Disclaimer: I own neither Doctor Who nor Vampire Knight. I only own my characters and ideas.

The Anomaly
A Doctor Who/Vampire Knight Crossover

Chapter Six: The Forgotten Shrine

Preparing for a soirée was not as simple as I had hoped. When our tutor had announced that we would be taking a break from our usual lessons in order to perfect our etiquette, I had never believed how rigid and complicated the customs of the vampire society were. As if that weren't difficult enough, it seemed as if every other night all the information that had been programmed into my brain was eradicated.

Thankfully, tonight there would be a reprieve.

"An entire town devoted to vampires?" I asked in disbelief. "That just doesn't seem possible… How would humans not stumble upon it?"

"Well, it is," Takuma replied, grinning. "It's possible because it can only be accessed by those capable of locating and navigating a treacherous mountain underpass. Well, it really isn't treacherous for us… But it isn't lit, and it takes a long time to reach the town, so humans become discouraged quickly."

Apparently, it was Takuma's favorite custom to traverse this mountain range every New Years' Eve. Even before it became dark, he had dragged me out of bed to ensure that we had plenty of time to locate and navigate the miles long path leading to one of the few vampire-only towns Japan contained.

"It'll be worth it," he'd assured me when I'd insisted on sleeping during our night off of studies.

Initially, I had been too tired to really grasp what Takuma was trying to tell me, and I'd complained for a good bit of the journey. However, as we'd neared the mountain, it had dawned on me.

A town consisting entirely of vampires… that means…

Not only would Takuma and I not have to conceal our true identities, we would be able to spend time with other vampires our own ages. Takuma had told me that he and a few other children of aristocratic families arranged to meet at this town every year, and despite being nervous, I was also excited to see what other vampires were like.

"Here it is," Takuma announced, moving aside a dense covering of vines from atop a small entrance into the side of the mountain. "You go first, and be careful because it's slippery and a little steep."

Carefully, I dropped myself through the hole, then moved out of the way quickly. It didn't take long for my eyes to adjust to the darkness, and I could easily make out the passageway. It wasn't really interesting; only shorn up dirt and the occasional tree-root, and it seemed to continue onward for eternity.

A soft thud alerted me to Takuma's presence, and I glanced back toward him before following the path further into the mountain.

The passage was long and winding. I wasn't certain whether we would ever reach its close, and I had to ask Takuma several times whether he were joking with me, and only attempting to make my night-off miserable. Although he seemed to enjoy my torment too much, he insisted that he would never put me through such agony arbitrarily.

After what felt like a millennium, we reached a dead end. "Takuma, this was low…" I mumbled, as I stared at the solid rock indignantly.

Laughing at my reaction, Takuma instructed, "Look up, Lorna-chan."

Glancing upward, I noticed a small opening in the ceiling of the passageway. Because of the inclination of the passage's floor, the opening wasn't difficult to access, even for me, and I quickly scrambled out of the passage.

Upon emerging, I noticed that we were not inside a town, but that we were nearly on top of the mountain we'd previously been standing at the bottom of. Several miles away, and another several meters higher, was a town lit with lanterns and buzzing with activity.

"There really is a town…" I realized, quietly.

Until I had actually seen it, I hadn't been completely convinced that this town existed. Even seeing it now, I doubted it was real. I felt as if I had been transported into a world devoted to fantasy, and expected to see a dragon or a knight appear at any moment.

A few minutes later, we were standing in the midst of all the commotion. There was so much for me to take in that I didn't know where to look first. From where I stood, I could make out various food stands, and an area with performers. In the center of these performers was a large bonfire, and children chased after each other, while shrieking with laughter.

As a little girl dressed in a crimson kimono rushed past me, the scene changed unexpectedly.

This isn't…

The town was gone, and in its place was another city built into the side of a mountain. One significantly larger than the small town.

Instead of a festival celebrating the birth of a new year, this city had reached its final night.

