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Ninjago Series Inspirations


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I receive my inspirations from so many different sources, some you may not understand how, but here they are. :)

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Key Locations in Ninjago along with Chosen Themes

Some of the locations are actual locations in Ninjago while others are strictly fictional. The themes that I have chosen for these places are for my own enjoyment and inspiration and belong to their respected creators. Please enjoy!!

Sasha's hometown: Poseidonia www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQhtMP… or if link doesn't work Final Fantasy 7 ost Costa De Sol

Kai and Nya's hometown: Ignacia *real location* www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV-ex7… starting from 0:55 and loops (couldn't find the title of said song)

Jay's home in the Sea of Sand *real location* www.youtube.com/watch?v=pl_9EJ… or if link doesn't work Ratchet and Clank 2 ost Tabora Mining Area

Cole's hometown: Temblor www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mn_PI… or if link doesn't work Assasin's Creed 2 ost Home in Florence

Ebony's hometown: Twilight City www.youtube.com/watch?v=v4eN6y… or if link doesn't work Kingdom Hearts 2 ost Sacred Moon

Zane's birthplace: laboratory (located in Birchwood Forest east of Malcalania Forest) www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Yzcc0… or if link doesn't work Final Fantasy 8 ost Find your Way

Dominique's hometown: Ninjago City *actual location* www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQMiQZ… or if link doesn't work Kingdom Hearts ost Traverse Town

Ayane's hometown: Shika www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qXX6o… or if link doesn't work Final Fantasy 10 ost Servants of the Mountain

The Destiny's Bounty: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ld8t8o… or if link doesn't work Ninja Gaiden ost Monastery Destroyed

The Forest of Ramza: www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwkjz-… or if link doesn't work Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time Forest Temple

Music is one of my most inspirational sources to go to for my fanfiction. I hope you've enjoyed these fine tunes and I'll probably add a few more down the line once more locations are revealed. :D

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I don't catch what Ebony whispered in Lloyd's ear, but the kid doesn't move when she passes him and disappears behind the double doors of the kitchen. My eyes trail after her, quickly skimming down that curvy frame and landing on those beautiful hips which held up a pair of red loose drawstring pants. I smirk at the silver lettering printed on her ass before the doors close: "JUICY". When I first saw them, I had to ask where they came from since they didn't seem like anything she would wear or even purchase willingly. (Not that I was complaining…) And she had answered coolly and undeterred. Apparently, Sasha had bought them for her during their "Girls' Day Out" thing a few weeks back and despite their "obscene memorandum" she thought it would be rude not to wear them on occasion. Plus, she likes the light and comfortable material. She also revealed that Sasha had been feeling very generous that day and decided to buy Nya and Ayane similar clothes. My sister now owns a blue T-shirt with the words: "YEAH, BOY!" printed across the chest in purple script, and Ayane owns a pair of white shorts with: "CAN'T OPEN TIL X'MAS!" printed on the rear in big gold bold… There's a big, red, festive bow painted on the front too.

I couldn't help but laugh. Zane had been uncharacteristically grumpy and frustrated that day when Ayane showcased her new bottoms. Muttering how Christmas was so far away and that he wanted his "gift" now. Too bad nobody told him it was just an expression, especially not Ayane.

But my smirk fades when I come back to focus on the present. Something was really wrong with Ebony. I know she was trying really hard to mask her emotions earlier, but I still saw the conflicted pain in her eyes however brief it was. Then when she started to get flustered and fidgety, I'll admit that I took pleasure in seeing that, because just from the tentative movement of her fingers to her throat, I knew exactly what she was thinking about. Hell, I'd been thinking about it every single day since it happened.

Every miniscule detail about that evening has been imprinted on my mind and I can recall everything in startling clarity. The heat of the atmosphere, the mixture of erotic scents, every breathless moan, every gentle touch, and the sunset hues that played upon her body, making her patina bronze skin shine lustrously… Sigh… She's just too beautiful for her own damn good. But more importantly, the look she gave me after everything was over. That. One. Look. I have never seen her look so vulnerable. She was so scared and unsure. And I know she still is. She knows I can hurt her beyond repair…but she has to know she could also do the same to me. She had cried so silently in my arms and I had vowed to never leave her. However, I know in my heart that I am willing to do much more… I want to give Ebony everything. EVERYTHING. I shared with her not only my past, but a portion of what I want for the future as well. I didn't tell her everything. Then and now is not the time for that.

Right now, she needs me. My raven was going to relinquish more of her secrets to me…her lion.

"Nya, I just gave you those earrings! Don't freakin' trade them with Ayane!" I hear Sasha bellow furiously.

"Imma trade 'em!"

"No!"

Okay…looks like the Kunoichi are having their own little scuffle of sorts, and my bros are also still arguing over Dominique's supposed nickname if she were to stay.

Yeah…it's time to split.

"Um…Lloyd?" Dominique's soft-spoken voice somehow rises above the others and I glance at the pair of youngsters from my peripheral. Lloyd still hasn't moved. Poor kid must be in shock or somethin'.

I don't think Lloyd responded to Dominique, but she carries on anyway. "What does… What does yaoi mean? I was never taught…that word."

That did the trick. Lloyd's hand shoots out like lightning and grabs Dominique's from across the table. He stands quickly and dashes out of the dining room, pulling her along with him. I blink at their abrupt departure then shake my head sardonically.

Whether he realizes it or not, Lloyd definitely has a crush on Dominique.

I push up from my chair and rise above the others. They don't even notice. Gathering my own dishes, I turn around and head through the doors of the kitchen. I find Ebony upon entering, stationed at the island counter. She was sealing the lid on some container which housed her barely touched dinner. She doesn't look up from her chore as I stroll over to the sink to dump my dishes. It's Ayane's turn to clean up the kitchen, but I decide to lighten her load a bit and wash my own mess for a change.

While I ready some dishwater, I call out to my girlfriend behind me. "Wanna talk about it?" I ask, not bothering to hide my knowledge of her withdrawn attitude.

Her answer is immediate. "No. I'm… I think I can handle it on my own."

I finish the few dishes I had dirtied and place them in the drying rack after rinsing them. "You think?"

"Don't worry, I'm f…" She pauses and I know why. She was about to tell a lie and it's against her upbringing to do so. Everyone knows Ebony is probably the most sincere person in all of Ninjago. Her integrity could be described as legendary, but some would definitely say she's honest and blunt to the point of cruelty. However, I wouldn't have her any other way.

I dry my hands on a stray towel and turn around to face her. Her back is to me and her head is slightly bowed. She had slid her container of food off to the side, but made no move to put in the fridge. I approach her still form quietly and slip my arms around her waist. I pull her body flush against mine when she doesn't resist and I nuzzle the neatly braided tresses of sugar white.

I close my eyes contently, enthralled as always by her refreshing coconut scent. "Go and hang out in my room, okay?" I whisper into her hair, but of course she can hear me. "I'll be right behind you. We can talk there."

She says nothing, but the subtle shake of her head is answer enough. "And why not?" I challenge in the same gentle murmur, but I tighten my hold on her and inconspicuously lift the hem of her shirt in order to trace a few of her defined abs. "Yanno I only want to help…"

Her breath hitches and a pleasant shudder wracks her body. "Kai… No…"

I shift my position and level my lips with her ear. "We all rely on others, Ebony. It's hard to live without someone's love and support. And you can always count on me to do just that, as I'll count on you to do the same for me."

She's silent.

"How 'bout this? You go to my room and when I get there, if you don't like what I have to offer, advice or otherwise, then you can walk. No questions asked…deal?"

She breathes a long sigh. "…I don't like those odds."

My brow furrows. "Hm?"

She tries to turn and I loosen my grip to allow her to do so. Those rare dark gems are still conflicted, but her special faint smile reaches her lips nevertheless as she peers up at me.

"Because…by probable means, I almost always like what you have to offer."

I smirk. "Yeah?"

Another sigh. And a light chuckle follows. I swallow, drawn in and attentive from the harmonic chortle. "Sometimes I wonder if telling you the truth is worth it in the end," she purrs and delicate fingers caress the scar going across my left eye. "Since most times all I tend to do is stroke your ego…or engorge it." Her hand drops from my face and her half-mast gaze becomes even sultrier. "You could at least try to display some humility, Kai."

She attempts to step away but I pull her back to me, cocooning her playfully in my arms. "Yeah, yeah," I retort offhandedly before swooping down to claim a kiss from those sweet tempting lips.

A muffled sound of surprise emanates from her, but her shock immediately fades as she responds eagerly and wraps her arms around my neck. To my own surprise and delight, she takes the initiative and deepens the kiss, easily prying my lips open with her tongue. She dives in and I meet her halfway with just as much enthusiasm. Her assertiveness and passion immensely feeds my hunger for her and the images from our sunset picnic rendezvous flash through my mind as a definite reminder of our progress.

Our tongues slide across each other greedily, sloppily, wanting to taste as much of the other as possible. Her groan makes me growl, and my instinctual appendages slip underneath her shirt to roam the silken warm swoop of her lower back. Damn, I'm starting to lose it and the possibility of someone walking in on us only adds to my excitement and euphoria. I breathe roughly through my nose and catch a whiff of her scent. She's aroused. I can smell her. It's the exact same as that special evening.

Fuck! We can't have our first time here in the kitchen! No way! But shit I can't stop! She tastes so good! She feels so good! She smells so good!

Hands move from my hair to the collar of my pajama top, fisting the fabric frantically, and then…she pulls back with a start, forcefully breaking the kiss. Our breathing is synchronized in rough pants and my mind is still fogged with the appealing prospect of hot sex in the kitchen. But when my hungry gaze finds hers, I know right then and there that something is off.

"Ebony…?"

The hands fisting my shirt are trembling terribly and her eyes are alarmingly wide, the russet garnet gems shifting constantly from me to nothing. Wait…her eyes…the whites of them…are black. The discovery leaves me dumbstruck.

"Kai, I-I'm sorry," she gasps then closes her eyes tight. "T-That w-wasn't…I…" Her head lowers and her body accompanies the trembling of her hands.

Blinking rapidly out of my stupor, I embrace her lovingly. Moments of silence pass between us with nothing but the muffled voices of the others to drone through the kitchen's double doors. Her arms tentatively come around my waist.

I kiss the top of her head, thinking about my next words. The luxury of privacy can't be found here. I need to get her behind closed doors and soundproof walls so we can talk more freely. Could…whatever that was be what's bothering her?

"I'm tired. I think I'll just go to bed," she says suddenly, her voice sounded soft and defeated.

I frown. "Too late for that, Shirayukihime. Now I'm way too concerned and I'll only end up worrying about you throughout the night if I just let you go. Let's stick with the plan, okay?"

She leans back and when she lifts her head to look at me, I'm relieved to see her eyes have returned to normal though the confliction is ever present. What was that?

"…Alright."

I give her an encouraging smile and stroke her cheek, she leans into my touch. "Alright, go on ahead. I'm just going to grab something that will definitely help you unwind. See ya in a sec."

I release her and she leaves the kitchen with soundless steps, the opening of one of the doors from her departure results in a slew of debatable sentences to careen through.

"Ha! Kirby wins again!"

"Are you insane!? How can paper beat a rock!?"

"Don't you dare trade my ring!"

"Imma trade it!"

"No!"

Jay and Cole, and Sasha and Nya. And from the round of laughter that followed, I guess they didn't notice Ebony slip out. I grab Ebony's leftovers container and stick it in the fridge. I push aside the milk carton on the top level and reach for the pitcher full of topaz liquid near the back.

I smirk. The perfect pick-me-up.

Despite being late May, Ebony drinks hot apple cider year-round. I was surprised to find out she had been making it from scratch since she was thirteen. She had conjured up her own recipe and used gala and sonya apples with her own specialized ingredients and superfluities. It was a shared secret between her and Sister Ophelia, something they indulged and endeavored in cooperatively. It apparently took awhile for the recipe to be perfected, but it's counted as one of her secret pleasures as well as accomplishments. An accomplishment especially since she told me it became Gabriel's favorite drink.

The first time she had made it for us was when Sensei Wu was still with us. The sweet and tart apple aroma had wafted to every corner of the Bounty, and everyone had flocked to the kitchen almost simultaneously with culinary curiosity. I found it amazing that Ebony could make something as mundane as stirring a pot, seem elegant. She had looked so at peace, tranquil, homey, and her eyes (or rather "eye" at the time) had kept that warmth and gentility as she served us each a steaming mug garnished with cinnamon sticks and whipped cream. And the taste was absolutely divine, a perfect balance of sweet, tart, and spice.

It had been a time of blissful solidarity between our small Shinobi clan and everyone had begged Ebony to make her cider whenever she could. So in reality, I guess everyone drinks hot apple cider year-round now. Even Sensei would switch out his precious tea for his niece's homemade cider occasionally.

I carefully measure-out the cider into two thermoses and seal the lids before returning the pitcher to the fridge. I'll heat them up on the way there. Just as I turn around to head out the doors, they swing open to reveal Zane and Ayane, both carrying dirty dishes.

"I hope Lloyd and Dominique go to bed at a reasonable hour tonight," Ayane frets. "They left so unexpectedly that I didn't get a chance to tell them."

"Lloyd knows about mission protocol, my dear." Zane replies with an easy grin. "So I am sure he will inform Dominique. However, to put your mind at ease, after we finish cleaning the kitchen, we can check in on them?"

"Yeah, let's. Though she ate well, I'm still a little concerned about Dominique. I just want to make sure she gets plenty of rest before tomorrow." Ayane's attention falls on me first. "Oh Kai, umm…do you have a minute? I need to talk to you."

I shake my head impatiently and proceed to step around them. "Sorry A, can't. Ebony's waiting for me."

"This is about Ebony," she persists. "Please? It's important."

I stop and glance at her over my shoulder, she looks worried. "Alright. What is it?"

Zane takes Ayane's handful of dishes and goes to deposit them in the sink. "I'll clear off the rest of the table," he says shortly and bypasses us to exit the kitchen. There's still a bit of commotion coming from the dining room, the others must still be there.

My gaze returns to my second "little sister" and her fretful posture. Her two-toned eyes meet mine. "You've noticed, right? That something is wrong with her?"

I turn around to face her properly and nod. "Yeah, I noticed. But whatever it is, I'd rather hear it from her mouth, A." That's just the way I want things to be between Ebony and I. Even if I'm the last to know, I want to hear all of her problems or secrets from her. I want her to feel like she can come to me for anything.

