"Always Embracing the Darkness and Light"
by Pam Peregrino

Note: This story contains minor spoilors for both Suikoden I and II. Also, I wanted to keep it simple so I left Mcdohl as Mcdohl. And the Heros name is Rad.

"Mcdohl.." Ted smiled happily at Mcdohl.

Mcdohl sat up suddenly in bed. His heart was racing in his chest, and his breaths came out labored and short. After a few moments his breathing returned to normal. He covered his face in his hands. His whole body was trembling.

"Ted." He whispered into his hands. It was a name long dead on his lips. And an old familiar grief washed over him like a wave.

It's been at least four years since his friend was taken by the Soul Eater. At the thought of the cursed rune, Mcdohl pulled back and slid off the glove he always kept on his right hand. He reached over where the moonlight was spilling in through his window to burn traceless on his bed cover. Faintly, he could see the markings of the rune. Its black markings were jagged and seemed to sugest a shape.

"Ted...." He said again, almost as if talking to the rune. His vision began to blur as his eyes were flooded by tears. He clutched the bed sheet in anger. His hand trembled as if his anger had sparked something in the cursed rune.

"Ted....Ted...Ted..." Mcdohl began repeating the name again and again, his voice rising louder. Soon he chanted the name as if crazy.


Gremio was jolted awake from sleep by the voice of his young master. intuitive reasoning immediately told him that the young master was in trouble. He threw off the covers and bolted out the door of his room. It was his first time back in this house in a little over three years but as he knew his way around the Mcdohl's domicile like the back of his hand. Even in the darkness, he did not stumble as he quickly ran up the stairs and rushed to Young Master Mcdohl's bed room.

With out a moments pause he threw the doors open.

"YOUNG MASTER!!!" He shouted.

Young Rad looked up from the stream he knelt next to.

"What?" He asked regarding his two companions who stood behind him patiently waiting.

"Cmon, Cmon!" Nanami stamped her foot impatiently on the grassy ground. "I can't believe you! I'll bet you're taking this long so you can rest longer!"

The second companion, Joey, inclined his head a little before laughing. "Nanami, I think that you have your facts switched a little."

Nanami gave him a glare before playfully jabbing him in the ribs with her elbow.

"Okay, okay." Joey said laughing. He held up his palms submissively. "But you know Nanami is right. We can't be dawdling like this if we hope to cross the mountain to reach Lake Toran. The mountains can be very treacherous during nightfall."

Rad let out a laugh. "You mean the mountain that Victor almost killed Flik trying to cross?"

"What? Really?" Joey asked genuinely surprised.

Nanami stifled a laugh. "Oh, I remember when Flik told us that! But Joey wasn't there at the time, he was..." Her voice died that instant as she realized what she was saying. Rad straightened up worried and looked at Joey fearful of his reaction. He knew that he and Nanami had unknowingly treaded onto painful memories.

The blond however, did not seemed too shaken. His soft blue eyes were reflective for a moment before tuning some what inquisitive. His smile didn't waver once.

"No, I wasn't there. Tell me, I'd like to hear what kind of mess Victor dragged Flik into."

Relief washed over Rad and he heard Nanami let out a breath. He knew Joey was trying to forget his past. One year has passed since that entire episode with the war of Highland and the city-states. One year since they had left those old lives behind and turned to exploring the world around them.

"Well you know how Victor is." Rad said scratching his head uncertainly. A small laugh escaped Joey's lips, which eased Rad more.

"Well you know what they say, There isn't some one who isn't dangerous for some one else." Joey grinned.

"By the way Rad, why were you so interested in going to Lake Toran all of a sudden?" Nanami asked, as they walked back to the beaten path.

Rad smiled. "Well it would be a nice time to visit it, don't you think? And plus, I read that, that's where Toran Castle was. Master Mcdohl and the original Liberation Army used to reside there."

"Hey! Gregmister is on the way! We could stop by and visit Mcdohl and Gremio!" Nanami said happily.

Joey looked from one to the other confused. "Mcdohl? Gremio?" "They are friends who we met in Banner Village." Rad explained. He stopped for a moment then added in a lower voice, "He's like us Joey." Joey shot him a confused look and Rad raised his gloved right hand. With this silent guesture, Joey knew what Rad was saying.

Mcdohl was also a holder of a true rune.

"I can't wait!" Nanami bounded cheerfully. "Maybe Gremio will cook some of his Special stew for us!" She said brightening up a little.

Joey turned back to Rad. "Speaking of which, are we due to cross any towns?"

