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Neko's Tale {PG-13}

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Devoted Spriter
Neko's Tale

Rated PG-13 for some Minor Swearing, and violence.
Average Chapter Length: 2,000 - 2,500 Words

Genre: Fantasy/Adventure/Action


Chapters 1-15 (Part One)
Chapters 1-8 (Part Two)
Part Two Outline
Part Three Outline

In Progress
Chapter 12 (P2) Draft - (100%)
Chapter 13 (P2) Draft - (100%)
Chapter 14 (P2) Draft - (100%)
Chapter 15 (P2) Draft - (0%)
Chapter 12 (P2) Typing - (0%)
Chapter 13 (P2) Typing - (0%)
Chapter 14 (P2) Typing - (0%)

Updates: Whenever I have the time to draft a chapter, then type a final version. On a normal basis would be about once every other week or so. In busier times, the wait could be between 2-6 weeks. (Things don't normally get that busy though.) When I do update, I'll normally post on Tuesday or Thursday.

Note: At the moment, I have a large buffer since I just only started posting this story here, so I may post a chapter a day until I caught up. If someone posts between chapters, I'll post an extra chapter for the day.

Story: Taken away from her home, with few memories of her childhood, Neko was raised by a group of powerful and merciless creatures called the 'Dark Warriors'. Having remembered no other life than her time at the Dark Castle, she is brought up with a dark heart under the watch of her leader- Yugito. As time goes on things happen that open her heart to the world around her and she is given a chance to walk off the path of darkness and protect her world from Yugito's growing power.

(Italics mean the chapter is being drafted.
Bold means that the chapter is ready to be typed.
Strikethrough means that the chapter is not in progress.)

Part One
Chapter One - Assignment
Chapter Two - Thunara
Chapter Three - Survivor
Chapter Four - Kalm
Chapter Five - Past
Chapter Six - Dark Flames
Chapter Seven - The Beginning
Chapter Eight - Pursuit
Chapter Nine - The Rebels
Chapter Ten - War
Chapter Eleven - Fire and Light
Chapter Twelve - Fall and Rise
Chapter Thirteen - The Fight Begins
Chapter Fourteen - The Truth
Chapter Fifteen - Light vs. Dark

Part Two
Chapter One - Light in the Dark
Chapter Two - Vritra
Chapter Three - Doubts
Chapter Four - Treason
Chapter Five - Escape
Chapter Six - The Assassin
Chapter Seven - Rayne's Plea
Chapter Eight - The Orb's Strength
Chapter Nine - Cera's Requests
Chapter Ten - Yugito's Plans
Chapter Eleven - Ally or Enemy
Chapter Twelve - Ice
Chapter Thirteen - Betrayal
Chapter Fourteen - Extinguished

Chapter Fifteen - The Path to Light

Part Three
Chapter One - Birth
Chapter Two - Velius
Chapter Three - Search
Chapter Four - Chaos
Chapter Five - Eternal Wrath
Chapter Six - Creation and Destruction
Chapter Seven - The Twelve Elements
Chapter Eight - Spirits
Chapter Nine - Marua
Chapter Ten - Shadows
Chapter Eleven - The Labyrinth
Chapter Twelve - Realization
Chapter Thirteen - Planning
Chapter Fourteen - Fight or Flight
Chapter Fifteen - Aftermath

Part One

A light breeze swept through a field of tall grass. It was early morning with only the first rays of the sun shedding their light upon the quiet field. The grass would rustle whenever a creature bounded away from their nests at the building light of the day. Little disturbed the peaceful scene. Clouds rolled onward, and everything seemed like a perfectly normal day in the fields, but as it was, things are never what they seem.

Two shapes pounced around in the grass, oblivious to the world around them. The two were both young Nekomata, cat like creatures with two tails. Their fur were a dusky gray with tabby-like markings. The two tails the only sign that they were Nekomata as their true abilities have yet to show in their small forms. They could have been mistaken for twins, except for the fact one bore Green eyes, while the other a deep amber.

“Neko!” The one with the amber eyes cried out before pouncing at the other. “I bet you can’t catch me!” The playful cub jumped off of Neko and disappeared into the grass.

“We’ll see about that, Cera!” Neko replied cheerfully, raising herself onto her hind legs. Scanning the grass for the slightest sign of movement she saw the tips of her sisters twin tails bob up above the grass for a split second. “Got you!” Neko pounded forward to the spot she had seen her sister, only to land in the grass.

“Oh really?” Cera teased as she struck Neko from behind. The earlier tactic was meant to fool Neko into thinking that she was in the spot Neko had pounced. Neko made no move to push her sister off her back, and growled playfully. “How about we get some of our friends in town to play with us? It would be much more fun!” Cera’s amber eyes glittered with excitement.

Neko and Cera didn’t live in town, but just outside of it in a small hollowed out tree. Their parents had mysteriously vanished just after the two were able to fend for themselves. They often visited the town to play around with the townspeople or simply to walk around. Most of the creatures in town had helped the two when they lost their parents, and have grown quite fond of the two Nekomata.

As they neared their destination Cera cried out with surprise. “Look! Smoke!” A billowing cloud of smoke was rising from the direction of town. Then it finally sunk in. “Something is happening in town!” Quickening their pace the two arrived to see the once peaceful town enveloped in thick flames. Neko stared in horror at the scene, praying with all her heart that her friends had made it out. “What if they are still there? We have to help!” Cera bounded forward into the flames.

“No! Don’t!” Neko called out, but her voice was shrouded by the cracking of the flames. With no other choice Neko ran in after her sister. “Cera!” She tried to yell, but the smoke was quickly choking her voice and stinging her eyes. Making her way around the flames, she went further into the town, heading to the home of her nearest friend, a likely place for Cera to have gone to. She pushed on the burnt door with her singed frame, knocking it down with ease. “Cera?” She cried out again, stepping inside to see another form in the building.

The other form bounded towards Neko at a rapid pace. “Glade!” It was another Nekomata like Neko, but much smaller in size, even though they were about the same age. “We have to get out of here.” Neko coughed, and didn’t wait for a reply, not as if there was much to talk about in such a crisis. Just as Neko made her way towards the exit of the building a large crack sounded just as the structure began to collapse around them. “No!”

The Nekomata searched around desperately for an escape, but found nothing but more flames. Next to her stood Glade, whose brown form was singed, and green eyes closed against the smoke. Neko could only regret allowing her to lose sight of her sister. Perhaps if Cera were here, she would think of a way to escape.

This couldn’t be happening. Neko could feel her heart beating in her chest at a very rapid pace. This had to be a nightmare. Her fear was overwhelming her senses, and her hope began to turn to desperation. “No!” She cried again in a harsh, choked voice as flames began to surround her paws. Her head began to grow heavy, and she could feel her consciousness slipping away to nothing.

Another crack exploded before her and Glade, as a large Dragon destroyed some of the rubble in their path. It’s scales were black as coal, and it’s eyes were as red as blood. There was no comfort from the Dragon’s presence. This was the destroyer. This dragon must have been the one who had destroyed the once peaceful town. Neko could only glare at the creature with all her hatred before she collapsed into the flames. “Neko!” Glade cried as the Dark Dragon approached the fallen form and scooped her up with razor sharp claws.

I know this doesn't quite hit the two page limit, but it's only the prologue. It was meant to be fairly short in comparison to the actual chapters. (Which tend to range from three to five pages on average.) I would appreciate some constructive critisism if possible, even though I am writing this purely as a past-time. Thanks!

A side note: Serebii Forums hate me, so it takes forever to load things here. I will try to drop in for updates as soon as I have them ready, but my computer crashes everynow and then trying to get here.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter One

“Neko,” The deep voice of a dragon entered the Nekomata’s ears. “Our master wishes to see you.” The dark scaled dragon walked past her towards a door on the far side of the room, careful to avoid Neko’s flaming fur. The dragon’s red eyes glinted in the dimly lit room, as he turned around to wait for Neko’s response.

“You don’t need to remind me Kura.” She responded coldly as she headed the opposite direction, wishing that he would have come close enough for her fur to burn him. Her fur was still gray under the flames that now covered her body, but in her current form it was hard to tell. Her once green eyes now bore a fire orange color that were as bright as fire itself. She rarely returned to her neutral form, preferring to stay in her elemental form mostly because it made most keep their distance from her.

“I recommend you watch your tongue around our master.” The dragon looked back at Neko to see her fierce gaze glaring into his own eyes. He couldn’t help but smile at her as she turned towards their master’s room again. “I’d hate for you to suffer the same fate as all of the others that have shown disrespect to her.” Kura laughed. “After all, if you die soon, all the time I wasted to train you would go to waste.”

Whatever. Neko shrugged as she went into the massive room where her leader awaited her. “Nice of you to join me, it seemed as if you weren’t going to come.” A cold voice spoke from one end of the large room, where a pair of red eyes pierced through the shadows.

“It seems like some dragon’s have nothing better to do than to waste my time, Yugito.” Neko replied coolly. Yugito was a dark element Nekomata with dark purple fur that was laced with black tiger-like stripes. Tufts of black fur could be seen at the tips of her ears, as well as the tips of her twin tails. Her crimson eyes matched the red jewel that was on her forehead. “Now, may I please know the reason you have summoned me here?” Neko pressed, having little patience after her encounter with Kura.

“Hasty, aren’t we?” Yugito laughed. “Well, I have an assignment for you.” It was very rare for the Dark Nekomata to give an assignment to anyone face-to-face. “It seems like there is a small uprising in the town of Thunara.” Neko’s ears pricked up at the news of a rebellion, especially of one that was in an area she rarely gets to go to. “I want you to stop the rebellion, alone.” No Kura? This was only getting better by the moment. “Leave no survivors, and burn the town to ashes. Understood?”

“As you wish.” Neko dipped her head before backing out to leave Yugito’s room. She was given very few opportunities to work on her own, especially to places not near the Dark Castle where she spent most of her time. In most assignments, Kura would be sent along with her to keep an eye on things, or perhaps to simply irritate her. Neko thought of the dragon of nothing more than a nuisance and a distraction.

Unfortunately, Kura had been waiting for her in the hallway. “So I take it you’re still alive?” His grin showed a row of extremely sharp fangs. “I’m surprised, I was sure you’d screw this up.” Neko carefully guided a small flame towards the dragon only to have it whacked away by his tail. “So, where are we headed?”

Neko grinned with satisfaction. “What do you mean ‘we’?” Neko laughed. “I believe I was told I’d be going on my own,” The look on her teacher’s face was priceless. Shock and frustration, both of which gave great satisfaction to the Nekomata. “If you have a problem with that, why don’t you take it to master? I’m sure she’d love to listen to you complain.” Neko could feel the irritation coming of Kura in massive waves. “Now, I don’t have time to waste, I must be getting ready now.”

She shouldered past the dragon with hopes that her fiery fur would singe his scales, or at least do some sort of damage. “Bye.” She flicked her tail in the Dragon’s face, nearly burning his eyes. When her back was finally turned to him she heard a low growl come from Kura. A small part of the Nekomata had wished that he would attack her so she could have a legitimate excuse to kill him.

The hallways of the palace were dark with very little light aside from the glow coming off Neko’s flame covered body. The stones that made up the castle were as black as night, and were lit by small light purple fireballs that floated along the walls. It was common for someone to accidentally burn themselves on them. The only ones allowed in the castle were Yugito’s guards and the Dark Warriors. The Dark Warriors were some of the most powerful creatures in the realm, tasked with the duty of serving the Dark Nekomata, regardless of the command.

Neko herself was one of the Dark Warriors, normally tasked with burning down small villages, or killing rebels with Kura. Kura was the one who had supervised her training as a Dark Warrior shortly after she woke up one day in the dark castle. She could recall very little of her life before the Dark Warriors, only seeing glimpses of what she believed may have been her friends. All Kura had ever told her about when he found her was that he had rescued her from another dragon that was trying to kill her.

She wasn’t quite sure what to believe, but it really didn’t matter anymore to her. The past had already gone by, and she focused on what lie ahead. Her paws quietly guided her to the second floor of the castle, where most of the Dark Warriors spent their time when they weren’t out doing missions of some sort. She passed by several other Dark Warriors, but one stood out amongst the rest.

It was Zera, one of the most, if not the, most powerful of the Dark Warriors. She was known as the Shadow Nekomata, true to her ghostly element, she fought using the shadows to her advantage and was a ruthless killer. Her body itself could have passed as a shadow on the wall if it weren’t for her striking amber eyes. Her reputation far exceeded that of other Dark Warriors, making her well feared. The few that dared challenge her to demolish her record of being undefeated often found themselves dead.

As Neko passed by the shadow-like figure she made sure to lower the intensity of the flames around her to avoid angering the Shadow Nekomata. Zera’s head slightly turned to look at Neko as they crossed paths gazing upon Neko with yellow eyes that betrayed nothing. “Good luck.” She murmured, surprising Neko, as she was known to speak to very few. Neko turned to reply, but the hallway was completely isolated.

Ignoring the unusual incident, Neko went up to her room to prepare for her trip to Thunara. It was a small room, like most of the rooms in the castle, but she didn’t really need much space except to store supplies and other useful objects for her work. Pretty much everything in the room had to be fireproofed after she accidentally caught her room on fire a few times, so Neko didn’t worry about setting anything on fire as she shuffled through her possessions to find her travel bag.

The travel to Thunara was a good week of travel, which would require extra preparation. Neko rarely traveled anywhere that wasn’t within a two-day radius of the castle, so she made sure to pack extra carefully. The basic supplies were almost always in her bag, extra food and an injury kit should she come across trouble. She kept a blue feather-shaped shell in her bag that was laced with thin gold markings. This shell had some odd power that helped protect her from her main weakness of water.

The outside of the castle was just as cold and dark as the interior, except with an even more chilling breeze. Little light reached the areas surrounding, and very few creatures dared to cause any reason for suspicion against them in fears that a Dark Warrior or Yugito herself would arrive knocking at their door. Neko loved the silence and darkness though. Not only the darkness of the night, but darkness itself. Light, hope, and joy were all things Neko had trouble understanding. Who could be happy in the world if they were all going to die eventually anyway? Everything was better left off in ruin.

Leaving the castle, Neko headed west to the town of Thunara. The small town was supposedly located in a short-grassed plain that was constantly battered by thunderstorms, which made for difficult travel. Neko couldn’t help but wonder why Yugito had chosen her to go, rather than someone who was more suited to the area. Regardless of Yugito’s reason, Neko would not go against her master’s orders. She would not return until Thunara was wiped out of existence.

Well, here is chapter one. I think I may just post one chapter a day for the next week until all my current chapters are up. This way my computer doesn't hate me too much. Well, the forums did load a bit faster than expected. xD Anyway, not a very exciting chapter. Just dragging in a few important characters and such. Next chapter is where some of the fun begins.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Two

Neko quietly walked towards the town with no real plan in her mind, she simply was going to wing it. The time it took her to travel all the way from the castle to the town had gone by unusually fast, with no delays at all. As she neared the entrance of the town, she let the flames on her body die out completely so she wouldn’t arise any suspicions by being in her fire form.

Above her clouds were forming in a thick gray sheet that completely blocked out the sun’s warm rays from striking the door. Small drops of moisture drizzled down around Neko, but the shell in her bag kept herself dry. She walked past the gates of the town and onto the stone path that led around Thunara. It was early in the morning, so Neko wasn’t expecting any one to come and greet her so soon.

“you new to town?” Neko turned around to see a gray wolf-like creature approach her. The wolf had two streaks of black fur that went down his sides in a zigzag pattern, until they merged at the base of his bushy tail. The wolf’s eyes were a striking blue that shone brightly even in the dim and cloudy day.

“Just traveling through.” Neko looked up at the sky, hoping that a storm wouldn’t strike before she had the chance to finish her job. Her shell may be protecting her, but the power of the shell was limited to herself, not the flames that she summoned forth. She looked around. Perhaps she could put up an act and try to gather information while she was here. Surely one rebel group may know another? “I think I may stay until the weather clears up though…”

“In that case, you’ll be here a good while.” The wolf had a husky but friendly sounding voice. “So, I’ll show you around a bit and perhaps introduce you to a few of my friends.” He led her through what seemed like the marketplace, as there were many stalls on the sides of the road, and sheets covering objects left and right, preventing them from getting soaked. “My name is Ryo by the way, so, what’s your name?”

Neko hesitated for a moment, unsure if it would be the best idea to give out her real name, but after a moment she decided that they would all be dead in a day or two anyway. “Neko.”

“So, did you come from far off? It seems like you’ve been traveling a while.” Ryo asked lightly hoping to spark up any sort of conversation, but lowered his head when Neko didn’t respond.

After a few minutes passed by, Neko finally decided she’d entertain the curious wolf and try to squeeze something useful out of him. “I’ve come from far enough. Been out traveling for about a week now.”

“Not running from any Dark Warriors I would hope?” He snarled as he spoke of the Dark Warriors. “They cause us more than enough trouble without actually being around.” Neko twitched her eyes and thought of something that would possibly reveal anything about the rebellion without losing her cover.

“No, thankfully.” Neko was calm and kept her voice much lighter than she preferred. “Just passing by, like I said earlier.” Her green eyes glinted in the shade of the buildings. This wolf was far too easy to fool with her façade. “So, I take it that Dark Warriors aren’t very welcomed in these parts?”

“Where are they welcomed? Aside from that big dark castle they like to hide in when they aren’t out killing innocent lives for that Dark Nekomata.” Ryo stretched his long claws on the stone path, leaving thin claw marks on the surface. “Fortunately for us, the storms seem to dissuade them from coming all the way out here.”

Or so you think. Neko thought with malice, knowing with deep satisfaction that this pitiful town would no longer exist within the next twenty-four hours. “It seems like we are almost at the town’s plaza.” The murmuring of voices could be heard further up. “It’s where we hold most of our meetings.” This was just what the Nekomata had been waiting for.

There was a large crowd gathered around the open space, with a large golden dragon standing in the middle, speaking to those around him. He was clearly the leader of the group. His yellow scales were accompanied by black spines that ran down his spine from his head, all the way to his tail. His wings were folded tightly against his back in a very proud position.

Besides the dragon stood a large bird that was about five feet tall. Her whole body was covered in ice, and her tail itself could have passed as a giant elongated snowflake. The bird’s beak could have been easily mistaken for a large icicle. Neko quickly identified the two as a thunder element Dragon, and an ice element Phoenix.

“Crystal has brought us good news that shall help our fight against the tyrant that rules over our lands. The fighters of Kalm have decided to join and Orre in our fight against Yugito and the Dark Warriors.” Neko had to hold back from laughing out loud, knowing that if she didn’t kill them, they would die against the Dark Warriors far before reaching Yugito.

“It has been agreed that our three forces will meet up and strike their castle in about two days.” Neko stared in shock as it had taken her a full week to travel here without delays, how were these foolish rebels expecting to arrive back at the castle in a mere two days? “Prepare now, for we shall leave tonight.” The Nekomata decided that she would wait to see how they meant to travel so quickly, if possible.

“What’s going on here?” Neko spoke, pretending to be ignorant of the situation in hopes that Ryo would spill out some more information that she could find useful.

“we are going to teach Yugito and her no good Dark Warriors a lesson they would never forget.” He laughed. “Lightning and Crystal will be leading us into battle with the Dark Warriors. We will defeat them, then kill their leader!” A fierce excitement was easily identifiable in his face. “Many fighters from Kalm and Orre will be joining us on the way there.” Her pointed over to the direction of the Phoenix and Dragon. “That’s Lightning and Crystal, in case you didn’t know.”

Neko found it highly amusing that a bunch of untrained rebels thought they even stood the slightest chance against a single Dark Warrior, let alone Yugito herself. “So, how are you going to get to their lair in two days?” Neko found this wolf stupid for he openly answered any questions she had thrown at him. He was only bringing doom for more than just Thunara.

“If you decide to join us against these Dark Warriors, then you’ll see when we set off at sundown tonight!” Ryo barked before leaping away to get ready for the days ahead. Neko sighed with frustration, at least the weather had favored her today, as rays of light began to pierce through the clouds. She walked around until she found a dry and hidden spot to rest in until the time came for her to join the rebel party.

The day passed on painfully slowly, with very little points of interest for her to look into. When at last the sun began to set behind the horizon, Neko began to head out to the plaza, the probable gathering point for the rebels. She had done a very good job of staying out of sight for most of the day, and thus didn’t learn anything new during the day.

There was plenty of excitement amongst the attacking force, which might as well have been the whole entire population of Thunara. Neko, despising large groups, had no reason to complain, as gathering up all the victims in one place would save her the trouble of looking for them all to kill. She kept her eyes focused on Lightning so when the time to fight came, he would be the first to go. There was no blow more cruel than taking out their leader.

“Is everyone ready?” Lighting reared up on his hind legs, and spoke louder than usual so that his voice could be heard over the excited murmurings that rippled through the crowd. His call was met with a massive burst of cheering that made Neko fold back her ears. When the noise of the crowd finally died down, the dragon moved some planks of wood that were covering a hole in the ground.

“This hole leads into a complex system of tunnels that could probably spread out through each and every part of our world. Through this passage, we can get to the Dark castle in record time and surprise the Dark Warriors.” Everyone began to fall silent as he began to speak of the coming plans. “Earlier we sent a scout to mark the path from here to the entrance nearest to our destination. That scout will lead us through until we get there.”

Ryo stepped forward to face the thunder Dragon and nodded with undisguised excitement. It seemed as if everyone was just about to head out, thus making it time for Neko to make her move. “Wait.” Neko called out as she stepped in between Ryo and the tunnel entrance. “Do you fools really think that you can defeat even a single Dark Warrior, let alone Yugito?” She growled.

“What are you saying, Neko? Of course we can!” Ryo looked at Neko, directly in her eyes, confused at what he saw there. Hatred, anger and malice. She was no longer hiding her true intentions.

“You really think so?” Neko laughed as the crowd stared at her in bemusement. Her claws began to change into a lava-like substance that was sharp as a blade, while flames began to build up around her fur. Her green eyes began to melt from her natural piercing green to a fiery orange as she quickly changed into her elemental form.

“She’s one of them! Stop her!” Lightning called out as he finally began to grasp what Neko was saying.

“It’s about time you fools figure it out.” The flames that surrounded the Nekomata began to grow in intensity, spreading away from the cat-like demon and swallowing up anything in its path. “If you pitiful idiots really think you have any sort of chance against even a single Dark Warrior. Prove it to me here and now.”

Neko released the rest of the flames that had been trying to tug away from her, sending them through the crowd and to the furthest reaches of Thunara. The fire spread very rapidly, unchallenged by the crowd that was frozen in shock. She laughed when she noticed Ryo running towards her ready to leap at her. How stupid could the mutt be to attack a fire elemental without some sort of protection?

Ryo yelped and fell back as he made contact with Neko’s fur. A good portion of his fur was almost instantly burnt away from her own pelt. She began to build flames around the gray wolf’s body, but they were blocked off by Lightning. “Ryo, go help and put out the flames!” Ryo turned to face the Lightning, then the enlarging flames that were quickly engulfing Thunara. “I’ll take care of this.” The dragon turned back towards Neko. “Call of your flames, and I’ll let you live.”

Neko couldn’t believe her ears. He was bluffing, for she was the one who was able to make such threats in the current situation, not him. “Even in your dreams you wouldn’t be able to defeat me.” She struck at Lightning with her magma like claws only to be shocked with a charge of electricity from the dragon. It was all according to plan. The temperature around her began to exponentially rise as she sent a wave of heat and fire that washed over Lightning. Her plan was to measure up his strength by taking one of his own attacks, so she wouldn’t have to waste any more energy on him than needed.

The thunder elemental dragon rose back to his feet with a gasp of pain. His scales were covered in deep burns, and the skin of his wings were singed to the point he was incapable of flying. “Well done, you’ve survived more of my attacks than most of my opponents… it’s actually quite… shocking.” Tormenting her victims before killing them was almost tradition for her, but the threat of the frequent thunderstorms held her back.

She leaped forward at the weakened Dragon with claws outstretched. Her claws melted his protective scales and slit into his throat with their scorching heat. Lightning once again collapsed onto the ground, blood spilling out in a large pool around his head. “That’s one down… the rest of the town goes next.”

Now that the biggest threat seemed to be well out of the way, Neko was able to focus her attention on killing everyone else in the town, as well as the town itself with one simple tactic. A wall of fire began to rise up around the town, curving inward into a large dome shape barrier. The smoke that was building from the fires would quickly replace the remaining oxygen in the dome letting everyone die from the fire, or lack of air.

The panic of Thunara increased when Crystal, the ice element Phoenix fell from the heat. Her glittering wings had begun to melt away into burnt white wings, as she reverted into her neutral form. The ice elementals were always the first to go, as well as the forest elementals. Eventually, everyone would soon be dead from Neko’s powerful trap.

It wasn’t long before the rest of the Thunara creatures began dropping like flies from the harsh conditions. Neko, just like most other creatures, had a need for oxygen, but she had trained herself to be able to withstand long periods of time in her fire dome without passing out from the lack of clean air within it. “Neko.” Ryo had returned to face the Nekomata, his fur was obviously burnt and he was gasping for breath.

