Eternal Courage

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Chapter 24: Honest Feelings

The morale was now at an all-time low. Only two representatives walked away as winners…or technically one. Anastasia had beaten Akihiko and was now pitted against Kieran…and her own friend Saku. Due to Lexi’s harsh action, Saku’s spirit is now broken and with no option left has joined the shadow league with only Anastasia retaining all the hopes of the students resting with her.

All of Saku’s friends were gathered in Aries room. Aries and Mia were sat up on the bed, they were now conscious but still badly hurt. Lexi was sat to a chair being cleaned up by Jessamine as she bandaged her arm and Mochi was also in the room sitting next to Aries. Sophie, Aureline and Anastasia had finished telling Aries and Mia all the details of the fight.

Mia looked worried while Aries looked shocked “so…Saku has joined the shadow league?” asked Aries sadly “no…”

“We…only just got him back as well” said Mochi sadly “What do we do now?”

“I…don’t know Mochi” said Sophie also at a loss “I…just don’t know. Saku didn’t feel a single attack Lexi dealt to him”

“Lexi…why did you do it?” asked Mia “What made you betray him?” Lexi didn’t answer

“I…just…don’t know. I guess…I was just scared of how quickly Saku had grown” Lexi looked for the first time very upset “and now…we’ve lost him” Lexi hung her head prompting Jessamine to rub her shoulders.

“come on we can’t give up” said Anastasia encouragingly “there’s got to be someway to help him” just as she said this a knock came from the door.

Everyone turned to the door expecting someone to enter but no-one did. Jessamine closest to the door approached it “hello? Anyone there?” Jessamine than cautiously opened the door “hello?” Jessamine looked at the hallway to see it empty “who’s there?” Jessamine then noticed something on the floor “What’s this? A note?”

“Jessamine what is it?” called Sophie beckoning Jessamine back inside the room “What have you got there?”

“well I don’t know who knocked on the door but…they left this”

Sophie took the note and unfolded it “there’s a message. Let’s see…the heart is the strongest and yet most the fragile part of a person. Once a person has succumbed to immense mental pain they close off their hearts, to prevent any more pain from being inflicted to them. A person with a closed heart, is a lost soul. Unable to feel emotion or pain they wander without purpose or reason” the mood of the girls began to fall as Sophie read it “but…they can still be saved”

Everyone listen intently as Sophie took a breath “the heart isn’t well and truly closed. It’s still dimly shining in the deep darkness of despair. Those one who share the strongest bond to this person can reach out to it, and bathe it in their light. Only he/she can give them the purpose they long for. Be honest with yourself…and the person may reach out to you” Sophie finished the note and checked the back “and that’s it” Mia then thought

“That note was definitely referring to Saku” said Mia “But who sent it?”

“not a clue” said Jessamine “the hallway was empty. The note said…those who share the strongest bond”

“It’s all we’ve got at this stage” said Mia “the person who shares the strongest bond?”

Aureline than turned to Anastasia “I think Anastasia…that’s you” Anastasia looked uncertain

“who me? No it can’t be” said Anastasia shaking her head

“I think Aureline may have a point” said Sophie “You were the only one that Saku really responded too”

“That and you’re the only candidate as well” said Mia “none of us…ahh…are able-bodied to fight at all”

“Mine and Sophie’s power are still negated. ” said Aureline sounding depressed “we couldn’t fight even if we wanted to”

“and as good as I look” said Jessamine “I’m in no shape to really fight in the next match. And neither is Lexi here” Jessamine said tapping on Lexi’s shoulder making her flinch “That and if anyone interferes with the fight I don’t imagine the shadow league sitting still”

Aries than spoke to Anastasia “Anastasia, do you remember what you told me before…about your hair colour. That wouldn’t happen if you didn’t honestly feel that way” everyone else wondered what she was talking about “and I’m sure if you reach out, Saku will respond” Anastasia placed her hands on her chest

“Saku…you saved me from my despair and darkness. Now it’s my turn”

“Ana we’ll be supporting you from the arena” said Mochi encouragingly

“Anastasia…we’re counting on you” said Aries “ me and Mia need to stay…here. I mean it’s hard enough just to sit up”

“we’ll put our faith in you” said Mia “now you had better get going. The match will be starting shortly”

“count me in too” said Jessamine “nowhere near am I letting princess have one-on-one time”

Sophie looked worried “are you sure Jessamine? Will you be alright?”

