"C'mon, Minoko!" the young Irish girl said as she led the way from the Black Scorpion Inn toward the nearby barn. "I told everyone I was going to be spending the day with you here so no one's going to suspect what we're up to." Pulling open one of the large doors, she waited so that her friend and Lyric could head inside before her, smiling to the latter girl. "And thanks for helping us out, Lyric. I don't know exactly what's going to happen but.. it'll be good to have someone else here, just in case."
"It's not a problem." A faint smile was given. Of course, she hadn't let either of the girls know that her main reasons for wanting to be here were research driven. Even if Kingsley had been a regular human Lyric still would have helped out. After all the time that Minoko had let her stay at the Black Scorpion free of charge, she owed her that much. But this Astral business was something that hadn't been taught to her at the academy. It was a definite rarity, which meant that all sorts of things could come from this. If she could become an expert on a relatively unknown type of being, then a teaching position was nearly guaranteed. Biting back her excitement, the mage stepped into the stable. As always, her staff was at her side.
The American and the Asian were polar opposites right now. Nervousness was clearly visible on Minoko's face. "Are you sure we should be doing this without Fallon...?" Not that Fallon could stop the Astral. She had to admit that she would feel a lot more comfortable with Kingsley's cousin present. Sai, too... But that was out of the question, unless she was asking for a verbal whipping. Short of everyone getting attacked by demons, though, her biggest fear was actually making contact. What if they were successful? It would open up a whole new world that she hadn't even considered. All those people she had lost would be there, and even if Earth's spirit world didn't link up she would still have Olanis. Minoko felt nauseous thinking of what the half-elf would say.
"She's off doing research with her society," Kingsley said as she pulled the door closed tight behind them. "And I don't want to wait anymore. What if it gets harder to contact him the longer he's dead?" It still stung to say that word, 'dead', and the girl swallowed down the pebble that had formed in her throat. She looked meager and thin, her lack of appetite affecting her intake of food and, therefore, her weight. Still, she seemed more energetic now than she had for the past few months. It was the possibility of succeeding, of actually contacting Toby, that had her hopes running high, and her caution near non-existent. "Besides, I don't think anything bad will happen," she said, moving over toward a cleared out area of the barn, away from the horses but still strewn with hay, plopping down Indian style to face her friends.
At the moment, she hated that society. There was research right in this damn stable that they would be better off observing. After sitting a couple of feet away from Kingsley, Minoko began to play with a ring on the middle finger of her right hand. The ring was entirely plain and looked as if it had been made from a piece of scrap metal. "I hope not... Is there anything I should be doing?" Praying, chanting, lighting candles maybe? All her knowledge of the spiritual plane blended in with her knowledge of the Catholic religion, which, due to their portrayal of Jesus Christ, Minoko greatly disliked. Where was Shadow when you needed her? A shake of a beer bottle and some off-handed comment about nuns would surely cheer her up. Instead, her heart ached.
The people that helped her family were a scattered bunch, each with their own connections and ties and more than a few outside responsibilities that drew them away from the Astral. Not that she thought that she needed them right now, although maybe she should have asked Fallon for a little more detail on how this was supposed to work, exactly. "Umm..." She bit her lower lip. "I don't know. Maybe just think about him?" She reached out a hand and took one of Minoko's. "Close your eyes and think about him and try to.. channel it through your hand into mine." It was a start and it sounded good.
An eyebrow would be raised, were she not trying so hard to keep a neutral expression. This girl really had no idea what she was doing, did she? Mental notes were being taken, as Lyric would most definitely be writing about this later. In the meantime, she remained standing in between the s?ance and the door.
Hands that were just short of trembling took hold of Kingsley's. "Okay, I can do that." But she definitely wouldn't enjoy it. Memories started to stream through her consciousness once dark eyes drifted shut. There had been a time where Toby and she had stood in this very stable. It was during the period where their bodies were switched. They had ended up fighting at the lake. Something about how Toby hated himself because of what he was... He had ended up crying and running off. Her grip on Kingsley's hands would tighten. That memory was no good. Picturing her own anguished face wouldn't summon anything. Minoko's mental picture changed into a reflection of herself in a fancy bathroom. Yes, this would work: their first (and only) real date. But the restaurant hadn't been any fun, so she would skip that part. An image of the redheaded boy splashing her on Twilight Island came to mind. She couldn't help but smile.