Buildings were ablaze, and ash rained down upon terrified civilians. Ships of gigantic proportions shot at the infrastructure of the city, and I watched in horror as people were crushed and trapped beneath the rubble. On the ground, I witnessed the Daleks exterminating anyone they encountered.

"Arcadia is falling!" numerous civilians screamed in terror. The desperation in their voices signified that they were without hope. "If Arcadia isn't safe, where can we expect refuge?"

Soldiers were attempting to protect the civilians from the Daleks, but even they seemed to realize how hopeless the situation had become. Nearby, a soldier declared, "Priority Omega… Arcadia has… fallen."

Is this reality? It seems so familiar… as if I've been here before…

That's when I saw something odd occurring. In the midst of this chaos, two immaculately attired men were approaching a woman who looked extraordinarily familiar.

"Lady Poet, by order of Lord President Rassilon of the High Council…"

Gently, someone shook me, and I looked away from the men. In that moment, I realized that I was back – or still – in the town consisting of vampires. There were no Daleks, and no ships, and the only fire was the bonfire, and the only screams consisted of laughter.

It felt so real… It's as if time is overlapping itself… I shook my head fervently to rid myself of the thought of time. No… What am I thinking… That world isn't real… Not in the slightest. Not ever. It is a fantasy… Earth… That is the only planet with life… And none of its technology is as advanced as that… place's…

"Are you all right? I know it's a lot to take in…" Takuma told me with concern. "Maybe I shouldn't have brought you here…"

Hastily, I smiled and assured him, "No; I'm fine! I got distracted; that's all."

"You looked frightened…" Takuma disregarded my assurance immediately, and continued to question, "Are you nervous because you weren't born a vampire, and you feel like you don't belong here?"

At Takuma's words, I felt myself grow afraid of the people surrounding me. In the back of my mind, I had worried that I would be judged harshly for the fact that I was a former-human vampire. During my studies, I had learned that the vampires belonging to the lower levels of the pyramid were not held in as high regard as those on the upper levels. Different levels of the vampire society even had different legal systems and rights. It was entirely possible for a Pureblood and a former human to commit the same crime, but only the former human be found guilty. The penalties for committing crimes also tended to deal harsher consequences for former humans.

"I think I'd be stupid if I weren't a little afraid," I admitted, looking at my feet dismally. "But I know better than to allow my fear control of my life."

"Very wise," Takuma smiled. "In that case…" He waved frantically, then called excitedly, "Hana-chan! Akatsuki-kun! Ruka-chan!"

Despite the noise in town being excessively loud, several people paused in their festivities to look at Takuma. Unaware of the stares, Takuma continued to make a ruckus until three other children his age appeared. None of them looked amused with Takuma's enthusiasm, and one of the two boys seemed beyond agitated.

"Stop calling me Hana-chan!" he demanded.

From past experience, I knew demanding for Takuma to cease his teasing would only add to his amusement, and thus cause him to not only continue his efforts, but also hone in on the weaknesses of those he subjected to his torment. Until I had finally come to this realization, I had been the one who Takuma had antagonized; although, his teasing had been more humane with me than with this blond haired boy we'd met up with.

Nervously, I analyzed the children Takuma had called into our midst. From their mannerisms and dress I recognized them as aristocratic level vampires immediately. The girl was only slightly taller than I was, and her sand-colored hair was not even the length of her shoulders. Her eyes shared almost the same coloration as the boy standing at her side; it was a warm brown that brought to mind hot cocoa. Next to her, the boy's hair was obviously not brown, but actually closer to orange, despite my mind not wishing to accept that orange could be a natural color.

As I turned to scrutinize the remaining boy, I discovered that Takuma was no longer next to me, and that "Hana-chan" had also disappeared. A feeling of abandonment washed over me, and I cursed Takuma for convincing me that this was a good idea.

I should have known he would become too excited by being here… He's completely forgotten me…

For a brief moment, I wasn't certain what to do, and I considered apologizing and running away. On second thought, I realized that the more appropriate action would be to introduce myself, and attempt to strike up a conversation until Takuma decided to return for me. If all else failed, I could introduce myself, then browse the venue alone. I didn't need Takuma to be present in order to enjoy the festivity, and I was unwilling to let my fear overcome me.

