There was first darkness; then a speck of blue light expanded, painting a clearer view.

It was a dark jungle, and the only source of light was the full moon in midair. Nevertheless, one can still see two figures lurking inside the jungle.

"This is it," one of them spoke. "The last missing Rune Stone, and the Seal shall be complete," the speaker sounded like a young man.

"So, we will chase the fiend from here. Down that corner, our ambush will make him turn there, where the follower of Tyr awaits him," the other person was a boy who, judging from his voice, was younger in age but more reserved in manners.

"I think he's here," said the man with his voice pressed low. "All we need to do is guide him into the trap."

"Aye. I'll be behind you," with that, the boy jumped into the darkness without a sound.

The man moved slowly under the shades of the bushes. There on the path, he saw a black horse with blood-red wings walking on the path. The horse puffed as it went, and the man followed it. Then, the man stopped, looked around, and finally shouted:

"Star Fire!!!"

A sphere of light landed near the horse and exploded releasing radiant light and considerable heat. The startled horse turned, spotted the caster, and charged towards him angrily. Seeing this, the man ran for his life.

The man ran amongst the trees and plants. Behind him, the horse pursued him and, at the same time, dodged the trees. Red lights gathered in the horse's mouth, and seconds later, the horse spat out a fireball, which hit a tree behind the man. The fire couldn't set the tree ablaze, thanks to the humidity of the jungle.

Minutes later, the man discovered the decreasing distant between him and the horse; had it not been for the obstacles in the jungle, the man would have been caught by now. Three seconds later, a whip of water cut between the man and the horse. The horse gave out a nasty snarl and turned left. The man turned around to chase the horse. From a distance, he saw the boy following the fiend.

The boy murmured and, with a swift gesture, released one water pole after another. Some of the water passed by the horse, a couple of them splashed onto the trees and plants near the horse - all of which the horse took care to avoid. Through the shades of the jungle, the top of the cliff became visible. "All we need to do now is to trap the horse at the bottom of the cliff," thought the man.

Suddenly, the horse gave out a guffaw and flapped his wings hard, forming a gush of wind that swept towards the man and boy. When they managed to recover their sights, the horse was galloping in the middle of the velvet sky.

"Damn it! I was afraid he would do that!" said the boy, and he shot out more water poles as his last attempt to guide the horse towards the cliff. He succeeded for the first few seconds, but as they got closer to the cliff, the horse continued levitating - he was about to fly over the cliff.

When the horse was about meters away from the edge of the cliff, an arrow flew passed its dark figure in midair. Although the arrow didn't hit him, the horse appeared to be caught inside a tornado and lost his balance. The horse fell straight into the darkness at the bottom of the cliff, flapping his wings as he went.

The man and boy ran towards the cliff; on the way, another person jumped down from a tree.

"That arrow which caused the gust," asked the man, "was that your doing?"

"Just got the hand of it. Never thought it would actually work," answered the archer.

The three of them soon saw the horse, now trapped inside a bush of vines. Just before they reach there, a winged person landed near the vines and chanted:
 
 

In one you're born,

Thus in one you shall remain.

In the name of the God of Justice, Tyr,

I command you - resume your given form -
 
 

Then, with a deep breath, the chanter shouted: "TIW!"

The horse glowed with orange light, which then split into rays and gathered into the chanter's hand. It then solidified into a small gem.

"Nice going, shaman of Tyr!" said the man. "That's the last piece."

Even with only the dim light from the moon, it was obvious now that the winged person was a young girl. The gem still glowed with tainted orange light as the girl put it away.

"What should we do with this guy?" the archer pointed to the vines. The horse, still tangled in vines, now dazed around confused. Its eyes and wings now lost the blood color they once had.

"With the Rune Stone taken, he's just like any other creatures in this jungle," said the boy. "Just leave him. He'll do fine anyway."

"Well, that's the end of it," said the man. "We've got all the missing pieces now. Let's return to......"

Then all the sound faded, and the view became blurry, from blue to yellowish orange.......
 
