"Crab Dragon's Sacrifice" By: Lauren

**Thorn series

Part 1

"What do you mean you don't know?!" Naga hissed in anger. First Grey Wolf's death and now this! If only he could just get rid of her…

The Daina who had spoken took a step backward. The Big Bad Four were known to kill those who angered them, and Naga had every reason to be angry.

The Daina swallowed in fear and continued her report. "Lilim flew us around for days, looking at humans. When we were flying back she said she had found Nemesis, but she wouldn't say where. She just flew back off to her cave and left us to report."

"That witch!" Naga swished his tail angrily. All five Dainas trembled.

As if Naga didn't have enough to worry about… Now that Grey Wolf was gone, it was up to him to stop the rebels. And the traitors were still at large. And now that good for nothing Lilim was causing him trouble again!

"You are dismissed!" Naga shouted. The Dainas beat a hasty retreat, before Naga could change his mind and decide to kill one of them after all.

The only one Naga wanted to kill was Lilim. In fact, he had wanted to kill her since the day he met her. But she was the only one who could find Nemesis, so he couldn't just get rid of her.

And the little witch knew it, too.

Elsewhere, night time…

I awoke shivering and gasping for breath. The dream had shaken me, scared me stiff. But it was just a dream. I looked up and saw Pixie glaring at me.

My name is Thorn, and I can't remember a darned thing about myself, no matter how hard I try. I've been traveling with Pixie and Big Blue for a while, now. They were pretty nasty at first, but lately they've been…less mean. I don't think it's possible for them to actually be nice. I guess that's just the way they are. Pixie still calls me an annoying human brat and yells at me to be quiet, but I get the feeling that she doesn't really hate me anymore.

"You and your stupid nightmares!" Pixie snapped. "Can't you, just once, sleep like a normal person!?"

"Sorry," I said. I smiled. "Sheesh, ya make it sound like I'm having nightmares on purpose."

"Hmph," she said. "Alright, what was this one about?"

I felt kind of uncomfortable talking about it, like it wasn't something I should be sharing. But I owed Pixie something for waking her up in the middle of the night. Besides, maybe I'd feel a little better once I got it out.

"Darkness again. That's pretty much all it was," I said. "But I had this feeling…like I knew something was terribly wrong on the other side of the darkness. I had to fight, get through the darkness somehow. But I couldn't. I just kept struggling and struggling, but nothing happened."

It sounded pretty stupid, even to me, but I had been so scared. I knew something horrible was happening, but all I could do was kick and scream at the darkness.

"Hmph," was Pixie's comment. I had expected something like 'You stupid human twit! Go back to sleep!', but I guess she really was trying to be nicer. She would never come right out and say something reassuring or anything like that, but at least she wasn't as downright mean as she had been.

"What is it with you and darkness, anyway?" she asked. Good question.

"It's always dark in my dreams. Always. But it isn't like an ordinary darkness. It's like something evil and formless that takes the appearance of darkness," I explained. "It's just…I don't know." It just frightened me, like nothing else could. Even that Bazula that nearly killed me couldn't scare me half as much as this darkness. And the scariest part was, I still didn't know what it meant, or if it had anything to do with my past. If only I could remember!

Pixie just looked at me, like she was trying to think of something to say, but couldn't. "Yeah, well, just go back to sleep," she said at last.

"And try not to have any more nightmares!" She sighed and lay back down, her back to me.

"Goodnight, Pixie," I said.


I smiled. Some things will never change.

Lilim's cave, morning…

Naga's eyes were narrowed, his tail twitching from side to side as he loomed in the entryway to the cave. He was obviously fuming. Lilim was unconcerned, however. The old fool could fume all he wanted. Without her, Naga would never find Nemesis, and he knew it.

"Naga, I've been expecting you," Lilim said.

"Lilim! Why did you not capture Nemesis?!" Naga shouted, infuriated.

