Eternal Courage

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Chapter 12: The Dark Flame

It was the end of the second match. Mia partnered with Saku had triumphed over the sneaky Amethyst. It was a memorable match…well for most. Saku was having difficulty remembering the last part of the fight where he deflected the purple eclipse. Mia was walking with him explaining the events but Saku was clueless “so…I got mad and dispersed the tornado. Then I…reflected the eclipse backwards?”

“yes that’s right” Mia said bewildered “don’t you remember?”

“Well…no not really. I might have just caught up in the moment” Mia had a tinge of worry but dismissed it

“Yeah you’re probably right” she then stopped “I have…thank you for your kind words in the match” her face was pink “I was…really happy” Saku was embarrassed

“Oh…right erm…sorry for getting sappy there but…I did mean them” he was broke off as Mia gently hugged him. Saku was nervous but then Mia stepped back giving a genuine smile

“I didn’t think you were sappy. I thought you were quite chivalrous”

Saku relaxed a bit as he spoke “Well that’s the end of that” the two continued to walk back to their seats “the next match is Anastasia versus Kieran” said Saku

“What about Anastasia’s power? Will she be able to control it?” asked Mia

“I…don’t know. That and the oddity is Kieran is a fire user, so plants versus fire? Not a good combination” as they walked up a flight of stairs to the top

“will she be alright?” as they reached the top they were being overheard

“Yeah of course she will be fine. I mean I believe in Anastasia” as he reached the top of stairs

“Excuse me young man” he heard a female voice “may we converse with you?”

Saku saw a mature man and woman in very posh clothing stood before him. They exuded grace and almost nobility as they stood there. The man had tidy black hair with a moustache. He wore a black tuxedo with a rose pinned to his chest. The woman carrying much grace, wore a lovely long blue and grey dress.

The dress had long sleeves and hung down to her knees which fanned outwards like a tent with white frills all around the bottom edges. Her hair was a light blonde which hung downwards in two neat spirals resting on her endowed bustline.

Saku looked at them as the lady spoke “excuse us for being rude but we overheard you and your lady friend conversing about our daughter Anastasia?” Saku then had a thought

“then you must be, Mister and Miss Michaels. Anastasia’s mother and father?” asked Saku to which they both nodded

“It’s a pleasure to meet you both sir and madam” said Mia as they both nodded

“a pleasure to meet you too young man and lady” said mister Michaels “call me Harvey and this is my wife Clara” Clara curtsied

“It’s lovely to meet you two” Clara asked with Saku feeling a bit nervous “so may I inquire your names?”

“I’m Saku ma’am” said Saku politely “and this is Mia my friend” Mia bowed

“So Saku and Mia?” said Harvey “how do you know our daughter?”

“well she’s our friend sir” said Saku.

The two seemed surprised at this comment “You’re Anastasia’s friends?” asked Clara “wait…a young with brown hair” Clara then seemed to recognise Saku “then…you’re the Stritos boy that Anastasia spoke off?” Saku looked surprised and nodded as Clara ran to Saku, making her chest bounce, much to Saku’s embarrassment before grabbing Saku’s hands “You’re the one she spoke of in her letters?”

“She…spoke about me?” said Saku a bit bewildered

“Yes she did” said Harvey “Our daughter spoke of a Stritos boy that she believes could be the one”

“The…one?” said Mia bewildered by her words as Clara stepped back.

“Well…I guess…that’s a good thing” said Saku making both Harvey and Clara smile.

Saku then had a thought “So since you’re her parents does that mean you have command over the power of Earth as well?”

“Only in the female side” said Clara “It’s us ladies that are the strong ones in this family” Clara puffed out her chest proudly

“then can you answer a question” asked Saku “are you aware of…erm…Anastasia’s difficulty in battle” this brought worry to their faces

“So…she still hasn’t recovered yet” said Harvey sadly. Saku wondered what he meant but didn’t pursue the topic

“No sir but she is trying her hardest to overcome it” this brought a smile back to their faces “but…whenever that black tulip turns up…” for a brief moment they gasped “What…what is it?”

