❯ Sakura Blossoms – Chapter 8
Kuroi walked through a crook at the base of a very large oak tree in The World. He was to contact and ‘request’ Shizuka na for Shi’s purpose. Kuroi really hated running around and telling others to attack. He would rather fight himself instead of standing around and weakening with each passing minute.
With a sigh, Kuroi looked around the room. In the corner, a black panther was curled up and seemingly sleeping to those who weren’t perceptive enough.
« Honestly thinking it would fool anyone? » he growled.
With that, the panther looked up, revealing its gold eyes. It seemed disappointed. Stretching, it turned to the form of a woman. Golden hair in unnaturally looking curls reached down to her waist and she wore a forest green kimono with black patterns decorating it nicely. Her skin was darkly tanned and has red crimson claw marks in some places. On her legs, two crimson ribbons criss-crossed up her calves from her ankles.
« What would you prefer, sir Kuroi? » she said in a low, seductive voice.
Kuroi regarded the woman carelessly. « For one, that you didn’t put on the ridiculous form. Honestly, people who knew what your true gender is will start to wonder. »
The woman’s eyes went wide momentarily and the form changed once more. In place was a man with completely black skin and golden eyes still, wearing a tan colored haori with light blue bottoms. By the looks of him, he was middle aged, with graying coal black hair, making him look nearly insane with all the variations of colors that was on him. Faded forest green boots that were loud when moved with out precision and clucked on the ground when walked upon without purpose.
« Hn, » he grunted, crossing his arms. As Shizuka crossed his arms, his outfit changed to a more… ‘matching’ outfit. His clothes went from various colors to all black with a crimson ribbon in the laces of his boots. The only bright colors were the gold of his eyes and the red of the ribbons.
« Listen, you stupid piece of data trash, » Kuroi snapped. He never liked Shizuka Na. To insanely creepy and quiet. He also hated the fact that Shizuka changed forms and acted differently with each one. It made him wonder if Shizuka was really a man, or a woman, or even straight. He personally hoped whatever gender Shizuka was, that Shizuka held no interest in him. « All I came here to do is give you an order from Shi. » Kuroi glared hard at Shizuka Na. This time, after watching the battle between Hitori De and the girl, Shi wanted the elder sibling fully attacked, no testing. He wanted Shizuka to try and kill the girl. What the difference was, he did not know. He had only seen her from a distance once, on the screen Shi had watched them from. « Find the female player Kayane. Dark violet, nearly black, hair, emerald green eyes, and dark clothes. Her weapons is a sword, a katana. Shi wants her dead, deleted, both in this world and out. » The ribbons Shi had given them, the crimson ribbons, had the strange ability to affect the opposing player outside of the World. He had one himself and found it rather useful, as players were injured easier when the person itself was injured as well. « Will you fulfill his wishes? »
With a sharp nod, Shizuka Na disappeared, off to do as his master wished.
Kayane was pushed back roughly and she landed on her back and elbows. She watched with her eyes narrowed as Shi smiled to her then disappeared. Bastard. Kayane looked around. Nothing. No trees, no sky, no ground, nothing. Kayane didn’t know what she had landed on, she couldn’t see anything. Everything was black. Kayane thought it was ironic, because she loved the dark. Although, she had to admit it was a bit strange and interesting how she could see Shi before he had disappeared.
Where the hell am I? Kayane thought, waiting for her eyes to fully adjust to the darkness. Who knew what lay in the darkness ahead of her, behind, or to the sides.
From in the shadows, Shizuka appeared, then decided to follow the girl and absorb her strength and fighting style. When she stood up after a few short minutes, he was surprised as she looked over her shoulder with a feeling of sixth sense in her eyes. Already, the girl had the feeling she was not alone. Shizuka Na decided he may have more than just a bit of a challenge with just simply learning the girl’s traits. Perhaps he would have a bit of fun with this girl.
