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Malice by X Crossover

Shadows of Darkness
by: Korogi Nagisa
January, 1999
Part 2

      Camui's journey west of the town was at most, uneventful. The only threat was a small white bunny on his way. The bunny had seemed unafraid of him as he bent down to pet it… but to Camui's surprise, the little white lump of fur came within inches of tearing him to shreds. The viscous bunny had clawed and bit into his lower arm before meeting its demise at the end of his dagger. How odd, he had noted, that such a small and adorable little creature could have been so deadly. But strangely enough, it gave him a certain pleasure to tear it's white hide to pieces.
      Just as the innkeeper had said, there was a small sparkling pool just west of town, tucked in an out-of-the-way little corner of the forest. In fact, he almost missed the narrow opening between a few tight trees and bushes.
      The grass here was lush and greener than any other part of the forest he remembered, a small pool centered perfectly in the clearing. Hordes of blue roses grew around the pool and a small, fruit-filled tree sat at the pool's side. Fresh sunlight and a soft breeze coursed through the clearing, making it seem too unnatural.
      Camui smiled and bent down beside the pool as he entered, taking in a stiff smell of the fragrant blue flowers. He dipped his hand in the pool for a drink, amazed to watch as the wounds from the marauding little white bunny began to seal and fade from his arm as he ran his hands through the pool. He paid it no attention as he took another drink of the water. It was sweet and cool and Camui had an urge to eat something sweet. His supplies from the town consisted of salt-dried rations and water. And the fruit on that tree looked quite tempting.
      Camui rose to his feet and picked his way carefully through the clearing to the fruit tree. The fruit sparkled and shimmered in the sunlight, smelling sweet and tempting. He reached out to take one, but as soon as his fingers touched the fleshy fruit, it disappeared. In fact, all the fruit on the tree disappeared.
      "Who are you!? What do you want!?" a voice boomed from seemingly all around him, shaking the limbs of the tree.
      Camui whirled around from the tree in a great arch, a hand going for his dagger, keen and quick eyes scanning every inch of the Peace in an instant.
      But there was no one else in the clearing.
      "Hello?" he called quietly, straightening and walking a few paces from the tree, never dropping his guard. The pool in the clearing shimmered beside him, its unbroken surface rippling slightly for no reason whatsoever. Camui bent down beside it slowly, keeping one eye on the Peace and looked in. He saw his reflection staring back at him, slightly distorted at the rippling crossed over his image. Again, the surface of the pool rippled, and Camui's face was replaced by another's, pink hair sprouting at odd angles from it's head.
      "Leave him alone!" the voice boomed again. Camui startled up to see a young man materialize across the pool from him, long red and brown hair flowing in soft curls about his shoulders and down his back. "Get out of our home, we don't want you here."
      "We?" Camui asked, watching the young man step into the pool, wading in up to his chest quickly, almost panicked. The surface of the pool rippled again, a figure beginning to emerge from the silvered surface: The pink-haired reflection Camui had just seen. Slowly, his head rose above the surface of the water, perfectly dry as if the water had no effect on him whatsoever. He was handsome, as was the other man who continued to wade through the water to join him.
      They were both dressed in shimmering white, the other wrapping his long arms around the figure in the pond protectively.
      Camui stood slowly from the pool's edge, watching the two men in the pool before him. They seemed sad and mourning, holding each other tightly as Camui watched. "Uh… Pardon my intrusion," Camui spoke softly. "I was told I could find a wizard here by the name of Blue Rose."
      "There's no one here by that name," the voice spoke. "Go and leave us alone."
      "But I'm here to help," Camui continued.
      "No," he boomed again. "Go away, or we'll make you leave!"
      "But …"
      The blue roses that lined the pool fluttered and began growing at a phenomenal rate. Like wild vines, they reached out for Camui, winding around his legs, pulling him quickly into the pool.
      The pink haired one chuckled to himself. "Yo-chan, please don't kill anyone in my pond again. It took nearly a decade to get the smell out the last time."
