A Shadow Skill Fanfic by Yen (December 2000)

Yen's Note: This is a sequel to Consequent, Possibilities, Guardian and Learning.

Disclaimer: I'm doing this for free.

The sun was shining in Juliannes as usual though quite a few gray and dreary clouds overhead cast sobering shadows on the city.

Vy Low, otherwise known as Scarface, paused suddenly. His stride broken abruptly in midstep as Darkness passed by him with barely a nod of greeting. The other man had most of his concentration fixed on the two ice cream cones he was carrying.

Vy blinked and turned slowly, watching Darkness closely as the latter quickened his pace. The ice cream was melting and was dripping on his cloak.

Later, Vy was in Kai's private suite, drinking wine straight from its decanter.

Kai Singh, otherwise known as Crimson, glared at him and snatched the crystal bottle away. "I don't care if you don't have any manners," he said frostily, "but don't ever again come barging in here without announcing yourself."

Vy straightened, eyeing Kai's rather disheveled clothing and an unmistakable mark on the other man's cheek. He smiled smugly. "Forgive me," he drawled loudly, "for having disturbed you and your companion."

He heard a distinct click from Kai's sleeping chambers. He knew that sound well. Kai then let out a relieved sigh and said, "Thank you, Vy. You may be improper, but you have excellent timing."

Vy took back the decanter, saying, "You should have that secret passage blocked up." He took a swig before continuing, "You'll only encourage those foolish damsels if you don't."

Kai grimaced. "I did have it sealed, but then they started coming through the door instead." He let out another sigh, this time theatrical. "That's even worse."

Vy chuckled. "Most men would envy your difficulties, Kai," he observed, leaning against the fireplace mantle. He eyed Kai's suite. Marbled floor, molded ceiling, scarlet silk draperies, antique furniture and the large fireplace which was used mainly for ambiance rather than actual use.

Kai shrugged, heading towards a plush armchair and sinking into it. "You can have all this too, you know, if you quit your wandering ways and really settle down." His green eyes watched Vy closely. "Juliannes may regard outsiders below its class, but heroes are always treated well."

Vy laughed shortly. "I, a hero. That has always amused me."

Kai's eyes narrowed. "You are considered as the candidate to be Kuruda's next king. Do you also find that a laughing matter?"

Vy's mouth twitched. "It does amuse me." His eyes met Kai's unflinchingly. "Those fools are so eager for me to be their king."

Unknowing to its owner, Kai's hands clenched. "Only of Kuruda, Vy," he said softly, "Kuruda, not Ashliana."

Vy showed his empty palms. "What else did I mean?" He smiled ever so slightly. "Don't jump to conclusions, Kai."

"I rarely jump to conclusions, Vy," Kai countered.

Vy's eyebrow rose. "Are you basing your supposition on the favor the Princess shows for me?"

Kai stood up slowly as Vy continued, "I have done nothing to gain that which has been freely given to me."

"Leave Her Majesty alone, Scarface."

"You cannot lay blame on me if she showers her affections on me."

"She is young and very impressionable."

"Do you want her, Kai? Do you keep that secret passage in your room open in hopes that she may pay you a visit?"

A blade appeared at Scarface's throat, but he was unworried. Moments later, Kai replaced his sword back into its scabbard.

"I'll be watching you, Scarface."

"Not always I hope," Vy said as he watch his friend sit down again, "You know I'm very shy."


It was all Dias could do to not attack Scarface then and there. He stood, fuming behind Kai's chair, wishing dearly he hadn't died.

Scarface was draining the last of the wine while Kai was simply looking at him just as what Dias was doing. Only Darkness' firm warning kept him still.

You are far too weak, Black Wing. You are energy without living substance. You are akin to fire, air, water and earth. Non sentient elements. Should you battle at your current state, even I cannot gather you from the void a second time.

Damn you Scarface! It was all your doing!

Why did you try to kill Gau, Darkness?
That was not my intention, Black Wing.
What then?
I was asked to test Black Howling.

Dias watched with helpless rage as Scarface left the room. In front of him, Kai breathed out loudly and stood up. He was going to trail Scarface when Kai said loudly, "Are you here, Dias?"

He froze as Kai paused as well, waiting for his answer.

"I can feel you. Slightly, very slightly. You are here, aren't you, Dias?"

He answered back, calling his friend's name, but...

"It's not use. I cannot hear you, but you can hear me. Don't challenge Scarface. He's too powerful. Even Darkness was swayed by him."

Kai's shoulders slumped, and he said heavily, "I didn't expect Vy to use Darkness. Had I known sooner, I could have interfered, perhaps arrived before the battle started, before you committed yourself to die for Black Howling's sake. All I could do was to ask Darkness to hold your essence, and fortunately, he was impressed enough, as he had been with G, to recruit you as well."

Recruit me... us... what for, Kai?

As if he was heard, Kai answered, "I don't know what Darkness' motives are. I haven't the slightest idea. I think maybe Vy knows what he is up to." Kai turned around slowly and faced Dias though no recognition lit his sad eyes. "I was just glad that you were still here in this world, my friend."

Kai stood there quietly for some time, his head bowed as if hoping that Dias could give him a sign. However, no matter how hard Dias tried, shouted, rushed at him, struck, Kai could not see, hear nor feel him.

Moments after, Kai returned to his sleeping quarters, leaving behind a dejected Dias in his parlor.

What am I? Dias wondered. Even ghosts can be seen and heard. What am I now?