"Banner Village is at the entrance of the Mountains. We could stop there and rest. Besides even if we did cross the mountains before nightfall it would still be a long trek to Gregmister."

Joey seemed to take this into account, like Rad knew he would. Finally he nodded his head with consent.

"Right I'm up for it, I am a little tired any ways. And with Nanami spending so much energy right now, I think she would like to rest too." He said with a smile.

Upon reaching Banner Village the traveling trio decided to rent a room for the night, but were met with an energetic youth at the mouth of the village.

"Mister Rad!!!" He shouted a greeting to Rad.

"What the-?!" Joey had a hard time believing what he was seeing, and he rubbed his eyes in disbelief.

"Rad, this child looks like you!" He said.

Rad let out an embarrassed laugh. "I'll tell you later." He raised a hand in greeting to the child. "Hey Ko! Long time no ----" He didn't have time to finish his sentence as the child literally pounced on him. He sat on his chest with a huge smile on his face. He hadn't changed a bit.

"I can't believe you're back! Have you come to visit me?! I bet you have a lot of stories from your adventures!" In his excitement, he was talking a mile a minute.

After the child ran out of breath, Rad explained to him what they were up to. Of course, this sent Ko off again with a barrage of more questions.

"Why do you want to visit Mcdohl's castle? Are you planning on making a new army? Can I join? Will Mcdohl be there?!?!"

After calming the child down a bit, the child insisted that he stay at his house. His family was running an inn at the village and his family happily allowed them to stay free of charge. As thanks for Rad and Mcdohl saving Ko's life twice before.

Night soon fell. Joey commented how lucky they were not attempting to cross the mountain. The three were sharing a room as they didn't want to trouble the family with trying to get three.

"So you've got your own little fan-club." Joey said from his bed. Rad removed his shoes and set them aside.

"He's not my fan-club. He just wants to be like me. I remember I had childhood heroes when I was little. And besides, he likes Mcdohl too."

"Right. What ever." Joey laughed as he eased back on to his bed. It was a nice change for once. He hadn't gotten used to sleeping on hard ground while on their travels. Nanami was already fast asleep on the third bed. Joey didn't know how she did it. She could sleep soundly anywhere even on hard rock.

"Maybe your little fan-club would like to accompany us to Toran Castle..."

Rad responded by throwing a pillow at Joey.

"He is not my fan-club." Rad mumbled embarrassed. He pulled the sheets over himself.

Joey curled up under the covers as well. He tossed the pillow back to his friend.

"Is too." He said softly as he was laulled to sleep.

That night a voice awakened Rad from the embrace of sleep.


"Mmmmffff." Rad murmured and burrowed his face into his pillow.

"Rad, wake up." The voice sounded familiar. He could feel a gentle tug at his shoulders.

He finally rolled over and opened his eyes.

His vision was blurred, but after adjusting his eyes to the darkness, he found Joey standing over him.

"What the...Joey! What do you want? It's the middle of the night!" Rad said a little cranky.

"Get up..." Rad threw a pillow in protest.

"Cut it out! I'm serious, there's some one here who wants to see us."

"Tell Ko I'll tell him more stories in the morning.." Rad said sitting up, rubbing his eyes sleepily.

"It's not Ko, Its Leknaat." Joey said quietly.

Both quietly slipped out of their room and out of the inn as not to arouse anyone especially Nanami. It was still pretty late and everyone had already retired to bed. The whole village was illuminated with the rays of the pale moon light, making the village seem unreal like that of a dream.

They found her, standing at the pier. She wasn't hard to miss as she was giving off light of her own regard. This had been his first encounter with her since she had appeared at the cliff. He knew that this had to be of important matter since she rarely left magician isle. Her appearance had not changed in the least as she was exactly as he had remembered her. Fair and beautiful.

The two approached her carefully and with respect.

"Holders of the Bright Shield Rune and Black Sword Rune It is good to 'see' you again." She greeted with a soft smile. Joey and Rad looked at each other at that moment as they had realized the irony of what she said. Rad stepped forward.

"It is good to see you again too Miss Leknaat. Is everything well?" Rad asked already sensing that everything was not.

As he predicted, her smile faded. "I must apologize for calling you at such a late hour...I wished not to disturb you, you both had already gone through so much, and you looked so happy enjoying your new lives...But there was no one else I could ask."

Joey stepped forward and kneeled before her, like a knight to a lady.

