Where do I Belong?

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      Raven let out a cry and charged forward once more. Sword in hand, he was bent to make this strike count. Chaos Devil stepped forward and brandished his own blade; they both swung simultaneously, and sparks flew as steel met steel.

      Blind and Raven leapt back, putting some distance between each other before regaining their bearings. Raven eyed his opponent warily. Blind, however, was the picture of confidence. He hadn't even broken a sweat, and they'd been practicing for almost an hour.

      "Come now, Raven," Blind taunted, "Stop being so predictable. I can see you coming from a mile off."

      "Are we out here to practice or talk, Blind?"

      The wind was picking up, though the trees shielded most of it. It was afternoon, and Emmelyne had gone off to find something for lunch.

      Not a minute after she had left, Chaos Devil had decided that they should start their "training".

      Raven couldn't believe how good this guy was. At least there one thing going for him..with Emmelyne gone, she wouldn't see him getting his butt whooped by some stranger.

      Blind smirked, "Just making conversation."

      "Whatever," Raven clenched his fist in frustration.

      The two traded off a few more blows, but Chaos always seemed a step ahead of him. The blind man took a swing, but Raven quickly jumped back to avoid it.

      "Good," Blind commented, "You're thinking. Now put that much thought into your offence and you might learn something."

      "And what is that supposed to mean?" both of them lowered their weapons.

      Blind took a moment to throw off his dark, red cloak, "You go by instinct, and that's fine," he shrugged, "But blind instinct alone is worthless. You're human. Use that big brain of yours."

      "You would know a lot about being blind wouldn't you?" scoffed Raven.

      Chaos Devil ignored that remark, "Come at me again."

      He has to have some sort of pattern, Raven reasoned to himself. He thought back to earlier in the day, when he had seen Blind practicing his swordplay. Every swing he took looked so fluid..more like he was swinging a reed than a sword of that size.

      Raven thought for a moment, "No."

      Blind was taken aback, "What?"

      The blond man smiled, "You come at me.."

      His opponent smirked, "I'd hoped to spare you the embarrassment," he shrugged, "Have it your own way.."

      Blind had called what little bluff Raven had. Thought he knew that there was little chance of him being able to do anything to stop Blind's attack. He tried to focus, but something was bothering him; something on the edge of his consciousness.

      "I'm scared, Raven," that's what Emmelyne had said. Chaos Devil had made Emmelyne doubt herself - or had he? It didn't matter! Emmelyne.. she'd actually apologized. Why?

      Something inside Raven's brain snapped. He saw Blind bring up his sword; he came at Raven with a startling speed. Rage overcame him, and in a moment of clarity, Raven threw aside his sword.

      Blind almost seemed surprised as his opponent suddenly ducked down under his sword. Raven came up and grabbed Blind by the collar, then fell backwards into a roll. He stuck his feet against Blind's stomach and pushed with all his might..

      Chaos Devil went sailing over Raven. He hit the ground roughly, and his sword continued on and lodged itself in a nearby tree.

      Raven didn't even bother getting up. He was exhausted; far too exhausted do much of anything. He just lay there, breathing heavily.

      Blind groaned. He got up not long after, no worse for wear. He shook his head, "How..interesting. Good maneuver. You left your right side open though; you should work on that."

      Me work on it?" Raven said hoarsely. He was still laying right where he fell, "You're the one who got thrown."

      Blind smirked again, II let you throw me."

      Raven laughed and sat up, "Yeah. Next you'll be telling me that you let me cut your arm off."

      "Ah, but there's a difference," the blind man quipped, "I would never let you do that." He walked up to Raven and gave him a hand up, "Don't worry, Raven, it happens to the best of us."

Raven Ebony
Character © Raven Ebony
Art © Shannon Jones(emme)

      It was then that Emmelyne entered the small grove. The girl paused for a moment when she spotted Blind's sword sticking out of a tree.

