Ryo turns his sister’s pendant over and over in his fingers, watching the light flash off of the individual facets of the Austrian Lead-crystal and colors ripple prismatically across the butterfly carved in it. The gold chain whispers metallically across his sub-armor, picking up the red hue and throwing it about back at him. He feels dead inside; his emotions had dried up hours ago, leaving him emotionally exhausted. He just sits there not even thinking. He needed his sister, she was like a balance that kept him believing in the overall good in mankind. She never gave up hope in anything. It was his fault she had been captured, he should never have let her fight alone. She had been outmuscled, outclassed. Sage watches Ryo’s guilt trip irritatedly. They would be able to get so much more done if Ryo dropped his attitude. Rahne didn’t go with them easily, she wouldn’t stay where they put her if she could help it. And that meant they had to help her. He looks back down at the copy Mia had printed out for him to study. It was a transcript she and the Warlords had put together of the dialog what was said during the battle. Sage had been able to put together that they hadn’t originally been after Rahne, but after she protected Yuli so well they had changed targets. They apparently were after humans to use for some purpose, but Rahne has something that made her that much more desirable. What that was; he has no idea. This was completly different from when he had been the prisoner. It had been more of a matter as how to get there, not so much as where. Cale had been able to figure out that she had definitely been taken to Netherworld. Right now, he was trying to whittle down the selection a bit. Kento looks up from his chair beside Mia’s computer, and stares angrily at Ryo. We’re all pissed because they got’er, why’s he the one who’s gotta sulk!? Kento turns back to the computer to watch what Mia’s doing. He hears Ryo sigh, and then go back to his brooding. Enough is enough! Kento rises from his seat, and stalks over to Ryo. Sage see this and starts to get up to stop Kento. The last thing they needed was the possibility of Ryo operating the White Armor with a concussion. Kento stands over Ryo, his right fist shaking as he draws it back. > Crack!< Before Sage can react, Ryo’s laying unconscious on the carpet with a bloody nose. "KENTO!" Mia gasps, running around the desk to see if Ryo’s okay. She holds his head, and brushes his hair away from his face. Sage hands her a Kleenex to stop the bleeding. "Kento, we really didn’t need this!" Sage protests. Halo elbows the much larger Hardrock out of his way and kneels, framing Ryo’s head with his hands. He carefully reaches out with his healing powers to check for head trauma. Sage’s relieved that Ryo’s only out from the force of the punch; he’ll have a headache and not something worse. Sage uses a little bit of his healing powers to bring him closer to being awake, but not all the way. He’s used his healing abilities more in these past few weeks than he’s had before. Ryo moans as he begins to wake up. Kento stomps out of the room, leaving the idiot where he lay. Kento finds Cye in the kitchen, fixing dinner. Kento grabs a handful of candy bars out of the cupboard, leans against the wall, and begins to eat them. Kayura’s sitting with her head down at the small table, still wearing her robe and nightgown. Peeking out above her arms, is blood-stained gauze pad. She’d taken a pretty good hit, and she strangely hadn’t been able to dodge it. They had found out later that Zanaton had used telekinesis to delay her long enough to assure a direct hit. Rowen had said she had been pretty shaken to learn that Rahne had been kidnapped while she had been blacked out. Kento wanders over to her chair and bumps one of the chair legs with a toe. "You in there?" Kayura looks up, looking pasty and ill. She swallows and then rubs her face with her hands. "I should be doing something, not playing sick." Cye looks at her and then throws the washrag at her. Kayura doesn’t notice it until it flies in front of her. "You are sick, and Sage says you’re going to be for a while. Get used to it." Kayura puts her head back down to rest for a moment and then growls, "I will not get used to it, Torrent." Cye retrieves the rag and goes back to his cooking. "Yeah, well, not even you can fix a fractured skull that quick." Kayura looks up and glowers at him: she most certainly could - if she remembered how the damn spell went. Rowen relaxes in an easy chair, trying to brainstorm ways to track down where Rahne’s being held. From further down the hall, Rowen hears a resounding crack of fist on flesh, then Mia’s shouted protest. He rolls his eyes, and settles deeper into the chair to mask his presence. He’s heard more arguing today than what was necessary. Everyone had developed extremely short fuses, and he could only foresee them getting shorter. Heavy boots stomp their way down the hall as Kento leaves the room. Rowen sinks even deeper into the easy chair so as not to be seen. He was not in the mood to get into a fight. Hurricane Kento misses the den and Rowen relaxes once again. He was trying to follow up a hunch, one that originated when he took Rahne up to show him her powers. Rahne had warned him about some super-cooled water as they were reaching the peak of their ascent. She had just known. At the time, he’d blown it off as simple knowledge gained from the few mountain climbs she’s made. He suspects differently now. But he had no proof and they had all the armors accounted for. Hey, where’s Sage goin’? Rowen thinks as Sage stalks past the door. He was back in civilian clothes and he had his jacket and car keys out. A few minutes later Sage has left for parts unknown.