“Save your breath, unless you want to hasten your death.” Neko stretched her claws. “This technique was made to silence idiots like you.” Neko laughed, in Ryo’s current condition, he would have no chance of defeating the fiery Nekomata. “Creatures like you fail to realize how quickly the whole ‘I’ll kill you for what you’ve done’ speech gets annoying.” The fire elemental herself had lost count of how many times she had heard some sort of speech vowing revenge just before someone died.

“You can’t…” Ryo gasped. “… live without Oxygen either, can you?” Neko at this as the wolf stood before her with a defiant glint in his eyes.

“Of course not, but I won’t need to.” The walls of the barrier began to close in tighter around Thunara. “It would be impossible for me to die from my own strategy. Think about it.” She pointed a claw to several motionless shapes lying on the ground. “I would pass out from the lack of air a good few minutes before I’d actually die.” Then her claw pointed to the ceiling of the dome. “What would happen if I weren’t here holding up the fire?” The only way her plan could possibly backfire was if she was somehow forced back into her neutral form.

“No.” Ryo cried out before he started choking from the smoke.

“I’ll just have to show you.” Neko released her hold on the flames, letting the wall collapse into the city, burning everything in its path. Anything that was previously alive, was likely struck down by the fire that just crushed Thunara. Taking a glance around to make sure nothing had survived the attack, the Nekomata walked through the rubble of fire as the smoke cleared away from what was once the town of Thunara.

This is the first chapter to contain violence, but it's very mild and not over descriptive. I don't normally go into detail with violent parts just for the sake of PG-13/PG-ish. Pretty much everything that makes this fic PG-13 is Mild Violence and Mild Cursing. I try to limit cursing to a minimal, and I garuntee you won't see the worst of the curse words. This is one of the longer chapters I have done so far, though I have a feeling that it won't be the longest.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Three

Neko had decided to take the longer route from Thunara back to the castle, the one she had taken to arrive at Thunara. This was because she didn’t want to risk getting lost in the tunnel, or waste more of her time killing rebels should she find them down there. There was no concern about the other two groups reaching the castle, seeing how long they managed to last against herself. She saw no need to take a detour to rid the world of the other two groups, as her orders were to eradicate Thunara, nothing more.

When she finally arrived, it was clear that nothing had happened whatsoever. The castle was just as dark and gloomy as ever, with no one brave enough to make a sound with Yugito around. It was as if she had never left. Her fiery paws carried swiftly towards where Yugito was likely waiting. Thankfully for the Nekomata, she didn’t have to deal with her pain of a mentor before she was able to report in. “May I enter? It’s Neko.”

“Of course.” The Dark Nekomata was waiting for Neko inside, clearly expecting her return. “Now then, I trust that our little problem in Thunara has been taken care of?” She purred.

“Thunara is gone, as well as everyone who was there. Just as you ordered.” Neko dipped her head in respect. “Although, I have required some useful information while I was in Thunara.” Yugito’s eyes focused on the fire elemental. “Before I destroyed the town, I decided to listen for any clues of what they may have been planning. They spoke of two other groups that were planning to join them. They were scheduled to attack the castle about five days ago, but I assume the disappearance of the Thunara group scared them off.”

“That’s nice to know, but care to explain how they expected to get here in two days if they were still in Thunara?” Yugito was glaring at Neko with suspicion.

“They discovered a series of tunnels that ran below the ground. They believed that it spread out throughout our whole world.” Neko had entered the tunnels to take a look before she left to return to the domain of the Dark Warriors. “I took a quick look before I left, and there was indeed a large amount of tunnels down there, but they seem to have been made by someone… the ground was perfectly flat, as well as the walls. Like a maze or something.”

“So, the old tales may actually be true. The Underground Labyrinth might really exist. Interesting.” It seemed as Yugito had heard about it from a tale or story in the past. “Tell me, did you seal the entrance you found?”

“Yes, I thought it would be for the best. The rebels were clearly planning on using it to get here unexpectedly. It didn’t seem like a good idea to let them have such a valuable route when we don’t know where the nearest entrance to the castle is.” Neko explained, not really caring if her master accepted her decision or not.

“Very well.” Yugito nodded, thinking over what she should do. “Dismissed.” The fire Nekomata nodded and began to walk out. “Expect me to call for you tomorrow, for now, get some rest.” Neko shrugged and returned to her room. It had felt like only a few minutes since she had last entered this room. She shrugged her bag off her back and lay it on the floor, before laying down to doze off to sleep.


A single Nekomata darted through the Labyrinth, flowing deep scrapes on the wall, running from the heat that had fallen into the tunnel, singing his fur as he carried on. His paws carried him forward with unusual speed and determination. Up ahead he could see several lights shifting about in the narrow space of the tunnels. The shadows of several creatures could be seen from the dim light, many of which turned to face him as he neared the group. “Where is the rest of Thunara?”

The speaker was a large griffon whose body was covered in a strong silver armor. The plates that covered the bird were all pointed and reflected whatever was around it. Underneath the strong armor were a mixture of brown feathers and fur, laced with darker black stripes. His two massive wings were folded against his back, and his head was raised high.

“Dead.” The Nekomata spoke, panting hard from his long run through the Labyrinth. If it weren’t for the markings along the passages, he would have never made it to the others to warn them about what awaited them ahead. “We were attacked by a Dark Warrior. She had pretended to be a traveler, until she had learned of the tunnel when we were about to head down.” He tried to block out the images of Thunara’s fall from his mind. “The Dark Warrior… a Fire Nekomata who claimed her name was Neko.”

“What?” A shocked voice rose over the murmurs of the rebel groups from Kalm and Orre, but she shrunk back a bit as eyes turned to focus on her. “I just don’t believe it… It’s impossible.” The cave was almost completely silent except for the exceptionally small Nekomata that had just spoken.

“Glade, what’s wrong?” The Nekomata looked up at the Griffon with hesitation, as if she were reluctant to speak what was on her mind. Her brown fur was bristling with nervousness and, her soft green eyes shied away from the Griffon’s golden eyes. She had a cream underbelly, as well as a cream muzzle, and paws. She trembled as everyone’s eyes did not move from her.

“Neko… she was… I saw her die.” She muttered. “A long time ago… “ She lied quickly, deciding not to reveal what she really knew about the Nekomata, knowing that she may not be trusted if she said the wrong thing. “When I was little… I watched her die!” She cried out again.

“Are you sure?” The other Nekomata spoke out again. “This cold-blooded killer doesn’t die easy. I’ve seen what that monster could do.” His voice was void of emotion, only raw hatred for what had happened to all he cared about. “Not even Lightning stood a chance against her…”

“If that is the power of a single Dark warrior, then I suppose we are not quite ready to strike at the castle, especially with the loss of Thunara.” The Griffon spoke gravely.”

“It’s not quite that simple, unfortunately.” The survivor of Thunara looked at the group who had come to attack. “She knows of our plans. You can’t just return home, Yugito will know of our plans in a matter of days when that monster reports to her master. They will send more Dark Warriors to finish the job.” He growled. “We have a few days before that Nekomata returns to her home, assuming she doesn’t use the tunnels that is.”

“Then we shall return to our homes and make it so the Dark Warriors will have nothing to destroy.” The griffon said sadly, understanding that regardless of what they do, their towns would be destroyed anyway. “After that, we shall set off and try to gather more that are willing to help us put an end to this tyranny.” The griffon’s mini-speech brought a glimmer of hope to many of those in the crowd.

“That won’t work.” The Nekomata had begun to grow irritated. “Have you forgot what Neko was able to do? She destroyed the whole of Thunara with a single powerful attack. It wasn’t even a quick ending for us.” He growled, looking down at his paws. “The only reason that I managed to survive… was because Ryo had distracted her long enough for me to slip away into the tunnels. He told me to run for it and warn you all.” He could remember hearing Ryo’s cry behind him just as the wall of fire came down on the town. “It’s going to take far more than pure brute force to defeat the Dark Warriors.”

“Them what are you suggesting? We hope for some miracle that clearly is never going to come?” The griffon replied angrily. “We’ve waited for long enough!” His screech filled the tunnels.

“No… we shall lay a trap.”​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Four

“Glad to see that you’re still alive. I was almost convinced that Yugito sent you to your doom, after all, your still a rookie in some regards.” Kura had decided to pay Neko a visit the minute he had found out Neko had returned. The Nekomata did her best to not turn and claw his throat out. “What took you so long anyway? You must have taking your time on whatever you were sent out to do, that or you were having trouble.” He continued to antagonize the fire elemental.

“If you don’t want to end up like everyone in Thunara, I suggest you shut your mouth.” Neko threatened. “I‘m sure it wouldn’t be too hard to make your death look like a complete accident.” Neko had just woken up, and had decided to take to the training grounds before Yugito decided to call her in.

“If you do try killing me, I won’t be the one getting into trouble.” He laughed. “Anyway, it seems Yugito has summoned you and has been waiting for quite some time now. You wouldn’t want to keep her waiting again, now do you?” Neko hissed in frustration as Kura continued to try getting her into trouble.

“Now you finally decide to tell me. I’ll make sure to return the favor one day.” They had just reached the training grounds behind the castle when the Dragon finally told her she was being called. The training grounds were vast and spacious, and the earth in the area was scarred from the various powerful attacks that had been tested here as part of a Dark Warriors training. Neko herself had been coming here between missions to train her ability to use multiple elements, something that was progressing quite slowly.

“Have fun now, and don’t get yourself killed.” Her former mentor’s sarcasm was more than obvious to the Nekomata who promptly ignored him. She quickly headed back to the castle, trying to reach Yugito as soon as possible for Kura successfully got her into trouble once again. Thankfully, the training grounds were just near a back door to the castle that led almost directly to the throne room.

“Late again.” Yugito’s voice was cold and irritated. “I had warned you I’d be summoning you again today, so you better have a good reason for taking your time.” She growled.

“I wasn’t quite taking my time when that nuisance of a Dragon finally told me you had called for me about two minutes ago.” She retorted. “Perhaps you should get a new messenger, preferably one that doesn’t take joy in wasting my time.” Her fiery claws scraped against the stone. “So, why have you called me in?”

Yugito laughed a bit before replying to the Nekomata. “Now that I’ve let you rest a bit, I’m sending you back out to finish what you started in Thunara.” It seemed that Neko was about to be sent on yet another trip. “It’s the same task, except you have two different targets to strike. Orre, and Kalm.” The Dark Nekomata eyed Neko carefully. “It shouldn’t be too hard, but they are likely expecting you now.”

Neko shrugged, it really didn’t matter if they were expecting her to arrive or not, they were all still going to die anyway. “I’ll leave immediately then.” Neko walked out without another word, returning to her room only to grab her travel bag that was already packed with what she would need. With any luck, Neko would be able to pop in, burn the town, kill everyone, and head home. Her first target was decided to be the closer of the two towns, Orre. After Orre was gone of the face of her world, she’d head to Kalm from there. The trip altogether wouldn’t be too horribly long, at least not compared to that of Thunara.

There were very few natural formations or natural disasters that would slow down her pace as she traveled by foot to Orre, as if it were purposely set like that to make her life miserable. Between the castle and Orre lie mostly plains, and forests, both of which were very easy for Neko to cross, despite the high risk of a fire she posed to the environments there.

One the third afternoon, the Nekomata finally caught site of the town of Orre in the distance, and quickened her pace with the intentions of being out of there by midnight. As she entered the town, it became clear that it had been abandon. The rebels of Orre likely fled in fear, knowing that Neko or some other Dark Warrior would soon arrive to claim their town. Neko had no complaints, her orders were to kill anyone living in the town, but it seemed that she didn’t have to.

She had set the town ablaze in only a few moments, keeping control of the fire as it melted the odd metallic buildings of Orre, created by the natural resources that were abundant around the town. The buildings and structures were slowly being destroyed into ash as Neko continued to hold the flames in place, since they could not burn freely without flammable substances to keep them alive. It had taken an hour or two to destroy the city, as it’s durable defenses were made to withstand pretty much any attack, but eventually the town was just a puddle of molten metals.

It was a slight disappointment to Neko that the rebel group had fled and left their town completely unguarded and an easy target for the Nekomata to destroy. She was hoping that it wouldn’t be too easy, but whatever. Sometimes things just didn’t go the way as hoped. “Cowards.” She muttered under her breath, wishing for a little more excitement in Kalm.

Little did Neko know, some one had been following her as she made her way to Orre, keeping a very close eye on her and her actions while staying well out of sight. The destruction of Orre was not a surprise to the stranger, who had expected this after one look into the Nekomata’s eyes. Neko, having no idea that she was being followed, left as soon as the fire had left Orre in ruin.

From there, getting to Kalm was a straight forward and frustrating path through think snow, and bad weather, Snowstorms constantly tried to slow her down, and the Nekomata was quickly growing irritated as the snow got deeper, for each step she made caused a large amount of snow to melt then evaporate, making her sink even further into the snow. While the option to return to her neutral form always remained, she decided that she would prefer to be warm with her flames.

When she finally arrived in Kalm, she was glad to be on a more solid surface that didn’t melt as she tried to walk, for the most part at least. Just like Orre, it seemed to be completely empty and deserted. Snow lay thickly on every exposed surface with no traces of any kind of footprint indented in the frozen flakes. Only the branches of the threes stirred from the chilly winter winds that were traveling freely through the town.

Deciding that she would rather take her time than go straight home to be greeted by Kura, she walked around town, taking a look for anything that may strike her interest. She carefully avoided snowy patches of ground so that she wouldn’t have to deal with the town getting to wet before the burning. Finally, she assumed that any thing of value that was once here, was taken when everyone fled. She summoned up a small flame to begin the destruction, but then a powerful guest of wind blew it out.

Neko hissed in annoyance and brought forth an even larger plume of fire just as she froze. Something was not right. The previous guest of wind came from a different direction than it was blowing earlier when she had first entered town. A Wind Elemental. Neko began to look around for any signs of life nearby just as another even more powerful burst of wind struck through the town from yet another direction.

Then her keen sense of hearing picked up the humming sound of a small and fast projectile coming towards her. Instinctively, Neko rolled to one side as a feathered arrow struck her travel bag, ripping it off her back, and pinned it against a wall of a nearby building. Damn. Upon closer inspection, the arrow, aside from the feather, was completely made of a metallic material. Metal Elementals?

Another arrow shot at Neko, barely missing her head, also striking the wall, just next to where her bag was. It wasn’t just one Metal Elemental from the looks of things, there were likely several of them, all very well hidden. Two more of the projectiles went past her from the opposite direction, landing on two separate buildings on the opposite side of the road from the first two arrows. Neither of the two arrows even came near the Nekomata, shots that would come from someone who had never fired a ranged weapon before. Neko darted towards the direction in which the fourth shot had come from, hoping to frighten whoever was hiding into the open.

Nothing stirred. Whoever was there was taking comfort in attacking from the shadows. “Pathetic cowards.” Neko muttered. “If that’s how you all want to play, then I’ll just have a bit of fun myself.” She brought forth five flames that shot to the edges of town in opposite directions before expanding into a ring that circled Orre. A wall of fire began to rise up into the sky as Neko prepared to destroy Kalm in the same method as Thunara.

“Good, now stop her before the dome is closed!” A whisper could be heard, not far from where Neko was standing. The sound of someone’s voice was all she needed to locate her first victims. Quickly she darted towards the voice, sending some flames in their direction rather than completing the dome as it’s walls stood without increasing in height anymore.

Two Nekomata darted out of the cover of some snow covered bushes, clearly have been hiding in there for some time for the snow to gather around them so thickly. “Perfect.” Neko purred as the two ran out into the open. She sent a wave of flames in their direction, but was intercepted by a gust of wind.

“Now!” Several more of the iron arrows shot forward, most of them being blocked by the flames Neko had around her, but one had managed to pierce through the flame barrier. Neko winced as a surge of pain was shot down her arm as the arrow lodged itself into her shoulder, quickly melting away from her fur. Although her body was covered in flames, she could feel blood swell up around the wound, dripping down to her paw. She growled, counting up the number of arrows that had fallen on the ground or became lodged in the walls of a building. Fourteen. There were at least fourteen Metal Elementals.

Neko enclosed herself in a thicker barrier of fire so she wouldn’t risk another arrow striking at her when she couldn’t see her attackers. The only thing she was able to do was fire streams of flames hoping to draw some of her opponents out into the open. It wasn’t until she stopped to search for the two Nekomata that she saw the snow and ice quickly melting around her from the raised temperature caused by the wall around the town. Water was quickly beginning to build up on the roads, threatening to cause a flood while a nearby Ice Elemental continued to form more ice and snow to create more water.

Taking a few steps back, Neko turned her head back to look for her bag, where it was still hanging against a building a few yards behind her. She needed to get to her shell as soon as possible before the water built up too much. Her wall around the town was already falling apart with her realization of the mistake she had made in creating it. Unfortunately the rebels had separated her from the one thing that could have ruined their plan without even knowing they had done so.

Ignoring the searing pain that engulfed her right arm she darted away towards where her bag was hanging from the arrow. Several more attacks were sent in her direction, and with her slight limp, she was forced to deflect them all with her flames, countering each with a well-aimed fireball. Despite her efforts, her fiery shield had obscured most of her vision, making her unaware of what was awaiting her ahead.

The three arrows that were positioned nearby the bag, the one next to the bag and the two on the opposite row of buildings closest to it, began to glow with an electrical charge. An electric field formed between the three points, trapping the Fire Nekomata in a triangular field of electricity that halted her movements just before she could get within the protective range of her feather-shaped shell.

The trap was held together by using the three metallic arrows as conductors that circulated the current of electricity that had created the trap. While it was perfectly flat in form, anyone that dared to make contact with it would be instantly stunned for as long as the three points of the trap were undisturbed, and with Neko unable to use her flames effectively in the damp conditions, she had no method of striking any one of the three arrows.

By this point, almost the entire town was partially engulfed in water, dousing the last of the Nekomata’s flames, except those around herself. “Give up yet?” One of the Nekomata stepped forward to approach Neko. His fur was a course and pale, almost yellow in a way. His body was very lean and thin, built more for speed and agility than for strength and endurance.

“Do I look like the type who would surrender?” She laughed sadistically, maintaining an icy calmness despite her current situation. It was not as if the water wasn’t going to freeze over as soon as the temperature dropped back down in a matter of minutes. When the water froze again, Neko would be able to make use of her abilities again.

“Such a shame that someone with your abilities had to be on the wrong side of this fight.” He turned to another Nekomata, who was much smaller than the average of their kind, with brown fur and a cream muzzle and underbelly. “Glade, guard this monster until I come back. I’m going to discuss with Scart and the others about how we’ll finish her off. I’m hoping for a slow and painful death, seeing as that seems to be her preference.”​


Yet another chapter with violence. Nothing bad. This chapter was supposed to be much longer, but when I realized that I was only half-way done with the draft and it was hitting close to ten pages (on paper), I figured it would be best to split it into two chapters. So Chapter Five continues the conclusion of this part, as well as introducing something important to the plot. Enjoy~

Status of Chapter Seven: 2 1/2 pages of draft. Perhaps one fourth done? It's a bit hard to tell with this chapter since the outline I made allowed me to be very free with this chapter.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Five

“Any idea what is taking your friends so long to make a simple decision?” Neko yawned as she waited for an opportunity to escape. “I’m actually quite curious on what they’ll come up with. It’s not every day you get to see a bunch of idiots trying to decide how to kill a prisoner.” She knew the revels were likely having trouble deciding because they had probably never killed another living being before. The Nekomata was amused that they even bothered to place a bodyguard to watch her, one that clearly wouldn’t stand a chance, nor had a will to fight.

Glade looked at the fiery Nekomata in clear confusion and surprise. “Are you not afraid? You might die any minute now…” She whispered with a hint of fear as she spoke to the Dark Warrior. Not even she could understand what had tempted her to speak.

“Might die?” Neko laughed. “Isn’t that something that applies to every moment of our lives? We might die any second, any moment. Anything could happen unexpectedly to destroy us all. Each breath we take may as well be our last.” Neko looked up at the sky as snow began to fall around them. “Why fear death when it’s all around us? Why fear something that we can’t run away from?” She laughed again.

“But… don’t you have anything to live for? Someone who cares about you, someone you care about?” Glade had begun to accept that Neko clearly did not recognize who she was, or simply did not remember. The smaller Nekomata began to wonder what happened after the tragic events that had taken place so many years before.

“No.” The Dark Warriors voice was flat, with only a hint of emotion in it. “No one has ever showed me what you would call kindness. Not that I could remember at least. It’s been like this for as long as I can remember. Training and assignments.” Her time with the Dark Warriors was the only thing of her life that she was capable of remembering. Every fight, and every pain were in her mind as if she were not allowed to forget them. This is what things had been like for her since the day she awoke in the Dark Castle.

“You’re wrong.” Glade whispered under her breath as she listened for the slightest hint of the others return.

“Did you say something?” The Fire Nekomata was also alert for the arrival of the others, but her eyes were focused on the water, willing it to freeze more quickly.”

“No.” Her tiny voice was hardly audible in the cold wind.

“Tell me, how many of you intend to live here after this is all done and over with?” Neko decided it was her turn to ask questions to pass the time.

The question had caught the smaller Nekomata off guard. “None of us I think.” She looked up in bemusement. Why did it matter to the Dark Warrior? “If any of us did try to continue living here, wouldn’t another Dark Warrior just come along and try to finish what you started?” She froze as Neko began to laugh coldly. “What’s so funny?”

“Nothing.” A chill breeze crossed by the town, shaking the water off the trees. Neko could already hear the voice of the other Nekomata as well as several others that she did not recognize. The water was still far from freezing, and her shoulder was still in too much pain to put up a fight at this point. Her only hope was to shift her element, an ability that she had yet to master. “I was hoping they’d take their time, but I guess this is it.” She grinned as she turned her head in the direction of where she expected the Nekomata to come from.

Glade too was able to hear the others on their way. “Forgive me everyone.” She whispered under her breath as her paws carried her to one of the three arrows that were stuck in the way. “Now you can’t say that no one has ever shown you kindness, Neko.” She put a paw on the arrow and forced it down, causing the thin object to break under the force. Instantly the electrical field vanished, releasing Neko from the trap.

“I’m not even going to try understanding why you just let me go.” Neko took a few steps forward, ripping her bag off the wall, instantly feeling the protective power of her odd shell. Her shoulder still ached, and shiver of pain moved through her entire arm each time she put her paw down. Finally the ice had begun to freeze over the water, allowing her flames to flicker around more freely, though Neko was careful not to melt the ice again. “Thanks, but my orders were to destroy the rebel towns and everyone who was living in them.” She started to set fire to the driest parts of Kalm.

It was then that the others finally arrived, gasping as they saw Neko had escaped from the trap, and Glade standing there in frozen terror. “Ray!” Glade called to the other Nekomata, quickly making distance between her and Neko. “We have to get out of here. Now.” Silently she prayed that the Dark Warrior would allow them to leave, and not reveal what she had done.

“How did she escape?” The Griffon that had followed Ray growled, his brown fur covered in a thick armor. His golden eyes glared down at Glade.

“Scart, she-“ She was cut off as a load explosion created an small earthquake in the town that collapsed several weakened structures.

“Next time you think of trapping a Dark Warrior, consider making a stronger trap this isn’t so easy to destroy.” She looked at the arrow that was lying on the ground, broken in half. “All I had to do was the heat iron until it melted and fell apart.” She had burned the arrow as she walked by it moments before the others came. Ray growled, finally lunging at the Fire Nekomata. “They just don’t learn.”

She shoved him aside, ignoring the pain that shot through her arm as she moved. Ray began to glow in a bright light as sparks of electricity began to build around him. “Great, another stupid Thunder elemental.” Neko muttered. “I don’t have time for this.” She shot a stream of fire at Ray before releasing a explosion of flames in the area, bring up enough smoke to cover her escape.

The Dark Warrior began to feel as if the scene were familiar, even though she knew she had done this enough times in the past. Why did this time feel different then? She tried to shove the odd sensation from her mind and waited in the shadows to ensure that the last of the town would be burnt down.

It suddenly seemed as if the town of Kalm was gone, and in it’s place another even quieter small town that lay in a grassy field. A small Nekomata kit darted through the town, calling out for someone. Neko ran after the kit, curiosity burning within her. Just where was she, and how did she get here? The town was clearly much smaller than Kalm, but it made finding the small Nekomata no easier.

To her left, a building partially collapsed, and a cry from inside could be faintly heard, indicating that some one was still inside. Approaching the flames she realized that she could not feel the warmth of the destructive element, while the smell of smoke seemed to be absent despite the dark gray cloud that hung overhead.

She continued onward away from the collapsing building towards an unusually large hollow tree in what appeared to be the center of town. A small dragon lay motionless on the ground in front of the opening. Its red scales were covered in deep slashed that were nearly concealed by ash. It was clear that the dragon had dyed fighting another creature, one with sharp claws. Why fight though? She inched closer to the tree; whatever the dragon was fighting for must be in the hollow tree.

A small round orb shone brightly amongst the flames and ashes, glowing with a soothing yet powerful light. A slight flicker of fire could be seen within the orb among the pure light. She reached one paw forward to grab the orb, her curiosity making it impossible for her to resist the object. If the dragon died fighting to protect the orb, it must have been important. She tried to lift the orb, but her paw phased through the object as if Neko wasn’t really there. “Just what is all of this?” She muttered.

