"Wake up! It's time for training!"
"Aw, mom, do I HAVE to?!"
"If you want to run the Scorpion Army someday, yes you do."
Under the covers, fourteen-year-old Skye Scorpio sighed deeply. Her mother had just said the magic words. As the heiress to a centuries-old army of thieves, her dream was to someday be in charge of it. But that didn't mean she was gonna enjoy the road to it. Poking her blond head out from under the sheets, she glared at her mother. "All right, mom, but do I have to get up so early?"
Noelle Scorpio raised a slim brown brow. "Oh, yes, seven a.m. is terribly early," she said mockingly. Skye responded by sticking her tongue out. Noelle folded her arms and frowned. "Skye, we've been over this before. If you don't train, you won't be the best. And if you aren't the best, who'll run this army?"
"You and Dad," her daughter replied with a mischievous grin. "You'll just have to live forever."
"You are impossible!" Noelle exploded. Skye's smile widened.
"Yes, I am," she said impishly. "And I'll be even more so if you don't beat feet out of my room so I can get dressed and ready for today's training."
Barely restraining a scream, her mother stalked out of the room. Skye then got out of bed and dressed in a light green t-shirt and blue shorts. Then she stuffed some things in her backpack : her set of beginner's burglars tools, a candy bar, a water bottle, her sketchbook, and some pencils. Then she was on her way.
Arriving downstairs, she quickly downed her breakfast of cereal and fruit, then hurried outside for the training session. Her father didn't like it when she was late.
Evan Scorpio frowned as his daughter showed up, late again. "Skye, what do I have to do to make you be on time?"
"Wake me up at a decent hour, like, say, noon," was her answer. Her father scowled deeper. "No smart talk this morning, young lady. Now, you and the others have to learn to rob someone who will be making noise. Like this." He pointed to a dummy that had several little bells attached to its clothing. "Now, relieve it of it's valuables without making a sound."
Out of all the trainees, only a scant few were able to successfully complete the task, Skye among them. For a few more hours they continued training, then broke for lunch.
After getting her lunch, Skye hurried off into the woods to one of her favorite places. Settling down on a smooth rock, she began to eat her lunch. It was a small, lovely waterfall in a small pool of water. Her parents had met here when they were teenagers. Her father had been simply the Scorpion Army heir escaping from tedious training, as she was now, her mother a trainee . She was related to Sharlene Faris, Skye's ancestor's former friend, actually. Her name then was Noelle Faris.
After she finished eating, Skye pulled out her sketchbook and pencils and began to draw. She was a talented artist, and loved to sketch almost anything she saw. While her mother hated to travel, and her father loved it, she was happy anywhere she could draw. Her favorite was funny caricatures. If her father ever saw the drawing of him as a circus clown being chased by a tiger, she'd be in the deepest trouble possible.
She got so wrapped up in her drawing, she lost track of time and didn't show up for the rest of the training.
"Skye! There you are! Do you have any idea what time it is?!" Her father was advancing on her with an irritated look in his silvery eyes. Skye swallowed as she met their gaze.
"Um, lunchtime?" she guessed weakly. Evan looked ready to pull out his blond hair at the roots. It was from him that Skye got her coloring, her face from her mother, and her tall, slim build from both.
"No, it is NOT lunchtime," he replied. "It is way past. Care to explain why you skipped out?"
"I didn't skip out!" Skye snapped. "I just started drawing and lost track of time, that's all."
Evan started to say something, but Noelle stopped him. "Dear, let her be. She has not one, but two incredible talents. Both should be cultivated, neither crushed." Evan considered this, then nodded. "You're right. Come, Skye, let's complete that training. When you're done, you can come back here and draw. It won't take too long." Nodding silently, she packed up her gear and followed her parents. After all, the sooner she completed her training, the sooner her dream of being in charge of the army could come true.
And six years later it did. Well, sort of. Her parents were sending her out on her own with a hefty allowance and two hirelings, Terran Croft and Reggie Hunter. She was to learn independence, and try to hurt the Empire, which had been the Scorpio family's enemy for centuries, ever since the sorcerer Thanatos had stolen her ancestor's body. Every Scorpio family member since had been taught to hate the Empire, and Skye was no different.
