The night air was still. Save for an occasional breeze through the tall grass once they reached the road. Allen walked his horse, refusing to ride while Hitomi and her son walked, but also unable to convince either of them to ride. He sighed. The two had been silent for some time.

Yuen rubbed one shoulder casually, both of them felt unusually stiff. He glanced at his mother, her eyes downcast. He gave Allen what the knight had called a horse a sideways glance. He was waiting for the moment he woke up in his own bed, to find the whole situation a strange dream. ~You know this place… it's almost familiar~ some tiny part of him whispered.

"Do you know what brought you back…?" Allen asked softly. It had dawned on him as they traveled that she no longer had her pendent, so how and why after all this time did she return to Gaea? If the girl from the Mystic Moon returned, would the white dragon also awake again?

He took a deep breath. Nonetheless he was happy to see her. There had been a void left behind in her place when she had returned home. One that the once companions hadn't seemed to have been able to fill.

Hitomi shook her head with her eyes on Yuen, "I don't know…" she whispered. "I wish I did…" She shifted on her fit as she lied. Before Allen could question her further, she stepped into Yuen's back.

"Yuen, what…" he turned his head as if watching something in the forest to their left.

A feeling washed over Yuen, something was in the woods. Something was watching them. He shivered, and his lips trembled. A cold feeling washed over him. He had looked over and could have sworn he saw something large move in the shadows. "There's something there," he whispered. His shoulder blades began to ache.

Allen looked over Yuen's head and saw something shine. His eyes widened, "everyone get down!"

A thin rounded spike flung their way. Allen pushed the two earth natives to the dirt of the road. His white horse was impaled and flung away with the shake of a large, metal arm. A black guymelef came into view hovering off the ground.

"Zaibach!" Hitomi screamed, her hands moved from her head and reached for Yuen.

Allen cursed under his breath, ~Where did that come from? How…? ~ He crouched and turned to the green eyed boy. "Grab your mother and go toward the city," he pointed down the hill. "Tell them Allen Schezar sent you, hurry," Yuen scrambled, grabbing his mother by the shirt sleeve and pulled her to her feet. His breathing panicked but he nodded back at the blonde man.

"We have to go," he told her in panic ~what is that thing? What is it?!~ his mind screamed. He slid down the hill, having to catch his balance as Hitomi stumbled.

"Morgenes, Reina go after them! Keep them safe." A young man with brown hair and a tall dark-haired woman, both in armor, headed after Hitomi and Yuen.

Allen glanced at his fallen mount, "tch," he turned with a glare at the mech. "Hey over here!" his blonde ponytail whipped of his shoulder as he drew his sword. If only he had Scherazade, then this enemy would have gone before a second thought. His blade seemed insignificant compared to the ghost guymelef of a dead empire.

"Zaibach bastards." Gerard stood at Allen's side with his sword at the ready. "Is it possible that its alone?" His eyes shifted left to right but he didn't see any tell-tale shines of metal.

"It's entirely possible." Allen replied.

The ground shook beneath the knight's feet as the mech stalked toward him. He could see a cloaked figure atop his right shoulder now. ~A zaibach sorcerer, still alive?!~ Not only that, but it held a soft glowing pendent. The figure pointed down the hill. The guymelef turned from Allen.

"Hey, Hey… no you don't" he raced toward the thing, attacking the machinery within reach. His blade sunk in between plates at the foot of the great machine. "Gerard, the other side!" Gerard struggled to get through the plating as an arm swung haphazardly his way.

It strode forward ignoring the damage, "what we seek is close Draven," the sorcerer whispered. He spied the woman and boy in strange clothing.

[A flash of a girl in an odd uniform with matching colored hair to the woman at the bottom of the hill. Her hair had been shorter then. In the past, she had called for the white dragon and it came, leaving zaibach's destruction in its wake. Emperor Dornkirk's fate machine gone… along with all their plans. ] The sorcerer face contorted into a snarl. It was her from the mystic moon… returned.

