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Episode 7: the Mirrored Princess

16th of Eluviesta

It was nearly an hour to midnight when Milly finished drawing her glyph. She placed her catalyst stone in the center, and she began to meditate. Slowly, she entered the Ethereal Ghost stage of her ritual. It was a nonmagical technique that required intense focus and would partially send her consciousness into the Beyond. Most of her awareness, however, remained in the mortal realm, and she was able to project her mind across a wide area. She'd honed it over the years, and her dedication to the practice allowed her to move so far away as the gates to Arlathan. But the farthest she needed to go tonight was the palace.

Milly opened her eyes. Her body looked strange in this form, her hair a wild curly mess that connected back to the catalyst stone. Her eyes glowed ever so faintly with a fire behind the hazel. She willed her body, or what constituted it, out of the glyph.

The runaway phased through the window and looked at Capital Lyoko at night. It was truly serene. But she was on a mission. Milly floated towards the castle. She ignored drunken brutes wandering home through alleyways; they could not see her and this form was incapable of manipulating the physical world.

Milly found her way into the castle and started at the very bottom-the dungeons. She highly doubted Maya was capable of such evil that the Empress herself would detain her, but she was an elf, and the Gauthier reign had been hard on the Elvhen. The runaway found no trace of her sister but did discover a mirror twice her size with no reflection. The mirror called out to her, begged her forward.

It was distressing. The mirror was speaking without a voice, without words even. The feeling was foreign, like a primal urge. It drew her closer, and yet... The words were not sinister. Not the ramblings of a trapped demon. Milly had been trained to sense them in this form, as her body lay empty and open to malicious spirits.

It was the mirror's own voice speaking to her. But she left it, afraid of its meaning.

Milly searched every room until she found a couple sleeping soundly. At first she thought nothing of it. 'Just a married couple,' she thought until a pink fluff appeared. The runaway floated in for a better view.

She nearly started crying when she recognized her. Maya was older, thinner, and obviously more experienced. Her hair was short and messy and presumably very soft. Milly reached out, and for a moment, it felt real. In fact, Maya even woke up.

Though, "woke up" might have been putting it gently. Maya shot up and started panting heavily, as if she'd been woken from a nightmare. She looked right at Milly, and for a moment the younger sister's heart felt like it stopped beating. Then she remembered that she was invisible and it sank.

Maya looked back at the man Milly assumed was her husband. She kissed him and snuggled close to him before falling back asleep. He hadn't even stirred, but judging by how silly his sleeping face looked, he had probably had a long night.

Milly sighed. At least she knew where Maya was. She looked up when the door opened to see the man that she had danced with several months ago. Yet he looked different.

He watched the couple for a moment before he looked up at the window. For a moment Milly stared at him before looking out the window herself. There was nothing abnormal outside. She looked back and saw that he was still staring. "What are you doing, you creep?" She mumbled.

"I'm the creep?" He asked, offended.

"Yes, you're the creep. You just barge into-okay, I guess I'm a creep too." Milly sighed. It took her a moment to realize he'd responded to a statement he shouldn't have heard. She froze in place.

The man's body and face changed. The whites of his eyes became blood red, and glass shards appeared all over him. He was bloodied, bruised and ready to attack as he drew a sword. In an ominous voice he said, "You aren't supposed to be in here, Amelia." He lunged at her, but she didn't move. He couldn't hurt her.

His blade glanced her cheek, and surprisingly, it filled with pain. Her hand grabbed her face and she looked at her palm, which was covered in blood. Milly was so shocked that he'd cut her that she fled back to her body almost instantaneously.

Her spirit returned with such force that she was knocked back a few feet. She jumped up and rushed for a mirror. The cut wasn't visible but the pain lingered. Milly began to hyperventilate, wondering why he's been able to see her, let alone attack her.

She thought back to the mirror. Why had it called her name?

It didn't matter. She had found Maya, and that was the purpose of her mission.


---


17th of Eluviesta

Milly marched up to the castle gates and took a deep breath. She had prepared herself all morning. The guard, a woman about forty, her salt and pepper hair styled more nicely than a guard's hair should have been, stopped her. This was expected. "Let me pass. I must speak with Maya Tyron."

"There is no one here by that name." The guard said. "Besides, the Empress is preparing to host a small, private party. She is seeing no one who isn't on her guest list."

"What is it with the Gauthier line and parties?" Milly asked. "Doesn't the Empress know there's a war going on?"

The guard became angry. "Listen, pipsqueak. The Empress is more aware than anyone in this damn country the stakes of this war. So you'll forgive her if she throws a small party to celebrate the name day of an important ally. She has done more for the war effort in her short reign than the King could have done in ten." She muttered something else that Milly didn't quite catch. "You will respect the crown or I'll haul you into the dungeon myself."

Milly at first refused to move, but the guard threatened to poke her with the spear she carried, and she was forced to walk away and reconsider her entry plan.

As she walked along the castle wall the young runaway considered scaling it, but then considered the mirror. She had no way of accessing it, but she wanted to see it up close and in person, which meant she needed a way inside the dungeon. The guard's threat suddenly looked less intimidating and she stopped.

Just as she was considering walking back and actually letting the guard arrest her, she heard a loud crash behind her, followed by a long string of curse words. Milly turned to see an Elvhen girl from the South sitting in a bush, a large round scooter-like device spinning next to her.

The two met eyes and remained silent. "Look, as much as I appreciate the comedic value of this moment, it doesn't really suit the theme I'm going for." Milly said flatly.

"Sorry," the girl apologized. "I just really have to speak to my former clan mate Aelita." She pushed herself out of the bush. "My name is Tamiya Diop of Clan Aloten, born to Sabrae."

"Long name. Milly Tyron," she started, stopping at the muffled sounds of alarmed shouting that made it over the palace walls. Her voice turned urgent, "Listen, I'd love to stay and chat and I'd love to ask you about that thing," Here she pointed at the scooter. "But unless all we want to see is the dungeon, we need to get out of here."

Tamiya nodded and hurriedly gathered her belongings while Milly looked nervously in the direction she had come, waiting for the armored footsteps that were surely coming. "Hurry up," she urged the elven girl who was just righting the hovering scooter thing.

"Hop on," Taniya said after stepping onto the device. She pushed the Overwing forward and squeezed a lever under one of the handlebars then angled the nose up, beginning to climb skyward.

"What are you doing!" Milly cried, "Archers man the towers, they'll shoot us down."

She shoved the nose back down, giving up the little altitude she had gained. "That would explain why I fell out of the sky."

Milly could do little more than shake her head at that. Tamiya flew on through the silence, looking back to ensure that they weren't being chased, not that foot soldiers had a chance of keeping up. Once she was certain they were far enough she set the craft down in a deserted city square. As both girls disembarked Tamiya turned towards Milly and offered her hand. "Thanks for the help back there. Sorry to interrupt whatever business you had though."

Milly shook the elf's outstretched hand and replied, "not a problem. But now I need a way into the castle to meet with my sister. I've been looking for her for years."

"Oh, wait! A friend of Aelita has a brother... or maybe a son? I don't really know but maybe if we could contact him he could bring us in as his friends!" Tamiya suggested.

"How would we do that?"

"I have a portable Eluvian that can contact the larger one that the Empress has." Tamiya said, pulling her backpack off.

Milly had only met a few of the wilder elves during her travels and they were always reluctant to speak to humans. She had once believed that Maya had joined a different clan after the one near Falcon's Bridge had been destroyed. But obviously she was wrong about that, if she was in a human city married to a human man.

Tamiya let out a disgruntled sigh that brought Milly back to reality. "What's wrong?" She asked.

"It's broken." She said, showing the small hand mirror to the runaway. "It must have been damaged when I fell... I guess I'm just lucky that didn't kill us all." The mirror was whispering, as if it were in pain. Milly felt her fingers twitch. She asked to hold it, but the Elvhen girl rejected her request politely. "Humans don't know how to operate such advanced magic."

Tamiya was right, of course. Milly had never seen an Eluvian before. She couldn't know how to operate one. The Elvhen girl began weaving a spell to repair it, but still it called out her name... Milly gently touched Tamiya's shoulder. The magic surged, and the crack in the mirror shrank. The mage was startled and confused, but Milly smiled briefly. "Let's go to my apartment. We probably shouldn't do this out in the open." Tamiya agreed and gathered her things.

As Tamiya tried to create the surge to completely repair the mirror, Milly pulled the mirror out of the bedroom and brought it into the common area. She placed it in the glyph, and then subtly tried to convince Tamiya to enter it as well.

Milly focused on the catalyst stone as the oblivious mage continued her work. The runaway closed her eyes and tried to focus on the whimpering of the mirror. It begged her for something, and she mentally reached out.

The magic within the glass spiraled around her fingers. It looked like stars, but they wiggled and jumped like small children. She saw Tamiya panic as she looked at the magicless mirror, and Milly pointed at the one from the bedroom.

The magic flew away, colliding with the glass. The stars spread out, spiraling around and creating beautiful music. It whispered a song to her. She finally understood.