Skye decided to go to the Water Palace first, and see the Mana seed. She had some ideas as to how to begin getting revenge, and the seeds figured into it.
Her first stop though, was the tiny village of Potos, where the Mana Sword reportedly lay sleeping in a bed of rock. If she could get her hands on the sword, she could use it on Thanatos.
"Well, how do you like that?" Skye scowled down at the empty rock. "Somebody beat us to it. Come on guys, let's go nose around and find out where it is."
They walked to the village of Potos, where they were stared at by the townspeople because of their strange clothes. Skye ignored them and sent Terran off to find out what he could about the stone. Several minutes later he returned.
"Hey, Boss, they said that a kid pulled it out and was kicked out a little while ago," he reported. Skye smacked him on the ear.
"You drip! No kid pulled a sword out of a stone! Even I can't do that! Whoever told you that was either crazy, drunk, or lying. C'mon, get Reggie and let's get out of here."
So they walked onward, towards Pandora. Eventually they wandered into a Goblin camp. The hungry goblins, seeing Reggie, grabbed him. "This looks even tastier than the one that got away," one goblin said, drooling on Reggie's Scorpion Army uniform.
"Help, Boss, help!" he yelled. Skye, seeing what was going on, advanced towards them.
"Hey!" she snapped. "Hands off my minion!" The goblins looked up and licked their lips. "Lookee, two of em. We feast tonight!"
"I don't think so, boys," Skye said as she danced nimbly around the sticks they jabbed at her. "We're not particularly yummy, and we're in a hurry. But since you won't be eating us, it's only fair to compensate." Small storm clouds appeared over their heads. "Why don't you guys have a drink...on me!" Acid Rain poured down on the hapless Goblins. As they screamed and tried to escape the corrosive showers, Skye and the Boys took the opportunity to get out of there.
"Hold it right there." A guard barred their way into Pandora. "You're going to have to explain why you're here."
"We're just passing through, honest," Skye replied. "We're on our way to Kippo, to visit friends. Goblins attacked us on our way here, and stole all our food. We're just tired, starving travelers, really," Skye lied, trying to look plaintive. Actually, it wasn't that much of a lie. She was hungry.
The guard considered this, then nodded. "Oh, all right, I'll let you in. Against my better judgment."
"Hey!" Skye snapped. "I kicked the living crap out of those goblins. Single-handedly," she said, with a meaningful look at her companions. "With no help from these two stooges. So I suggest if don't want the same thing done to you, you let us by without another word spoken. Is that clear?"
"Y-yes, very clear," the guard said nervously, stepping aside so they could enter.
As they walked through town, they noticed that the people were acting very odd. They almost looked like zombies, except they weren't rotting. Finally, Skye found a restaurant and they went in.
"What will you have?" the waiter asked. "Oh, whatever the special is," Skye replied. "I'm too hungry to care what I eat, as long as it's good. That'll be for all three of us. And make it quick, we're starving here." The waiter nodded and hurried off.
A half-hour later, a cook returned with steaming bowls of some kind of stew. Smiling in anticipation, Skye picked up her spoon and began to eat. Then she spewed it across the table and began to gag.
"What in Mana is that?!" she gasped as she tried to wash away the taste with her glass of water.
"That, my lady, is Rabite soup," the cook answered, a bit stiffly.
"Rabite soup?! It tastes more like Rabite poop! If you think I'm paying for this bowl of monster droppings, you're out of your minuscule mind! What kind of a cockamamie cook are you?"
The man began to snivel. "That's just it, I'm not a cook!" he wailed. "I'm just a waiter! All the cooks turned to zombies, and the manager put me in charge of cooking, and I'm not good at it, and I can't take it! Waah!" Sobbing loudly, he ran off.
Skye just stared after him for a moment. Finally she said, "Now that was even more disgusting than the food." She turned to her henchmen. "Come, let's go and see if we can get some decent fare in Kippo."
They found a small cafe in Kippo Village, and promptly ate there. Then they continued to wander around in search of information about the Mana Sword.
