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