“nothing my boy…it’s nothing” said Harvey not looking directly at Saku “well it’s been nice meeting you we’re going to sit down”

Saku watched as Harvey guided Clara along “from the sounds of it” said Mia “Anastasia has had problems before”

“yeah” said Saku “she did mention she lost control before she came here and when I talked about the black tulip…their faces dropped. So that black tulip is definitely the cause of her fear. Speaking of Anastasia I’d better go and see how she is”

“alright. You go on ahead” Saku nodded and ran down the hallway ahead of Mia “Saku, the look on their faces was of years of pain. I wonder if you can help it”

Saku had arrived at the doorway leading to the stands to which Kieran came walking down “Saku…hi there” said Kieran giving a friendly wave “quite a display during that match. Well done”

“thanks…it’s a shame I can’t remember much” Kieran looked nervous “Your next match is against Anastasia”

“Yeah I know. I’m a…bit worried that her powers will go out of control again” Saku shared his worry “if only there was a way to settle her down”

Shadow thought about this and had an idea “Oh wait…I know” Kieran looked surprised “Kieran if I remember you have the power over fire” Kieran opened his palm making a small flame

“yes that’s right. I’m quite impressed you remembered. So what about it?”

“well, whenever you see a black tulip you need to burn it”

“A black tulip?” said Kieran confused

“Yeah whenever she sees this flower she goes…banana’s”

“A black tulip…most interesting. Well okay then If I see this flower I’ll make sure to burn it. Well I’ll see you later I have to prepare for the match so see you around” Shadow gave a wave as he went through the doorway.

As Kieran walked away Chloe was stood against the wall folding her arms “one point to you Kieran” she looked impressed as she fiddled with her colour changing hair “Who knew the screw up would benefit us”

“tell me about it” said Kieran with a sly smile “I feel…sort of bad though. I mean Saku lately has definitely been earning some respect points”

“You do respect those with power” said Chloe

“I do” said Kieran acknowledging her “Anyway how did the acquisition go?”

“It went off without a hitch. No-one suspected a thing but…we need a few more”

“well…thanks to my…friend Saku. We could have a good one”

Saku had arrived at his seat where Sophie greeted him “hey there Saku welcome back” Saku then noticed Anastasia wasn’t present “Oh she just went to get ready” Saku sat in his seat “I’m worried though”

“why’s that?” asked Saku

“Well…she looked really nervous. And not the stage-fright kind of fear either” said Sophie. Saku knew what she meant as the head-master called out

“the next match will begin in ten minutes. Can the next participants please report to bottom floor” Saku stood up

“I’m going to go check on Anastasia. I’ll be back in a bit” with a wave Sophie said goodbye.

At the entrance to the stadium floor Anastasia was a bundle of nerves “What do I do? I can’t…what should I…”

“Anastasia” she jumped as she turned to Saku “sorry I didn’t mean to scare you” he said holding out his hands

“no it’s okay” said Anastasia “I’m just…worried about the match”

“I’ve got to ask her about the black tulip. But…I’ve got to try and fish it”

Anastasia…do you have any…phobia’s?” she tilted her head “like a fear of something?”

“no why do you ask?” Saku groaned

Time to be direct, What do you know of the black-” he was broken off

“The time of the match is due” called the Headmaster’s voice

“Oh it looks like I’m up” said Anastasia “I’ll…talk to you later okay” she gave a nervous smile before walking to the grounds.

“Okay good luck” called Saku before he sighed “dam, I was just about to ask. Oh well…I don’t think I would’ve got an answer. From her parents reaction that black tulip carries a lot of pain. Well as long as Kieran burns the black tulip when it appears she’ll be fine” Saku then turned round and headed back to his seat.

Saku approached his seat to see both Mia and Sophia sat down “hey there girls”

“hey there Saku” said Mia as Saku sat down “how is she?” Saku groaned “I’ll take that as not good”

“I tried asking her if she has any phobia’s. You know if she had a fear of tulips or black but…she replied she didn’t have any”

“So…the plant may not be the direct cause” said Sophie thinking about it “What if…she has a bad memory connected to it” Saku just sighed

“yeah maybe. Well I spoke to Kieran and he said he’ll burn that flower when it comes up but…still”

As Saku worried the Head-Master spoke “well ladies and gentlemen the third match will be underway. The challengers are Anastasia and Kieran” Kieran strode out from the left while Anastasia nervously walked out from the right. As the crowd cheered

“Big brother” Saku turned to see Mochi running towards him

“Oh hey there Mochi” said Saku surprised

“hello Mochi” said Sophie “I thought you were sitting with Aries” Mochi then walked to Saku

“I wanted to watch this match with you” Saku then tapped on his legs

“then come and sit here” said Saku “we’ll watch together” Mochi smiled and sat on his lap as the headmaster called out

“Now the third match will be underway” Kieran flexed his hands producing balls of fire while Anastasia held out her hand producing her cane “now…begin”

Kieran took the first shot and launched a ball of flame, Anastasia lifted her cane upwards producing a thick tree. The tree had blocked the shot but was set alight before turning to ash. Mia looked troubled “for Anastasia this not going to be an easy fight. The nature of her earth means that fire is her natural enemy”

