A Return Trip Home

AN: This is a story that has original characters of my creation and of Kate's creation. Thanks go out again to Kate for letting me use her characters and for taking the time to upload my story for me. Please, e-mail all comments to FrankMayn@comcast.net

"AHHH!!!" Frank yelled as he plummeted to the floor below.

"Eerrgh..." The Persona User muttered as landed on the stone floor. Frank looked up, and noticed that Janet was falling as well.

"Holy..." Frank yelled as he shot out of his sitting position. Despite being in pain, he just managed to get underneath the Windian and stretch out his arms.

"Got ya!!!" Frank said as Janet landed in his outstretched arms.

Good God! She's light...very light... Wait Frank... Windian... Hollow bones... But in today's society... according to what I learned in class... They wouldn't... Only pure-blooded Windians would... How is it possible? Is she...

Frank took a look at Janet's face and noticed that her eyes were squeezed shut, possibly still waiting for the impact to come. The Windian slowly opened her eyes and looked around.

"Hey..." Frank started. "Are you okay?"

"No, Frank. I just LOVE nearly plummeting to my death every time we go looking for another piece of that mirror." Janet said before rolling her eyes and offering the Persona User a grin.

"Yeah... you're okay..." Frank said with a smile. "We've got to stop meeting like this. I think you're falling for me."

"Oh, shut up..." Janet said before chuckling. "That was a bad pun..."

"Fine, fine..." Frank said as he let Janet down.

"You know..." Janet said as she checked herself over. "You're awfully lucky that I'm not going to tell Justin about this..."

Frank sweatdropped. "Thank God... That's the last thing I'd need..." After saying that, Frank gave out a small yelp and fell to the floor in pain.

"Frank..." Janet started. "What..."

"That fall, Janet... must have done more damage than I thought..." Frank replied before wincing again.

"Hang on..." Janet said quietly before placing her pack on the ground.

Great... which one... Janet thought to herself as she was rooting through her backpack.

It was... ripo... ripe... Something like that... Here we go...

Janet pulled a bottle of liquid medicine out and uncapped it before handing it to Frank.

"Thanks..." The Persona User said before gulping down the contents of the Ripobitan bottle. Immediately, a golden glow surrounded Frank as the medicinal elixir healed his battered body.

"Feeling better?" Janet asked as she zipped up her backpack.

"Much... thanks." Frank replied as he stood up. "Whoa..."

"Oh... what now?" Janet said as she shouldered her backpack. "Ladon... it's hot down here..."

"That too, Janet... There's also a shard down here... nearby... My Persona can feel it..." Frank replied as he took in the surroundings.

The bottom of the ruins was hot. Old pillars decorated the area, each with some ancient design to them. Frank noticed some raised tiles on the floor. Picking up a rock, he tossed it a few times in his hand as he looked at the odd flooring.

"What are you looking at?" Janet asked she watched him toss the rock casually.

"This..." With that word, Frank chucked the rock at one of the raised floor tiles. Upon impact, a gush of lava shot out of the floor and melted the rock. After a few seconds, the lava stopped shooting out and cooled.

"Well..." Janet said with an eyebrow raised. "I wouldn't want to step in one of those... It would leave a particularly nasty burn..."

"Tell me about it..." Frank replied as he raised an arm. "Persona Change... DRAGON!!!"

Three images of Frank split from his body and circled him, before one settled back on his body. Immediately, the other two images followed the original and settled back into the depths of his soul.

"Thanks for the show, Frank, but... why did you change your Persona?" Janet asked the Persona User.

"Simple... When I was with Nina, she made me immune to all magic but evil types... On the downside, I was susceptible to all attacks, especially gunfire." Frank explained. "With Ryu as my Persona, I absorb anything fire based, and now have a higher defense. But now, I'm susceptible to all ice magic."

Janet nodded in understanding. "Okay... that explains things... so let me get this straight... if you trigger one of those lava traps, you'll be healed by it, instead of being burnt?"

Frank just nodded.

Ladon... Janet thought to herself. I thought it just allowed them to use magic and certain attacks... But it's different...

"Well then..." Janet started. "You'd better take lead, just in case you step on one of those traps..."

"Gee, thanks. I don't know what to say..." Frank replied with a chuckle. Immediately, he began to explore the place with Janet in tow.

"You know..." Frank said as he stopped beside a pillar and turned to the Windian. "I'm getting worried..."

"What? Why's that?" Janet asked while placing a hand on her hip.

"Honestly... remember how bad it was on the way down here? We're not being attacked now..."

Janet nodded in agreement. "You're right... It's quiet down here... too quiet..."

"I know, Janet... something's wrong..." Frank felt a pebble fall on his face. "Huh?"

Janet, however, was now looking up above the Persona User. Her eyes went wide as she saw the top of the pillar that Frank was standing beside begin to collapse.

