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Covered in swirling darkness, she found herself once again in a place she had visited many times before. Flashes of neon, the only source of light illuminated the dank void she found herself in. Sweat trickling, the girl stood frozen with dreadful anticipation.

Letting out a fragile breath, she ambled through the obscurity, until she came across a large, ordinate, wooden door. Gasping, her eyes narrowed dangerously as her pulse quickened. The girl haughtily threw the door open; readying herself to spelunk even deeper into the shadows within. The twists and turns that followed did little to put her mind at ease as she felt the darkness, as if searching for the inevitable.

Step by lonesome step down, the shadows consumed her until left everything, even the remnants of her heart all but tainted. Still, she continued onwards, veering into a room filled with self-suspending canvases. As she came closer in order to examine them, the girl quickly came to the conclusion that they were blank; barren of any color.

No smear of tempera, dab of watercolor, nor stroke of oil could ever hope to even touch such empty canvases. Even the almighty acrylic had failed in yielding any fruit. Hues forgotten, bypassed by all but nothing, swirling into themselves; spawning melancholy monochrome in its place. In the girl's heart, the very same could be said. Trapped in alcoves of her own emotional turbulence, she continued forward, taking note of the sudden chill in the air.

A dim overhead light grew brighter and brighter as she drew near the only canvas that held a painting. It was a simple portrait, a self portrait to be precise, one depicting that of a young girl with lovely features despite the deep scowl that marred her lips. From what could be seen of her upper torso, she wore a simple house kimono over what could be suspected as a combat blouse. One also could not overlook her hair, with blond tresses flowing freely far beyond her frail shoulders or even her eyes for that matter. Eyes blazing gold, with such a searing gaze that could easily incinerate any potential passerby save for its original counterpart.

The portait spoke eerily, "Why?"


Day One

At that moment, Yakuro awoke, golden eyes ablaze with a mix of fear and confusion. "Just a dream, it was just a dream." She nervously took in the nature that was around her on the now dead Terralius. She had been seperated for quite some time now, no life forms had visited for a long period, she began to wonder of Temeres, and buried her face in her palms, only to cry.

For some time, she has owned the large mansion she dubbed home, as she was the only one to live in it for the ages to come and pass. It had been so long, so lonely, so peaceful though, the ages had gone by as quick as her drawings, each one had only taken few moments, even she could, if she wanted, make a painting in mere seconds, though she preferred if she could take her time.

Quieting down, she sighed, only to once more begin to paint, the canvas expressing what her mood was at that moment. As dark blue shades swirling with a hint to purple, light blue extracts jumping out from each corner as the center swirled with the dark blue loneliness.

Activating her 'sixth-sense', as a whole, Yakuro's eyes glowed deep, rich gold, as soft energy enveloped Terralius, her power spreading about the whole planet, making the massive orb seem as if itself were glowing the beautiful shade. Deep down, in the depths of her heart, Yakuro yearned for love, for that fluttering feeling that sends the spirit ablaze with unsurmountable passion.

She peered up into the clouds, hoping for a visitor, though she felt none of that would ever occur, her hopes died off in seconds as she gathered her items, and slowly walked back toward her mansion, canves and paints, the few things that actually made her life worht living. Once more, she found herself depressed, down, and doomed to live a life of solitude, curse her weak body and frail container.

As Yakuro headed back to her home, she caught sight of someone in the distance; a figure in a black traveler's cloak, sprawled on the ground, unmoving. An enormous sword lay next to the man.

Yakuro blinked, 'How could I have not noticed this person moments ago?' she asked herself, as she made slow strides and eventually stopped at the unmoving man, she bent down, "E-excuse me? Are you okay?" she politely asked, nervousness laced the whole question, as she gently placed each one of her belongings upon the ground. She put her hand upon the man, lightly shaking him, she asked her same question once more.

Upon closer inspection, the man's hair was a brilliant shade of emerald green, and his cloak torn in many places. He was facedown on the ground. Despite her prodding, the fellow did not move.

Yakuro stared at his hair, this shade bringing her back to another time, long gone, she sighed, after noticing that his cloak was torn, and knowing that he didn't seem to respond to her continuous shaking, she tried turning him over, 'Why do I have to be so weak?' She mentally berates herself as she turns over the cloaked man.

Upon turning him over, she is greeted to the sight of numerous wounds; The man's eyes were closed and blood was spattered on his face and torso.

Yakuro's eyes widened at the sight, she had not expected this, using some of her own energy, she began to slowly heal these wounds, though with her level at such techniques, it's take her a while to perform such power. As such, the healing process took ten minutes before the man could be fully healed.

The man gave a strangled gasp, suddenly becoming active as his golden eyes snapped open.

Once more, Yakuro asked curiously, "Are you okay?", her face being the first thing to come into focus once his golden orbs had opened.

The man gasped for air for a few moments, before responding. "...you shouldn't have helped me..."

"And why is that? You looked like you were dying." Yakuro formed a small smile, "And everyone deserves at least a second chance."

"A second chance?" the man asked, "I've squandered away any second chances I may have deserved..."

"I doubt that." Yakuro responded, "And even so, I saved your life. It's good to have at least someone around, haven't spoken to a person in a long time."

The man sighed, and looked away. "Fate is a cruel thing," he said. "People around me tend to die before their time."

"Well, I've been alive for a long time." Yakuro explained, "I was alive even before war ravaged this planet. I had a lover who became a killer, so you must not worry about my life."

"...you are pure-blood?" the man asked. "But how- no, nevermind. It matters not. Nothing matters. I am but a fool, thinking that redemption would be possible... but I could do nothing as my friends, brothers and sisters in arms, were sent to their deaths..."

"It tends to happen that way, does it not?" Yakuro asked, "Many have tried, many have failed. It's the circle, where a life dies, another takes it's place. Think of it as a joy for your friends, should they now be happy in the next world. And you shall join them later, you must wait your turn." Even though her morbid explanation certainly has it's dark side, it also has a happier thought to it.

The man simply stared off into the sky for a few moments, before he spoke. "I ought to go... perhaps I can find some place where I may die in peace..." However, upon trying to sit up, a searing pain shot through his shoulders, and he fell back down, growling in pain.

Yakuro's unwavering expression showed signs of indifference, "You must not move, you could get hurt worse." Within a few moments, the man finds himself floating, though still in his lying position. Yakuro picks up her things, stands up, and walks toward her house, the man floating next to her. "By the way, my name is Yakuro, what is your's?"

"Names are unimportant," the man said. "But... you may call me Ar- I mean, Ryou." The man was unsure why he suddenly changed his mind; he hadn't called himself 'Ryou' for over a thousand years.

"Ryou.." Yakuro repeated, "That's a sweet name." She softly smiles, as the door to her mansion opens itself, allowing Ryou to float about in, straight to what could be assumed to be a guest room, he was placed down upon the bed. Yakuro comes walking in moments later, "I hope you enjoy the room, although no one has slept in it for years."

The room itself contained portraits of Terralius' landscape from ages before, a self-portrait of Yakuro, and a picture containing swirling colors. Periwinkle curtains were draped over the windows, blocking out some light that made it's way through the window.

Ryou sighed, merely staring blankly at the ceiling. Inferno... you once told me that you were a god... who made your own fate... that didn't stop your death nor the deaths of Amnesty and Red, though... why must fate toy with us so? Why can't I simply defy my own fate and take my own life? Curse my cowardice...

Yakuro interrupted Ryou's thoughts, "Excuse me, but would you like some tea, or something to eat?"

"I need nothing," Ryou said distantly.

"Oh..." Yakuro quietly responded, leaving the room for a moment. At the very same time, Ryou could feel a dark power inhabiting the house, evil intentions on destroying him. Although all of it washed away the exact moment Yakuro came walking back into the room, with her own cup of tea. She asked, "Have I seen you before?"

"I doubt it."

"Oh..." Yakuro quietly stated, "After the war razed the land, I have been so lonely. I thought I was the last Terral, besides my lover, who left and became a supernatural being. His name was Temeres, did you know him?" She asked, hope laced in her voice, to see if she could get a more joyous response from the despondant Ryou.

Ryou was silent for a moment, before responding. "...unfortunately."

Yakuro took a sip of her tea, "He really did change." She sat down on a nearby stool, "He was a good, kind hearted man, but that was long ago. And then war raged, and Terralius became nothing. Almost everyone is dead." A few tears dropped from Yakuro's face as she sniffled, "I'm sorry, I don't normally cry over something I've lost, I should be over it."

"The war..." Ryou said absentmindedly. He remembered it only too well- part of him died on it's final day, both literally and metaphorically.

"About your question-" Yakuro began, "From earlier, yes, I'm a pure-blood. I've been around here for ages, though I rarely left my home. I guess I could say I'm either lucky, or cursed." She sniffled, finally quieting from her earlier fit of tears.

Ryou continued to stare absent-mindedly, as if distracted by something- the poor man appeared broken in both mind and spirit.

"You see, my home, this place, has a ancient power hoving over it." Yakuro explained, "The power was also a reason why I was safe during the war, and I don't know if it was a good thing or not." She took another sip of her tea, enjoying the bitter flavor. "It's why I'm still alive, but it's only an educated guess." She adds, taking another sip of her tea.

Ryou sighed. "Fate is needlessly cruel."

"How so? Explain yourself to me, I'm always open for a story." Yakuro emptily smiled.

"...My past is better left a mystery," Ryou said.

"Oh... Are you sure?" Yakuro asked, then after mulling a moment, she spoke again, "I suppose it's rash and incorrect of me to corner a guest. Excuse my rash behavior."

Ryou made no response and continued to stare silently at the ceiling. It was apparent that he would not be easy to talk to...

"I... I am sorry." Yakuro stated, "I didn't mean to hurt or offend you, I just-"

"Weren't thinking." A voice echoed, giving assistance to Yakuro's seemingly lost sentence.

"Yeah..." Yakuro sighed.

Ryou was suddenly startled at the sound of the voice, enough to try and leap up- resulting in the piercing agony to shoot through his body again.

"...that voice..." he finally said. "What is that... voice?"

"It's the curse I just spoke of." Yakuro stated, "It lives here, with me." Her eyes glistened with welling tears, her expression fearful and melancholity.

Ryou's eyes softened slightly, as if coming to a kind of realization. "...I'm sorry."

"Yakuro..." The sickly voice spoke, "Show our guest around..."

"R-right..." Yakuro stated, as she slowly walked out of the room, she brought in what could be presumed a large canvas, "This will show you the inside of the house." Within moments, images of the house were shown, each showing some form of joy, and some sadness, but all the while, being a cozy home.

After the brief presentation, the canves burned itself down to nothingness. Yakuro began to sniffle once more before leaving the room to cry to herself, her emotional energy radiating off her all into the house. A laugh though, echoes in the room, sickly and weak, yet containing dark power, which resonated through Ryou's body, and the room grows cold.

The picture that's the self-portrait of Yakuro speaks to Ryou, "Why did she allow you in?"

"...perhaps you should ask her that yourself..." Ryou said.

The cold energy dies away, as Yakuro walks back in, she walks over to Ryou's bedside, "I'm sure you want to get better right away." She states, handing him what appears to be a small, round, clear orb. "Swallow it, it will heal the rest of your internal injuries, it's made from the plants I cultivate outside."

Arbiter stared for a moment, before slowly extending a hand to take the orb in silence.

"The plant life is hard to come across, and I sincerely hope that it will heal you right away." Yakuro barely smiles, "I don't like seeing others in pain..." She holds her cup of tea with an iron grip, but keeps quiet to herself.