"This is ridiculous," Skye said to herself as they walked back into Pandora. Growing up with few friends, or what was close to a friend, she'd started a habit of talking to herself some years back. "I want that sword. I want something I can use against that demon. I just want to have fun, instead of just wandering around this dull little corner of the world like an idiot!"
"Boss?" Reggie asked. "Who're you talking to?"
"Myself," she hissed. "Now shut up!" Skye was getting more and more impatient by the second. She stopped and looked around. Pandora was exactly as it had been before, filled with zombie-like citizens. Then she saw something she hadn't seen before.
Three people were talking to a blue-haired girl at the edge of town. A boy, a girl, and what looked like a sprite. The girl they were talking to abruptly vanished into thin air. Skye blinked. She'd never seen someone just disappear like that. Then, the three drew their weapons and headed for the ruins. Skye sucked in her breath as she recognized the Mana Sword in the boy's hand. Sure, it looked different from the legends, but she could sense that energy from a mile off. It was what drew her back here.
Watching them go, she tried to think of what she could do to get the sword. "Hmm, I can't just steal it, not with those friends of his hanging around. I gotta think of some way to just get it from him."
Skye thought about the Mana energy she'd seen glowing faintly around the ancient weapon. She remembered seeing the same energy glowing much brighter around the Seed of Water. The sword needed that energy to be powerful. But the seeds were direct sources of that power. If she could bend that power to her, and use it for something, she wouldn't need the sword. An idea flashed into her head and she grinned.
"Come on, boys, let's beat feet to the Water Palace," she said.
"Why?" Terran asked.
"Cause I've got a plan that will put us in control of the world. So come, let's scram!"
Terran and Reggie started to go west when the road forked, but Skye grabbed their collars and pulled them in the other direction. "This way, guys. We're taking Cannon Travel this time."
"Because it's faster, twerp! Jeez! Must I explain EVERYTHING to you?!"
They arrived at the Travel Center and Skye paid the man fifty GP, then climbed in. The Boys, however, hesitated.
"What are you waiting for, dingdongs? An engraved invitation? Quit stalling and get in here!"
"Are you sure it's safe, Boss?" Reggie asked nervously.
"Let me put it this way," Skye replied. "Your sorry behinds will be in more danger from me if you don't get in, and right now!"
They didn't have to be told thrice. They hurriedly got in and the three were soon blasted off.
"Now," Skye said as they walked up the Water Palace steps. "I'll go in and steal the seed, then we'll be on our way. While I'm in there, you two just stay here and don't go wandering about and getting into anything, understand?"
"Good. I'll be right back."
Skye walked silently through the halls of the Water Palace. The running water camouflaged the sound of her boots, and also made her glad she had taken care of her bodily functions back in Pandora.
When she got the room where the Seed was kept, it was surprisingly empty. "Strange that the keeper isn't here," Skye said softly. "Ah, well, just makes this easier, so I'm not complaining." She advanced toward the seed.
When she touched the seed, a bright blue light flashed and a wave of pure energy went right through her. Skye staggered back, dizzy. When it passed, she cautiously reached out a shaking hand and touched it again. The seed's energy seemed to ripple below her pale fingers, but it didn't react as it had before. Apparently she'd broken the seal when she'd touched it the first time. Shaken, she took the seed and tucked it into her cape, then hurried out.
"Come on, let's go. I got it," she said as she came out, a bit roughly because of what had passed through her. She had a feeling that something within her was different, that she would never be the same now.
The first thing they did was to make a short trip home to get the tools necessary to make a ship that could travel above or below ground. Their plan was to use the Mana seeds to make different robots, each one more powerful then the last, and use them to take over the world from the Empire.
Skye stopped to adjust her goggles, then continued working on the first robot, Kilroy. She was a woman of many talents, and a flair for the mechanical was one of them. The room was filled with glowing Mana energy that shimmered and flowed through the seed, the robot, and Skye. She couldn't help but wonder what she'd done to herself by breaking the seal. Terran and Reggie, the buffoons, had left the lab as soon as the energy started glowing.
