Hello one and all to the long awaited chapter 6 of Pale Roots! Now I know what you will want to say!

TOOK YOU DAMN LONG ENOUGH!

You must forgive me sir's and/or madams. Real life likes to make everyone it's bitch... Not only that, but jobs tend to eat up more of my time then I would like. But enough about that! You came here to read about Thane! Not about why this story is late! But before we get to the reading... Time for reader responses! Oh goody I love these...

Alkhemia: Thank you! It does my heart good to hear that this story might have potential!

Writefag:Thank you sir! I will take this review and apply it to further enhance my ability to write! again, thank you for the review!

Guilop:I wouldn't say she forgot... more like she had other things on her mind 'll resurface though, just you wait!

Assassin4life: I wouldn't say a short novel... But by the way I keep writing, I may end up doing that one of these days... But thank you for the kind words!

APeeledOnion: I'm also glad to be writing again! now only if I could keep a steady pace...

DragonxNegima2: 3 hours? goodness sir! makes me happy to hear that! means I'm doing this writing thing right after all...

Anon: Of course he makes things worse! what made you think he would make it better?

"word" = words said out loud

'word' = stands for internal monologue or thoughts

"Word" Or "word" = stands for certain emphasis

{word}= things in brackets normally stand for another language

On with the show!


Pale Root's

Chapter 6: Things that go bump in the night

Xx ? xX

Step one, right two, step one, right two.

The tempo is soft, the music is melodious. The harp is plucked, the flute blown.

Step one, right two.

The hand is soft, the pace is set, the face is hidden. The smile is not.

Step one, right two, step one, right two.

Her smile is small, her hat obscuring. Her hair is long, her laugh… discovered.

Step one, right two.

She step's, I step. I step, she steps. Our pace, simple. Our flow, lovely.

Step one, right two, step one, right two.

The Harp stops, the flute ceases. I step away, she does to. I bow, she curtsies.

Step forward, wrap her hands.

I lean, she rises. Her lips met mine, soft as the music, plucked like strings.

I pull away, she does as well, She smiles, I do as well.

Her long locks of golden hair vanish, along with her. The small Blond girl, vanishing with the music.

Xx ? xX

Thane felt his eyes flutter, his mind returning to the land of the wakeful. He simply blinked his eyes a few minutes, the oddity of the dream he just had playing itself in his mind several times.

'A harp… and a flute… I think that was… waltzing… I haven't waltzed in years…'

Thane shook his head, not finding any answers by lying on the couch, and rose to a sitting position, his hair tumbling over his face as he did. The pale youth leaned over his knees, his chin on his fist as he thought.

'waltzing… waltzing… why waltzing of all things?... and who was I dancing with? She looked vaguely familiar… and that thing in the middle…'

However, much as he tried, his dream simply was just that, a dream, and was very hard to keep in his mind, especially this early. Thane let out a sigh and sat up straight, glancing over at Yuna's clock.

It was 4 A.M.

Thane blinked a few times, something in his body feeling odd. Thane rose to his feet and went into the kitchen, hoping that movement might remove the effect.

"Well… I Guess I have butterflies in my stomach because it's the start of the new semester… he… everybody's going to be third years now…"

Thane glanced over at the Bunk bed, The two sleeping forms of Akira and Yuna setting a smile on his face. However, that feeling in his gut wouldn't go away, not even at the prospect of the new day.

Thane shook his head at himself, his mind starting to pick up, "What feels so off right now…" Thane shook his head again and got some cool green tea out of the fridge, the feeling of the liquid rushing down his throat bringing him to full wakefulness. After getting a little more to drink, and a small bite to eat, he quickly got himself prepped and ready for his early morning session with Setsuna.

Or he would have, had the light rustling of one of the blankets not stopped him. Thane looked over to the Bunk bed and saw Akira rising from the covers, her eyes half-open and bleary.

"Thane?... wha… *Yawn*… What are you doing?"

Thane smiled at her and finished putting on his jogging clothes "Early morning jogging with Sakurazaki-san" Akira blinked a few times before she remembered Thane's usual mornings "oh… yeah…"

Thane nodded his head and looked at her for a little bit longer, he had to admit, her half asleep look was kinda cute with her hair all over her face and her eyes half lidded. Almost so much that he almost didn't noticed that she was talking again. "Thane… could… you perhaps not go this time?"

His reaction was to blink a few times in confusion. "Not go? Why?" She managed to sit herself up, her blanket around her body in order to keep in as much of the early morning heat as possible. "I… I don't… I don't know really… I… just have a bad feeling for some reason"

Thane blinked a few times in surprise. Not only was he having some strange feelings, But Akira as well? "Really? Oddly enough… I've… also had a strange feeling since I woke up…" Akira moved her blanket a bit, revealing a little more of her head, her expression one of worry. "You have?" Thane nodded at her question "Yeah… but, it could be just that. Just an Odd feeling."

Akira bit her lower lip, her own instincts telling her otherwise. Thane let out a sigh as he shrugged his shoulders "well… I know you don't want me to go, but, if this bad feeling does mean something, then it's my Job as an assistant teacher to find out what the cause may be. But I will say this, if you're really really insistent, I might change my mind"

Akira was silent for a moment. Thane had just offered her a chance to keep him here. But, she also knew that it would eat him up on the inside to not know what it was, and she would also start to feel rather bad about keeping him here. But she did find some small solace in the fact that he would do so much to try to ease her mind "No… your right. It might just be me having early morning problems or something…"

Thane cracked her a large smile "Maybe it's cramps?" Akira felt her face blush as she puffed out her cheeks in annoyance "You can be so indelicate sometimes you know." Thane gave her another smile and waved at her "so I've been told. Catch you later Akira. If it makes you feel any better, I'll be home at 6:30. Just in time to come back and get you guys to your first day of class as Third years."

Akira waved him off as he closed the door behind him, leaving the swimmer to ponder on the bad feeling in her gut. Akira observed the door for a little while longer before she put her hands together in prayer "I hope that you come out of this day alright Thane…"

Xx Several hours later, Thane xX

Setsuna was busy stretching her legs, using the railing to the dorms as a good hold bar. However, where she was busy stretching, her mind was elsewhere, right to twenty minutes ago in her room.

Xx 628 xX

"Is something the matter Tatsumiya-san? What was the phone call about?" The tall woman reached under her bed and pulled out a long storage box, one in which had several Mechanical (and if Setsuna's guess was right about her partner, magical as well) locks that extended down the side of it. "Something needs investigating. The headmaster called me up to help with that. You don't need to worry, he told me that it might not be a demon, so you can go and have your early morning jog with your boyfriend" Setsuna felt her face flush from the snipers disregard for her relationship status.

"He's not my boyfriend! He's just a friend! And a good sparring partner!" Setsuna had hardly ever seen Mana smile, and the few times that she did, it was when money was in her hands. The fact that she had a small one right now creeped her out "Keep telling yourself that and maybe you'll believe it Sakurazaki" Then Mana went right back to her locks, an indication that she wasn't going to spare anymore words with her. Setsuna quickly left the dorm room, the heat unusually high in her room.

Xx Now xX

Despite the embarrassment she had suffered from her roommate's words, now that she was looking back on them, she quickly came to notice that Mana had deflected her from asking anymore questions about the assignment. Not that it was much of her business, if the headmaster needed her, then he would give her a call. But it was still somewhat troublesome to think that he would call on Mana, especially this early in the morning.

Setsuna was so lost in thought that she failed to notice the creeping shadow quickly making its way to her. It moved slowly, oh so slowly, until it was not but a few inches away from her. It stood there for a second, until it hollered out next to her ear "MORNING SETSUNA!" and for added emphases, Thane gave her rear a good slap, causing her to jump about 3 feet forward, her hands covering her now stinging posterior.

"Wah!" Setsuna quickly about faced, her face red from the invasion of her privacy and her hands still covering her backside in case there was a follow up "Thane!" Thane was grinning down at her with a bright wide smile, the hand he just used for rear side assault waving at her "Sorry sorry! You were just standing there looking kinda stuck, so I just decided to wake you up."

"You could have tapped me on the shoulder!"

"I know, but that's no fun… But…" Thane started to rub his chin sagely, as if to contemplate something profound in his thoughts. "perhaps I should have gone for a grope instead? Missed opportunity on my part then…" Setsuna's face was now doing a very good impression of a tomato. "THANE!" the older male now simply started to chuckle, covering his mouth so that the samurai couldn't see. "I was only joking Setsuna… but man are you so much fun…" The girl glared at him for a moment longer, only succeeding in making him giggle longer until she eventually let out a sigh. "Just keep your hands to yourself…"

The assistant teacher saluted her. "Yes Mame" Thane, having had enough of horsing around, simply stared out into the campus area, stroking his chin in thought "So Setsuna, what route do you think we should hit today? A, B, or maybe C for a change?" "Well… A seems like it's out of the question for today since you need to get back pretty soon. B Might work, but I think route C would be the best for today." Thane smiled at her knowingly "I see… the shortest route today then? Any particular reason for that?"

Setsuna tried to hide a slight blush by shrugging "No reason really, it's a very scenic route, and I don't feel up for a lot of running today." Thane simply laughed to himself at her obvious discomfort. "Me thinks it's more along the lines that you simply want to get back to Konoka-san as quickly as possible. The new term starts after all, and most students need to be at class early today." Setsuna didn't grace him with an answer to that, but he got all he needed from her blushing face. After setting up what pace they would be going at, a medium one they had decided, they quickly got underway.

It was a rather easy and somewhat lax route when it came to actual running, and one they only reserved for when they would attempt heavy sparring later on. However, after the both of them had decided that Thane didn't need as much in the way of swordsmanship, they had elected to do less time on training and more on physical endurance. So the fact that they were taking C had been somewhat of a surprise for Thane, but he didn't mind. He greatly enjoyed this route for several reasons. The first and foremost is the actual jog through the park. The rustling of leaves as they passed would grace his ears with a pleasant sound as it mixed in with the waking birds of spring. The smells of the last dredges of autumn would easily whistle away as the smell of budding flowers and pine would intermingle.

It was perhaps his most favorite part of the trip for scenery. The next part of the jog would normally take them through the Dining area of Mahora's Campus, Nicknamed the 'Chefs corner.' The smell of cooking food would normally grace his nose, leaving his stomach all the more hungry. Or, this would normally be the case. However, as the both of them made their way through the Chefs Corner, they quickly started to notice a seemingly bad vibe that hung in the air, so much that they eventually slowed to a stop by a café.

"You feel that Setsuna?" The Samurai nodded her head, a hard steel in her eyes as she looked around. "Yes… But, I'm not sure what it is… do you also happen to notice the lack of people?" Thane looked around, starting to register what Setsuna was on about. "I hadn't noticed at first, but your right. I don't see any" The both of them looked around in there general location for a little bit, but they didn't see anything in there general location. However, Thane had felt that the feeling would get stronger the closer he got to one of the streets. But just to confirm it, he walked around a bit. The reaction was the same every time he moved away, it would get stronger the closer he got. Finally, he quickly whistled for Setsuna.

"Hey, Setsuna, over here." The Girl made her way over, her curiosity hidden by her professionalism. "Yes? What is it?" "You feel that? Every time I get closer to this one road, that bad feeling would get stronger." Setsuna looked down the road he mentioned, extending her senses outward until she noticed what he was talking about. "Your right… this needs to be investigated. I'll make a call." However, before she could get her cell phone out, Thane stopped her. "Hold up a second, Perhaps we should check it out first, check and see if it isn't anything we can't handle first." "That goes against Procedure, if we find anything, then we need to report it first."

Thane looked her up and down before a smile was on his face. "True… for you anyway. I'm not part of anything, so I'm going to investigate it. You can stay here if you want" Before Setsuna could get a word in, Thane quickly made his way down the road. "Wait! Thane! You!... urgh! Can't he just do what I ask?! Wait for me!" Pulling Yunagi up further onto her shoulder, Setsuna quickly followed behind him, grumbling under her breath about lack of protocol. The both of them went further down the road, the quite stepping of their shoes contacting on sidewalk making for an eerie noise. Eventually, they both managed to make it to the end of the road. And when they did, it was something of a relief. All of the early morning store owners where out and about here, gathered around a crossed out building marked with caution tape all over the busted glass windows and door.

Thane looked around a bit, and noticed that everybody looked somewhat nervous. Setsuna forged past Thane and came close to one of the other vendor owners "Excuse me sir, what's going on around here?" an older man turned his attention and noticed the both of them and their curious stares. He pointed out the store itself and spoke up. "Early this morning, there was a break and entry." Thane came up next to Setsuna and tilted his eyebrows at the sight "Looks far more like a break then an entry. Nobody breaks both display windows and rips the door off its hinges to get in." The old man looked over at the destruction nervously. "You're right about that young man… I'm afraid that's all I know, if you want more details, you'll need to ask someone else or the guys investigating inside. I only just got here myself." And with that, he turned around and made his way back.

Thane turned to Setsuna and gave her a curious look. "so… should we investigate? Or do we consider it a normal robbery?" "I would normally consider it an average break-in… but this feeling…" Thane nodded his head, crossing his arms as he stared out at the busted up store. "I know… it feels dangerous. I guess we get closer and ask one of the police then." The both of them wormed their way through the large crowd, eventually making it to the front.

"So you're saying that you only heard the glass breaking?"

"Yes sir, that's when I gave the call"

Thane and Setsuna quickly identified the person who looked in charge. Thane was a little surprised to see who it was though, the familiar face having not been seen for several months at least. "Gandolfini-san?" The taller man turned his attention from his witness to the voice in the crowed and raised his eyebrow in some slight confusion. "You're… Hold a moment if you would." Both Thane and Setsuna nodded their heads at him as he quickly went back to the Witness. It was only a few more minutes before he dismissed the man and then came up to the both of them.

"Thane-kun I believe right? What are you doing here?" "Well, Myself and Setsuna here where on our early morning jogging and we decided to take a more scenic route. However, when we did come this way, I guess you could call it a… bad feeling?" Thane looked to Setsuna for confirmation of this, one in which she nodded her head in agreement. "Yes, it was an ominous presence. One in which warranted investigation as per the school protocols." The dark skinned man nodded his head as he lowered his voice to a whisper. "You would be correct in the feeling. However, a few of the other mage teachers are trying to identify it now. Nothing has turned up however. Thankfully, the most the Mundane's can feel is perhaps a slight headache."

Thane took a look around a noticed a few of them with their brows cringed in some pain. "I see… so it's magic at work?" "The remnants of it." Setsuna looked troubled while Thane nodded his head in understanding "Do you need any help from Setsuna or myself?" The taller man shook his head as he backed up a little "No. despite the oddity of it, Mahora is a Magical Campus, so things like this are more common than you might think. Your assistance isn't necessary." he curtly nodded at them both before he went back to exploring the area. Thane and Setsuna looked to each other and nodded their heads, making their way away from the crowd so that they could talk in private. "So, I suppose there was no need to investigate. It looks Like Gandolfini-san has everything under control."

Thane peeked over his shoulder at the scene, some slight amounts of curiosity in his brow. "Maybe…" Setsuna noticed his curiosity in the scene and looked back at it as well. "What? Is something wrong?" "It just seems odd is all… he said that he had mages on it… but this doesn't feel like something any mage would do. Notice for a second what that place is." Setsuna, curious, looked up at the sign that hung above the door. "Wine and Food outlet?" "Right. Being a mage myself, The only reason I would target this place is to either steal food or use it in some magic ritual, and that last option is only if this was a lay line. Other than the negative feeling I'm getting, it isn't on one." Setsuna crossed her arms and bowed her head in thought "Hum… Perhaps there was an item of value here? Something the attacker wanted?"

Thane simply shrugged his shoulders "I'm not sure, other than the options I gave you, I can't tell you what happened or why… if I had a little more info maybe…" Suddenly, the sound of one of the back ally trash cans seemed to shift, causing the both of them to quickly look over. Setsuna had her hand on her blade while Thane put his hand in his pocket, grabbing his Omni-tool. "Did you say you needed Info Sensei?" Where the both of them where expecting an enemy, instead, someone they recognized appeared out of the shadows of the alley. Thane and Setsuna blinked a few times before recognition set in.

"Asakura-san?" The red head greeted the both of them with her trade mark double finger salute. "Yo! How are you both doing?" Thane noticed that the reporter was dressed to be inconspicuous. A Ball cap to cover her hair and face, shorts that went just above her knees, a tight fitting tank top that showed a little more of her cleavage then Thane was used to seeing, and a small purse to complete the look. One wouldn't give her a second glance at the look, but it was the slight glint in the bag that made Thane tilt his head in curiosity. "Well Asakura-san… I'm kinda curious as to what you have a hidden camera for/" The reporter smiled slyly as she pulled it out and took a picture of them both/ "Why else? To get a scoop out of this crime scene. Need to be first before the rest of the wolves make it here and steal my story."

Thane nodded his head in admiration of her determination. 'that explains why she's out and about at 4 in the morning…' "So I heard you wanted some info about this place Sensei" The fact that she had started talking drew him out of his thoughts and to focus his attention on her. "Ah, yes I did. Do you happen to know anything about what happened here Asakura-san?" The reporter nodded her head with a sly grin. "Of course I did. Thanks to a source I will not mention, I had heard about this before the Campus police even knew about it. So I was out here before anybody had shown up. However, the Police came faster than I had expected, so I didn't get as much info as I would have liked." Thane nodded his head in understanding, though his internal thoughts where curious on what this source is that let her know before anybody else.