Tears. They always seemed to be present when the orange-haired boy was concerned. Squinting her eyes even thought they were already shut, she let that push of memories soak into her hands before dissipating. Something else would have to be used. Minoko's next set of memories were more helpful and, seeing them through her friend's eyes, Kingsley herself couldn't help but smile either. It brought about her own memories of the Island, of the warmth of a fire and watching the waves crash onto the nearby shore. She remembered everything, the way the stars looked and how orange his hair looked in the flame light. She remembered his touch, careful and caring. Her skin began to tingle and her own hands tightened, but not out of fear. Tilting her head back just slightly, she began to let all of those memories roam free about in her mind. But along with doing that she let them mingle with another part of her, the part she could only explain as "the Astral" of her being, letting go of all her tension and unsureness of that holy nature to, hopefully, let it do what she had been told it was able to.
Gray-blues remained focused on the pair as they reminisced. Now would be the proper time for her to use a power that she rarely chose to. As a child, it had started with her being able to dive into someone's dream if she laid a hand on them. After all, people were most vulnerable in that deepest stage of sleep. But the academy had shown her how to take that power and strengthen it. As an adult, Lyric was able to fully read minds without such basic limitations, assuming that the individual hadn't taken any mental precautions. Starting with Minoko, she dove into the girl's current thoughts. Hmm, so that was Toby. She had definitely seen his body around the inn once or twice. Lyric then made the jump over to Kingsley, which was surprisingly easy. It only took a few moments for her to realize that the girls had rather similar memories of this man. Had the two of them bonded over a mutual interest in this...? Pig probably wasn't the right word. There was no reason for her to judge, anyway. Toby was dead. Lyric's thoughts came to a halt as she sensed an increase in the spiritual side of Kingsley. Time to watch the Astral as she worked.
Kingsley's breathing was incredibly steady for this being the first time she had actively sought out and activated the Astral side of herself. The smoke within her hair wasn't as sure, growing like a creature that was puffing up its chest out of defense before once again becoming thin tendrils of gray and white, whipping around and through strands of near-black, weaving themselves into intricate patterns. She paid it no heed though, or rather, she didn't notice it. She was concentrating on what she was doing, whatever that exactly was, her hands bound to Minoko's with tiny yet deceptively strong fingers as the holy part of her mind did its work. From a physical point of view, should one be able to see it in her head, it was like a swarming nebula, particles of dust in shades more numerous than there were names for them swirling like a cosmic entity, taking shapes and then bursting to form another quicker than one could memorize them. And creeping toward it were the memories, these, too, having taken on a 'physical' form. They were tentative and shy, as if they were unsure if they would be welcomed or chased off like a stray pup. Lucky for them, it was the former, the starry twirl of colors billowing out and then enveloping the tiny ball of thoughts, taking them to its center where it shrouded them, slowly beginning to recognize the Astral's desire and, after that, debate with itself whether or not to comply.
She stood perfectly still, her gaze locked on Kingsley's smoky hair while she became lost inside the Astral's mind. Taken out of context, Lyric might have wondered if she was peering through a telescope while watching some sort of extraordinary galactic event. She had never seen anything like this before, and it was nearly impossible to believe that all this was happening in that petite girl's head. Once the memories were absorbed by the nebula she could feel her grip on the staff tighten. Any sort of reaction could be expected, and a sudden fear grew inside her that this would somehow all blow up in their faces.
Not quite. Not yet, anyway. While the internal nebula swarmed around the tiny gathering of memories, absorbing what information they had, the girl herself added to them a more blunt, perhaps even slightly forceful, request for the Astral part of her to seek out their male companion, the source of these remembered times. At first the cosmic entity seemed unsure, like a wild animal might contemplate taking food from a human's hand. But eventually it complied, drawing itself together into a tight ball before softening, tiny strands of color streaming out from all sides before fading off into blackness, their speed unrecognizable as they went off in search of the one the two girls sought.
Unlike Lyric, Minoko did not have a solid grasp on what was exactly happening right now. She had managed to keep her mind focused on Toby this whole time. The only thing she had noticed when it came to Kingsley's current state was a change in the girl's aura. It didn't necessarily feel sinister, though. Not like that time that she had fallen under the spell of Toby's demons. Maybe things were going well, then? She could hope so, which wasn't a difficult thing to do as sad memory after sad memory was recalled.