“Yeah I know” said Saku making Mochi look up “but at the same time, Kieran looks like he’s a long-range user”

“So if Ana keeps close” said Mochi “then Kieran can’t do much” Sophia nodded

“That’s right Mochi”

“But…it’s strange” said Mochi looking at Kieran “I think…I’ve seen him before”

“That was from when he helped us remember” said Mia but Mochi shook her head

“no…not from then” said Mochi trying to think “sometime…before”

Anastasia was summoning trees to attack Kieran who responded by burning them with fierce flames. Kieran grinned “Right now I’m in the driver’s seat. My fire has the advantage over her meddlesome plants…well might as well go for it” Kieran thrust his hand out forging a large ball of flame. Kieran thrust up his hands launching the ball of fire over Anastasia. Anastasia swung out her hand to form a dome of trees over her but Kieran sniggered “trying to shield yourself with your tree-house…it’s not going to work” Kieran then swung his arms down to which many small fireballs splintered off, raining down on the dome of trees.

The fireballs began singeing away the trees slowly weakening the dome of green. Anastasia felt the shower of ashes rain down upon her and looked up to the ceiling and saw a hole appearing which Kieran noticed too “there we go” Kieran pressed his hands together compressing the, hovering, ball of flame to a smaller size, he then put his arms down and put the condensed flame within the hole, inside the dome. Saku watched “This is…going to hurt” Anastasia noticed the flame above her and grimaced as Kieran grinned

“Time for a little fireworks” Kieran spread out his hands to which a fierce explosion erupted from within the flames.

From outside the dome all they could see was the dome caught on fire. Mochi looked worried as the tree-dome burnt to ashes “is Ana okay?”

“yeah she’s fine” said Sophie encouragingly “she’ll be hurt but she won’t receive any burns or anything” Mochi then felt her head “What’s wrong?”

“I…don’t know” said Mochi “I feel…something weird when I look at the fireboy” Saku looked at Mochi then back to the fight. The tree-dome was gone with Anastasia on the floor. Her first warning already flashed making Kieran groan

“well…that was pathetically easy. If that’s all it took for the fifty margin this’ll be a piece of cake” Anastasia then began to get up. Still…it can’t be over too quickly…otherwise it won’t work.

Anastasia groaned as she got up and stood on her feet “That hurt. Of all the people I got put up against it was him” she then heard cheers from Saku’s direction. She saw Mia, Saku, Mochi and Sophie cheering her on

“Don’t give in!” they all called making her smile

“it looks like you got a little fan club” said Kieran “they certainly believe in your powers. So how about you show them?” Anastasia looked serious

“yes I do too” Anastasia relaxed her body and tapped her cane in her hand. Then she began making movements and swings. Trees began sprouting up from the ground towards Kieran. Kieran tried to respond by throwing flames but he failed to notice a thick tree root swipe at him knocking him clean of his feet.

Kieran was flown through the air and hit a tree which blocked his path. As Kieran opened his eyes he saw a vine come straight towards him so taking a deep breath he blew ferocious flames which burnt the tree roots into ashes. Kieran got down the ground breathing a sigh of relief “wow that was close” but he heard the rustling of a tree “I don’t like the sound of that” as he turned round a thick branch swiped at him once again knocking him clean of his feet smashing him into the wall of the arena.

Kieran came out of the wall and landed on his hands and knees. Kieran shrugged off the hit as his first warning “Ahh…why am I not surprised. I did just take on a full hit from a tree” Kieran examined the trees, the one’s he hadn’t burnt “still no sign of that flower. I’ve got to draw this out a bit longer” Kieran flexed out his hands “now to continue” Kieran began running full speed towards Anastasia. Anastasia with vertical and horizontals moments would sprout trees and thick branches to try and stop Kieran. Kieran with some difficulty evaded the plants but got glancing blows until he was forced to stop.

Kieran breathed heavily taking a moments rest “still no sign of that flower. I guess I’ve got to increase the stress” Kieran held up his arm and began concentrating. Kieran’s body glowed bright orange as an dark orange ball of energy formed at his hand. It was a little smaller than a football but a ring of flames rotated round the sphere in rapidly motion. Kieran then looked ready “alright time for this…” Anastasia looked prepared

“bring it Kieran”

“As you wish” Kieran threw the sphere to which Anastasia was defending herself but to her surprise the ball was slow.

The ball of fire fell lazily through the air much to her confusion but as it soon as it touched the ground it rapidly began going in circles around Anastasia. Anastasia and everyone else could only watch in curiosity as the fireball carved a ring of light around her but suddenly a fierce cyclone of flames erupted all around her. Anastasia found herself engulfed in fierce flames and lifted her off the ground. Everyone could only watch as the fire tornado dissipated and Anastasia landed with a mild thud.