 

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The Rune Seekers

by Jia Li Labyrinth

Chapter 2

Race in the Dark

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"Hmm.....," the boy woke up with his eyes still shut, "that dreams..... about those four people, two of which I've known already. Why am I having this dream now?"

He opened his eyes with pain and found himself inside a cone tent. "Where am I?" The tent was lit with a fire by the fireplace in the ground. "I remember being chased by that....."

"Hey! You're awake!" A voice rammed into the middle of his thought when a gush of light flown into the tent, making the boy unable to open his eyes.

"You've been sleeping for the whole day. I was beginning to worry," the voice must be from a girl, thought the boy. Slowly, he re-opened his eyes. A girl with red hair came in, followed by a boy in emerald green robes.

"Are you feeling okay now?" Seeing the uneasy expression of the boy, the girl continued, "You're in the village of the Tarrars right now. I'm Aisha, and this one here is Li Syaoran."

"Tarrars....?" While the boy searched for this name amongst his memory, Syaoran studies the boy. He had sharp-edged eyes with red pupils, while his silvery white hair contrasted with his tanned skin. Judging from his appearance, he should be about eleven or twelve years old.

Aisha picked up a leather belt attached with assorted tools and a cylinder filled with rod-like objects. "We found those on you....."

"DON'T~~~~ touch that!!!!" in a speed of an electric pulse, the boy jumped up and snatched the things from Aisha's hand.

"You forgot this," said Syaoran, as he picked up a crossbow. "What is a kid like you doing in the middle of this steppes with those gears?"

"Don't call me kid!" the boy said impatiently, "And why should you care?"

Syaoran was quite offended by this, but Aisha spoke before him, "I don't know if that's the way people talk where you came from, but you had quite an attitude, considering that we have saved your live out there."

The boy only turned his head away, and the atmosphere came to a standstill. Syaoran sighed and said to the boy, "No one here is going to hurt you. I'm an exorcist hired by the Tarrars to investigate the weird going-on's around here. If that bull today is behind all that, then maybe you can help us, although we probably killed it back then....."

"Kill what?" the boy murmured unwillingly, "It can't be that easy...."

............................Another standstill......

"Well," Syaoran broke the silence again, "do you know why that bull was after you?"

"How am I suppose to know?"

"The nearest town is quite a distance from here, and it's not safe traveling on the steppes these days - as you have noticed. You might have to stay here for quite some time," said Aisha. "May you at least gave us your name, then?"

"..... Zephel....," said the boy in a low voice. "Zephel Osokin...."

"Oh... (That sure didn't sound like a Rosalian name)," said Syaoran. "Well, have a good rest, Osokin. And if you need anything....." he turned and looked at Aisha.

It took Aisha awhile to catch up, "Ahhmm... Yes, just tell me."

With that, Syaoran and Aisha left the tent, leaving Zephel inside the dark again.
 
 

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The next day....
 
 

"You came to Rosalia from the Knight's Dominion?" by now, Zephel was quite recovered after a whole day's rest and was able to walk around. Aisha was grooming her mare (as she does every afternoon) while chatting away with Zephel, whom was sitting nearby with his hands busy over some gadgets. "You're sure no stranger over a knight's affairs, I suppose?"

"I've only moved there recently," Zephel answered without lifting his head. "Ways of Chivalry, Codes of Knights, and those other sugar-coated vocabs are never my concern."

"How about cavalry? Do you ride?"

"I don't do that kinds of stuff....." Zephel went back to the gadget in his hands, "Damn it. This thing IS broken from that rumpus back then."

"But you must know something about it. After all, you have seen people riding on horsebacks, haven't you? Here!" Aisha patted on the mare. "Why don't you try riding Starlight here?"

"Just to prove that I'm like a knight? No thanks. (back to the gadget again) This stupid, STUPID piece of crap!! What else is wrong with it?!"

"Hey, get this straight. As nomads living on a steppe like Galesah, one's life is never separatable from his or her mount."

"And that concerns me because of what? I'm no nomad. Within a couple of days, I won't even be here!"

