The Memorial Lost at Sea
Nanashi arrives at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, a somber expression on his face. He flies forward, moving towards the ocean's center. Once he reaches a certain point his flight abruptly ends, resulting in him landing on a platform of light that rose from the sea. He nods to himself. Yep, this is the right direction...
He continues, walking on platforms of light as they appear, for hours. Finally, the platforms stop forming, leaving Nanashi standing over a particularly dark part of the ocean. He closes his eyes, remembering some of his life as a human, before performing a quick, small cut his wrist and releasing several drops of blood into the eerily calm water.
Initially nothing happens, until the wind kicks up. The clouds darken and gather overhead into a nearly black ring that spans for miles. It begins to rain heavily as the ocean starts to toil violently, the beginning of a whirlpool forming. Lightning strikes in almost continuous streams around the rapidly developing whirlpool. The forming storm only intensifies as a maelstrom forms, pulling in all but Nanashi and the platform he stands on. The wind becomes sharper than the sharpest blades as it rips through the air into the center of the widening funnel within the sea.
Mere moments later a beam of green energy erupts from the maelstrom's center followed by eight others around the storm's outer reaches, forming an octogon around the central beam. The light illuminates the sky for leagues and grows stronger as time passes, until finally metal begins to peek up from the center of the massive vortex.
Slowly and steadily a large dome like structure with eight smaller structures connected to it emerges from the depths of the ocean like an anchor being drawn back onto a ship. The structure, while pristine and futuristic in appearance, is ancient, having sank over nine thousand years ago. Nanashi sighs.
"Home, I'm finally back..." He floats towards the central structure as the dome protecting it dissipates, revealing a futuristic city co-existing with nature. He lands on a smoothly paved walkway in front of spiraling building with a polished silver glint to it. He enters the building and makes his way to an elevator that takes him to the top floor of the building, a floor housing a large metallic sphere.
"Atlantis System, Start Up," he says, "Code Phrase: Ark Carrier." The moment the words leave his mouth, the machinery within the room whirs to life as green and blue energy slithers around the building and into the city in circuits of light. The sphere before him opens into a large console with a pad for a hand to be placed. Nanashi places his hand on the pad and waits until he is addressed by the system.
<Thou art of foreign and familiar blood. State the key and we shall deign whether or not thou art of this place. Speak.>
Nanashi clears his throat before he gives his answer.
"I am of legends, born of the Saint -And of the Dragon, returning I am to gather, to restore, to return I am of the Ark, one to ferry the departed -One to return them home."
The machinery glows white.
<Thou hast been verified as one of our kin. Speak and we shall follow.>
"Command: Gather and refine Galtite and Adamantite into alloy form," he says, "Command: Duplicate and Minimize Barrier."
"Lastly, bequeath me the Saturnus and Plutonian Systems," Nanashi states.
<This will require several moments and use of the Jupitus and Neptunus Systems. Continue?>
"Yes." A moment later, a cylinder closes around Nanashi and fills with liquid that converts his form into that of the same liquid while leaving his conscious and mind in tact. Surprised, he initially tries to escape the cylinder, but stops when his sight of a rapidly feeling tube is replaced by the sight of the majority of his family.
Thou hast finally returned, Angelius. We have been waiting thou and thy brother, Legna... We must tell you much in the short time we have.
What seem like hours pass before Nanashi reawakens. The first thing he notices is the change to his bracelet, which now sports two additional links and golden diamond extensions. The next thing he notices is his overall more human appearance, with the exception of elongated canine teeth, a thin, almost invisible layer of interlocking scales and circular symbols that extend from the back of his fingers up to his elbows. His sword is now closer to an estoc in shape. His clothing have remained largely untouched, but the metallic colors have become more noticible.
The cylinder drains itself and dries Nanashi before rising into the ceiling, allowing him to see two large canisters sitting beside a technological sword and staff. Near these sits a small sphere.
<All is as you requested. It there anything else thou require?>
"Hm, has the Ark been utilized yet?"
<Negative, the Ark has been secured and backed up.>
"I see. Command: Encrypt the Ark. Command: Soft Shutdown."