"I understand," she reciprocates. "I just…" Her entire being visibly deflates and she grabs hold of her right arm, lowering her gaze to the floor. "We couldn't help her. We couldn't say nor do anything to alleviate her pain," she laments then looks to me with trust. "You're probably the only one who can, Kai. At least…I hope so."

Good ol' Ayane. It's no secret that she and Ebony are two sides of the same coin. But it's not just that they're close. From getting to know her, we learned that Ayane had her own type of sixth sense, if you will. She has this natural ability to sense the slightest suffering in all living things whether it's plant, animal, or human. And she frets and strives until that pain is relieved, by any means necessary, whether it be by her hand or not.

She's grown stronger, her and Zane. The Shika festival had been a trying time for them, but the experience had been just what they needed to evolve and create a more fortified bond. She and I have grown closer too. Like I said, I don't mind another little sister.

I flash her a confident smirk. "Rest easy, A. I'll take care of Ebony. I promise you that."

Her expression instantly brightens and she beams at me. "Yeah, I know you can. Thanks, K."

With resolution, I proceed through the double doors just as Zane enters with more dishes. He sends me a knowing smile that I quickly return before disappearing to reunite with Ayane. Upon reentering the dining room, I notice that Cole and Sasha are nowhere to be found, but Jay and Nya are still seated at the table, next to each other instead of the traditional arrangement.

I pay them no mind and hurry on towards my room. It takes little concentration on my part to heat the thermoses in my hand, having established near mastery of my Element. I feel the fire stir from within and I command it to build in my palms.

Alright, that should be enough. I dismiss my power just as I reach my opened door. I enter and kick it close with my foot. I spot Ebony sitting at my desk, but she rises immediately once she sees me. Her eyes are questioning, though I just smirk and hand her a chrome thermos. I keep the red one for myself. She unseals the top and a faint smile I'm more than happy to see lights her face.

"Thank you, Kai," She says earnestly and I preen inwardly at my small accomplishment and place a chaste kiss to her forehead.

"C'mon, let's get comfortable."

The Bounty stays relatively cold during the spring and summer months, so it's for good reason that I have a spare throw for those particularly chilly nights. She flicks the light switch, draping us in complete darkness, but it doesn't last long as I approach my electric fireplace, causing it to turn on automatically. I grab the remote from my nightstand and adjust the temp accordingly. She grabs a few pillows off my bed while I retrieve the throw at the foot, and together we settle ourselves comfortably in front of the fabricated flaunt of flurrying flames.

We've done this a couple of times in the past and I love the easy rhythm we share during these precious moments. And just from how Ebony is leaning into my embrace, her back resting heavily against my chest while she sits in between my legs, I know she loves these moments too.

A comfortable silence forms as we sip our ciders. Our fronts are ablaze by the light of the false flames and dark shadows dance upon the walls and ceiling, vaguely reminding me of the black fire Ebony and I created in the Cavern of Woe during our quest to find Yggdrassil's Citadel. I sigh contently after taking a generous sip from my thermos. The heated apple nectar slid smoothly down my throat and my innards are gracious for the added warmth the brew provides. I lick my lips, reveling in the aftertaste of spice and cinnamon as my mind wanders.

That quest the two of us embarked on…so many startling revelations were divulged to us: The meeting of Rapture, a mysterious snake-like creature, a Nyoka, from the destroyed realm of Dagra Sai whose master's name is Grimfeld, Ebony's Aga half-brother. The glowing text… The foreboding last words of a Makara, a now extinct race thanks to the genocidal acts of the Agamemnon. The existence of Lloyd's mother, Misako, acting as a self-proclaimed "Gatekeeper" for the citadel due to her transgressions against the Forest of Ramza and the remains of the Makara. My spirit journey to Vulcan and conversing with Lord Ifrit about the future, and the locked potential of my Dragon Sword of Fire. And the most intriguing of all, serving as the center of the web of revelations, the missing tale connecting to Ebony's origins told by her father, Garmadon. Family is the ties that bind and Ebony is interwoven at the heart. The past Queen of the Agamemnon, Karliah, had an affair with Garmadon and they conceived Ebony or rather…Cereza. Her people are what the Celestial have dubbed "The Corruption". However, learning the depth of her roots did nothing to dissuade my heart. I love her. Ebony, Cereza...it doesn't matter the name or what form she has. I love her and will take her for who and what she is.

I unconsciously wrap the throw tighter around us…

"…At first…I didn't think he would like it…"

Ebony's seductive tenor dispels the quiet cautiously and I shift my gaze to her glowing profile.

"…Gabriel, I mean…" she clarifies, her eyes focused on the flickering flames. "I didn't think he would like my apple cider. He was only four at the time and…well…I thought he would be like the others and fear me, reject anything I was to offer to him. But he didn't. He loved it…and he called me his guardian angel…" Her lips twitch upward and her eyes shine in pleasure. "He was the second youngest child ever to be taken into Starlight's care, me being the first since I was taken in as an infant. I'd always wondered what peril his own parents' had been in to leave him in such a state."

My brow furrows. "What do you mean?"

"I found Gabriel…" she answers quietly. "I found him on my way home from a courier mission amongst trash and graffiti with blood gushing from a wound on the back of his head."

This thoroughly shocks me. "What?"

"Sister Ophelia called it a miracle that he survived such a grave injury, but I always felt that there was more to it than that…" I wait patiently for her to elaborate, her features becoming temporarily obscured when she reaches over to place her thermos safely off to the side. I close and sit mines down beside it.

"While Sister Ophelia and the other nuns tended to Gabriel, I went back to the place where I found him. There was no doubt that he fell and hit his head on the way down, but I couldn't fathom what exactly his head collided with. It was a sheer drop from the building he fell from. There were no fire escapes or obstructions of any kind for him to come in contact with. It was baffling…and I was determined to solve the mystery. So, I scaled the building and surveyed the drop point and that's when I saw it…the point of impact…"

She turns and regards me seriously, half her face is now shadowed, but her eyes still illuminate and transfix me. "I found a splatter of dried blood on the top edge of the building."

"Huh? That doesn't make any sense," I argue. "Was he thrown from somewhere?"

"That's what I thought, but the trajectory from being thrown at the roof's level didn't constitute with the positioning of the blood splatter…and one other piece of conclusive evidence…"

Damn, now I'm really intrigued. "Which was?"

"The crack," she says flatly. "Upon closer inspection around the area of Gabriel's blood, there was a newly formed crack within…"

I stare at her, speechless.

"A supposedly fragile four year old body…the still developing soft cranium no less…brutally collided with and left a crack on the edge of a building constructed of solid stone. A normal human child would've died upon impact. Furthermore, no…Gabriel wasn't thrown…he was dropped…from a much higher altitude…"

"From the sky…?" I ask breathlessly and she affirms, nodding absently.

"It seems Gabriel was the angel all along, as his namesake describes. He and I share similar differences. But who were his parents? They couldn't have been Aga since my mother was the only one liberated and would've long-since vanished before Gabriel was born, which leaves his blood to intermingle with either the Primordials or the Nephilim. Either way…I never allocated my deductive reasoning with anybody, not knowing what to make of the information, but now…I believe I fully understand the contents of Sister Ophelia's most recent letter…"

"You got another one? When?"

"Soon after we took off for Shika, remember? After Cole and Sasha left for Temblor."

"Oh right. The Mailman did stop by…" I still don't get how he magically keeps finding us, but I digress. I do remember. "So what did it say?"

She twists back around and falls into her previous position. Instead now, she lays her head against my collarbone and when she speaks, her breath tickles the exposed skin along my neck and chest.

"It's mostly about Gabriel and how he had refused two adoption attempts."

"Refused?"

She snuggles closer and her hand rises to rest delicately on my chest. "Yes, Sister Ophelia said that he seemed to have come to a decision. He doesn't want to be adopted by anyone but me. He's willing to wait for me to come get him…to be his mother…"

"You knew it was always a possibility, Ebony," I remind her. "Gabriel loves you. And when it comes to adoption, the decision is basically up to the child. A person can want to adopt, but if the kid they want protests in any way then the caregivers are going to look at that rapport. They'll never force a child to get adopted even if that person is nice."

"I know and it's always been one of the things stewing at the back of my mind. Although, I wonder what brought this change in Gabriel. Like you said, before it was always a possibility, an "if"…but now that it's definite… I'm anxious to speak with him, to gauge his mindset. If only he was at Starlight when we visited…"

A contemplative silence ensues. We can't exhaust the Bounty's fuel to backtrack to Twilight and the ship's phone and PMS has their limitations depending on network airspace too. We could travel back to Twilight using our own transport methods, but Ebony would agree that now isn't the right time to make such a long journey.

C'mon Kai, every problem has a solution… And I have a feeling that this is just the tip of the iceberg to what's really bothering her…

I glance down at her. "Have you tried asking Jay or Nya for help?"

"…No. How would they?"

I shrug. "Well y'know they're both technological geniuses. They're the ones doing all the routine maintenance checks on the Bounty. If it weren't for them this ship would've went to hell by now. Also, Jay invented the Portable Motion Sensor, so I'm sure he could whip something up for Gabriel. Maybe not something as advanced but a single LAN line for him should do the trick. It could connect directly to your PMS. You'd be the only person he could call, but I think he'd be okay with that," I finish with a smirk, satisfied with my idea.

"Hn, that he did. Is that what the acronym stands for? And here I thought it was just crudely named…"

An abrupt laugh escapes me. I'm glad that she's feeling happy enough to joke around in that dry monotone of hers. "Oh yeahhh, wouldn't put it pass the human lightning rod to name somethin' after the female condition. Though his excuse would be, "Hey, if the shoe fits?!" or somethin'."

Her own body shakes in mirth. The sound of her smooth laughter reverberates from deep within and soothes my soul. "My beloved leader has a similar quote."

"Grandpa Willy?" I laugh. "Yeah, I've heard those words of wisdom."

We share a quiet laugh, agreeing that everybody on this ship is odd in their own way.

"But seriously, Kai," she begins after we settle down. "Thanks, I don't know why I didn't think about asking them for help, but if Jay can really do what you suggested…then I believe you'll need a line with Gabriel too. He'll need to hear your voice more…"

My heart immediately starts thumping hard in my chest. "Really? Why?" I ask coolly. Hell, I know why. I just want to hear the words. She knows how I am.

"Don't play coy," she warns, reaching over to grab her thermos. "Unless…the offer doesn't stand anymore…"

I watch her sit up and take a sip of her drink with a raised eyebrow. "Now who's being coy?" I shoot back. "Why won't you say it?"

"Because there's no need for me to tell you something you already know," she counters, turning completely away from me. "You and your ego…" she grumbles.

Turning serious, I glare at the back of her head. "This has nothing to do with hubris, Ebony. I'm above that in terms of this, our future."

She doesn't move nor does she say anything back. I need to see her face…

"Ebony, look at me," I beckon, but she doesn't comply. I try again. "Cereza…"

Her entire body stiffens and she emits a soft gasp. But after a spell, she complies, if only slightly. She turns so that I can see her profile and despite the cloak of shadows shielding what they can of her expression, the blaze of amber-gold light allows me to see the bronze of her cheeks…and the beautiful blush that stains them.

I hold her conflicted gaze. "It's something I want too, Kai," she whispers. "I'm sorry. It's just so hard to dream about something so wonderful when the future looks so uncertain. Nothing is set in stone."

"It's our dreams that give us strength. Without them, without looking towards a bright future, then what progress can be made? We need to strive for something and…this is it."

Her eyes…she had completely shifted her body to face me. Ambiguity and fortitude swirl within the dark depths and because of the dominant presence of darkness; I can see the underlining glow of garnet clearly…proof of her unique blood. I desperately want the determination to trump the hesitation, but…

"I want to raise Gabriel with you," she admits strongly. "I want…a future with you."

I smile, relief flooding my system in gratifying waves. I reach over and grasp my thermos.

"A toast then," I declare, lifting it up and she mimics me with a soft smile. "To an exciting and prosperous future together."

We clink them together, but before she can pull hers away to take a drink, I cross my arm over hers, effectively interlocking our wrists. Something I remember seeing my parents do on occasion.

Her eyes are somewhat wide in surprise and bewilderment at being wrist-locked with me, though I calmly smirk and stare confidently into those bewitching orbs. "I love you, Cereza Garmadon. All of you. And I promise…that will never ever change."

The shock and confusion fades swiftly, being replaced with endearment and strength. It's become so easy for me to read her now. "And I love you, Kai Hayabusa. Forever."

And with our thermoses just centimeters away from our lips, we complete our toast and take a sip. The cider is only lukewarm now, but it's still flavorful and soothing.

We part gently, however her words have awakened the hunger in me. A hunger only she can sate. Placing my thermos back down on the carpet and well out of harm's way, I beckon her with a finger.

"C'mere, it's time to make some real fire…"

Her blush intensifies and she moves to place her thermos down too. Oh yeah…now we're talkin'

"Wait a moment, Kai…" Goddammit! So close! "There's something else that's been weighing heavy on my mind."

I try not to let my impatience show, but my eyebrow manages to twitch despite my best efforts. Ebony must've seen it given that she sends me an apologetic smile. I shake my head roughly. "No, it's alright. Really. What's wrong?"

She shuffles closer which I appreciate, though she refrains from touching me. Probably for the best since I feel wired and overheated right now.

"Do you think we did the right thing by withholding the information about Lloyd's mother from everyone…including Lloyd?"

"Yes," I reply instantly. "We talked about this, babe. It's for the best."

"I know but…" her eyes become downcast, "yesterday when we borrowed your room and I cut his hair, I saw him look at your family photograph on your nightstand. He had looked so upset…like he didn't understand what he was looking at."

I run my fingers through my spikes with a heavy sigh. Before Ebony and I gave our report about our quest, we discussed the details with each other first. We agreed to tell them all everything of course, but when we got to the issue with Misako, we hesitated. Well, I hesitated. Ebony felt Lloyd had the right to know that his mother was alive and well regardless of how she treated us. However, I had convinced her otherwise. The ramifications of everyone knowing of Misako's existence were just too…unappealing. With how unstable Lloyd was after Sensei's death and how sketchy his attitude is now (not to mention that he claimed not to care about his mother while we were at Twilight with Brittany), my instincts told me he would not react well to the news at all. And regarding the others, maybe most of them wouldn't have been too affected by it. Like Jay and Cole, yeah, given how Misako came off to us, and we relayed her behavior to them, they would've blown her off. Same could be said with Sasha. Zane would be a wildcard, although I'm sure he would've just left the decision to Lloyd and not try to act independently. Ayane and Nya however… given their care-bear ways sometimes, would've argued and demanded everything come to an abrupt stop and have us travel back to Ramza so that Lloyd and Misako can meet and get to know one another. Ugh…talk about hell on Ninjago…

So to keep the peace during such a trying and grieving time, we decided to leave the Misako occurrence out of the report. Even though it wasn't technically lying about what did and did not happen, Ebony had a hard time with the concept, therefore I told that half of the story.

