We claimed a seat. Leinard got straight to the point.

"War, what happened to you the night Gat Shiem was burning down?" he calmly asked.

War's eyes were staring at blank space before he lowered them to the floor with a heavy sigh and recounted the facts of the night he was kidnapped.

"Shuso was decapitated." His voice quivered.

My own heart skipped beats as I heard War retell of how he and Shuso were lured to the danger because of the unnatural, and troublesome, sounds they had heard from the observation deck of the Library Tower's observatory.

They had stepped into the lower reading area of the ground level, to find themselves surrounded by faceless warriors clad (head to toe) in black body suits with red sashes tied around their waists.

"We were surrounded by dem Neska Gudari. Although meh certainty is only from books, I've read on their clan history through and through." War's voice remained sombre as he continued.

The Neska Gudari had covered every nook and cranny of the tower to ensure no one was capable of escape.

War and Shuso were hauled to the ground at the floor's central opening and kept down by a pair of razor-sharp koto swords poised to slice through the back of their necks at any given order. They were forced to look upon an approaching man in a black bodysuit and a wearing a white marionette mask to hide his identity.

The marionette-mask-man had teased War with a riddle to decide whether they ended their lives or let them be to fight another day.

"I was sure we'd be goners anyway. So, I told dat man to shove his riddles up his arse," War said, adding on how his answer had made Shuso laugh heartily.

"Yah cannot fight the Vapour Trail once it cuts through the sky to bring down the rain." War rephrased Shuso's last words spoken before his life was ended by a koto sword.

War had lashed out on to the Neska Gudari at his back with the attitude that if he was going to see his end, he would do it fighting, and take out as many of those bastards as possible.

The Neska Gudari had underestimated his combative abilities, so faced a loss of their numbers during their battles with him. Eventually, War had exhausted his strength and found himself cornered by the marionette-mask-man.

"The Sacred Word is extinct. Your destiny is mine boy," the marionette-mask-man's voice had hissed before War was knocked to unconsciousness.

"When I came to, I saw Famisto bawlin' like a brat." War ended his recount.

"So, Melchizedek is no more huh?" Trix's voice had cut through to us from the other side of the room. He was sober.

The rest of the Wisteria Garden Squad loitered around the entrance with him. They filed into the room to fill up a free seat.

"Guess we can start the meeting now," Wilfred declared.

Leinard summarised War's recount for the others. It was Trix's words that stirred a reaction from them.

"The Second Sealed Event is broken," he spoke his thought.

A disturbed quiet hung about the room's atmosphere.

"Ugh! I need a drink," Jensen groaned loudly.

He left the room before anyone could stop him.

"Yeah, I'll join you." Trix sighed as he retraced his way back to the main sitting area.

"Sheesh, so much for the meeting," Lita grumbled and noticed Ryoko's heated frown.

"Tell me about this Neska Gudari you faced War," Ryoko demanded.

I nervously gulped at the expression of rage contorting her features upon hearing the details being retold to her from War's own mouth.

"Ryoko - it doesn't mean it's them." Lita tried to calm down her girlfriend. "It could've been impostors."

"No, their style can't be faked. The description of War's fight with them left me convinced." Ryoko stood and made her way to the door.

"I'm not gonna do something stupid if that's what you're thinking Colonel, but I'm gonna get zozzled." She threw over her shoulder before she had left.

Lita explained that Ryoko came from a Neska Gudari Head in Gonade. Her mother was once the house leader. So Ryoko had learned the ways of the Wu King and koto swordsmanship. When her mother had disappeared during the honouring of a writ, Ryoko lost her place in the clan and was expelled instead of expended since she hadn't received her first writ. She was put into foster care with her uncle who was a renowned swordsmith across Armia and eventuated into Apocalypse when her uncle's family accepted the Illuminate Group's invitation.

"Her anger is for the injustice to her mother's family. What has been done to Gat Shiem is a grave dishonour to not only Ryoko's former family, but the entire Neska Gudari name."

War let out a frustrated cry and declared he was going out to get ossified before he kills something. I heard him place a demand on Saku to pour him a mug of ale as the loser of their earlier challenge when he entered the main sitting area.

"Hey, Famine. Could War have got it wrong?" Lita asked.

"War has an image bound memory. Once he reads or sees something, he'll remember it clearly as if it was the first time he laid eyes on it. It's a reason why he wins a lot in strategy-based games. Aside from Shuso, I've never seen him lose a game of chess," I commented.

"Seriously," Lita said, and cringed when she heard her girlfriend's rowdy voice among the men's drunken merriment. "Guess I better get out there."

"Me too," Wilfred said. He had been quietly watching everyone with a troubled expression and heavy frown. He left the room without looking back.

I was alone with Leinard.

"Why do I feel a can of worms has been opened and it's spilling out of control?" I frowned, feeling the weight of both my anger and fear.

"What do you think your brother will do from here?" Leinard asked me.

I met his eyes that were quiet and unreadable.

"Revenge and won't stop until all those who took the lives of our family and destroyed our home have been punished," I said with clear conviction.

"What about you?"

"I want justice. I burn for revenge, but first I must get all my brothers back." I spat out with determination. "I won't be ruled by prophecy either."

The unreadable expression of Leinard's eyes changed to one of acknowledgement.

Our conversation was disturbed by sounds of glass being repeatedly scratched.I glanced around the room and saw a familiar face—who was not in the same room as me and Leinard—reflected in one of the mirrors.

"Death?" I felt shivers run through me. It was his face in the mirror.

He was mouthing my name. His hands were pressing and banging the glass on his side. I had never seen his eyes look as terrified and frantic.

"Death!" I approached the mirror and fumbled around the glass panel, the candle holders next to it, and its gilded frame for a way to break him free.

The apparition was short-lived. The mirror resumed its usual reflection of the room on our side.

"NO!" I banged hard on the mirror surface until my hands bled from broken shards stuck to my skin.

The impact caused a burning candle from a holder to drop onto the glass.

I kept punching the mirror, ignoring any pain and infliction, and smearing my blood and wax all over its surface.

"Death!" I bellowed with a longing to reach him inflamed in my heart.

Static energy numbed my skin. Sweat seeped out of my pores and filled up the mirror's black spots where the glass shards had fallen out until the mirror's surface had transformed into a pool of suspended water reflecting my distressed face.

'No, wait! Famine don't!" Leinard cried out to stop me from doing more damage. He grabbed my arm.

We were pulled into the black depths of the mirror.

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