"Please, ask of us anything Leknaat." She still hesitated, and Rad followed Joey's example to urge her to speak. He knelt to one knee.

"Miss Leknaat, this isn't like you to sound so worried, so this must be a dire matter."

Leknaat nodded gently. "Indeed, I had not expected this to happen..."

"Expected what not to happen?" Joey asked. Leknaat stepped back and for a moment Rad thought she would disappear. But instead, she swept her arms in a wide graceful gesture.

"Look up at the stars." She said. The two were unsure but they did as she instructed.

"Do you see it?" She asked.

Joey and Rad squinted into the blackness to see millions of stars. After a moment of searching, something faint caught Rads eye. Amongst all the dazzling stars, a piercing red one shown. He heard Joey suck in a breath. Obviously, he had seen it too.

"Do you see it Rad?" He asked him. Rad nodded. But he didn't think Joey was looking.

Leknaat spoke up. "That is your star Rad. The Tenkai star. And it is foretelling of danger to come."

Joey and Rad stiffened.

"But that would mean Rad is in danger." Joey said a little alarmed.

Leknaat turned to face them.

"Not Rad, but the other who shares his star."

Joey was at loss for words but Rad spoke.

"Master Mcdohl? He is the only other person who I know that shares that star with me."

"You are correct." Leknaat told him. "This is a dire situation. It seems that Mcdohl is slowly dying. And I can sense that the Soul Eater is to blame."

The next day the trio rose early and thanked the family for their hospitality. After replenishing their supplies they set off. Already, they were well past the mountain paths in no time, and were crossing the borders which would lead them straight to Gregmister. The Guards that used to be posted at the borders were no longer there. As the war was now over.

Both Joey and Rad silent about the events in the night before. Nanaim seemed to have no indication about it, which was all the better. Nanami led the way with Rad following and Joey respectively.

Rad stared ahead of him, seeing yet unseeing. His mind was too preoccupied with last night. He could still hear Leknaats words fresh in his mind.

"It's as if the Soul Eater were building up its strength, preparing itself."

"What would a rune need to prepare itself for? Doesn't it have to do what ever the holder says?" Joey asked.

"Miss Leknaat, could it be like the way the Bright Shield and Black Sword Rune are? Me and Joey were drawn to fight each other because of the runes. You said before, that they were calling to each other.."

Rad didn't see the look that passed over Joeys countenance. First it was there then after a second had passed it was gone.

"Yes, it was the nature of your runes that caused you both to fight each other."

Rad looked thoughtful for another second. "Then perhaps this is also the nature of the Soul Eater?" He guessed.

Leknaat shook her head. "The Soul Eater can never threaten the life of its owner. It's not within its power to do so.

"Unless..." Rad added. Joey looked at his friend.

"Unless?" Joey asked.

"Unless, the owner is allowing it to. Can that be it?"

"Yes that is possible. And that is the heart of the matter, should the Soul Eater succeed, Mcdohl will die. Should he die with out passing the Soul Eater to another, the rune will run wild, consuming souls at its own will."

"I understand now. The Soul Eater is influencing Mcdohl." Joey said putting half and half together. "Mcdohl must not be aware of it, and is mistaking it as his own choice."

Leknaat nodded with satisfaction. "And the problem I present before the both of you is, the taming of this rune. I cannot take this task on myself for my rune is not used for such forceful means. You Rad, and Joey are the possessors of fighting runes. And as such you are most fit for this."

"W-wait, in taming this rune does that mean we have to fight Mcdohl himself?" Rad asked his voice betrayed no emotion. Joey glanced over at his friend. His slight body was washed in the pale moon light, his thin coronet glinted weakly. The youth's face also did not betray any emotion. He looked at Leknaat impassively, with the head of some one who always stayed cool under pressure.

Leknaat turned from the pair and began walking slowly away. "Under the rune's influence, Mcdohl will not be as he normally would."

"Leknaat, how would we go about taming this rune?" Joey asked.

She turned her head slightly but not so much as so she could see the blond.

"Do what ever you deem necessary. I trust your judgment..."


"Whaaaaa!" Rad fell back as Nanami startled him from his thoughts. His sister stood over him.

"Were you even listening to me?" She asked, hands on her hips.

Rad looked at her a little embarrassed. Nanami leaned over and helped him up.

"Look, were finally here." She said pointing to the town in the distance. The sight of the town struck something deep within him. Like a ringing of a struck crystal glass. He suddenly felt the hand of his friend Joey on his shoulder. He looked to regard the blond.