"Ebony…" I begin solemnly, "we did the right thing. Trust me, that wouldn't have been the best birthday gift to give him and a giant argument about what to do would've started with the others. I say we leave it in the Celestial's capable hands. If Lloyd's meant to know about his mother then He will make it so. Let's not worry and just pass on the baggage, alright?"

Ebony stares at me for a long minute until she relents with a soft sigh. She then leans forward and places a moist kiss to my cheek. "Alright, I trust your judgment. The Celestial will take care of Lloyd just like he takes care of all of us."

I return her smile with a smirk. Okay…now that that's out the way… My anticipation is short-lived however when Ebony suddenly rises to stand. I gape at her when she calmly looks down at me.

"Thank you for inviting me here to talk, Kai. I really appreciate it. I feel I'll be able to rest easier tonight.

Maybe you will, but I won't! I screech internally, but my inner agony falls on deaf ears as she begins to walk away from me towards the door. Oh hell no! There's no cold shower with my name on it tonight dammit! I quickly scramble to my feet, flinging the throw in a random direction. She reaches the door faster than I anticipated, but I slam my hand on the surface to keep it close.

"And where do you think you're going, Shirayukihime?" I breathe in her ear. There's no longer a slow burn building in my already heated body. No, the fuse has already been lit. Now there's only a raging inferno.

"Nowhere…yet…" she says and I'm surprised to hear a subtle click. "…You forgot to lock the door earlier, though in your defense, you had your hands full and…I didn't think about it."

She surprises me further by turning around and taking my hand to lead me to my bed. She sits down first and I join her soon after. I bite my bottom lip when I catch the tempting sight of one the thin straps of her silver blouse slip and hang precariously off her shoulder. I can't tell if she's wearing a bra or not.

"Kai…" My eyes lift from her chest to meet her smoldering sultry gaze, the deep red undertone of her irises as bright as ever. "…burn me…"

She knows exactly what to say to set me off, but I reel in my inner beast this time and reach for her gently. I ghost my fingers over her flushed cheek and up to her hair. My hands move to caress the soft twined locks, all the way down to the end of her braid. Having done this multiple times now, I expertly remove the band and watch with the same enthrallment as the pure white strands unravel on their own accord. It's fascinating that the dim lighting does nothing to diminish her ethereal beauty. If I didn't know any better…I'd say it enhances it.

Combing my fingers through silken pearls, I finally lean forward to capture her waiting lips with mine. I kiss her slow but wantonly. It's a much different kiss than the one we shared in the kitchen. There's no tangible desperation, only fervent passion. I pull back after a minute more of this delicious tango to see her eyes blissfully shut and her breathing labored.

I smirk. This is only the beginning Ebony-chan… My hands move to unbutton my pajama top, showing more calmness than I felt, when supple bronze hands suddenly cover mine, getting me to stop. But they soon take over with the same deliberate tranquility I displayed myself. When the last button becomes unfastened, the bronze appendages reach inside and smooth themselves up from my abs to my chest to finally push off the garment from my shoulders. The feel of her hands working themselves up my body have left me breathless and painfully turned-on.

Ahh shit… I started this patience game, but it's already waning… I grit my teeth and suck in a hissing breath when she suddenly starts peppering my chest with slow wet kisses. Not to use to being on the receiving end, I act out and latch an arm around her waist and lift her so she can effectively straddle my hips.

"Ohh…Kai…" Yeah, sweet music. I hurriedly resume our kiss and waste no time in tasting her. Her tongue has become even more addicting with the combined flavor of strawberry and spiced apple, making me groan in ecstasy. I can tell she's still pretty calm when I let her control the kiss, the long savory sucks to my tongue and low pressured kisses are a dead giveaway. But, I'm too excited, too aroused, and I want to up the ante. She's not leavin'.

"Stay with me tonight…" I utter between kisses and she responds by pulling away and scooting back off of my lap and unto the bed. She pants and gazes at me with half-lidded eyes, her long white hair mussed by my hand and covering a portion of her face. I growl and hastily pursue her, crawling partially on top of her and tucking her loose hair back behind her ear.

"Haa, haa…Kai…I can't stay…AH!" I chuckle at her undignified yelp and give another devilish lick to her exposed neck. My low blow is rewarded with an elongated moan. "There's a…a mission t-t-tomorrow…"

"So?" I mumble against her skin, placing numerous kisses along that succulent bronze column. "You and I are…*chu*…staying here. We're not…*chu*…going into the village." (A/N: I read in a hentai doujinshi that "chu" equals a kissing sound so…yeah…)

Her head tilts back granting me even better access to mark my claim. I'm going to give her the hickey of a lifetime! "Ohhh…we still h-have to…haa…be present…ah…for the debriefing… I don't want to look tired… You ahhh, haaa… You'll keep me up all night…"

I've taken to alternating between sucking and licking now. My quick breathes allowing me to take in her aroused scent. The air is getting hotter and heavier, but she's not burned yet. Not yet. "Tired…mmm…but happy…and very satisfied."

My hand snakes under her shirt and cups a silk-clad boob. Hmm…so she is wearing a bra… Shame… Her body quakes and I peek a look up at her face. Her slightly parted lips and softly closed eyelids inform me that her resistance is crumbling. Won't be long now…

"'Sides…" I begin lightly fondling the boob. "I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I want to try."

Her hands comb through my hair as she collapses fully onto the bed. Has she submitted…?

"Doesn't matter…" she gasps and I give a rather hard suck which causes her breath to hitch. "…what tricks…*gasp* you play… The r-result will be the same…"

I smirk and add a few playful nibs here and there, her hands fists clumps of my hair in response. "Ha ha, win, win, can't beat that…since we play for kisses…"

"Oh Kai…that's why each hand takes s-so long…"

"Tch! Like you care…" I counter quickly. The patch of skin is beautifully bruised and ready for my bite. I lick the area in pre-apology and place a kiss for good measure. "However…we could start playing for orgasms… Whaddaya say…?"

Her body immediately stiffens and I lift myself up to look down at her face. "Ebony?"

Her eyes are glassy and unfocused, peering at a spot over my shoulder, but she snaps out of it when I call her name again. "Are you alright?" I ask worriedly. "What is it?"

Need shines is her depths and her blush intensifies when her gaze meets mine. "Could we?" She asks gently and my eyes widen. "I…I can't do it myself… I tried in the shower, but… I can't reach completion… I…"

I continue to stare unblinking at her. Am I hearing right? Is this really Ebony talking? My Ebony? My Ebony-chan… My Cereza… My Shirayukihime… My Raven… My Princess… was in the shower? Trying to…

Rousing my mind, I turn my head slightly to the right and eye my electric fireplace. An accumulation of flickering autumn colors create a subtle and romantic ambience, and produce a radiance that lights half of our bodies.

I turn my head slightly to the left next and eye the darkened silhouettes of me and Ebony's bodies. We are one according to the shadows. We are a part of each other, molded together to create one complete soul. We are soul mates. Our union is absolute and definite and…eternal.

We are…already there…and we'll keep going…forever…

"—ready for sex yet…but, I… Kai?" I return my gaze to her, a smile playing on my lips as my heart swells with undying love for the woman below me. The dark gems shift in uncertainty. "Am I…asking for too much…?"

I smirk at this beautiful dark being's naiveté and carefully gather some fire into my mouth. I close my eyes in concentration and slowly decompress the flames until they smother into harmless smoke. Opening my mouth quickly, I blow the smoke out gently and watch it frame her face in the form of a heart.

She blinks.

"Too much?" I repeat and suck my teeth. "Nah… What you ask of me…I'm more than happy to give…" I say and lower my head until darkness and fire is all I see. "But it won't stop there…not for us…you'll see."

The soft whisper of my name is the last thing I hear before I'm swept away…with Ebony, forever by my side.
It's with no surprise that I find my eyes straying over to Dominique again, beside me. I am grateful to her for helping me gain mastery over my Ascension. However, my mind is still askew with the disturbing thoughts of her true purpose as the Phoenix of Prophecy. It's become obvious that she's integral to our growth. If I needed her assistance in activating and controlling my Ascension then my sisters will need her aid as well. And with our growth, she will become stronger too, inheriting all of our Elements as her own. And once that happens, we are obligated to train her in the proper usage of her powers.

Train her…so that she may one day destroy my people…

I turn away from the girl and stare down at my plate of enchiladas in disinterest. As always, I feel sharp edges like knives stab at my heart and soul at the horrendous thought. Ever since I found out about my origins from my father in the Underworld, I felt torn…indecisive at where I stood in all this. And that feeling has only grown since my Trial when I heard my mother's voice and transformed into the body of an Agamemnon. Though brief, the experience had been indescribable. I felt different yet the same and indubitably complete. Lord Diablos had said that I knew what and who I was, but now I am not so convinced. My purpose and role as the Kunoichi of Darkness has been ascertained, to combat evil as well as protect and mentor the chosen Phoenix. But what role and purpose does Cereza, the Princess of the Agamemnon, have? What about the other half of my reflection? My soul stirs at the pious prospect…

Oblivion has been rather ambiguous and cryptic on the matter as well, answering my questions in vague riddles or quiet laughter. Even now, my mind is silent. The spirit within the sais tranquilly waits for the future to unfold itself.

Two weeks ago, Noctis posed a question to me. It was after he had told me his story of a time long ago, before he was changed into his mythical black stallion form. He had been an Agamemnon once, and at heart still was. He had informed me more about the ways of my other kin and from learning, the knowledge has caused me further vexation.

"Princess Cereza, what are you? Are you a human with Aga blood or an Aga with human blood?"

I had no answer.

"There is a difference, and I mean no disrespect to Lord Diablos for assuming your heart was sound in regards to your origins, when it is not. You have not experienced the full reality of being an Agamemnon, but when you do…when your heart and soul are challenged…who you truly are will then be brought to light."

My gaze wanders to the left, where everyone else was sitting and enjoying their meals, their voices friendly and peaceful. I bypass the others and focus further down the table at the head, where the two leaders were talking. I eye their stern expressions knowingly. Given both Cole and Sasha's calculative nature, they were most likely discussing further tactics and stratagems to their incognito espionage. "Plan A" and "Plan B" and the like. I had no reservations concerning the operation's success tomorrow, given its very standard structure and straight-forwardness. There are no detours or complexities to be found.

No…my thoughts are elsewhere…

"Ebony?"

I turn back to face the front. Kai's eyes bore intently into mine, trying to read me. And of course, I don't make it easy for him even if both my eyes are bare for him to see.

"Are you okay? You've hardly eaten," he points out after swallowing his bite of Spanish rice.

Underneath the table, I feel Ayane's hand slide on top of mine, one of her many displays of kindness and reassurance of the "second nature". I don't spare her a glance and I know she doesn't expect me to. Besides, she's still conversing with Zane at the moment.

"I don't have much of an appetite right now," I reply truthfully. "I may have to save my supper for another time."

Kai takes a sip from his soft drink, his eyes never straying from mine. "Anything wrong?"

I don't respond right away. It would be uncouth to go against my integrity, but the temptation is great. Kai would not understand the emotional turmoil I am facing, Ayane and the other Kunoichi didn't. In fact, I doubt anyone on this ship, including my little brother, would understand.

I have no kindred spirit to empathize with. I am truly alone.

Ayane's thumb smoothes over my knuckles…an apologetic gesture.

To me, it's a delicate reminder of the Kunoichi meeting held right before Lloyd's evening class was supposed to start. Sasha had suddenly summoned us to congregate in her and Ayane's room and I had been the last to arrive…not looking forward to the gathering at all.

(Flashback to Earlier…)

"Okay, now that everyone's here we can start," Sasha announces with a hand resting on a cocked hip.

I make a quick sweep of the spacious room after closing the door behind me, taking note that all of my sisters are standing instead of sitting. This meeting must either hold grave importance or was going to be rather quick. I solemnly hoped for the latter.

We are missing one… I observe mutely, completing my roundabout survey and come to stand before Sasha, thus completing the makeshift crucifix.

"Um, where's Dominique? Doesn't she know about the meeting?" Ayane asks, voicing my silent observation.

"I've told Lloyd to teach her some basic Chi and breathing exercises before coming here," Sasha says. "There is no reason to involve her in this…at least not yet."

I hide the frown that threatened to darken my features with seamless control at that last statement.

"What? Why? I thought we agreed to be honest with her from the start?" Questions Nya, eyeing our leader worriedly.

"We are. I just believe it's best to withhold this particular piece of information until everything is finalized." She switches her stance and instead crosses her arms under her ample bust. "This is really about you, Ebony. But since we are a team, I thought it wise to include all the Kunoichi and see from everyone's perspective."

I don't say anything. Only maintain my look of aloofness.

"Today's training session was an absolute success thanks to Dominique's assistance, but I fear her body may be too fragile and unconditioned for keeping her elements at bay when they become unlocked. Her health will only deteriorate if we push her to help us with activating our Ascension, thus we'll have to go slow for her sake…"


And…? We've already touched bases on this matter during lunch… I know I should be feeling more remorse towards Dominique's wellbeing, but all I feel is empty and… No…just empty.

"Alright, so this is what I'm thinking," Sasha begins, finally getting to the point. "Within the next couple of days, if Dominique feels up to it, we'll run her through some drills. Nothing too strenuous of course, just some light agility training and possibly work on her flexibility. And while the three of us do that Ebony, I would like for you to start coaching her on how to handle the Dark Element." She shakes her head and furrows her brow. "It always baffled me how Lloyd could be unaffected by having all the Natural Elements inside of him, plus his own unique Element. But obviously he and Dominique are two different people."

She stops and her concern is evident as she sighs heavily. "You all saw her… Even when she came to, she looked so pale. And regardless if she accepts it or not, she is our Phoenix and it's our duty to protect her…no matter what." Her eyes lock with mine. "Ebony, the power of Darkness is great. We've all witnessed it through you. For Dominique to inherit such an inexplicable Element first is unfortunate but unavoidable all the same. We all learned from Sensei Wu that our Elements are not only what gives us our affinities but are also a branch to our personalities. You must help her tame the Darkness within, find the apex to her dark center and seize control of it…before it has a chance to damage her psyche."