Standing up, she took a few steps back to look at Kilroy. "I've outdone myself this time," she said admiringly. "Good, no, great job."
Suddenly the boys burst through the door. "Boss! There's someone up on the deck!"
"Oh, is there? Well, we'll show them they can't just barge in here!" Picking up the Seed, she carried it with her back through the door into the next room.
"You! How'd you get in here?" Skye demanded, then gasped as she recognized the three people standing before her. It was the kid with the Mana Sword! This would have to be played a bit differently. She stepped forward with a regal smirk on her face.
"Welcome!" she said arrogantly. "We, the Scorpion Army, will rule the world! What business have you here? Do you wish to throw in your lot with us?"
"Hardly!" the boy said, stepping forward. "We want the Seed of Water back."
"Funny, you don't look like Luka," Skye remarked.
"Ha ha. Now hand it over!"
"I don't think so," Skye purred. "It's not gonna be that easy. Come with me, children, I have a surprise for you." She hurried back into the lab.
"Meet Kilroy, my super special deluxe robot," Skye said proudly. She hit a button on it's back to activate it. The robot sprang to life, knocking her back against the wall. She cried out as the robot began to go berserk.
"What's wrong?!" she exclaimed as the boys tried to avoid Kilroy's hammers.
"Too much energy!" Terran answered. "It's out of control!"
"Use the auxiliary power!" Skye yelled, but neither wanted to get near it. Reggie helped her up and they ran from the room, leaving the boy and his friends to deal with their crazed creation.
To Skye's amazement, the three kids destroyed Kilroy with ease. "Nuts," she growled as they came toward them after the battle. "They can have the stupid seed. Let's get out of here!" She threw the seed at them and hurried off with her henchmen.
Leaving the ship behind, they ran all the way to the Cannon Travel by Potos.
"Now what, Boss?" Terran panted.
"Damned if I know. Let's see if we can blast off to anywhere else in the world." They walked into the Travel Center and found they could go to the Upper Land. Paying the requisite fifty GP, they climbed into the cannon and blasted off.
They found nothing of interest in the Great Forest, so they headed to another Travel Center, where they had two choices : Kakkara Desert or the Ice Country.
"Hmm," Skye said thoughtfully. "A choice between two extremes. Horribly hot or horribly cold." She preferred chilly weather, but a place that stayed snowy year-round was a bit too much for even her. "What to do..."
"You know, it's too bad there's no way to make the Ice Country warm," Terran remarked. Reggie nodded in agreement.
Skye rolled her eyes. These two and their nutty...wait. Make the Ice Country warm? If one had the right stuff, it could be possible. A grin spread slowly across her face. "Come on, boys, cannon's about to leave," she said as she counted out the money and gave it to the cannon man. She noted with a frown that she only had forty-two thousand left of her allowance, just enough to get her idea off the ground. She'd spent over half of it on the ship and the robot that was now scrap metal lying in the abandoned ship. Oh, well. This new plan would rake in the GPs, so it was okay.
"But, where are we going? Ice Country or Kakkara?" Reggie asked.
"Both, eventually," Skye answered. "The desert, first," she added with a glance at the cannon man. He nodded and soon they were on their way.
They landed in Kakkara Village and got directions to the Fire Palace. After stocking up on supplies, they set out across the desert.
"How much longer, Boss?" Reggie asked as he wiped the sweat off his forehead.
"Not too much farther," Skye replied. "We're almost there. Just hang in there."
It was even hotter inside the Fire Palace. Luckily, the Fire Elemental Salamando soon appeared before they had gone very far.
"What brings you to my palace?" Salamando asked them.
Skye smirked at the glowing being. "Why, we've come to see you."
"Whatever for?" The Fire Elemental looked confused.
"We need to borrow you for a special project. Boys, you know what to do." Before Salamando could utter a word, they'd captured him. Skye smiled. "Well, we got what we came for, so let's go get rich." They headed back to Kakkara Village and Cannon Travel and blasted off for the Ice Country.
Their resort, Hidden Paradise, was quickly completed and they began to advertise it. Soon, people began coming from all over the world to enjoy summer weather in a place of perpetual winter.