Graciously, I introduced myself, "Hello, I am Lorna Fairchild-Ichijou. It is very nice to meet you, Souen Ruka and Kain Akatsuki."

Ruka appeared a little taken aback as I spoke, and for a moment, I expected that she would not accept my greeting. However, she seemed to think better of her actions, and bowed her head slightly to acknowledge my introduction. Her companion continued to stare at me without any hint of emotion, and I worried that he was more likely to bring up the subject of my conversion.

"You're that former human," Akatsuki commented, unemotionally, just as I had feared. "The one the senate permitted to acquire an aristocratic title."

I nodded, slightly, and studied the ground before answering, "I am."

Suddenly, Takuma reappeared, and quickly interrupted, "We don't need to discuss this topic here! Tonight is about having fun; we'll save this confrontation for the night of the soirée."

"Where is Hanabusa?" Kain wondered, as Takuma led us toward a stand selling several different varieties of food.

Takuma shrugged. "Hiding… Couldn't find him after a while, so I doubled-back… He'll reappear soon…"

Passing by a tent with a sign promoting fortune-telling, a woman caught hold of my arm. "Would you like your fortune read?" she asked. Her manner of speaking struck me as odd, and I wondered if she were not speaking Japanese, but some other language.

Staring into the woman's copper colored eyes, I contemplated how to answer. She seemed insistent, and I worried that she hadn't selected me randomly. More than that, I didn't know how wise it was to see into my personal time-line.

I should say no… I don't want to know about my own future… What if it's something significant that I won't be able to avoid? I would hate to deliver myself to my own demise…

"Lorna-chan," Takuma addressed me, drawing me out of my thoughts. Smiling at the fortune-teller, he told her, "I'd like my fortune read, too."

Courteously, the woman beckoned us inside the tent, and Takuma dragged me in without waiting for me to protest.

The tent was so packed with objects and furniture that it felt much smaller than it actually was. Several Persian rugs were laid out on the grass in order to give the illusion of grandeur and mystique, and a small table was situated near the center of the room. The tent was lit primarily by candles that somehow made the atmosphere darker rather than brighter.

"Please, sit," the fortune teller urged us.

Still uncertain whether I should be having my fortune told, I hesitated before joining Takuma at the table. Once I had, I watched as the woman took one of Takuma's hands.

"Ah! I see that you will be greatly admired!" the woman proclaimed, immediately. "Although I am certain that comes as no surprise… You will encounter many new ideas and attempt to bring about a change that many will find impossible…" The fortune teller turned over his hand, then added, "And there will be a beautiful, but dangerous woman in your future… You must choose your path wisely…"

Smiling, she released Takuma, then held out her hand to me. "And now the young lady…" She spoke eagerly and mysteriously, as if she hadn't been interested in reading Takuma's fortune at all.

Nervously, I placed my hand in hers, and watched as she began analyzing the lines in my palm. "Hmm… Your future is not as clear…" the woman informed me. "I must begin by describing your past…"

Curious, despite my uncertainty, I listened to her recount, "You have run… so far away… So far that you can never go back even if you tried…" She paused, then continued, "I see a very loyal friend… a friend who would give her life to follow you…"

With my other hand, I fiddled with the objects around my neck. Ameretat… She must mean you…

After shaking my head, I looked back up at the fortune-teller. "You have lost something that nobody would ever understand," she proclaimed, and I felt Takuma tense beside me. From the way the fortune-teller looked at me, I sensed that she was not referring to my humanity, but to something else. "Ah… I see something more… A word of warning from your future: Beware the Weeping Angels, and don't blink. Blink and you're dead."

Unable to contain himself, Takuma chuckled derisively. When the fortune-teller and I both turned to him sharply, he quickly covered his mouth with his hands. "Sorry," he apologized between snorts of laughter. "Come on, Lorna-chan. Let's catch up with the others."