“If anything Kieran just hit me with flames. I might be sore but I am somewhat able. I can walk at least”

“Can you…take me too?” this came from Lexi which surprised everyone “I…want to come”

“Any reason why we should?” said Sophie bitterly “You’re the reason Saku is how he is” Lexi looked ashamed

“That’s the reason why…I want to help him” said Lexi sadly “I want…to say sorry to him…when Anastasia saves him.”

Aureline walked over to Lexi. Lexi looked up at Aureline “do you…honestly mean to help him? Answer me why?”

“it was…the look on his face…at that time” said Lexi referring to his emotionless face “Saku was crying his eyes out and yet…there wasn’t a trace of sadness in his face at all. And his words, all he wanted…was just somewhere to belong. I just want to help him…please.”

Aureline then grabbed Lexi’s arm, to which she cringed, and put it around her neck “then let us go” Aureline said. Lexi gave a small nod of appreciation as Aureline with the other began funnelling out

“Averyone” said Aries from her bed “we have faith in you all” After a moment only the two were left in the room “I hope they can do it”

“erm Aries a question please” asked Mia curiously “What did you mean when you spoke to Anastasia?”

“I’m sure you’re aware of her hair colour changes”

“That is to signify moods right?”

“well, have you seen Anastasia’s hair turn red before”

“Only briefly. When I asked Saku he said it happens whenever she’s feeling hot. Why does it have a real meaning” Aries leaned closer and whispered something making Mia blush “Oh…wow”

“yeah, Saku still hasn’t worked it out”

“Then I will place my faith in her”

A little later in arena one Anastasia and co had arrived with Kieran and the emotionless Saku waiting on the arena. The supreme himself was present but Izanagi was nowhere to be seen. The supreme looked with a smile “it looks like you really want to try against my two warriors?”

“Yes I do” said Anastasia confidently “I won’t let you have your way”

“Well at least you’re no coward” said Kieran “but I hope your fire-proof because this isn’t going to last long otherwise” Anastasia stepped on to the stage and made her cane appear.

“now then” said the supreme leader “let the final match begin”

Saku moved first straight towards her thrusting a punch forwards but Anastasia raised her cane blocking Saku’s punch with a thick vine. Anastasia deflected him off and waved her cane to the side to block an incoming fireball from Kieran. Anastasia thrust a vine in a wide sideways arc, Saku managed to jump over it while hitting Kieran sending him skidding him along the ground. Saku landed on the vine and ran along it. Anastasia quickly reacted and whipped the vine upwards sending Saku upwards. Saku however responded by charging a sphere of black and red. Anastasia just managed to block it with a vine but the shockwave of the blast knocked her backwards.

Anastasia managed to get up but saw Saku went back on the offensive. Anastasia continued to block Saku’s attacks with vines impeding his progress, Kieran meanwhile kept up the long-range attacks with balls and beams of fire which Anastasia again managed to defend against. Saku kept going trying to get around her and eventually blindsided her and thrust a kick at her. Anastasia simply responded by rising a tree a right in-front of Saku, coiling a branch around his leg.

Anastasia than made a second tree, this one coiling around Kieran and then carried both boys off the ground and then slammed them both on the ground. Kieran was hit heavily but Saku used his hands and feet to cushion the impact. Then smashing the branch coiled around his feet Saku charged straight back at Anastasia. Anastasia once again began to defend his attacks with surprising ease.

Lexi began to notice this “something is odd. I know Anastasia is a talented fighter but…it’s strange how she’s keeping up with him”

“yes that is strange” said Sophie now noticing it too “I mean, I know you’re fast Lexi but even you could barely defend against him”

“it means…Saku is inadvertently holding back” said Aureline “during the match with Lexi I couldn’t keep up with his movements”

“I wonder if just fighting her is helping him” said Jessamine “Anastasia…” Anastasia glanced at Jessamine “Time to begin” Anastasia nodded and turned back.