"You haven't understood me correctly. You can't go anywhere on this steppe without a horse, let alone getting out of the steppe. So ~~~~" Aisha heaved her hand over Zephel's shoulder, "give it a try, shall we? It just might help refreshing your thought after tinkering so long, too....." That finished, she dragged the boy up from the ground.

"No ~~!" Zephel struggled as Aisha added more force. "You can't force me! I was wounded! I'm a patient, for God's sake!!!"

"You look completely recovered to me....." Seeing how Zephel wrestled to escape her grip, Aisha felt both funny and bitter inside.....

The chief and Syaoran watched them from a distance.

"Do you think the beast is still alive?" the chief asked Syaoran.

"The body was still under the ravine. But I won't assume it's dead," he turned to eye the chief. "Tonight, I'm going back to the site where the beast is."

"That boy, he's staying with you now, right?"

"Yep, a rather peculiar sort."

"Are you going to take him with you after this business is finished? It's either that, or we can have him stay with us."

Syaoran starred at Zephel for a moment. "I have no idea. That will somewhat depend on him."
 
 

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"Oooouuuuuuch~~~ my legs~~~!! That Aisha pushed me around like a machine!!" After riding on horseback for the entire afternoon, Zephel could do nothing but complain about his sour legs at dusk. Syaoran, who was in the tent with Zephel, was preparing himself to set out for the ravine again.

"Perhaps this is her conspiracy to keep me indoors during night. That has to be it....."

Seeing Zephel's complaints going into mumble jumble, Syaoran went ahead with his question, "Osokin."

"What?" the boy replied inanimately.

"You haven't answered my question yet. Why are you on the steppe?"

Zephel went silent for awhile, "I ain't telling you...."

"You ran away from home?"

"Do you have to be so nosy about other people's business? I don't want to talk about that at all."

......Dead still silence once again......

"Say," Zephel, quite out of Syaoran's expectations, spoke. "You notice something unusual about that bull, did you?"

"Amongst all the mutations of bulls, I certainly haven't ran into that breed before," answered Syaoran. "It could be the head of some monster clan that roamed on this steppe. Sometimes the clan leader spends more time in the dwelling. But why does this one suddenly appeared?........"

"No!" Zephel interrupted Syaoran's thoughts before he finished. "That's just not it. That beast isn't any greater or less than those other monsters! It's the way it is now because of some outside force. Can't you....." Zephel realized he had spoken too much, and held his tongue, all too late to subdue Syaoran's suspicion.

"How come you know so m.....," before Syaoran finished his sentence, both of them felt the disturbance outside. When they went out, they sensed the terror in the air. Most of the nomad villagers gathered around a man on horse, all wearing uneasy expressions.

Syaoran pushed through the crowd to get near the horseman. "Oh, Exorcist!!" The man spoke to Syaoran exasperatedly, "It comes! That beast you and Aisha ran into! I think it's coming this way!"

No doubt this heaved Syaoran's brows, "I should have gone earlier!! Has it just waked?" The man nodded. "Lend me the horse. I have to get there before it's too late. Meanwhile, evacuate the villagers to somewhere safe, if any of you know such place." With that, he mounted the horse. Just before he took off, he felt Zephel tugging his leg.

"I'm going, too," said Zephel. "You'll have to!"

"This isn't an occasion for kids," and with a snap of the rein, Syaoran rode into the darkness.

Fairly defiant, Zephel ran to the fence where the Tarrars kept their horses. There he found Starlight, the horse he was riding that afternoon. Since the two had a rough start, Starlight hissed and kicked as Zephel approached her.

"Hey! Don't start that with me," said Zephel, "not at a time like this! I have to get into the steppe."

Starlight calmed down somewhat, but not enough. Zephel grabbed hold of the rein and tried to pull himself onto Starlight's back - not at all an easy task, for Starlight struggled in response to Zephel's tug on the rein. Even after he made it onto the saddle, Zephel still find it challenging to keep his balance. When he finally got some control, he realized that Starlight had taken him out of the village already.

"Now the beast. This is where I need you," he pulled out the gadget he had been working with. "Don't fail me now."
 
 

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Syaoran tried to search the ridge through the dark. It was easier than he expected, for the torch lights came into sight. Behind the floating fire stars, a huge shadow, which Syaoran recognized in horror, moved sluggishly.