"As you might recall, Naga, you ordered me to find Nemesis, not capture her," Lilim replied calmly. "Besides, the traitors were with her. I'll need more than five Dainas to deal with them."

Naga was enraged. Did he have to spell out her orders for her!? And five Dainas should have been more than enough to deal with the traitors! "Just what do you need, Lilim?!"

Lilim wasn't intimidated in the least. "Forty-nine decent monsters. That ought to be enough, even if Nemesis does remember how to use her powers."

"You need forty-nine monsters to take care of three?!" Lilim had been ridiculous in the past, but this!

"The only reason no one has been able to defeat either the traitors or the searchers is that we continuously underestimate them. I won't make the same mistake. So either you get me forty-nine decent monsters to help me, or you never capture Nemesis and pay the price of failure."

How dare this Lilim talk like that to him, the strongest of the Big Bad Four!? But Naga knew she was right. Without her, the chances were very slim that he would ever get his hands on Nemesis. And if he failed to capture her, he would face the wrath of Master Moo himself.

"Very well, Lilim, but I needn't remind you what will happen if you fail!" Naga shouted, then slithered away in a rage.

Fool, Lilim thought as she watched him go. You have no idea how strong your opponents can be. I'll need all forty-nine monsters, especially if Nemesis does know how to use her power. Nemesis…forgive me for this, old friend, but I have no choice. I know you'd understand…if I don't do this, I'll die. But I'll give you any chance I can…


"Aren't we a little overdue to be attacked?" I asked.

"Oh, be quiet!" Pixie snapped.

"The last time you said something like that, we were attacked," Big Blue said.

"Well, yeah, but doesn't it strike you as just a little odd that no one has come after us yet? We've been traveling in this forest for over a week, and we haven't spotted a single baddie," I said. "It's just weird, is all."

"Hmm," Pixie said. I wondered if she was thinking the same thing I was. There must have been baddies here; Moo wouldn't just leave a whole forest open like this, would he? So where had the baddies gone? Were they planning something? Lying in wait for an ambush?

I didn't get a chance to ask her. We had reached the edge of a large lake. Suddenly, a colossal Crab Dragon (Dragon/Arrowhead) rose out of its center, sending water flying everywhere.

Big Blue turned and glared at me. "See what I mean?"

"Okay, so I jinxed us," I said. Like it was all my fault that a Crab Dragon loyal to Moo happened to be lurking in the lake. Well, the timing was quite a coincidence. It was actually kind of funny, come to think of it. But regardless of all that, we had a very mean looking Crab Dragon on our hands.

"Traitors! Your journey ends here and now!" the Crab Dragon shouted. "INFERNO!" Flames shot out of his mouth and came gushing towards us. Uh-oh, this was bad…

Pixie leapt off of Big Blue's shoulder. "WALL OF FIRE!"

A wall of flames blocked the attack, but the Inferno didn't let up. Pixie didn't look like she could hold it much longer.

"Get out of the way!" she shouted at me and Big Blue. We moved, and when she was sure we were clear, Pixie abandoned her Wall of Fire and dodged the Inferno, letting it set several of the trees behind her aflame.

Crab Dragon slashed his tail across the surface of the lake, sending up gallons of water. But he wasn't aiming at us. He was aiming for the burning trees. The water splashed over them, putting the fire out. Huh? Since when did baddies care about the forest?

"LIGHTNING!" Pixie shouted, flying near Crab Dragon's head to launch her attack. She hit her mark, but the Lightning just fizzled out on Crab Dragon's shell. He swung one huge pincer at her, knocking Pixie into a nearby tree.

"Master Pixie!" Big Blue shouted. He started rushing toward her, but was saved the trouble as Crab Dragon swiped at him with his tail. The baddie got me along with Big Blue, and we both went flying into the trees alongside Pixie.

"Now I'm mad…" Pixie said, but her voice sounded weak. I watched her drag herself to her feet. Beside her, Big Blue did the same.