Anissa’s hands went up to clasp around her mouth, eyes wide. « Kayane! » she gasped, turning around to look at the others. Rena was sitting up, eyes narrowed in concentration, and rubbing the back of her neck. Shugo was shaking his head dizzily. Balmung was still sitting, elbows resting on his knees and face in his hands. « Oh my god, what are we gonna do? » Anissa whispered, more to herself than anyone. She wasn’t sure she could handle Kayane ending up in the same position and state she herself had been. Anissa could not force herself to stop thinking about how Shi had to easily beaten all five of them and managed to take Kayane, one of the strongest, away. Now Kayane was alone.
« Who isn’t- » Shugo mumbled, noticing they were short a person. His mouth was slightly parted in daze, and it went dry andclosed when he understood who. « Oh no, Kayane. »
« Yeah, Shi took her. »
Shugo glanced over at Anissa, who was the one that had answered him. « When? How? » To say the most, Shugo least expected Kayane to be the one to be taken. Although he had never really seen Kayane fight for long periods of time, or really at all, since by the time anyone had the chance to watch her, she had already finished off the monster and was helping others out.
« When we were all down, he took her and left. » Anissa stared hard at the ground, jaw clenched tightly. All she wanted to know was why. Why it had to happen to them, to her sister. By the time the questions stopped, she was burying her face in Shugo’s chest, held in a tight embrace gently and warmly.
« What are we going to do now? How are we going to find her? It was hard enough as it was to find you, » Rena spoke up. Her eyes were full of worry and a small, upset and unsure frown was set on her face. She was looking at Balmung, who she highly believed would have the best level head in the situation.
« I don’t know. But we have to look for her. We can’t just leave her alone with that freak. I do not trust him. »
« Neither do I, » Anissa declared quietly, glancing at Balmung from where she was. « Lets go now. I know Kayane didn’t waste anytime in trying to find me. I don’t want to let her down by not doing the same. »
With unsure but steady steps, Kayane walked forward slowly, breathing quietly and listening to her surroundings. So far, Kayane felt like she was deaf since she barely heard her own breathing. Several times, she had the swat her hand her ear to make sure she really wasn’t deaf. Every once and awhile, she glanced over her shoulder, getting the feeling she was being watched, or followed. This was a feeling Kayane did not like.
« If this is all a dream, I am so not gonna be happy for freakin out over nothing, » she muttered lowly. Her arm still hurt from earlier and she desperately wanted to see whether the crimson veins she had seen on them earlier were still there. Instinctively, her good hand went to her injured arm and she rubbed it quickly. Why wasn’t anyone there or around? Kayane thought Shi had brought her there to unleash an attack but at the moment, it seemed it was to drive her insane and paranoid. If so, Shi was in for a surprise.
Without warning, Shizuka Na shifted into a fighting stance at the sound of her voice suddenly in his ears. His boots landed fairly loudly on the pitch black ground. Shizuka had no time to move and hide before Kayane saw him. She had spun around a mere half second before the sound had emitted.
Shizuka kept entirely still. The girl was only a human character, he reminded himself, she does not have the eyesight capable of seeing me. Shizuka watched the girl, expectant on her turning away once more, or even running.
Anissa teleported back to where she herself had been attacked and found no trace of Kayane or Shi. But the ribbon was still there, reminding her of just how badly Kayane could be hurt. Her arm had been injured already. « If this stupid ribbon is the cause of all this, » she snarled, her eyes becoming unclear as tears slowly filled them. « I am going to be so friggin mad. » For some reason, words seemed to fail her at the moment and she could quite put out the right words she wanted to say. Anissa turned away from the ribbon with much effort and came face to Shugo. He seemed to be worried. Not about Kayane, but Anissa.
« It doesn’t look like she is or was here, » he said quietly, breaking the silent pause between them. « Let’s look somewhere else. » Welcoming, he held out his hand and smiled in assurance. Anissa took it hesitantly, unsure of whether she wanted comfort or not. In her mind, she kept telling herself she had to be strong, for her sister, but another part of her said welcome him. He only wants to help. She decided it would be best if she let Shugo help her, calm her nerves, and let her mind be in less chaos and worry.