In his right mind, Ryou would not have taken a pill from a near-stranger, not at least without searching the person's intentions with his mind. Ryou, however, was not in his right mind. With some difficulty, he swallowed the strange orb.

With what could be assumed, moments, energy suddenly lifted Ryou up, healing him of his internal dilemmas and ridding him of any pain he had moments before. Yakuro looked to his expression though, she wondered if it worked, she knew that at times it could fail, but she'd just have to ask, "Do you feel better? I mean, does it hurt anymore?" She quaintly questions.

Ryou sat up. "No."

Yakuro looked down, "I'm sorry." She puts her pointer fingers together, over and over again, looking away from Ryou's visage. "I always mess up anyways..."

"No as in it does not hurt." Ryou said, noticing Yakuro's gesture. "It worked."

She looks up to Ryou, "It did?" She paused for a moment, and then smiled, "It did! That's good. I was hoping it worked." She thinks for a moment, "But I guess you have somewhere to be?" She questions, "Well, not on Terralius, we've been long since dead."

Ryou sighed. "I have nowhere to be."

Yakuro nodded, "Well, you can keep this room if you want, no one is using it." Yakuro stood up, and took one last sip of her tea, before she slowly sauntered out of the room.

At the same moment, the cold energy wafted itself in, wrapping itself around Ryou, before Yakuro just happened to run back in, it melted away instantly, "Are you hungry, I'm still offering." Her voice laced with hope and sincerity.

"...if you insist." Ryou said.

Yakuro beamed, literally lighting up the whole room with her joy, the periwinkle curtains spreading apart, to allow the heavenly light of the outdoors to shine in. Within moments, Yakuro left, ready to begin her mid-day snack for her and her newfound guest. Though, at her departure, the room once again, grew to become cold, darkening without her joy, whatever "curse" was upon the mansion, seemed to follow Ryou when he was alone.

Ryou, however, remained silent despite the strange changes.

"I'm sorry that took so long." Yakuro's voice could be heard down the hall.

The cold darkness left immediately, "But I made fruit bowls, I love fruit." She stated as she handed Ryou a bowl of the delicious, delectable produce. She went on to eating her own fruit.

Ryou stared at the bowl for a few moments before eating a piece of fruit. The taste seemed to shock his mouth at first, out of lack of food for some time, but it was also refreshing.

Yakuro had only nibbled on her first fruit, though she eventually took bigger bites, as she herself enjoyed the texture and flavor. "I hope you like them, fruits are healthy for you and can really brighten your mood." She informed, "I also want to thank you for keeping yourself around, I don't normally have company."

"This is... refreshing." Ryou said finally. "Thank you."

Yakuro giggled, "You're welcome." She finished her fruit, and watched the outdoors in motion, even though there was not much to see. "I'm hoping to one day leave this place. Too many memories." She sighed, "What of you?"

Ryou looked down. "I have nothing left to hope for. I've been around the cosmos... whatever shreds of happiness I found disappeared only too soon."

"Oh..." Yakuro answered, "I'm sorry..." She quietly answered, she though of what had transpired, of the man named Ryou, of how she found him, why the house's curse didn't take even the tiniest shred of liking to him, she sighed inwardly, at what the house would do.

A Few Nights Later...

Yakuro had been crying, it hadn't been because of Ryou, it was because of that damn curse, the darkness that envelopes the house at night. She had been so upset, as she relives every dream of the death of her parents. The fire, the inevitable suffocation, the pain, the screams. For the innumerable amount of days that had passed since their death, Yakuro had awoken, every single night, screaming, and every single night, the house would come to life with the reliving of the nightmarish day of her parents death, so to say, this is what Yakuro's every night seemed to exist with.

This night, was no different, she had awoken, screaming, screaming her lungs out.

In Ryou's room, the cold embrace of hate magnitudes almost reaching to the Secret of the same name, surrounded Ryou. Whispers could be heard, the voices speaking of death and slaughtering, it was as if Temeres had walked into the room, even his own aura could be felt, and he had not been in the house for a LONG time.

One voice stood out the most, it being the one sounding like Yakuro's the most, it spoke, "Leave, leave and never return, or we shall send you away ourselves." It threatened, obviously angered by his presence.

Ryou, however, would lie stony-faced and still as the whispers echoed around him like the voices of ghosts.

Though, suddenly, the whispers left, the cold, dark energy left the room, as if in a rush. Crying could be heard down the hall, as well as pained moans, these noises escaping from the lips of the woman who invited Ryou into her home. These noises could peak anyone's interest into what she could be doing, and so desire would be what would come to pass in the pursuit of knowledge.

Silently, Ryou slipped out of the bed, not having gotten out of it since he arrived. He walked over to the door, pulling it open and heading into the hallway.

Blood soaked the walls, the floors, the ceiling. Strange markings marred the paintings, and the cold energy was felt througout the hall. Some canvases could be seen destroyed or simply vanished, while some hang upon the ceiling. It's as if the house made a complete change at night. The crying could be heard from where Yakuro's room was, it being the next door down the hall, and where the door was what appeared to be a fire, though it did not burn anything, it appeared to be blazing in place, setting flames to nothing but the air it constricted.

Taking note of the peculiar flames, Ryou stepped through them and opened the bedroom door.

Ryou first noticed the room had no walls, as neon energy swirled about, some dark patches showing here and there, and in the middle of room was a floating canvas, a portrait of Yakuro within, arm outstretched from the painting to Yakuro, holding Yakuro's arm, who was sitting on her bed, with a palette knife in her hand. Yakuro had a rather large cut along her arm, as blood was trickling from the wound, her kimono ripped from the palette knife.

Maintaining silence, Ryou walked toward Yakuro and her acrylic duplicate.

The creepy, eerie voice from a few days ago spoke aloud, from the painting itself, "This..." It's sickly voice rang about, "Is your bane. This existing Terral, like all others, is trash compared to you, Yakuro." The painting sounded as if it were in love with the girl, but deeper within, was what this could be considered, the "curse" of the manor.

The duplicate's arm grabbed Yakuro's palette knife, "Terrals must be crushed." Came the cruel, sickening growl from within the painting, the outstretched arm then attempted to jab at Ryou, to stab and cause harm in any way.

Yakuro sat there crying, watching as the duplicate tried slashing at Ryou.

Had Ryou's mind been stable, he would've incapacitated the strange attacker before it could reach him; however, the painting's outstretched arm managed to give Ryou two noticeable slashes deep in his torso, causing him to cry out briefly in pain before stepping back to avoid further harm.

Yakuro, in a moment of fear and anger screamed, "Go away!!" And at that instant, the outstretched arm retracted within, taking the palette knife as well. The neon room returned to the normal walls as the floating canvas fell to the ground. Yakuro cried silently, as she ran to get bandages, which she came back with moments later, wrapping them upon Ryou's torso.

"I'm very sorry. Truly very sorry." She barely could let out the words.

"No need... to worry about my wounds..." Ryou said.

"I should." Yakuro cried, "This house, this evil spirit. I am so sorry. This is all my fault. I didn't mean for this to happen." Yakuro seemed onto the verge of absolute fear, confusion, and despair.

Ryou remained silent as Yakuro completed her work.

Finishing, Yakuro sighed, "I'm really sorry." Yakuro whispered, "At night, if you haven't noticed, the house changes. Energy swelled within during the day releases itself at night."

"I have noticed."

"Then what keeps you here, why perservere in a manor that contains such evil?" Yakuro questions, expecting answers.

"I..." Ryou began, before he realized that he honestly did not know. "...I don't know."

"You don't know?" Yakuro's eyes widen somewhat, "I'm surprised that you would stay. Most people leave." Yakuro mumbles something, though what she stated was not heard.

"There is really no other place for me to go," Ryou finally said.

"My parents left, though not of their own accord." She heals her arm as she stated this.

Ryou watched her; he did not respond but it was obvious that he was listening.

"I was only six. I was unable to stop their death that occured before me." Yakuro began, "It was then, during a problem with family history. I couldn't understand, but my powerful energy gave off, releasing the curse of the house." Yakuro paused, "Maybe, I-I could just show you.." Her eyes glowed gold for a moment, making eye contact with Ryou, the world began to swirl, sepia colors showing what the past was.

Ryou found himself in the hall of the house, a young Yakuro roaming the hall after coming out of her room, she was singing joyfully and had a basket filled with flowers of various kinds. He watched the younger incarnation of Yakuro with interest- she reminded him of someone.

"Mother, mother! I got a bunch of flowers for you and daddy!" The younger Yakuro exclaimed, handing the basket to her mother, who simply smiled and nodded, and got back to cleaning a recently destroyed portion of the house. Yakuro's father entered moments later, and took notice to his wife, "You're brother was once more ignoring everything I said. Yakuro, go to the other room."

Yakuro nodded and left, she had found her father's disposition unsettling, though anyways, she decided to turn the corner and stand there. She overheard her father speaking of her, "Your brother plans on killing Yakuro, still. He knows what she is."

Her mother interjected, "But-"

"But nothing, your brother is a-" Though her father's words were cut off, Yakuro held her head in pain, tears starting to stream down her young face, covering her ears so as to not hear anything else.

Ryou frowned. This kind of situation was familiar to him in a way.

Yakuro began to cry, the noise escaping her open mouth, though, moments after, her cries ceased, as a purple ectoplasmic substance exited her body from her mouth. This substance took form, becoming a fire that engulfed the small mansion, Yakuro had escaped, but her parents were not as lucky. After the fire had calmed...

Yakuro, still crying, walked over to where her parents were, to find the house on fire, her parents bodies were nothing but charred remains as purple flames licked their bodies and the house.

Twirling back into existence, color returned, sygnifying the end of the memory.

"...I see." Ryou said finally.

"I was eventually confronted by my own uncle, who had intentions of killing me." Yakuro sighed, "He was really going to kill me, destroy my existence, rid the world of me. Though, I had to live, and I had to do what I had to do." She sniffled from her earlier crying.

"That is... understandable," Ryou said.

"It was quick." She went into her closet and grabbed a painting, and brought it out, to any normal onlooker, there was just neon colors with a big, blue blob scraped over something that was supposed to be in the middle. "With my powers, it was quick. I had forseen him coming and drew a picture of him, as my powers can't work without a medium. And in the end, I erased him from existence." She pointed to the blue blob, "He was there."

Ryou stared, frowning slightly. It was hard to decipher his thoughts behind his distant, golden eyes.

"I can't let go of him. I still love him as my family." Yakuro began to cry, "My weak body is not strong enough, I have to think on everything in order to actually live a normal life."

"I can say nothing that can comfort you, but let me say this," Ryou said. "You are not a monster."

"I know I'm not a monster." Yakuro stated, "I... Am something worse..." Yakuro looked down, "Much, much worse..."

"No, you aren't." Ryou said. "What separates you from a demon is that you at least show remorse."

Yakuro stared at Ryou, her golden eyes glistening with welled up tears, "I'm not a demon though. I'm a gate. Demons can go through me, and enter out into our physical world." Yakuro cried, "My mental prowess is what drives them to me, and their eventual upbringing."

"...Let me help you." Ryou suddenly said after many moments of silent thought.

Yakuro mulled it over for a few moments, wondering if it's okay to let someone help her, and then, after an internal debate, she nodded her head.

Month by Month

It had been a few months since the actual day that Yakuro revealed her pains to Ryou. Her pains have slowly ebbed since then, but the continual darkness that encompasses the house continued about. Yakuro, at the current moment, was drawing a picture of Ryou, happily engaged in her favorite hobby.

Ryou meanwhile still was broken in mind and spirit, trapped in the memories of his own past. However, his interaction with Yakuro had given him something to latch onto and keep him sane- the task of helping her fight her own inner demons. But even then, he still remained distant, and would change the subject or remain silent when matters threatened to divulge his own past.