I hold her gaze for a moment more before turning my sights on a random spot on the far wall.
I see…so that's how it is… Of course that is how my Element is perceived…

Mistress? What is this I feel from you? What are you thinking…?

My heart feels so tight, like a vice-like grip is squeezing it relentlessly. Despite the pain however…I inwardly smile.

Do you not see, Oblivion? It's so frightfully obvious that I would think the very embodiment of the void would be able to perceive it. I taunted the spirit and an amused androgynous chuckle sounds, the echo sending a tingle through my nerves.

Please…indulge my curiosity…

The others have already started conversing again, but I readily ignore them. Since Ancient Times, the Dark Element has been labeled as malevolence personified. It does not have the warmth of Light, the liberty of Wind, or the sustenance of Water. It is cold, heavy, constricting, binding…only likely to corrode and corrupt.



"I understand our Elements connect with our personalities, but how will Dominique manage Darkness?" I hear Ayane question. "Considering what I gather from her behavior, I think she will have a difficult time with it."

Did you hear that, Oblivion? I ask the spirit darkly. Ayane's words are like a testimony that feeds my animosity. The tightness around my heart is strengthening… I am taking offense to the others' arbitrary statements. The purity of the Phoenix tarnished by Darkness? Inconceivable. They speak of my Element as if it were an overbearing hindrance…

Mistress, you are taking your allies' words out of context… They are simply expressing the power in which Darkness contains. They acknowledge that you are the strongest, that your Element is potent, and given the Phoenix's soft nature, they fear for her inability to harness the Darkness correctly…

No, I interpreted their words differently.

"What I wonder about…will Darkness even work against the Corruption?" Nya, the sister of my love, and from her cynical tongue, she has become my greatest offender.

I can feel my features wanting to twist into a scowl of contempt, my mother's incantation on my lips just begging to be recited, so that I could appear before them as one of the so called "Corruption".

I close my eyes tight and concentrate on controlling my anger.
And why speculate about that, Nya? Is it because Darkness is equivalent to evil? And thus will prove ineffective against my people who are also evil? Is that what you think!?

Agamemnon, Human. Human, Agamemnon. It would appear the war has finally begun…

The words they speak next enter my mind in befuddled tandem.

Rid Ninjago…Prophecy…Corruption…Darkness…

It feels like my heart is going to burst from the constriction! No…my heart is slowly being torn in two…

One half human…the other half…Agamemnon…

"Ebony? Are you okay?"

I slowly open my eyes and lift my head. They were all looking at me with such concern, but were they truly? Or is this just blatant euphemism? With their words, could I really call these women my friends? Let alone my sisters?

My eyes narrow on their own volition. "You all throw your words around so haphazardly. Though in your eyes, I suppose the prophecy is very frank. But to me…it is not so black and white. There are at least fifty shades of grey that I must sort through…and what, dear sisters, would that mean for me if I were to sympathize with my other fellow man? Will the Phoenix "rid" Ninjago of me as well?"

Their eyes widen.

"Oh Ebony…" Ayane face turns stricken. "No, Dominique would never—"

"Spare me any false sympathies, Ayane!" I snap at her and she stops short. "Despite Dominique's devout decree never to kill, what exactly does the word "rid" mean? The Celestial and His Gods and Goddesses have maliciously branded the Agamemnon as "The Corruption". It's clear they despise them… All because they refused to succumb to extinction."

"Ebony… Are you saying you condone the Agamemnon's act of genocide?" Sasha asks quietly. "When you and Kai gave your report, that's what you said they did. That's how they ended up imprisoned in the Underworld."

I grimace. "All of the Aga could not have been involved in that. Like my mother, there had to be those who opposed the King's decision, but were powerless to stop it in the end regardless. My mother had to be part of the minority…that's what I believe. Why condemn an entire species for one Aga's heartless decision?"

"The Agamemnon aren't free as of yet, Ebony." Nya steps closer to me and touches my exposed shoulder where my birthmark lies with a gentle hand. "But…if the prophecy comes true and you do happen to meet them… Do you really think they would welcome you with open arms?"

I look at her and at that moment…my mother's amulet pulses at my side and warms my body.

"If not all then at least one will," I state with fathomless certainty. "It's the same with how I couldn't forsake my father… How can I be expected to stand idly by and watch my birthmother perish?" The very thought is so nauseating. My eyes are burning. My hands are trembling. "I can't." I admit softly. "I simply can't…just like I know none of you could. I would rather die trying to protect my mother… I would rather fight Dominique…"

I step away from them, my vision blurring in tears. And they all rush me at once, circling their arms around me. Hugging and crying with me. We collapse to the floor in a huddled mess. They are all talking and muttering simultaneously and my crippled mind can't sort through their words. All I can hear are the words "sister" spoken in different languages and how they love and trust me.


I will have to choose one day. Won't I, Oblivion? Humanity or Agamemnon.

…I receive no answer.

(End Flashback…)

I've taken too long to answer Kai's question, so I don't bother to try and give a statement of reassurance. It would be a lie if I did anyway and I never lie. Instead, I move from Kai's questioning gaze over to my little brother seated beside him. Lloyd looked to be staring at his dinner plate a little too intently and after he would take a bite or two of his burrito, he would glance up to peer at the one across from him…Dominique.

No words were spoken between the two youngsters and I observe the shy glances Dominique would send Lloyd's way also, when she thought he wasn't looking. It could easily be deemed as a cute scene as both were displaying the tell-tale signs of "smitten kittens" with their flushed cheeks and all, and I wasn't the only one who caught the exchanges either.

Ayane removes her hand from mine.

"Ebony, can you lean back, please? I want to try and get a picture of this," she says and I silently comply.

She fiddles with her PMS for a moment before huffing in frustration.

"Oh! Zane, how do I turn this thing into a camera?" She questions in a semi-hushed voice, though her motive was clear given she's holding up the device in Lloyd and Dominique's direction.

Zane chuckles deeply before reaching over to take Ayane's PMS. "I think it would be more memorable if you were to record the Dragon and Phoenix's interactions," he says slyly, deliberately glancing over at the two in question. "It could be, shall we say, a documentary, perhaps? We could label it: The Courtship between a Blossoming Bird and a Raunchy Reptile."

"That's perfect!" Ayane beams. "What a great idea! Okay so, what button do you press to record?" She asks, leaning more across the table to observe Zane's diligent fingers as he worked her PMS.

"Wait, what's perfect? What's a great idea?" Lloyd's young features contort into a bemused frown. It seems Ayane's jubilant tone had roused him from his "subtle" peek-a-boo game with Dominique. He glares down the table. "What are you two doing?"

Ayane just continues to grin brightly and wave her hand dismissively. "Don't worry, Lloyd. It's nothing embarrassing," she assures. "Just making some memoirs. You and Dominique are the youngest here, so I thought it would be nice to record some of your cutest moments as you two grow."

"Cutest moments!?" Lloyd repeated, clearly appalled. "We're not bunny rabbits, Ayane! I'm a ninja and Dominique is…is just Dominique!"

When Lloyd gestured wildly to her, the violet-eyed girl beside me shrunk down lower in her seat and caved-in on herself. It was obvious she didn't know quite how to respond to this particular situation.

Can't say that I blame her for not acting out like Lloyd did.

"Correction, Lloyd!" Jay interjects suddenly. "You're a Yoshi and Dominique is a…" His expression turns thoughtful while shifting his mischievous blue eyes to Dominique. "Hey Dom, say "Hi!" again for a sec."

Our Phoenix tilts her head to the side in bewilderment and as if in response to the action, my little brother's cheeks are doused in red. He quickly focuses his gaze down to his plate.

"H-Hi…?" Dominique says, unsure and Jay shakes his head.

"C'mon, not like that! Say it the way you said it this morning. Ya'know, all happy-like! You really reminded me of a character when you did that."

"Who? Dora the Explorer? She's the only Spanish character I know," inputs Sasha.

When Jay shakes his head again, I have to speculate on where this conversation is going. Sometimes it's really difficult to believe the people around me are Shinobi. I wonder how the other Ninja Clans interact with each other. Do they share this light familial air and camaraderie or are they strict in their ways?

"Wait a second, Jay…" Cole frowns, eyeing him warily. "You don't mean to nickname Dom, "Kirby", do you?"

"Yes! That's it! Kirby!" Jay raptures in delight and snaps his fingers. Dominique is still thoroughly confused. "And why not, Cole? She's adorable just like Kirby with her big pretty eyes. And the way the two of them says, "Hi!" is nearly identical! It's perfect! The Courtship between Yoshi and Kirby is what the recording should be called!"

Cole stirs his drink with a straw languidly, his displeased frown still in place. "You do realize that Kirby is a guy, right?"

"What?!" Jay yelps and jerks his head to Cole. "No she's not!"

"Actually, Cole is correct, Jay. Kirby has been confirmed to be a male," Zane informs casually.

It's Jay's turn to frown and he begins tapping his fork against his plate. I hear Nya sigh. She too must've deduced that this conversation is going nowhere fast. I chance a glance at Kai, wondering why he's remaining silent instead of joining in on his brothers' meaningless debate, and that's when I notice he is still looking at me. His posture is lax as he leans against the chair, his right arm thrown lazily over the back.

I try to control the unconscious urge to fidget in my seat, but it happens anyway, causing my heart to thump wildly in my chest. I don't want this attention. I don't want him trying to analyze me. I just want to be left alone in my brooding. However, there is a part of me that rejects these statements. A part of me wants to snuggle myself into his warm embrace and tell him my woes. A part of me wants to get lost in smoldering golden-amber eyes and to kiss and get kissed by those hot provocative lips. Shamelessly, my mind wanders to our time in Ignacia. Where he showed me his and Nya's childhood home and shared with me his past. And afterwards…when we ventured into the woods…to have our picnic…

Dear God…

The memories are so intense that fire immediately ignites from within my core and spreads throughout my body, creating a molten river of heated pleasure. Despite the light material of my sleeping garments, I am getting increasingly hot and flustered. The memories coupled with Kai's scorching gaze are causing me to perspire and the warmth filling my cheeks is unfortunately uncontrollable.

My eyes fleet over Kai's face when I take another glance in his direction, and from that split second…I saw the smirk. He knows what I'm thinking. When my body is wired like this, when my emotions are running amok inside me, I become transparent to him. Impetuous emotions are Kai's forte after all…not mines, and only he can invoke these particularly rampant and powerful feelings from me.

Unbeknownst to me, my fingers had reached up and ghosted along the right column of my throat…where Kai had bitten me that night… The injury had long-since healed, but the skin still feels tender to the touch. The act had been a purely primal and primitive display. Possessiveness in its rawest form. However, to me, both Aga and human had found it to be truly romantic and meaningful. So much in fact, that I want him to do it again, I want a complete repeat of that wonderfully passionate evening.

I dare to think that my Aga side wants it more, but I don't fully understand. I had enjoyed the mixture of pain and pleasure the bite had inflicted, although when it healed…when Kai's teeth indentations had faded…I had felt solemn and agitated. What was my other blood telling me? That I wanted a bite mark that would last forever? But, how exactly would that occur when my body heals so rapidly now?

A bite that my blood would not allow me to heal from… A stirring from within and suddenly my mind clicks. A…male…Agamemnon…could…

I put my fork down quietly, trying desperately to quell the startling madness that is attempting to engulf my brain. My mind is becoming too clouded and cluttered, my heart too disconcerted and forlorn. I need to find peace. I need to be alone right now.

"Eww Cole, Birdo is a terrible nickname!" Jay rebuffs angrily.

"Why? Isn't she Yoshi's official girlfriend?" Cole counters.

I look over at Lloyd. He had his hands covering his, most likely, red face and I can tell Dominique is not far behind in matching his mannerisms. With her face aflame, she looks like she just wants to disappear.

"She?!" Jay starts incredulously, his eyebrows nearly reaching his hairline. "Now, do you realize that Birdo is a guy?"

"What are you talkin' about?!"

"Yes, Cole. Jay is correct as well," Zane intervenes again in his calm informative manner. "For the longest time, Birdo has been portrayed as transgendered. In short, it's a he who believes he is a she. It was only established in recent years that the creators decided to justify him as "female" since, like you said, Birdo and Yoshi are boyfriend and "girlfriend". However, there are some who still look at Birdo as a male and the distinguished pair as a "yaoi" couple."

"What the hell…?" Cole mutters, but Jay gives an exuberant whoop for joy.

"See! Kirby wins! Not only is it a way cuter name, but at least Kirby is comfortable with the skin he was born in! And I bet he would be just as mature and content with his sexuality too!"

"What the hell are you talkin' about, man! Kirby doesn't have a sexuality! And what does sexual orientation have to do with anything!?" It is easy to discern that Cole is getting uncomfortable with the current topic, if his flushed face is anything to go by. And I can't see Sasha's face very well from my angle, but she looks to be just observing.

"Hey, you're the one who brought up the whole "girlfriend, boyfriend" spill, dude!" Jay points out, still wearing his triumphant grin. "And besides, have you've seen Birdo!? It has a tube for a mouth for cryin' out loud! Other than spitting out eggs, it's probably only really useful function is suckin' on pe—"

"Jay!" Nya erupts, slamming her hands down on the table. The edges of her profile a deep scarlet. Ayane had dropped her PMS in alarm, but Zane's keen reflexes saved it from landing in the bowl of salsa. The archer's face is also a bright hue of rouge.

"Pee—ickles!" Jay finishes with a sheepish grin and scratches the back of his head. "Heh, I was going to say pickles, sweetheart."

"No you weren't." Sasha quips.

When the others start talking again, I decide to make my retreat. I discreetly gather my dishes and remove myself from the table to head for the kitchen, making use of the diversion given to me by the mindless prattle. I come around to Lloyd's corner of the table and bend down slightly.

"Take Dominique and leave, no need to suffer," I whisper in his ear then continue on my way.
Power of Aura Chapter 9
Had to separate into two chapters, but anyway... Hope everyone likes this entry! :D 
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Silence.

The wind had ceased blowing as the children traversed the shadowy meadow, inching ever closer to the ominous mansion on a hill. But despite the absence of gales, coldness draped itself over the eight as the distance between the mansion and them dwindled. Each had their own levels of apprehension and courage, but most of their anxiety hinged on the one that was leading them. The newcomer to their group, the mysterious white-haired girl, could she really be trusted?

Some thought so and some didn't…

"Oh, thank you, Cole."

