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No matter the darkness, morning will always come...

Mmm... ung. What the hell is all that racket? *YAAAAAAAAAWN* I rub my eyes and look at the door, which is literally shaking from the pounding. I moan and yell at the door, "Ah whaddya want?!" From behind the door comes Kari's voice. "C'mon, Rina! It's already morning!" Uh? Morning already? "Oh Kari... just give me five more minutes.... blah!" I collapse face-down on my bed and start snoring. I'm already floating off on the clouds of my dreams, which are aplenty and thick... mmm... "But Rina! The breakfast I ordered for us is gonna get--" I'm awake, I'm awake! "I'm awake! I'm coming out right now!" In a flash, I change from my pajamas, wash my face, brush my long purple hair, and rush out of the door while still strapping my cloak on. "Why didn't you say so before??" Kari scratches his cheek in that aimless fashion of his and shrugs, following me down the stairs into the pub area.

After a filling breakfast, Kari and I hit the road again. For a moment, I'm at ease, but then I see the forest. Oh jeez, talk about bad luck. We make an enemy the night before and then we find out that we have to go through the perfect place to get ambushed in to continue our journey to New Zoana. Kari looks at me and smiles. "Heh. It's a good thing you're such a powerful sorceress." I grin sheepishly. Usually, I'd respond with something brave and uplifting, but today is different... "Uh, Kari...? There's something ya' ought to know. Magic for me is out of the question.." Kari gapes, "But Rina?! You're a sorceress!" I look away, narrowing my gaze. "Yeah Kari, I am... but today, if we're attacked, you'll have to do most of the fighting. If you don't believe me, I'll show you." There, we stopped. I point at a tree and attempt to cast Diem Wind, a spell which would rattle the leaves off that tree if it were cast. "East winds have you as their source..." I snap my fingers. "Diem Wind!" .... silence. Kari looks up and hmms thoughtfully, "Soo... you can't use your magic?" I nod, "Nothing outside a Lighting spell, and it's kind of a long story sooo--" Kari interrupts me, "Oh, I see. It's that time of the month."

I choke and complain, "Kariiiiii! Stop!" He blubbers on mindlessly, "It's that time of the month! When sorceresses and priestesses and oracles lose their powers..." I grab Kari's collar, growling. "And just how would an ignorant dope like you know about 'that time of the month' of all things?!" Kari scritches his cheek, "Well..." I clamber up to his eye level, using his collar as a grip, "Well?!" Kari responds soon enough, ".. Well, my mother was a shrine maiden and she always stayed home for a day or two every month, around the same time... When I asked her why she stayed those days, she said 'it's that time of the month, Kari dear...'" My left eye twitches. Wonderful... I get off of him and start walking forward down the path. His voice stops me: "Rina? What exactly is that time of the month?" I trip and fall, "Oh Kari, you're unbelievable!"

It seems like we've been walking forever. This forest stretches far; all I can see is darkness up ahead. It's getting more dense, too. If it was up to me, I would've gone around the wood, but then that would've delayed our travels, what, two days? Kari seems kind of uneasy, and truth to tell, I am too. If we get attacked and I'm without my magic, we're gonna be in trouble. As inevitable as it was, we eventually came into a clearing. Almost instantly, we were surrounded by a gang of spear-throwing, sword-swinging, blank-eyed goblins. "Just what you'd expect from this type of guy," I mutter. Then, I laugh nervously and yell a few words in goblin language. "Oryuk ma ii hou dei! Ote wah!" Kari looks at me, puzzled at what I just said. The goblins look at each other, probably debating my warning's authenticity. The goblins grunt as a whole and shuffle off into the woods. I fold my arms and laugh once. "Ha! Let's go, Kari." Kari starts to follow, but looks at me with widened eyes, "Gee Rina... what did you say to them?" I look up at the sky. The forest gets less dense as we move on; we must be getting close to the end. I then look back to Kari and give him a wink, "I just told them 'I'm a really powerful sorceress! Go away!'"

I'm pretty lucky, but I'm also pretty tired. We're out of that forest now, but the road still stretches a real long way. Eventually, we come to a fork in the road. Also coming to that fork was another traveler, but he was in a cart being pulled by a duo of horses. Seeing how tired I was, he offered Kari and me a ride in the cart since he was going to the next town anyway. See? I am very lucky! So, obligingly, we jump into the back of the cart, which is filled with hay, and stare at the forest as the horses' hooves settle in with the rhythm of the passing bumps in the dirt path. Ahhhh... maybe we can relax now... or so I thought, me at least. Kari is as inquisitive as ever. "Rina, do you know what that guy wanted last night?" Now to be honest, I didn't know exactly what was up with him in the first place. In order to look at the objects and maybe get a better bearing on why that Jonas guy is so hell-bent on getting my treasure... "Well, Kari... as far as I can tell, it's one of these three." And while I say that, I pull out the two statues and the mirror.