Yakuro looked to Ryou, "Do you, want to do something today?" She asked Ryou, hopeful.

She hadn't asked him this before. "What do you have in mind?" Ryou questiond.

"Anything you would like to do. You always ask me." Yakuro smiled, hoping he'd know what he'd want to do.

Ryou shook his head. "Anything you so desire. I do not mind."

"But I have nothing to really choose from." Yakuro smiled, "I think you should choose, everyone deserves that right." She smiled even wider, "Or perhaps I could make you lunch while you figure out?"

"Sure. Perhaps I will think of something to occupy the time."

Yakuro smiles and takes her leave, to get started on a quick yet delicious lunch. The voices began to once more whisper. "Leave, leave this place now or you shall suffer."

"I've already been through a hell of suffering," Ryou whispered quietly, talking back to the voices for the first time. "What can you possibly do to make it worse?"

The whispering becomes more enraged, but in that exact moment, the demonic whispering gives images of Ryou's worst fear and worst past experiences, forcing him to relive the memories in a few seconds.

Ryou paled. A tear rolled from his eye as he lay there, staring up into the ceiling, but he showed no other signs of reaction.

"We know you.. Arbiter.." The voices died down the moment Yakuro came walking in carrying a tray of sandwiches. "I made sandwiches, I hope they come to your liking." She smiled joyfully as she handed Ryou a plate.

It took Ryou a moment to react; he was still lost in his own mind. "Oh... thank you..."

Yakuro laughed slightly, "You okay, you seemed out for a second." She took a bite of her own sandwich.

"I... I'm fine." Ryou said, sitting up and taking his plate.

Yakuro stared at Ryou, "Are you sure?" She suddenly seemed to be confused, as if she heard him say something else, as if someone else was speaking to her.

"Yes..." Ryou said, noticing Yakuro's confusion.

This time, Ryou caught a very distinct voice, one comapared to nails on the old chalkboard, it spoke, "Lies...", though he could tell, this information was being thrown into Yakuro's head, she was being manipulated by one of the demons within. She seemed to mull over which one she would believe then smiled, nodding slightly, agreeing with Ryou, "Okay." She smiled, "What do you want to do though, did you figure out?"

Ryou thought for a moment. "I recall you wished to depart this house and see other places, am I correct?"

"As I have been, for a very long time." Yakuro smiled, "The joys of discovering a place far away, something you're so foreign to, it's just a magnificent feeling."

"I can show you some of these places from my own memories, if you would like," Ryou said.

"Really?" Yakuro smiled, "I'd love that." Her voice filled to the brim with sincerity.

Ryou drew a large circle in the air with his fingers. The circle suddenly came to life, shimmering like a pool of rippling water before the image of a kingdom appeared in it's depths, viewed from overhead.

Yakuro watched this occur, eyes wide with fascination, "That's so neat." She stated, complimenting Ryou's power, "I've done that with paintings before, I love this kind of sorcery." She smiled.

"I believe this kingdom was called Wonderland," Arbiter said.

"Such wondrous beauty is wrought upon that land." Yakuro adored the image, "It emanates such power and beauty, and exudes a force of happiness." Once more, Yakuro's face contorted to confusion, as once more, she herself was hearing the demonic voices, though Ryou was left out of the conversation they were forcing her to hear.

"The land is anything but happy, although beautiful," Ryou said. Deciding to change the subject quickly, he changed the image in the portal; this time revealing a kingdom of winged humanoids.

"And this one.. Reminds me of a dream I had." Yakuro stated, "Though, at the end, the land was destroyed by a powerful demon, and it resembled me." Yakuro stated, "Change the image. Please.."

Ryou nodded. The image melted and was replaced by a city advanced in technology. "This is a world called Earth," he explained. "It's one of the most peculiar worlds I've been to."

"It is peculiar." Yakuro stated, "It has-" She was cut off as two red eyes formed nearby, the room growing colder, as the energy instilled within the room died, including Ryou's portal image. Yakuro stared in fear at the floating pair, whispers began to occur, as blood began to drip from the walls and ceiling. "We shall kill you.." Was the most heard sentence, as the floor began to get soaked with the red substance.

If Ryou felt any fear, his face did not betray it. "What are you trying to do, demon?" he asked aloud.

A cruel laugh was heard, "I merely came to see my little Yakuro. My flowering prize, my everything." Was the response, "I've come to state as well, that if you continue to perform such sickening actions, I'll have to resort to physical violence, and many of us know where that has gotten you, doesn't it, Ryou? Or should I state a more.. Judging name?"

Ryou said nothing, and only resorted to glaring at the eyes.

Yakuro stared at the demon, scared out of her wits and unable to think.

"I'm sure your other inactive, down under friends can help you." The demon's eyes showed pure malice, yet enjoyment in taunting Ryou, "Or about 'judging' the countless lives and worlds."

Yakuro looked to Ryou.

Ryou looked down, avoiding the gazes of both Yakuro and the demon. "So you know..." he said.

"I'm confused." Yakuro looked to the pair of eyes.

The demon chuckled, "Of course I know. Excuse me, but Yakuro my dear, I must leave. I shall return shortly." The eyes close, the cold, dark feeling leaves, and silence reigns the room.

Ryou only continued to look down in silence, trembling visibly. His hands were balled into fists. His emerald hair hung over his face, concealing his sorrowed visage.

Yakuro turned to Ryou, "He's.. Frustrating... Dealing with him all the time.. Countless tortures, he's starting after you too." Yakuro stated, "Don't listen to a word he states, never look him in the eyes, never pay attention to his snide remarks. He's going to control you, like he does me." Yakuro looked down, "I'm sorry."

"There's no need to feel sorry for a monster like me. My crimes... are unforgiveable..."

"No.. No.. That's not true." Yakuro retorted, "You've stayed with me. You're brave and have a kind heart. You can't let yourself be beaten senseless from Eod already.." Yakuro began to well up tears from her inner pain for Ryou's sudden wilted personality, she ran to her easel and drew upon it, and within moments, Ryou found a bouquet of the most wondrous flowers he had ever seen placed in front of him.

"...How can you be so compassionate to a murderer?" Ryou asked quietly. He looked up at her with fresh tears slowly falling from his eyes.

"If you're a murderer, I'm no different." Yakuro stated, "I killed my own uncle and accidentally my own parents because I was not strong enough." She explained, "You've shown me nothing but kindess since you came here, and that is how it goes." Yakuro smiled, placing a flower in her hair, the color a bright purple.

Ryou opened his mouth to respond, then closed it and remained quiet, staring at Yakuro. "...that was different." he finally said. "You could not control yourself and fought your uncle to survive... I killed scores of people over the span of one thousand years... even now, their blood is on my hands... no man who has killed as many as I deserves redemption... much less compassion... you should be reviling me, throwing stones at me, spitting on my face... why are you so kind to me?"

Yakuro answered with the most simple sentence she has given, "Because you don't show those things in your character."

Ryou was silent. Then suddenly, he placed his face in his hands and wept, silently and bitterly- something he hadn't done for over a thousand years. Everything he had been holding in; his guilt over his crimes and the deaths of his friends; the stress of it all was finally released in his quiet sobs.

"Oh.. Oh.. Hey...." Yakuro's visage became saddned, she scooted over and hugged the man she has known for only a few months, "It'll be okay. Don't- Don't worry. It will all be okay.." Yakuro herself began to weep along with Ryou, part of her own emotional spectrum taking in some of his pain, and transferring it to tears as well.

In a vast, uncaring Multiverse, Ryou felt small and helpless as he sobbed. Yakuro's embrace, however, was a comfort to him; it felt secure. Slowly, he placed his own arms around her as well.

"...thank you..." he whispered.

Yakuro nodded, keeping silent so as to allow Ryou release whatever else pain he had kept concealed.

Little did the two know of the demon watching, a small smirk formed, before fading away, the eyes moments after.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ryou had remained seemingly depressed over the next few days, but was more open with Yakuro when she spoke with him- his voice and gaze were no longer distant, and he focused on her rather than the ceiling or wall when she talked.

Yakuro came around the corner, holding what she considered her favorite dessert, fruit with ice cream, she had a bowl for him. "You want some, I made one for you." She smiled, handing him a bowl of ice cream with delicate strawberries. Yakuro, being the way that she is, had already began eating her delicious dessert, even as her hand held the other bowl in front of Ryou.

"...thank you." Ryou said, taking his bowl.

"I love ice cream." Yakuro smiled, knowing that her simple sentence has no special meaning. "So, do you know what you'd like to do today, or would you like to just relax over the recent happenings?"

"Relaxing... sounds nice." Ryou said.

Yakuro nods, "Okay, we can do that." She smiled, "Either way, it'd be great because of the storms heading our way." Yakuro chuckled lightly, before taking a few more bites out of her dessert.

Ryou nodded and began eating.

Yakuro giggled, "You're also probably wondering as to how I make these various things that can't be discovered upon this simple planet. You do know I don't find these plants and foods anymore, do you? And I'm sure you've been wondering how I 'find' these things."

"Do you paint them into existence?" Ryou asked.

Yakuro nodded, "Yes. Almost, I like to paint them into existence, but if I truly wanted something quickly, I'll just imagine it, really hard." Yakuro smiled, "Though fighting back needs a medium every time." She resumed eating he delactable dessert, every so often finding herself staring at Ryou.

She noticed how Ryou would slowly eat, as if making each motion with deliberate caution. She noticed how his face would remain very still, and stony, but with a look of distant sadness in his eyes.

"You must be severely bothered by something." Yakuro stated, "Maybe you'd like to explain your life to me sometime?"

Arbiter was silent for a few moments. "Perhaps I ought to tell you some things. I think you deserve to know."

Yakuro nodded, "Okay. I'd like to learn more about you." She smiled, "So what do you wish to reveal?"

"What do you wish to know?" Ryou asked.

"Everything that isn't too personnal." Yakuro stated, "Nothing too upsetting for yourself, not something that will make you feel too uncomfortable to reveal such things."

"Perhaps I shall tell you of my childhood then, while I was still a Terral living on this world."

"That'd be lovely."

Ryou thought for a moment before he started. "I know not from were I came, but I entered this world without a mother nor father." From a shining portal, Ryou projected his own memories: A bright flash of light, and suddenly, a child that appeared no older than six appeared in a dark back alley- it's green hair made it clear that it was a younger Ryou, dressed in rags and seemingly soaked in blood.

"Oh.." Yakuro stated, feeling sympathetic toward Ryou.

"I was taken in by other orphans-" the image changed to reveal the faces of four other youth, "-and they became my family. Jason, the oldest, cared for us. Malovus, the next oldest, hated me for who I was. Amber, the youngest, loved me dearly. And Kagami... she... she was the one who found me, took me in first... I could never leave her for long, and we would eventually become lovers..."

"And then what?" Yakuro asked, questions filling her mind.

I would never know happiness for too long... one day, Kagami was taken in by her real father, Fuhrer Praeside, and that was the start of my hell."

The image in the portal changed; a now teenage Ryou was being dragged through a dungeon by chains that bound his wrists and neck; he was held down against a steel table while a device closed around his forearm, burning the symbol of a dragon into his flesh; he was dragged out into the blinding sunlight, tied to a whipping post, and flogged repeatedly, leaving jagged, bloody slashes upon his back...

"They hated me for what I was... half-breed. I carried the blood of two races in my veins, and was despised for it. The only comfort in my life was Kagami, who risked everything to see me... she lived a life of luxury as the king's daughter, and I lived with Amber in the streets; Jason had died and Malovus had abandoned us."