"That's impressive… so what did you hear?" Where they had been expecting an answer, instead, Kazumi clicked her tongue while smiling coyly. "ah ah ah Sensei… you think I would just give this info out freely? I'm going to need something in return for the disclosure of my own info…" Thane noticed an eager look in her eyes, and from what he could see, she wanted something in particular. Thane crossed his arms at her and simply smiled "Info for Info then… what do you want exactly then?" Like Magic, she had a microphone in her hand and a tape recorder in the other, invading more of Thane's personal space then was humanly comfortable. "I want an interview with you, One on one. Truth be told, you've been an enigma since you got here, and I plan on finding out what it is about you that seems so odd." Thane's eyebrow was raised in confusion and he glanced over at Setsuna, noticing her tired look. She quickly mouthed out a 'get on with it.'

Thane shrugged his shoulders as he nodded his head. "Alright, one interview for your info on the situation." Asakura clenched her fist in victory and did a fist pump. "Yes!" She noticed the annoyed look that Thane was giving her and put her little tape recorder away, waving her hand in reassurance. "Don't worry Sensei, we won't do it now. I'll pick and choose the time and the place for the interview. Sound fair?" Thane wasn't sure what about that deal was fair, but he knew it was out of his hands. "Alright… now can we hear that info?" "Of course… let me just get my camera out here…" Asakura dug into her purse and extracted the small thing and got between Setsuna and Thane to show them the screen. "This is what I managed to take pictures of before I had to run off…" She opened the menu button and selected the 'crime scene' file, over 12 pictures making themselves known.

Both Thane and Setsuna's reactions where identical when they saw the pictures. "Yikes…" "Woah…" it was pictures of the inside of the store, and it looked a right mess. Shelves where either torn to pieces or tipped over, the contents of their shelves stomped on or destroyed. However, the next few picture where interesting to the both of them. The meat section had been utterly destroyed, and from what the picture angel could see, half eaten raw meat was everywhere. "Ew…" "Meat?" Asakura nodded her head. "Yeah, I found that part odd as well… but look at the next picture and it should give you an idea of what might have happened." and indeed it did. The next picture, clearly the main focus of the shot was the deep depression in the stone work of the tile floor. Setsuna blinked a few times before some recognition started to set in. "are those…" Thane backed up for a second, making sure he was seeing it right. "Claw marks?"

Asakura put her camera away, nodding her head as she did. "Yup, I even double checked it myself. They were real claw marks." Thane and Setsuna glanced at each other, this mystery only growing more profound the more they learned. "Why in the world would claw marks be at the scene of a robbery?" Thane shook his head. "I'm not sure… maybe a bear got hungry or something and decided to go for some Angus? Or at least, I think it might be a bear…" Asakura nodded her head. "Yeah, that's what I thought too at first… until I found this thing in the grooves." Asakura reached into her bag and quickly pulled out a small Ziplock bag and showed it to them. It was small, but there was no denying what it was. "Silver… Animal fur?" Asakura handed it to Thane and shook her head. "Yeah. Silver fur. I don't know of any real bear with silver fur like that" Thane handed it off to Setsuna, hoping that she might have a better understanding of what it might be then him. "So… what? It's not a bear? Or perhaps it's a doped up Koala Bear gone psycho?"

"Funny, but no. Truth is Sensei, I'm not sure what it could be. But I know how I'm going to find out! Time to make some calls to the local zoo!" Setsuna handed it back to her classmate, a skeptical look in her eye as she did. "You think it might be an escaped animal? Wouldn't that be big news? they would have issued an alert on Campus if anything got in." "I don't know, but that's why I'm investigating now… so if you Don't mind, I need to head on, got to try to get to the bottom of this before anybody else steals it!" And like that, she was gone, her reporter spirit on fire as she did. The two remaining people stood there silent for a few more minutes before Thane said anything "So what do you think it really was Setsuna?" The swordsman simply shook her head, not sure what to think "Honestly? I'm not sure… I would think it was an escaped animal… but I think that that might be pushing the envelope… what about you?"

"A werewolf"

Setsuna did a double take at his choice. "A… werewolf?" Thane nodded his head, some excitement in his eyes. "Yeah! It has to be! Did you happen to see the size of that gash in the stone? Bigger than my whole head! The meat was a dead giveaway." Setsuna raised her eyebrow skeptically. "Thane… I think you've been watching way too much T.V. recently." The assistant teacher blinked a few times before he huffed indigently at her words. "What do ya mean 'too much T.V'? It makes perfect sense!" "Yes, it makes sense, but you're missing one point here. Werewolves don't exist." There was a moment of silence between them both. Setsuna stoic while Thane was confused. "Huh?" The swordswoman sighed. "There are beast man and shape changers, but no werewolves. They don't exist. Contrary to common belief, most stories about the mythical werewolf originated from either Rabies or a hallucinogenic that got into crops and in turn into rye bread." Thane opened his mouth, then he closed his mouth. Then he started to stroke his chin in thought. "Wait a minute… so you're telling me that there are Vampires, Beastmen, fairies, Spirits, ghosts, and even Demons, but no Werewolves?"

"Yes." There was another moment of silence between the both of them before Thane threw his arms up. "That's ridiculous!" Setsuna wasn't one for the straight man job, but she did a good job at it. "This coming from the guy who's from another world…" The older male ignored her statement and simply shrugged his shoulders at her. "eh… whatever… But I think we should be getting along now. Time's wasting, and we can debate this later." Setsuna nodded her head in agreement and started to jog, Thane following closely behind him. Thane, however, took one more glance back, the odd feeling he had not vanishing as they moved away…

Xx later xX

"Man! Third years already! I am so looking forward to this!" Thane Glanced over at Yuna past the railing he was holding onto, a bit of a sarcastic smile on his face. "Yeah, hard to believe you guys managed to make it to this semester with the way you like to work." Yuna glanced over at Thane, the slight jumping of the tram silencing her for a moment longer before she spoke up "Oi, come on. You're supposed to be happy for us as a teacher." "And I am, in my own way" Thane simply chuckled as Yuna shook her head at his snarky reply. "Whatever…" Akira smiled over at Yuna, slightly chuckling "Don't worry Yuna, I'm sure Thane is happy for us. He just doesn't like to show it" The older male didn't grace her with an answer, but his slightly blushing face told them both that it was true.

The next few minutes where spent in silence between the three, the tram rolling along at its usual pace. There was a slight breeze from a little on down the cart, but nobody paid it much mind, well, except for the ones who had their Skirts blown up. Just as Thane was about to break the silence out of boredom, the sound of a familiar voice drew their attention down the way a little. "Hey Yuna! Akira! Thane-sensei!" Coming at them was the ever quiet Ako, only coming to a stop when she was right next to them. Thane raised his hand in greeting and smiled at her. "Hey Ako-san! Ready for the first day of the new semester?" The soccer captain nodded her head a little hesitantly. "I believe so" "Good good…" The conversation drifted between the other three, leaving Thane to stare at them for a little while before he turned his attention to the outdoors, watching the trees and buildings pass by almost lazily.

"Hey, did you guys hear about the break-in this morning?" That caught his attention, but Thane didn't say anything, instead opting to hear what they were going to say. Ako nodded her head, a worried look on her face. "Yeah, it was on the front page of the school newspaper. I didn't get to read it though" Yuna tilted her head quizzically. "You didn't? Well I did. Something about an animal having broken in and destroying everything. Apparently the store owner had some bite marks on his lower legs and deep lacerations." Thane turned his head, some slight shock making its way through. "Someone was hurt?" Yuna nodded her head. "Yeah, but not too badly… it's a pity really. That was one of my favorite stores too." The rest of the conversation started to get into speculation, but Thane wasn't paying it anymore attention, his mind now on other things. 'That's not good… this definitely needs to be looked into… if there is something on Campus that might start harming the students, then it's my job as a teacher to see what I can do about it… I'll talk with the Headmaster later.'

"Oh! Almost there!" Thane was brought out of his thoughts when Yuna pointed out the station coming up. He quickly glanced at his cell phone clock and sighed out at the time. "8:10… looks like where running late, as per the norm around here." Yuna slapped him on the back, a large grin on her face. "Yup, same old same old eh? We just gotta run like we normally do right?" Thane grinned back and cricked his neck a few times in anticipation. "Of course." The rest of the students on the train did just as the two runners did, and that's get ready for the mad dash that would occur. The slowing was the indicator for on your mark. The total stop was the get set. The moment the door was opened, Thane yelled out "GO!"

Xx later xX

Thane gave Yuna an annoyed look as they walked up the steps to the class. "You so cheated on that last turn." "I did no such thing!" Thane rolled his eyes at her, moving up the last step and waiting for the other three to walk the rest of the way. "Oh, and I suppose that a small rag flying from your hand and smacking me in the face wouldn't be considered cheating then?" "Hey! I have a loose hold on things!" "Yeah right…" Akira came between the two and smiled at them both. "Now now you two, where almost there, so let's discuss it later." The both of them replied simultaneously with an almost mocking tone. "Yes Mother." Thane took a few steps forward, getting to the door before the rest of them and holding it open for most of the people present, which was about the whole class. After saying hello to everyone who passed through his door, Thane watched as the last person came up to him. "Morning Negi boy, ready for the start of the new semester?" The young lad nodded his head with enthusiasm. "Of course!" Thane grinned back and was about to usher him through before he noticed a small palanquin in his hands. "what's that?" "The new class plank. It goes right above the door here" Thane looked up and indeed, there was one right over his head reading :middle school class 2A:

Whereas the one in Negi's hands read 3A. Thane blinked a few times in some slight bemusement. "All the time coming to the class and never have I once seen that thing… it's a new year all right." Negi grinned at him before he cleared his throat. "By the way Thane, could I ask you to switch them out?" Thane looked down at the boy and nodded his head. "Sure! Just hand it here and I'll get right to it." Thankfully, Thane was considered one of the tallest people in class, so it was really easy for him to switch them out, and after that, Both of the teachers made their way inside, where they were greeted with a loud and cheerful. "Third year! 3A!" "GOOD MORNING SENSEI!" Thane took his position next to the desk with a smile while Negi scratched the back of his head sheepishly at the morning vigor. "Good morning everyone! My name is Negi Springfield, and from here until March of next year, I will be your Homeroom teacher."

Thane noticed the look Negi was giving him and got the message, giving a short bow to them all. "And My name is Thane Mastizetai, and from here until March, I will also be assisting Negi-sensei as the Assistant teacher of Class 3A." "We hope that it will be just as much a pleasure learning from us as it will be for us to teach you" The class quickly responded in what Thane had come to associate with the Norm of Class 3A, and that was loud and cheerful. "Yes Sensei! We hope so as well!" Thane smiled wide at them as he observed the usual class get down into its routine of chatting with each other before Negi started his usual lesson. Both males observed the class for a moment, each of their thoughts flowing along the lines of meeting and greeting and wondering what the new term was going to bring. However, Negi felt a sharp shiver run up his spine. 'Huh… what's this cold feeling I'm getting…' He could feel it literally being needled into him from the front, almost as a pointed object and quickly turned his head in the direction that he felt.

He felt it coming from the back of the class, and directly from Evangeline. He felt yet another shiver run up his spine and quickly proceeded to look at his student roster. Thane, noticing the boys discomfort, looked out at the class and in the same direction. He also saw Eva, but not with the pointed glare. Thinking that she may have been looking at him, Thane smiled at her and gave her a small wave. But instead of a greeting back, he got a small blush out of her as she turned away. 'Aw… she's embarrassed. That's so cute.' The class proceeded only for a moment longer before the sound of a knocking door diverted the entirety of the class's attention. The door opened up and revealed the ever beautiful and ever buxom Shizuna in the door way, her hand still in its curled shape from when she was knocking. Thane was the first to register her. "Good morning Shizuna-Sensei, what brings you here?" She glanced at the two teachers and gave them a nod of her head. "Good morning Negi-sensei, Thane-sensei. I'm currently making my round's to inform all the classes that today is the day for the school health checkup. So go ahead and get everyone in class 3-A prepared accordingly."

Thane and Negi nodded their head in understanding, The both of them feeling a little nervous that they had missed the memo on it. "Oh right! I forgot about that!" "Understood Shizuna-sensei!" Negi started to flap his arms hurriedly, as if doing so might make up for his forgetfulness. "Uh… Right! You heard her everybody! Today's health checkup day … uh… so… Go ahead and remove your clothes and strut your stuff!" Thane was about to say something before the full implication of what Negi said hit him, causing him to turn to the child teacher, an amused grin that was shared with everyone in the class on his face. His only response was an amused chuckle as he slowly shook his head at the teacher. Negi also quickly noticed his own goof, mostly due to the giggles and blushing faces of the girls in the class. Negi quickly gathered his staff and pretty much hauled ass out the door in embarrassment, the class hollering at him with things like, "Negi-kun is such a pervert!" Or, "Ero-Negi!" "I didn't mean it the way it sounded!" Thane was now chuckling under his breath at the boys plight before he turned his attention back to the class. "Alright girls, play nice." and with that, he made his own way out of the room, but before he could, Shizuna stopped him.

"Ah, Thane-san, I would like to have a word with you in the hall, so if you wouldn't go too far, it would be greatly appreciated." Before he could say anything, many of the girls in the class proceeded to 'ohhhhhh' in amazement. "Ohh! Sensei is in trouble!" "Maybe he did something naughty!" "Molested one of the students!" "Sexual harassment!" "Got a girl pregnant!" Thane chose to ignore the comments coming from the peanut gallery and nodded his head in acknowledgement. "Alright Shizuna-sensei." Thane exited the door, the last few comments something along the line of burning down buildings and other such assorted crimes that he was sure he couldn't have had the time to do (Seriously? Robbing Fort Knox? He didn't even know what that was!). Thane noticed Negi and greeted him, the both of them simply listening to the student's gossiping and giggling about vampires before the health inspector came up. And as she entered, Shizuna came out, coming over to the both of them. "So what did you need Shizuna-san?" The teacher nodded her head and pulled out a small note, handing it to him. "This is for you, the headmaster told me to give it to you when I came by."

Thane took it from her hand and turned it over a few times, the only real noticeable part about the letter being the :From Konoe: in the dead center. Negi glanced at the letter, his own childish curiosity coming into play. "What is it about?" Thane's only response was a shrug of his shoulders. He flipped it over and dug his fingernail under the lip and ripped the paper seal away, extracting the contents with hesitancy. He flipped that one over and opened it up, starting the reading

:Dear Thane-kun. I would like for you to come to my office after your lesson today to discuss something of an important matter. Please do not delay in doing so.

From the Headmaster

'That can't be good…' Thane felt a bead of sweat run down his neck. This was a summons, and didn't sound like anything good. Negi took the paper from his hands and read it to himself for a moment before he handed it back. "So the headmaster wants to see you for some reason?" "I guess… Do you happen to know what for Shizuna-san?" The secretary only shook her head. "I'm afraid not. You'll just have to go and see Thane-san." Thane looked the letter over one more time, as if expecting something else to be there, but folded it up and put it away in his pocket, bringing his free hand to his chin in deep thought. 'What in the world could the Headmaster need me for? Am I in trouble for something?… no… that doesn't seem to be the case. I don't think I've done anything wrong… unless he wants to talk with me about the tampering of Eva's seal… then I might be in trouble, but I'm not sure, and I'm pretty sure I did that low key.' However, the thoughts where quickly dashed from his mind when the sound of indoor sneakers pounding down the hall caught the attention of everyone there. Thane turned to look and saw Ako running at them from down the hallway. "Sensei! Sensei! We've got a problem! It's Makie! She's… Makie is-!"

Before she could even complete her sentence, the doors and blinds to the class room opened quickly, forcing the three teachers to round on the student's within. "What happened to Makie!?" it took all of three seconds to register the half clothed student's, and Negi quickly started to blubber about. "Not looking! Not looking!" Thane admired the view for a moment before he decided to respect decency and turn around to avoid any mishaps later. "Jeez ladies, if you intend on putting on a peep show, you should at least make sure nobody else is around!" The girls quickly noted his words, slamming the windows and door closed followed by a great deal of scuffling and ruffling of clothes. Thane could have sworn he heard several of the girls say. "That's my shirt!" "Where'd my skirt go!?" "STOP TOUCHING THEM HARUNA!" While that was going on, Thane turned to Ako, worry on everyone's faces, though Negi was the first to react. "What happened Ako-san?" "Makie, she's in the infirmary!" Thane didn't hear anything else after that, he was already down the hall, running as quickly as he could.

'Oh crap… does it have anything to do with the store this morning?!' Thoughts of Makie seriously hurt or worse flooded his mind, the memory of those long claw marks in the stone and the report of the owner being injured spurring him forward until he found the infirmary door. Thane grabbed the handle and savagely slide the door open with a slam yelling out "Makie!" Now where he was expecting to see Makie in serious condition or some other such situation, he instead was greeted with a face. Now it wouldn't have been anything unnatural, why, one could have guessed that the owner of the face was just leaving the infirmary, but what a face. To Thane, it was perhaps the scariest face he had ever seen. Pale as paper, hallow eyes, a very thin mouth, and to top it off, something that looked like cracks running down the side of his face. It just had an unearthly and terrifying vibe.

