somariel: Lantis & Eagle from Magic Knight Rayearth, in formal clothing after the series (Lantis & Eagle)
Title: The Road to a New Beginning
Rating: T/PG-13
Fandom: Magic Knight Rayearth
Characters: Lantis, Shidou Hikaru, Mokona, Hououji Fuu, Ryuuzaki Umi
Warnings: Contains spoilers for the third volume of Magic Knight Rayearth 2.
Summary: Lantis never thought that his search for the Road to the Pillar would end like this.
Notes: Set in the manga universe.

A/N: Many thanks to FFN's Antoinette Veronica for beta'ing this for me.
All recognizable dialogue and thoughts are taken from Tokyopop's 10th anniversary edition of Magic Knight Rayearth. Alternative wordings and spell names are taken from the resources on the Magic Knight Rayearth fansite Definitely Not Tokyo.

I was about two and a half hours into my search for the Road to the Pillar the day after Hikaru’s collapse when the clouds suddenly bulged downwards and a wide, swirling trail of light burst through them.

That has to be the roads from the other countries, I thought, making out three strands within the glowing vortex. I was soon proven right when the tips of the strands broke open to reveal the Dome, the Bravada, and the NSX. The roads then disappeared, leaving the three vehicles in the air above the castle’s shield. With all three countries having reached Cephiro at the same time, it was certain that their battle for the position of Pillar would happen above the castle.

Just as I thought that, the Dome’s mouth opened and a fireball shot out of it toward the NSX. The NSX countered with the Laguna cannon, not only canceling the fireball, but also blasting the Dome just behind the forelegs.

The explosion on the Dome had not fully dissipated before the Bravada fired a pair of beams from its prow. The NSX replied with a missile barrage that was deflected by a shield around the Bravada. After letting the barrage fade, the NSX fired a dozen or so missiles that arced around the Bravada to impact its stern. The resultant explosion made it obvious that the NSX had found a weak spot in the Bravada’s shield, probably at the location where it was generated.

The NSX then initiated another missile barrage, arcing the projectiles so they rained down on the Bravada from above. In the light from the explosions around the Bravada, I could see three winged platforms a few hundred feet below it.

One platform bore a figure in green and a figure in white. The second platform bore a figure in blue and a figure in green and white, while the third one bore a single figure in red and black. Fuu and Ferio, Umi and Ascot, and Hikaru. Hikaru appeared to be holding something with her right arm—probably Mokona, given how inseparable the two had been since Hikaru’s arrival.

As the missed shots from the NSX’s attack on the Bravada rained down, narrowly missing the platforms, I spurred my horse towards them. I knew that Ascot didn’t have enough power to cover all three platforms with a protective spell and although I was certain that the Magic Knights had enough power to cover all three if one of them had a protective spell, I didn’t know if it would be strong enough to hold up against repeated attacks.

I was about half of the way to them when Fuu raised her hands and shouted something. A swirling dome of wind sprang up around the platforms, but as I had feared, after two dozen shots or so, the blasts began breaking through the barrier.

I was maybe ten feet away from being close enough to protect them with my own spell when one of the blasts struck Hikaru’s platform, knocking it sideways. All three of the Magic Knights screamed as Hikaru fell off the platform, holding Mokona tightly.

I spurred my horse to an even faster pace and reached them just in time to catch Hikaru. Her scream cut off with an abrupt whoosh of lost breath as she landed in my arms. It seemed to take a moment for her to register the fact that she had stopped falling, but when she did, she opened her eyes, which had been squeezed shut in fear, and stared up at me in shock. “Lantis…” she said, sounding simultaneously dazed and relieved.

“Are you hurt?” I asked when she seemed to be unable to say anything more.

Her cheeks flushed with color and she quickly shook her head in negation.

I could feel Primera fuming on my shoulder, but I was still a little startled when she spoke.

“You’re ticking me off,” she said. “What’s with the deep, longing looks?” Before she could wind herself up any more, however, her attention was suddenly diverted downward. “Huh? The jewel…is yellow?”

Curious as to what she was talking about, I looked down myself and saw that, as she had said, the jewel on Mokona’s forehead was yellow. When had it changed? What had caused the change?