Sage needed to talk to Cale. But with no direct link to him in Netherworld from Earth, he needs to get creative. The deep forest speeds past his windows as he drives through the national park on his way to Mt. Dojo. He had fought Cale for the first time on that mountain. It seems to be the easiest way to get his attention. The were climbers and hikers up there today, so Sage puts on his jacket and hikes into the forest. He pauses on top of a small, eroded, sand-dune and looks down over the pathways. The deciduous trees were beginning to change colors, soon this would be the ultimate color tour. A cool breeze whispers down his neck. Sage tugs his microfiber jacket a little closer. "Anubis’s son loved autumn." Sage turns around to see Cale hiking up to meet him. A breeze ruffles the lapels of the warlord’s worn denim jacket, and ripples his dark blue-black hair. "It was the only time of year the little brat could sneak up on me. His red mop blended right in," Cale states, kneeling to retie his shoe. Sage takes a deep breath. "Anything yet, Cale?" Cale shrugs and stuffs his hands in his pockets. "Dais can’t sense a blasted thing. He knows she’s in Netherworld, but that’s still all." Sage nods, then steps down the sand-dune, letting the shifting sand take him down; with Cale on his heels. "Cale? Tell me about Anubis’s kids." Cale sighs, ducking a low branch. "There’s not much to tell. Anubis kept too tight a rein on them to let them run wild." Sage looks at him, surprised that Anubis could have been a decent father at the time. It must have been a challenge for him; keeping his temper around three active kids. "Alexander was a quiet child, and very independent. He liked doing things for himself. Talpa had planned to use him to flush out any possible Ronins. He had the same temperament as Cye until I became his teacher." Sage feels himself blanch. A boy their age and with Cye’s disposition would have been easily overlooked as being harmless. He wouldn’t have probably suspected him. And that mistake would have deadly. "His daughter, Morgan, was a sweet, innocent, little firebrand who just happened to be her father’s daughter. If you were male and you weren’t her father; she was nothing but pure hell to watch after. She was a very lovely child though, she would have grown up to be remarkably beautiful." Sage nods, wondering briefly what sort of damage the two oldest could have done. And then quickly stops himself before his imagination can go on overdrive. "The baby, Saen, was simply a baby. So I never had more than the briefest time to be around him. He seemed to be a very nervous and fussy thing; we often teased Anubis that his son did a perfect imitation of him." Sage nods, wondering what to say next. "Why were they murdered? Did you ever find out?" Cale shakes his head, "We assumed at the time that Anubis had finally insulted someone too greatly, and they had taken it out on his children." Sage raises his eyebrows, waiting for the rest. Cale seemed hesitant to admit that he suspected a darker reason. "And now?" "Now, I think they were eliminating the only ones who could have stopped them right then without a challenge."

Ryo rubs his temples and tries not to groan. His brain was in the clutches of a migraine. He vainly searches the First-Aid Kit for something to cut the pain. He glances out the kitchen window to see Kento and Cye in the middle of a sparring match. So long as it didn’t involve Kento using his head for a punching bag again, he was happy. He was actually mildly surprised that there’s been absolutely nothing. The normal attacks had mysteriously stopped. He didn’t like this one bit.

Kento twirls his bo a little in anticipation of the fight. Cye didn’t stand a chance! Cye had chosen to stay at a prudent distance to avoid Kento’s hard strikes, and was skipping around the perimeter of the sparring ring they had marked out with rope. Kento had learned this trick well by now, Sage had tried it repeatedly. He was trying to outwait him. Kayura watches this from the picnic table. Kento was practically itching for a fight. She briefly wonders if she could stand a short battle. But no... the boys wanted to use each other for punching bags, and she wasn’t out for her daily dose of protein right now. Kento is actually managing to outwait Cye, the young man dances in nimbly and raps Kento hard on the side. Kayura winces. She could see the impact ripple across Kento’s chubby frame, and hear the grunt of pain he gives with it. Kento instead whips Cye’s feet out from under him. Torrent barely gets out of the way in time to avoid Kento’s reply to his earlier strike. He instead sends the end of his bo into Kento’s paunch. Kento nails him right across Cye’s shoulders. Cye gives a cry of pain and rolls away from him. God, they’re nuts! They’ll be in traction before too much longer! As they advance on each other again, two arrows streak out of nowhere and slice the bo’s neatly in two. Kento and Cye look up in the direction the arrows came from. Two more fly out of the window and embed themselves in the ground at their feet. The message: "knock it off." Rowen turns away from his window and slams the window shut. Before he’s even away from the window his book is already back in front of his face.