Anastasia deflected Saku backwards a few feet “Saku…I know you’re still in there somewhere” Saku simply ran back at her “we’re all still waiting for you” and once again Saku began trying to attack her. Anastasia continued trying to hold him off “Saku…come on I still believe in you. I know you don’t want this” then to her surprise Saku jumped upwards as a large beam of fire went under him. Anastasia was taken by surprise as the beam exploded as it hit her.

Anastasia began tumbling out of the thick cloud with smoke ebbing off her body. Kieran relaxed himself “will you stop blabbering? It’s not going to work”

“indeed” said the supreme leader “Saku, wrap this up now” Saku’s dark aura emerged before he then jumped high in the air above Anastasia. Anastasia rolled to her back as she then saw Saku then began diving towards her at great speed ready to thrust a punch

“Saku!” called Anastasia “listen to me…” Saku was almost upon her sending a punch “Your my precious friend” than a colossal smash echoed throughout the arena. Everyone, even the leader, shielded themselves from the smash. Anastasia’s friends looked worried while the supreme leader looked smug

“This match is over” then as the dust cleared he noticed something “huh?” Saku had indeed used his full strength…but his attack had bore in the ground next to Anastasia’s head.

Sophie was the first to react “Saku…missed her?” Saku extracted his fist from the ground and jumped back to Kieran “but…how?”

“I don’t know” said Aureline “maybe Anastasia reached him” Saku at this point began charging spheres of energy in his hand “Anastasia quick get up!” Anastasia quickly rose to her feet and saw Saku let loose a blitz of energy blasts. Anastasia quickly tried to shield herself with her vines which took the brunt of the attacks

“This is getting stale” he said groaning “You’re more made for defence than anything else. Allow me to fix that!” Kieran began concentrating his aura which came up a fiery orange. Kieran held out his hand to which a ball of flame, a dark blue, appeared. Kieran then pulled back his arm and punched the flame into the vines.

The blue fire ball hit the vines and then began quickly burning them to ashes. Anastasia found her vines began to simply fall apart around her with Kieran gesturing to Saku “all yours my comrade” Saku once again let loose a series of blasts at Anastasia. Anastasia this time could only cover herself as the blasts hit her covering her in smoke. No-one could see Anastasia through the layer of smoke just the series of blasts which kept entering the cloud followed by explosions signalling they had made contact.

Everyone watched anxiously, well the allies anyway, for signs Anastasia was safe. Then as the smoke began to clear a shape was present “Anastasia!” called Lexi “are you alright!?” then the smoke cleared showing Anastasia was still stood up…and unharmed. Everyone was quite confused, even the leader

“She’s not even damaged by those attacks?” even Anastasia looked confused as she checked herself over

“Hey Anastasia are you alright?” asked Jessamine

“Yeah I’m fine” said Anastasia a bit bewildered “That’s so weird. Every blow made contact…but not a single one hurt” Anastasia than realised something “wait…that means…that Aries was correct. When Saku shot me…during the training session”

“Correct about…wait” Sophie than realised it too “Anastasia, build on that”

“build on what?” asked Lexi to which Jessamine whispered it into Lexi’s ear. Lexi heard every word and looked satisfied “yeah that’s it. Go for it Anastasia”

Anastasia looked serious “Saku…I know you don’t want to do this. I know you don’t want to hurt people”

“Nonsense girl” said the supreme leader “Saku is merely returning the pain that he has being dealt over all the years. He’s making those people pay for what they did”

“Then you don’t know him as well as I do” retorted Anastasia “Saku doesn’t like causing pain or torment. That’s not who he is”

“This is getting old” said the leader “Saku end this now” Saku put his hands to his side with his aura raging all round him. Then a sphere of pulsing energy began forming “now Saku, unleash your fury upon this pathetic girl…so we can ascend to the realm above!” Saku then fired thrust his hands forward firing a beam of large size and scope. Anastasia however stood still adamant

“Saku I believe in you” with that Anastasia became engulfed in the beam coating her and all of Saku’s friends in the smoke of the explosion.