He tossed a few coins onto the table, then grabbed my hand. Just before exiting the tent, the fortune-teller grabbed my arm, and held me back.

"Wait," she demanded. Her voice was suddenly very different, and I knew immediately that she was no longer speaking Japanese but the language she had originally addressed me in. "I must persist for you are in grave danger," she confessed. "At the very top of this mountain is a shrine – long forsaken by the peoples of this world. Go there, and remember the Time and her sisters. They will grant you protection from the one who seeks your destruction."

For some reason, I trusted this woman. Either that, or I didn't wish to risk ignoring even the oddest instructions for fear that someone was after me. In any case, I bowed deeply to her, and accepted her instruction. In the language of the woman, I replied, "Your advice is heard, Sister."

"Take this too," she implored, pressing a small vial of clear liquid into my hands.

When I examined the object in my hand, I shook my hand fervently. "No; I cannot accept this," I replied, attempting to press the object back into the hands of the woman. "This is…"

The woman insisted, "I beseech you to accept my offering."

Before I had a chance to refuse once more, Takuma came back inside the tent to collect me. "Lorna-chan…" he addressed me. He smiled at the woman, "Sorry… She thinks she has talent in this area… We won't hold you up any longer."

The woman smiled back. "It's been a pleasure," she replied, speaking in Japanese for Takuma's benefit.

Leading me out of the tent quickly, Takuma told me, "Even for a fortune-teller, that woman was odd. She didn't smell like any vampire I'd ever encountered before, and her predictions were… bizarre and ridiculous... I hope she didn't frighten you." After a moment, he inquired, "Do you really feel that… nobody can understand…"

Grasping the vial the woman had bestowed upon me, I wondered how I should answer. When she had spoken, I had known that she wasn't seeing my loss of humanity. That woman knew who I was… She seemed to know everything about me… Did I lose something besides humanity?

"It is difficult," I admitted, finally. Before Takuma became depressed, I informed him, "There's somewhere I need to go tonight. A shrine."

Takuma grinned, and gave me a curious look. "Of course we're going to visit a shrine. It's New Years' Eve," he replied. "We'll go now if you're so eager."

Taking my arm, he began leading me to one of the crowded shrines on the outskirts of the town, and I had to request his attention many times before he finally turned back toward me. "No… The shrine at the top of the mountain," I told him, pointing toward the mountain.

At my gesture, Takuma suddenly looked very tired and disappointed. "The trek to that shrine will take the rest of the night… Not only will we miss the rest of this festival, we won't be home until after daylight… Besides, that shrine is so ancient that nobody can understand to which deity it is dedicated," Takuma explained.

Turning in the direction of the mountain, I stated, "Well, I guess I'll see you later."

Without looking back at Takuma, I altered my course, and headed toward a small path I could barely make out amongst the dense foliage. Although I did not wish to travel alone, I understood that I must reach the shrine. When the woman had mentioned the angels, I had felt that my suspicions had been proven correct. I had already seen that being stone hadn't prevented the angel from seeking me, and I feared what might occur if I did not obtain protection. How could I defend myself against something that turned itself to stone as soon as I looked at it? Not blinking would only work so long.

Realizing that I had no intention of changing my mind, Takuma hastily caught up to me. Catching hold of my arm, he forced me to stop, then asked, "What's gotten into you? You didn't want to come to this town, and now you want to climb to the top of a mountain to visit a shrine that has been abandoned for centuries."

"Please, don't stop me," I demanded, mildly. "I don't want to interrupt your night, but this is something I must do."

"Fine," Takuma sighed. He closed his eyes, then continued, "But I'm coming with you. The path is dangerous; even I couldn't make it to the top… and that was several years ago… I'm certain the path is even more treacherous now…"

I nodded, and permitted Takuma to lead me into the dense forest.

