-A Destiny Denied-

Dust and smoke clouded everyone's view. The brilliant light from the explosion had died down, but it had left in its wake a thick barrier of chalky mist and powdered brimstone. Lumiya coughed as she tried to catch a clean breath of air. "Tsadde? Where is everybody?" she sputtered.

Ayin couldn't see anything either. She tried to fan the clouds away to get a clear glimpse of something, anything. "Lumiya! Try one of your wind spells!" she choked, waving off more dust clouds.

Lumiya grasped her boomerang and after muttering a few words, flung it into the air. "Squall!!" As Ayin had hoped, the dust cleared away. Lumiya caught her boomerang and after securing it at her side again, took a look around. She squealed happily when she saw that the dragons were once again themselves; they still lay in their monstrous forms, yet not a big conglomeration as before.

Ayin found herself standing right in front of the Black Dragon. "They must be worn out," said the Dragonmistress upon seeing that none of the dragons had stirred, yet still breathed.

Rykea sighed in relief. He was glad that they no longer had to fight against their friends. Then it occurred to him that he hadn't seen Daleth after the explosion. "Hey, Ayin--where'd Daleth go?"

Ayin shrugged and looked around. "Oh no- She couldn't have gotten away, do you suppose?" she replied, beginning to look concerned. That thought vanished as she heard a stifled cry, and upon whirling around, saw Daleth holding a knife to Lumiya's neck.

"You think you have beaten me, Dragonmistress? Oh-ho, you are wrong. Give up now, or say good bye to Lumiya!" the green-haired warrior said coolly. Lumiya fought to free herself from Daleth's grip, but only found herself drawn closer to the sharp blade until she could almost feel the cold steel against her neck.

Ayin clenched her fist. "You... I can't believe you'd sink so low."

Daleth merely laughed. "I will do anything to achieve my goal, Ayin. I believe I will succeed in it too. Now hand over the Sword of Althena, and perhaps I may let you all go, alive ."

Ayin sighed, then made a step forward, holding out the sword. Daleth lowered the knife from Lumiya's neck as the Dragonmistress came closer.

Rykea's eyes grew wide. Ayin--what are you doing?! He thought he saw some movement behind Daleth, but he wasn't sure of it. Then suddenly, Tsadde emerged from where he had been hiding and tackled Daleth long enough for Lumiya to escape. Daleth had been caught off guard, and she turned and glared at Tsadde, her crimson eyes flashing. Ayin charged forth, Sword of Althena in hand. Daleth hissed and evaded the Dragonmistress as she swung, and scooping up her scimitar, began to fight back.

The two swung at eachother and dodged, parried and charged. Rykea and the others stood and watched. It was Ayin's fight now. Behind them, the dragons had regained consciousness, and transformed once more into their human forms. They too, watched the Dragonmistress in silence.

Ayin noticed that Daleth had been driving her towards the edge of the floating city. She had nearly forgotten that they were high in the air, the city had been floating along smoothly. Ayin felt a sudden rush of cool air at her back, and her footing had begun to crumble a little beneath her. Daleth smiled balefully. "That first step is a doozy," she said. She then swung her scimitar at Ayin, but the Dragonmistress ducked and slipped between her legs. Daleth wasn't about to be foiled again, and she immediately brought down her weapon again, delivering a raging fury of blows. Ayin frantically tried to parry each blow.

She's so fast!, Ayin realized. Daleth's scimitar caught her on the side and delivered a small gash on her arm. The Dragonmistress winced, but continued to fight. She whirled around as Daleth swung her blade in a wide arc, meeting it with her own. Ayin once again found her back towards the edge of the city, and Daleth wasn't leaving her much room to maneuver.

Daleth knew this, of course. She prepared for the final strike, as the Dragonmistress was only several steps away from the edge. "Hmm hmm, you'll wish you'd have died along with the rest of your family and friends; the pitiful lot of New Tamur! Hahaha!" she spat. Ayin gritted her teeth, angered by Daleth's remark. Daleth moved forward, launching herself at the Dragonmistress. "Now DIE!!!"

Ayin gasped, she had nowhere to go. As she tried to move out of the way, she found her foot had slipped on some loose gravel, and she fell backward. She saw Daleth's face, a look of bewilderment and shock, as she flew over Ayin instead of at her. Her bewilderment switched to rage, and she attempted one last swing, but Ayin succeeded first. Her sword pierced Daleth's chest, right as she passed over her. Impossible--Daleth's eyes became wide, she continued to fall... right over the edge of Neo-Vane.

"Oh my gosh..." Lumiya gasped. Denyx gazed over the edge where his ex-beloved had fallen. His mouth was dry, but then, there was nothing to say. Ayin still lay where she had fallen, her sword still poised as how it struck Daleth. Rykea offered her his hand, and she got up, still a bit shaken, but otherwise fine.

She looked up at Rykea, her green eyes filled with shock. "D-Did I...?" she started, but Rykea pressed his finger upon her lips.

"Shh," he said softly. "It's all over, Dragonmistress. You did it."

Ayin held her breath. Was it really over? Is the battle won? She found herself drawn closer to Rykea, and she looked into his mysterious gray eyes. Her lips touched his, and she held him tightly, as did he. It was all over. Everything was finally finished.

Tsadde stared at his sister. "Wow," he said, more to himself.

Lumiya shimmied up beside him. "What is it?" she asked.

Tsadde shook his head. "Nothing, I'm just wondering how long they can hold their breath like that," he said with a grin.

Lumiya grinned mischievously, and without warning she leaped into his arms and delivered him a big kiss.

Nall chuckled, and then he placed a hand on Denyx's shoulder. "Don't worry Denyx. You're not the only one who's alone," he said waggling his eyebrows.

Denyx smiled. "Heh, guess you're right, Nall. Guess she wasn't for me," he said longingly.

Ruby popped up alongside them. "Hey, while we're up here, we might as well enjoy the beautiful sunset, eh?" she suggested. Nall and Denyx laughed and nodded.

"Yeah." Seren came up beside them as well. "I'm just glad that this is all over," she sighed. Everyone agreed with her on that.

Ayin, Rykea, Tsadde and Lumiya came to join the others. Jerin looked at the Dragonmistress and the young Premier. "Aw, you guys look soo cute together!" she squealed. Rykea began to blush, and Ayin laughed nervously.

Beside them, Lumiya clung tightly to Tsadde's arm. "Hey, I may not have a Dragonmaster, but I've got a Dragonmistress' brother!" she said with a big smile.

Tsadde looked at her, then shrugged. "Well, you are cute..." he said under his breath. Lumiya giggled and squished him even tighter.

"Hey you two, enjoy the sunset while it lasts," Rykea said jokingly.

Ayin laughed softly and leaned against him. "Thank you for everything, all of you," she whispered.

Night soon fell, and high above them, the Blue Star shone brightly, bathing everything in its soft blue light.

~THE END~

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