Kai glanced over at Sasha as Cole helped her into his black jacket. The girl's face was fraught with worry. No doubt her mind was engulfed with Roxanne's welfare as she stared straight ahead. However, the boy beside her held a different expression, one of doubt and distrust. He was frowning at their guide's back as if expecting her to betray them at any moment, despite her earlier words.

Kai grimaced.

He knew they had a right to be suspicious. After all, the girl just materialized out of thin air it seemed. But in spite of her abrupt appearance, when Kai saw her…the only thing he had doubted was whether or not she was real. Her physical features were just so…otherworldly. She came to them like an onyx-garbed angel and informed them of the situation and what was happening. If she hadn't, most likely they'd all be standing around further back still twiddling their thumbs on what to do.

That was enough for him. She got them to move. Action. Her enlightening words had swayed him as did his instincts told him to trust her.

But like any society, trust can only be found from knowing a person. So perhaps if they asked her some questions, then maybe the others would accept her like he had.

"Excuse me…but what exactly is…a "schism"?" Zane suddenly inquired.

The girl's pace did not falter nor did she look to Zane when she responded.

"A schism is a tear in the plane of existence. It only occurs when supernatural forces are at their most potent."

"Which is Halloween night?" Put forth Ayane and the leading girl hummed her affirmation.

"Surely all of you have heard some form of superstition behind the origins of All Hallows Eve?"

"Well, yeah…" Jay shrugged. "Corpses rising from the dead to roam the streets at night, ghosts fluttering about looking for unsuspecting victims to possess, but that's all urban legend and folklore. That is…" he glanced around nervously, "until this freakish night happened…"

"Hey, we haven't seen any ghosts or anything yet, so let's not fear something that may not exist," Cole said then turned his narrowed green eyes to the girl's back. "And what do you believe? How do you know all this?"

The crunching of grass underfoot was all that was heard for a spell before the girl answered.

"I'm a firm advocate of the paranormal and have read many non-fiction books pertaining to the subject. As you can easily see… I'm different."

"There's nothing wrong with being different," Kai placated reflexively, the girl's tone didn't sound sad but it troubled him how…emotionless it was. "It's what gives us individuality. The world would be a pretty boring place if everyone was the same and believed in the same things."

"…Yes, your words have merit."

Kai smiled.

"Wait…so you mean you're not in costume?!" Jay suddenly screeched. "You actually dress like a necromancer on a regular basis?!"

Kai was just about to turn around and throw a welding tool at his friend when Ayane's peacekeeping voice stunted his temper.

"What I think Jay is trying to ask is, were you not part of the Trick-or-Treating event? Perhaps in another group?"

"No, I left my home when my amulet prompted me to."

"Your necklace talks to you?!" Jay again…

"Though my amulet is a treasured keepsake of mine, it doesn't have a voice."

"But you just said—"

Kai decided to intervene and get the conversation back on common ground before Jay fired off at the mouth again and said something demeaning or offensive.

"So, you live in Twilight then, right?"

"Yes."

Now they were getting somewhere in giving their guide an identity.

"So…what's your name?"

A momentary pause. The mansion was getting closer, larger and the climate ever so colder. The children were almost to their destination.

"Ebony."

Kai tested the name on his tongue silently. He didn't know why he'd thought she'd have a more complex name. Ebony… The name was very common and from gazing at her, even from the back, she did have a rather dark allure. How befitting…

She intrigued him.

"Okay, cool. My name is—"

Ebony halted her steps and turned swiftly around to face him and Kai's words died on his lips at seeing that piercing russet garnet gem again, always challenging him. He and the others stopped too.

"There is no need for you to tell me your names. I am not here to befriend any of you…" Her eyes, for some reason, moved to Ayane before shifting back to Kai. "…just save the girl."

Hard, detached, and completely apathetic. Kai's mouth fell open, left temporarily dumbstruck at Ebony's blunt integrity, but quickly snapped it shut and bared his teeth angrily at the girl, his temper rekindled. His first impulse was to lay into her, so that's what he did.

"Hey! I was only being nice by helping you familiarize yourself with the group, so that you wouldn't feel like an outcast!" He roared. "I was doing you a favor!"

The dark gem narrowed and hardened. "Then it's your own fault for assuming that I wanted to familiarize myself with your group. If we survive this night, it's obvious we'll never see each other again. So what's the point of attachment and camaraderie? Truth be told, all of you are hindrances. The only one among you that I may need assistance from is that one over there."

Ebony had pointed directly at Ayane.

"Me?!" The blonde squeaked, her two-toned irises widening tremendously. "Why me?!"

But Ebony didn't answer, her gaze focused beyond the group. Pensive and calculating. The little hairs on the back of Kai's neck pricked up and he and the others slowly peered over their shoulders to the dark horizon from whence they came.

In the distance…the children heard guttural growls and the rattling of chains and the eerie terrain of shadowed grass and sallow fireflies was dissipating, being swallowed up by a dense black miasma. The grass crunched loudly and sharp claws dug deep into dirt and gravel with each terrifying step towards the group. Eight hearts thumped rapidly in fear as eight glowing poison-green eyes narrowed at them from within the abyss. All it took was the sight of bloodied yellow fangs from four beastly heads to emerge, for Ebony to face forward again.

"Run! Run now!" She screamed and took off for the mansion in a mad sprint with the others mere footfalls behind her. The manic roar of indignation from the beast or beasts fueled their horror as well as their speed and soon they found themselves at the start of the incline of the hill.

"Keep going!" Kai rallied, without missing a step and the others began their frantic ascent as well.

Halfway up the grassy mound, Ebony's bare feet slipped on a moist patch. She gave a startled gasp as she started to fall forward; her eyes wide in disbelief as the ground came hurtling towards her. But her face never met the still grass, for she was suddenly jerked upright and pulled by her hand to continue the trek upward.

The boy in blacksmith garb looked behind him at the wide-eyed girl, a cocky smirk playing on his lips despite the cold sweat gathered on his face.

"Just a hindrance, huh?!" He gasped hastily, his hand firmly grasping hers as he pulled her along. "I think I'm another person that you need! The name's Kai! Got it memorized!?" (A/N: Kai, Axel…had to do it!)

Ebony said nothing, only proceeded to stare unblinkingly at the boy who most likely just saved her life.

"Geez! You two can flirt terribly later! In case you haven't noticed, there's a giant hellhound barreling after us!" Jay hollered.

Finally making it to the flight of stone steps leading up to the spacious veranda, double wooden doors flung open instantaneously as if to offer safe haven to the fleeing children, and not one of them stopped to ponder the strange occurrence. Gasping and wheezing, all eight of them made it safely inside and just as the beast lunged, the doors slammed shut, barricading the monster out.

They backed away from the doors as the abomination raged on the other side. It scraped its claws and slammed its body mercilessly against the wooden accesses, and although the frames cried and creaked in protest, they miraculously didn't break. After several long moments of this constant thrashing and howling, and unadulterated fear gripping the hearts and minds of the huddled and frightened boys and girls… it suddenly stopped and the group was met with a chilly silence.

Not daring to breathe a sigh of relief just yet, Cole bravely detangled himself from Sasha and crept towards the silent doors.

"Cole, what are you doing?!" Jay hissed and stifled a wince as his hand was in the death-grip of the samurai who clung to his side.

Cole turned his head with warning eyes to the cluster of bodies and placed a finger to his lips to gesture for them to stay quiet. He gave an assuring nod to Sasha and she swallowed nervously before nodding back.

He then reached the doors and placed his ear against it.

Ayane buried her face in Zane's chest to muffle her whimpers and the pale boy responded by bringing her closer while keeping cautious eyes on the doors and Cole.

Ebony stared down at the tan hand that still entrapped hers in bewilderment. Her mind failing to register the likelihood of her death if it weren't for said hand.

Cole pulled back from the doors, releasing an audible breath.

He turned back to face the others and spread his arms. "It's gone."

The children breathed a collected sigh of relief.

Kai loosened his hold on Ebony's hand and the girl quickly took the opportunity to slip it out of his grasp.

She turned her back to the group.

"What…was that monstrosity?" Zane whispered, standing up and releasing Ayane. Green and blue optics peered at Zane more curiously now and she wrung her hands together in uncertainty, but decided to remain quiet…and close to him.

"An Eraser…"

The seven turned to the eighth.

"We aren't supposed to be here, remember? And the evil spirit released it to come terminate us, not wanting us to interfere with its plans."

"So we're a threat!" Kai exclaimed and rammed his fist into his palm excitedly. He smirked. "That means we have a chance!"

"A threat!" Jay cried incredulously, eyeing Kai like he lost his mind. "We're not a threat, Kai! We're Kibbles n' Bits! We're walkin', talkin' tenderloin to that thing! Or to be more accurate, runnin' n screamin' tenderloin!"

"B-But the good spirit helped us just now!" Ayane reasoned boldly and all eyes centered on her, including Ebony's. "When the doors flew open and closed on their own, I…" She closed her eyes tight for a moment to try to recall the feeling that had washed over her. It had felt kind, but also desperate for aid. "I'm sure we're not alone here. With the good spirit's help, we can rescue Roxanne. I'm sure of it!" She finished with a firm nod.

"As I suspected… You can also sense spirits," Ebony deduced as she stared the blonde down, and Ayane blushed and looked to the floor, unable to meet such a penetrating gaze.

"I g-guess so…" She admitted quietly with a small stutter.

A fog of contemplative silence fell over the children until it was broken by one.

"This place…" Sasha breathed, finally taking the time to survey her surroundings. "I didn't expect it to be so beautiful…in its own way…"

Cole rubbed the back of his neck and scanned the perimeter also, the others following suit.

"Yeah, now that you mentioned it… It doesn't look too bad on the inside."

Gothic and grand were just a few words to describe the mansion's interior. Caked in a surprisingly thin film of dust, the gothic architecture was still a sight to behold. The elaborate and spacious foyer had an intimidating structure, with its dark marble floors and ostentatious staircase leading to a second level, splitting two ways at a fork. Divans and other pieces of furniture littered the room here and there, some were even toppled over with cobwebs weaved between the legs. A decaying fireplace lounged in a secluded space and within, a mound of salt and pepper ash told the tale of once being used frequently long ago.

The youngsters noticed that upon entering the front doors that the foyer led to two hallways, one to the left, and the other to the right. The pathways were much too dark to navigate safely and even more ominous were that their archways were carved into menacing gargoyles, their ferocious visages just daring the children to venture in.

Sasha tilted her head skyward and noted that the core of the ceiling was crafted into scenic painted glass. The fluorescent colors fused together to form a depiction of a praying angel. Only…the picture left her very inquisitorial for half of the angel's figure was blonde and heavenly, but the other half was very much demonic and cruel. Could there be an underlining meaning…? She wondered.

Jay strayed over to the fireplace and ran a finger across the mantle mount with a circumspective frown.

"Okay, I don't know what you guys are looking at, but this place is just creepy. And whoever runs the joint should really fire the undead housekeep because they are surely not earning their keep."

Everyone knew that the boy's comment was meant to be a joke and it did warrant a few smiles despite the harrowing situation and the most appreciative grin came from behind a grotesque mask, and milk chocolate depths softened in further appeal for the youth.

Jay cocked a chestnut eyebrow as he reached out further to the wall and slid his hand across the dust-covered surface.

"Umm…Sasha? What's Roxanne's last name again?"

"Varatojo," she answered, looking over at him. "Why…?"

"Well…you all might want to come over and take a look at this…" he said cryptically.

When the other children joined Jay, their eyes widened at what they saw. An enlarged painting of a family hung precariously over the fireplace, though the top portion where the faces of the man and woman were too badly damaged to discern, they could easily make out the two children below. Two girls, obviously sisters…and one looked disturbingly similar to Roxanne, all the way down to the snarky grin that usually played upon the girl's lips. And below the painting, engraved on a plaque was "The Varatojo Family".

"So…could this place be an ancestral home?" Mused Ayane and Sasha nodded absently, still somewhat awestruck.

"Looks that way. Rox is actually part of a very noble lineage. She comes from a family of successful politicians and entrepreneurs, all of which originated in Poseidonia even as far back as the old days when it was nothing more than a fishermen's village. The Varatojo's always held power."

"What about now?" Zane asked.

"Yep, Rox's mother is the Attorney General and her father is a member of the parliament that advises the President of the South."

Kai whistled. "Didn't know we were hangin' around such a big shot. I'm surprised she didn't gloat more about her family's power."

Sasha shook her head ruefully. "Despite how aggravating Rox can be, she isn't one of those people who flaunt their names around to impress others. She's always just herself." A sudden smile uplifted at the corners of the red-head's mouth. "And she always told me that if people couldn't accept her for her, then that's their problem. It's one of the things I admire about her and one of the reasons why we're friends."

Cole placed a reassuring hand on Sasha's shoulder and gave her a soothing smile. "We'll save her," he said simply and the others resolutely agreed.

"So Ebony, where do you think we should start the search?" Kai asked, still looking at the portrait. When he received no reply, he turned around.

"Ebony?"

The girl in question was in the center of the foyer, under the dome of painted glass. Her head was bowed, her body, still. The area around her was blanketed in a reddish tint due to the crimson moon's rays shining through the overhead dome.

Russet garnet scruntinized the floor with certainty.

"Yes… Yes, this will help, but I will need a medium…" she muttered to herself. Unconsciously, her hand reached up and fingered the smooth surface of her amulet.

"Hey, what's going on?" Cole questioned suspiciously, a frown marring his features as he eyed the long white-haired girl.

He and the rest trotted back towards Ebony when she still refused to answer. They could see she was engrossed with the ground, completely fixated. Kai, sensing the growing apprehension from the others tried again and took a step closer to Ebony.

"Eb—"

"Watch where you step!" The girl suddenly cautioned, snapping her head up to glare at the boy. Kai immediately put his foot down and balanced himself. "Everyone, look at the ground around me. Do you see the runes and glyphs? This is an octagram and it looks to be an elemental one…"

"What's an octagram?" Ayane asked perplexed, searching the floor and Zane came to stand beside her, his eyes scouring the intricate panels of glyphs and embroidered runes etched into the dusty marble tiles.

"Well traditionally, the octagram was created for the use of geometry and represented an eight-sided star polygon. However over the centuries, it has been used in a variety of ways and studies. But basically, it's just any self-intersecting octagon…much like this one."

"Yes, and one of the various studies it was used for was sorcery, the Dark Arts if you will…" Ebony deduced then mimicked Zane, "…much like this one."

