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Blood Moon- Part 10
by becca-oneechan
3/24/97

My goodness! When I first wrote this, it was just going to be filler. Then I realized that I had written a load of crap. (Pardon the language.) So I sat down, rewrote it, and totally blew my own mind. No more need be said. Just read it! If you've read this far in "Blood Moon", you'll probably like it. I hope!!!

"Sailor Moon" is the property of Takeuchi Naoko.

--Blood Moon--
*becca-oneechan*
"Pt 10- Swords and Solutions"


"Where the hell are we?" Sailor Jupiter asked, her voice echoing hollowly. She clung ashamedly to Kunzite's free arm, her dark green eyes wide. At the king's other side, Usagi suddenly pulled away, taking a few slow steps forward. Her bootheels rang on the floor, proving that it was indeed there, even though it looked as though they stood in the midst of deepest space. Stars flickered beneath their feet, novas and galaxies swirling like cream stirred into black coffee.

Usagi raised her golden head, surveying the arching ceiling. It was divided into panels, each seeming to hold a different image. But it was impossible to see what these were, for they were more than a mile above the small group, and there was nothing to illuminate them. The walls stretched out into the distance until disappearing into deep darkness, flat black marble set about with spiraling pillars of gleaming ebony and fitfully flickering torches. The flames dancing above the torches were silver, and didn't cast much light.

Sailor Jupiter kept her eyes on Usagi, as Kunzite was doing. The one huge room they were in was so mind-boggling, it made her feel tiny and insignificant, as though some giant presence might come along at any second and stomp her flat without even noticing, like she might step on a hapless insect.

Usagi's golden hair flowed down her back, gleaming in this dark place like a lonely beam of sunlight. She stood easily, looking slowly about her, seeming to be questing for something. Her dark clothing blended into her surroundings, making her sweet face and gleaming hair stand out all the more. Sailor Jupiter caught her breath, noticing for what seemed to be the first time the beauty and perfection of her friend. It was as though something she had always taken for granted had been transmuted into a force she could no longer ignore.

"We are in the Hall of Shadows, held within the Dream Tower," Kunzite answered Jupiter, his voice low, something odd in the tone. He was watching Usagi closely, his dark face set, a strange glint in his pale eyes. Even with his silver-spun hair, he looked more at home here than Usagi ever could. "This is a place beyond the realm of your world's legends, something not dreamed of there, and a place feared and revered in the Dark Kingdom."

"It's evil?" Sailor Jupiter asked, gripping his arm more tightly, glancing about anxiously.

Kunzite smiled humorlessly. "No. Here there is no evil and no good. That is why the Dark Kingdom fears it. This is to our world, perhaps, what both Heaven and Hell are to yours."

"So... this is, like, a holy place?"

He snorted, but never removed his eyes from Usagi, who was staring sightlessly down at a particularly brilliant cluster of stars directly beneath her. "Of course not! Don't be ridiculous. This is a place, nothing more. But it is a place of such power that only the bravest dare enter, and most who dare are quickly destroyed."

"Destroyed?" Jupiter squeaked.

"Don't worry. I have an in. Any I bring should be safe, so long as they are honest within themselves. Queen Metallia has never been honest within herself, nor without, so she cannot follow us. And the youma are too weak of will. I trust you are both honest and strong-willed."

"An in?" Sailor Jupiter gave him a strange look. "You have an in here?"

Kunzite sighed. "I do have a life outside the Dark Kingdom, you know. I wasn't always Beryl's flunky. I had a life before, and I never allowed her to order my pursuits entirely. I have studied long and deeply into ancient blades of magical powers, and this has sent me to many places most would not dare go."

Sailor Jupiter gazed at him with wide eyes, for the first time seeing him as a person, rather than a cardboard cut-out villain. "You're-- You know, you're kind of a cool guy."

"Arigato," he said dryly, but somehow she could tell he was truly touched.