The air closer to the scene was drown by shouts from men; some were that of horror, some from agony of injury, and yet more of commands and instructions. The bull's movement seemed slower, probably due to the fact that it had been buried underground for almost 40 hours. Nevertheless, the sonic boom from its roar made it hard for the men to approach it.

Syaoran could see some of the men were mounted while others staggered on foot, obviously flipped off from their horse when the sonic waves hit them. Most of the men were about a hundred meters away from the bull, while some injured nomads scrambled at spots closer to the bull. Then Syaoran spotted Aisha, who was dismounted. Noticing Syaoran, Aisha advanced towards him.

"It rose from the pile of earth, while we thought it was dead! Our men can't even get near him without being swept by his wave attack. We can only wear it out with arrows now, only we don't know if we can reach that far, plus some of our men are still pretty close to the beast......"

"Aisha. If you can order your men to put out their torches, I'll bait the beast away. Meanwhile, you take care of those who are injured. Those who can still shoot an arrow can attack the beast's back when it chases me." Syaoran rode towards the bull and took out a talisman from the bamboo cylinder he carried on his back. "Lord of Flame~~~!!!"

A brush of flame swept across the bull's view. Succeeded in catching the beast's attention, Syaoran lit one of the torches he had. The bull starred at the fire, and slowly began to move towards Syaoran, who also turned and rode away from the Tarrars, holding the torch in midair.

"Sir Li!!" Aisha shouted, and turned towards a few men. "Go after them. Hurt the beast as much as you can."
 
 

The bull, attracted by the firelight, ran after Syaoran. Syaoran, on the other hand, tried to keep his distance from it; even when the bull was slow in motion, he still couldn't afford to stay closer and risk its wave attack. Behind the bull, the mounted Tarrars pursued the bull with their bows and arrows. One after another, arrows flew over the air, drawing dark parabolas before sinking into the bull's back; none of them budged the bull.

Fifteen minutes passed by in this fashion, during which the Tarrar horsemen dealt no significant damage to the bull, nor could they tar down its motion. On the other hand, Syaoran's mount was finding it harder to keep its pace as minutes went by.

Then came the moment all of them dread most - the bull roared again, stretching it neck above the dark steppe as if making a raging statement. The Tarrar horsemen were pushed back by the waves formed, their formation dismembered completely as they scattered into different directions.

But the bull's target was the torch. It continued to charge at Syaoran. Syaoran could not help but having pessimistic thoughts by now. His mount was wearing off, and the Tarrar horsemen were no longer in sight. But the worst part came when the bull actually stopped - and gave out another howl. This time, the vibrations hit both him and his mount hard on the back. Syaoran flew off the horse's back, while the horse was swept above the ground. The horse fell seventy meters away from where it previously was, while Syaoran landed at a spot yet further; the impact of the fall didn't compare to the stun he received from the sonic waves.

The bull now huffed and puffed heavily. Syaoran's horse stood up feebly and started to walk away from the bull, trying not to make a sound. The bull, however, still managed to sense it. It turned towards the horse and charged. The horse started to run, and it might have been caught, if were not for the thunderbolt that appeared by the bull's side. The bull held back, and its eyes roaming around the steppes again. It didn't realize by then that Syaoran was actually within a distance, standing painfully and dare not make a sound. Needless to say, it was Syaoran who casted that thunderbolt back then. "No matter what, I have to keep it here."

Eyewitness might think that the bull and the exorcist were the only ones on the dark steppe, the beast peered into the darkness, searching, while Syaoran tried to sink himself into the shadows of the steppe. The beast moved around there and here, and Syaoran had to release another thunder spell to distract it. The irritated bull roared again, while Syaoran held himself low. "It's a good thing that this beast here isn't a very intelligent one...," he thought to himself. Then he heard horses' galloping. The Tarrars must have found the bull as well.

"Li~~!" Wait a minute, that voice.......

"Osokin!?" Syaoran exclaimed, also cursing Zephel inside. Alas, his voice exposed his position, and the bull turned with alert.

