Disclaimer:

I do not own either the Chronicles of Narnia, which belongs to C.S. Lewis, nor KHR, which belongs to Akira Alamo.

Warning:

There is an extreme likelihood that just about every character but Skull is OOC. I tried my best, but this whole chapter was rather difficult all told.

Chapter 13

"Okay so rules!" Skull announced, stepping into one of Oodaku's tentacles and bracing herself as she was lifted into the air into easy view. "The Cloud Trial is going to be an adaptation of an old-ish Carcassa tradition known as War Games. It is a battle between armies and is generally ended when one side either forces surrender or is completely defeated. In this instance, it may also end if I decide that the Vongola Decimo has demonstrated the charisma required to lead. When fighting, the line is drawn at lethal force, anything else is acceptable. Listen to your commanders, in this case, Sawada and myself. Delegating is allowed, but the final decisions belong to the two of us. Now, Carcassa, line-up for team assignments!"

Sawada and company stared in fear-tinged shock (Sawada) and puzzled amusement (most of the others) as Skull directed Oodaku to gesture at the various members of her family as she assigned them a side.

"Let's see, Vongola, Vongola, Carcassa, Von- no actually Carcassa. You three are Vongola, umm so are you. Roberto, you're Carcassa, um who elseā€¦"

She continued along that vein for several minutes until the Carcassa were arranged in two groups. The Vongola-Carcassa group was notably larger, but that didn't stop them from wailing in horror when they noted the way she'd split them. With Skull were the most skilled fighters from their ship, as well as the more brilliant strategists and trainers. Skull's helmet hid her evil smirk, but her men heard it in her voice.

"I'll give you five minutes to prepare your attack Sawada. Starting now!"

Skull's group immediately gathered around her and she gestured for them to strategize amongst themselves while she listened into the chaos she'd wrought on the Vongola-Carcassa side.

Somehow, Sawada managed to be heard over their wailing. "Wha- what's wrong?"

"We're doomed!" one of the minions despaired. "We will be crushed!"

Skull could feel Sawada's nervous glance her way, though she carefully wasn't looking in his direction. "Why's that?"

It seemed like only one of them was able to calm down enough to answer. "Everyone over there is the best of the best! They're the ones that win us skirmishes! Yeah we can fight, but they know all our moves! We're done for!"

Skull managed to avoid shaking her head in despair, but was unable to keep the complete disbelief off of her face. Thank Aslan for her helmet, they were absolutely ridiculous. Sure it was working according to her plan and the odds were against them in a rather drastic way, but could not one of them keep a level head in high stress situations? Reborn was watching! They were making her look bad!

She made a mental note to up their training with a heavy focus on stacked odds and underdog strategies. They would be reprimanded for the dramatics for sure.

Sawada's guardian was laughing, apparently content to watch the mayhem play out, at least for now. Sawada himself was radiating trepidation. He had two minutes till Battle Start.

Skull's own side had quieted and were listening as well. Skull was rather gratified to see they were also displaying a level of disbelief and disappointment in their subordinates. The ship's captain caught her attention for a few seconds.

"We'll be going with a field attack, Pattern R."

Skull nodded at him. Such a plan worked out fine for her purposes. It was basically a forward rush, meant to overwhelm them with numbers and in this case, superior skill. Given the resemblance to medieval warfare it wasn't one they used often. Almost never outside of War Games actually, so it was a rather favoured strategy when they could get away with it.

One minute till Battle Start.

The Vongola-Carcassa side was still panicking, and Skull was counting down the seconds. It had actually gotten worse since the Carcassa-Carcassa had lined themselves up and were staring them down. Sawada was running out of time if he wanted them to fight with him.

Thirty seconds till Battle Start, and there was a change in the atmosphere. Skull leaned forward from her place on Oodaku. Sawada was all but exuding Sky Flames. His guardian was giving him an appraising look along with a rather bloodthirsty grin and the men were starting to calm down.

Sawada looked at his guardian. "You'll fight with us?"

The teenager spun his trident. "Kufufu, you always provide the most entertaining opponents Tsunayoshi. It would be interesting to fight an Arcobaleno again. I would enjoy defeating another one."

Sawada seemed pleased with the answer. "No trouble then."

Disbelief swept the Carcassa. Skull herself desperately wanted to know the story behind that statement. Who among them had lost to a teenager?