One day Skye, tiring of the warmth, decided to take a walk in the snow outside the resort. She left Reggie in charge of the stove containing Salamando and headed off. Grumbling about being overworked, he complied reluctantly.
A while after she left, three people entered the small town. They wandered around looking curious. Eventually they came to the small hilltop where Reggie, still stewing, stood guarding the stove. When he looked at them, all he saw was a chance to take a break.
"Hey, who're you?" he inquired, looking closely at them. "Haven't we met? Oh, well. Watch this stove." Without even waiting for their answer he headed off to flirt with one of the tourists.
Getting a little too cold, Skye decided to go back. She walked up the path to the Hidden Paradise Resort...and found it frozen and empty! Well, not exactly empty. Reggie and Terran seemed to be arguing with three people standing in front of the now-empty stove. She hurried up to join them...and realized it was the kids who had destroyed Kilroy.
"YOU again?!" Skye exclaimed. She whirled on the boys. "Didn't you recognize them?!" she yelled.
Terran and Reggie cringed. "Uh, sorry," they said in unison.
"Enough of that," the boy said. "Just give us the seed."
"Huh?" Skye was confused.
"The Fire Palace seed. Give it up."
"Huh? Fire Palace seed? I haven't a clue what you're talking about. We didn't go near the seed, I swear." Mad as she was about this, she didn't want them attacking her.
"Oh, really? Then who took it?" the girl with him sneered.
"I told you, I don't know!" Skye retorted.
"I saw an odd old guy when we nabbed Salamando," Terran piped in. "Maybe he did it."
Skye's head whipped around. "Don't HELP them!" she snapped. "Come on, you goons, let's go." She stalked away angrily.
"Oooh!" she fumed as she walked back to Todo Village. "If those brats show up everywhere I go, I swear to Mana I'll sell them to a band of Goblins! After I torture them and take the sword!"
"Boss, why do you always talk to yourself?" Terran asked as he struggled to catch up.
"Because it's the only way I'm gonna get intelligent conversation!" she snapped. She increased her walking speed, hoping to lose the two idiots.
Her fury rose as she continued on. "Dammit! I spent the last of my allowance on that resort and all I have to show for it is a lousy fifteen thousand! Grrrr! Oooh! Those stupid jerks! How dare they butt into my business! It's not like I was hurting anyone!" She took a deep breath and tried to calm down. "Well, maybe a cup of cocoa in Todo will calm me down and I can plan my next move."
An hour and three cups later, she still hadn't thought of what to do next. She stirred her fourth cup, not sure if it was still hot. Just then Reggie and Terran walked in.
"So. Where have you two morons been?!" she demanded as they came over to her table. Reggie cringed.
"We're sorry, Boss, really, we are. We didn't know it was them, I swear. We weren't thinking."
"Are you ever?!" Skye snapped, rising from her chair in fury. "Is it too much to ask that you turn on your brains for one damn minute?!" she shrieked. She slammed her fists down on the table, sending her cup of cocoa flying towards Reggie. Apparently it WAS still hot, because he started screaming and ran away, trying to get the liquid off his face. The sight was too much for Skye. She burst out laughing, sinking back into her chair as the hilarity of the scene overcame her. Terran just stood there bewildered as his boss clutched her sides and cried tears of mirth. Finally she composed herself. Then Reggie came back and she lost it. It was quite a while before they left.
Their next destination was the Empire, where Skye hoped to gather information about it's activities.
Skye walked up the path to the ruins alone. The citizens here called them simply the Empire Ruins, but she knew that they were the remains of the old Scorpio mansion, abandoned long ago when her ancestors fled the Empire for Lorima. It was there that Dorian Syrille had lost his body to Thanatos.
The building had once been part of the Imperial Capital, but the beautiful mansion had been almost completely destroyed when Lorima lauched missiles at Northtown. Over the centuries, the roof of the house had fallen in in several places, and as a result the halls were always filled with the thick fog that perpetually shrouded the place.