Go Pixie, I thought. You, too, Big Blue. I struggled to get up, even though I knew I couldn't help them in this battle.

"FLUTTER ATTACK!" The Crab Dragon flapped his massive wings, sending powerful gusts of wind our way. Pixie and I were immediately slammed back into the trees. I just had time to see Big Blue finally lose his footing before I slipped into darkness.

Crab Dragon regarded the three unconscious forms that lay at the edge of his lake with a heavy heart. Moo had taken everything from him, even his integrity. But Moo would never touch this forest, or any of the creatures that lived within it. "Dixie," he called.

The Pixie/Zuum stepped out from behind a tree. She did not wear the symbol of Moo. While Crab Dragon lived, she never would. "Here," she said simply.

Crab Dragon sighed. He hated getting her involved in this, but… "I need you to take a message to Master Naga. Tell him I have captured the traitors."

Dixie looked pityingly at Pixie and Big Blue. "He'll want them destroyed," she said, concerned.

"Well, he can do it himself," Crab Dragon replied. "There's only so far I will go in doing Naga's dirty work."

Dixie nodded. "I understand." She glanced at the human girl who had accompanied the traitors. "What about her?"

"I don't see any reason for Naga to know about her." Dixie breathed a sigh of relief. "Put her somewhere within the forest. She'll be safe there, unless she decides to be foolish and tries to rescue her friends."

"If she does try something like that…" Dixie said, picking up the girl, "…let's hope she does it when Naga isn't here." She took off, the limp human held in her arms.


"Hmm…" Hare said, deep in thought.

"What is it, Hare?" asked Holly.

"Don't you think it's just a little odd that we haven't seen a single baddie since we entered this forest?" Hare asked.

Genki laughed. "Well, maybe the baddies around here have heard of our reputation."

"Chi!" Mocchi agreed.

"Or maybe they're planning some kind of trap," Tiger said. "I think we'd better take a look around."

"Okay," said Golem, grabbing Suezo.

"HEY! ISN'T ANYBODY GOING TO ASK MEEEEEEEE?!" Suezo shouted as Golem launched him into the air.

As soon as he cleared the trees, Suezo began looking for any signs of the baddies. "Nope, no baddies here," he said to himself. Then something in a small clearing caught his eye. He just had time to zoom in on it before he began to plummet back to earth. "GOLEM!"

This time, Golem caught Suezo before he could crash. "Thanks for catching me, Golem," Suezo said, then muttered, "For once."

"Suezo, what did you see?" Holly asked.

"Any baddies, chi?" asked Mocchi.

"Uh-uh," Suezo shook his head. "But I did see that kid that was traveling with Pixie and Big Blue. She looked pretty beat up, too."

"You mean Thorn?" Genki asked.

Suezo nodded.

"Which way, Suezo?" Holly asked.

"Thataway," Suezo replied, pointing with his tongue.

"Well, then…" Genki said, strapping on his roller blades. "LET'S GO!"

He skated off at top speed, leaving his friends to run after him.

A short while later…

"Somebody must have put her here," Hare said, scratching his chin.

"How do you figure that out, Hare?" Genki asked.

"Look at the way she's lying. Her arms are at her sides. If she had just collapsed on the ground here she wouldn't be that way," Hare explained.

"Could it be a trap, Hare?" Golem asked.

"In all probability-" Hare began, but Tiger cut him off.

"I don't smell any baddies around here," he said.

"Oh, is that so?" Hare asked. "As I recall, you said that at Gali's, and we all know what happened there."

"Back off, Hare!" Tiger growled, getting right in his face.

"Oh, yeah? Make me!" Hare shouted.

"That's enough, you two!" Holly said, pushing them apart. "We have to help Thorn."

Part 2


I groaned and slowly opened my eyes. My head throbbed, and there wasn't a single part of my body that didn't ache.

"Are you all right?" someone asked.

I sat bolt upright, then winced as a sharp pain shot up my back.