"So, how are we gonna--"

"It's singing!" Usagi suddenly turned toward them. Her voice had been sharp, sounding almost accusing, but her face was vague, her warm blue eyes unfocused.

Sailor Jupiter felt a large amount of tension leave the arm she was clutching, and Kunzite released a breath. She hadn't noticed until that moment that he had been waiting for something.

"You can hear it then," he said in relief.

Usagi nodded, looking through them. She cocked her head as though listening. "It's calling to me."

"Then follow, Usagi-chan," he urged. "Follow the song, and we will follow you."

"All right," she said amiably, turning and moving away across the star-speckled floor.

Jupiter blinked. "Usagi? Kunzite, what--"

"Hush! This is what I brought her here for. I was afraid my impurity had rubbed off on her, but if she hears the song, it will all be all right." "But what--"

"Don't fear. Here we will find what we need. I know what I'm doing."

Sailor Jupiter heaved a great sigh and allowed Kunzite to lead her after Usagi, clinging once more to his arm. Whatever they were doing here, she hoped they'd get it done quickly!


"So, what are we going to do?" asked Sailor Mercury, frowning in confusion as she looked around the large room Jadeite had led them to. It was brightly lit, unusual in the Dark Kingdom and filled with several tables that were cloaked with dusty, formerly white cloths.

An answer was temporarily delayed, as Jadeite chose that moment to fling a large tarpaulin off one of the tables. The resulting dust cloud sent all three of them into prolonged fits of sneezing. Jadeite swore mightily between convulsions, while Minako cursed even more colorfully and inventively.

They finally recovered, eyes watering and noses bright red. Minako gave Jadeite a burning glare. "How about you let me do the rest, Ares, sweetie?"

The king meekly agreed, then turned to answer Sailor Mercury as Minako quickly and efficiently uncovered the rest of the tables, hardly stirring a mote as she folded the cloths and stacked them on the floor. "This was my laboratory."

Sailor Mercury looked around, disbelieving. But there were indeed beakers, tubes, and various other paraphernalia littering the table tops. "What did you study?"

"Whatever I felt like," Jadeite shrugged. "Mostly how to take things apart on the molecular level. But I could also make a mean chocolate shake."

Sailor Mercury glanced at him, a small smile quirking her lips. "Hard to imagine you puttering around in here on your days off," she remarked dryly, her dark eyes crinkling in amusement.

Jadeite laughed lightly, not noticing how the sound startled Sailor Mercury. She blinked, and smiled more widely in sympathy. "Oh, we all had our little hobbies. Gave us something to do after Beryl reamed us out for letting you senshi beat our sorry butts. I liked to make things blow up, when I was in a particularly bad mood. And once I slipped something nasty and half dissolved into Kunzite and Zoisite's bed, but after the pounding Kunzite gave me, and having to put up with one of Zoisite's tongue-lashings, I never tried anything that dumb again!" He shook his head, grinning a little at the memory.

Sailor Mercury's brows rose. "Um.... So, what did the other kings do?"

"Oh, Nephrite had his wine cellar and his armor collection. Kunzite was obsessed with magical blades. Used to disappear for months at a time, back before he and Zoisite got really serious. If he hadn't been so powerful and so good at sucking up, Beryl probably would have fried him several times over. He really pushed it where she was concerned."

"What about--" she was almost afraid to ask. "What was Zoisite's hobby?"

Jadeite grinned, a wicked glint in his sapphire eyes. "Who, Zoi? Oh, his hobby was annoying Nephrite!"

Mercury winced. "Why am I not surprised."

"We're all set," Minako declared, shoving the pile of coarse cloth under one of the tables. She had not only uncovered all the tables, but had somehow managed to get rid of every last bit of dust. Except the liberal grey smears on her hands and face. She wiped her hands on the sides of her borrowed uniform top, but as it was almost as dusty as she was this didn't do her much good. She sighed and sneezed, then moved to brush away an errant strand of hair. "Ugh." She grimaced as she realized it was still encrusted with dried blood. "Now I'm not only a total gore-fest, I'm covered in dust too! I could sure use a shower."

