Jairis is a world located in a radically different universe from that of the TZ universe. Governed by a being known as the Luciolith, this universe conforms to vastly different inherent laws than what would be known in other universes, though the same applies to every and all universes in relation to one another. Tentatively referred to as the Lucioverse.
Jairis appears to be a world in the midst of a technological renaissance. The tools of the old world have merged with the works of the ancient world, producing technology, tools and utilities that contrast with the homely and feudal state of the world. Beings of all sorts reside here, even if not easily found, but most revered of all are the long gone Angelions and Daemonids, the founders of the world's magic and creators of the seemingly endless energy source, Teras.
The Second World, Shrouded by FogEdit
A girl with long hair with a myriad of countless colors flowing through it begins to stir, revealing turquoise and green eyes, momentarily at a loss as to who she is. She wears relatively simple clothing, with talons for feet and clawed hands.
"...Where am I?" She begins to fully rise, looking about her surroundings.
She finds that she is in the middle of a forest clearing. Lush green leaves decorate the trees and the grass is a mostly healthy color. Incomplete toadstool rings and flowers that bloom red, yellow and violent are sparsely spread around the clearing's outskirts and the chirping of birds can be heard over the chatter of small insects. Sunlight partially permeates the area from an angle, dazzling beams of white and pale gold illuminating the fairly dark area.
"Huh....? How'd I get here...? I'm in... a forest?" She slowly gets to her feet, and decides to climb the tree to get a vantage point.
From the tree top, little else but trees can be seen to the south, west and north. To the east, the edge if the forest can be seen though it appears that it will take some time to reach it.
She clambers down, and after a moment, she cautiously heads East, hoping to get moving quickly.
It takes several hours, enough for the light to dim considerably, to reach the forest's edge and see part of a well traveled dirt road heading north and south not far ahead of her.
She looks around, pausing for a moment to take in her surroundings again. After catching her breath, she approaches the road, looking for any sign of civilization to head toward.
My memory is still fuzzy, and I woke up in a strange place... did something happen to me?
In both directions, the road appears to span onward for miles without signs of civilization. Other than that the area is either forested or decorated by small shrubs.
"I guess I will be walking around a while, huh?" She looks North, then South. "...North it is."
Several more hours pass before the faint outline of a town or city becomes visible at the horizon. It seems that in a few hours she may reach the city.
"So you're headed to Taryl? You've walked a long way at a dangerous time of day," comments a person who's presence just barely became noticeable. They wear a dusty brown cloak, closer to a mantle in appearance, over a leather chest plate, pants that appear to be made of a synthetic fabric and leather boots. Across their backs hang two broad swords and, closer to their waist, a pair of short swords. Across their waist are a pair of sheathed daggers. In the darkness it is difficult to make out their features other than their messy dark hair and pointed ear tips. Their voice is gender neutral and their tone is friendly and light.
"I wouldn't know. I'm not from here." She says in a guarded tone, shifting into a defensive stance on an instinct.
"Figured, most locals would be in bed by now. 'Tis the Hour of the Darkening afterall." The figure shrugs dismissively.
"The... ...Darkening?" She says with an raised eyebrow. "No idea what that is. Is that some fancy term for sundown or sunset?"
"No, that would be dusk and dawn respectively. Others not from here have asked the same thing. The Darkening was an event from way back in the Yions Dynasty, where the mad emperor Zaryc Yions released the boundary separating this world from Pandaemonium, subsequently releasing the Idolas and its swarm of Darklings unto the world. The Hour of the Darkening is two forrs before dawn, when the sky is the darkest and dark magic is at its most potent. Though the two forr period is nothing compared to the Resurgence event each year."
"...Oh. ...I know nothing of myself or my own history at the present, so you'll have to forgive me. ...I'm at a loss for my own name at the moment."
"Ah, maybe someone in Castle Taryl can help you with that. I'm heading there myself, but only after I take care of a few things in the castle town."
She blinks. "Who are you exactly? And since I guess we are headed in that direction, I guess could you maybe... show me the way?"
"Eh, a wandering hero or something along those lines," he comments. "It would be faster to go without me by a day, but if you want me to take you there I have no qualms."
"I'd rather not be off on my own. I don't know anything about whatever may hide in this land."
"In that case, I'm obliged to serve as your escort, madam," he bows slightly, "I am Hairos of Dosk."
"Thank you very much. I wish I could offer..." She pauses, as something akin to a memory of someone addressing her as 'Naki' plays in her head momentarily. "...If you want, you can call me 'Naki'."
"Naki? Very well then, follow me. I'll rent a room in the local inn so that you can rest while I handle business." He leads Naki into the town of Taryl, arriving a few hours after dawn. He looks around the town before locating an inn called the Darh's Fantasy and paying for two rooms with a smooth stone of many colors. "Stay here until I return. Unless something pressing comes up, try not to leave the inn and avoid any dark alleys or spaces under bridges if you must." Hairos speeds off shortly afterwards, handing Naki a blocky rectangular key with a tag written in a completely foreign script.
"Second storey, leftmost room," says the inn keeper, a plump woman with greying hair and dark bags beneath her eyes from many late nights and stress.
She follows the directions given, trying to decipher the unfamiliar text to challenge herself, but doesn't loose track of where she is going, and arrives at the room and enters.
The text makes no sense whatsoever. It looks almost like random symbols squeezed into a tiny space, with nothing to act as a cipher or decoder beause of a lack of reference materials.
She sighs, then looks for a bed to rest on, or something of equivlent value to rest on.
A small bed with somewhat thick covers coating them. A roughly sewn pillow sits on the head of the bed, near a small lantern.
Naki quietly lays down in the bed, resting from the long day of travel.
Who am I? Why am I here? All I know is... Naki. Nothing else... ...What should I do with myself?
Seven forrs pass beforbefore Hairos returns. The leather bits of his armor have been replaced with a silver colored metal and his tattered cloak has been mended. He now dons two metal forearm protectors and has three quivers of thirty arrows each slung across his back. A feathered charm hangs from his hair and the makeshift harness he wears has been replaced with connected holsters and sheathes that hang at his side, each holding one of his blades. His eyes are obscured by his hair, an inky dark green the color of wet seaweed. He holds a large bundle at his side and sets it by Naki before heading out once more.
Naki blinks, before looking at the bundle in curiosity. "What's this...?"
"Some equipment and gear. Walking around like that as you makes you an easy target to thieves and cutthroats."
"Thanks... I'm not defenseless though." She examines the equipment.
Inside the bundle is a set of modified leather armor with plates and runes engraved into it. There is also a thin tunic made of tiny silver scales and a small dagger.
Naki looks it over a bit more, then starts putting the tunic and armor on, then looks over the dagger, curious to see if it has any special properties.
The dagger is fairly ordinary, with a well polished dark blade and a simple scabbard. The weapon is feather light and simply crafted.
After putting the equipment on, Naki lies down to pass the time, after a while though she looks to see if there are books.
Any of the sparse books in the room are again in the unintelligible script.
She frowns. "That's going to be a pain in the ass..." Her spirits are dampened by the realization she can't read, and quietly just takes a nap.
Another five forrs pass before Hairos returns. He sees Naki's sleeping form and decides to go for another two forrs to handle a few miscellaneous tasks around Taryl.
After a long while, Naki wakes up and spends her time trying to remember her past.
Naki vaguely remembers a white clad figure and several people, but their names and faces elude her.
She frowns, then simply resigns to wait for Hairos.
When Hairos returns, he carries a large coin purse and steaming loaves of sweet bread with some type of meat stuffed inside.
She nods. "Thank you. What is the language here? I do not understand it."
"You're speaking it just fine," he replies, handing the loaves to her. "There's no real name for the language, it's generally called Common or the Shared Tongue."
After taking a bite, she shakes her head. "I mean the words, the text. Like on the books."
"Well that's harder to explain, coming from a guy who grew up in one of the rural regions. The letters differ in each region, some times the language written isn't even in Common. Most books are written in Imperial or Tallick, both of which are unable to be taught second hand."
She sighs. "Well that's just brilliant... I guess I won't be reading for a while."
"Don't get so down, Castle Taryl has people who can teach the languages. That being said, we're heading there tomorrow first thing in the morning."
"Long day tomorrow then, I would imagine... ...and more sleeping too."
"You can go exploring if you want, but be cautious."
"....Ehh... I'd prefer not to go out at dark. I'll just rest some more, I could use it."
Hairos nods, then retires to his room.
Naki goes to sleep, hoping to find answers and a purpose tomorrow.
When dawn comes, Hairos wakes up Naki.
"Come on, it's time to go."
Naki nods, and doesn't waste time getting ready to go, and is quickly prepared for the day. She checks her weaponry one last time, then nods to signal she's ready to leave.
"It'll take a forr, maybe two, to get to the castle. Let's go." He leads Naki out of the inn and towards the opposite side of Taryl, where a large gate hangs slightly ajar. There are two guards on post and they draw their weapons, but they quickly put them away when they recognize Hairos, bowing as he goes by.
Naki decides to keep close, not wishing to run into any potential trouble. "I know you said you're a wandering hero, but it's quite another thing for guards to bow for just 'a wandering hero'. Are you an important person or something?"
"Nope, just a wandering hero. I'm called the Rogue Hero because of my weapons, Sakuya and Kareru, or something along those lines."
Naki's eyes narrow subtly, wondering if he's keeping something out of the explaination on purpose. She decides not to pursue the discussion, rather, she decides to look about her surroundings.
Beyond the gate lies a simple caste bearing a flag with a buckler surrounded by thorns as its crest. The exterior is well kept, appearing bare of decorations but maintained and pristine.
Naki looks around a bit more, then mainly looks at the castle.
"What's the ruler of this city like?"
"He's really relaxed and willing to hear people out. His advisor is a stickler for rules and regulations, though."
"Oh I see." Naki falls silent for a while as they walk, wondering what lies ahead.
The inside of the castle is bare of most eccentricities and decorations one would expect to see within a castle. There are long carpets that cover the floor and many candle fixtures set on the walls between various crests and coats of arms, but no animal busts or trophies like antlers or skulls. There are no weapons decorating the walls nor are there fancy chandeliers, solid gold fixtures or walls of marble.
"Huh, doesn't strike me like most castles I'd imagine."
"I had the same impression when I first visited this place as well."
"This should be an interesting day..." Naki mutters as they walk on.
Hairos enters a round room where four people wait. Two of the people are clad in heavy armor, one wearing blue armor with orange markings, the other with silver and black armor. The other two are dressed in different manners. One is wearing a dress more akin to a robe and the other wears a white lab coat covered in tassels over dark pants.
"You've returned, Rogue," growls the one clad in blue armor, "And you've brought a compatriot... Grand."
"Good to see you too, Berserker."
Naki blinks, but keeps quiet.
"These are the other three heroes," explains Hairos. "The one in the black armor is Dragon, the one in the dress is Magus and the one in the blue armor is Berserker. We're still looking for the Saint Hero."
"Dragon found him," says the Magus Hero, pointing to the man in the lab coat.
"Ah. Nice to meet you Saint, I'm Rogue."
"Whatever, I don't care about this hero business," says the man in the lab coat, not sparing Hairos a glance.
Naki nods at the explanation, but doesn't say anything, uncomfortable and wondering about the Heroes.
"Berserker isn't one to mince words with," says the Magus Hero, bowing politely. "I'm Ayla."
"I'm Charle," says the Dragon Hero, their voice muffled by their helmet. "Nice to meet you."
Naki looks at them for a moment, bowing slightly. "I'm Naki... I don't really know much about myself aside from my name. I don't even know how I got here. You are... heroes?" She asks.
"That is our given designation," nods Ayla, "It appears to be based on our place of origin and skills rather than random. As for why the five of us were chosen, that's yet to be seen."
"I'm not the only one in the dark of why they're here then I guess..."
"It has to do with the Darkening," says the Saint Hero. "The Resurgence is not far away and someone appears to be making a major mess of things, ruining the name of the Hex Makers as they do whatever they want."
"Oh, you know what's going on then," asks Hairos, getting a near nonexistent nod in the process.
"I've been to the affected areas. Only a Reviled Execution could cause a contained outbreak of a plague in a trade town and turn another major town into a sea of blood."
"A large scale, gruesome curse that kills everyone within its range in a specific way."
"...Great..." She looks at Hairos, silently wondering why he brought her along to the other Heroes.
"You are rather well informed, Saint Hero," rasps the Berserker Hero.
"I've been around. Rumors and information are audible to those who listen. Of course, a foreigner like you would be without such information."
"Are you saying that one from another world is less intelligent?"
"No, but you'd be less informed overall and less savvy to the the gossip of Elucine."
"Easy there you two," says Hairos, standing between the two as both tense up for a confrontation. "No need to fight over something trivial. Besides the chancellor will have a fit if anyone starts a brawl."
"T'would be an execution, not a brawl, Rogue," replies the Berserker Hero.
"Indeed, we'd be cleaning your waste and innards off the ground," counters the Saint Hero.
Naki feels her attentiveness drifting off, not so much feeling awkward as she is bored.
"Ahem, a show of force is unnecessary," says another voice as a figure clad in a padded robe with a single sleeve silently steps into the room. He looks rather frail and somewhat meek in stature, but he holds authority in his voice.
"Milord, you cannot greet such folk in that sort of attire," calls a person in bustling white robes. He appears to be an older man, likely in his fifties, with thinning hair and a thick moustache .
"'Tis fine Falir, my dress is suitable," intones the younger man, surveying the group. "Ah, two additions to our not so merry band and in less than four Dyn. It seems that all of the heroes and a Nosi have gathered. How are thee all?"
"...and a Nosi?" Naki asks.
"Indeed. Do you not know what you are?"
"The only thing I know about myself is my name. And that I have no idea where I come from. Or what I am. So yeah, I don't know what I am. Mind is blank as blank gets."
"No need to take offense. A Nosi is... How shall I put this, an unpredictable being without the light of the Luciolith about them. The Luciolith is the creator of our world and is the source of all knowledge and life."
"So... I'm an outsider and or I was not created of this world or something? ...That can't possibly cause people to judge me... certainly not..." Naki mutters.
"But why am I here? ...Great, more questions...."
"Well, few can tell," notes the lord. "I'm clairvoyant and attuned to the Sein of the world to an extent, so I can see things many cannot. I cannot discern your purpose, only that you should travel with the heroes until the right time."
"Really," asks Hairos, "Huh, I guess buying Ven Shold armor was the right thing to do after all."
"You bought Ven Shold armor for a person you did not know," exclaims Falir, "What if she had been a ruffian or a bandit in disguise?!"
"Eh, I would have handled it," shrugs Hairos, "Besides, I'm a good judge of character. I wouldn't have helped her had she held great malicious intent... Well not to the extent thusly presented."
"...Ven... Shold...? ...Man the terminology around here gives me a headache... ...and I guess I'm going to have to get used to the bickering between the two lovely ladies over here," She remarks, subtly implying Saint and Breserker.
A very sharp object narrowly misses Naki's face as it embeds itself into the wall behind her.
"Do not fan the flames, you'll only make them larger," warns Ayla.
"Ven Shold, yes. It means the armor was granted a blessing of defense," explains Hairos.
"Oh, I see." She says, not reacting to the sharp object. "Thanks then, I guess."
I know for sure that this is gonna be a long day... ...and I'm no closer to really having answers.
"Think not of it, you never know when a disaster of dire proportions will strike, thus you must always be prepared for both the worst and the best, that way nothing strikes your blindspot because of your inattentiveness."
"I see... so why are these guys here?" She asks, the chancelor, refering to the assembled heroes.
"It's as the Saint Hero so succinctly put," answers Falir, "Someone has chosen to go around the Elucine region, using Reviled Executions to wipe out entire towns in mere moments. Whom ever this person is, their goals are unknown, but their targets are. The remaining nine major towns in Elucine seem to be their target and, judging solely by the two Thcyanas- Mass Killings- they have caused, they may be using different Executions to do so. So far Larsaven- Malady of the Festering Wound- and Sigorm un Taras- Cutting of the Invisible Blades- have been used, leaving over a dozen Executions to choose from."
"Next will be Cirminos un Dunven, followed by Seianasoph, then Baras un Seit fo Sein," says the Saint Hero.
"The audacity mention such things without understanding their gravity is-!" Falir holds back a tongue lashing when the robe clad young man raises a hand. "Aye, milord."
"The Copper Bull of the Great Fire, the Mass Self Killings and the Tearing of Flesh from Soul," he repeats. "If that's the case then that would leave Devouring of the Demonic Birds, Burning by the Wrathful Spears, Entrapment in the Coat of Blades, Severance of the Mind from Body, Staunching of the Flow of Soul and Spearing by Gluttonous Beast..."
"...Correct. You've studied the actions of the Mad One to know such things." The Saint Hero sounds fairly impressed.
"Is it not the job of a king to know what afflicts his people and what may befall them?"