"Shit!" While Zephel and Starlight came towards Syaoran, Syaoran sprint away from the bull, which followed him. Now that Syaoran was moving on foot, the bull suddenly seemed faster than it used to be. Their distance shrank by seconds, and the bull could see Syaoran right beneath its nose. Then Syaoran suddenly jumped, his shadow disappeared with a narrowing flash of black and an approaching sound that tapped the earth, which was fading again. The bull turned left and saw a horse galloping away - Syaoran just made it in time to get onto Starlight.

"What the &*%# are you doing back there?" Zephel turned his head back a little, his arms hugging Starlight's neck, while Syaoran, sitting behind him, tried to grab hold of the rein. "It looks like the beast and you are playing some kind of pathetic game."

"I was going to ask what are YOU doing here!!!! Now thanks to you, that beast is after us now!"

"It was YOUR shout," Zephel snapped back.

"Shut up! Just shut up for now! We can't do anything with it when it's after us!!" Syaoran then spotted some hills in front of them. They were at the edge of the Galesah steppe. "Listen! Don't make a sound after we got over those hills."

Starlight took Syaoran and Zephel over the top of one hill; the shadow figures of the horse and its riders then sank behind the top of the hill. When the bull reached the hill top, the only thing it could see were the hills shaded in black. The bull walked down the hills, panting out steam.

Somewhere down the slope, Syaoran, Zephel, and Starlight laid down amongst the grass. Starlight gave out a low hiss. (Don't....,) Zephel eyed her reproachingly.

Syaoran watched the bull and had his hands on his sword and talisman in preparation. Perhaps he should try to hit it from behind, this time with more strength.

"What are those things that stuck out of its back anyways?" Zephel asked, pressing his voice low.

"Those are the arrows shot by the Tarrars...." Syaoran continued to watch the bull, waiting for the right moment to attack.

"Gees, seeing how things turned out, we know how much good they serve."

"Can't you just cut it out?" Syaoran turned around. "Listen, I'm going to cast a spell on that thing. I don't know how much I can hurt it, so we might need to jump onto the horse again....."

Then Starlight started to stand up, and Zephel turned, attempting to scold her down, but ended up baffled. "Umm, Li..?"

Syaoran also went back to the bull, which was walking towards them slowly at first. Then it started to trot. Then it galloped.

"Oh god.... Osokin, get on!!!" Zephel climbed onto Starlight, while Syaoran hopped on after him and snapped the rein. Starlight ran down the slop of the hills, while the bull ran down the slope in chopped steps.

"What's going on? We hadn't made enough noise for it to notice us from that kind of distance!" Zephel yelled out his question.

"Your answer is as good as mine," Syaoran looked ahead, and saw a lake in front of them. Then one thought occurred to him. "It couldn't have... traced us by smell, couldn't it?"

"What!? In that case, there's no way we can hide from it!!!"

"Guess we'll have to try and stale it," Syaoran snapped the rein again, and Starlight ran towards the lake.

When they got by the shore, Zephel asked, "Say, Li, does the Steppe have bodies of water of any kind at all? I certainly didn't recall seeing any on my way here."

"It has none, and we're no longer on the Steppe," Syaoran dismounted Starlight. "We're at the Crystal Lake, right near Crystaline."

"...huh?" Zephel starred into the center of the lake. A man-made island stood in the middle of the lake while ruins of buildings, which all appeared to be parts of a temple, stood erect on it. This is Crystal Lake all right.

The building and the shore were connected by a wooden bridge, which looked like sections of piers. Seeing the beast coming close, Syaoran turned to Zephel and Starlight, "Get off now. We're going to the island in the middle."

"Are you sure this is a good idea? Once we have ourselves stuck on that...," Zephel then paused and noticed the bull, charging quickly towards them. "Oh great!" He climbed down and, as he walked onto the bridge, tried to pull Starlight along the way. But Starlight won't follow.

"Come~~ on!! This isn't the time to be difficult, you stupid mammal!!" Then the bull gave out another roar. The bridge shook, almost shattering, and ripples gathered on the surface of the lake. Syaoran went behind Starlight and slap it on the back. This time, perhaps due to the bull's presence, Starlight galloped on the bridge, running straight towards the island.