It was easier than she thought it would be, letting that hardly-understood part of her be released. It simply ran wild but with only its single duty set to mind, each scattering stream of color dashing out into an oblivion that most only heard stories about and rarely, if ever without being properly dead, were allowed to go. But her mind, that place in which the embodiment of an Astral resided, was something of a wonder and it set out with a vicious, determined mindset to do as the girl requested. But there was nothing that it could find. For all of its effort, all of its might and holy power, it couldn't seem to find the soul that the two were looking for. And so it looked further, simply slipping through the barricades that most anything else couldn't even touch, seeking out the fire-haired boy in places that even a Gunslinger or an Angel might feel fear.
After several moments the grip on her staff began to relax. It seemed that he wasn't out there. Watching everything firsthand meant that Lyric had no doubt of the Astral's power. Toby had most likely been dead for too long to maintain contact. There were plenty of places that his spirit could have gone at this point, and none of them would likely prove reachable. Her pig theory was reinforced with this bit of information. Couldn't he have stuck around for a little bit longer?
It was when those tendrils of cosmic coloring went delving into the darkest places a soul could reside that the smoke within Kingsley's hair decided to put in its say. Seeping into her without dispelling its outward appearance, aside from its thickness lessening, the remnants of Purgatory added its own spice to the mixture of holy power and heartfelt memories. It called to the nature of its home, chittering of a point of entry, or exit as it were, and almost instantly there was a surge along a cast line of the nebula. Souls caught in limbo hooked themselves onto the thin arm of the Astral's mind, climbing like bats would a cave wall as they surged toward the center of the outlet, that glowing light that resided constantly within the Astral's very soul. A quick intake of breath was all the girl did in physical reaction, holding it even as her lungs began to burn.
They had been in there for too long. It seemed that the souls had noticed and planned to take advantage of it. There was nothing for them to lose, after all. During this, Lyric kept her link into Kingsley's mind stable. However, she also started to prepare herself in the present world. A faint white light would begin to glow from the orb that topped her staff. "Kingsley, let it go!" Her words would echo in the girl's mind as well. She didn't know what would happen if those spirits escaped, especially if they were the malevolent type.
They certainly didn't seem to be the fairy godmother type, that's for sure. Depending on how deeply connected to the young girl's mind Lyric was, she might have been able to hear the faint whispering of those souls. Their voices were raspy, cruel, flaring with a certain viciousness that was only seen in the most brutal of persons. "But... he has to be here!" she whispered, her eyes closed tight enough to bring lines scattering away from their corners. Her knuckles were white, her fingers lashed around Minoko's hands as if they were her one and only life-line. In fact, they very well might be.
Minoko's eyes burst open the moment she heard Lyric's panicked voice. The mage had sensed it before she had, but now that the spirits were called to attention Min could feel them too. Was Kingsley sifting through them, searching for Toby without concerning herself with the others? She glanced down to hands that were growing red with the stress that Kingsley was inflicting upon them. Though she didn't have a good idea of what was happening Lyric surely did. The vacant look in her eyes suggested that she was seeing more than what was in front of her. Minoko would have to trust her with this one. "Kingsley, please!" She began to shake Kingsley's hands in an attempt to snap her out of it. The movements looked rather silly, but they seemed like a smarter idea than trying to wrench herself out of the Astral's impossibly tight grip.
It was her friend's voice that got to her. Not that Lyric didn't matter to her, but Minoko had a special place in the young girl's heart and, for being what she was, that meant an awful lot. She felt Minoko's eyes open, felt the panic in her voice. Her grip didn't loosen but she did open her own eyes. They were unfeasibly green, but what little of that color you could see was only because the strips of iridescent gold hadn't completed their web across the whole of each iris. "He's not here." Her voice sounded like a song, almost as if it had an echo or an instantly-answering chorus. "Toby... He's not here." The malicious souls were getting closer, swallowing up the immeasurable distance between Purgatory and the living realm, their endless chittering getting louder with each second passed. Kingsley didn't seem to hear them. She lowered her head, and her eyes, looking directly at Minoko's with an expression so full of sadness that it could have made statues weep. "We've lost him."
She hadn't heard the whispering of the spirits at first, but she definitely did now. It was comparable to an arena full of people speaking amongst each other as they waited for a half time show to start. Each individual voice was annoying enough, but the vast number that made up what Lyric was hearing was nothing less than maddening. Though she was reluctant to do so, the mental tie between the Astral and the mage was severed. If she was to put a barrier up then all her energy would need to be put into that alone. The orb at the top of her staff was now glowing with the intense white light of a miniaturized sun. A few steps were taken to close the gap between Kingsley and her. As she knelt down, a glance was taken in Minoko's direction. The woman looked absolutely horrified. "Kingsley, he's not lost. He's just beyond contact. His spirit has probably moved on to a place beyond Purgatory. He might have even been reincarnated by now!"