"Right through there," Jadeite said, waving a hand toward a door set between two of the tables.

"Huh?"

"There's a shower stall in there. Sometimes my experiments got a little out of hand and I needed a quick sluice. It should still be working; I don't see why not. You can at least give it a shot." His mind was obviously already on the task Kunzite had set him, and he was gazing into a sooty beaker, a frown of concentration creasing his brow.

"Oh." Minako gazed blankly at Sailor Mercury, who shrugged. "Well... all right then."

She loped across the room and carefully pushed the door open. A light sprang into being within, and she surveyed the room cautiously before entering and closing the door softly behind her.

"You didn't really answer my question," Sailor Mercury said, moving to join Jadeite.

"Ne? Oh, that." He grinned again, his eyes gleaming more malevolently this time. "Easy. We're gonna melt the youma where they stand!"


The face of the Moon remained the same to all the Earth telescopes focused upon her chill beauty, marred by her lonely vigil in the harsh net of the cosmos but clear of any of Man's defacing handiwork. And yet, if one knew how to get there, how to twist the wrinkle in time and space just right, the ruins of the Silver Millennium were still there to be visited.

Two small forms moved between the tumbled pillars of white and broken marble walls. Tears ran down their faces, for they had not been gone long enough for the horror to have faded, though powdery dust was thick upon the landscape.

"Artemis, what--"

"What are we doing here?"

"Yes."

Artemis sighed, hopping up to perch upon a shattered fountain. "We must find the Star Sword."

Luna gasped. "But that means we have to face--"

"Hai." Artemis nodded.

"Oh, gods...."


"My queen, the wall of bodies has been established, as you commanded." Prince Endymion restrained a small shudder, not wishing to show weakness before Metallia. But it had been a grisly job, overseeing the slaughter. When Queen Metallia had declared she wanted a wall of bodies, she had not been speaking figuratively.

"Very good." She sat on her throne, a stone monstrosity even worse than Beryl's, set symbolically where her former prison had been. Her fresh young face was at odds with the ancient evil gleaming in her crimson eyes. Prince Endymion kept experiencing very mixed emotions whenever he looked at her, and it made him anxious. He hoped she couldn't sense his confusion. She was a predator, through and through, and any sign of weakness could spell his demise.

"What do you wish now, majesty?" It was easier to be busy. No matter how nasty the task, it would keep his mind off his strange feelings.

She thought a moment, a wickedly cunning expression twisting her young features. Her eyes flickered and flamed, then suddenly, unexpectedly, the crimson fire died, replaced with a color so dark it was impossible to tell its truth. Her face, as well, was transformed, losing its wicked cast, and becoming soft and pale. A look of terror and horror overtook those eyes and features, and she blinked at him.

"Mam-- Mamo-chan?" she whimpered, before her hands clenched on the throne arms, and the flames flared back into life, the fear replaced with self-assurance and cruelty.

Prince Endymion stared, feeling a thread of sweat trickle down his brow, a cold chill run down his spine, a frozen hand grip his heart. Queen Metallia seemed utterly unaware of what had just happened. It was fortunate she was so deep in thought. Endymion fought to get himself back under control. Was it possible...? He had sensed the strength of will the girl who had previously inhabited Metallia's new body had possessed. Was it possible Metallia had not ousted her entirely, that she was still in there? He broke out in a cold sweat. And Metallia wasn't even aware of it.

"As we have nothing to do now but await the arrival of our... guests... I suggest we retired to our tent, for a few hours."

Prince Endymion grew even more horrified. She was insatiable, which hadn't bothered him too much previously, though it did drain him a little, but now.... What if the girl, Mars, came to the fore some time in the middle of--

"Endymion?" Her voice was sharp. She was close to being irritated. Danger flared in his brain, displacing doubts and fears.

"Yes, majesty!" He hurried after her as she strode toward the tent they shared. Whatever the result of a switch during the next several hours, not bowing to the queen's will would result in a fate much, much worse. As in, not fate, no future at all!