Before I could ponder the change any further, a few stray blasts and screams from the four still on their platforms returned my attention to the battle at hand. Looking up, I saw that the FTO—meaning Eagle—had entered the fight and was conducting its own attack on the Dome and the Bravada. I had looked up just in time, too, since the next thing the FTO did was turn and fire a blast at me.

Pulling Hikaru in toward my chest, I quickly drew and ignited my sword. Holding it out in front of me, I shouted “Cresta!”, throwing enough power into the shield for it cover the remaining two platforms as well. The blast splashed harmlessly against the shield and when my vision had cleared, I could see the FTO and its shield drones speeding towards me. Well, I thought, I have no choice but to fight you.

“Primera!” I cried. Dashing off my shoulder, she twirled above my sword and cast her own spell to amplify the power of my next one. Raising my sword above my head, I allowed the power to gather, then stretched the sword out in front of me and shouted “Chronos!” A bolt of lightning wider than I was tall burst from the blade of my sword and blasted towards the FTO. It went right through the drones’ shield and hit the FTO, causing explosions along the mecha’s right side.

Turning my attention back to my immediate vicinity, I saw that Hikaru was exchanging a look with the other two Magic Knights. She gave them a brief nod, then turned to face me. “Thank you for helping me,” she said.

“Why are you fighting for Cephiro?” I asked. That question had been bothering me ever since I first met them. “What stake do you have in a battle for a country that isn’t yours?”

“We fight for ourselves,” she said, her expression solemn and fierce at the same time.

Themselves? I thought. What does she mean by that?

“Because I never again want to cry because of regret,” she said, her expression taking on a touch of sadness. Before I could make any reply to her statement, she carefully placed Mokona on the saddle and, in unison with Umi and Fuu, drew her sword from the jewel on her gauntlet and called upon her Mashin.

No sooner than the Mashin had appeared in the sky above me, Ascot and Ferio, I heard a loud, almost overpowering, voice say “The time has come.” The strength of that voice was such that I would have been surprised if anyone in Cephiro hadn’t heard it. Then a bright light began radiating from right in front of me. I looked down and saw that it was coming from Mokona!

The light grew brighter until it reached a blinding intensity, then abruptly faded. When I could see clearly again, the winged platforms had disappeared, along with Ferio, Ascot and Primera, and Mokona was floating in the air in the center of the triangle formed by the Mashin.

Faintly, I thought I heard Hikaru say Mokona’s name questioningly, but she was drowned out by the loud, penetrating voice that had spoken before.

“The time has come to choose a new Pillar for Cephiro,” it said. Whose voice was it? It seemed to be coming from everywhere and nowhere at the same time. “You who are strong of Heart, who gathered in this land…” I could hear the capital letter on the word ‘heart’ as the voice spoke.

“Aska of Fahren… Your Wish is to create a world that makes all your thoughts become reality. However, that Wish does not show enough inner strength for you to become Cephiro’s Pillar. More important than this world’s fate is your love of your own country and its people.

“Tarta and Tatra of Chizeta… For your mother and father, and for the people of your world, your Wish is to make Cephiro a territory of your own domain. However, your Wish is also too weak for you to be the Pillar of this country.

“These Wishes are too weak because they are not Wishes that you fulfill by risking everything you have. Only those that want to create the future of Cephiro with a Heart stronger than anyone else have the right to be the Pillar.

“Lantis…”

I started. I had not expected the voice to address me.

“You have a strong Heart. Your Wish is to eliminate Cephiro’s Pillar System, and to do that, you plan to destroy the Road to the Pillar. You would give your life to fulfill that Wish.”

Above me, I could see all three of the Mashin start, although I wasn’t sure if it was at my wish or at the pronouncement of how far I would go for it.

“Your Heart is the strongest of those in Cephiro.”

Did that mean that I was going to take the test for the Pillar? That possibility had never occurred to me.

“However, there is someone here who has a stronger Heart than even you.”

What? The only possibilities I could think of were the Magic Knights…and Eagle.

“The Road to the Pillar will now open,” the voice said, sounding so loud I would not have been surprised to learn it had been heard in Autozam, Chizeta, and Fahren. “Those that have the right to become the Pillar, follow my Road and accept my Challenge!”

Then Mokona—Mokona!—opened his mouth and, with a great swirling suction, Rayearth and the FTO—Hikaru and Eagle—were swept into it. Mokona was now glowing, surrounded by a radiant nimbus.