"...If they're using these err... Reviled Executions to kill countless people, I would think there is something dangerous afoot. Perhaps it is a ritualistic behavior? Unless they are just killing for sport or insanity, I would think something of a ritualistic nature would be the reasoning for such a thing. It's simply a theory, but from what little I know, this behavior, during this time of the... Resurgence? It seems suspicious to me."
"That much was already ascertained," replies the Saint Hero, "It's not the Thcyanas so much that matter, but their order. The order determines everything."
"At the very least, we're looking at a second Darkening. At the worst, the perpetrator is attempting to summon something from Pandaemonium, something worse than the Idolas."
Naki rubs her head. "Well so much for being helpful. I may as well let you guys do the problem solving. I don't know anything anyway..." She looks at the Chancellor. "So am I supposed to fight with them too?"
She looks at herself for a moment. "I don't know if I'm actually capable of much of anything really."
"That has yet to be seen on both parts," says Falir.
"I'll be in the strategy room. Saint Hero come with me, we may be able to predict the next target town."
"Aye." The Saint Hero follows the robe clad lord to a different part of the castle.
Naki contemplates her situation for a few minutes, trying to remember more things.
For some reason the Saint Hero seems familiar, though vaguely. There are two possibilities to his identity.
More questions... ...no answers. ...Why do I have such a monstrous headache? ...I hate being left in the dark...
"Frowning causes early aging..." Hairos gives Naki a concerned look.
She glances up at him. "Hmm? Oh... ...trying to remember. ...Not exactly going well. I've gotten hints of people, but I can't remember names or faces, just now that Saint guy kinda struck a bell, oddly enough. ...I freaking hate being in the dark, it drives me insane. That much I've already figured out on my own though."
"Patience is key, just endure your struggle until your answers arrive."
"...Patience... ....No, I don't think I've ever been good with that." She starts fiddling with her hair. "Certainly don't think this hair is normal... ...I wonder where I came from? I mean... ....who has natural hair like this?" She laughs, wearily.
Hairos curls one of his dark strands of hair, revealing it to be various shades of very dark green. "Not sure, then again who is born with eyes the color of metal or the ability to eat the sky?"
"Fair point I guess. ...Huh... I used to be... ...blonde?" She murmurs, remembering a tiny detail about herself.
"Anyway, what should I do now? I don't like standing around... ....it would be nice to be able to read..."
"I have a book that details Imperial," offers Ayla. "I found it when I perused the library and records within the castle."
"I could give you a book on Tarrick... Er, Talrick... Tallick," Charle offers, "I think that's the right one... Maybe?"
"That might be helpful. Thanks."
A worn book and a well preserved book are handed to Naki.
"I'll be training in the fields," says Hairos, leaving the room.
"I'll join you." The Berserker Hero follows after him.
Naki looks around, then sighs. "Might as well take a look..." She finds a corner where she won't be bothered, and begins examining the contents of the books.
The books themselves are blank, but with each page turned it feels as if Naki has learned something about the two languages.
"Weird... what's with these books?"
"They have an odd trait."
"Reaaaaaaal specific... well it's certainly interesting regardless." She presses on with her reading.
As she reaches the end if the books, Naki feels as if she understands the world she's in a bit more.
"Now if only there was 'A Guide to Naki', that would be perfect. Alas..." Part of Naki's shadow solidifies.
"Well Persona Grimoires exist, at least where I hail from," says Ayla, "They detail the life and stories of their originators, though they also reveal their true name unless warded. I could make one for you though you'd need to find several items before I could."
"It's alright, I'll manage. My memories will have to come back sooner or later."
"True, though said process may prove long. Still, if that is your choice, you'll not find me in your way."
"I'm not about to let amnesia defeat me. Since I guess I'm going to be accompaning you heroes or whatever, feel like sharing stories? I don't have much to offer, what with my memory and all, but it would still be nice to know who I'll be traveling or even fighting with. Assuming I'm useful for that..."
"I don't really have much I can tell," says Ayla. "I'm, but a Magus hailing from a world where magic is freely accessible."
"I come from a place that's more advanced than here in terms of technology. I grew up in a city with two older brothers and a sister and did very little out of the social norms." Charle shrugs.
"I see. Well, at least it's something." Naki finishes reading the last few pages.
"I'm going to check on Berserker and Rogue," says Charle, getting up and leaving the room.
"Don't hurt yourself," intones Ayla.
Naki closes the books, just as the solidified mass of shadow pops up, revealing a small shadowy humanoid about the size of a child, with two small yellow eyes, which peers out from behind Naki's back at Ayla, blinking curiously. It has a serpentine tail, with a snake's head on the end, whose tongue flickers, smelling the area.
Ayla is unphased by the appearance of the humanoid.
Naki turns her head and yelps when she sees it. "What the heck are you?!"
"That would be a Magia, a creature born from your power."
The creature quietly comes out into fhe open,
"My power made that? How strange..."
"Strange or not, it comes from you and therefore you must ensure that it behaves."
"...Fair enough?" She says, as the figure climbs up on her, sitting on her shoulders, looking at Ayla curiously, then makes small fireballs and begins juggling them lazily.
Ayla shows no interest in the creature, as if such sights are common to her.
"I wonder how long it will take before those two come up with a plan of action? I don't know how to make myself useful in this situation... How'd you guys even get chosen for this anyway?"
"I do not know the answer to that. There must be some form of criteria, but it us not known," answers Ayla. "As for the Saint and the lord, only time will tell."
"...Urgh, I need something to do..." Naki grumbles.
"If you want to do something, check on Charle in the field beyond the castle grounds."
She sighs. "It's something I guess...." She proceeds to head out, looking for Charle.
The Azure BerserkerEdit
Outside of the castle and away from Taryl is a large open field.
Naki makes her way to the field, keeping an eye on her surroundings. The little shadow creature hangs on her back from her shoulders, peering around curiously as she walks.
In the far distance, she can see sparks and hear the faint ringing of blades.
Naki decides to head in that direction.
The ringing grows louder, as do the sparks, as she gets closer. Once she nears the edge of the field, Naki sees the source of the commotion: a clash between Hairos and the Berserker Hero. Hairos parries a wide swing from the Berserker Hero's axe, a massive turquoise and black, double sided weapon with dark orange blades, with a pair of daggers, one pink with a back swirl, the other green with a grey swirl, only to be blasted back by the sheer amount of pressure behind the swing. He recovers quickly and launches a flurry of near invisible slashes at the blue clad warrior, who retaliates with a shockwave of pearly white energy followed by backhanded strike from the axe into what would have been a leg shattering sweep had Hairos not suddenly appeared behind the Berserker Hero and backflip kicked off of them, springing into a furious barrage of slashes on the blue hero's back upon landing. Grunting off the assualt as if it was of no consequence, the Berserker Hero backhands Hairos with a gauntlet then strikes him with the flat of the axe's blade in the stomach before splitting the weapon into a pair of double edged hand axes and hurling one of the blades at the stunned Rogue Hero.
Hairos manages to recover enough to catch the weapon narrowly, but is launched high into the air because of the force of the thrown weapon. Gritting his teeth, Hairos focuses his gaze groundward and, after tensing his legs, releases a sonic boom that nullifies the force behind the hand axe, allowing him to hurl the weapon back at the Berserker Hero, who connects the two weapons by the tops of their blades with a defensive thrust. Hairos creates another, larger, sonic boom as he jettisons toward the ground, his eyes locked on the Berserker Hero as they grab both ends of their combined weapon and begin to pull it apart, a pearly glow forming between the two weapons. Hairos collides with the azure hero, sending them skidding backwards before flitting away from the warrior in time to avoid a series of alabastor and indigo explosions that occur when the Berserker Hero splits the two axes from one another.
Wasting no time, the Berserker Hero dashes through the aftermath of the blasts, shifting the the hand axes into dual short swords as they hound the retreating Rogue Hero. When Hairos catapualts himself into the air, the berserker doesn't directly follow suit, instead extending the grips and blades of the short swords as the blades shift horizontally into those of sickles then sending cutting waves of pearly energy after him. While the Rogue Hero is preoccupied with deflecting and avoiding the attack, the azure hero connects the two sickles by their grips and has their blades make an upward vertical inclination as a string of wound energy appears between the weapon's points before firing a piercing arrow of light from the shapeshifting weapon. Hairos dodges the arrow by a hair's length, flipping backwards in the air as he takes a deep breath and the air distorts for a fraction of a second. A golden aura comes over him before he rockets towards the Berserker Hero, who had since shifted the long bow into a great sword. Meeting great sword with great sword, the two seem to be be even, but Hairos, slowly but surely pushes the blue clad warrior back. At that moment, the azure hero's blade extends with brilliant white, orange and blue light and they slash forward, unleashing a wave of pure destructive energy that consumes Hairos before several horizontal slashes cut through the wave as if it were wet paper, cutting into the Berserker Hero's armor as well as Hairos pierces through the wave and manages to remove the helm on the Berserker Hero's head, revealing the face of a woman in her twenties with long, pointed ears that have a green tint and severe grey eyes over thinly pursed lips.
"It is your victory, Rogue... This time," she acknowledges, taking the helm back from Hairos when he offers it.
"Heh heh, I was only lucky, Eridia. Had I dealt any more damage to you before you released that last attack, I wouldn't be speaking right now," he returns, rubbing the back of his head. "Oh, and just call me Hairos."
"Indeed, however you risked incurring more attacks to yourself in doing that," states Eridia, "It was risky on your end."
"I do not disagree, I wasn't prepared for your weapon's versatility or your reaction speed. At several points your reactions exceeded my capabilities to act, which is why I had to make sorin between us at several moments. Even than, that was nearly thwarted because I wasn't entirely prepared to go against you."
"...You greatly undervalue yourself. Accept your victory, but do not let it inflate your ego."
"I do not plan on allowing it too."
Naki cannot help but aknowledge the skill she saw. "...Well, I certainly don't think I hold a candle in comparison to what I just saw... impressive skills you two!" She says loud enough to be heard.
"Oh, someone was watching," asks Hairos.
"Two people were," corrects Eridia. "For what reason are you here?"
"Ayla asked me to check on Charle. I got side tracked by the fight. You didn't notice I was watching?" She asks Hairos.
"I was focusing on the battle more so than my overall surroundings. I didn't notice Charle either, though now I can sense that she's watching from a top the castle," he shrugs. "Ayla and Charle are worrywarts though they have good intentions."
"That can be interpreted as interlopers depending on one's perspective," says Eridia.
"Eh, they aren't that bad..."
"Well, I can certainly see that you aren't very trusting, though I was surprised by you being a girl, what with your... ...temperament. ...Though I'm not exactly a first class damsel myself, so not judging anybody..."
She thinks for a moment. "Though with moves like that, I'm probably going to get my ass saved more than I contribute at this rate."
"Maybe, maybe not," shrugs Hairos while Eridia simply huffs. "Going by talent alone, I'm the least gifted among us, except for maybe the Saint Hero, but I don't know how strong or capable he is so I am not truly sure on that."
Naki looks about. "Wish I knew what all I was capable of..." Her shadowy companion peers at Eridia and Hairos.
"That's a question no one can really answer, not even yourself. People always grow and change, always learning no matter how stubborn they are," replies Hairos, "You'll never truly know what you can and can't do until you try it."
"Such hypocritical words..."
"Oi, I know my limits already, I've lived facing them almost all the time," shrugs the Rogue Hero, in response to Eridia.
"Huh... that's a good way to look at it, I guess."
"The boon of living without care and stress~."
She looks at the two nervously. "Any chance I could get some training from either of you? I don't want to be useless."
"Eh, not really at that point yet."
"The current you would break too easily."
She sighs. "Of course. I'll just go sit around somewhere I guess." She walks off back toward the city.
"How can one teach when they aren't sure that what they know can be taught," ponders Hairos after Naki is long gone.
The Demonic SaintEdit
Naki finds a place within the castle courtyard and sits down, looking up at the sky while she tries to remember more about herself, also feeling irritable not knowing what to do with herself.
Her shadowy companion has learned to juggle, and is now goofing off and climbing on various walls.
"Estyl." Naki's companion finds itself pulled to the ground at an utterance from the white clade Saint Hero. "Walls are not for climbing."
It glares at him. "Monkey face." It hisses, crawling back to Naki while grumbling.
"Childish Shadow Rat," returns the supposed saint, walking off.
"Done coming up with plans or taking a break?" Naki asks.
"...You're somehow familiar to me, you know. I don't know why. Though I might just be crazy. ...Wouldn't surprise me, with the memory loss. ...Question, do you think it would be possible to train me, or if you couldn't, do you know someone who could?"
"...Because if I have to go with you heroes, I'd rather be able to take care of myself than have people wipe my own ass. Plus, I'm bored to death."
"Not interested, you aren't the type I could teach anyways."
"...Whatever." She starts to grow much more irritated, frusterated at the lack of her memories and the feeling of being useless, the frusteration slowly building into anger.
She begins to get up and walk off, fists clenched.
"Now to deal with that group planning a coup, that should provide breathing room to execute the plan." He stalks off in the opposite direction, almost gliding out of the castle with his gait.
Naki wanders a bit, hoping to find something worth doing. After a while of walking, she trips and falls on her face. Getting back up and swearing, she kicks the rock she fell over, a burst of fire erupting from her foot as she kicks it and startling herself.
"Woah, was that fire? ...Didn't know I could do that... ...neat..."
The Saint Hero enters Taryl silently, looking around until he finds an old obscured tavern called the Ynd of Arcadiah.
"...This is the place." The Saint Hero enters the tavern and glances around the room before taking a seat at the bar. He orders a glass of water and honeyed biscuits as he listens for any information regarding the rumored Coup de Tat.
Several minutes pass before a burly man with a large sword slung across his shoulder stomps into the tavern, followed by two shady looking cloaked figures. The Saint Hero narrows his eyes at the trio, but remains silent and watches them join a group of drinkers at a table to the far right of the room.
The Saint hero orders another glass of water and more biscuits. Once his order arrives, he requests a cube of granulated sugar and observes the now full table.
"Keeper, I think it's time for you to close for the day," he says stoically.
"Hm? Oh, I see," sighs the bar keeper, "Just make sure to keep the damages below five and ten Gins, last time I had to barter with the cost officer to ignore the damages."
"This time I'll pay it off, don't worry."
"That's what your sister said before she turned my bar into pile of wood and glass..."
"I'm not my sister."
"Bartender! Another round of tankards," yells the burly man from the back of the tavern. "Bring your finest serving girl!"
"No rest for the condemned," sighs the tavern's owner. "If I wasn't in the information market, I'd crack a few heads..."
"Just don't go overboard when you do," replies the Saint Hero.
"Aye, can't go outta business yet, still have to watch out for my own folk."
"Hoy! Get a move on! We won't wait all Dyn for ya," shouts the burly man.
"I heard ya the first time, ye ungrateful lot! I'm takin' care of business first, so wait ya half muzzled, oversized festering pulstule!"
"I'll make my move after they get their drinks, that should be enough time to get to the back exit, correct?"
"Aye, I know where this going..." The bar keep grumbles, but starts filling eight tankards with foaming ale. "Bridgidine, you're up!"
"Aye boss," comes a sultry call from the room adjacent to the tavern. Soon afterwards, a woman wearing a high cut black dress with frilly lace tail hanging from the left side, long silver studded, black boots over fishnet stockings, a fancy black hat a trio of silver feathers sticking out of it and a black eye patch over her right eye walks into the room, instantly grabbing most of the attention of the tavern's occupants. Her hair is a mellow shade of pink and her visible eye is a clear blue color while her complexion is pale, but lightly sun kissed. Upon seeing the Saint Hero, her eye lights up.
"Oh Fle, it's been awhile," she sings, leaning over the bar as shee speaks with him. "Finally here to accept my offer?"
"Not this time, I can not go exploring Mont Ba'aj yet, I'm still on his trail."
"Oh? No fun," she mock pouts. "It's good that you're well, try to take care of yourself m'kay?"
"Heh, still acting like a big sister," the Saint Hero cracks a small smile. "I'd love to continue catching up, but you're needed on the floor and I'm about to handle some business."
"Ah, well then, I won't keep you," Brigidine flashes the white clad hero a smile before taking the tray of ales the tavern owner prepared. "One round of Honed Ale..." The burly man whistles and Brigidine saunters over to his table, smoothly sliding the tray onto the table and starting a conversation with the group.
Several minutes pass before the Saint Hero strides over to the table and slams his hand onto the table, spilling a few of the tankards.
"Oi, what was that for," exclaims the burly man as Brigidine sways away from the table. "You've scared off then fine piece o' meat!"
"Because you're under arrest for attempting to incite a rebellion and treason towards the crown," he responds. "You are Hermos, the Valiant are you not?"
"...! How'd ya know that?"