Nanashi collects the items exiting the building via elevator and flying out of the area before the dome around the area reforms and the city sinks back into the Atlantic Ocean. He watches the city's descent before he returns to the fortress.
The Living Ruins
Nanashi and Nageki appear above the Atlantic Ocean. Nanashi raises a hand and waits as a massive whirlpool forms.
"Wh-wh-what is this? Where are we?" He stammers, alarmed by the whirlpool.
"Please calm down, we're at a place where I can train you in peace and take you sight seeing." As Nanashi says this, the first signs of the lost city surface from within the whirlpool.
"What is that? Is... is that a... city?"
"Yes, my old home." The city slowly surpasses the waves and a green beacon explodes from the center of it.
"Wh-whoa...." He gasps.
"Let's go," Nanashi says, "Hold on." He floats towards the city with Nageki in tow, the dome shielding it dissipating as they get closer.
Nageki looks on in wonder at the strange sight. "....What is this place.......?" His mind cannot comprehend what he's seeing.
"Humans call it Atlantis," Nanashi explains, landing in front of one of the larger gardens, "It sank over ten thousand years ago, but not for the reason most theorize."
Nageki looks around in awe, still overwhelmed.
Nanashi gives Nageki a few moments to gather his bearings.
Nageki eventually begins to settle down, and looks up at Nanashi. "...So... ...what are we going to do now?" He asks hesitantly.
"One, mental training and meditation, two, sightseeing, three, power refining," answers Nanashi, "Not necessarily in that order."
Nageki nods, flexing his two extra arms experimentally, still not used to the extra limbs.
"Oh right, hang tight for a minute, I need to register you into the system," says Nanashi. "I'll be back in five minutes or less. Until then, don't experiment with your powers or touch anything shiny or that looks like a scanner. The security here will boot you if you do so without in recognizing you." With that, he flies towards an exceptionally tall building.
Nageki blinks, and merely sits down on the ground, waiting for him to return, not wanting to wander alone.
Several minutes later, Nanashi returns.
"Alright, you're in the clear," he says, "So, what do you want to do first?"
Nageki stands up, an unsure expression on his face. "I... don't know. Power refinement...?" He asks.
"Alright. First off, what do you think you can do?"
"....I don't know... ...I just feel... ...strange. The wings, the tail, the extra arms... ....I'm trying to... figure myself out..."
"Hm... What do you want to be able to do?"
"Arrgh, I told you I don't know!" He says, with more frustration, when suddenly he clutches his head for a few moments, in some form of agony, when he slowly looks up at Nanashi and jumps, moving away from him. "W-W-Why can I see your bones?!" He all but shrieks. The eye symbol on his forehead is glowing, and his eyes seem glossed over.
"Hm, the symbol on your forehead is active... Calm down, take deep breaths. Getting freaked out only worsens issues." Nanashi is calm despite what's going on.
Nageki shudders for a while, and eventually calms down. The eye symbol dims, and his eyes return to their normal appearance.
"W-what just h-happened to me?" He gasps.
"You tapped into a latent ability of yours. It's full effects and capability aren't known, at least by me... White knows, but I'm not very keen on asking her anything," says Nanashi, "Hm, I really shouldn't have expected you to simply dive into this new ability thing. My apologizes. We'll start when you're ready."
Nageki lets out a breath. "...Can... can we... just do something basic for now?" He stammers.
"Try to focus your energy and create a fire. It's much easier than it sounds, just imagine fire really intensely, to the point of visualizing it. I'll make sure that the flames don't go out of control... Do you need an example?"
Nageki shakes his head, instead begins focusing on what he was told, and surprisingly takes only a minute to manifest a ball of fire.
"Very good... Now try Lightning, but be careful not to shock yourself."
Once again, Nageki shows very little needed effort to summon lightning, and maintain it, the ease starting to unnerve the boy.
"I see. Now before you grow worried, let's try Earth."
He is again, able to master it with relative ease. "It feels so... ...natural to me..." Nageki murmurs.
"Hm, the elements appear to come easily to you as they do with me," notes Nanashi, "I want you, now, to manifest both Darkness and Light at once, but be careful, Darkness feeds off of negativity."