« Yeah, » she said, lacing her fingers with his and walking close to him, clothes brushing against one another’s. « Where should we look now? » Anissa asked, a hint of impatience and worry still evident in her voice.
« I don’t know. » Shugo teleported them out of the area to Midori Willows. Balmung and Rena weren’t there. He teleported to Sakura Blossoms, where he knew would calm Anissa down a little more. Then decided to take a few blossoms just in case Kayane…just in case. How many times had he forgotten to take blossoms when they went on dungeon sprees and ended up nearly losing all of their players? He was not about to make the same mistake and lose the chance to use the healing powers when they would need them.
Kayane held her breath. She had heard something. No, someone, and something hitting the ground. Right after she spoke, she noticed as well. As if her voice in the pitch black silence had surprised or been deemed as an alarm.
Staring into what seemed to be nothing but air and darkness, Kayane could not move her eyes from the direction in which she was staring. It was if something inside her, instinct or fear or something, was not letting her look away, not even a blink being allowed. And there was the added fact that no matter how hard she stared, everything looked the same. After what seemed an eternity, she managed to blink quickly, and after she opened her eyes, she saw a flash of golden eyes before her.
Still, Shizuka had not moved in the slightest bit or even blinked. Pinpointing me through sound won’t work, kid, he thought, taking soundless steps to his right. He watched his step carefully and gave regard to what Kayane was doing. The sound of a sword unsheathing brought him to look at her.
Kayane didn’t know of anything else to do when she was in such a vulnerable position. One where she didn’t know if she was sane enough to try and figure if what she saw was a figment of her imagination or actually something in front of her. The only option was to attack to be safe. She hit nothing. And the glow was gone.
« I’m starting to imagine things like Anissa, now, » she muttered, lowering her sword and looking at her surroundings as well as she could.
Shugo sat down at the base of a Sakura tree in Sakura Blossoms and leaned his head back, closing his eyes. He was already tired enough as it was from the fighting and searching for Kayane earlier that day. He opened his eyes when he was embraced around the waist by Anissa.
« Shugo, I’m scared. I don’t know what I’m gonna do if we don’t find Kayane, » she murmured, burying her face in his chest.
« Kayane can handle herself and you know that better than any of us. She’ll kick ass, trust me. » Shugo hugged Anissa in return, resting his chin on top of her head.
« Are you sure? How do you know that she will? You saw how badly she was hurt by that ribbon. What if she fights something that has one of those? She could die by touching the ribbon alone. »
« But she didn’t the first time, remember? If she can withstand holding it in her hand, being blown back around fifty feet back, I think she can handle a simple little battle when she doesn’t have to worry about making sure other people aren’t hurt. Don’t you agree? »
Anissa sent a wary, unsure glare at Shugo. « Yeah, I guess. Since when did you get Kayane’s wise-guy ‘tude? »
Shugo laughed, then grinned. « Last time I actually listened to what she said instead of tuning her out cause I always got mixed up when she was talking all wise. »
Anissa rolled her eyes. Shugo could sure be Mr. Conceited-sarcastic dude sometimes when it was a tense mood. He had such great timing. « That’s great, Shugo. »
Bending his knees and setting his feet flat on the ground, Shugo moved to stand up. « Want to get back to looking for her now? » he asked, not looking at her but at the ground in front of him, finding it suddenly more interesting than seeing the pained expression on her face that he knew was there.
« I don’t want to look, and see that she isn’t someplace, then losing more hope with each place she isn’t there. Remember how I was in some place that you guys couldn’t find until I showed up there on your systems? We won’t find her… not until Shi wants us to. » Looking up at Shugo, she gritted her jaw and swallowed hard. « I don’t want to search, then get tired when we do find her and not be able to help her. I don’t want to be weak and then lose my sister. » Her eyes soft and open, completely vulnerable while Shugo’s were calm and in control, looking as if he was sure of what he was going to do, Anissa wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling up her knees and setting her head under his chin. « I’m afraid of what I will find… »
The only response she received was his hand lifting up her chin and his arms wrapping around her tightly in a comforting warmth.