He gave him something of a sympathetic look. "C'mon," He said in a lowered tone. "Let's go see this Mcdohl."

Rad gave a curt nod of resolve.

"Gremio!" Nanami said happily greeting him as he answered the door.

"M-miss Nanami? Young Rad?" He said surprised. Truly he had not expected to see the youths again.

Rad walked up to him and greeted him with a smile of his own, a false facade.

"Gremio it's good to see you again. My friends and I were on our way to Toran Lake and decided to drop by to see how you and Mcdohl were doing."

"Gremio, who is at the door?" A new voice asked. The servant turned from the door enough for Rad to identify the speaker.

"It is Young Rad and Miss Nanami, Young Master." Gremio told him.

"Rad? Nanami?" Mcdohl asked as if hearing the names for the first time.

Nanami stuck her head in the door way. "Hey!" She said a light musical note in her voice. Something in Mcdohl seemed to click and it shown in his eyes.

"Oh! Rad! Nanami! I almost forgot! How have you two been?"

Rad smiled despite his concerns. Gremio ushered the three in almost reluctantly.

"Master Mcdohl, Gremio, I'd like you to meet my child-hood friend." Rad said gesturing to Joey.

"This is Joey Aterideds."

Mcdohl stepped forward and shook his hand. "It's a pleasure Joey." He said politely.

"Pleasure is mine." Joey said lightly. He kept his eyes trained on the youth who was as tall as he.

"Wow Mcdohl, you haven't changed since the last time I saw you! It doesn't even seem like you've grown at all." Nanami said.

No one bothered to tell her that she was right.

"So what brings you three to Gregmister?" Mcdohl asked, turning to regard the two.

Rad was calm and spoke. "We were off to Lake Toran and decided to see how you guys were doing, where are Cleo and Pahn?" He asked looking around the vast hall expecting to see them. Gremio and Mcdohl looked at each other before Gremio cleared his throat.

"They left shortly after your last stay. Most likely they are on personal journeys and will not return for quite a bit of time."

Mcdohl nodded, looking a bit sympathetic. "Say how long has it been since we last met?" He asked changing subjects.

Rad counted on his fingers for a moment then smiled. "It's almost been a year."

"Then you must stay longer. I'll bet you have lots of stories to tell. Gremio can put you up for the night. Right Gremio?" Mcdohl turned to the servant who gave him a worried look. "If it would make you happy." He said and tried to smile. But both Joey and Rad were not fooled, something was definitely wrong here.

"I'll get started on supper right away, in the mean time why don't you four play upstairs? I'll call you when its time." He said, starting to sound like his old self again. He threw his green cape behind him as he walked away toward the kitchen.

"Play upstairs?" Joey asked as soon as he was out of sight. Mcdohl and Rad let out a laugh and for a moment Joey thought the two could of been twins.

"You'll have to forgive Gremio." Mcdohl said. "He ment no disrespect, he's just taken care of me so long. And he gets nostalgic at times."

Nanami, who had been quiet for a while, hooked her arm around Mcdohl's.

"Ne, Ne, Mcdohl, I bet your room is still the same, why don't we go out about the town instead?"

Mcdohl smiled. "That's not a bad idea, but we'd better let Gremio know. God knows why he still worries about me."

Joey suddenly stepped up then. "You two go on ahead, we'll tell him."

"What? Is that really all right?" Mcdohl asked.

Rad caught on to Joeys game. And also stepped up.

"Sure it is. We don't mind."

Mcdohl stared at the two, and for a second, Rad thought that he must of realized something was wrong, Mcdohl was nobody's fool. But after another moment, Nanami came to the rescue.

"Oh, come on! What difference does it make?" She said impatiently. She tugged at Mcdohl's arm and led him through the door.

"Don't take too long!" She called.

"We won't! But don't wait for us!" Rad called back laughing. Mcdohl still had his eyes trained on him, making Rad a bit nervous. Finally after a little ways from the house, Nanami asked him something and he turned away to speak to her.

Rad let out a breath he didnt know he was holding.

"He's gone, cmon, we can't be too long or hell suspect something." Joey said as he turned down the hall.

"I think he already suspects something..." Rad said worriedly.

"Where's the Kitchen? We need to speak with Gremio. He's Mcdohl's servant right? I'll bet he can tell us what's the low down." Rad nodded. "And he deserves to at least know whats going on. And why."

Rad still remembered the place fairly well, and led Joey to the Kitchen, once there they both confronted Gremio, who broke down and told them everything.