"Go!" with that, both Syaoran and Zephel dashed after Starlight. Soon, the bull came. It stepped into the lake, crushing sections of the bridge as it went. It was nearly halfway through when Syaoran and Zephel reached the island. They turned and saw the bull with a rather distorted look. Its earthlike skin was starting to look liquidly.

"Man, this thing is starting to turn into mud!!"

"That's only its outer skin," said Syaoran, taking out his sword and talisman. "Now is the good chance to strike it, though. The water should slow it down."

As Syaoran had expected, the bull soon found the water level becoming higher and higher.

That isn't the end of it.

The bull jumped forward, thrusting its way through the water. This caused a wave of water that went onto the island.

"What the....," before Syaoran and Zephel knew it, the water swept them off the ground. Syaoran managed to grab hold on the edge of one building's roof, while Zephel managed to grab hold on Syaoran's robe. After the water deceased from the island, Syaoran pulled himself and Zephel onto the top of the building. There they saw Starlight standing on high ground, looking at the bull with apprehension.

"How come this animal found its way up here?" Zephel murmured with contempt.

"Animals *pant* do have such intuitions *pant*," Syaoran had his talisman and sword ready again. "I have to do this quick...."

With the beast holding its head up, the water was in level with the beast's eye, part of its hunched back stood on the surface of the water like a clayed iceberg. Then something caught the beast's attention. It turned its attention towards the shore, as did Syaoran and Zephel.

It's the Tarrar horsemen shooting arrows from the shore; the bull was quite a distance from the shore, but a few arrows still managed to reach its hump. The bull turned to charge at the shore instead.

"Spirit of Thunder~~!!" Syaoran released a thunderbolt that dived into the bull's wet muddy back. It accomplished nothing.

"It's no good," said Zephel, "Though it's in water, the mud will insulate the bolts."

"If we don't get it now, we'll lose it after it reached the shore," with this, Syaoran released another thunderbolt.

"What are you doing!? That's not gonna....," Zephel then stopped, the gadget on his leather belt beeping with intense frequency. "What the...."

The thunderbolt hit one of the arrows on the bull's back, which then conducted into the mud. The bull stopped while the thunderbolt was sucked into the mud, again with no obvious effects.

"Still doesn't work?" Syaoran watched anxiously.

Then, quite out of Syaoran's prediction, the bull growled with agony, swirling the water around it into the air as it yelled. Watching through the sprinkles of water, Syaoran realized why. The thunderbolt started to burst out from one spot on the bull's back, dancing and amplifying each second. From where Syaoran was standing, the thunderbolt looked like a claw trying to barrow through the bull's skin. The mud at that spot was starting to melt away, revealing a green light.

Syaoran starred with astonishment, "That's...."

"A Rune Stone!!" Zephel took out his crossbow and picked out a claw-like arrowhead, its end attached to nothing but a string that ran into Zephel's jacket. "We have to get it out!"

Zephel set the arrowhead onto the crossbow, aimed, and shot. The clawed arrowhead barrowed into the bull's skin and beneath the green spark, ready to pull the green object out.

Zephel then grabbed the string that was attached to the arrowhead. He pulled, but the arrowhead didn't seem to budge. "Li," Zephel turned back to Syaoran, "Give me a hand in this!"

"What is going on here?" mumbled Syaoran, but he grabbed hold of the string anyways. The two of them had a tug-o-war with the raving bull, until the chunk of mug, which the arrowhead grabbed hold of, was pulled out.

The green spark traced a path of green when it was pulled out, and a flood of green light spread from its spot on the bull, consuming its figure. The bull began to shrink, to the point where the water drowned the figure, leaving the lake tainted with a slowly fading green.

The string was attached to yet another gadget that hung on Zephel's tool belt. When he pressed a switch on that gadget, the string was sucked in like a piece of spaghetti. Syaoran took a glimpse at the shore. The Tarrar horsemen were cheering. He then took a look at Zephel, who now had the glowing object in his hand. On a closer look, the "Rune Stone" was a grayish pebble (though its green glow obscured its color at first) with a weird-looking symbol carved onto it.