Shizuka na blinked rapidly. She had almost struck him on the neck in a fatal blow. Didn’t Shi say that the girl could not see in the black? Sighing, taking a silent step, the girl spun around once again, eyes wild and searching. He could see she was usually calm and in control of what she did, almost as if she wasn’t born with it naturally, as if it was burned into her mind and body by someone or something.
Gasping, he yelled out as the hot sting of pain shot up his arm when a blade cut across the surface of it, barely missing the side of his chest where his heart was.
« I’m not deaf, I can hear you talk, » the seething voice came, surprising him.
He was sure that he wasn’t talking. How could he when his right hand was over his mouth? Watching as the girl stared hard into the dark, he noticed the dark, violet waves surrounding her body, almost like a shield.
How the hell was she even aware of his presence?
Moving to the side silently, no sound made, he looked over his shoulder warily, wondering if Shi was watching him discreetly. Glancing back, he nearly jumped when her eyes were staring into his own, almost as if she was judging his strength already.
« And I am not blind. » With a short movement of bending her knees, she ran toward what only she saw as a black blur and two identical gold eyes that seemed to be mocking her with fake expressions of surprise and fear. It was those eyes that had sent shivers down her back with their amber glow. Swinging her sword to her side then at the blur, Kayane growled when the blur completely disappeared and elbowed her face hard.
Kayane snarled as she spun around to face her attacker and lifted her leg in a swift kick to his legs and feet, her own foot connecting with his boot, sending a wave a shock and pain up through the entirety of her body.
Landing on one knee and the palms of her hands after a muted cry, Kayane gasped for air, the sides of her vision blackening with what seemed to be a dark shade of violet. At the sound of harsh breathing beside her own, Kayane took a hard swallow and looked over her shoulder at Shizuka. He was on his side, holding his leg in his arms, cursing violently at the being that so happened to be Kayane.
His shoes hold the ribbons… she thought, settling her gaze on what she targeted for her next attack; the ribbon that seemed to be glowing, pulsating in time with the throbbing of her leg and waist.
Snarling, Shizuka pushed off the ground, onto his knees, and launch an attack on the girl who was seemingly lost in a daze, staring off into space at his boots. Glancing back and forth at her eyes to see if it was a trick, he noticed what seemed to be a dark, black rim on the outer rim of her eyes, something that wasn’t there before, almost shadowing the glassy, wise shine of her eyes. He highly doubted that she was even paying attention.
Taking the chance he was sure he wouldn’t get again, he raised his clawed hands and gained as much momentum as he could.
Blinking out of her daze, Kayane hurried to her knees and hands, diving out of the way, narrowly missing the hand meant for her back and head, rolling to a stopon her stomach. Standing quickly, she began to draw her blade and found her hand being crushed and blade hilt broken by a kick directly on her hand, stumbling backwards as the blade shattered in her hand. Turning to dodge Shizuka’s attack from above with his claws, his foot was driven into her stomach hard, sending her crashing to the ground with a deafening crack left to echo with her scream.
Walking over to Kayane to stomp on her back as she pushed herself up off the ground, Shizuka both smiled and frowned at how easy it was. Even though the girl shouldn’t still be alive after so many hard kicks delivered to her, he was still unsatisfied with the quickness of how she lost.When she’d whipped her head around to look at him,Shizuka looked into her eyes for any deeper change and found there was hardly a trace of any green and a determined, almost feral snarl was on her face as she glared at him…
Drawing in a quick breath and blinking in surprise, he muttered a curse and suddenly found himself falling to the ground.