He nods, and begins to draw upon both, taking a bit longer than the others, but manages to accomplish it well enough.
"Good, good. Now, Wind and Ice in a similar fashion."
Nageki manages to do so with relative ease.
"Good, lastly try. Water, then we'll move on."
He nods, and also manages to do water with little effort needed. "...How am I able to do this...? It feels... ...so natural... like it's just flowing out of me..." He says in wonder.
"I could explain, but... Well you'll see."
Nageki nods quietly. "Alright..."
"Anyways, now to teach you how to Blink," says Nanashi.
Nageki looks at him funny. "You mean like this?" He blinks, showing his confusion.
"No, like this," answers Nanashi as he blinks, vanishing into thin air without a trace.
"What the...? ...Though I guess how we got here, I shouldn't be surprised..."
"Actually, that was a Warp," says Nanashi, appearing right beside Nageki, "More reliable when crossing dimensions and planes with multiple people. So, how did I do it?"
"...I... don't... know?" Nageki says, confused.
"Kiddo, you have a brain with the capacity to analyze just about anything and break it down. Stop giving up before you start and use your head."
"I don't know, maybe you thought about a location you wanted to go and just willed it, or maybe you turned invisible for a moment," He replies.
"The first thing you said is closer to it. I don't turn invisible, I cross into the four the dimension to avoid detection."
"So I think about a location and do what then? I'm sorry it's just... ...it's hard to imagine myself able to do these things when..." He trails off.
"For a beginner, you don't think about the location, you have to see it in front of you the concentrate on being there, but the range is limited to a small area based on your standards. Just thinking that an area is small will not increase the range of a Blink. Understand?"
He nods, trying to concentrate at being near the doorway to one of the nearby buildings.
"Remember to breathe. Take a deep breath before you try it."
Nageki does as he says, taking a deep breath, then tries to Blink.
Nageki arrives at the door, albeit somewhat dizzy and slightly stomach sick.
"They never mention these things before you do them..." He groans.
"Something up," asks Nanashi, confused.
"I'm just... a little dizzy."
"Oh. Close your eyes and take several deep breaths. That normally worked when I used to get dizzy."
"I.. I see. I'll take that into account next time... I'll try again in a minute."
"That's fine, regain your bearings before you do anything," says Nanashi, "You don't want to hurt yourself."
After a minute, he tries again, keeping in mind what Nanashi told him.
This time Nageki does not feel any side effects from Blinking.
"I feel better than last time... I guess I did it properly this time," He remarks.
"That's good. Now lets work on your awareness," says Nanashi, "Close your eyes and try to envision your surroundings as best you can."
Nageki blinks, confused, and wearily just does as he is said, trying to somehow sense his surroundings.
"Stop, stop. Your expression told me you didn't understand my meaning in the slightest." Nanashi sighs. "Use your senses to determine your location or to get a fair grasp of it. What do you hear? What can you feel? What do you smell? Are your nerves on end? Those are the things you need to thing about, not necessarily seeing your surroundings, your eyes can be fooled, as can your mind's eye."
"Oh, oh, okay..." He tries to focus on the environment more, seeing if he can pick up anything.
Nageki gets a fair grasp of the immediate area, knowing that the ground rises and dips in area and that the gentle breeze rustling some of the plants in the area is stifled by the buildings in his proximity. The air has the smell of salt and several faint floral fragrances, but also a very faint metallic scent.
Nageki reflects on it for a moment. "I can smell some kind of... ...flowers? Also salt, I'm gonna go on a limb and say sea salt. Also the area isn't completely flat. Also a bit of metal..."
"Yep, we are in the middle of an ocean. The flowers you smell come from the garden of fruit bearing plants, the scent indicating that they are about to produce fruits. The metal is from the iron rich soil around a large ore deposits to the far east," explains Nanashi, "The ground itself is actually flat, but the walkways aren't. Several sets of staircases create artificial hills. Good job, Nageki. Take a quick break, then I'll answer any questions you have."
Nageki nods, sitting down to then experiment with his four arms, trying to get a feel for the new set of limbs.