"Fen'harel enansal," She said proudly. The stars still sparkled, but the transfer was complete. They parted, releasing an ethereal wind. Milly opened her eyes to reality.

"What did you do?!" Tamiya demanded, but she sounded more impressed than angry. They stared at the mirror.

"I don't know. It was in pain so I found it a new home." Milly murmured.

"What?" She was silent for a long time after that. "I've heard of this... Mari'linen..."

"It called me Princess..."

"That's not fair! You're not even elven!" Tamiya said with her arms folded across her chest. "If anyone should have been the next Bloody Mari, it should have been m-Mamae. My mother." Both girls knew that she was jealous, but at this point Milly couldn't care less about ancient Elvhen prophecy.

She touched the mirror. It felt like the mirror was trying to hug her, like a long lost friend. "Andaran atish'an," She muttered. The Eluvian rejoiced at her voice. "Show me Maya Tyron." But the Eluvian, desperate to please, begged her to enter, to experience the memories of the mirrors and not just see them. So she struck a deal; the mirror would show the memories and lead the girls to the palace.

The gates of the Eluvian were thrown open. "Are you still jealous or do you want to go on an adventure?"

Tamiya looked at the human girl. She looked beautiful, her black hair and dark skin intensely highlighted by the magic. Her mouth twisted from a pout to a cautious smile as she offered her hand. Milly took it graciously.


---


The first memory was Maya's bedroom. It was snowing outside, and the changeling, only about three or four, watched it fall. Judging by the broom at her feet, Maya was supposed to be cleaning. Instead, she looked at the mirror. She looked sad and excited at the same time.

The bedroom door opened. "Maya, come here." Her father said sternly. Maya rushed toward him. "There's a baby in the house now. You can't slack off on your cleaning or Amelia might get sick. You don't want that now, do you?"

"No, sir." Maya said quietly.

The second memory began with Maya cleaning the mirrors in the house. Her parents were gone and they wouldn't be back for a long time. A crack of thunder came from outside and Milly started crying, scared of the sound. Maya dropped her cleaning supplies, and the memory became fuzzy until the young girl reentered the room. She paced with the child, trying to calm her down.

Maya looked at the front door. She pushed Milly's red locks underneath the bonnet and started to sing. It was a song she had heard in her dreams, reminiscent of one she had heard long ago.

"I hear your voice on the wind.

And I hear you call out my name.

Listen my child, you say to me.

I am the voice of your history.

Be not afraid, come follow me.

Answer my call and I'll set you

Free!
"

Milly quieted, and Maya smiled. She heard her parents approaching and quickly ran to put the baby back in the crib.

The third memory was much farther into the future. The changeling lay restlessly in her bed, unable to get comfortable. She jolted when the thunder cracked and rain pounded against her window.

As the storm raged on, Milly pushed open the door to Maya's bedroom. "Maya? I can't sleep. Can I lay down with you?" The two-year-old asked.

Maya was quiet for a long time. "Yes, Milly. Come here." The toddler ran towards Maya's bed and crawled under the covers.

After that, Milly remembered the scenes. Yet in her mind they were different. Milly had never thought Maya had changed until after the elves came to Falcon's Bridge, but subtlety she had changed before that. She was quieter, sadder, and questions Milly remembered being given sad but honest answers to were in reality met with cutting criticism and annoyance.

Of course, knowing now what her sister had gone through it made sense that Maya was sullen and jaded. But it made Milly question her intentions. Was she seeking Maya to find her sister and be reunited with her, or was she seeking resolution?

Many memories passed before one Milly could not place was shown. Maya entered an aravel with Edna, the Hahren of the Aloten. "My time in the Garden has reached its end. Carry my staff now, Aelita Durgenbora, for you will take my place as Hahren." She offered the staff on her back the changeling.

Aelita? That was who Tamiya was looking for! Maya and Aelita were the same person? She refused. "No! You will survive! I am not ready!"

Edna took her tiny hands and placed them on the staff. "Take Erahalam. The bond is yours now. Be wise, da'len, and do whatever it takes to survive."

"But-" Maya argued.

"Hush! Don't disobey me, da'len." The Hahren hissed. Maya grew nervous. "Bad things are coming. Have courage." She said more gently.

Milly frowned deeply. "Maya is Aelita? She... changed her name? She didn't tell me that..."

"Maybe it was too dangerous for her to tell anyone." Tamiya offered. The novelist agreed silently. After all, Maya's connections to the Aloten had been what sparked what she'd dubbed the Falcon's Descent.


---


A man dressed in intimidating leather armor pushed Maya into a tiny hut where a tall woman who was dressed beautifully waited. She rather roughly removed Maya's dirty, ragged clothes and pushed her into the stool. The woman played with Maya's hair, bouncing it in her hands, ignoring the sticks and twigs. "You have beautiful hair," The woman said flatly.

"Thank you," Maya replied weakly, her voice shaky. The woman moved behind her, and she held Maya's long hair over her head. She took a pair of scissors to it, and the changeling watched in horror as her hair fell, now not even reaching her ears. Her hands jumped up to her mouth, and the woman began to shave what little remained of her hair off with a razor. It fell in clumps to the floor, and when the woman finally finished, the elf rubbed her now bare scalp.

The woman pushed Maya off of the stool and threw a dirty tunic into her hands. "Go on. Get to work."

Maya looked up at her in confusion. "I don't know where I'm supposed to go." She pulled the dirty tunic over her head.

The woman rolled her eyes. "Go find Mirianye! Go on!"


---


An elven woman called Maya into a hut. She seemed sad, but after the last memory, Milly didn't find this very strange. She took Maya's shoulders and spoke carefully. "Aelita… you know as well as I do that you will not survive much longer if you stay here." She tried to protest, but the woman quieted her. "I don't want you to die, sweet thing. It's always sad when a young person like you dies in a place like this. Please, child, don't fight me on this. You do not want to die."

Maya hung her head. The woman handed Aelita clothes, a bikini-like shirt, a long blue glove to cover her vallaslin, and a skirt that wrapped around her legs. Then she slid a gold bracelet onto her arm and wrist, tied a black choker around her neck and pulled a necklace made of red and blue beads over her head.

She grabbed the paint off of the desk next to the stool Maya sat on. She spun her brush in the stuff and painted her eyes and lips. Finally she dabbed a bit of perfume under her chin and held her chin in her hand. "You look beautiful."

She helped Maya up, and she turned her around so she could look at herself in the mirror. Milly started to shake when she watched the wave of realization hit her. She looked up at the woman and asked with desperation in her voice, "Mamae Asha, what do I do?"

"Just be nice to the gentlemen, 'Lita. They'll be nice to you."

There was a lapse in the memory, as if it was responding to Milly's sadness and shame. "Oh, gods! Maya... Poor Maya!" She sobbed.

Tamiya took her shoulders. "Oh, Milly, don't cry." The next memory was already prepared. Maya was smiling. She was running her fingers through the hair that was growing back, slowly but surely. "Look, she's happy now!"

Milly looked up. It was true, her sister looked happy. As happy as she could, at least. Sadness still lingered in her eyes. The door opened and she turned. Milly actually recognized the man who entered-James Finson. They'd met in a town about two hundred kilometers north of where this memory took place, and about the same timeframe, but Milly couldn't have known that.

Maya's happy expression vanished. She stood and backed against the wall. "Please, no." The novelist could feel her heart breaking, and yet she couldn't stop. It was as if she had stomped on the pieces of her own heart.

The changeling danced around him for a while, trying to get him to lose interest, or perhaps trying to gain the upper hand. She squirmed away from him every chance that she got. But unfortunately Finson eventually grew tired of it, grabbed her and forced her into the bed.

Milly grabbed her head and fell to her knees once more. "NO!" She screamed, and the memory fractured. "I don't want to see this! I DON'T WANT TO SEE THIS!" She was sobbing uncontrollably as she wondered if knowing was worth the suffering.

The memory faded again. Maya was now pushing her hair into a wig cap and fixing a red wig to her head, her breasts bound. A human woman with long blonde hair tied back into a low ponytail hugged her from the side. "What's cooking, good looking?" The human asked with a light kiss on the cheek.

"Creator's blood, Anaïs, but you are terrible!" Maya laughed. She looked at the human, gently touching their hands. It was a loving gesture, but something about it felt reserved. "What manner of unspeakable evil have you got planned for us today?"

"Oh, Tathas! You are such a tease!" The woman, Anaïs, laughed. Tathas now, was it? She walked over to the door. "You know very well that I love to speak of it!" The two girls laughed as Maya grabbed a large brown backpack. "Come now. Nobles won't rob themselves."

"But they will rob us!" Maya called out as the memory faded again.


---


Maya caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror as she entered the room of a noblewoman in the next memory. "Miss Elisabeth?" She called out.

A dark haired noble in her undergarments appeared from behind a Nihonjin style screen. "Oh, are you a new slave? Thank the gods. Tell me, I'm to meet my future husband today and I need to know which of these goes better with my eyes!" She pulled out three pretentious dresses, one violet, one pink and one yellow.

Maya looked confused for a moment. "Pink never goes out of style." She reasoned.