Kai scratched his head, clueless. "Okay, and is this…octagram supposed to help us in some way?"

"Yeah, like give us super cool magical powers!?" Jay leaned forward ecstatically, his radiant blue eyes shining.

Cole crossed his arms and frowned. "Get real, Jay. Witches and black magic is just a bunch of stupid fairy tales. There's no such thing."

Jay countered with his own frown and logic. "Uh yeah, in case you haven't noticed Cole, we are in a fairy tale! A very eeeevil fairy tale, with giant eight-eyed beasts and creepy old mansions with ghosts! Isn't this very occurrence concrete proof that the supernatural can happen!?"

Cole kept his defensive posture, though he had to admit Jay had a point. After everything they've seen and experienced thus far, he knew he wasn't dreaming. His heart had pounded in terror at being chased by the roaring beast in the fog. He had felt Sasha's hand in his as he desperately pulled her along.

This was no fairy tale.

Cole chose to remain silent and Ebony took his reservation as her cue to continue.

"That was what I was trying to ascertain earlier. I am familiar with the incantation needed to activate the octagram, but a powerful medium catalyst must be established for the spell to occur successfully."

Not knowing what to say to that, a heavy silence settled over the children. That is, until Ayane began mutely walking towards Ebony, her steps tentative as she evaded the few panels and rune inscriptions on her way. Ebony's lips pursed in discontent as the girl neared her, but didn't comment on the fact. Ayane stopped when she was within an arm's length of her and bit her lower lip out of nervousness before speaking.

"What about your mother?" Ayane asked quietly, her voice barely above a whisper. "She wants to help, doesn't she? So why won't you let her?"

Ebony recoiled back as if slapped, her hand grasping her amulet protectively in a flash as she glared into kind sky blue and mint green.

"I-I-I…It's…" Ebony gritted her teeth, quickly becoming flustered at the situation. She lost her usual detachment at the mere mention of her mother. She had known Ayane possessed similar abilities to her own, but she didn't count on the possibility that her powers were developed enough to sense the origins of her precious amulet.

"Be…Because…it's too dangerous," she finally got out albeit her voice was strained. She looked fearfully at Ayane, her one visible eye wide and unsure. "What if something happened…?"

Ayane held her gaze for a spell before slowly lowering it to her side where her hands gingerly removed her mother's golden flute from its protective leather strap. She presented it to Ebony with tender hands, its lustrous hue glowing faintly under the red moon's glare.

"My mother…also wants to help, but she can't do it alone. Both of our mothers want to ensure our survival, Ebony. They protect us…even after they've passed on."

Ebony stared at the pulsing golden flute in amazement. So that's what she'd been sensing around Ayane's form, the loving spectral of her mother! She met Ayane's empathetic gaze again. This girl knew of her pain. She was a kindred spirit, a reflection of her soul. Her sights then traveled upward to the painted glass depiction of the praying angel. Half and half. A light side and a dark side. Similar yet different. One could not survive without the other.

With a resigned sigh, Ebony released her amulet and it responded to the unrestraint immediately. All the children watched in wonder as the two keepsakes detached themselves from their inheritors and levitated between them. At once, they erupted with color and power, the lithe instrument a stunning white gold and the necklace an enchanting crimson with black wisps.

Ayane felt her eyes glisten in unshed tears at seeing her mother's strength and feeling her love, but did not let them fall. Now was not the time for crying. Who knew how much time they had left before the lunar eclipse ended.

They had to hurry and find Roxanne…

With a confident smile, her gaze found and locked with the girl's in front of her once more.

"Let's do it, Ebony."

And Ebony dipped her head once before speaking up and calling out to the others.

"Everyone, listen to me! I will now begin the incantation! Close your eyes and open your minds and your hearts! Let your soul guide your body to its rightful destination and most of all…" The girl let one of the many barriers around her heart fall. "…trust me! I will not betray you!"

One by one, upon hearing the sincerity of Ebony's voice, the children let their faces alight into smiles. A bond of unbreakable friendship had unexpectedly been forged between the eight. They could feel it in the tempo of their hearts.

Zane was the last to close his eyes, wanting to absorb the aesthetically pleasing sight of Ayane amongst the subtle tint of red. Before all this, when he first sat down beside her on the bus, he had sensed something special about her. She was attuned with not only Mother Nature but spirituality as well. Being a loyal advocate of science, he had a hard time grasping the concept of otherworldly events, letting his sixth sense and Emotional Framework guide him through illogical scenarios.

But since meeting her, he had begun to feel strange. Yes, he wanted to protect her. He wanted to protect all of his newfound friends. However…his EF was sending his CPU abnormal feedback in regards to Ayane. At first he couldn't place the blissful warmth that careened through his system, only able to construe that it felt unmistakably good. But as the night trudged on, leading to this point in time, he finally figured it out.

He was attracted to the human girl…emotionally and physically.

Disturbing, right? Zane thought so. After all, what business did an android have being attracted to a human girl? It was preposterous! Regardless of his mind and body being diminished and altered, he was still a cyber-organic organism. There was no denying it. No escaping it.

I must quell my emotions and only focus on protecting her and the others… He thought as he too closed his eyes and heeded Ebony's advice just as she began her chant, her hands clasped in prayer.

"I am the Air that blows in the trees,

I am the Aqua that swirls in the sea,

With quivering spirits, the samurai and the water nymph started to walk as the aforementioned elements' respected glyph panels glowed. Sasha reached hers first and when her feet came in contact with the radiant aquamarine panel, her spirit soared. She felt submerged in purifying water, feeling blissfully at home while the gushing element literally swam through her. The path of rune inscriptions burst into color as well, traveling from the panel to the center where the two mother spirits channeled their power. As did Nobou's when he stood upon the bright royal purple panel, his heart and mind at ease once feeling a rush of wind course through his soul.

I am the Inferno that burns most bright,

I am the Terra, one too strong to fight,

Kai and Cole, both representing the strength of resolve and bravery, let their bodies move on their own. Naturally smirking in readiness, the son of a blacksmith felt the fire in his veins once the red-hot panel was beneath his feet. And Cole, always having a robust figure, felt solid as rock, indestructible, as he stood proudly on the shining bronze panel. The need to protect…stronger than ever.

I am the Frost that freezes your soul,

I am the Lightning that lacks control,

It was a calling like no other, an indescribable push and pull in the right direction. Zane felt his body move on its own volition, as did Jay with a jolt. Everlasting white seared his feet as the android found his destination. Calm, penetrating coldness… He always knew he had a strong kinship with the element of ice. Jay couldn't help but chuckle as deep blue raw power coiled and glinted around his body, the tickling sensation pleasing him immensely once he found his place on the sapphire panel. He was energy…in body, mind, heart, and spirit.

I am the Light that feeds the flowers in the meadow,

I am the Darkness that tempts wayward bedfellows,

Lastly, the two girls, the two kindred spirits, began their own trek. They both already knew where their souls were guiding them, for it was predestined for a child of light and a child of dark to assume their roles as Spirit Trackers. Ayane released a joyful sigh at feeling the warmth through her shoes and spread throughout her entire body immediately after stepping foot on the bright yellowish-gold panel. She was one with the sun and would forever remain so.

This is who I am… This is who I was meant to be… A creature of shadow and night… Mother…are you proud of me? Ebony relished the touch of coolness on the soles of her bare feet, the silvery panel below her gleaming brilliantly. Sensing that everyone was in place, she spread her arms wide and finished the incantation with valor.

Elements gather in this sacred place,

Around the 9th, which has no face,

Bring me your honor,

Bring me your grace,

Come now, I call you,

Come now in haste.

And as it is spoke, so shall it be!"

Simultaneously, all eyes snapped open to reveal glowing depths, each child's irises emitting their element's corresponding color. Supreme power surged and planted itself in the youngsters' bodies and what a glorious feeling it was! But just then…like a calamity from the sky…the painted glass dome of the praying angel shattered in crystal shards.

The beast…the one who was sent to erase the children…was back…smothering all vibrant color with its black miasma…

The force of the nightmarish creature's thunderous landing sent waves of dust and the children flying back in random directions. The four-headed hellhound roared furiously, its silver chains swinging every which way as the children quickly scrambled back up to their feet.

Ebony had no idea if the ritual had been completed or not, but she did know one thing…

"MOTHER!" She and Ayane both shouted in unison, their precious keepsakes trapped beneath the claws of their relentless pursuer.

"Arrghhh! That's it!" Kai yelled, standing firm and facing the beast. He turned his head fiercely to Cole. "We kill this thing, here and now!"

"What!?" Cole's green eyes narrowed disbelievingly. Sasha was beside him, still winded and disoriented as were Kai and Ebony to his right, but the others were scattered somewhere behind the flailing creature. "Kai, trying to fight now would be suicide! We don't even know how to activate our powers or even if we have any!"

"Then what do you suggest we do then!?"

Cole eyed the monster as it thrashed its heads around wildly. It seemed like it was trying to look behind it, but it seemed to be at war with itself. Too many heads, too many brains with different ideas…and only one body, but if it decided to focus on them…

The boy's green eyes widened. He had an idea…

"Takin' it on here will only lead to our disadvantage! We have limited mobility so we have to even the odds! If we split up, we can possibly trap it in one of the corridors! Then, we can finish it off!" Cole braced himself for what he had to say next. "We disperse in pairs, whoever it decides to follow…has to be the decoy!"

Kai didn't like the plan, not one bit, but before he could open his mouth to argue, a shout of his name made his blood run cold.

"KAI!"

Kai immediately turned to the direction of his sibling's terrified voice. It came from behind the monstrosity to the right.

"NYA!" He screamed back and tried to see behind the beast but its constant whipping about was causing dust to fog the air and hinder his sight.

He thought quickly. No choice! Protecting my little sister comes first! With it facing our direction, it's a good chance it'll follow either me and Ebony or Cole and Sasha! Dammit!

"Nya, run!" He shouted. "We'll catch up later, I promise! Jay! If you're with her, take her and get out of here!"

On the other side, behind the swinging tail and chains, Jay barely registered the "her" and the "Nya" and the light distinctly feminine voice shouting Kai's namebefore grabbing the samurai's hand and fleeing down the darkened corridor behind them.

No time to think, Jay! Just run!

"Zane! You and Ayane need to go!" yelled Cole, having caught a glimpse of the two near the opposite passageway of Jay and Nya.

Zane didn't need to be told twice. Seeing no alternative but to scoop the shell-shocked Ayane up in his arms, he turned and fled as well.

The Eraser's eight ears stood erect and flicked humorlessly, and the two outer head turned as one in the direction of the corridors. It must've sensed that four of its quarries were no longer in the room with it.

It growled in distaste.

"My—My amulet… Mother…" Ebony wept and attempted to approach the glaring beast but Kai quickly pulled her to him.

He framed his hands around her face and stared into her glassy dark gem. "We're going to get it back!" He declared fearlessly. "But first we have to leave, okay?!"

The wide eye simply blinked and the boy peered over Ebony's head to meet Cole's hard and ready emerald gaze.

"Later!" They both said. It was an agreement to meet up elsewhere, hopefully in a safe haven with the others…and Roxanne. Sasha reached for Cole's hand first and they nodded to each other before dashing up the staircase opposite of Kai and Ebony.

And Kai did the same with his partner, gripping her hand tight enough to ensure her of his resolve to not only protect her but fulfill his avowal as well.

The Eraser, sensing the growing distance between it and its prey, finally decided to act…and did the unthinkable. With a decisive roar, the four heads split from the main body, landing in a gruesome wet heap on the inactive octagram. But the horrid decapitations didn't last for long, for the sickly black miasma converged around the severed heads and when the large prone body dissipated into nothingness, four new smaller but agile bodies were reborn from the abyss and carried their grotesque mantles.

Tongues lolling out hungrily from their powerful jaws, the four Erasers leapt into action, each chasing after a pair, a boy and a girl, flesh that promised to be most sweet and succulent…
A Haunting We Will Go! Ch. 3 (I AIN'T SCARED!)
A little miscalculation, sorry! I didn't take into account the length of the chases and puzzle-solving and whatnot, so this story will stretch for about two more chapters! I really like how everything is falling together though…do you? Let me know in some comments what you think!
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Theme Nine: Dearly Beloved…

Cole stood in front of the full-length mirror in his black three-piece Italian suit, his hands trembling anxiously as he adjusted the knot of his teal tie. He then smoothed down his silver chrome vest with timorous abandon as if he was trying to iron out invisible wrinkles with the hard press of his hands alone, and although he knew better than to mess up his hair, he wanted to run his fingers through it just to give his tireless appendages more to do.

He lifted his wrist to check his watch, smiling as he caught sight of the antique silver cufflinks his father had passed down to him to commemorate this special occasion.

He was due in the church in thirty minutes.

He was going to marry the love of his life, Sasha Graciano, in thirty minutes.

Their relationship had had many transitions: passerby acquaintances at first, then ambiguous friends, then confident boyfriend and girlfriend, then amorous fiancé and fiancée, and now… the most important transition of all was about to take place, one that would bind them together for life and even after death, forever.

Eternal husband and wife.

He released a shuddering breath.

Apprehension settled in his stomach only to travel upward to lay siege to his heart. He looked into the reflection of the mirror to see his brothers and Lloyd standing behind him adorned in similar suits, although his vest was the only silver one while the others wore the mandatory teal. They were talking amicably amongst themselves in the groom's suite. Well, all except Zane that is, whose eyes remained dutifully trained on him.

"Geez, I still can't believe Sasha was able to find actual teal flowers," Jay commented while fiddling with the beautiful esteemed blossom on his lapel. "I didn't even know teal flowers existed!"

Kai placed his hands in the pockets of his slacks and let his infamous smirk play on his lips. "Yeah, Ebony said they're very rare. They're apparently called blue raspberry orchids."

"Man, did they have to smell like blue Kool-aid though?" Lloyd questioned from beside Kai. "I'm so thirsty now…and hungry… I just might eat this thing…"

Cole's eyes narrowed once he spotted something amiss from the grumbling blonde's attire.

"Lloyd, where's your handkerchief?"

The Green Ninja frowned and patted his breast pocket. "It's here. I got it. It's just not showing."

"It's supposed to be showing, Lloyd," Cole said pointedly to the reflection. "Just like ours are. Kai help him and make sure it's folded correctly."

"I don't need any help," Lloyd grumbled, pulling out the velvet teal cloth.

"Look, we don't have much time. Just let Kai help you. We have to be in position at the church in…" Cole glanced at his watch again. "…twenty-six minutes so we have to be outta here pretty soon."

