|~Teach me, Mogster|
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The village was small and obscure, and inhabited mainly by cat people - or, more commonly called (in the area, that is), mias.
Mia folk had eyes of either sky blue, pastel emerald, or ice pink. Their hair came naturally in a variety of strange colours, such as green or bright red or purple, and each lacking opposable thumbs, were born with feline ears, claws, tails, and paws. The mia children also often wore bells around their necks and enjoyed chasing and pouncing on one another in the main park, located in the center of town.
However, as Sarina approached the village with timid footsteps, a deafening roar sounded from the park. Instantly, the fox rabbit darted across the deserted streets in search of the source. She had a strange feeling somehow, that Nikkou-chan was in danger. And she soon found she was somehow right. Her pace quickend in hasty anxiety as she heard a second cry; a cat's shriek of terror. And, simutaniously, a blue flash of light. Sarina had seen that flash before. The crystal.
Quickly arriving at the ominous scene, Sarina spotted Nikkou-chan. The ice-white cat lay sprawled on the ground, grunting and panting and appearing to be using every ounce of effort and determination to keep the crystal safe. Sarina quickly caught her breath and gasped, "What's going on?"
Nikkou-chan's eyes widened in terror, spying something evidently horrible behind Sarina. She spun, but not quickly enough.
Sarina had not realized how much the sun had descended as she squinted to identify the beast before her. A large, hostile-eyed wolf creature of some sort had leaped over her head, but she could only make out its shape. The creature snarled menacingly at Nikkou-chan. The beast raised its head with open jaws, and -
Silence. Sarina squinted, horrified, as to what would be left of the little cat after the blow. But it never came. Sarina's eyes widened. The wolf beasts had fled, and Nikkou-chan remained quivering in a ball, clutching the crystal, apparently unscathed. Sarina hurried to her side and lifted the cat into her arms.
"R... Rina," she gasped, "what happened? They were after the crystal, and..."
"I don't know," Sarina murmured sullenly, "Smart of you to run off into the dark with it, wasn't it?"
"Sarina, I..." Nikkou-chan whimpered weakly. The cat winced at an evident sharp pain. Sarina's eyes found blood on the cat's front leg.
"You're hurt..." she gasped, suddenly concerned.
Bleak darkness rushed over the entire park. Sarina rose to her knees, gazing upward in bewilderment. A dark hand the size of a small elephant weaved through the trees in silence and swallowed Sarina and Niko-chan in its palm. Both of them shrieked, but no sound was heard. Sarina spun into a swirl of shapeless shadows. Cold swept through them like icy wind, and they knew no more.
Blurred vision slowly focused through narrowed eyes when Sarina came round. She was lying on stone floor in what appeared to be a cave, with a small bonfire lit on a pile of old wood near the left wall. Torches along the upper walls revealed a dimly-lit room with a large nest in the corner, a fiery scarlet-gold bird squatting in the center of the room, and a pair of silver eyes and dark hands lingering behind him. What happened...?
Sarina sat up and ran her fingers through her bangs. The fiery bird eyed her and spoke.
"Ah, so you have awakened, have you?"
The bird's eyes flashed. His voice was quiet and still, like the room, but his eyes danced with with strength and wonder, like the six torches lining the walls. He was a fairly large bird - about the size of a dog, and his talons were gold like his beak. His feathers were a mixture of orange and scarlet, but two larger feathers adorned his head and stuck out almost like ears. Those were tipped black like his wings. His talons were clawed silver like his eyes. Sarina noticed that he moved like fire, too. Nikkou-chan stirred beside her.
"And I see little sister Sira-chan has awakened as well."
Nikkou-chan's ears flickered and she spun to face the fiery bird. "Fira-san...!"
"Don't tell me you were running about as a feline again," said Fira, the fire bird. Nikkou-chan stiffened.
"I see you're still hanging around that vile shadow!" snapped the cat. Sarina noticed her paw had healed completely. The cat and the bird glared at one another.
"You know him?" Sarina asked, motioning with her head to Fira.
"He's my brother," snarled Nikkou-chan, not taking her eyes off Fira.
"Your... brother?" Sarina repeated, bewildered.
"What do you want with us?" Nikkou-chan inquired with hostile eyes. Fira smirked.
"Why, nothing that concerns you, you can be sure of that, little sister." The bird's wing tips brushed its beak and Sarina saw that underneath his wing was pale yellow. "I merely need to speak with this girl."
"What's Rina got to do with this?"
"I said this is none of your business."
"It's my business of Rina's involved!"
"Just step aside and allow me to speak to her, and stop questioning me!"
"No! I deserve to know what's going on!"
Fira sighed irritably. The shadow behind him shifted.
"Alright," he said stiffly, "It's about the crystal."