Nanashi meditates in the mean time.
Nageki watches him curiously, not sure of what he is doing.
Nanashi takes several deep breaths as he sits with his eyes closed. Light of all colors begins to gather around him and his hair and clothes begins to levitate as a serene aura emanates from him.
Nageki decides to watch him out of curiosity, his breath caught in his throat.
Nanashi's clothes slowly change into that of those befitting a monk and the elements swirl around him in eight identical spheres. A ninth sphere appears above his while a tenth appears above his left hand, an eleventh above his right hand and a twelfth forms behind him. He begins to float as the spheres start to spin around him.
The boy continues to watch, fascinated.
Nanashi floats higher as the spheres spin faster and faster until a cloud falls from the heavens and forms a sphere around him.
What is he doing? Nageki wonders to himself.
Several minutes pass before the sphere disperses and Nanashi's clothes return to normal.
"Well that was most enlightening."
"What was that?" The young Lambda asks inquisitively.
"What was what?" Nanashi looks genuinely confused by the question.
"Your appearance changed and there were these spheres... you even floated for a while."
"Huh, so that's what happens when I reach that plane... Interesting," notes Nanashi, "I did not realize that my meditation had such an effect."
"Oh... so you were unaware...? How odd... what exactly were you doing though?" He asks curiously.
"Meditating," answers Nanashi simply, "It's actually something I enjoy doing."
"Hmmm.... interesting... could you show me some time?" He asks, a hint of eagerness in his voice.
"I planned to eventually, just not at this very moment."
"Awww ok." He says, mildly disappointed.
"Don't get all depressed about it, we'll go over it a little later, after I do a couple of things here and there."
"Oh? Like what?" He asks.
"Unfortunately, I can't tell you. It's against the rules at this point."
".....Rules suck..." Nageki grunts.
"Rules prevent the onset of absolute chaos and strife," replies Nanashi, "When they are kept and maintained anyways. Besides, these rules are very important to me... Following them nets me a greater reward than breaking them. Maybe I'll entrust them to you one day."
He looks down for a moment.
"What exactly are we?" He asks after a moment.
"Blunt answer or softened answer?"
"Just be honest...." He says wearily.
"We're essentially a melting pot of various different races in conjunction with machines, me more so than you and the others because of things that happened recently. The machine part of us is both crucial and not, but I am prohibited from removing it from you to show you why it isn't, mainly because you'd be off the grid if I did and I'm not in a position where I can be hunted down yet. I have yet to accomplish my goals, so I can't do anything that reckless yet, not before I see them reborn..."
"...Can you keep teaching me?" He asks.
"Of course I can! I could teach you just about anything... Except how to kill. You've lived a life of hardship and strife, but I will not train a weapon, only a scholar or explorer. Besides, the world doesn't need more beings like me or the others..."
He nods. "What's next? You taught me elements. ...Also, what do you think is next, as in, for all of us... ...whatever we are."
"Hm... Can you fly?"
"I don't know..." He experiments with his wings awkwardly.
Nanashi watches to see if Nageki can right himself in the air.
Nageki appears to be having trouble with the wings, attempting to sync the wings to flap around the same time.
"Focus your breathing and calm yourself and your heart," advises Nanashi.
Nageki calms down a little, and tries a little more carefully, managing to get some lift.
"Good, now try not to get too excited or else you'll probably lose air," directs the elder Lambda.
He carefully tries to control his emotions and wild adrenaline from the experience. "I-I'm flying?!" He squeaks as he flaps higher up.
"You are. Now be smart and do not try any maneuvers or fancy things. Focus on keeping yourself within the air."
Nageki nods a bit, trying to maintain his flight, experimenting a little bit with directions.
"Remember to breathe, you're a fledgling, not an old crow," cautions Nanashi, "Take things as slowly as you are now."
"...Alright..." Nageki groans.
"Don't complain, we don't need another Icarus because you rushed through the basics."
"...Icarus?" The boy asks.
"A boy who did not heed the advice of his uncle and perished because he flew too close to the sun."
"....Right..." After a while, he lands, a bit tired.