Zephel's attention was drawn to the ground. A medium sized ox walked out of the lake and dragged itself onto the island. Its wet fur seemed to heaved its entire weight down.

"So that's its original form!" Zephel said, as if sneering, "Who could thought a little thing like that can stir up trouble this big?"

Starlight gave out a huff, and the two of them looked at where the mare was looking at. The Tarrar horsemen were rowing a canoe towards the island.
 
 

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"You really have to leave?" Syaoran asked Aisha and the chief. Around them were Tarrars putting away their tents and gathering their herds, a sure sign that the nomads were moving.

"There has long been rumors about Saruin's force merging into Rosalia and the rest of this continent," Aisha said sorrowfully. "If the Rune Stones are involved in this incident, then this steppe is probably not safe from Saruin anymore."

"So you guys are leaving just like that?" said Zephel. "Where else can you guys go?"

The chief coughed a little, and then answered, "We..... know some people who lived in the desert further up north. They have an intimate bond to the past; they will know what to do."

"Is that so?" Syaoran lowered his head.

"But we do appreciate what you did for us, Sir Li," Aisha added. "What are you going to do from now on?"

".... I don't really have any destination. However," Syaoran left his head up, "I will probably go down south and stop by at Crystaline."

"You're going to...," Zephel then gasped. "YOU'RE GOINT TO CRYSTALINE?! Why THERE of all places?! I've just left that place!!!"

"So you ARE a run-away," Syaoran eyed Zephel coldly.

"Ahh..." (<- bull's eye!)

"You don't HAVE to come with me, you know," Syaoran continued in discern. "You can always go with the Tarrars as well."

Aisha: "That's right, Zephel! It's not too late to change your mind now!"

Chief: "The Tarrars won't mind taking in anyone. The journey to the desert may be tiring, but it's safer than wandering around."

Aisha: "And we can continue those riding lessons with Starlight."

Aisha probably didn't notice that her last remark brought a layer of frost on Zephel's face. (*hmmp...*)
 
 

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It was dusk when Syaoran and Zephel saw the Tarrars off, both of them sank into their own thoughts as they watched the nomads moving under the crimson sky.

"Wonder how Rosalia's prince will react to this......," Syaoran wondered. His thoughts then dwelled onto Zephel.

"Osokin, may I ask you something?"

"Again?"

"How did you find me out there on the steppe?"

"This thing here," Zephel then took out the gadget he was working with back in the village, "it can detect the presence of a Rune Stone. It's still shaky with its function, though, so I can't locate the EXACT spot of the Rune Stone. But then your thunder bolts and the beast's yell gave out your location."

"Oh....."

"It's a good thing this Rune is still in its sealed form, though. If the beast have absorbed this stone's energy as its own, we wouldn't have been able to retrieve it." Zephel beamed as he talked about the stone that was now in his backpack, but Syaoran heard none of his words; he was absorbed deep into thoughts of his own.

"I have heard of rumors about the Runes during my journey, but he knows way too much about it for an ordinary kid," thought Syaoran. "Just as I thought, he is not a normal kid."

To be continued......
 
 

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Author's corner

Hello HELLO everyone! Long time no see! The second chapter is finally up! Harray~~~!!! That took six months (<- damn those computer programming courses.....).

Anyhow, those of you who know the game Romancing Saga 1 or any of the characters might have noticed that I have.... well..... deliberately changed a lot of things, such as replacing the Destiny Stones with the Runes and having Daria coming from a place called Obil instead of Lawndale..... I just have to say that more of this will appear for the rest of the story (<- oh brother....) This is an Alternative Universe fic, as I discovered later on (and perhaps too late).

And yeah, this bull monster is an unbelievably retarded one. The worst part is I don't know if I can come up with one of more intellegance..... God give me strength.

I do also feel sorry that the action scene couldn't be any better. It failed to show Syaoran's tactical side.

That's all for now. The following chapters will be more new characters coming up. Wa ha ha ha ha ha........ (God give the readers strength....)
 
 

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