"I'm afraid that it may be my fault that Young Master acts the way he does now...This house holds so many painful memories for him. And I am not sure at times how he is handling it. I thought it would be good for him to stay here awhile, as I do not want him to grow up wild and think he doesn't have a home to return to. This is his father's house. And I only wish him to take care of his estates. But...After two months, something in him changed... I don't know what it was, suddenly he didn't seem the same. He was different. I can't explain it..I thought he might be coming down with something so I called in Dr. Lukian. But he said that the Young Master was as healthy as the next kid. Then as the weeks went by, the Young master lost all interests of going out and exploring the land like he used to. I had to admit that I was relived as he won't get into any more danger, but...The Young Master loved what he did...It was just not in his personality to act like this. Then as the months passed, he seemed to get weaker. And this time I could tell, he had this drained look on his face, and his eyes had lost the fire that so many people had once adored. I tried to call the doctor in again, but the Young Master would not allow it. He kept telling me he was just fine. But he couldn't fool me..Then It happened... Two nights ago, I was awakened from my sleep by the Young Masters cry. I thought he was in danger so I quickly ran to his room, and there he was, standing in the middle of a hexagram burning brightly on the floor. I knew full well where I'd seen the sign before. It belonged to the Soul Eater. Mcdohl was trying to give his soul to the Soul Eater as Ted had done. Without thinking, I ran in and pulled Mcdohl away. He told me not to interfere, and I told him that if this is what he wanted, then he would have to take my soul first."

Dinner went by without a hitch. It seemed like everything was as it was suppose to be. Mcdohl laughed and shared stories of his adventures with Joey, Rad and Nanami. If there was truly something wrong as both Gremio and Leknaat feared there was, then Mcdohl was truly the greatest actor Rad had ever seen. And for a second he began to have his doubts about Mcdohl.

After dinner, Gremio showed Rad and Joey to their rooms, he left the two alone to show Nanami to a separate room next door.

"This isn't a bad place." Joey said looking around the guest room.

"This sort of reminds me of your house." Rad sat on the plush bed.

"You never went into my house."

"I know, but I was able to see through your windows from the trees, remember?"

Joey suddenly let out a laugh. "Oh yeah, I remember now, I'd almost forgotten how father grounded me and I couldn't come out to see you, so you came to see me. Weren't you afraid that my father would find you?"

Rad shook his head. "If I was ever afraid of your father, then it would be because of what he would do to you if he found out about me."

Joey closed his eyes for a moment, then reopened them to meet Rad's gaze.

"Thanks Rad..."

Suddenly, there was a soft knock at the door, both turned to look. The door slowly opened and Rad expected to see Gremio but instead, Mcdohl appeared.

"I know its late, but, I need to talk to you." He said softly, there was no urgency or apprehension in his voice.

The three adolescence slipped out of the mansion with out Gremio or Nanami's notice. It was only a little after dark and the town was still pretty active. They stopped at the fountain at the center of the town.

"Can you tell us now what it was that you needed to speak to us about?" Joey asked.

Mcdohl looked around as if checking to make sure Gremio hadnt noticed. He looked back at them then shook his head.

"No not yet, too many people." Rad stole a glance and realized that there was next to no one on the streets.

"too many...?" He started, but Mcdohl motioned for the two to follow him. Mcdohl led them through the quiet town until they eventually reached the gate. But even then, Mcdohl showed no signs of slowing down. Both Joey and Rad were starting to get a bad feeling but kept silent. They followed Mcdohl out the town gates and down the path that led to Banner Village. The moon was out that night and dimly lighted their path. Mcdohl continued his hike away from Gregmister, toward the distant mountains that would lead back to Banner Village. Finally after reaching rock dotted hills, a little distance from Gregmister, Mcdohl stopped.

Rad sat himself down on a rock outcropping. He looked back at the town of Gregmister, which seemed tiny and far.

"This place is perfect..." Mcdohl said quietly, almost to himself.

"Okay, what is it that you wanted to speak to us about?" Rad asked.

"Yes and in such a distant location." Joey added, rubbing his bare arms chilled by the night air.

"I can't stand saying good-byes. And I didn't want to endanger any of the towns folk..." Mcdohl said. Both Joey and Rad straightend in an instant.

"What?" Rad asked unbelieving of what he heard.

"Maybe that's why I let Grem stop me before." Mcdohl continued as if he hadn't heard Rad.

"I'm glad that you came by Rad, now you can tell him for me." Mcdohl turned to face them then, an apologetic look on his face.