The first thing Thane did? Back pedal and scream like a little girl "WAAAAAAAAAHHHH!" Thane fell back on his own two feet and landed on his rear. The scary faced fellow looked down for a second before he blinked in surprise, talking in a voice that sounded something like a hallow ghost. "Excuse me! Sorry about that, I hope you're not hurt or anything, I didn't mean to get in your way." Thane felt his eye twitch a few times in surprise before he slowly started to talk again. "Um… no… sorry, I kinda was the one who fell on his own butt… and you weren't in my way or… or anything… but uh… who are you?" The Pale man lightly conked his fist in his open palm as he remembered that he had yet to introduce himself. "Oh right! Sorry about that, I'll introduce myself as soon as I help you up." He quickly reached down, much like a creeping specter, and pulled Thane to his feet with little work. The man then smiled his kindest smile, but to Thane, he looked scary as hell when he did that.

"My name is Itsuhito Hadesu, Mahora's Middle school section Infirmary doctor. But you can call me Hades if you want." The man then held out his hand in greeting. Thane hesitantly brought his own hand up and clasped the mans in his own. "Um... the name is Thane Mastizetai… assistant teacher to Negi Springfield of the English division." The man's face lit up in delight at the name. "Ah! The rumored child teacher I've heard so much about! Well, it's a pleasure to meet you! And hopefully, I meet Negi-sensei soon enough." Thane withdrew his hand, but felt something cold and sticky on it, curious as to why this is, he held his hand up and examined it. He quickly noted that it appeared to be blood, and a hell of a lot of it. "AGH!" Thane recoiled in shock and terror, startling the other man. "Oh! What's wrong? Did-" He quickly noticed the same liquid on his own hands and lit up in realization, instantly bowing low "I'm sorry! I didn't mean to get any of it on you! I hope you're not offended!" Thane pointed to the man, his teeth chattering in terror. "w-w-w-w-w-w-w-what do you have blood on your hands for!? What have you been doing in here?!"

Hades quickly looked up, his eyes scrunched up in confusion. "Blood? You mean the Merbromin Fluid? I accidently spilled some earlier when they brought Sasaki-san in. I was just in the middle of cleaning it up before you had arrived." At the mention of the student, Thane quickly shook himself out of it. "Right! Makie! Is she alright!? What happened to her!" At that precise moment, the rest of the class quickly rounded the corner, however, quite a few of them skidded to a halt when they saw the Infirmary doctor standing in the hallway. "Wah!" "Holy Crap!" "Monster!" However, Ako quickly walked forward, pushing the man back through the door. "Hades-sensei! You know people are scared of your face! Don't spook them like that!" Thane could only watch in amazement as the girl didn't even flinch at the scary doctor, said doctor scratching the back of his head sheepishly. "Right… forgive me Izumi-san…" The rest of the class took a few deep breaths to calm down their nerves. "Gosh… I forgot about Hades-sensei…" "That guy scares the crap out of me sometimes…"

Thane could only blink, his momentary lapse quickly righting itself and he pushed through the door with everybody else to check on the condition of their classmate. Hades, who had gone back to his desk and started peeling an apple (Thane found it scary how his hands seems to fit a knife just fine) noticed their concern and decided to indulge them the info they wanted. "She was found passed out on Sakura lane early this morning. When she was brought in, I did a through analysis on her, but found really nothing that was out of place, so I believe it might be some slight anemia. Also, she might want to consider wearing some leg braces, else she might put too much strain on her legs and cause problems down the road…" Thane, however, was simply relived that she appeared alright, as much as the rest of the class. "Phew… that's good to hear… so it really wasn't such a big deal after all" "But why did she pass out?"

As the rest of the class started to speculate, ranging anywhere from cool Sake to rays from Mars, Thane noticed that Negi had a serious look on his face. He observed the lad for a moment longer before he finally decided to ask. "Hey Negi… something wrong?" The welsh boy looked over at him and motioned for Thane to come closer. "Check her out for a moment Thane, tell me if you feel anything… odd about her." Though confused, Thane did what the boy asked, coming closer and examining Makie. It was then that he felt a faint… presence around her. He placed his hand on her face for a moment, turning her chin this way and that for a moment before he drew back. "That's odd… is that…" Negi completed that thought for him. "A magical signature? I believe so…" Thane was now even more confused, his thoughts drawing any number of conclusions.

'A mage then? But what did he or she want? And why attack Makie of all people? Does this have anything to do with the grocery store attack this morning? The times match up… Makie was found this morning passed out and Sakura lane isn't that far from the scene… it could be connected.' Asuna, one who wasn't joining in the debates about Makie's supposed illness, ("Maybe Thane knocked her up! Could be why she collapsed!") noticed the two males staring at the girl. "Hey you two. Is something wrong? Why did you go all grim and quiet?" Negi and Thane both where knocked out of there revere and waved away Asuna's concern. "ah! Sorry Asuna-san!" "Oh, nothing, just wondering what she was doing out so early in the morning is all." Thane let Negi go into the explanation while the older male started to direct the rest of the class "Alright everybody, Makie appears fine, now time to get back to class." Though they weren't that compliant, the rest of 3-A did as they were told and slowly started to trudge their way out of the infirmary. It was only faint, but Thane swore he saw Hades slightly frown at all the people leaving. But the Man quickly got to his work, going through what appeared to be records and other such important documents. After herding the class out of the infirmary, Thane then turned his attention To Negi, getting the lads attention. "Hey Negi, I know that it might seem irresponsible as an assistant teacher, but I'm going to go ahead and see what it is that the Headmaster needs me for. For some reason, I feel that it might be important."

Negi glanced over at the older male and nodded his head "Sure, I won't mind. But I will need you to send me some of those lecture notes for tomorrow's lesson" Thane nodded his head as he passed by the boy, quickly exiting the door and heading on his way. Thankfully, the need for urgency helped him to make it to the Headmasters office without getting lost once, something he would have considered noteworthy, but the situation didn't allow for that. He quickly knocked on the large wooden doors, the booming of the echo sounding larger then he remembered it being. The faint sound of something shuffling from somewhere in the room left Thane curious, but the Headmasters voice quickly drove it out. "Come in! its open!" Thane quickly made his way in the room, silently closing the door behind him as he did. Thane was quick to note that other than the headmaster, there was no one else in the room. "Ah? Thane-kun? You're here earlier than expected." "I know, but I felt that the situation was too important to wait." The Headmaster raised his eyebrow in mild curiosity at that choice of words. "Oh? So you know why you're here?" Thane shook his head, taking a seat in one of the empty chairs. "In all honesty? No, I don't. But I feel I need to tell you about something I found today."

The Old man leaned forward in his chair, his mouth curved downward in a frown. "ah… I see then… I have a feeling it might be closely related to what I wanted to talk with you about. But hold your thought for a moment while I send for some of the other's involved." 'There are other involved in this?' Thane didn't voice this and simply let Konoe call up a few people on his cell phone. It only took a few minutes, but the old man eventually got done and redirected his attention back to Thane. "Alright then Thane-kun… while we wait for the rest of them to get here, please tell me what it is you came here for, I want to see if it is truly what I think it is." Thane nodded his head in understanding and started. "Very well then. Early this morning, around 4:15 or 4:17 A.M, Sakurazaki-san and myself where engaged in jogging like we have been for the past few months. While we were out, we decided to take a different route as compared to the norm we normally do. This in of itself wasn't odd, however, when we got to the Restaurant and food market area of Campus, both she and I noticed something of a bad feeling in the air."

The Old man steppled his fingers together, something that Thane noticed he did a lot when he was thinking heavily, but he continued. "When we had gone to investigate, we came upon the scene of what appeared to be a break and entry. However, there was already a lot of people around and the local police where already present. Sakurazaki felt that the situation was under control, but I wanted to check and see what had happened, so I dragged her along to find out the situation. When we did get there, I noticed Gandolfini-san heading the investigation and tried to get some information out of him. That went unsuccessfully. So, we had decided to back off, but much to my own surprise, I managed to get more info out of a reliable source, one in which will not be mentioned if I can help it." 'Investigating the crime scene and removing evidence is a crime, and I'd rather not see Asakura go to jail for it.' "That is fine, continue if you would please."

Thane nodded his head. "Alright… after obtaining info, both Myself and Sakurazaki-san came to the conclusion that there was neither enough info to do anything about, or anything we could currently do, so we dropped it. However, not but several minutes ago, some new info came to me. Now weather it is related or not is debatable, but I feel it might have a connection. Apparently, at some unknown time this morning, Makie Sasaki was attacked by something, resulting in her being sent to the infirmary." At that, the Old man sat ram rod straight, Thane noticed the concern in his eyes and quickly put them to rest. "Don't worry, she appeared to be fine. There were no injuries to be had, however, I did notice, along with Negi bo… I mean, Springfield, that she had something of a weak magical aura about her. I felt that the two cases might have been related in some way…and that's all I know." The old man was quiet for a few minutes, his left hand tapping his desk in a one two tempo. A heavy silence seemed to make its way around the both of them until Konoe stood up and walked to the window. "I see… this info about one of the student's being attacked is new information to me… I Thank you for bringing it to light Thane-kun…but this has now become a more serious matter…"

Thane simply kept his mouth shut, his brain already starting to try linking things together. He stopped when the old man started talking again. "I called you here to discuss with you about the attack this morning on the store. Gandolfini-kun mentioned you in his report and how you wished to help, so I had been hoping that you might have some insight if we allowed you to investigate. Though not intentional, you have started to prove yourself a capable investigator." Thane bowed his head. "Thank you for the complement Headmaster, but I'm not sure it was investigating skills as it was dumb luck that gave me that info." "That is fine, and now that you have provided me with this info, this has jumped this investigation from green, to an immediate Yellow. If there is a chance of the student's being attacked, then this needs to be dealt with immediately." It was then that the door to the headmaster's office resounded with several knocks, forcing the both of them to look to the door. "It's open, enter." The large door opened quickly, allowing several people to walk in.

A few, Thane noticed, where people he recognized, but the rest where people he had never seen before. The first Familiar face he noticed was Gandolfini. 'No doubt because he knows what's going on better than the rest of us.' The next familiar face was one he hadn't seen for a while, Seruhiko. The effeminate man nodded his head at Thane in greeting. "Hello Thane-kun, fancy meeting you here!" "Likewise Seruhiko-Kun!" The next face he recognized was one he hadn't been expecting, and someone he waved at enthusiastically. "Nutmeg! Small world!" The girl hesitantly waved back, but was stopped by the tall blond girl next to her. From what he could see, she was a high schooler due to her uniform and had something of an arrogant look to her face. Thane also noticed a girl next to the blond one, she looked fidgety and somewhat nervous, so much in fact that he was afraid that the girl was going to be a ball of nerves on the floor in about 8 seconds. She looked to be in her second year of middle school, so Thane could guess that she must be around 13 or 12 years old. Her light pinkish hair was done up in two long pigtail's behind her head, making her seem like a more nervous Makie. Then there was one other person he hadn't seen before. From what Thane could see, the man had a portly disposition and had light blue hair, but the smile on his face told Thane that he was definitely a jovial fellow.

Konoe nodded his head at the newcomers and motioned for them to come over. "Glad you all could make it on such short notice." The blond one looked somewhat annoyed from what Thane could see, but he really couldn't fault her. She had probably still been in the middle of lessons. "Everyone, this is the otherworld resident making his stay here on Mahora. Thane-Kun, if you would please stand" Thane did as he was told and bowed to them. "Greetings everyone. My name is Thane Mastizetai. And as the headmaster has already mentioned, I am from another world and currently taking refugee here as an assistant teacher. Though, I'm pretty sure a few of you recognize who I am." He noticed a few people nod their heads, but after that, some of them stepped forward, the first being the portly man "Nice to meet you Thane-san! The name is Mitsuru Nijuin, I happen to be a teacher at the Co-ed pre-school division!" Thane took the man's large hand's in his own and shook them with a smile. "Nice to meet you Nijuin-san." The man took a few steps back, allowing the next person to take a step forward, which was the nervous pink. "He-hello…My name is… Sakura Mei… from the middle school division…" Thane nodded his head and left her alone, the darkened eight only know what would happen if he actually touched her.

The Blond, however, quickly got on the girls case. "Mei! You can't be timid in greetings! First impressions are everything!" Thane could only grin at the girls sudden jump and her trying to correct her mistake. "Uh! Um! I! Sorry! M-M-M-M-my Name is Sakura Mei! Nice to meet you Thane-san!" Thane chuckled to himself at her nervousness. "Likewise Sakura-san." Now it was the loud blonds turn, and she definitely made sure to be as notable as possible. "The name is Takane D. Goodman! I am a student of the Saint Ursula High school division of Mahora and a Campion of the weak!" Now this kind of Girl Thane couldn't help but laugh at, her own exuberance being somewhat contagious. "Ha ha! Nice to meet you Goodman-san! You sure are a strong spirited one aren't you?" The girl nodded her head pridefully, as if it was a complement.

Konoe lightly chuckled to himself before he drew everyone's attention to himself. "Now That we have all been reacquainted, It's time to get to the reason we are here. Earlier this morning, one of the campus grocery stores had been attacked. At first, we had believed it a simple break in and sent the campus police to take care of the situation, however, the situation changed when the store owner started to scream and shout things about it not being human and a massive shadow. At that point, The mage's where then sent in. Gandolfini, I believe you are head of the magical branch of defense on Mahora, could you tell us what you found in your search?" The dark skinned mage nodded his head and stepped forward, drawing everybody's attention to him. "As the headmaster said, at first we had simply believed it a break and entry, but the longer the man was on the phone, the more frantic he got. The specific words that sent us mages in where, 'massive shadow, large as a bear and eating all my meat.' At that point, we could no longer simply guess it was a random burglary, and then we were sent in. However, too little too late. By the time myself and a few other's got there, the culprit was gone and the store in shambles. The owner himself, in the few minutes we had ceased contact with him, had apparently taken it upon himself to try to fight the unknown and in the process obtained several bite marks and deep lacerations." Gandolfini held up a small orb and chanted a small spell under his breath, causing it to glow and producing several pictures to be seen. Many of them where the same as what Thane had seen from Asakura's camera, but the newer ones displayed a man in his later 40's deep cuts on his chest and face and large bite marks on his right arm, left leg and right leg. Mei and Natsumi cringed at the sight while Takane scowled. Seruhiko and Nijuan where silent, but their faces where worried.

Thane, however, spoke out "Those look like the bite marks of a Calgast. Did you check the man for poison?" Gandolfini looked him over a few times before he answered. "Yes, he was checked for poison and he turned out clean. However I'm afraid I've never heard of a Calgast, I take it it's something from your world?" "Yes, it's a natural beast, so any magical wards set up to detect demons wouldn't have worked. It would certainly fit the description, Large, attacking a person who got in the way of its food. But since you didn't find poison, that rules it out… that and this isn't my world." The man nodded his head at the explanation "Interesting… but the man checked out clean for poison and other such chemical's in his body. However, there is one thing we managed to glen from the injuries. And that's the fact that the saliva found in them was missing a certain enzyme found in Omnivores and herbivores… amylase." Takane's eyes went wide "So it's a carnivores magical beast?" "We're not ruling anything out yet, but it's the highest possibility as of right now" Thane spoke up after a moment of thought, something on his mind. "This happened early in the morning correct?" The dark mage nodded his head in answer. "Then I also have something to add. Around 4 this morning, a student of mine was found unconscious near Sakura lane. Apparently, she had been attacked by something, but she didn't suffer any injuries like the older man did. However, I believe the two cases aren't coincidence. The places are close together, so distance isn't a problem. However, the thing that confuses me is the fact that the old man was attacked and Makie was not."

Konoe nodded his head at the thought. "Yes, it is interesting… but we should be thankful that no one else was injured." Thane nodded once at the man's words. "True enough. That is something to be grateful for." However, Takane started to stamp her foot in anger. "Damn! Something else threatens the peace of Mahora's daily life?! First the barrier goes down a few days ago and then this new assailant shows up soon after!? It has to be connected! There must be some grand master scheme going on!" However, where everybody was debating the possibility of an attack against Mahora, Thane was busy sweating bullets and trying to make himself appear very very small. All while whistling to himself. However, the headmaster shook his head at the idea, "I don't believe those two incident are related, but, this new assailant may have slipped in while the barrier was down. Regardless of what may or may not have happened, this needs to be resolved immediately. We cannot risk anymore of the campus residents being injured." Everybody, including Thane, nodded their head and responded with a unanimous, "Understood." The Headmaster nodded his head once before he sat back down at his desk, "Good. Now this is what is going to happen. You 7 will be sent in to investigate who or what this assailant is, and until then, all your recent activities and assignments are suspended until otherwise noted. Understood?" "Clearly Headmaster." Thane, however, raised his hand in a question, "Pardon me Headmaster…" "Yes Thane-kun?" The pale youth lowered his hand and started to stroke his lower jaw in thought, "Not that I won't help out if necessary, but why am I being involved in this case? Shouldn't this be left to the home team? Why include me?"