"Now what?" Sailor Jupiter whispered.

"Quiet!"

She bit her lip, still clinging to his arm, her eyes fearfully on Usagi. They were pacing across the seemingly endless floor. The room had widened so much that there was now no sign of any walls, and they walked within a small ring of flickering blue light cast by the flaming ball that danced above Kunzite's shoulder. With each step Sailor Jupiter took into this place she grew more anxious, feeling more insignificant, as though her life amounted in the end to nothing more than a soft sigh. And she didn't like it. She wished she was back with her two fellow senshi and Jadeite, where it was safe.


"SHIT!" Jadeite yelled, dancing backward as fire licked across the table before him. He followed this curse up with several more scathing, some involving Zoisite and Queen Beryl in ways that pinked Sailor Mercury's cheeks. She remained calm, however, and swept her bubbles across the table top, dousing the flames.

Jadeite scowled at the mess that resulted, sticking his singed fingers in his mouth. "How long did you say I was gone?" he asked Sailor Mercury.

She carefully lifted the broken beaker that had caused the trouble, her gloves protecting her fingers from any residual heat or harsh chemicals. "Not long enough for this formula to have degenerated," she said in confusion. "Perhaps this glass was faulty?"

"You have my permission to give it another shot," Jadeite said, stepping back a few paces.

Sailor Mercury sent him an amused glance, then carefully repeated Jadeite's earlier actions, following them down to the smallest detail, the least drop. The pale green liquid that seethed and foamed in the new beaker showed no inclination to burst from its container, and seemed to be just what the king had been trying to accomplish.

"No fair!" he grumbled, moving forward to take the beaker from Sailor Mercury.

To her deep embarrassment, she found her lips curving in what was definitely a broad smirk.


"I can't-- I can't do this, Artemis!" Luna choked, her red eyes huge and fear filled. "I can't--"

"It's all right, Luna," he soothed. "It'll be all right. I'm right here with you."

"But I--"

But it was too late. The two cats had found their way easily to a spot they knew too well. They stood in a small courtyard, which was free of the destruction and dust that had overtaken the rest of the ruined kingdom. There was a complex pattern set in the center of the clearing, formed of white marble and pale sapphire stone, threaded through with gold and silver lines. Over this design the air now shivered, seeming to grow more dense yet less substantial at once. A tall silvery-white figure formed, standing proudly. The stars could be seen through her pale face, and the pattern peered through her feet and the hem of her long white gown. Her hair fell in two long white tails, and wings of pure, unpolluted light spread about her.

"Your majesty," Artemis breathed, bowing deeply.

Oh! It is you! Abruptly the wings disappeared and she solidified enough that she could smile brightly, her blue eyes twinkling. Here, allow me to....

Artemis felt that twisting, wrenching sensation that had once been so familiar, and suddenly he was able to look Queen Selene in the eye. He glanced down at the silvery-white outfit he wore, his long white hair falling down his chest.

"Very good, majesty. This time you remembered the clothes."

Her lovely face quirked in a puckish grin that seemed totally out of place, and yet somehow perfectly fitting. Oh, Art, you silly thing. Surely you realize by now that I did that on purpose!

His sharp, pale face reddened, and Luna, forgetting herself for a brief moment, giggled. He turned to glare at her, taking in her pure white skin, dark purple hair and deep violet-blue eyes. He'd forgotten how nicely she came out. He cocked a slim white brow. She flushed in her turn, then gave him a hard look.

Why have you come here, my loves? asked the queen, her voice gentle. Artemis suddenly realized that she knew exactly what had happened, probably from beginning to end. And if she had not yet berated them, had in fact given them their human forms, she couldn't be too furious. She had been a fair but stern ruler, and if she was angered at them, they would have known it by now. "Majesty--"

Luna, however, had not had the same revelation that he had, and she collapsed within herself, falling to the stone floor and sobbing pitifully. In a flurry of translucent material and a welter of her own bright tears, Queen Selene knelt next to the bitterly weeping cat- woman, throwing her slim white arms about her heaving shoulders.