"Grab her!" he called, stomping his foot on the machine. A loud clicking was heard as the spikes of the arm, became a clawed hand. Yuen turned back with his eyes wide. The arm was coming toward them. Yuen yanked Hitomi sharply to one side causing her to stumble once again. Not as agile as she once was Hitomi panted as she pulled again. "Little brat…" the sorcerer flung an arm sideways, "knock him out of the way."

The arm moved as if connected to the sorceror's movements. The pendent gleamed brightly as the arm came toward the boy. Draven breathed in heaving gasps in the cockpit, the veins in his neck beneath the collar, strained. His blue and violet eyes came out of their stupor and he saw the boy before him. His muscles pressured as he forced them to pull back from a killing blow ~stop stop stop…~ his mind raced.

"Draven? What are you doing," the sorcerer hissed and clenched his fist. The collar squeezed around Draven's neck, and a green light shined on his face. He clenched his teeth as his arm moved of their own accord and he claws grazed the dark-haired boy on the ground and knocked him aside. Draven bit his lip, blood flowed down his chin. He was going to regret this later, the monster of man outside the guymelef would see to that. He turned the guymelef. "Draven turn this around!" the glow paled and went out in the pendent. ~That boy…~ was Draven's last coherent thought. Reina and Morgenes were knocked back by the force of air as its legs drew up to fly.

Hitomi screamed and was at Yuen's side in moments. She put her hands on his arm. "Wait, don't move him just yet!" Allen bruised and scraped but no worse for wear when he strode over to them. He kneeled down and found the boy breathing. Hitomi was shaking and crying, he took one of her hands.

"He's alive and very lucky," He reassured her. "We can get help in town, don't worry." He got to his feet and looked around the clearing and back up the hill. His men returned empty handed. The Zaibach guymelef had had a cloaking device and they had been unable to give chase on foot. The air had stilled once again with the black guymelef having made its disappearence into the forest.

~There was an argument with the pilot, second thoughts? ~ he wondered. Allen had never known a Zaibach soldier to have second thoughts about anything, much less killing a stranger. Yuen torso was exposed and bleeding with large, but shallow scrapes. Allen picked him up carefully. "We're not far…" Hitomi grasped Yuen's limp hand.

"Lord Schezar…" Morgenes observed the wounded young man and the strange woman. Allen shook his head as they pushed toward the city gates. Two guards greeted them with hands on their weapons.

"Out of the way, this boy needs help and have the knights gathered immediately," the guard gave a clumsy salute and ran off, leaving his partner behind. The other swallowed as he looked at *the* Allen Schezar.

To Allen's surprise the city was alight with activity. The city square was filled with people. Was it possible that someone had seen the guymelef they had clashed with briefly in the hills? There were palace knights with them and they seemed to be searching for something.

Allen looked to Gerard. He didn't like the look of things. Hitomi and Yuen would raise more questions that they couldn't afford right then. "Avoid the square, get to the barracks." Gerard whispered the orders to Morgenes and Reina.

They were close to reaching the small barracks where the knights slept when a woman in a white dress ran toward them. Her long blond hair fell in waves, she held her skirt in both hands. Her regal face held a deep frown and she planted herself before Allen.

"The gate and square are bustle with activity, someone claims they saw a guymelef outside the city… I heard across town… what has…." She stopped. The woman looked between Allen, the wounded boy and Hitomi. She blinked, "… … "

Hitomi couldn't bring herself to smile, "hello Millerna."

"Hitomi… I… " Her brow furrowed, and she looked at Allen.

"He's injured," Allen thanked whatever higher powers that existed that they had run into the noble woman. "We could use your help and I can fill you in on the way." Millerna nodded.

"Come with me," she waved them for them to follow. "My home isn't far…" She gave a glance back at Hitomi as they hurried along. Hitomi's entire attention was on the dark-haired boy in Allen's arms. She held his hand, rubbing it with worry.

Rain began to fall on the cobblestones of Palas as the group moved quietly through streets toward the Fassa household.