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Momoka collapsed to her knees in shock. “Hime… Uso darou…?”
Reni punched her fist against the wall as tears started to stream down her cheeks. “Not again… Every time… She’s always been taken away from us…”
“Iiada! This can’t be happening!” Haruno screamed as she covered her ears. “Sonna iiada!”
“Haruno!” Yayoi quickly rushed to her friend’s side. “Haruno, calm down.” She gently hugged the young girl as Haruno cried in her arms.

Ryouki walked up to Ryo and took hold of his shirt collar, only to have his hand go through like thin air. He glared at the disguised dragon. “Where is she?! Where is my daughter?!” he scowled. “Where did they take Tomoko?!”
Ryo looked away, unsure of where the girl went, himself. “I’m not sure… Most likely where the Unknowns are resting… But even we don’t know where their base is…”
“Then what’s going to happen to my daughter?! What are they going to do to her?!”
“Ryouki-san. It’s best to calm yourself or you’ll destroy everything without realizing it,” Akarin said,” Seeing how the Dark Syndicate doesn’t have a leader, they’re not going to kill her which is all we know for a fact. Not to mention they’re after the Crown which means they will try to manipulate her into working for them. The only problem is that if they do force her to become their leader and work for evil, all of you will have no choice but to fight her.”
“Sonna muri dayo!” Kanae cried as she looked at the seven spirits. “Fighting someone you say is a comrade… Someone you say that we’re close to… We just can’t!” Tears threatened to fall as she wiped away those forming.
Kanako let out a soft sigh before walking up to the girl and resting her hands on the younger girl’s shoulders. “Kanae. I know it’s hard but at one point, she will attack all of you and you’ll have no choice but to fight her. You’re strong enough to lead everyone and that’s what you need to do. Trust me, okay? I might’ve done stupid things but this is something you have to do.”
“We’ll try to assist you as much as we can,” Shiorin said,” You might know of what’s going on but you still haven’t regained all of your memories yet. But we’ll try our best to help all of you. You still have a lot to learn.”

Reni and Yayoi’s eyes glowed for a moment as they looked at each other. “Hime…” “Tomoko…”
Haruno looked up at her friend. “Yayoi…?”
The rest of the Guards and Ryo looked over at the Dark Mage as they recognized the look in her eyes. “Masaka…” Ryo walked over to Reni and took hold of her shoulders to have him face her. “Reni. What’s wrong with Hime?!”
The girl started to hyperventilate as her eyes started to have a pulsing glow. “Reni!”
Tomoko kicked her legs as she tried to pry off the shadowed claws that held her by the neck against a rocky wall. Above here were many Unknowns peering down while others “stood” behind the one restraining her.
You hold great power, young one. Too bad you can’t control it,” the first one hissed,” And a shame we don’t have our leader who would do countless things with your power in his hold.
Sir, I found this fall out of her hands,” A second one said as he held out the sapphire pendant. “It appears that the Mages have planted it on her so her magic wouldn’t be unstable.
Magic neutralizing gems? So it looks like they do still exist in this time period. No matter.” He took hold of the pendant before back at Tomoko. “Since we don’t have a choice but to keep you alive, there’s still one thing we need to keep ourselves in order. How would you like to be our leader?” He created a twisted smirk on his face as he soon saw the fear in the girl’s eyes at the question. “We’ll take that as a yes.
His eyes started to glow as many other Unknowns started to creep down from the ceiling. They all took hold of the girl as Tomoko cried out when she felt them clawing at her, creating large scratches on her arms and legs. Some of them took their chance as they turned into black smoke that started to seep into the girl’s wounds, causing her to scream as a dark aura started to surround her.
The Unknown released her as she collapsed to her knees, her hands grasping her head as the aura started to consume her and her wounds started to heal. Black flower petals soon surrounded her as her clothes started to change. The white socks of her school uniform were replaced by crimson leggings and black boots. Her seifuku went missing as in its place was a navy sleeveless unitard with a thin white outline on the straps. Black fingerless leather gloves covered her hands as they extended down to her elbows with navy embroidery to outline a wingless dragon. The sapphire pendant started to shake as it turned black before flying over to the girl to create a black cloak and hood. Atop Tomoko’s head rested a black headband with a black rose on the right side.
The girl slowly opened her eyes as the aura started to fade, revealing blood red eyes that started to look around and take in her surroundings. She stood up and looked around as the Unknowns started to stare at her.
Welcome, Princess. We’ve been expecting you,” the first Unknown said as he faced her.
Her eyes glowed as her scythe appeared, only to have the blade twisted and look as if it was held against the staff by tree roots. She swung as she cut off the Unknown’s head, forcing him to disappear.
Never address me with your head higher than mine,” she scowled, her voice lower than usual. She looked at the rest of the Unknowns as they quickly got down to their knees to lower their heads. “Sa. Who was the one who brought me here?” she questioned.
Y-you just killed him, your Highness,” one stuttered,” W-We were hoping you could lead us into battle against the surviving Mages…
“Mages?” Her eyes started to glow again as she saw the group in the Hamasaki household. “Hmph. Those weaklings. You should’ve taken care of them in the beginning.” She took a seat on Dorgon’s throne before crossing her right leg over her left and rested her left elbow on the armrest so her chin could rest in her hand. “Honto ni baka da. Waiting to bring me here and making me do all the hard work.”
We are truly sorry.
Tomoko sighed. “No matter. You Unknowns are weak without a leader, anyways. Might as well do it myself once the storm clears up.”
P-pardon?” The Unknown froze when he found the scythe close to his face, the girl not moving from her seat as the weapon was levitating on its own.
“Isn’t it obvious? There’s no point fighting in the rain. That just makes the battle longer than intended. Besides, it’s nice to surprise them when they see who their first competitor is.” Her lips curled into a twisted smirk. “It’ll be a good show for us.”
Reni collapsed to her knees as her eyes turned back to normal. “Sonna… Hime… She couldn’t have…”
Momoka quickly rushed over to her friend. “Reni! What happened?! What did you and Yayoi see?!”
The Dark Mage looked at her small friend. “Hime ga… They took over Hime…” she said, her voice barely about a whisper. They all looked at the Dark Mage as shock overtook them. Lightning struck behind them but they didn’t flinch, too shocked to move.
“They took control of my daughter…?” Ryouki muttered as he slowly fell to his hands and knees. “Sonna bakana… She couldn’t have fallen to them… Ore no musume…”