The supreme looked at the vast field of smoke “hmm…it’s done” the leader turned round wafting his cape “with this victory our place in this place is now placed”

“I don’t think so” the leader turned back to the smoke. As the smoke cleared the beam had been carved by the beam of Saku’s attack but there stood Anastasia completely unharmed once again with her friends also unharmed behind her. The leader now looked angry

“how is this possible!? That beam had enough power to destroy a mansion”

“maybe” said Anastasia “but Saku won’t use it to harm his friends”

Anastasia than smiled to Saku “Saku…I know you’re feeling hurt…but we’re all waiting for you…in the place you belong. So please come back”

“This is nonsense!” said the supreme leader now physically angry “Saku, shut her up now” Saku clenched his hand so it became covered by a red and black aura coat and ran forward at Anastasia.

“Saku…you don’t have to be alone anymore. We’re all here still waiting for you” Saku ran closer while Sophie shouted in encouragement

“come on Anastasia you can do it”

“go on princess” said Jessamine

“Bring big brother home” called Mochi while Anastasia saw Saku almost upon

“You are one of the most important people to us…and to me. I have treasured all the time we spent together” Anastasia’s brown hair glinted blonde “Saku…there’s something I want to tell you” Saku reached her and began thrusting a punch forward “I…” Anastasia closed her eyes “Really like you Saku!”

These words echoed throughout the whole room reaching the ears of everyone. The look of shock was on everyone’s face, even the leader’s, but not from the words…but from Saku. Saku’s had stopped his punch and was stood still. The leader was the first to respond “Saku…why are you hesitating?” he then pulled back his punch while his aura dissipated “hey what are you doing!?” Anastasia still had her eyes closed when

“Did you…mean that?” Anastasia out of surprise opened her eyes to see Saku looking back at her “did you…really mean that…what you just said?” Anastasia saw his eyes were no longer empty, but now full of surprise and desperation…like his voice.

Anastasia than took his hand and smiled “of course I…meant it” Anastasia’s hair turned blonde once more “You’re…one of my closest friends” the leader began to worry

“Why isn’t Saku attacking her? Is the girl immune to him?” the leader than turned to Kieran who had been standing still with folded arms “Kieran, target the girl and wipe her out” Kieran however didn’t move “Kieran that’s an order!”

“the purpose of the shadow league” said Kieran not moving “is to find a place where those abandoned by society can live. I am doing just what the league was formed to do”

“What are you talking about!?” said the leader quite annoyed “do as I order now!”

“I must fulfil the mission that we are built upon” said Kieran adamantly “otherwise there is no point in our organization. So…I’m merely helping Saku find his place”

Saku was still listening to Anastasia as she held his hand “Saku…you can come back now”

“I…can? But…I can’t” Saku was gripping his arm where his black band was “This is…the only place I have left to go. I…don’t want to go home”

“Saku…” he turned to Lexi who tried standing up on her own “listen and listen good. This is the first and only time I’ll say this” Lexi than gave a small bow “I’m so sorry for what I did to you” Saku’s face widened as Lexi than fell to her knees.

“she said…I’m sorry?” said Saku in sheer disbelief

Jessamine helped her back up while Saku just reeled “Saku…” said Anastasia directing his attention “there’s always a place for you here. I…care about you. You mean a lot to me because” Anastasia’s hair then began to show a shade of red “I…that is I…” but Anastasia was cut off by a beam of fire…bringing the flow of time to a crawl.

Saku could only watch as Anastasia got sent away by the beam of fire. Anastasia’s grip slowly left Saku’s hand. Saku remained frozen in place as Anastasia slowly fell sideways eventually landing on the floor outside the arena. Saku froze daring to move while from the other end Kieran, with a hand stretched out, pulled it back “I think that’s enough of a soap opera for one day” Saku then slowly turned to Anastasia…not blinking or turning away

Anastasia was on her side completely still with smoke ebbing off her. Lexi quickly went to her knees kneeling in-front of her. Lexi began shaking her “Anastasia…Anastasia can you hear me?” Lexi than leaned in close to her pausing a little “I can’t hear her breathing” Saku felt a unshakeable cold begin to tense round his body. Saku couldn’t stop shaking as Sophie went to Anastasia

“Anastasia…Anastasia come on wake-up” Lexi leaned in close to Sophie putting an arm around her “no…it can’t be” Saku felt something begin swirling around inside him…it felt warm but fierce as he watched Mochi begin to cry in Aureline and Jessamine even looking away.