Suddenly someone pushed past Skye and hurried up the path ahead of her. Skye followed him and watched as he entered the ruined mansion. But not before he turned and checked behind him. Skye ducked out of sight...and noticed his uniform.
"Now why would a Pandora soldier go in the old Scorpio mansion?" she whispered. "Why would anyone go in there, actually? I thought no one would set foot in the place because of some aura of anguish, death, and hatred."
Suddenly she heard footsteps. She peeked around the statue she was hiding behind and saw what looked like a living corpse walking up the path. Skye shuddered. The face was so skeletal, and yet, somehow, familiar.
Skye sucked in her breath sharply as she realized who it was. "Thanatos," she breathed. "Who else but the fiend responsible for the death here would be back in these halls? Returning to the scene of the crime, eh, you monster?! And with what looks like your next victim!" She clenched her fists, hating him the way countless Scorpios had done before her for a thousand years. Well, she would be the one to make the difference. She would be the one to finally get revenge.
A short while later, they retrieved their ship and departed for the remains of the sunken Sodoh Continent. There they would build a new robot, more powerful than the last, and wait for Thanatos to arrive so they could kill him with it. His coming there was inevitable, for it was key to the Empire's plans to revive the Mana Fortress. Reggie had discovered that bit of info while she nosed around the ruins. She'd gotten the nerve to go in after the demon, and had overheard some interesting stuff.
"You think those kids will show up?" Terran asked as Skye worked on the new robot, Kettle Kin.
"I'd bet my birthright on it," she answered as she paused to adjust her goggles. "When I was in the ruins, I heard Thanatos say something about that boy being the legendary Mana Knight."
"You don't really believe that, do you?" he asked.
"I don't know," she answered. "I mean, I didn't believe a kid could pull out the Mana Sword, but there it was, in his hand."
"Hmm," he replied, getting up to stretch. Reggie was poking around inside the Tree Palace, while they were parked behind it. It was a cool day on the continent, very breezy. Skye was obviously enjoying it.
Suddenly they heard voices from the front of the palace. Setting her tools down, Skye got up and peeked around the palace to see Emperor Vandole and his lieutenants Sheex and Fanha enter the place.
"Oh no! Reggie's in there!" Terran gasped.
"I know," Skye hissed.
"What do we do, Boss?"
"Leave it to me." Skye started forward, but then the three kids who'd given her so much trouble appeared, getting off a huge white dragon and walking toward the Tree Palace. Skye waited till they had closed the doors behind them, then followed.
She opened the door a crack just in time to see Sheex transform into a giant mouth with legs. Looking ill, she shut the door. A minute later, Reggie appeared with a weird look on his face.
"Wa..walking...walking mouth," he stammered. Skye rolled her eyes. She hadn't seen any more demons then he had, but at least she could deal. Grabbing his arm, she started pulling him over to where Terran waited.
A few seconds later, the whole continent began to shake. The ground rose like an elevator beneath their feet. The three dashed toward their ship. Loading Kettle Kin onto it, they lifted off and watched as the continent they'd only read about rose from the depths of the sea.
Deciding that they could use this, they moved into the remains of the Underground City. Skye was morbidly disappointed that none of it's old residents were still there.
About an hour later, Kettle Kin was finished. Soon after that the kid and his friends arrived.
"You AGAIN?!" the boy groaned. Skye smirked at him.
"Yes, it's lovely to see you too," she replied sarcastically. She turned to Reggie. "I forgot to tell you earlier, didn't I?"
"Tell me what, Boss?" he asked eagerly.
Ignoring his enthusiasm, Skye continued, "While we were in the Empire, I did some nosing around. Seems this kid is the ‘Legendary Knight.' Or so everybody thinks." She smiled evilly. "Care to find out, boys?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" the boy asked with a suspicious frown. Instead of answering, Skye signaled to Terran and Reggie.
"Presenting," she said in voice filled with smug anticipation, "Super Special Deluxe Robot, Type 2...with turbo!" She stepped aside to show off the robot. "Kids, meet Kettle Kin!" Turning on the machine, she and the boys moved away to watch their creation make mincemeat of the nuisances.