"You're an easy person to spot, especially in that ragged cloak you wear and the sword you carry over your shoulder. Even more obvious is your massive frame when you attempt to skulk around the city at night." The burly man begins to sweat and reaches for a tankard of ale when the Saint Hero grabs him by the face and smashes him through the table with one hand. He makes sure that the man is out cold before glaring at the other seven sitting at the table. "All of you are next, I'd not resist were I you."
The other seven panic and hastily draw daggers and concealed swords before rushing the white clad hero.
"Only a mongrel or the Unclean would do such a thing!"
"Your life is forfeit, boy!"
"Your kind will not stop us from puring this land of fil- Goh?!" The third man to speak doubles over as if his spine was snapped in half in mid-sentence when the saint hero strikes him suddenly in the stomach, knocking him out instantly.
"You know, fools like you are the reason peace treaties have failed time and again. To remove or kill something because it is different is no less foolish than royal family members starving themselves because something is not made to their liking," drones the Saint Hero as he weaves between strikes as if they were unmoving blades in the air, brutally countering the Purists with bone-crushing punches with no follow through or pivot behind them and, in one case, a kick that propels an assailant clean through the ceiling of the tavern. "Are you all done yet?" He looks around and observes the broken and battered bodies of the Purists in the equally destroyed tavern. Shrugging, he reaches into his coin purse and places several multicolored stones on the now splintered bar before walking outsude where he is greeted by a mob of armed warriors.
"It's the White Fiend! Kill him so that he won't interfere with our work!" A voice cries from inside of the mob, the person's words resonating through the group.
"Oh? I guess I can spare some time on you, but no more than a minute or two, I'm a busy man afterall," he muses as lightning and embers crackle around his fists. "Try not to die."
And like that, a bloodbath began in the town of Taryl, more so a one sided massacre perpetrated by the one referred to as the Saint Hero.
"Was that all each of you had to offer?" The Saint Hero brushes his coat off before leaving the piles of unconscious bodies on the ground and informing a guard of the defeat of the planners of the Coup de Tat.
"To think that the Fiend of White would be one of the Five Heroes," mutters the guard. "All of the ones you defeated are still among the living, correct?"
"Aye, killing them would have gone against my oath. Likewise, I would rather not have this garb dyed with crimson blood." The white clad warrior sighs.
"I-I see... I shall inform the other watchmen and the Jailer of this."
"Good." The Saint Hero passes into the castle.
The Saint Hero returns to the planning room and continues his discussiin with the lord.
"So we've decided then," says the lord, "Maltheis seems to be the most viable target."
"Quite so. It would be best to deploy the others there within two Dyns, giving them a chance to reach the town before the Hexer arrives."
"Do you plan to not accompany them?"
"It would only cause unneeded strife. Aren't there still Purists within this country? I'll make it my job to handle them for the time being."
"About that... Could you investigate a group referred to as the Fortemps of Dawn? Their name has been coming up quite often in official documents. So far they seem to be a large group that worships the Luciolith, but their activity is... concerning."
They are gathering objects of great power, objects that predate the end of the Angelions and Daemonids and even the appearance of the Saint Fiends."
"Objects that came into being with the Ancient One, I assume."
"Indeed. This strikes me as suspicious."
"I see, I'll look into this. In exchange..."
"Yes, the continued integration of your people and more anti-prejudice agreements on both sides. It shall be done."
"Then I will be on my way."
"Oh, one last thing. Please stop the one behind this incident, I am under the impression that you may be the only one who can truly vanquish them."
"I'll do what I must."
Naki wanders on back inside, out of the sun.
"Did anything note worthy happen," asks Ayla.
"Hairos and the Berserker had a pretty cool duel. Wishing someone could teach me so I could be more useful."
"Ask Charle," replies Ayla.
"...I get the feeling I'm just being passed along like a game of Hot Potato..." She grumbles.
"Sometimes, the student is not ready for the teacher..."
"...Sure..." She walks on, looking around.
"Skepticism in the face of unseen truths often results in more suffering than needed," sighs Ayla.
She makes her way to where Charle was supposedly noticed earlier.
"Oi, up here," calls Charle from the tallest part of the castle.
She makes her way up to him. "Hello, nice view?"
"Kind of stuck, but yeah. Something up?"
"I was hoping to get some training so I wouldn't be worthless to you guys. In other situations I probably wouldn't just join up with people, but you guys are kinda like the only direction I have right now. So I don't want to be just useless baggage."
"Hmmm, I can't help with that- not directly anyways. Maybe Polaris or Alkaid could help."
Naki's face indicates she is not exactly thrilled to hear that. "...And who are they?"
I'm almost done with this. I mean, seriously, how hard is it to offer someone advice on how to at least swing a sword effectively?!
"Hm... If I were to coin a term, it would be Familiar or Magica. They're like hidden shadows- Er guardians wreathed in shadow. They are always here, but not always present."
"...sigh... okay... before I stress out any further than I already have, how do I talk to them? I've been passed along to the point of insanity."
"Probably because it's not a good investment to teach you at this point," says Charle, "It's likely that once you regain your memory completely, you'll lose what was taught to you while you were a blank slate so to speak. As for Polaris and Alkaid, I'd just watch the skies, they'll appear when they want to."
"...I... ...didn't even know that could happen. Why would it get overwritten?"
"What was lost would overwrite what was gained when it returned."
"...Urggh... ...complications... it's a never ending cycle... so am I going to lose my memories of you guys too then?"
"Depends on how memorable we are in your book."
"Right... you should consider the fact that while I may not remember, it's a lot better than being dead because you don't know how to fight properly. Just an idea, just saying."
"Well I can't train you, I'm incapable of it, which is why I offered the aid of Polaris and Alkaid. Still, you could wait to regain your memories or have the process jump started." Charle shrugs.
"...." She starts making her way down and heads off to a slightly more isolated part of the castle where she frusteratedly tries to cool down her temper.
"They are supposed to be heroes, I'm not asking for anything complicated, what are these people, incapable of holding a sword or something? Ridiculous." She seethes, mentally exploring the occurrence of fire she caused previously, trying to figure out how to manipulate it on her own.
Charle sighs. "It is better to move slow, than to rush ahead because it is seemingly required."
After a bit of experimentation, she starts focusing on producing fire, and manages to succeed after a few minutes of concentration.
"Well, glad to know I can control it rather than it be a random emotional thing."
Naki continues training herself in elemental magic, not allowing rest until she has at least understood each element. After fire, water, wind, and lightning, Naki decides to take a momentary break and allow herself time to look around.
Naki sees the Saint Hero basically glide back into the castle, the tips of his coat dyed red.
She looks at the hero critically from her vantage point, but returns to observing the surroundings, looking out toward the countryside.
Far in the distant sky shine a pair of stars, one blue the other green.
"...A green star? ...weird.... ...wait, are those even stars? It's daytime isn't it?"
The stars twinkle before abruptly vanishing, disappearing moments before a voice rings out.
"The presence of the four heroes present and the foreigner are required in the meeting room! Haste is necessary!"
Naki stretches, then gets up and begins making her way to the meeting room. "Well, hope something good comes out of this at least."
The Lord's PlanEdit
Inside the meeting room Charle, Ayla, Eridia and Hairos have gathered, each watching the lord intently.
"Everyone is present, correct? In that case, we can begin the meeting," says the lord.
"Your Highness, the Saint Hero is not present," states Eridia.
"Ah, he's handling a separate task. Do not worry about him."
"..." A strong silence settles over the room.
"So, what is it that you've called them and well, me, your... grace?" Naki adds, trying to sound polite.
My memories are stubbornly remaining locked up. I was hoping to get answers, but all I got was more unnecessary questions. Though I suppose that in my situation, I can't expect simple charity. I guess I'll have to claw and maul for any answers I'm going to get. ...I have a feeling that's something that's always been my problem.
"The next probable location for a Thycana has been discovered. A town to the east known as Maltheis. It is a relatively large place and is somewhat far, so you'll have to depart within two Dyn to reach the town in a timely fashion."
"I see... ...So time is of the essence, I would take it..." She murmurs. Not that I'll be worth anything in this whole mess.
"Milord, what are our orders exactly," asks Hairos.
"Repel and, if possible, capture the one responsible. That is all."
Though we still don't know anything about who the perpetrator is. Defending against an unseen, unknown force is... ...not optimal to say the least...
"The perpetrator will be similar in nature to the Saint Hero- few are like him, but even less will be as distinct as him," notes the lord, as if reading Naki's mind. "It would be best to be wary of the person."
Okay then, the timing could not have been placed better. Never doubt for a moment though what one is capable of though...
"If there is nothing left to be said, begin your preparations for a four day journey," says the lord, "You are dismissed."
Naki walks out, saying nothing.
Wouldn't even know what to prepare for or what to actually prepare... ...Am I really necessary to any of this? I feel... out of place. I'm just a person who didn't even know her own name a while ago...
"The oddest shaped pieces are often the cornerstones of pictures. All they need is a slight push into the unknown in order to see their role and true value," says the lord to no one in particular as the heroes leave the room as well.
Naki decides to practice, swinging the spear she has on her back to practice using it and figuring out how it feels, coupling it with some element training.
I don't even know what I should prepare, so I might as well just train myself since everyone has just traded me off like smelly garbage. Tch... if I end up in a life or death situation and I nearly get killed, I am going to have the mother of all fuck you I told you so moments...
She launches a particuarly fierce fireball off the blade of her spear, the fireball empowered by her irritated thoughts.
"Impatience will be your downfall," utters a faint spectral voice.
"So will not knowing how to use a weapon properly. And also: said no one never." She adds sarcasm to her last statement, she looks around, searching for the source of the voice.
"You forewent the option that would have allowed you to learn what you wish and now you are suffering for it, you can only blame yourself for creating this situation," replies the owner of the voice, a wispy figure clad completely in black robes that obscure their every feature. "Choosing to suffer because of pride will break you in the end, your anger will be unjustified when you nearly lose the fragile life you have because you choose to see things only as you wish. That will be what ultimately destroys you, your inability to grasp the words of others without twisting them to make yourself appear justified- ultimately ignoring what was said to you and missing the meaning within the words. No wonder you would have ended up alone..." The figure shakes their head in disapproval, fading away in black mist a moment later. In their stead is a ring of rotating gears glowing with a faint blue light.
She blinks. "....Uhhh... that was... ...ok, wait. So I'm told to look in the sky, but the only thing I've seen are two stars, how is that my fault? I... ..."
She buries her head in her hands. "Arguing with the shadow dude who is already gone is not worth your time, Naki... get it together... .... ... ...alright, we're cool, we're calm... if I must wait for my answers, so long as they come, fine... ...but I need to make sure I'm ready. So... recap... the elements seem to be coming to me more and more naturally, it almost feels like I've had more experience than I know with it, so that's good. With a little more practice with the spear, I think I'll be covered."
She takes a deep breath. "Ok..." She is still a bit preturbed by the events that just took place, but she's now more in a rational state of mind again. She peers at the gears curiously. "Now what are you?"
While examining the gears, she tries to not to think about what she encountered, not wanting her thoughts to stir her to anger again. I certainly don't need to be losing my head right now.
Upon coming in contact with the gears, Naki remembers a school and the people there, but names still elude her, as do major events.
Her eyes narrow. More of the past? What is this thing? ....That person, who is he? Is he from my past then too?
She looks up at the air. More questions... I did say fine to having to wait for answers, but come on. Well, at least it's something. Be grateful for what one is given I guess.
Up above, the green and blue stars twinkle.
"....Charle did mention to watch the skies... so is this Polaris and Alkaid that he was talking about?"
Two large shadows form in the sky.
"...? What the.... okay then..." She mutters.
From the stars emerge two complex whirling spheres, each three times the size of a person.
Naki stands up, looking at the spheres, bewildered.
One of the spheres opens and shifts into a mechanical creature with wiry, streamlined limbs and a humanoid-insectoid body structure. It has two gangly arms with four six jointed fingers on each hand. Its legs are long and connected by tiny pistons and centered on bow shaped gears held in place by unseen axles, both ending in three toed, six jointed barbed feet. Its torso is lightly plated and decorated tiny scales that vibrate with the slightest of movements. Its head holds four eyes of burning blue fire and lacks a mouth while three triangular horns extend from its forehead and form a partial crown that frames a quartet of slanted plates in the form of horns. Its wings are long and segmented, with two sided glaives acting as the joints and tips of each of the six wings. Two unevenly sides swords hang at its side, one a double edged long sword, the other a three bladed short sword.
"Holy crap you're huge... umm... hi?"
Greetings, Nosi. The Eis have heard you. Is the sword the path you choose to follow or is the arcane your true path?
"Errr... I like to be more well rounded? Though magic seemed to come to me rather easily..."
That is not an applicable starting choice.
Then the arcane shall it be. The being draws an indescribable rune in the air. The first door shall be opened...
The mechanical being offers no further explanation as the rune floats down to Naki.
She stares at the rune, almost wanting to touch it.
The door has been presented, only the willing can open it.
Naki attempts to touch the rune.
Naki immediately finds herself in a completely black location with small crystals framing the outer edges.
"W-woah..." Naki looks around, slightly alarmed at the change in location.
Trial of Origin-Strength... The soul of an arcane master starts at the Origin. There, the soul of the pupil is tried by the guardian of the first step...
A crystalline mirror appears in front of Naki, barring her path forward.
Naki studies the mirror, trying to decern anything of importance.
Upon getting close to the mirror a jet of flame flies toward her from it.
She jumps back, instinctively trying to summon water to counter.
The mirror retaliates with several bolts of lightning, the water being sucked into it.
Naki creates a shaft of metal and impales it into the ground, using it as a lightning rod, then jumps back and creates a wall of earth to block it should it ignore the pole.
A sphere of compressed wind greets Naki from behind as the lightning melts the pole.
Naki creates a wall of water to try to catch the sphere.
The sphere ruptures on impact, coating the ground and her in water vapor.
Naki creates a hot aura of fire to blow the vapor off and away from her.
Lightning crackles around her across the ground.
Naki lifts herself up with a gust of wind.
As Naki becomes airborn, she is struck by a powerful bolt of lightning, the lightning on the ground having been a marker for where it was going to strike.
"AGGH!" She creates a sphere of earth around her to try to reduce the damage.
Cutting blades of wind begin to tear away at the sphere as the air whistles.
Naki makes a equal but opposite force of wind that disperses the rest of the wind, her sphere repairs itself.
The sphere is suddenly hit by a crushing force from all directions.
Naki blasts a hole open in the sphere, using a drill of air to escape.
Opening the sphere only subjects Naki to the pressure as the earthen orb desintegrates.
Naki aims a sharp rod of steel straight at the mirror as she flies out of the sphere, having also used a current of air to propel her.
A tiny crack appears in the mirror before a chain of shocking, freezing explosions goes off in every direction.
Naki creates a swirling field of shields of fire and earth to protect herself against the blasts, then fires a heavy explosive fire burst upon the mirror, using a liquid to coat the mirror itself that is flammable to ignite the mirror.
The mirror absorbs both the reactant and flame burst, then releases a slow moving silver orb.
Naki looks at it with caution, giving it some distance.
The silver orb vanishes.
She looks around, looking for anywhere it could have gone.
In the stead of the orbs are metallic needles that rocket towards Naki.
She attempts to create several barriers of metal to deflect or stop the needles, preparing to move out of the way in case they do not hold.
The needles pierce through the barriers, growing larger and fastercas they do.
Naki instead of running rolls to one side, and creates a pillar of ice to freeze the needles in place, then creates a ball and chain of ice and smashes it at the mirror.
Most of the needles are halted by the pillar, but the structure is quickly shattered by the remaining few. The mirror absorbs the ice weapon then retaliates with a highly pressurized torrent of water.
Naki creates an incredibly hot blast of air to evaporate the water, then creates a powerful twister to blow the needles away.
While this happens another silver orb appears, only to spin into a sphere of bright light and explode spectacularly, engulfing Naki and itself in the blast.
Naki makes a large sphere of darkness to try and dull the light.
The sphere is shattered by the blast, the explosion itself not being light, but non-elemental force.
Naki tries to create an armor of powerful steel to protect herself.
The armor of steel is melted thoroughly by the blast.
Naki tries launching a powerful raw shockwave, which decompresses only inches from the mirror in a powerful burst.
The mirror reflects the shockwave with greater force at Naki.
Naki retreats away, trying to get distance from the mirror.
Sparks gather around the mirror.
Naki tenses, waiting to see what happens.
A black sphere of energy forms in front of the mirror
The sphere condenses to the size of a marble before launching forward at an extreme speed.
Naki creates a slanted wall in such a way as to deflect the sphere away.
The sphere ricochets off the wall, gaining speed. It continues to ricochet, becoming faster and faster until it disappears from sight.
Naki instinctively makes a domed wall around herself to protect herself from the ricocheting sphere.
The sphere makes short work of the dome, riddling it with holes as it begins to massively accelerate.