“Mokona!” Umi cried. “Where did you take Hikaru?!” Selece reached out towards Mokona, as if to grab him, only to be blown back into Windam’s arms as soon as his hands touched the corona of light around Mokona.

“Where have Eagle and the Magic Knight gone?” I asked.

“To a another world,” the voice—Mokona’s voice, I now realized—said. “To the world that the Magic Knights call Earth.”

“Earth?!” Umi and Fuu cried.

“Who are you?” I asked, narrowing my eyes with suspicion.

Mokona tilted forward slightly and large, feathered wings erupted from his back. “I am the one who created this world,” he said. “The land. Order. Reason. I am the one who created all. And…I am the creator of the world on which the Magic Knights were born.”

“Creator?” Even though I knew Guru Clef was still inside the castle, I could hear his voice clearly. Mokona must have been doing something to enable everyone to hear each other, no matter how far apart they were.

“That’s right,” Mokona said. “I first created the world that contained Earth…a world without an absolute leader, a world lacking order and full of confusion. But also a world where the Will of the living carves out the road to the future. That was Earth.

“But the people of Earth fought day after day and they are continuing to destroy their land, their world. That is why I created this new world, including Cephiro, a world where one Will determines all.”

“Then the one who named the Magic Knights…” Fuu began.

“…was Mokona?” Umi finished the question.

Everything was silent for a moment after that, then Hikaru’s voice echoed back between worlds, crying “What happens?!”

“Hikaru!” Umi and Fuu cried.

“Shidou Hikaru, one of the Magic Knights, is taking the Challenge to become Pillar of Cephiro, along with Eagle of Autozam,” Mokona said.

“I don’t want Hikaru to be facing hardship alone!” Umi cried.

“Mokona-san!” Fuu cried. “Please send us to Earth, too!”

“I cannot do that,” Mokona said. “Only those who are qualified to go can enter the Site of the Challenge.”

“I don’t care about qualifications!” Umi shouted. “We promised each other! No matter what, we fight as one!”

“We can’t let Hikaru-san wage this battle alone!” Fuu shouted.

Before Mokona could make any reply to the Magic Knights, energy suddenly sparked in the clouds above the castle and lightning reached down to wreathe around its towers.

“A new Road has opened,” Mokona said. “A Road joining Cephiro and Earth. The next Pillar is Hikaru!” The last sentence boomed with resounding finality.

Somewhat distantly, I could hear Umi and Fuu crying out in shock, but all of my attention was focused on Mokona—on the Creator. “What will happen to Eagle?!” I demanded.

“Those who cannot overcome the Pillar’s Challenge…disappear,” Mokona said.

I wasn’t going to let that happen to Eagle! Drawing my sword, I ignited the blade and pointed it at Mokona. “Open it!” I ordered. “Open the Road to the Pillar again!”

“The Road to the Pillar can only be opened once,” he said. Then he stopped and I received a sense of a questioning pause coming from him.

When he spoke again, it was with one of the last things I had expected to hear.

“The new Pillar, Hikaru,” he said, “is trying to bring Eagle of Autozam back with her. But only the Pillar can go down the Road. If she persists, both of them will disappear!

Something in me snapped at those words. I swung my sword at Mokona as hard as I could. It was deflected by the same corona of light that had blown Selece back earlier, but I didn’t care. I just swung again and again, battering at the shield that protected Mokona.

“Do what I say!” I shouted. “Open the Road again!” I barely even noticed it when the energy generated by the repeated swings and deflections sliced my cheek. All I cared about right then was my friend and the young woman I wanted to get to know better.

“I couldn’t care less if you’re the Creator or whatever! If Eagle or the girl from the other world dies, I will kill you! Open it!

Suddenly I was joined in my pleas by the other Magic Knights.

Mokona!” Umi shouted. “Open the Road!”

Please open it!” Fuu cried.

Abruptly, the glow around Mokona flashed blindingly. When I could see again, Selece and Windam had disappeared and I was standing on one of the crystal spikes that formed the castle’s base, my horse gone. Before I had a chance to react to my sudden change in position, however, the castle’s central tower appeared to split in half to frame a black void and then, from out of the void, came a new Mashin. Its body was Rayearth’s red, but it also had Selece’s tail and the wings of both Selece and Windam. Had the Mashin combined to form this new one?