"He's missing." Slowly, she turned her head toward Lyric, golden eyes brought upon her. The irises were almost devoured, the pupils next to submit to the assault. "It's as if he doesn't exist anymore." Suddenly, her face hardened, eyes narrowing and the center of her brow playing host to thin, fine lines. "I should be able to find him!" The first horde of frantic souls reached the barricade, slamming against it like a wave crashing against solid rock. But where there was rock, there were usually cracks and the devilish spirits knew. They started scrabbling at the barrier between the ethereal and physical worlds, trying to find a patch of weakness into the Astral's cosmic-like being. Their shrieks of frustration were unbearable, their claws like nails against a chalkboard.
The golden eyes were something Toby had taught her how to fear. They were also something that he had taught her how to control. Seeing them on Kingsley was something else, though. There were plenty of people around right now whose hearts would break upon seeing her current face. And Minoko hated him for inflicting this on Kingsley, who never deserved any of this. She hated him for not being alive right now to put one of those magic pieces of paper on Kingsley's leg. But most of all she hated him for not appearing to her in the afterlife. He knew this would happen, and his spirit couldn't stick around for a while to see it through? No, no, of course not. Toby was probably trailing after Mayu, making sure that the cherub monsters were keeping their distance. That or he had already been reincarnated as a house cat that would surely follow after her whenever she got sushi. All the bittersweet memories in the world couldn't change the fact that Toby Aradam had been a selfish prick, both in life and death. Her combined feelings of terror and fury had sent Minoko over the edge. "Kingsley, please, snap out of it! HE'S NOT WORTH IT!" And he never was, never had been. If only she could realize that.
They weren't spliced, those eyes, like that of a yoma. Yes, there was a similarity, but there was also something entirely different, entirely separate from that shard of demon-being that Toby had passed on to her. Turning her head back to face Minoko, her face never lost its expression of loss and sorrow. "But he is." Dear Lord, this girl was as hopeless as a school girl with a 'we're going to be together forever!' crush. She never let go of her friend's hands, didn't let up on the firmness of her grip either. Even as the first of the spiritual swarm started to squirm through, pushing its way through the smallest of cracks, she didn't let go or budge or even move. She felt it though, like a tiny worm wiggling its way up to the surface. But she was so lost in whatever fantastical haze she was in, that thick blanket of misery and (it's okay to gag here) love, that she couldn't see any reason to defend against it. It was incredible that she wasn't crying, but her grief was too overpowering to allow that.
She hadn't wanted it to come this far, and she wasn't even sure if she would be able to control the rogue spirits, but at least she'd be able to contain them. Feeling the energy begin to seep over to their side, Lyric suddenly sprang up from her spot near Kingsley. Both of her small hands wrapped around the staff. Eyes were squeezed shut as she put everything she had into her spell. And then, without warning, the painfully bright light burst forth from her staff. For a few seconds the group of women would be unable to see anything in the stable. Then the room would return to normal, though if any of them peered out a window they would see that the building was surrounded by a mostly transparent dome. Their fight would stay in this room until someone broke that barrier down.
This was when the Gunslinger made his appearance. He had been told that Kingsley was spending the day with Minoko. At the Black Scorpion. Which was an Inn. It wasn't that he didn't trust Minoko. In fact, he trusted her more than he did anyone else outside of the O'Connor family, save for maybe Jonas. Then again, probably more than him, too. The cowboy and that man did not see eye-to-eye very often, especially as of late. But back to the current situation, Sai had just been coming to the end of the pathway that lead to the Black Scorpion and looking up at the Japanese-styled building as he approached when he felt, as well as saw, the erection of a nearby barricade. Before he could take another step toward the front door of the Inn, his head turned. Squinting his eyes, those of which were shaded underneath the shadow of his hat's brim, his course of direction changed, taking him over toward the barn. He could see the barrier, a strange sort of haze making seeing through it difficult. Setting his jaw hard, he focused. Give him a minute and he'll start to feel what sorts of powers were being housed within.
It was rarely that this aura sensing thing was of any use, but now was a definite situation where she was glad to have it. How else would she have known that Sai had shown up just moments too late? Really, for some sort of supernatural cowboy you'd think he would have managed to improve his timing. "SAI! SAI!" She had no idea whether or not he would be able to hear her through the barrier, but it was worth a shot. "Lyric, you have to take the barrier down! He'll be able to handle this!" She didn't know that, of course. Sai probably had a better idea than the rest of them, though. Minoko highly doubted that metal leaves would be able to kill ghosts.