It wasn’t until she lifted her paw away from the brilliant object that she noticed two amber eyes gazing up at her. It was the small Nekomata from before. Neko looked carefully at its gray tabby coat was singed and covered in ashes. A deep feeling within her tried to tell her something, bring forth a very blurred image from long ago, an image she was no longer able to picture in her mind.

The two amber eyes lay on Neko unmoving and filled with sadness. “Can you see me?” She couldn’t understand what exactly was going on. Why was the cub looking at her, and why was it so sad? The Nekomata didn’t respond to Neko, continuing to gaze up at Neko. “What are you looking at?” The Dark Warrior finally began to realize that she wasn’t physically there, but just a witness to the fate of the unknown town.

“Maybe…” The Fire Nekomata turned around to see what the two amber eyes had been looking at but suddenly found herself back in Kalm, the flames around her dying away, leaving the town in ashes. The town was in ruin, and there was no trace of the rebels anymore. “Great… now I’m losing my mind.” She muttered, suddenly aware that the pain had returned to her shoulder. “Well… it looks like I’m done here.” She was simply relieved to be done with the task she was given was finally complete.

Deciding to allow the revels to get away, she began to walk out of Kalm, her fiery fur melting away the remaining snow and ice as she passed by. She still had several questions regarding both Glade’s act of kindness and the strange vision she had only moments before. The whole ordeal had seemed so real that Neko had difficulty dismissing it as a dream. “I’m thinking too much into this.” She sighed, trying to push it away from her thoughts.

Although the rebels had fled, there was still someone that lingered, watching Neko’s every move as she traveled. Whoever it was had been following the Dark Warrior’s every action for a long time, and somehow remained hidden from Neko’s awareness. “It’s almost time.” The voice was carried away in the wind long before it could reach the ears of the Fire Nekomata.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Six
Dark Flames

Neko was laying on her back silently, resting on the dark stone floor of her room in the castle. She had immediately reported to Yugito upon her return with the news that she had successfully destroyed both Kalm and Orre and those that had lived there. Her body was still a bit sore from the trip, although most of the wounds she had received were healing rather quickly to her relief. She had forgotten all the odd occurrences in Kalm in only days after her return as she shifted her focus back to her daily routine.

She had seen surprisingly very little of Kura since her return, which normally meant something wrong must have happened in her absence. Her suspicions were strengthened when she noticed most of the other Dark Warriors being unusually reserved. Despite this, Neko didn’t really have any concerns for whatever may have happened, especially since there was nothing she could do to change the past.

Routine in the castle went just about as usual for the fiery Nekomata, if not a bit less exciting than the already dull schedule of her day. She had no real duties that she had to do on a daily basis, so she often spent most of her time in the training fields practicing, or just laying around in her room. Aside from this she wasn’t set out for many field missions except to put down the occasional rebel uprising in towns across the land.

As she set out to the training fields her casual walk was abruptly interrupted by a very excited call from behind her. “Hey, Neko!” She twitched one ear in acknowledgement of the pest she knew was behind you. The voice held no malice, or even a hint of seriousness. “Did you hear the news?” She tried to ignore it. “Did you?”

She sighed and finally turned around to face a very young wolf by the name of Rayne. His fluffy fur was silver, tinged with light blue and white streaks that gave him the appearance of mist. He could easily be mistaken for a wolf cub, even though he was technically too young for a wolf to be able to fend for himself. His boundless energy and unusual strength was probably what kept him alive before he joined the Dark Warriors as an apprentice. “No, and I don’t really care.” Despite her attempts to sound as heartless as possible, it did nothing to diminish the glimmer in Rayne’s deep blue eyes.

She turned around again and tried to continue on, hoping that her cold remark would warn the pup off, but he rapidly pursued her, running as quickly as he could with his short legs. “The rebels are rising up!” He yelped in excitement. “Even more than ever before!”

“That’s it?” Neko laughed. “If that’s why everyone is so concerned, then I suppose I should worry about the future of the Dark Warriors if a few rebels are scaring them.” She found it beyond amusing that a group of rebels would set off alarm amongst the coldest killers in the land. “They rebels aren’t as tough as every one seems to think. I’d know.”

“Of course that’s not it!” He barked as he continued to tag along, half walking and half bouncing. His silver tail was wagging excitedly. “They say one of the groups managed to take down Zera!” His voice was answered with silence. “I know it’s hard to believe, but she’s been gone for some time and there has been no word from her!” So it wasn’t confirmed? No matter, Neko would likely find out the rest eventually if she waited.

“Hey, kid.” Neko broke in before the young apprentice could continue with his endless chatter. “Shouldn’t you be training with your mentor? If I recall apprentices are supposed to start practicing right at daybreak.” Neko changed the subject.

Rayne froze in his tracks and looked up at the sky, perfectly still. “Oh crap! I’m late! I’m late!” He yelped as he noticed the sun rising over the horizon, then raced off to where he would meet his mentor for the day.

Finally rid of the fluffy menace known as Rayne Neko continued on to her destination, thinking of what she had heard. Zera had left about two days before she headed to Orre, and with her reputation for getting jobs rather quickly, it was odd that the Shadow Nekomata had not returned. The only explanation for taking so long would be that her destination was a good distance from the castle, but Neko was sure that Zera hadn’t been sent far from the castle.

Perhaps the unknown rebel group could provide the Fiery Nekomata with some good entertainment should Yugito allow her the task of taking down more uprisings. She enjoyed the idea of a more challenging fight, even though she had already taken what could be considered serious damage when she was in Kalm. Anything beat the boring daily routine at the Castle.

As she approached the training fields she quickly pushed the news to the back of her mind, as it was always best to have her mind clear of distractions for practice. As she padded on the ravaged terrain, she realized that she was the only one present. While it meant she would be unable to practice combat without the presence of another Warrior, it also meant she didn’t have to hold back while practicing some of her more dangerous abilities.

In a fraction of a second the surrounding area was lit ablaze in a fiery inferno. Her fire rose several feet into the air, with smoke rising up from any flammable object that had been engulfed in flames. With her main element in control she shifted her focus ever so slightly from her flames.

Streaks of darkness began to merge with the fire, tainting them to a dark purple like color and severely decreasing the temperature of the inferno to the opposite extreme. She held this dark inferno for as long as she could until her concentration was suddenly broken. In that instant the fire began to ebb away to mere embers and ash.

“Practicing with the Dark Element, are we?” A deep and cool voice came from her right. “Working hard as always. You really should try to take a break every now and then. You wouldn’t want to overdo it what that injured shoulder of yours.” Neko sighed and looked to see Hail, another Dark Warrior who was an apprentice at the same time as herself.

He was an Ice Element Nekomata. His fur was a very pure white, covered in bits and shards of ice that spiked out in every direction. He had an icy blue mane that went down to his belly, making him look a lot like a lion. The mane was capable of turning into a shield of icicles, making for a great defense. The tips of his twin tails were encased in sharpened ice that was so smooth one could see their reflection in them.

“There are no rules forbidding me from training at any time.” Neko replied, getting slightly irritated with all the interruptions.

“No rules forbidding you from taking a break either.”

“Whatever.” She muttered. “There’s nothing better to do anyway.” It was true that there was very little to do at the castle aside from train and hang out with other Dark Warriors.

“So, what happens if you make your injury worst? I’m sure you won’t be able to train with an injured shoulder.” He warned gently with a gleam in his cold blue eyes.

“It’s my life.” Neko replied with a hint of a growl in her voice. “I’ll do what I want with it.”

“Oh, really?” Hail replied sarcastically, taking a few steps closer to Neko. She twitched one flaming ear as she waited for him to strike. “Since you’re so intent on wearing yourself out, why don’t I help you with that?” Then he lunged.

The two had often practiced together in their free time, especially as apprentices. While the fights rarely contained any true aggression or malice, neither of the two would ever hold back. This commonly resulted in injury to one or the other, most often Hail because of ice was vulnerable to fire.

The battle lasted for around half and hour being Hail finally called an end to their little skirmish. “I can tell you’ve been working with other elements, am I correct?” He laughed. It was very rare for one to be able to master multiple elements, but even rarer for one to be capable of using two different elements simultaneously in battle.

Neko had been practicing her ability to use multiple elements, and was making steady progress since she began. While fire would forever be her main and most powerful ally, she knew better than to rely on the flames alone. At this point in time the Fire Nekomata had learned to use Dark, Earth, Wind, and Ice to some extent. It wouldn’t be too long before she gained control of even more abilities.

“Well then, it seems like I’ve gotta run now.” Hail waved one of his tails in farewell then paused for a moment. “Don’t overdo it now.” He gave a quiet chuckle before walking off. Shrugging it off Neko decided that she too would leave for the day.

As her paws carried her through the dark halls of the castle, a flame on the wall revealed two shadows not to far ahead of her. Kura? She had seen so little of her former mentor since she returned she was a bit surprised to see him talking quietly with another Dark Warrior. The other shadow belonged to a massive griffon- another high ranked warrior.

Quickly allowing herself to revert to her neutral flameless form, she clung to the wall to eavesdrop on their conversation. Thankfully, her presence was unnoticed as she approached the two shadows. “You know Yugito’s patience is wearing thin.” It was Kura who spoke first.

“And?” The griffon’s voice held undisguised irritation. “It is not my job to locate and retrieve the orbs. In fact, if I remember correctly, it’s your responsibility.” Neko’s grey fur brushed against the stone wall. She knew if she was caught, there would be dire consequences.

“Even so, don’t you even try to keep an eye out for them?” Kura growled. “If you haven’t noticed, she tends to send us to places where she thinks one may be hidden.”

“Like Marua?”

“Don’t you dare bring that up again.” Kura broke into a snarl.

“Yes, but you know there was one there. You said it yourself, it was powerful.” The griffon’s voice had changed to a much more serious tone.

“You have no idea.” Kura seemed quite frustrated. Was that even possible? Neko couldn’t help but feel contempt at his anger. “You would have left it alone if you were there instead of me.”

“Perhaps, but realize how much power you lost. Yugito needs all of the orbs.”

“I don’t think she would have been able to use that elemental orb, even if she did have it.” Just what was this talk about orbs? Neko had heard nothing of this from Yugito, so she assumed it a more secretive subject that only the senior warriors would know about.

“So, is that why you decided to leave it?”


“Is that also why you took-“

“Yes,” Kura didn’t let the griffon complete his sentence, knowing what he was about to say. “I was hoping that maybe she could get it for us at a different time.” She? Could he be talking about Zera or Yugito? Or maybe another one of the Dark Warriors?

“She may be able to get near the orb without harming herself, but we don’t know for sure. You weren’t able to, so what makes you think she can?”

“Her natural element.” Neko could hear Kura’s claws scrape against the cold stone flooring. “The one orb Yugito has is the dark orb, so perhaps…”

“If it were the case that we can only use the orb if it corresponds to our natural abilities, then why is Yugito after them?” The griffon seemed to know more than Kura did on the matter. “

The Dark Dragon sighed and lowered his head slightly. “Don’t ask me.” He muttered. “Well, I suppose it’s best not to keep Yugito waiting.”

“Wait.” Kura paused and turned to face the griffon again. "Did you ever tell Yugito the full report on what happened in Marua?”

“If I had, I wouldn’t be here, would I?” With that the two shadows walked out of sight towards where Yugito waited for them.

Neko waited several minutes before continuing on, her fur once again in flames. She had practically no clue about what the two had spoken about. The name Marua struck her as something she had heard before, but she couldn’t remember how she remembered it. It was the talk about the orbs that bothered the Nekomata the most. Every time it came into subject her mind would drift off to the weird dream she had in Kalm when she had practically passed out. The only thing she knew for sure was that there was a connection between her dream and what she had just witnessed.​


From here on all, your going to have to wait for new chapters to come out on a weekly basis or so. Chapter Seven should be done tomorrow maybe, so you can expect a new chapter tomorrow, but not on Friday. Enjoy~​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Seven
The Beginning

It was just over three years since Neko had awoken before Yugito right outside of the Dark Castle. She was still very young at the time, not even half of the size of a full grown Nekomata. On top of all of this, she had no recollections of anything before her arrival on that day. Her early days were the worst of her time as a Dark Warrior, but not once did she try to forget them. This was just the beginning.

She had woken up mid-day before the massive claws of a large black Dragon. Her head throbbed as she lifted it up slowly to gaze at the massive reptilian creature that stood before her. Her body was sore and she could feel a stinging sensation in some areas. Twisting her head to see what was irritating her skin, she saw that her grey tabby fur was badly singed.

Her eyes had scanned her surroundings immediately after she saw her tattered fur, deciding that it was best not to think about the pain. “Where am I?” She finally muttered as her green eyes finally froze on another Nekomata who, although was small for an adult, was still significantly larger than herself. The Nekomata’s fur was a deep purple with black stripes throughout. “And who are you… and what happened to me?” The other Nekomata twitched one ear in annoyance, and Neko quickly fell into silence.

“You’re at the Dark Castle- your new home.” The Nekomata spoke in a cool tone that was as cold as the harshest winter. “Do you remember what had happened to you?” Neko swore that the glare she received from the Nekomata’s red eyes was enough to further scorch her fur.

“No.” She muttered in disappointment.

“Good.” The small Nekomata tilted her head in bemusement. How was not remembering anything a good thing? Finally the other Nekomata spoke. “Based on how beat up you were when Kura dragged you in, you probably had a traumatic experience. Not something you would like to relive in your mind I’d assume.”

Despite those words the young Nekomata could help but wonder what had really happened to her, but she simply couldn’t recall anything that had happened. Nothing except waking up here. It was a giant blank slate in her mind, as if someone had cleaned her head of any and all memories she may have possessed at one point. “What’s your name?” Neko dared to ask.

“Yugito.” The Dark Nekomata responded then gestured with one paw to the Dragon that had brought her here. “This is Kura.” Kura remained perfectly silent throughout the conversation. “By any chance do you at least remember your name?”

At this the younger Nekomata had to pause and think for a moment before the name finally came into her thoughts. “Yes.” Despite everything else, she could remember that one tiny detail. Her name. “Neko,” It wasn’t a unique name, but she knew that it was hers and it suited her, or so she liked to believe.

“Very well then.” Yugito turned to Kura. “You will be Neko’s mentor.” At the time Neko had no idea what she was talking about, and what she was about to go through. “Find her element and teach her the ways of a Dark Warrior.” The look on Dragon’s dace was one of anger and surprise, as if to say ‘Why me?’ He didn’t argue with the Dark Nekomata though.

Yugito silently walked away into the Dark Castle leaving Kura and Neko alone at the entrance. If the young Nekomata had any idea what would be waiting in her future, she would have made an attempt to flee, but unfortunately, she was ignorant regarding the Dark Warriors, having no memories from before. “What are we going-”

“Shut up.” Kura growled, abruptly silencing Neko before she could complete her question. “Let me clear a few things up. There are just a few basic rules you need to know in order to live her.” His tail swished over the black stones as he spoke. “First of all, no speaking without permission. Second, obey any and all orders you are given. I don’t care if you want to or not. It’s not an option.” He lowered his head to Neko’s level. “Lastly, don’t do anything stupid. If you do, I will make sure that you regret it.”

It was at this moment where she had wished Yugito was her mentor instead of Kura, unaware of the Dark Nekomata’s brutal and merciless nature that had made her feared across the lands. Her thoughts were broken when she felt claws grab the scruff of her neck, lifting her off the ground and into the castle. A part of her urged her to claw or bite the dragon’s arm, but a feeling inside of her told he that she would regret it. In truth, she would later regret not clawing him when she had the opportunity.

She was roughly thrown into a very cramped room that contained nothing but dust. Getting back to her feet, she shook the dust out of her singed fur and glared at the Dragon. Immediately she had begun to dislike him, even during his silence when Yugito was around. “You’ll spend the night here. Training starts first thing tomorrow morning in the training fields.” He took a few steps away. “And try not getting yourself killed any time soon.”

That night Neko lay down in the room, wondering about what she was to do, and how she had ended up here. There was nothing to expect, aside from spending time with the cruel dragon that had been assigned as her mentor by Yugito, who Neko assumed the boss of the Dark Castle. It was sad, for Neko believed that this was a normal life, not knowing any other life without the memories that had been stolen from her.


In the following weeks of her arrival, Kura had tried several methods of training in order to improve her skills. All of the exercises and tasks she was told to do were painful and brutal, often leaving her body sore every night. Every day that passed by, Kura began to grow more and more frustrated with the young Nekomata, for apparently no reason. She had done everything as instructed, with amazingly high accuracy at that, but she couldn’t figure out what she was doing wrong. She did nothing to be rewarded with such harsh punishments.

It was at the end of one of her many training sessions where the Nekomata, still lacking any elemental abilities, finally lost it and stood against her tyrant of a mentor. “Let me guess.” She growled, her green eyes full of fury. “You’re going to yell at me for doing everything correctly?” Kura’s red eyes narrowed into a glare. “Again.”

“Why you…” Neko could hear the sound of his claws scraping against the soil of the training fields as he held back his temper. “Maybe if you actually learned some-“

“Something?” She hissed with venom in her tone. “I’m learned plenty, despite having a mentor as crappy as yourself!” She glared up at Kura, defiance in her green eyes. At this the Dark Dragon finally lost his patience and charged at Neko with claws and fangs extended, trying to rip the smaller Nekomata to shreds. Neko staggered back, avoiding the sharp weapons before jumping to the side.

She didn’t necessarily intend to provoke Kura to strike at her, but simply intended to frustrate him as he had done to her so many times. Her paws continued to carry her away from incoming strikes in a scrambling rush. “I should have killed you when I had the chance!” He roared, beginning to use a Dragon’s natural ability to breathe fire. “If I had known that you would turn out to be a worthless runt, I would have left you to die!”

Finally the Dark elemental managed to land a powerful blow on the Nekomata with a swipe of his long tail as she tried to circle behind him. “I’ve wasted enough time trying to find a use for a runt like yourself.” Neko, bruised by the blow she had taken, was furious at Kura for his insults and had grown very tired of dealing with Kura.

In her fury she made a suicidal move by charging forward at the Dragon with full speed. “Heh.” He couldn’t hide his contempt. “Your making this far to easy.” Just then her fur exploded into a flurry of flames, stunning Kura with surprise. She made a magnificent leap and landing on his head. Immediately she slashed his left eye with one magma-like claw. Roaring in rage he swiped the Nekomata off his head with one quick blow that knocked her away.

The flames enveloping her fur were extinguished just as she slammed against the ground several yards from where Kura was standing. “Finally.” He muttered under his breath and began to walk away without looking back at the Nekomata. Staggering to her paws she had expected to see burn marks all over her, but to her surprise, she remained, for the most part, unscathed. When she finally noticed that her mentor was leaving her behind she began to follow but halted and took a different way to get to her room.

The following day Kura and Neko met at the training fields, despite the skirmish they had the day before. Neko saw that his left eye was closed, with a nasty looking scar over it. “Now that you are finally able to go into your elemental form, I’m going to try teaching you how to control the abilities you have.” Kura began to explain that all creatures are born with an elemental ability, and that shifting to their elemental form is normally only difficult the first time around. This had explained what happened to her the day before.

“Now that you’ve been in your elemental form, once… try it again.” Neko looked, not sure how she was supposed to set herself on fire again. Kura took the hint that she had no idea what to do and instructed her. “Just concentrate on shifting, think of yourself on fire, just like you were yesterday.” After a few minutes of focusing, the Nekomata finally managed to summon forth the flames.

“Lesson two on Elemental Forms.” Her new orange eyes turned to see Kura’s tail coming to whack her. It was too late to react as Kura was swift in his actions and she was taken by surprise. Once again she was knocked away and returned to her neutral form.

“What was that for?” She growled, glaring at her mentor.

“Yesterday’s stupidity,” Kura walked over to where Neko had landed. “and to show you that enough shock or a strong enough blow will force you to revert back into your Neutral, or non-elemental form.”


As time continued to move on in the Dark Castle, very little changed from the usual routine. Neko was still trapped in the brutal training routine, detesting every moment she had to spend with Kura. Eventually though, there came a day where a new apprentice had appeared in the castle. Her mentor had put them together for combat training shortly after the newcomer began his training. Neko rarely had any combat practice due to the fact she was far smaller than any of the Dark Warriors at the moment, being the only apprentice.

It was the first time that Neko had met Hail, who at the time was no larger than she was. He was in his neutral form in their first encounter, but she soon learned that he had already was able to shift into his elemental form- ice. He had very thick silver fur with tiny white streaks on his face just around his two blue eyes. The most unusual detail about him was that his paws were all quite large.

Neko’s mentor had left the two to do combat training, not caring to see if they actually obeyed orders or not. “So, how did you end up here?” He asked just as they began to practice some basic fighting maneuvers. As time went on without a response a scowl crossed his face. “What’s wrong?”

“Do you not know the rules around here?” She hissed in a almost silent voice. “We aren’t allowed to talk without permission.” At this Hail laughed quite loudly.

“Is anyone actually watching us?” He asked. Neko shook her head slowly. “So, no harm in talking a bit, as long as we don’t get caught.”

“Alright.” Neko hesitated for a moment. “But, we talk as we fight… just in case.” Hail nodded in understanding. “I don’t really remember how I ended up here. Just woke up here one day in front of Yugito and Kura with no memories except my name.” She muttered, answering the Ice Nekomata’s question as they had a mock-battle.

“It looks like your story is pretty much the same as mine then.” So, that meant Hail had no memories of his past either? “Although, I feel as if I’m here for some sort of reason… but I can’t remember.”

They said little else after their very brief chat as Kura was spotted coming to watch them practice. Fortunately for the two Nekomata, it wouldn’t be the last time that Kura would just leave the two alone unsupervised. These battle sessions were the only thing Neko could actually look forward to, as she had quickly befriended Hail, her very first friend in the Dark Castle.

Over the course of her training, Neko’s ability to manipulate fire had been strengthened significantly, as well as her combat skills, no thanks to Kura. She did as ordered, regardless of her own opinion. Before long, she and Kura would go on field missions to take down rebel towns, and eliminate threats to the castle. The whole training process was purely to teach her how to be a merciless and efficient killer.​


Well, I got Chapter Seven up today. Warning - Mild Language and some mild violence. Nothing that you wouldn't see at school at least. Also, if any one IS reading this, can you perhaps give me your opinion of what I have so far?​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Eight

The earth was covered in ash and charred vegetation. It was a barren landscape with very little, if any life, residing within it. The cause of this desolation was the nearby active volcano that was well know to erupt quite often, thus everyone chose to avoid the mountain, named Mt. Valline, in fears of being caught in one of the many deadly eruptions.

Amongst all this rubble there was only silence, except for the steady breathing of one Nekomata traveling through the area. “Damn rebels.” It was Zera, the shadow of the Dark Warriors, and the most feared of all that served under Yugito. She was patrolling the area looking for any signs of a rebel group. She was hunting down the leader of the uprising group, but tracking wasn’t her specialty and the task had proven a very time consuming job.

The Shadow Nekomata had been traveling in her neutral form for most of her trip, her pitch black fur not much different than that of her Shadow form aside from her ability to disappear in the shadows. A deep scar crossed her muzzle, a battle wound from a skirmish that occurred far before she had gotten her reputation as a merciless killer. While she was less likely to be recognized in her neutral form, it was still hardly any different than her Shadow form.

The reason for her being sent on this task was that Gale, Yugito’s main assassin, had come back defeated on his task to murder the rebel leader. Despite this, he returned with valuable information. His target had in possession one of the orbs that Yugito was trying to obtain. Despite that, it was difficult to imagine Gale failing to put a quick end to the life of any he sets out to kill. This is why Zera was sent in- the rebel leader was more powerful than their best assassin, so Yugito had sent in her best Dark Warrior. If Zera were to fail this task, Yugito herself would step in.

The biggest problem was that after Gale’s attempt, the rebels were now aware that their leader was being targeted. They were more cautious than before, and better prepared for an ambush. Zera twitched one ear as she picked up sounds from the north, followed by the sight of paw prints. “A trap?” No one would be so stupid to leave tracks if they knew that they were being hunted down. Not without a reason at least.

Keeping Gale’s failure in mind, Zera took no chances and walked in a wide semi-circle around the prints and the origin of the sounds, with all senses alert for her prey. There! She had reached an angle where she managed to catch a quick, but unmistakable, glimpse of two amber eyes. Instinctively the Shadow Nekomata retreated to the shadows, almost entirely invisible. Closing her eyes, to conceal her location as her eyes were the only thing that could give her away, her shadow-like form slipped closer and closer to the spot where she had spotted the eyes.

She moved completely unnoticed and froze right nearby her destination. She herself would not dare opening her eyes to check for life, as her bright yellow eyes were like fireflies in the darkness of night. Patience was her best friend, knowing that she was spotted just before she went into the shadows. Her tactic was to wait until whoever was there assumed that the Nekomata was gone.

