managed to get as good of grade as Luna she sometimes went to school just to meet with them.
Luna arrived at school basically on time. She nodded in apologize when she reached the classroom a little after class started. The teacher gave her a frown but otherwise didn’t interrupt class. Luna took her seat at the back of the class and partially paid attention as the class went on. That didn’t work very well and she ended up falling asleep on her desk.
She was woken by someone prodding at her ribs, “Is your school desk better for sleeping then your bed. Can’t think of any other reason you would come to school just to take a nap.” There was a playful teasing to the voice.
“Hey K.” Said Luna as she flicked open her eyes and peered out at the girl in front of her. She was tall, taller even Luna and most of the other girls and even some of the boys at Freedom. She was wearing a ripped pair of jeans and a black teeshirt that had the print of a grime reaper on it.
K grinned and poked Luna a few more times, “We haven’t see your around much recently. What have you been up to.”
Luna shrugged, “Visiting graves.” Said Luna partially truthfully. Luna stretched and the sat up again. She glanced at the clock and noticed that she managed to sleep all the way to lunch break. Usually she just slept through first period when she did sleep in class, and that was only when they were teaching history or math.
“Graves huh?” K has been kneeling so that she could get access to Luna’s ribs. She straightened reaching her full imposing height. “Personal stuff then, I guess I won’t ask questions in that case.”
“Thanks.” Said Luna.
K grinned and laid a hand on Luna’s shoulder, “But if there is anything you want to talk about then you can always talk to me and the rest of us.”
“Yeah, I know. Thank K.” Said Luna.
K was obviously not the girl’s full name. The teachers all used her full name, Katherine, but K preferred to go by her much shorter nickname. K said it gave her more street cred to be know as that then Katherine. Luna had never had that problem with her own name despite the fact that her name was even less gangster then K’s.
“Hey K,” Said Luna. Every seemed to address K like that. “Do you know a girl? She is short, had pigtails, and wears glasses. I’ll looking for her if you can remember anyone who looks like that.”
“Not off the top of my head but we can ask the rest of the girls and see if they know.” Said K, “Why are you looking for her anyways?”
“She helped me find something that I was looking for but I didn’t have time to thank you before she left. It isn’t really important but I thought I would ask around. It wasn’t too far from here so I assumed she would be going to this school.” Said Luna.
“Helped you find something?” K considered it for a moment, “Well, if I see someone like that I’ll make sure to pull them aside and tell them to talk with out. Now how about lunch. You don’t plan on sleeping through that too do you?”
Luna chuckled, “No, we can get something.” The two of them left the classroom in search of something to eat. The cafeteria as Freedom was generally acceptable. Sometime they went to a place nearby to eat but K as saving money and Luna thought she was more likely to spot the girl if they were in the cafeteria.
When they entered the cafeteria they were waved at by a girl sitting at a corner table. Luna nodded in recognition and after she and K had grabbed a tray with food on it they headed over to the corner. “K, Luna, thanks for coming over and joining me. It would have been boring without you.”
The girl had short cropped blond hair. She was dressed like a normal high school girl with a skirt and a nice shirt with a heart on it. She would have probably fit in at any of the other tables if it wasn’t for the scar. It started at the bottom of the right side of her chin and ran down into her shirt. She was quite proud of it and liked wearing low cut shirts just to show it off.
“Nita, you seem well.” Said Luna as she took a sit next to her.
“As good as always. It’s usual to see you here Luna. You’ve been rather busy lately so we hadn’t see you much recently. K can attest that all the girls are getting a bit restless because you haven’t been showing up.”
“Restless? Your tough girls, you should be able to deal with everything without me.”
“Yeah but Bloody John has been moving again. He things he can just force us to do what he says and we have to keep putting him in his place. Not too unusual but he seems to have made a deal with some other gang or something. His forces have gotten much bigger and last night we fought and only barely managed to beat his flunkies back.” Said Nita.
“That is a problem. Do you have any idea who he made the deal with? It must be someone strong if he is willing to so brazenly try to do anything after what I did to him last time I faced him.” Said Luna.
“Not yet. A couple of the girls are looking into it but I told them to be careful and to stop if it looks dangerous. Apparently Bloody John was furious after the last time that you beat him.” Said K.
“Though the girls aren’t paying any attention to K’s advice to back off if it gets dangerous. At least I’m not. We wouldn’t be doing this if we were worried about things like that.” Said Nita with a smirk in K’s direction. K just shrugged it off though.
“Well, if things get violent and I’m not there then you should call me. And its not like I’m going to go vanish or anything.”
“What have you been doing anyways? You have been a bit distant lately.” Asked Nita.
“Part time job. I’ve decided that my uncle doesn’t provide enough of an allowance so I decided to made some extra money.” Said Luna.
“Luna working a job? Now that is a sight I have to see. Please tell me it is sales. The thought of you having to smile for customers gives me shivers. Where do you work.” Said Nita in an excited voice.
“Not telling. You would just come to make fun of me.” Said Luna.
Nita grinned wickedly, “Make fun of you? I would never do something like that to a poor working girl.”
Luna turned toward K and said, “Primarily I just don’t want Nita to find out where I’m working.”
K let out a laugh, “I can see why. During the summer she came and heckled me practically every day and I was just helping out my father.”
“It’s not my fault your family owns a flower store. Ah, the sight of the giant K carrying flowers and selling them to people in need still fills my evil heart with joy.”
“She still doesn’t let me live it down.” Said K.
“I remember that now. Nita had a song and everything to go alone with it.”
“Uhh, please don’t remind her.” Said K and the suddenly as if to quickly change the topic, “Right, Nita, Luna is looking for someone. What was it Luna, short with glasses and pigtails?”
Luna nodded and said, “Yeah that’s right. I told K but she helped me find something and I wanted to thank her but I don’t know who she is. I was hoping that somebody would know who she was.”
Nita grinned wildly, “This has to do with your job does it? Come on, you can tell me.”
“Not related,” Said Luna, “But do you know her?”
“Not related huh?” Nita plainly didn’t believe Luna. “Well, lets see. Short, glasses, and pig tails. That would Sibyl or at least it sounds like it.”
Luna turned her full attention to Nita. She was initially kind of surprised that Nita knew the girl. Nita did get around a lot though so it was a bit less surprising then if K had known something. “Sibyl? You know her?”
“Sure, you don’t remember?” Said Nita.
“Remember what?” Asked K.
“The big history challenge that we had last year. The teachers all got together and thought it would be interesting to have a big school wide history game. There were prizes and it was a big deal.”
“Sure I remember that.” Said Luna, “It was kind of a pain so I didn’t get all that in to it. If I recall correctly didn’t you manage to get something like third place in that?”
Nita puffed up her chest in smug superiority, “Sure did. It has been what is keeping me on the teacher’s good side despite my bad attendance record. Totally worth all the time I put into it.”
K snorted, “Time you put into it? You just have a great memory and started to pay attention in class after the challenge announcement was made. I don’t think you studied at all for it did you?”
“Nope, not at all. It just goes to show you how talented and awesome I am. Plus the three place prize included a bunch of discounted coupons to the cafeteria.” Bragged Nita. Luna remembered her bragging even more about it last year.
“Don’t get too cocky.” Said K, “If you remember, Luna managed to get third place in the challenge. Your not the only one among us who did well during the challenge.”
“Sure, says number two hundred and seventy one.” Said Nita in a gloating tone.
“Enough.” Said Luna, “You were talking about Sibyl. What did she have to do with the contest.”
“Oh, right. We a lot of attention was paid to the student council president Allan who managed to get first place. Not a lot was paid to Sibyl who managed to get second place. I remember her well because there was this big annoying presentation ceremony where they gave out the trophies and prizes. The principle even mentioned the three of us by name. You don’t remember because I think both you and K skipped out on it.”
“Second place? I guess I must not have paid too much attention to the others that won because you kept bugging us about it.” Said Luna. “So she is the same age as us then? That makes it a bit surprising that I don’t recognize her from someplace.”
Nita shrugged, “Not really. She spent a lot of time in the library. She also has a meek personality to people tend to forget her. Not to mention that she is rather sickly and manages to miss about as much school as you do Luna.”
“As much school as Luna? Is that possible?” Said K in a snarky tone.
“Surprising I know.”
“Girls can we stay on topic.” Said Luna, “You said that she is sickly. What is wrong with her.”
Nita shrugged, “No idea. It isn’t like we are close or anything. It must be something serious however because apparently the teachers don’t give her a hard time about her absences like they do ours. However her grades seem good so she must do her own studying at home.”
“You know a surprising amount about someone you aren’t particularly close to.” Said K.
“What can I say? I am nosy and after losing to her in the history competition I snooped on her a little. It turned out that we shared a few classes so it wasn’t that hard. I dropped the investigation a couple months after the competition however so most of my information is a year out of date.”
“Do you know what class she has next?” Asked Luna.
“Interested? Unfortunately she hasn’t come to school the last few days. We share a literature class and considering how rarely she comes to school I would have noticed it if she had been there today.” Said Nita.
“You and your memory. Is her address somewhere hidden away in your memory with all the rest of the useless facts that you know?” Asked Luna.
“Hey, I resent that. Not everything that I remember is useless. I usually remember the answers to the quiz questions.”
“Nita.” Siad Luna.
“Right, her address. Sure, she lives in the Rose Tree apartments around six blocks south of here with her brother. Don’t know her apartment number however.”
“Thanks.” Said Luna. She picked up her now nearly empty tray and began to leave the table.
“Skipping class to go pay a visit? This has to be good. I want to come.” Said Nita.
“Don’t you have a class with Mr. Trent next?” Said Luna, “I won’t miss his class, your already on his bad side.”
“Damn your right.”
Luna took the time to escape the distracted Nita. K was more lax and just waved goodbye as Luna left the two of them. She dropped the tray off next the exit to the cafeteria and began heading toward the exit to the school. She pulled out her phone as she left and sent off a text to Joy saying that she had a lead and was checking it out.
Luna had almost reached the edge of the school when she heard a voice come from behind her. “Miss Luna Star, where do you think that you are going?”
Luna turned around to see Mr. Trent standing several paces behind her. He had a glower on his face, a common occurrence. Mr. Trent was a young teacher, this was his first year teaching, but he had already gotten a nasty reputation among the students. He didn’t let anyone off easily and tended to assign extra homework.
“Sorry Mr. Trent but I’m on an errand for my cat.”
“That has got to be the worse excuse I have ever heard. I will give you credit for that but I’m still not leaving you leave the campus just like that. You slept through my entire class Luna Star. Other teachers might stand for actions like that but I’m not going to.”
Luna sighed, “I do your homework and pass the tests. Is there something more that you want from me?”
“Yes, a little respect for education. You think you can just do whatever you want just because you have some smarts. The world isn’t that kind.”
“Yep the world is mean, don’t I know it. Just it is equally unkind to both of us at this time. Sorry Mr. Trent but I’ll talk with you about this matter at a latter date.” Then Luna was off, running out of the school grounds. Trent shouted at her but didn’t chase after her. He had a class to teach and both of them knew that.
Luna only stopped running when she was a few blocks away. She knew that Trent would give her a hard time later but he always did that with her so that wouldn’t be any different then usual. She glanced around her looking for Blackberry but he wasn’t there. She thought for a minutes before finally closing her eyes. She breathed in and out slowly for a couple of moments and then pushed out with her force of will. She repeated the exercise a couple of times before she was interrupted.
“Luna, what are you doing. I could feel you all the way from the school.”
Luna smiled, “Ah, good. My Blackberry called worked just fine. Glad you sensed it and came running.”
“Sensed it. You were practically a bonfire. I would have had to be blind and dead not to have noticed it. Anyone with any sort of magical sense in the city would have felt it.” Complained Blackberry. “We should leave in case somebody we don’t want to meet decides to pay you a visit.”
“Like who? An Elder Darkness, in the middle of the day?” Asked Luna skeptically.
“No, I was thinking more like that Prince guy who seemed to want you to see how awesome he was.”
Luna flinched, “Good point. Wouldn’t want him to be showing up randomly. Also if everyone could feel it I should send Joy another text to make sure she doesn’t try to skip school to figure out what that was.” Luna pulled out her phone as they begin walked and as she began to text Blackberry asked a question.
“So why did you decide that it would be a good idea to summon me by showing off your strength to the world?”
“I managed to get a lead on the girl that I say. There is girl named Sibyl who lives in some apartments near here. She might be the person that we are looking for but I don’t know for certain. She meets the description but I don’t have anything else other then that. I also don’t have the apartment number so if she does have potential to be a magical girl I was hoping that you would be able to figure out which apartment she is living in.”
“I can certainly try. If she is the one I should get something from her but I don’t know how far I will be able to sense her power from.” Said Blackberry.
Together they headed toward the Rose Tree apartments. When they reached the front of the apartments Blackberry scratched his face, “You humans. Who would name a place Rose Tree. Doesn’t they know that roses are bushes.”
“Tsk, tsk, tsk. A rose tree is when you grow the bush into the form of a tree. Most of them are smaller then a regular tree but they are good looking. They also tend to use three different types of roses when making it.”
“Why do you even know that? For a delinquent you sure know the weirdest things.”
“Mysteries Blackberry, I know lots of mysteries.” Said Luna. She neglected to mention that one of her friend’s families was in the flower business. While K didn’t often talk about flowers Luna still sometimes picked up a factoid or two.
They entered the lobby of the apartment. It wasn’t a very fancy place so there really wasn’t anything in the form of security. “Do you feel anything?” Asked Luna.
“Hmmm, faintly. It seems that this Sibyl is the right girl. I can feel her presence from down here but I’m having trouble pinpointing her. Maybe if it wasn’t for some powerful magical girl messing up my senses I would be able to tell you where she is.” Blackberry looked up at Luna.
“Hey, don’t blame me for your problems. Let’s take the elevator. Tell me when the sense feels the strongest and we will get off at that floor.”
They took the elevator up several flights before Blackberry finally said, “Stop, this is the floor.” Luna tried to hit the button quick enough but they ended up passing the floor. Then they were forced to take the elevator back down a floor before finally getting off of the elevator.
“Is this the right floor?” Asked Luna.
“Probably. It might be up or down a floor but I won’t be able to tell until I’m closer.”
The walked down the empty hallways. The place was basically deserted because it was the middle of the day and practically everybody who lived there was either at work or at school. They reached the end of the apartments before Blackberry stopped and pointed his nose toward one of the apartment doors. “That one. The feeling is coming from that one. I think it is Sibyl but it could be anyone who has a magical affinity but hasn’t awoken to their power. A prospective magical girl is just one of the things that could be.”