Initially, I couldn't understand why Takuma had made such a big deal out of the condition of the trail. Despite the brush and trees being overgrown, the path was perfectly navigable. Occasionally, we would encounter large boulders that would impede our progress, but even the boulders were little more than inconvenient. It wasn't until we arrived at a rickety rope bridge that I finally admitted that Takuma might have had a valid argument for not attempting to reach the mountain-top shrine.

Staring at the ravine gashed into the mountain, I wondered whether the trek to the summit was too dangerous to undertake. The idea of using a decrepit system of ropes to cross this thousand foot abyss seemed like a fool's errand, and I worried that the reason the shrine had been forgotten for such a long time was simply because it was unreachable.

"Look, I told you it was too dangerous… I'm all for a good adventure, but there's no telling when this bridge will collapse… Nobody's been over this gorge in decades…" Takuma badgered me. Gripping my arm tightly, he continued to implore me, "Please, let's return to the town."

Stubbornly, I shook my head. "I have to get to this shrine…" I insisted.

Just as I was about to continue toward the bridge, Takuma grasped my arm tightly, and made me face him. "Lorna-chan, why are you so insistent on going to this particular shrine?" he asked, earnestly.

Casting my gaze away, I almost refused to answer, but ultimately decided to entrust him with part of the truth. "I was instructed to visit this shrine," I replied, solemnly.

This was the part of the truth that would ensure Takuma would neither prevent me nor abandon me while I attempted to make this treacherous journey to the top of the mountain. During my first week of residing in the Ichijou Manor, I had learned that former humans were unable to defy the orders of their master – the Pureblood vampire who had bitten them. If I misused this information, I could make Takuma believe that going to this shrine was not merely a request.

Not to my surprise, Takuma's expression darkened as he arrived at the conclusion that I was following an order I was unable to ignore. "Was it… the woman in the fortune-telling tent?" he asked, soberly.

I nodded, and tried to not look at Takuma too much. The look of anguish upon his features was enough to make me feel guilty for manipulating his emotions, but I was too determined to reach the shrine to admit the true reason I wished to climb to the top of this mountain.

"You don't have to come with me," I reminded Takuma. "I'll be fine…"

"No way am I letting you do this alone!" Takuma retorted without hesitation. "It's cruel that someone is forcing you to undertake such a hazardous task, but I won't make it worse by refusing to assist…"

With those words, he took my hand, and we continued to search the area along the gorge for a safer method of reaching the opposite side. About three miles past the bridge, I noticed a figure moving through the dense undergrowth along our path, and I halted to study it further. From what I could make out, a young deer was creating its own path through the more gradual region of the gorge. After a moment, it halted, as if sensing my watch, and I lowered my head slightly to demonstrate that I meant no harm.

Uncertain, the deer tensed – clearly it could sense the aura of a creature with an instinct to hunt – but then it continued winding its way through the underbrush. Halting once more, it turned back toward me, and an idea suddenly revealed itself in my mind.

Follow.

"This way," I told Takuma, softly.

Without waiting for him to respond, I grasped his hand tightly, and pulled him deeper into the forest after me. Carefully, I followed the deer's path until we were only a few feet apart. Once it was certain I was able to see its movements clearly, the deer continued to descend.

It took several minutes to reach the bottom, and once we had, the trek became more boring than dangerous. For a long while, we continued to follow the deer, and Takuma began to complain quietly.

"We're following a deer… Lorna-chan… how are you so certain this deer knows how to navigate this gorge better than we do? Do you realize how many gradual slopes we've passed since coming down here? That deer wants us to leave it alone," Takuma complained.

"Takuma, this deer has traveled through this gorge many more times than any of us. We need to be patient and trust that he understands where he's leading us," I insisted. "And stop bringing a negative attitude. The deer likes me, but you're making him nervous. If you can't control yourself, you'll have to wait here."

Takuma looked insulted at my response, and quickly retaliated, "You're an eight-year-old! I am not letting you navigate this mountain alone! If your master hadn't ordered you to visit this shrine, I wouldn't let you climb to the top of this mountain at all!"