The hours passed be agonizingly slowly, but Zera stood perfectly still, eyes closed and her breathing as quiet as can be. Finally, after about six hours, her patience had paid off. “I think she’s gone.” One voice called out, both clear and calm. “It’s okay to come out now.” Oh really? Zera determined that the speaker was the leader of the group and possibly her target.

“Are you sure?” Another voice, more shill than the one before, replied. The answer was followed by the rattling of branches as something jumped off, or more likely, flew off a perch.

“Not entirely, but we can’t wait forever.” The first speaker spoke up again, as she scrambled down the slow of the volcano’s edge to come out of her hiding spot. Zera tried to determine their numbers using her sense of hearing. Three maybe? It seemed reasonable, as traveling in large groups was dangerous if you were evading unwanted attention.

“Cera, do you have any idea who that was?” A third, more raspy voice, came up from right next to Zera.

“I think so.” The Shadow Nekomata began to pinpoint the location of the first speaker. What time was it? Zera began to count back on how long she had awaited in silence. She began her silent vigil around noon, so it was likely just about sunset, so the sun would be setting in the west, leaving the shadows to the east.

Zera silently slipped into Cera’s shadow, careful not to make any noise. “Who?” The second voice spoke; no doubt curious about whom they had spotted. A gentle flap of wings could be heard in the same direction of the voice. Zera was now right where she needed to be, for she was capable of immobilizing anyone just by stepping into their shadow. She just needed to figure out how she would kill three rebels, one of which was clearly winged, before their leader noticed Zera’s presence.

Too late. “Zera!” The rebel leader gasped before the Nekomata could strike.

It was now or never. Zera opened her eyes and with remarkable speed, lunged at Cera’s throat. Her opponent was a grey Nekomata with darker grey tabby stripes and two bright amber eyes. Her claws barely grazed Cera as the grey Nekomata stepped back at the last second. “Dammit.” There was blood on the tip of the shadow Nekomata’s claws, bit it was clear that the wound was by no means something that the rebel leader would worry about.

“Heads up!” The more shrill voice called from above. Licking the blood off her claws, Zera looked up to see an Eagle rushing down from at her with her Talon’s extended. With only a few feet between the two, Zera once again vanished into the shadows, making the large bird flap her wings rapidly to halt her descent.

“Don’t let your guard down, she’s still her.” Cera was scanning the shadows for any sign of Zera. “Zera is known for her stealth.” So she’s heard of me? I’m flattered. Zera couldn’t help but be amused. “Stay away from any shadow.”

“Easier said than done.” The eagle soared back into the sky, looking down to where the others stood. “There is definitely plenty of places for that scum to hide.”

After only a moment of silence the third voice, whom Zera did not see the speaker of before, called out. “Riza! Get down from there!” Your leaving a shadow on the earth!”

The warning came to late as Zera shifted into the bird’s shadow, halting her wings in midair. Unable to move, the Eagle began to plummet down to the earth. “Cera!” The old voice came once again. “Do something!”

“Oh.” The grey Nekomata gasped, shaking her head. It was not the time to hesitate. “I got it, don’t worry.” She laughed. “Saia, cover my back.”

“Right.” He rasped as a bright light began to emanate from Cera. Zera growled with annoyance. Gale had never said anything about the leader of the group being a Light Elemental. The light began to dissolve all of the surrounding shadows, including that of the bird, releasing Riza from Zera’s grasp. Zera was forced out of her hiding spot as no nearby shadows were around to offer her concealment.

“Thanks!” Riza called, now fully control of her flight once again. She steadily regained altitude, taking the advantage of an aerial view of the area. “Be careful, this isn’t over!”

“No, really.” Zera muttered sarcastically, her eyes still shut closed against the blinding light. It wasn’t much of a problem for the Shadow Nekomata as she was used to relying on her other senses when hiding in the shadows. “You think that I would be stupid enough to rely on one type of ability?” Streaks of darkness began to blend in with the rays of light.

“Of course not.” There was clear amusement Cera’s voice. “I was actually expecting you to know a few dark abilities.” The Light Nekomata didn’t seem the slightest bit nervous despite the fact that the light that had illuminated the side of the volcano was being diminished by Zera’s dark abilities. “This wouldn’t be any fun if you only used the same element.”

Zera was astounded. How could she take this so lightly? “Alright then. Let’s make this even more fun then.” There was a strong hint of malice in her voice.

Once again the Dark Warrior was out of sight. “Do you do anything else other than hide in your shadow?” It was evident that Cera was trying to taunt Zera into revealing her position.

“Who said I was in my shadow?” Cera froze. “You know you can’t win this.” Cera turned to see Zera in Saia’s shadow. Saia was an old Nekomata with thick dark grey fur. He was thin, and is his blue eyes held wisdom within them.


“One move and he dies.” There was an unmistakable sadistic gleam in Zera’s amber eyes. “Your light tricks won’t be able to save him, so you may as well give up now.”

“You *******.” A low grow broke her formerly playful behavior. “Let him go.”

“You really are an idiot.” Zera laughed. “You really don’t expect me to let him go just like that, do you?”

The light Nekomata’s claws began to dig into the earth with frustration. “Fine.” She hissed. “What do you want?”

“Your life,” The air had become very still as Cera tried to come up with an plan to rescue her friend. The only sound was that of Riza’s wings as she began to fly away. “an, the orb.” Zera ignored the fleeing bird.


“Cera!” Saia yelled. “Don’t be stupid! Don’t even think of it. You still have your whole life ahead of you. I’ve already lived out most of my life. There is absolutely no point in trying to save one who is soon to die anyway.”

“Saia, you know I’d never forgive myself if I allowed something to happen to you.” Zera laughed. It was always far too easy to take a hostage, knowing that the rebels would willingly exchange their own life for that of a friend. Fools.

“So you’re just going to give up then?” The blue eyes of the old Nekomata held a furious glare. “What happened to your goal? The entire reason that you decided to join up with us!” The Nekomata looked away, shame crossing her face. “Are you just going to give it all up? You know that you are the only one capable of-“

“Decide which one of you is going to die. I don’t have all night.” The Dark Warrior was in no mood to listen to the two babble on about such pointless talk.

“Why the rush?” Saia laughed. “You still have plenty of time left in life, no use trying to rush through it. You’ll end up regretting it, trust me.” By this time Riza had flown far out of sight. Zera once again turned to await Cera’s response, while Saia closed his eyes and waited for a minute. When he finally opened them, he exchanged a glance with Cera who nodded in response.

“So, do I have to ask again? Which of you is going to die tonight?” She growled. “Or are you still deciding? I can easily make the choice for you if that is the case.”

“No, no. I’ve made my choice.” Cera smiled, seemingly back to her normal self. “But before I answer your question, mind answering one of mine?” Zera narrowed her eyes. “Tell me this, why allow any of us to escape? After all, are you not the Shadow of the Dark Warriors? The phantom known to kill without mercy, known for your perfect record of no survivors?” The Shadow Nekomata was beginning to lose her patience. “Wouldn’t it ruin your reputation if you permitted any one of us to get away alive?”

“Shut up and tell me before I kill your friend.”

“Alright, no need to get upset now.” Cera took a few steps forward. “I’ll go.”

“And the orb?” It didn’t appear as if the rebel leader had any possessions with her.

“Don’t worry, It’s part of the deal, right?” As if on cue Riza returned with the orb clutched in one talon. She dropped the brilliant object just over the rebel leader. “You want it?” She smacked it with her paw with as much force as she could, activating the orb’s tremendous power. “Then take it!” The round object exploded with fire as it hurtled towards Zera like a shooting star.

The light coming from the flames caused the shadows to disappear once again. “Damn you.” The Dark Warrior slashed out at Saia who was amazingly swift considering his age. When the light finally died away, they were all gone, including the orb.

“Dammit.” She muttered as she recovered from the unexpected attack. Her claws were covered in blood, indicating that she did manage to land a blow on the old Nekomata, but it did not help to reassure her knowing that she had completely failed her objective. “Yugito’s going to kill me for this.”

“Oh, am I?” Crap! Zera lowered her head as the Dark Nekomata approached.

“I’m sorry master.” She avoided eye contact with Yugito, afraid to see the rage she expected in her master’s face. “I underestimated Cera.” She anticipated the worst of Yugito’s fury to be unleashed upon her.

“Don’t worry about it, Zera.” The Shadow Nekomata looked up in surprise. Was this really Yugito? “It never really mattered if you successfully killed the rebel leader or not, though it would have been convenient for us.”

“Then why did you send me?”

“Simple.” Her read eyes gleamed in the midst of the darkness. “It was to evaluate the strength of our opponents.”

“I see.” Zera mumbled. “So, what do you think?”

“It’s nothing we won’t be able to handle.” She laughed. “The rebels will be no more within the next two weeks.”​


-Patiently awaits some sort of feedback-

My story doesn't stink that much, does it?​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Nine
The Rebels

“I’m back” The cheery call echoed through the streets of a small but busy town. Cera and he group had just returned from a short trip to the mountainous region surrounding Mount Valline. The trio was welcomed with numerous friendly greetings and a peaceful atmosphere that indicated that nothing had happened while they were away.

While the town was extremely small, it was no doubt a busy and crowded place because of the growing number of rebels gathering together to fight against Yugito’s rule. It was for the most part a very friendly community that was quite optimistic despite the danger everyone was facing. This small town, located deep in the Lynari Plains, was named Kurori.

“It seems like everyone is glad that you have returned safely.” A large Griffon had approached Cera and her two friends. It was Scart a rebel who had attempted an attack against a Dark Warrior and failed. “Run into any trouble out there?” His eyes were focused on Saia, who was limping along with Riza and Cera.

“Maybe just a little, but it wasn’t anything that we couldn’t handle.” The Light Nekomata laughed. “Just another one of their Dark Warriors who thought taking me down would be an easy task.”

“Nice.” The large bird-like creature grinned with satisfaction. “So, which one came after you this time around?”

“Zera.” Cera smiled, revealing her sharp teeth.

“I’m not joking.” Scart’s tone held a slight warning.

“No one ever said I was either.”

“That means…” Scart’s surprise was be no means hidden as he realized that Cera was being serious. “You defeated Yugito’s most powerful Dark Warrior!” Riza, who had been flying a few yards above the rest of the group, slowly lowered in altitude to speak with the rest of the group.

“Not really.” Her brown feathered wings flapped gently over Cera’s head as she kept herself in the air. “She isn’t the only Dark Warrior that hasn’t been defeated before, and we don’t really know the full strengths of all of the Dark Warriors. We don’t even know all of the Dark Warriors.” Her golden-brown eyes looked at the Griffon. “So we can’t automatically conclude that Zera is the most powerful among them. Perhaps Yugito isn’t even aware of who her most powerful Dark Warrior is.”

“Are you implying that you know a stronger Dark Warriors than Zera?” Scart was very doubtful about the idea.

“I had believed that you of all of us would know what I’m talking about. Being Yugito’s second in command doesn’t necessarily mean that Zera is the greatest of the Dark Warriors, but rather the most trusted.” The Golden Eagle glided steadily besides Scart. “So, do you know who I think is the biggest threat to us when the time comes to fight?”

The Griffon opened his beak to respond but was quickly cut-off by Cera. “Enough of that for now. I’m well aware of what has been going on in the last several weeks. We can discuss that later at the assembly.” The continued on through the town. “For now, we need to rest up a bit and get Saia’s shoulder looked at.”

“Stop worrying about me for once will you?” The old Nekomata shook his head as Cera gently cuffed him on the head.

“So, when shall we meet for the assembly then?” Scart pushed before Cera could forget.

“When I feel like it.” Scart stared at the Nekomata, astonished that his leader could be so carefree in such Dark and fearful times.

“Everything was so much more organized back when Aros was in charge.” He muttered.

“True enough, but our situation was much more hopeless then. At least now we can see a light at the end of this tunnel of darkness.” Saia cut in. “Aros was no doubt a magnificent leader, but he’s long gone now. Don’t waste your time and energy in the past. Focus on the present and future. With a new leader, it brings forth a new perspective on how we should face Yugito, and I will say Cera has done far more than everyone initially expected from such a young leader.”

“Even if we face death in the eye, we must live everyday like it could be our last, so we may as well enjoy it.” Saia continued.

“Easy for you to say.” The old Nekomata laughed at the Griffon’s response.

“No need to be so serious all of the time. Like Saia said, enjoy it while you still can.” Cera purred playfully. “Anyway, Aros never had any rule that said that we couldn’t have a little fun and relaxation every once in a while, and I don’t intend to create one.”

“He probably should have made a rule against allowing a crazy fur-ball to be our leader.” Cera fluffed up her fur to tease Scart.

“I may be fluffy, but I’m by no means crazy. If you want crazy, then go look in a mirror.” She laughed. “And if I must remind you, Aros chose me to be his successor, so don’t complain.”

“You never let us forget.”

“Now then, we’ll hold the assembly just before evening.” A smug smile was clear on Cera’s face.

“You really are trying to drive me to insanity, aren’t you?” The Griffon shook his head. “I’ll go pass the message before you find another way to torment me.” With that, Scart departed from the group.

“I’m guessing you did that just to mess with him a bit?” Riza asked once he was out of sight.

“Of course. It’s entertaining, but I just don’t understand why he has to be so uptight all of the time, but you know how Scart is.”

“Serious, hot-headed, reckless, stubborn, impatient, boring, and strict?” Saia broke in.

“That pretty much covers it.” Cera and Riza both laughed in the carefree environment that they were currently in.

In only a few hours a very large force of rebels began to flood into the assembly area, a large plaza. At one point, the open area was quite empty during such gatherings, but as the rebel force grew larger and stronger, room soon became very limited.

The call for all of those that opposed Yugito and her Dark Warriors had brought together countless small groups that alone would be easily crushed by a single Dark Warriors. In only a few short weeks an immense crowd had gathered together bringing forth new hope against what was once a seemingly hopeless cause. Now they were strong enough to plan an all out attack at the Dark Castle.

“Looks like everyone is here.” Cera yawned as she watched the last of the stragglers mesh in with the rest of the massive crowd. Cera was standing on a large elevated platform that was constructed so that she may speak in front of the mass before here. At her left was Saia, and behind her to the right was were Riza was perched. “Shall we begin?” The older Nekomata nodded while Riza simply closed her eyes.

“Alright then.” Cera faced the large group that had assembled before her and took a deep breath. She hated to speak in front of large groups. “It’s time to discuss everything that has been going on, and how we are to react towards the tyranny that Yugito has put down upon us.” Her voice quavered as she summoned up the strength to talk more clearly so that all may hear her words.

“Several groups have been sent into the labyrinth to scout ahead for a route that we could take in order to arrive at the Dark Castle. Thankfully, we have located several possible access points to the castle. We shall use one entrance located east of their base to launch a surprise attack on the Dark Warriors.”

“We also have intelligence inside their castle.” A few shocked murmurs began to speak in the audience. A spy? “There seems to be only a small number of Dark Warriors, but a significant amount of followers who we will likely have to face.” While the Dark Warriors were the strongest of Yugito’s forces, there were many lesser groups that would fight relentlessly for their leader.

“Yes, but we all know that the Dark Warriors are extremely powerful.” A voice called out from somewhere in the mass of rebels.

“True, but while we were away, I managed to defeat Zera, Yugito’s strongest Dark Warrior.” Cera tried to reassure the group, knowing that she had to keep their spirits high if they were to stand even the slightest chance of victory. “It can’t be too bad.”

“How do we know that Zera is really the most powerful Dark Warrior?”

“Yeah, what about that Fire Nekomata?”

“And Yugito herself!”

Cera sighed to herself. This again? “Calm Down.” The building noise began to settle into a nervous silence. “I have heard the reports of this Fire Nekomata, Neko, and am well aware of her recent activities in the eastern forests.” Saia shot the Light Nekomata a sympathetic glance as she continued.

“She is indeed very dangerous, perhaps as strong as Zera,” Her voice was now beginning to even out as she forced herself to sound more confident than she really was. “but I don’t believe that she will be too much of a problem for us.” The rebel leader prayed silently that she would be correct.”

“Have you forgotten what happened at Thunara?” It was Ray, the sole survivor of the battle, saved only because Ryo had distracted the Dark Warrior long enough for him to slip away. “What happened there has occurred in many towns and villages since. You only have to look at the charred remains of the place to know that Neko did it!”

“I have to side with Ray on this one.” Scart spoke up from a spot not too far from Ray whose twin tails were lashing furiously. “We tried to lay a trap for her several weeks ago, but she managed to escape and overpower us. Even injured she was just as merciless as Zera. Underestimating her would be a fatal mistake.”

“I’m well aware.” However much she hated to argue, she had begun to grow a bit annoyed. “I have already thought of a way to deal with Neko.” She felt the guilt prickle through her fur as the lie slipped from her mouth. While she knew what she wanted to do, she had not the slightest idea on how she was going to achieve her goal.

“We all know this is going to be dangerous. The second that we all decided to stand against Yugito was the point of no return. Right then and there we decided our fates.” Everyone seemed to settle into an uneasy silence. “There is no turning back. You all know what will happen if we fail, but we have to at least try to free this world of the constant fear that Yugito hangs over our heads.”

“In three weeks time we will all meet again and discuss our plan to attack the castle. We will fight not only for out own lives, but for a peaceful future for the future generations that will follow after us.” Her voice was steadily getting stronger. “We have no choice but to bring down Yugito or at least die trying. I know there is no way I can replace Aros, but I’m striving to complete what he had started.”

“Will all of you help me? Help me take down the Dark Warriors, for no single creature is capable of accomplishing this task alone.” She knew that it wouldn’t be right for her to drag such a large number of lives into a very dangerous fight against their will, so she left the choice to them. To Cera’s surprise she was met with a large uproar of support. “Thanks.” Her final word was drowned out by the crowd.

There was nothing more for her to say as she descended down to the base of the platform followed by Saia and Riza. “Good job up there.”

“Shut up.”

“I’m serious, so stop underestimating yourself. You’re a lot better at that than you give yourself credit for.” Riza’s cry rang in the Nekomata’s ear.

“Riza, do you mind allowing Cera and I to talk in peace for a moment?” Saia broke in.

“No problem.” With one powerful flap of her wings, the Eagle flew out of sight.

“How’s your wound? It’s not bothering you too much, is it?” Cera questioned the older Nekomata, trying to avoid whatever subject he was going to bring up. Saia was normally alright with Riza listening in on their discussions, but sending her away usually meant it was something Cera would rather not talk about.

“Don’t change the subject before I even state it. You know what I’m going to say.” The younger Nekomata sighed.

“I know, I know.” Her amber eyes reflected her concern as clear as day. “If it’s about your dreams, I’ve already told you, I’m not going to change my mind on this.”

“Cera, I’m not trying to sway your decision, but you must be prepared.” He hesitated. “For the worst. You know how hard it is to change the future, and I fear that the events of my dreams will come to reality sooner than we may think.”

“I never said I was trying to change what will happen. I know that I’m going to die soon, so why go against my fate when we are all destined to die anyway?” A fierce determination sparked in her voice. “Even if I do die sometime in the near future, I won’t allow myself to die before I save my sister.”

Saia could not help but admire how well Cera had taken the news Saia had given her only a few days before. He had been having odd dreams that foretold of her death. “Cera, understand that I’m not trying to hurt you with this, but…” He knew he was going to regret bringing this up. “Have you ever considered that it might be too late for Neko?”

“Never!” Saia’s words had stung the Light Elemental more than he had anticipated, and it was clear in her tone. It was never his intention to cause harm to his friend, but he was highly skeptical of the possibility of bringing Neko back from the Dark Warriors.

“She’s been there for three years, Cera. You know a lot can change in the time.”

“That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to save her from the Dark Warriors.”

“She is one of them now, you can’t just save her as if she was being held prisoner.” It was now getting dark as the sun began to sink in the distance. “Don’t pretend you don’t know the details of all the stories you’ve heard. Any warmth in her heart is likely long gone now.” Tears had begun to well up in Cera’s amber eyes. “I’m sorry Cera, but you have to know that it might be a lost cause.”

“Saia!” Both Nekomata turned as a new voice cut in from behind them. “How could you say that?”

“I didn’t hear you coming, Glade.”

“That’s because you’re going deaf.” The small brown Nekomata retorted sharply as she approached Saia.

“Well thanks.” He muttered as he realized how upset Glade was. She rarely insulted others unless she was furious about something. In this case, she was angry at him for the harsh words he exchanged with her friend, Cera. “So, how much did you hear?”

“Everything.” Cera looked on silently as the small Nekomata began to explain the whole story of Kalm. How she had released Neko, being unable to allow her old friend to die, all the way to how the fiery Nekomata had spared them all in an unusual act of mercy. “However unlikely it seems, I don’t think Neko is the merciless killer that everyone thinks Neko is. I saw it in her eyes somehow. She just doesn’t remember anything before joining the Dark Warriors. Remember that our spy reported that newcomers would often have their memory wiped clean by Yugito.”

“True.” Saia still sounded doubtful.

Cera’s spirits seemed to be lifted a bit from Glade’s story. “I can’t give up. Saia, I understand that it may be impossible, but I have to find a way to bring her back. Perhaps if I restored her memories then she may come with us.” She looked at Saia. “You have the ability to look through memories, do you think it’s possible to restore them to her?”

“I could try, but I can’t make promises.”

“I can’t ask anymore than that.” She looked at Glade and dipped her head to the smaller Nekomata. “Thanks.”

“For what?”

“You saved Neko, I don’t think I could ever repay you for that.”​


Neko will be back in the next chapter, don't worry!

Also, I REALLY would appreciate some feedback. I have about 46 pages of writing here (with breaks between chapters), and would love a little crit. or some opinions on it. It's not like I can type all this without taking out at least 2 1/2 hours of my day to type a chapter and 3 hours to draft.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Ten​


“Neko, Neko, Neko, Neko, Neko, Neko, Neko, Neko!” Rayne was bouncing around Neko in an excited, and annoying, frenzy just as the Nekomata had stepped outside of her room.

“What is it this time?” She hissed at the young wolf. “I’m perfectly capable of getting up in the morning without the need of a wake-up call.”

“Zera’s back!” His bright eyes showed complete innocence. “Let’s go say hi!” Did this wolf have a death wish? Zera coming back was nothing to cheer for, considering she was likely to kill without a second thought if you irritated her enough.

“That’s it?” The fiery Nekomata shook her head in annoyance. “I really need to talk to your mentor about your training.” She muttered. Whoever was mentoring this pest was being far to easy on him.

“But I like the stuff Hail tells me to do! It’s fun!” Rayne whined, giving the most pitiful look he could pull forth.

“Hail is your mentor?” She had never really cared for who mentored who, as most Dark Warriors kept to themselves. “No wonder.”

“So can we go say hi?”



“What part of no do you not understand?” She resisted the urge to cuff him on the head with one flaming paw.

“Pretty please?”

“Why don’t you go pester Hail about this? You’re his apprentice, not mine.” Where was he anyway? She had seen very little of in the last few weeks, save for the practice fight they had a few weeks ago.

“He’s always busy though!” Figures. “So, can you please take me?” Did this annoyance ever give up? It was no wonder that Hail would vanish on the wolf so often. “I’ll do anything you want!” He pleaded.

“Anything?” A grin crept up on Neko’s face.


“Then be quiet for the rest of the day.” Rayne nodded in silent agreement. “Good, then I suppose we can go now, but don’t do anything stupid. I doubt Zera would want to deal with an over energetic undisciplined pup like you.” It was a wonder that she found a way to silence the apprentice, though she was unsure how long he was able to keep it up.

They headed to the front entrance of the castle where it was likely for Zera to enter through, as there was no need to sneak in or out of the castle if you were a Dark Warrior. The rumors about Zera having been defeated by rebels that had passed around were clearly proven false as Zera was spotted by a sentry returning from her seven week long trip.

The Shadow Nekomata soon came into view with another form besides her. “Crap. Rayne, it’s time for us to go now.” The flames on one of her paws receded away for a moment as she shoved Rayne back into the castle.

“But you said I could say hi to Zera if I was quiet!” He whined, but then shut his jaw, realizing his mistake.

“Yeah, but you don’t want to say hi to Yugito as well, do you? Not unless you have a death-wish.” The same was true for Zera, but Neko didn’t exactly want to get into trouble with her leader.

“That’s Yugito?” Rayne tilted his head with curiosity.

“Yup, now let’s go.”

“Alright. Hail told me I shouldn’t bother our master unless it’s extremely important.” At least the wolf cub had enough sense to not get into trouble with someone who would kill him without hesitation.

“Speaking of Hail, where is he?” The fiery Nekomata asked as they backtracked to the area of the castle where the Dark Warriors stayed. “Don’t you have training in the mornings?”

“Yeah, but Hail said he had to do something this morning and told me to find you.” Was Hail trying to escape his torment by dropping his apprentice on Neko?

“That idiot.” She muttered. “Remind me to kill him later.”

“Kill who?”

“Speak of the devil.” She turned to see Hail behind her, who laughed at the clear expression of irritation on her face.

“Thanks for keeping Rayne out of trouble for me.” The icy Nekomata patted the wolf on the head.

“Next time you should probably ask.”

“Perhaps, but I’m pretty sure you would have said no.” He laughed. “Hey, at least you didn’t kill the kid.”