“No problem. That is what we are here to do anyways, check out Sibyl and see if she would qualify.” Luna stepped up toward the door and knocked on it a couple of times. They waited there and when there was no response Luna knocked on the door again, this time louder.
Eventually Luna could hear footsteps in the house and then she heard a voice on the other side of the door ask, “Hello, who it is?” It was a soft quiet voice, not much more then a whisper.
“Are you Sibyl of Freedom High School?”
There was a pause before the girl on the other side of the door answer, “Yes, I’m Sibyl. Why do you want to know?”
“Generally you should ask that sort of question before you give the answer.” Said Luna, “I got to Freedom High like you do and I wanted to talk to you about something important. If you could let me in we could talk about it.”
“I suppose.” There was the click of the lock and the door was pulled open. A small mousy girl was standing on the other side of the door. She had her hair tied up into pigtails and she despite the fact this it was already past midday she was still wearing pajamas. She girl stopped when the door was mostly open and stared at Luna, “You, you were in my dream.”
Luna smiled, “And your dream was in my reality. That is what I came here to talk to you about. Luna stepped through the door and into the apartment with Blackberry following just behind her.
“Um, the apartment complex doesn’t allow pet. My parents will get in trouble if somebody sees a cat enter the room.” Said Sibyl.
Blackberry put his nose in the air and said, “You needn’t worry about that. I find it better if nobody notices me in the first place. Plus what sort of place doesn’t allow cats?”
Sibyl looked back and forth between Luna and Blackberry and after a moment stuttered, “Was it just me or did you also hear your cat speak?”
“He does that sometimes. I still haven’t yet figured out why.” Said Luna.
Blackberry leveled a stare at Luna, “Very funny, confuses the poor girl even further will you. Yes Sibyl I can talk. Not if you could shut the door we could have a serious conversation about your future.”
Sibyl continued to stare at Blackberry but she did push the door shut and lock it. Then began walking into the living room, “You can come it. Please have a seat, I can try to make you tea if you would like it though I don’t get visitors she I’m not certain how to be a good host.” She finally broke her gaze from Blackberry and said, “You really did hear him talk right?”
“Yep, he talks. No need to make tea, it isn’t much after noon after all and I already had lunch. However if you want to make some tea for yourself I can wait a little bit.” Said Luna.
“Ah, no.” Sibyl stumbled over her words like she didn’t really know what to say.
“You want to ask about why I am here with my talking cat?” Asked Luna.
“Ah, yes. It, um, isn’t every day that someone comes over to your house and wants to talk with you and they have a talking cat. At least I don’t think it happens a lot. I guess it might happen to you because it is your talking cat after all and…” Said Sibyl.
“Your babbling now.” Said Luna firmly and Sibyl stopped talking. “You mentioned that I was the person from your dream. What do you remember about that? It is important so try to remember as much detail as you can.”
“Remember my dream, well I can try. Let’s see, I first remember standing between a bunch of trees just as it was beginning to snow. It looked like it was a park but I don’t go to those very often so I couldn’t recognize which one. I could hear or feeling something crackling near by and something big was moving through the woods just outside my vision. I followed the sound and found the lake. The snow was getting even harder and I could still hear the sound but it seemed to be coming from beneath the lake.”
Luna nodded as Sibyl told her story.
“I walked toward the sound and soon found myself standing on top of the lake. It was still wet and I could see the ripples beneath my feet. I could see a large animal beneath the waters, a large reptile of some kind. I couldn’t make it out completely though. Then I could feel something from the forest. Something was coming toward me. I turned to see a girl, you, standing near the trees. Then I, I…”
“You said something didn’t you?” Asked Luna. She remembered seeing Sibyl’s mouth moving that time but she hadn’t been able to hear it.
“Yes, but, it doesn’t make sense. I said, ‘The Queen of Light is being devoured by the Queen of Darkness.’” Said Sibyl. “It must be because you were glowing in a pale light and there was some dark creature following you about to devour you. I think I woke up screaming after that.”
Luna frowned, “Strange, that is almost how I remember it too except that there wasn’t any beast behind me. The only monster there was that creature in the lake.” Luna considered Sibyl’s statement but her thoughts were interrupted.
“So it was you? Way that real? Were you really there in the park last night?” Asked Sibyl.
“Yes I was there in the park. I was there to fight the monster that you saw in the lake. They are creatures called Elder Shadows. Me and Joy are basically in charge of defeating them so that they can not hurt people.” Explained Luna.
“Then my other dreams, are they things that have happened too?”
“You have had similar dreams before?”
“Yes, many times. I thought that they were all nightmares. After all such horrible things couldn’t be really, except, except,” Sibyl gulped, “Things happened, news reports kept saying things that were really close to what I dreamt. They were close enough that I was always afraid that my dreams might be real. Now you are saying the are real?”
“I really don’t know.” Said Luna, “But since your dream really did correspond to what happened last night then your dreams probably are turn. That must be horrible to see things like that and not being able to do something about it.”
Sibyl nodded with tears in her eyes. “I tried doing things. Sometimes my dreams didn’t complete so I thought I would be able to change something. Yet those times nobody accepted what I had to say. Of course they wouldn’t, I’m just a deluded high school student who is sick so often she does whatever she can for attention. I did everything that I could to try and stop it but it didn’t work”
Blackberry jumped onto the table, “Would you like to change that?”
“Change? How? I’m incapable of doing anything. I want to help people, to save them but.” She help up her hand which was scrawny and thin, “I don’t have the strength. I can’t stop my dreams and nobody believes me. I thought getting good grades and being something useful like a teacher or a doctor but nobody would hire a sickly person like me for either of those careers.” She had a look of despair on her face.
“There is a way to fix that. There is a way to gain the strength that you want. You can save the people that you want to save. If you join us then I can give you what you want. The strength to protect and to achieve your dreams. Isn’t that what you want?” Said Blackberry.
“A way to get that power? How? What can I do?” Said Sibyl but there was a new look in her eyes. A flame that was burning in there where before was only a desolate emptiness.
“It is dangerous though,” Said Luna in warning, “You will have to risk your life to protect though around you. Are you willing to do that?”
“I don’t mind,” Said Sibyl with a firm tone in her voice something that seemed unnatural for the petite girl. “I risk my life already. I have a weak immune system. Every time I catch a serious flu there is a possibility that I die from it. Compared to living with that I am more then willing to risk my life if it means that I can do something about what I see in my dreams.”
“Good then.” Said Blackberry. Luna stood up and took a few steps backward for Blackberry to have some space. “Now tell me your full name so that I can begin.”
“It is Sibyl Times.”
Blackberry moved toward Sibyl and as he did so a circle of light began to form on the floor around her. More circles formed and runes began to appear between the circles. Lines and diagrams forming complication symbols. Then they began to rise up off the floor and begin to rotate around her.
“Sibyl Times, hear my call. Let the light inside you envelope. Let your powers awaken. Let you soul break free of it’s shackles. Awaken the magic inside of you and become reborn. Let it be so”
The light from the runes continued to grow brighter and brighter. Soon nothing more then a glowing outline of Sibyl was visible. The light began to swirl around and around growing tighter and tighter around her. Then with a pop and a sparkle of light the glow broke up into mots spinning through the air.
There was a blue flickering glow as Sibyl’s feet came to rest on the floor. She was wearing a long blue skirt which met up with her equally long and pale blue stockings both of which were embroidered with white runes. She had a long sleeves shirt and a dark blue vest that went over it. Her hair seemed to be longer then it was before and it was tied into pig tails by blue ribbons.
Sibyl stood there is shock. There was a flicker in the air where she was standing like she was a television experiencing static. “This, this is?” Stammered Sibyl.
“Magic?” Supplied Luna. “Or power? Perhaps it is both.”
Sibyl looked down at her strange clothing and lifted her arms in front of her face. “I feel strange, like I am light. It feels like I could do anything. I don’t think I have ever felt that way before.”
“The effects of the magic on you.” Said Blackberry, “It is reinforcing your body and is compensating for your sickly body. It will probably take you some time to adjust to the changes. Given a couple of weeks you will eventually get used to it. By then your magic will be settling into filling in for your weaker body. There will probably be some exhaustion too which will be the result of unstable and inexperienced magical flow.”
Sibyl looked over toward Blackberry with a look of surprise and dawning delight, “You mean that I won’t be sick anymore? That I will be able to go things like a normal girl?”
“Sure, as long as your keep your magical usage to a minimum it will keep your body healthy. You should avoid running your magical supply dry like Luna here however. Doing that could cause a resurgence of your sickness but if you use your magic wisely then you should have to worry about it again.”
“And this is permanent? It won’t vanish when I turn eighteen or something will it.”
“Permanent, at least until you die. It isn’t like I’m giving you my power or something. I’m just awakening and focusing the potential that was already inside you. If your case your partially awakened dream talent in the foundation of your powers. Also that potential has probably been keeping you alive through your sickness the best that it could.” Said Blackberry.
There was another flicker of blue static and Luna reached out her hand to grab Sibyl by the arm, “Sibyl, you need to be careful. Your power seems unstable. It is like you are flickering in and out. I’m not really the person to say this but you need to take a few deep breaths. Release the image of your magic in your mind.”
Sibyl looked at her questioningly and then did what she said. After a couple of deep breaths there was a popping sound and in a blue flash Sibyl was back in her pajamas. She teetered back and forth for a moment and then collapsed into Luna’s arms.
Luna looked toward Blackberry, “Her power is very unstable isn’t it. I may not have the greatest magical sense but even I could tell that.”
Blackberry nodded, “Yes very unstable. I didn’t want to tell her while she was conscious but her potential is lower then Joy. Her young talent had been straining to keep her alive despite her weak immune system. Even now her powers are having a hard time coping with her body. It will get better with time and eventually she could be strong enough to help you and Joy but…”
“That could take a while.” Luna nodded. She lifted Sibyl the best that she could and began carrying her through the house. Sibyl was very light and small for someone the same age as Luna. After checking a couple of doors Luna managed to find Sibyl’s room and laid her down on the bed.
“Yes, unfortunately while she does have magical talent I don’t think she will be of much help to you and Joy in fighting an Elder Darkness. Regrettably I think we will need to find another magical girl. I’m sorry that your lead turned out to be like this.”
“Nah, it’s fine. Looking at it one way we probably saved Sibyl’s life. Even if her magic isn’t enough to help us at least it should be enough to allow her to live a normal life. She will probably be able to make most of the rest of the school year.” Luna rested her hand on Sibyl’s head. “Well, I’m going to head back to school. When she wakes up tell her where I went and how she can contact me. Then tell her it will take some time for her to adjust to her power. She will be able to help us when that happens.”
“That is basically a lie.” Said Blackberry.
She shrugged, “You never can tell with magic. Plus human desire it not something to be ideally dismissed.” She waved at Blackberry as she left the room. Blackberry heard the front door shut.
Sorry, I broke my arm and while I kept writing I never got around to posting all of it.
Blackberry curled up on the bed on top of Sibyl and began to take a nap. It was tiring to dealing with Luna and he wanted to get some rest but he also wanted to be awake when Sibyl woke up. Plus he was a cat and sleeping on somebody was practically second nature to him. He would have never done it with Luna however because she almost certainly would have killed him or done something nasty to him.
It was a while later when Blackberry yawned and opened one eye to look at the clock. It was late already, a little after seven o’clock. He could still feel the warmed of Sibyl beneath him. The instability of her powers must be larger then he thought if she needed to sleep like this after only one transformation. Then she bolted upright, throwing Blackberry off the bed. Her eyes were wide and scared.
“That, that, what was that thing.” Said Sibyl with a scared look in her face. She was beginning to sweat.
“What? What is it?” Asked Blackberry.
Sibyl nearly jumped out of her skin and she fell back toward the wall. Finally she saw Blackberry and after a moment of extra panic she relaxed, “Oh, it is you. I didn’t remember for a second but I guess that really did happen.” Sibyl paused, “I don’t know if Luna introduced us or not. Do you have a name or something?”
“It is Blackberry,” Said Blackberry, “What just happened? You liked like you were scared out of your wits when you woke up. Strange because normally when people have nightmares you can tell while they are sleeping.”
Sibyl shivered, “I don’t know if I know. It was one of those dreams again, like last night. I was standing in school so I initially didn’t realize it was one of those dreams. Then I found myself getting drawn toward the roof. When I reached it I found that the door was already open. I walked out onto the rood and I saw a girl leaning on the railing looking out toward the city. I took a few steps closer to her before she turned to look at me. I, I, I don’t know but when I saw her face I knew something was wrong. She looked normal but I could just tell that she wasn’t. Then she spoke to me. She said, ‘Little Girls should be sleeping.’”
Sibyl’s shivering grew worse and she continued, “Then I felt the feeling of wrongness from her intensify. She turned and began walking toward me slowly. I wanted to move, to run, but I couldn’t. I was just too scared to run. Then she reached out and touched me and I thought I was going to die.” Sibyl let out a deep breath. “And then I woke up.”
Blackberry stared at Sibyl for a while. He was beginning to get worried but he didn’t want to voice his own fears until he had some certainty. “Are you certain that this was one of your projection dreams? That this was really happening someplace.”
Sibyl nodded, “Yes, I am certain. Real dreams never feel that vivid, that real. It was like I was actually there feeling and seeing everything.”
“Had the sun set yet during your dream?” Asked Blackberry.
“The sun? Yes, I think it had.” She paused to remember the best that should could. “Yes, when I reached the roof I remember that there was a halo of light barely visible from beyond the mountains. So it would have been just after sunset.”
“That is cutting it close then. I suppose it could be one but that is rather early for one to show itself. Plus it was only yesterday that Luna defeated the last one. Too soon, too soon.” Muttered Blackberry to himself.
“What is too soon?” Asked Sibyl.
Blackberry startled in surprise, “Sorry, I didn’t realize I was speaking. You remember Luna speaking about the Elder Darkness? They are the monsters that we fight and what you saw under the lake yesterday was one of them. I was trying to decide if this person that you saw was one of them.”
“And is it?”
“I don’t know. Usually an Elder Darkness doesn’t move into the territory of another Elder Darkness. Since we just defeated one of them yesterday it seems too soon for a new Elder Darkness to try and move in. Also they are only active during the night and immediately after sunset seems too soon for one of them, especially one that just moved into town. And then there is…” Blackberry paused not wanting to say it aloud which might confirm his own fears.
Sibyl shivered a couple of more times, “What Blackberry? And then there is what?”
“They, Elder Darknesses, they almost never take on human form. Forms that mimic humans or animals are certain possible but one that is initially is confused with a normal person that is extremely rare.”