Miss Elisabeth smiled. "You are absolutely right."

And it faded. Now no one could be seen, but voices could be heard, though she could only barely make it out. "So, when do we find this treasure you promised, and how do you know that it is still here?" A young man's voice asked.

"Well, the door was shut, there's that," Maya said, "Although the treasure can't be too much farther, I doubt it has any real value to anyone other than the People."

"Still, this is a good chance to learn something." The young man said. A secret wall opened. The young man, whom Milly recognized as Maya's husband, spotted the mirror that held the memory. His eyes moved to the skeleton of a person who had died in his armor and with his blade. "Gods above. This man died to protect these things," He said as he approached it.

Maya nodded sadly. "Many died here, in case the shemlen broke our defenses and tried to steal our artifacts. The ultimate humiliation would have been to have died at the hands of something you created." She explained. She approached the skeleton and sang a song to it.

The young man stood and searched the room. "Do you know what any of these things are?" He asked.

"Some of them, yes. The mirror is called an Eluvian. Every clan has one, and a person who maintains it." She cringed. "You don't want to be around a broken Eluvian. Actually, you'd better avoid that one, just in case it's passed its use-by date. Everything else here, I don't know. I've never heard of these things. Well, except the coins, but those are self-explanatory."

The couple rummaged through the old items. Maya's husband found a gauntlet that opened into a sword, which he slid on his arm. "The elves seemed really advanced, contrary to our stories. The humans say that your people were savages."

"They still say that." She said flatly.

And as it faded for the last time, Milly could feel her heart aching still. She couldn't take much more. Maya brushed her hair, and she pushed it out of her face. She was dressed in finery, much too fancy for the rags she'd been shown in earlier memories. "Don't freak out," Her husband said as he approached her from behind. She smiled as he tied a necklace around her. They were small beads of jade, and she obviously loved it.

"I must have done something good to meet you, ma vhenan." She turned so she could kiss him. It lacked the reservation that the kiss she'd given Anaïs had. He wrapped his arms around her, and they were still for a while.

Maya looked at his hand, and Milly saw how much it looked like tree roots. "Does it trouble you?" She asked.

"Not so much anymore. It's useful too." He said. "Besides, it reminds me of you."

"Jeremie, stop. You're making me blush." She teased him.

He offered her his arm. "Let's get a move on. Laura won't hold the party until we get there."

"Believe me when I say that the only thing we've missed out on is Emily's pre-drinking." Maya joked.

Party? Maya realized that what they were seeing was a recent memory. Maya had been in front of a mirror only hours ago, at the castle! She was in too much of a hurry for proper emotions to spread on her face. She severed the memories and demanded the Eluvian take them to the castle. She dragged Tamiya through the glass, ignoring her pleas for a moment to rest.

The castle Eluvian was locked in a cell, but Milly always carried a full set of lock picks. Her arms and hands were small, so she easily reached through the bars. While not being able to see what she was doing was a hindrance, she opened it with little trouble, and forced the gate open. Tamiya, panicking, chased after her.

"Maya! Maya!" Milly called through the halls. She attracted the attention of many guards, who all tried to capture her. She punched one in the face and ignored the others.

Eventually she came to the ballroom. There actually weren't many people inside, only about thirty or so. The guard wasn't lying when she said it was a small party. She scanned the faces in the crowd.

Maya stood across the room with her husband. They laughed with their friends. "Maya!" Milly shouted for the last time.

The changeling, confusion written on her face, looked over at her sister. Shock spread across her face, and she dropped the glass she held.

"Milly?" She asked.
Episode 6: the Empress' Favor

14th of Umbralis, 4:99 East

Milly had always been an early bird, unlike Maya. Father said it was because Maya was lazy that she would sleep all day if you let her, while Mother said it was because she stayed up so late. Either way, Milly knew why: Poor Maya always looked so sad and it kept her up so late, and the fact she was always forced to rise with the sun often made her sick. But Father knew that the best way to fix the 'sleep weakness' was through hard work, so Maya was always working.

But Amelia Tyron, future novelist, would not let her beloved sister work hard and never have fun! So she woke up early and snuck into her sister's bed chamber. Gently, she called her name. "Mimi. Mimi! Maya, wake up!"

Maya yelped and shot up, her hair messy and out of its usual braids. Milly always loved Maya's rosy hair, and she never understood why Mother made her hide it. She made Milly hide hers, too, of course, but Milly's hair was curly and tangled easily.

"Amelia! What are you doing?" The eight-year-old asked.

"Come on! Let's go play in the gardens!" Milly said almost too loudly.

Maya quieted her, but she got out of bed and dressed quickly. They ran down the stairs and into the garden, where the moon lilacs were closing up and the sun roses had turned towards the ever-so-distant sunlight. Milly and Maya pretended to be faeries as they leapt between the flowers, picking up dirt to sprinkle like pixie dust.

Milly had never seen Maya so happy. There was a light in her eyes she'd hidden. Maya was so happy being outside, dancing in the sun, laughing. Maybe Father was wrong. Maybe freedom would cure Aelita's sleep weakness.

But no good thing could last. "MAYA!" Father's voice bellowed from above. Maya froze and shrank. She frowned at her sister before running inside.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

Laura was so deep in her library that even she didn't know exactly where she was. Spread out on the large, generously lit table in front of her were what few maps of the Uncharted South her library had. All of them seemed old and none of went further than the northern most part of the territory. Still she scrutinized every one, looking for something specific. Christophe had once mentioned a city called Ngemby, but it was either too far south to be on the crude maps she possessed or it was too small to be considered noteworthy.

She yelped when Jeremie snuck up behind her. "Judging by his accent and the knowledge Vigilance has given me, Christophe is most likely from a country called Mesoaiyuttos, a desert country famed in the South for the fertile fields that are flooded by the rivers, and their sculptures." He said, his eyes glowing slightly. "However, the gods he invokes are from ancient Oupavoxeivos, or it's more modern name, Syelkimba. That's likely where Ngemby is."

She whirled around to face him. "And how would Vigilance know that?" Laura demanded.

Jeremie took a step back, raising his hands to show he was harmless. "When I'm asleep, Vigilance wanders in the Beyond, peaking into dreams and memories. He's been doing this long before I was even born, and so he knows the nuances of many cultures." With a smile, he added, "When the war is over, I'd like to take Aelita to the South. There are so many things to see there that no one from Medieuropa has seen, and Vigilance tells me that the elves there are more accepting."

The Empress sighed. "Don't get lost. I need you in court." He seemed confused so she clarified, "Who else can tell me who plans to assassinate me from three kilometers away?" Jeremie laughed. He'd been smiling so much more lately. It was nice to see but also, in some strange way, disconcerting.

"Maybe you shouldn't work so hard. Have you relaxed at all since we came back?" The Wise Man suggested.

"A little. Between trying to coordinate war efforts and fixing and growing an empire, I've got too much to do to be relaxing."

Jeremie nodded in response and a moment of pregnant silence opened between them. Just as the Fair was about to turn back to her maps though, he brought up the subject that had brought him here. "Laura, I know that you're experimenting with blood magic." Jeremie said firmly. "Are you taking precautions? What kind of demon is it?"

"I--" She seemed angry for a moment before realizing spreading falsehoods to a human lie detector was pointless. "It's a pride demon, I think."

"That's dangerous." He warned.

"You don't think I know that?" The Fair shouted. Quietly, she added, "I am so afraid of it. But I can't stop."

"It's an addiction. That's how they get you." The Wise Man said. "You should talk to Aelita. Maybe she can mentor you."

"I would love to talk to Aelita about blood magic, but she'll think that I'm trying to hurt or insult her. And I can't blame her for thinking that." She pulled her arms in. "I am so... I don't know how to approach her."

Jeremie took Laura's shoulder. His face was stony as he said, "As an equal."

---

30th of Cassus, 5:01 Guardian

Milly knew that her first novel would be based on Maya. But what could she write? Maya only ever stayed in the house and did chores. She didn't go on adventures. She didn't seem the adventurous type.

The only solution Milly, Ace Reporter, could conceive was to ask her sister what sort of adventure she would go on. She grabbed charcoal and a roll of paper and found her sister in the kitchen. However, instead of preparing dinner, she was on the floor, crying into her hands. The side of her face was bloody, and it appeared to be swelling. "Maya!" Milly shouted, coming to her sister's aid.

"Oh, Milly, you shouldn't see me like this." Maya sobbed.

"What happened?"

"I was just asking if he'd teach me... teach me to..." She started crying harder. "Oh gods, Milly! Why am I so terrible at everything?!"

Her younger sister comforted her. She hugged her tightly and quieted her sobs. "Thank goodness I came in when I did." Milly said when the swelling went down some. When Maya asked why she'd come in, she explained.

Maya was quiet for a very long time. "I would want to turn into a bird and fly far, far away. So far that nobody would ever find me ever again."

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

'As an equal', Jeremie had said. Laura abandoned her heavy gowns and jewelry. She let her hair down and dug out the clothes that she had worn so often when they first travelled around Lyoko. They were, however, still too fine of quality. She would come off as too 'princessy'.