“I’m right here you know!” Rayne yelped as Hail spoke with Neko.

“You might not be so lucky next time.” Rayne had scampered to hide behind Hail, believing the threat. The poor apprentice was quite easy to fool as he believed just about anything you told him.

“Oh calm down Rayne. Neko isn’t going to do anything to you. We are just messing around with you, alright?” Rayne seemed to calm down a bit. “She would have done away with you a long time ago if she had any intentions of doing so.”

Neko shrugged and began to leave the two in the darkened hallway. “Well, I’ll be in the training fields if any one is looking for me.” She didn’t care to stand around doing nothing now that Rayne was with his mentor.

“Hold up, Neko.” Hail spoke up.

“What is it now?” She growled. Could no one just leave her alone for once? It’s not as if she were the only other living creature in the castle.

“I believe Yugito has just called for the Dark Warriors to gather. Unless you want to get in trouble, I wouldn’t go to the training fields just yet.” This was a very rare occasion in the castle because very few matters required the attention of more than one Dark Warrior.

What now? She had little choice but to head to the gathering hall with Rayne and Hail. The walk there was silent except for the sound of their paws against the charcoal colored stone. The gathering hall was circular and spacious with a very high ceiling that stood out several yards above a tiled floor. “What do you think this is about?” Rayne whispered.

“Zera probably has important news for us. It’s not often that she’s away for long, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if she learned something new.” There were several others in the room, all of them were Dark Warriors. “Looks like we are the last ones to arrive.”

In one end of the massive room was Yugito, waiting silently for everyone to settle down so that she may speak. With so few in the room, it didn’t take very long for the Dark Warriors to fall into a steady silence.

“It’s been a while since we’ve all gathered, hasn’t it?” Yugito looked down at the small group that had assembled. There was very little light in the room, making it difficult to tell who was who unless you had good night vision. “I figured it was about time I let everyone join in the fun.”

“Finally.” Some one muttered, barely audible in the large hall. Yugito paid no attention to the interruption.

“I’m sure we all know about the pathetic rebels that think they can take us down, correct?” Pretty much every one under Yugito’s rule knew about the uprisings, except for a few small villages and towns that were well out of the way of the conflicts. “I say we show them how wrong those fools are. If they want to have a fight, let’s bring it to them.”

“Sounds fun.” Hail said dryly. It didn’t surprise Neko that the icy Nekomata wouldn’t be as interested in a battle as some of the other Dark Warriors, as he was a bit more laid back than the rest.

“Kura will organize the battle plan with you, while I go speak with the other groups that shall be joining us in the battle.” With that the Dark Nekomata stepped down to allow Kura to speak.

“I thought Zera was second in command, not Kura.” Rayne whispered to the two older Nekomata.

“She is, Kura is just the one who passes down messages to us.” Hail replied as quietly as he could. “Zera, Talon and Kura discuss these things with Yugito and then Kura will pass it to the rest of us.” Rayne nodded as Hail offered his explanation.

“Alright then, let’s get this over with.” Kura growled. He obviously didn’t enjoy having to waste his time just to report to the rest of the Dark Warriors. “The spy we sent returned with the location of the rebel’s main camp.” The Dark Warriors had a single spy with the rebels that occasionally reported in with the locations of rebel towns that needed to be struck down.

“Our target is a town in the Lynari Plains called Kurori. That is where most of the rebels have gathered.” He laughed. “It was kind of them to gather up in one spot for us. It makes our job that much easier. By destroying this large group, the other separate groups will likely just give up.”

“We will strike in four different waves. Each one from a different direction. Yugito will lead a group and strike from the north while I strike from the east, Talon from the west, and Zera from the south. Each one of us will have a massive group behind us. You’ll know what group you will be in when we set off in two days.” Kurori was just a three day journey from the Dark Castle, so the fight was due to start in five days. “Don’t worry about signals and such, the leader of your group will give you further instructions when needed.” The dragon began to turn away. “Dismissed.”

“He likes to keep things short and to the point, doesn’t he?” Hail noted. “You must have had fun with him as a mentor.”

“You could say that.” Neko had hated Kura through her whole apprenticeship, and still held a grudge against the Dark Dragon. It made her furious to be ordered around by her former mentor.

The Dark Warriors began to leave the room, including Rayne, making Neko and Hail the last to depart. “So, what do you think of the all-out attack Yugito just announced?” The icy Nekomata looked at the fiery Dark Warrior with a look Neko couldn’t quite understand.

“What about it?” She shrugged. Orders were orders, it really didn’t matter what she thought.

“Something just doesn’t feel right about all of this.”

“How so?”

“I just feel as if something is going to go seriously wrong if we go.” He made sure that no other Dark Warriors were around before he spoke in a low whisper.

“We? Are you suggesting that we should disobey orders?” She was having a hard tie believing that this was really Hail. He wasn’t as violent or blood-thirsty as some of the other Dark Warriors, but he was definitely not one to turn from a fight.

“Well…” Hail hesitated. This wasn’t like him. Neko shot him a cold look. Just what was he thinking?

“Forget it Hail. I don’t know what you are thinking, but there is no way I’m going to back out of the fight.” She hissed quietly. “I’m sure you are just over thinking this bad feeling of yours.” The fiery Nekomata left Hail to return to her room.

“I guess.” He whispered behind her as she turned a corner to get to her room.

The fiery Nekomata sighed as she walked into her room. It was just as empty as ever, with nothing in it except for a place to sleep and the bag she used for traveling. She didn’t care much for decorating as many things would easily burn up with her around.

It was about mid-afternoon, the time were the training fields were often being used by other Dark Warriors, so Neko decided to take a nap before heading back out, as there was nothing else worth doing at the moment.

As the Nekomata drifted into a steady sleep, she found herself once again outside of the burning village she had previously seen in Kalm. “This place again?” The Dark Warrior had forgotten all about the last dream, but now the memory of it flooded back to her in one massive wave.

Once again she watched as the Nekomata kit darted into the burning village with no concern for her own safety. Who would be foolish enough to leap into danger like that? Neko sighed and followed the kit for a second time, although this time around she headed straight for the tree, leaping ahead of the younger Nekomata.

She slowed down as she neared the dragon that had laid dead in the first dream. The red scaled reptile was in front of the tree, breathing heavily with a lot of strain. Blood flowed out of many deep gashes all over the wounded creature. “Ruby!” The young Nekomata was now right next to Neko at the Dragon’s side. “Ruby! Ruby!” She cried.

“Can’t you see that this dragon is already on her way to death?” Neko hissed, forgetting for a moment that she was completely invisible in this place, as if she were not really there. She was just like a ghost that was witnessing the events that were taking place.

“You can’t leave, Ruby!” The small grey Nekomata cried. “What will we do without you? Please, don’t leave us!” The yell was overlapped by the crackling of the flames.

“Hey, kid.” The dragon spoke in a weak and choked voice. “I want you to do something. Kee-” A violent shudder spread through her scales as she broke into a weak spasm of coughing. “Keep that orb safe.”

“What orb?” The kit glanced around, ignoring the cinders that was scorching her tabby coat. “Ruby?” There was no response. “No, Ruby!” The small Nekomata shut her eyes and backed away from the dragon with tears in her eyes. She looked around and finally spotted the hollow in the tree, with the round object within.

Neko followed the smaller creature into the tree as she did in her last dream. Once again, she was gripped by the brilliant glow of the orb. It’s yellow-orange light held a powerful, but soothing aura around it. “Could this have something to do with what Kura was talking about?” She recalled Kura’s conversation with another Dark Warrior about Yugito being after some mysterious orbs. “It has to.”

She looked up at the Nekomata’s amber eyes, which still held the glow of sadness within them. “Just what is this all about? What exactly is happening?” The young kit was silent as she stared past Neko.

“No!” The grey Nekomata was so silent before that her piercing cry came like a shock to Neko, making her jump. She turned her head, half expecting to wave up from her dream like the previous time, to see what was happening.

There was nothing behind her that would have created such a reaction, not that she could see at least. “Unless…” Turning her head to gaze up at the smoke-filled sky, she saw the shadow of a Dragon flicker in the grey plumes. Something about that dragon was what triggered the fear and shock in the young Nekomata, but what?​
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Devoted Spriter
((I know I've been away a long time, but I finally managed to pick up my pencil and finish the next chapter. I've no intents on abandoning this story any time soon. Hopefully I'll be able to update on a weekly basis again. Hopefully.))

Chapter Eleven
Fire and Light

It had been three long years since Cera had left behind her home and everything else she had once known and met Aros, former leader of the rebel groups. While she desperately wished she could wipe everything out of her mind, or even better, make it so that everything had never happened, she knew it was impossible.

She could vividly remember most of what had happened during the fire that had destroyed not only her home, but changed her entire life as she knew it. Cera had rushed into the fire with the intent of helping anyone in trouble, but as soon as she entered the inferno, panic overcame her and she was the one in need of help.

Unable to see clearly, the young Nekomata ran forward in a desperate attempt to escape the scorching flames and choking fumes that polluted the air. Cera shut her eyes in an attempt to get rid of the stinging sensation that persisted upon her eyes, but to no avail. Soon enough after what seemed like an eternity of running through flames, her paws tumbled over something thick and rough.

“Wha-?” Cera scrambled to her paws and gasped as she made out the shape of a dragon lying motionless on the scorched earth. “Ruby!” Cera and the dragon, still alive, but not for long, exchanged a few words- or rather a final request from the fallen reptile. Nodding grimly, the Nekomata scanned around until her stinging eyes rested upon an enormous tree. As soon as her sights were locked onto her target, her paws carried her swiftly towards the hollow of the tree.

Within the tree was a small pedestal with a small orb sitting on top. Cera put her right paw on the surface of the fiery-orange orb and felt the warmth that it emitted. It was difficult to see why this small object was so valuable that Ruby would be willing to risk her life to protect. Yes, it was beautiful to look at, but what exactly was it?

Cera gazed out of the hollow to see flames consuming everything. There was no where to run, so she prayed that she would survive if she waited in the shelter of the hollow. Her instincts told her that the tree would be the safest place to wait, and they proved to be correct. The flames did approach the tree, but never quite began to devour it.

Gazing restless out into the flames for anyone else who may fled towards the true, her attention was suddenly shifted towards the sky with a strong feeling of dread. “No!” She screamed as the picture finally registered in her mind. She desperately tried to create some sort of idea to stop what was happening, despite knowing that there was nothing that could be done.

The young Nekomata had seen her sister, the only remnants of her family, taken away before her eyes. There was no definite reason why she had been taken, but Cera suspected that her sister might have been snatched up as some sort of prize or trophy or even worse. Then she remembered hearing about a group called the Dark Warriors, or something like the sorts, that took away young individuals that showed plenty of promise. She wasn’t sure how they chose their targets, but she wished at that moment that they had taken her instead.

While she had experienced a great number of difficulties since, the day her home was destroyed and her life turned upside down was indeed the one she considered the worst day in her lifetime. In only that short period of time her life had been changed. Although there was some good to be brought out from that day.

Cera woke up the following afternoon with two shadows standing over her. Several moments passed before her eyes adjusted well enough to the light to make out who the shadows belonged to. “You two alright?” Despite the burning sensation in her throat, she was relieved to see her two friends, Clear and Glade, in one piece.

“You run into a fire, hide in a tree then pass out, and you are worried about us?” Clear exclaimed. Her fur, despite being singed and covered with ash and soot, was a gentle crème, bordering on white. She was rather small, even compared to Glade. She was a very sweet Nekomata who was always more concerned for others over herself.

Clear half laughed, half coughed at this. “Yeah, I’m fine too, thanks.” She made a feeble attempt to stand up, but her head was spinning far too much so she laid down again. “Where are we?” Cera realized that the surrounding area was not scorched or burned. Just how far did her friends drag her away from the fire, and where was her sister?

“I’m not sure…” Glade looked over in one direction, assumingly the direction in which they had come. “We just wanted to get as far away from Marua as we could in case someone decided to come back and finish what was started.”

“Do you know who did it?”

“A Dragon… he had black scales, red spines, and grey wings.” Glade responded.

“And Neko?” Cera finally dared to ask, clinging to any hope that her eyes had deceived her back in Marua, even though she knew what the response was going to be.

“She…” Clear hesitated for a few moments. “Didn’t make it out… at least, I don’t think she did.”

“No.” Glade looked the other two with a troubled look on her face. “I now she’s alive.” She blinked and lowered her head. “The dragon took her. I don’t know why, but I saw it happen.” There was a hollow sadness in her voice.

“But at least she’s alive, then?” Cera forced herself to sound optimistic. “If she’s alive, that means we may find her again in the future. It’s not as if she’s gone forever, right?” Or was she?

Clear smiled gently but said nothing in response. A steady silence lay over the three for a few moments until at last the lack of sound became unsettling and Glade was forced to break it. “I think we should start moving and get away from Marua as quickly as we can.” She looked at how battered up and sore the other two were. “If everyone is rested, that is.”

There were no complaints from either Cera or Clear so they began to move. Cera could fill her body complain as she rose to her feet. Thankfully they didn’t move far by the time Cera realized that she didn’t have the orb with her. “Wait!” The young Nekomata paused. “We need to go back.” The other two stared in shock.

“Are you crazy?” Glade exclaimed. “It’s too dangerous. For all we know, that Dragon might be there waiting!”

“I left something there that I need to get. I made a promise to Ruby!” Cera argued. She didn’t care if it was dangerous, a promise was a promise.

“How do you even know if whatever it is you are looking for is still there?” Clear reasoned. “The fire destroyed pretty much everything in Marua. The chances of finding any one object intact are slim at best.”

Cera lashed her tails to one side. “If you two don’t want to come with me, I’m perfectly fine going on my own.” She growled with frustration. With that, she turned and headed in the direction opposite of where Glade and Clear had wanted to go.

The two watched their friend for several minutes as the distance between them grew larger. “Stubborn as ever.” Clear muttered under her breath and began to run after Cera followed by Glade.

Thankfully Glade and Clear had not taken Cera far from Marua when they fled, for the walk back didn’t take too long for the exhausted trio. It was a saddening view. The town was devastated- not one structure stood standing amongst the rubble. The once mighty tree that stood at the center of town was stripped of its foliage and had been turned into a blackish-grey color. Last of all was the clear lack of life.

Had there been any other survivors, they were likely long gone at this point. As far as the three young Nekomata were aware, only five made it out of the destruction of Marua. At least now it was clear that no one was waiting for them- good or bad.

Ash was lifted by a gentle breeze and deposited on top of the Nekomata as they walked towards the outskirts of what remained of the tiny town. Small fires were still burning, lapping at whatever their fiery tongues could reach. Everything that had not been swallowed by the hungry flames were severely charred or covered in ash or soot.

The sight of the great tree was a big shock for the three Nekomata. The massive plat was a symbol of life and prosperity for the little settlement in the middle of nowhere. Now, despite all that had happened, it managed to escape from the worst of the fire’s wrath. It’s bark was scarred by the flames and it’s leaves had all vanished. Despite this, the fact that the tree was still standing was a good omen- a miracle even.

Together the three stood and took in the scene that was laid out before them. Not one of them had ever imagined that their lives could change so suddenly and easily in a tragedy such as this one. “Do you mind if we split up and look around?”

“Sure, just meet me at the tree soon. Try not to take too long.” Cera replied and bounded off towards the tree while the other two headed out to look at the devastation and make a final goodbye to what was once their home.

She was relieved to see that the hollow of the tree remained as she left it with no debris blocking its entrance. Everything was just as she remembered before she had passed out from inhaling too much smoke. The only change was the addition of a thick layer of ash. The fiery orb alone sat without a coat of ash.

Now that the young Nekomata had found what she came back for, all she had to do was wait for her friends to meet up with her. Cera waited patiently in the hollow, but after a while she began to grow worried. At least she stepped out of the hollow only to be frightened back inside when a large, winged shadow flew overhead along with a blast of heat. Were Clear and Glade right about the Dragon coming back to finish what had been started?

“Anyone there?” A voice called from outside the hollow a few minutes later. “I’m not going to harm you.” The voice didn’t sound like it would belong to a killer. Cautiously, Cera stepped out of her shelter to face a magnificent bird with fiery wings, orange eyes, and a long flowing tail. “Your friends told me that I would find another one near the big tree. I assume they were talking about you?”

The young Nekomata didn’t respond. Could this creature be trusted? He did not look like he would harm her, but she didn’t want to let her guard down. “Do not be afraid. My friends and I merely came here to aid any survivors.” Cera looked around for any other creatures that may be lurking around the corner. “Care to tell me your name?”

“Cera.” She whispered, beginning to relax a bit. The fire waving off the large bird’s body wasn’t destructive like the flames that had destroyed Marua. Instead they were tame and danced in a soothing way.

“You may call me Aros.” He dipped his head politely. “Shall we go meet up you friends now?”

“Wait.” She scurried into the hollow and grabbed the bright orb in her mouth, but struggled to carry it because of its size and shape.

“You’ve got something quite valuable there.” Aros exclaimed when he caught sight of the orb. He lowed one of his wings so that a small lavender bag could slide off him onto the ground. He then held the softly colored bag down with one talon so that he could adjust the straps to fit a smaller creature. “Here, roll the orb into this bag. You’ll have less trouble carrying your possession with this.”

Cera dropped the orb and rolled it into the bag while Aros held it open. “What exactly is it?” A strong desire to know more about the magical object burned just as fiercely as the flame within the orb.

“A very powerful object.” Aros spoke as he helped Cera place the bag over her shoulder so that it rested in a position that would be undisturbed as she walked around. “It has both the power to destroy and protect.”

“Is this what destroyed everything in Marua, then?” The heat from the sphere pressed through the soft material of the bag and onto her fur. She knew that the Dragon had caused the fire, but perhaps they were connected.

“In a way, it is very likely that the orb indirectly caused this to happen.” Cera tilted her head with curiosity. “Whoever attacked this town might have been after the orb.”

“Then why didn’t he take it?”

“You saw who did this?” The Phoenix looked expectantly at the little Nekomata.

“It was a dragon… a black one.” Cera thought for a moment. “I didn’t get a very good look at him, though.”

“I see.” Aros knew immediately who had caused the destruction around them. “Anyway… the orb you have there is one of fire. While fire and light are two separate elements, they are both very closely related for fire gives off light. It is likely that the light given off by the orb is powerful enough to repel anyone who is not strong enough to withstand it.”

“That can’t be true. I’m not strong, so how can-“

“You have strength within you.” Aros cut her off. “Strength is not measured solely on power alone.” What was that supposed to mean? If she really was strong, then she would have been able to protect Marua and none of this would have ever happened.

Another thing was bothering the young Nekomata. “Also…” She took a deep breath. This was a lot for her to take in at once. “If this fire orb has the power to protect, why didn’t protect us?” Cera still had a number of questions ready to be asked.

“It’s strength and purpose are determined by whoever wields the orb.” Aros walked over to the massive tree. “From the looks of it, the orb was being kept in the hollow of this tree, correct?” Cera nodded and watched the Phoenix lift one foot. “Then it protected the tree.”

He scraped away a layer of ash from the ground just inside the hollow. Under the soot and ash was green grass that had not been devoured by the fire. “This tree is still very much alive. Slightly charred, but it was protected from the worst of the attack.” Cera looked up in amazement. Did such a small object really save the great tree?

“Well then, I suppose we should go meet up with your friends now? I wouldn’t want to worry them.” Aros lowered his body low to the ground, spreading his wings out as if to make a ramp. “It’ll be faster if we flied to where the others are waiting.”

Cera stared in disbelief. This giant bird was asking her to climb up onto his flaming back. Doing so would likely result in severe burns. “Do not worry, the orb will protect you. For as long as you keep it with you.” The young Nekomata looked doubtfully at Aros. How did he know so much about the orb?

His body definitely emitted heat, but not the scorching type of heat that had choked her lungs not too long ago. Gingerly, she leapt onto his back, using her claws to help steady her balance. “Sorry!” She squeaked when she realized that she was scratching him.

“Do not worry, it doesn’t bother me.” Aros laughed, raising his wings and bringing them down quickly to lift them off of the ground. Soon enough, the two of them were gliding in the air towards the southern side of the ruined town. “Just remember, fire is capable of more than just destruction. Fire is light.”​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Twelve
Fall and Rise

“Something bothering you?” Aros, Riza, Saia, and Cera were out assessing the damage done to a town that was recently attacked, most like by one of Yugito’s Dark Warriors. It was very much like the destruction on Marua two years prior – burned beyond recognized. Although, unlike the incident at Marua, there were no survivors here.

“Huh?” Cera looked up. Her mind had been in a bit of a haze for most of their time there so far. Sometimes it just helped not to think too much about how or who destroyed the town. She shook her head slightly to regain some focus. “I’m fine. This just reminds me a bit of what happened to Marua. That’s all.” She tried not to sound worried, but something felt off.

Riza had just taken a quick survey of the area from above. She wasn’t much for fighting and she wasn’t a strategic genius, but she had a great eye for detail and was great at scouting ahead and spying on the enemy. “Definitely done by a Dark Warrior.” She spoke as she swooped down to report her findings.

“Kura?” Cera looked at the Eagle. Each Dark Warrior seemed to have his or her own pattern of destroying towns. Kura’s happened to be with fire.

“No.” The others looked in surprise at this. “Kura is far more sloppy than this when it comes to burning towns.” She perched on a nearby pile of rubble.

“What do you mean?” Aros looked at the smaller bird. There were no other Dark Warriors known to simply burn down the town.

“Last time I checked, Kura doesn’t go out of his way to make a perfect circle and destroy everything within it.” Aros spread his wings and took to the air to confirm what the Golden Eagle had reported. To his surprise, Riza’s description was spot on- there was a perfect circle of destruction.

None of the Dark Warriors that they knew of did this. This would mean another powerful foe to fight against, and the rebels had more than enough problems to deal with already. The odds didn’t appear to be in the favor of those trying to fight against Yugito.

“Riza is right. This wasn’t Kura’s doing, unless he’s changed his tactics.” The Phoenix landed gently next to Saia.

“Do you think it’s the other Dark Warrior that was reported to be seen with Kura further south?” Riza looked at the older Nekomata.

“The Nekomata?” Saia thought for a few moments, considering all of the possibilities. “It’s possible. We haven’t really seen her on her own before, so she’s a newer member amongst the Dark Warriors. We’ve yet to gauge her capabilities.”

Cera began to feel slightly dizzy. “Are you sure you’re alright?” Aros looked at the Nekomata who was now sitting rigidly a few feet away.

“That Nekomata…” The twin-tailed cat hesitated. “What does she look like?” Cera had heard very little of this particular Dark Warrior, and was afraid of what she would hear.

“From the reports I’ve gotten so far, the new Dark Warrior has short grey tabby fur, is of average size, and has green eyes.” Riza gave a quick description.

No! Cera dug her claws into the scorched earth. “Did I say something?” The Eagle nearly lost her balance as Cera suddenly ran past her.

Aros lifted his fiery wings to follow in pursuit, but the ancient Nekomata signaled for him to stop. “Give her time, Aros. Something tells me we’ll figure out what’s going on soon enough.”

To no surprise, Saia was correct. About half an hour later the Light Nekomata had come back, looking a bit troubled. “Feeling better?” Aros studied the expression on Cera’s face. He could see the anxiety written all over it. “Well?”

“Sorry.” She muttered. The young Nekomata sighed and say down. Running wouldn’t solve anything. “I guess I should explain what really happened in Marua.” Up until this point, Cera, Glade, Clear, had never spoken the full story of what had really happened in Marua two years ago. The story they had given did not include the Dragon taking away Cera’s sister.

Cera gave a quick run down of the events of Marua, this time, without leaving out any important details. “So you think your sister is amongst the Dark Warriors?” Aros spoke calmly. This was probably something that should have been out in the open a long while back.

“Yes… no.” Cera shook her head. “I’m not entirely sure. I know that she wouldn’t do this.” She wanted to believe so at least.

“It is very likely she did.” Saia looked at the young Nekomata and was met with a glare. “The Dark Warriors are known to have taken young creatures in the past. When those that are kidnapped were later identified as Dark Warriors themselves, we learned that not a single one of them had any memories of their past.”

“So she doesn’t remember anything?”

“It is very likely that this happened to her as well.” Cera’s hopes began to fall.

“Is there anyway to make her remember? Anything we can do?” She pleaded desperately for a positive response.

“Maybe, but getting her memories back could cause more harm than help.” Why did Saia have to find a negative possibility in almost every situation?

“What do you mean?”

“Think about it for a moment.” Saia laid down on the ground, his old bones getting weary from the long day of traveling. “Making her remember what she’s forgotten doesn’t automatically return her to how she was before she lost them. She will still remember everything after getting her memory wiped.”

“In the slight chance that she ever does leave Yugito and the Dark Warriors, her paws will be forever stained with the blood of many innocents. She won’t be trusted. She’ll be treated like an outcast as well as be hunted by Yugito. Unfortunately, it is unlikely that she would even consider leaving the life she’s known for the last two years.”

“And she does return to her old self?”

“Cera, what you are suggesting is unrealistic, but should that actually happen, she would have to live the rest of her life with the guilt of the crimes she has committed.” Saia didn’t particularly enjoy having to tell Cera that her sister, if she was in fact a Dark Warrior, might be lost forever to Yugito’s rule.