Rad took a step forward, approaching Mcdohl. Suddenly the ground beneath his feet trembled.

"Ah!" Rad cried out. He staggered back into Joey who caught him.


Mcdohl stood unfazed by the quake, and something on his gloved right hand began to glow. Mcdohl slid off the glove and the hidden rune could be seen clearly. Its dark shape glowing and pulsing as if alive.

Rad's eyes widened. "The...The Soul Eater.." He said fearfully.

The ground continued to quake and beneath Mcdohl weird lines began to appear, as if being drawn by some invisible hand, forming a star. The lines lit up and became clearly visible.

Rad struggled to stand. "Mcdohl don't!! You can't do this! Don't you know what you're doing?!"

Mcdohl closed his eyes and nodded solemnly. "I used to live content at one point in my life, then one day Ted gave me this accursed rune and I lost everyone who ment anything to me. Why did Ted give me this rune? How could he? I didn't want it..." Mcdohl said bitterly. "I HATE this rune! And I can't stand the pain I feel when I look at it, and know that the souls of people who I loved are trapped there!"

"But Ted willingly gave his life for the rune remember what Gremio said?" Rad tried again.

"Gremio doesn't have to bear the rune!!" Mcdohl retorted. "He doesn't have to live with the agony of knowing the people whom he once cared about are trapped there. He doesn't know how it feels to be constantly fearing this dark power that could one day break loose and devour another soul only to hunger for more.."

"Mcdohl, listen to me," Joey spoke up. "This isn't you talking! It's the rune! It's manipulating you!"

Mcdohl shook his head. "No, I'm in my right mind. From the start I allowed the rune to take my life, I ASKED it to, in hopes that I can join my friend."

"But if you die, youll put every one in danger by turning loose that rune!" Joey shouted angrily.

"Then you take it!" Mcdohl shot back. Joey was suddenly silenced, he tried to frame a reply but couldn't. Mcdohl saw this and smiled some what cruelly.

"See? You don't want it either, at least now you are begging to understand my sad fate...I don't care anymore. I've lived so long doing what the people want. I've always put the people first. This is my first and last selfish wish. I want to be with my family."

"Mcdohl!!!" Rad shouted.

"Rune that governs life and death..." Ignoring Rad's cry, Mcdohl began chanting. And in response, the Soul Eater Rune pulsed faster, encircled in hell fire. In response to this dark power, the ground shook more violently, the rocks dotting the plains rattled upon the ground. The noise was deafening. Suddenly, a column of light descended from the heavens above and shone over Mcdohl's form.

"Soul Eater, please take my soul now.." Mcdohl whispered.

"Mcdohl don't!!!" Rad shouted. And in a reckless move, he rushed forward and grabbed Mcdohl around the waist.


"Bright Shield Rune..." Rad shut his eyes tightly, silently pleading. Answering his call, the true rune on his right hand exploded with white power that resounded through out his entire body. The runes form appeared as if to announce its presence, in the shining shape of a shield. Rad let forth the energy in hopes that it would be enough to force the Soul Eater back. But to no avail, the Soul Eater was a whole rune and the Bright Shield was only half, and Rad cried out as he felt the darkness over power his rune.

"Rad let go! Or you will also die!" Mcdohl yelled at him frantic. But he was too late, because Rad could already feel the darkness creeping up his body, engulfing it.

Suddenly, Rad felt the grip of another on his hands, he opened his eyes to see Joey on the other side of Mcdohl, his hands clasped tightly over his.

"Rad! We need to combine our runes quickly!!" Joey instructed. Rad nodded, and concentrated, exerted all his strength and offered his very soul to the Bright Shield rune so that it would be one with the Black Sword rune. He tried to be oblivious to the pain that was the darkness eating him alive. But he could still feel it, and he bit on his lip hard drawing blood. He suddenly felt a powerful force, reverberating from Joey's hand into his own. The runes had begun to merge. Both Black Sword and Bright Shield rune moved together overlapping, and faded for a moment before reappearing as the Rune of Beginning.

Suddenly, the pillar of light around them picked up in a maelstrom of violent winds as both Soul Eater and Rune of Beginning waged war against each other, with the three youths in the dead center.

The violent gale whipped around him and threatened to pull him away. Rad fought against it, but could feel Joey's hand slowly slipping away. His body strained against fatigue as his mind was equally tired. He continued to rage against the Soul Eater, trying to force it back, but its power was strong, and it resisted fiercely. Now his whole body was trembling with the threat of giving out. The mere power he exerted for the Rune of Beginning was consumed so fast and he could not hold out for long.