Sibyl frowned, “You sound worried? I’m worried too, the feeling I got from that girl was terrifying. That monster in the lake, it didn’t feeling anything like this. This one was on a whole different scale.”
Blackberry frowned as much as a cat could. “I will need to feel it’s presence myself.” Blackberry ran across the room to next to the window. “Can you please open this so that I can leave. I need to get to the school before it leaves so that I can feel it.”
Sibyl moved over toward the window and pulled it open. Blackberry jumped out but before he left Sibyl asked, “Will you be alright? I don’t know what that thing is but it probably won’t hesitate to kill you if it sees you.”
“Thanks but I will be fine.” Said Blackberry and then he was gone. Sibyl was alone in the room. She was feeling cold. Not from the night air which was actually reasonably warm but instead from that feeling that she continued to remember. Every time she closed her eyes she could feel that smile which chilled her to the bone.
Sibyl looked down at her own shaking hands. This fear, it wasn’t the fear of dying, it was the fear of being completely powerless. When she had looked at that girl she had thought that there was nothing that she could do about it. And that made her furious. Hadn’t she just gotten what she had wanted from Blackberry, the strength to no longer be powerless. She wasn’t going to accept that feeling again.
She glanced momentarily at the door to her room. Her parents were certainly home by now and if they caught her they would certainly not let her leave the house. So she looked back at the window that Blackberry had left through. It was a small window but she was a small girl and she was easily able to crawl out of it. Outside there was a thin ledge running along the building. She managed to get her feet onto it just barely, avoiding the fall down to the alley below.
She was painfully aware at that moment that she lived on the fourth floor of the apartment complex. There was a rain pipe a few meters down the ledge and she managed to shuffle over there. She grabbed onto the pipe in relief and then did her best to try and climb down the pipe toward the street. She managed to make it to the second floor before the rain pipe creaked and snapped. It fell off the wall with Sibyl hanging onto it. It crashed into a pile of trash cans and Sibyl let out a muted moan of pain.
It took her a few moments of laying among the scattered trash to realize that she was still alive. Not just alive but she felt alright. There was a trickle of blood from a scrape on one of her elbows but otherwise she was totally fine. She marveled for a second before standing up and dusting the trash off of her. Despite having just fell almost two stories into a bunch of trash cans she was feeling great, better then she had felt in, well, ever.
The crash into trash cans had been loud and Sibyl began walking out of the alleyway before anyone would notice. The school wasn’t that far off and she should be able to get there not long after Blackberry if she walked quickly. There was something strange to Sibyl about walking alone through the streets during the night. She didn’t think she had ever done that before. Usually the only walking she had really done was walking to and from school and even that had sometimes been strenuous for her.
She was just beginning to feel the sweet delight of real freedom when she began to feel something else. That sickly threatening presence. About a block from the school she could feel it, a miasma so thick she was having trouble breathing. It felt like she had never recovered from her sickness at all. Then there, across the street from the school she saw Blackberry.
She approached Blackberry but he was just standing there frozen, like a statue. Eventually she got just up next to him. The feeling of evil had gotten thicker the closer she had been getting to the school. “What, what is that? How can something be that wrong?” Said Sibyl.
The only sign of recognition that Blackberry showed was that he spoke, “No, it is too soon. Far too soon. None of them are ready yet. There is no way that they can deal with a Shadowed Soul yet. And this, this one, this is beyond all of my predictions.”
Sibyl hadn’t even been looked at Blackberry and Blackberry hadn’t been looking at her. They had both been looking at the school, toward the overwhelming presence that both of them could feel. “What can we do about that? Is there anything that we could even do about that?”
“No, it is impossible. All of us would die. I would be suicide to even try?”
A voice came from behind both Sibyl and Blackberry, “You two are just going to let that thing be free then?”
Finally both Sibyl and Blackberry turned to see Luna Star and Joy Lamb standing behind them. Joy looked sheepish, “Sorry Blackberry. I felt something strong and evil in the direction of the school so I called Luna. She said that we would all be meeting up outside of the school. However I didn’t realize how powerful this thing would be before we got here.”
Blackberry just shook his head in defeat. “Yes, we have to let it go. Even if we went in there then there would be nothing that we can do about that thing. It is leagues above anything that you have fought before. I was hoping never to encounter something this powerful. We need to turn around and head home Luna, you aren’t strong enough to beat this one.”
“I know.” Said Luna with a firm certainty, “This close even I can feel the presence of that monster. If I can feel it this strongly I can only imagine what it must feel like to the rest of you. But that is my school. What will happen if we just leave it there Blackberry. Think about the people who might die, people that I know. I can’t let that happen. So I’m going to go in and fight that monster.”
“If it was only a monster then I wouldn’t be this firm. Inside there is not just an Elder Darkness, it is a Shadowed Soul.” Said Blackberry in fear. Luna thought that was the first time she had ever heard him sound scared.
“A Shadowed Soul?” Asked Luna.
“Yes, a Shadowed Soul is an Elder Darkness that used to be human.”
“I see. Then that is all the more reason to enter. The two Elder Darknesses that I faced were very not human and I think that is why there weren’t any casualties. But if this one used to be human.”
Luna stepped past Joy, Sibyl, and Blackberry and stood near the edge of the street. “None of you need to follow me but I am heading in there. I’m not going to stand by with that person in my school. All of you need to decide what is most important to you.” Luna slammed the tip of her bat against the ground. “This city, those inside it, my friends and schoolmates, they are what is most important to me.” Then Luna stepped onto the street, walked across it, and passed through the school gates.
Those inside it
My friends and schoolmates
They are what is most important to me
Because I don’t have anything else
Without those what else would have have
The Star family?
I wouldn’t lift a figure to save them
The memory of my sister?
She would have wanted me to protect the city
I suppose the only other thing that would be important is my own life
But I wouldn’t able able to live with myself if I put my interest over everybody else
Yet Blackberry was right
There was no chance of us winning
I knew that which is why I was willing it enter
Had we been strong enough to challenge it then I would have been more cautious
I would have been willing to sacrifice a few to save even more
But that requires there to be a chance of winning
Against something like this it doesn’t matter how much time we have
It doesn’t matter how much we practice
It doesn’t matter how many times we escape to fight it again
We will still lose
And people will die and continue to die
There is really one one option against something like that
Made a crazy desperate wager
Go at it will all that you have and fight until your last breath
And hope you get lucky
Luck, that was all I had when I entered the school
Luck and a little bit of Crazy
Chapter 11: Beyond Black
Sibyl, Joy, and Blackberry stood outside entrance to the school. None of them were as certain of what to do as Luna. Eventually Joy said, “She went in there then. Should we go in there to bring her back?”
Blackberry shook his head, “There is nothing that we can do for her now. She is lost. All that we do if we enter there is kill ourselves. If we are lucky it might leave the city after killing Luna. Anything else that we attempt to do will be futile.”
“Futile? I’ve had enough of futile. I’ve had enough of waiting, hoping that my problems will go away. If I die I want it to be knowing that I at least tried to change my fate. I’ve already sat around while a powerful enemy prepared to kill me. At least this time I want to face it head on.” Sibyl took a few steps toward the school gate.
“No, you can’t go. Because of your illness your magical powers are too unstable. I hate to say this but you would almost certainly die against an Elder Darkness. There is not way that you could even face a monster like this. You would be throwing your life away.” Said Blackberry.
“If I stay then nothing will change. I will be the same person I have always been. I want to change, to be the person I have always wanted to be. That involves me going in after Luna. Sorry Blackberry but you are going to have to find another magical girl to join you.” Sibyl nodded at Blackberry and then at Luna then she followed Luna into the dark school building.
“She was the girl. The girl that you are Luna were looking for, the third magical girl?” Asked Joy.
“Yes but she wasn’t enough. Her magical power isn’t enough for her to be a magical girl who is capable of fighting an Elder Darkness. And now even that weak magic power is being lost.”
“She was brave.” Joy could feel her knees shacking, the fear was almost palpable for her. “I want to go in after them to help them fight but I can’t. My legs won’t move and I can’t control my fear. I know that if I go in there I will die. I just don’t know if I can face that.”
“Better that you didn’t. I will need you to protect this city in the future. With Luna gone I will need to find some new magical girls. If we can get a few more and gain several years of practice then we might be able to find a Shadowed Soul with only minimal casualties.” Blackberry turned and began walking away, “Come on. Let’s leave. It would be better to forget all about this.”
Yet Joy still couldn’t move. She wanted desperately to follow Blackberry, to leave and run away from the monster that was in the school but she still couldn’t move. She also wanted to follow Sibyl and Joy into the darkness, to face the evil inside together. Even if they died.
Then she could feel a voice inside her speak, a strange and comforting voice. ‘Is this the path you want? Whatever path you choose I will follow you. The path that you choose will change your life forever. Make sure that you choose the one where you will have no regrets.”
Joy looked down at the green braclet around her wrist, “Ouroboros, if that you.”
‘You need not fear where ever you go. I will protect you. Follow your heart and it and I will never betray you.” There was a jingle from her hand and the eyes in the serpent glinted in red. Joy looked up at the school and felt the shivering in her body quell. The fear that she had been feeling had left her and she finally knew what she should do.
“Blackberry, I’m sorry but your going to have to find your magical girls by yourself. I am already part of a team and I can’t abandon them here.” She shook her wrist to loosen up Ouroboros and then the went into the darkness.
Blackberry stood there alone. All of the girls had left him. His hopes had all left after an impossible challenge. They had all made foolish choices and now he was left with nobody.
“Are you going to leave them?” Blackberry turned to see the purple robed form of The Prince of the Firmament. He stood there quiet and reserved.
“Are you going to go after them and throw your life away as well.” Said Blackberry. His voice was dry and cold like somebody who had ceased to care.
“I could not abandon Luna would she flee to the ends of the earth. Walking into the mouth of death is nothing that I didn’t expect to do for her.” Said the Prince.
“Then leave me. It suits me. They always rush off into the darkness and die. It happens over and over again. I tell them to stop, that they will die, but they go in anyways. They never turn there back, they always act just like her.” Said Blackberry. There was a crack in his mask of boredom. There was deep sadness and fear.
“Have you ever considered that they die because you never went in after them?” Then the Prince followed the girls through the gate into the school.
“Every Day.” Whispered Blackberry to himself.
Luna walked alone through the darkness. She had already transformed and and in her black and white clothing. She had transformed a few times before she was able to do it fairly quickly. The lights in the school were all out so she only had the light from her clothing to guide her.
Luna could feel the presence of the Shadowed Soul above her. It was a bit disconcerting because she had never felt any of the Elder Darknesses. The feeling wasn’t very strong but it was very clear. It was the fact that she could feel it at all that made her know that it was strong.
She walked through the hallways of the school which were familiar but strangely creepy in the darkness. She stopped at her classroom on the way and checked inside. It was empty like she expected it to be but somehow that reassured her. Her path was fairly clear. She reached the stairs up to the second story and took them one step at a time. She reached the third floor and looked up the final flight of stairs to the room.
Luna took a deep breath and began to walk up the final stairs to the roof. She pushed at the handle leading outside and stepped out onto the roof. Luna could dimly see the figure of a girl standing in the middle of the roof. She was just a little shorter then Luna except that her hair was much longer then Luna’s and stretched down most of her back. It was a golden blond color and it swayed as she turned around to face Luna.
The girl was a plain black dress and she broke into a smile when she saw Luna. Her smile sent shivers up Luna’s spine. Yet far creepier was the way the girl was staring at her. Their eyes were locked on each other and Luna could tell that the girl was paying close attention to everything that Luna did.
Then the girl spoke, it sounded very nice. Like silk spreading over Luna’s ears but she could also tell that there was something dark and sinister behind those words, like silk covering spiders. “Hello child. Since your are out so late you must be looking for something. Is it me that you are looking for?”
Luna set the edge of her bat against the floor in a threatening manner. “Yes, I am looking for you. You see this is my school and I want you to leave it. If you won’t agree to leave peacefully then I will have to force you out. I hope you can understand where I am coming from.”
The girl looking monster laughed. It wasn’t the dark sinister laugh you might expect but instead it the the delighted laugh of a young girl. “Your school? It has been a long time since somebody has challenged me directly. But you see, this is my school to, when I was still someone like you I also used to go to school here. It was an interesting time.” The creature, Luna couldn’t think of the creature as a human, paused and then said, “You remind me of someone child, pray tell me your name.”
“My name is Luna Star and while this may have been your school once, I’m in charge of it now and I won’t let evil monsters take it from me.” Said Luna.
“Star, Star, the Many One spoke of that name before. Yet you don’t seem like the one she spoke of. Who are you child? Tell me.” Said the creature. Luna took a step back at he the creature’s words. Did it know someone else in her family. Was it her parents or one of her brothers.
“I am nothing more then what I already told you. I am just a girl protecting her school. There is nothing more that a monster like you needs to know.” Said Luna.
“A monster? You are so cruel to me.” The creature took a few steps toward Luna. “After all, aren’t you on your first steps toward becoming a monster? I’m just further along the path then you.” She continued to smile as she walked closer and closer to Luna. “Also, call me Remana. All of my friends do.”
Luna lifted her bat and it glowed in runes of black and white as she brought the bat down toward Remana. She used all the force that she could muster but Remana simply caught it with her bare hand and pulled the bat from Luna’s hands. She then through the bat out across the roof where it clattered against the ground.
“Now, now, we won’t be needing that. We are having a pleasant talk remember. Just you and me. Now I think it is time for you to learn some manners. Can’t have you attacking me whenever you feel like it.” Remana reached out and grabbed Luna’s arm. Luna could feel the magic coursing out of Remana and pushed back with her own. But it was in vain, she magic flowed into her and her world went white with pain.
Sibyl walked through the pitch darkness of the school. She didn’t know how to deliberately transform so she had not light to guide her through the hallways. At the windows into the school there was sometimes faint beams of light coming from the street. She used those to orient herself and continued toward the stairs. Her main guide however was the feeling of the two things above her. One was the Shadowed Soul. That dark feeling that she had felt during the dream remained and she could guide her path using that.
The other was also strong yet weak in comparison to the Shadowed Soul. She could tell that that one was Luna. When Luna had placed her hand on Sibyl shoulder back at her apartment she remembered the feeling of that. Sibyl felt small compared to both of those presences. Finally she found the stairs in the darkness and began walking up them. She wanted to go quicker but because she couldn’t see she had to go up them one at a time.
Finally she reached the landing leading up to the roof. She could feel the two of them up there. There was a light pouring through the crack in the door. Sibyl ran up the last few steps and grabbed the door. She pulled at it but it refused to move under her weight.