"Genki?" I asked in confusion. What was going on here? The last thing I remembered was seeing Big Blue get slammed into a tree. It had been broad daylight then. Now, the sun had already set, and I was sitting around a campfire with Genki and his friends.

"Where's Pixie? And Big Blue?" I asked.

"We don't know," Genki said.

"We only found you, Thorn," added Holly.

"Aw, shoot! Then that means Crab Dragon…" I stopped in mid sentence.

Moo wanted them dead. Crab Dragon worked for Moo. No! I couldn't believe that. Crab Dragon had seemed to care about the forest, and, for some reason, he must've spared me. Maybe there was still a chance. There had to still be a chance.

"Crab Dragon?" asked Genki. "Who's Crab Dragon?"

"One of Moo's baddies," I explained. "He lives in a lake near the edge of the forest. He must have Pixie and Big Blue." If they're not already…no, don't even think that.

"Yeah, I saw the lake from up in the air," Suezo said. "But I didn't see anyone near it."

"Alright, then!" Genki said, standing up. "We'll help you rescue Pixie and Big Blue!"

Mocchi stood up also. "Chi!"

"You will?" I asked.

"Sure," Genki said. "Pixie's saved me lots of times."

She had never mentioned that…maybe she just didn't like admitting she cared. Come to think of it, she didn't like admitting anything that might make her look nice. Well, to each her own.

"Thanks, Genki," I said. I don't know what I would have done if he hadn't volunteered to help me. There was no way I could've gone up against that Crab Dragon alone. Well, at least not if I had wanted to survive.

"Well, then, what are we waiting for?" Tiger asked. "Let's get going."

By the time we arrived at the lake, I was hurting worse than before. Every step I took only brought more pain. But I wasn't going to say anything. If we didn't hurry, Pixie and Big Blue might be…

"I don't see anyone," Golem said, breaking my chain of thought in the nick of time. It was true. Nothing stirred on the surface of the lake.

"Let me see," Suezo said, hopping forward. He stood very still for a long time, looking everywhere. "Nope, nothing," he said at last.

"You sure this is the right place, Thorn?" Tiger asked.

"Yeah, this is it, alright," I said. Even by the faint light of the moon I could see the scorch marks on the trees. That was where we had entered, where Crab Dragon had used his Inferno. But there was nothing here. Nothing. Well, nothing was good. Nothing meant no Lost Disks, either. Which meant Pixie and Big Blue had to be alive, somewhere.

"So now whatta we do?" Suezo asked. "I mean, there's nobody here."

"Strategically, it would be a good idea to get some sleep and look for them when the sun comes out," Hare said. "There's not much we can do in the dark."

"But what if it's too late by then?!" Genki asked.

That was what I was afraid of. But I had to admit that Hare was right. There was no point in wandering around in the dark.

"Genki…" I began. Then I felt…I'm not sure. "They're here."

Everyone turned to stare at me.

"Whaddaya mean 'they're here'? See for yourself, there's no one in sight," Suezo said.

"I know, but I just have this feeling…I'm sure they're here," I said. Don't ask me how or why I knew; I just did. This feeling was too strong to just be wishful thinking. They were here, and they were alive. That was all that mattered.

"Well, where could they be?" asked Suezo. "I don't see them, and my eye's better than all of yours put together."

"Under the lake, chi?" Mocchi suggested.

"That might explain why I don't smell anyone," Tiger said.

"Hmm…Crab Dragon was in the lake when we got here," I said. "I remember him flying up out of it."

"So, assuming you're correct, Thorn, Crab Dragon must be keeping Pixie and Big Blue in the lake with him somehow," Hare said.

I nodded, even though I hadn't the slightest clue as to how Crab Dragon could be keeping them inside the lake.

"Do you have a plan, Hare?" Holly asked.

"Well, let's see…Crab Dragon's probably sleeping right now, otherwise he would've attacked us. And there's no way we can just swim around in that lake looking for them," Hare thought aloud.