      Camui splashed in the pool, the surface barely rippling. The roses eased off slightly, only enough to keep Camui's head from going under.
      The pink-haired one smiled and began across the pool, coming to Camui to help him to his feet and back to solid ground. "You'll have to excuse Yoshiki, he's very protective of me, you see," he smiled, coaxing the water from Camui's clothing to leave him quite dry and warm. "My name is Hide," the pink-haired one bowed before him.
      "Camui…" Camui sputtered, attempting rather poorly to bow in his odd possition.
      Hide smiled sweetly as Yoshiki waded through the pool to stand behind him, once again wrapping long, protective arms around his shoulders. He seemed to glare at Camui, watching every movement intently as if the wrong movement would spell his demise. "Go away."
      Hide chuckled again and rolled his eyes. "He's cranky. You woke him up. Usually, we only get stray villagers who come to spend the night if they can't make it to the town. No one's stupid enough to try to eat the fruit or drink water from my pool."
      "So you ARE the Blue Rose."
      "Nope. He is," Hide threw a thumb over his shoulder to Yoshiki. "I haven't had the power nor the strength to work any magic in over a century. That's why I live in this pool. Yoshiki watches over me and keeps me safe."
      Behind him, Yoshiki grumbled a bit before he began his side of the tale, straightening slightly. "Lord Grace had three sons, all of them devils. When Hide and I tried to keep them from taking over the castle in the east, they almost killed me. In order to save me, Hide used the last of his powers in defense. Lord Grace's sons couldn't kill him, so they took his life force and banished him to this pool. Now, if he travels outside of this pool, he'll die within minutes." Yoshiki rested his chin on Hide's shoulder and gave Camui a look of warning. "We're stuck in this Peace until the Grace son's let Hide go. The water level of the pool is slowly lowering… it's only chest high now, I used to be able to swim in here with Hide and not touch bottom. At this rate, Hide will die in a few decades."
      Camui sighed lightly and propped his elbows on his knees. "Maybe I can help, then."
      "Not likely," Yoshiki snorted, twirling a long strand of Hide's wild hair around his finger. "No one can go up against the Grace sons and live to tell about it. You'll be no different than all the others."
      "I can help you free Hide."
      Yoshiki frowned at Camui a moment, wadding past Hide to climb up on shore, drying instantly. "I don't trust you any farther than I could spit into a gale wind." Yoshiki snorted and pushed past him, walking up to the tree. The shimmering fruit that had disappeared under Camui's touch reappeared, Yoshiki easily taking one to bite into it. "I want you to leave now. I don't need the help of a mortal."
      Camui frowned and looked back at the pool. Hide had disappeared back under the surface, his figure barely visible through the silvered water. "How do you know I can't help?"
      "You're a mortal. That's flat. Unless you're a warlock, you're of no use to me." Yoshiki walked past him to sit at the edge of the pool, softly running his fingers through the water.
      Camui was seconds from beginning to argue with the wizard when Yoshiki sat straight up suddenly. His head turned to the opening to the Peace. Camui frowned and stepped forward. "What is it?"
      Yoshiki snarled. "It's a Grace… it's that stupid servant of his."
      "Is he a threat?" Camui asked, attempting to wean himself in on Yoshiki's good side.
      "Not alone… but he has Grace's daughter with him." Yoshiki pulled himself to his feet, dusting imaginary dirt from his pants. "Go hide in the bushes back there... and don't make a sound, or by the gods I'll cut your voice box out with a dull stick."
      Camui did as he was told and quickly hid in the bushes, watching as Yoshiki seemed to fade into thin air. A few seconds later a young woman strode into the clearing wearing a long, flowing blue dress. Camui blinked his eyes a few times and watched her intently, watching each fluid movement. She was beautiful and perfect…
      But behind her strode a large, lumbering brown monster, something of nightmares, painfully opposite the soft and gentleness of the woman who walked before him. It watched over her as she sat quietly by the bank of the small pool, plucking a blue rose from its home. Camui found himself mesmerized as he watched her. "That's Grace's daughter?" he whispered, more to himself.
      Something swatted him over the head, Camui turning to see Yoshiki materialize behind him. "Keep quiet you oaf!"