Knowledge of the Gunslinger's arrival was noted but the Astral seemed so enthralled and entranced by... whatever was overtaking her that she couldn't seem to gather the strength to add to Minoko's call. The first of the souls to escape Purgatory emerged, popping through the invisible wall like a tadpole did its egg, swimming through the mental cosmos to make a break for the surface of the Astral's mind. To Kingsley it felt indescribable but it acted like a stunning drug had just entered her veins, rendering her motionless and, worse yet, mostly useless. The soul, on the other hand, was shrieking with glee. It burst from the billow of smoke surrounding Kingsley's head, looking more like a fairy than any sort of malicious being. It didn't stay that way though, its size doubling in a manner of seconds, from mouse-sized to the size of a cat. Its form shifted as well, arms stretching and growing, the hands at each end bearing needle-sharp claws. Its mouth opened to reveal a layer of teeth like vicious fangs, hissing a wild sound as it rounded in the air to turn about, gazing down at the pair of girls with their hands joined.
"Oh, sh*t... Kingsley?!" The Astral's name was called out once the soul burst from her head. She was eerily still, and Minoko was not taking that as a good sign. The spirit grabbed her attention, though, once it began to mutate. Teeth, claws... That wasn't Toby as she remembered him. Regardless of who that soul had originally inhabited, it looked like they were in for a fight. Minoko's black hole gaze switched over to Lyric. It looked like she was charging up her staff again. That wouldn't be quick enough if the demon decided to attack them now. A glance was taken down at the plain band on her finger. Well, it was worth a shot. She was scared to disturb Kingsley right now, so their link would remain untouched. The Asian's right hand began to glow pink. Her ring started to take on a new shape, allowing it to slip out from Kingsley's grip. The piece of metal would hang in the air for a few seconds while Minoko used her ki to change it. Her final result was a single deadly sakura petal. Once formed, it would immediately shoot towards the spirit's head at a speed that could easily kill a human.
"Fu*k," he swore under his breath. He had heard Minoko yelling his name, followed by a handful of others words he couldn't quite make out. Glaring at the opaque barrier that separated him from the three girls inside of the barn, he was looking all around for some kind of crack, a break. Anything to get him inside. It wasn't long before he had a hand on one of his pistols. Worst case scenario, he'd shoot the damned thing. Might work, might not. If it did, it wasn't going to be the prettiest of sights. Didn't matter any, not to him. All that mattered was stopping the link he knew, felt, the Astral was chained to and making sure the girls were safe.
The spirit was shrieking a cry that would put the best Halloween actor to shame. It was loud and ear-piercing, chilling straight down to the bone. The sakura petal was coming at it fast, passing by all human abilities to track it and aimed straight for the misty form circling high above the three girls' heads. It hit it square in the center, eliciting a backward billow of smoke and fog. The creature hissed, recoiling, swirling around itself as if it were deciding that this fight might not be worth it. It was all a hoax. After a moment of bending in around on itself, the renegade soul straightened out, this time looking even longer, fiercer, than before. And its eyes, those horrible, piercing, vicious eyes... They were staring right down at Minoko.
Honestly? She was surprised that the thing had even reacted. Minoko had expected the petal to go through it with no consequences, like when Toby tried to stab Sai. A 'thunk' into one of the stable walls told her that she had only been half right. The spirit did not look happy... Deciding that now would probably be a good time to get away from Kingsley, Minoko yanked her hands away from the girl's ironclad grip as best as she could. They just barely managed to get loose, causing elbows to fall back into the hay. She scrambled backwards and managed to pull herself up against one of the stalls. It was at this point Minoko realized that the horses were going crazy, probably due to the creature's wild hisses. Why had they picked the damn stable again? "Lyric, let me know when!" The two of them had known each other for long enough that she had a rough idea of what the mage was planning. In the meantime, Minoko sprinted towards the exit. All her weight was put into pushing one of the doors open, despite not knowing whether there would be enough room for her to squeeze out. Running wasn't always an option.
Even though Minoko had just been yelling about breaking the barrier down, it seemed like she had gotten the idea quickly enough. That was a relief. For the type of protective dome that Lyric had just erected there was no letting someone in or out. It was an all or nothing deal, and she would not be intentionally taking the thing down unless they had no other options. A mage's job was to heal and protect. By unleashing that spirit on Rhy'Din, she would be failing herself. "Just a little longer!" A holy light was once again filling up the orb that topped Lyric's staff. If she wanted to have an effect on this spirit then she would have to use a powerful spell, meaning something with a long casting time.