She asked one of the servants who was about her size to loan her some plain clothes, and she was given a dark blue tunic and an evergreen shawl with a hood. She wore a black skirt and unadorned boots as well.

Hoping her more modest appearance would make her come across as more humble, she wandered through the castle until she found Aelita in the garden.

Judging by the stacks of books next to her, Aelita was supposed to be practicing reading, but instead she looked out over the flowers. They were all dried from the drought, and every so often Aelita would conjure water to help them. She wore a long dress, the top half black and the skirt was long and decorated with tight magenta roses.

"Can I help you?" The Outcast asked rudely.

"Yes. I mean, I hope so. But it's a really big secret." She rubbed her arms. "I need your help."

"Why? Are you trying to seduce Christophe or something?"

"Minerva's mercy, no!" Laura said with flushed cheeks. "This is... about blood magic."

Aelita stood and turned. "Blood magic?" She asked flatly. She searched Laura's face for any signs of deception, of mockery or of cruelty, but found none. Instead it was colored with a hundred shades of fear and worry. "Don't tell me that you..."

"Yes. I am." Laura took a few steps closer.

"Are you crazy? If you're discovered, you'll either be tried for corruption and executed, or even worse, create a country ruled by blood mages!"

"And that's why I need your help!" She shouted, and then calmed herself. "You kept your secret hidden for months from us, and years from many others. I need your help, Aelita, or I'm going to die, or worse." Aelita seemed conflicted, which she couldn't blame her for.

The Fair waited for a very long time as Aelita wrestled with the idea in her mind. Eventually she grew impatient.

"I'm the fucking Empress. What do you want in exchange for your help?"

"I want freedom for the slaves of Lyoko and reparations." Aelita said quickly, as if she'd blurted it out before thinking.

"I was already going to do that. You repeating it won't make it happen any faster." Laura rolled her eyes. "What do you want?"

"Exclusive bragging rights! 'Haha, I was right, blood magic is useful' and all that." She added.

"You are not very good at this, are you." Laura rubbed her temples. "I offer... an official position in my court. Something like... Ambassador of the Elvhen to the Imperial Court, or Arcane Enchanter to the Empress, or something. A position offering real political power."

"Deal."

"You are not good at this! You could've driven your price higher!"

Aelita blushed. Laura couldn't blame the Outcast for her less than perfect negotiation skills. She'd had to fight for everything she had. She looked away, and the elven girl asked, "Can I ask you for a favor?"

"Of course."

"Will you... heal my scars? Please?"

Laura laughed. "I recall you saying something along the lines of, 'don't you touch me, Imperialist'."

The Outcast flinched. However, she recovered quickly and retorted, "I recall you saying, 'if your savage parents hadn't abandoned you, you would've known not to accept the proposal of a demon'."

"Minerva's mercy, did I sound that bad? I'm turning into my father!" The Empress shuddered.

Aelita waved her off. "No, your father was a different breed of ignorant--the kind that wouldn't try to learn." She pulled her arms in. "It's just... I'm starting my life over, Laura! And so long as I'm doing it... I just want a clean slate and..." She started to walk away. "This is stupid. Forget I said anything."

But the Empress caught her shoulder and smiled gently. She said in a voice that was almost motherly, "It'll take longer than it should because of the blood, but yes, I'll help you."

---

20th of Eluviesta, 5:03 Guardian

The door to Maya's bedchamber was still open, and Milly quietly peeked inside. She saw her sister, her bonnet thrown lazily to the side, focusing on a flower pot. Maya held out her hands and took a deep breath in. The flower grew tremendously, budding and blossoming within a minute.

Maya let out a small cheer, and to Milly's surprise, the break in her concentration did not result in the flower wilting or shattering the pot. "Wow! You're getting really good!" Milly encouraged.

Her sister jumped. "Amelia! What are you doing?"

"I came to ask if you wanted to hang out with me today, so I can get more material for my story." Milly said.

Maya ran towards the door and held it. "Go away, Milly." She said cruelly. Maya slammed the door shut with all of her might, ice collecting on the door frame. It would later permanently damage it.

Milly was frozen for a few moments. "Okay, bye." She finally said quietly.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

Laura had taken them down a level in the castle, not so close to the dungeons but still rather secluded. The walls were plain stone with no ornaments that made the place look homier. There were a few dark windows and a fireplace, but still the atmosphere was cold. It seemed fitting. Aelita presented the Fair with her dagger, the one she'd taken from James Finson, and Laura couldn't help but wonder why she had kept it for all those years. Was it a reminder, or a trophy? "You should always keep a blade with you. It will act as secondary defense, and it can draw blood more quickly than your teeth or nails." She smiled briefly. "Cutting your hand or wrist is traditional, but you'll experience less pain if you cut your leg."

"Good to know." Laura said. She looked around the room, taking note of the dim fire in the hearth, and the tinted windows. "So what's lesson number one?"

"That depends. What are you looking for?" Aelita asked. When Laura didn't answer, she clarified. "I was looking for freedom. Most people are looking for power. Some think it'll make them better mages. The list goes on."

"I'm not sure what I'm looking for." She admitted.

The Outcast sighed. "Then we'll start with some things that'll make you a better healer. Blood magic can make blood transfusions easier, if they're necessary, and can sterilize open wounds, often even making them heal faster, though it leaves scars. You should also know that you can send isolated distress signals with blood magic." She sat down on the floor, stretching out. "All of this causes pain, however."

"Those seem like things doctors should know." Laura said. "People might be less afraid of them." Although the threat of pain was still frightening, she noted.

"Maybe," Aelita murmured.

---

18th of Solis, 5:03

Milly watched as Maya and Murray were dragged away towards the Oubliette. She was so scared, but Maya was not. She was angry and hurt, and she could not tear her eyes from the Knight Templar. Milly fearfully looked at the pyre where the elven Hahren burned, but she could not keep her eyes on it.

Eva Skinner started to run after the magistrates who had arrested her friends, wanting them to either release them or take her with them. Her mother ran and grabbed her shoulders, holding her back. Father grabbed Milly and forced her to watch Edna burn, a sight she would see every night in her dreams for years to come.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

Aelita showed nonviolent forms of the magic. She could use it to dispel barriers and, in a strange turn of events, could use it to cleanse cursed objects but said it was so rare and difficult that it was hardly worth mentioning. She also noted that she was incapable of doing so, or she would have tried to fix Yumi's mask.

Laura was amazed that blood magic could cleanse. She thought it could only corrupt. Aelita explained that it was supposed to lure spirits towards the curse and then away, but again added she'd never accomplished it.

---

18th of Molioris, 5:05 Guardian

Milly slowly opened the door to Maya's bedchamber. She wasn't there. She hadn't been for two whole years. The town hated the Tyron family now, for allegedly hiding an alleged blood mage. It was all allegedly. But Milly maintained Maya was not a blood mage, and if she was, she had her reasons.

The young author sat down on her sister's bed, and then fell back. "Happy name day, Maya." She muttered. She would've been thirteen years old.

Milly then began to sob uncontrollably. Oh, poor Maya! She must have hated the entire town by now, if she still lived! The young girl covered her eyes and wept into them. She was unsure of how long exactly she lay weeping in Maya's chamber but she knew that it was getting closer to dinner. Crying for so long left her hungry, and so she finally stood, straightened the blankets and left the room.

She walked closer to the kitchen and froze to listen to her parents. "...should have let her stay here. She's a disgrace. I should have let you kill her." Mother said, anger obvious in her voice. Quieter, she added, "No, I don't mean that. But..."

"We should have kept her in chains," Father said.

"She would have escaped anyway!" Mother argued. "Ugh, I was a fool to ever think a bitchborn changeling could ever be a part of this family."

This news startled Milly. Maya was a changeling? Of course she knew that she and Maya were not related by blood, anyone with eyes could see it. But Milly had always assumed her parents had adopted Maya out of the goodness of their hearts. Now she heard that Father had wanted to kill her when they found her, that she should've had a human sister?

Milly ran away and closed herself up in her chamber. She thought for a very long time. Who was this mysterious sister? Was she more like Milly than Maya was, or less? If she was, would that be a good thing or bad?

No, Amelia thought finally, it didn't matter who her blood sister was. Maya was her real sister, and she was going to either find her or die trying, that was for damn sure.

Milly grabbed a pack and shoved it full of clothes. She snuck into her parents' chamber and stole almost all of the money in the emergency jar. She folded up clothes and blankets, stashed in her notebooks and wrapped her charcoal. Then she tied a rope to the post of her bed and climbed out the window.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

"Using your blood as a weapon is a dangerous thing. Every drop you waste makes you weak. I prefer to use my blood only as a catalyst and then turn my foe's blood against them." Aelita said as she sliced at her hand. Fire engulfed her body. "But Hunger showed me other ways."

Laura watched intently as Aelita demonstrated a blood sword. It was capable of many different forms, such as rapier, longsword and even a Zweihänder, even though demonstrating this left her weaker. She collapsed the sword and created a ring around herself. She explained how it could be used to deflect attacks or as a weapon.