"The statues are obviously rare; both are made out of orihalcon metal, which is valued for its ability to hold enchantments especially well." I lift the mirror a bit higher, "... now this one, I'm not so sure. It looks like a plain mirror to me but..." I lay the mirror on my lap and hold my hands over it, both palms downward. Sensing the heat from the mirror, I nod. It has a small enchantment alright. "... it only has a cheap spell that keeps it from breaking... from what I can tell." Kari scratches his chin and drops back onto the hay. "Well, it's no use worrying about it." He yawns. "... yaaa.... wake me up when we get there... Rina..." Heh. I can't argue with his logic sometimes... a bit of shut-eye sounds good right about now. I put away my loot and pull my cape over my body. A breeze is blowing and I'm feeling a bit chilled. The clouds are coming in, too. It's gonna rain.

After giving the good man his payment (my gratitude. Hee-hee!), Kari and I checked into the finest inn we could find. We ate like there was no tomorrow and passed the time talking about random things like our lives... not that there's much to mention about that. Night fell quicker than I thought it would, and my sleepiness came back with a vengeance after my dinner. As the rain begins, I drag myself upstairs with another yawn. "I'm going to my room Kari. You'd better too... we start early tomorrow!" Kari nods and waves to me, "Good night, Rina!" I wave back and pay him the same regards he did to me. I close the door behind me and change into my pajamas. I hit the sack and close my eyes... and just when I'm about to start snoozing, I hear footsteps outside my door. I would've disregarded them, if it wasn't for the fact that the footsteps being made didn't sound like they were being deliberately lightened. I have little time to change, so I put my nightwear away and get back into my guise. I duck down in the shadows of my room... the door swings in, so I put myself behind the door's projected path. It doesn't look like I'll be getting any rest for now...

BOOM. The door goes open and a voice shouts out, "Okay, witch! Show yourself!" The distinct odor of goblins is present. They must be the same ones Kari and I encountered earlier... The man's voice takes an edge as he barks another command, "She's not here?! Find her, blokes!" The group clambers in, and likewise I clamber up the door, silently as I can, and drop down behind them. The man is rather handsome... straight black hair to his shoulders... a moderately-muscled frame... he'd be just the man for me... if he wasn't out to kill me! I pull a pouch from my belt and hurl it into the floor in front of the man, closing the door as I do. That bag was full of sleeping snow, which is just a name because, heheh, it's not really snow. Kari comes running out of his room down the hall, hand on hilt and ready to fight. "Rina?" he asks. I shake my head and point for the exit, "No time, Kari! Let's get out of here!!"

The two of us race down the hallway and down the stairs. We expect to make a clean getaway... but that doesn't seem to be what fate has in store for us. A crew of berserkers waits at the exit of the inn, after the lobby. They seem to have surrounded the place. What a night. I place my right hand on the hilt of my own sword as I take a step back, keeping close to Kari. "Well Kari... it looks like we'll have to slash our way through," I say to him. He takes a defiant grin and pulls his sword slowly from its sheath, "No problem, Rina. I said I would protect you... and I will!" He charges into the fray, and I do as well, right behind him to keep backstabbers off his, well, back. He works the front and I take up the back, hack, slash, snicker-snack. This chaos goes on for a full two minutes, on and on until Kari cuts a way for us to run through. I take a passing slash at a charging goblin, putting him down easily. It's a good thing my brother is such a good swordsman... I learned most of my tricks from watching him (and lots of practice, too!). Sadly, as soon as I turn to take off behind Kari, a take a sword's edge past my left side. I grit my teeth and growl under my breath, raising my right hand to press against the wound while running.

Why today? Why today of all days...? If I had only had my powers... that wound wouldn't be as bad as it is. Kari doesn't seem to have noticed yet, and, personally, I prefer it that way. I can't stand getting help I didn't ask for; it makes me feel weak, in a way. "Hey... Kari... Kari! I think we're safe now!" Kari turns his head to look at me and slows down gradually. He drops to his bottom and sighs heavily. "Whew... that was a close one!" I smile knowingly toward Kari and drop to my knees while I catch my breath. Here, I think now we can get some rest... I'm dead tired.... oh god. Don't think about death, Rina. It never does any good! Thinking that, I remember my wound... not that I forgot about it. It was severe enough... and if I don't bandage it soon, then I really will be in trouble. I toss Kari the bag with the goods while I get to work, "Here. Don't let them have these." I'm afraid I don't handle pain very well, and as I'm bandaging my side with a tourniquet (my pajamas, formerly), I make low grunts and eeps. I am sure that Kari heard me, because the next moment, he asks, "Rina? Are you okay..?" Damn... I wish I could say that I was, but.... "Kari.." I say with a cringe, "... I--" A low voice interrupts me. I turn toward the wooded area, and pause for a moment. I call out, "... who's there??" The moonlight reveals the voice for who he is...