“Papa! Mite!” five-year-old Tomoko called as she blew some bubbles in their old home.
“Kire da na, Tomoko.” Ryouki ruffled her hair as the girl smiled.
“Un!” Tomoko started to create more bubbles as they started to float away.
“Ii jan, Ryo-san. You said your schedule involved work with Chichi-ue today.”
“Hime! Time for your training!” a voice called from down the hall.
“Hai~” Tomoko looked back at the dragon. “Daijobu desu, Ryo-san. You still need time for yourself.”

Hikari looked at Eriko who was in her arms, somehow recognizing this position.

Ayane carefully wrapped a towel around Tomoko after the girl got herself wet during Water Magic training. “Daijobu, Hime?”
“Daijobu de- Achoo!” The girl sniffed as she shivered from the sudden chill.
“Looks like the water got cold already.” Ayane pulled the girl close. “Better?”
Tomoko softly smiled. “Ayane-san’s warm…”
Ayane chuckled. “Sou? Well let’s get you dry first.”

Hikari tightly held onto Eriko in comfort. “Atakai… yo ne?”
Eriko looked up at her friend as tears threatened to fall. “Hikari…”

Minami knelt down as she faced the crying child who tripped when she was running around the grassy plain. “Honto ni. You got your clumsiness from me,” she sighed as she rested a hand on the girl’s head. “It’s best to not be a crybaby like Minami-oneechan, Hime. The others probably told you that you have to be strong, didn’t they?” She softly smiled. “Mah… Ii jan? Maybe you’ll grow out of it soon.”
Tomoko looked up at the smallest of the Guards with tear-stained eyes before holding her in a hug, catching the Plant Mage by surprise. The Guard smiled. “Iiko, iiko. Let it out if you need to.”

“Hikari…  That’s why we’ve always watched out for each other like that… Gomen…”
Eriko hugged the girl as she let the tears fall.
Thunder started to roar outside as Haruno tightly held onto Yayoi, only to recognize a similar situation from somewhere. “Kowai…”

Lightning started to strike as thunder roared outside the palace. Aira tightly held onto the small Princess since Ran had to fend off the lightning that might hit the castle. “D-daijobu dayo, Hime… I-I’m sure it’ll be fine…” Aira soon jumped as lightning struck again. “
Mou iiada iiada iiada… I hate these…
Tomoko looked up at the Wing Mage. “Aira-san… Are you scared, too?”
Aira looked at the young Princess. “Gomen ne. I’ve always hated thunderstorms since I was little… De mo daijobu. I’ll try to not be scared anymore, okay?”
“Then should I try to be brave as well?”
Aira softly smiled, knowing the girl wants to cheer her up. “O-okay…” They jumped as lightning struck again.