Skye's smug smile faded though, as the three trashed yet another robot and headed over to them.
"Too strong!" she gasped. "He's the REAL knight!" She turned to her hirelings with an expression of fury on her face. "What idiot said he wasn't the knight? Let's get out of here!" They turned tail and ran for the exit.
After they got out, they just sat and rested for a while. They watched as their antagonists continued on into the Grand Palace.
After about an hour, the white dragon who'd dropped them off swooped down and got them from the palace roof. The next second the continent shook violently as it began to sink back into the water.
"Move, move!" Skye yelled as they ran for their ship, parked behind the palace. "Make way for your boss! If I don't survive this, you'll never get your next paycheck!" It was insulting how much faster they ran after hearing that. Skye made a mental note to fire them when she got back home. If she got back home.
They made it to the ship and took off just in time. The three watched silently as the rest of the continent sank into the ocean and the Mana Fortress rose up from it.
They flew back to Skye's house. All the way there she stewed over the failure of her plans. Every step of the way, that guy and his friends had screwed her up. Now she could never avenge her ancestor.
"Skye?" Noelle called as she heard the door slam, so hard it shook most of the house. "Is that you?" Her daughter entered, looking furious.
"What's the matter?" Evan asked. "Did something go wrong?"
That did it. "Something?!" she shouted. "More like somebody! Every single step of the way I have had my plans messed up by that stupid Mana Knight and his moron friends!"
"The WHAT?!" her parents exclaimed. Skye sighed. "Here, I'll explain." She told them all about her adventures. When she was done, her father frowned.
"Now suppose you tell me why you're angry," he said. Skye looked shocked.
"Wouldn't you be? I mean, he ruined everything for me! I was going to be rich! I was going to get revenge! But, no, he HAD to screw it up for me!"
Evan's face hardened. "Skye, there are more important things than greed and vengeance," he said darkly.
"Like this." He pulled her over to the window. "Look. It's snowing out there. In May."
Skye blinked, surprised. When did that happen? The journey from the continent to home had taken three hours, and there'd been no sign of snow the whole way. "What's it from?" she asked.
"From the Mana Beast," her father told her. "The Knight defeated it with the sword and saved us all. I wouldn't call that ruining everything."
"Yes, well, I should have had that sword!" she fumed. "I should just taken it and avenged our ancestor!"
"That would have put the world in great danger."
"Yeah, well, it's not that great a world anyway," she sniffed.
Her parents went still and silent. Skye realized what she said. "I, I didn't mean that," she said weakly.
"Yes, you did," her father said quietly. "Because you don't know any better." He sighed. "Skye, I think you should leave."
"So you can learn what a terrible thing that was to say. You need to go out and see this world, really see it, alone. You can come back when you've learned your lesson."
"Is that one of your ‘suggestions'?" she asked.
"No, that is one of my orders."
Skye was very quiet. Then she said, "Fine. I'll go pack, and I'll be gone within the hour."
Evan took a step toward her. "Skye, I didn't mean tonight."
"I know. But I think it would be best if I left as soon as possible." She walked out of the room and up to her bedroom.
Inside, she removed the fancy clothes and work goggles she wore and put on a simpler outfit : black pants, boots, a gray t-shirt, and a dark green jacket. She stuffed similar clothes into her backpack along with the last of her allowance and her sketchbook and pencils. She hadn't drawn in a while, and it would be good to get back to it.
Leaving the mansion, she found it was still snowing. At first she started to put her hood up, then decided against it. Looking around, she saw the graveyard where all Scorpios were laid to rest. She hurried off to the family gardens, then returned.
Entering the graveyard, she found the plot she wanted. There was a grave for Kirine and Sladeand a memorial stone for Dorian. Kneeling, Skye placed one bouquet of flowers on Kirine and Slade's and one on Dorian's.
"Rest in peace, now," she whispered, running her hands over the cool, gray stone of Dorian's memorial. She brushed away the tears that had fallen down her cheeks as she thought of them. Their lives, their adventures, were over.
But hers weren't. Hers were just beginning.
Skye stood. She reached out her hand and caught a snowflake.