"Yeah Lloyd, the groom has spoken! Don't talk back!" Jay rebuked jokingly. "When you finally decide to tie-the-knot with Dominique, that'll be the one and only time you'll get to order us around. As is the decree of any groom and let me tell ya…" The blue ninja gave Cole a meaningful side-long glance. "…having the 'oh so glorious leader' under your thumb is one helluva fun time!"

"Church, Jay," Kai growled, meticulously creasing the edges on Lloyd's handkerchief. "If I can't cuss then neither can you."

Jay covered his mouth with wide eyes upon meeting the warning gaze of the groom in the reflection of the mirror.

Cole was a Catholic man after all.

"So? What? You think I should pop the question to Dominique just so I can have you guys running around doing menial tasks for me?" Lloyd inquired, eyeing the blue-eyed man dubiously.

"Of course not," Kai countered on instinct, speaking on behalf of Jay without permission. "Marriage should only be pursued if the two people in question are ready. Unconditional love and devotion is essential without a doubt, but more importantly…" The fire ninja's eyes suddenly intensified and misted over until the gold smoldered to dark amber in retrospection. "Don't push her, lest you end up pushing her away."

Lloyd understood. However, he perceptibly surmised that that last piece of advice was directed initially to Kai himself. Not wanting to open the Pandora's Box pertaining to his sister's personal life, he settled with his own thoughts on his long-going relationship with Dominique. He loved Dominique, there was no questioning that. Although, he had wondered on more than one occasion if she loved him as strongly as he did her. He had every right to speculate this matter, given his less than stellar behavior at the beginning. And he had proven countless times in the past that he could be very selfish in regards to her, almost to the point of unhealthy possession. Dominique's fathomless kindness and pure heart were magnetizing, she always pulled him in. From her voice, her touch, her actions, the warm gentility of her smile and violet depths, he craved all of it. He despairingly realized his selfishness had no bounds and that he could even be classified as a potential danger to Dominique. Lloyd never discussed these matters that plagued his heart in fear that if his doubts were brought to light, then Dominique would surely leave him. She once told him, that above all the others, she trusted him the most. He took her that night. Overcome with a pulsating desire to claim everything she had as his… and she let him. She had let him ravish her…thoroughly. Lloyd had always feared that Dominique's naiveté would cause her pain and heartache someday and he had wanted to protect her from it. However, he never would've guessed that he would be that pain and heartache. After all, what right did he have to take her body, when he didn't even deserve to hold her hand? Well, no more, for once he was going to be the selfless one. He was going to break-up with her, to spare her of his insufferable shortcomings… Today… At Cole and Sasha's wedding.

Kai inserted the impeccably folded pristine cloth back inside Lloyd's breast pocket, letting the glossy teal edge peek out. The two men said nothing as they stepped away from each other, both lost in their own thoughts.

"Zane, do you have the ring?" Cole asked over his shoulder and Zane nodded.

"Yes, Cole."

When Cole just continued to look at him, Zane quickly dug the ring out of his pocket to present the diamond emerald band to the worrisome groom.

"Yes Cole, as you can see it is safe and sound," the nindroid assured with a smile.

Cole breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay, good…" He then turned fully to address those behind him, his face as hard and serious as any of them would expect from a leader before a mission operation, not holy matrimony. "It's time to move-out, boys. Let's go!"

While the others turned and began to head for the door, Cole took a moment to check his breath.

He grimaced, stupefied. "Why in the world do I have cake-breath!?" He questioned incredulously, looking back up to his groomsmen.

Jay cocked a scarred eyebrow. "Uh, don't you remember, Cole? You had us get you a piece to help calm your nerves."

"Lotta good that did…" Kai voiced discreetly with a smirk.

"And another…and another…" Jay counted absently on his fingers then shrugged and shook his head, "…until the entire three-tier cake was gone. You're lucky Zane had the foresight to have another one put on reserve in case of an emergency. Though…we did earn some questioning looks from the culinary staff in the kitchen during the whole escapade."

The groomsmen had to stifle their laughter as they reflected back on Cole's first panic attack earlier. Each of them had to make runs back and forth from the kitchen with slice after slice of Cole and Sasha's three-layer, three-tiered wedding cake, all the while dodging the watchful eyes of the bridesmaids and family members of both parties. It was unthinkable to allow the bride to find out her groom was experiencing a nervous breakdown… Plus, Cole threatened to post embarrassing photos of them on Facebook if Sasha or anybody else were to fathom the ninja leader at his least most dignified.

"By the way…" Jay peered at Cole with a touch of concern over his mirth. "You okay?"

Cole ignored the question and spun around to face the mirror again, widening his lips in an exaggerated toothy smile. Turning just as quickly back, he leveled his friends with a fierce glare.

"You guys were going to let me waltz out there and kiss my bride with fudge stuck in between my teeth!?"

"Whoa! How were we supposed to know?! You don't exactly smile a lot with teeth!" Jay defended.

"Heh heh, and we thought Sasha would be used to the taste by now," Kai sniped, but when Cole angrily gritted his teeth at them, the groomsmen had to wince.

"Ugh, there it is," Lloyd groaned and bared his own teeth to indicate the point with a finger. "Cole you have somethin' like…right there."

Zane sighed. "You three are not helping," he lamented softly then turned to Kai. "Kai, can you check the bathroom to see if there are any dental hygienic utensils available?"

"Yeah, sure. Might as well drain the anaconda while I'm in there too."

"Don't you mean grass snake?" Lloyd countered with his own personal smirk just as Kai passed him. The elder just glared at him over his shoulder, mumbling something about "cheeky blondes…" before shutting the bathroom door.

"Great…now we're going to be late because I got distracted by my dad and Sasha's dad giving me death glares and all my relatives and her relatives asking questions and…"

"Cole…?"

The three remaining groomsmen stared worriedly at the raven-haired man's back when he turned around once more to the mirror. His shoulders rose and fell in rapid succession to match his sharp and quick breathing. In the mirror's reflection, they saw his mouth agape and his pupils downsized to mere pinpoints, emerald battling jade as his eyes shifted then stared at nothing, only to shift again. Cole's powerful hand gripped the side of the mirror for balance, but Zane and the others quickly moved forward when they heard the first crack.

"Bro, what's happening?! Are you having an asthma attack?!"

"That would be alarming if he had asthma, Jay!" Lloyd snapped then looked to the ice ninja for help. "Zane!?"

Zane frowned. "Looks like an anxiety attack." He gripped Cole's shoulders and led him over to a chair. "Sit down, Cole," he ordered, but the latter just shook his head.

"I don't…have time…to sit, Zane," He gasped, his neck muscles were so tight that a rather thick vein protruded from the side of it. "I have to—"

"And you will!" Zane interrupted sternly. "But first, you have to sit and calm yourself," he continued in a softer more placating tone. Jay came on the other side of Cole and placed a firm and comforting hand on the groom's back when he finally heeded Zane's advice.

Lloyd came in front with a stray wedding program in hand and began fanning Cole to bring in cooler circulation.

"Alright…now, remember your zen training… Regulate your heartbeat, control your breathing, and regain your impeccable composure…" Zane coached.

Within only a few minutes, Cole's breathing evened out. His brow furrowed and his eyes closed in concentration, his chest expanded with each deep inhale and deflated with each exhale. When he revealed his irises again, jade and emerald no longer shifted and fought with each other sporadically. Equilibrium had been restored though there was still a smidgen of anxiety left within the tranquil optics.

And the other Ninja noticed.

With a final elongated release, Cole leaned forward, balancing his weight on his knees with his elbows and interlaced his fingers in front of his face.

"Cole…" Zane started tentatively. "I sense that your heart is heavy… Are you perhaps having doubts about your marriage to Sasha…?"

Cole shook his head. "It's not the act of marrying Sasha that troubles me… It's the transition from being a boyfriend to a husband. It's not the same thing. Nowhere near as close. I keep thinking…what if I mess up too many times? What if I can't make her happy?" Emerald-jade became dark and hooded. "I know it's a two-way street in any and all relationships but…" A despondent sigh. "…I don't know…"

"Well of course you don't know, ding-dong!" Jay quipped, but there was an air of seriousness around him and in his voice as he eyed Cole with knowing. "Nobody knows! But you still want to, right?! I mean, do you remember me on my wedding day?! I was crazier than you!" A wide crooked grin suddenly spread across Jay's mouth as he lifted an eyebrow sardonically at his elder. "Then again that eating a whole cake-thing…took the CAKE! Eh?!"

"Jay…" Lloyd and Zane deadpanned.

"Anyway, what I'm sayin' is that I had almost the exact same mindset as you. But when I saw Nya walk down that aisle…her eyes shining and full of love for me, and that gorgeous smile behind that veil…" Jay sighed dreamily. "I knew then that I could do it. I knew that we could do it, together. I was beyond happy and when we both finally said the words, 'I do.', I felt utterly relieved…" He looked at Cole with a sincere smile on his lips, ocean sapphire locking with emerald jade. "No relationship is perfect, Cole. Just keep doing what you're doing, okay? It was enough to keep Sasha by your side for this long, right?"

Cole looked from one of his most trusted friends to the next, each wearing an encouraging smile for him.

He rose steadily to his feet and hugged them each individually. "Thanks, guys. I'm extremely grateful to have friends, fellow ninja, and brothers like you… and you too, Lloyd." (A/N: I don't know who else agrees with me or if I'm alone here, but I don't really count Lloyd as part of the brotherhood since he was specified as the "protectorate" and the other four as the "protectors". Not to mention, Cole and the others taught him.)

Cole smiled. He was indeed feeling much better. He no longer doubted himself, all he could think about was waiting by the altar…waiting for Sasha to make her grand entrance with her father and walk purposefully towards him. He couldn't wait to see her! Jay was right. He desperately wanted to say the words, "I do." To make their everlasting bond official. Their love would hold them together, through thick and thin, good and bad. He had absolute faith in that.

"Kai, what in the world are you doing in there!?"

Cole, Zane, and Jay glanced over at the door to see Lloyd banging his fist against it.

"Cool it, Yosh!" They heard from the other side. "I guess I shouldn't have had that Route 66 strawberry limeadeon the way over here! Now it's coming out of me like the Cetra Falls!"

The three brothers had to chuckle at Kai's response and Lloyd's snort of derision.

Zane rested his hand on Cole's shoulder and caught his eye with a sure grin. "Don't worry, brother… We'll make it on time."

Cole didn't even steal a glimpse at his watch. He simply nodded with his usual relaxed smile. "Yeah, I know.

*~DB~*

Further down the hall in the bridal suite, Sasha stood at the ready, adorned in her elegant one-piece wedding gown. Her bridesmaids flocked about her festooned in their long, sleeveless, teal dresses made of silk and satin, busying themselves with different matters of her apparel. Some mindlessly touched-up their hair or fingered the lengthy, translucent, silver scarves around their necks as they diligently endeavored.

Ebony's keen eyes roved the exquisite piece of jewelry in her hands with appreciation. Per Sasha's request, she had reformed Sophia's Pearl into something a bit more graceful to suit the occasion. The large pearl now sat in a silver crest embroidered by beautiful custom-cut teal prasiolite quartz. It hung daintily in the center from the third string of a three-string pearl necklace, and the white-haired maiden felt it would definitely serve its purpose and ornament Sasha's neck beautifully. The faint smile on her lips dissipated however when her mind forced her to think about a certain golden amber-eyed man with soft dark chocolate spikes and a captivating smirk. Kai… The conversation she had with him a week ago still haunted her and she had childishly been avoiding him ever since. Very unorthodox behavior for someone as blunt and confrontational as her, which only proved how much the discussion had…frightened her.

Ebony masked her melancholy with mastered stoicism.

She and Kai have been together for over three years. It was only natural for him to want more…and unnatural for her not to. Truth is, she was content with the relationship she built with Kai and didn't want it to change, didn't want it to graduate into something as foreboding as marriage. Not that she didn't love Kai enough to marry him, if the situation was different, if Kai only wanted to marry her and not have children, then she would happily uptake the treasured mantle of bride instead of bridesmaid. But that wasn't the case. Kai wanted her to bear his children. He wanted to finally make love to her. He confessed as much during their conversation. She had tried to reason with him, saying how it was too irresponsible and dangerous for her to bring life into the world, how any child of hers would be…different…and tormented by society because of it and ultimately succumb to seclusion. However, he had disagreed and argued that the child's life would be dissimilar from hers, since they would have both parents to love, shelter, and protect them.

She never liked arguing with Kai, detested it actually. And so…she had struggled out of his grasp, turned, and fled. And she's been dodging and evading him ever since, trying to piece together her thoughts in hopes to persuade him to drop the matter.

Ebony subtly released a heavy sigh. If the past three years with Kai had taught her anything, it was that if there was something the Ninja of Fire was adamant about, then he never gave up to see it achieved. So then… What am I to do…?

Ayane bit her lip in indecisiveness. Sasha had tasked her with finding the perfect veil for her and sure enough, she had… Not to say she didn't spend countless hours in debate over the issue though. The bride opted to not want anything obstructing the splendor of her dress so chose to have her hair affixed intricately into a braided chignon, which subsequently left her upper back and shoulders exposed except for a few carefully chosen braids that lingered against her back and over her shoulders. Following up on Sasha's principle, the huntress thought to bring further glory to the bride's attire and picked a sheer floor-length veil decorated masterfully with crystals in the large pattern of a swan in full flight near the bottom, while more crystals embellished the hem. The veil would circle and spread around Sasha flawlessly like a tent, the only dilemma Ayane faced was what headpiece to use to set atop Sasha's crown, from which the veil would spill from. She had narrowed it down to two choices: the aqua-jewel encrusted tiara or the circlet of intertwined sterling silver with teal gems implemented in a silver setting on each curve, and at the center of the headwear dangled a small star-shaped diamond that would settle betwixt her eyebrows if worn. Both were magnificent and would accentuate the veil nicely but… Which one? Thought Ayane, glancing from one to the other repeatedly.

On the far side of the room, Dominique was helping Sophia sort and finish tying the bouquets of white double-flowered tulips and blue raspberry orchids that they would all carry down the aisle. While Sophia talked animatedly about the majesty of her big sister's wedding and how she hoped her own wedding would be just as grand, Dominique listened with half an ear and engrossed herself in the multiple bouquets. After binding a set of flowers, Dominique would take the time to finger and caress each petal and outer shell of the gathered blossoms, marveling at their smooth texture. She smiled with half-lidded eyes and pressed her face in a finished bouquet, inhaling deeply. It was a unique combination of scents, fruity tartness and a light sweet flora. Just being around the flowers reminded her of that time not too long ago when Lloyd took her to an expansive field full of flowers. And although she couldn't see the vibrant colors that were around her, she had discerned the variety of shapes of swaying blossoms and scented the deep intoxicating aroma of various floras. The flowery meadow held a special place in her heart, for it served as the setting for her and Lloyd's first time.