There was a melodic laugh that filled the air and filled her with dread. “I’m sorry child but I am entertaining myself with Luna. Please go and play elsewhere.” Sibyl felt the floor shift under her and the stairs behind her seemed to twist in plain pulling up. It was a noushious feeling like the whole world was turning upside down. The light slide up from the door toward the ceiling like she was in a giant elevator room.
Finally the motion got too much for her and she collapsed onto the ground. She held firm to the ground while the room rocked around her. After what seemed like endless torture the room stopped moving. Sibyl crawled toward the wall which she used to pull herself up. She was still dizzy from the entire experience. Once she got her feet she looked toward the door again.
It was different. In fact everything was different. The stairs she had climbed up to reach this place were now leading up. The door in front of her was an older wooden door. More disturbing then that was that she could no longer feel them. The Shadowed Soul and Luna had disappeared from her senses. The she realized the next strange thing. There were no lights and she could tell that it was dark but she could also make out the things close to her.
She looked down at herself and saw the faint blue glow emanating from herself. She was still wearing her normal cloths but somehow they were glowing just bright enough for her to make out some of her surroundings. There was a moment of hesitation and fear as Sibyl tried to figure out what to do. She no longer knew the right way to the monster or to Luna. She was by herself and alone in a place that she didn’t know.
Sibyl gritted her teeth, trying to drive away the uncertainty. She took a few steps forward and pushed open the door. She let out a quick yelp of surprise as cold water poured from the door over her. It pushed her back a few feet and when she recovered she was knee deep in cold black water.
She stepped through to doorway to find herself in empty blackness. There was nothing, just the rippling of dark waters for the few feet that she could see. The wall of the doorway stretched in either direction out of sight and she could not spot anything else in that reach of water. Sibyl took a few more steps forward before she finally made out a wall, but one that was unlike those she had seen before.
It was a rough stone wall which was mostly collapsed. Only the portion near her was still in tack, standing only four feet high. It was badly mortared and seemed to have been made in an age where that was popular. As Sibyl stepped nearer the wall she heard something move above her and a long inky black bird landed on the wall. It peered at Sibyl with black eyes which were somehow darker then the bird and the darkness around it.
“Traveler from the plane of light, turn back. This place is not for the likes of you. Turn back.” The voice was a whisper that came from all around Sibyl but she was certain that is was the bird that had spoke.
“Turn back were. I am looking for my friend Luna. Please tell me how to get to her.” Said Sibyl. She felt a little strange speaking with a bird but she had already spoken with a cat so she figured it must be alright.
“The one you seek is not here. You must return to your world to save her. No go before you attract the attention of something less kind then me.”
“How? How do I get back to my world?” Said Sibyl.
“You are already there girl. You only need to realize it. Now turn around and return. This is no place for you.” Then the bird spread its wings and flapped off into the darkness. Sibyl didn’t know where to go but off into the darkness with no idea of where to go seemed like a bad idea.
Sibyl turned around and was at first scared that she had become lost but when she walked a couple more steps she could see the wall and the door again. She stepped back through the door and pushed it closed again. It was hard work because of the water but she eventually managed to get it closed. Once that had happened she moved toward the stairs and began climbing up them. After the first few steps she was no longer knee deep in water.
She followed the stairs up. While the looked like the stairs in her school she could tell that she wasn’t in the school. At the top of each flight was nothing, just more stairs heading even high up. She walked up flight after flight, climbing higher and higher on the seemingly endless staircase. Finally at the top of one of the flights there was a window. There was faint light streaming in from the window and she walked closer to it so that she could look through it. It looked out over a vast drop which looked down into a street.
She recognized the street. It was the street outside of the school. Judging from the angle she would have had to have been in a tower high above the school but she knew that no such tower existed. Down in the street far below she could make out the small form of a cat. He was alone standing just outside the gates to the school. He just stood there.
Sibyl reached out toward the window but when her fingers got to where the glass would have been she felt solid wall. The entire image rippled and then dissolved beneath her fingers. There was nothing but wall where she had touched now. Not understanding what it meant Sibyl returned to climbing the stairs. They seemed endless in number and she was afraid that she could never reach the top of them.
Then finally there was a door at the top of one of the flights of stairs. It stood there unassuming but blocking her path. She reached out to touch it. She was worried that it would ripple and disappear before her figures and leave more stairs for her to climb. Instead her fingers pressed down against rough wood.
She was about to feel relief when she could feel something from the other side of the door. The presences of the Shadowed Soul and Luna were once again noticeable once she had touched the door. When she removed her fingers the feeling faded again.
Sibyl looked down the stair and couldn’t help but wonder aloud, “Where is this?” However she didn’t have much time to ponder the question because Luna needed her help. So Sibyl pulled open the door and stepped through. There was a moment of dislocation and she found herself back in the stairway just before entering the roof.
Quite a but had changed since she was last there. There was the other girl, Joy standing near the edge of the stairs. She held a sword made of scaled green. She was using it to chop down black shadowy forms that will moving up the stairs toward her. They were fast and numerous but anytime one of the got close to Joy she sword zipped out and cleaved it in half. By the time the movement was over it was darting to attack yet another one of the shadow monsters.
One of the shadowy monsters managed to slip past Joy. It loomed behind her and Joy didn’t notice. Sibyl yelled, “Watch out, behind you.” That short warning was all that Joy and Ouroboros needed. The sword danced in a circle while Joy turned. The shadow dispirited into a vanishing darkness. There were a couple more moments while Joy finished dispatching the remaining shadows and then everything was quiet.
Joy then turned toward Sibyl and gasped. “Oh, no, I’m so sorry. I thought I stopped all of them from getting to you. Please forgive me.” She sounded terrified and upset and Sibyl didn’t initially notice why Joy was acting like that. Then she looked down and realized that she was standing on her own body. Her legs were passing through her body and everything.
“I’m, I’m..” Sibyl stuttered.
“A ghost.” Whispered Joy in fear. She sunk to her knees in defeat, Ouroboros clattering to the floor next to her.
Sibyl was about to share in the same dismay of her own death when she noticed the small rise and fall of her own chest, the one of the body near her feet, “No, wait. I seem to still be breathing.” She knelt and looked herself in the face. It was a bit bizarre but she was certain now. “I am still alive.”
“What, that…” Joy moved over toward the collapsed form of Sibyl and checked for herself. “Your right, your still breathing. Then,” She looked up at Sibyl’s blue tinted form, “Then that is happening. You are this girl right, Luna said that your name was Sibyl.”
Sibyl nodded, “Yes, I am Sibyl. However I don’t know anything more then you did. I tried to open the door and then a voice spoke to me. I remember something strange about a room full of water and a endless staircase and then I was back here.”
“Do you think you can reconnect or something?” Asked Joy, “It is really creepy that there are two of you.”
Sibyl pressed herself against herself but there was no change to either of her. “It doesn’t seem to be doing anything. I can’t think of anything else that might fix this.”
There came a voice from down the stairs, “You need not worry. It looks like a natural manifestation of your talent.” Then the Prince of the Firmament walked up the stairs. He smiled at them charmingly and raised his hand, “Hear me out. Right now your power is condensed. Seperated from your body you will be more powerful.”
Sibyl frowned at the Prince, “Who are you?”
“Just an ally. Now you must go assist Luna. She is beyond that door with the monster. I will stay here and make sure that none of the shadows follow you.” He then smiled at Sibyl, “And I will make sure that no harm comes to your body.”
Joy looked at the Prince and said, “You know Luna will probably want to give you another smack or two for yesterday.”
“Should she be in good enough condition to do that then I will welcome it.”
Joy nodded and reached out to grab the hand of the ghostly Sibyl. She was kind of surprised when she found it solid and firm. “Let’s go.” Said Joy and together they pulled at the door. It opened with a grating sound and they stepped through into the darkness on the roof.
It was the first sign
The first step along the path of darkness
That meeting with the Shadowed Soul
Everything changed for me cause of that encounter
I meet something of complete darkness
Yet there was something inside me
Something even darker
That was just waiting to be released
Chapter 12: Hate
Luna gritted her teeth and pushed herself to her feet. She didn’t know how long she had been wracked with intense pain. It could have been minutes or hours, Luna had no way of telling. She remembered screaming and screaming. When she managed to rise to her feet she heard the chuckling voice of Remana.
“Still alive and still struggling. Your resolve is commendable. You are so fun to play with.” She caressed Luna’s cheek. “But don’t worry, soon you will break. Soon you will tell me everything and this pain will end. Luna slapped away Remana’s hand. Luna staggered backward several feet and pushed out her hand toward Remana.
Black and white motes began to form around Luna and then they shot out in Luna’s signature black-light beam. Remana tried to pull back out of the way but it was too late. The beam stuck Remana solidly and she fell back. There was a sizzling sound and splatters of a dark liquid spread across the ground around her. Luna didn’t waste any time gloating. She scrambled across the roof to where her bat had been knocked. She grabbed it and turned to face Remana.
Remana was beginning to recover. Luna could see that Remana’s face was a mass of dark leaking fluid however it was slowly beginning to knit itself back together. Luna could tell that her strongest attack had only inconvenienced the monster. Remana was move moving toward Luna and her swiftly repairing lips were parted in a smile.
“Naughty girls are going to get punished. You have been very naughty and now I am going to have to punish you. I do so like punishing people. You might even begin to enjoy it after you while however I hope that you won’t.”
Luna didn’t wait for Remana to punish her however she leaped toward her using all the magically powered speed that she could muster. She pushed the her bat directly at Remana bring the point directly into her rib cage. The Shadowed Soul may not have noticed it coming quickly enough or maybe she wasn’t able to move quick enough. Either way the bat hit Remana solidly and there was a grisly crack.
Luna then reached out and grabbed Remana by the face. The black and white motes began to appear again and then she blasted Remana with her black-light beam at point blank range. The beams shot directly through Remana boaring large gory holes in the creature. Luna didn’t give it a chance though. She brought the bat up and to the side knocking the creature to the floor. Then with every last drop of energy she shot it one more time with her beam. It was a wide thick beam carrying the weight of all the power that Luna had left.
Remana took it squarely to the chest. There was a explosion of energy and when the light from it disappeared Luna could only see an empty roof. She fell backward in sheer exhaustion, she didn’t have enough energy left to stand. However it looked like she had defeated the Shadowed Soul. At least that was the thought that she had for a few seconds before the laughter appeared again.
“So close, so close. To think that you still had that much power left in yourself. Yet it wasn’t enough was it. I even let you take it out on me to see what you were capable. How disappointing that that was all that you were capable of. I guess I thought too much of you.” The darkness began to congeal where Remana last stood. It swirled into a solid form which was similar to the one Remana was in before.
This time however her black dress seemed to be made out of flowing darkness. Luna tried painfully to stand to her feet but Remana swept toward Luna in an instant like her feet weren’t touching the floor and she was just passing through the air. Remana grabbed Luna by the arm in an instant and Luna heard the creak of bone breaking. The pain quickly followed and she was back on the ground in pain.
Remana stood over Luna’s broken and tired form. “You have nothing left do you. You couldn’t even try again if you wanted to.” Remana turned and looked at the door that lead back down into the school. “And look, your friends are finally here to rescue you. How nice for you. To show you how much I like you I’m going to give you a gift. I’m going to kill all of your friends in front of you before I kill you. You are free to try and stop me at any time. If you can that is.”
Remana then turned and floated eerily toward the door. Seconds later the door burst open and Joy and Sibyl stepped through. Joy was carrying Ouroboros in the form of a sword and Sibyl was glowing a strange blue. That flickering looked was back but this time it seemed more controlled, less random. She looked between the crumpled form of Luna Star and the shadowy figure of Remana.
Then Ouroborus was a bow and an arrow was already in the air heading toward Remana. However the arrow never reached its target. Strands of darkness lifted from the ground and plucked the arrow out of the air. Then they reached out and wrapped themselves around Joy binding her tightly. More strands pulled themselves around Sibyl. The two struggled against the force but it seemed like their efforts were in vain.
Ouroboros shifted form into a dagger to cut at the strands but they refused to cut beneath the blade. In just moments after they had entered the room Joy and Sibyl were bound and helpless at the mercy of Remana. She moved toward them slowly giving Luna and them time to fear her arrival. She stopped before them and asked backward toward Luna, “Which one should I kill first? Do you have a preference?”
Remana looked back at the form of Luna. Luna had been trying to get to her feet by propping herself up with her bat. She glared at Remana not wanted to give her an answer. Remana turned toward the two girls again and say, “Fine then I will begin with this one.” The strands of darkness began to ravel around her hand and in moments she held a weapon that looked remarkably like a scythe. She raised it up high and then brought it down toward Sibyl’s head.
The strange scythe sliced through Sibyl and Luna let out a scream. Yet instead of blood splattering everywhere the body seemed to disolve in a sparkly of blue motes of energy. Remana mused as she handled the scythe gently. “It seems that she was using a fake body. How unusual. I’m make sure to find her real body and kill it soon. Now I suppose I should go to the next one.”
Luna had been watching the proceedings. When the scythe had fallen down on Sibyl something had clicked inside her. She not just needed to some this monster, she needed to stop Remana. From the darkest depths inside Luna she wanted Remana dead. She dug into the darkness inside her, to the dark things inside her that she had long buried. She had wanted to keep them hidden forever but now she wanted blood.
Remana was beginning to raise the scythe again when she heard from behind her, “STOP.” The voice was cold and dark. Remana turned to see Luna standing once again. However something seemed different about her. Her bat was laying to one side next to her feet but it seemed like she was having no trouble standing.
She clothes looked kind of different. The white runes on her clothing had dimmed to an almost imperceptible level. Black runes along her clothing seemed to suck up the light, eating what little was being emitted by her white runes. But it was her eyes that had really changed. They were now pure silver inside a pool of darkness.
Remana stared at Luna with a kind of shock on her face. “You, what did you do?” However that was all that she had time to say. Black bolts of energy shot out from Luna toward Remana. She raised her scythe to block but that only served to delay the bolts as they passed through the scythe. Remana managed to shift mostly out of the way but her left are was caught in the blast. Where it had been there was nothing remaining just a stump which began dripping black oozing.
Luna stepped toward Remana who began to backpedal stepping farther and father away from Luna. She opened her mouth to speak but Luna didn’t care about words anymore. Black energy coursed around her figures and formed into the long form of something like a bat. Remana was far away from her but she passed through the distance in a matter of seconds. Remana tried shielding herself with a mass of shadows but the bat passed through them like they were not even there. It smacked into Remana and sent her flying across the roof.