"Rest for a bit, eat if you need to."
"What is there to eat?" He asks, interested.
"Did you eat all of the food you brought?"
He blinks. "Oh, I forgot..." He reaches into a bag and begins eating some fruits and sandwiches he brought. The boy seems to be slowly developing a air that suggests he is welcoming his modification, his movements with his four arms seem natural now. Nanashi can also sense a desire to learn more growing within the child, in fact he seems very eager.
Nanashi lays back and looks at the sky, smiling nostalgically. His smile then becomes a frown.
"Is something wrong?" Nageki notices the frown quickly.
"..." He makes an irritated noise then sighs. "My brother was an idiot..."
"There was the dress incident, the soup incident, the tea incident and the laboratory explosion incident..."
"....That's a lot of incidents... it seems like he got himself in trouble a lot?"
"It certainly made my life tedious..."
Nageki looks away, and curiously experiments with elements, thinking for a moment before blowing air out of his mouth and creates large bubbles of water, which the boy sends at Nanashi with an amused laugh.
The bubbles swirl into a globe before flowing into him.
"Hm? Experimenting are we?"
He nods, before attempting to create steam.
"Don't burn yourself, steam can cause terrible scarring."
Nageki nods, and carefully releases a cloud of steam from his mouth, smiling as he watches it drift off.
Nanashi creates an interface of sorts in front of himself and begins adjusting values.
"What are you doing?" He asks in curiosity.
"Adjusting a thing or two, nothing too important."
"Oh..." Above them, a violent storm of red lightning begins violently rumbling.
"..." The dome reforms around Atlantis with a glance from Nanashi. "Well, until that's over and done with, no sightseeing."
Nageki seems bothered by the energy of the lightning. "...Before you put the barrier up, it felt like someone was really angry..."
"Indeed, best be safe rather than sorry."
The energy fades after some time.
"Hmm, it should be safe now," Nanashi says, dispelling the barrier.
"What do you think that was?" Nageki asks, spooked by the sensation the lightning gave off.
"I have an idea or two."
Nageki begins trying to fly, this time flying with much greater ease than before.
"Good Progress, but don't get too fancy just yet."
"I'm not gonna do any tricks..." Nageki groans. "I just want to get used to this more. Anything new you can teach me?"
"Ah okay... can we start?"
Nanashi takes to the sky without making his wings appear. "Catch me."
Nageki flies after him as best as he can.
Nanashijets backwards, keeping his eyes trained on Nageki before he flickers and vanishes.
Nageki looks around wildly.
"Technique number one: Flicker Step," says Nanashi, tapping Nageki on the shoulder. "Essentially you move faster than the eye can properly perceive, allowing you to 'disappear'. If done on a human, it would appear as if you vanished instantly and without a inkling of you truly being there."
Nageki blinks. "Coooool..."
"The next technique comes from a certain insect that many dislike. Care to take a guess?"
"Think less dangerous and more annoying."
"A gnat? A fly?"
"Bingo," says Nanashi, "One of the reasons many find them so annoying is because of how hard they are to hit when in motion."
"And so this has to do with moving really fast and also mocking them by sounding like a fly?" Nageki asks, injecting a minor sense of humor at the end of his question.
"That tends to get people shot out of the sky, so I don't recommend that last part..." Warns Nanashi, "Anyways, yes moving really, really fast and shifting directions, excuse me, on the fly or without impairment to speed."
"I understand, is there a specific way I should try to do this?"
"Basically, you've got to balance extreme precision with extreme speed, which is more difficult than it sounds, especially based on your size and the size of your wings. Try moving in direction extremely quickly, then darting in any other direction without curving your trail."
Nageki begins trying to move like Nanashi said.
"Oh and beware the aerial shock fields..."
"Oh, just avoid the multicolored lights that are sort of homing in on you, they hurt quite a bit... Not lethal or harmful beyond that though..."
"Tell me sooner!" He yelps, barely dodging one of the lights in alarm.
"I could have done that, yes. I'll do better next time, possibly when I get the Xhaos Engine operational." Several lights rocket after Nageki. "You only have to dodge them for five minutes, I think. Do that."