The supreme the leader than began to laugh “What a display indeed. She should’ve known to interfere and stand against us. It took you long enough Kieran”

“I know, I know jeez” the supreme leader than held out his hands

“with this, the match is over. The Anastasia girl , as foolish as she was, has lost and being the only representative means the shadow league is triumphant” the students and teachers all began to show fear in their faces “Now…we will ascend as the rightful rulers of this world. To think…that those stupid and worthless girls had any hope of stopping us. But the one I liked best, was that annoying posh girl”

“tell me about it” said Kieran “it was straight from a soap opera, a girl professing her feelings. What utter tripe”

“Now, due to us winning this fight. Your powers belong to us no…” the supreme leader was suddenly broken off by a strong gust of wind.

The supreme leader turned to Saku to see the wind coming from him despite their being no aura or power coming up from him. The supreme leader than watched as Saku took a fierce grip of the black sash before ripping it off his arm “Saku…what are you doing?” asked the supreme leader

“I don’t a want part of your group anymore” said Saku not turning round “On and on about equality and freedom. You claim to be making a safe and equal world…all you’re doing is making yourself ruler of this world. Because you can’t stand being looked down upon” Saku than turned round but not looking up “I used to think that your cause was the right one but…there’s one thing I learned. You’re no saviour…you’re a tyrant”

Saku’s aura than began to emerge but back to red and white “since you felt pain, you think it’s only fair to deal it to everyone else. I don’t want a part of it!”

“Saku what foolishness is this” said the leader “Saku look you need to think. That girl tainted you and pushed you away from your true calling

“That girl…is one of the people most dear to me. She…gave me a place where I felt I could live happily. Anastasia…gave it everything she had to help…and you have the gall to mock her” said Saku as the warm feeling began to overwhelm him

“Saku…you’re far above all these…low people especially that girl” said the supreme leader

“Shut up!” yelled Saku making the leader flinch “I’m going to make this simple. Lexi and Mochi are my friends…Aureline, Jessamine and Sophie are my friends. And Anastasia…she’s…she’s more important to me than you know”

Saku than clenched his hands to which his aura, now red and white, emerged all around kicking up the dust around his feet. The leader spoke “You truly believe these…people are your friends and family? What of this girl Anastasia?”

“Someone you took away from me” Saku than looked up “someone who you dared to mock” the supreme was actually flinching from Saku’s fierce gaze “and something you’ll pay for” Saku’s eyes were filled with rage and fury while tears would emerge only to get blown away by his power

“just…what does this girl mean to you?” asked the leader to which Saku’s aura suddenly began raging fiercely all around him.

Everyone began to cover themselves from the aura which was lifting up debris all around Saku. Saku than spoke “This match is still on! I’m no longer apart of the shadow league so this match is not done. ” Kieran looked on with a tone of nervousness and oddly satisfaction

“so…the real fight starts now” Kieran prepared himself “I’ve been waiting for this but I think this could be my last fight though”

“Answer me boy!” demanded the Supreme leader “what did she mean to you?”

“Anastasia Michaels” said Saku “is the dearest person in my life. She tried to best to help me…and you hurt her…the girl that I loved” these words reached the girls from behind him “That’s right…I loved her” his aura began to change as he crossed his arms “and you’re going to pay for hurting her…” his white colour began to take a blue shade and the aura began to smooth out.

Saku than uncrossed his arms and called out in anger “Kieran!” As Saku shouted his aura changed…to something very different. His aura was in a smooth and slightly spiky dome like shape, it was red at the centre but the outside was a light blue in colour. Saku prepared himself for combat while Kieran did the same. The supreme leader however looked afraid as his eyes remained wide and open “This…can’t be real” the leader was seeing Saku but a grown man resembling him stood behind Saku. Lexi however smirked a little as she looked at Saku

“I didn’t think…that would work so well”

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