Gandolfini also nodded his head at the pointed statement, "I would also ask as to why this is Headmaster. Other then this small amount of info he provided, I don't see how he could be of much help in the investigation." Konoe smiled to himself under his beard before he gave them an answer, "I believe Thane-kun can provide insight when the need arises Gandolfini, he can give you an outsiders look on things. And if my memory serves me correctly, I believe you are a mage in your own right Thane-kun?" The youth simply nodded once in answer. "Good. Plus, it never hurts to have too many people on a case Gandolfini-kun. Since we still have no idea what we could be dealing with, it is best if we try to approach it from all angels." The dark skinned mage though about it for a moment longer before he nodded in agreement, "Alright, I can see your point." "Good. Gandolfini, since you are in charge of the magical defense of the academy, you're in charge. Catch this individual and stop it before it can bring harm to anyone else. Other than that, you are all dismissed."

Everybody bowed to the old man, leaving just as they had come. Thane got up from his seat and followed behind everyone else, but was surprised to see that everyone was standing in the hall when he opened the door, and they were looking at him. Thane closed the door behind him and stared out at the faces of the rest of the crowd. "Yes?" Gandolfini was the first to walk up. He quickly drew his hand from his pocket and pulled out a small piece of paper, handing it to a confused Thane. "Here's where our base of operations will be. Open it, memorize it, destroy the paper when you're done. We will be meeting at that location at 18:15 hundred hours. Everybody but you knows the location, so if you can't find it, give one of us a call. Our numbers are on the back." Thane quickly flipped it over and notice the six numbers of his team mates and whipped out his cell, getting all the numbers on his phone. By the time he was done, the only person who was still around was Seruhiko. Seruhiko was the first to initiate conversation, a smile on his face as he did. "It's nice to see you again Thane-san. Other than the teachers' lounge, I believe the last time we talked was when I brought you to this very office." Thane blinked a few times before he suddenly remembered, "Oh right! Has it really been that long since we last talked?" The Bishonen teacher simply shook his head with a smile, "It's alright, with you getting used to the campus and the being flung right into the teaching position, I doubt you've had a lot of thought for much of anything else." Thane could only agree internally with that statement. With all the stuff having been happening over the last few months, he had very little time to even converse with one of the men who had pulled him out of the tangled roots of the World tree.

"Sorry about that. Well… since we have time… wait, what time did he say we would need to meet at?" The Bishonen lightly laughed to himself at the youths mistake. "Gandolfini-san said at 18:15 hundred hours. That's 6:15 P.M. plenty of time to find where we need to go" "Ahhh… alright… so, perhaps we should talk for a little bit before then?" Seruhiko stared for a moment before he nodded his head once "That sounds fine with me, But I hope you don't mind, but I left my own class in a hurry so I need to head back and inform them of what's happening." Thane blinked in surprise at that info, "You're also a teacher Seruhiko-san?" "Yes, Part of the middle school girls section actually." "Really? You must get a lot of flak from your students then." The man shook his head at the statement. "Not really, they are actually quite nice. They always leave me letters and flowers on my desk at the start of the day and they always pay attention to my classes." Thane felt a slight tick in his eye while a sudden urge to smash the man's face in for any and all unfortunate men everywhere. He wasn't sure where that one came from though, "Ah… I see… well, I suppose I'll meet you a little bit later then. I also need to go inform Negi and the class that I'll be missing for the rest of the day." the two teachers parted ways, agreeing to meet on the steps outside the building when they were done. It took him a little bit, since it wasn't as urgent, but Thane managed to make it to Class 3-A by the time the lunch bell rang.

He opened the door just as most of the girls were starting to pull their own lunches out or heading to other areas of the school to dine. One such person was the first individual he needed to talk with. "Ah! Negi! Can I have a word with you before you head out?" The young welsh boy tilted his head in curiosity before he replied with an "of course." Thane came close and bent down close to the boy so that they wouldn't have to talk loudly, "Hey there. Got some bad news and good news. I'll start with the good news. I happen to have those notes you needed for tomorrows lessons. Bad news is, I'm not going to be able to help you teach for a little while." Negi looked up at the youth, confusion on his face, "Why? Is something wrong?" "Yes, but not with me… I'm going to be helping some people out with an investigation of sorts for some time, the operation will start tonight, and I'm not sure when we will get done" Negi nodded his head gravely. "I see…does this have anything to do with what happened to Makie-san?" "Somewhat, we will be looking into it from all angels." Negi was silent for a moment, the only noise's being made the ones the girls were making in eating and talking. "Alright then…I understand, I'll go ahead and inform everybody at the end of class." Thane stood up and nodded at him, "alright, thanks. I'll be giving advanced notice to Yuna and Akira however."

The young Welsh simply nodded in understanding before he got his own lunch out. Thane looked out into the classroom, finding the athlete group and zeroing in on them. "Hey you three, how's it going?" Yuna, who had already brought her chopsticks out, looked back over her shoulder and gave Thane a wave, "Hey there! Pretty good!" Akira looked up at him from her seat, some worry on her face. "We're fine, but what about you? What did Shizuna want to talk with you about?" Thane held his hand up and waved it a few times lazily, "Just sending me a letter that the Headmaster wanted me to read is all" This caught their attention, and Ako voiced the curiosity on their minds, "what did the letter say?" "That the headmaster wanted to see me immediately." Yuna turned in her chair, his plain avoidance of the actual question starting to irritate her, "Well what did he say then?" Thane smiled to himself, getting his little gip out of her for the day, "It was mostly teacher stuff. He had heard about Makie and wanted to know if she was seriously hurt. I told him what the doc told us. She simply collapsed." Thane felt a slight cringe on the inside for lying to them again even after he had promised to be more honest with them. 'I am being more honest… I'm just slightly twisting it around a little bit so as not to mention the bit about magic and dark monsters harming students.'

The three athletes nodded their heads at the mention of their friend, Yuna dangling the egg roll in her chopsticks for a moment, "Ah… that's good to know." Thane crossed his arms at the look of relief on their faces, "Yes, but now for the real reason I came over. Yuna, Akira, I'm more than likely going to come home very late tonight, maybe even the next morning. I just wanted you to know so that you don't have to make food for me tonight." Yuna and Akira glanced at each other, and then to the older youth in suspicion. "What are you talking about? Why won't you be coming home tonight?" Thane bit his lower lip, this is when he would have to lie again, but there would be no harm in adding a little of the truth would there? "I'm needed for an investigation." The two girls faces changed from suspicious to surprised, "An investigation? What for?" "Truth is, you remember that thing you read in the paper this morning? Well, when I was on my morning walk, I happened to come across the scene. They want to bring me in and ask several questions about it. See if I noticed anything out of the ordinary." The two girls blinked a few times before the both of them glanced back at each other, "Well…" "Alright, but send us a text when you get done alright? Even if it is at 1 in the morning." Thane grinned back at the both of them, "Got it. I'll be off then, see you both later." Thane waved the three girls off before he slipped out the door, several of the girls curious on his entry and then sudden exit. Thane quickly made his way to the lower levels where he was going to meet Seruhiko before he accidently ran into someone on the way down the hall.

"Woah!" "AH!" Thane quickly sidestepped, but ended up smashing into the wall with his shoulder and falling flat on his butt. "Ouch! What the heck!" "AH! sorry Thane-sensei!" The assistant teacher looked up and was surprised to see Misa standing over him with the other two cheerleaders in tow. Thane quickly made his way to his feet and dusted himself off, "Oh, no problem! Totally my fault there!" He gave the girls a reassuring smile, only just now noticing a few odd things about them. "Hey… are you alright Misa-san? You look kinda out of it." As far as he could tell, she had some light circles under her eyes and she looked tired. The flirt, however, waved his concern away "It's alright, just had some troubled dreams last night is all. But where are you off to in a hurry?" "Out for a bit." Sakurako titled her head in curiosity, "Where to?" Thane turned his attention to her and held his finger up to his lip, "That's a secret, but I can say it's part of my teaching job." The other two were about to inquire further, but Madoka stepped forward to silence them both, "Come on you two, he doesn't need to be asked so many questions. Sorry Sensei, you were in a hurry right?" "A little. But don't worry about it. I hope you don't mind, but I do have to run, see you three later!" The three girls waved him off as he ran down the stairs, his mind on what he had just seen, 'she sure looked tired, especially since I just saw her yesterday. She looked full of vigor then… maybe they just partied too hard? I'll have to talk with her about that later.'

After a few more minutes of making his way to the lower level, Thane was surprised to see the lobby full of girls, all of them attempting to get to the door in girlish squeals, "Sensei!" "Is class being cut early?!" Much to the surprise of the youth, standing in front of the crowd, his arms loaded with flowers, was Seruhiko, "Yes girls, I'm afraid that class will be cut short today. I have several important duties that I have to attend to." The many girls started to groan out in disappointment, causing Seruhiko to shake his head, "Don't worry, classes will resume very soon." The many hopeful looks that Thane could see was telling him that the girls were more interested in seeing the Bishi teacher rather than the lessons resuming, once again causing a feeling of wanting to smack the man around a little to grow in his chest. Thane quickly shook his head to dispel the thought before he called out to the man, "Ah-ha! Here you are Seruhiko-san! Sorry if I'm a little late!" The sound of Thane's voice caused the girl's to stop and turn to face him, allowing Seruhiko to finally bring his attention to beyond the students, "Ah! Thane-san! No, don't worry, you're not late at all! I was just saying farewell to my students before I left." Thane walked past the female body of students, but when he managed to get past all of them and next to the male teacher, it felt as if the ice of the coldest netherworld was on his back. He dared not turn around, knowing just where it was coming from. The thoughts of Seruhiko's class were so strong that he actually started to hear some of those thoughts, 'who is this bastard?' 'what relation does he have to Seruhiko-sensei?' 'has he come to steal him away from us?' 'I'll rip his intestines out and hang him by them, then proceed to set his body aflame and then dance around it while singing a merry tune…' That last thought actually scared him, 'holy shit… some of them sound screwed up…'

The oblivious Bishi, smiling at Thane, waved his hand out behind him, "This is actually a good opportunity to meet my class Thane-san! Would you like me to introduce you to them?"Thane shuddered at the thought, "Um… he he… as interesting as it would be Seruhiko-san, I reaaaaaaaaaalllllly think we should get going… you know, job to do, meeting to attend! All that teacher stuff!" before the teacher could protest to the idea, Thane was already dragging him through the door, the hellish glares behind him only vanishing when they got out of the line of sight. When they finally did manage to get out the door and away a distance, it quickly occurred to Thane that he had neither planned for the situation nor prepared for anything. The youth started to stroke his chin in thought, "Huh… so…Seruhiko-san… since it's a few hours until the eventual meeting, what do you suppose we should do until then?" The teacher thought about it for a moment before he lit up in sudden realization, "AH! What would you say to lunch Thane-san? I haven't eaten yet and I'm pretty sure you haven't as well." Thane glanced at the teacher and nodded his head, "Sure, sounds like a plan." as the both of them where ready to leave, a sudden memory came to Mind for Thane 'I promise to hang out with you all day tomorrow Sayo-chan!' He quickly looked up at the window where he knew class 3-A was and saw Sayo looking out the window, a depressed aura around her as she did. Thane felt a wrenching in his gut, but quickly shook his head and raised his hand to signal her to come along. The ghost girl blinked a few times before she raised her hand and pointed to herself, and then to Him. Thane nodded his head vigorously, wanting her to come along. The ghost quickly went from depressed too nervous as she glanced in toward the class and then to outside. Thane waved at her again, indicating for her to hurry up. Sayo bit her lower lip before she glanced back in the classroom, an unnoticed sigh trailing out of her mouth, "Well… Nobody notices me anyway…" The ghost quickly pulled herself from her desk and flew out the window, gently floating on down to Thane.

Seruhiko had noticed Thane waving and looked up at the Window, noticing the place he was waving at, "Ah, saying goodbye to one of the students?" Thane glanced over at the man and shrugged his shoulders, "Something like that. Now let's go" Seruhiko took the lead while Thane kept a small distance back, Sayo hovering close to his head and whispering into his ear "Hi Sensei, what are you doing out here?" "Getting ready for some teacher stuff actually." Sayo tilted her head in confusion, the question already forming on her lips. Thane however, had heard it three times already today, so he knew what was coming "I'm needed in order to help out with a crime scene investigation." However, where he was expecting a curious look, she instead lit up in realization, "Oh! That thing from this morning?" Thane nodded his head to confirm her question "Yeah, did you hear about it from all the gossip going on?" "Somewhat. I actually saw the scene this morning." Thane titled his head at the ghost, the question on his mind forming in his mouth "You did? What where you doing out at that hour for?" Sayo tilted her head for a moment, trying to remember the particular reason for leaving the classroom. Sayo then suddenly lit up in remembrance, "Oh yes! It was because something felt off somewhere, like… well… like when you sometimes have those gut feelings that someone or something is following you but you have to check it out anyway." Thane tilted his head at her, her words making sense "I see… so did you find out what that feeling was?" The ghost only shook her head, "No. It ended up vanishing after a while. but soon after I found the crime scene." "I see… did you perhaps see anything interesting while you were about?"

The ghost shook her head, her hair swaying back and forth in rhythm with her shakes "No…Not really… unless that collage couple I saw counts." Thane raised his eyebrow in some mild curiosity, "Couple?" "Yeah, a boy and a girl… they were having some fun hugging and kissing and all that. I left as it started to get under the clothes though." Thane nodded his head slowly, Sayo's ghostly traits causing him to think a little harder on the ghost herself and what could potentially be the best voyeurism ability in the world. However, the long walk from the school building to the café area of Campus forced him to put the thoughts away for another time. Eventually, Seruhiko found a decent coffee shop, allowing the two (plus one unnoticed ghost) males to sit and relax. They both sat like this, conversing lightly for a period of time before the Bi-Shonen teacher eventually brought his questions around to Thane's work "So Tell me Thane-kun, how has your recent job as Negi-kun's assistant been going?" Thane simply shrugged his shoulders before he took a sip from his coffee cup, "Fairly well. Minus one or two little hiccups along the way, I'd say I'm doing rather well as his assistant." "I see! That is good to hear! But what about Negi-kun Himself? How is he holding up? I know it must be tough for a ten year old to teach a class of budding teenage girls." Thane snorted to himself in humor as he took another sip of coffee. He had really started to grow found of the stuff since he came to earth. "Tough? Poor kid's gonna need to grow up a few more years before all the teasing the girls do to him finally starts to wear off."

Both individuals started to chuckle to themselves at the poor boys plight. But like all things, Thane knew that it was going to be one of the many hurdles he would have to face in his life. Thane glanced over to his side and noticed Sayo was busy observing one of the many waiter Girls who worked here. Thane gazed at the waiter herself for a moment in hopes he might see what Sayo was so interested in, but he brought his attention back to the Teacher across from him, a more serious tone in his voice, "So tell me Seruhiko-san… How do you think Negi will hold up in the next few years as a Teacher? Truth be told… I kinda want him to quite this particular assignment." Seruhiko glanced over at his collage with a question in his eyes, "Why is that Thane-kun?" "Don't get me wrong, if this is what he wants for his life, then it's his choice and I will respect that decision and help him achieve that Goal… But in all Honesty, I don't want him to grow up with nothing but work on his plate. I want him to, for lack of a better term, act his age. Be a Kid, have fun, get into trouble, do things that a normal ten year old should do…" Thane looked a little past the teacher, his thoughts both heavy and melancholy, something the experienced teacher noticed quite easily, "I Admit, in some ways, I feel the same as you. But I feel there might be more to it than just Negi. Does this by chance have anything to do with your own children Thane-kun?" The pale teacher hummed a little to himself before he let out a sigh, "I suppose so…" "Do you perhaps want to talk about it? Other than myself, the shop is empty, so you could tell me if you wanted." Thane took a moment before he gazed around the shop, the other teachers words ringing true. Thane sat there for a moment, his thoughts wiggling around like a writhing snake before he consigned himself to it, "I think it would help to a degree… By the way Seruhiko? You're way to sharp."

The other teacher only nodded his head once in acknowledgement before Thane leaned back into his chair and let out a wispy sigh, "I suppose it would be best if I said that it has less to do with me and more to do with my children and their own circumstances…" Seruhiko leaned back into his chair and listened intently as the youth began, "My children… are… special in a way. They are strong, stronger than what one should be at such a tender age and due to this, they were regarded as…'top class level E entities'… In other words, dangerous." Thane glanced down at the table for a moment, his eyes blinking a few times while the silence between them both lingered. Eventually, Thane looked back up, his eyes set to be as emotionless as possible, "As you might figure from that, they weren't treated normally, having to be locked up and forced to stay in a cold and pitiless place… 'for their own safety.' A.K.A so that they didn't turn against their captors… Not long afterward, a massive war had broken out on Estoria, one that threatened to destroy my home and the very world itself… My kids where brought in to help deal with the threat… an 8 year old shouldn't have to go to war you know, no child needs to see the atrocities of war and the worst it will bring out in people…" Seruhiko had actually flinched at the age. That was young, far too young for anybody to be going into full on combat. "I… was their guardian at the time, in charge of their living places and their wellbeing… at first, I hadn't really questioned how they were living. They were being fed, taken care of, never where treated cruelly… but they didn't have what a child needs… Love and comfort from a parent… each one had their own story before coming to the lab, but even before then, they didn't have anybody who would love them… I wanted to change that for them after one battle when Dark had been gravely injured."

