"To cause havoc and mischief?"
the mephit offered.
"Who sent you?" Dais asked, causing the mephit to swing slightly.
Again the gray skin turned greenish. "Ohhhh...." it moaned. Dais
stopped swinging it. "She called herself the Empress of the
Netherrealm... but I don't think she could have ruled anything without
that blue rock o' hers."
"Blue rock?" Mia asked.
Fetrilmyn waggled his ears at her. "What's this.. tag-team
questioning?" he squinted up at Cale. "You got something to ask,
"Just answer the question." Cale warned, ever so slightly pushing the
mephit to swing.
"Alright alright I'll answer!!!" the mephit waited until Dais stopping
his swinging. "Yes. Blue stone. Glowing and Uuuuuhg-ly!"
"Blue.." Artemis mused to herself. "What was it shaped like?"
Cale countered her question. "Why do we care? I want to know what
this thing is doing here!"
Artemis didn't dignify him with an answer right away. She turned to
look at Mia. Mia's eyes were thoughtful, glancing up the stairs.
"Is it what I think it is?" Artemis asked; Mia looked at her blankly.
"I know you know what I'm talking about, so don't give me that look."
Artemis then turned to Cye. "Find out where it's buddy went, and where
it came from." She looked around. "Where's Ryo and Sage?" Glancing
out the window, she saw that Sage's bicycle was gone... he had gone off
to work. "Nevermind... Mia," she took Mia's arm. "You and I have some
things to talk about."
Leading her out of the living room, she ushered Mia into the den, out
of earshot of the men and the imp in the other room.
"Now, Mia, I know why you keep the Jewel of Life so close to you.."
Artemis began. Mia paled, but didn't speak. "And I believe I know how
much it... or should I say, HE means to you."
"But... how do you know...?" Mia asked, taking a defensive step
Artemis sighed. "He has asked me to help him." It occured to Artemis
that she would mention his name unless Mia did so first. "There are
things that the Jewel of Transcendance can do..."
"I know.. he's told me.." Mia looked at the floor, appearing on the
verge of tears.
"Now, Mia, do you know anything else about this Jewel? If this Empress
the mephit is talking about carries the Jewel, than we have to take it
from her.. for you and your.. friend." Artemis refrianed from saying
the word "lover" for both Mia's sake and her own.
Mia struggled with herself whether or not to confide in Artemis. She
sat heavily on one of the couches with a long sigh. Artemis sat beside
her, and put a consoling arm around her shoulders. When Mia looked up,
the Underrealmer's eyes were filled with compassion and caring. Mia
felt more comfortable.
"He said that when the other Jewel was joined with this one.. that it
would form a Cirle of Life.." she touched the chain from which hung the
Jewel of Life. "It is the counterpart in every way to this."
Artemis nodded. "Yin and Yang. Life and Death. I understand."
"He.. it can give him back his physical form.. bring him back to
life..." Mia struggled with the phrasing. "He doesn't know.. what it
looks like, just what it does.."
Artemis fell silent, her thoughts wandering. "Mia, you need to do
something for me.."
"What?" Mia met Artemis' gaze.
"Search through the Ronin files for any mention of this Jewel... we
need a description for it.. even a vague one."
Mia nodded, solemn in her actions and stood slowly. "I'll do that..
I'll do anything to help him.."
Artemis smiled as Mia headed toward the computer room. "Thank you
Mia.. from all of us."
Whiteblaze dropped low to the
ground, slinking in stealthy silence
through the shrubbery. Ryo followed him, his red and white body armor
silent and weightless on his body. As he followed Whiteblaze, voices
"Those imps should be doing their jobs by now.." one said, a female
with a tone of pure cynicism. "What else have I the ability to call
from the Abyss, Diamond?"
Another voice, Diamond, Ryo presumed, answered. "There is a great
variety of creatures within the Abyss that Talpa had banished there when
he drove the denzins of the Underrealm down. Creatures of nightmare and
fantasy.. everything from those mephits you just summoned Empress to the
great beholders and even more terrifying creatures."
"All with this little rock," the voice of the Empress breathed.
Ryo risked a look from the bushes, parting the leaves ever so gently
with his hands and peeking out. His eyes were greeted with the sight of
five forms clustered around a fire. The two speaking had their backs to
"Why don't ya call something fun? A pet for us? Please, Styx," a
younger voice begged.
The silver-blonde head of the Empress whipped towards the whiner. A
huge red-headed man dropped his gaze from hers and bit his lower lip in
"No, Phlegethon," Styx snapped. "There will be no frivolus use of
<Jewel?> Ryo's mind snapped open, and he drank in his surroundings,
marking the land and picking out a few landmarks. He retreated through
the brush, intent on returning to Mia's and informing everyone of the
location. As Whiteblaze preceded him, the tiger sniffed the air,
scenting for hostiles. Finding none, he broke into a run, with Ryo at
Before he managed to clear out of the forest, two figures appeared in
his path. The ice mephit and a towering man who brandished a wicked
double-edged sword. Ryo pulled up short; Whiteblaze's hackles raising
and a deep snarl rolling in the cat's throat.
"See.. see... I to'd you he wuz followin' me!" Garblufink jeered,
jumping up and down and pointing at Ryo.
"I see, I see.." the man laughed. "So this is the slayer of Draygoh?
This is Inferno? You don't look so tough to me."
"Are you just gonna stand there and jaw-jack or are you gonna _try_ and
take me?" Ryo taunted.
"Try? I will take you down Ronin!" the man lunged the sword extended
for a skewering blow. "Die!"
"Hardly!" Ryo jumped from the strike. Whiteblaze moved with him,
staying close to his side for sometime.
Archeron stumbled off-balance, but regained control of himself.
Turning to Ryo, the man spat on the ground, expressing his displeasure.
Gritting his teeth, he attacked again, giving Ryo no time to call his