“But she’s being forced to kill. Yugito is controlling her.” Saia sighed and looked Cera in the eyes.

“I understand this is difficult.” The old Nekomata spoke steadily. “But you must realize that none of the Dark Warriors are forced to do what they do. All Yugito did was wipe their memory and train them to kill. They are raised to kill. They do it willingly because it is all that they were taught. They think for themselves.”

“How do you know?” Cera didn’t want to listen to anymore of this. Saia just had to be wrong… but he normally wasn’t.

“Trust me, Cera, I know what mind control looks like.” Saia got up and stretched, sensing that the conversation would soon end.


“Enough, Cera.” Aros finally cut in. He couldn’t help but to look at the young Nekomata. He knew better. Her head was low with her ears flat against her head. Her eyes displayed nothing less than the most devastated expression. Cera looked absolutely pitiful, like she was a kit again. Only the most heartless creatures could look at her and still be able to argue with her. “Fine.” Aros gave in before the argument could even begin. “Saia, is there anything you can do?”

“Perhaps.” He muttered, knowing where this would go. “It wouldn’t be easy, and could have highly unpredictable results.” Cera was still looking absolutely pitiful. “Cera, I promise that I’ll do what I can to help, but understand things may not go as you would like.”

“Good!” The Light Nekomata immediately perked up. “I guess we should head back to Kurori now?” The turned and began to walk away. Riza shrugged and took off after her.

Saia and Aros stared in bewilderment as Cera trotted away with Riza right overhead. “Did she just trick us?”

“Yup.” Aros sighed. “How many times has she pulled that look to get away with things?” Cera was very good at bending over Saia and Aros to whatever cause she was after. “What did we just get ourselves into? We can’t possibly get a Dark Warrior to join up on our side?” Cera and Riza were out of sight.

“Who knows, but it’s best we proceed with caution or we may-“ A large crash came from the direction where the other two had headed. “Go ahead, I’ll catch up.” Saia rasped knowing that Cera and Riza might be in trouble and letting Aros keep his pace would delay them by a good amount of time. “I’ll be fine.” Aros nodded and raced to find where Cera and Riza had gone.

They were not very far ahead, but finding them was difficult because the blast had caused the ash to rise in a large cloud over the area. Despite this, Aros was able to locate the attacker. He tucked his wings to his sides and began a dive bomb towards his target- Zera.

“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” A cruel smile crossed her face. When the ash finally began to settle down again, Aros was able to make out the entire scene below him. Instantly he opened up his wings to break his fall. The Shadow Nekomata had Cera pinned to the ground. “It’s been a while, hasn’t it Aros?”

“Zera, let her go.” He attempted to remain calm. Had Aros continued his attack, he could have injured Cera in the process.

“Don’t worry, I’m not here to kill her.” Zera’s yellow eyes were fixed on the Phoenix. “I’m sure you are well aware of that though. Am I correct?” He knew what the most feared Dark Warrior had come for. He knew only to well.

“Aros!” Cera was struggling to shake Zera off, but with no success. “Help.” The Light Nekomata was beginning to panic.

The Dark Warrior extended her claws over Cera’s throat. “Stop whining, or you’ll end up like your little friend over there, or worse.” It was then that Aros noticed Riza lying on the ground, unconscious. She didn’t look badly injured, but she was definitely out cold.

Enough toying around, Zera.” Aros was furious. “If you’ve come here to kill me, I’m right here. Leave her be so that you can get back to your real goal.”

Zera laughed. “Very well then.” She released Cera from her grip. “I’d hate to keep Yugito waiting.” She took a few steps towards the Phoenix and paused.

Cera scrambled to her paws as soon as Zera released her. Her breaths were very rapid and her heart was beating like never before. “Aros! Be careful! She can!”

“I wouldn’t worry about him if I were you. He’s aware of what I’m capable of. I’d start running if I were you. I’d hate for a pathetic fighter like you to get in the crossfire of this fight.” Zera laughed.

The Light Nekomata looked up at Aros. “Listen to her, Cera. Get Riza to safety and find Saia. Just get away from here. I’ll meet up with you later.” Cera nodded and raced to the injured Eagle’s aid. Within moments she was running out of sight with the unconscious bird on her back.

Zera laughed once again. “This is too amusing.” She sat down and yawned. “Shall we begin now?” The rebel leader looked at the Dark Warrior for several moments. What was she waiting for? Neither of the two moved. Either she was waiting for him to make the first move, or she was merely playing with him to make him lower his guard.

Finally, the Phoenix decided that the fight would not start unless he struck first. He would rather not have a fight, but there was a high risk of one of the others being hurt should he try to flee. His fiery wings lifted him up into the air for his first strike. Flames began to spark more rapidly around his body as he swooped towards the Shadow Nekomata.

Just as the first of the flames hit their target, Zera vanished. An illusion? Within moments a burning pain shot through his left wing as a blast of dark energy hit him, sending him crashing to the ground. Damn it. Another ball of dark energy was headed his way, but the Phoenix managed to quickly roll out of the attack’s path of travel.

“Hiding in the shadows.” He muttered as he rose back to his feet. “What else has changed since the last time we fought?” He gingerly stretched his left wing. It hurt, but he decided that he would still be able to fly for at least a while longer. Hopefully, he would be able to manage.

He began to light anything and everything around him on fire. The area was already scorched beyond recognition, so more fire would do no further harm. The light coming the flames eventually destroyed most of the shadows in the area. “No where to hide, Zera.”

With no more shadows to conceal herself in, the Shadow Nekomata was forced into the open. “It’s actually quite entertaining to see how many fools think they can beat me with tactics like this.” Her striking yellow eyes were easily the feature that attracted the most attention. They held a unique icy look that could have paralyzed most with fear.

Aros was aware of this ability, so for that reason he avoid direct eye contact with the Nekomata. He had heard many stories about Zera’s wide range of abilities, and had seen many for himself. Rending one of her strengths useless didn’t make her any less dangerous. The only plus side was that he would be able to find her more easily.

Once again, Aros took to the air, ignoring the protests of pain from his left wing. Zera laughed with sheer amusement. Illusion after illusion began to appear until there were at least a dozen different images of Zera, only one of which was real. Any one that he destroyed was replaced within moments.

Another one of Zera’s shadow-like balls of energy shot past him, barely missing his other wing. Wasting no time, he turned to the direction that the attack had come from and shot a steady stream of flames from his beak. Another miss. How much longer can I keep this up? Aros was getting tired rather quickly. If he didn’t finish this soon, Zera would.

“Aros!” The Phoenix froze when he heard Cera’s panicked voice. What was she still doing here? He had told her to run!

He flew rapidly to the source of the sound. “I told you to leave her alone.”

“Oh, but I did!” More tricks? He could feel claws rake his back and the sudden weight of the Nekomata jumping on top of him. He thrashed about in the air, trying to throw off his foe, but Zera held on tight. Not even his flaming body was capable of fending off his attacker. “You idiots all have the same weakness. All I have to do is threaten one of your friends, or make you think that I am, and you lose all focus and die trying to protect them. This is why you and the other rebels are doomed to failure.”


The area was once again lit ablaze. Cera could only assume that Aros had created the fire in order to fight Zera, but the flames were making it more difficult to find Saia. The old Nekomata was no where in sight, but she was sure that he had to be somewhere nearby. After all, how far could an old Nekomata like him go?

She navigated carefully through the rubble and flames so that Riza, who was resting on her back, would not fall off or get burned. The Eagle wasn’t badly injured, to Cera’s relief, but it didn’t seem like she was going to wake up anytime soon.

“Cera!” Her ears tilted to locate where Saia had called from. Thankfully, he managed to find her first and was completely unscathed, despite the flames. “Where’s Aros?”

“Over there, fighting with…” She knew that Saia’s reaction wouldn’t be positive. “Zera.”

“Zera?” The older Nekomata began to look very worried. “We need to go help him.” He rasped. Despite his age, he showed no fear of facing the Shadow Nekomata.

“But he ordered me to find you and get away from here.” Even so, what help could she and Saia offer? It had taken Zera less than a minute to knock Riza out and pin her down.

“Exactly. He doesn’t want us to get involved.” Saia began to head to where the fighting was taking place. “Which means he’s already predicted the outcome of this. We need to get to him before it’s too late.” The urgency in his voice was enough to convince Cera to disobey Aros’ order.

When the two Nekomata finally found Aros, the battle was over. There was no sign of Zera, and Aros was lying on the ground in a motionless heap of feathers and miniscule flames. Saia approached the Phoenix silently, ignoring the heat against his paws.

“Aros, are you awake?” The old Nekomata asked the Phoenix, whose shallow breaths and flickering flames were the only signs that he was still alive. Cera felt a strong feeling of dread when she saw the state he was in. He’s alive, but for how much longer?

“I told Cera to get you and run.” Aros whispered with a weak voice.

“You know that we wouldn’t just leave you here. We would never leave a friend in trouble behind.” Saia sighed. Aros simply grinned.

The Phoenix did not reply, though the slight rise and fall of his chest showed that he was still breathing. “Aros?” Cera began to think that he had lost consciousness. “Saia, we need to get him help.” The old Nekomata simply shook his head.

“It’s too late for that, Cera.”

“Don’t say that.” The young Nekomata knew that Saia was right. He normally was.

“Cera.” Her golden eyes turned to look at Aros again. “Take my place.” What? “Lead the forces against Yugito. You must stop her before she releases the spirits of the orbs.” She stared at the Phoenix in astonishment.

“Why me?” Cera couldn’t fathom why he was telling her to take his role as leader. There were surely many others that were more deserving and capable of being Aros’ successor, not to mention more powerful than she was.

“Because,” Aros rasped. “Light will pierce through the Darkness.” What did her element have anything to do with this? “Cera, you are the last known living being who has the abilities of pure light.” The Phoenix closed his eyes. “Protect this world from the disaster that Yugito wishes to unleash.”

“Disaster? What do you mean?” She waited for a response. Nothing. “Aros! Wake up! Please… don’t go.” The last of the flames flickered away in the wing. This was the first time Cera had seen her mentor without his fiery plumage. His feathers were a deep reddish brown with flecks of orange, yellow, and black.

“He’s dead, Cera.” Saia looked at her sympathetically. “And he chose you as his successor.”

“But I don’t want to take his place. I can’t!” She tried not to cry. “Isn’t there anyway to bring him back? There are stories about Phoenixes being able to-“

“Pure myth. Once something dies, it cannot be brought back to life.” Saia began to walk away. “Cera.”

“Hm?” Cera was still looking at Aros. Why, of everyone in this world, did those with hearts as kind as his have to suffer and die while Yugito and the Dark Warriors ruled with no consequence to their cruelty.

“Whatever happens, you won’t be alone.”


Cera resumed control of the rebel groups with the supervision and advice of Saia. It took a long while for the young Nekomata to accept her role, but after a while, she eventually got used to it. The size of the rebel forces grew vastly under her, much to Yugito’s frustration.

Yugito had made two inaccurate assumptions prior to Aros’ death. The first was that all of the Light Elementals were dead. When Cera took over lead of the rebels, the Dark Nekomata found out very quickly of Cera’s true element. The second was that the rebellion would be put down for good should their leader be killed. This also proved false, for the rise of a Light Elemental as their leader only strengthened the hopes and determination of the rebels.

Cera felt great satisfaction in this. Ruining the Dark Ruler’s plans was plenty to celebrate and made for a good, although dangerous, hobby to pursue. Yugito would never admit it to any of the Dark Warriors, not even the Shadow Nekomata, but Cera had become an irritating thorn in Yugito’s side.

While it had felt like ages since Aros had been killed, it had only been one trialing year. Saia had kept his promise, despite his doubts, to help find Neko and get her away from the Dark Warriors. Finally, on the road leading to Orre, Cera got to see her sister for the first time in three years. She followed and watched as Neko wreaked havoc in Orre and Kalm. Cera longed to intervene, but Saia had told her to wait.

Soon enough, though, the plans she had devised with Saia would commence. On the day the real war starts, she would make a massive gamble. It will either save, or doom, them all. Just a little bit longer.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Thirteen
The Fight Begins

The sun was just rising into the sky when the rebel base of Kurori came into the view of the attack force. Yugito and all of her followers had been traveling for a few days and at last they were nearly there. Everyone was allowed a few minutes to prepare for the coming battle, so Neko used that time to check through her bag to make sure all of her supplies were in place.

After the events in Kalm she had to spend a little time patching up her worn bag. It wasn’t a perfect job, as the main flap would occasionally come open, but it would suffice for the time being. But, for extra caution, Neko no longer kept her feather-shaped shell in the bag, but on a necklace around her neck. This way if her bag was taken again, nothing important would be lost.

“Neko!” The fiery Neko groaned in annoyance as something small, fluffy, and impossibly irritated slammed into her side. Thankfully, Rayne was still pretty small and young and wouldn’t be able to cause much damage. For now, at least. The pup energetically bounced around Neko in a relentless attempt to get her attention.

The fire elemental tried her absolute best to ignore him, but the urge to kill him on the spot was escalating at an outstanding rate. “What?” She snapped harshly, though her tone did nothing to dampen Rayne’s over-energetic and peppy attitude.

“Have you seen Hail?” His tail was wagging furiously despite Neko’s obviously cold reaction.

“Nope.” Why did the Wolf have to bother her about every little thing?

Rayne remained persistent. “Are you sure? No one has seen him since sometime last night!”

“Don’t care.” Neko got up to find a quieter place to wait while the rest of the Dark Warriors and attack groups prepared for the fight. Although, it was odd that Hail was out of sight, especially now, before something important. It wasn’t like him to wander of without telling his apprentice either.

Neko couldn’t help but think back to her most recent conversation with the icy Nekomata. It had not been too long since Yugito announced her plans of a full out assault on the rebel stronghold in Kurori. Hail was not very excited about the idea, nor was he too keen on fighting in general, but surely he wouldn’t be so idiotic as to desert Yugito and the Dark Warriors? If their ruler were to notice, he would be in massive trouble.

Yugito’s forces began to head out again just as Neko finished assessing the contents of her bag. The fight was only minutes away, and while Neko wasn’t exactly looking forward to a full out fight between the two sides, she was prepared. Not far ahead of Neko Yugito was leading with an icy calmness and strong confidence.

“Hello, Yugito.” In front of the main entrance to the city of Kurori was a Nekomata. She was a blue-grey color, similar to Neko, but much lighter. She had striking amber eyes that shone in the light. Her golden eyes scanned through the ranks of Yugito’s forces and stopped on Neko. The fiery Nekomata narrowed her eyes and sent a glare in response.

The Dark Nekomata said nothing and simply gave a mocking grin towards the rebel leader. “You can still go back home to your pretty little castle if you want.” Did she really think that the Dark Warriors would simply go home because she asked them to? Silence overtook the area, followed by a simple signal from Yugito.

Everything erupted into chaos at that moment. Clouds of smoke and debris began to choke the air and litter the ground as the first attacks began to destroy the city’s defenses. The strongest of the rebels versus the strongest of Yugito’s forces- which included most of the Dark Warriors. This would be the clash that could decide the future of their world, for the better or for the worse.

Neko was one of the first ones to make it into the city amidst the chaos. She quickly spotted Zera and Kura as well. It wouldn’t be long before the rest of the Dark Warriors broke through, though. She noticed that she had yet to see Hail. Hopefully he was there, just out of sight.

Most rebels had the sense to avoid Neko and her scorching flames. The only ones that dared challenge her thought they could fight without getting close to her, but were sadly mistaken. They were probably lower ranked amongst the rebels and had challenged her for the hope of making a name for themselves. It was going to take more than reckless bravery to fight off the Dark Warriors.

The fiery Nekomata looked around for the Nekomata who had greeted them at the gate. She assumed that the Nekomata was the current leader of the rebels. She searched with no luck for Cera had vanished in the battlefield. Instead, Neko found Rayne fighting a fierce-looking Griffon that was much larger than himself. The young wolf was easily outmatched. Why the hell did they let him come?

It couldn’t have been more than a few minutes and the hyperactive Wolf was already in a very dangerous situation. Despite how pleasant the idea of not having to deal with the annoyance that was Rayne, Neko decided it was best to help him out. Weaving through the chaos she managed to get to Rayne before the Griffon could crush him under its talons. With one powerful jump the fiery Nekomata leapt onto the Griffon’s back with claws extended and teeth bared.

The feathered creature screeched with fury as the flames scorched the feathers and fur on his back. “Rayne, get your tail out of here.” She could see the terror on the Wolf’s face. He was definitely not prepared to fight larger creatures, let alone participate in a full out offense against the strongest of their enemies. Neko made extra effort to hang onto the thrashing creature’s back at least until Rayne managed to get away. Thankfully he was likely young and innocent looking enough to pass as a civilian caught up in the chaos.

“You!” The Griffon growled as his feathers and fur began to harden and reshape into much sharper edges. A metal elemental? She leapt off just before he could roll over in an attempt to crush her with his much larger weight. The smell of burnt feathers and fur was heavy in the air. The bird-like creature met Neko’s glare with an intense hatred. “It’s been a while.” He muttered.

“Forgive me if I don’t remember you.” The twin-tailed feline responded before sending forward a powerful, steady stream of flames at the Griffon. He brought his wings forward like a shield to deflect the attack. Why the extra weight decreased mobility and speed, they improved his defenses by a considerable amount.

He then gave a mighty flap of his now flightless wings sending a good number of razor sharp metallic feathers in the direction of the Nekomata. “Oh hey, I remember these now.” She muttered as she dodge away from the feathers which hit the ground and stood like angled spikes in the earth. “You’re one of those cowards from Kalm.” It surprised her that it took so long to recognize the Griffon. “What was your name again? Scrat?”

“Scart.” He growled.

“Close enough.” Neko charged forward, dodging several more sharp feathers, only to be forced to a halt by a stray attack from someone else in the massive fight. Scart used this moment to strike. Lowering his head he charged forward to headbutt her directly. The impact pushed her back several feet, but the feline managed to stay on her paws.

Once again, the Nekomata raced forward, but darted off to one side at the last moment in a quick feint. She skidded to a quick halt and jumped once again, this time at his left wing. Her claws gripped the metal with some difficulty, but she managed to hold on despite the sharp edged feathers cutting her. The Griffon tried to shake her off as the flames under her control began to intensify and heat the metal up. Even the sturdiest of metals would melt with a high enough temperature.

Fortunately for Scart, the Dark Warrior’s grip on his wing wasn’t too strong and he managed to throw her to the ground. She fell on her back and was stunned for a quick moment, but managed to roll out of the way of oncoming talons, receiving only a glancing swipe to her side. She swiftly got to her paws and put some distance between her and the rebel.

She didn’t have many choices. She was better at fighting alone with no one else to worry about around her. Of course, with the rest of the Dark Warriors and followers of Yugito, she couldn’t perform anything too strong in the risk of accidentally harming someone on her side. Was it worth the risk?

Probably not, but after a quick glance around her she decided that no one of importance was in her direct area. Surely it wouldn’t do too much harm if she stepped things up a notch or two?


Cera panted heavily as she scrambled through the chaos in an attempt to escape her pursuers- Yugito and Zera. There was something that she had to do, and she had to do it before clashing with the Dark Nekomata. The rebel leader could not afford to have any witnesses for fear of what might happen. With a quick glance behind her, the Nekomata saw no sign of the heartless ruler of the Dark Castle or her second in command. Finally!

The Light Elemental paused for a moment to catch her breath and relax. It was time she and Saia put the next part of their plan in motion. This was the riskiest and potentially disastrous part of the plan, but should they succeed, the rebels might actually stand a fighting chance- if not now, then in the future. Despite the risk, this could very well be her first and last opportunity to pull it off.

“Cera!” The Nekomata’s sharp ears picked up the gentle sound of wings beating in the air above her over the roar of the fighting. It was Riza, thankfully back from a quick assessment of the battle with no wounds.

“How are things holding up so far?”

“So far both sides seem to be pretty evenly matched.” The Golden Eagle flapped her wings gently as she hovered over Cera in uneven circles. “Yugito and Zera seem to have fallen for the bait. They’ll be chasing Ray around for a while.”

“So they think he has the orb?” Riza nodded. “Perfect.” Ray was easily one of the fastest ones on their sides and would probably to play as a decoy for a while longer before Yugito and Zera either catch him, or figure out that they have been tricked. “And Saia?” Hopefully Ray would buy her enough time to find Saia and continue on with the plan.

“He wants you to meet him in the central plaza.” That, at this point, was the area where most of the fighting had condensed. This worried Cera some for the older Nekomata’s safety. “Don’t worry, he’s fine.” Riza reassured her after seeing the concern on her face. “Saia isn’t an idiot; he has someone else with him. Someone he says will help you.”

Cera nodded and looked up. The skies seemed to be clear of any fighting. “Would you mind keeping an eye on Yugito and Zera?” She did not want to send her friend into a potentially dangerous situation, but it was important that someone keep an eye on things. “Give me a heads up if they figure out that Ray is tricking them.” Riza nodded and flew off to keep an eye on things.

Cera’s paws took her towards the central point of the fighting. Why, of all places, did Saia have to meet up with her here? At least here she wouldn’t be noticed quite as easily. Every few steps she would have to veer sharply in one direction or another in order to avoid getting caught in the crossfires of the fight.

By the time Saia came into her sight, Cera’s fur was on end and much darker in color because of all of the debris, smoke, and dust that had gotten on it. She decided not to question how in the world Saia had managed to be unscathed amidst the chaos of the fighting. “Who’s he?” She gestured to the Nekomata standing next to him. He had a mane like a lion, blue eyes, and very light colored fur.

“A friend, but that isn’t important right now.” Saia knew they couldn’t afford to waste any time. “You have to get to Neko. She is fighting with Scart in the western part of the city.” Scart? Somehow she began to imagine dozens of things that could go wrong with the stubborn Griffon in the area.

“And when I find her?”

“Do as we planned.”

“What about Scart?” Saia laughed.

“My friend here will help us with that part. He’ll pretend to attack me. Knowing Scart, he’s most likely going to abandon his fight with Neko to help me.” Cera had to give him credit for one thing- he was loyal. Cera looked at the other Nekomata with a burning curiosity. He looked as if he could hold his own against Scart, or even many of the Dark Warriors. “While he’s distracted, you’ll try to sneak up on Neko. Once you get your part done, get out of there right away. Don’t take any chances.” Cera nodded. “After that, leave the rest to me.”

“You aren’t going to fight her, are you?” She didn’t remember that being part of the plan.

“Only if I have to.” If things went well, Neko would probably never see him. “Remember that the three of us are the only ones who are aware of this little plot of ours.” Saia said calmly. “This has to remain a secret until we see the results. Neither friend or foe can catch on, or we may lose this opportunity.” Cera opened her mouth to say something, but Saia quickly cut her off. “Whatever you have to say, save it for later. We don’t have much time.”

The Light Nekomata sighed and darted off to where Saia said Neko would be. The ancient Nekomata and the newcomer followed closely behind her. When Scart and Neko were finally within sight, a chunk of pointed ice suddenly rose up from the earth, separating her from the other two. “Saia!” She called out only to realize moments later that this was part of the plan as Scart shoved Neko away and went to Saia’s aid.

Now! Cera heard Saia’s voice in here head. How did he do that? She shook her head and tried to focus at the task on hand. Now wasn’t the time to think about all the things Saia could do that he’s never told her about. Right now, Neko was standing in bemusement as she watched Scart flee. It was now or never.

Quickly, but silently, she approached the fiery Dark Warrior from behind. Her eyes locked onto the fire-proof bag that Neko always carried around. It was open, which would only make things easier. For whatever reason, Scart’s fight with the other Nekomata seemed to absorb the attention of the fire elemental. Did she know the other Nekomata by any chance? Regardless of the reason, the Light Nekomata was grateful for the distraction.

Taking a deep breath, she slowly inched forward towards the bag. Grabbing her own bag gently with her teeth, the tipped it so that its contents fell into the Dark Warrior’s tattered bag. With that done, she was able to relax some. Now what? She hesitated. One big mistake. She had not been so close to her sister in over three years. With some reluctance, she finally began to back away as silently as she could.

“Cera!” No! Riza was overhead, giving the warning that either Zera or Yugito were coming. If only she hadn’t paused only moments before. The Dark Warrior had heard Riza and spun around to meet Cera’s eyes. This was not good.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Fourteen
The Truth

How did I let her sneak up on me? Neko looked into the eyes of the rebel leader, Cera, as she stood frozen before the fiery fighter. At the beginning, before the battle had begun, they had met eyes, but now it looked as if the light elemental was panicked and didn’t want to be seen. Flames sparked up around Neko, making the Rebel leader flinch in surprise at the sudden heat.

After only mere seconds of hesitation, the Dark Warrior was attacking Cera with a barrage of flaming swipes and other fire based assaults. The light Nekomata, however, was quick and agile and managed to avoid many of the strikes. The attacks that did land, fortunately for Cera, were only smaller flames that did minimal damage.

“Too scared to fight back?” Neko hissed as she continued her rapid succession of attacks. All she needed was one good slash at her target and the fight would be hers. Molten hot claws were capable of doing massive damage as Kura had learned once. “I would have that that the leader of the rebels would put up more of a fight than this.” Why isn’t she fighting back?