Seruhiko nodded his head once, he was certain that he himself would have tried to change such circumstances if he had the opportunity. "I started to treat them with kindness, to show them affection and the simple act of human decency… they were cold to me at first, unable to trust one of the scientists who had confined them… but I started to get through to them…" Seruhiko noticed a genuine loving smile on Thane's face as he stared into space "Before I had even realized it, I had started to treat them like they were my own siblings, and in turn, they had started to call me… Brother, or even 'Dad' on occasion… I was happy when they did, but at the same time, it would tear me in two from all the guilt. They may have had one friend, but at such a young age, they needed far more than one loving parent, they needed friends, others around them who could give them emotional comfort and stability. But they couldn't have it, not while they lived at the facility… eventually, someone ended the war and I believed that they would have the chance to gain more freedom, to be able to go out and about to enjoy the rest of their Childhood… it didn't happen though…" "Why is that?" Thane looked over at Seruhiko before he let out a sigh, "Because they had grown far too strong. The war had allowed them to grow in their abilities to fight, made them stronger and more of a threat to their captors… At that point, I had had enough of it, and when the civil war broke out in my country, I put them to sleep and brought them with me so that they wouldn't be forced to kill again…" A moment of silence passed between them both, one deep in thought while the other was thinking on the words spoken.

Sayo had come back over and had listened, though she didn't have any words to say to such a serious situation, so she opted to float next to Thane while giving him a sympathetic look. Seruhiko nodded his head after a moment and spoke up, his own thoughts circling around in his mind, "I see… I suppose I can understand some of your feelings… but at the same time, I also can't see how that might relate to Negi-kun." Thane glanced back up before he chuckled nervously, "Eh he… sorry, I suppose I went off on a little rant there… the main point is that I see Negi as something akin to a little brother, even as my own child at times. I see him as such very often, However, I feel a pang of guilt when he tries so hard at such a young age when he should be enjoying his youth a little more, while being proud at the same time for his achievements… is that being a Hypocrite I wonder?" "Not really, it's only natural to feel as such when one see's someone they care about achieving such things." Both Thane and Seruhiko lightly jumped from the surprise voice, causing the both of them to turn to their side and notice for the first time an older gentleman with an unlit cigarette hanging from his mouth. Thane was the first to recover his voice, but not his composure, "T-t-Takamichi! What… how long have you been standing there?! Hell, how much did you hear!?" The older man chuckled to himself before he pocketed his lung killer back in its case, "Hum…let's see… about the part where you said 'I suppose…' " Seruhiko chuckled to himself as he recounted the conversation, "I'm pretty sure that was at the start." Thane felt his face flush from sudden embarrassment, that fact that someone else had heard it when he wasn't expecting made him feel rather stupid, "Why didn't I notice you there…"

The older man pulled up a seat and chuckled to himself as he sat down, "I can be noticed if I want to be Thane-san. But forgive me if you had intended for it to be private." "No… it's alright Takamichi-san…It's just embarrassing is all, I let few people know about me as much as possible. I might have told you at another date… but what's done is done." Seruhiko sat up in his chair and took a sip of his coffee, "So Takahata-san, what are you doing here?" "I just got back from a job right now actually. However, where I was hoping to take a little break and rest my old bones, I hear that there has been a problem since I was away?" Thane nodded his head, his face taking a more serious tone, "Yes, apparently something on campus is causing the students harm. Myself and Seruhiko are part of a group that will be dealing with it. I'm hoping that we can resolve this by the end of tonight though, Yuna and Akira get antsy when I don't inform them of my mid-night ventures." Takahata nodded once before he also ordered something, Black coffee from the looks of it. Takahata took a sip from his mug before he spoke, "So… what can you two tell me of the situation? I may not be on the case, but perhaps I can offer friendly input." Thane sat back and let Seruhiko relate all the info they had on the current situation, his own attention being brought back to Sayo as she floated back to his side. Thane quickly noted that Sayo's expression was one of mild curiosity, her bright eyes eager to know something. Thane flicked his eyes to the general direction of the two men and then back to the girl, clearing his throat loudly "Um…sorry you two, I'll be right back. Restroom and all." Both teachers nodded their heads in understanding before they went back to discussing the current situation.

Thane subtly motioned for Sayo to follow him, in which she did and the both of them eventually disappeared into the building. Thane looked around for a moment before he did find the men's restroom "Come on…" However, where he was expecting the ghost to follow, she instead was blushing silver and fidgeting a little bit on the spot. Thane noticed her expression and gave her a puzzled look, "What is it?" "Um… that's the men's room…" Thane's puzzlement only deepened "Yes? And your point is?" "I'm a girl! I can't go into the men's room!" Thane blinked a few times in confusion before the implications of her words hit him, "Oh… wait… You're a ghost! Nobody is going to care where you go!" "But what if people see me?!" "As far as I remember, I'm the only one who can! Nobody is going to see you in there!" Sayo blushed heavily, her hand pointed toward the pale youth "You'll see me!" "Oh for the love of… we are just going in there to talk! I'm not going to make you strip down to nothing and use the bathroom in front of me while I video tape you!" There was a moment of silence before Sayo gave him something of a suspicious stare, "That was kinda detailed…" "Oh just hush up and come on! That woman over there at the counter is already starting to think I'm bat shit crazy!" Said woman had quickly turned her attention to something else in the room so as to avoid the gaze of the crazy, if not highly intuitive young man talking to himself. Sayo, however, did not react and still seemed hesitant to follow through with the order. Thane, however, did not have a very long fuse today, and quickly grabbed her hand and started to drag her into the room with her. The girl struggled at first, however, she quickly grew tired after a moment of trying to pry away from him and simply resigned herself to her fate. After the two of them passed through the door, Thane took a moment to see if anybody else was in the restroom. Happy to see that there wasn't, he let go of Sayo's hand and turned to her. She was rather nervous, and a little wide eyed at the new prospect of unexplored territory.

"Huh… a lot more normal then I was expecting…" Thana was curious at what she thought it was going to be, but he decided not to ask. However, her words of nervousness from earlier got him thinking some evil thoughts. He then pointed one of the stalls and gave her a look. "Alright, now get in there. We got work to do!" The girl brought her attention to Thane and gave him a confused look "Huh? What are you talking-" However, Thane cut her off when he unzipped his pants, instant realization coming onto her face and making her go a deep silver "AHHHH! You, me, that, stall, stuff!?" her arms started to wave wildly around in embarrassment and panic while her face couldn't go any more shades of silver. However, Thane simply started to laugh at her "ah ha ha ha ha ha! Oh god you are so funny right now!" The girl stopped for a moment at his words, a great deal of confusion at his laughter on it. "What?" "I was only kidding Sayo! No need to get so worked up! Though it was still funny." Sayo didn't come to realize the joke until about 6 seconds later, where her face turned into one of embarrassed anger "You! You pervert! You got me worked up over something so … so… stupid!" Thane chuckled to himself again when he saw her expression, "I won't deny the pervert part… However, It was all simply in good fun Sayo. I didn't mean to cause you undue grief over it though. Forgive me for getting you worked up."

However, the ghost Girl simply glared at him, her righteous anger at his attempted humor still playing out in her face. Thane let out a sigh, his boyish humor obviously not having the same effect as if he had told it to another of his gender "*Sigh* I'm sorry Sayo, that was in bad taste. I hadn't meant anything by my joke and it had not been directed to insinuate anything on your or my behalf. Again, I am very sorry for upsetting you." The girl simply glared at him a moment longer, his perversion still playing on her mind before she got a good look at his sorry face. She felt somewhat guilty for giving him the silent treatment, but even she knew that a joke could go too far sometimes, and his insinuated rape joke hadn't made her feel very comfortable at all. Thane, who was also starting to feel pretty bad about the whole thing started to scratch his cheek in shame. This silence went on for another few seconds before a sudden thought came into his mind. One in which he acted on. Thane reached up next to Sayo's confused face and cradled her head in his hand before he reached up and lightly pinched her earlobes between his middle finger and thumb, tugging on them "I'm sorry." Sayo was slightly surprised by his sudden action, but felt the tugging on her ears and was introduced to a new tingling sensation, it was a little painful, but it also felt… ticklish to her. Sayo tried to act a little angrier, but she found that she couldn't and started to giggle to herself, "he he he… that's funny… what is this though?" Thane smiled at her before he removed his hands and placed them back at his sides, "A little trick I would do with my kids if I ever did something stupid. I call it the magic ear trick, they like to call it the sympathy tactic though… Can't fault them for the name though, it fits." "I see… and Thane-sensei? I'm sorry I got angry at you."

Thane raised his hand at her, as if to hold off her apology, "No, you had the right to be. I just wasn't thinking when I said it was all. I forget that most girls don't act like Tomboys. But enough of that, you obviously had something you wanted to ask while out in the café." Sayo blinked for a moment in confusion, his words not having much meaning until the earlier conversation replayed itself in her mind, causing her to gasp slightly, "Oh yeah!" Thane chuckled to himself at the girls short natured memory, but nodded his head, "Yes. So, what did you want to ask?" Sayo took a deep breath, her curiosity giving her a more serious look, "About what you were saying earlier… something about Estoria... and your kids… what… did that all mean?" Thane lightly shook his head before he let out an equally light sigh, giving Sayo a smile, "I guess that my secret came out a little faster for you then I was hoping. Granted, it probably wouldn't have happened if I had been paying more attention to my surroundings, but I suppose sooner rather than later is a better policy eh?" "Secret?" Thane gave her a pat on the head, "There are a few things I haven't told you about Sayo, but It will need to wait until later. For now, I've been gone from the table for a while now and I'm afraid that Seruhiko and Takamichi will start to wonder what's taking me so long. I do promise to tell you though, that much I guarantee. For now, let's head back to the table." Sayo watched him walk off until he left the bathroom, his words ringing out in her ears and giving her a great deal of confusion "Secrets…" She thought on it a little bit longer before she followed after him. By the time the both of them got back to the table, Seruhiko and Takahata had just finished their conversation of the most recent information on the case. "Ah! There you are Thane-kun! Was wondering if you were having problems in there." Thane pulled up his chair and scoffed at the older man, "I'm not to the point where I have trouble going to the bathroom old man. But enough about that, what are your thoughts on the perp?"

Takamichi started to stroke his chin in thought, his thoughts twirling around convoluted and vague, "I'm not quite sure… as you all have speculated, My own conclusion comes to a magical beast of some sort… However, if it had been, then we would have known about it when it made its way into the campus and yet our alarms hadn't been tripped." Seruhiko pointed out another piece of info, "Yes, but that's if the barrier had been active. Remember, the barrier had deactivated 2 days ago for unknown circumstances." "True… but, there is a fault in that theory." Thane tilted his head at the man's words, "How so?" "The fact that whatever it was waited two days to show any signs of its appearance. Most carnivores would have sought out food immediately and found it quickly in the form of other such places, like stray animals and other Grocers, and perhaps even helpless students…" The three teachers shook on that last Idea. Takamichi nodded his head slowly before he spoke up again, "Yes… the more I think about it, the more it seems that our attacker had only just shown up last night…" Thane nodded his head at the idea, the facts making a great deal of sense. Takamichi pulled out another piece of paper and then directed his attention to Thane "Thane-kun… something you mentioned here in the report caught my interest… you mentioned that Makie had been attacked earlier this morning correct?" Thane nodded his head in response "Yes. It hadn't been very far from the scene, and my own judgment had brought to my attention that some negative energy had been used at both places." "I see… Forgive me if this seems a little blunt, but I believe that the two cases don't have much in the way of each other." Seruhiko along with Thane glanced at the teacher, Thane feeling somewhat confused but Seruhiko being the one to voice the question, "Why do you say that Takahata-san?" "First off, the condition of the two individuals. Makie had only been unconscious when they found her this morning, whereas the store owner had been attacked. Tell me, why is that?" Thane tapped is fingers against the glass of the table in thought before he spoke up, "There could be a multitude of reasons. However, My own most prevalent theory is that Makie didn't get a good glimpse of her attacker and had fainted from the oddity of whatever it was."

"I see… that is a good theory, however, wouldn't a large animal take advantage of the situation to get an easy meal? An unconscious girl doesn't put up much of a struggle after all." Thane grinned at the older man in mock deviousness, a small jib forming in his mind, "Speaking from experience are we?" Seruhiko and Takahata took a moment to get the gist of his sarcasm and started to chuckle to themselves, "Ha! As funny a suggestion as that was, I have never had the opportunity to apply it, nor do I hope to in the future." Thane held his hand up in mild amusement, "I understand, just poking fun is all. However, I can see the flaws in some of my logic, unfortunately, it is about the only one that holds the most water." Seruhiko looked over a few more of the papers in hopes that he might find something else, but didn't find anything and let out a sigh, "I also believe that Gandolfini had come to much the same conclusion in that regard." "So I'm not alone in my theory then… However Takamichi-san, I am Interested in what you might think on that situation. You obviously had a reason for the thought." The older man pulled out his cigarette box and swiped one out of the case, though it remained unlit in his mouth "Call it a feeling… But I'm afraid other than the reasons I listed, I don't have much else in the way to prove my statement." Thane gazed at the man for a moment longer before he leaned back into his chair "I see… I won't disprove your Ideas Takahata-sensei, many times I have found ones gut to be more accurate then established 'truths' and 'statements.' However, Until something more concrete shows up, I'm afraid that I must stick with my own established theories. Again, I mean you no disrespect on the matter." The older gentleman laughed to himself at the youths apologetic tone, "No need to worry Thane-kun. Like you said, something more concrete would need to show up before my 'gut feeling' could be proven. However, other than the reasons I listed, I'm afraid that I don't have any more thoughts on the case."

Both Thane and Seruhiko simply nodded their heads at the man's words. "That's alright. In comparison to things I've had to deal with in Estoria, that's plenty of Info." "I also Agree, it's not anything that we haven't dealt with before. A lack of Information is almost a common factor in cases." The three teachers continued on in their conversation for a good while longer, the case eventually melting away in light of other more light topics of discussion ranging anywhere from Thane's teaching position, to what Takahata had been doing over the past few weeks. The three teacher's continued on with their conversation for several hours, eventually burning most of the daylight hours away until someone took notice of the time. Takahata looked down at his wrist watch and whistled out when he saw the time "*tweet* Goodness… we've been at this for a long time. Longer then I had planned. Sorry you two, as fun as the past few hours have been, my own schedule demands that I take me leave here, and according to my own time, you guys will need to get going soon as well." Thane curiously glanced from the teacher, to his own cell phone. Thane actually had to do a double take when he saw the hour. 5:35 P.M. "Good grief! We need to get moving Seruhiko-san! Our meeting is in less than an hour!" The Bishi teacher glanced at his own watch and his squinted eyes went wide in surprise, "Goodness! You're right! We need to get moving!" Both Thane and Seruhiko hastily got up from their seats and gave Takahata a last bow before the other two left the building in a hurry. Thane then turned to Seruhiko and gave him a half panicked, half sheepish look, "Sorry to say Seruhiko-san, I don't know the way, so You'll have to be the one to show it to me." Seruhiko simply nodded his head quickly and motioned for the pale youth to follow. The both of them briskly walked for a good distance across the campus, Seruhiko hardly slowing down for any reason and Thane keeping up with the Mage. Much to Thane's surprise, Seruhiko lead Thane to the outer woods, close to where Eva made her own home.

Eventually the two of them found a small cottage home in the woods much like Evangeline's. However, it appeared to be smaller in size, as if to indicate that it wasn't meant for large amounts of persons. However, Seruhiko continued on to the front door with Thane close behind. When they finally stopped, Seruhiko lightly rapped on the door while chanting under his breath. Thane didn't hear it, but from the sounds of it, it was an incantation of some sort. After the fourth knock, the door lightly clicked and then opened slightly. Thane glanced over at the middle school teacher and gave him a confused look. Seruhiko laughed sheepishly, "Sorry, I forgot to mention that one needs to do something special when getting into this particular facility. Since you're with me, you don't need to worry about it. Now let's head on in. I'm sure everybody else will be here already." Thane nodded in agreement and closed the door after they both stepped into the foyer. After they removed there shoes, the both of them went down the short hallway, Seruhiko in the lead while Thane followed behind him. They finally made it to the back of the house, where they saw everybody else from the dean's office present. Gandolfini, whom had been standing and had a report in his hands, glanced up at the two of them and gave them a cursory gaze, "Ah, I see you two have shown up. Just barely on time I might add." Thane spoke up with a smile, "Sorry, our chat with Takahata-Sensei went on longer then we had thought, hence our lateness." The dark skinned mage raised his eyebrow at that, "Takahata is back? That's good to hear. But enough about that, could the both of you take your seats please, then we can get started." Seruhiko took a seat next to Nijuin and where Gandolfini was standing, which left Thane an empty seat next to Takane and across from Nutmeg. Weather the girl was bothered by his seat placement; she made no mention of it. The moment he sat down, Takane handed him a folder. "Go ahead and read that. It might be outdated info to you, but it also holds some reports on the crime scene that you may not have gotten to view."