She crashed into the wall near the stairway. Remana rose in a dark wreath of shadows. The darkness of the night began to expand behind her blotting out the lights of the city behind her. “Luna die, this will end you.” Then the wave of cold and fear rushed past Remana and toward Luna. Joy, now free from the tangling shadow, felt the darkness push by her and she scrambled back into the door leading to the stairs and out of the way.
That wave broke upon Luna and crashed against the floor around her ripping up tiles. However she stood firm against it barely moving from the force. Then she took a step toward Remana, then another one. One step at a time step moved into the wave of blackness and closer to Remana. With each step Luna took Remana took one backway. Soon she was pressed against the hard metal of the railing.
Then Remana took a very human action, she fled. The darkness that had been pushing forward suddenly began to pull backward. It sucked at Remana and Luna and behind Remana a hole appeared, a rip in the world which felt completely wrong. Then Remana turned and escaped into the hole and away from Luna. Luna however would not let her leave. She moved closer and closer to the hole and as it seemed to close she grabbed the edges of it and held it open.
Luna was about to step through the hole when Joy wrapped her hands around Luna’s chest and yelled, “No, stop, don’t go Luna.”
Luna’s eyes turned to Joy and the silver gems stared deep into Joy’s eyes. The something inside Luna seemed to regain a little control. She struggled against the portal but it was shutting around her so she tried to push Joy away. Then something small and black darted from behind Joy, it jumped at Luna’s arm and there was a few droplets of blood. Luna’s fingers twitched and her strength weakened. Joy used that moment to pull Luna backward, out of the hole. With one last suction of air the hole sealed, leaving them on the roof.
“What in the world were you attempting to do? Walk straight into a portal into the Abyss after you manage to win? Are you insane?” Came a voice from the small black form. Joy recognized the voice and Blackberry and sagged in relief.
Luna began to fall back, her previous exhaustion catching up with her. “Maybe.” She smiled wearily, “Thanks Blackberry.”
That was a change in me
The unleashing of something evil
How deep I went
How much I was willing to do
When does the right thing start becoming the wrong thing
And when does the wrong thing start becoming the right thing
Chapter 13: Dreams of Regret
Luna stood in the darkness again alone except for the creature that was out there. The light from her clothing was incredibly dim and she could barely see her own figure. Yet she could see enough to know that there was still something out there. There was no notion of time down here, just an endless eternity of darkness. Yet in that unending time something was changing.
A trickle of water spread across the floor near Luna’s feet. At least she thought it was water, in the dark all liquids seemed to look the same to her. The water was coming from somewhere and it was flowing too somewhere but Luna didn’t know either of these destinations.
Then there was a red light. It was far off in the distance, far way from Luna and the creature near her. She could see it and it was in the direction the water was also coming from. Yet Luna didn’t move. She was uncertain if the light and water were something real or if it was something that the beast made up to convince her to leave her little pool of light.
The red light was coming closer though. As it got nearer it split into two separate points and as it got even closer she saw that the light was affixed to the head of a person. The person was walking through the darkness toward Luna and Luna began to become terrified that somebody would find her or that the beast in the darkness would attack the traveler.
The person got closer and closer to Luna and then just feet away the person stopped. Even at this range they were mostly cloaked in darkness. The light near their head was dim and only revealed an outline. “Hello? Is somebody there?” Came a voice from the person, a woman’s voice.
The beast in the darkness moved closer to the figure, hunching over it like it was about to attack. The person did not seem to notice the monster that was looming over her though. Luna began shifting backward away from the beast and the person but the thin layer of water got in her way and she slipped, falling backward and making a rather large splash.
“Hello?” came the voice and the two points of light began to grow even brighter. The beast pulled back staying in the darkness as cone of light spread and covered Luna. With the red light this bright she was finally able to make out the features of the woman before her. The woman looked a little bit older then Luna, maybe around eighteen.
She had close cropped brown hair and thin rimmed glasses. She was wearing a simple gray shirt and matching pants which made her look rather ordinary. What wasn’t ordinary was that she had two red horns protruding from her forehead. They were glowing in that dull light which was filling a wide area. Matching the horns was a tail that protruded from a hole in the woman’s pants and her red painted pointed finger nails. She seemed rather odd.
“My, my, what do we have here? A girl alone in the Hollows. However did you manage to find your way here?” Said the woman in a questioning tone.
After finally seeing the woman Luna managed to find some of her courage. She stood up and tried to look confident. “I am more interested in figuring out why you are here. I had been under the impression that this was a dream. This begs one of two questions. Why are you in my dream or if this isn’t a dream then where am I?”
“Oh, a clever question. You must already have some experience if you are already thinking like that. Then are you already aware of your talent or are you just on the verge of awaking. Tell me, are you already capable of performing supernatural acts?”
“Your not answering my question.” Said Luna with a hint of annoyance in her voice.
“Indeed. It is not a simple question to answer and I want to understand what you are capable of so that I can give the correct answer for you.”
“I dislike people speaking in riddles.” Said Luna, “So I’ll answer your question but I expect you to do the same for me. Yes I am capable of supernatural acts however I’m not sure if I can beat the audacity of having red glowing horns.”
The woman laughed a little bit at that, “Yes I suppose that it is a little out of the ordinary but I can assure you that I had little choice over the matter. Now to answer you question, this place is similar to a dream but more real. Those with strong power sometimes find themselves here in the Hollows when they dream.”
“Then why are you here?” Asked Luna.
“By coincidence probably, I was traveling somewhere but it seems that there have been some drastic changes to this section of the Hollows since I was last there. The path that I once knew lead to a different place then I expected it to, you.” The woman looked up and down the stream that was flowing past them even though there was no apparent slope. “It is possible that you have something to do with that.”
“Me, what do you mean?”
“The Hollows is strongly tied to the people who live in an area. Unlike a lot of other sections of the planes this one it tightly connected and provides a convenient travel route that generally isn’t to dangerous. However large changes in people, especially people with unusual powers can have drastic changes on the paths. With you here and the paths being nothing like I remembered I can only assume you must have been involved.”
“Changed? I suppose I have changed, all of us have changed. Although I’m not certain if it was for the better. I almost made a big mistake and my friend only barely stopped me.”
“See, stuff like that can certainly change the Hollows.” The woman looked back and forth in the darkness. But you have a gloomy place here. You could do with some brightening, reminds me of the Sea.” She said the last word like it was a special place. Then her horns grew even brighter and the light continued to expand and expand. Finally it stopped at smooth carved stone.
The entire place was a large nearly spherical chamber. Along the stone walls where carved runes and seals in strange languages, and they were not similar to anything Luna remembered. However on the side of the room where the woman had entered there was a large crack in the stone leading into more darkness. Around the hole where wooden beams and braces holding the crack open. Inscribed on that wood was more runes, those ones Luna recognized at being the same ones on her magical girl outfit.
On the other side of the room was another crack in the wall with more beams holding it open. However the thing that Luna noticed distinctly was that there was nothing else in the chamber, no giant beast waiting just out of sight. Just her and the other woman.
“My this is a weird chamber, it is like a giant seal or something. Quite an interesting place that you have hear. Maybe you should install torches or something to keep to brighter and more pleasant.” Said the woman.
“There, there is something missing. The beast, it was just here. Yet when you shown the light everywhere I was no longer there.” Muttered Luna uncertainly.
“A beast? I’m fairly certain that there has only been the two of us here. Are you sure that it was here?”
“Yes, certain. It has always been her with me but when you filled the place with light..”
“Reality is kind of strange in the Hollows. It is possible that something was here and I didn’t sense it but that is another option. Maybe the beast that you sensed was a reflection.”
Luna stared at the woman for a while not wanting to say anything about it.
Then the woman spoke again, “Everyone had parts of them they don’t want to recognize is real.” The woman reached up and grabbed one of her horns for a second, “But there are places, places like the Hollows where it is impossible to hide from those parts.”
“Are you saying that the beast is me?”
“Possibly. It is always possible that there really was a beast that I couldn’t sense and that vanished then I filled the room with light but that is not the most likely possibility.” She smiled a kindly as possible, “But don’t try to worry too much. Just because there is evil inside you doesn’t make you evil, I should know that.”
Luna looked at the woman closely and then asked, “I’ve been too busy asking questions to cover this but who are you? I didn’t even know the Hollows existed before this but you seem to know everything.”
“Me, if you want you can call me Zephy. My friends used to call me that. Right now I’m moving. Certain changes in my career required me to leave my hold home. And you know how much air travel is these days. There is no way I could afford such an expenditure. It just seemed easier to travel through the Hollows while shipping the important stuff.”
Luna laughed at Zephy’s strange practicality, “Would it be safer to travel some other way. I can’t imagine how much more dangerous it would be to travel this way then it would to say drive.”
“I’ve done plenty of dangerous stuff. Something like this is a break by comparison. Plus the Hollows are relatively safe in comparison to a lot of other places. They are close enough to humans some strange creatures don’t tend to live here.”
“Your as crazy as I am. Where we are standing in a strange dream-like location discussing the benefits of traveling using magic compared to conventional travel.” Luna laughed slightly as she thought about the silliness of what they were doing. “I don’t think I actually introduced myself. My name is Luna Star.”
“Nice to meet you Luna. I’m sure that when you eventually wake up we will probably meet again. Considering the proximity of your realm on my path to my goal you likely live close to where I am moving too.” Zephy pulled a phone out of her pocket and glanced at the time. “Oh dear, look at the time. I had better get going. I’ll try and look you up when I get to Earth and we can talk again later. Bye.”
Zephy shook hands with Luna and then heading toward the other exit to the chamber. The light from her horns grew dimmer as she reached the passage out and she waved back and then finally she was gone and her light with her. Luna stood there alone again in the darkness. Whether was really part of her or but an etherial beast she could feel it again. Now that she was alone the beast was back, waiting and watching.
Luna shouted out into the darkness, “What do you want? Why are you here?”
There was no response, Luna hadn’t really expected any. Whatever that creature was it never spoke, maybe if it was really part of her then it expected her to speak for it. She didn’t know what to say to the beast. With Zephy gone Luna had nothing left to do but wait in the darkness to wake up and to think. She had plenty of time to think.
“How long do you think she is going to sleep for?” Asked Joy. “It has already been two days. Could it really just be exhaustion after this long.”
“I really can not say.” Said Blackberry, “This sort of sleep is unusual. You are right that if it was just exhaustion at this point. There must be something else. Maybe she stained her mind and magic and is in a coma state. If that is turn then I don’t know how long she will be asleep for. It could be days or weeks or even longer.”
They were sitting around in Luna’s bedroom. Luna was laid out on the bed. She was breathing deeply but otherwise she was still. Joy was sitting on the bed next to Luna and Blackberry was right there next to them. Sibyl was sitting at the chair at Luna’s desk. All of them had worried looks and didn’t know what to do about Luna.
They had been doing there best to take care of Luna since the night at the school. After what happened they had to bring her back home because she hadn’t woken up. Blackberry had then watched over her almost constantly since then and Joy and Sibyl had been coming back regularly to check on her.
Finally Sibyl broke the silence again, “Isn’t there some magic thing that we can do to help her. There should be something that we can do to help her. I hate not being able to do something about about this.”
“If there is something that we can do with magic then I don’t know it. My experience in magic mainly has to do with magical girls and Elder Shadows beyond that I have a very limit set of magical knowledge.” Said Blackberry regretfully.
More gloomy silence filled the apartment bedroom. Just as the gloom began to get stifling there was a ring on the apartment doorbell. Everybody started and then looked at each other all of them wondering who should answer the door. Eventually Blackberry said, “One of you will ned to go check the door. I don’t have opposable thumbs so there are some things that I can’t do.”
It was Joy who finally stood up and walked out of the bedroom. Sibyl and Blackberry decided to follow to make sure nothing weird happened. Joy opened the door and asked, “Hello? Can I help you?”
On the other side was a young woman who looked a little bit older then them. She had close cropped brown hair and thin rimmed glasses. Her rather plain looking gray clothing made her look rather unassuming. “Um, yes, is this where Luna Star lives?”
Joy looked back at Sibyl and then back at the stranger before saying, “Yes but she is currently unavailable. We could take a message if you want and we will give it to her when she is available.”
“Unavailable? Is something wrong?” Asked the woman in a worried tone. “I hope that nothing has happened.”
There was another shared look between Joy and Sibyl before Joy said, “No, nothing is wrong. She has just been busy lately and is using the time to relax. I apologize for the inconvenience.”
“Oh dear, it is one of those shared looks. Something serious must have happened if you are being that mum about it.” She then paused for a moment while thinking, “Oh dear, oh dear. That must mean that she hasn’t woke up yet. If she has been in the Hollows all this time.” There was a change in her manner and two red dots began to appear near her forehead. “It would probably be best if you let me see her.”
However the sudden change in behavior caused both Joy and Sibyl to jump back in surprise. Joy whispered, “Ouroboros Awaken,” And there was a shifting of green as the bracelet turned into a sword that Joy held at the ready.
The woman however raised her hands, “I’m not trying to hurt you. I just wanted to show you that I’m not your average person. Please put your weapon. If Luna is still sleeping then I might be able to help you.”
Sibyl stared the woman and asked, “Why should we trust you. Even if Luna is sleeping then that isn’t a reason for us to let you in. How would you know about something like that anyways. How can we know your not aligned with the Elder Darknesses or one of the Shadowed Souls.”
“You have been fighting Elder Darknesses and Shadowed Souls? Is that what caused her to fall into such a state? You must you skilled and crazy to attempt to do things like that and come out alive. Now I know I might not seem trustworthy but I am trying to help I promise. You might not understand but I was traveling through the Hollows when I encountered her dream self. We talked for a while and I said that I would look her up when I finished moving it.”
The woman continued, “It took me a while longer to finish moving and to figure out where she lived that I wasn’t able to arrive until today. If she had been sleeping since then and has had her dream self be in the Hollows for that long then she must be in trouble.”
Blackberry finally broke his silence and said, “It sounds like she is telling the truth. I have heard of these Hollows before and it is likely that she is telling us the truth in that regard. If we don’t rely on her then who knows when Luna will awaken. Plus I can tell that she had strong magical talent, we should at least listen to her suggestion.”
“Head the talking cat. He knows what he is talking about.” Said the woman. Finally Joy and Sibyl relaxed. Ouroboros shifted back into a bracelet and Joy said, “Fine, I’ll give you a chance. Come in and we will let you look at Luna. Then the woman, Zephy, stepped through the door and Joy shut it after her.
They walked through Luna’s apartment and Zephy said, “We should keep our introductions short. You can call me Zephy, that is what I told Luna to call me.”
“I’m Joy and this is Sibyl. The cat is Blackberry.” Joy pushed open the door to Luna’s room and showed Zephy inside. “Here is Luna. She has been in this state for days. Please, if you can help then do so.”