Fighting to keep a stoic expression, I reminded myself, It'll be better that he never realizes that I've manipulated him. I need to be careful not to say anything out of anger… And I'll try to be less of a nuisance to him in the future…

Shortly after my insistence, the deer began to ascend the slope. Heaving an exasperated sigh, Takuma followed after it.

The location the deer had chosen to climb was not as steep as the slope we'd used to access the gorge, and I became aware that the bottom of the gorge was higher on one end than the other. More than that, once we arrived at the top of the gorge, a steep flight of stone steps awaited us. By looking at our surroundings, I could tell that it would have been impossible for us to have located these steps without climbing out of the gorge at this precise location.

"You knew what we were looking for," I realized, suddenly.

At my words, the deer almost seemed to bow, but I was certain it was only my imagination. In the next instant, the deer had sprinted into the dense foliage to our left, and was almost immediately out of sight.

Studying the steps, Takuma commented, "Well, the good news is that the shrine should be at the top of these steps… The bad news… we'll have to climb all these steps."

Still, Takuma couldn't stop grinning now that he could finally see the end product in sight. As we ascended the stone steps, he never paused in proclaiming how thrilled he was to finally be able to see this shrine that nobody had worshipped at for centuries.

Once we reached the top of the mountain, I took in the surrounding area.

Compared to the shrines surrounding the town we'd traveled from, this shrine was almost ridiculously simple. It was completely outdoors, and the only indication that it was a shrine at all was the wooden structure protecting several stones and what appeared to be a bowl of blue colored liquid metal from damage. Although Takuma had insisted that this shrine had lain abandoned for centuries, a garden was tended immaculately, and several cherry blossom trees were in bloom.

From the top of the stone steps to the shrine were many intricately carven stone tiles, and I realized that each tile seemed to have inscriptions written in various languages. After reading several of them, I realized that they were the many requests, thanks, and devotion from the shrine-goers of past centuries.

I was so preoccupied with reading the inscriptions on the tiles, I did not immediately notice that Takuma did not appear well. When I finally did look up, I saw that he could not bear to look in the direction of the shrine.

Worriedly, I asked, "Takuma? What's wrong? Are you all right?"

He nodded stiffly. "It's the shrine… It feels… odd… Lorna-chan…"

Glancing back at the shrine, I attempted to determine what was so wrong with it. "I don't feel anything." Upon looking at the shrine once more, I became aware of a woman kneeling on the opposite side of the shrine. "Oh… There's a woman here… I thought you said nobody ever comes here…"

Shocked, Takuma turned around, and flinched as the full-force of the shrine's power struck him. "But that isn't…" His eyes fixed on the woman, and a look of terror fell over him.

Despite my nervousness, I took a step toward the shrine. I could recall the words of the fortune-teller clearly: Remember the Time and her sisters.

They must be the Eternals which guard this place… This woman must be the one I must ask to protect me.

I could sense that Takuma wanted to pull me back toward him, but he was too afraid to desecrate sacred ground in order to protest my approach of the woman. When I was little more than a foot from the shrine, I remembered that I must present an offering of sentimental value equal to my request.

Carefully, I removed my scarf from around my neck, then folded it neatly. On the horizontal stone slab, I knelt facing the woman, then placed the scarf onto the vertical stone slab beside the bowl of metallic-appearing liquid. From this proximity, I recognized it immediately as a tempered schism in the fabric of reality.

As this realization occurred to me, suddenly I discovered that I could remember all the events that had occurred just prior to Takuma finding me in that alleyway nearly two months ago.

Arcadia fell, and the Time-War ended… I can sense it all now… The Doctor couldn't watch all of time-and-space burning any longer… so he stole the Moment – the galaxy-eater…

Memories of that last night tormented me, and as I recalled the screams that had echoed around the city, I wrapped my arms tightly around my chest. Silent tears fell at the thought that I was permitted to live on while they all perished.