Thane gave her a nod in thanks and went over the material inside. Like she had said, it had been old info that they had already gone over, and nothing inside went outside of his expectations, so it was quick read. It took Thane all of two minutes to read through the new info, mostly just high speculation items and educated guesses in his book. From what he could see across the table, Seruhiko had also finished at about the same time, placing the folder on the table and glancing over at the leader of the group. Gandolfini had managed to get a chalk board up and written on in that time, glancing back out into the group with a serious understanding, "Alright. Now that we are all hear, let's get this meeting underway." Gandolfini turned fully around and gazed at everybody with the practiced ease of a man doing his job well, "Alright, as you all know, we have been assigned to deal with this class yellow level threat. We currently have no idea of what it is, its abilities, or what it even looks like. However, to prevent the injury of anymore students or mundane's, we need to try as hard as we can to catch the perp. Now this is what the plan will be… we will split up in to several teams of two." Gandolfini started to draw on the board, several circles forming with each motion of his hand, "Our plan of action is to spread out and at least try to make first contact with the target." Seruhiko nodded his head and spoke up, "Basically gaining Intel on our suspect." "Correct. We need to make our net as wide as possible in order to find the attacker. However, we do not engage the target on sight. We need to figure out what we are dealing with first, is that clear everyone?" The group gave a nod unanimously. "Good. Now, Nijuin will be acting as the go between for all of us. He'll be acting as our focal point for all communication and information relay." The portly man nodded his hand and then stood up and started to walk around the table, handing everyone a small device.

When Thane got his, he turned it over in his hands for a moment to observe it. It was a small ring, magically enchanted from the feel of it. "Those will be our main focus for telepathic communications and image readers. Just hold it up and chant 'oculus' and everybody else will see what the ring is pointed at." After he got done explaining, Nijuin sat back down and let Gandolfini have the conversation, "Alright, before we begin, I want to pose a question to everyone present. How many of you have any real combat experience? And if so, where do your specialties lie. I ask because there is risk that what we are dealing with could attempt to engage you in combat, and I need to set the teams accordingly." Nijuin was the first to answer his question, "I have indeed done quite a bit of combat. But mostly in the form of rouge mage criminals and of Magical beasts. My specialty in magic is high speed sagitta magica and earth magic's followed by telepathic information gathering and distribution." Seruhiko was the next to go, "I also have seen combat, and much the same as Nijuin-san, I have also dealt with the same types of enemies, with perhaps a little more frequency. My specialties lie in long distance air magic's, with some short range disarming and capturing spells." Gandolfini Nodded his head at the both of them, "I see… I myself specialize in many forms of combat due to my work as a mercenary. My specialties lie in short to mid-range magical bullets and other such equipment. How about you four? I may have read the reports on you, but I personally think it best if I hear it from your own mouth." Takane wasted no time in making her abilities known, "I myself have not done much in the ways of combat, most of it being in tests and simulations, but I managed to top those easily enough. My specialties lies in any range combat Shadow Magic."

Gandolfini nodded his head, "I see… a versatile fighter, though your lack of experience could be problematic…" Gandolfini then glanced to the rest, his eyes coming to rest on Sakura Mei, "How about you Mei-san?" The girl flinched when he called her name out loud and started to stutter "U-U-um… I have haven't gotten into real combat before unfortunately…most of any fighting I have done have been in simulations and the few demons that managed to get into the campus a few days ago… that's about the extent of my experience… I also specialize in long to mid-range Flame magic and unincanted spells…" a few people in the room raised their eyebrows at that info, Seruhiko actually looking impressed "Unincanted spell's at your age? Call me impressed!" Mei actually blushed a little due to the praise, but Takane gave her a look "Mei! Don't be like that! A Mage must be humble in all things they do." The startled girl quickly nodded her head "Y-yes Onee-sama!" Thane chuckled a little to himself at the girls meekness, but stopped when Gandolfini drew his attention to Natsume, "And what about you Megumi-san? What's your level of combat effectiveness?" The bespectacled girl, though looking nervous, didn't give off the same vibe as Mei, looking a little more composed "My own level of combat experience is also somewhat low, my only real fight having been a few days ago, much Like Sakura-san… Though my own scores in the simulations are adequate enough. My magic isn't very combat oriented, mostly ranging in water and healing spells with some in magic relay, much like Nijuin-san." Thane giggled to himself at her description, "So basically you're the squishy bishop who can't afford to get hurt." Takane looked over at Thane with a confused expression, "Bishop?" Thane let out a sigh when he noticed a few people's confused faces "Nevermind, it's a gaming term for a healer…"

Gandolfini snorted to himself at Thanes choice of words, "an apt comparison… However, what about yourself Thane-kun? Where does your level lie in in terms of combat?" Thane noticed that everybody had drawn there attention to him, a great deal of curiosity on their faces. Thane glanced between everybody first, letting some silence flow before he let out a sigh "Let's see… My own combat experience… I have a great deal, having fought in two wars and many border skirmishes followed closely by hostile invasions from forces outside of my homes borders being both Tactician and Soldier in many of my fights. As for my magical abilities… I'm a superb elementalist at close to mid-range combat and am capable of high powered, long range destructive spells. I also happen to have some Minor degrees in many other fields of magical study. My nickname in the Estorian Army was 'the Tactician' My enemies called me 'Blood dealer.' And that's the extent of my abilities." There was silence in the room before Gandolfini spoke up, "That's… an impressive reputation you have Thane-kun considering your age… it's somewhat hard to believe actually." Takane looked over at Him, some skepticism in her eyes "And even if all of that is true, isn't it stated in the report that your power is at an all-time low? Despite your history, I don't think you would be all that helpful in this kind of situation." Thane gave Takane a grin, his own amusement at her judgment showing through his smile, "True, it would appear that I would be very weak right now and not of much use in this operation… if I was wholly reliant on my magical ability that is." Nijuin gave me a curious look, as if to ask the question with both his eyes and his words, "Then judging from your words, you have other means of combat besides your magical ability?"

"Let me tell you all something. One doesn't always find themselves in the most optimal of situations, there power at max and the enemy ready to fall over. I've found myself in many disadvantageous situations, having my own power either lacking or none existent. I'm sure that, You, Gandolfini-san have also found yourself in such situations before in your work." The dark mage nodded his head slowly, knowing that a man must have both wits and power if he was to survive the grueling business of war, "True… so are you saying you have other means of combat at your disposal?" Thane leaned back into his chair and nodded, "That I do, a smart mage trains himself in more than the mind, least he finds himself with a slit throat. Or so my hand to hand instructor taught me anyway." Gandolfini studied him for a moment before he came to a conclusion, "Alright… good enough. Since I now have a handle on everybody's abilities, I can now go ahead and announce my results of the teams to be used." The tactical leader started to draw out names and numbers on the dark green board, the scrapping of the chalk being the only thing making noise in the room. Eventually, Gandolfini got done and then turned around to everybody in the room, pointing with his chalk at them, "Here's how the situation will work. Nijuin-san will be our focal point for all information, anything you find that even remotely appears to be related to our target, you report it back to him so that everybody can react accordingly." Everybody nodded their heads, his words making sense to them. "Good now here are the teams… Seruhiko-san and Mei-san will be paired in a team. You two will be our long range support team in case things get hairy. You will be referred to as team 1 Caster." Both individuals nodded their heads in understanding; however Mei looked a little bit nervous.

Something that Takane noticed as well, "Gandolfini-san… perhaps it would be best if she were paired up with myself or Megumi-san?" Gandolfini gave her a look before he let out a sigh, "I know that she has some issues outside of teams beside you and Natsume-san, however, this placement is for the best of everybody. It allows for the most optimal chances of success in the mission." Takane looked back down at the report, Gandolfini's words ringing true. The dark skinned mage was silent for a moment longer before he continued, "alright… Next up is team 2 Caster, which will be myself and Megumi-san. We will be the ones to provide cover and support if things get out of hand, all links will defer to this team for instructions should something unexpected happen." Everybody nodded their heads in understanding, Megumi not phased at all by the placement. "And the last team, Caster 3. This group will consist of Takane-san and Thane-kun. You both will have the more combat oriented role of subduing our target should it come to close range." Thane raised his eyebrow, his thoughts conflicting on the role, "I guess I can understand my role in that… but don't you think your giving Goodman-san a pretty dangerous job? She hasn't seen much in the way of combat as far as I can tell." Takane looked over at Thane with an indignant look, "Excuse me? Are you saying I can't do it?" the assistant teacher held his hands up in haste when he noticed the accusatory tone in her voice, "No, don't twist my words. I'm just saying that you seem a little young is all. If you have the skills and the ability to tango with a half beast though, then I say all the more power to you. It was just an observation Goodman-san, I wasn't trying to slight you." The girl gave him another Glare, his words not convincing her. However, Gandolfini made a move, silencing the rest of the group when he brought their attention back to himself, "alright, since we have the teams sorted, here is how the operation will go. Like I said earlier, Nijuin-san will be our main focal point for information, anything that needs to be communicated, goes directly through him. However, our range is not unlimited. The telepathic range that we can establish with all of us is around 10 Kilometers (6 miles) so we need something of a tight circle. However, this will allow our communications to run smoothly and safely without risk of interception from others."

While he explained this, Gandolfini drew on the board, first a large circle to indicate the range, and a small dot in the middle to show the main focus of communication. He then drew three other small dots in a row, like a fan, and wrote the team numbers on each of them "This will be our search style. We will spread out and begin our search, looking for anything that may relate to our perp or indicators to their actions over the past few days. Is that clear?" nobody in the room spoke up, all simply nodding. Gandolfini's eyes scanned out into the room for a moment, just in case before he closed his book and turned back to the board, "very well. Team Caster three will be our right most team, followed by Caster 2 in the middle and caster 1 on the left. Our search will begin in the targets most recent hit, the dining area." Thane along with everybody else spoke the name out loud "Chefs corner." "Correct. Go ahead and get any items you think will be helpful in the operation out in the next 15 minutes or so. We leave when it's 6:30." Thane started to stroke his chin before he let the time mule around in his head for a moment, "Hold up… isn't it still early for us to begin? There should still be a lot of people out and about at this time." Gandolfini raised his eyebrow before he nodded his head at the statement, "True… but it's already been taken care of. We have set up a safe zone around the entire food district, telling people that the buildings are being inspected for earthquake durability. And if that doesn't deter people, then we also have magic in place to cause most mundanes to avoid the place. Our search area will be clear." Thane nodded his head in understanding, the mages tactics making sense.

The next 15 minutes where silent one's, everybody busy getting their items prepared, spells chanted, and defenses tested. Thane got done a little earlier than the rest of the group and with at least 6 more minutes to kill time before the operation began, he decided to use it wisely. 'Wisely' being to socialize with one of the weaker links of the group. Thane walked up next to Mei Sakura and gave her a smiling greeting, "Howdy there Mei-san. How are you feeling?" The girl looked up at him slightly startled, a broom in her hand and some nervousness on her face, "Oh… um… well… I suppose…" "Well huh? Then why do you look like you're ready to fall over due to nervousness?" The girl blanched at his observation, but shook her head at him, "N-No! I'm not nervous! Not at all! I'm totally ready for anything!" Thane slowly shook his head, his eyes cocked to the side in amusement at her false bravado. Thane stared her down for a moment, the girl nervously glancing this way and that to avoid his gaze. After a few more seconds of this, Thane simply shrugged his shoulders and turned around, allowing the girl a moment of relief from his heavy stare. However, she didn't expect him to quickly jump back around and yell at her, "AT ATTENTION SOLDIER!" Mei literally jumped at his verbal assault, throwing her broom into the air when she flung her arms up in surprise and shrieking out, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEHHH!" a few people in the room started to chuckle at the display, others groaning out in annoyance. Thane was one of the few smiling at her "Don't look 'ready for anything' to me Sakura-san." The girl hastily righted herself, her face turning a deep crimson, "I-I-I wasn't ready for that! You just jumped me all of a sudden!" "And if I had been an enemy, I would have either torn you apart, or knocked you out." He delivered that line in a neutral tone, the girls face turning from embarrassed, to shame crested. Mei then looked down at her feet, her shame at his words striking a chord with her.

Thane, noticing the less-then-stellar improvement to her mood, let out a tired sigh, "Now why are you getting all depressed kid? True, I had caught you unawares in that one moment, but I guarantee that it wouldn't have happened if you had been more relaxed. Impatience and stress lead to unwanted thoughts of self-doubt and depression. Don't be that way and you'll be right as rain!" The girl let out a loud moan in annoyance, "I know! But I can't help it! I've not been on a lot of missions before and the fact that I might screw up or make things worse makes me feel awful!" Thane could only sigh at her attitude, "You scrubs… alright, how about we take your mind off of the mission and on to more pleasant things! So what division of the campus are you in Mei-san? Co-ed? All girls?" the girl could only blink in confusion, his question not making sense at first. "Huh?" "Oh boy… I mean do you attend this school? Are you in the middle school division?" His question finally started to get through to her confused mind, her answers coming quick, "Oh! Yes! I'm in middle school! Second year! All girls section. But only about six months at Mahora itself." Thane tilted his head at her, that little tidbit looking mighty tasty for a conversation topic. "Oh? Your second year of middle school but you've only been at Mahora for 6 months? What does that mean?" "Oh… Um… I happen to be a foreign exchange student from the Jonson's Magic school in America…" Thane nodded his head, just now noticing the accent she had in her Japanese, and smiled at her again, "Really now? Then you must be pretty good at studies if you managed to get into an exchange student program!" The girl sheepishly started to scratch her temple in embarrassment "eh he he… a little bit…" It was in that moment that Nutmeg decided to pipe into the conversation, a bright smile on her face, "She doesn't mention it much since she's just trying to be humble, but she got all A's in her courses. She could have gone to any place she wanted to in the exchange program, but she wanted to come to Mahora she said!"

Thane nodded his head with some admiration. The girl obviously was a genius, that or really hard working, but he couldn't help but feel some respect for the girl's accomplishments. "Hum, color me impressed Mei-san! I think I have a newfound respect for you! So did you graduate Valedictorian of your class?" Again, Mei started to blush in embarrassment "Yeah…" Thane smiled again, not at her achievement, though that deserved merit enough. No, he was smiling at her relaxed nature. She had finally started to calm down thankfully. She didn't look like a bundle of nerves waiting to happen. However, where the progress had been made, the time had been used up, and Gandolfini made it a known fact "alright people, times up. I hope you're ready, because we leave now." Thane gave the mage a slightly annoyed look, but simply looked back at Mei and gave her another smile "Good luck out there, and try not to get caught to unawares"

Mei gave him a sheepish smile, his words not quite so full of bitter truth this time around "I'll try not to." After getting ready, the group followed Gandolfini outside, where the mage then muttered a few words under his breath and actually caused the house to disappear into thin air. Thane glanced over at the dark skinned mage and gave him a slightly confused look. "We keep this place secret due to its vicinity to the Dark Evangel. It acts as both a monitoring station, and a base of operations for those of us who keep the school safe from magical threats." The pale mage nodded his head in understanding, the meaning behind a hidden base not being lost on him. After that, Thane followed the group out of the woods and on to the investigation.

Xx Later xX

Thane clicked his tongue a few times in boredom, the empty streets of the once bustling Chefs corner about as dead as a graveyard. Thane glanced around the empty street he was walking along, the only other sound being Takane's own footsteps as she walked next to him, her eyes trained forward for the slightest of oddities. He, however, had his attention on the café that he had dined at with Takahata and Seruhiko not but 5 hours ago. This had to have been the 8th time that night that they had passed this very same café, and they had been no closer to finding anything out about the attacker then when they had first started. Thane let out a sigh before he brought the ring up to his ear, his thoughts loud and clear but still mouthing his mind all the same, "This is Caster 3 reporting in… still no signs of the perps actions or signs of the perp in the vicinity. What is the status of Caster 2 and 1?" Feeling a slight buzz that he had heard many times in the past five hours, Thane felt Nijuin speak into his mind, 'Also experiencing much of the same, Mei-san believed she had found something, but it turned out to be nothing.' Thane let out a loud sigh before he responded, Takane also having much of the same expression, "Understood. Are we to spread out further then?" There was a momentary pause as information was transmitted across psychic channels, but the portly man responded, his thoughts sounding weary and distraught, 'Negative. However, that is liable to change in the next hour or so if we find nothing. Keep in touch in case you find anything.' "Understood. Caster 3 ceasing communication." Thane lowered his handwhile shaking his head, the situation simply growing more fruitless the longer this progressed. Thane was quick to notice that Takane herself also looked distraught; though weather it was over the same thing he was feeling was debatable.

