somariel: Clef from Magic Knight Rayearth (Clef)
Title: Second Chances
Rating: T/PG-13
Fandom: Magic Knight Rayearth
Characters: Clef, Shidou Hikaru, Ryuuzaki Umi, Hououji Fuu, Presea, Ferio, Lafarga
Summary: When the Magic Knights return to Cephiro, Clef is glad for a chance to make amends.
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 in the middle of my daily meeting with Ferio, Presea, and Lafarga to discuss the running of the castle when a large flare of magic in the sky caught my attention. Holding up a hand to pause Presea’s report, I sent my mind questing out in search of the source of the flare.

Upon finding the source, I gasped in surprise, then rushed out of the throne room, closely followed by the other three. When I reached the castle’s upper entrance, I quickly summoned Fyula and sent her off to catch the Magic Knights.

“Guru?” Presea said. “What’s happening?”

“The Magic Knights have returned,” I replied.

“What?” Ferio cried.

“How?” Presea asked.

“Why?” Lafarga asked

“I don’t know,” I said. “Presea, please wait here and bring them to the throne room when Fyula arrives with them. Lafarga, please inform Caldina and Ascot. Ferio…”

“I’ll wait with you,” he said.

Leaving Presea at the upper entrance and Lafarga heading to find Caldina and Ascot, Ferio and I went back to the throne room. When we got there, Ferio sat down in the throne and turned it to face mostly away from the door.

“Ferio?” I said, wondering why he had done that.

“What?”

“Don’t you want to see the Magic Knights again?” I remembered him telling me that he had helped them make it through the Forest of Silence.

“I do, but it’s probably better if they don’t see me immediately,” he said. “It will be less confusing for them.”

“Why would seeing you be confusing for them?”

“Because they don’t know who I really am.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Even though I helped them through the Forest of Silence, I never told them that I was Emeraude’s brother.”

I let the conversation drop and five minutes later, Presea entered the room with the Magic Knights.

I spent a moment just looking at the Magic Knights. They had changed since I last saw them. Most noticeable were the sadness underlying their expressions and the shadows in their eyes that spoke of tiredness from sleepless nights. I knew, without any doubts, that those changes were the result of what they had had to do the last time they had come to Cephiro.

“Guru. My prince,” Presea said. “I present to you Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu.”

“Clef…” Hikaru said haltingly.

“Girls from another world,” I said, “I am the one that led you to that harsh battle without telling you anything. I am sorry.” And I truly was. I may have had a duty to Cephiro, but that did not excuse what had happened to them as a result of carrying out my duty. They were not from Cephiro. They had no duty to it and had not deserved to get dragged into its troubles.

“No.” Umi shook her head. “You knew Princess Emeraude better than we did. Her deception must have been really hard on you.” She smiled sadly.

“Umi…” I said, trailing off uncertainly. That smile tore at my heart, but I didn’t know what to say to remove it.

“We failed both Cephiro and Princess Emeraude,” Hikaru said.

That was when Ferio chose to reveal himself. “That’s where you are mistaken,” he said, his words accompanied by a rustle of cloth as he stood up.

Fuu started when he spoke. “That voice…” she said, raising a hand in surprise.

Ferio slowly turned around to the Magic Knights, stopping when he faced them fully. Fuu stared at him in silence for a moment, then cried his name in a shocked-sounding voice, her raised hand hovering nervously by her chin.

“Magic Knights,” Ferio said, bowing his head, his eyes closed, “you gave my elder sister her wish.”

“Your sister…?” Hikaru tilted her head slightly.

Lifting his head, Ferio opened his eyes and looked directly at the Magic Knights. “Princess Emeraude was my only sibling.”

“Then when Presea said ‘prince’…she meant you?” Umi cried, raising a hand to her mouth in shock.

“Although I was the prince,” Ferio said, stepping off the dais and walking towards them, “I concentrated more on practicing my swordsmanship and napping. I spent very little time here in the castle.”

“So that is why you were aware of the legend of the Magic Knights,” Fuu said, “which only those close to Princess Emeraude knew about.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you,” he said, walking right up to her. “I only see the title of Prince as a burden, so I had no intentions of telling anyone.”

“Then I…” Fuu turned her head away from him as her voice wavered. “Your sister…” Tears were rolling down her cheeks as she hunched forward, hands clenched in front of her.

Ferio leaned toward her and gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “Right before the Pillar disappeared, I heard my sister’s voice,” he said. “She seemed happy that she was able to pray for the man that she loved instead of praying as the Pillar, even if that was the last moment of her life.”

“I also heard her speak,” I said. “She said to tell the Magic Knights ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘Thank you.’”

All three of them bowed their heads at my words. “Th-thank…you…?” Hikaru stuttered. She was also crying now and so was Umi.

Soon, however, they pulled themselves together and wiped the tears from their cheeks. “What happened to Cephiro?” Hikaru asked. “Why does it look completely different?”

“It is because we have lost the Pillar,” I said. “Now that the Pillar, who kept this world stable with her will, is gone, Cephiro has become a land of confusion.”

“So when the princess passed away, Cephiro crumbled,” Umi said.