"Oh.." Yakuro kept silent, "That's.. Sad. I had no idea life could get that bad outside."

"There was plenty of beauty in the world," Ryou said. The image in the portal changed to a grassy hill with a single tree and a rose. A teenage Ryou and Kagami sat beneath the shade of the tree's branches and held hands. "But any beauty that existed was ravaged by hate and destruction..."

Arbiter's memory changed to a view of armageddon; the sky was tainted blood-red and black with fire and smoke, while missles of metal and magic streaked in all directions. On the ground, the crowds of people were in absolute chaos, slaughtering all right and left until the very streets began to flow with crimson rivers.

"Ah, yes." Was Yakuro's unhappy reply.

"In the chaos, Kagami was killed, along with our infant child..."

Yakuro stares at Ryou, unable to respond and unable to find words to describe how she feels for his loss.

"I believe you understand the agony of losing the one you love... as if a part of you is torn from this existence..." Ryou's golden eyes met Yakuro's in understanding.

"I do." Yakuro stated, "But not in your light."

Ryou sighed. "It was soon after when I... fell..." Arbiter's memory portal began to flicker between various images; a race of dark creatures tearing apart the world; a orange cloaked floated before him; a burning forest...

The image suddenly faded away like a faint memory; Ryou's hands lowered and his head bowed in sadness. "I lost my mind... to madness..."

"Oh.. That's something I don't know if I can exactly relate with that." Yakuro states, thinking to herself, though, it's as if she keeps whatever she found in herself, to herself, not explaining her epiphany. "It's sad what occured."

"I..." Ryou began, before shaking his head. "The events of my past are rather depressing. Perhaps we ought to speak of other matters."

"I'm not disturbed." Yakuro smiles, "Just thinking. Merely, your past is upsetting, and I'm sure you'll one day find a cure. Cure being a way to transfer your pains from yourself."

"It's... a bit painful for me to relive the past," Ryou said. "Perhaps I shall divulge more in the future... no... I will tell you... I think you ought to know..."

"And I will listen.. And I shall understand.." Yakuro smiled, "Your pain, shall be my pain, my pain, shall be your pain." She fiddled with her fingers, as if embarrassed, before her smile grows slightly wider.

Ryou stared at Yakuro for a moment, then suddenly, his face lit up ever so slightly, and his mouth curved into the tiniest hint of a smile.

"Thank you," he said simply.

Yakuro nodded, in simple responsal.

Darkness Within

It had been a few weeks after Ryou had spoken of some of his story to Yakuro, and seemed like an eternity since the demons of the manor had decided to bother anyone, including Yakuro herself. Though the ancient energies could still be felt, wafting within the mansion walls.

Yakuro at this moment, had decided to paint what was occuring outside at the moment, a simple, destructive dust storm, it had been blowing by for a while, and thus had disallowed her to go outside. She sighed, "Ryou? Are you awake yet? It's about noon."

"Yes," Ryou responded.

"Oh." Yakuro giggled, "Good. Though, can't say the same for the outside. Do you think Terralius will ever gain life, or will it just die away? I constantly ask myself why I haven't erased it's existence, and then go back to remembering, that first, it'd take too much of my power and second, that it'd be destroying my home. What do you think?"

Ryou frowned, glancing outside the window. "Perhaps it will. I cannot say."

Yakuro giggled to herself once more, continuing her painting of a tree being pelted by the tiny bits of dust, it's leaves falling off and leaving it bare and dead, "I'm hoping that eventually, Terralius will cleanse itself of the dust storms. Then, just maybe, it can look like it used to, once more." Yakuro continues her painting, though, moments later, stops, and quivers, as if feeling hurt. Reaching over, she grabs her palette knife and shreds the painting to pieces, all the while sobbing.

Ryou gave a slight start. "Yakuro...!"

Tears stream down her face, "..Yes?" She asks, turning around, revealing her upset expression, "I dislike it when he draws himself in my pictures." she states.

Ryou thought for a moment, then stood up and walked over to her. Placing a blank canvas in front of her, he stood behind her and gently took her wrists in his hands, lifting the brush and the palette.

"Let me help," Ryou said. "If you wish to depict the outside world, then perhaps you should depict it how you want to see it rather than how it actually is... What do you hope for this world, Yakuro?"

"I-I don't know." Distraught, Yakuro stared at the screaming, pure white. "Most times, I just draw things I see. Because if I imagine, he'll show himself. He'll manifest himself through my imagination." Choking back tears, she could barely blurt out her next sentence, "He's watching us."

Ryou frowned slightly. "Let your thoughts flow freely. I will guide you. Let us try to block him out."

Yakuro tried to calm herself, and barely nodded, "Okay." She took a deep breath for a moment, fearful of what could come. With that, she made her first stroke into the glowing white canvas.

Ryou let Yakuro's hand guide his own as he held onto her wrists. Carefully, he began to channel into the power of Balance, letting it flow between himself and her; Order, to calm the mind, and Chaos, to express feeling, allowing Yakuro's thoughts to slowly appear onto the canvas, stroke by stroke.

What was finished, was the tree outside, in the front of the house, in all it's glorious green pigments, the background rich in light colors, showing it was indeed, for the time within the painting, the afternoon. Yakuro smiled, "Thank you." Her blush being obvious.

Ryou let the flow of Balance fade away slowly and cautiously, and smiled slightly in return. "You are welcome."

Though, as beautiful as it was, cold energy just invaded the room, and the canvas' picture transformed into that of a fanged monster, yellow energy bursting forth with blood red eyes, a roar screeching from the canvas. From around the twosome, deep voices mutter some incantation, words of a long forgotten language spew forth from around the room.

Yakuro begins to become fearful once more, as Eod, the main demon, speaks aloud from the monster in the changed painting, "You're a fool, to think that you could stop the likes of me."

"...Is that so?" Ryou asked aloud with renewed confidence; confidence he hadn't known for months.

"Indeed. Pathetic worm." Eod spoke, "I'm done with trying to scare you off. You have a limited amount of days, before I personally decide to slaughter you. Remember that." With it's simple threat, and deed done, Eod leaves, the painting returning to normalcy and the incantation dies down, the cold energy exits.

Yakuro looks to Ryou, fear etched within her eyes, "He's not-not lying."

Ryou frowned. "Let it come. I promised I would help you, so I intend to stay."

Yakuro nodded, still slightly shaken from the dangerous moment, before she smiles slightly, once more, "Thank you.." She barely speaks.

"Worry not for me; I've faced plenty worse death threats in the past. And I will do what I need to do to protect you."

Yakuro nods in understanding, once again thanking Ryou for his bravery.

"I am just sorry that my attempt to block him didn't work..."

"Many have tried. Many have failed." Yakuro bluntly, unemotionally stated, "Eod's power is much stronger than at first thought." Yakuro looked to Ryou, deep within her golden orbs, he can tell she hasn't stated something of Eod that is of great importance.

"Is there... anything else you wish to tell me?" Ryou asked.

"No." Yakuro quietly answered.

"...Very well, then."

Yakuro stared at Ryou, unable to state what she had deep within the recesses of her own being. "I mean.. I don't.." Yakuro stuttered.

"You need not tell me anything that will bring you much pain," Ryou said.

Yakuro nodded slightly, "Okay.." She fiddled with her fingers once more, unable of what to say or do.

Ryou sat down, silently, thinking to himself.

The cold energy once again entered the room, deep, whispering voices muttered around both Yakuro and Ryou. Yakuro herself began feeling on edge, fear setdeep within herself. She looked to Ryou, "He lied."

"...pardon?"

Yakuro suddenly vanished into an ever expanding darkness, along with the house itself. Ryou finds himself in a black expanse, neon colors blotting themselves into existence as if painted upon a canvas, until a picture is made. Revealing that of the ever expanding Multiverse, a few stars and planets coming into existence.

Though this picture is erased moments later, as Ryou finds himself upon a large endless plain instead, a hill with a large oak tree on top is the only piece of this world, save for clouds and flowers.

Ryou frowned. "What's... going on?" he asked aloud.

From afar, Ryou could see a younger Yakuro sitting with a man, she giggled and smiled, moments later though, she hugged him and walked off toward her home. The man stood up and walked in the opposite direction, though was stopped by an orange cloaked figure, vanishing with it seconds later.

The scene changed once more, as the man shown moments before changed into the cloaked being known as Temeres, who then was shown killing and slaughtering people within a nearby town, setting it ablaze and destroying it.

As quickly as the scenes changed, things began to make sense, as another portion unlocked itself, revealing Yakuro crying to herself, painting a picture of her and the man she was talking with only moments before. "Temeres.. Why?" She asked the painting, knowing of no answer from the picture.

Ryou looked on with sadness in his eyes. "Yakuro..." he said quietly.

Though this time, the final scene cut forth, revealing Yakuro drawing a picture, this one of Ryou, on her right, a portrait of herself and her left, a picture of her parents. The unusual scene changed as Yakuro turned to look at Ryou, from her ears, large horns shot forth, her eyes became blood red, and her arms elongated. Her skin turned a sickly brown, and the voice of Eod came forth from within herself, "Like she said, I did lie." Though Ryou could tell this as well was a scene, as it was not going to be able to actually harm him, but only to threaten him.

Ryou's golden eyes seemed to glint as he stared silently at Eod.

The ever expanding darkness returned, what came into view moments after was a beautiful door, adorned with the most precious diamonds, rubies, and jades, the handle made of pure gold, roses decorating the front, etched in with tedious handiwork.

"...where have you taken me?" Ryou asked.

"Ryou." Yakuro was heard from behind the door, "Help me.." Continuously, Yakuro's voice can be heard, beckoning him to the door, and what lay beyond it.

Ryou strode forth, pushing open the golden door, despite knowing that he was trapped in an illusion of sorts.

Once stepping in, Ryou finds himself sucked into what could seem to be another dimension, neon colors flow about, as canvasses float about, each ranging from specific events to certain times of Yakuro's life. The door vanishes behind Ryou, he finds Yakuro drawing on a canvas, directly in front of him, a self-portrait of her, to her right, on her left, a picture of her parents. Yakuro seemed to be busy, drawing something in front of her. "I'm sorry I brought you into this, Ryou. I should have closed myself off ages ago."

"There is no need to feel sorry for me," Ryou responded. "I brought whatever may come upon myself."

Yakuro stares at her palette knife, this time, though, it's not pointed in the direction of the picture she was working upon, but this time, at herself. "It's moreso my fault." She stated, "And I can't let another die to Eod."

It suddenly dawned on Ryou what Yakuro was intending to do. "Yakuro, don't-!"

"I'm ending the pain.." She stated, as she used her miniscule strength to plunge the knife into herself, but before that could occur, something made her stop.

Reaching out from Yakuro's self-portrait was another Yakuro, grabbing her hand holding the palette knife. With the other arm from the painting, melding the picture into reality, the painted Yakuro grabbed the palette knife, and threw it away. Yakuro stared in fear at the portrait Yakuro, who stared at her with dark intent, though soft eyes.

From the painting, Eod's voice rang, "Why? Why do commit such acts to yourself when you are not to blame?"

"Huh?"

Eod continued, "The ones who should be crushed are those who impose such a heavy burden upon your psyche, those who wish to get rid of me as you're reaching the fullest of all your potential."

Yakuro stared in fear, and pain, quivering at Eod's voice. "Who-what exactly are you?"

"Yakuro..." Ryou called out.