"M-Mcdohl.... Why? Why do you want to die? We all have to suffer the loss of our loved ones some times. Its part of life. We all go through it, and move on." Rad told him in a last attempt to stop him.

"I tried to go on, couldn't you see that? But its just, how they were taken from me...It wasnt fair!" Suddenly, Rad felt a tear droplet fall onto his arm. He looked up to see Mcdohl's head lowered and his cheek glistening with tears.


"I lost many people to the Soul Eater Rune. And I tried to forget. But I see them in my dreams. Their last moments play over and over. And when you and Joey came over, I saw how happy you were with him. And It made me miss Ted even more. We used to be so close, like you and Joey. It wasnt fair. Why? Why did it have to take Ted from me? As if Lady Odessa wasnt enough or even my father. Why Ted?"

"T-Ted?" Rad thought.

*There is the Soul Eaters strength..* Leknaats voice said spoke to him in his mind. And He could see her there.

"Leknaat?" Rad asked.

*The Soul Eater is reflecting Mcdohl's grief for the loss of his best Friend.* She said.

"The loss of his.." Rad started to say, but Joeys voice broke through his train of thought.

"RAD!!! The Rune of Beginning! Its starting to be engulfed by the Soul Eater!! We have to let go now!"

Rad squeezed his eyes shut. "NO..We cant! We still have a chance I know it! Just don't let go Joey!"

"Rad..." Joey said. He looked across at the youth who had his eyes tightly shut against the strong winds. If anything, he looked more stronger and determined than ever. And Joey knew it would be pointless to argue with him. Even in the face of death, Rad refused to give up.

"Damn..." Joey cursed in his head. "At this rate, we will be totally consumed by the Soul Eater..." At the mention of the name, he looked up to see the Runes overlapping each other with the Soul Eater emerging to the top. It had almost totally consumed the Rune of Beginning.

"It's only a matter of time..." He looked back to his slight friend. He showed no signs of giving up.

"Don't worry Rad, I won't let us die here. I have a plan." Joey closed his eyes and consetrated once more. But this time, focusing it soley on the Black Sword Rune.

"Please, Black Sword Rune give me the power to cut through all.." Joey prayed silently.

"The stregth of the Soul Eater is Mcdohl's emotions." Rad reasoned in his head. "If only there was a way... If only I could do as Leknaat could do... If only I had that power. Ted is the only one who can stop Mcdohl's pain..." Rad could feel a tear of his own slid down his cheek. He only realized then, Mcdohl's pain. And how much he understood it.

"I know this pain... I felt the same when I thought I had lost Joey. The seperation between us was death. And when I had to fight him...I just as well wanted to die. I didn't want to live with the pain. I wanted to die too. But I was Lucky. I got Joey back. Ted...I wish you could see, you could hear how much Mcdohl is suffering from your loss." He said trying to reach Ted.

"It's okay..." He said in a soft voice. "Mcdohl isn't mad at you. He's just sad and wants you back. Everything will be okay, I promise." Suddenly, he felt his hand slip from Joey's grip, but was immediately caught and held firm. Surprised, Rad's eyes shot opened to be met with a strange sight.

As if appearing out of no where, another boy clad in blue, had entered the field of runic warfare. He held firm onto Rads hand and placed it back over Joey's securing it firm with his own hands over both.

The boy met Rads surprised gaze.

"Don't worry, I'm going to help you now, just don't give up." He reassured him. Wordlessly, Rad closed his eyes and continued to concentrate. And suddenly he felt it, a different power, faint at first, but it quickly gained strength, washing over him like a powerful wave knocking out all his senses. The roar of the wind was suddenly non existent, silenced. And all he could feel was white hot light, in every part of his being.....

Rad opened his eyes slowly. His vision was blurred at first but it soon became more focused and clear. He realized he was lying on the ground and sat up slowly, a little dazed and confused. Gradually, he became aware of everything around him.

Some how the night had passed and the sky was splashed with beautiful colors of a sunrise. Near him he found Joey lying on his side asleep, his breathing soft and even. Around him, the violent winds from before were replaced by soft breezes gently caressing the grassy plains. His right hand felt sore and throbbed with pain weakly. In a flash, he remembered events from before and looked around for Mcdohl with sudden alarm. He was relived to spot Mcdohl a little ways from where he was. But he wasn't alone. The boy whom he had seen earlier was sitting on the ground cradling Mcdohl's body.