Zephy nodded and kneeled down near the bed. She placed her hand on Luna’s forehead and held it there. The red glowing points on her forehead shifted blue and then white as she concentrated.
Sibyl moved up next to Zephy and asked, “What are you doing? Is it some way of telling what is wrong with her?”
“Yes, I’m getting a feeling for her and trying to figure out why she is trapped in the Hollows.” Said Zephy. The lights began to fade back into two red points. “There are a lot of reasons someone could be stuck in the Hollows. In her case it seems to be Abyss contamination.”
“Abyss contamination?” Asked Sibyl, “As a result of fighting the Shadowed Soul I suppose. What exactly does it mean though?”
“More likely she drew upon the Abyss as a power source. That can cause some bad side effects for people who aren’t used to it. One of the primary side effects is Abyss contamination. Abyss contamination usually doesn’t cause long term problems except for people with an affinity for other worldly travel. It can keep people locked in someplace like the Hollows without a way out.” Explained Zephy.
Sibyl nodded in attention, “And how can you fix this sort of contamination? It sounds like you have seen symptoms like this before. Does that mean that you can do something about it?”
“The good news it that it isn’t permanent. Low levels of contamination usually fade in a couple of days or so and then the person is as good as new, assuming something doesn’t happen to them while they are in the Hollows. The bad news is that Luna seems to have a high level of contamination. It could take weeks or months for it to ware off if we left her to herself. The main problems in those causes is that the change of them being found by something nasty in the Hollow rises significantly and people can die in that state.”
Zephy raised her hand to keep anybody from interrupting her while she spoke again. “While I am fairly certain that Luna will be able to survive that long in the Hollows, I don’t think that we should just leave her here and let it wear off. That sort of prolong exposer to the Hollows can have strange effects on people. I personally recommend that we fix the problem and wake her up, that way nothing bad happens to her and she will be available if anybody needs her.”
“So how do we do that?” Asked Sibyl who seemed to be taking charge of figuring out what was wrong with Luna from Zephy.
Zephy grimaced, “We need to break her out, a tricky business.”
“Break her out?” Asked Sibyl.
“Yes, there as passages through the Hollows to and from Earth. Basically you need to physically go into the Hollows and then find Luna’s dream form and the lead it out of the Hollows. When she manages to escape back to Earth that should force her awake and effectively fix the Abyss contamination.” Said Zephy.
“Is that all there is too it? That seems relatively simple compared to some of the other stuff we have done.” Said Joy, finally breaking into the conversation.
“Well, there is a little bit more to it. You need to keep the mental trauma to a minimum. Basically that means that when she leaves the Hollows and arrives on Earth in needs to be near her real body. The closer the better to avoid mental trauma.”
“So what do we need to do?” Asked Sibyl.
“I’m going to have to force open and entrance to the Hollows here and then you have to go in, find Luna, and then lead her back through the entrance that I created. Simple in concept but there are certainly going to be complications.” Said Zephy.
“What sort of complications?”
“The first is finding Luna. The Hollows aren’t exactly the easiest to explore and find what you want. Luna should be close to the entrance but that is only relative to the size of the Hollows. Then there are the other inhabitants of the Hollows.”
“Because it is connected to the Abyss right?” Said Blackberry.
“More or less. Generally not creatures of the abyss itself but there are strange things living in the Hollows, things of human nightmares. They will want to trick you or kill you. They shouldn’t be a major problem for you but you should still be careful.”
Blackberry stared directly at Zephy, “What about you? Wouldn’t you be in the most danger from them because you would be holding open a gate into Earth. Some of them might want to escape into our world and my job is to prevent that sort of thing.”
Zephy nodded reluctantly, “You are right to a point. They will try to escape past me but I have made certain *pacts* which should help me prevent them from entering this world. However if you are worried about it then you are welcome to stay here with me and keep an eye on both that gate and Luna. Is that fine Blackberry.
Blackberry nodded and said, “Yes, that should be acceptable.” He turned his gaze to Joy and Sibyl. “Will you two be able to find Luna without me. Both of you have good enough sense to be able to find Luna even without me. Is that alright?”
Joy nodded, “Yes we should be alright without you. We are magical girls after all. We will be find on our own.”
Sibyl coughed to get everyone’s attention, “Over the last couple of days I have been practicing my powers and I think it would be useful in this situation. Just give me a second while I transform.” Sibyl stretched out her hands in front of her and said “Magical Power hear my call and be set free.”
The white runes appeared around her and a few transformation moments later she was wearing her blue costume. Zephy smiled in amusement, “That is a rather interesting theme that you have there. I’m assuming that Blackberry is responsible for that, assuming you all show that particular method of transformation.”
Blackberry glared at Zephy, “Yes, do you have a problem with it. There is a long, time honored tradition of magical girls using transformation sequences just like that.”
Sibyl coughed again, “I was going to show you what I had been practicing if you would care to pay attention.” Once she had their attention again she sat back down at the desk chair. There was a blue flickering glow and then a translucent form of Sibyl stepped out of her own body.
“Ohh, your Sibyl special ghost form.” Said Joy, “You figured out how to do it deliberately.”
Sibyl’s spectral form nodded, “Indeed, plus I learned a few new tricks to help make it even more interesting. Watch.” The spectral Sibyl took several steps away from her body and then her body began to move. It was slow movement and it raised its hand and waved at the spectral Sibyl. “I can remotely control my body. In my tests I was even capable of controlling it from across the city. Though I’m not certain if I can do it from a different world. This way however I can compensate for my body and I can do things I normally wouldn’t be able to do.”
Blackberry nodded in approval, “Certainly a useful talent. I’m sure it will come in handy and hopefully it will work while in the Hollows so that you can give some feedback.”
Joy giggled a little, “My own personal ghost assistance. It’s like a have my own comic strip or something.”
Blackberry tried to return the group to the game plan, “Well, now that we have that sorted. Zephy, do you think we are ready to begin?”
“Just a moment,” Said Joy, “I need to transform too.” She did the same thing that Sibyl did and a few moments later she was in pink and ready to go. “Alright, now I’m ready.”
“Good, now assuming the cat doesn’t need to transform I’m going to open the portal.” Zephy moved toward the outside wall and then spread her arms. The two points of red light on her head burst into fire and congealed into two red horns. Another flicker of fire at her waist and she had a tail. Her hands glowed in fire and her nails became painted red. The she reached out with her hands and pulled at the air.
There was a weird sound of ripping and there was a line running down the wall. Zephy pulled at it and it opened into a hole what led into some sort of dark room. The light from the Luna’s room didn’t illuminate that much into the room and neither Joy nor Sibyl could make out much from the other side.
“Alright, the passage is open. Now I’ll keep it open as long as I need to but you should try to finish as quickly as possible. You are inexperienced in the Hollows so it is best of you spend as little time there as you can. Also the quicker you rescue Luna the better it is for her, remember she has already been here for days.” Said Zephy.
Joy and Sibyl nodded at each other and then Sibyl walked through the portal. Joy waited until Sibyl was all they way through before following after her. Blackberry remained behind with Zephy and once they could no longer see the two of them through the portal asked, “Do you think that they will be alright?”
“If you are telling the truth about them fighting a Shadowed Soul and surviving then they should be fine. Compared to something like that the Hollows are going to be easy.”
“They were lucky to survive the Shadowed Soul. It was only because of the strange power that Luna unleashed at the last moment that we were able to survive and force it to escape. That is what landed us in this situation too.”
Then like the voice coming over an intercom system the body of Sibyl spoke, “Thank you for worry about us but we are currently fine.”
“I see that you can talk across the dimensions just fine. That is reassuring. Keep us informed of anything important that happens to you.” Said Blackberry.
There was a long pause, “We will do so. However there seems to be some lag while connecting to my body. Important matters won’t reach you quick enough. Also I can’t really do anything while keeping up the communication. Just keep that in mind.”
Blackberry nodded and then realized she might not notice something like that and said, “I understand.”
Sibyl’s spectral form nodded and she ended the connection with her body. It was difficult keeping the connection open, the distance and dimensional change made the connection difficult. “Alright, I made contact with them.” Said Sibyl to Joy.
“Alright. Now we need to find Luna.” Said Joy. They had traveled for a couple of minutes before the attempted communication. They had arrived some sort of cavern and it had taken them a while to find any sort of exit to the place. It was very natural looking and they had managed to location a few exits to the place. Once they had those discovered they made contact back to Blackberry and Zephy.
“Well, there are several exits. I can feel Luna’s presence because it is quite distinctive so it is easy to tell which direction she is in. However there are several of the passage ways that she could be down and we have no way of knowing which way is the right one.” Said Sibyl.
“Well we should stick together, otherwise who knows what might come after us while we are alone. Perhaps we should just choose one of the passages at random and if it doesn’t feel like we are getting closer to Luna then we will turn back and try another route.” Said Joy.
“Yeah, while I’m fine with splitting up because I don’t have to worry about injures it would still be safer to stick together. Now I recommend going that way,” Sibyl pointed toward one of the passage ways. “While her presence isn’t as strong that way I feel like there is a nasty breeze coming from that directing and I think that it will lead us to Luna.”
Joy blinked her eyes and superior, “You want us to go in the direction that you sense danger.” Joy took a deep breath before continuing, “But I think you are probably right. With Luna here she is probably in the most dangerous location in place and going straight toward it is probably our best best.”
Sibyl nodded and then the two of the began walking through the passage way. It was slightly tilted downward and it was a big low so the both had to hunch a little bit. At least Joy had to hunch, Sibyl did something and she shrunk becoming a little big smaller then she normally was. Considering she was already small that was saying something.
Joy wanted to make sure she was ready in case anything happened so she whispered, “Ouroborus Awaken.” The bracelet shifted and became a small dagger. Good for close quarters combat and she knew that now that it was activated it could became anything that she needed it to in just and instant and less then a thought.
The passage eventually changed to become mortared brick. It eventually opened up into a large room full of long stone slabs. Joy whispered to Sibyl, “Is this a tomb?”
“Certainly looks like it.” Whispered Sibyl back. The room was lit by torches and they could made out that the stone slabs were actually giant sarcophaguses. There very even cubbies in the walls that had wrapped figures in them. They were probably dead, or at least Joy really hopped that they were dead. Sibyl continued, “Quite creepy really, I wonder whose mind dreamed this up. Do you think it was Luna?”
“I certainly hope not.” Said Joy still in a whisper like she was afraid that the dead would hear her talk and decide to change her living state.
“I’m going to check with Blackberry and Zephy. Maybe Zephy has some idea of what we are looking for or what Luna’s place looks like.” Said Sibyl then her form changed and became more indistinct. It had happened this way before when she had contacted them the last time but this time she was even more faded.
“Um, Sibyl? Are you there? Doesn’t leave me alone in the creepy tomb. It is almost like the dead are going to awaken and come after me.” Said Joy and as if on queue there was a groaning creaking sound. One of the tomb lids was getting pushed aside from the inside. “Sibyl, hurry. I fear they might have heard me and have decided to wake up.”
However Sibyl just stood there indistinct as the corpses of people began to crawl out of their tombs and out of the some ledges and began to shamble toward Joy. They began to get close to Joy and she gritted her teeth and said, “Alright Ouroboros, we can do this.”
Then the dagger flickered and expanded becoming a large axe that swept out easily and decapitated one of the undead. The axe continued to arc in a long motion bringing it into another of the undead and keeping the others out of arms reach. They pushed in but the axe swung again and brought down another one.
“Ouroboros, this isn’t fast enough. They are still coming in.” Said Joy in terror. Then the axe split, breaking into two parts, two half axes. With one in each hand they split their attacks between the undead keeping them back. After several moments of chopping the undead were down. Then Joy had one terror filled moment as the part of the dead that she had chopped to bits began to move again.
They began to crawl toward her. “Ouroboros, we need a new strategy.” However Ouroboros shifted to an already used strategy. It blazed red in fire and become red like an ember. Joy’s arm reached out and the room filled with fire, blazing hot and bright but Joy barely felt anything. Moments later the room was scorched empty except her, Sibyl’s faint image, and a bunch of stone sarcophaguses.
There were a few moments of silence and Ouroboros shifted back into dagger form in case it was needed by Joy again soon. Then Sibyl flickered into solid form again. “And I’m back. Zephy says you should mention any thing about U N D E A D because thoughts in the Hollows can sometimes have a nasty habit of coming true.”
Joy looked exasperated. “That would have been great to know a few minutes before I was attacked by a huge swarm of undead looking to eat me. Anything else you would like to report, hopeful that won’t be too late.” Joy sounded a little bit annoyed.
Sibyl noticed the lids of the coffins had been pried off and then glanced at the ashy piles near Joy’s feet. “I see, sorry it took me a bit to get back. The connection quality to really terrible now. It seems the farther from the portal the harder it is getting to connect back to my body. Also Zephy mentioned that the room that she found Luna in was a large circular chamber with lots of strange runes covering the walls. There wasn’t any other important things she wanted me to mention.”
“Good, now I think that the doors over there provide the best option toward Luna. I think I can feel her presence coming from that direction me clearly.” Said Joy and she moved toward the doorway. She pushed at the door but it seemed shut tight. “But it seems to be locked or something and it is made of solid stone so I don’t know if we can get through this way. I suppose Ouroboros might be able to do something about it though.”
Sibyl looked and the door and felt at the seam. “Let me see what I can do.” She pushed at the door and her form turned foggy. Then she began to pass through the door. A couple of moments later she was on the other side of the door. Joy could hear her say from the other side, “It is bared from this side of the door. Maybe to keep the undead in. I’ll unbar it just wait a second.” There was the sound of something heavy being moved and then Sibyl pulled the door open. “Alright, Let’s go.”
“You are incredibly useful you know that. How do you do something like that?”
“Can’t really explain but if you ever find yourself without a body then I think I would be able to help you.” Said Sibyl.
“I’ll keep that in mind, although I’ll try to avoid being without a body at any point.” Said Joy.
The passage led deeper down although Sibyl wondered if down had any real meaning here. It might be possible to continue to head down and down and then you end up where you had started. It just felt like that kind of place. The place opened up into an almost normal looking light. The room looked like a giant forest except the trees were like giant flowers.
Joy and Sibyl looked up and there seemed to be clouds up in the city like the passage had opened up into a valley which was cut deep into the rock. There was no path through the flower forest so they wandered through the trees toward the feeling of Luna.
“This is an unusual thing to find in the Hollows. Very different from the other places. Who do you think is responsible for this place?” Pondered Sibyl.