      Mana smiled at his reflection in the pool, running his fingers over the cool surface. "Do you think the wizard who lives in the pool will ever some out?"
      "I doubt it," Toby chuckled… well, at least, it was a chuckle to him. More like a deep, evil grumble to all other ears that heard it. "I'm sure he doesn't want to be disturbed."
      Mana leaned forward and peered closer into the pool. "I'd love to meet him someday."
      Toby stiffened behind him, reaching forward quickly. "Lady Mana… your brothers."
      Mana startled quickly and rose to his feet. "They're coming here?"
      "In the bushes. Quickly now, child," he pointed, herding him off without another word. "If they find you here, Lord Grace will punish us both!"
      Mana rushed through the Peace and ducked into the bushes as Toby lumbered out into the forest to hide. He hadn't realized that he wasn't alone in the bushes as he parted a few branches to watch.
      Because just behind him, Camui sat stunned and unmoving, a hand to his mouth. He watched the figure that joined him. She was so beautiful up close, perfect in more ways than he thought possible. He was considering making his presence known when the skies overhead drew dark suddenly. He chose instead to tear his concentration from the woman to peak out between the bushes.

      Kozi, Kami and Yu-Ki materialized by the pool in a swirl of dark fog, sending a chilling wind through the Peace. "Ew… something this cheery deserves to be burned," Kozi complained quickly, pulling out his staff to strike the ground once. The earth quaked in fear under the strike as he looked around, pulling his red robes around him. "Sickening. Let's get this over with, Yu-Ki. You're quest for entertainment is making me nauseous."
      "You're complaining isn't exactly doing wonders for my situation either," Kami raised an eyebrow, dressed in deep purple.
      Kozi took his staff and struck the waters of the pool harshly, sending a wave across it.
      "Stop it!"
      The three brothers turned to see Yoshiki burst into existence, surrounded in a brilliant white light that began to drive off the storm clouds overhead. "Get out of this Peace!"
      Kami raised a hand to his mouth and yawned, drawing chuckles from his brothers like three teenagers showing off for the ladies. "You can't take all three of us, you dolt. You're just full of hot air." Kami stepped forward shadowed by Kozi, each in turn raising their staffs. "This should be a piece of cake."
      Yoshiki tried to ready a lightning spell to throw at them before he was suddenly enveloped in a thick grey cloud. It seemed to suck the magic right from him, rendering Yoshiki almost instantly helpless.

      In the bushes, Mana was watching the entire process. "They can't do this," he whispered, gathering his feet under him… until a pair of arms wrapped around him, a quick hand going to his mouth.
      "Foolish woman," came a voice in his ear. "You'll give us both away!"
      Mana squeaked at the sudden presence, struggling against the grip, biting into the hand at his mouth.
      "Yeow!" the voice whispered shrilly, readjusting its hold. "Will you calm down, I'm not here to hurt you!"
      Mana slowly turned his head to meet a pair of shinning, handsome brown eyes. As he drew back, an even more handsome figure came into view. He was perfect, Mana finding himself more stunned by his gaze than by the presence of the man.
      Slowly, the hand lowered from his mouth, the figure raising a finger to his own mouth. "Keep quiet now, okay?"
      "Who are you?"
      "Gackt Camui. And you?"
      "Mana… Mana Grace."
      Camui frowned slightly. "So you ARE a Grace?" He looked past Mana to the three warlocks beyond the bushes. "But…"
      "I'm not cold like them," he snarled. "And I'm not a woman," he jerked away from Camui and scooted to a corner of their hiding place.
      "You sure fooled me."
      Mana just snorted.

      Yu-Ki smiled as he turned from his two brothers, leaning down to the pool. He slapped a hand on the surface. "Come out come out," he chuckled, sending a small spark through the water. In a splash, Hide's pink head popped out of the waters, gasping suddenly and coughing water from his lungs. "Oh, poor thing. Something wrong with the water?" Yu-Ki stepped into the pool, the water levels beginning to sink quickly.
      Panicking, Hide sat down in the pool, watching the water levels completely drain from the pool around him, leaving him unprotected and vulnerable. He sat in the cool mud of the pool, feeling the air beginning to leave his lungs. His eyes grew wide as Yu-Ki trudged slowly across the mud.
      "Hide!!!" Yoshiki screamed from his confinement, pounding the enveloping smoke as if the act would free him from his confinement.
      "Something wrong, little one?" Yu-Ki asked Hide, bending down beside him. He frowned and grabbed Hide's hair jerking his headback. "I asked you a question," he snarled. He hovered over Hide, listening to the dying wizard gasp for air, gripping the black fabric of Yu-Ki's cloak. Yu-Ki chuckled once more and disappeared into a cloud of grey mist, taking Hide with him.
      Like a domino effect, the two brothers holding Yoshiki at bay also disappeared, releasing the fog that held him. Yoshiki toppled to his knees, almost instantly pulling his drained body across the grass to the edge of the dried pool. He reached in and dug his hand into the mud. "Hide…" he whispered, a single blue tear cascading down his cheek.
      Camui helped Mana out from the bushes, gently leading him by the arm until they stood behind Yoshiki. Camui carefully let go of Mana's arm, leading it down to rest at his side before be bent beside Yoshiki, laying a hand on the man's back.
      Yoshiki burried his head in the cool grass, the light seeming to have faded from the Peace. "He's gone… he's dead," Yoshiki sobbed.
      "No he's not," Mana said behind them, drawing Camui's attention. "Kozi and Yu-Ki will take him back to their dungeon before they do anything to him.
      "But Yoshiki says that Hide will die in minutes if he's out of the water of this pool."
      "Then they took the water with them."