Aelita turned away and began throwing punches at the air, causing blasts of her blood to strike at the wall. One such blast actually left an indent in the stone walls.

The Outcast demonstrated a few more techniques, such and a shield and a throwing spear, before she fell to her knees and closed the wound on her hand. "Forgive me, this is exhausting." Aelita apologized.

"But it is useful." Laura said, helping her to her feet. "Does Hunger speak to you when you use blood magic?"

"Yes. And Pride will speak to you." She confirmed. "But just remember to counteract its logic. For me, I think of how happy I am with the things I have to fight desire. You must remain humble."

"You've met me, haven't you?" Laura joked. Oddly, Aelita laughed. "Come on, it's getting late. How about we go out to a tavern, to avoid having to explain to the others why we were together." She mentally added that the two reeked with the scent of blood magic, and many if not all of the people they'd eat with would notice.

"Is the chef not making your favorite foods?" The elven girl mocked. Laura rolled her eyes and helped Aelita out of the castle. Eventually the Outcast could walk well enough on her own that Laura's help was awkward and redundant.

Aelita had to admit, the Fair was being almost nice to her. It was strange and uncomfortable after everything the two had put each other through. Out of everything that had happened, it was blood that was bringing them closer.

The tavern was small, and no one recognized them, which was a blessing. They found a table in the corner. The waitress came over and greeted them. "Welcome to the Rampant Cat, my name is Veronique, what can I get for you? And don't say mead or rum. We haven't gotten a shipment of that yet, not until next week. And don't say whiskey."

"When are you getting a shipment of whiskey?" Aelita asked.

"Oh, no, we have whiskey, it just tastes terrible." The waitress said. The bartender heard this and shouted for Veronique to be quiet.

"We actually would just like something to eat." Laura said with a half-smile. The waitress seemed surprised but listed the day's specials. The two Heroines ordered and waited.

They sat in silence for a long time. It was driving her mad, so Laura said, "So. How much of what Edna taught you did you work into your... routine?" She was talking about blood magic. Aelita didn't realize that.

"Very little. Edna more or less taught me how to straight up fight, but you learn how to be more fluid and get more power from what Mamae Asha taught me." Aelita was talking about dancing. Laura didn't know that.

"Ah. I... see." Laura shifted and was quiet for a moment. "Then are you going to teach me those things?"

Aelita's cheeks turned red. "I don't see why you'd need to know the things I was taught."

"I just thought it would be useful to know how you fight, so I could incorporate it into my own fighting style."

"Wait." The Outcast furrowed her brows. "What are we talking about?"

"...Magic?"

She burst out laughing. "Oh, yes, that makes so much more sense!" The waitress returned and gruffly dropped off their meals, leaving without a word. "I thought that you were asking me about my routine at the Gypsy. For Christophe."

Now it was Laura's turn to have red cheeks. "Nononononooo! That's not it at all!" She buried her face into her hands and then shoved a forkful of food into her mouth. Aelita laughed again before eating.

Laura, trying to hide her embarrassment, finished eating long before Aelita did, and spent the free time afterwards explaining why she was sorry for insinuating that she teach her that, albeit accidentally. Aelita, on the other hand, just seemed to grow more exhausted. Eventually, she put her head down and started to sleep.

"What's wrong? Did you get drugged or something? You didn't have anything to drink..." Laura said. Aelita didn't stir, and so she examined the tavern. They were few people in it, and no one was watching them. Then she spotted the waitress. Either Veronique had gotten a haircut in the short time they'd been in the Rampant Cat, or this woman was not her.

The waitress noted that Aelita had fallen asleep and went behind the bar. She strapped on a breastplate engraved with the symbol of the magistrates. Laura threw coins onto the table and grabbed Aelita. She then ran out of the tavern.

She dragged Aelita through the dim and partially rebuilt streets of the Capital for a long time before ducking into a rubble strewn alley. Panting from the effort, she considered leaving her there for half a second before banishing the thought. Instead she glanced around the deserted alley then removed her tunic and shawl as well as Aelita's dress. She quickly switched their clothes, making sure that the hood was pulled over Aelita's head. The pink hair was a dead giveaway.

Satisfied that Aelita was adequately disguised and still feeling exhausted the Fair again dragged Aelita's limp body through the streets of the Capital. A glance back showed that she hadn't lost the magistrate and as the armored figure moved closer The Fair began to panic. Luckily, she found a crevice caused by an explosion, and she shoved Aelita into it before crawling in herself. She covered her mouth with her hand, and tried to regulate her breathing.

The magistrate walked past, but she seemed preoccupied. She looked around as Laura prayed that they went unnoticed. Aelita grunted, adjusting her position. The magistrate moved for the sound. Laura, frightened by her sudden movement, started casting a fire spell. It launched too quickly and filled the narrow street with a sharp crack and bright blue light. Blinded, deafened and disoriented by the lightning bolt, the magistrate stumbled back, and while she was awfully confused, Laura didn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

She was running once again, and she quickly went through a list of places where they could hide. However, the magistrate caught up with them, grabbing the tunic that Aelita had been made to wear. Laura yelped as the Outcast was ripped from her shoulders. She turned and slashed at her foe with Aelita's dagger, cutting at her face. She then cut her own wrist, summoning the blood like Aelita had taught her--it was a more potent weapon, after all.

She created a circle of blood and threw punches. The magistrate dodged some of the blood blasts, but more than one struck at her breastplate, and one struck her leg, bringing her to her knee. Laura rushed forward and kicked the magistrate's head, knocking her out. She considered killing her, but she closed the wound and simply left her out on the street. Killing a magistrate would bring too much attention, not that, she thought gruffly, her obvious use of blood magic had made the situation any better.

Laura picked Aelita off of the ground and began to run. She didn't stop until she reached an inn, the Old Fox, and she ducked inside. She went up to the innkeeper, who was polishing glasses, and slammed three gold pieces on the counter. "Give me your most secluded room, and pretend we aren't here." She said firmly.

The innkeeper was surprised, but since average fare for a room was ten coppers, she obliged. "Kader! Bring them to the attic room!" She called to her son, who stood and led the girls upstairs. Laura gently placed Aelita on the bed, and she sent a distress signal with blood to Jeremie. When he telepathically contacted her, she simply said that that they would be spending the night at an inn and not to worry.

---

15th of Eluviesta

Aelita stretched as she woke, and she jolted up when she didn't recognize her surroundings. She started breathing heavy until she saw Laura, asleep in the chair across the room. Aelita went through the night's happenings, and she realized she didn't remember leaving the tavern. Mamae Asha had warned her about such a thing a long time ago, but she didn't remember drinking anything, not even water. It must have been in her food, but she doubted any random person could just handle someone's food. An employee, then, she thought.

She shook her head, and realized that whatever happened to her, Laura had prevented anything else from going wrong. She also realized that Laura was wearing her dress. Aelita stood and walked over to the Empress, and she tapped her forehead. "Psst. Laura."

"Hmmm? What is it?" She murmured sleepily.

"I want my dress back. It's got roses on the skirt and it's my favorite." She whispered.

Laura curled her nose in her sleep. "Later!" She hissed as she swatted Aelita away. The Outcast giggled. She was quiet for a moment and then tapped the Fair again. "What?" She asked in an annoyed voice. "I'm tired. Leave me alone!"

"My scars. You haven't healed my scars yet." Aelita reminded her.

"Can it wait until later? I'm tired!" Laura sounded desperate. Such was the way of sleepy people, Aelita thought. She picked up Laura and carried her over to the bed. The Fair was asleep before the Outcast had a chance to tuck her in. Aelita moved to the chair Laura had fallen asleep in and started to meditate. She tried to remember the face of the waitress, but while Veronique's face was still fresh in her mind, her peripheral memories didn't show Veronique. It was someone else, but Aelita couldn't quiet picture her face.

Several hours passed before Laura woke up. "Good morning!" Aelita greeted, and then with a smirk, she added, "Or should I say good afternoon?"

"Shut up." Laura said. At first Aelita thought that their bonding had been for naught, but then she realized the command was sleepy, not rude. "You were saying something, weren't you? I can't remember."

"My scars," Aelita said.

"Oh! Right." Laura nodded as she stood. She wobbled for a moment before she caught her balance again. She was still for a moment as the dizziness faded, and then she motioned for Aelita to sit down on the bed. The Outcast did so, and she removed the tunic and shawl. Her face turned bright red.

This wasn't the first time that Laura had seen Aelita's scars. The first time was at Marsy. It was still disturbing, to see the personal effect of something that you couldn't stop. But she had to be strong. She raised her hands and wove the healing spell, slowly but surely, the scars started to fade. As they faded, Aelita grew more relaxed. This, Laura thought with a smile, could only be a good thing.

---

Milly opened a box of journals that she'd been keeping since she left to find Maya. Her apartment was a mess, boxes everywhere and only her clothes were unpacked, though they were thrown into a corner to be dealt with later. She opened up one such journal. It was from when her journey first started. She'd written so much about wanting to return home at the beginning. She'd missed warm beds and meals. But she was determined to find her sister, and that search had brought her to Capital Lyoko.