“Those of us who had the strength used our will to build this castle for our people,” I said.

“Then this castle is made out of willpower?” Fuu asked.

“Yes, but it won’t last for long,” I said. “If we don’t find a new Pillar as soon as possible, Cephiro will disappear altogether. And armies from other countries are drawing near.”

“Other countries?” Hikaru sounded puzzled.

Waving my staff, I activated the screen in the ceiling. “There,” I said, thrusting the staff up to zoom in on our neighboring countries.

“Clef, what… What is that?!” the three of them cried.

“Those are the countries beyond Cephiro,” I said. “Autozam. Chizeta. Fahren.” As I named each country, I zoomed the image in on the appropriate world.

“There are other countries?” Umi sounded surprised.

“When we were last summoned,” Fuu said, “the sky was completely closed and even when we broke the barrier, all there was, was thunder and darkness.”

“And we didn’t have the luxury of looking around,” Umi added.

“Before, Princess Emeraude protected Cephiro from outside attack as the Pillar,” I said. “Anyone who tried to enter Cephiro with malicious intent was barred by an invisible wall and could not enter.”

I paused for a moment, thinking about how strong she had to be to do that. But I also remembered how lonely she had become. Then I said “That shows how absolute the Princess’ willpower was.”

“So Princess Emeraude was not only keeping the wars inside Cephiro down,” Fuu said, “she was also protecting Cephiro from outside intruders.”

“However,” I said, “after her death, the Roads from other countries to Cephiro opened.”

Lifting my staff, I used it to cast a diorama spell in the space between the Magic Knights and myself, showing the current Cephiro, the invading countries, and the road from each country.

“What is this that looks like a band of light?” Hikaru pointed at one of the roads.

“These are the Roads,” I said. “Those coming from another country can enter Cephiro freely by following this Road.”

“Wait!” Umi cried. “Are the roads permanent?”

Gesturing to the representation of Autozam, I said, “They disappear only when the one who created the Road in each respective country erases it.”

“What are these other countries looking for in Cephiro?” Hikaru asked. “I mean, now that the Pillar is gone, Cephiro is about ready to crumble. What’s the point in attacking a place that’s about ready to crumble?”

“They seek the Pillar of Cephiro itself,” I answered.

All three of them started strongly at my reply.

Bowing my head, I added, “For people from Cephiro are not the only ones that can become the Pillar.”

What?!” I wasn’t sure which of the Magic Knights had cried out or even if they all had.

“The only requirement to become the Pillar of Cephiro is that you must have a stronger heart than anyone else,” I said.

“That means if one of the invaders becomes the Pillar…” Fuu started.

“…and if Cephiro is formed by the will of the Pillar…” Umi continued.

“…there would be no need to fight,” Ferio finished. “Cephiro would belong to the new Pillar.”

“These people have enough power to create Roads to Cephiro from their respective countries,” I said. “It is possible that they are strong enough to become the Pillar. We must find a new Pillar who will lead Cephiro back to peace as soon as possible, while protecting Cephiro from invaders.

“Hikaru, Umi, Fuu…” I looked straight at them. “Right now, Cephiro does not have a Pillar. This makes your presence troubling, since only the Pillar can perform the summoning spell. I don’t know who summoned you and now, Cephiro is about to turn into a battlefield. You have already finished a hard battle as Magic Knights and granted the Princess’ wish. There is no need for you, people from another world, to become involved in Cephiro’s current war.”

“Clef…” they started, but I wasn’t finished and continued speaking.

“I have no idea as to who summoned you, but it means that there is someone who has a heart strong enough to summon someone from another world just like a Pillar…here in Cephiro. As we push the enemies back, we will find the new Pillar. That’s the only thing I can do for this country that Princess Emeraude risked her life to protect.”

Lifting my gaze to look straight at the Magic Knights again, I finished my speech. “I promise you that I will find the person who summoned you, so please stay here in this castle with the others.”

No!” Hikaru said sharply. “I will fight beside you!”

Hikaru!” I cried. Behind me, I could feel the shock radiating off of Ferio and Presea. I couldn’t imagine why she would ever want to fight for Cephiro again.

“I will stand with you and fight for Cephiro,” she said.

“You have nothing to do with the battle against our current enemy!” I said sharply. “You don’t know who summoned you! You don’t even know why you are here now! There is no reason for you to fight!”

“You’re wrong,” she said, closing her eyes and lifting one hand in front of her. “There’s a reason. It’s in…my heart.” As she finished, she placed her raised hand on her chest.

Her heart? Did she mean what I thought she did? Did I dare hope…?

“It just seems right that I should go into battle with you, Clef,” she said. “There are many reasons to fight. Everyone fights for their wish.” She had opened her eyes again, but the sadness in them was unequaled by anything other than the matching expressions Umi and Fuu were wearing. “I…figured that out…painfully well last time I was summoned.

“During the battle, Princess Emeraude tried to kill us Magic Knights with the part of her heart that cared about Zagato—the part that was saddened by his death. But she still tried to save Cephiro with what heart she had left as the Pillar.