“Mokona.” Hikaru’s voice came from the new Mashin. “These Mashin were created to kill the Pillar.” The Mashin raised its closed right hand. “But…we were able to save this person.” The Mashin opened its hand to reveal Eagle laying in its palm. He was asleep or unconscious and his cloak was tangled around him, but he was alive. “With these Mashin."

Then she said, “You said I was the new Pillar, didn’t you?”

“Correct,” Mokona replied.

“Then can I make a promise for this new world right now?”

“Yes.”

“I think the idea of this world is wonderful,” Hikaru said. “That belief in your heart makes you powerful. But to put all the responsibility for this world on one person’s shoulders… That’s too much.

“So, with Umi-chan and Fuu-chan, who fought by my side, with all our dear friends in Cephiro, and with the people of our neighboring countries—Autozam, Chizeta, and Fahren—I want to take some time to think. I need to examine what this nation needs and what will make its people happy.

“We might not be able to do anything, but there might be something that we can only see from the other world that you created, Mokona… Earth.”

“Does that mean you will abolish the Pillar system?” Mokona asked.

“Cephiro should belong to everyone who loves it,” Hikaru replied. “The people I love want this as well.

“Mokona,” she continued, “you made Cephiro after seeing what happened to Earth, right?”

“That is correct.”

“We can understand why it makes you sad, Mokona,” Umi said.

“We can’t say that everyone on Earth is happy right now,” Fuu added.

“Still,” Hikaru said, “Clef, Lantis, Ferio, and everyone in Cephiro—we who know the tragic end of Princess Emeraude—feel from the bottom of our hearts…that we don’t want anyone else to sacrifice themselves. We want to live with all the people we love and be happy…here in Cephiro!

“Princess Emeraude loved Cephiro and all its people,” Mokona said. “But perhaps she did not believe in them. The Princess gave her life to protect the world she adored, but she didn’t allow her people to understand her responsibility or aid her with her struggles.

“Cephiro is a world where the Pillar controls all. The Princess could have abolished the Pillar System. But Princess Emeraude wished for her own death—and wished for the preservation of the current system…an unchanging tomorrow that one person determines for all.

“But the new Pillar of Cephiro has wished not for her own death, but the death of the system. Without sacrificing herself, without overprotecting the ones she loves, she chooses to share her happiness—as well as her pain—and work with them to build a future, a tomorrow different from today. You believe in the people you love.”

With Mokona’s last word, the combined Mashin dissolved in an explosion of feathers. The Magic Knights appeared in the air before Mokona, dressed in their regular clothing, and three streaks of light swirled towards Mokona.

“Mokona!” Hikaru cried.

“I leave the future of Cephiro in your hands,” Mokona said. As the streaks of light resolved into a blue dragon, a green bird with four wings, and fire-maned red lion or wolf with an ivory colored horn—the Mashin’s animal forms—Mokona continued “We shall depart to another dimension.”

“Mokona-san,” Fuu said, “you were the one who sent for us to put us on the Road to the Pillar, weren’t you?”

“Because you liked us,” Umi said, “you decided to help your friends.”

For a moment, Mokona was silent, and the he gave a loud “Pu!”, just like when he had been pretending to be a simple creature. As the sound of his exclamation faded, he and the Mashin disappeared in a burst of light.

“A new Road has opened in Cephiro.” Guru Clef’s voice came from somewhere nearby and I looked around to see that he and the others in the castle had come outside at some point while Hikaru and Mokona were speaking.

“The Magic Knights,” he said, “…no, the three young women from another world, have shown us the way.” As he spoke, sunlight began to break through the clouds and the former Magic Knights drifted closer to the ground and their loved ones—Umi towards Ascot, Fuu towards Ferio, and Hikaru—and Eagle—towards me. Everywhere the sunlight touched the ground, Cephiro began to renew itself.

“To a world where truly the believing heart becomes power!” By the time Clef had finished speaking, what was left of Cephiro had been almost completely renewed and Hikaru and Eagle had landed in my arms. Eagle was much too still to be healthy, but he was alive and Hikaru was alive and for the moment, all was right with the world again.

And things would remain well, too. With Hikaru’s abolition of the Pillar System, no one would ever again be faced with the choices that Emeraude and Zagato were forced to make. I would not be faced with the choice Zagato was forced to make. Hikaru had given Cephiro—given all of us—a new beginning.
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