Ryou's voice was drowned out by the loud, raspy voice of Eod, to whom Yakuro asked to answer he question, seemingly not for herself, but for Ryou, "I merely crept into a fracture of your mind, and deep within the dwelling, I was nurtured, I never rest, I never die. My name... Is Eod." From the painting, the painted Yakuro leaps, transforming at that exact moment, into a brown skinned creature, with two horns protruding from the ears, eyes gleaming blood red, fangs growing large and long, elongated arms dangle from the form.

Bones crack, as muscle spasms occur within the creature, looking much like Yakuro herself, who stares in horror at this hideous spectre. Yakuro's pink kimono is still adorned by this creature, as well as the golden hair, held up by her usual braid.

"YAKURO!" Ryou shouted out, running over to her.

Knocking Ryou to the side, Eod stared at him, "Stay away. You don't belong here."

Ryou pulled himself up to his feet. "I promised to protect Yakuro... I may have failed to protect all others who have fallen... but I will not fail this time..."

Eod stares at Ryou, the gaze of said demon unwavering, unrelenting in it's intent to kill, "However you put it, you're still in my way." Eod spat out purple flames at Ryou's form.

As the flames cleared, Ryou still stood; dark energy lined his body, crackling like electricity. He glared up at the demon.

"Yakuro, he's exactly like your last lover." Eod spoke, as Yakuro looked to the demon, and bit back, "No he isn't. He's nice he's-"

"Going to leave you when he feels like he no longer he needs to." Eod interrupted and added, "Erase him, I had you draw him for a reason without interrupting your work. To let you feel that freedom."

"You used me again." Yakuro cried, pain evident.

"And what better use than to erase him from existence?"

Yakuro buried her face in her hands, crying all the while. Eod on the other hand, had begun to form a orb from Yakuro's tears, infusing it with some of it's power. "This will do nicely to at least leave you writhing upon the floor."

"I know your type," Ryou snarled at Eod, growing clearly angry for the first time. "You wretched parasite..."

"You wish I were a parasite. You wish I was something that didn't bother her." Eod stated, a dark snicker spewing from his mouth, "But truth be told, I'm am two different things at once. Would you enjoy to be enlightened before I leave you writhing upon the cold, forgotten floor?"

"...do tell," Ryou growled.

"I did indeed, form within Yakuro's mind." Eod states, "I'm a demon of course, a being from dark realms, but what you don't know, is that this whole time, I'm connected to her. I am her psyche that drives her functions to live and thrive, I am part of her mind."

The neon colored room suddenly became cold, overwhleming all the while, the only thing heard for those few moments were Yakuro's sobs, the truth which she had not explained earlier was spilt in front of Ryou.

"Even then," Ryou said, "You still aren't her. And I will protect her from you."

"But how can you protect her, when hurting me, will affect her?" Eod smirked, throwing the orb made of Yakuro's tears. "Now feel her pain."

Ryou ducked beneath the orb, letting it sail past him as he confronted Yakuro, embracing her protectively while still looking up at Eod. "There is always a way, demon."

Eod stared at Ryou, "How sweet." The hideous spectre willed it's claws to grow long, "You're going to spend your moments in the end comforting my host? I'd oblige, but not now, you've been in my way." Eod carelessly attacked, claws intent upon impaling the twosome.

Yakuro, in a bout of courage and confidence, due to Ryou's protective state, grabbed a nearby palette knife, pushed Ryou out of the way gently, yet swiflty, and charged Eod, the claw of the demon barely going through her stomach, the palette knife piercing through Eod's head.

Eod stalked backward, step by agonizing step, "But-but why..? I only wanted what's best for you.." Eod fell forward slightly, landing on it's knees. Yakuro on the other hand, holding herself where Eod pierced her body.

A sudden fear gripped Ryou. "...Yakuro...?!"

"Soon to come.. I'll kill you.. RYOU!!" Eod gurgled, screeched, and screamed as his body grew larger, the face breaking off like a mask, revealing a purple face filled with dark energy, before suddenly blue flames came forth from the body of Eod, and vanished with a hiss.

Yakuro looked to Ryou, "I'm.. Fine.. A little, damaged." She stated, "I'll survive." As she stated this, she began to suddenly heal.

Ryou bit his lip. "I'm relieved..."

The floating paintings fell to the ground, as the neon colors vanished, revealing the Yakuro's room they had been in, the curtains opened by themselves, revealing a beautiful day occuring outside, light filtering itself within the abode.

Yakuro stood up, slightly hurt from the attack but otherwise fine, she looked to Ryou, seeming displeased with what occured and upset about the whole issue.

Ryou looked to Yakuro. "If you so desire, you may confide in me. I am here for you."

"It is a part of me." Yakuro stated, "That thing. That creature."

"That may be, but it isn't you."

"Eod, he always watches." Yakuro states, looking outside, "Eod told me, that, in a way, he also is me, not completely, but part. And it's-it's so...." Yakuro sobbed.

"All people have a darkness inside of them," Ryou said. "It's whether or not you choose to embrace this darkness that says who you are. Do you wish what Eod wishes?"

"I don't think you fully understand." Yakuro watched the outdoors, "Not even I do." This proclamation is left hanging in the air.

Ryou frowned. "Maybe. But I will find a way to supress Eod. That is a promise."

Yakuro turned and smiled, "Thank you. But this isn't just Eod." Yakuro points to her closet door, slowly, a canvas comes floating out, the picture appears to be a grey, large Secret-like being, under it, there's a purple cloaked being with blue arms.

"What is this?" Ryou asked.

"Eod told me of these two are dangerous." Yakuro stated, "The lower one is named Tsukinode, the top has no name that was given. They're Gods, very powerful." Yakuro twiddled her fingers.

"How do they play into this... situation?" Ryou asked.

"Because.. Eod was sent from The-Higher-Up-One." Yakuro explained, "To keep me from others.."

"They cannot stop me," Ryou said. "They won't."

Yakuro stared into Ryou's eyes, "How can one defeat beings such as them? Eod has shown me more than enough to explain that there were many, many multiverses that were destroyed from these beings." The painting floats back into the closet.

Ryou had no answer.

Shadows of Doubt

It had only been a few weeks after Eod's supposed demise, Yakuro was still feeling hopeless, she had been through a lot in the past recent months, though she was elated to know Ryou was around to protect her. She had just found inspiration and had begun to draw more beautiful works, and Eod wasn't bothering her in the least, though at the moment, she was seriously happy, being able to paint outside, knowing no threat of a storm.

She turned to Ryou, "Perhaps you'd like to take a walk?"

"If you so desire," Ryou said.

"I've got a place not too far, where I used to sit and relax." Yakuro smiled, "Though the tree may be dead, it's at least something." She stood and sauntered, turning to Ryou to see if he'll come along.

Ryou stood, ready to follow.

Yakuro turned back around, and continued walking, eventually coming to a hill, a large tree placed atop, within the epicenter of the hill itself, the leaves missing, signifying the tree's death. Yakuro sighed, and sat down at it's base, facing Ryou, she patted the yellow grass next to her, "Sit?"

Ryou nodded and sat down next to her, leaning the back of his head against the tree.

"I always loved to visit this place." Yakuro stated, "I still love it, what do you think of it?"

"Even in death, it is... peaceful," Ryou said.

"It is." Yakuro smiled, "This is something that I grew fond of the first day I left my home. This tree was my first place to stay when outside."

"I see."

"You're very quiet today, what troubles you, Ryou?"

"It's just... this tree reminds me of a time long gone..."

"Well, this tree is also my final hope for Terralius." Yakuro smiled, "Look forward into the future for hope, for life. Let's try to erase the past, and look to our present."

Ryou stared; Yakuro's words meant something to him.

"...of course."

Yakuro looked up upon the tree, "It certainly shows it's strength, braving every battle, it has little life, yet continues to try to live. Someday, I wish to be strong, to be like this tree, and stand up to everything."

Ryou thought for a moment. "To endure like this tree is an admirable quality; standing up to all challenges, brave; but also like the tree, people like you and I rely on much to survive; and once the tree is abandoned by what keeps it alive, and battered by age and the elements, it slowly withers and dies... much like ourselves. For how can we survive in an uncaring universe without others to watch your back? We would wither and die too."

"But what part of the tree would you be like the most?" Yakuro quickly asked, "You could be the branches, or the roots, the leaves, or the main body. As also, a tree could explain what a conglomeration of people is like; in such example, a man who is heroic would be the leaves, bathing in the sunlight, viewed by many and respected admirably. But then there could be the roots, the dark underside that has committed the underhanded dirtywork, a thief could belong there."

"Yet, all parts are essential to the whole," Ryou said. "The roots, the trunk, the branches and leaves each hold equal importance in providing sustenance to the entire tree. Likewise, it takes the effort of other people for one to endure... in lonliness, one will wither and die, for they are not part of a whole."

"Like a leaf that has fallen off the branch, or a root that has become damaged underneath the soil." Yakuro added, "The branch that breaks from the trunk."

Ryou thought for a moment, and suddenly a spell of the Archic people sprung to mind; placing his hands at the base of the tree, Ryou uttered a few unintelligible words, and the tree suddenly seemed to spring to life. Fresh leaves burst from the withered branches, which stiffened and regained their former firmness. The yellow, stiff grass suddenly began to turn green and soft.

"It's beautiful." Yakuro stated, smiling that Ryou brought the tree back to life from it's seemingly deadened state.

"It will need some care to retain the life I've given it," Ryou said. "I'm sorry, but I do not know the Archic spells to make it self-sustaining."

"I see." Yakuro sighed a little, "I'll be able to help with that. Hopefully it'll grow even more, someday."

Ryou nodded, then stared off into the horizon, deep in thought.

"Do you wish to do anything else before we head home?" Yakuro asked, interrupting his train of thought.

"No, nothing."

"Oh, okay." Yakuro stood, "I guess we'll head home?" She asked, already walking toward the abode.

Ryou stood and began to follow, watching Yakuro with anxious thoughts.

Yakuro continued a bit ways ahead, intent on getting home before the sun set, though seconds later, she called Ryou's name out loud, sounding almost like a scream.

Ryou broke into a run. "Yakuro!" he called out.

Yakuro stood before the house, a man was standing farther in front of her, blocking the door to the house, staring back at the frightened woman, his gold gleaming eyes piercing into her soul. "More than one here? I'd expect Terralius to be dead besides you, Yakuro." The man stated, his black cloak billowing in the wind, keeping Yakuro away from him, due to that and his hard gaze.

With a burst of emerald flame, Ryou's greatsword appeared in his hand. He stepped between Yakuro and the man, facing the stranger and pointing his blade. "What do you want?" he asked coldly.

"Arbiter.." The younger man simply stated, "What brings you here?" His calm expression somewhat containing a sliver of a demanding tone.

Ryou lowered his blade slightly. "...Corvus? Is that you?"

"It has been a long time... Arbiter." Corvus' eyes still hold the same hardened gaze, "How long do you surmise it has been, since Ebonscale?"

Yakuro eyed between the two, unsure of what's going on.

"The past is behind me now Corvus," Ryou said. "But what of you? Why are you here?"

"Perhaps the past is, but the past may catch up if you allow it." Corvus cryptically responded, "As for my being here, it's under a whim."

"I doubt that," Ryou said. "You always seemed more knowledgeable than you'd ever let on... what is going on?"

"Nothing of great importance." Corvus merely responded, "Though, her-" Corvus pointed to Yakuro, "-Demon must be reawakened. I have come here to perform the small task."

Yakuro stepped back.

"I can't allow that," Ryou said. "I won't allow it."

"Opposition.. Normally it's a weaker figure, but you're much more powerful than I." Corvus unemotionally stated.

"I will not hold back if you attempt to do anything to Yakuro, even though you are an old comerade," Ryou said.