Lal's voice disrupted the shocked silence. "Begin the battle!"

It only took a second for Skull's side to shake of the shock and charge, but that second was all Sawada needed to charge forward, propelled by hands full of flames. Skull gestured with one hand, channeling her own flames into her dear familiar and Oodaku raised a tentacle just in time to block the blow. Sawada was flying around which took her off guard for all of two seconds before she was adjusting. It had been some time since she'd fought any kind of aerialist but it wasn't all that new. What was new was the blasts of flame this particular opponent threw around like flower petals at a wedding.

Below her, she could tell battle had been engaged. From what she could hear, the guardian, which was apparently a Mist, was causing her men all sorts of trouble. Now she had a few flame actives in this group. One of them was even a Mist. But they were up against a Vongola Guardian level Mist with a powerful channel, something none of them had. As far as she could tell, her men were trying their best, but they were getting pummeled.

This was all noted in a few seconds which really was all she could spare. Sawada had definitely grown, both in skill and character. The fact that he was fighting her at all was testament to the former. That he was managing to press her was evidence to the former. However, he was a hundred years too young to really defeat her with any manner of ease though. She enlarged her hand in front of him, leaving him without room to dodge and batted him away.

She took the momentary relief to survey the battle field. As expected, the Mist Guardian was surrounded by unconscious bodies and his two friends weren't doing too poorly either. To her pleasant surprise though, the Vongola Carcassa men had joined in the battle as well.

Skull ducked under a blast of Sky Flames and tapped Oodaku. All eight tentacles slammed into the ground. The impact got everyone's attention. Skull quite merrily applied her flames to her own throat, propagating the volume (a trick she wished she'd had back when she'd been a queen in Narnia). "WELL DONE LITTLE VONGOLA! IT TAKES NO SMALL AMOUNT OF CHARISMA TO PROPERLY MOTIVATE TERRIFIED MEN TO FIGHT FOR YOU! FOR SUCH A DISPLAY, I AWARD YOU THE SEAL OF THE CLOUD ARCOBALENO!"

She hopped off her octopus and removed the flames from her throat. Sawada knelt before her and held out a small orange box even as she extended her pacifier to give him the seal.

Despite knowing he was unable to see her face, she smiled at him. As she'd told Lal earlier, she had a bit of a soft spot for him, having been tossed none too gently into the mafia herself. "You did do quite well Sawada. You've done your predecessors proud."

The boy frowned at her. "My predecessors?"

Skull's smile and voice turned melancholy. "The initial takers of this trial."

His eyes had faded from orange to brown now, but his curiosity kept him in place. "There were others?"

Her gaze clouded in remembrance, though no one could tell. "Indeed. A long time ago. Their trial was different though."

"Really? How?"

"They were fighting for a country for one. It was a larger scale. Life or death. They did have willing troops, but the odds were still stacked high against them." She shuddered. "They almost lost actually."

"What hap-" Sawada was interrupted by a ripple of flames from where his Mist Guardian was standing with his two friends.

"Kufufu. It seems I ran her a little hard. As interesting as this is, I'll be going now." His form rippled and revealed a small girl. Skull gaped as Sawada rushed over.

"Chrome-chan!"

Unsure of what to say or what to even do with the scene, Skull shook her head and turned her attention to her men. The mafia was an incredibly weird place. She'd had decades to acclimate, but whatever that was, dissociative identity disorder, possession, whatever, was not something she wanted to deal with. Maybe in a decade or so after she'd had time to adjust to the concept, but not now.

"Get the unconscious back to the ship. Once everyone's back to some level of health, we'll be having a talk about today's games and what exactly went wrong." Those still conscious who had been on the Vongola-Carcassa side shuddered. The talks were routine, but this one would not be very fun for most of them.

AN:

*wiggled fingers nervously* Yeah. Hi. I'm back.

First of all, I would like to sincerely apologize. I said the chapter would be up before Christmas and here it is a month and some odd days late. Unfortunately, I can promise no regular updates from here on out. As I mentioned under the warning, this chapter was surprisingly difficult to write, and while I hope it will get easier going on, I can make no promises.

I do promise that this story will not be abandoned. I will continue to work on it as I am as excited as all of you to see where it goes.

I thank all of you for your patience with this story and with me. Your reviews have been a great source of inspiration for me.

As always, please read, review, and I wish you all a delightful day!

-Glorificate