"Something up Goodman-san?" The blond shook her head, frustration on her features as she looked over at Thane, "Yes, we've spent so long looking for traces of this villain, but have yet to find neither hair nor hide of the fiend! And while we dilly dally here, it could be elsewhere, preying on Mundans and others who lack the ability to defend themselves from the threat! It is infuriating!" Thane gave the girl a pitying smile, her own eagerness to find this beast and help those in need very obvious in her manner "True, this might seem meaningless to you, but every bit of information we find and explore brings us that much closer to our target and to their goals. I know you want to help people, but try to be patient Goodman-san, investigation is also fundamental in catching targets." The girl ground her teeth in frustration at his words, nothing she could say would be a good enough argument against the common facts of the situation, and it made her feel useless. Takane let out a sigh after a moment, her head hanging low, "I know that… But I still want to catch this target as quickly as possible so that others would not come to harm… what kind of Mage would I be if I let that happen…" Thane nodded his head at her, nothing he could say at that point really having needed to be said. She knew the job they had and the lack of info would hurt them if they looked unprepared. Thane drew his attention to the sky, the dark night looking less evil and brighter when he noticed the moon out in full glory. "Hey, check it out Goodman-san! The full moon is shining! Quiet brightly to I might add… it's a rather romantic night for couples wouldn't you agree?"

He drew his attention to the girl, expecting some forlorn look in her eyes, or some hopelessly romantic sigh coming from her lips. But the look he got was one of mild annoyance, "Couples? Romantic night? Don't be stupid Thane-san. That kind of childishness is best left at home. Time doesn't allow for a mage having romantic thoughts! The only time for romance should be with one's chosen Partner, and those should be few and far between." Thane was a little surprised at the girls overly cynical attitude, his eyes widening in surprise and his mouth hanging a little open, "Huh… didn't think I would see a girl not think about romance at a high school… most kids your age tend to think a ton about that stuff." Takane actually huffed at him when he said that. "I am not like most girls my age. A Hero's mind must always be on those less fortunate and incapable of defending themselves from the evils of the world. A Hero should have no thoughts about themselves!" "Oh come on… a Hero doesn't have to be full of Selflessness and righteousness all the time you know. Even a Hero can afford one tiny greedy thought or desire for themselves. And you can't honestly say you've never had a single romantic thought about someone before in your years of living." Takane let out an indignant huff, but the slight blush on her face told him that he might have hit a signal. Wanting to find out, Thane inched a little closer, a mischief making smile on his face, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh? Is that a blush on your face? Did you perhaps think of someone? A particular… guy perhaps?"

Takane glared at him, something that might have been more intimidating if her face hadn't gotten deeper in color, "If I did, it would be none of your business Thane-san! Now come on! We don't have time to worry about stupid things like crushes!" Thane watched as she quickly walked away from him, her stride indicating that she wanted to be as far away from this conversation as she could. Thane, however, wasn't one to let it go at just that and followed after her. He let silence fill the air for a moment, allowing Takane to feel as if she had won the small battle before he sprung his ambush on her, "Is he tall?" "Guk!" The girl came to a skidding halt, rounding on the pale youth with annoyance on her face, "If you are so insistent to know, he's about as tall as myself!" Thane gave her another smile, "Is he strong? Handsome looking? Does he have impressive pecs?" Takane, knowing that an unending stream of question's was just about to be let loose, simply growled in anger, "Instead of beating around the 20 question bush, it would just be easier to tell you and be done with it!" "Aw… now that's no fun. You gave up too easy." "Well tough! You asked for it, and I will not give you the satisfaction of torturing me with an endless stream of obtuse questions!" The girl took a deep breath, both suppressing her anger while calming herself down. It took only a moment, but the girl acted as if this was a pretty big step in something.

However, Unlike what Thane was expecting, which was a bashful look with downcast eyes and a tiny meek voice at the revealing of her biggest maiden secret, she instead looked pumped up, eyes a glitter with anticipation and her body burning with Vigor, "The man I like is none other than the one and only Shiningman!" Thane blinked a few times in some mild confusion "… what?" "Shiningman! The hero of light and Justice! Wrapped in the unrelenting lights of justice and the glitter of righteousness, he fights evil with a Nobel heart and selfless courage! You must know of who I speak! Shiningman!" Thane could only cock his eyebrow upward in confusion, while curling his lip in a half smile "Um… it sounds… vaguely Familiar?" In all honesty, she had lost him when she had said 'glitter of Righteousness.' Takane saw the confused look on his face and nodded proudly, "Ah! I see it might be coming back to you! Then allow me to give you the final shining memory!" Takane raised her arms above her head in an X at her wrists while raising her right leg into the air like the crane position. "Shining… HA!" she then slowly started to lower her arms and her leg, but then exploded into movement, twirling around until she came to a stop with both her arms spread wide like a cross and her legs straight down. Thane could have sworn that she was glowing with both eager delight, and glitter coming off of her in the back ground. They stood there for a few moments, the both of them silent. Thane raised his hands and started to clap…slowly.

"Um… very cool… Takane-san…I think I remember now…" He didn't have it in his heart to tell her she looked so stupid right now, not even funny stupid either. But her eyes just seemed to scream that she had loved and practiced that for who knows how long. Better to let reality get her at a later date then right now, she just looked so happy right now. Takane gave him a beaming smile, dropping her arms and standing normally, "Ah-ha! I am glad to see that you have remembered! I Had fallen in love with the great heroics of Shiningman since I had first seen his visage on the early morning show when I was 9 years old!" Thane nodded his head, but internally he cringed at her, 'Oh dear god's she's been like this for years…' "But alas! Shiningman is a beacon of light! Where I would emulate him in every way, I fail due to my aptitude in magical skills!" Thane tilted his head at her, his mind already working out what she was talking about, "You mean your ability to use shadow magic." "YES! Shadows! The symbol of the villain! Woe is me, who would seek to bring the world light but must be cursed with the highest ability to use Shadow magic! The God's play cruel tricks I say!" "Uh-hu… I guess so…" Thane had started to tune her out, wondering if she was going to get done anytime soon since they had a job to do and all, totally ignoring the fact that he had started the whole thing in the first place. Takane let out a remorseful sigh, bringing her gaze back to Thane with some look of what he was surprised to see was envy, "I feel somewhat conflicted about you Thane-san. On one hand, you don't seem to act out the ideals of one who is a hero, but on the other hand, you seem to have done the deeds and helpful accolades of one who would seek to bring peace and love to the world in your wars."

Thane flinched at her words and held his hand up, "Hold it, back up on a few parts missy. First off, a war is not honorable in any way, shape, or form. Second, I may have been helpful in one war, but the second one? There was nothing 'good,' 'Helpful' or 'righteous' about it." He hadn't yelled, he hadn't been mean, but to Takane, it sounded as if she had just stepped on a landmine. His voice had been low and annoyed, his eyes looking angered and his mouth turned down ward in a scowl. Thane let out a low and angry sigh, but didn't say anything after that. Takane, for her part, looked him up and down for a moment, some shame crossing into her chest and causing her to feel regret at her words, "I am sorry… I had not meant to imply anything by saying that. I had only meant to make an observation of your deeds in comparison to you character." "I Know… and I didn't mean to sound rude, but please just don't assume things you don't know anything about. Some people have different views on certain actions, my own being some of those debatable in everybody's eyes." "But you still did them in hopes of a better outcome, correct?" Thane stopped for a moment, her words sounding familiar to him, as if he had heard them elsewhere long ago "… Yes. I had hoped my actions would bring something better to the world." Takane gave him a heartfelt smile, placing her arm over her heart and looking him dead on in his eyes, "Then you are something of a hero. One of Nobel intentions? Perhaps, perhaps not… but you still have a kind heart, and that is something any hero should have."

Thane gave her a confused look at first, but it slowly melted away into an amused grin, "maybe… maybe not. But I do thank you for the kind words, they mean something to me. More than you may think. But tell me, why do you think I am a Nobel soul?" Takane glanced out behind him, as if looking off into the distance at something else beyond him, "Because of what you said and did for Mei. She tries not to show it, but the girl is very afraid of fighting despite her amazing marks in her lessons. As you might have been able to tell, she has some self-esteem issues as well. I simply want to thank you for the words you told her and the encouragement that you gave her before we started." "*Pffft* that? That wasn't being Nobel or righteous, that was me being helpful. The poor girl didn't look ready for such a mission was all…" Takane slowly shook her head, "I still wish to thank you for it. Your words gave her more confidence, and for that I am grateful Thane-san." Despite the praise, Thane only shrugged his shoulders with a smile, "I just did what I did…but you are welcome Takane-san." The both of them stood that way for a long while, the both of them Studying the other in that time before Takane turned around and motioned for him to come along, "Alright, enough with the Chit-chat, we have a mission to complete." "Got it." Thane followed along next to Takane, the both of them feeling a little closer as friend thanks to their chat. However, after some time, those thoughts were thrown back in the folder of their minds, the search once again proving slow and uneventful.

After another 40 or so minutes of continues searching, both mages received a signal from Nijuin 'Caster 3, have you managed to find anything yet?' Takane shook her head while Thane let out a sigh, "Sorry Nijuin-san, we got nothing. Zip, zilch, nadda, nothing with a capitol N. How about everybody else?" 'Afraid it's the same with them. And if you both have found nothing, then Gandolfini told us to go ahead and extend the search range to the limit, go outside the actual food corner and see if there are any traces further out.' Thane nodded to himself, the instructions coming across clearly, "Understood. Takane and myself will check everywhere we can. Caster 3 cutting communications." Thane put his hand down and nodded his head at his partner, her own nodding telling him that she got the message. The both of them eventually made their way outside of the original search range and began to thoroughly comb through the alley's, roads, and even a few trashcans in search of any new clues. However, even this search after several hours had turned up little to nothing. The two mages had started to grow agitated from the lack of progress, but Thane only let it show when he started to chew on the pack of peanuts he had, grinding the nutty treats into a peanut paste in his mouth. "I'm about this close to calling it quits for the night… it's almost 12 for god's sake…" Takane gave him a stubbornly annoyed look, her own determination not having diminished in the least, "We will stand and look all night if need be Thane-san. Until then, I will not rest until I have found at least an inkling of our target…" The shadow user then turned on her heels and went back to looking, trying to catch anything that might be important to the case. Thane however, was nearing the end of his rope on patience.

"Jeez… this is why the leader gets a bunch of lackeys to do all the work for him… so he doesn't have to put up with the aggravation himself…" However, where Thane was about to continue, saying something along the lines of perhaps using some magic to get a clue; he quickly came to notice the smell of the lake blowing in the light breeze. It had a clear smell to it, fresh and relaxing. Thane then turned to his searching partner and called out to her, "hey Takane-san, I'm going to go out this way, a little closer to the lakes edge for clues." The blonde nodded her head, not even looking up so as not to miss any details, "That's fine… just yell if you find anything, or contact me through the ring if you get too far away." Thane nodded his head and proceeded down one of the alleys. It didn't take long, barely even 4 minutes, but he found the edge of the lake. What he wasn't expecting was a large pier when he got out of the alley. "Huh… call me surprised…" Thane looked out at the pier for a moment, thinking about the boats or other such water faring vessels that might use it for their own reasons before his attention fell to the water in front of him. It was a deep black, hinting at the unknown depths that looked to extend deep into the bowels of the earth. The Moon light lit across the surface, looking as if a second moon had come to the earth itself in the deep waters. Thane was entranced by it, the low whistling of the wind the only thing he could hear while the moon light on the water hypnotized him. However, the spell was quickly broken when the sound of something scraping against metal startled him to awareness. Turning his head quickly, Thane saw a small shape flying in the sky over the surface of the water. It had been a seagull, taking off from the top of a tin roof in search of food this late at night.

Thane watched the bird fly over the water before the darkness of the sky shrouded it. He then turned his attention to the place he had heard the scarping. What greeted his eyes was a large building of some sort, stone walls and a metal roof. It looked a little old, like it had seen many days of the life of this pier. Thane glanced up and down the building, his attention being drawn to the name on the large sign hanging on the wall. From what he could see, it had said 'Delaciro' obviously the name of the company that owned the building, but there was no mistaking the buildings purpose. "A Storage facility huh…" he had seen some boxes stacked high in one of the lower windows along with white packaging of some sort. It wasn't anything unusual, not at all. However, there was one thing odd about it though. Most of these facilities had large double doors so that trucks could simply back in and quickly unload. However, the double doors on this particular building where wide open, a thing that got Thane's attention real quick. "Huh? Did they forget to lock it?" His curiosity getting the better of him, Thane walked up closer to the building before he came to the opening itself. When he did, his eyes widened in surprise. The rolling railing that allowed the door to open and close was torn clean out of the stone and both doors where lying in crumpled heaps on the ground, twisted in ways that shouldn't have been possible for solid metal. But the last thing he saw was the one that caught his breath in his throat. There where claw marks deep in the door, four rows that went about three feet in length, the width of all four easily covering the size of his head. Thane gazed down at the doors before quickly lifting his head up and looking into the warehouse.

He looked left and then right in hopes that he might catch sight of whatever did this, but then it dawned on him that he was the one standing in the moon lit door way and he quickly jumped to the side and out of view. Thane brought his ringed finger up to eye level and started to concentrate 'Takane! I found something! Relay to Nijuin-san that there is a warehouse labeled Delaciro with its door ripped clean off! Make it fast, I'm not sure if it's still here and I might need your help if whatever it is is still here!' The only reply he got was a surprised link from the girl and a quick, 'understood' mentally. He then waited for a minute, daring to take a peek around the corner and into the building itself. Now that his eyes had adjusted more to the darkness, he could see that a few piles of boxes had been tipped over roughly, spilling the contents all over the floor. They looked to be smaller boxes of grocer items, things like instant ramen, egg noodles and perhaps some vegetables as well. He was interrupted from his train of thought when he heard someone speaking into his mind, 'Thane-san! This is Nijuin! Takane-san is on her way and should be with you in a minute, but I need you to tell me what it is you see in there, if you can, try to send us an image by the ring.' Thane held his hand up and pointed his ring into the room, the image being sent across the mental channel followed by Thane's own thoughts "I'm not sure if it's still in there, but it looks to have made a mess out of the boxes. Can you tell me anything about the storehouse itself Nijuin-san?" 'Not much I'm afraid. It's mostly used to store many of the chef's food stuffs and other such items. Not sure why the target would come in here, unless it was hungry of course…'

Thane let that one seep into his mind for a moment. He couldn't' see any meat in there, but it was a pretty deep place, it could well be all the way in the back for all he knew. It was in that moment that he thought he saw something, and that thought was only reaffirmed when he heard the noise of something moving in the back. Thane jumped back away from the door way and placed himself flat against the cool wall, his breath quickening. Something was going on here, he was more afraid then he should be, but he just now started to notice an oppressive feeling in the air, just like when he had seen the destroyed market earlier today. Thane took a few deep breathes and started to relay his thoughts 'Our perp is here, I repeat, our perp is here! I just saw movement in the back!' 'What shape was it? Did you get a good look?' 'No, all I saw was a shadow, but I saw it for sure! Something is in here!' 'Wait for Takane before you make a move, we still have no idea what we are up against.' Thane nodded his head though he knew nobody could see it, 'understood, will wait for-' Before he could finish the thought, Thane was distracted by the sound of something in the warehouse crashing to the ground and splintering all over the place. It had sounded like a stack of boxes falling over. However, it was the noise afterward that sent his blood running ice cold. It was the sound of a terrified scream.

'Cancel that! I need to get in there now! There is someone in there with the target! I repeat, there is someone in with the target!' 'Wait for Takane! You have no idea if it's a trap!' Thane, however, cut off the telepathy and rounded the corner, "I hope I don't get my ass in trouble…" he quickly ran into the storehouse, ducking behind boxes when he could, but forgoing any sort of cover in hopes of finding the person in trouble. He quickly came across several large boxes and went around them, and it was then that he could hear desperate sobbing. Thane rounded the corner and finally saw where the source of the noise was coming from. Someone was huddled tightly in a small space between some boxes, their hands over their head and curled into a fetal position. Thane couldn't see real well who it might be, but he could tell it was a girl due to her higher voice and feminine frame. Thane quickly ran over and knelt next to the girl, looking her over for any injuries and let out a sigh of relief when he didn't see any on her, "hey… hey hey…are you alright? What are you doing here kid?" The girl stopped sobbing for a moment and quickly looked up, "Se-sensei?" Thane's eyes took a moment to adjust, but who he saw right in front of him couldn't have surprised him more. Violet hair, and light brown eyes and a nice face that he couldn't have forgotten if he had wanted to, "Misa-san? Misa what are you doing here?!"

Misa Kakizaki shook her head at his words, her body shivering in fright, "I… I don't know Sensei! I was fast asleep some time ago, but… but then… I started to feel cold and… and then I just woke up and found myself here! Sensei! What's going on! Why am I here? What was that thing I saw earlier?!" Thane placed his hands on the girl's shoulders to help calm her down and noticed that she had been wearing her sleepwear. It was a deep red Silk Chemise that exposed her shoulders and went about halfway down her lap. It was a sexy piece, but that wasn't the main point right now. Thane had caught what she just said, and was starting to dread what it meant. "Misa… what did you just mean when you said… that thing you saw earlier?" Misa took several shuddering breaths and her eyes went wide in fear, as if the very thought of it terrified her, "I don't know! I saw a huge shape earlier and it had the most terrifying eyes I had ever seen! It looked at me from over there somewhere-" she pointed to a spot somewhere to her right in between some crates "- and it just kept staring at me, snarling and occasionally moving! It… I thought it was going to eat me!" The poor girl started to sob again, and Thane pulled her into an embrace, trying to keep her calm and quite, "Shhh… it's OK Misa… I'm right here…but tell me… do you know where it went? Did you see if it left?" The girl didn't lift her head but Thane could hear her muffled voice from his chest.