As soon as it breaches the dome, it is redirected via a rift Naki created around herself and instead smashes the mirror.
The sphere rebounds off of the mirror's surface, which ripples like water on impact to signify that it isn't a solid despite the crack it has, breaching the sound barrier with a piercing shriek.
Naki blasts it with cold air until an ice pillar half as large as the area is created, forcibly canceling out its energy to zero.
The sphere's momentum keeps it going forward, penetrating halfway through the pillar before stopping.
Naki waits for its next move.
The mirror gathers a large quantity of blue and white spheres in front of itself, combining them into a singular sphere.
Naki fires a bolt of lightning at the mirror while it is trying to combine them.
A second crack forms on the mirror and it stops gathering the orbs only to spin and release another silver orb.
Naki manifests several blades of fire and hurls them at the mirror, while creating several spheres around the orb to contain it, proceeding to retaliate much more aggressively with various elements.
The orb opens up into a bright sphere of light before exploding outward as a massive shockwave that engulfs Naki, the mirror and the elemental attacks, destroying the spheres around it and cancelling out the ongoing attacks from both sides in the process.
"Give me a break..." She groans.
The shockwave continues forth for several moments before fading. The mirror spins around and releases a bouncing sphere of fire.
Naki responds with a large wave of water that towers over the sphere and crashes down upon it and the mirror.
The mirror absorbs the water and returns it as a cyclone of sharpened ice particles and freezing air.
Naki returns fire with a powerful heat wave at the mirror and cyclone, throwing in a few explosions of thermite for good measure.
The explosions and heat wave only succeed in filling the area with chilling mist and vapor. The mirror forms an ice layer over itself before spinning and disappearing, only for twelve mirrors to appear, each identical in appearance.
"Piss off." She says, before detonating the ice into oblivion with a massive flash of heat that instantly burns all of the mirrors as the area immediately erupts in fire.
One mirror shatters and the others begin to fade, but only after returning the heat wave eleven fold at a much greater speed.
Naki creates a massive ice block to cool the air, while spinning the air into a funnel to make it lose its energy.
The reflected heatwave is barely halted, igniting the cyclone as heat in the thousands of degrees crashes down upon it and vaporizes the oxygen atoms in the air. The ensuing twister of heat in turns burns through the ice block, only halting dead in its core due to a lack of a sustainable amount of fuel. The ground is scorched and the crystals covered in a layer of carbonized particles, burnt beyond a crisp in the field of fire.
Naki remains inside the ice for a while longer, until she feels it is safe to exit with a minimal level of threat from any more potential heat.
Naki's respite is cut short by the broiling temperature of the air outside of the ice melting through the remaining layer within moments, dropping her into a void that returns her to the place in front the mechanical construct that sent her to the crystalline area to begin with.
"Urrgh... that was not fun..."
Fun was not the objective, evaluation was.
"Figured that was the case, doesn't mean it wasn't unpleasant."
Similar could be said about your level of performance overall. The Arcane path is not about simply throwing around elements as you see fit, Nosi. It requires precision, patience and focus, as well as an understanding of the world around you as opposed to what is solely within your gaze.
"Fair enough. One cannot discover the enemy's patterns and weakness simply by rushing in. I don't like the idea of not knowing what to do in a situation, which is why I chose to fight defensively until I had an understanding of the situation. I improvised based on what I thought was necessary."
Regardless, you must improve. The mechanical being draws out another rune in the air, this ine floating down in a similar way to the first.
Noooo comment... She thinks to herself, then reaches toward it.
Upon touching the rune, Naki feels less in tune with the elements and the world around her by a considerable amount.
To uninhibit your growth, you must redevelop your foundations from scratch.
Not to be rude, but it hasn't been a week yet since I woke up with not even an understanding of my name, and only today since I realized I could magically create embers, you're honestly giving me more crap than is due. I'm just saying.
She looks about, mildly annoyed but deciding to not dwell on her irritation, less it distract her.
And yet you could conjure more than simple embers in a simulated combat practice. That implies a foundation, even if your memory hides it from you. If this level of critique stirs your ire, you have yet to understand the Ancient One's words.
I'm allowed to be annoyed by things. On that note, I don't really care about Mr. Dusty Legs. Can we move on, because if you think that was ire, you've not been places much bud. I got the point well enough the first time. I'm being patient, please stop reading too much into things that aren't there, alright? ...Need to stop arguing before it gets to my head...
Your choices will lead to the next tragedy, Nosi, remember that. With that, the Eis reforms itself into a sphere and rockets into the sky with the other sphere following not far behind.
Naki blinks. "..." Just as she is about to scowl, she shakes her head. "Why does everyone insist on treating me like that? I barely was even annoyed at all..."
She lets out a long sigh. "So he took away the little progress I made? Should have stuck with sword fighting, too late to complain now." She looks around.
"What is with people and their obsession with fate? That's really the only thing that bothers me." Still, I don't like what he said.
With that she gets up to stretch.
"The outlier will be a bother."
"Shall we nip the bud before it blossoms?"
"No, the two protecting her will be far more of an issue if we act too rashly. Her fate, however tragic and ill ordained, is strong. I would have to act in order to sever it as things are now."
"I see... I wonder if he'll join us, make things easier on us."
"The likely hood of that happening is slim to none. Cast away such a far fetched dream."
"But master Se-"
"Enough, it's time for me to go to the next destination. The task must be completed before we can think about the cooperation of others."
"Yes, I understand."
"Excellent. Continue to watch their progress, when the time comes their true worth will be seen."
The Dark HollowEdit
Hairos finishes packing his equipment and supplies for the coming trip.
"Whew, that's finally done," he breathes, hefting a bag easily twice his size onto his back. "Geh, heavy! Well, at least I don't have to carry this guy for long...! Owowow... I need to hurry." He makes his way from his room in the castle to the main entrance, waddling with a pained expression from the heavy bag. He drops the bag outside and pops his back in relief.
"Much better... Heh, it's almost like getting ready for a fun trip!"
"If your definition of fun is a possible sea of innocent blood, your values are twisted, Rogue." A cold voice originates from behind Hairos, the tone sharp.
"It's not an actual comparison, Eridia," he sighs as the Berserker Hero emerges from the shadows behind him. "I mean the whole packing process. I've not done this in years."
"Regardless, you seem to be taking this too lightly." The azure clad warrior narrows concealed eyes at the Rogue Hero.
"It's best to have fun before you go on a difficult- Eh? Eridia? Are you alright?" Hairos raises a concerned eyebrow when the steely warrior suddenly flinches.
"Nothing worth your notice," she returns before getting down to business. "We depart today, correct?"
"The Dyn have granted us a day with no threat of Tir. If the others aren't too slow we can make good progress today." Hairos shrugs.
Naki mean while walks back toward the castle, putting her frustrations and concerns in a small corner of her mind.
I can't let these things eat at me. Complaining is just beating an already beaten and dead horse.
"Oh, there you two are," calls Charle, jogging to Hairos and Eridia. "I overslept a bit."
"At least you can sleep," replies Ayla, striding to the meeting place. She makes a quick glance at Hairos. "You smell of hide and the trees."
"Heheh, I took a early-Dyn walk before I finished getting my essentials together and buying other supplies for the journey ahead."
"Over prepared is better than under prepared," remarks Charle.
Naki silently arrives, looking at the others. "Hello, umm... is there anything I should grab...?"
"You really should've handled that in the previous Dyn. We need to leave soon," states Charle before handing Naki a bag of coins. "Run to town and buy what you think you need and be quick."
She looks away abashed for a moment, then hurries to town, gathering basic supplies like food, some knifes, and also pauses at a metal shop to pick up some scraps, though she is not sure why. She gets herself a bedroll and once she has gathered the rest of what she considers to be some basic traveling supplies, returns as fast as she can.
"I think that will work..." She looks at Charle. "Do you want the rest of the money back?"
"Don't need it, go now."
"...Alright?" She walks off, slightly confused.
"Haa... I wonder if Saint will rendezvous with us later," mumbles Hairos not long after Naki leaves earshot.
"A person like him is unneeded."
"So harsh, Eridia. Sounds like you have something against him," remarks Ayla. "I'll admit his title is quite the misnomer, but is that any reason to be so vehemently against him?"
"...He isn't someone we can trust. I'm sure none of you noticed it, but there is an evil about him, something vile and as old as the bones in the soil."
"I guess he was a little offputting, but I wouldn't know, I can't sense things as well as you," shrugs Hairos, "Charle, what do you think."
"He's a difficult person, that much is evident," answers the Dragon Hero. "But he's a good person, reliable but distant."
"Someone has a fan," comments Ayla, "It's best to watch and wait. Maybe Eridia is right, maybe Charle is. We'll know in due time." Eridia huffs and Hairos relaxes on the ground.
Naki looks back in the direction she had left. "....I feel like they just want me out of the way..." She mutters, then walks along the streets, keeping to herself but not too far from the area.
Not long after she starts walking, she reaches the castle town's mercantile district, where shops and stalls fill the street.
She glances about the market, though making sure to keep an eye on her money in case of thieves.
"Wide eyes make for an easier target..." A woman wearing a black princess line and a similarly colored dress hat with a veil with bright pink hair and a wine colored eye remarks. "You're more likely to attract unwanted attention by being too alert than by acting naturally."
"Huh...? Oh umm... ok... ....who are you?"
"Another outsider to this place, though for a longer time than you, kiddo," she replies, tipping her hat enough to reveal an eyepatch. "The name's Brigidine, information's my fancy."
"Oh... nice to meet you then."
"Nice to meet you too, Naki. Take the next left then the second left after that, the shop may look rundown, but it'll have things you need." With a smile Brigidine slinks away from Naki, disappearing into one of the alleys in a moment.
Naki stares after her a moment. "...How did she know my name...?" Naki begins to follow the directions she was given.
A tiny wooden shop stands before her. The roof is partially collapsed and the entrance is crooked. Various broken beams and planks are visible on the patio, most from the damaged cieling. A visible window is brown from age, with shattered panes and chipped panels where pictures were once painted. Despite this, Naki feels somewhat drawn to the place.
...What's this feeling... Feeling insecure, Naki places a hand on the pouch where she keeps her dagger, then approaches.
"Come in, come in, Nosi. Quickly before the Vultures start to watch you," calls a clear voice, "You want your questions answered do you not? This geezer knows a few things you may be interested in." The voice stirs a faint memory of a green haired man whose name escapes her, but it is easy to sense some sort of familiarity in his tone.
She comes in. "How... how do you know that about me?"
A man nearly identical to the green haired man in the brief vision sits on the ground, his ankles shackled to wall in the back of the shop, a pure white space on the interior. His clothes are the brightest white, brighter than even alabaster, and his hair the color of fire, with oranges, yellows, some red, bits of white and purple with a slight tinge of blue here and there. He is slender in build, almost fragile in appearance, but he is in perfect shape and his presence radiates strength greater than nature at its prime. His eyes are lavender and a pleasant smile is spread across his face.
"That's my role, to know things about those who are lost and the goings of the world desu yo," he replies, "Like your name or why you have the Rune of Origin on you or what will happen if you meet Ignia Dios and the Monochrome Twins desu yo. I could even tell you all about your past, but that would be a big nono at this point desu yo. But that's enough about me, no? There are things you want to know, right?"
"Umm... ...yes. Errr... why do you keep saying that?"
"Desu yo. It's... odd."
"...Right. ...So... what exactly do you know?"
"Just about everything desu yo. Be more specific."
"What do you know, that I'm allowed to know, that is most important for me to know?"
"The Rune of Origin is both a catalyst and stopper desu yo. It limits to teach control and rewards efficiency with effectiveness desu yo."
"....Ok then. ...Anything else?" Naki guards her reaction well, but what he said feels like old new to her, given the sensation she received after the Eis had created the second rune. She however says nothing, as she gets the gut feeling insulting or being disrespectful who knew what she is and who she is right away will only give her more complications than she needs, and so keeps the mental observation to herself.
But why exactly does some of these people feel so familiar to me? ...He probably would know the answer to that one too, but I'm pretty sure that falls alongside the meaning of 'that would be a big nono'.
"Pester the Saint Hero, but don't form a jaded outlook about him. He's going to save your skin many, many times desu yo. Also, you really don't want him or the Berserker Hero to train you in anything, the likelihood of you dying exceeds ninety percent in both scenarios desu yo."
"Pester him....? ...I riddled that out from watching Berserker fight."
"Ask him questions, watch him when he is there with the others, things that are harmless in moderation desu yo. You don't want to be the one to make him lose his temper, keep that in mind, he's a bit more dangerous than the cursed warrior desu yo... Well more than a bit when he isn't in a mood to care about fixing the things he breaks desu yo. You'll see when the time comes desu yo."
"...Huh... can you like... explain what exactly should I pester him about? I'm still confused..."
"No can do desu yo. It's like Anira would say, 'the unknown must remain as such until it is discovered at the right moment' desu yo." The name Anira calls forth the image of the green haired man in Naki's head. "I can't tell you everything, that would change the trial hand, in which you grow as a person and realize your real goals, into nothing more than a rough dream or waking nightmare desu yo. Any questions not related to what you need to do?"
Naki resists the urge to make a grimace. "I'm starting to hate secrets, though from observation I'm beginning to wonder if that really was ever not old news."
"....I've kept feeling like people are judging my every move, even if it is something as pointless as being annoyed. Why is it that everything to do with me is somehow more convoluted than an orchestra?"
"An orchestra isn't convoluted desu yo, but I see what you are getting at. That you'll have to deal with until you prove your mettle desu yo, especially in the eyes of the Eis and the Berserker. The Dragon and Rogue, ufufu, have what's best in mind for you, though the Dragon is under the same amount of scrutiny as you, which makes her a bit more irritable desu yo. Still that'll pass as soon as they, the ones watching you, realize that you aren't a liability, though that may have some repercussions if that happens too quickly desu yo. That aside, take four steps right, three left, six down and two up then stretch out your hand."
"...Right now?" She asks, confused.
She does as he says, then stretches out her hand slowly.
A small ring falls into her hand followed by two scrolls and a cross shaped belt with various pockets and slots for things, some appearing to be rings for up to eight scrolls.
"...What is this for?"
"You'll have to find that answer yourself desu yo. Now, you should be on your way, I've kept you long enough desu yo."
"...Ok. ...Thanks, I guess?" She starts making her way out.
Upon exiting the shop, Naki finds herself back at the castle gates.
"...Don't question it Naki..." She mutters briefly to herself.
"Are you ready," asks Charle.
"Umm, yes." She says, looking up.
"Good, Hairos how're we getting to our destination?" Nods the Dragon Hero.
"Oh, he'll be here in less than a moment."
"He," Eridia voices her displeasure, "I was unaware that this was a publicized mission."
"Don't worry, Qil isn't the type to speak to others," reassures the Rogue Hero as the sky crackles with lightning. "Ah, he's here!"
"We're flying, aren't we?" Naki asks.
"Five is too many for Qil to fly. That aside, he prefers the water." From the sky floats a quadrapedal dragon like entity, one with azure and silver multifaceted scales, strong webbed digits and fins growing from its limbs and face. Two long whiskers tipped with luminescent barbs grow from its forehead and a flowing mane of salt and pepper hair stretches from its mane and upper back to its mid back where it fades to a jade sail that ends at its tail. Its striking jade eyes contain a great deal of intelligence, intelligence tinged with apprehension and mild hostility directed toward everyone but Hairos.
"Qil, these ladies are our companions for our journey," explains the Rogue hero, earning a snort from the dragonoid. "No, they won't do that, only that idiot would do such a thing and no, they aren't manipulative opportunists, they are actually allies. Just try to be civil, alright?" Another snort earns a sigh from Hairos. "He says that as long as all of you remain decently still for the majority of the journey, he won't buck you off."
"...Trust issues?" Naki asks Hairos.
"You don't know the half of it. Now get on, Qil's liable to take off if I get on first."
She nods and does so, but makes sure to be respectful of the dragonoid as she does.
It takes about five minutes for everyone to get situated, during which Hairos sets everyone's bags in a larger pack strapped to the Dragonoid's back.
"Just to be safe, is everyone sure they had absolutely everything they needed," he asks.
"I believe so..."
With a nod, Hairos mounts Qil and the dragonoid takes off, sprinting forward with speed on par with the Rogue Hero, getting various responses from the other heroes.
"Rogue, are you derranged!?"
"Hm, we'll reach our destination within four days or so at this speed, possibly sooner."
Naki seems more impressed than nervous. "Oh it's not that bad... he's a good runner."
"The issue is that if there is an abrupt stop, we'll be flung off at a great enough speed to turn us- well all of you- into splats of blood and ground bone on the nearest hard surface," explains Ayla nonchalantly. "The ability to cancel inertia is a boon in such a situation."
"You mean you'll let us die!?"
"No, assuming I could catch you before you flew far beyond my reach."