Oh, love! Gomen nasai! Please do not cry! I know what has occurred, and I do not condemn you! There was nothing that you could have done in your ignorance, and now you are helpless, as are we all! Please don't cry! I'm sorry for teasing you!

Artemis was uncomfortable at seeing his queen begging, but it seemed to pierce the black cloud of self-blame Luna had been laboring under for the last several hours. She stilled and raised her tear- streaked face. "Ma-majesty?"

Queen Selene smiled gently and swept her slender fingers over Luna's damp cheek. Oh, love, you cannot blame yourself for what was no one's fault.

"No one's?" Luna asked, her voice cracking a little after her harsh weeping.

The queen stood, drawing her to her feet. No one's, love.

"Not even... his?"

Artemis flinched. Being in his human form brought back to him many more memories of the Moon Kingdom than he suffered from normally, and he found this was not a good thing.

The queen shot him an amused glance, but mercifully said nothing. No. Even Thamyris-san went into it ignorantly. If he had truly realized the power of the Everblade, he would never have used it.

"But-- But, what can we--"

We can do nothing. We are helpless.

"But-- the prince--"

The queen's pale pink lips quirked in a bitter smile. Obviously Prince Endymion is out of the picture.

"You never did like him," Artemis commented, his crystal blue eyes sober.

She shot him a look that was almost -- but not quite -- angry. But that point is now moot. Luna, love, you have to get over your idea that everything is predestined.

"But--"

Loveling, trust me. Thamyris is not the man I would have chosen for my dear daughter, but it has gone beyond us now. I have more knowledge now than before my death, and I tell you, there is no power that can sever the bond. Not even Death herself, cunning child that she is, can affect it.

"What about...?" Artemis did not dare to name the name, but the queen knew who he meant.

Perhaps. But would anyone wish to pay the price That One would ask?

Both the cat-humans shuddered, and Artemis made a warding gesture.

Loves, there is no point in discussing this further. For good or for ill, my daughter is bound to the shadow knight. He is more than he seems -- more than you think. And while he is not a fitting match, he does not shame me. But you did not come here to bring me news of what has occurred.

"No, majesty. We seek the Star Sword, as you well know."

She nodded at Artemis. Luna was still struggling to come to grips with everything the queen had said, and the conflict in her own heart, and left it to the pale man to negotiate.

Yes. That would be fitting. But you know a price must be paid for its birth. And my daughter's soul-bonded cannot pay it, though he may wield the blade.

Artemis met her eyes levely and nodded. "Majesty, I am prepared to pay the price."

"What? No!"

"Luna--"

"No!" She spun and faced the queen. "Selene, let me also pay the cost!"

Queen Selene's pale eyes widened. Yes, of course! Why did I not think of it earlier?

"You mean... we can...." Artemis was startled.

Yes, loves. But you must abide by the change for all time.

Artemis raised his chin proudly. He would perhaps lose much, but he had already lost the thing most important to him, in one sense. Luna gripped his hand. She would lose more, but she was doing this for her princess, her charge, her friend.

"Very well."


Prince Endymion lay on his side, propped on his elbow. He gazed down at the female sleeping next to him, not as a fond lover, but as though he were regarding a snake that at any moment rise up and strike at him. Her face looked almost innocent in repose... but not quite.

He sighed. Perhaps he had imagined the whole thing. He prepared to lay back down, ready to lose himself in slumber. Then there was that shift in Metallia's facial features. He caught his breath.

The slanted eyes that blinked open were dark and confused.

"Hell..." he swore, quietly but with feeling.

"Mamo-chan?" she whispered, her voice filled with intense fear. "What's going on? What are you--"

She suddenly noticed her surrounds, and her own naked state. She gasped, clutching the blanket to her bare chest and scooting away from Endymion. "What--"

Her voice broke, hovering between a cry and a sob. Endymion suddenly felt shame and embarrassment. It was one thing to try to defeat the senshi, but to have actually deflowered one of the young girls, even if she hadn't been in her body at the time....