Dominique blushed but kept to her work and nodded to a random comment made by Sophia.

The past came back to her in a blinding flash. Though the date had been planned, the intercourse had not been. They were just sitting together, conversing back and forth. The conversation had been light and friendly, the mood tranquil and optimistic. Then she had confessed how much she loved and trusted him, and the next thing she knew, he was kissing her passionately. A kiss that had been so fervent and amorous, that it was beyond worthy of being inserted within the pages of a best-selling romance novel. She then found herself on her back, her hands clutching the soft fabric of Lloyd's shirt, then splaying to feel his back muscles taut and ripple. Then…it happened. It was the single, most erotic experience of her life. Her mind had been hazy with rapture, but she could easily recall the feel of Lloyd's hands, his lips against hers and on her skin, his unadulterated passion…and desperation. There was a lovable clumsiness to his movements then, but his inexperience matched hers. It was what made it so endearing and most of all…real. Their voices had harmonized with each other at the elation of becoming one. Yes… She had no regrets. But since then, Lloyd had been acting strange. Distant and withdrawn. His aura was shrouded by confliction and turmoil.

Does he regret…? Dominique thought worriedly, securing the final knot on a bouquet. She decided that after the ceremony, she would talk to him. And hopefully this time, he'll respond.

"It's almost show time, ladies!" Sasha suddenly called out. "How are those bouquets coming?!"

Sophia tied the last knot of her stack and glanced over at Dominique's to see hers prepped and ready as well.

"Finished, irmã! Now we're just waitin' on you!"

Sasha sighed blissfully. "Excellent…"

Behind her, Nya smiled as she continued to lace up the back of her best friend's dress. She remembered when they all went to the Bridal dress shop weeks ago to look for the "perfect dress" that would fit Sasha's taste and how she had spent almost the whole day trying on a plethora of gowns and always finding a flaw in the style or decorum. That was, until they found "the one". Sasha had gaped and hooted her joy when Ebony had suddenly turned around, holding up another dress and plainly asked, "What about this one…?" Though Ebony looked indifferent, she and Ayane had gushed right along with Sasha at the stunning dress. And what a supreme piece of clothing art it was! White with an enthralling teal trim, the satin bridal gown was sleeveless with a sweetheart neckline and flattered Sasha's figure with its A-line silhouette and gorgeous chapel train. But the most fetching features about the dress were the crystal embroideries. Delicate crystal vines embellished the lower front of the silhouette and torso, and trailed to the back to decorate the flowing teal nuances down to the train.

"So Nya, you and Jay still in the honeymoon phase, or what?" Sasha questioned slyly with a hint of teasing.

Nya laughed lightly under her breath, taking a brief moment to look about the suite and notice all eyes were on them. "Even though we've been married for almost a year, I'm delighted to say we still are," she answered. "It's been a cornucopia of experiences and pleasures since our own special day."

"Oh? Like what?" Ayane asked, smiling. "That is, if you are willing to tell."

"But please bear in mind that I reserve the right to say stop at any time," Ebony put forth, checking the clasp on Sasha's modified necklace. "Certain details should be kept to a minimum."

"Oh Ebony, where's your spice and flare?! Juicy details are the best part!" The bride countered and turned her head some to peer at Nya from her peripheral. "C'mon Maid of Honor, don't hold back!"

A dust of fine rouge lighted on vanilla cheeks as an even wider grin fleeted across comely cherry lips. "It was bound to happen…despite not really trying… Of course it was going to happen…"

Multiple gasps filled the atmosphere and Sasha whirled around, forcing Nya to let go of the silky teal ribbons so as not to cause any unwanted damage to the gown.

"Sasha!" Nya cried, but the euphoric Brazilian ignored her.

"Great Leviathan… Nya, you…you're pregnant…?"

The redness broadened to her entire face as she just nodded. And in just moments after that simple gesture, chaos ensued in the bridal suite. Shrieks of joy rebounded off the walls from the gathered young women, except from Ebony of course, who just gave a kind congratulatory smile at the revelation.

With her face still ablaze, Nya held up her hands to figuratively ward off all the rambunctious attention directed at her and tried to answer the mass of questions fired at her.

"How far along are you!?"

"You're not showing so…"

"How did Jay react?! Wait… Does he even know?! He hasn't said a word!"

"Not very long," Nya began steadily. "Only a week and two days and…" Her eyes became downcast with regret. "There just hasn't been the right moment to tell Jay yet. We've been so busy and I wanted the mood and setting to be just right for the announcement."

Her eyes immediately lit up in resolve. "But I will, soon!"

"Why not today!?" Sasha suddenly burst. "Here, after the ceremony, at the reception?! News like this should be addressed foremost with your husband, sure, but also with family and friends, right?"

She winked. "Also, I think everyone would like to see Jay faint."

"No Sasha, I couldn't possibly steal your thunder like that?!" Nya fretted, but Sasha just waved her worry off like a bothersome fly.

"Girl, Odin and Thor combined couldn't steal my thunder today!" She boasted cheerfully then regarded her best friend with sisterly love. "I'm not saying you have to, but you can if you want, and all of us here can feign surprise pretty well, especially Ebony!" She quipped, jutting her manicured thumb in the youngest kunoichi sister's direction, two of which, russet garnet eyes blinked impassively.

"Surprise, yeah." Having made her decision on which headpiece to attach Sasha's veil to, Ayane moved to sit beside Ebony and interlinked their fingers. "But I think our soeur has learned to show plenty of emotion over the years, especially when Kai's involved."

Surely Ebony was used to this sort of playful teasing by now, but alas she could not stay the blush that found its way to her cheeks nor did she pull away from the bright blonde's grasp. In fact, she tightened the hold of their hands as she looked away, her heart and soul still heavy about her passionate partner.

Ayane felt the anxious squeeze to her hand at the mention of Kai's name and took the gesture to heart, knowing that any nonverbal communication Ebony expressed had great significance. Though that did not mean she knew how to assuage her sister's troubles. Thus all she offered was a supporting squeeze back.

The other young women in the room, however, didn't catch the silent exchange. Nya especially since her mind was ascertaining the idea of Sasha's earlier suggestion. The reception would serve as a wonderful setting and the ambience would also be divine, and she couldn't help but smile at the likelihood of Jay fainting from the news of her pregnancy.

The whole scenario was definitely growing on her.

Suddenly the door to the bridal suit opened and who sauntered in but Sasha's mother, Aiesha. The middle-aged beauty had on a similar teal dress like the bridesmaids, but instead of a scarf, Aiesha adorned a short silver overcoat and an elegant chrome linked belt around her waist. And attached to the lapel of her coat was a single white tulip.

She clapped her hands hurriedly. "Alright ladies, it's ten til! Y'all should've been out the door by now! What's the hold up?!"

All the women jumped to attention at the presence of the elder and most dominant of females. Commandeering the situation, Aiesha ushered the ladies to work hastily and finish her daughter's final preparations. Nya finished lacing up Sasha's bodice and tied the ribbon into a neat bow at the bottom, letting the long silky strands run down the train. Ebony fastened Sasha's new necklace on quickly, giving her a soft smile at the bride's elation of the recreated necklace then moved to affix the matching pearl bracelet to her right wrist, having already given her the pearl earrings earlier. When that was done, Ayane stepped up with the exquisite circlet headpiece and crystal veil attachment. It took all the women to get it on right and make sure it flowed properly, but once it was in place, all that was left was to hand Sasha her bouquet. And Sophia gave Dominique the honor. With the bride's entire ensemble completed, all the women stepped back to admire Sasha in all her bridal glory.

"My baby…" Aiesha whispered.

No other words were spoken, Sasha was simply breathtaking. Beyond the sheer crystal canopy, she radiated the regal authority of a queen, which was why Ayane chose the circlet. A princess tiara would be too demeaning and would not bring justification to Sasha's stature. She was the Kunoichi Leader, the Alpha of their little society and would be treated as such. Her jewelry highlighted this fact as well, 'the teardrops of the moon' associated her with the ocean, her element and symbolized her origins as a Poseidonian. And with the added effect of a touch of mascara and teal eye shadow, her platinum orbs had never looked more intense…and ready. Full, glistening, cream-colored lips stretched into a picturesque smile. Oh yes… Sasha was more than ready.

Sasha's mother broke the silence with a sigh and approached her eldest daughter.

"Now, before you walk down that aisle, your daddy wants to have a few words with you."

"Oh momma, don't tell me he and Cole are still going at it?"

It was very strange. While Miguel got along splendidly with Cole's father and mother, Lou and Francesca, he and Cole had a bit of a falling out. It was to be expected for the father of the bride to show a little wariness and reluctance when being introduced to the man who wished to betroth his daughter, but after the two of them started talking and getting to know each other, all seemed well and Miguel eventually gave Cole his blessing. However, all familial camaraderie between them soured once the wedding expenses came into play. Cole, wanting to prove his financial mettle and providing skills, opted to pay for everything himself. This did not sit well with Sasha though, and she determinedly convinced him to let her help at least with the florist, the cost of her wedding dress and bridesmaid dresses, and accessories. Now, since the motif was 'Aquatic Paradise' Sasha wanted to serve an all seafood menu at the reception which Cole agreed to. But, by that time the expenses were really adding up even with Sasha's help. Not only had Cole booked the finest Catholic cathedral in Poseidonia but he had also flown in his desired pastor from Temblor to marry him and Sasha. Apparently the man had baptized Cole when he was a baby and the groom requested that his parents find him. That being said, the only way to break even was to cut corners in the reception costs. And Cole had really let his frugalness shine through, having wanted to buy discounted seafood from the back of a seller's truck. Sasha had quickly intervened and reminded Cole that her father was a professional fisherman. Thus, he could supply the food they needed for free and could even help with the remaining reception costs. Unfortunately, Cole had been very stubborn. He didn't want his brand new father-in-law to have to fork up any money for his daughter's wedding, in fear that it would both discredit him as a worthy husband and emasculate him as a provider. Miguel had literally laughed in Cole's face and told him, he was more than happy to make his little water nymph's dream wedding a reality since he was unable to. Sasha had winced when Cole's face darkened in fury. It seemed the two men of different generations and heritage shared the indecent attribute of poor consolation tactics. Cole had flat-out refused help from Miguel then and a full-blown argument between them had ensued. It was then time for mother and daughter to arbitrate and tell the quarrelling men what's what. Sasha had demanded her father to apologize to Cole and Aiesha told the ninja leader that accepting financial help was nothing to be ashamed of, especially if the help came from family. Cole and Miguel had muttered their appeasement and all they did was pout and sulk afterward since then about the matter. Sasha and Aiesha had come to the same conclusion that male pride could be such a pain to deal with sometimes.

Aiesha laughed sweetly. "Oh I think they've cooled down since then, baby. I'm sure your daddy just wants to send you off with love."

Sasha bit her lip unsurely but nodded nonetheless. "Alright… Well, we better get out there," she said and with bouquets in hand, the women exited the bridal suite and made their way to the church.

Sasha hung back when she saw her father striding her way. She gripped her mother's hand tightly before letting go and sent a silent prayer to her Lord Leviathan that all would go well.
Chibijago! Dearly Beloved...
Sorry for the delay on an update, but here is the latest for Chibijago! Unfortunately though, this one will have to be a two-shot though it sill counts as one theme. :)

This was a request by megietheballerina: You should do one shots for all of the ninja couples (cole-sasha, jay-nya, kai-ebony, zane-ayane, lloyd-dominque) on their wedding days

Was modified to just Cole and Sasha's since I'm not allowed to reuse themes and Cole and Sasha are her favorite pairing. Sorry for the wait! Hope you and everyone else enjoyed the first part!

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CHIBIJAGO HAS BEGUN!

Journal Entry: Wed Sep 3, 2014, 1:26 PM
Chibijago! is a 100-Theme challenge-fic given to me by my best friend! It will contain

100 random themes that may not or vaguely coincide with my series, but mostly not!

She has given me until June of 2015 to get it done and if it's completed by the end of

that month then she'll give me one HELLUVA birthday present! I really want to win

this, but I doubt I can come up with 100 different themes so please! If you have time,

leave a request either in the comments below, through notes if it's private, or in the

comments where a chapter is posted! Please bear in mind that I've posted the same

fic on FFN and I'll be getting requests from there as well, so don't get upset if you

don't see yours for a while or something! I'll be going in the order from which they

are received as best I can!

Thank you very much and have a resplendent day! :D 

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Journal skin by TheWritingDragon
CSS coding by TheWritingDragon
Artwork by Jermmgirl
  • Mood: Compassion
  • Listening to: Moving and Powerful Music
  • Reading: Hetalia fanfiction
  • Watching: Game Grumps
  • Playing: Assassin's Creed Unity PS4
  • Eating: Strawberry Cake
  • Drinking: Milk

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VelvetPersona
Sondreia
United States
Greetings and salutations everyone!!
I'm no artist when it comes to drawing, but I love art in general and all it entails. A friend of mine from fanfiction.net suggested I come here and post some of my stories about Ninjago, so that's what I'm going to do!!
I think I'll remain anonymous about the details of myself, but that may change in time.
Pleased to meet you everyone!! :D
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:iconsnakesskin:
snakesskin Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Oi, sondreia dear, send me your email~
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:iconvelvetpersona:
VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Nov 10, 2014
lol, here ya go! sondreiag@gmail.com
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snakesskin Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
t.co/GnHkRfHMC4. See if that works :3
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Pokeninjagirl Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Happy birthday!  :cake:
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VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014
Thanks! :)
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:iconpokeninjagirl:
Pokeninjagirl Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
NP!  ^^ How are you doing so far? 
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:iconvelvetpersona:
VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2014
I'm doing well. Had a great day with my bf and I'm fully recovered from my accident and surgery. Life is great! How are you?
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:iconlidygarmadon:
LidyGarmadon Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Student Writer
Happy birthday! :D
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VelvetPersona Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2014
Thanks!
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:iconlilogirl2000:
lilogirl2000 Featured By Owner Jun 6, 2014  Student General Artist
Happy birthday girl! Have an awesome year!
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