"That isn't very comforting, Magus."
"Fact often isn't, Berserker."
"...Oh. Well that's less positive."
"Qil says to stop discussing 'what if' scenarios or he'll shock all of you," warns Hairos, "He also says to duck within the next minute if you want to keep your head."
Naki quietly ducks.
No sooner than Naki ducks does the dragonoid enter a cavern with a low ceiling. It makes its way deeper into the cavern before slowing to a stop and growling deeply.
"Huh? The path to the Spirit Wood is blocked? That's no good..."
"We're gonna be without Qil for a bit. He can't stay in caves for too long and the quick route out of here is blocked from what he can detect," explains Hairos. "Everyone, dismount and grab what you can reasonably carry."
Naki grabs her stuff and gets off. "Thanks for the ride Qil," She says.
The beast huffs in response then leaves the cave once the other three are off.
"Alright, stay close and avoid anything that I don't say is safe," orders Hairos. "This place isn't dangerous if you don't let it be."
Naki shifts the weight of her packs for a minute, then follows Hairos' lead.
Hairos quickly makes his way through the first area of the cavern, moving quickly but with diligence. Once he enters a long tunnel like room, he slows down and shifts his eyes to the ground.
"We're going to need to grab hands from here on out. We'll be traversing a pitch black area and you really don't want to get lost in a place where no one can find you," he forewarns before adding. "And no, we can and will not substitute the lack of lighting with any form of magic. There is a reason we are travelling in utter darkness and it isn't because I happen to like the thrill of navigating this place blind."
"I imagine there's something we don't want to piss off," Naki remarks.
"No, something entirely different. Now grab on, don't let go and be silent." The Rogue Hero outstretches a single hand.
Naki quietly takes it.
Naki's other hand is taken by Eridia, whose free hand is taken by Ayla, whose other hand is taken by Charle. With that done, Hairos continues foward until the dim light of the cavern is abruptly replaced by inky darkness and cold, damp air.
Naki does her best to keep up with Hairos.
As the Rogue Hero continues further into the darkness, the air grows much, much colder and more oily than simply humid. There is a faint tinge of iron in the air that wasn't there before and a less than settling feeling in the air.
...What's that metallic smell...? ...well, this certainly can't be good.
The smell only grows stronger as the group is lead further into the tunnel, soon accompanied by the trickle of running water not far ahead.
Naki's hands tighter their grip a bit.
The smell soon becomes odious and intense as the trickle of water becomes the rush of water not much further away.
What is making that smell...? Nasty...
Before long, the repugnant small grows even more nauseating and strong as the group enters.what feels like a warm stream of liquid that slowly rises in height until Naki' head is barely above the liquid. The iron stench only worsens, signifying that the liquid is the source of the terrible smell.
What the hell is he dragging us through?!
Soon, the group reaches the other side of the river of liquid and the temperature plummets to nearly freezing. The air feels slimy and sticky now, but the smell lessens.
This is one freaky cave...
The air quickly becomes suffocatingly thick and humid, coiling around Naki slowly as if she were in the midst of a snake den. Her skin begins to burn where exposed, worsened by the entirely frigid temperature seeping into her bones.
....Acid? I hope we get out of here soon...
All at once, Naki stops feeling Hairos' hand and Eridia's hand. All sound vanishes and the temperature drops further, into the negatives at this point. Her bones feel stiff and her joints painfully locked from the arctic chill. Combined with the liquid from before and the burning sensation from before, Naki begins to feel lightheaded and dizzy. Soon she begins to feel tired and colder than ever before, slowly losing focus on her surroundings.
Focus Naki! She bites her tongue.
Not much later, the light returns to the cave, revealing that Naki is covered in frozen blood while Eridia is covered in withered vines that look eerily similar to limbs, Ayla is covered in hundreds of tiny crisscrossing cuts and Charle is bound in heavy chains. Hairos, on the other hand, is perfectly fine.
"I wouldn't be wrong in assuming that was a rough trip for all of you," he comments.
"Rogue, you'd better explain what that was you dragged us through, growls the Berserker Hero.
"I concur, that was most unpleasant," remarks Ayla.
"Will we have to go through that again," questions Charle, shivering.
"What I 'dragged you through' was the nicer of two alternatives in traversing this cave. Would you have rather gone through that or deal with being possessed by the various Lifeless that dwell here and hope to make it out of here before your life was taken," replies the Rogue Hero coldly. "Aside from Ayla, no one seems to have taken any visible damage or lasting damage for that matter. If I am incorrect in this observation, please give me evidence that says otherwise."
Naki shivers. "Cold cold cold cold cold cold... I'll be fine once I get this stuff off me.... and once we actually get outside again..."
"We aren't far from an area where we can set up camp or take a short reprieve. A river flows through here so you can clean yourself off once we get there," Hairos says. "If that's all, let's continue forward." Hairos heads further into the cave without another word.
Naki shivers again, and follows after him. She takes out one of her daggers, and examines it while she walks.
...I wonder if I could increase the damage of this dagger with a sheath of fire...?
It doesn't take long to reach the place Hairos talked about. It appears to be a cleared space with a river running along side it. Light from the outside pours in from naturally formed holes in top of the cavern and the sounds of birds chirping along with other animals can be heard from the outside.
"So much better..." Naki sighs.
"All of you get cleaned up and rested, we'll continue after that's done," states the Rogue Hero.
"That would be the best course of action," affirms the Magus Hero before wading into the river and moving behind a boulder.
"It would seem so," agrees Eridia, entering the river shortly afterwards. Charle fiddles with chains on their person, slowly untangling them from their limbs and torso.
Naki moves into the river and begins washing and scraping off the blood, using her knife to cut at the ice.
Luckily for Naki, most of the ice dissolves in the sun warmed river, speeding up the process.
"Oh yes, so much better... gross..."
After everyone is finished cleaning up, Hairos gets ready to go. "Dry yourselves with the various magicks at your disposal, we'll be continuing onward soon."
Can I even still use magic...?
Naki tries to focus on creating fire in her hands.
Naki is able to produce a decently sized flame afrer a bit of concentration.
She then starts applying it over herself, going for just heat rather than strength of flame.
Naki is able to dry herself for the most part.
"I'm going to assume you're all ready," calls Hairos. "Let's not waste time and keep moving."
She lets out a sigh, then returns to the others.
As the group continues forward, Hairos seems to grow more irritated, but rather than tensing up he relaxes himself to the point appearing to glide over the ground as opposed to walking.
Naki questionably looks at him but doesn't initially comment.
"Hmmm... Not far to the other end of the cave..." Hairos mutters to himself, continuing onward with increasing languidity.
"You alright there?" She speaks up.
"If that's the case... Ah." Hairos nods to himself. "Well then... Now to..."
"The Rogue is strategizing, 'tis best to leave him be," notes Eridia.
"I wonder what has him in such a tizzy," ponders Charle.
"You'll know when the time is right, no earlier," states Ayla. "Until then, continue as you were."
Naki remains silent, thinking.
It isn't much later when the group comes to the end of the cave, finding themselves in a thick forest. While within the cave it seemed to be closer to high noon, outside the sun has begun to set.
"What sort of trickery is this," growls the Berserker Hero.
"The passage of time was different... Faster within the cave. A rather cruel trick for those on a tight schedule," agrees Eridia. "Can we make up the lost time, I wonder..."
Charle is oddly quiet, as if in deep thought.
"Let's find a clearing and set up camp," suggests Hairos. "Qil can meet us there before he returns to his Wyr for the dyn."
"Why not continue forward through the night," suggests Eridia.
"We wouldn't get any rest that way. Besides that, it increases the likelihood of getting lost," responds Hairos, "As much as I know this place like the back of my hand during the day, during the night the Lifeless and Faer become active and make things less simple."
"What are these 'Lifeless' you keep mentioning," asks Ayla? "Are they spirits or undead beings?"
"No, the Lifeless are those born without life themselves. They crave life as to replace their own lack thereof, choosing to possess or infect those with life in the hopes of gaining life for themselves. The do not die and are unaffected by the weaknesses of the Arisen because they never lived in the first place."
"Ah and the Faer?"
"Weavers of illusions and lies that charm the mind and lure the body. They are holders of terrible beauty and indulge in temptation. They drain the lifeblood and essence of their victims, blinding them with dreams of grandeur until the deed is done and another Faer is born."
"Does that mean we are in danger?"
"Not if we stop wasting what little light we have left and make camp in a nearby clearing. Really... I am the primary target of either, but that is of little importance. Let us go." With that Hairos continues deeper into the forest.
Naki follows suit, trying to focus on whatever buried past she can salvage.
... No........r............ol........ei... The broken remnants of a saying echo in her head. At the same time, the group reaches a clearing and Hairos goes about starting a fire after whistling sharply. Not much later does Qil appear with everyone's packs and other equipment. Eridia and Charle gingerly unload the packs from the dragonoid, wary of the sharp look he is directing toward them. No sooner than they finish does the dragonoid take off, disappearing into the oncoming night. While this happens, Ayla sets up a large tent.
Naki makes an attempt to help the others with camp, wanting to contribute in some manner.
"Set up the sleeping bags and boil some water," directs the Rogue Hero, setting a spit up around the fire and handing Naki a large pot.
Naki takes the bags and begins setting them up.
Once she finishes, Naki hears a faint rustling in the forest.
Naki's hand reaches for a knife quietly as her eyes dart toward the source.
Naki doesn't see anything directly, only rustling.
Naki quietly moves back toward the others. "...Guys?"
"Hmm?" The collective response is a quizzical glance.
"There's something in the brush."
"Is it causing an issue?"
"...Apparently something lurking right outside the camp is not cause for alarm to you..." She grumbles, going to fill the pot with water so she can start the boiling water.
"If it is outside the camp and remains that way, there is no issue. An animal was likely attracted by the noise, but discouraged by the fire," responds Hairos. "Are you certain it wasn't the wind?"
"And I was certain the guy titled the 'Rogue Hero' would be a bit more cautious than that." Naki snips in reply.
"And I'm certain that unless my hardwired sense for anything dangerous within the area is inactive, there's nothing to worry about unless you look too much into the disturbance you noticed," retorts the Rogue Hero. "That aside, recall what I said about the Faer being masters of illusion... They've long since surrounded the camp, but again I'm the primary target and that is of little concern for you as long as you stay within the camp ground."
"Doesn't that mean you're in danger, Hairos," asks Charle.
"Not your concern."
"I'm sure something like that is," says Eridia.
"No, it isn't. Don't push the subject."
"It is of no concern, so he says. We'll only know if his words are false if they prove to be." Ayla shrugs.
"Do you agree with everything he says or do you lack the ability to think for yourself," growls Eridia. "That's all you've done the entire time and frankly it's annoying!"
"Rather, my disposition is to not care beyond an external level. In all honesty, it is not my business to interfere with and your reactions are vaguely amusing," replies Ayla.
Naki makes a small grumble of annoyance. "Sorry I didn't know about your magical ability to sense danger that I clearly should have been able to know about like the mind reader I totally am." She comes back with the water in the pot and sets it over the fire to boil.
"And in case your spidey sense didn't tell you already, that was sarcasm. Now I'm going to shut up until I'm somehow useful and or relevant to you." She sits down, and begins fiddling with the metal scraps she had brought with her.
"A Spider does not detect danger, only all things near their web, no matter how expansive and abstract," notes Ayla to herself.
"Look Naki, if you or any of the others, myself included, were in danger, I'd let you know if I didn't handle it myself," sighs Hairos.
"That's quite the temper she has," quips the Berserker Hero. "And quite the same for you, Rogue."
"I don't think you have a right to talk, Berserker."
"Titles mean nothing."
"What a convenient train of thought from one who only addresses others by title."
"Let's not argue shall we," suggests Charle, "We have to work together to solve our issues. Staying at each other's throats will only compound what we already have to deal with."
Naki continues to tinker with the metal, though what she is actually doing with it isn't apparent.
"All of you should get to sleep, we're getting up early tomorrow," directs Hairos. "I'll handle keeping watch."
"Fine by me."
"I mean, I guess..."
Naki doesn't speak, but does as requested, putting her things away.
Several hours into Hairos' vigil, Charle exits the tent.
"Is something bothering you, Charle?" Hairos doesn't turn around.
"Just came to check on your condition, your actual condition, not the facade of wellness you're projecting."
"Then you noticed... I'll be fine," reassures the Rogue Hero. "I've suffered far worse at the hands of people than I did in the Hollow, it's almost incomparable."
"But the wounds you have haven't healed in the slightest. Doesn't that bother you?"
"...What if I told you that that was the only reason I've come to terms with the reality before me? That I didn't really lose my mind and envision a heroic scenario based on my people's legends... I don't really have the luxury to get distracted."
"Still, don't overburden yourself... I worry for you, you know."
"Heh, thanks. It's kind of cute that you can stand me of all people."
"My standing is the equivalent of a thief, a ranger, an uncultured, shifty fellow who preys on the unsuspecting. Your standing is that of a noble, high class lord of great charisma and power matching peerless benevolence. At least in the legends."
"...I guess I have noble roots."
"And I do have a rather objectionable past."
"Still that doesn't define you. Your heart, while cloudy, is good, lovely almost. You want the best for everyone, even those you consider to be enemies. That's touching, even sweet."
"You're embarrassing me~. Heh, I could get along with you."
"And I you. Now remove your armor, all of it."
"...I'm not sure where this is going is appropriate."
"What? I'm going to sanitize your wounds, then wrap them."
"Ah... Allow me a short walk first, then I'll cooperate."
"On the condition I go with you."
"You said walk, not hunting spree."
"The Faer were getting bold, it was my job to keep them timid."
"Alright, alright. You're oddly enthusiastic about this."
"Not enthusiastic, just in a hurry. The sooner you're cleaned up, the sooner you'll recover. Hopefully."
"If the wound is magic based, I won't be able to heal it."
"Ah. Then let's get this over with..."
"I promise I won't hurt you."
A Faster Route, A Treacherous PassageEdit
Naki sleeps mostly well, occasionally tossing and turning.
"Wake up, Dyn is near," demands a gruffer than usual voice.
Naki snaps awake. "I'm up, I'm up!"
"Good, get your supplies together and have a bite to eat, we aren't staying here for much longer," says the owner of the voice, Eridia, before leaving the tent.
Naki gets up and gathers her belongings, emerging from the tent. She avoids looking at Harios as she sits down near the others.
Whereas the other four heroes are displaying various stages of grogginess from the early hour, the Rogue Hero is fully awake, having made a simple pottage of herbs and oats with some bits of smoked meat.
"Hmm, this is surprisingly good for something made from the bare essentials," says Ayla. "It contains all of the required food groups in proper portions."
"Food groups?" Hauros cocks his head to the side.
"Grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, poultry, proteins and fats. You've managed to incorporate all of them into the pottage in such a way that they are balanced in portion and flavor," explains Charle.
Naki looks at the pottage with a stomach growl. "I take it none of you are exactly morning people." She comments. "May I have some? ...And sorry I was snippy yesterday. ...I've been err... I am frustrated."
"It's fine, it's fine. Have some before it fully cools," he says. "Once the Dyn fully begins, everyone should be fully awake."
Naki digs in to the meal. "Ah..." As she eats, she looks at her legs and arms.
What am I? Definitely not human...
"Almost time to go..." Hairos watches the dark horizon lighten.
Naki finishes, but remains silent, deep in thought.
So many questions... is what I am part of why these things keep happening to me? I mean, why would I of all people get lumped into a group like this? Breserker and the others have pretty much made it clear they're better than me in anything that may be of use. I feel like the stupid pet they have. Like extra baggage...
Do I even belong here?
After a while longer, Naki lightly smacks her cheek.
Forget this Naki. All you're doing is asking questions and getting nothing. Just keep your head in the game... one way or another, I'll get those answers. Besides, this is just wasted energy, I might as well just try twice as hard to make sure I'm not going to end up as baggage.
Right... stay calm, keep your head together and don't let this bother you anymore. Naki's general air relaxes, as she lets her frustration and anxiety loose in a deep breath.
As the sun peeks from the horizon, Hairos issues a high pitched whistle and clears the remaining porridge into a small metallic container. He proceeds to watch the sky until he is certain of several things, nodding periodically as if checking off items from a list.
"Torrential rain and lightning storms in the direct route... And for the next several days. The other route may be more viable in that case," he mutters to himself as Qil lands nearby.
"Hi Qil!" Naki greets the dragonoid, as the shadow creature from before comes out of her shadow again, wrapped around her loosely like a scarf.
The beast snorts in response, glancing at Hairos.
"Yeah, yeah, I know you thrive in storms, Qil," nods Hairos. "This issue is I'm the only other oerson here who does. The canyon seems like a better alternative, even if it isn't as safe." The dragonoid huffs in complaint.