Haruno tightly held onto Yayoi, knowing she wasn’t able to keep her promise. The older girl soon noticed her friend’s hold on her tightening as she rested a hand on her head. “Haruno…”

Ran ran through the palace as she went in search of the child. “Hime! Doko?!” she called. She quickly ran to the girl’s room before sensing an aura under the bed. She walked over and knelt down before lifting the bedskirt and peeked under, only to find the small princess hiding as she held onto a stuffed bear. “Hime?”
The girl looked up before crawling away. Ran soon noticed Tomoko’s eyes were orange before standing up and chasing her. “Hime!” She quickly chased after the small girl before taking hold of her, only to have her struggle.
Ran quickly put her down before having the girl face her. “Hime! Why are you hiding?!”
Tomoko looked at the eldest Guard as she tightly held onto the bear. The Dark Mage soon noticed a book and took hold of it, only to be a children’s book about Mages. She looked back at Tomoko before putting the book down and taking hold of her shoulders. “Hime, hurting you would be the last thing I would ever do to you. I’m not like those other Mages. You have to trust me.” Ran tightly held onto the girl who started to cry.
“Ran-san’s good, right…?” she asked between sobs.
“I’m good, Hime… I’m a good person…”

Yayoi held onto Haruno as tears threatened to fall, knowing how the middle school student has acted like that many times before.
Mina curled up into a ball as tears started to stream down her cheeks. “Sonna iiada yo…”

Tomoko looked at the large pile of curry rice since it was the Guards’ lunch break. “Sugoi… Are all of you going to eat that?” she asked, looking at the six.
“Actually, that’s only Sheru’s lunch,” Kimiko said,” But if you’re lucky, you can sneak a bite even though she doesn’t like people eating her food.”
At this, Sheru took hold of the plate and held it away from them. “Don’t touch my food!” she chided.
“Sheru-san, is it really that good?” Tomoko asked as she looked at the Earth Mage.
Sheru put the plate down as her eyes had a knowing gleam. “Of course! They don’t call it ‘Sheru’s Best Friend’ Curry for nothing! De mo.” She snuck a peek at the girl with a sly smile. “If you keep it secret from your parents, I’ll let you have a bite.” The rest of the Guards’ mouth went agape, shocked at how willingly the Mage was to share a bite.
Tomoko shook her head. “Daijobu desu. I wouldn’t stand in your way from something you love unless Kimiko-san’s okay with it.”
Kimiko’s face turned red. “Oi! Who told you about that?!”
“Fufufu. Kimiko, there are many secrets between Hime and I. So it’s best to be careful.”

Kanae looked at her friend before taking hold of her hand in comfort. ”Nakanai yo… Mina…”

Kimiko gently hit Tomoko in the head with the flat side of her sword. “Shikairishite, Hime. Minami assigned a date of your monthly evaluation. We need to get as much done as possible. That means tactics, maneuver and most importantly-” She did a sweep kick to knock the girl off her feet, only to have her land but fall back from loss of balance. “-your balance.”
“Kyaa!” Tomoko’s foot slipped as she fell off the post, only to land on the grass below her. “Itte…”
Kimiko held out her hand. “Daijobu?” She helped the girl to her feet before gently hitting her head. “Mou. At least you’re getting better. But consider this as a reward.” She hit the girl in the forehead. “A lucky tap to the odeko will surely help.”
“Momorin Kimiko’s pride.” Kimiko lifted her bangs to show off her forehead. “I might not be that smart but a good hit in the head will always help according to my brother.”
Tomoko couldn’t help but to smile and gave a nod. “Un!”
“Sa! One more round!”

Kanae looked at the others, seeing how they regained a small portion of their memories. She looked over at the spirits before standing up. “Ano… The only way to bring her back is to fight her… right?” she asked. They all looked at her, unsure of what she’s planning. She gave a bow as she lowered her head. “Onegaishimasu! Please let us train to bring Tomoko back!”

BRING ON THE HATE! ...No hate? Phew! I thought I was going to receive a lot of hate in this chapter... But isn't she cool?! Doing something like that? Man, makes you want to find out what happens in the next chapter! :la:

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Submitted on
February 15, 2014