The Gunslinger was ready. He already had one pistol in hand, the other itching to be taken into a palm. But he wanted one hand free until he knew, exactly, what was going on in there. "Minoko." Her name was said low, gruff. The man didn't look much different than normal, but the air about him had changed. He was here on business, and that business included people that he cared about, which made it even that much more important. He had questions, hundreds of them. Not a single one was voiced. Not yet. Right now he had a rebel spirit that needed banishing. All he had to do was wait for that god-damn barrier to be taken down.
The spirit was not happy, especially when Minoko went running off. The Astral stayed right where she was, frozen like a statue with porcelain skin and radiant, golden eyes. She, of course, was of no consequence. All she was right now was a portal, and as long as the portal remained open, the escaped soul could continue to grow and gain power and thrive and, perhaps, once again inhabit the world of the living. The other souls were having a more difficult time escaping through the barrier of the Astral's mind, all of them struggling and straining to be the first to pop through. A few did, though, three spirits bursting through all at once. They emerged from the smoke-filled hair as one before splitting into their own separate hosts. Tiny at first, they grew as fast as the one before. Upon seeing where their companion's attention was focused, they each let out a terrifying screech. And after letting out that battle cry, each one of them darted forward and down, aiming right for Minoko.
The door had opened far enough for her to step out of the stable, though it did slam against the barrier in the same way that it would slam against a neighboring wall. It was in that surreal moment, where Minoko was outside of the hellish room but still in so much danger, that she locked eyes with the Gunslinger. "Sai." The one syllable came out in a barely audible hiss. 'Minoko, now!' And there was her cue. Hands flew on top of the woman's head as she abruptly fell to the ground. Her body would flatten itself as best as it could against the grass while she waited.
The three additional spirits that shot past Lyric told her that even if the spell wasn't as powerful as she wanted it to be, it would have to do. She made sure to cry out a warning to Minoko before unleashing the holy light. This one would be just as blindingly bright as the barrier originally was, but it would be much more concentrated. The beam would shoot in the direction where Minoko had previously been standing in an attempt to hit all four of the rogue souls. To them, the light would be comparable to the flames of hell. In the past, Lyric had used this attack to exterminate poltergeists that wouldn't stop haunting the living. It had completely banished those weaker beings, and, though she wasn't sure of the exact effects, she knew that it would most likely do something similar to these beings.
These spirits, while not quite poltergeists, were horrible creatures indeed. That didn't mean that the holy beam didn't do any damage to them, oh no. In fact, they absolutely hated it. The light streamed toward them just as they were about to slam into Minoko's back with claws bared, causing them to stop suddenly and double up, each one letting out a shriek that was poison to the ears.
He didn't wait. Not one second longer. As Lyric's holy beam went firing toward the four hell-bent spirits, the Gunslinger took this as his time to act. If her magic couldn?t harm these creatures or at least stop them in their tracks, then they were going to be some mightily pissed off ghosts, and angry ghosts were not what any living creature wanted to deal with. Especially those three girls. Taking a single step back, Sai pointed his gun and fired. The mixed power of Lyric's blast and the unnatural makings of those bullet caused the barrier to ripple, cracking it just enough so that he could slip on through. It wasn't normal, that much was for sure. If any of them could see it, which was doubtful, as Sai stepped through the temporarily weakened barrier, it was like watching a creature that was the hybrid between heaven, hell and everything in between. Smoke billowed off of him, his features taking on something both lighter and darker than normal. His eyes, oh those eyes, they were all too blue. Piercing and sharp, terrifying yet entrancing, they resonated with a power that bordered on wild. An aura surrounded him, again, both light and dark. It wasn't close-knit or -kept, but instead hovered around him like the heavy, thick fog does a lake pending a storm. It only added to the inevitable thought: what in the world was he? It was a question without answering. Taking out his second pistol, the Gunslinger brought both arms outstretched before him. Even though the holy bolt looked as if it was going to do the trick, he wasn't about ready to cut any corners. Firing off a dozen rounds, he added his own flavor of spirit-banishing to the fight, finding his target with each unexplainable bullet.
The spirits screamed with a whole new horror as those strange bullets began to fly. They suffered, long and hard, shrieking in agony as both the holy light and the piercing rounds shredded them to bits. And then, just as quickly as they had arrived, they vanished from the living world, becoming even less than dust.