Milly had been in the same party as Maya only a few months ago, though she didn't know it. Milly had seen her father at that party and left immediately, not wanting to get caught and dragged back to Falcon's Bridge. Still, the night had not been a total loss-she'd danced with the most handsome boy she'd ever seen. She swooned at the memory and wondered where he was now.

A knock came to her door, which Milly was wary of, since no one should have known that she was there. She grabbed her crossbow and loaded it, hiding it behind the door as she opened it. Eva Skinner stood in her doorway, dressed in a simple red plaid shirt, brown pants and leather boots. "Eva!" Milly exclaimed, gently placing the crossbow on the floor as she hugged an old friend. She looked down at her plain blue tunic and pink stockings. "I'm so sorry! Me and the place are a mess. I'd have cleaned if I'd known you were coming."

"It's okay. I only dropped by to speak to you, anyway." Eva said as she entered the room. Eva was the only person who knew of Milly's quest, and she had been sworn to secrecy.

"I can't help but feel like I'm close." Milly said after closing the door. She smiled. "I can hardly wait to see Maya. I'll bet she's more beautiful now than ever."

"She was in Falcon's Bridge a few months ago." Eva murmured as she looked around the apartment. It was obviously a temporary arrangement. There were only boxes of things and furniture that was provided by the landlord. Nothing that said 'home'. Not a single personal item, not even a piece of art on the wall. "She was travelling with some wanderers, or so I heard. No one really noteworthy."

The young girl spun around. "She was? How long ago?"

"Last I saw her, it was the 1st of Parvulis."

"Ugh! I was all the way in Cahlere." Milly groaned. "Have you seen her here? In Capital Lyoko?"

Eva smiled as she stood. "Actually," She said as she took a few steps forward. "I have. Almost chased her down, too, but she was gone before I could even say her name."

"Do you know where she was staying?"

"No, but I think she might have been travelling with one of the Empress' handmaidens." She sighed. "I don't think she'll speak to me. We ended on a tense note last time. But if you want to find her, all I ask is that you contact me soon after."

Milly took Eva's hands. "Of course, Eva. You miss her too."
Gamma Team Lineup by LynaKiovote
Gamma Team Lineup

The search-and-destroy version of Alpha Team and Beta Team. Trained to deal more with infiltration than straight-up combat, Gamma Team spend most of their time surveying for suspicious activity, and spend the most time of all three groups doing galactic exploration. Because of this their secondary task is finding new planets prime for colonization efforts.

From left to right (Minor Spoilers Ahead):


  1. Elisabeth Delmas (nicknamed Sissi) is the Gamma Team Leader. She was a student on Earth before the Dying reached it. She was raised, as some might say, a spoiled brat, but actually craves deep meaning, which she found in her work for Project Carthage. She was trained to be an effective leader, which she has a natural aptitude for, and can also use a Scipio, pistols and shortswords.
  2. Herve Pichon (nicknamed Edison) is the Gamma Team Specialist. He has a natural aptitude for science and electronics and had studied for years in the field before joining Project Carthage. However, it was only for his training and dedication that he was put into the project; he has no combat skill, not even the basic requirement for the Project. He can use a Scipio and pistols, despite being a terrible shot.
  3. Nicholas Poliakoff (nicknamed Shadow) is the Gamma Team Spy. He is one of the only goblins in the entirety of Project Carthage, mostly because a large percentage of the goblin population was indoctrinated. Goblins are natives of the planet Nehivasha. Many people argued against him playing the role of the Spy, but he volunteered, and their first choice, Kelly, refused. He is a skilled alchemist, and can also use daggers, poisons and smoke.
  4. Anais Fiquet (nicknamed Sharpshooter) is the Gamma Team Guardian. She is one of Aelita's oldest friends, and is very dedicated to her archery training despite her wandering mind. She enchants her own arrows, and also can manipulate nature like all Guardians.
  5. Priscilla Blaise (nicknamed Queen Bee) is one of the three Gamma Team Warriors. She is one of the only Isariates in Project Carthage, due to their veneration of Xana as the God of War. Isariates are native to the planet Lyoko, and Priscilla was raised in a hive of Revelationists, who were responsible for the imprisonment of the immortals that they worshiped as gods, including Xana. She is going to be the next Queen, as shown by her wings. She is trained to use a war hammer, harness her rage to increase attack and can use a sort of hive mind to control weak-willed people and animals.
  6. Kelly of the Beaulie Sea (nicknamed Silent Sister) is one of the three Gamma Team Warriors. She is an Ariella, like Laura, with two differences--firstly, she is from saltwater, and secondly, she gave away her voice so she could walk on land without pain. She is completely mute outside of the water. She uses a spear as her primary weapon, as well as her considerable athleticism and throwing knives.
  7. Jean-Baptiste Pujol (nicknamed Monk) is one of the three Gamma Team Warriors. He was a student on Earth before the Dying reached it. He is extremely devout, which can sometimes get on the nerves of his friends, but he is also dedicated to the cause. He is trained in swordplay, specifically with a type of sword called a gladius, as well as a shield. He also has minor telekinesis.
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Episode 5: Adaptation

9th of Eluviesta

William was disturbed by the news that he had been brainwashed by Xana. The idea that he had been turned against his friends was frightening--even more than the thought of being a vampire's servant. So far, Yumi hadn't ordered him to do anything and maintained that she had only made him her servant so she could break Xana's hold on him, but the vampire's will had created a hive mind. He could also still feel Xana clawing at his mind, trying to break him, to subdue him again. He feared that she would find them through him, and then kill them.

He looked at the city, observing the soldiers who were cleaning up. Despite Laura's best efforts to keep them back, the citizens of Lyoko were returning to the capital. It was understandable; they wanted their lives to go back to normal. He didn't see how they could return to the site of so much death and destruction, however. So Laura had asked for her soldiers to help make the city more livable, and sometimes, through the rubble, William could see citizens walking about, and some even helped the soldiers clean.

He turned to look as Princess Laura entered the room. Empress Laura Gauthier, he reminded himself, and he bowed. She curtsied, her heavy royal blue robes rustling. William wore a black tunic, heavy blue pants and black shoes that laced up. Laura's robes had violet accents and gold embroidery, and her hair was braided and pulled up. The risen Vanguard leaned against the wall and looked out the window. Her dress, his own attire and even that of the other warriors, who hadn't worn armor since returning to the capitol despite the constant presence of their weapons, served only to remind him of how much things changed.

"It's weird to be home again." He said, looking out to the damaged wall. Fixing it properly would be top priority, as soon as she was sure that the people she would send for supplies would be as safe as possible. For now the breach was being filled in with rubble from the city.

"I'm sure it must be. We watched this place burn, and now we're living here again, at least for a while." Laura said, folding her hands delicately across her lap as she sat down. "Have you made any progress with accessing your memories?" She asked.

He shook his head. "No. I wish I had more information to give you." He folded his arms. "I fear that Xana might be keeping it from me."

"She must know that you're gone, but I hope that you are incorrect." She sighed and looked away from the window. "I know we dropped a lot on you the other day. How are you coping?"

"As well as I can. Yumi a vampire, your father dead... this demon after Aelita's soul... I'm afraid this is a bit overwhelming."

"I understand. If I had been in your shoes, I would have trouble accepting it too."

"My lady, about what happened between you and Jeremie..." William started.

Laura held up her hand. "Don't. I broke it off with him. I didn't want us both miserable; it's better this way."

"That doesn't mean you can't mourn the loss."

"What good will that do? It's in the past, and no good will come from me sobbing. Besides, I think I'm finally moving on." There was such hope in her voice that William couldn't help but think she had someone else in mind already. She stood, and she then hugged the Vanguard. "I'm glad that you're safe, William."

He cautiously returned the hug. "As am I, Your Majesty."

---

"Aelita? How are you feeling?" Jeremie asked, knocking on Aelita's bedroom door. She was on the ground floor, closer to the earth for a number of reasons. He wore a long, heavy brown vest with delicate embroidery, and a lighter blue tunic underneath. He took off his shoes before he pushed the door open.

She stood next to the window, but judging by the look on her face, she wasn't looking at anything. The overcast skies weren't providing shapes for her to observe, and though this room overlooked the garden, it consisted of mostly dead flora. The Outcast wore a heavy black sweater--likely belonging to Yumi--and a knee-length floral skirt. She didn't respond to him.

He sighed, but he was simply glad she hadn't locked him out. She must've been too shocked to have even reacted in her typical way--which was to shut down completely. It was understandable, since she'd been isolated most of her life, which had largely been tragic. "I'm right here, if you want to talk."

She was still quiet, though her shoulders shook. She covered her mouth with her hand, likely to hide the fact that her lips had curled in an attempt to hold back tears. "Jeremie, I don't think there is a polite way to say this. I love you, but this topic makes me want to vomit, so if you could kindly piss off, I'd appreciate it."