"You think?!" Nageki panics, still trying to evade the lights.
"The settings were a little rusty and clunky, but I'm rather certain that I set it to five minutes and not five hours..." Nanashi casually avoids a different set of the lights, dodging them with less than an inch between them. "I'll check." The lights flying after Nageki scatter and fly at him from different directions.
"You think this is funny, don't you?!" He says, trying his best to keep up the pace and avoid the lights.
"Not really," says Nanashi, dodging the second set once more before bringing up a digital interface. "Let's see... Ah, here we are." The lights get larger and begin to fly faster.
"AHHHH! You made it worse! Whhhhhy?!" Nageki tries to avoid the lights desperately.
"Working on it..." The lights lose any sense of coordination and pattern. "Give a few minutes to adjust the settings."
"OW! Dang it!" He yelps as one grazes him.
"Okay, override setting and... That's odd, I have to turn off all of the security limiters before I can reset and disable everything..."
"WHO DOES THAT?!" Nageki briefly blinks to evade one of the orbs, managing to pull off the move with less effects than his last attempt.
"I didn't create the system, I only used it," he answers, defending himself. "Anyways, get ready, things are going to get rather hectic once the laser and arc inhibitors go off..."
Yggdrasil Siege: Abyssal Zone
Yggdrasil, the World Tree. Eight such trees dot the earth, disrupting the natural ecosystems of the areas they inhabit. The monolithic trees that tower above the world and reach into the heavens seem to act as sentinels for the world, protecting it from harm as a natural defense system... Or are they?
Shinwa follows close behind Volmond as best as she can, once checking the longsword he gave her out.
"That's Caladbolg. Use her well." The doctor flies through a particularly cloudy area. "Almost there."
Shinwa nods quietly, her eyes changing to that of a dragon combined with her shapeshifter heritage to reduce the darkness she seems to neglible.
After passing through the clouds Shinwa notices that Volmond is gone.
"Legna...?" She calls out.
"I'm here, I'm here," he says, though his voice sounds younger by several years.
"I don't see you..." Shinwa begins scanning the area with her spiritual power.
"Your back left," he says in return, "I lagged behind for a moment while in the clouds."
She looks where he said, uneasy.
Where the doctor directed is a young girl with long flowing blonde hair wearing a white sundress with piercing blue eyes narrowed in the same fashion as the doctor's usually are. The girl looks to be about twelve years old, though her eyes appear to be far older in comparison, both orbs glinting with centuries of knowledge.
Shinwa's expression looks flat out stupified. "Ummm...."
"What's wrong? Something on my face?"
Shinwa's eyes widen a bit. "Umm... ummm..." She summons a mirror and points it at her.
The doctor squints at the mirror.
"Monochrome Mist... I've regressed in physical age, great."
"...Oh... ....wait that's what you used to look like?!" She says in slight alarm. She then covers her mouth with a hand and restrains a laugh.
"I don't know what you find amusing, but I'll have you know that I do not take kindly to it."
"...I'm sorry, it just wasn't what I was expecting," She says hurriedly. "Please don't take it the wrong way. I was just... ...surprised. It was a one time thing. I promise." She holds her hands up in surrender.
"Hmph." The doctor flies ahead until he reaches a large dome of sorts with massive tree roots growing from it.
She flies after him. "What is this?
"For I am the heir of the... I command thee to open..." Some of what Volmond says is lost or garbled in another language. His words command some sort of power as the dome groans and a small holes forms in it, just large enough for a few people to pass through.
"We go in, I assume?"
The doctor nods and quietly drops into the dome.
Shinwa quickly drops in after him.
The hole in the dome closes behind her as they both descend into the darkened city. A single structure has power in the pitch black city, a towering building shining with neon bright lights.
"I imagine that is the target location?"
"That's where Angelius is."
The top of the building has a pad of sorts and a door not far from it. When the doctor lands he inputs several numbers into the door, opening it quickly.
She follows him quickly, taking a moment to look around.
The building's interior has very little lighting other than the faint blue glow that fills its halls. Few details can be seen, but the faint outline of doors and windows can be seen.