"What if I could tell ya exactly where they are?" I asked. I didn't know what this feeling was, but I was sure it could tell me where Crab Dragon was keeping them.

But Hare shook his head. "We don't know how deep that lake goes, and not many of us are good enough swimmers. Besides, there's no guarantee that we wouldn't wake up Crab Dragon, and we'd be at his mercy in the water," he explained.

"Well, what can we do, Hare?" Genki asked impatiently.

"Hmm…we should wait 'til Crab Dragon wakes up. Then, we'll fight him and make him release Pixie and Big Blue if we win," Hare said, then turned toward me. "You're sure he has them, right?"

"Positive," I said. If anything, the feeling had gotten stronger.

"Not much of a plan, Hare," Tiger said.

"Oh? And you could come up with something better, Tiger?" Hare asked. "AHAHAHA!"

"Can it, fur ball!" Tiger shouted, growling.

Golem put a large hand between the two. "No…fighting."

Mocchi tugged on Genki's shorts.

"What's wrong, Mocchi?" Genki asked.

"Mocchi is hungry," Mocchi said.

"Aww, Mocchi!" Genki said.

Holly giggled. "Well, Genki, we haven't eaten dinner yet. Why don't we set up camp nearby and have something to eat? Then we can all get some sleep and carry out Hare's plan in the morning."

"Sounds good to me!" said Suezo.

"So, Thorn, where do you come from?" Holly asked me over dinner. "I don't know," I said, staring down into my plate. "I can't remember anything that happened before the day I met Pixie and Big Blue." Well…nothing that made sense. The weird darkness and strange voices in my dreams, the names of doctors Lily and Wyvlo…these were just jumbled pieces of nonsense that might or might not have something to do with my past."

"Oh," Holly said. "I'm sorry."

"What are ya sorry for?" I asked. "It's not like it's your fault. Besides, it's not that bad. I'm sure I'll remember sooner or later." At the rate I was going, though, it would probably be much, much later, if ever.

"Yeah, I'm sure you'll remember," Holly said encouragingly.

Wish I were that sure.

I awoke in the middle of the night, gasping again. The same terrifying dream of the night before.

Tiger opened one eye. "Something wrong, kid?"

"No, just a bad dream," I said.

"Oh. Well, go back to sleep," he said, closing his eye again.

But I didn't feel like going back to sleep yet. The dream had shaken me up a bit. I needed to calm down a little before I could even think of sleeping again.

I glanced around. Tiger, Mocchi, Golem, Suezo, Hare, and Genki all seemed to be sleeping peacefully. Huh? Where was Holly?

I got up and walked around for a while, looking for her. The pain Crab Dragon had dealt me was mostly gone, now.

I found Holly sitting near the lake, looking up at the stars. "What's wrong?" I asked. "Can't sleep?"

Holly jumped and turned around quickly. "Oh, Thorn, it's you. You startled me," she said.

"Sorry," I smiled apologetically. "Mind if I join you?"

"No, not at all," she said. I sat down beside her. "How come you're awake?"

I had asked her first, but Holly was really nice, so I wouldn't point that out.

"I had a bad dream," I replied. "What are ya up for?"

Holly bowed her head. "I just get so worried, sometimes. I feel so helpless when the others fight. And sometimes, I don't think we'll ever find the Phoenix."

"I know what ya mean about feeling helpless," I said. "I felt so useless when we were getting beat up by Crab Dragon, and I couldn't do a thing to help. But don't worry so much, Holly. I know if anyone can find the Phoenix, it's ya and your friends."

"Yeah," she said. She gazed up at the stars for a long time.

"Do you hate him?" she asked out of nowhere.

"Hate who?"