      Kozi tossed Hide roughly into the dry pit, his head nearly splitting open as it impacted the stone bottom. Seconds later, the cool, familiar waters surrounded his body, breathing life back into his dying body, healing his wounds.
      He didn't bother to surface in the shallow hole that he found himself in. Instead he laid at the bottom on the hard, cold stones and cried, curling his body into a ball. He was cold and lonely. He could always feel Yoshiki's presence around him, enveloping him in warmth and love like a warm blanket on a cold day.
      A hand reached into the pool and grabbed his hair, jerking him up from the bottom. Hide's eyes opened to stare into lifeless black ones owned by Yu-Ki. "Sad, little one?" the other chuckled, letting go of Hide's hair. The pink-haired wizard stood in his pool, shivering slightly, wrapping his arms around him for warmth. "Aren't you a cute little thing," he pinched a cheek. "You'll keep me entertained for a few days. Then after that…" Yu-Ki pointed a finger to the pit beside Hide, half-filled with thick, human blood. He watched with a keen smile as Hide pressed his eyes tightly closed. "Very entertained indeed."
      Kozi appeared behind him in a smoky, red haze, grumbling to himself slightly. "Enough now, Yu-Ki. We have more important things to deal with. I need you help with this rite… " Kozi paused and turned with a frown, watching Yu-Ki splashing lightly through the water, tormenting his new prize. "Yu-Ki! Business before pleasure."
      Yu-Ki startled up, pasting a keen grin across his face as he splashed Hide once more. "Gomen… coming."
      Kami appeared soon after in Yu-Ki's place beside the water pit, a soft veil of purple smoke dissipating around him. He glanced to Hide in the pool, watching the shivering water spirit. "Cold?" he asked, leaning down beside the pool. He was rewarded only with a frown from Hide. "You look cold, little one," he smiled, reaching into the pool. Hide frowned at the warlock a moment as the water in the pit began to warm to a more comfortable level. "Better?"
      Hide frowned again but shook his head, watching Kami as the warlock took to his feet to join his two brothers.

      Camui pulled Yoshiki up from the grass below, offering support. "I'll help you get him back. I promise."
      Yoshiki shrugged the hand off his shoulder and stood to his feet of his own will, adjusting the thin white garments around his body. "As I've said before… I don't need the help of a mortal."
      "How do you think you're going to get into Grace then?" This time, Mana stepped forward, dusting a few strands of grass from Yoshiki's garments, helping him to rearrange them. "It seems in order to do that, you'd need my help." He managed a half smile. "I can get you in to Castle Grace without my father knowing."
      Yoshiki turned stern eyes on Mana. "And why would you help me? Why would you go against your brothers and your own father?"
      "They're not my family," he growled back at the wizard. "The only person I care about anymore is Toby. If you'll help me go back to my real family, I'll get you into Grace. Deal?"
      Yoshiki chose to ignore him and turned about, walking back to the edge of the dried pool, watching the mud dry and crack. "I'm not complete without Hide here. The Peace will die and so will I."
      "Then we'll get him back," Camui stated mater-of-factly.
      "How!" Yoshiki boomed, the entire Peace around him fluttering under his voice. "You seem to forget that now Lord Grace will have an eye keeping watch on me until he either kills the lands or Hide."
      "And YOU seem to forget," Mana started, scratching Toby behind the ears, "that the Master won't suspect his own daughter smuggling you into the castle."
      The two exchanged a look a moment before Yoshiki decided to give in. "Fine. What do I have to do?"

On to part 3