"And that would likely fry them, especially the two in full armor. Remember, the job is to get to our destination in one piece, not broken fragments and shards... Yes, I know they appear in the canyon, but remember they can't so much as touch you as long as I'm there... Yes, I've kept up with my training to back up my words, I'm training as we speak... Yes, I'm that good." The dragonoid huffs again in response.
"Who said I wasn't compensating you? Same deal as always applies now." With reluctance, Qil sighs.
"No worries, I'll keep us safe if it costs me my life several times over."
Naki listens to the conversation quietly. I suspect what they're talking about is related to his trust issues. I wonder if he'll ever warm up to me? ...Eh, doubtful...
"Pack your things and mount up," says Hairos, beginning to break down the camp. "We don't have long before the rain gets here."
Naki readily gets her stuff together, and is ready to go relatively soon, and helps put away her tent to speed things up, then heads over to Qil, pausing to bow in a friendly manner.
The dragonoid only snorts at her again and looks away. Not much later does Charle finished packing up, followed by Eridia and Ayla several minutes later.
Naki allows the others to get on first, then gets on herself.
After Naki gets on Qil, Hairos does and the dragonoid immediately takes off, darting between the trees flashing by as if it were a game before jumping off a cliff into a narrow ravine.
Naki makes sure to keep a good balance, not wanting to slip. The shadow being wrapped around her looks back at Hairos with its singular eye, looking him over curiously.
From the ravine, Qil jumps to a nearby bank and continues along until he reaches a large escarpment. He glances at Hairos once before plunging down the steep drop into a winding canyon.
The shadow creature wraps around Naki tighter, feeling nervous from the drop, not enjoying the ride all that much. Naki lightly smiles as he does so.
It puffs its chest in response, crossing it's arms.
"Qil, central path. The other two lead out of the way," says Hairos.
"Path? There is but one," ponders Eridia as the dragonoid continues through the winding canyon, the path growing more narrow as he proceeds.
Naki decides to pay closer attention to the canyon.
Not much later does the path widen, revealing hundreds of naturally formed pillars as the canyon opens into a space akin to a large basin. Qil stays toward the center of the canyon, weaving between the pillars with ease. Naki notices a faint shadow for a fraction of a second.
"Alright, about time to get to work..." Hairos rolls his neck and shoulders as he works his way into a crouch on the dragonoid's back, daggers drawn.
Naki starts focusing harder, the shadow creature lends her some assistance with its eye on its head, and the two eyes on its snake headed tail. The snake's tongue flickers.
"Qil'll get you out of here in good time, I'll catch up," says Hairos before vanishing from sight. Not long afterwards does the sky darken and loud shrieks fill the air.
Naki looks back. "...Is it a good idea for him to be going off on his own like that...?"
"Probably not," agrees the Berserker, "But he's the only one of us able to fight beyond the speed of sound, barring magic and the like."
"Speed of... ...wow that's fast. ...I'm just hoping he doesn't get carried away with..." She sighs. "Miss Worrywart, I am."
Naki soon begins to notice falling winged creatures around Qil, most cleanly beheaded or bisected. The creatures soon fill her vision and for a moment she sees a desolate land with ominous clouds crackling with crimson lightning and ground marred by cracks and splits where it was long erroded. The vision fades as quickly as it appeared, but the name Apollos suddenly clicks and she remembers the blue haired Necromancer.
She lightly frowns upon doing so. "What..." ...Well there's a puzzle piece for sure. She thinks to herself, then silently contemplates. After a while... Not exactly the image of nice, was he... ...kind of a dick, but with reasons... uggh, never liked people like that anyway. Maybe I'll thank him for some of the times he saved my sorry behind... that is if I'll ever see him again. Judging from what I've been told about this place, he could be worlds away.
The number of falling creatures continues to rise just as Qil reaches the end of the large basin and enters another narrow winding path.
"...Ok... Is he doing that? This is just ridiculous... how many of these things are there?"
"Enough to darken the sky in an area," states Ayla, disinterested as the sky visibly begins to lighten.
"Freaky birds, shoo! Shoo! Ugly!" Naki's shadow creature hisses.
Soon the sky is completely clear of the winged creatures and Qil reaches the end of the canyon, slowing to a stop as he does.
"Where is Speedy Knife?" It asks.
"I'm fairly certain he wouldn't like to be referred to as such," says Ayla just as Hairos arrives, unscathed.
"Broke a record," he huffs, catching his breath.
"You alright?" Naki asks.
"Just out of breath," he replies, "Could've been worse."
Naki looks at him for a moment. "...You sure?"
He nods, straightening his posture and hoists himself onto Qil's back. The dragonoid huffs and Hairos grunts in response before the dragonoid makes its way out of the canyon and onto an arid plain.
Naki looks around the surrounding area, but focuses more of Hairos, more concerned about him than anything.
The ride continues in relative peace, the occasional bump disrupting the lull of the trip. Hairos seems to be in good condition and is no longer winded.
The dark creature around Naki begins to juggle glass spheres it whips out of seemingly nowhere, very much bored, the sphere have many little multicolored facets.
Qil comes to a stop several hours later, the arid land having gradually been replaced by fine ivory sand and the smell of sea salt. The dragonoid huffs loudly.
"The air is salty... are we near a beach?" Naki asks.
"Maltheis is a port kingdom, it is the only direct trade route with Dosks," explains Hairos.
"That makes sense... ...I wonder where I've smelled this air before..."
"Maybe you've been to the sea before," says Charle, having spoken for the first time in several hours.
"Remembering things is such a pain..." She gripes. "Certainly refreshing after that nightmare in the cave."
"Wouldn't be so sure," says Hairos, having drawn his daggers. Qil growls deeply, slightly shocking everyone when he discharges a fair amount of electricity across his scales.
"Ow! ...Of course, I open mine big mouth." She reaches for her weapons.
"Qil, evasive maneuvers," barks Hairos, causing the dragonoid to swerve just as a frozen mass impacts where he once was. The sudden jolt manages to knock Naki off the speeding dragonoid, leaving her and the Rogue Hero behind as it continues onward. It begins to rain shortly thereafter and a figure floats down from the quickly formed storm clouds.
Naki rolls, then quickly gets to her feet, staring at it in alarm with her two knifes.
Tyrant Frost Edit
From the sky emerges a semi-frozen, semi-aqueous entity. Its torso is made of black jagged stone, as are its knees and elbows, each with three protruding points. Its shins and below are a frigid armor, while its forearms lead to frozen claws. Its face is a mixture of stone and ice, akin to that of a dragon with four emerald eyes and two slantwise horns. The rest of its body is clear water with frosted tips, including a long serpentine tail and reptilian wings.
"Huh, this guy again... Stay to its side, I'll take the front," notes Hairos, flickering in and out of view immediately after.
This guy could be trouble... She thinks as she heeds Hairos, running toward its side, but being watchful of a counter attack as she begins preparing to use fire to amplify her knife's cutting ability, while the shadow being begins concentrating lightning in its hands.
The creature focuses on Hairos, stabbing its tail at him multiple times, though it has a hard time connecting with him given his speed. In the meantime water vapor swirls around it.
Janpu strikes first, firing arrows of lightning at its side, while Naki attacks with highly pressurized fireballs.
Much to her surprise, the lightning is drawn to the black stone while the fire harmlessly fizzles out on contact with its body. It continues to focus on Hairos, sending ice blades and its tail after him as he continues to avoid it. The water vapor spreads to cover a vast area, still as dense as before.
Janpu suddenly unravels and warps into the grass, streaking toward the enemy. Naki throws one of her knifes at it with a gust of wind to increase its speed.
The air immediately freezes solid, slowing Hairos and freezing Janpu in place as the liquid portions of the creature solidify and the stone and already frozen areas develop a thick frost armor. The water vapor kicks into a sharp blizzard that obscures the creature and dampens the power of Fire in the area while raising the effectiveness of Ice and Wind. The creature turns its attention to Naki and makes a simple gesture with a claw, surrounding her with a personal freezing mist.
Naki fires a condensed burst of air from the cups of her palms forward at the creature, the resulting discharge is a deafening bang, blowing away a section of the mist.
The creature doesn't react to the attack though it loses its blizzard barrier temporarily. Its eyes flash blue and a white ring forms on the ground for several meters around it.
A large earthen hand rises up out of the ground and attempts to smash the creature. Naki meanwhile has pulled out her spare knives.
Before the hand can fully rise, it is frozen solid by a flick of the creature's tail. At the same time the creature's eyes flash white and it vaguely gestures toward the air, summoning ordinary rings of mist around Naki, Hairos and a blue ring of mist around Janpu.
The blue mist is unable to focus on Janpu, as Janpu seems to dissolve in black mist, which almost seems to just eat the mist rather than be affected. Naki begins throwing some of her throwing knifes.
Before Naki can do much with her knives, spears of jagged ice pierce her legs, waist and left shoulder, each as cold as permafrost. The same nearly happens to Hairos, but he manages to deflect enough force from the spears to be pushed away a fair distance.
Janpu's attempt to eat the blue mist results in his form forcibly condensing back to solid and gaining a white brand on his chest. The creature slams its tail, summoning orbs of water to float around the area as a fierce icy wind sputters back to life little by little.
Naki resists howling from the impact of the attack, and begins trying to get free, after a few minutes a black mist begins reappearing around her.
The creature's eyes flash yellow, white then blue and its body begins to glow white as the blizzard around it reforms. Naki's movements only result in widening the wounds and breaking off the tips of the spears inside the wounds as a peculiar blue glow surrounds the pierced areas for a brief moment. The creature looks rather bored as the balls of water begin to spin in place.
The mist solidifies as a black armor like covering over Naki's body, which purges the ice from her body and stitches in her skin's wounded areas to keep the bleeding from continuing, as well as providing support for her broken bones. Naki, with some help from the armor, is able to fire a blast of compressed air at the being.
The world goes white for a moment as the ground, water and even air are frozen when the white ring from before flashes brightly. The creature's additional armor dissolves back into water vapor. The creature then flies up high...
Naki eyes the ring of spheres and tries to move outside of them.
The spheres continue to spin as frozen masses an soon generate a massive field of freezing mist that becomes akin to a successive ring of frigid vortexes. Hairos eats several red stones and a green one before holding his breath.
Naki prepares herself before attempting to launch herself as high from the mist as she can.
The earth floods with white light before it shatters, giant blades of ice erupting from it in every angle imaginable while the vortexes expand and form a two layer blizzard wall around the ice field. Hairos repels the blades with a bizarre aura that forms around him after several moments combined with high speed movements from his now warmed body before the creature slams into the ground, causing blue and white beams of light to emerge from the ground and spiral into a pillar of freezing blue flame like energy. Naki has the luck of avoiding being drawn into the vortex or the pillar, but several of the spikes manage to pierce her armor with microscopic blades on their ridges. When the pillar fades and the ice shatters, the creature can be seen again, thus time coated with the bizarre flames from the pillar where its ice armor was before.
Naki attempts to hover in the air, shaken by the attack she just saw. What is this guy...?
The creature glances at Naki boredly, then, after drawing the remaining ice and broken earth unto itself, vanishes.
"Hairos! Are you alright?" She yells.
"Just fine," he returns, appearing clad in an electric aura. "Qil should be on his way back."
Naki is with difficuty, drifting down, though in some pain from her wounds.
"When he gets here, we'll have Charle or Ayla look at those."
When Naki lands, she is unable to adjust correctly, awkwardly landing in a heap, hissing in pain.
"I said gently!" Naki snaps.
"Easy there, losing your temper will only make things worse." Hairos speaks calmly. "I can do a little first aid, but until the others arrive, you'll have to deal with the pain."
"What... Was that...?"
"That guy? Elementary King, Tyrant Frost of the Northern Sea."
Head swimming a little from the pain spike, Naki grits her teeth. "Rrrrrrr...! That hurts... ...think he got my bones... I don't think he was simply here as a casual greeting... so what gives with him? Why did he attack us?"
Naki tries to take deep breaths, attempting to reign her nerves back under control before she starts shaking.
"Trust me to get the brunt of the impact..." She says with a bitter chuckle.
"That's the thing about Frost, he's unpredictable and does what he wants," says Hairos. "Seems like he was trying to test us or something though."
"Right... do you actually know him or something? ...man this hurts..." She begins trying to right herself, not wishing to remain in the dirt face first.
Hairos blanks for a moment. "We've fought before on my voyage here."
"...Right." She manages to right herself, wincing with discomfort as she sits down.
Not much later does Qil appear with the other three heroes on his back, skidding to a halt not far from the two. Charle quickly jumps down and rushes over to Naki, followed closely by Ayla.
"What happened to you? These wounds are-"
"Beyond either of our ability to fully treat," finishes Ayla. "The best we can do is stop the blood flow and set the bones, the actual recovery will require a much stronger practitioner of the Healing Artes." With that said, Ayla draws a symbol into the air in front of Naki while Charle places armored hands over the wounded areas and begins to mend the bones as much as possible while the blood flowing from the injuries slows to a stop. Eridia remains silent and observes Hairos.
Naki clenches her teeth while this happens, Janpu retracts from around her, resuming his previous form, panting heavily, shaking a bit worse than her.
"You should probably rest, you need your strength." Hairos looks at the horizon. "Danger has been averted."
"....Right... I'll do that when -ow. -he is finished. Don't think I can -ow- rest just yet..."
"..." Charle stiffens for a moment before continuing.
"...Sorry?" She says, not commenting further. I made it out of my first scrap... ...let's not make this a habit though of breaking your limbs...
"That shouldn't be too common."
"Well... can't complain too much I guess. You know what they say... it can always get worse..." She chuckles weakly.
Hairos suddenly blacks out, earning the attention of Ayla and Charle, the former and the Berserker rushing to his side.
"What in the-"
"Assessing the damages..."
Me and my big fucking mouth. She looks on, concerned.
"Assessment complete. Absorption of a foreign body has drained his energy."
"So a false alarm then?" Eridia picks up the fainted hero and tosses him onto the dragonoid's back.
"Indeed, but let's not waste time and get to our destination. Hopefully a better Healer will be there." Qil snorts in response.
Absorption of a foreign body...? Does that have to do with what I saw him ingest...?
"Let's be off. The sooner we arrive, the sooner we can get people taken care of." Eridia mounts Qil and gestures for the others to do so.
Naki quietly begins trying to get to her feet, shakily.
Charle helps Naki onto the dragonoid's back, then mounts him afterwards. Qil takes off once Ayla gets on, moving faster than before.
"Thanks for the help..." She has to balance her stability with not making her injuries any worse.
"Think nothing of it."
Don't fall off don't fall off don't fall off... Naki continues to concentrate. The shadow being appears once more around her, looking over her like a mother hen.
"I should probably inform you that you are currently unable to fall," says Ayla.
Thank you thank you thank you...
She relaxes visibly, though Janpu has since grown bored and appears to be curiously looking at the others with an almost child like manner of curiosity.
"Hmm, we're growing close to a settlement," says Eridia despite there being no civilization visible.
Naki takes a closer look at their passing surroundings.
Naki sees nothing for several minutes before the edge of a spiralling port city comes into view
"You truly have excellent senses..." Naki commends her. "How did you know it was there?"
"I heard the sound of people en mass and smelled the scent of metal and polished stone," responds the Berserker Hero.
"...That's some hearing and scent. Are you more sensitive to sound and scent then? If so, impressive, though I wonder if it ever causes you trouble..."
Naki looks at the city, examining the view and layout.
The city has a circular perimeter and many spiralling structures of white metal and blue stone can be seen. Several floating islands form a ring around the city and the sea can be seen clearly behind the evelated population center. Rock gradually turns to fine sand and the smell of a fresh sea breeze wafts along as Qil draws closer to the port city.
"This place looks amazing...." She says, wondered by the sight.
A vibrant city stands before the party, the healthy bustle of commerce and lively sounds fill the air. Many of the structures are labeled by purpose, one of the larger ones being the Clinic.
"...Certainly more lively than the last town. Though it was not a bad place either. Quieter definitely." She remarks, looking about with her eyes drawn to practically everything.
"We should check the Clinic out," says Ayla.
Naki silently nods.
Inside the Clinic are several coat clad people, most of which are busy. One in particular stands out for his mix of armor and white attire.
"Huh, you actually made it in a reasonable amount of time."
"We ran into a bit of a bump in the road along the way..." Naki says, Janpu peeping his head out from behind her at him.
The figure turns around, revealing the Saint Hero. "Find a cot."
"..!" Eridia growls upon recognizing the other hero.
Naki immediately does so, both tired and nervous from Eridia's reaction.
"Desist in the hostilities, I have a job to do and no time to deal with an ignorant attitude." He moves to Naki's cot and examines her injuries. "So, you tangled with Frost and survived. Congratulations. Your injuries aren't beyond treatment, but you'll be in pain for awhile after you're patched up."
"...Wait, how did you know about-"
"You know things when you've seen them enough."