He chuckled, but his face became stern. He looked at her in silence for a long time. Everything about her seemed new, as if a fog had been lifted. He could see the smallest details about her, from the unevenness of her rosy hair to the faint freckles on her slightly sunburnt nose. He could see the mud between her toes, and the dirt and dried blood under her fingernails. The Wise Man was grateful to the spirit of Vigilance, not only for helping Aelita give him his life back, but for helping him to see why he was fighting all over again.

Aelita shifted, and the sleeve covering her arm fell down. The scars left by blood magic were visible now, as was a long scar that seemed out of place. Jeremie realized that this scar followed a major blood vessel; whatever had caused that scar had tried to kill her. But for such a scar to be present, for her to have been still long enough for it to be as large as it was, it must have been self-inflicted. In that moment he clearly remembered Aelita's story about her life as a slave. He recalled her saying that, just before the slavers caught her, she'd thrown herself off a cliff in hopes of ending her life.

"Aelita," Jeremie said firmly, "I'm not going to 'piss off', as you say. I'm worried about you."

"You don't have to worry! I can take care of myself." She said.

"That's why I'm worried." He explained. She looked at him, confused, and he added, "I'm afraid that you're going to hurt yourself again!" She recoiled, and her posture changed. The Outcast visibly shied away from him, pulling her arms closer to her chest and raising her shoulders nearly to her jaw. She said nothing. "Aelita, please. I want to help. This was all my fault, and I want to fix it! But I can only help if you let me!"

Her eyes widened again, and then she furrowed her brows. "You're right! This is all your fault!" She shouted. He winced and turned his gaze to the floor as she continued, "Why did you call the others to Arlathan? Why?"

"I-I thought it would be safer there! I thought we'd have time to plan and get organized!" He knew that it was pointless to explain. The damage was done. The next words escaped his mouth before he could stop it. "I didn't think they would mind, since we were traveling with you."

"I couldn't get in on my own! What made you think me being there with you would change their feelings?" She demanded.

He kept talking. He couldn't stop, though he knew that he should have. "In Halamshiral, most of the elves didn't even care that we were there. How could I possibly--"

"I didn't let you into Halamshiral! Nim did!" Aelita was furious, her anger darkening her cheeks and shrinking her pupils. She stormed about, tearing at her hair. "Everything is wrong! This never should have happened! I wish… I wish I hadn't… I wish I hadn't brought you back! I wish you were still dead!"

Her words were worse than anything. "A... Aelita, you don't mean that?" He looked back up at her, eyes brimming with tears, "Please, calm down. You know I never meant for this to happen!"

"Shut up! I hate you!" She screamed, covering her ears. He began to think he preferred it when she shut down, as opposed to taking her abuse head on.

"No you don't!" He pleaded.

"Don't tell me what to think!"

"How many times do I have to say I'm sorry? I was only trying to help! I--"

"You want to help?" Aelita shouted, tears in her eyes. "Then leave! Get out!"

"No! I'm not leaving you!"

"Then I'm leaving!" She screamed as she opened the window. He caught her arm, and she used a strong force spell to throw him across the room. Aelita climbed onto the balcony and transformed into an owl before flying away.

Jeremie cursed as he stood. "Why does she always do that?" He hissed. He forced himself to his feet as Ulrich entered the room.

"I heard something. Are you okay?" The Mercenary asked.

"Yeah. Aelita's shut down again, like she did after Marsy." He explained.

Ulrich nodded. "That makes sense. This was traumatic." He folded his arms across his chest. "So, how are we going to pull her out of this one? Seems like she's skipped straight to the 'beat the shit out of my lover' stage."

Jeremie was defensive for a moment. "She didn't... oh, whatever." His eyes became a slightly brighter blue, as if Vigilance were more prominent. His voice grew deeper, furthering this idea. "Aelita's afraid to get emotionally close to people. This is obvious. It likely stems back to her traumatic past, which involves violent people, or people violently leaving. This, too, is obvious." He started to pace. "But what I can't understand is why she refuses to move on, why she won't let anyone help her move past her... well, her past. I understand why it isn't me; I'm not exactly an easy person to talk to. But why not you or Yumi?"

"Because moving past a traumatic experience is hard, and for Aelita, it wasn't just one experience? None of us have any experience that equals what she went through." Ulrich offered. "She was abandoned for her own good by her parents who didn't have enough foresight to be wise, she was raised in a household that physically and emotionally abused her, her mother figure was burned in front of her, she killed her best friend and then she was a slave for four years before murdering her way to freedom." He leaned against the wall. "A lot of us have experienced things that are similar but not all at once. And we can't ignore that she's kept us in the dark about the two years between her escape and when we met her. Judging by the patterns her life goes through? She got into some heavy shit in that time."

The Wise Man sighed. "At some point, she tried to kill herself. I don't know when but it wasn't recently. The scar is pretty old, likely only showing up now because her vallaslin hid her scars." He sighed. "But why? It didn't hide the scars left by whips. Why hide some scars but not all of them?"

Ulrich shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe it only hid wounds that she inflicted on herself?"

"That... makes a lot of sense. But who or what saved her? Why didn't that cut kill her?"

"Maybe it was destiny."

Jeremie laughed as he pushed his hair out of his face. "I don't believe in destiny."

Ulrich hid a smirk. "Still, I don't know how any of this helps us. Aelita doesn't seem to think on her past."

The Wise Man's eyes lit up. "Then maybe we should focus on her future."

---

Hiroki looked at the mirror. He wanted to see his reflection but was unable to. So he stood in front of Yumi's vanity, staring at where his face should have been reflected and instead only seeing the calm, dark bed chamber provided for the Colonist.

He finally opened his mouth and felt his teeth. They were large, pointy and unnatural. He felt large, pointy and unnatural. Everything around him was too soft and fragile.

As he tried to grow used to his new body, he noticed the door swing open in the mirror. Hiroki turned to see his sister standing there, quiet as a mouse. "You'll never see yourself in the mirror again, you know." Yumi said, harsh words offered in a light tone.

"I don't get it. Why haven't you tried to cure yourself?" Hiroki asked.

"Because the easiest way to cure vampirism is to kill the forebear, but I didn't have one. I was cursed." Yumi sighed as she ran her fingers through her hair. "I think Patrick, Jeremie's cousin in the magistrates, is looking for a way to cleanse the cursed relic and cure me, but so far, he hasn't made any progress."

Hiroki still looked confused, so Yumi explained the Masque of the Black Rabbit in more detail. He didn't seem comforted by the idea of the Masque, but he didn't say anything and simply left the room. Yumi watched him leave, and then sighed heavily as she looked through her bags.

The Masque of the Black Rabbit was still there, the crack still present. She wondered if the Red Scholars knew that she'd taken it, and she wondered even more if it could hurt her any more than it had.

Why was it so difficult to let a cursed, forgotten relic go? She felt so safe holding it, like it was a security blanket from her childhood. She buried it under her things once more.

---

Emily looked up at the grey sky. She leaned against the side of the ship and closed her eyes for a moment. She took in the sea breeze, and the gentle swaying of the ship. Suddenly, the pirate queen stood up straight, and she turned to look at the makeshift dock. Aelita stood quietly, and Emily could tell something was wrong. "Permission to come aboard?" The Outcast shouted.

Emily nodded, and Aelita slowly boarded the pirate ship. Emily jumped when she saw that her markings were gone. "Gods! What happened to your face?" The other elven girl frowned deeply, and the captain quickly corrected her words. "I'm sorry. I… guess I sort of assumed that they were permanent?"

"So did I," Aelita admitted sadly. "Can we talk somewhere in private?"

"Sure, let's go up to my cabin." Emily said as she stretched. "You can explain why you look so bitter."

"I'm not bitter." Aelita said bitterly, with a bitter expression. Emily smiled and shook her head before leading her up to her quarters. The pirate sat down immediately, but the Outcast fumbled around, making two cups of tea. Emily would never admit it, but Aelita's cooking was actually terrible. She cooked like an elf, and elves were more focused on the practicality of the food, as opposed to the taste. So she politely drank the tea, which was slightly less bitter than Aelita's expression.

"What's up?" Emily asked.

Aelita explained what had happened during the battle for Capital Lyoko, and what had occurred afterwards, in Arlathan. She explained the necromantic ritual, and the trial. Then, she looked forlornly at her arm, tracing the long scar. Emily watched her do so, and remembered the night that it had happened. She remembered the blood--there was so much of it that it stained the sheets, so much blood that the caretaker who washed the sheets was shocked, even though it hadn't been the first time that stained fabric had come to her--and she remembered Aelita's eyes, closed as if she was asleep and not on death's door. It had been one of the scariest nights of Emily's life, though it wasn't among the memories that woke her in cold sweats on nights where the sea shook her ship.

Emily looked away. There were things from her life before that she had no choice but to carry with her, as no doubt Aelita did as well. But where Emily tried to move on, Aelita still lived. She was frozen in time, forever a child forced into a world of silken fabrics and forced smiles to men who came to touch. The pirate queen wondered what would have happened to her if Aelita had stayed with her. Would she have become a pirate, too? No, she decided, it seemed more likely that they would have parted ways eventually. Emily looked to the art she displayed above her bed, noting in particular the crest of the Falonen u'Tathas--the Friends of Tathas. That, she concluded with a small sigh, was likely the group that Aelita would have joined.