He had been tricked…
Balmung rushed through the town of Carmina Gadelica, players jumping backwards, sideways and forward literally to avoid collision with the speeding blur of white feathers and silver glint of metal armor. Occasional, a few players a fraction of an inch too slow and getting nicked on an arm or leg by the sword resting on his hilt.
All he had to do was find the player Kara, who’d disappeared soon after Shi had disappeared. Taking Kayane with him. He hadn’t missed the dangerous glint in Shi’s eyes when he’d dipped his face close to Kayane’s just before teleporting away to who knows where. Shi had the same look in his eyes when he’d taken a look at Anissa as well.
Something was going on and for once, the targets weren’t Shugo and Rena.
It was Kayane and Anissa.
If this was another ploy to take out the ‘twins’ defenders’ he wasn’t going let it happen, not again. He wasn’t going to stand weak on the sidelines and watch as two more were killed for the bracelet. Ouka and Mirelle were already killed in front of his eyes and… they were only friends.
But Anissa was like a sister to him, someone to look out for that looked up to him admirably.
And Kayane was…
« Damned bastards, if they hurt her… » Narrowing his eyes at a laugh that stood out from the confused and startled gasps of the crowd, Balmung slid to a stop and whirled around to see a familiar black-haired girl with dark eyes walking backwards out of the crowd, a wicked grin on her face. A challenging one.
Chasing her for a total of a few minutes, through the Chaos gate to a place she’d yelled out as Bursting Morose Fires, he stopped when she stood at the opposite edge of a twenty feet wide crevice.
He was about to speak when she held out a halting hand, telling him to wait to talk. « I heard what you said when you were running around like a crazed monkey in Carmina. What if we hurt her? What will you do to us? »
« Where is she? »
« In good time, Balmung. Just wait your turn. You’ll be faced by one of us in good time… » With a diabolical laugh that Balmung thought didn’t seem suited for her, no matter the fact she was working for Shi, Kara took a leap down the crevice, beckoning for Balmung to follow just before disappearing.
He obliged, his wings spreading up above his head and creating a soft ruffling sounds as the wind brushed against the feathers. As much as he didn’t want to follow, seeing as it was most definitely a trap, but he was willing to take the risk.
Landing softly, bending his knees for his legs to absorb the force of the almost forever lasting fall that made him feel like he was floating after awhile, Balmung noticed everything was no longer the dark, reddish brown but almost a marble like blue with white lines like lightning. He could see the blurred reflection of himself on the stone, the way it seemed to be impossibly dark on the marble, like a shadow, only he was wearing light colors.
Looking around, searching for Kara, he laid his hand on the hilt of his sword, walking forward in an instinctive direction. It was dark at the bottom but ahead there was a strange light that lit the crevice well. It only seemed to make Balmung more curious… and more hopeful.
Breaking into a run, he went toward the light, ignoring all the warnings inside his head that he’d heard about to not go to a white light. Expanding his wings for the second time that day, he grabbed onto the wall to stop from running off the edge he’d suddenly encountered. Staring in front of him, Balmung saw what looked like to rings, one inside the other, both spinning opposite directions that made a loud muffled sound like air blowing into your ear full of water.
It was the source of the white light.
Rena bolted from the chaos gate in Sakura Blossoms, rushing to find her brother and best friend. « Shugo! Anissa! Where are you? » she called, never slowing from her full speed even when she turned corners. Turning around a cluster of trees that blocked her view from the other side, Rena tripped over Shugo’s foot and landed on her knees and hands, barely noticing anything as she scrambled around to look at Shugo.
« What’s wrong? Did you find her? »
Rena, her chest heaving up and down out of breath, glanced over at Anissa finally, not truly seeing Anissa as first, as Anissa was in Shugo’s arms, seeming very unusually small in comparison. But the size comparison wasn’t what she noticed first. Anissa’s eyes were bloodshot, her face streaked with tears and whole body shaking, lips swollen.