Anastasia got up once against wincing “I wasn’t expecting that” she stood up “Avoid the lazy attacks” he held out her hand “Time to continue” as she spread out her hands she produced more trees but as she did Sophie noticed something

“Saku…the flower…look” on one of the newer trees the black tulip appeared “This isn’t good” Saku saw Kieran’s line of sight

“Kieran has seen the flower too?” said Saku “no worries though Kieran will burn it”

Kieran however merely stood still with an evil like grin. Sophia noticed Kieran wasn’t moving “how come he isn’t doing anything?” as Mochi felt uneasy Kieran called out to Anastasia

“Oh Anastasia” said Kieran “look behind you” and as she did her gaze transfixed on the black tulip. As soon as Anastasia saw it her hair turned bright silver “there we go” Anastasia then clutched her body

“no…no…not again…no” the trees and flowers, except the tulip, wilted away. Suddenly thick green vines began rapidly sprouting out of the ground wildly lashing all around her. Kieran looked very impressed

“Oh yes. She’ll make a fine addition” although his grin was cut short as vines began lashing out at him “Oh boy, I’d better cook it up” he spewed out fierce flames but they didn’t have much effect on the vines “uh oh” forcing him to dodge.

Back at the stadium seats, the audience was starting to get nervous while Sophia looked annoyed “Saku I thought you said Kieran was going to burn that rose. All he did was point it out”

“it doesn’t make much sense” said Saku “It’s as if…he did that on purpose. I…don’t get it” Mochi then held her head “Mochi…what’s wrong?” Mia and Sophia turned to Mochi

“Kieran…he…was there…in that place” she then gasped and let go “Big Brother” her face was that of fear “Kieran is a bad man…a very bad man”

“What do you mean?” asked Mia

“he was the one who trapped me in that base” the look of fear lit up on Saku’s face as he thought

“he was…the one who led those people” said Saku “Why else would he be there? And how would he know the way out” Saku was about to run

“Saku you can’t help her” said Sophie “there’s barriers that stop non-participants” Saku was frustrated “if only we knew about that black flower”

“Your right we don’t” Saku then gasped and scanned the audience until he saw a worried Clara and Harvey “but I know someone who does”

As fast as he could Saku ran at full speed through the corridor. Saku didn’t stop until he reached the other side of the stadium. Out of breath and panting he saw Clara and Harvey worried “Clara…Harvey” they both turned to him “listen…I need to talk to you”

“Saku…our daughter…is….” Said Clara scared

“I know. That’s why, you have to tell me about the black tulip” they both gasped “whenever she sees that flowers she’s get scared and loses control. Please tell me about that flower?” Clara and Harvey looked between each other “Please?”

“I’m sorry…we can’t” said Harvey “That is private”

“Private?” said Saku confused “What do you mean?” Clara then spoke

“It is a family secret young man. It happens only in our family” Saku then looked at Anastasia in the stands.

Anastasia was shaking terribly and being covered in vines. Saku turned back round “Clara and Harvey I respect that this may be a private matter but she really needs help right now. I know that the black tulip is responsible so please”

“I’m sorry young man” said Harvey taking a tone of anger “we can’t do that”

“but…if you don’t help me. She’ll be crushed by her own plants”

“Private is private” said Harvey now angry

“So Privacy is the reason you won’t help her? Look at her” he gestured to her “she is terrified beyond belief. I want to help but you’re all I can turn too so please” Clara looked at Anastasia and then Saku

“Harvey…maybe we should…”

“No Clara!”

Harvey stood up and confronted Saku “now look, I don’t care who you are but that info is of much importance”

“more important than your own daughter?” retorted Saku. Harvey looked like he had been hit “so that means, the rose doesn’t concern her…it concerns you” Harvey flinched for a second time “so is the rose a commercial item, a source of power or what?” Harvey quickly recovered

“What do you get off talking to me!? Do you have any idea who we are!?”

“Harvey!” said Clara angrily

“I could care less if you were a king!” said Saku “she’s my friend sir!” Saku tone dropped “She helped me…when no-one else would. She was…one of my first friends and…I owe so much. And yet when she’s at her weakest…I can’t do anything to help her” Harvey just watched him before Saku looked angry “fine if you won’t help me, I’ll do it myself” and with that Saku bolted away. Clara turned to Harvey with a smile

“Harvey…he really is the one” Harvey gave a small nod “but you didn’t have to push him” and then a smirk

“yeah I know but…” said Harvey as Saku ran through the hallway “if anything he’s the one…who can help her fear”

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