Episode 105 The Bitter Clear Sky
Ayame Ayame ! Aya
Ryuu! Ryuu wake up!
Lightning tears across the stormy black sky above. No rain falls, however, as the huge storm clouds drift through the night sky, obscuring the luminous moonlight. A cold wind sails through the already-freezing night air, causing all to shudder in its wake.
A meager-looking fire is crackling softly nearby, shedding a dim, fiery light across the blackened meadow. The entire militia is resting in disjointed groups, some members lucky enough to sleep under a tent, while others shiver in thin sleeping bagstheir only form of shelter.
Ryuu bounces into a sitting position, wiping a sweat from his brow. He gazes for a long moment at the dark, night sky. Lily crouches nervously at his side. Whats wrong? Ryuu inquires, turning to the worried girl.
You were muttering in your sleep, Lily says in a soft tone, one that is frightened but reassuring in its own right.
I was? Ryuu grumbles, feeling his cold forehead. He sighs, and rises suddenly to his feet. I wouldnt be too worried about it, if I were you. Ive been having trouble sleeping lately, thats all.
You mustnt fret over the current condition of the other two Phonemes, Lily replies stoutly. I am a firm believer that justice will always prevail.
Ryuu does not reply, but merely stares at Lily for quite some time. She finally stifles a yawn, and wishes Ryuu goodnight as she clambers into her own sleeping bag. Ryuu continues to stare with a softened look at Lily, even as she dozes off into slumber at last.
Justice will always prevail, huh? If we are justice, then I hope that is true, because things dont look too good for us right now. Ryuu grabs his sword, currently locked in its cold silver sheath. He fastens it to his side, while he surveys the area immediately around him.
Nestled around the fire are the sleeping figures of Sasha and Silver, both of whom still appear to be recovering from their various injuries. Zack and George are quietly discussing battle strategy nearby, as they play Omok by candlelight.
Ryuu strides over to the water bucket nearby, aggressively grabbing a ladle and taking a gulp from it. He throws the ladle back into the pail of drinking water and sits down on the same stump the pail is sitting on.
The haunting image of Ayame returns to Ryuus clouded mind, as he is once again left alone to his thoughts. Ryuu punches the ground suddenly, only to grimace at the pain moments later.
A chilling blast of wind continues to rumble through the clearing, where the stampede of war has come to the days stop. Only a few trees surround the otherwise barren meadow, devoid of grass and mostly composed of rotting dirt. The clearing is situated above a narrow, winding ravine, where a greenish stream cuts through, a tributary from some faraway river.
Ayame he murmurs softly under his breath. I wont let you get away this time. I promise, this time I wont fail you. Not this time. Not if I have to kill a thousand and one enemies just to reach you.
Ryuu sighs, venting out his feelings of frustration. Dammit! Things couldnt have gone worse for us since we went back to the Maple World. Just who the hell do these Fatalist guys think they are to intervene all of a sudden? Theyve gone and completely changed everything for us. And now now theyre also after the Phonemes!
Ryuu jumps to his feet, kicking the pail of water to the ground in a wild fit of rage. The gray bucket falls to the ground with a clang, water splashing everywhere.
Suppressing the urge to voice his frustrations in the form of a resounding howl, Ryuu storms away, heading towards the outer fringes of the meadow.
Evening, Master Ryuu! the two men assigned to guard duty shout as Ryuu passes them out of the clearing. Ryuu ignores them, coming to a stop nearby a gnarled, leafless tree. He leans against it, resting one foot gently on a twisted root.
Ryuu stares silently up at the blackened sky for a while, listening to the rumbling thunder overhead. He closes his eyes, taking in the sounds of the wild, barren lands in the Night World. When he opens his eyes again, Ryuu finds Lily standing silently next to him.
Why arent you asleep? Ryuu asks the girl, glancing curiously in her direction.
You appear to be suffering quite a bit, Lily retorts bluntly. I may not be particularly skilled at it, but I am endeavoring to comfort you.
Ryuu snorts slightly, though he fights the urge to smile at the girl. I appreciate the sentiment, but I dont need comforting. Im just frustrated at all the bad luck weve been having, thats all.
Your words speak of a calm and collected demeanor, but your eyes state otherwise, Lily says, causing Ryuu to stare wonderingly at her again. Were you close to Ayame?
Ryuu considers the question for a minute, before answering. Yeah, I guess so. He allows the retort to sink in for a few moments, before opting to elaborate. Ive known her since we were both kids. We grew up together, and trained together in the Joukai Academy. People always used to joke about us being an item.
And were you? Lily persists.
Not really, Ryuu replies quickly. Well, depends what your definition of being an item is, he adds hastily. Either way, all my friends from when I was a kid are dead. Shes the only one I really have left. We used to make all sorts of silly promises to each other as kids, me and Ayame. I dont know what Id do if I lost her as well.
Perhaps I can sympathize with your feelings a little, Lily replies in a low voice. When my brotherKunaileft us, I always felt a powerful sense of loss without him, though I could never fully articulate those feelings. And while I may not have known him as long as the rest of you due to the circumstances, Ive always felt a deep connection to his soul. Perhaps it is merely the bond of brother and sister.
Kunai? Ryuu grunts softly. Yeah, I suppose so. Thereve been times on this journey where Ive wished I wasnt so stubborn, and the falling out with Kunai was one of them.
Do you regret losing Kunai as a comrade? Lily asks, peering curiously into Ryuus deep green eyes.
Yeah, I guess you can say that, Ryuu sighs. Thereve been a lot of times already where we couldve used him in a fight. But most of all, he was like a brother to me. I personally raised him myself when his father passed away. If there was a way to bring Kunai back to our side, believe me, Id go after it.
Another chilling breeze rattles through the bare, leafless trees around the two of them, as thunder continues to grumble unsettlingly overhead. Ryuu sighs deeply once again.
But its no use living in the past. If I could take back things that have been said and done, Id consider it. Right now, though, our most important priority is protecting you at all costs. Theythe Fatalists, the Myougunthey wouldnt dare lay a finger on Ivy or Ayame as long as we still have you. Thats why thats why we must now give it our all to protect you.
Protect me Lily mutters under her breath. She casts her eyes downward, staring at the dead ground below. Am I really that important to be protected?
Of course, Ryuu retorts, what kind of question is tha
Lily glances up in alarm, as Ryuu freezes completely. Whats wro
Ryuu hurriedly places a hand over Lilys mouth, and cradles her close to his chest. He darts behind one of the leafless trees nearby, and sneaks a glance out from behind it.
The two guards are currently standing still, conversing with a strange, third figure. The third figure appears to be brandishing a sword, as the two guards speak frantically in hushed voices. They raise their hands in fear, as the unwanted visitor steps closer to them.
Who the hell is that? Ryuu hisses under his breath.
In the course of a second, Ryuu draws his sword, and speeds forward, the blade of his weapon alighted in a fierce flurry of flame. Ryuu holds Lily closer to his side, as approaches the strangers blind side and slashes at him.
Their two blades meet with fury, and a virtual shockwave is released from the impact of their two swords. Ryuu practically drops Lily as he stares into the face of his armed opponent.
Kunai strips off the cloak that had been obscuring his face, and delivers to Ryuu a maddened look of glee. Hello, Ryuu, he hisses, Ive come for the Third Phoneme.