She had felt when her own attack had hit the barrier, as she figured it would. Spirits weren't known for their solidity. It wasn't something she had worried about because when minimal damage was done to the dome it was able to repair itself. However, Sai's gunshots weren't something that she had factored in. Their combined attacks had made quick work of the ghosts, and she was thankful for that. But no one outside of the academy had ever broken through one of Lyric's barriers before. Stormy eyes held quite a bit of surprise in them. "How did you get through? What are you?" The questions were asked in a way that was neither hostile nor curious. Lyric had gotten barely a glimpse of Sai as he passed through. She never would have thought that something with an air like that would look so human, and because of that that her second inquiry was vital to her research.
He kept moving, past Minoko on the ground and through the doors, making straightway for the Astral still sitting like a statue on the floor. He glanced at Lyric as he walked past her, those eyes more blue than the bluest sky and unwavering even in that brief stare. He didn't blink. He never blinked. Looking back to Kingsley, he laid both guns down on the hay-strewn floor as he crouched in front of her. Lifting both hands to bring thumbs to temples and fingertips within the snake-like grasp of the smoke in her hair, he looked straight at her, too-blue eyes meeting irises and pupils swallowed up by gold.
Hands that had been on top of her head had quickly lowered down to cover her ears. The spirits' shrieking was so terrible that Min almost didn't notice the nearby disruption. A strange aura mixed with the gunshots that had been added to the din was more than enough to let her know that somehow Sai had gotten in. Not surprisingly, peace fell soon after. Slowly, Minoko rose to her feet. Leave it to Lyric to blurt out the question that she had been wondering about for months now.
She looked at him because she had no choice in the matter. After all, she was too busy being the exit point to a horde of long-dead spirits that wanted to taste the freedom they so desired. But before any more could escape, all she saw was blue. Within an instant, that portal closed, and with it the Astral's golden-filled eyes. She slumped, unconscious by the looks of it. Even the smoke in her hair seemed to die down to the faintest wisp of gray atop of the otherwise dark coloring.
He caught her, of course, with one arm put out to keep her steady. The guns were placed in their holsters, quick as skill could get them there, before his other arm scooped behind Kingsley's knees. When he stood and turned, the limp Astral in his arms, his eyes were back to their regular, albeit still eerie, shade of blue. "What happened?" Evidently that question was much more important to him than answering any of theirs.
"Is she alright?" As soon as Sai stood and turned Minoko would be right in front of him. Once the inevitable question was asked her expression changed from one of concern to deep guilt. "She wanted... We tried....to contact...Toby. But it went bad. We told her to stop, but she...kept trying." Minoko was sure that he could figure it out from there. While Sai was speaking her eyes seemed to examine every point in the room that wasn't overly blue. Upon seeing the forgotten sakura petal stuck in the wall she lifted her left hand, causing the piece of metal to fly back over to her.
"She'll be alright." His voice was surprisingly calm. At least, it was so far. When Minoko started to explain what had been happening, his eyes started to narrow. "She went searchin' for his soul." Drawing in a deep breath, he slowly let it out again. He was looking down at the tiny Irish girl lying helpless in his arms. To near anyone else, she seemed nothing more than just that; helpless. The longer he stared at her, the thinner his lips became. "This ain't goin' to keep happenin'." Looking up to Minoko as the petal flew back to her. "Fallon told you 'bout this, didn't she?"
Her head turned to finally meet the Gunslinger's gaze just as the petal reshaped itself to form a ring, which Minoko then proceeded to slip onto a random finger. "Huh? No." Sai had caught her off guard there. Though her face looked more surprised than anything, the speed of her response made it somewhat obvious that she was lying.
One of his eyebrows rose, although it was almost impossible to see it from underneath that cowboy hat's brim. "You alright?" Now that the Astral was in his arms, he didn't have to worry about her. He knew what was wrong with her, knew what it was going to take to make her right again. He already had one of the O'Connor's blessings, had wanted to get all of the others too but, time just wasn't going to allow. As soon as he was able to, he was going to make sure that Toby wasn't going to be causing any more trouble, from this side of the grave or the other.
Good, he hadn't noticed, or at least he wasn't going to accuse her of lying. Even if Sai had Fallon figured out Minoko was going to keep her promise to the absent cousin. "Yeah, I'm fine... I always am." Eyes shifted over to watch Lyric, who appeared to be taking down her barrier. Her staff was swung in a circular motion before being tapped against the hay strewn floor. From top to bottom the dome would seemingly melt away as it disappeared into the daylight.