“No idea but it is nice compared to the darkness of all the previous passages. Pity that it will probably return to those dark caverns after this. Do you think there is anything strange hiding in the flower forests. Seems a rather unusual place to hide I suppose.” Asked Joy.
“It’s just assume that there is nothing out there. Remember this place can respond to people’s thoughts. If we think that there is nothing in the woods then there is probably nothing in the woods. And if there is then we are more then capable of dealing with it. That is probably the best thought process.” Said Sibyl.
“Good point,” Said Joy and forced a smile the best that she could. They continued to walk through the forest and Joy thought she saw an animal off in the forest somewhere and she decided that it must be a deer. Deer liked forests and it wouldn’t be strange to see a deer even if the forest was made of out flowers.
Finally the reached the edge of the forest and found a passage in the wall that would leave the strange forest. Joy looked back at the forest this time with a real smile, “I suppose some places here aren’t that bad. If only all of the areas were like this.”
Sibyl nodded in agreement. “Yeah. Luckily there was a passage nearby. This is the best route toward Luna so I’m glad we won’t have to go too far out of the way to find the right way.”
The passageway continued to slope down as they continued the long path toward where they felt Luna. “Is it just me or does Luna still feel far way.” Asked Joy.
“I agree. She does fear far away. I wonder how far we will have to go to find her.” Said Sibyl.
Eventually the path evened out and they walked straight for a ways. There were a few splits and turns here and there but they kept on Luna’s trail through the tunnels. They did however make sure to mark there path. Sibyl felt fairly certain she could find her way back even without them but it would be safer this way.
Finally they came across a hole in the passage which was propped open with several large beams like a mining shaft. The wood was carved with a bunch of black and white runes.
“This, these runes. This is it.” Said Sibyl, “This is the entrance that Zephy mentioned.”
“Then Luna should be just through here.” Said Joy and she walked through the crack in the wall and into large dark chamber. She could see the flow of water running toward her from across the chamber. She walked several steps inside the room before finally saying the thing that she had been afraid was true, “She isn’t here.”
Sibyl was following right behind Joy and said, “Yes, she is still far way. I wonder where she might have left to.” She shook her head, “This is a problem. I’m going to contact Zephy. Try and shine some light here and see if there is any clue you can find out where Luna might have left to.”
Joy was having Ouroboros shift into something that began to generate a lot of light. Sibyl began to contact her body. She had to strain to be able to sense herself. The distance was beginning to get beyond what should could easily reach. Sibyl wondered what would happen if she went too far away for her to be able to reach her body. Then the finally manage to make a connection. It was a weak connection and it took everything that she could manage to keep it open.
“Hello Zephy, Blackberry, are you there?” She asked through her lips. She could only manage an audio channel, visual data was just too much for her to do.
“Yes, we are where.” Came the voice of Blackberry. “Have you found Luna yet?”
“There has been a problem.” Responded Sibyl and she could tell that her voice was weak and faint. “We found the location that Zephy mentioned however Luna isn’t there. She must have left however I can’t imagine where she might have went to.”
There was a long pause on the other end and finally Zephy spoke, “That is a problem. Straying from your home realm while in a dream state can be dangerous. Things would be more real for her then they would be for either of you. You should find her as quickly as possible. Let’s hope she left because she just got tired of waiting and not because something power found her. You will probably need to go deeper in to find her.”
“The only thing that we can tell is that she is still far away however we will do the best that we can to locate her. It should be noted however that I don’t know if I will be able to contact you again until we have found her. The distance from the portal is causing the connection to be extremely weak, too much deeper and I won’t be able to make a connection.”
There was a little more lag, “Alright, just be careful.” Came Blackberry’s voice, “There have already been two attempts to get past Zephy by creatures from the Hollows. We can keep it clear here for a while longer but try and get Luna as quickly as you can.”
“I will. Good Luna there too.” Said Sibyl who the broke off the connection. She turned to see the entire room illuminated by the brightly glowing green lantern. “Is there nothing that Ourboros can not become?” Asked Sibyl.
The room was brightly illuminated and Sibyl could make out the strange unknown runes all over the walls. The ones on the wood had been the same ones that the magical girl transformation sequence used but the ones on the wall were like nothing she had seen before.
Joy answered while Sibyl was examining the room, “Complicated gadgety I believe. It can simulate a lot of those effects with various magical power though. However I’m not certain that its real limits are.” She looked at the lantern and then said, “Actually I think Ouroboros might be getting better. I’m not sure if it could have done double axe or flaming inferno before.”
“Or maybe it can do more because it is in the Hollows. I suppose you will have to test that later to find out.” Said Sibyl. “Now Zephy said that we may need to go deeper to find out where Luna is but I’m not exactly sure what deeper means in a place like this.”
“While I’m not certain if it count as deeper there is the direction that the water is coming from. It could be that Luna went that way in an attempt to find an exit. That is where I would head if I didn’t know where the exit was.” Said Joy.
Sibyl nodded, “Yes that seems the most likely path. Plus that is the way I can feel Luna’s presence coming from. We had best be careful though. The path that Luna chose to escape is probably leading directed into the most dangerous parts of the Hollow.”
They continued through the passage the water was coming from. They couldn’t tell if it was leading up or down but because of the flow of water it must be leading up. The passage twisted and turned and split and branched but after a long while they found the path actually rising. The passage turned into stairs and then they stepped out into a rough mound of dirt. All around them was pitch black water stretching as far as they could this.
Sibyl shivered as she remembered the first time she had left her body, “This reminds me of that time. Maybe it was here.”
Joy tilted her head, “Here? What do you mean.”
“When I first left my body it was because of something that the Shadowed Soul did and I found myself in a place like this. There was a large body of dark water and a tower. I proceeded some of the way into the water but I was told by a giant black crow that I should return and I followed his advice.” Said Sibyl.
“Do you think that this was that place then?” Asked Joy.
“Maybe. All that was similar was the black water. Maybe there is a tower out there with a nearly endless staircase that leads to our school. Maybe that is what Luna is looking for.”
Joy and Sibyl stared off into the dark waters. Then Joy said, “I guess we need to go out there looking for her. Who knows how far this lake will go.”
Then they began wading through the water toward where they felt Luna. “We are getting closer to her. Just a little more and we will find her.” Said Joy although she could feel the icy cold up to her knees. Ouroboros glows orange slightly and Joy could feel the cold chill fade from her legs.
Sibyl was able to walk along the surface of the water and avoid getting wet at all. That put her a little taller then Joy even with her currently smaller size. She hadn’t bother to change back to normal size once they had exited the smaller tunnels.
There was the loud flapping of wings and something flew over them in the darkness. There the was a soft cracking from just outside there side. They paused afraid to take a few more steps when a voice came out of the darkness at them. “So you have returned. You ignored my warning and came back after everything. Why would you do something like that.” The voice was harsh and involved multiple clacking.
Then Sibyl began to walk to the voice and Joy followed her. Soon the light illuminated a broken form of the tree rising out of the water. On the three was perched a large black bird that looked like it was dripping darkness. The stared at them with black formless eyes.
“This time I am not going back.” Said Sibyl. “There is somebody I must find and I won’t leave until I do.”
“Searching for somebody? In the Ocean of the Lost? A foolish endeavor. You will find nothing but fear and horror here. Then you will never be able to escape. Is that what you desire? Return back where you came, return to the safely of the caves and do not come back. This will be your last warning.” Said the bird.
“Then you are done here.” Said Joy, “Given a choice I would rather not visit this place but we need to find Luna. We are not going back until we find her.”
“You heard her.” Said Sibyl, “We have made up our mind and there is nothing that you can do. Now if you are not going to help us then leave.”
The bird cocked its head, “You seek the harbinger of madness, the uncontrollable one. To seek such a beast if folly that could end in the destruction of not just you but all of your world. Yet,” The bird brought its head town toward the two of them. As it got closer they realized how big it really was. Its head was at least twice the size of theirs. “You believe differently though. How unusual. Are you the allies of the beast, the world, or both? Who will you side with when the madness is unleashed.”
Sibyl and Joy mulled over the birds words, trying to make sense of them. Joy finally managed to said, “Luna, the Harbinger of Madness? What do you mean?”
“You do not truly understand that which you seek. The darkness wraps you up and conceals you from the truth.” The bird raised its giant wings, “Then follow the path that you seeks. Find the island of madness where the beast sleeps. Read the Prophesies of the Phases. Then you will understand the truth.” It flapped its giant black wings and lifted into the air.
As it began to move Sibyl yelled at it, “How do we find Luna and this island?”
“You already see the path. It moves before you and shows you the way. Follow it and you will learn everything that you wish you never knew.” Then it flapped again and was gone, leaving too quickly for them to answer any more questions.”
Sibyl watched the bird leave now with more questions then answers. Finally she voiced one of her questions to Joy. “What do you think the bird meant? Was it really talking about the same Luna that we know?”
Joy rubbed her shoulders to keep warm even though Ouroboros was keeping her plenty warm. “I don’t know but all that talk about madness is creepy. Do you think that Luna really is on this Island of Madness and what do you think that we will find there?”
Sibyl raised her arms in equal confusion and shook her head, “I don’t know any more then you do. However we should continue to follow Luna’s presence. If she really is on the Island of Madness then we will reach it before we find her.”
Joy could only nod in agreement. They left the crumpled old tree in the water and walked off toward the feeling of Luna. Neither of them spoke while they walked because they feared that they might speak some unspoken worry about Luna and about what they were doing. They didn’t want the other to question their believe in Luna. So instead they worried alone, suffocating on unspoken fear.
After what felt like an endless eon they felt the water levels lower and realized that they were stepping onto what must be an island in the water. This one was covered in strange white foliage which must have somehow grown despite not having even seen the light of day. Tall white trees and vines made the island look like a jungle. Joy couldn’t tell how far the island extended too or even if it was really an island. It could have been the beginning of some lightless continent.
“The feeling of Luna is close.” Said Sibyl, “Luna must be close. But I feel something else on the island too. Something that is,” She paused trying to describe the feeling, “Trying to hide its presence. However I can’t determine any other details.”
“Strange, I can’t feel anything other then Luna and I can feel her quite clearly, Are you certain you feel something else out there.” Asked Joy.
“Yes, I am certain. I think the reason that I can sense it is because it is on the same wavelength was me. It seems to be come kind of magic that dampens the feeling of the caster’s presence. The muffling part is similar to my projection form so it was weaken against my detection. We should be extra careful. While I can sense there is somebody there I can not tell how powerful that person might be. Let us avoid a fight if we can.” Said Sibyl.
Joy nodded and the two of them began walked onto the island. As soon as they stepped into the jungle they could feel eyes on them. There were things out in the white jungle watching them, lots of things. Sibyl and Joy could hear whatever was out there breathing.
Once the two of them were out of sight from the water the creatures decided to strike. Out of the shadows came six large silver animals. They had the raw might of wolves combined with the sleek movements of panthers. Together they rushed at Joy and Sibyl before anyone could thing to response. But not to quick for Ouroboros. It was a sword in an instant and skewered one of the animals.
One of the creature bit deep into Sibyl with what would normally be a fatal wound but Sibyl simply stared the beast in the eyes and there was a pulse of energy and then the sound of thunder. The beast collapsed on the ground next to Sibyl, charred by an enormous electrical burn.
The remaining four group together and made a joined assault against Sibyl who already seemed to be wounded. Two of them never reached their destination as green arrows sprouted from their heads. Ouroboros had shifted faster then the beast could react. The other two reached Sibyl but she was prepared this time and she faded as they reached her. They passed directly through her. By the time they realized what had happened Sibyl had reformed and the hair on the back of Joy’s neck stood on end.
Blue lightning arced from Sibyl to one of the beast and then the other. There was a sizzling sound as the lightning passed through the beasts. Then the moment was over and the lightning was gone. The beasts had one moment to turn and realize that something was terribly wrong with them and then they collapsed.
As Ouroboros returned to dagger form Joy whistled at Sibyl, “Wow, electricity. I can’t say that I was expecting that. Seems quite dangerous though.”
“Sure, it would probably kill me to channel that if I was alive.” She looked down at the large bit wound the beast had made on her leg. As soon as she turned her attention to it it began to rapidly heal. “One of the many advantages of not having a body to harm.”
Then without further chatting the continued farther into the jungle, leaving the dead corpses of the beast behind. They could tell Luna’s presence as getting stronger so they must be right on top of her. They stopped just as they caught a glimpse of a golden light. They still couldn’t tell anything through the trees except the light.
“Do you think that is Luna?” Whispered Joy.
“Maybe. However lets not get to excited. It could be the person with the hidden presence.” Whispered Sibyl back. They began sneaking through the jungle toward the light, trying to make as little sound as possible. As if sensing their minds their costumes’ glow dimmed and then died out leaving them in the dark.
They reached the edge of a clearing where the golden glow was coming from. The first thing that caught their eye was a giant stone statue on the other side of the clearing. It was of a giant crouching beast, huge, imposing, and invisible.
Beneath the giant statue was where the light was coming from. There was a older woman kneeling. She had brilliant glowing golden hair and an equally golden dress. Laying on her head in the woman’s lap was Luna. Luna seemed fast asleep and the woman was running her fingers through Luna’s hair.
Time passed at Joy and Sibyl waited, watching what was happening. Yet nothing changed. Finally as the wait became wearing the woman spoke, “Come out, there is no need to hide. Since you aren’t attempting to hide your presence I was able to sense you the moment you stepped foot on the island. Please come into the light so that I can see you.
Joy gulped and then the two of the stepped out into the clearing. The woman looked them up and down like she was trying to find a fault with them. Then she smiled and beckoned. “Please come closer. It is time that you took Luna back to her home. She has spent long enough time here in my company.”
Joy and Sibyl moved closer to the strange woman and Luna. The large statue of the beast almost seemed to shift while they walked like it was preparing to attack them yet it never did. It was Joy who spoke when the reached the woman, “Who are you?”
The golden light surrounded her pulsed slightly as she left out a laugh, “I am what I am and nothing more then that. I am the person who is taking care of Luna and I am the person who will give her unto your care. I am also the person who will show you how to escape and return to your home.”
“What, doesn’t really answer anything. It was just dodging around the question.” Said Sibyl in a sightly annoyed tone.
“But it did. People are the result of their actions and these are the actions that I am showing to you. Nothing more is important. Yet you humans seem to place great value on things that are worthless. By knowing my actions you know more truly about who I am then anything that I could say.” Said the Woman in Gold.
Sibyl flustered over the words trying to derive meaning from such veiled language. Joy however thoughts she felt the truth of the words. She watched the Woman in Gold carefully, the way she held tightly to Luna and gently stroked her hair. The way she smiled at them and the way she watched them. Just like she spoke this would be more true then anything that she would say.