"Don't worry everything is going to be fine now.." He heard the boy say softly. "I won't leave you again, I promise. Can you ever forgive me for all the sorrow I've caused you?"

To Rads ears the boy seemed to be talking incoherently.

Rad opened his mouth to speak to the youth, but he saw some thing that made him shut his mouth again.

Upon the boy's exposed hand, was the distinguishing black mark of the Soul Eater rune. And upon Mcdohl's hand was the same mark, only it was white instead of black.

"There it is you guys, Toran Castle." Mcdohl said with a wide gesture.

"Ahhh! Thats the most amazing thing I've ever seen!" Nanami said truly awe struck.

Toran Lake stretched out vastly and the bright sun over head caused the lake to sparkle in absolute beauty complementing the uniqueness of the old castle that stood against its waters.

"It sorta looks out of place, but I must admit, it does have a strategic advantage.." Joey reflected aloud.

"Strategic? Who cares about that? I'll bet that you can catch some great fishes from there!" Rad laughed.

"If anything, I'd like to see inside the castle. I'll bet it's more interesting." A new voice spoke up.

Mcdohl turned to regard the youth with a pleased smile. "Sure thing Ted, how about it guys? I'll give you a grand tour of the entire castle."

"That sounds great!" Nanami said barely able to hold in her excitement. She turned to Ted then. "Perfect timing that you were able to come visit Mcdohl, Ted. I didn't know Mcdohl had a child hood friend like Rad did. Where were you all this time?"

Ted scratched his head and smiled some what akwardly. "Errrr. I've been around. I never went far, everyone knows little Mcdohl here would be lost with out his best bud. Ain't that right Mcdohl?" Ted laughed slapping Mcdohl on the back.

Mcdohl coughed for a moment trying to catch his breath. But then returned the smile with one of his own.

"Well what are we waiting for?" Joey asked.

Mcdohl nodded. "Let's head for Kaku village, that's where the boat is." Nanami ran up along side Mcdohl and looped her arm around his.

"Say, do you think we might be able to catch one of the stars around the castle?" She asked.

Mcdohl smiled softly at her, "With out a doubt." He said simply as he led her away.

Ted, Joey and Rad trailed behind them immersed in conversation. With Ted cracking random jokes.

If the four youths hadnt been so distracted, they might have spotted the two lone figures who stood a little distance from them.

One of the figures was an older woman and the other was a young boy.

"Every thing seems all right now, don't you think Lady Leknaat?" Luc asked impatiently.

The old seer gave a small nod. "Yes, the holders of the Bright Shield and Black Sword rune handled the situation with such grace. Rad is a much stronger man than he or anyone else realizes. He was ready to sacrifice all that he was in order to save Mcdohl.."

"I still can't believe the tremendous power he summoned from the Bright Shield Rune. Was it actually so powerful as to bring back Ted?" Luc inquired watching the youth in current discussion.

"Yes, it is rarely witnessed as the runes are rarely handled by people of his nature." "If you approve of young Rad so much, do you approve of young Joey as well? He was the one who 'split' the Soul Eater rune in half."

"As Joey is not as pure as Rad by nature, he is wiser far beyond his years. He had realized that to fight the Soul Eater, the Shield and Sword needed to be as one. And even as that plan began to fail and the Rune of Beginning was engulfed by the Soul Eater, he quickly called upon the Sword's abilities to cut Soul Eater from the inside out."

Luc crossed his arms a little envious of the way Leknaat spoke so highly of Rad and Joey.

"Yeah, well, I'll bet that as smart as Joey was, he never expect the Soul Eater to be split into two new runes."

Leknaat smiled at the young apprentices statement. "Yes, and he must be very pleased with the results. Now Soul Eater suffers the same fate as the Rune of Beginning. But should the 'Holy Soul' rune that Mcdohl bears, rejoins the 'End of Soul' rune which Ted has, then and only then will the Soul Eater be awakened to its full power. But for now, its dark power sleeps, and hopefully it will remain asleep for a long time." Leknaat said before quietly teleporting away.

"Well if anything, that's one less rune you don't have to constantly worry about any more..." Luc said after she had vanished . "And anyways, that Mcdohl guy had already disobeyed you one too many times, when you told him not to use the rune. Maybe now he wont be tempted." Luc muttered under his breath, as he walked off. He casted one last glance at the group who had entered Kaku village, before he was enveloped in a soft white sphere of light and faded from view.