“Neko, listen to me please!” Cera was scorched by another small flickering flame that managed to strike her shoulder. “I don’t want to fight you.”

“Afraid?” The Dark Warrior’s claws managed to rake Cera’s shoulder, making her gasp with pain, though she did not fall.

“That isn’t it!” Cera insisted. “I’m not going to run away from you, no matter what you or anyone else says or does.” Who was she talking to? Neko had said nothing whatsoever about fleeing. “Look, just hear me out.” Neko twitched one ear and flexed her claws, but halted her assault. She was curious what the rebel leader had to say.

“Do you remember anything from your past- before you became a Dark Warrior?” Neko shook her head. Why did Cera want to know, anyway? All she did know, or believed she knew, was what Kura had told her. “Just as Saia said. Yugito wiped your memories. Anything that they’ve told you is likely a lie. You aren’t the only Dark Warrior that cannot remember anything of the past.”

Neko laughed. “And you know any more about my past then the Dark Warriors do?” This was nonsense. Yugito’s was a dark elemental, not a spirit one. There was no way she could wipe Neko’s, or any one else’s, memories.

“As a matter of fact, I do. I probably know you better than any one else you’ve met since.”

“Enlighten me, then.” Maybe I should just kill her now. She’s telling me nothing but lies. As ridiculous as Neko found this, something forced Neko to hold back and listen. Perhaps it was the idea of possibly learning who she really was and where she had lived prior to her time at the Dark Castle.

“I’m your sister.” That was… blunt and rather unexpected.

“And I suppose you expect me to believe you?” She unsheathed her claws and flexed them against the earth. The battle around them seemed to have faded into the background.

“We were born and raised outside of a small and isolated village called Marua.” Marua? That was the town she had heard Kura talking about in the Dark Castle once. Is she really lying? “Our parents banished one day without a trace. After that, a Dragon named Ruby took care of us.” She paused for a moment. “Then Kura attacked. He destroyed Marua and killed everyone and anyone in his path- including Ruby, who had tried to protect the- everyone. There were only five that left the village that day. You were taken by Kura, while Clear, Glade, and I managed to survive by some miracle.”

“You really expect me to believe you?” Neko inched closer to Cera, one step at a time.

“You never told me your name. I know it. I’ve known it. How do you explain that?”

“One of the other rebels could have told you my name. I’m sure at least one of those idiots from Kalm know it.” Neko growled.

“Neko, whatever you say, I believe that you have a kind heart and have not been completely corrupted by Yugito and her Dark Warriors.” However much Neko wanted to believe that her enemy was lying, everything she said seemed to fit together with the strange dreams that had come to her recently. “You cannot say that no one has ever shown you any bit of kindness, nor can you say that no one cares about you.”

Neko’s two tails lashed to one side. “Who are you really?”

“I told you that already. I’m your sister.” Cera limped forward until her face was only inches from Neko’s. “Look in my eyes and try to say that I’m lying.” I’ve seen these eyes before. The striking resemblance to the younger Nekomata in her dreams shocked Neko. “Leave the Dark Warriors. Come back with me.”

“No.” Frustration prickled through her scorching pelt. She couldn’t. Leaving the Dark Warriors was essentially a death sentence, and she had little reason to leave to begin with.

“Please” Neko then saw a blast of dark energy making its way towards Cera. It was a slow moving attack, but that normally meant it was powerful. The fiery Neko saw it well before Cera did and began to grow. Unaware of the coming attack, the light Nekomata stepped backwards. With a ferocious hiss Neko tackled Cera, knocking her out of the way and taking the attack.

Why did I just do that? Cera got away with some burns, but Neko lay on the ground unable to move. “Whoops.” It was Zera’s voice. “Sorry about that. I wasn’t expecting you to jump forward so suddenly. I thought you saw it coming.” Neko couldn’t tell if Zera was being sarcastic or not.

“Well, Cera.” Yugito was there too? That could not be a good thing, for Cera at least. “Looks like it’ll be just you and me, since Zera will be keeping an eye on Neko over there.” She could not tell what was going on, but Neko felt the presence of Zera standing next to her. Yugito probably ordered Zera to stay near her as an excuse to be able to fight Cera alone.

“Saia!” Cera’s panicked cry filled the air, but went unnoticed to most.

“Calling for help is useless, Cera,” Yugito laughed. “You aren’t as strong as you’d like to think. You can’t fool me. The orb is the only reason you managed to fend of Zera, not your strength alone.” Neko could feel her mind slipping into unconsciousness. “But you don’t have it with you, do you?” The battle between dark and light had finally begun.


Once again, Neko woke up in a dream. Of course, it was the same exact one as the previous ones. Was it really possible that these dreams held some truth in them about Neko’s past? The Nekomata sighed and looked around. She was hazing upon the same town burning to the ground. The same flames. The same sense of destruction. In the center, the same giant tree stood oblivious to scene around it. This is Marua. A voice, unfamiliar to Neko, spoke in her head.

She walked into the village aware that nothing within it could harm her in this dream. How many times had she walked into the town of Marua in its final hours? Two? Or was it really three, before this time? This time, though, she watched not one, but two young Nekomata running into the flames. Were the always two, or had she just never noticed the second?

The two ran into the fire at different times. One had tried to convince the other that it was too dangerous to go, but the second Nekomata went forward regardless. Perhaps she always arrived too late to see the other Nekomata run in? The first, as Neko had seen twice, maybe three times, before hesitated once again before following in pursuit.

This brief moment was all it took for the two to lose sight of each other. Neko had two choices; Follow the first to the orb, or follow the second to see what became of the other Nekomata. As much as the brilliant burning light of the orb attracted Neko, her fierce curiosity overpowered her and forced her to follow the other Nekomata.

She jogged in the direction of a part of the village where the homes were clustered in a higher density than the rest of the area in time to see the Nekomata dart into a burning building that seemed as if it could collapse in any moment. She’s crazy! Surely going in a building in that condition was asking for death.

Regardless, The Dark Warrior followed the Nekomata in, knowing that no harm would come to her should the building collapse. Even so, if this weren’t some sort of dream, Neko’s flames would protect her against the flames at least. She padded forward slowly, looking for where the young Nekomata had gone. Unfortunately, it was hard to find the Nekomata amidst the smoke and fire.

A wooden carving on a shelf at one end of the room caught her green eyes. It was in the shape of a bird with its wings stretched for flight. The reddish wood combined with the flames that were destroying it have it the appearance of a Phoenix. Some writing was etched into the base, but Neko was only able to make out part of it before it crumbled to ashes. “The Guardian of the Flames. The Spirit who dwells within the-“ Interesting.

Moving on, Neko’s paws carried her into another room. A chunk of ceiling collapsed in front of her followed by the shrill sound of a shriek. Another young Nekomata with soft cream fur was nearly crushed by the falling debris. Perhaps Neko shouldn’t have spent the time to look at the statue.

Continuing to look around she saw many who had already fallen to the suffocating smoke. Others bore claw marks that suggested they had been killed by something big. A Dragon, perhaps a Dark Warrior even. It made sense to Neko since the orb was right nearby. She thought back to the day she spent some time eavesdropping on Kura. This must be what he was talking about, but why had he left the orb?

She shook her head and kept absorbing every detail she could. Sooner or later, she’d learn what she wanted to, and something told her she would find that in these dreams. So far, this was the dream that had lasted the longest thus far. Hopefully it wouldn’t end before she managed to get at least one meaningful answer. There was very little time to waste.

Letting her instincts lead her, she ended up back in the open. She quickly caught site of a grey blur entering another building. Confident that it was not the same Nekomata that was with the orb, she followed. When she went in Neko saw two Nekomata. One was trying to help the other get to safety.

Unfortunately, they were trapped with no where to go. This did not seem to stop them, though. Despite their strong determination, it was a hopeless situation. The building they were huddled in began to collapse. The Dark Warrior began to turn around when the smaller brown Nekomata called out her name. “Neko!”

The fiery Nekomata turned in shock. In the past dreams she had been completely invisible to those in her vision. Then she looked at the other young Nekomata, the one she had originally followed. She had collapsed and the flames were spreading over her, despite the brown Nekomata’s attempts to pat out the flames with her paws.

Her eyes focused on the gray Nekomata. The grey tabby fur gently lit ablaze was only too familiar. “Impossible.” Neko whispered. It’s me. This was her past. The truth, however hard it was to believe. Kura came crashing in and the smaller of the two Nekomata hid out of sight, assuming that it was too late to save her friend. Glade. Neko finally recognized the one who had helped her in Kalm.

She restrained an exceedingly powerful urge to lunge at Kura in a vicious attack knowing that attacking would change absolutely nothing. The hatred she held for her mentor was strong before, but at this moment it became overwhelming. She looked at his left eye to confirm that it had not yet been blinded by her scorching claws. These events, true or false, occurred prior to her time at the Dark Castle.

She watched as he picked up the small Nekomata. Why? She knew now that everything Kura had told her about her past were lies. The Dragon spread his wings and took to the choked sky using the opening he created. Was this how Gail and Rayne ended up in the Dark Castle as well?

Glade managed to escape the flames just before the building collapsed on itself. A piercing cry cut through the sky- a cry Neko remembered from her prior visions. “Cera.” She had cried out because her amber eyes had to watch helplessly as the Dragon took away her sister. Neko watched as Kura flew away. “Is this really the truth?”​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Fifteen
Light vs. Dark

Cera’s heart was beating furiously within her chest as she was driven off once again by one of Yugito’s attacks. Her breaths were quick and shallow as she tried to create an effective strategy. If only I had the orb with me. Unfortunately, it was likely that she would never see the orb again. Her wounds from her brief clash with Neko mixed together with new ones into a hardly bearable pain.

“Why don’t you use your pretty little orb?” The Dark Nekomata sneered at Cera. “You might stand a slight chance if you use it. It would surely make things more interesting for me, at least.”

“No.” Cera tried to remain calm. “I’m pretty sure I won’t need it to deal with the likes of you. In the end, when this is all over, I will be the victor.” If her plan succeeded it would matter not who was triumphant in this single battle. One battle would not make up the entirety of the war. This was only the beginning.

“A little overconfident?” Yugito laughed. “I’ll be glad to crush your confidence along with everything else.” Once again darkness struck the light. The two were locked in a flurry of claws, teeth, and magic. Cera raked her claws down Yugito’s back, locking her claws in the dark fur. Yugito immediately turned and dug her teeth deep into the light Nekomata’s paw.

“Cera!” Yugito was forced back by some unseen force. Saia stood behind the dark ruler. His eyes were glowing with a bright white aura.

“Thanks” Cera took this moment to catch her breath. It was great to have friends that she could rely on. Being a spirit elemental, Saia had an immense range of mysterious techniques. The old Nekomata wouldn’t be able to hold Yugito with his unusual abilities for long, though. Regardless, she was glad for the seconds of time that he bought. Not only that, but his appearance meant that another stage of their plan was completed.

She turned to where Neko was. She was still out cold, though for how much longer? Wait? Where did Zera run off to? The Shadow Nekomata was not where she was when Yugito attacked.

Claws unexpectedly raked across her face leaving three stinging scratches on her cheek. “You should know better than to get distracted on the battlefield.” Yugito purred darkly. Behind Yugito two other Nekomata were fighting. Saia and Zera. “Two versus one wasn’t exactly fair, so I invited Zera to take care of your friend. It looked like she was getting bored.”

Cera growled with frustration, sending a silent prayer that the older Nekomata would be alright. True, he had managed to fight against Zera before, but that was with Riza and herself with him. Taking a blast from another of Yugito’s dark attacks snapped her back into focus. She could not allow herself to be worried about Saia. The Nekomata just had to have faith in his strength.

Her first concern was to lead the fight away from Neko. Zera was no longer watching over the fiery Nekomata leaving her vulnerable to any stray attacks from Yugito or herself. Using her elemental abilities of light, she created a quick, but blinding flash. Yugito hissed as her eyes momentarily lost vision and took time to readjust. In that tiny space of time, Cera was running.

“Decided you can’t win?” Yugito wasted no time coming in pursuit. Thankfully, what Cera lacked in physical strength she made up for in speed and agility.

“No, I just decided I wanted a change in scenery.” She laughed. “Don’t you ever think it’s boring to see the same setting over and over again?”

“Have you reconsidered telling me where you’ve hidden your precious orb?” Yugito eyed Cera with a gaze that seemed to search her mind. Surely she had figured out that Cera was not in possession of the beautiful and destructive object. If only she knew.

Thankfully adrenaline was keeping the pain of her wounds at bay while she stalled for time and tried to lure the dark Nekomata away from their starting location and the more populated areas of the battlefield. “If you want the orb, you’ll have to catch me first!” With that she sent an extra surge of energy through her legs and darted further ahead. She spotted a more-less empty area ahead.

Yugito sighed in annoyance and followed in pursuit once again. There was no doubt that Cera’s opponent was running thin on patience. “Why don’t you fight?” Yugito hissed. “You know that running won’t save your life. You are only delaying your death.”

“Your point?” A bright glow began to envelop the rebel leader. It held for several moments before floating off her as she ran. When the light finally subsided, her fur was a very light silver, almost white, with a very gentle glow to it. The young Nekomata had shifted to her light form. “You did say you wanted this to be more interesting, no?” She halted and turned to face the dark Nekomata.

With another irritated hiss, Yugito decided to change into her dark form. Her fur was coated with a dark looking aura. Her dark colors and stripes seemed more sinister than before. The only major change in her appearance was the addition of the aura, though.

“Tell me, do you really think that defeating me will also destroy the resistance against you?” Cera held Yugito with determined eyes.

“Destroying the last of the light elementals would crush the hopes of any fool that dares to oppose me.” The evil Nekomata slowly approached Cera, meeting her eyes with a deathly glare.

“Who said I was the last?” Cera grinned. “You’ve been wrong before, if you don’t recall.” She knew what she going to get herself into, but showed not the slightest trace of fear.

The dark aura around Yugito began to gleam more intensely than before. “Give me the orb and I’ll consider allowing you to live past this day.” If anything, the dark elemental hated being wrong.

“I’m sorry, but I don’t have it anymore.” Cera braced herself for Yugito’s fury. “I’ve made sure that it is somewhere that you would never find it.” With a furious and blood-chilling roar, the tiger-like Nekomata attacked. The long expected fight between light and dark had finally begun.


Neko’s ears roared as the numerous sounds of the battle slowly wove their way back to her senses. She opened her eyes to a slit and allowed the light to reach them so that they may adjust. Her entire body throbbed with a numbing pain. For a moment she wished herself in her dreams where the pain and sting of her injuries could not wish her. Most of the injuries at least.

The dream! Neko quickly jumped to her feet, sending a wave of dizziness throughout her. She spotted Zera fighting with a much older and frail Nekomata. It was a surprise that he wasn’t dead. Yet. How much does she know? Neko could feel a rage burn within her. How much of her life was built on lies?

She focused on the details of her dreams and tried to sort out truth from lie. Everything Kura told her was likely a lie, not that she ever had trusted his word to begin with. As for truth, it was a fact that Neko had no idea what she should believe at this point.

Her eyes soon singled out Kura and Scart fighting against each other not too far away. The Griffon was a pain, and Neko wouldn’t have minded watching him die, but she wanted to deal with other things first. Bursting into flames, Neko’s exhausted body managed to gather enough strength for just one more fight.

Everything around her, the fighting, the chaos, and the current situation, was obvious to her, though if she had looked around, the Dark Warriors were clearly winning. Her mind was set and nothing would have distracted her, except maybe another attack. She began her path to intercept Kura and Scart’s fight, but a large chunk of ice shot from the ground forcing her to a stop.

“Hail, what are you doing?” She hissed, remember his attack on the older Nekomata earlier, who, when she saw him fighting with Zera, had no injuries whatsoever.

“What does it look like? I’m blocking your way. I thought that would be obvious enough.” The Lion Nekomata was calm and held a strong hint of a thread in his voice despite his sarcastic response.

“May you be so kind as to tell me why?” She hissed, letting sparks of fire dance around the ice in an attempt to melt it without Hail noticing.

“Because I won’t be allowing you to kill anyone today.”

“Just whose side are you on, anyway?” Her icy rival had been acting strange recently, but never had she anticipated having to face him like this. Yes, practice fights, but as enemies?

“You should ask yourself the same thing.” The sound of thunder cracked overheard, bringing Neko’s attention to the sky, where grey clouds loomed ominously overhead. When did a storm blow in?

“You know very well that I’m a Dark Warrior, like you should be. Now get out of my way.” She growled. There was very little time to waste if she wanted to express her hatred towards Kura before the rain comes.

“Or what?” He had caught the tiny flames that were slowly melting the frozen wall and quickly extinguished them with tiny shards of ice that melted and doused the flames. “You’ll kill?”


“Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if you really have a heart or not.” He muttered. “Regardless, you won’t succeed.”

“If you haven’t noticed, most Dark Warriors don’t have hearts. Although, you may be the exception.” She whispered the last part under her breath.

“I can’t be the exception because I’m no Dark Warrior.” He growled. “I never was.”

“So, you’re saying that you are on their side.” The fiery Nekomata flexed her claws and felt the earth scorch beneath her paws.

“If you mean the side that is fighting against Yugito, then yes.” He met Neko’s eyes.

“You know what that means then.” Hail said nothing. “You are a traitor. Treason. There is only one punishment for it under Yugito’s rules.” She hissed. “Death. You will be hunted until you die. There will be no escape. You will live the rest of your life fleeing from one of the Dark Warriors, or Yugito herself.”

“Who said I would die running? I think I’d rather die fighting. All because no one has successfully escaped from Yugito’s slaves in the past, does not mean that it a task that cannot be accomplished.” Hail retorted. “Nothing in this world is impossible.”

“Nothing?” She scoffed. “You really are an naïve idiot. There is plenty that cannot be achieved. These foolish beliefs will be what kill you in the end. You know very well that you cannot face Yugito and expect to survive.” She hissed.

“Like Aros?” Hail seemed rather calm. “You remember who is, right? The former Rebel leader.”

“yes, like him. Pity that the rebels couldn’t learn their lesson the first time.” Neko recalled the stories she heard about his death a little over a year ago. The Phoenix had died under Zera’s claws. Unfortunately for the rebels, Phoenixes were incapable of being reincarnated from their ashes, despite what many ancient myths say.

“I never said he was dead.” Neko narrowed her eyes. Was he playing around with her now?

“Stop messing around. Zera killed him. If he was still living to this day, he’d be fighting alongside his followers.” She could not imagine that a leader would abandon his followers in such a dire time.

“You don’t understand.” Hail’s frosty white fur shimmered as the flames reflected of the ice. “His spirit still lives in the memories of those fighting here today. You can kill one’s body, but never kill the Spirit. That is why the rebels didn’t back down after his death.”

“He’s still dead.” Neko’s ears twitched with annoyance. “Just like all of the rebels will be at one point or another.”

“Even your sister.”

“I don’t have a family, let alone a sister.” What does he know?

“Are you sure?” Neko resisted the urge to end the conversation by lashing out with her molten hot claws. Once again, curiosity held her back.

“You would know no more than I do. Your memory of life before the Dark Warriors is just as good as mine.”

“True.” A low growl escaped her throat. “We both remember much more than we did a few weeks ago.” He remembers too?

“Look, Hail. I don’t care. Just get out of my way.” Her patience from before was slowly dwindling.

“I know about your past because Saia told me, Neko.” He spoke calmly, taking note of the impatience growing in Neko. “It’s all true. How you came to be at the Dark Castle… all of it is true.”

“What makes you think you can trust him?” The Dark Warriors hissed, ready to strike at Hail. “The rebels are our enemies. He probably wants to trick you. Fool you into switching over to the other side so that you can tell them secrets of the Dark Castle.”

“No, the rebels aren’t our enemies.” Then who did they come here to fight? “Yugito is. I’ve known Saia for years, I trust him.” A spy?

“Alright then.” She knew that Hail was soft, but she never imagined that he would have been a spy for the rebels. Did he even know he was a spy until recently? “You may not see yourself as their enemy, but I still am.”

“Not in the eyes of the rebel leader, Cera. In other words, your sister.” Neko knew that at one point in her distant past, within the memories she could hardly recall. Despite that, she was not entirely sure what her connection with the light Nekomata was.

“I’m going to ask one more time.” Neko growled, not wanting to listen to the frost covered Nekomata any longer. “Get out of my way.”

“Neko, listen-“

“Hail!” A screech from above cut him off. Looking up, a golden eagle was flying in a irregular pattern overhead, it’s large wings casting a shadow over Neko and Hail. “Cera is in trouble.” Without any further words, Hail followed the large bird towards what looked like a very dark cloud of smoke. Somewhere near the center of the cloud was a dim light.

The fiery Nekomata considered returning to her previous focus and attempt to murder Kura and frame Scart for it. Although, Neko was sure that Yugito would not be surprised if either one of them ended up killing each other sooner or later. It was clear that Neko and Kura had made several attempts to do so in the past.

Neko then looked back at the plumes of darkness that loomed eerily overhead. They almost blended in perfectly with the clouds that had begun to empty their stores of water in the form of a light shower. It did not look like things were going very well for the rebel leader at the moment. Perhaps she should go check out what was going on.

The rain steadily turned into a downpour, washing away blood and turning the earth and debris into a muddy solution that coated the ground. There was no point in trying to fight in this weather, so she might as well follow Hail. She broke into a steady jog towards Yugito and Cera’s fight. The flames around her faded away slowly as she wove through the chaos. There was no need to stick out and draw attention to herself.

She soon caught up to Hail who was looking at the fight. It was only moment before it ended, but time seemed to slow down as the dark Nekomata made one last blow, a swipe with blackened claws. The heavy swipe knocked the light Nekomata to the ground. Lightning struck the ground and left in the blink of the eye. The light that had earlier shone off of Cera had left in that same moment.

Thunder drummed in the sky like drums being pounded with all of one’s might. “We’re too late.” The old Nekomata had appeared from behind. “Cera is dead.”

End of Part One
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Devoted Spriter
Part Two

Lights, almost like thousands of Fireflies, danced around a clear pond. Each speck was reflected on the water’s surface giving off a radiant scene. One by one they began to fade away as a blob of darkness began to swallow them up, destroying all in it’s path. All except one.

A shimmering light shone in the distance. Paw steps raced towards it. “Follow the light.” A faded voice echoed through the halls of darkness. No matter how far I run, it won’t get any closer! Saia pushed his old body and aching limbs to keep moving. “The light shall lead you out of the darkness.” His breathing became rapid as he began to tire out. Just a little longer!

He was running through a tunnel that seemed to consist of pure darkness. The only light seemed to be far off in the distance, well beyond his reach. His eyes could pick up nothing except that tiny spark, not even his whiskers could be seen. Have I been swallowed by the darkness too? He closed his eyes and continued on. He extended his other senses forward. Silence. No smells. Nothing to feel. Emptiness.

He opened his eyes and halted to a stop. Before him the light had been replaced by another figure. “Cera.” He whispered. Her amber eyes closed gently. “You were the last.” He whispered. “How can this end without you?” He blinked and she, and the light, had vanished. She was the last of the light. “What do we do?” He was standing in complete darkness. “Only one born with light is capable of defeating Yugito.” Unfortunately, all Light elementals had now been killed.

Saia’s head dropped. Perhaps the war was really over. Cera was dead. All other Light elementals were dead. What hope was there to cling to? The only thing that could pierce darkness was light. There was nothing now. Just darkness. Saia stood for a moment. He had known that Cera was doomed to die, but part of him had expected another Light warrior to arise to fill her place. “Nonsense.” He muttered to himself. No one could possibly replace the cheerful young Nekomata who had fought so hard to the bitter end.

A rush of heat blew in his face. He looked up in surprise. A flickering light was growing in the place of where Cera had stood. Water rushed along his feet. He could locate the scent of plants. “Light comes in different forms.” Saia’s ears pricked up as he finally recognized the voice. It had been over two years since he had last heard the voice. Aros.

Saia began to jog at a steady pace towards the flickering light. He could now feel and sense other things around him within the darkness. It took him very little time to reach the light. A small flickering flame that was striking against wisps of darkness stood before him. “Fire can be a destructive force, but it can also shine with a fierce intensity.” Aros’ words echoed in Saia’s mind. Fire is Light.

Cera’s light appeared beside the flame and slowly merged with the flame. The darkness around the fire slowly vanished as the flame grew in intensity at a quickening rate. “So this was your plan?” The fire soon erupted into an inferno that destroyed the darkness around Saia.

Saia woke up with a start. Another dream. “Playing with fire is dangerous, Cera… I hope you knew what you were doing.”​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter One
Light in the Dark

It had been several days since the rebels and Yugito’s forces clashed in the town of Kurori. It was unmistakable that the rebels, after the death of their leader, and Neko’s supposed sister, were crushed. Without a leader they had quickly fallen apart and abandoned Kurori. Many of the Dark Warriors had said that most of the rebels had disbanded and given up after the huge defeat. This, however, had not yet been confirmed.

