[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Chapter Twenty-Four

Rune laid in his bed, staring at the roof. Dazzle laid in the bed at the far end of the room, the one farthest from Rune's bed. Yakkara slept in a cot between the two. Yakkara snored and giggled in his sleep. Dazzle peered at Yakkara and growled. Dazzle had been very nasty the rest of the day. Rune found that it was best to not speak to her or look at her. Yakkara, on the other hand, couldn't get it through his thick skull that Dazzle was in a bad mood. He constantly joked and teased her, which caused her to try to hurt him. At the moment, neither said anything or looked at each other. Rune continued to look at the roof. He could feel Dazzle start to stare at him. Rune tried his best to ignore it. He knew she was just trying to rile him. After a few more minutes, though, he couldn't stand it any longer.

" What?" he asked. Dazzle snorted. Then, she turned away, irritated. Rune narrowed his eyes. " I told you, it was an accident! I didn't know you were in there!" Rune said, exasperated. Dazzle growled. Rune sighed. " I definitely don't have a way with women," he mumbled to himself.

" No, you don't," Dazzle answered. Rune stared at her, surprised.

" You weren't supposed to answer that!!" he snapped. Dazzle shrugged.

" Then you shouldn't have said it," she said. Then, she curled up in her blanket. Rune stared at her for a few minutes. In his mind, a single question burned. Finally, Rune could resist no longer.

" Who WAS that Edwin character? I know that story you told us wasn't the whole truth. I could tell it in your eyes. Who is he really?" Rune asked. Dazzle flinched. She remained silent for a few minutes.

" No, that wasn't the whole truth. There is more to it. A lot more. And I don't feel like talking about it. Especially not to you," she mumbled. Rune tilted his head.

" Was he your boyfriend?" he asked. Dazzle laughed.

" No way! I have higher tastes then THAT!!!" Dazzle laughed. Rune smiled. " Why?" Dazzle asked, when she noticed Rune's smile.

" No reason!" Rune said. He turned his back to Dazzle, curled up, and fell asleep. Dazzle snorted in annoyance.

" You always have to have the last word, don't you?" she grumbled. Then, she too curled up and fell asleep.

------------------------

" That went a lot easier than I thought!" Kyra said as she and Rika left Myst Vale. Rika held the Silver Tusk in her hand, turning it this way and that. She nodded. The snowstorm had died down for the minute.

" Shall we Ryuka?" Rika asked. Kyra shook her head.

" I want to go back to Reshel for a minute. We'll need to stock up on MoonDews and the like. Reshel is the only place that sells them. And it's too close to waste a Ryuka on," Kyra answered.

" TemLe Kyra!" someone mewed. Kyra and Rika turned around. The Musk Cat kitten from earlier ran out of the cave towards them. " TemLe Kyra! I wish to come with you and help!" the little cat said. Kyra glanced at Rika. " I'm a pretty good fighter, one of the best for my age! I am also a skilled tracker!" the kitten continued. " I know I'll be of great help! When I heard you talking to The Old Man about what is going on, I felt that I just had to help! Please allow me to! Don't let my age fool you! I can handle myself!" he said. Rika and Kyra took a better look at the kitten. He was small and obviously had some well tuned muscles. His coat was a tabby orange speckled with tan, gray, and white. He had a black streak down from his forehead to the tip of his tail. Both Kyra and Rika admitted it was rather odd coloring for a Musk Cat. Kyra smiled.

" If you wish but I must warn you that it will be dangerous! What is your name?" Kyra said.

" I am called Tundra!" the kitten said.

" Well, Tundra, we are pleased to meet you," Rika said. Tundra smiled and nodded. " Let's go. We need to head back to the Esper Mansion," Rika said. Kyra and Tundra nodded. The group set out through the deep snow.

-----------------------------------------------

Daystar gritted her teeth as she followed the Ancient Esper squirrel she had met earlier. She was on her way to have dinner with her father. She hissed menacingly at all the Ancient Espers who got too close. She was in a fowl mood. As they walked through the halls, Daystar allowed her mind to wander. He angrily glanced down at the dress she wore. It was one of her mothers. A beautiful light blue and white dress. Her father had insisted she wear something elegant to the dinner. Not to her directly, of course. He hadn't even so much as said a word to her. The squirrel relayed her the message. Daystar had a feeling her father probably had invited his Generals to dinner, planning on trying to rub in her return. A return she was FORCED to make, she added bitterly. If this feast ( Generals present and everything) was the case, Daystar had every intention of making their reunion a virtual nightmare. She arrived at the dining room doors. The squirrel knocked, timidly. The doors opened and the squirrel ushered Daystar in. Then, the doors closed. Daystar glared around the room. Her father sat at the far end of the table. The room was empty of Ancient Espers, save him. This surprised her but she did her best to hid her surprise. Daystar glared at her father. He seemed a lot older than he was 16 years earlier. Rather surprising, considering the aging process of Ancient Espers. He also looked a lot more colder. He still looked like a large blue dragon. His red robe looked a bit tattered. Around his neck was a strange glowing shard attached to a golden chain. He smiled as best he could and motioned for Daystar to take the seat next to him. Daystar walked over and sat in the chair. She avoided all eye contact with her father. She could feel his green eyes burning in to her. Daystar narrowed her eyes. She had thought that she would be able to control herself. But, even after 16 years, the wound was still too fresh.

" Daystar.... my beautiful Daystar! My, how you have grown!" King Levitain whispered. He gently touched his daughter's cheek. " You look so much like your mother!" he muttered.

" You wished to speak to me, father?" Daystar said, controlling her voice.