I had never really thought about that. "Hmm…I hate what he does. I hate that he's trying to conquer the world. I hate that he's killing and enslaving humans and monsters. I hate that he makes good monsters evil. But I don't hate Moo himself." Holly looked at me quizzically. "Moo himself I feel kind of sorry for. I mean, he was created as a weapon. How must that feel…to have people see ya as an object, to be used and then discarded? And no one will ever care about Moo. Even his most loyal baddies only fear him. I'm not saying that's any excuse for the things he's done. But I can't help but wonder if things might have been different if just one person had cared about him. Oh, well. It's too late for that now." Wow. It was amazing how long I could ramble without Pixie around to yell at me to be quiet.

"The Phoenix will turn all the baddies into goodies," Holly said. "And that includes Moo."

"Is that right?" I asked.

"It's an ancient legend from my village."

"No, I mean…is it right to turn bad monsters into good monsters?"

Holly looked puzzled. "Well, why shouldn't it be?"

"Everyone has the right to chose between good and evil. Needless to say, it's wrong of Moo to take monsters who have chosen to be good and turn them evil. But wouldn't it be equally wrong to take a monster who has chosen to be evil and turn it good? It would be fine if the Phoenix only reversed what Moo has done, but if somebody wants to be evil, by all means, let them. I'm not saying ya should let them get away with conquering the world or anything, but if they, of their own free will, choose to be evil, wouldn't it be wrong of the Phoenix to turn them good? And how do ya judge who's good and who's evil, anyways? I'm still not sure which Lilim is, and I've been trying to figure her out for years." Huh? What did I just say? Where the heck did that come from?

Holly was wondering the same thing. "Who's Lilim?" she asked.

"I have no idea," I said. "I can't remember anything about her. I just kind of said that without thinking." I was starting to creep myself out now.

I probably should've just taken Tiger's advice and gone back to sleep. Well, it wasn't too late for that.

I stood up. "Sorry for rambling on like this. I think I'll try to go get some sleep," I said.

"Okay," Holly said. She looked a little concerned. "Well, goodnight, Thorn."

"Goodnight," I said, then walked back to the others.

Wow, compared to Pixie, Holly was practically a saint. Maybe I should travel with her and Genki instead…no. Somehow, I got the feeling I didn't quite belong with them.

Part 3


"You're sure they're here?" Suezo asked.

I sighed. That had to be at least the fifth time someone had asked me that.

"My answer's the same as the one I gave Hare five minutes ago," I replied. "I know they're here." That strange feeling hadn't gone away.

"It would seem that all we can do now is wait," Hare said.

"I'm tired of waiting!" Genki shouted. He ran straight up to the lake. "HEY, CRAB DRAGON! I'M GENKI, AND I'M THE MONSTER CHAMP! COME OUT AND FACE ME!"

Suddenly the Crab Dragon shot out of the water, soaking Genki with the spray. He hovered half in, half out of the lake and regarded us almost sadly. "Fools," he said. "INFERNO!" he shouted. Flames gushed out of his mouth, heading straight for Genki.

"GENKI!" Holly screamed.

"BLIZZARD!" Tiger leapt forward, blocking the attack with his own. The two attacks met in mid-air and began pushing each other back and forth. Soon, however, it was obvious that Crab Dragon was winning. Oh, shoot.

Beneath the surface of the lake…

"What's going on up there?" Big Blue asked, looking up through the water.

He was sealed along with Pixie in what appeared to be a giant air bubble at the bottom of the lake.

"Hmm," Pixie glanced upward. Crab Dragon must be fighting someone, she thought. Hmm, he's still partly in the lake. She gave an evil little grin.

"Stand back, Big Blue, I've got an idea."

Pixie placed both hands on the side of the bubble. "And…LIGHTNING!"

Back on the surface…

Crab Dragon's Inferno fizzled out as he screamed in pain. Bolts of electricity crackled over his body, and he fell backwards into the water as Tiger's Blizzard finally hit him.

Within the lake…

"Master Pixie," Big Blue said. "We're moving."

The air bubble that imprisoned them was slowly rising to the surface of the lake.

"Hmph," Pixie said. "Looks like Crab Dragon finally got the message."

She continued her Lightning attack as they floated upward.