"Gomen nasai," he whispered, staring at her as a slow tear trickled down her pale cheek.

She flushed and cast her gaze down. Endymion frowned, rubbing at the pain in his temple. "Rei-chan...."

Her head snapped up. "What did you call me?!"

"Nanii? I--"

He froze. He remembered.... Remembered something.... But it wouldn't come to him. "I-- I don't--"

Her face fell and she suddenly broke into thick sobs. "Mamo-chan-- "

He moved over, drawing her unresisting form into his arms. She wept bitterly against his chest, as he stroked her long dark hair and murmured what he assumed were comforting nothings. He fought, trying to bring whatever it was in him that recognized the girl to the fore of his mind, but it was hopeless.

Eventually she cried herself to sleep, and he lay her back down. Even as he watched, her face hardened. Although she did not waken again, he knew that when those eyes next opened, they would be crimson once more, bright with evil intelligence and burning with hatred. He sighed heavily and lay down. He had a lot of thinking to do.


Finally, after what seemed to Sailor Jupiter to be a lifetime and a half, Usagi came to a halt. Jupiter wasn't sure where the knowledge came from, but she suddenly knew they had finally reached the center of the Hall of Shadows. Kunzite quenched his fire, plunging them into total darkness. Sailor Jupiter bit back a protest and plastered herself more closely against his side. Usagi made not a sound.

Slowly, so slowly Jupiter wasn't sure she was really seeing it, a golden light began to grow before Usagi. The young girl stood between the glow and her two companions, but she did not cast a dark profile upon it. It was as though she was as radiant as the light.

Sailor Jupiter gulped, feeling a power growing with the light. A Presence filled the air about her, so large and ancient that it made her feel like less than a mote of dust. She was afraid to breath.

"AH! DAUGHTER OF MY SOUL, SON OF MY MIND, AT LAST YOU COME TO ME TOGETHER."

It was a voice, that was definite, but it was not human, or anything approaching mortal, and it came to them from all sides, not just out of the glowing light. It was neither female or male, but something beyond gender, or perhaps more primal.

"Then you are pleased?"

Sailor Jupiter gave Kunzite infinite kudos in her mind for having the guts to speak to this Presence. Even though his voice was utterly respectful, it was still more than Jupiter would ever have dared.

"OF COURSE, SHADOW'S CHILD. AND I AM MORE PLEASED THAN I CAN SAY THAT YOU TWO HAVE BECOME AS ONE. THE BALANCE IS COMPLETED. YOUR OFFSPRING WILL BE TRUE CHILDREN OF MY POWER."

Offspring? screamed Sailor Jupiter's mind, though she didn't dare to speak the words aloud. From the expression on Kunzite's face, it was obvious he was thinking much the same thing. The Presence filling the air about them was decidedly amused.

"BUT THAT IS NOT WHY YOU HAVE COME."

"N-no," Kunzite stuttered, momentarily shaken out of his usual calm. "We, uh--"

"SPEAK NO MORE. I KNOW WHY YOU ARE HERE. COME TO ME, MY DAUGHTER, AND FIND WHAT IT IS YOU NEED."

Kunzite's eyes narrowed as Usagi, who had been silent through all this, took a step toward the light. "Need...."

There came a mind-tamping chuckle. "YES, SHADOW'S CHILD, WHAT SHE NEEDS. BUT DO NOT FEAR. YOU SHALL NOT ONLY RECEIVE HER BACK, BUT SHE SHALL BEAR THAT WHICH YOU SEEK."

Usagi dissolved into the glow, and the glow faded. Sailor Jupiter let out a little squeak and Kunzite cursed.

"I keep forgetting that when you come to the higher powers, you have to be careful how you word things," he muttered bitterly. "They always take things so literally...."