There was a long pause as the two runaway slaves sat in silence. The breeze caused the ship to creak, and shouts could be heard from Emily's crew. "Emily…" Aelita murmured, and the captain looked at her. Aelita rubbed her hands, obviously a lot on her mind. So many scars and bruises were visible. The Outcast had never looked so… fragile. "Am I crazy?!" She suddenly blurted out.

She laughed loudly. "Yes, but in a good way."

"I was so mean. Beyond mean--I was cruel." She said sadly. "I don't understand why I do this. Am I insane? Or am I just being selfish? I…"

"Selfish people live longer." The pirate queen said. She swirled the tea in her cup. She might have started to acquire a taste for it.

"I've lost everything," She whispered. "I have nothing. I've been exiled and abandoned and… and I don't know what to do!"

"You haven't lost everything. You have your friends, and you have me." Emily covered her heart with her hands daintily. "We always said we'd be friends forever!"

Aelita wasn't in the mood to joke. "We never said that."

"We didn't? We should have."

"Emily, I'm being serious! What am I supposed to do?"

Emily thought for a moment. "I think that you should think of this as a chance to reinvent yourself." She said firmly. "You've always identified yourself by how others saw you. Now is your chance to be who you want to be. Look at me! I decided that I was going to own a ship, and now I have a ship! So, say you wanted to be… fuck, I don't know. An author or something. Then you should just… start writing and become an author." Emily rubbed her forehead. She wasn't very good at pep talks. She added that to a list of New Year's resolutions before realizing it was far too late in the year for that sort of thing.

Aelita was quiet for an awfully long time. "I should probably learn how to read first."

"Good! Make achievable goals! I like it." Emily said.

"And I should probably apologize for Jeremie, since I got mad at him for offering to teach me." She waved her arms dramatically. "I said, 'oh, what's this? Let's teach the poor slave how to read!' I was actually really rude and he was just trying to help." That had been two days ago, when they returned to Capital Lyoko.

"Yes, I like where this is going."

"I should also apologize for force throwing him against the wall."

"Goo--what?"

"I've been acting horribly, to be honest. He was just trying to help." Aelita ran her fingers through her hair. "Do you think he'll understand?"

"I think you owe him more than an apology if you threw him against the wall." Emily said, her face twisted in confusion. "Isn't he… remind me not to bet against you in a fight."

"Well. it wasn't like I picked him up and chucked him out the window--why are we talking about this?" Aelita tried to explain. "Look, I didn't want to talk about Arlathan or my scars and he kept pressuring me to and then he wouldn't leave me alone and…" She shook her hands. "Whatever. I need to go."

Emily waved goodbye to her old friend, still confused. "That's not a good enough reason to throw someone against the wall. Maybe pinching him or something…"

---

As she walked, she thought. She thought about her human 'family' and the Aloten Clan. She thought about Arak-Muna and Mamae Asha and the Gypsy. She couldn't forget all of those things but she decided that she wouldn't let them keep her down.

Aelita decided to change her name. She was just Stone, now. Not Hopper, like someone who couldn't stay still. Not Durgenbora, a name that had no meaning without a clan. Just Aelita Stone, an ancient hero combined with a solid force of nature. It felt better and right. And Aelita Stone decided she would be happier, even if it hurt at first. She loved to dance, to play music and to sing, all of which she hadn't done for pleasure in so long. In short, she just decided that she would be happier. She wasn't sure if would work, but it was worth a shot. What had that old man from Sensy told her? She was having trouble remembering it, but it was something along the lines of pretending until it was achieved.

Not watching where she was going, Aelita slammed into a door as it opened. She recoiled, holding her face in her hands as Laura spun around. "Aelita! Are you okay? I'm so sorry!"

"Are you really?" The Outcast murmured.

The Empress sighed. "Yes, really. Honestly, this rivalry is so tiring." She folded her arms. "And since you won't believe me if I inquire as to your physical well-being, may I at least know where you've been?"

"I was upset, so I went to talk to Emily."

"You were on the Skidbladnir?" Laura said, taking a few quick steps closer to Aelita, who held up her hands. "Did you see Christophe? What did he say?"

"I saw him on my way back. He said, 'hi little elf, whoa, what happened to your face? Sorry, that was rude. I've got duties to attend to, so tell everyone that I said hi.'" She folded her arms, leaned forward and smirked. "You've fallen hard and fast."

"Shut up! I was just curious!" She pushed a loose strand of hair behind her ear nervously. "By the way, Jeremie was looking for you. I assume that you stopped talking to everyone? It wouldn't surprise me." She started to walk away.

"Wait," Aelita called out. Laura turned. The Outcast smirked again. "Do you want me to talk to Christophe for you?" She teased.

"Shut up!"

Aelita laughed. She had forgotten about the pain in her nose already, and she returned to her mission. She found Jeremie in the library, trying to sift through the books and scrolls which hadn't yet been scavenged or destroyed. He heard her enter and immediately looked up, and they were both quiet for a moment. Then, she offered a small smile, and he returned it with a bigger one. He ran towards her and hugged her.

She hugged him back, but then broke it. "Listen, I want to apologize to you." He didn't say anything. "I've been… really mean lately. I've said some things that weren't nice. I was mad at the world and I was taking it out on you. That was wrong, and I know that me just saying sorry doesn't make it right, but…" She pushed her bangs out of her eyes. "I want to be better."

Jeremie nodded. "I understand. And I want to help you, however I can." He tried his best to convey his feelings, but it wasn't an easy task. "And I know that what happened to you in your past was horrible and scarring in more ways than one, and I know that you would rather not talk about it. So, you should know that… I am here, if you want to talk about it, but I think we should also talk about the future."

Aelita tilted her head in confusion, and then she laughed. "Jeremie?"

He blushed. "I-I'm not saying th-that we should get married or anything. I'm just…" He looked at his feet. "I'm just saying that… we should think about it."

She laughed again, weakly. He looked up to see her crooked smile. She was happy to hear what he'd said, even though she didn't seem to believe her ears. They'd work on that later. "I think I should learn how to read first, don't you? I hear human weddings have an awful lot of reading. Elven weddings are more about reciting poetry."

He laughed, too, and closed what little space remained between them. "I think that I can arrange that." The Wise Man gently touched her cheek, and she pushed against it before moving in for a kiss.

---

10th of Eluviesta

Jeremie blinked repeatedly after being, rather rudely, awoken by Aelita. She was pushing against his face. He sat up a bit, and tried to gather his thoughts. He grabbed his spectacles, and he looked at her. Her eyes were still closed, and she was curled up in a ball, hogging most of the blankets. She mumbled something.

"What are you saying?" He asked.

She was silent for a moment. "Close the curtains," She finally muttered.

The opportunity was too good to pass on. He stood, walked to the window and threw open the curtains. Aelita screamed and pulled the blankets over her head. "Good morning, ma vhenan!" He shouted, obviously enjoying himself far too much.

"I will destroy you and everything you love!" Aelita shouted back, forcing her head under her pillow.

"Mmhm, I guess you'll have to destroy yourself!"

"Augh! I hate you."
Laura (Lineup Outfit V2) by LynaKiovote
Laura (Lineup Outfit V2)
Based very much on Tali'Zorah vas Normandy's outfit.

I redid her outfit so it fit more for action. Also shows the Scipio which resembles ab omnitool. Also changed her nickname to Curie, after Madame Curie, one of the most underrated female scientists that I know of.
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deviantID

LynaKiovote
Jerlita Forever!
United States
Current Residence: Lyoko
Favourite genre of music: Soundtrack
Favourite photographer: Ansel Adams
Favourite style of art: Manga/Code Lyoko Art/ American
Operating System: Dell
MP3 player of choice: iPod Shuffle
Shell of choice: ...?
Wallpaper of choice: Something pretty...<3
Skin of choice: ...?
Favourite cartoon character: Aelita Stones and Jeremy Belpois
Personal Quote: "How is this MY fault?!"
Interests
I'd be very grateful to those of you with Tumblr accounts to follow the following blog:

officialpha.tumblr.com

its a side project of mine. Also, please ask this blog questions and things. This is how people are supposed to get to know the characters via this blog.
  • Mood: Optimism

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Shina798 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Student General Artist
thanks for the fav!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :la:
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015
No problem!
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KiraiMirai Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the favourite on Commission by Love-In-Belle 1#
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YoungGirlBlues Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
thank you for the fav! <3
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2014
No problem!
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a1993 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
what is seasons of war?
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
It's my fan fiction. It's an AU of Code Lyoko. The summary I use for the FanFiction.net version is:

A wise man, a fair princess, a colonist, a mercenary, a vanguard, a scout and an outcast join together to fight the forces of darkness and evil. But one hundred years of slumber have given it more power than ever thought possible.

I hope this helps without spoilers. If you want more information, I'm always willing to talk about it.
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Scribblekin Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thanks for the fav!
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2014
No problem!
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Yumiishiyama123 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014

Thanks for the +fav!

:) (Smile) 

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