" No... I merely wished to look at you.... my remaining child...," King Levitain crooned. Daystar went rigid. " Questar is dead. Corrosion told me this. He would not tell me by whom. Daystar, it is wonderful that those filthy vermin did not get you too!" King Levitain said. Daystar felt a shutter run up her back. Her father smiled, his green eyes burning with a strange fire. Daystar narrowed her eyes. Her thoughts drifted to Piata and what undoubtedly was happening at Termi.

" Father, why are you taking the lives of so many innocents?" Daystar asked.

" There are no innocents in war," King Levitain said. Daystar bit her lower lip. " It's about time I made this move. The other races were given chances to make themselves more than vermin and they blew it! They even destroyed a planet! They no longer deserve to breathe the air supplied by the planets they abuse! It is our turn now. And I plan on making sure another planet is not destroyed by their stupidity!" King Levitain said. Daystar's eyes flashed.

" But that's genocide!" she cried. " Mass genocide!"

" Indeed. That's exactly what it is. Now you see the light," King Levitain said. Daystar gritted her teeth.

" It's insane!" she growled. " YOU'RE insane!" she hissed.

" And if I am? What then? The other races can not win against us. The bodies of a thousand Dezorians shall litter the ground! The heads of a thousand Motavians shall roll, free of their bodies! The life blood of a thousand Palmans shall color the ground a delicious red! And who shall stop me? No one. No... one.... at... all," King Levitain said, his eyes shining. Daystar caught her breath. She stared, horrified, as she pictured the grim picture her father had just described. King Levitain gazed in to her eyes. " Not... even.... Chaz Ashley," he whispered. Daystar's eyes opened wide with shock. Her father smiled viciously. " He is again in my grasp. And he will never slip out of it again!"

--------------------------------------------------------

Kyra, Rika, and Tundra walked through the snow. A biting wind blew up from the south, bringing with it more snow. Obviously, the wind was totally against them. But, the group was forced to admit that it did hide them from Ancient Esper eyes. After having stopped to wait for the wind to die down, they continued their journey. A few minutes later, Tundra puffed up and hissed.

" Something's wrong!" he whispered. Kyra and Rika looked around.

" What is it, Tundra?" Kyra asked. Rika looked around, nervously.

" I feel it now, too! Do you hear that?" she said. Kyra, Rika, and Tundra listened. It was the sound of an Ice Digger. Rika looked at Kyra, confused. Suddenly, a huge Ice Digger burst through the forest. Kyra gasped in horror. The Ice Digger looked terrifying. It was covered with spikes and black armor. On the front of the Ice Digger, a human skull had been attached to it. An eye patch covered one of the skull's eyes. The Ice Digger came to a stop right in front of the trio.

" Oh no! It's THEM! The thieves!!!" Tundra cried. The hatch to the Ice Digger opened and a muscular man carrying a sword came out. He wore black leather and obviously hadn't shaved in a few days. He leaped down from the Ice Digger to the snow. His cruel blue eyes looked at Kyra and Rika.

" Ahoy, thar!" the man called. " What's a fine pair o' ladies doin' out here all lonesome like?" As he spoke, other men who were also armed climbed out of the Ice Digger. Tundra hissed. " Aye, ain't yew a pretty lit'l thing? Perhaps yew'd like ta get ta know ol' Jak better?" the man crooned as he approached Kyra.

" Let's make a run for it while they're not in the Ice Digger!" Tundra suggested, quietly. Kyra nodded. They backed away from the thieves. Suddenly, Jak leaped and grabbed Kyra's arm. Tundra leaped and sunk his teeth in to Jak's hand.

" AKKK!" Jak screamed. He flung Tundra away. Then, the other thieves attacked. Rika attacked with her claws while Kyra threw her slashers. Tundra leaped in and clawed a few thieves as well. When it looked like they would win, more thieves came charging from out of the forest. Kyra and Rika were overwhelmed. They were dragged down. The thieves bound them and threw them in to the Ice Digger. Tundra leaped to their defense, digging his claws in to the back of a thief, killing him instantly. Another thief ran up and slammed Tundra with the shaft of a rifle. Jak approached the stunned Tundra and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck. " Yew'd make a luvly par o' fur booties! An' that's just what yew's gonna be!" he hissed. He then carried the growling and spitting Musk Cat kitten in to the Ice Digger and closed the hatch. The Ice Digger's engine roared. Then, it tore through the snow.

--------------------------------------------------

" Have you found anything, Hahn?" Demi called.

" Not yet. If the piece is here, it's hidden very well!" Hahn said as he searched through the circuitry. Gryz looked up from where he was searching.

" How will we know it when we see it?" he asked.

" Well, I guess it would be sharp... shining.... maybe even have a white aura....," Hahn said. Gryz shrugged. They continued to search as Demi scanned the area.

" I don't detect any strange energy sources...," Demi said. Hahn stood up.

" Well wherever it is, it must be somewhere we wouldn't expect it to be!" he said as he dusted himself off. He rubbed his chin and looked around. " Maybe it's in the storage room!" Hahn suggested. The three headed down the hall. As they walked, the hall grew darker.

" Some of the lights are burned out. Wren and I hardly go down here... as a matter of fact, neither of us has come down here since we came back from the battle with the Profound Darkness," Demi said. She walked over to the wall and removed a panel. " Here's the problem! This should fix it....," she said as she worked with the wires. The lights shot back on. All but one. Hahn walked over. He gasped. Something was in the light with the light bulb. Hahn removed the casing and look.

" Here it is! The Elsydeon piece!!" Hahn cried. Gryz and Demi ran over.

" How did it get there?" Demi demanded.

" Remember the time warp that was created? It probably zapped it here!" Gryz said. Demi's eyes lit up.

" We must contact Wren!"

[an error occurred while processing this directive]