Corvus stared at Ryou, his gold orbs matching to Ryou's own, within moments, Ryou is shown of images of the two Gods Yakuro showed to him a whle before, he is released from the illusion. "Do you perhaps understand?"

"My position is not swayed." Ryou retorted.

"Persistent.." Corvus states, "Perhaps the knowledge of one of those two slaughtering the whole Multiverse itself...? Even I myself have taken action, and I'm not one to fight. I'll ask once more, please remove yourself from my path."

Ryou only raised his sword.

"Arbiter, I may have never been very close to you, or hardly spoke to you; but, forgive me." Ryou's world began to spin in circles, the world becoming a hazy yellow, the sky becoming a deep orange. Once the spinning ceased, Terralius was once more around, Yakuro's house stood in front of him, destroyed.

Ryou frowned. "Your illusions do not affect me." With those words, Ryou appeared to fade from sight.

"Perhaps not, but allow myself to be humored." Corvus stated, using a more powerful illusion to reel Ryou back into.

However, instead of Ryou being reeled into the illusion, it appears as if a duplicate of Corvus was captured.

Covus breaks the simple illusion, bringing both Ryou and himself back to reality. "I see you've kept most of your abilities." He remarks, "You are indeed an amazing fighter." Corvus mentions, before bursting into four ravens, which all fly about, each one lands, forming into Corvus.

Yakuro backs up somewhat, to not get in the way.

"Last chance, Corvus," Ryou demands. "Leave before I am forced to hurt you."

"I've been a dead man for years." Corvus nonchalantly responded, "What good would threatening do?" Each Corvus chorused, approaching Ryou, a few ravens fly about, some landing in nearby dead trees, nearest to Yakuro.

"Have it your way," Ryou said. Before the eyes of all, his body seemed to transform into a long dragon with gleaming, golden scales.

Each cloned Corvus stare at Ryou's changed form, expression unchanging, though two of the four begin to build up some electrical power, and send this electrical power to the dragon Ryou.

As the electrical attacks strike the dragon, the beast appears to explode before Corvus' eyes into a shimmering, golden mist that covers everything in sight like an opaque fog.

Corvus turns his head to look at his surroundings, seemingly unfazed by the theatrical attack, noticing he can't see well to add, then stares at where the dragon blew up. "Oh." He simply adds, as if not amused nor interested in fanciful displays, though he continues to see if he can spot Ryou's draconic form.

Several darkened forms writhed in the mist, obscured, appearing only as silhouettes against the fog.

One of the cloned Corvus' approaches the darkened forms.

As Corvus approaches, the image of the darkened forms becomes clearer; mounds of bloodied human corpses, piled in a heap, ranging from young to old, and only visible to Corvus.

For the first time since Arbiter met Corvus, a shocked face is written upon Corvus' face, his eyes widen for only a fraction, but the cool facade comes back a half-second later. Though, within this fractional moment, Corvus uses his own power to reverse the images unto Ryou himself.

Suddenly, the air seems to shatter like glass; the golden mist disappears and Ryou confronts Corvus directly on a blackened plain against a red sky.

"This illusionist battle may go on forever, but I'll hold my ground." Ryou said.

Corvus stared at Ryou, "I suggest you watch the girl instead of me" Ryou then heard a gasp of fright.

Ryou however, was unfazed. "Do you take me for a fool? I've been watching her since the beginning of this fight."

"No." Corvus pauses, "You have not." Seconds later, Corvus destroys the illusion completely, the Yakuro that Ryou was paying attention faded moments later. Only for Ryou to find that Yakuro was missing, along with Corvus.

Ryou stared for a moment, letting the realization that this was no illusion hit him. His hand balled into a fist, which crackled with an energy he hadn't tapped into for months.

"...I'll crush you, Corvus..." he said aloud.

A scream was heard seconds later, from beind one of the larger trees, apparently Corvus needed not to take Yakuro far enough to instill the demon within her. Corvus waited for Ryou to arrive at his not so distant location.

Arbiter let loose the energy from his hand, as it arced toward Corvus faster than lightning, striking down at him like a thunderbolt; in the same instant, he teleported before them, taking Yakuro's arm in his hand, and teleporting a fair distance away.

Corvus got blasted by the move, slamming down into the ground many feet from where Yakuro once was.

Yakuro herself looked to Arbiter, "He didn't hurt me.. I guess scared me."

"That's a relief." Ryou smiled slightly, before frowning and looking back, gripping his sword tighter, waiting for Corvus to make any kind of move.

Corvus came out from smoke, dusting himself off. "I suppose I deserved that." Corvus approached Ryou, his golden eyes unwavering, staring deep into Arbiter's own. "I apologize."

Ryou did not back down. He lifted his blade and stood before Yakuro protectively, holding out his sword. "Explain yourself."

Corvus stared at Arbiter, unfazed by the blade pointed at him, "I've shown and explained to you before this circumstance occured. I have no further comment."

Ryou stared at Corvus, as if trying to sense any alterior motives. His golden eyes narrowed. "Do you still intend to fight me?" he asked sternly.

"I have no reasons to mindlessly fight." Corvus added, "I have done what was required, if you need assistance, I shall be on this desolate planet for a little while longer." Corvus turned and began to walk away, leaving Ryou in confusion still.

Ryou glared after Corvus for a moment, then turned to Yakuro worriedly. "Are you sure you're alright?"

"I said he didn't hurt me, he just stared into my eyes." Yakuro answered.

Ryou stared. "Somehow, I doubt that is all he did."

Yakuro looked upon the retreating figure of Corvus, and sighed, "Although I feel worried if he indeed make Eod return."

"...that's what worries me," Ryou said.

Yakuro looked to Ryou, her eyes peering at Ryou's own golden pair, for some reason, she didn't even blink, "I.. Should.. We go inside?" She blushed slightly.

"...Let's."

Yakuro giggled slightly at Ryou's simple response as she headed into her abode, she though to herself about what Corvus had done, 'The man could read me so well.. Ryou.. Can you see it yourself?' She asked herself, leading Ryou once more into the manor.

Demonic Love

Ryou stood in an infinite expanse of cold blackness. He strained his eyes, but could make out nothing.

"Hello?" he called out. No response. "Somebody answer me!" he roared. Same results.

He was about to give up when he turned around and saw two figures watching him. Two women.

"Yakuro... Kagami...?"

They stared back at him, unblinking. A noise suddenly echoed behind him, slowly growing louder, sounding akin to rushing water, growing louder until it blasted his ears with the velocity of a tidal wave; he spun around and was horrified to see a white, cloudy mass growing before him like a pungent fog. What was most horrifying, however, were the faces that appeared in the clouds; He could see the faces of Inferno, Amnesty, Red, Rune, Seren, Baqer, Jason, and Amber, all staring back at him. They all spoke as one, their voices twisted into something utterly demonic:

"You've forgotten... You let us all die..."

Ryou spun around once more to run, but was confronted by a pair of glowing red eyes; Yakuro and Kagami were nowhere to be seen. His heart began to race.

The red eyes formed into the figure of a woman, horribly disfigured, but Ryou knew what she was, and it sickened him- a horrific blend of Yakuro and Kagami, twisted and evil.

"Die..."

Arms suddenly extended from the cloudy mass, each of them reaching for him.

"Join us... Ryou..."

Ryou snapped out of the nightmare with a long, horrified scream. He sat in his bed, breathing heavily, his chest heaving, his skin covered in a thin layer of sweat.

"I presume you do not normally awake screaming in the young, early hours of the morning?" A smooth, velvety voice questioned Ryou, seemingly, a figure was sitting in the chair Yakuro would normally place herself in.

"No..." Ryou answered, clutching his head and still slightly delirious from having snapped awake.

"No?" The voice questioned, "Is that it?" The blackened figure stood up and approached the bedside, the light of early morning shining upon the pink kimono it was wearing. "Don't you have any other things to... Say to me?" The darkned figure questioned, seemingly trying to sound as loving as possible, but the gruff voice keeping it from such a tone.

"What... are you?" Ryou asked.

Bending down, Ryou was shown the same demonic face of Eod, no changes has occured in it's absence. "You know full well... What I am.." Eod stated as it sat down upon the bed, "But the question is.. Mm.. What are you?" It lustfully questioned, making some weird snake-like movements with it's arms and tongue, which moved about, reaching for Ryou, slowly.

Ryou backed away in horror.

Before Eod could make any more movements, it vanished into nothingness as Yakuro entered the room, "Morning." She joyfully added.

Ryou shivered. "G-good morning..."

Yakuro giggled, "You seem pretty alert this morning. That's good." She noted, "I've been meaning to tell you something.. That I thought I haven't... Felt..."

"...Yakuro?" Ryou asked, suddenly worried for her own well-being.

"Well, it sort of... Slapped me in the face yesterday." Yakuro smiled, "I thought I took you to the tree on the hill to just show you a nice, wondrous view. But my.. Inner mind was thinking of another reason, I think..."

"What would that be?" Ryou asked. He didn't notice himself gripping the bedsheets tightly in anxious fists.

"Well, I never really speak to myself to figure out my problems, due to Eod, but.." Yakuro continued, "So to say, I figured out why I enjoy your company, and why I giggle around you and so on. Temeres may have been my first lover but it is the past now, and well, I forgot how it was like to feel love and I just wanted to say that.." She caught her breath for a moment, and was about to speak.

"I lo-"

"I LOVE YOU!!" Eod's sickening voice rang out and it appeared from absolutely nowhere, pushing Yakuro out of the way, it's tongue flopping onto the bedsheets.

Ryou leapt to his feet and took several shocked steps back, the sudden appearance having startled him.

"The poor thing. He looks terrified." Eod added, standing in some seductive pose, Yakuro got to her feet, and took in Eod's appearance, noticing the brown skin that was originally there had changed to the exact color of hers.

The room spun around in circles until Yakuro and Ryou found themselves in the field with the tree on top of the hill. "What's the meaning of this?" Yakuro asked.

"I'm going to love Ryou, my Ryou, to death." Eod lustfully answered.

Ryou was disgusted not only to see Eod's return, but to witness Eod's bizarre behavior. "What the hell happened to you?! I thought you wanted me dead!" he exclaimed.

Eod stared at Ryou, "When I was defeated, I became severely intertwined with Yakuro's psyche, to the extent to feel her feelings for you." Eod flitted it's eyes toward Ryou, "And I love you so much."

Yakuro approached Eod, in an assassination attempt to finish the demon once and for all, but the demon was prepared and slapped her across the face, sending the woman into the ground many feet away, before a forcefield threw itself up.

"Now, it's just you and me." Eod seductively deduced, "Let us enjoy our... Free time."

Ryou was finding that he preferred the old Eod much more than the new. He drew his sword to his hand and held it protectively between himself and the demon.

Yakuro seemed to not be getting back up.

Eod seductively approached Ryou, moving in a snake-like fashion to try to entrance Ryou into it's dance, as it continued to move closer to him, unfazed by the blade seperating the two.

Ryou was afraid to strike out- not only did Eod seem to have a measure of power over him, but Ryou was also worried as well that hurting Eod would hurt Yakuro likewise. Creating his own divide in the forcefield between them, he leapt back.

"Mm... Trying to protect yourself from my love?" Eod questioned, as the horns off the sides of the head reclined and vanished, making Eod look more like Yakuro. "You know you can't leave. My love is all you need." Eod poked the divded section of the forcefield that blocked it from Ryou.

Ryou couldn't attack- and it frustrated him. Not only was Eod looking more and more like Yakuro, but it seemed to cast a kind of aura that prevented him from doing so much as pushing her away- he suddenly remembered that some kinds of creatures had this effect on their prey when they advanced.