"You two don't look like you're in any condition to do battle with me, so just let me have the item and no harm will come to you..." Kari stands up and stamps a foot forward, taking up a position in my defense, "It's about time you showed up, eh Jonas??" It's some J-name, I know that, but it wasn't Jonas... I tug on Kari's trousers and note to him, "Uh Kari? I think his name is Jesus." Kari quirks, "Jesus? Are you sure?" The man's voice comes out over ours, angrily, "My name is Judas!" I narrow my eyes, "Whatever..." I snicker lowly and grin... time for my ace-up-the-sleeve... I point toward Judas and shout. "Get him, Kari!!!" All parties present groan. Kari looks to me, "He's distracted, Rina." I nod and dash off, "RUN!" Kari follows behind me, or at least I hope he does.

Alone. Kari got lost somewhere behind me, but I knew he was around. The sounds of an occasional sword clash were clear in the oddly silent woods. I just kept running. He can handle himself, I'm sure... and it's probably a good thing that I'm not with him; I'd only slow him down, with this wound and no magic powers. God, how I hate to be a liability! The wound has at least stopped bleeding. Judging by the foliage, I'll be out of these woods soon and--Judas jumps out of the foliage in front of me, and damn he's fast! He throws his arm at me, trying to trap me between it and his body to carry me off or lariat me to the ground. As much as I want to keep running, I can't, so I slide under his attack and rise to my feet with the force of my forward movement. He hits the ground with a slide and spins, his dull white cloak furling around him. I snarl at him, and he extends his right hand toward me. "Last chance, Miss Cecile..." he tells me. I grin and shake my head, "It's Rina, and I'll gladly take it..." I place a hand against my shortsword's hilt and slide it from its casing. His emotion is unchanged, as always, while he draws his longsword, which somehow looks familiar. He grimly speaks out to me, "You, obviously, leave me no choice then." I take a defensive stance, and with a yell he is on me, steel-against-steel. He strikes at me, and I parry, spinning the blade from my path. I thrust an elbow at his arm and knock him back slightly. I turn to run, but he is in front of me again with his super-speed. I feel choiceless, and I thrust the shortsword at his waist.


My eyes widened. My sword made contact, but fell off to the side and unbalanced me. Armor? No... it was stone. A golem? He's a golem?! He stares down at me as I drop my sword, thrusting a fist into my gut to further discourage me. My strength is leaving me... no rest, this wound, and the hits I've taken are taking their toll. I drop to my knees while he walks around me, making comments below his breath. I see an opening here... he thinks I'm totally helpless now... but little does he know that I have as many tricks as I do spells! I chant lowly, holding my hands over my chest. He stops his comments and leans down lowly in front of me, leveling his eyesight with mine. "... If you had given me the item before, I wouldn't have had to do this..." Gotcha! Hee hee hee! I uncup my hands and thrust them, palmfirst, toward his face with a shout, "Lighting!" I will the spell to last no more than a second. Usually, the spell lasts three hours, but since I compacted the spell to release all its energy within this second, it becomes a blinding flash. Squinting and grinning, I grab my sword and make a dash as I sheath it.

My getaway is short-lived. As the rain clouds begin to part, I suddenly feel unable to move from where I stand. I turn and look behind me.... the moon has betrayed me. My shadow is pinned to the ground by a Shadow Snap, doubtlessly from Judas. It hit me then.... oh boy... he's a magician. Now I'm really in trouble!!! Judas emerges from the woods, arms crossed, "You caught me off guard with that trick, but it won't work more than once." Fine then! If he wants to play rough, then he's gonna get it rough! "Fine! Let's see how you handle this!" I motion my hands and concentrate my energies, as usual, while chanting lowly, "Source of all power, o flame which burns beyond crimson flame!" A ball of light forms in between my hands, causing my shadow to disappear and the Shadow Snap to lose its effect on my. I wink towards the unimpressed Judas as I fling the Lighting spell at Judas, "... Fire.... ball!" I hope and pray that my ruse works, but those that thrive on hope die fasting. The lighting spell disintegrates in front of him and he sighs. "... how pathetic," he says with a frown. I laugh nervously, "I'm screwed!" I run... again... "This'll never end! ARGH!" I curse out loud as I curse my luck... then I'm hit with electricity. I turn painfully to look at Judas, who has evil yellow static coming from his fingertips. I cringe... I should've seen this result, knowing how I'm magicless and he's a full-fledged sorceror. The Mono Volt spell paralyzes my muscles as I drop painfully to my stomach... too much. This is too much. The parting clouds... Judas's approaching footsteps... and then darkness falls.