"Ah... Just who are you?"
"Just a doctor."
"...How long will I have to recover?" She asks. "Until I'm able to fight?"
"If you want to be at all useful and competent, five days after the healing process." The Saint Hero tuts.
"And the full recovery? Will this cause problems later, or will it heal and be done with?"
"A week at most."
"...Well that is good... Thank you."
"Now, are you ready?"
"I might as well... Don't have a choice if I want to get better."
The Saint Hero nods and thumps Naki across the forehead hard. He quickly does this several times, but before she can complain her wounds begin to close as bone fuses back together while muscle and flesh stitch back together. Naki suddenly feels very fatigued as her injuries close completely, but remain red and sensitive.
"W-w-what the f-f-fuck was that f-for?" She stutters, borderline blacking out from both the fatigue and the multi blows.
"Direct application of healing magic. Sleep."
Naki is already unconscious.
"Yo, wake up, Nosi." An unfamiliar voice rings in Naki's ears.
"Mmmm...?" Her eyes creak open tiredly.
Before her is a vast white space inhabited by herself and six other figures, each of which is blurry and hard to comprehend. One is red and orange, another is violet and grey, the next is blue and white, while the fourth is green and fuchsia. The last two figures are midnight and black and gold and silver respectively.
"C'mon, get up, get up, get up, you're wasting our time."
"Wha...? What - wait, what's going on, why is everything white, and who the bloody hell are you?" She snaps into alert mode.
"This is a dream, well more of an unconscious meeting with us, but nonetheless you're out of there, Nosi."
"You met Ryong and survived his test, albeit barely. You need to get stronger faster with the inhibitor you wear or you'll perish in the near future. Take advantage of the resources you have, lest you lose them before you can use them at all."
"Long, you speak too much."
"'Tis the truth, Adon."
"Enough banter, you two."
"Yes, Master Wock."
"...And this is the part where I don't listen to the little voice in my head and curse you and your mother for attacking me like that. What resources do you suppose I have? You are a bunch of high mighty spellcasters, what the honest hell do you expect out of me! I hardly knew my name but a few days ago!"
"Adequacy of skill and resourcefulness."
"Less short sightedness."
"A better understanding of the world around you."
"Something capable of proving that you can at the very least halt the Harbinger."
"...Ok, this is stupid. I do NOT clearly have the skills you're looking for! What is it about me that has all the eggheads in the world bothered?! Cause clearly you see something about a absolute novice at magic with rainbow hair, me, that I clearly don't know myself! Why not get the Heroes? Isn't that kind of what they're for? Why, why, why is it me?!"
"Your role is equal to theirs."
"That's the cost of you being in this realm."
"You're underestimating yourself."
"You'll understand someday..."
"Should you survive..."
Naki's head becomes cloudy and her vision fades slowly.
"I hate this..." She growls in her mind, before losing her focus.
"Errmmmmm....." She moans.
Naki feels a sharp prickle down her spine, as if something cold and thin was cutting into it from behind.
She jerks awake and a burst of fire momentarily surrounds her. "Who's there?!"
"Good, you're awake." The Saint Hero gestures for the others to come over. "You were out and unresponsive for two day."
"What? Two days....?"
"Aye, two days. The fatigue finally caught up to you."
"...I felt something cut me... did you do that? ...I didn't feel that tired..."
"That was Touki or Fighting Spirit you felt. Nothing hurt you or the others would've killed it." The Saint Hero shrugs boredly. "You'll be able to move around freely tomorrow."
"Uggh... don't scare me like that... I might have burned someone... ...And that's good I guess. Has anything happened since I fell unconcious?" She purposefully withholds the 'thanks to you' from her question.
"The Rogue is still unconscious and his hair has since changed colors, but nothing else."
"Eridia challenged him to a duel," mutters Charle.
"I still do not trust you," growls the Berserker Hero behind her helm.
"No need," replies the Saint Hero, brushing the statement off.
"You should at least try to dissolve tensions with your peers you know... nothing good will come of it if distrust causes friction in a group. You guys are supposed to be a team, after all..." Naki says.
Janpu is out and about the clinic, curiously watching the staff work.
"Oi, don't you cause any trouble..." She warns him, and he quietly shrinks in size.
"A team, they are. I have my own jobs to take care of." The Saint Hero leaves without another word.
"Such arrogance," bristles Eridia only to be calmed by Ayla.
"Your rage should be saved for battle, not internal affairs, Berserker. Nothing you do will change his mind," chides the Magus. "Besides, if he were truly foul, I doubt he would have monitored Naki's condition until she awoke."
"...Not a team player... ...that'll come to a head at some point..." Naki mumbles.
"Already has," sighs Charle.
"...It could always get worse Charle, it could happen when it matters, say, in a fight with the enemy. That's the bigger concern. Unless he cares enough about his integrity to not cause us problems."
"I don't think we'll be seeing him in combat... At least not without a valid reason."
"Hrmm... ...So, err... how'd the duel go?" She asks, trying to make conversation.
"..." Eridia chooses not to answer.
"She lost," explains Ayla. "His punch crippled her in a single blow."
"...Oh. ...Sorry for the salt in the wound..." She looks away. Way to go.
"Think nothing of it."
She sighs, then begins to silently clear and calms her mind, then begins pondering all of the events that have happened til now.
I need to get stronger... ...but how can I do so with what little I have? What do I need to do? Even if I can't have the answers I want, I need to focus and contemplate what's happened, so I can discern at least a vague battle plan for the road ahead... the fact that I don't have any training, or really any experience will make this really difficult... so then... ...what is necessary in order to survive...? I must think this over...
"What's on your mind," asks Charle.
"Questions with no answers. I'm trying to think of the best course of action... there is a puzzle, but I don't have all of the pieces yet. ...The attack was a test... there are eyes watching, judging me, and I don't understand what they want. ...The only thing I understand is I am weak, and I have to get stronger... ...so many variables in all of this..." She half mutters, half speaks normally, frequently alternating, her focus waxing and waning on them and her private thoughts.
"The only thing I know for certain is there is a role I'm expected to play, and that ties in with you all. How, I do not see. What potential I had is now limited, it was dumb luck, not power or skill that saved me in that fight before... ...this is all so confusing..."
"Hmm..." Charle hums briefly. "Why don't you show what you can do?"
"...I can give it a shot, I don't know how strong my power is thanks to this inhibitor." She takes a breath, then begins to condense wind into her palm, attempting to be as efficient as possible, while trying to create a sphere with a series of cutting wind blades around it, about the size of an apple.
"Too complex a structure," comments Ayla before Naki's lungs begin to burn. "Perhaps we should wait before attempting such a thing."
She disperses the sphere carefully, then sighs. "Shouldn't have done that I think..." She coughs. "Just wanted to try I guess."
"Rest for now, we'll see once you are in better shape."
"...This sucks..." She lies down, frustrated. I feel like in the end I'll just weigh them down...
"Would you rather increase the strain on your body?" Ayla cocks an eye at her. "Learn patience, there will be time run and time to walk. It is not a time to run at the moment."
Naki has a bitter look in her eyes. "My first battle and I couldn't do anything... I couldn't do anything right..."
Her hands clench into fists, so tight they turn even more pale than her skin already is.
"...I have to do better... ...I have to... I'm not going to lose like this again..." The bitter look is swiftly becoming fuel for a fire in her eyes.
She takes a deep long breath, and closes her eyes, and remains silent, resting. But getting stronger can wait for another day...
For a split second, Naki hears the sound of glass cracking.
The hell....? Her eyes open a crack.
The sound doesn't seem to be heard by anyone else.
...What... what was that just now? ...So weird...
The heroes gradually walk away.
Preturbed, Naki lies there quietly, not sure what to think of the strange occurance. Answers never come... ah well. ...Time to rest, and save my energy for later. ...I will need to spend a lot of time practicing... no more weakness Naki...
She quietly closes her eyes again and allows herself to drift to sleep.
About an hour later, Hairos stirs, meeting the eyes of the Saint Hero.
"Exhaustion, Overworked Muscles, Dehydration, Several Cases of Frostbite, Hypothermia, Deep Lacerations across the back and a punctured lung," lists the white clad hero. "You should be among the dead multiple times over and yet you are not."
"You had the armored lass worried and the other mildly concerned for your wellbeing, Rogue."
"Eridia was worried?"
"No, the lass, not the brute. Charle, if I recall correctly."
"... ... ...He was a woman?"
"Do your eyes not work?"
Naki continues resting, occasionally fitfully as she on rare occasions dreams.
The Saint, Clad in White Edit
Naki awakens to a peaceful morning with a mellow sea breeze. She feels less frail than the day before, but can tell that she isn't quite recovered yet.
"Mmmmm... Better is better..." She yawns, rubbing sleep from her eyes.
The Saint Hero glances at her briefly from across the clinic then resumes work.
"...How is it that your punches healed me? How does that even work?" She asks, now stretching a little.
"Direct Application of Healing Magic."
"...Ok then. I guess simple but to the point is your modus operandi, huh?"
"I prefer not to mince words."
"Hmm... ...Can I ask you something? ...Maybe a couple things. Do you know what I am, or even have a guess? ...And the second thing, what do you think of me as a person? ...I won't get mad if you are honest with me. ...I just feel like I need to understand and hear an outside view on myself... ...I need to better myself."
"An outsider composed of something long gone and a hindrance to others as you are now. You have room to improve, but if that happens will be decided by what you choose to do now that you've seen your weaknesses."
"...I have to give it my all, no matter what... if I slack off anymore, I'll fail... ...or worse."
She sits up slowly, then takes a case strapped on her back that she has never bothered to open, revealing a spear.
"...Right then... I need to improve my efficiency and my awareness. ...Is there anything else you would recommend me doing?" She has a faint hardness, a low burning ember of resolve tempered by a degree of patience within her eyes, patience built on the realization she is not in fit shape.
"Meditate and drown out the world. Become aware of yourself before thinking about anything else."
She places the spear beside her, and then slowly closes her eyes after getting comfortable, trying to follow his advice.
The Saint Hero goes back to his work.
Naki continues trying to meditate.
In the blink of an eye, several hours pass. The Saint Hero has since finished his work and left to take care of business.
Naki quietly begins reflecting on herself for a while.
The sound of glass shattering faintly occurs once more, though unlike before, Naki feels something deep within her stir.
She quietly investigates the new sensation, unsure of what she has found, but controls her momentarily flicker of excitement and calmly looks into it.
Naki comes across an internal lock of sorts. It is completely unreactive to any stimulus at the present.
"...When the time comes I suppose..." She thinks. She continues to meditate.
Another few hours pass in what seems to be minutes. The heroes have since returned to the clinic to check on her and Hairos and are relieved to see that they are alright.
Naki is now meditating on the eight elements, trying to get a better feel and grasp of her connection with them.
Naki feels a tentative connection to most of the elements, but a stronger connection to darkness than the others.
"It had to be that one, didn't it?" She thinks dully. She spends time trying to be more in synch with the other elements.
Naki is able to deepen her connection to Fire, Lightning and Wind, but Light seems to be impossible to strengthen as she is now. Earth, Water and Ice are not very responsive either.
After a while, she begins trying to manifest orbs of each element, being as efficient and refined as she can, without pushing herself too far.
For the most part, she manages to manifest Darkness, Fire, Lightning and Wind as solid orbs, but Earth, Water and Ice come out as unstable floating blobs rather than spheres. Light does not appear.
"..." She then focuses on the elements she is less adept with.
Water is slightly less difficult than before, but Earth and Ice do not appear to be growing at all.
"..." With a sigh, Naki opens her eyes and takes a moment to rest from her training.
The sun is close to setting and the heroes have since returned to the clinic. Hairos is finally awake, but not very talkative.
"...All day? ...How long was I like that?"
"Twenty hours." Charle shrugs.
"We decided to leave you be while you focused," explains Hairos. "It's a common courtesy."
"Wow... twenty hours..."
"There are still several more before the Dyn ends."
"Right..." She slowly starts stretching her limbs, without overexerting them.
Naki finds that the stress on her body has lessened greatly.
"Hairos, what is your opinion of me?" She continues stretching to get the stiffness of her limbs from sitting all day out of her muscles.
She sighs. "Very helpful." She grumbles, turning away from him and picks up the spear and its case from the floor, studying it.
The spear is simple in design, aside from the flowing engravings flowing down the entirety of the weapon's shaft. The blade is short with a horizontal guard.
Naki tries to stand up and hold the spear, wanting to gauge how well it feels to hold and use.
The spear feels familiar in her hands and far lighter than it appears.
"..." She begins practicing with it a little.
"Oi, this is a clinic," glares the Saint Hero. "Test it out tomorrow, outside."
She sighs. "Sorry." She puts it away, looking away. "Got carried away." She sits down quietly.
The Saint Hero only huffs. "Get to sleep."
She quietly but reluctantly sleeps, covering her head with her pillow.
The four heroes begin a meeting while the Saint Hero goes to handle some business.
Naki tries to rest meanwhile as much as she can.
"I'll be blunt, he's strong."
"Simply 'strong', Rogue?"
"Strong is an easier way of putting it, Ayla."
"If that is what you believe..."
"What of the girl?"
"That doesn't constitute as a valid response, Rogue."
"You'll understand what I mean soon."
"...That's still rather unhelpful."
"She's rather resolute, if one track and reckless."
"Coming from you that's a laugh, Hairos."
"I'd rather not inconvenience all of you. Unlike you, I'm expendable."
"Where did that come from?"
"How are you expendable if none of us know where we're going or what to do? I don't know if you noticed, but I can't fight, even if I wanted to."
"My opinion coincides with the others'."
"Because... Well, it's really an unexplainable feeling, but all of you are in danger so long as I'm around..."
"...Is that why you pretended to be fine when you had such grievous injuries?"
Naki stirs in her sleep slightly.
"So noisy." The Saint Hero walks through the darkened city. He watches the sky for several minutes until it flashes for a moment. "So, you've finally arrived... Senkradz."
Naki continues sleeping.
Darkness and Death IntertwinedEdit
Naki sleeps on.
Naki hears the faint ringing of bells in her sleep. The supposedly calm sound however, sends a chill down her spine.
Naki starts in her sleep.
There is no light in the area save for moonlight, glowing pale with a violet tint. Naki feels a strong urge to return to sleep, but something feels off.
Naki remains tense. "..."
She hears bells again, much further away now.
Naki tries to make herself more aware of her surrounding area, still alert.
Everything is deathly silent within the clinic, as if all sound within was stopped short.
Naki silently grabs the spear, a grim expression on her face. I don't like this...
The air chills slowly, water vapor visibly condensing into mist over time.
She gets up, grabbing the spear, and rushes out of the clinic. Really don't like this...
Outside stand many people, all of them watching the sky as the moon glows a pale violet and snow begins to fall.
Naki begins to look around, uneasy.
The sky looks glassy, while buildings are cast in an eerie light. Most people share Naki's sentiments, especially when loud bells begin to chime and what appear to be black doves flock across the sky like a swift black cloud.
Naki continues on, gripping her spear tightly. Where the hell are the others...?
"The heck is that...?" people begin muttering about the appearance of two black figures atop the tallest structure.
The four heroes make their way to Naki through the crowd of people.
"Something nasty is underfoot," warns Hairos.
"I knew that the moment I woke... ...bells... ...why does that feel familiar...? ...Do you guys have any idea what's going on?"
"We're about to find out." Hairos points to the figures, one falling into the crowd wreathed in darkness. There is no impact, only a sudden chill as the figure reveals a gold covered armlet with pointed fingers. It points at several people and within the minute all of them fall to the ground like marionettes with their strings cut.
Naki starts, then readies her spear.
Within moments the crowd is attempting to scatter as the figure points at more of them in a lazy fashion.
"Find cover," barks Eridia, grabbing Naki's hand. "A direct assault is meaningless."
Naki runs for cover as fast as she can. "The hell is he?"
"A Reaping Shroud," answers the Rogue Hero. "These things are supposed to be long gone..."
"Well 'supposed' and 'what is' are too different things... you seem to know what it is."
"I would appreciate if you dropped the attitude, I need to focus."
Hairos is quiet for several minutes before sprinting from behind cover, vanishing in a blur. Moments later they all hear. "I'll distract it."
Naki gives Eridia a 'what is he doing?!' sort of look.
The Berserker Hero returns the look before a loud crash reverberates through the area.
Naki flinches a bit. "What is he doing?" ...
The Reaping Shroud blocks several dozen blows in the span of a second with its claw before sweeping at the figure attacking it, only to strike at the air when he vanishes. Several slashes strike its back, forcing it to turn around and slash again, only to strike nothing once. It makes a preemptive slash only to meet the cold of metal before its attacker vanishes in front of it.
"..." Naki tries to focus as much as she can on the enemy, hoping to discern any information she can.
Naki feels throbbing along her left arm in response.
She starts, looking at her arm.