The woman raise Luna slightly with her hands and gently setting her on the ground. Then she pressed her hands against the floor and pushed herself to her feet. “Now take care of her. She is going to be important in the coming days. Make sure she is ready when the time comes.”
She then snapped her fingers and a path of gold stretched off in front of her back into the jungle. “This path will lead you back through the ocean and back to the Hollows. Do not stray from the path of something might find you, just because the way here was clear does not mean that the way back will be.”
She looked up at the giant statues of the beast and she straightened as she watched it. Joy thought that the statue had moved just so that it could return the stare of the woman. “There is an inscription on the base of the statue. You might do good to read it.” Then the move in a gliding movement toward the tree line.
At the edge of the clearing she stopped and looked back at Joy and Sibyl. Her smile had changed to a look of deep regret. The wind whispered in the clearing and then she finally said, “Tell..” She paused, “Never mind. It is not important. Seek the end of your path wherever it might lead, even if it is into darkness.” Then she stepped into the trees. The golden glow began to fade and then was finally gone.’
The glow on the girl’s clothes appeared again as she left and they shared a long look which exchanged questions but not answers. Then Joy knelt next to Luna and raised Luna up onto her knee. “She is very warm, like she has a fever. Maybe it is the result of the Abyss contamination.” She continued to hold Luna’s head and then asked, “When dreamers dream what do they dream of?”
“Waking up.” Said Sibyl with a personal sort of certainty, “They dream about waking up and when they turns out to be just an illusion that dream within a dream turns into a nightmare. If it goes on for too long when they finally wake up they can not be certain if they are really awake or still dreaming.”
Joy managed to put the pieces together and asked Sibyl, “Is that what you are afraid of? That this is all a dream? That you are still are sickly girl who is imagining that she has magical powers?”
There was no change in her posture but there was a slight flicker of blue energy as she fade transparent for just a second, “Since I have become a magical girl my dreams are always nightmares. They are of me waking up and realizing that nothing has changed, that I am still powerless. I know it is a dream yet I am forced to live through it fearing that I will stay there.”
Joy didn’t respond, she didn’t know if she should. If was all just a dream for her then she would return to the life as the child of a restaurant owner. It wasn’t really a scary option for her, it was comfortable and probably a lot safer then being a magical girl. For Sibyl however this dangerous life was something important because it gave her hope, at least that was what Joy thought. She wondered how Luna saw the world, whether she wanted to really wake up from her dream and return to this dangerous world.
“Oh child of the moon,
Ye who beacons madness
Who walks the crumbling path
Deliver us from fear
Awe of raging beast
Dread of kindest heart
Fear of lost ideals
Followed by those beyond faith
Serpent of many forms
Serpent of secrets lost
Serpent of traitorous poison
Followed by those beyond faith
Dreamer of crashing sky
Dreamer of paths unseen
Dreamer of bloody hands
Followed by those beyond faith
Demon of blackened brimstone
Demon of blackest past
Demon of twisted tongue
Alone from those beyond faith
Who walks the crumbling path
The end of those who awe
The end of those who dread
The end of those who fear
The end of those with faith
Who follows you along the crumbling path
Who follow you to the bitter end
Who challenges the raging beast
Who challenges the kindest heart
Who challenges the lost ideals
Oh child of the moon
Ye who beacons madness
What will you choose”
Read Sibyl. She was standing just beneath the towering beast and right in front of her was a large stone tablet covered with the words she had just spoken. Joy had remained silent while listening, forgetting about dreams and dreamers. They pondered over the meaning of the words trying to unravel their meaning.
Finally it was Sibyl who spoke again, “It is talking about us.”
Joy didn’t say anything in response. Even she could tell that much. With Luna lying on her lap in this clearing there could be no question who the child of the moon was. A little bit more was recognizable to her. She clasped Ouroboros with her hand and shivered, was she the Serpent spoken of in the writing?
“I suppose this must be prophesy,” Sibyl spoke again since Joy wasn’t, “Serpent, Dreamer, Demon.” She spoke the words like she was testing them and making sure that they felt right, “The Serpent and the Dreamer must be you and me. Would that make Zephy the demon, she certainly looks like one after she transforms. Or.” Sibyl considered not voicing the concern, “Or it could be Blackberry. He is certainly not human, maybe he is the demon.”
Joy shook her head, “I don’t know.” She then trembled a little in fear, “Do you really think I am the Serpent. Do you really think that I would be a traitor.” She trembled a bit more.
“No way of knowing until it happens. I suppose that if it wasn’t completely unclear then it wouldn’t be a prophesy.” Said Sibyl, “I however am going to ignore it and choose my own path. I don’t like the idea of some person writing this thought that they could control what I do. I might was well just turn over and die.”
Sibyl then turned back toward Joy who was still holding Luna. “Joy, you can make any decision about who you are from this stone tablet or you can decide for your self. Which would you rather do?”
Joy stammered, “I, I don’t know. Decide for myself I suppose but…”
Sibyl just watched Joy and didn’t say a thing. She didn’t seemed to be judging Joy or her indecision, just maybe a bit disappointed that prophesy had just sway on Joy.
Joy tried to collect her thoughts and finally managed to bring some of them together. “We can think about the prophesy later. Right now we need to bring Luna back to our world. We don’t know how long that golden path will last so we should follow it before it disappeared.”
Sibyl nodded, “Yes, I think I could get us back to the Hollows without it but if I was wrong then we would be lost without any way of finding our way back. Best to follow the strange path and if that doesn’t work then I can trying to find the entrance myself.”
With finally something to agree on Joy began lifting Luna’s body. She had initially assumed that it would be difficult because Luna was a bit bigger then her but she was surprised to find it was actually fairly easy. She supposed that lifting Luna was not much different then swinging a battle axe around like it was a feather. Just another part of being a magical girl.
With Luna hoisted onto her shoulders Joy began to follow the golden path with Sibyl right behind her. As her gaze left the giant statue she thought it shifted following her but when she quickly looked back at it it was in the same position that it had always been in.
Finally she truly broke her gaze away from it and entered the jungle with Luna. This time there were no eyes watching them as they walked through the dense white plants. When the path left the trees it went out into the water and they could see it shining up through the water. It was glowing and they could see the path winding off into the distance.
“Strange, I hope the path is leading us the right way.” Said Sibyl.
“Is something wrong?” Asked Joy as she stepped into the icy cold water again.
“Just, it isn’t leading in the direction that I would have been going. I thought I remembered the path and if that has changed, it is more then a little unsettling.”
“Then do you think we should follow your path then?” Asked Joy.
Sibyl paused to think about it, “No, I think that Woman in Gold was telling the truth. This is probably the way back to the Hollows.”
“I think she was telling the truth too but I don’t know if it was the whole truth. When she was holding Luna it looked like she was holding onto a very valuable object, not a person. The way she watched us, it was like she was trying to decide if we would good enough to take care of her precious item while she was away. She felt very inhuman in that way.” Said Joy.
“Is that how you saw her?” Said Sibyl, “I, I will trust your judgement of her. If she had nothing to hide then she wouldn’t have been concealing her presence like that and I dislike people who answer questions with vague uncertainties and more questions. She was similar to the prophecy in that way.”
However they both thought that the Woman in Gold’s path was still the correct one so they continued to follow it. A while later they finally saw the path ending off in the distance. They could see the ending clearly so it must have rising up onto an island or something. When the arrived they found a familiar hole leading down into the ground.
“It looks like the path was right and that my initial judgement on orientation was wrong. I wonder if the island moved or if I somehow just managed to get turned around in the darkness.
This is the end of the 50,000 words needs for NaNoWriMo. I don't feel that Luna Star is done. I will probably right a small epilogue and that will be the end of part one. I might right part two of Luna Star next year.
Joy carried Luna down the stairs and into the dark tunnels of the Hollows. Sibyl followed right behind her and turned back to look at the golden path. It was beginning to vanish behind them, evaporating into the air in small golden sparkles. Had it been times perfectly to disappear when they arrived her or was there something magical about it that made it vanish after it had been traveled along. Sibyl didn’t know. As the last flickers of it began to disappear she could see things moving out in the waters.
Not wanting to know what those were see followed after Joy into the tunnels. After they had traveled a little ways she turned back to the rising stone steps. There was a crackle of blue lightning and the passageway became sealed with a sparkling blue web of dangerous contained electricity. It should keep whatever might be following them back, at least for a little while.
Like before the passage kept level as they passed back through the twists and splits and turns of the passages. This time they had no golden path for them to follow so Sibyl had to use her memory to direct them. This time however her memory turned out to be correct. They managed to find their way back to Luna’s chamber, the large circular room with strange symbols all over it.
“Joy, wait. Now that we should stop for a minute. I’m going to contact Zephy and Blackberry to make sure they know that we are coming and to confirm that the passage is still open.” Joy nodded in acceptance and Sibyl began to reach for a connection again. It was difficult, straining against the distance but eventually she managed to force the audio connection to her body open.
“Zephy, Blackberry, are you there? We have recovered Luna. We are on our way back. Is everything all right for you?” Spoke Sibyl. She then waiting as for a response. The wait was long and worrisome but eventually she heard something.
“Sibyl, hurry. There is trouble.” It was the voice of Blackberry. “Things have gone wrong here. Those shadow forms that the Shadowed Soul used are attacking us. We haven’t see the Shadowed Soul yet but it could be out there somewhere. Use extreme caution and attempt to get back as quickly as you could. The quicker you can get back her the quicker that we can shut the gate. Zephy is already strained because she is keeping the gate open while fighting back the shadows.”
“Alright, we will be there as quickly as we can.” Sibyl then cut the connection and returned to Luna’s cavern. “Joy, we need to hurry. The servants of that Shadowed Soul are attacking the gate. We need to get there so that it can be closed.”
“Right,” nodded Joy, “Let’s hurry then. I think I can still run with Luna.”
“Good” said Sibyl and they ran through the tunnels. They passed back through the forest of flowers without stopping, not even pondering what might really be in that place. However it was when they reached the ancient tomb that they first found one of the shadow forms.
It waited there silently for them to arrive and then lashed out at Joy when she passed it. The swing cut a cruel gash across Joys chests and she barely managed to stop herself from falling and sending Luna tumbling. “Awaken Ouroboros” She said as quickly as she could but it was Sibyl who managed to get to the shadow first. An arrow of electricity pierced the shadow and it popped in a strange motion and returned to being a normal shadow.
The other shadows that had begun to gather however felt the sharp bite of Ouroboros’ blade. It spun and sliced leaving disappearing fragments of shadow across the torch lit floor. Yet as the shadows dropped before it more of them moved out of the exit that would have returned them to their world. Joy twisted and turned using Ouroboros to keep them back but they were too much for her.
“Get down” Came Sibyl’s should and Joy dropped. She fell to the ground and the rolled slightly to keep Luna on the ground right next to her. She had done all that in an instant and that was just quick enough. The hair on the back of her neck stood up and she could feel the crackling energy fly above her. Then a split second later there was a thundering boom and the whole room shook. Dust fell from the ceiling and began to settle on the floor.
Joy glanced up to see the passageway empty of shadows and she pulled herself to her feet. “Thanks Sibyl.”
“No problem.” Come her faded voice. Joy saw that Sibyl’s form was hazy and indistinct like she was barely even there. “However that is all that I can do. You need to manage the rest of it on your own.” Sibyl flickered and blurred in front of Joy’s vision. “I can’t keep this form up anymore. I’m going to have to return to my own body. I’ll try to help Zephy and Blackberry but you will have to escape. Go.” Then she flickered one more time and was gone.
Joy was then alone except for the unconscious Luna. It was all on her now. She didn’t know if she would be strong enough but she would have to try. She would not be the traitorous serpent. She picked up Luna again and made her way to the exit of the tomb. The passage was dark but seemed empty of those shadowy forms. Whatever lightning Sibyl had used it must have scoured the tunnel clean of them.
She then ran again. The path from here was simple and without branches. Even she could find her way back from here. She would just need to enter the large cavern and cross it to find the exit back to their world. It sounded easy enough.
At least it had sounded easy enough before she saw the cavern. She could see the gate from where she entered it. A disk of light that lead into Luna’s bedroom. If she could only get there she would be safe. However the entire cavern between her and it was teeming with those shadowy figures and right in the center of them was the Shadowed Soul.
Remana smiled as Joy entered the cavern, “A sweet child, you have brought be what I desire. Give her too me and I will let you go alive. She is all that I want.”
The memory of those lines of prophesy echoed through her head but the pushed them out with all the ruthlessness that she could muster. “No, I will not give her to you.” Then she held Luna the best that she could with one hand and held out the other, the one with Ouroboros on it, “Ouroboros, make us a path.” She commanded.
And Ouroboros followed the instruction. A green line that appeared to be paved with green scales sprouted beneath her feet and began stretching across the floor a strange weaving patten. Not having time to question Joy began running down that path just as strands of impossibly thick shadows reached toward her from Remana. And they missed Joy. Ouroboros had changed into a sword once more and as Joy ran following the path it swung out as if under its own volition.
Every swing was not to defeat the shadows but to keep the path clear. Remana screamed curses and her shadow tendrils teemed after Joy trying to catch her. But Ouroboros must have known that it couldn’t cut through those tendril. Instead it changed into a shield and the tendrils press against in and the splayed in all directions. That unexpected lost of control was enough for Joy escape from their reach and run as fast as she could toward the door.
Now she was most of the way there and Remana was not able to catch her in time. Her shadowy servants instead pressed in upon her trying to grab her and keep her down. There were simply too many for her to keep back with Ouroboros. She could see Zephy and Blackberry through the gate that this range and so she took one last gamble. She held onto Luna as tight as she could and threw her through the portal and into the room.
Remana screamed in frustration and failure as Luna hit the portal. There was a bright flash of light and then an equal dimming of lights and the form of Luna vanished. As the shadows grabbed Joy and pulled her down her could hear Zephy say, “Good job, now that she it through I can help.”
There was a roaring, a huge blazing and the room was full of fire. The heat was immeasurable and Joy could feel it pressing against her. The effect on the shadows though was even more impressive. They burned, blazing away in disappearing clots of darkness. An arm reached out of the surrounded flame and pulled her, dragging her somewhere.
Then the flames were gone and she was standing in Luna’s room. Behind her a portal was shrinking and through it she could see nothing but fire. Zephy held her shoulder. “Glad you are alright. Blackberry said you had a method of resisting fire, good thing it was as strong as he though it was.”
Joy smiled in relief as the gate disappeared and then she collapsed, falling into unconsciousness.