Back above…

"Huh? What- Pixie?!" A huge bubble rose out of the lake and popped.

Pixie hovered in mid-air, but Big Blue splashed back into the water. Crab Dragon stopped being electrocuted as Pixie grabbed Big Blue and tried tugging him to shore. I ran over to help them as fast as I could.

Crab Dragon struggled upright, but Tiger had finally gotten the idea. He stuck his horns in the water. "LIGHTNING!"

Crab Dragon screamed once again.

"Now, Mocchi!" Genki shouted. "Use your cannon!"

Mocchi took a deep breath, then leaned toward Crab Dragon and opened his mouth. A huge beam of pink light shot out of it and hit Crab Dragon, knocking him to the center of the lake, where he glowed and turned into a Lost Disk.

I finally reached Pixie and Big Blue, and was helping to get Big Blue out of the lake when…


A Dixie came shooting out of the forest like a bat out of hell. She landed by the edge of the lake and fell to her knees, sobbing uncontrollably.

Mocchi took a few steps toward her. "Chi?" he asked.

"You killed him!" she shouted. "How could you?!"

"I don't get it," Genki said. "He was a baddie."

"Not in his heart, he wasn't!" Dixie screamed. "He only agreed to work for Moo if he would leave the rest of the forest alone! He sacrificed himself for the rest of us! And now he's gone! You've killed him!"

"So that's why we didn't see any baddies before…" Hare said.

Holly stepped over to the Dixie and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. She looked up at Holly.

"We're on a journey to find the Phoenix," Holly said. "And when we find it, it'll revive all the lost monsters, and turn the baddies into goodies."

"Then go," Dixie said. "Continue your journey."

"Why don't you join us?" Suezo offered. "You can help us find the Phoenix and get your Crab Dragon back."

"No." Dixie shook her head. "I must remain here. Once Moo learns of Crab Dragon's death, he'll attack this forest. I have to be here to help defend it," she explained. "Now go. Find the Phoenix."

"We will," said Genki, eyes wavering slightly. "That's a promise." The courageous seven walked off without their usual cheer.

"Hmph," Pixie said. By now we had managed to drag Big Blue out of the water. Pixie was perched in her usual spot on his shoulder. "Let's go."

That was all any of us ever said about our encounter with Crab Dragon. But now I was more determined than ever to stop Moo. Before I had just been along for the ride. Sure, I had known Moo did bad things and all, I mean, he attacked us, but to totally screw up people's lives like that…that was just plain wrong. Seeing that Dixie just made it all real for me. I still didn't hate Moo personally, but I hated the things he did even more. He had to be stopped.

Meanwhile, at Naga's lair…

For once in her life, Lilim was nervous. Naga was grinning from ear to ear as he led her into his lair to see the forces he had picked out for her.

On his face, it looked very disturbing. Considering the situation only made it seem more so.

Naga practically pushed her inside. Oh, sweet revenge…it had taken a lot of trouble to arrange this, but the look on Lilim's face when she saw her forty-nine monsters was worth every bit of it.

Inside the lair, forty-nine Vanities stood in a row, trembling as a vein popped out on Lilim's head.

"Vanities!?" she shrieked at Naga. "I ask for decent monsters, and you give me Vanities?!"

Naga only smirked at her. Oh, how she would love to Gigiflame that smirk off his face…

"They were the best I had available, Lilim," Naga said serenely. "So either take them, or go and capture Nemesis on your own."

"Augh!" Lilim shouted. He had her and she knew it. She couldn't just refuse the Vanities on the grounds that they were all a bunch of mindless idiots. Even if she could, there was only so far she could push him. If she refused the Vanities, Naga would run the risk of not finding Nemesis.

Lilim turned angrily to the Vanities. "If one of you so much as glances at your own reflection during the mission, I'll Gigiflame every last one of you!" With that, Lilim stormed out of the lair. Naga slithered calmly after her.

Forty-nine Vanities suddenly remembered to breathe.