Their prey...

He leapt back and hid behind the oak tree to collect his thoughts, and hide from Eod's gaze.

Ryou though, found himself standing within the gaze of Corvus once more, who had hidden himself this whole time. "Hello, once more... Arbiter.."

Ryou masked his surprise with a frown. "What are you still doing here?"

"I know you're displeased with my past actions." Corvus stated, "You may punish me if you wish afterward, but I'm here to assist, not because I made a mistake, which I didn't."

"Why did you reawaken Eod?" Ryou demanded.

"I explained it already, those two Gods I showed you are much more powerful than can even be understood." Corvus explained, "I brought Eod back to redirect their attention, if even for a little, that and Eod would have reawakened even more powerful if I hadn't done it sooner. Furthermore, forcing Eod's reawaken leaves the demon open for completely purging it from Yakuro."

Ryou stared. "That's actually a lot that you didn't explain earlier, illusionist."

"I am much more knowledgable than anyone could fathom." Corvus bluntly stated, turning his head to avoid eye contact, "I'm modest enough to know that, I apologize though." For once, Ryou sees some glimpse of sadness, "I've messed up many times before, but what I did here was not a mistake. Just like.. Back then." Corvus looked back to Ryou.

"No time for reminiscing," Ryou said. "Just... tell me if there's a way to deal with that fiend..."

"Eod has a body of it's own, with the addition of a mind. You must enter the mind." Corvus added, "And in there, you must destroy it, finishing it's existence for at least another million years. I shall help you with this."

"How do we do this?"

"I need eye contact. You need to take the forcefield down." Corvus replied.

"...very well."

Ryou willed his forcefield to disappear.

The second it fell, Eod rounded the tree, and looked to Arbiter, though Corvus blocked the direction, and taking his chance for visual connection, to which he grabs Ryou, and uses his momentary gaze to allow himself and Ryou to be absorbed into the mind of Eod.

The Final Round

Corvus dragged Ryou into the black vortex of Eod's mind, where black emptiness resided, though they found Eod itself standing in front of them.

"Welcome, to my world." Eod clapped, applauding the duo.

Ryou glared. "We are here to kill you."

Corvus kept silent, yet had the same words in mind.

Eod stare, "I see, we are very serious here. My attempt to kill you outside didn't get started, so we'll begin in here." Eod rose up from the nonexistent floor. "Allow me to show you meek power." Eod's word choice seemingly chosen just to make the two overconfident.

Energy shoots about from Eod's body, until a world comes into view, it appears to look like the town Temeres destroyed, yet with a few differences, one of them being the whole place is burning on fire still. They find themselves in the middle of a street. "Are you prepared, I shall not 'love' you to death this time."

"Thankfully," Ryou said, pointing his blade to Eod.

Corvus stared at the Eod, unchanging.

Eod smirked, "Too bad your dead friends won't be able to see this. Because, well, they're dead." Eod laughed to itself, seemingly unfazed by Arbiter's blade.

"SILENCE!" Ryou roared, running and leaping forth to cleave Eod in half with his blade.

Eod, still in it's Yakuro form, formed an ethereal blade in it's clawed hand., blocking the attack, Corvus, on the other hand, appeared behind Eod, and attempted to slam a powerful kick into the demon's back, though with raw spped, Eod seemed to vanish before their eyes.

"You're going to need to do better." Eod notes, standing where they were moments before, from it's hands, lightning bolts shoot forth at the duo.

A shield of energy formed in an instant by Ryou's will, absorbing the energy of the bolts.

"As am I." Eod chuckles to itself, Corvus appears behind Eod and swiftly kicks the demon in the back, sending the ethereal being into Ryou's direction.

Ryou swings his sword at the approaching demon.

Eod seemingly stopped flying into Ryou's direction, smirking, the demon raises it's arms, meteors begin to rain down upon the town, destroying houses and object in the process.

Ryou surrounds himself in a bubble-shield of energy, then wills much of the debris to conglomerate into a pointed shaft, which he hurls toward's Eod's heart.

Eod stared at the attack, and formed his own shield, though the attack broke through, Eod had moved barely to not get damaged too badly, Corvus on the other hand had attacked the demon with a sword of his. Eod then faded, only to appear far enough, white energy appeared, turning the world into.

They find themselves in space near the one-planet universe Arbiter created long ago- the very realm that he would have used to erase the Multiverse when he was still mad.

"Memories." Eod added, creating a large orb that bursts into many smaller orbs that attack both Corvus and Ryou, Corvus barely dodging each attack.

"Damn you, Eod!" Ryou yelled, hurling his own energy projectiles at the demon.

Corvus looks to Ryou, "Do not let him get to you. He's just trying to catch you off guard."

Eod flicked an especially swift attack orb at Corvus, landing it's mark, sending the illusionist flying and slammed down seconds later. "Pity he is so weak, in every aspect. He could never come to terms with his accident. Waste of life, but you, almighty judge, are worth much more." Eod flicked another swift orb, this one at Ryou.

Swinging his blade vertically, Ryou cleaved the orb in half, sending the two halves harmlessly to either side of himself.

Corvus stood up, damaged slightly from the attack, his right arm limp, Corvus approached Eod from behind, slowly, though not close enough yet.

Eod on the other hand, continued his little rant, "So, what you judge? Ar-bitch-er? Maybe we can all enjoy a little game of stay alive, it was always my favorite."

"Sure," Ryou said, playing along with Eod's taunts. "Only, the problem is- I'd outclass you."

"Are you so sure of my abilities that I'm weak?" Eod asks Ryou.

Ryou did not answer.

"So...? Anything?"

What came as the next answer was a katana stabbing straight through Eod's heart, who fell down, seemingly dead. Corvus appeared from behind where Eod stood, albiet worse for wear, the right arm limp. Corvus slowly approached Ryou, "It isn't dead." Was all he mentioned.

Ryou gripped his sword tighter.

Eod stood up once more, as if rising from the dead, he looks unaffected, save for a light energy where the heart is supposedly. Eod rises up into the air, once more changing the field into a bird's eyes view of the Golden City, they stood upon a clear platform. "Enjoy the scenery as we continue this game."

A clawed creature ushers it's way out of Eod's head, though still connected by a cord, and latches onto a platform above, Eod then swings down with blades sticking out of every fold of the kimono it wore, ramming toward Ryou.

Ryou dove out of the way.

Eod smirked, as it began to spin and moves into the direction of where Ryou went, Corvus barely making it out of the way in the process.

Ryou tried to leap back, but was nicked by several of Eod's blades. Crying out slightly, he held out his own blade to try and block the demon.

Corvus jumped up and cut the connection from the creature, forcing Eod to fall to the ground, where the demon decidedly stood up, and spun around once more, this time, sending each blade out in random erratic directions, intent on a least making a hit with the steel blades.

Corvus had begun to block each one that headed his way with his sword. Ryou did the same.

When Eod ran out of swords, the demon sighed, knowingly, it seemed to be angry, having lost a first scuffle, the second as well, and now they managed to at least live against his barrage of weapons. He floated up once more, completely annoyed with all of this. "I'm tired of this game."

The scene changed, fading to black only to reappear as a giant room filled with glass walls, in the center was what appeared to be a giant heart, pink and red energies flowed from it. Yakuro suddenly was spat out from the heart. "I welcome you to my center of my own being."

Eod became see-through and jumped into the unconscious woman.

Corvus looked to Arbiter, "This is a serious predicament."

"What did he do?" Ryou asked, suddenly worried.

"He just-"

Thunderous energies exploded in the room, as electrical energy shocked the ground at random spot, a purple mist enveloped the floor, Yakuro seemingly was unfazed by this all, thought with ever flash, one could see her beginning to stand up.

The brightest flash of energy blinded Ryou and Corvus for only a moment, and when they came to, they found Yakuro dressed in a purple kimono, a black jewel placed upon her forehead, a black crown atop her forehead; her normal golden eyes were a dark purple, and her hair was blazened black. Eod's voice spoke from her, though Yakuro herself also sounded like she was speaking.

"Ah, once more with a host, it has been eons since my last, actual body." Eod-Yakuro stated.

"Your last-" Ryou began to repeat, to horrified to continue.

Royalty From Afar

"Ah yes, my last was much more effective, as I could actually shape-shift into myself. But, this form will have to do." Eod-Yakuro stated, "Though this will be weaker than my last rise, I shall see how you fare."

Corvus felt the raw energy cascading from this newly created being, seemingly, even he felt hopeless, he looked to Ryou, seeing if he felt the same.

Ryou backed away slowly, then clenched his hands into fists. "I'll destroy you once and for all, monster."

'Still hopeful as ever, I see.' Corvus contemplated, and then nodded in agreement.

"Well then, can that declaration of your prove to be correct?" Eod-Yakuro asked, "Show me, what powers you can truly possess, show me a fight, mightier than Eclipse's, more strategic than Control's power, show me... Everything you have."

"Forgive me, Yakuro," Ryou said quietly, to himself. He hated the idea of having to fight a monster in her body, but what choice did he have?

Eod-Yakuro breathed out some purple mist, which began to daintily float toward Ryou and Corvus.

Ryou unleashed a blast of wind to redirect the mist away from himself and Corvus.

With a snap of her fingers, Eod-Yakuro makes black lightning shoot down and zap random points upon the floor, which then ends with a massive shockwave that rides across the floor.

Corvus jumps out of the way, and makes his way to Eod-Yakuro, who blocks a powerful kick with a spirtual shield of Eod itself, which then blasts Corvus away with lightning, and shoots another bout of energy at Ryou.

Ryou leaps nimbly about and swings his blade in an arc toward the energy-shield. The shield holds up against Ryou's attack, and begins to build up the same energy that blasted Corvus away only moments before, this one seemingly more exact upon where to strike back. Ryou leaps over Eod, twisting in midair and landing behind the demon, before blunting his sword with magic and swinging it.

The attack lands, knocking Eod-Yakuro down, but once the attack makes contact, dark, electrical energy surges through the sword up into Ryou himself. Eod smirks, turning around after standing up, "Feel my energy? I channeled it the moment you struck me. Do you feel my energy... Inside of you?"

"What are-" Ryou began.

"I am many things. I am the thing that keeps you awake at night." Eod-Yakuro began to speak, as if reading from a script, "The evil that haunts every dark corner of your mind. I wait there at your lowest moment and spring forth to show your true colors to the outside world. I will never rest. And neither shall you."

"Enough!" Ryou exclaimed, swinging his blade at Eod once more.

The demoness smirked as the attack sailed straight through her, once more becoming tangible, Eod-Yakuro moved in with a powerful punch, as her hand became that of steel, intent on a one-hit knock out upon Ryou.

The blow set Ryou twisting through the air, landing on the ground on his back.

Eod-Yakuro smirked, beginning to take strides toward the fallen Ryou, Corvus though, got in the way, and began some hand-to-hand combat with the powerful demoness.

Ryou sat up, dazed and clutching his head; the mere physical blow from Eod packed quite an unexpected punch.

Corvus came a few moments after, rolling upon the ground, almost crashing into Ryou. He gasped, the pain almost too much to bear, "What powerful blows." Corvus barely coughs out.

Eod-Yakuro laughed, "We haven't even begun! And here you two lay."

Arbiter leaps back up and hurls a blast of green energy at Eod.

Eod-Yakuro steps to the side, simply dodging the move.

Corvus stands up, "We're in over our heads, we need a plan." He coughs once more.

The demoness raised it's hand and a green, flat saw-like ethereal object appeared, "I'll cut you in half." Eod-Yakuro stated, as the buzz saw object came flying at the pair.