Mia’s fingers fly across the keyboard, calling up screen after screen of coded text. She was working her way deeper and deeper into her grandfather’s text. Through different faces of the legend of the Nine Armors. She had decided that the winter armor from the Russian Scroll was probably a reference to the Armor of Obedience/Corruption. Mia can’t believe that she’s using this as a break from the guys and Rahne’s kidnapping. She can’t think of anything less conducive to relaxation than working her way through her grandfather’s code. As a code string flashes past she makes out a single word: "BLIZZARD". Out of sheer curiosity she goes back to where she saw it. Mia glances over at Ryo, who’s taking a nap. His headache from getting punched by Kento had turned into a migraine from the stress. There it is... Mia brings the word up and finds that it has her grandfather's lovely fracturing style program. A single significant word hidden in meaningless garbage. The first time she had run across it, the word had been "Inferno." The special powers of the others had been hidden the same way. That meant the she had to cross-reference it about a hundred times before it would come clean. "Okay." Mia types in the word "Blizzard/Ronin". She had learned certain code words would make almost anything come up that much faster. "Ronin" was one of them. ERROR. Mia sits there and stares at it, dumbfounded. That always worked! She types in "Blizzard/Armors". SPECIFICATION NECESSARY. "Fine!" Mia snaps, and types in "Elemental/Nine." ERROR. "God damn it!" Mia slams her hands down on the desk on either side of the keyboard. She types in "Blizzard/Armors" again and the same message comes up. Rowen wanders in and sits on the edge of the desk, watching. He’s a little quieter than normal, but he looks tired. Mia tries another code word. ERROR. She types "Blizzard/Armor" again. Rowen suddenly blurts out, "Try: ‘Wildfire’." Mia types it in, wondering what he possibly could be thinking. A schematic of an armor appears on the monitor. Mia gasps and stares at it. It wasn’t a Ronin or Warlord armor. It looked completely different. It actually looked like it had been changed so it looked like a Ronin Armor. It was colored rich violets and white; with a long, split sarong-type garment worn over the armor. It was more like a single long piece of cloth with a large hole in the middle for the head to go through, and belted at the waist. Either way it was a shade lighter than the armor itself. The armor was still a stylized samurai armor, but it was more streamlined. "Looks almost feminine..." Rowen comments, folding his arms across his chest. Mia hadn’t noticed that, but what he said was right there. Then she began to read some of what he wrote about it. Out of everything the words "armor accepts only female wearers" caught her attention. "Rowen, I think this is Blizzard - that winter armor I was researching...!" Rowen sets his notebook in front of Mia. It was full of notes about Rahne. She reads through them, finding things that matched the typical pattern. Mia feels dizzy as she realizes why Rahne was kidnapped.

The first thing she was aware of was that it was cold. And damp. She tries to open her eyes and finds she can’t. She can’t move anything, and that’s frightening. She starts to panic; then, that viciously cold tempered part of her mind realizes she’s was dreaming. Asleep. With an effort she forces herself awake. Just before her consciousness returns, she feels something brush her cheek, moving her now loose hair away from her face. Like cold finger-tips... (safe now) Rahne snaps her eyes open and looks up; expecting to see someone standing over her, only to find... nothing. No one was there, though she had distinctly felt warm breath on her neck, and her hair had been swept up behind one ear. The remains of an old blanket had been tucked under her head. Someone had been there. She reaches up to absently finger her pendant, but instead finds it gone. "Oh, man..." Rahne groans; then traces the bloody line along the back of her neck, wincing from the sting. Rahne gingerly gets to her feet, her entire body aching. It was the type of cold that took up residence in you bones and muscles: it made you ache after a while. She sniffles a little: her nose wants to run. She shrugs off the tatters of what was her raincoat. Rahne notes the butterfly patch Kento gave her on the pocket, which is hanging on by a few threads. She rips it the rest of the way off and stuffs it in her pocket. She looks up and around her prison. It was too dark to see much, however from the breeze coming down from the ceiling; she would guess it was night. Rahne sits against the wall and waits for morning to come. She wouldn’t cry. She couldn’t let herself.

End Chapter Seven