      Emmelyne arched a brow, "Did somebody lose something?" She was carrying with her a leather pouch, full with whatever it was she had gathered.

      While Emmelyne sat by the remains of the fire to unpack lunch, Chaos Devil meandered over and dislodged his blade from the tree. After inspecting it, he sheathed the blade and sat on a nearby rock.

      Lunch passed in silence. Raven had finished eating quickly and gone off a few paces to practice his martial arts.

      Emmelyne simply sat there, eating and watching Raven practice. He was definitely determined to prove himself..though she wasn't quite sure why. She pondered that over, but she knew that she was only putting off telling Raven and Chaos about a decision; something that had been bothering her for days now..

      "So Emmelyne," the Elvin girl looked over to see Blind 'looking' at her, "If you want, I suppose I could bend the rules and help train you too. I'd hate to leave you out after all."

      Emmelyne thought it over for a moment, "Maybe..later," she replied uneasily. Not that she would mind practicing with Chaos Devil, but there were too many other things to worry about.

      She was worried about her father. Eldin was probably troubled sick about her. She just wanted to go back. She wanted.. everything to be as it was.

      But that would never happen now.

      The elf sighed, "Raven?"

      He stopped immediately. Raven sheathed his sword in its scabbard and walked back over, "Yes?" he questioned curtly.

      "I've made a decision," she paused, "I'm going home."

      Raven's reaction was subtle, but Emmelyne still saw him tense up, "You're leaving?" he said softly.

      The blond girl nodded, "Just for a bit; a day or two at most. I have to find out what is happening to the forest. Maybe my father can help. If not, I'll seek the aid of the Elvin Council. They should know what's going on."

      The blond man eyed her for a moment, "And if they don't?"

      Emmelyne didn't even want to consider that, "You guys can train until I get back. You won't miss me at all."

      Raven didn't reply, but Blind stepped forward, "Excellent idea, lady Emmelyne."

      Emmelyne had to suppress a smile when Raven shot Blind a nasty look, "Then it's settled?"

      Her companions nodded.

Soul Beyond Sight

      She left not an hour later. Emmelyne entered the forest and didn't look back.

      "I can be back to the village in an hour or so," she had said, "The forest portals will cut down on the distance."

      Something was amiss, but Raven wasn't quite sure what. Something in the back of his mind kept screaming, "can't you see that this is a bad idea?"

      As much as he would have liked to listen to that voice, and keep Emmelyne from leaving, he knew he couldn't stop her without proof.

      Blind and Raven spent the day practicing; Raven again found himself on the losing side. At least this time Blind didn't taunt him. True, he pointed out every mistake he made, which was incredibly annoying. But still, this time around, losing didn't seem quite as bad. When they finished, Blind set up a fire and the two settled down.

      It was evening, and Raven was bored. Chaos didn't seem like he was about to say anything, so Raven decided to do so..

      "So. Yesterday. When I was going to hit you, how did you move so fast?"

      Blind, who had been practicing with his sword, paused for a moment and impaled it into the ground before answering, "I can move with the speed of Dragon's Breath's power. Anywhere that that power reaches, so I can reach."

      Raven wasn't quite sure he understood, but he'd rather not get a full explanation. "Interesting," he said at last.

      "I'm not sure I understand it myself," Blind admitted, "There are some things my creators haven't told me."

      "Your creators?"

      The blind man nodded, "I was given a body, and a sense of justice, but that's about it."

      Raven took a moment to absorb that, "What about a soul?"

      Blind shrugged, "They say that the eyes are the window to the soul. I'm blind, so I probably don't have one."

      "Everyone has a soul."

      Blind smirked, "I don't know. I seem to have a lot of things in my backpack..maybe it's in there somewhere."


      The smile faded and Chaos faltered, "I..Maybe I'll..find one someday."

      Silence filled the air like a thick fog. Neither of them spoke again that night. And though he said nothing about it, Raven looked up at the sky.

      At that moment, a shooting star streaked across the heavens.