“I think that Princess Emeraude really cared about this country. I think that’s why she was so worried and why she was so hard on herself. She protected Cephiro with her kind heart. Clef had taught us that it was a beautiful and peaceful country. But…” Hikaru paused for a brief moment, then continued. “…I haven’t seen what Cephiro really looks like.”

“We three…” Umi said, twisting her hands in front of her chest, “…we matured a little bit in the last battle. Not just our fighting skills, either, but also…our hearts.”

“Our only motivation last time was to go back to Tokyo,” Fuu said, “but it’s different now. Please, let us help you save Cephiro.”

Feeling a need to make some reply to their statements, I managed to say their names, gratitude and a warm fondness suffusing my tone, but to say that I was startled by this turn of events would be something of an understatement. I honestly had not thought that they would have any desire to aid Cephiro ever again.

“But…” Hikaru said, “…I still want to think about…the Pillar.”

“Think…?” Ferio said. I was wondering the same thing. What about the Pillar did she want to think about?

“Oh, Hikaru,” Umi said, placing her hands on Hikaru’s shoulders.

“Hikaru-san…” Fuu said, also placing a hand on Hikaru’s shoulder.

“Presea,” Hikaru said.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Presea start at being addressed.

“Lend us weapons,” Hikaru said firmly. “Weapons so we can go defend Cephiro!”

Turning to look at Presea head-on, I could see how badly she was trembling. She was shrinking in on herself, hands clasped near her chin. She had been terribly upset after I told her the truth of the legend of the Magic Knights, thinking of the pain and grief the weapons she had made must have caused them, so I knew Hikaru’s request had to be difficult for her to grant.

Finally, though, I felt her will gathering, and she raised her left hand above her head, palm down, a ball of light appearing in front of it. The light slowly grew brighter as long filmy scarves—Presea’s work signature—appeared and wrapped around it. Then, as the light reached a level that would have been blinding without the scarves, Presea threw up her right hand and turned her left hand palm up.

The scarf-wrapped ball of light jumped to a point four or five feet above her head and flared so brightly it was blinding even through the scarves. When I could see again, the scarves had blown open and three swords were hanging in the air above Presea, crossing each other at the approximate point where the ball of light had been.

As the scarves faded, the swords floated down to the Magic Knights and as each girl grasped hers, she was momentarily surrounded by a swirl of her element.

“These swords are ours?” one of them asked.

“Yes,” Presea said. “Those are the weapons of Magic Knights. They are weapons that only you can use.”

Now that they had weapons, they would need armor, and that was something I could provide. Calmly, I gathered my power and, as lightning crackled around me, I cried, “Accept!”

A bolt of lightning shot out of the focus jewel on my staff towards the ceiling and energy blasted out around me, rushing towards the Magic Knights. As the energy reached them, it resolved into swirls of their elements and wrapped around them to form new guards.

When the elemental swirls had faded, the girls looked down at the armor. To my surprise, the armor seemed to confuse them. Before I could ask what the problem was, however, Hikaru spoke up.

“Something’s wrong, Clef!”

“These aren’t the guards we had on the last time we were here,” Umi said.

“They differ from every previous evolutionary stage of our armor,” Fuu added.

So that was the problem. It would be easy enough to resolve the confusion. “You have no need now to let your guards evolve,” I said. “What I just gave you is for warriors who have already become Magic Knights.” Hikaru murmured something I couldn’t quite hear, but I continued without commenting on it. “Those guards will react to your hearts. But it doesn’t mean they will evolve like before. They merely change their shapes when you need them to.”

“React to our hearts…” Umi sounded confused.

I couldn’t tell her exactly what that would entail. She would have to find out for herself.

Continuing my speech, I shifted the subject slightly. “You are also able to use magic. You can use the spells you learned earlier. And as your hearts mature, you will be able to cast new ones. But… Hikaru… Umi… Fuu… Please use your guards, weapons, and magic to protect yourselves first and foremost.”

“Clef,” Hikaru said. “Ferio. Presea. Thank you!” She smiled brightly at us and Umi and Fuu also granted us smiles.

Before Hikaru could reduce the brightness of her smile, light suddenly flared from the central jewel on each girl’s sword. As the girls looked at their swords in surprise, the light spread until their swords appeared to made of solid light. But the light didn’t stop there. It spread to the Magic Knights as energy started to swirl up from their feet.

Just as Presea, Ferio, and I cried their names, the energy engulfed the girls completely. When it dissipated, the girls had disappeared.

“What just happened?” Ferio asked, looking at me questioningly.

“I’m not sure,” I said. I had a faint suspicion based on the fact that the light had started in the swords, which were the symbols of the Mashin, but I wasn’t certain enough to say it.

Before Ferio or Presea could ask any more questions, I sensed a flare of magic in the sky larger than the one that had signaled the Magic Knights’ arrival. I activated the ceiling screen targeted on the flare and when the image showed the Mashin, I knew my suspicion had been correct.

“I would guess that the Mashin called the Magic Knights to the place where they sleep in order to speak with their Knights.” I deactivated the screen and added, “The Magic Knights will return when they are ready. In the meantime, we have a meeting to finish.”

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June 2016

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