They didn't just die out… They burned… Everything burned in a moment…

An audible sob escaped me as I realized that I was alone. I was absolutely alone, and many million years and light-years from home, and I wouldn't ever be able to return. Not only that, but I was forced to reside with beasts in human form. In the process of adapting to life on Earth, I had even mutated into a vampire.

"It's the watch… It isn't merely containing my DNA and memories… It is sentient, and changing my biology to suit my personal needs…" I realized, very quietly. Shaking my head, I wondered, "But why me? Of all people… There are – were – so many better people to have chosen to escape… And my mother… Why didn't she come with me? All that aside… How could I have gotten through the time-lock?"

The Time did not interrupt, but she also did not answer. She seemed to understand that I did not desire answers to these questions, and that I spoke them aloud only because of the overwhelming emotion that could no longer be contained.

Slowly, I calmed myself down, then murmured, "I should have burned… I should have died with my people… I have no right to live on while they perish. I ran away – like a coward… I deserve death more than any of them."

Finally, the Time spoke, "Do you not believe you're capable of using your survival of that Time-War to ensure that nobody else suffers the same fate?"

Fervently, I shook my head. "I am an eight-year-old! I-I didn't even attend the Time-lord Academy! Not even for a day! Not for a moment! What could I possibly do that is so great?"

The Time smiled sympathetically, then told me in a very calm tone, "You are stronger than you think. In any case, I'll ensure that you won't be forced to endeavor alone. I have already granted you a faithful companion." She indicated Takuma, who was currently attempting to avert his eyes from the shrine, while also keeping watch over me. "Do not believe that it was mere coincidence that brought you to him and not someone else."

For an instant, I worried that Takuma was being manipulated into ensuring my safety. However, the Time quickly denied, "If one chooses wisely enough, there is no need to manipulate the feelings and actions of another."

A feeling of relief washed over me. If Takuma had been forced into supporting me, I would not have been able to bear it. The idea that his society was creating exceptions to permit me extensive privileges was difficult enough without the notion that their actions were being manipulated by a presence they couldn't even begin to fathom.

Thus, I was brought to the original purpose of my journey to the summit of the mountain. "I was told to come here by a woman – a seer from the Sisterhood of Karn. She told me that I needed to seek protection from the 'one who seeks my destruction,'" I informed the Time. "I can't even imagine who that could be, or why they would view me as a threat… but…"

I looked down at the Schism resting in front of me, and a shockwave traveled up and down my spine as I viewed the image reflected in the liquid. Recognition was lit in the eyes of a child cloaked in the robes of the Patrex chapter. A hand was extended toward the depths of reality, and I knew immediately that this child was myself; however, I couldn't believe that the image were real. Despite knowing that a Schism could not lie, I refused to believe the accuracy of its memory.

"But that isn't…" I whispered. "How could that be?"

The Time disregarded my questions, and accepted my unspoken request. "You are precious to the Time, and we will guarantee your safety. We will guide you on your path," she assured me. "May you be blessed."

I bowed my head solemnly, and accepted the words of the Time before recounting, "I know too that this memory isn't sustainable, and that's good. I don't think I could live with the burden of surviving… I think I am correct in believing that it is only the Doctor and myself who managed to escape…"

To my surprise, the Time answered, "You may live in hope."

Feeling my spirits rising slightly, I looked up at the Time, and took in her calm and reassuring demeanor. She appeared ethereal, as if she were composed of nothing more than stardust. From across the grounds, she had appeared in the form of a person, but up close I could tell that it was merely a façade. If it hadn't been for the telepathic field connecting us, I wouldn't have been capable of seeing her at all.

Hardly daring to breathe, I stammered, "D-Do you mean that… there are more Gallifreyans out there?"

Mysteriously, the Time replied, "Where there is a choice, there is also another possibility."

Without another word, the Time disintegrated into stardust, and was gone.

Slowly, I rose to my feet, then returned to Takuma's side. He was still shielding his eyes from the shrine. When he noticed that I was by his side once more, he placed a hand on my shoulder, and maneuvered me as far from the shrine as he could manage.