A faint blue light pulses beneath the skin. ...
Hairos crashes through a building, hissing in pain before springing away from his impact site in time to avoid the Shroud's fatal point. He generates a mirage then blasts forward, releasing a thunderous boom as the sound barrier crumbles. He slashes through the cloak of the being and substitutes himself with the mirage as the Shroud releases thousands of barbed chains tinged with rust and sends them after him. He vaults over the remains of a wall before scaling the side of another structure and sprinting across it as the chains tear through the space just behind him. He quickly swallows a yellow stone and holds his breath as his body glows a bright white and he rapidly accelerates, appearing as a white trail of flowing light.
She tries to follow the action as best as she can, but also begins observing the rest of her surroundings, trying to maintain a clear and focused mindset as she analyzes the surroundings and the battle.
Naki notices an incomplete violet ring forming around the city from above with the other figure in its center.
"...Guys, the other one is doing something... I think he's about to do something big," Naki warns.
The others look up and Eridia curses while Ayla readies her staff.
"Variable Magick Missile." A ring forms above the weapon's head and from it fly several dozen arrows of light. The figure notices and dodges out of the way at the cost of the near complete ring dissipating, only to see the arrows curve and home in.
"..." Naki continues to watch him. "...Ironically it looks like the enemy was doing the exact same thing Harios was doing. Distractions is the name of the game I guess." She continues analyzing both situations as best as she can.
Before the arrows can strike, the figure draws... Something and they shatter into blue fragments of light. He peers down and notices the group before stepping off the structure and flying towards them at high speed. A ring of violet spheres circle him before launching toward the four clustered together.
"Return." The spheres strike an invisible barrier, shattering it as they fade. Ayla points her staff, summoning spinning arrows of light that pursue the figure, only to be shattered before impact.
He lands, face obscured by a hood emitting black mist.
"...Hmm, not worth my time," he says in a monotonous voice. "Begone." A malicious wave of intent sweeps across the group as the figure waves a hand and a violet ring forms beneath the group.
"...Heads up, we're going for a lift." Naki warns as she charges up her magic to rocket them into the air. "...Might want to aim for a roof or something that's flat." She says as she releases the magic a moment later.
Where they once stood sprout dozens of spikes tinged with a red aura. Charle and Eridia manage to grab onto a ledge and swing themselves up, Charle requiring more effort than Eridia, while Ayla remains airborne with magic. She and the figure point at each other, Ayla firing a sphere of light the size of a a person, while the figure fires tendrils of inky darkness from his hand.
Naki lands somewhat less gracefully next to Charle and Eridia, immediately refocusing her attention on the fight.
Ayla and the figure seem to be trading spells blow for blow while Hairos continues to chip away at the Shroud, though with limited effectiveness.
Naki observes the two combating forces, trying to discern information. There's got to be something...
Naki's left arm begins to throb once more.
She tries her best to ignore, focusing on the enemy and their movements, and keeping her mind clear and focused. Need to keep my head clear at all times... I need to be useful for once!
The stalemate continues, though Hairos seems to be slowing down.
"...Do you think he'll be alright?"
"No, his injuries are reopening."
Naki frowns, becoming concerned and begins paying closer attention to the fight. ...There's got to be something I can do to help...
"EEELLLLLROYYYY KENJINNNS!" Charle emits an odd battlecry before jumping off of the structure and, with the fortune of pure luck, manages to drop kick the Shroud and get it off of Hairos' trail.
"That fool..." Eridia sighs before shifting her axe into a recurve bow and firing an arrow akin to an five foot spear at the Shroud to get its attention off of the Dragon Hero.
Naki is momentarily stunned. ...Ok then. Bravado time I guess.
She inhales deeply, before leaping to an opposite roof and charging a condensed fireball spell inside the blade of a throwing knife, then throws the knife behind the Shroud, moving away to a different rooftop to avoid being spotted, and waits for it to detonate. She maintains her concentration and focus as she moves, not wanting to lose sync with the fight at hand.
The Shroud bats the knife out of the air only to be hit by one of Eridia's arrows while Charle taunts it from far below. Hairos is recovering, seeming extremely exhausted now that the white aura is gone while Ayla continues to duel with the other figure. At the same time, both figures nod faintly.
Naki notes this and is on guard, sparking with faint electricity while she holds her spear. She tries to make herself more aware of the surroundings, fearing an attack.
Naki feels her left arm burn as the skin splits open. The Shroud and other figure suddenly vanish.
Naki flinches and looks at her arm. What's happening? What's happening to my arm all of a sudden?
She sees what looks like blue light and flame sprouting from her arm.
"W-what the..." Naki is alarmed by the sight. "What is this?"
The growth continues to come out of her arm until it is a branching series of lines and circles of blue light.
Naki starts trembling, both awed and terrified, not sure of what's happening to her. Is this something the enemy did to me?
The two figures reappear high in the sky, the Shroud barreling toward Naki from above as a spiralling mass of death.
Naki rolls off the side of the building and lands in the street. Naki tries to calm herself down and thinks, before trying to see if she can wield or use the strange energy, while also condensing a fire in her mouth, heating it until it turns white, then blasts the Shroud with it, using a funnel of air to speed and increase its range and spread.
The flame is extinguished on contact with the Shroud. Naki feels a slight reaction from the energy.
Naki uses the wind to help her move faster, ducking behind objects as she runs, all the while trying to see if she can actually use the strange light to defend herself.
The Shroud accelerates and strikes the ground just behind Naki. Eridia shifts the recurve bow into a shield and jumps in front of the Shroud before it can act while Charle tries to get behind it only to be swatted into a wall with a spin of the cloak. The other figure appears not far ahead of Naki, summoning a violet spear of energy as Ayla lands. Hairos is no where to be seen. The light is barely reactive to Naki.
Naki tenses and raises her spear while Janpu forms into a defensive armor. What is that energy...?
She keeps a sharp eye on the two enemies while she tries to figure out a way out of the situation.
"How foolish. Expel." The figure with the spear waves his free hand and forcefully banishes Janpu with malevolent power before hurling the spear at Naki.
Naki scambles to the ground, warning Eridia with a yell of alarm.
Eridia starts to turn, but a strike from the Shroud draws her attention away in time for the spear to arc and strike Ayla in the center of her chest, the magic circle that had been forming beneath her in secret fading as the color drains from her face and she collapses in a silent heap. The Berserker Hero turns, assesses the situation and charges at the figure, while the Shroud zooms into the air. She shifts her shield into a great axe and swings at the figure only to have her weapon batted aside and herself hoisted into the air by her face. "Slow," yawns the figure before electrocuting her with black lightning and tossing her away like a ragdoll. "The Magus truly was the dangerous one... Barring the Rogue." As if perfectly timed, the Shroud and Hairos clash in midair, releasing a powerful shockwave on collision. Hairos' hair glows silver and a similarly colored aura surrounds him as hundreds of spectral blades materialize and launch themselves at both the Shroud and figure, only for the figure to block them with a gesture. "Hmm... More of a threat than I thought. End him, Aschen."
The Reaping Shroud glows with a black and red aura and gradually begins pushing Hairos back until his hair whips away from his face, revealing pure silver orbs glowing with a frosty light before he kicks off the being and begins bouncing off the various remaining structures, gaining speed until even his aura is invisible. The grounded figure turns to Naki. "That leaves just two."
"Make that three." A familiar voice echoes from above as a figure clad purely in white drops from the sky as the violet light shatters and the true moon can be seen. He glances at the other heroes and huffs. "Later than I thought..." He glares at the figure before him. "It's time you left, Senkradz."
"Ah, that's where we differ, Flegair." Senkradz addresses the Saint Hero by name before taking to the skies. The Saint Hero offers Naki a glance and tosses her a pouch from within his pockets. "Take care of those three then lend the Rogue support, I'll handle him." He grabs a violet spear from the air and shatters it before taking off after Senkradz.
Naki takes the pouch and rushes to take care of the three Heroes with the pouch.
Within the pouch are several potions, each the same dull red color. Charle is in the best shape of the three, but that is hardly saing much other than the retained conscious state compared to the other two. Ayla is in the worst, shape, growing paler by the second as the spear seems to shrink. Eridia is somewhere between, scorched by the black lightning, but visibly, if faintly, breathing.
Naki first treats Ayla, then Eridia, then moves to take care of Charle.
Ayla barely registers the potion, while Eridia seems to immediately recover. Charle stops Naki and takes a potion.
"I'll be fine, help Hairos."
"...Alright...." She moves off to try and catch up with Hairos.
Naki hears several sonic booms in rapid succession around the remaining structures, followed by or passing through a beam of black and red light.
"...Over there huh?" She hurries as fast as she can.
The closer she gets the louder the booms are, so much so that the ground trembles and cracks and the structures groan from stress and dents weakening their integrity as they twist out of shape and bend.
Well those houses are definitely screwed... She thinks as she continues.
A sudden impact occurs just before Naki, splitting the ground before her as the Rogue smashes into the Shroud.
"Hairos, you alright?"
"..." He doesn't respond as his glow intensifies and he blasts upwards in a beam of barely visible light. The Shroud seems to be stunned.
Naki charges up wind in her hand, then begins shooting a bombardment of thin but powerful blades of wind that slash at everything in Naki's immediate line of sight, easily cutting stones with large gashes.
The Shroud is nicked barely from the combined effort of each blade. The air becomes suddenly frigid as what appears to be blue flames form in the sky.
Naki moves back cautiously from the Shroud.
A single blue ember falls from the sky lazily. It floats gently onto the Shroud and a roaring pillar of freezing flame erupts around it, engulfing the Shroud and everything within several meters as a thick layer of ice forms along the ground and snakes outwards.
Naki leaps back in alarm to ensure it doesn't reach her.
The flames flare white, before fading, revealing some a large scrap of black cloth and a gold gauntlet outside of a towering pillar of crystalline ice. The rest of the Shroud is trapped in the pillar, frozen eternally.
... "You've improved, Flegaire," notes Senkradz, firing a dozen of the violet spears at the Saint Hero.
"And you've become more of a puppet, Senkradz." The hero sweeps his hand and shatters the spears before delivering a heavy kick from his back leg, only to shatter a barrier. The figure clicks his tongue as he leaps backwards and flies upward, pursued closely by the Saint Hero.
"I disagree," the dark clad figure chides, "You're the puppet." He fires a black orb at the white clad hero, who strikes it as it expands and splits into a gaping abyssal maw. The sphere ruptures from the impact, but the figure known as Senkradz is gone.
"Tch, he fled again..." ...
Naki scans the area.
The area seems to be clear of hostile presences.
"Hairos?" She asks.
There is no response.
"....Hairos?" Naki becomes nervous.
There is still no response.
Naki begins looking around, worried.
There us no sign of Hairos in the area.
She goes to find the others, concerned for Hairos.
Charle looks up.
"I'll help find him. Eridia still needs rest, Ayla..." The Dragon Hero looks at the fallen Magus Hero, her skin paler still. "I don't know what she got hit by, but it was terrible."
"...." Naki looks at her, deeply troubled.
"Let's not waste time," says Charle, briskly.
She quietly goes looking for Hairos, still unnerved.
There are no signs of Hairos in the remains of the city, even among the survivors of the incident.
"...You don't think....?"
"No, he's somewhere... But not here."
"..." Naki's tension remains.
Charle suggests looking around the city exterior. There is an almost invisible shake in the armor.
"....You alright there?" She asks, walking toward the exterior.
"I'm fine... Just tired."
"...If those guys were our enemy... ...I'm so weak..."
"All of us are, not just... You..." Charle trails off, looking at an inky black tear in space not far away.
"..." Naki tenses up and grips her spear tightly. "...What is that?"
"He's through there... Calling... me..." Charle seems to be in a trance, walking toward the tear.
"H-Hey! What are you doing?! Don't just walk up to that thing!"
"..." The Dragon Hero enters the tear, swallowed up by the inky dark.
Naki runs after Charle. "Damn it all!"
Within the rift, there is nothing, a completely black space.
For what reason should this world remain...?
Things are broken, dull, pointless...
"Charle! Hey!" ...What is this thing?
Everything is a paradox, life, the hereafter, eternity...
Such meaninglessness, why should we care if inevitably everything will lead to the same conclusion?
"...Oh joy. I don't know who or what is saying that, do yourself and hit yourself hard enough for a concussion. That shit is theoretical bullshit. There doesn't need to be a damn reason to everything, grow up." The voices are getting on Naki's nerves, detailed by the slightest bristling of her hair.
"And my first statement still stands. Need a wake up call my friend."
And yet you are a victim, a byproduct of such a cycle.
Theory is unproven, but this is the truth of the world. A nascent being's words are nothing before that truth.
One that knows not, knows not of what we know of the so called infinite.
Those who know not of what we know, know not of the world within worlds and the truth beyond the veil masquerading as ineffable and immutable.
"Then I have no interest in your words. If you can come to such a conclusion, you're blind like the rest of us. Those are the words of the blind and the lame. What a waste. If you believe life is meaningless then you know nothing, you don't deserve to know all. Pathetic. I don't have time for this. Life isn't meant to be wasted, and given my situation, it's all the more important I cherish what time I still possess. Now where is my friend?"
As one who knows not, such is expected.
Indeed, this truth is not engraved into your heart, just as things should be.
The ideas you base your world off of will be shattered when you meet the one responsible for governing the upper world.
Then you will understand futility for all it is. Before that, nurture your world and watch it turn before the endless loop takes effect.
"Hmm. I'd get annoyed for you ignoring me, but you'll do so anyway... And if that's what you think of me, you really don't know everything. And that wasn't me ignoring, I just think you're complete worthless bags of trash for letting the world beat you up. You, dear friend, are more of a victim than you suppose that I am. I'll even venture to bet some how you're involved in this mess, and some how there's some ties I have to you. No one just bothers me without it involving destiny and fate some how.
At least tell me if Charle is safe, before you go off on another tangent. Then tell me more about how I'll break, it's really captivating to hear how defeated you sound."
Mocking laughter echoes throughout the darkness.
You truly are ignorant.
Indeed, it's almost appalling, how little you know.
Know a fragment of this truth.
The inky dark morphs into a verdant field, but quickly all of the plants wither only to regrow then wither and so on until the field is set ablaze at the appearance of a heavily armored being, far obscured by heat and curling smoke. There are four silhouettes equally obscured. For some reason Naki feels pain at the scene before it goes black.
You'll understand naught with that.
But that is never the intention.
Still, 'tis laughable, even if meaningless.
With that, the tear fades and Naki sees the unconscious forms of Charle and Hairos heaped on one another. The former's helm has come loose, while the latter's hair seems to have grown thicker and longer.
"...Damn it all... hey! Wake up!" I'll probably have to take them back myself...
Neither of them stir, confirming her suspicion.
She sucks in a breath, then attempts to lift the two and take them back to the city to regroup.
Naki finds the two lighter than expected, but Naki feels heavy.
I hope I don't drop these two... today's been rough as it is. ...We got our butts handed to us... ...shit...
Naki makes it back to the city in one piece.
She makes her way through the city, looking for the others.
"Head to the clinic," states the Saint Hero, appearing not much further ahead, "And get some rest. While you may not have gotten hurt, you'll regret not going to sleep and resting your bones." Naki sees a vision of a dark tunnel for a fraction of a second followed by the image of emerald eyes and a faint, almost invisible smile.
"...Right. The others taken care of?"
"They've already been moved there, now stop dawdling and go."
"Alright prickly pants." She starts heading toward the clinic. "I have a responsibility to make sure everyone's okay. That isn't dawdling."
Hints, yet no connecting pieces. In a world of little evidence, how do you put the pieces together to form the picture? She ponders.
"You waste your breath," says the Saint Hero as he continues in the opposite direction. By the time Naki reaches the clinic, she feels utterly exhausted, more so than ever before.
After putting Hairos and Charle on cots, then gratefully crashes soon after laying down.
"Yes, yes, I know. Watch the strange one and monitor their behavior for any peculiarities."
"Ensure that they visit the temple as well, before you go back to your training."
"Right, and if anything comes of that?"
"Make note of anything out of the ordinary."
"That's a given."
"Take care of the Magus, she is potentially your closest link to regaining that which was lost."
The next day, Naki wakes up with new found sensitivity to her surroundings. The blue growth from her arm has since shrank and formed into a tattoo of sorts. Her other arm has an odd red mark on her hand. She feels lighter than ever before and her head seems to be clearer, with memories of a man named Zwei resurfacing. A new ability seems to have been created.
"...What a rough patch... What's with this?" She mutters, looking at the red mark.
The mark is circular with a black ring and yellow center within.
Naki tiredly looks at the tattoo, then around herself.
The tattoo appears to be a mass of branching blue lines and hexagons that spread from her forearm to just above her elbow, gradually spiraling as it goes further.
"...What are you exactly...?" She murmurs, feeling tempted to trace the designs with her finger.