Ertai quickly grabbed the oxygen filter from his utility belt as he realized he was underwater. 'Thanks for the warning, Billy.' He thought sarcasticly. But then, scarcely fifty feet away from him, he saw a figure quickly sinking in the water, large weights attached to it from the ankles. 'I'm gonna guess this is why I'm here.' He thought, then blasted forward. He grabbed the person around the waist, then headed for the surface. As he was traveling, he looked at his passenger. 'Seraphina?' She wasn't moving. Her eyes were half open still, but her body was limp. Ertai blasted into a chi speed boost before he realized how close to the surface he was, and they rocketed about fifty feet into the air before he began to float them back down to the roots.
Seraphina gasped louder than he'd ever heard anyone gasp as they broke the surface. She continued to suck in air as he gently set her down on what appeared to be a dock, the weights clunking noisily. He started to lean down to check on her, but she gasped out, "Guards!"
Ertai swung back up, and intercepted a swinging sword at the hilt. Grabbing the man at the wrist, he brought the forearm down across his knee, snapping it easily. Ertai then kicked him into the water and searched for further opponents. He saw two thugs at the shore running toward the dock, and he rushed to meet them. The one on the left threw a knife at him as he was running. Ertai fluidly caught it and chucked it back at about ten times the speed. The man was thrown back, and lay still. The other guard held his hand forward, and a lightning spell rocketed at Ertai as the guard began to retreat, seeming to have no effect.
Ertai cleared the dock, and began charging along the wooden shoreline. The opposing guard watched with amazement as his legs became a blur, and he charged forward at an unbelievable speed. As Ertai neared the guard, he opened his right hand, and a lightning bolt of his own lanced into the man. As the guard was reeling, Ertai closed the distance and landed a devastating punch to the chest. Before the man's body could even snap back, Ertai brought his wrist in and delivered a shot with his elbow to the same area, then whirled around and kicked the hapless guard in the shoulder. He flew into the water, then his his body surfaced and floated motionlessly.
Ertai turned around calmly, and effortlessly caught a sword that came hurling at him out of the darkness. He let it drop with a clang, then fired off a few chi blasts in the directiion it had come from. As the first one exploded, he saw the guard trying to roll out of the way. He quickly determined where to aim, then finally let his anger show. "Raaaah... Big Bang Attack!!"
If not for Ertai's control, it would have vaporised everything for several miles. Instead, it erased all traces of the guard from existence, and rocketed hundreds of miles into the air. From its light, Ertai caught his first glimpses of the Worldtree, and his eyebrows raised in surprise, before quickly dropping into anger again. "They're all gone." He informed Seraphina, letting some of the anger drip into his voice. The fact that someone had just tried to kill a girl his age, no, even younger than him now, gnawed at him deeply. He still regreted the fact that he had not been able to help Schala and Greven, and the fact that he had managed to save Seraphina did nothing to soothe his anger that he hadn't been around to stop the act in the first place.
Her breathing had finally gone back to almost normal, and she flopped over onto her back, looking at the sky. "What are you so angry about?" She asked him between breaths.
"I just don't like to see women get hurt." Ertai frowned. He walked up beside her, then sat down. The water was quickly beading on the surface of his combat suit and running off, while she remained thoroughly soaked. At a slight gesture from him, a small ball of fire burst into being in midair, and hovered there, warming them up.
"That's a bad idea." Seraphina told him, still not moving. Ertai gestured again, and the fire disappeared. "Well, that too, but that's not what I was talking about. Don't be oversensitive. Women are just as devious, arrogant, and vicious as the men." Now, she smiled. "And even more dangerous."
Ertai just frowned. "Where are we?" He ignored her comment.
"The roots of the Worldtree, in the kingdom of Fervor." To her surprise, Ertai burst out laughing.
"The Kingdom of Fervor? You've gotta be kidding me! Oh, that is priceless! Hee hee! First Zeal and now Fervor. What was the original on Earth called? Enthusiasm?"
"No, Atlantis." She deadpanned. He looked at her quizzically, then laughed again. "Sounds like you spent some time at Billy's." She finally raised herself up on her elbows, her breathing back to normal.
"Yes indeed." He nodded. "Although he said only his students call him that..." He looked at her. "You too?"
"Yep." She sat up now. "Though it seems his technique is useless against power inhibitors." She pointed at the black band around her neck.
Ertai fumbled in his utility belt for a minute, then drew out a small blade with a handle custom fit to his hand. "That's what this is for, I bet." He held the blade up, inspecting it. "Molecular steel. It can cut through skin on not much more than touch. Hold still." He slid up next to her and slipped the forefinger of his left hand under the power inhibitor. He was surprised at how warm her skin felt on his hand, given that they had both just been soaked with some decidedly cold seawater.
As he carefully brought the blade up to begin cutting, he found himself paying more attention to the drops of water that were running through the nape of her neck, into- "You've never had a girlfriend, have you?"
Ertai dropped the knife, made a quick grab for it, and opened a gash on his thumb just as quickly. He hurriedly began rummaging for a bandage, then looked up at her. "How could you te- I mean, why do you ask?" He wrapped some gauze around the gash, then slid back to her again, a confident expression on his face.
"You're blushing something fierce." She pointed out. He was examining the power inhibitor up close, but when she said that, he looked up at her. He discovered that he was looking directly into her hazel green eyes, which were less than a foot away. He gulped. She laughed, pushing his head away. "Just cut it already! I won't bite. Not you, anyway." She tilted her head back to give him more room to work, and glared up at the top of the Worldtree.
He had to saw at it for a bit, but the molecular steel had it off in just a few seconds. "Keep your feet still," he said, then began to saw away at the latching mechanisms of the weights around her ankles. "What happened to you?" He finally asked.
"Something incredibly stupid." He raised his eyebrows. "The King's paramour got jealous when he wanted to talk to me in private, and apparently made arrangements for my untimely demise."
He looked angry again. "How stupidly insecure can you get?" The shackles around her legs opened, and she quickly moved her feet away from them.
"Tell me about it." She glowered. "Much as I'd like to go settle this now, I think I need to get back to my brother's place."
"Yeah, I was gonna head to Leng's too, until Billy told me I needed to come here."
"Wait a second, Billy sent you here just to rescue me? Why?"
"Why not?" Ertai looked surprised. "You are the sister of his best friend."
"I'm not that important." She shook her head. "At least, not that I know of." She looked over at him, saw his severe expression, and explained further. "What I mean is, Leng could have sent any of the Soul Knights for this one. Someone with nowhere near your level of power could have pulled this off."
"My level of power?" He was perplexed.
"Billy wouldn't have sent you away unless you were done training." She smiled at him. "Besides, I can feel the chi coming from you, and that alone would put any Soul Knight to shame. Except maybe Raganorn. Anyway, I don't understand why they felt it necessary to use you for this."
"I don't either." Ertai shrugged. "But we can puzzle this over in front of a fireplace at Leng's."
"Yeah, let's get going." She agreed. She started to stand up, but then tipped over and landed back on her butt.
"What's wrong?" Ertai was instantly at her side again.
"Seeing... white spots." She gasped.
"You need to rest a bit longer. Get more air."
She shook her head. "Gotta get to Leng's."
"You just rest up. I don't think the world is going to end just because we took a couple extra minutes to get back to your brother's fortress."
She nodded, and laid back down, but then looked up at him. "Famous last words."
"You saw I was a kid and you underestimated me..." - Chang Wufei, Gundam Wing
Chrono Trigger Fanfic