« Are you okay? » Rena questioned, reaching forward to examine her friends face, then looking up at her brother. His lips were slightly swollen as well, and his expression looked troubled, as if telling her that if she did notice anything, to keep it quiet.
« Yeah. What did you race down here for? Did you find something? » Anissa’s eyes seemed to glimmer and shine with sudden extreme hope and Rena was almost afraid to shake her head no.
« No… not about Kayane… but Balmung suddenly went to this some place that has a really high level; sixty-three. I think he might have gotten a lead. So do you want to go look and see? »
Jumping up, Anissa kept her hand clasped in Shugo’s and made a hurried, anxious nod in response. Smiling inwardly, Anissa followed Rena to the Chaos Gate, Shugo right beside her. Count on Balmung to find someone… to find my sister…she thought, gripping one of her twin blades tightly.
Arriving in the same area as Balmung, Bursting Morose Fires, Anissa ran forward, following the feeling telling her to straight ahead. Looking over her shoulder at Rena, who was starting to wear out from the constant running, she screamed when her foot went over the edge of the crevice and she fell, pulling Shugo with her and watching as Rena made a futile attempt to slide to a stop from her amazing speed and fell over the edge as well.
Yelping as Shugo wrapped his arm around her waist and took hold of Rena’s shoulder with the same hand, Anissa watched Shugo take a twin blade and tear into the rock wall of the crevice, slowing their decent downward considerably. Hearing Rena join in on the effort, a grinding sound loud in her ear as the heavy blade went far into the rock and her own emitted a high pitched ringing.
Looking down, Anissa realized the ground was getting closer and when it was close enough to jump and land safely, she pulled out her blade and kicked the rocks, executing the best back flip possible and landed roughly, falling on her arse. A shriek rising from her throat as Shugo landed dangerously close to her hands, Anissa rolled over onto her knees and looked up.
The top was so far up, it looked like a thread of white.
« Look over there, you guys. It’s like the white light you see when you die… » Rena interjected, pulling Anissa up from the ground and pointing altogether.
« Only we’re not dead. » Shugo took his place in front of the girls, examining his twin blade, now looking as if it had been put in a fire pit, he watched the white light become closer and wider with each step. Grunting in surprise when Anissa rushed past him, he growled and ran by his sister in pursuit.
« She might be in there! » Anissa shouted over her shoulder. « I’m not going to walk like some lazy bum! »
When they reached a distance of fifty feet to the light, they saw a shadow barely visible as it was so close to the light. It was unmistakable who it was. The outline of wings making them smile and worry at the same time.
« Balmung! »
Turning at the chorus of his name, Balmung tore his gaze from the everlasting rings and acknowledged the trio with a brief nod. « Look at this. »
Moving closer, they squinted at the sight.
« Glad to see you all have the ability to find what you need. »
Spinning around, the four of them glared at Shi. « What are you doing here? Where’s Kayane? »
« Calm down, Balmung. You will see in a matter of a few minutes. » With a wave of his hand, the two rings spun faster and two people appeared on either side of him, one of the Kara and the other with ice blue eyes. « Look at the white sphere of light… and you will see the answer to your question. »
Doing as he said, all four looked up at the ball of white light. Images of Kayane’s face appeared, flashing and changing to new ones quickly, almost as if it were catching up with time. Slowing finally, it showed Kayane kneeling, groaning in pain from a kick driven into her abdomen shown a moment before.
When she looked up, at what she was fighting, that had yet to be shown, her eyes were nearly wholly black, still a faded, very dark green.
« See what will soon be your worst and most challenging enemy? See what will betray you in a matter of a few weeks? » Laughing, Shi faded away, the rings slowing and causing the twins, Anissa, and Balmung to shout in protest, denying to accept or believe in Shi’s words.
Random, a little jumbled in the end, I’m sorry but I wanted to get this finished before I had to go to bed. I hope you liked it, the chapter was a little longer than I usually do for this story, so I hope you consider that as a treat.