"Usa--" Jupiter was having difficulty getting her throat to unclench. "Usagi--!"

"Don't fear. I've been through the Shadow's Test before, and I've been inside Usagi. She is pure enough and strong enough to pass with no difficulty. In fact, she may teach the power a thing or two."

Sailor Jupiter gulped, not much comforted, clutching Kunzite's arm and staring at the darkness where Usagi had disappeared until her eyes ached and burned.

Then there was a loud singing sound, and Usagi, illuminated without a source, stepped down out of nothingness. Her eyes burned with determination, and in her right hand she held the hilt of a truly tremendous saber. The blade was black, a deep crimson ruby imbedded in its center, and the pommel was shaped of silver in the form of a serpent's head. But Sailor Jupiter was staring in shock at the wings arcing over her friend.

They weren't like the wings her mother had worn before the cats. Those had been mostly for show. These were tangible, real, silvery- white feathers gleaming in the non-light. Usagi still wore her stained black shirt and the dull uniform pants, but somehow she was transcended into a being beyond mortality, and her beauty brought sharp tears to Sailor Jupiter's eyes.

She blinked them away, and when her sight cleared, they stood in a tunnel that was obviously part of the Dark Kingdom. Usagi looked like herself again, though she still held the saber, and there was a fire burning in her eyes and a set to her chin that were more mature than she had ever looked before. She and Kunzite stared at each other, seeming afraid of what they saw, but unable to look away.


"Got it!"

"That's it?" Sailor Mercury looked doubtfully at the two inches of thick liquid swirling and roiling at the bottom of the beaker Jadeite was holding aloft. It was a sickly black color, and it certainly looked deadly, but there wasn't much of it.

"Well, we're not gonna dump it on them," Jadeite said, shrugging. "We dilute it and send it through their ranks like a gas. It'll melt them right out of the air they occupy! Wait'll you see it!"

"I'd as soon miss out," Sailor Mercury shuddered.

At that moment Minako stepped from the bathing room, clad in a clean gi of black silk with a corded leather belt. She had on slim sandals, and her hair was caught back by a thick leather strap.

"Where'd the clothes come from?" Jadeite asked, blinking.

She gave him a deceptively serene smile. "The woman who stepped out of the shower wall fetched them for me, after insisting on soaping the 'Master's woman'. I believe she told me her name was Deirdre."

Jadeite paled and Sailor Mercury plucked the beaker from his suddenly shaking hand. "Uh... I can explain!"

Minako shrugged. "Don't bother. Just get in there and free her or something. It gives me the willies to think of her trapped all alone in there, and it'd be a shame if she was destroyed with the Dark Kingdom. She seems pretty nice. Was she once a human?"

"I think." Jadeite frowned in concentration as he hurried to the bathing room. "What with the eternal sleep and all, I completely forgot about my servants. There's a couple others in my private quarters I need to free. I'll say good-bye to Dee first, though. She always was my favorite."

"I don't know whether to be furious or touched," Minako commented dryly to Sailor Mercury as Jadeite disappeared into the bathing room.

Mercury grinned. "Be touched. After all, you 'died' a long time ago, and he's only human."

Minako giggled. "So's Deirdre, I'd swear!"

Sailor Mercury gasped. "Minako, you didn't!"

"Well--"

There was a soundless flash in the center of the room, and suddenly two strange humans stood before them, blinking in confusion. One was a tall young man in a strange white uniform, with pale flesh, wide crystal blue eyes, and long straight white hair. The other was a tiny young woman in a bright yellow dress, with long, wavy purple-black hair, and huge blue-violet eyes. Her bare arms and tear- stained face were alabaster white. In her hands she clutched a gleaming longsword, the sheath encrusted with diamonds, the hilt silver and ivory.

Jadeite popped out of the bathing room, his eyes wide. "Wha--"

"We must hurry. The others are back also," the man said, taking a step forward.

Mercury gasped. "Who--"

Minako shrieked. "ARTEMIS?!"

: : Part 11: Death Knell : :


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