      "Jason?" It was Naomi. He looked up to see her beautiful face, accented by the light of the moon. The two had gone out star watching, but Raven could still remember that he had spent more time looking at the reflections of the stars in Naomi's eyes than he had the stars themselves

      "What is it, angel?" Raven replied. He propped himself up on his elbows, pushing himself off the grass on which he had been laying.

      "That song.." Naomi began.

      Raven looked at the redhead with a quizzical glance, "What song?" he asked.

      Naomi arched an eyebrow at him and smiled, "You were humming a tune just a moment ago. What was it?"

      The blond-haired boy thought back..had he been singing a song? "I - I don't know," he admitted, "It sort of just popped in there, I guess," Raven smiled sheepishly.

      "It was beautiful," Naomi told him, "Such an innocent sounding melody; like you didn't have a care in the world..I don't know Jason, It just sounded to nice to me."

      "I wish I had heard it," Raven joked.

If I were without you,
I think I would die.

      "Well," Naomi replied, "I'll just consider myself lucky."

      Raven smiled, "Ok, little girl. Have it your own way."

If I were without you-
Life would pass me by..

      "Maybe we could come up with words for it.." Naomi reflected, "I bet that would make it even more beautiful.

So when I'm alone,
I'll sing your song,

      "Why not," Raven agreed, "So are you going to let me hear it?"

      "Maybe," Naomi batted her eyes at him.

      Raven smirked, "Then maybe I'll tell you where I just got reservations for dinner."

      "For our anniversary?"

      Raven nodded..

And everything wrong will go away.

Astral Claims

      The sun rose on another day, and set the same way. But there was no sign of Emmelyne.

      "Something is wrong," Raven announced for the tenth time.

      "Stop fretting. She said she'd be gone a few days," Blind commented.

      Raven shook his head, "No. Something's wrong. I can sense it."

      "Are you sure?"

      The blond man thought about it. That nagging feeling was still there. Something that Emmelyne had said earlier. He had asked,

      "If there are so many portals in the Forest of Illusions, why are we traveling out in the open?" Raven asked.

      "I don't know," Emmelyne had replied, "Father said that the Elvin Council ordered it. They said that we needed to be out of the forest.."

      "That's odd," Raven said, "I wonder why."

      She shrugged, "They likely know what's best for us."

      But even Chaos Devil had known, "The forest calls for her children to help her..She is weakening.."

      "Why did they want us out of the forest?"

      Blind 'eyed' him with caution, "What do you mean?"

      "We left the forest and walked right into Dora's trap. How did she..someone set us up," Raven paused for a moment.

      "What are you thinking?" questioned Blind.

      The pieces finally came together. With near horror he looked right at Blind and said, "She walked right into a trap! Baneheart has someone on the Elvin Council! We've got to go!"

      Without warning a shot rang out. Chaos didn't hesitate; he dove on top of Raven, knocking him to the ground. Raven looked over to see an arrow sticking out of a nearby tree..right around heart level.

      "You won't be going anywhere," came a hardened, female voice.

      Both men stood as she stepped into view. The girl was short, though not impish; she was human apparently. Her hair was long and red, with streaks of gold in it. Even in the dim light of the fire, her eyes gave the appearance of being cold and gray. Her face: hard-edged and wicked..a face that was trained to scowl no matter what. On her shoulder, rested a mean looking sword. It was almost as big as Blind's, however, it had a large, red jewel mounted in the handle.

      "My name is Astra," said the woman, "General to Baneheart and holder of Power."

      Without turning, Raven whispered, "Go to Emmelyne. I'll hold her off."

      "But you might need my.."

      "Listen!" Raven ordered, "Emmelyne is a pendant bearer!"

      "But how do you know?"

      Raven gritted his teeth, "Let's just say it came to me in a dream. Now you said you're fast so go!"

      Blind nodded and vanished in a blur, leaving Astra and Raven to face off.

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