Where most other people would have been shifting, themselves or the burden in their arms no matter how light that burden may have been, the cowboy was incredibly stable. He swung his eyes on over toward the mage, catching the last half of her dispelling the barrier, then looked back to Minoko. "So you wanted to try and find Toby too." It was a statement, not really a question. The steady blue gaze bore into her, more scrutinizing than he actually meant it to be but he'd take its advantages all the same.
"I..." For someone whose first language wasn't English, Minoko was surprisingly well spoken. But when those overly blue eyes were on her she seemed to forget everything that she had learned. Frantic thoughts in an old language were rushing through her head. Sai was very difficult to speak with. She hadn't realized that in the last few months, though. Probably because there had always been a whiskey bottle separating them. "I wanted to help Kingsley. She's been... She has wanted to talk to him for a long time. And I didn't want her to try it alone..." Fingers began to once again twist her cheap ring around. "I don't need to talk to him. I've made peace with it." Toby's death was probably the only death she had truly made peace with, if only because she hadn't been directly involved. Unlike Kingsley, Minoko was ready to put the red-headed boy behind her. He had been added to her list of things to forget.
It was doubted that there was anyone who thought that talking to Sai was considered 'easy'. Well, except for maybe Kingsley. Her and the cowboy had an odd relationship, like older brother and younger sister yet undeniably closer than even that. "Are you sure?" He kept on looking at her, constant as could be. Thankfully, it didn't stay on her for much longer. Eventually he looked down at Kingsley. "I know..." he said, staring at the unconscious girl. "I've got to get her out of this."
A small nod was her response to Sai's question. There were too many ghosts following her as it was. She had to be sure. "Yeah... She'll probably want to try again." It hurt her to say that, but Kingsley's determination had been obvious. If the Astral thought there was even a slim chance that Toby's soul might still be out there, she would most likely give it another go. Safety wasn't an issue to her. "What do you mean? Will you... Will you guys move again?"
Minoko was right. The Astral's determination to get in contact with Toby was... it wasn't normal, and it wasn't of a sound mind. Not that she had gone crazy, but grief could do some pretty nasty things to one's brain. Sad to say but, Minoko probably knew that, and all too well. "No. They won't move. They won't need to." He said 'they' because he didn't stay with the O'Connors. As close as he was to them, he always kept a certain distance. He looked from Kingsley back to Minoko. "I've got a job. 'Cause of her, 'cause of how important she is, I'm goin' to do it." He wasn't trying to scare her or anything. Nothing like that. Sai was just a man used to being trusted to do what he does, and well. After a moment, he looked over to Lyric. "You two should be fine now that the spirits are gone. I should be gettin' Kingsley somewhere safe."
"Thanks for your help. I'd like to speak with you about what happened, if you're willing to give me some insight." She was using that polite, neutral tone once again, like a journalist who was trying to avoid offending anyone. That's what she was, in a way. There would be plenty of people who wanted to hear about her experiences today.
He turned his attention back to the mage. After a moment, "What for?" Then, for the first time since he had picked her up, he shifted Kingsley in his arms.
She blinked. Really, he couldn't figure that out? "Research. I'd like to know more about Astrals, along with your abilities." If Sai would ever reveal what the hell he was then Lyric would be ready to take that information to the academy and expand upon it. Curiosity went a long way in Rhy'Din.
Eyes filled with disbelief shifted over to Lyric. Well, someone wasn't afraid to speak with Sai. "You should meet me at the bar in the next few days. We'll..." Hands shifted around as she began to crack each individual knuckle. "Talk about what happened." Over a bottle of Jameson and with twenty or so people surrounding them. It was where she felt at home.
A single brow rose. So she was another one like Fallon. He should have known. "Research for who?" Neither confirming nor denying he'd give information regarding himself or the Astral. Just as Minoko started talking, his eyes had shifted down to her. Then, he slowly nodded. "That sounds like a good plan." Finally, he moved, taking slow, meticulous steps to go around Minoko and be sure not to hit her with any part of Kingsley. "A few days."
"For me and my school. When Minoko requested my assistance she let me know that Kingsley was an Astral. It's something that I haven't encountered before, and the academy doesn't have any information on it, so I'd obviously like more information on it to help others out in the future..." She trailed off once Sai started to walk towards the door. Well, it had been worth a shot.
He glanced to the side, to the mage, then turned his head further to include Minoko. "If she trusts you... then I'll think about it." Looking back in front of him, he started once more for the barn door. "But first things first, I've got to take care of her." And then he was gone.