Arbiter quickly raised a force-field to block the object.

The buzz-saw begins to slam and cut through the forcefield, only allowing it to hold up because it requires more power to cut cleanly through.

"It's not going to hold." Corvus cryptically stated, "We must think of a strategy before we run in and fight once more."

"How do we destroy Eod without destroying Yakuro?"

Corvus stares at Ryou, then turns his head to look upon the demoness, turning back to Ryou, "I believe we must first weaken her, then I'll use my illusionary prowess to try to force the demon from the girl, then you attack Eod once it is open into this world."

"You keep it's attention then," Arbiter said as cracks began appearing in his forcefield. "Just don't get too close to it unless you can help it; I've got a tactic that might just work..."

The forcefield shattered.

Corvus immediately came down upon Eod-Yakuro, attacking the demon, Eod-Yakuro dodges as the buzz-saw returns to attack him, he barely dodges as the buzz-saw turns around to go after Ryou.

Ryou's form ripples like water for a moment, before he dodges the saw.

Eod knocks Corvus back, knocking him into the direction of Ryou.

Ryou leaps out of the way of Corvus' body, before calling forth a shadowy energy that wraps around Eod like a constricting vine, to hold him in place.

Eod-Yakuro stares at Ryou, smirking and smiling with glee, Corvus stands up, and looks to Ryou to see his next part of the plan.

Ryou merely holds Eod in place, tightening the shadows like ropes, waiting for Corvus to attempt to separate Eod from Yakuro.

"Corvus! Do it now!" Ryou calls out.

Corvus, with great speed, appears in front of Eod-Yakuro, using his illusionary prowess, he blinds the demon's sight from the body, disallowing the demoness to see through Yakuro's pupils. when Corvus does this, he adds a powerful reverberating wave of energy to the attack, forcing Eod out of Yakuro's body.

Eod's ghost-like form floats over to the side, away from Yakuro. "You little peons." With a roar, Eod turns to a rainbow neon color.

Corvus grabs Yakuro and jumps back away to Ryou. "She's safe now."

Suddenly, like a fading shadow, Ryou disappears, now obviously only an illusion; with another rippling effect, Ryou appears next to Eod and extends an arm.

"Cosmic web!" he shouts.

Seeming to turn into literal shadow, his arm suddenly becomes thorn-like, with several other barbs all growing and extending from his limb, rushing toward Eod...

Eod takes the attack fully, getting hit with every ounce of strength that Arbiter gave to the cosmic web, at this exact moment, Yakuro wakes, "Where- where am I?" She questions, she sees Ryou, then looks to Corvus, then back to Ryou, confused.

"...Yakuro..." Ryou said, looking to her, relieved, and taking his attention off of Eod for a single moment...

At that exact moment, from Eod's form, a gigantic sword, flaming with energy from thousands of screaming souls, flew out from the demonic being's body, impaling Ryou's abdomen. Eod stood up, allowing the sword to hold Ryou as if he were impaled by a pike and left to show trespassers what could happen to them. "Not enough. Smooth move, but never quite enough."

Yakuro screamed in terror at this occurance, already bursting with tears.

Ryou gasped slightly as he was impaled and lifted; his cosmic web retracted, returning his arm to normal as he grasped the blade and tried to pull himself off, but to no avail. He could feel his energy being drained, as if the blade sapped the very life out of him.

"So this is the Arbiter? You have much more potential, but you let your guard down." Eod stated, "How pitiful. Any last word, Arbiter?"

"You... won't win... I'll destroy you... I won't let you hurt Yakuro any longer..."

"You've already destroyed part of me, brat." Eod states, throwing Ryou into Yakuro and Corvus, not hurting either of them badly.

Eod continues, "You destroyed my physical form once you blasted me out of the girl, then with that cursed Cosmic Web." Eod smirks, "I just wanted to add one little bit of physical energy to my last attack." Eod then fades, though only half-way, allowing the demon to be see through, Eod floats up. "Let's see how you deal with the ghost of your enemy."

Ryou lay face down for a moment, before shakily crawling up onto his hands and knees, then grasping his openly bleeding wound and groaning slightly in pain.

The Ghost of a Demon

Yakuro shook Ryou, "Ryou, are-are you okay?" Yakuro continually shook Ryou, "Please be okay, please."

Corvus on the otherhand, had to distract Eod, who had decided to create two spears of energy and swing them in Ryou's exact location, Corvus was only able to stop one spear, the other had taken it's course, puncturing Ryou's right lung.

Here, Corvus found him in a hard position, "What to do?" He thought to himself.

Yakuro on the otherhand, was panicking, as she used as much of her weak strength to pull the spear out, as she was able to, she began to use energy to heal Ryou, there and then.

Before Yakuro could finish healing him, Ryou began to move again; pulling himself up to his feet he ran once more at Eod, summoning another cosmic web from both of his arms.

"Are you dense?" Eod questioned as it saw Ryou running to it, "You can't touch me." Another ethereal blade stabbed out of the ground, swiftly to stab Ryou once more.

The blade impaled him right through his stomach; with a pained snarl, he broke it off and tore out the piece that stuck into him, before continuing to run. His cosmic web retracted, and instead, he willed a number of shadow-like blades to stretch out from the ground toward Eod.

Each shadow landed their mark, but Eod appeared unfazed, unaffected, and to top it all off, the expression written upon the demon's face was pure boredom. "Done yet? Allow me to show you a piece of work." Bursting into a cloud of purple energy, Eod appeared over Yakuro's form, "Let's make a nice drawing of your boyfriend." Eod stated, Yakuro was suddenly forced to move, as a canvas appeared in front of her, no doubt a result of this being Eod's world.

While Yakuro was being forced, Corvus had decided to try to force an illusion upon the demon by making eye contact, yet had no effect, "Arbiter, this demon has control of her! I can't break this connection either, this is of the deepest vestiges of Yakuro's being, her soul. Eod has been toying with us this whole time."

Arbiter began to run back toward Yakuro, willing a burst of force to explode between her and the canvas- not enough to cause serious damage, but enough to push her and the canvas apart.

Yakuro looked to Ryou, "Help me. I-I can't control.. Myself." She barely uttered.

"Agh! Stupid girl, attack, attack!!" Eod repeated over and over, the demon flew down, getting in Arbiter's way, at that instant, Eod became fully visible, "Die!!" With an ethereal sword appearing and raised, the demon arced it down to Ryou.

Ryou attempted to raise a force-field; however, the blade shattered it and plunged deep into Ryou's flesh, just below his right shoulder. The pain forced him down onto one knee. "I won't... give... up..." he muttered, determined.

"A good game." Eod once more became sprectral, and began to float over Yakuro's form once more, "Let's redraw the man!" Yakuro swiftly finished Ryou's image into the canvas.

Corvus, in an attempt to stop this madness, tried to feint attack Yakuro, though Eod immediately stopped him, and knocked him farthest away so as to not bother with the soon to be inexistence of Arbiter.

Yakuro cried, Eod smirked, and turned to Ryou, "I'll try one last time, to slaughter you and feel your blood on my barely living skin." Eod floated over, albiet slower, weakening just like Ryou and Corvus were, and became tangible, backing up, Eod laughed, taking out a large scythe from nowhere. "Now... You die!" Eod screeched, running straight at Ryou, arcing the blade to finish off Ryou.

Only a moment passed; Ryou and Eod ran straight for each other; Eod with the scythe, Ryou summoning his cosmic web...

With the sickening sound of metal piercing flesh, the two enemies impaled one another.

Eod became intagible a moment too soon, and floated backward, becoming tangible once he was away from the attack. "Damn you. All Terrals died for a reason.... Why did you not die...?" Eod stared for a moment longer, and then slwoly disintegrated into nothingness.

Moments after, Corvus, Yakuro, and Ryou found themselves laying down upon the grassland, the giant tree shading them from the afternoon sun. Most puzzling of all, injuries sustained in Eod's world, seemed to have vanished. Albiet the agonizing pain of everything that occured lingered twice as powerful.

"It's over..." Ryou said, breathing heavily, still slightly in shock and in great pain. "...over..." he passed out from the agony and exhaustion.

Yakuro got up, and stared at Ryou, "Is he-"

"No. He's merely in deep pain, allow me to take him to your home." Corvus stated, picking Ryou up, as Yakuro led him to her home.

New Beginnings

Corvus placed Ryou upon his bed, Yakuro watching the other existing Terral with an expression of fear, and hurt. "Please be okay." She continually repeated to herself.

Corvus left the room so as Yakuro could stay with Ryou.

Ryou remained inanimate for what seemed like hours; nighttime finally approached, and the open window allowed the silvery glow of the planet's rings to illuminate the room with a soft glow.

"I'm-I'm sorry. You wouldn't have gotten hurt if I had not been so weak.." Yakuro spoke, not once leaving Ryou's side, "Even though Eod ruined what I wanted to say, I realized that.. I do.. I do love you. More than anything.. You've done things that I don't think Temeres would ever do. And.. I'm thankful for that."

Yet Ryou remained silent and unconscious, his breathing barely audible. He was as still as a fresh corpse.

Yakuro stared at Ryou, yet continued to her explanation of how much she cares for him, of how much she wishes for him to wake, of how much she loves him, and so on for another full hour. all the while, she had hoped that the silvery glow of the planet's rings didn't mean that Ryou was going to die, though to her, it seemed like the perfect setting for someone's end.

Suddenly, Ryou's body shuddered slightly, as if recieving a small electric shock. A more audible breath passed through his lips as his eyes opened, squinting in the dim light.

Yakuro breathed in a great sigh of relief. "Thank you." She looked into Ryou's eyes, her visage being the only thing within his sight like on the first day he met her. "Are you feeling well?" She questioned.

"...well enough... I think..."

Yakuro giggled, "Good, I was scared for a while, but now you're awake. Knowing your injuries in Eod's realm, you'll be down for about a week or two." Yakuro stated, "I can't heal you from the pain either."

Ryou sighed. "Very well, then."

Yakuro nodded, "That man, what's his name, helped me bring you back here."

"Corvus."

"And he hasn't been back since." Was Yakuro's reply. "I'm curious about him, did he know something of Eod I did not?"

"Thankfully, he knew a way to separate it from you."

"That's good." Yakuro smiled, "I'm sorry for all this trouble I put you through. Eod's continual presence, the dark feelings the house gave, the pain you suffered. I'm sorry. Though apologizing is past us now, I'll repeat what I've been wanting to say, and I hope you have the same feelings."

"The suffering is in the past," Ryou said. "It's the future we must work for." He looked down. "I love you, Yakuro. Every moment I've spent in your presence has been a comfort to me. The moments in your company... the talks, the trip to the hill... I wouldn't give those up for anything. You've repaired my broken soul since you've taken me in. Please allow me to remain by your side as time passes us by."

"So you feel the same." Yakuro smiled, "You're welcome, and I too love you too, Ryou." Her happiness level much higher than when she was in love with Temeres, the pain occultist left from her mind, leaving Ryou, her true love to replace the masochistic priest.

A rare smile spread over Ryou's mouth. He couldn't quite get up from the bed, so he extended a hand for Yakuro.

Yakuro took her hand into his, and stared into his golden orbs, she didn't say anything, she felt no need to.

Gently, he reeled her into his arms, holding her protectively. "Whatever may happens, I will protect you... I promise..." he thought to himself.

Yakuro complied with being held by Ryou in such a defensive state, she smiled and closed her eyes, overjoyed at the moment to care about anything else in the world save just for Ryou. "No more Eod, nor demons. The house is all warm, filled with life. But I'm happy now, Ryou is with me.. That is all that matters."

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