"Are you all right? You're not hurt, are you?" he asked, studying my expression.

It didn't take much effort to smile at him; although, I couldn't understand why I felt so happy and content when my eyes were red from tears. "I'm fine," I insisted when he continued to persist with questions. "I really feel better now."

Takuma began to regale me with questions, despite my insistence that I was perfectly fine – even better than I had been prior to visiting the shrine. I withstood his cajoling until I found an appropriate moment to ask, "While we're on this mountain, could we watch the sunrise?"

Suddenly Takuma seemed to realize that I had never been ordered to the top of this mountain, and he whispered, "You… just wanted to… Lorna-chan…"

I expected him to be angry with me, and I looked away guiltily in order to not see his expression. When he wrapped his arms around me, I struggled briefly before recognizing the gesture as a hug. As this realization struck me, I found myself bewildered, and I was too startled by his actions to even ask him what he was thinking.

"Don't do this again, Lorna-chan… I was really frightened for you… I thought… I couldn't even fathom what it was your master would make you do…" he whispered. Then, suddenly, he found himself laughing, "You were that desperate to see this shrine atop a mountain that you pretended to be under someone else's control? Although, now that I've been here, I realize this shrine is no ordinary shrine… It truly has the presence of an eternal deity watching over it…"

I nodded. "The Menti Celesti," I informed him, seriously. "Of these Eternals, the Time is most important. She is the one present at the very beginning of time, and she is the first to scatter herself to initiate the first universe. In each universe, a sentient being sacrifices herself to bring the creation of the following universe…"

Takuma was laughing once more, and he gently patted my head. "Like a child to believe that the universe is created in that fashion," he commented, fondly. "I thought something similar when I was your age."

I flushed with embarrassment. You didn't see her… I realized, I thought you had, but you didn't… She never had any intention of speaking with you…

Light began filtering over the horizon, and I quickly broke out of Takuma's hold in order to view it better. "It's really a good view from atop the mountain," I exclaimed, excitedly. "In Arcadia, the second sun would rise, and for an instant the city was cast in this golden glow as the sky morphed from burnt orange to flaming red… It was as if everything were on fire…"

I fell silent in contemplation. What was that? I don't remember anything about… Recalling that Arcadia was one of the settings in the manga Takuma had purchased me recently, I rubbed my head, then apologized, "I'm sorry, Takuma… I've just remembered that Arcadia is the city in the manga you bought me…"

Takuma was too excited about his own discovery to acknowledge my random burst of excitement. Instead, he was staring starry eyed at little white puffs descending from the heavens. "The first sunrise of the new year came with the first snowfall of the winter, Lorna-chan! That must mean this year will be the luckiest year yet!" he exclaimed, reaching down to make a snow ball.

Tearing my eyes away from the sun, I studied the snow closely, and a feeling of horror fell over me. Suddenly I couldn't stop shaking, and I wrapped my arms around myself protectively. My first thought had been the vision that had bombarded me earlier this evening, but now I sensed something distressing occurring much closer.

"T-Taku…ma…" I stammered.

He noticed my lack of enthusiasm immediately, and he quickly dropped the snowball he'd been attempting to form in order to rush back to my side. Quickly tearing into his skin with a nail, he offered me his wrist.

"Here, drink, Lorna-chan. It was too much excitement, and I forgot to buy you something to eat," he stated, a note of desperation in his voice.

Although I was feeling the familiar nagging sensation that I got when I was hungry, I shook my head. The horror of what had occurred was so strong that it couldn't be washed out of my mind even with the offer of blood.

"Lorna…" Takuma whispered in a warning tone. "You're still not used to it… but…"

I shook my head, and tears escaped as I cried desperately, "This isn't snow… It's ash..."


Finished chapter six already! I tried really hard to put more adventure into my story. Also, I hope the ending to this chapter isn't too abrupt. Every time I tried to continue, the action picked back up, and I really don't want to make this chapter longer than it already is.

Please, review! I would love to hear any thoughts on this story!

Thanks,
Mango