"HOLY SHIT!!! LOOK OUT!!!" Janet yelled as she ran at the Persona User. Frank looked up, and was paralyzed with fear as he saw stones beginning to rain down on him. Oddly enough, something knocked him out of the way and onto the floor, just out of range of the debris. Frank looked up and noticed that Janet had pushed him out of the way. She stood up beside him, looking at what was once an ancient pillar.

"Janet..." Frank said as he looked at the scene with his eyes wide open. "Damn... that... that could have... I could have been killed..."

"Don't worry about it now... the important thing is that you're safe..." The Windian replied after letting out a light shrug.

Frank slowly got up and just stared at the collapsed pillar. "That... that could have been me under there... My Persona wouldn't have been able to save me... I would have been crushed..." He slowly turned to Janet. "You saved me... I owe you one, Janet..."

"I told you, Frank. Don't worry about it. You would have done the same for me. Now lets go and get that shard. I would like to get home sometime today." The Windian replied with a smirk. She then adjusted her necktie once again.

"You're not the only one who wants to go home..." Frank said quietly, just loud enough for Janet to hear. While Frank wasn't looking, Janet gave him a look of sympathy.

"Anyway..." Frank started. "Let's look for either the shard or the stairs leading back up... If I know the others, they're probably looking for us now."

"Well..." Janet said as she followed Frank. "I'd tell you to call them on those weird devices, but I've still got the one Tammy had... And I'm sure..."

"Yeah..." Frank said as he reached into his jacket and unclipped the radio. "I'm pretty sure that calling me now would do you any good..."

"Anyway... Hey, there's the staircase." Janet said as she pointed at the western wall.

"Okay..." Frank said as he checked the GPS. "It's now marked here... we can find our way back after we get that shard."

"Speaking of that shard..." Janet said as she stepped over one of the trap triggering tiles. "How close are we to it?"

"Close... My Persona can sense it..." Frank replied as he rounded a corner.

"I can feel it too... the magic it's radiating..." The Windian replied. "There... it's coming from that chest..."

"I see it, Janet..." The Persona User replied. "Something's wrong though... this is easy... way too easy..."

"Tell me about it... every time we found one of these things... it was guarded by something powerful..." Janet replied as she looked around nervously. "I don't like this at all..."

"I don't either... but... Ah well... may as well get it over with..." Frank opened the chest and sure enough, the shard was there.

"Got it..." The Persona User said as he pulled the mirror piece from it's hiding place. Immediately after taking the shard, a female giggling came from behind him.

"What's so funny, Janet?" Frank asked without turning away from the chest.

"Um... Frank..." Janet said nervously as she began to glance around. "That... that wasn't me..."

"What?" The Persona User then turned around. Finally, he noticed someone in the area with him and Janet.

"Who... how did you get down here?" Janet asked the teenage girl. From what she could tell, she had long brown hair, and was wearing what looked to be a white dress with a baby blue apron.

"Oh my GOD!!!" Frank yelled, getting Janet's attention. Immediately, the Persona User pulled his shotgun from his back and trained it on the girl.

"What the hell?" Janet said in confusion as she watched Frank.

"That... that's not a person! That's a demon, Janet... an extremely powerful one!!! She's radiating..."

"LADON!!!" Janet yelled as she ripped her Beretta from her hip holster. "I feel it now! So much..."

"Power???" The girl said as she slowly turned around. Frank and Janet let out a loud gasp as they saw that the girl had a sadistic grin and deep red eyes that conveyed a sense of insanity. In her right hand was a long, blood-stained knife. The way her hand was twitching told Janet and Frank that she wanted to kill both of them.

"Who... who are..." Janet stammered.

"Since you both are going to die anyway, I may as well tell you... I'm Alice..." The demonic girl told both of them.

Alice: One of the most powerful demons known to Philemon's domain. She looks like an ordinary teenage girl, but is always carrying a sadistic grin and an overwhelming need to kill. Few people have encountered her or her older sister and have lived to tell the tale...

"Die... right..." Janet said as she rolled her eyes. "Chew on this, bitch!" The Windian let out a round from her Beretta. Amazingly enough, Alice sliced with her knife and deflected the 9mm SilverTip into a nearby pillar.

"What the hell?" Janet said in disbelief. She then unloaded the rest of her clip into the demonic teenager. Beside her, Frank was doing the same thing with his shotgun. When both guns went dry, the two students stared in disbelief as Alice stood there, with hardly any damage done to her.

"That's... that's not possible!!!" Janet yelled. She then pressed the magazine catch on her gun. While she was doing this, Alice took the time to launch a massive fireball at her.

"WATCH OUT!!!" Frank yelled as he stood in front of Janet. The Windian looked up and began to scream as she watched the fireball fly at Frank, who stood protectively in front of her. However, as soon as the fireball hit him, it blew apart and he began to glow a soft blue color as he absorbed the small flames into his body.

How... how did he... That's right... Absorb fire... he's immune to that right now... Amazing... Persona can do more than just let him cast spells... If I get a chance, I'll ask either Ellen or him to explain it to me...