"I don't know… but the eyes vanished a few minutes before you showed up Sensei… I want to leave Sensei, please… I want to go home…" Thane lightly stroked the top of her head, taking several glances around the area in hopes that the thing hadn't snuck up on him. Thankfully, it hadn't, but they needed to leave, now. Thane got to his feet, Misa's hand desperately clutching at his coat before he pulled her to her own feet, "Listen Misa… I know this is a strange and unusual situation, but I need you to try to stay calm alright? I'll get you out of here, but you need to keep a level head. I don't want whatever it is coming back before we can get you out of here alright? Can you do that?" Misa, though shaken, slowly nodded her head in answer. Thane took her hand in his own and clutched it tightly, giving her his most reassuring smile, "Good. Now hold on to my jacket and follow me out of here alright? Stay as close as you can so I can protect you." Again, Misa did as she was told and pressed herself as close as she could, fear driving her to stay safe. Thane slowly turned around and started to map out the way he came, trying to remember the way he had come in. he then picked a random direction and started walking as quickly as he could while being quiet. While that was going on, he re-established his link with Nijuin, the feeling of worry the first thing he felt when he mind linked 'Thane-san! What's going on?! Are you ok?' 'I'm fine for now Nijuin-san, however, relay to Gandolfini that we are in serious trouble. I just found one of my own students in the warehouse. Whatever our perp is had kidnapped her from the dorms and brought her here. For what, I don't know… but it couldn't have been good. She's too scared and confused right now for questioning. I also believe that the thing is still close, Misa told me that it had left only a few minutes ago before I had shown up. How far out are each of you now?' there was a moment of silence as Nijuin got estimates from the rest of the group, but he quickly spoke up 'Goodman-san is close now, she can see the storehouse from where she is, so less than 40 seconds if my guess is right. However, Seruhiko-san and Mei-san are about 7 minutes out and Gandolfini and Natsumi-san are about 12 minutes. Get with Takane as quickly as possible; you are in a dangerous situation' 'don't I know it… I'm cutting connections now, come as quickly as you guys can.'

Thane let the mental connection dissolve, allowing him to get a full feel for his surroundings. Thankfully it didn't feel as if anything was there at the moment, But Misa's scared body against his arm told him that she was looking for anything in the shadows. Thane reached over with his free arm and lightly squeezed her hand in comfort "Relax, we're almost there and a few friends of mine are on the way as well. Everything will be fine Misa-san…" The girl looked up at him and noticed him glancing at her from the corner of his eye. The moment she did, she just felt a little more reassured, "Alright Sensei…" it didn't take very long for Thane to find his way out of the maze of box's and let out a relieved sigh when he saw the door after passing a corner of highly stacked crates. "Here we are… now keep close, we're almost to the finish line…Misa?" he had felt her grip start to get tighter and her lack of a response made him look over to check on her condition. He quickly came to notice that her eyes were wide and her mouth was open though nothing was coming out. She was staring at something behind him off to his right. He then turned a little more and looked out in her general direction, however, he was confused when he didn't see anything out of the ordinary, just more stacks of box's and crates "Misa? Is something the matter? What's wrong?" Misa didn't answer with her mouth. That was currently an impossibility for her with all the fear causing her throat to shrink. However, Thane noticed that she wasn't looking straight ahead of them, but rather further upward and more to the ceiling. Thane turned his attention to where her eyes were, and felt his heart stop immediately.

He had started to look up, and when he got to the top of the stack of crates, his eyes kept going up, only after that, they also got wider in fear. There was something on top of the crates, standing tall and massively built, the window behind it illuminating its form via moonlight. Covered in silver-ish gray fur, thick arms and crooked haunches like those of an animal, was some massive beast staring down at them both with deep and dusky red eyes. The snout was long, and slightly opened in a loud snarl and two long pointed ears that looked like they belonged on some demon flat against its skull in anger. Thane let out a small laugh at the thing while pushing Misa behind him, "A freaking Werewolf…" Thane's mind was currently going 280 MPH right now, but the most prevalent thought right now was how he was going to rub this in Setsunas's face when he got home. Misa, however, was both stunned and almost disbelieving in her words, "a… what? But… that can't be! That's… that's not…" "Believe what you will Misa, but all I'm going to say right now is that thing is real and it looks like it wants to munch on my arm…" As if to affirm his words, the Wolf gave another low snarl, bending it's body lower as if to stalk the both of them and started to walk down the crates like some kind of wooden staircase. Thane was currently trying to figure out how to get out of this situation when he suddenly felt something in his mind connect to something 'Thane-san! It's me! Takane! I'm here and about to enter the storehouse, what is your current situation?' 'current situation is dangerous and scared shitless! Do not enter! Engage in long range artillery fire into the storehouse!' 'I don't understand, what are you-' "I CURRENTLY DON'T GIVE 2 SHITS ABOUT IF YOU UNDERSTAND OR NOT JUST FIRE!" Thane actually ended up screaming that last part out while transmitting it into Takane's mind, something that the Shadow mage flinched at when it hit her.

Thane looked back up when he got done screaming and saw that the beast had also reacted to his wonton yelling. It had decided that it was time to speed the stalking process up and had leaped down from its perch and was coming at them. Thane started to push Misa back in an attempt to get her away from the werewolf. "Shitshitshitshit!" The thing was crossing the distance quickly, as if the shadows themselves where lending it assistance with its travel. However, before it got another twenty feet closer to them, Thane heard the sound of several shots being fired behind him along with a loud incantation. Thane turned around and grabbed Misa by her arms, throwing himself at her while screaming, "GET DOWN!" The both of them hit the floor in the nick of time, the Shadow arrows blasting past them and into the room with destructive force and lethality. Thane kept Misa under his larger body, using as much of himself as possible as a shield for her mostly exposed body against the large wooden splinters and shrapnel that proceeded to fly everywhere in the mini explosions. Thane felt quite a bit of it glance against his coat, a lot of it not doing much in the way of damage, while others ended up smashing into his back with the force of a tossed cinderblock. Heck, he was pretty certain that a few of them had been cinderblocks. After another 7 seconds of flying debris and painful impacts, Thane felt the air start to settle down, an indicator that Takane had stopped casting arrows into the room. Quick as a flash, Thane was back on his feet and picking up Misa in his arms, the sharp and pointed things all over the floor having torn her bare feet to shreds if she had walked across it. The pale youth ran as fast as he could across the floor with Misa in his arms, the way now very clear for him to take a straight shot to the door. Much to his relief, the Werewolf had either been incapacitated enough to not move, or just down right dead. He was hoping it was the second one.

Thane managed to clear the rest of the floor without hassle, but just as he was about to make it to the exit, he heard the sound of something howling behind him with brutal force. Thane came to a dead stop and placed Misa on the ground, his mind trying to formulate a plan as he moved, "Misa! Keep going until you get out the door! There should be a girl outside with blond hair and wearing black clothes! She goes by the name of Takane D. Goodman and she should be able to keep you safe! Now run! Go go!" The violet haired girl hesitated for a moment, feeling some pang of guilt and deep understanding at what he was telling her to do, "But… sensei…" "No time for minor Guilt girl! Just go! There is nothing you can do to make this situation better except to get the hell out of here! Now RUN!" Misa flinched at first when he shouted, but she then came to the realization that he had been right. There was nothing she could do. Misa gave him one last look of apology and then turned tail and ran out the door. The moment she had left the safety of his arm and eye vision, Thane prayed that he would be able to keep her safe and then turned around, his right hand in his pocket and on his Omni-tool. When he turned around, he was dismayed when he saw that the werewolf wasn't injured and simply looked pissed off. It walked easily through the rubble that Takane had caused, it eyes glowing in either pure anger, or in pure hunger for prey. Thane let out a nervous laugh as it stalked closer to him, his hand clutching tighter on his tool as he took step to the side. The werewolf's eyes followed him thankfully, so he decided to start talking. "Big aren't ya… Give ya maybe… 4 meters? Maybe a little under 12 feet in height? Not sure, but you sure look like you could break a skinny guy like me in half with no problems…" If the wolf understood or even cared for what he said, it made no attempt to let him know, only growling low as it kept its eyes on him and him alone. Thane gulped, his throat catching a few times before he could swallow down his nervousness "So… You've attacked two people already and you've kidnapped a third. I don't know if you have a plan or if you're just doing this at random, but you cannot be ignored nor allowed to roam free anymore. One way or another, you will be coming with me."

Thane drew his tool from his pocket, twisting it around in his hands a few times behind his back before he smiled to himself as he felt a familiar buzzing on his fingertips "Get ready… Aisen'del!" In the next instant, Thane had quickly swiped the sphere in front of him, a strong shaft of light erupting from it and engulfing the room in bright light for a moment. The werewolf flinched from the sudden brightness, closing its eyes so as not to be blinded. The light quickly vanished though, and where Thane had been standing bare handed and defenseless, he now stood with a Tall staff in both hands, ready for combat. The staff looked to be silver in color, with the whole shaft smooth with use and considered care. The top had several long reaching pieces that swirled around themselves into the shape of an entwined elongated half oval with a single smooth and clear gem in the very middle supported by nothing at all. Thane twirled the staff in his hand a few times before pointing the tip at his opponent with a mock smile. "Bring it!" The werewolf gnashed its teeth together loudly, sounding much like the clasping of two iron pieces in disjointed noise. It then howled loudly at him in challenge, the roar sounding the mix of Demon and wolf in chaotic agreement.

Suddenly, the werewolf backhanded several miraculously unbroken crates with a wide sweeping arc of its arm, sending them flying in Thane's direction like wooden missiles. He started for a second due to the unusual maneuver, but Thane took several steps back when he noticed both trajectory and flight path. Most of the crates ended up missing him by a mile, but several came dangerously close to his current position. Even one coming so close that he had to swing his staff swiftly to the side to deflect it. This proved to be a bad move on his part. The moment the crate was flying safely away from his face was when the sight of a full grown werewolf had come up into full view to replace it, the sharp claws already swinging into his face from the side.

Thane's eyes went wide and he ducked low, the claws missing him by several hairs breadths. Seeing an opening he could exploit, Thane brought his staff upward under its chin in a hard blow to break its teeth. Sensing the danger below, said werewolf quickly swerved its head to the side to dodge. But it didn't wait long to retaliate. The Man wolf clamped its jaws down viciously on the head of the staff, much to the youth's surprise, and tossed him aside like a helpless rabbit. Thane went air-born for a few feet before he sharply impacted into the ground and skid across the debris filled stone floor, many wooden splinters shoving themselves into his shoulders and back with painfully sharp points. Despite the current situation, the youth rolled into the last leg of his skid, using his momentum to throw himself to his feet and turn around just in time to duck low to avoid another sideswipe. This time, he heard those claws connect with something and looked up to see heavy grooves buried deep into solid concrete.

Thane's breath took a sharp intake as fear and panic set in from the sight, 'Shit! How the hell can something so huge move so damned fast!? I take a hit from those claws and I won't have enough of me to send home in a burger pack!"

Thane looked up and saw into the eyes of the beast, quickly rolling away when he saw the werewolf's strike coming at him from the front in a point, the stone sundering claws making aim for his exposed skull. Thane brought his staff upward in panic and knocked the hand off its trajectory, the claws burying themselves into the earth next to him. "Got Ya!" Seeing a momentary opportunity for a potentially crippling blow, Thane jabbed his staff into the beast's chest with all his strength, expecting the staff point to bury itself in soft flesh. But when it connected, it was like striking metal against stone.

'What the hell!?'

Thane didn't have enough time to think anymore. The werewolf lunged its head forward in retaliation to the attack, several tens of teeth digging themselves easily into his exposed shoulder and neck. Thane felt white hot agony sear through his body as it clamped down with the force of an alligator, several of his ribs cracking under the pressure and blood literally squirting out of the fresh wounds like small fountains. He wanted to scream, he really did, but his pain was to severe for him to even think about it. Instead, his mind nearly shut down from the shock, but a small part of him felt that he had an opening, and he took it. Thane pushed his staff as hard as he could into the chest of the creature and screamed with all the power he could gather in a split second.

"{FORCE!}"

In that second, the tip of the staff seemed to glow brightly before exploding with pure energy into the belly of the beast. He was rewarded with the sound of many things cracking on impact followed by the sudden removal of the wolf's maw from his shoulder. It came at the cost of removing quite a bit of his flesh from his shoulder and upper chest, though. Thane yelled out in pain for a moment when it happened, but threw his gaze toward where the werewolf was flying. He watched with satisfaction as the Wolf sailed right across the building and into a large pile of destroyed boxes, an explosion of wood chips and other items scattering everywhere on the beast's impact.

Thane leaned against his staff with his one good arm, the left hanging uselessly at his side with blood splattering on the floor and tatters of shirt and flesh hanging off his body. Thane clutched at his throbbing shoulder, more blood spilling over his hand as he crutched his staff into his right shoulder and trying with no luck to stem the flow of crimson liquid. "Shit shit… agh… bastard can bite!" 'But I think that was it. I need to go ahead and call in everyone else…' However, before Thane could establish any sort of link, the sound of something crashing behind him forced him to turn around slowly with a cringe. Getting up from the pile of wreckage was the werewolf, looking rather shaky, but otherwise ready for more combat. "Please tell me your just getting up to give a riveting speech about how that was such an awesome fight and then proceed to fall back to the floor. Preferably unconscious." The only response he got was a vicious snarl. "Didn't think so…Damn it."

Thane quickly grabbed his staff with his one good arm, pointing it directly at the beast. However, he quickly came to notice that though it still looked shaky, the spot where his spell had connected was smoking. When he got a better look at it, he noticed that the great bloody spot was starting to cover over with fresh and unmarred flesh followed by silver fur. "Oh screw you!" In his eyes, it was an entirely unfair situation really. The werewolf could regenerate while he was stuck bleeding like a stuck pig out of his arm with about four broken ribs that burned like fire in his chest. And it was only fixing to get worse.

He closely watched as the werewolf shakily got to its feet, dismay filling him up when he saw that the things wounds where already gone. The werewolf gave him a wary look, as if seeing him not as prey, but as a more serious threat. And the look it was giving him sent a shiver up his spine. In retaliation to that feeling, Thane hefted his staff and chanted low so that it couldn't hear him "{Give me right, give me power, and I will fight in your name…I will become the arrow, the spear, and the wind meant to guide them… I call on the four sisters to give me there blessing… Aerial Spear!}" Thane's staff lit up momentarily, but then the sudden sound of whistling seemed to resound in the room and launch at the werewolf, hundreds of spears of air whistling as they closed the distance. In the next moment, invisible missiles of wind blasted the place where the target had been standing, the loud crashing of already shattered debris breaking apart into even smaller pieces and tossed around the storehouse violently. Thane took no time in watching it however as he saw a figure erupt out of the tossed dust and smoke and run right for him. Thane pointed his staff and took a deep breath before launching even more arrows of air. However, his eyes widened in shock when the wolf just up and vanished from view. Thane felt panic quickly set in as he turned everywhere to try to find it. Thane heard a heavy growl form beside him and acting on his need for survival, ducked low. However, where he felt the claw pass him by overhead, he felt the heavy blow of his lower abdomen being kicked in with savage brutality. Thane felt all the air in his body be blown out followed closely by blood coming from his mouth as his stomach ruptured on impact. He didn't have time to think on it or try to stop it.

In the next instant he was sent air born by about 20 feet, twirling several times from the force of the blow and his mind working in circles like his body. "Gotta… move… escape…" He didn't know where it had come from, but the werewolf was right above him, it's claws curled into fists and then struck him back down with a double handed hammer blow. The ground was quick to meet him followed with the bone crushing crash that caused him to nearly black out. Thane could hardly breath, and even the few times that he tried it felt like he was trying to suck down needles with every breath he took.

His body was beyond broken, and battered would have been a serious understatement to describe his current condition. He couldn't even turn his head to look at himself, the angle of his neck feeling weird and his body refusing to move at his command, but he could feel the agony in every inch of his body. Thane gazed up at the ceiling, his mind going blank while his vision started to edge out with black. The last thing he saw was the look of the werewolf as it gazed back down at him, it's eyes looking triumphant. Thane tried to move, to say something, to do something to show that he was willing to keep going. But he could feel his body shutting down. He had taken too much damage, he had lost spectacularly. He couldn't' establish his mental link either, his mind too far gone down the dark road to even be able to detect it. The werewolf moved out of his line of sight, and he couldn't' watch it as it left him. If Thane was still able to think, he would have found the fact that it didn't finish him to be odd, but he couldn't, so the thought was lost on him. However, just before he lost all conscious, he could have sworn he heard something like scuffling somewhere around him. But it was drowned out by a heavy silence that wormed itself into his mind.

And then he blacked out.


and so Pale Roots came to an end...

Thane:EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!? what do mean! I just died a pathetic death! what do you mean end of pale roots!?

Oh Don't get your panties in a wad you little fool... I was only kidding. So tell me! what did you all think of this chapter after the long wait? was it to your liking? I would hope so! Now we will get on with the next chapter! as soon as I get done writing it of course... Hope to see you all there!