Neko had spent most of the days since the battle lying around her room and avoiding Rayne. His mentor, Hail, had been branded as a traitor to the Dark Warriors leaving him with no one to pester. It was very likely that a assassin had already been dispatched to eliminate the icy Nekomata. What Neko could not understand is why he would choose to go to the other side with the rebels knowing the consequences that would await him.

“Idiot” she muttered under her breath. It was hard not to think about the battle, her weird dreams, and what Cera and Hail had told her in that time. At the moment, Neko wanted badly to shove it all to the furthest reaches of her mind. Unfortunately, most of what she learned did make sense and seemed reasonably true, which only irritated her further.

Neko remembered the time where she had listened in on one of Kura’s conversations with another Dark Warrior that Neko had not yet met. He spoke of an orb that was located in the small village of Marua, where Cera and Neko lived before the Dragon had come and taken Neko away. If the orb really was there, and Neko’s unusually dreams led her to believe so, then it was probably the same orb that Cera had in her possession. However, where the Light Nekomata stowed it away remained unknown.

Her mind replayed the conversations with Hail and Cera over and over, although they only created more unanswered questions and more confusion in her thoughts. Part of her wanted to go hunt down Hail herself so that he may answer her questions before he we would be permanently silenced by on of Yugito’s assassins.

What am I fighting for? Up until the battle, Neko had blindly followed Yugito’s orders, but now she was not sure why. For what purpose was Yugito using her and the other Dark Warriors? Even the rebels knew what they were fighting for. Each and every one of them had a cause, lost or not, but Yugito had never once told the Dark Warriors, at least that Neko was aware of, of her plans or intentions.

Another fact seemed to loom over Neko- Yugito had wiped her memory. Was it so that she would be less likely to change sides or was it just easier to train obedient slaves who knew no other lives? Neko shook her head in an attempt to clear her mind. This is where I belong. She sighed. Isn’t it? She got up and stretched. Perhaps a short walk would help.

She quietly walked the dark and desolate corridors of the castle making no sound except for the very light padding of her paws as they hit the stone. Her flaming fur did well to illuminate the halls, more so than the torches that were almost always lit with ominous looking flames. The Dark Castle seemed darker than ever before.

The eerie peace was short-lived however. The shadow of a Dragon appeared just around the next corner. There was only one Dragon who would roam this part of the castle. Neko considered turning around before she was noticed, but however tempting it was, it seemed like it was too late for that.

“It’s been a while since our last chat, hasn’t it?” Kura’s claws made a faint scratching sound every time they made contact with the stone. He seemed to have gotten out of the battle unscathed with the exception of a few mere scratches.

“I wonder why.” Neko retorted dryly. She usually made an exceptional effort to avoid Kura.

“Because you’re a coward?” He grinned as the flames on the torches suddenly went out.

“No.” She growled. “I’m no coward. Being around you just so happens to give me this strong urge to kill.”

“You couldn’t kill me if you tried.” His eyes had a malicious glint.

“If I managed to make you half blind on my first day with fire abilities when I was probably half the size I am now, I think I could kill you now.” If there was anything that Kura hated, it was the fact that Neko had made him half blind when she was still his apprentice.

“At least I didn’t leave the battle before it was over.” It was true that Neko had left the battle after watching Cera die, but it was not because she was afraid. It was because she knew that the battle was over.

“Are you completely sure about that? With only one good eye, I’m sure you didn’t see properly.” Kura lunged. “Did I say something?” She laughed as she avoided another lash of his claws. “Temper, temper.” This only made him more furious than before. Neko rather enjoyed taunting her former mentor.

Neko allowed the flames over her fur to die out so the corridor was pitch black. Fortunately for her, Dragons were not as able in the dark as cats were. A stream of flames struck one of the walls. “Can’t see at all now, can you? Want me to make that permanent?” Even if he did strike her with fire, her fire abilities would protect her.

Two yellow eyes then appeared next to Kura. “Enough.” Neko returned the fire to the torches. Zera was standing in Kura’s shadow, immobilizing him for the time being. “I’d rather have both of you alive. Yugito wouldn’t like hearing that one of her warriors is dead.” She stepped out of Kura’s shadow. “I don’t really enjoy reporting such insignificant things to her either. Save us all the trouble, alright?” Then she vanished.

“You should really consider listening to Zera.” Neko began to walk past Kura. “I’d just hate to kill you, but I won’t hold back if you want to continue your little rampage.” Kura growled but said nothing.

Further down the hall Zera was waiting for Neko. “You really need to stop provoking Kura.” She muttered. “One of these days one of you will end up killing each other.” I think I’d prefer that. Anything is fine, as long as I don’t have to put up with him.

“He started it.” Neko replied coolly. “He started it the moment he brought me here.”

Zera narrowed her eyes. “He saved your life. You wouldn’t be breathing if it weren’t for him.” Did Zera know the truth? “You should be grateful to him.”

“For all the crap he’s put me through? No thanks.” Neko realized this was her first, and possible last, conversation with the Shadow Nekomata. If she wanted to ask questions about her past, now was the time. “Zera? May I ask you something?”


“What do you know about Marua?”

“It was a rebel base. Kura destroyed it. Why do you ask?” Did she know about what was hidden there?

“I just heard the name somewhere. It sounded familiar.” Neko tried to seem less interested than she really was. “Was it where I was from?”

“Kura found you on his way back from Marua, not in it.” She began to fade into the shadows. “Just a warning for the future- be careful what you say and do. There are some things that are better left unanswered.”

Neko watched the shadow Nekomata vanish. She definitely knew more than she was letting on, and her warning implied that Neko might be looking into something that either Yugito or Zera wanted to keep a secret. This, of course, only made Neko’s interest in the subject even stronger.

She was sure about one thing at least. It was in Marua where Kura had taken her. Deep inside her mind, Neko knew what Zera had told her was a mere lie. Either the shadow Nekomata was hiding the truth, or Kura had given Yugito and Zera a lie about where he found Neko.

Neko shrugged and began to walk back to her room the long way to kill time. When she arrived her eyes rested on her bag. Neko had not removed anything from it since the battle. It had just been lying there for the last few days gathering dust. Perhaps it was time to finally unpack all the extra stuff so that she would be ready to go if she got an assignment soon. Maybe a better job of patching up the damage it took in Kalm would help too.

Neko opened it up and reached her paw inside and immediately pulled it out when she felt something warm. Had Cera put something in it, rather than try to steal from it as Neko had originally suspected? A strange uneasiness crept over the Dark Warrior. Was it a trap?

Gingerly she pushed the bag onto it’s side and slightly tilted it to allow everything to come out. Out came all of the usual objects followed by the orb from Neko’s dreams. What the-!? The fiery warrior could not believe her eyes.

Either Cera accidentally dropped it in her bag, was crazy, or really intended for Neko to take the beautiful object. Why? Did Cera really trust her this much because she was her sister? Maybe at one point Neko would have quickly turned the orb over to Yugito, but now she was not sure what to do with it. Neko only had limited knowledge on the orbs, mostly what she had learned from listening to Kura and her dreams.

Resting one paw on the orb’s smooth surface triggered a feeling of warmth, warmer than any flame, through Neko’s body. The orb began to glow and release a strong surge of power that made Neko draw her paw back. If Yugito got a hold of this orb, who knew what she would be capable? To think that there were more like it, and Yugito was after them all. She carefully rolled it back into her bag and sealed it closed so no one would find it.

One thing bothered Neko though. She remembered Kura’s conversation with the Griffon. He had said that Yugito probably would not be able to use it. Why was that? Surely it would be understandable if the orb was of the light element rather than fire, for unlike light, fire was far more destructive.​
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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Two

“Neko?” The feline-like creature opened her drowsy eyes to see Rayne standing before her. Oh great, just what I need. She got up and stretched letting out a big yawn, half expecting Rayne to bounce all around her and create intense irritation by doing so. At last she turned to face the young Wolf.

What she saw, however, was not what she had expected, and was definitely not something Neko was accustomed to. Rayne’s eyes were dull, lacking the usual shine that not a single threat by Neko could have destroyed in the past. His head and tail were held low and his fur was a mess. He looked horrible. “Rayne, is everything alright?” Maybe Neko had made a mistake avoiding him for the last few days.

“I’m fine.” He muttered. “Zera wants to talk to you.” Zera? Hopefully the shadow Nekomata had not found out about the orb. It was impossible to tell where she was most of the time due to her tendency to lurk in the shadows. For all Neko knew, she had been there when the orb was discovered in her bag.

Neko was about to leave Rayne behind, but decided otherwise. With a sigh she turned to face the Wolf. “I can see very clearly that you aren’t fine. What’s wrong?”

“I miss Hail.” Neko felt stupid for not having realized that Rayne, unlike most Dark Warriors, was neither cold hearted or solitary and was more likely to the feel the weight of Hail’s absence than anyone else. Perhaps it was because Rayne is of a species of canine that is far more social than most.

“I know, I miss him too.” Not even Neko could determine if she was speaking the truth or a mere lie to help Rayne feel better. “But you’ve got to realize he won’t be coming back. He can’t. You know what would happen to him should he run into another Dark Warrior, yet alone a group of them hanging around the castle. Rayne nodded slowly. “If I see him, I’ll be sure to say hello for you, alright?” Of course, that would have to take place before killing him.

“Thanks.” Rayne seemed a little bit better than before.

“I’ll also talk to Zera about resuming your training. I must be insane. A small little piece of Neko, deep down amidst all of the fire, held a soft spot for Rayne. He was very different than most of the Dark Warriors. In fact, he did not belong in a place where they trained murders. He was too young and too innocent. Neko was glad to see a slight wag of his tail before she headed off in search of Zera.

It did not take long however, as the shadow Nekomata had been waiting down the corridor. “Took you long enough.” She muttered.


“Anyway, I have an assignment for you.” Already? At least it was a chance to get away from the Dark Castle so she could think undisturbed for a little while. “Rebels are thought to be hiding in Vritra. Go there and destroy everything. Leave no survivors.” They aren’t sure? Why destroy a town if there was a chance that they were attacking the wrong creatures- innocents who were of minimal threat to Yugito and her rule.

Neko dipped her head in acknowledgement. “May I ask something?”

“What did I warn you?”

“It’s nothing like that.” Neko assured. There was without a doubt something Zera did not want Neko to know. “I was just wondering about Rayne. Since Hail had turned traitor, he’s been left without a mentor and-“

“I’ll think about it.” Zera vanished. She really needs to stop doing that.

“Thanks.” She muttered to herself. Neko retraced her steps back to her room to get her stuff. Rayne had already left. It was now clear to Neko that the bag was heavier than usual. How did I not realize sooner?


The travel to Vritra took only a little over a day. It was bold for the rebels, if they truly in Vritra, to hide out so close to the Dark Castle. Perhaps if they had been planning an attack it would have made more sense, but after their devastating defeat in Kurori, the chances of them retaliating anytime soon was slim. In no time at all Neko saw the silhouette of the town. As she approached the entrance she allowed her flames to vanish.

It was quiet, as if everyone was hiding. They probably were expecting her, or perhaps it was just the fact that they were so close to Yugito’s domain and fear of Yugito’s wrath kept them silent. Neko extended her senses and focused her hears to find any trace of sound. There was definitely others in the area.

A metallic feather shot from a nearby building and landed by her right paw. “Nice to see you too.” Neko muttered sarcastically. There was no mistaking who had sent the feather. Why can’t Scart find someone else to bother?

“You won’t be getting away this time.” The Griffon stepped forward. “You are well outnumbered.”

“Wasn’t that the case last time as well, in Kalm?” Neko showed no anger, aggression, or worry. Somehow she knew that nothing would erupt, at least for now. “And for the record, I didn’t spare your lives so you could irritate me wherever I go. A little piece would be nice every so often.” From the corner of her eye’s she spotted a number of other creatures creeping out of hiding, all poised to attack. “Can we just get this over with?”

Scart was about to attack when a voice stopped the Griffon in his tracks. “Enough. There will be no violence here today.”

“Saia!” Scart growled as the old Nekomata that had been fighting Zera at the battle stepped forward. “She’s the Dark Warrior who had destroyed Thunara, Kalm, and Orre.”

“I am well aware of that.” Behind Saia Neko could see the figure of a Lion Nekomata. Hail. “I knew she would be sent here today and I know that there shall be no bloodshed today.” Somehow, none of this surprised Neko anymore. The Dark Warrior had already gone through enough weird events that nothing seemed to be quite as shocking as before. “Come with me.” He motioned to Neko.

Scart began to follow. “Saia, don’t trust her.”

“For once could you stubborn young fighters not worry about me? I may be old, but my strength has not yet left me. I am more than capable of fending for myself.” Neko believe him, especially since he had survived a fight with Zera.

He led her into a small building at one end of town. “I had been expecting you.”

Neko did not waste time getting to the questions that had been nagging her from the back of her mind for quite a while. “Care to explain the… gift, Cera gave me? She still longed for a sensible reason why the former rebel leader would give Neko, a Dark Warrior, one of the very objects that Yugito was after.

“Your sister had some crazy ideas, I admit that much. This one had to be her most insane and reckless plan of all.” The fact that Neko had a sister was still a bit much for her to take in. “She knew she was going to die in that battle, but she refused to pass the orb to anyone except those who were born in the village that was given the task to guard it and keep it from the wrong hands.”

“Why me, then? I am aware that she and I were not the only two to survive.”

“Yes, but only someone with the fire element would be able to properly use it’s strength to it’s maximum potential. Cera was able to use the orb fairly well do to how closely related the fire and light elements are.”

“Again, why me? I’m a Dark Warrior. I could have given it to Yugito for all she knew.” Neko could feel the orb’s strange warmth, even through the bag.

“But you didn’t, which means Cera was right to have faith in you. Aros, Riza, and I had all called her insane for what she had suggested, but alas, here we are. It’s a shame that her time had to come so soon.”

“Another thing.” Neko turned to glare at Hail. If the look she had given the icy Nekomata did not blast him to smithereens, then nothing could. “Care to explain what is going on?”

“Am I in trouble?” He joked.

“No.” Neko placed as much sarcasm as she could. “You only have all the Dark Warriors under order to kill you, possibly have a few assassins looking for you. No trouble at all.”

“Sorry about that.” How the icy Nekomata managed to stay calm and annoyingly cheerful was beyond Neko.

“I suppose I’ll explain that part as well.” Neko turned to face Saia again. “Sometime around the attack on Marua we received information of young creatures being taken away and being raised as Dark Warriors.” At least Neko now knew she was not the only one to receive that fate.

“Did you know about me this entire time?” Neko dared to ask.

“No, your sister did not tell us until later on.” Saia replied. “Anyway, after that, we decided to try getting a spy in.”

“Aros chose Hail for the job, as he had an immense amount of potential despite his young age.”

“I’m flattered.” Hail grinned.

Saia ignored the comment and resumed with his explanation. “With some luck, the Dark Warriors did not kill Hail and took him in.”

“You know, I still don’t’ remember the part where you told me I might die before I could even get in.”

Both Saia and Neko ignored Hail again, though he found it rather amusing. “We found out very quickly that his memories had been wiped, so it took a while for us to reach him. Once he did recover a majority of his memories-”

“Except for those where you warn me that I could have died at a very young age to help a cause that I probably didn’t understand”

“-he did a rather excellent job of helping us out.”

“How long did it take to get him to remember?” Neko could imagine how difficult it would be to get anything through Hail’s thick skull.

“The longer one’s memories have been sealed, the harder they are to release. We managed to get to Hail within a few months while he was still an apprentice.” Satisfied with the answer, Neko thought up more things she wished to know.

“Alright then.” Neko yawned. “Next question-“

“No more for now.” Saia interrupted. “It’s my turn.” The fiery Nekomata could only wonder what she knew that the ancient spirit elemental did not. “Leave the Dark Warriors and join us.”

“That’s not a question.” She replied dryly.

“Fine, will you please leave the Dark Warriors and join us?” Hail was getting on her nerves. Why again did Rayne miss him?

“The answer is the same as last time. No.” She growled.

“But I said please!” As if that would have made a difference. “There is nothing there for you. There is absolutely no reason for you to stay. They are just using you. To Yugito, all you are is a tool to help her get to what you want. Once you are no longer of any use, you’re dead to the Dark Warriors.” Neko had thought over this many times in the past.

“I said no.” Neko got to her paws. “Last time I checked, I came here on an assignment to destroy this place and kill everyone here, not to have a lovely chat with a traitor.” She hisses. Why was Hail always so persistent?

“Fine, go back, but leave Vritra alone.” Hail looked at Saia who showed no sign of worry or concern.

“Do you have any idea what would happen if I failed to complete my task?”

“Actually, yes I do.” Hail laughed. “Do you really need to ask that?”

“Fine.” Neko began to head towards the exit.

“Hold on.” The older Nekomata stopped her. Now what? “The orb has a spell cast on it to hide it’s presence.” That would explain why no one had noticed it before, as something so powerful would be easy to sense, or one would think. “The spell will only last until you use the orb’s power. I wouldn’t recommend using it unless you are left with no other choice.”

“Alright.” Neko paused. “Hail?”

“Changed your mind so soon?” He joked.

“Rayne says hello. He misses you.” Neko muttered and continued to walk.

“That makes one. Promise me you won’t let him get killed, alright?”

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Devoted Spriter
Chapter Three

Neko was back in the Dark Castle navigating the dim halls and passages. After her conversation with Hail and the old Nekomata, Saia, she had been able to leave with no resistance. It had been clear that some, namely Scart and possibly others present at Kalm, had not been pleased that Neko was allowed to leave unscathed.

The fiery Nekomata could not help but wonder why Saia and Hail would think she would swap sides and join the rebels. She had already declined the offer before and yet they still persisted. Only Saia and Hail though. She had far too much blood on her paws to ever be accepted anywhere except the Dark Castle. They did however make one good point- there was nothing for Neko at the Dark Castle.

She soon made it to Yugito’s chamber. “Permission to enter?”

“Come in.” Neko slowly walked in and dipped her head in respect.

“I’ve completed my task.” Neko lied. “Vritra and it’s inhabitants have been destroyed.”

“Was it a rebel base as we suspected?”

Neko saw very little reason to lie about this part. “Yes.”

Yugito remained silent for a few moments. “Was Hail there?”

The Dark Warrior hesitated. If she said yes, then Yugito would call off the hunt on Hail, but if she got caught lying, it may as well be a death sentence. “Yes, Hail is dead.” Neko decided that one more lie would not make much of a difference.

“Good.” The Dark Nekomata met Neko’s eyes. “I may have another task for you in a few days. Be ready to be sent out again.”



Neko was walking back to her room when Zera appeared from no where. She really needs to stop doing that. “I believe you’re expected out on the training fields.” As quickly as the shadow Nekomata had appeared, she was gone.

“Okay, thanks.” Neko muttered and changed her course to the training fields. She was only a bit curious on why she would be summoned out to the fields. It was dull and gloomy as usual due to the thin layer of fog that blocked most of the sun’s light for the better part of the year.

“Neko!” The Dark Warrior turned to see a very jumpy Rayne bounding over the scorched earth in her direction. He seemed much more like his usual self again, which Neko considered to be both good and bad. “Zera said you’re gonna be my mentor!”

“Yay!” Neko’s excitement rivaled that of a dead tree stump as she remembered why she was summoned to the training fields. Why did I ask for this again? Despite some minor, or rather major, concerns, Neko was glad that Rayne was acting hyper again. There were too many unusual things going on, and the familiarity of Rayne’s irritating behavior seemed to make things feel a little less odd. “So, how far in your training are you?” It occurred to her that she did know what Rayne was capable of. She didn’t even know his element.

“Umm…” The Wolf spent a minute trying to think of what to say, but to no success.

Neko sighed. “Fine, show me what you can do then.” Within moments of speaking a large ball of water crashed into Neko from behind. “What the-“ There was no one behind her. “You’re a water elemental, aren’t you?” Rayne nodded. Just what kind of disaster did I get myself into? The fire elemental shook her fur dry remembering that her magic shell was on the ground in her room somewhere. “I think we should have a practice fight. No claws, teeth, or strong abilities.”

Rayne nodded and started charging at Neko. Was he always this quick and eager? The fiery Nekomata would have never imagined that the Wolf could be so calm and focused. Neko shot forward several small fireballs at Rayne who dodged them all with ease. Who would have known that Rayne, the same clumsy Rayne that she had known all of this time, could be so agile?

Neko tried to grab him with her front paws as he got close, but his fur was wet and slippery and without her claws she was unable to get a firm grip on the Wolf. In only a quick second he had slipped past her and was on her back. The Nekomata rolled over to shake the smaller creature off, but it did little, if anything, to slow him down.

She turned to pursue him as he tried to create distance from Neko, but several small orbs or water shot at Neko. Pressurized water stung more than Neko had originally thought. The thought of shifting into her fire form crossed her mind only a mere second before she realized how wet she was. With the blink of an eye, Rayne was gone.

Out of nowhere Rayne rammed into her side with all the force his smaller body could gather. While Neko recovered her balance she saw his tail materialize from a thin mist that seemed almost invisible. Clever. She swatted a paw at him but he ducked and jumped onto Neko’s neck, clinging with all four paws. “Did I win?”

Never underestimate the ferocity of a fluffy wet Wolf cub. Neko tore Rayne off with one paw and swatted him to the ground. Had Rayne grabbed an opponent like that, he could have easily ended the fight with an attack to the throat. “Surprisingly, yes.” Rayne could barely contain his excitement.

“I should have given Hail more credit.” Neko muttered. Rayne had excellent control of his abilities and knew exactly how to use his size and speed to his advantage. The only thing that concerned Neko was how he had reacted in the face of a real battle. With his skills he could have easily taken larger opponents down with his tactics.

“Rayne, what do you remember about your past? You know, from before you ended up here.” Neko suddenly spoke, already anticipating his answer.

“Nothing.” He tilted his head with curiosity. “Why?”

“No reason. Just wondering.” The fire Nekomata muttered. “What happened at the battle the other day?”

Rayne’s cheerfulness vanished in an instant. “What do you mean?”

“You know very well what I meant. You did very well in that practice fight just now, but when we were fighting the rebels you didn’t lift a paw.” Rayne was silent. “I know you could have handled them after today. You are capable of far more than I think you realize.”

“I got scared.” Rayne spoke quietly in a voice that was hardly above a whisper.

“Have you ever fought anyone before?”

“With Hail, yes.”

“With anyone besides Hail, and not just a practice fight.”

“No.” Neko sighed. Despite his age and size he was very talented but he did not seem to know his true potential or have much faith in himself. Above all, Neko knew he was not fond of fighting. His practice with Neko was no more than just practice, it was almost like play for him. He shouldn’t be here. He doesn’t belong here. He’s not a killer.

“You need to learn how to defend yourself, Rayne.” The canine was still giving Neko a pathetic look. “We are in a war right now, and regardless of whose side you are fighting on, you will be dragged into a fight and you won’t always be able to run and there won’t always be someone there to pull your tail out of trouble whenever you get yourself in a tight spot.”

“I’m sorry.” He whimpered.

“Don’t be.” The fiery Dark Warrior patted Rayne’s head with one paw. “I’m just glad I managed to get to you on time.” Perhaps there was truth in those words. “I’d never hear the end of it if I let Scart kill you.”


“The Griffon.” Neko silently prayed that Rayne would not speak Scart’s name to any of the other Dark Warriors as they might become suspicious.


Neko pawed his head again. “You aren’t in any trouble. Cheer up.” Seeing Rayne with any expression that was not clearly some sort of hyper or happy just felt strange and wrong to Neko. Rayne’s tail twitched a little. “Will it make you feel better if I told you a secret?”

Rayne’s eyes lit up in an instant. “Maybe.” There was a clear note of mischief in his high-pitched bark.

“You’ll have to wait until tomorrow.” Neko got up and began to run back to the castle.

“Hey!” Rayne scampered off in pursuit. “I want to know the secret now!”


“You called for me, Yugito?” A figure waited in the shadows of the Dark Ruler’s chamber. She was in her usual spot, lying down comfortably as the Dark Warrior arrived.

“Yes, I did.” Her eyes narrowed. “Although you will find that the task I have for you is not quite what you are used to.” She stretched her claws. “I hope you don’t mind.” If the newcomer in the shadows did mind, he dared not to risk angering Yugito by saying so.

“Not a assassination job then? Pity.” He muttered. “We haven’t gotten many interesting ones in a while.”

Yugito ignored the Dark Warrior’s comment. “Sorry, not yet.” She laughed. “I may have one for you if you finish this next assignment though.” The creature in the shadows seemed to gain interest. “I want you to go to Vritra, but do not destroy it or reveal your identity.”

“May I ask the reason why?” It was not often that Yugito sent someone to a village, town, or city with orders not to destroy it.

“I had already sent a Dark Warrior to destroy Vritra, but I’m not quite sure the report I received was accurate.” Normally, Yugito would send Zera on such errands, not an assassin, but most of the Dark Warriors were occupied with… other things. “So, I’d like you to double check and tell me whatever you can find out about Vritra.”

The Dark Warrior nodded. “If Vritra still stands?”

“Do nothing and report straight back to me.” Yugito grinned. “If Vritra still stands, I promise that you may get another far more interesting assignment for you, Gale.”​
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