"DIE!!!" Frank yelled as he charged the sadistic teenager. He slashed out at Alice, but to his surprise, she CAUGHT the blade and lashed out at his neck with her knife. The Persona User yelped in surprise and managed to lean back. Alice's knife just barely missed him, but he could fell the gust of wind as the knife flew over him. Growling in disgust, Alice lifted Frank by his rapier and threw him at Janet. Janet managed to get out of the way just as Frank bounced off the ground and rolled to a stop, just narrowly missing one of the magma traps.

"Ugh..." Frank managed to get out as he rubbed his head. That was all he managed to say because Alice quickly made her way over to him, despite the fact that Janet was continuously blasting her with Flame spells and FireBlast spells. Alice grabbed Frank by the neck and lifted him, choking the poor Persona User as she did so.

"Any last words, mortal, before I crush your windpipe?" Alice asked before she continued to tighten her grip on him.

Of course, Frank couldn't say anything. Instead, he flopped forward, pushing Alice onto the lava trap. The trap was set off, engulfing both in searing hot magma. The sadistic teenager began to scream in pain before she dropped the Persona User, who was glowing a soft blue as the lava healed him. He could hear Janet's screams from outside the column of magma. Frank calmly walked away from the trap and towards his friend.

Upon seeing the Persona User alive, Janet punched him on the arm and gave him an annoyed glare.

"What?" Frank asked.

"Don't DO THAT again! You scared the SHIT out of me! I thought that you were cooked alive!!!" The Windian went off on the Persona User, waving her arms frantically.

"Okay... I'm sorry..." Frank said apologetically. He looked over his shoulder and noticed that Alice was putting the fires out on her dress.

"Let's go! We're not safe here!" The Persona User said to his friend. All Janet did was offer a nod before glancing at the angry demoness. She took off after Frank, as soon as she noticed that Alice had put herself out.

Alice growled then gave chase to the two as she waved her knife. She was hell bent on stopping the Persona User and his ally, no matter what it took. She also wanted to kill both of them slowly, for everything that they had done to her.

"Where are the stairs???" Janet asked Frank. She screamed as she saw a fireball go wide and hit another pillar just as soon as they had passed it.

"Hang on!" Frank mumbled as he tried to fish the GPS from one of his pockets. "Here! Follow me!!!"

The two students rounded a corner just as soon as Alice had cast ExtinctAll on the two. Because they were out of sight, the spell fizzled, having no targets to hit. Alice bellowed out in rage and rounded the corner. She saw Janet and threw her knife at the Windian, just barely missing her.

"Ladon!" Janet yelled at Frank. "She doesn't give up! That was too damn close!"

"There! C'mon!!!" Frank literally pulled Janet up the flight of stairs. On the way up, both noticed some crates of TNT piled up near the landing.

As soon as both of them had made it up to B7, Janet turned and launched a flame spell at the explosives. Both of them dove for cover as soon as the fuse lit. Ironically, they ended up beside the rest of their group.

"Frank? Janet??? We thought..." Kate started, before Frank interrupted her.

"EVERYONE! GET DOWN!!! NOW!!!" Frank yelled to his group. Without any questions, the adventurers all hit the deck. Seconds later, an explosion rocked the area, showering everyone with dust and debris. A scream of rage could be heard from the lower level.

"What in Ladon's name happened to you both?" Alex asked as he shook some of the dust out of his hair.

"Don't ask..." Frank said before catching his breath. "We just encountered a strong demoness who just wouldn't go down..."

"Oh... Frank... Are you okay?" Kate asked as she checked over her boyfriend.

"Yeah... I would have been dead, if it weren't for Janet... she save my life when she pushed me out from under a collapsing pillar..."

"I told you not to worry about it! Besides, you repaid the favor when you took that fireball for me." Janet said as she checked her handgun over.

"Frank... Janet..." Yuki said as she approached the two. "What was the name of the demon you fought?"

"Alice..." Janet replied. At the mention of the name, both Brad and Yuki visibly paled.

"You mean... you both saw Alice... and lived???" Brad asked in shock.

"Yeah... why?" Frank asked.

"C'mon, wha's so bad about a demon named Alice???" Diane asked from the back of the group.

"Alice is one of the most dangerous demons out there. She kills other demons for fun, Diane." Yuki explained.

"Look..." Frank said as he pulled the final piece from his pack. The important thing is that we found the final shard. What do we do now?

"Well..." Ellen started. "First, we need to get out of here..."

"Meow! Let me guess! After we leave the ruins, we put the mirror together, right? Meow..." Neko-Chan asked as both her tails began to wave around.

"Right. The frame is being stored in the Velvet Room... We should head there as soon as we get out of here..." Brad added.

"All right..." Frank said in exhaustion. "Let's get going... we've got quite a ways to go to get out of here..."

The group began their long trek out of the ruins. Along the way, Alex asked the inevitable question.

"Velvet Room? Love..." Alex asked his girlfriend. "What's the Velvet Room?"

Ellen just chuckled. "You'll see... it's something that we can't describe with words..."

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