"So where to?"
"This room," answers the doctor, opening the door to a brightly lit round room with a large sphere in its center. Dozens of monitors dot the walls, each displaying different diagrams or charts with various statistics ptesented. The far side of the room has several panels extending from its wall, each with virtual screens and keyboards.
Working between the panels is a young man clad mostly in white, with blonde hair strewn with black and faint green highlights and several floating sword shaped objects interacting with as many monitors. His hands are more of a blur than his overall movements, the sound of tapping akin to a soft drone in the background.
"Find a seat you two," he says, not turning around, "The PC for ABYSS was running in the background before I was able to do anything, meaning that the system had been activated prior to my arrival. I've been slowing it down since it started, but at most we have two months before things really kick off and all life is exterminated outside of the trees."
"...I've not seen you... ...but I'm pretty sure you're Nanashi, right...?" Shinwa asks quietly, sitting down. "Yes... the other White was the one who actually saw the Lambdas..."
"Eh, closer to Mu at this point," he says offhandedly, continuing to interact with the panels.
"I see..." She looks away. "I'm sorry for the behavior of my other half. ...And for my own crimes against you."
"Don't worry about it, I was the odd one out of them. The control organ was destroyed by Leg, so that sort of scrapped any revenge against him by White. Then there was the attempted smelting, but I'm harder to kill than I look. Afterwards, any programming I had was scraped and my frame went back to being wholly organic when I got access to a few systems and summoned Neptis. Oh right, Leg .... ... ..... ..."
"I'll see what I can do. I'm heading down to the lab, so be quick about it."
"Fair enough. Nageki, come greet our allies."
Nageki comes in a hurry, but screeches to a halt when he sees Shinwa, frozen in fear at the sight of her.
"This this the good half, not the one who requested your transformation. Speaking of which..." Nageki feels a swift breeze to the base of his neck for a fraction of a second.
"There was a bug," says Volmond casually, having severed the mechanical organ in a so little time that it felt like it was still there. He then passes into another connected corridor.
Nageki still looks at Shinwa timidly.
"I'm sure she won't bite without a valid reason, don't be so timid," admonishes Angelius.
"Did you need... anything from me?" Nageki asks in a quiet voice.
"Leg'll probably need an assistant in the lab for whatever he's making. Check on him and make sure he doesn't hurt himsel- Oh and tell him that the Key is here."
"O-ok." He scampers off, not looking at Shinwa.
"Scars do not heal so easily, you'll have to work hard to earn the forgiveness of many."
"....I know. I imagine some may never forgive me. ...And I accept that too."
"All you can do is try... Hm, the Phylogenetic Trees are updating?...! That's a possibility? Haa, that'll be a problem."
"...I'm not quite familiar with what is actually happening... is there anything I can do, or should I simply wait?" Shinwa asks.
"If one more person was here, I'd send you out to inspect the Deep Yggdrasil."
"The... Deep... Yggdrasil? I'm sorry, but can you explain that to me?"
"The World Tree that has its roots surrounding this place. That's the Deep Yggdrasil. There are seven others: Infernal, Celestial Mount, Fortress, Frigid, Wild, Automata and Perfect Yggdrasil. Each has a Phylogenetic Tree within it and a different defense mechanism to protect their cores. Each one also has some sort of odd property about them," he says.
"I see. So what is Yggdrasil?"
"The World Tree. It contains all information on all worlds within its branches, life forms included, and connects all of then. It is a metaphysical existence that transcends commonality and reason and very few can make actual contact with it. The original Yggdrasil was destroyed long, long ago in the Twilight of the Gods, but several seeds were scattered during that time. These Yggdrasils are synthetic copies made from the remains of the bark and branches, but they pale compared to the original."
"I see. So why have they appeared now?"
"Well, to be honest I don't know beyond what Nana's said and that's pretty vague in itself. From what I've gathered it was something set to run after certain conditions were met, but those are about as clear as the Marianna Trench. One thing is certain, the world will be 'saved' but who and what survive depend on who and what are within the trees and who survives their internal biospheres."
"Huh... a strange situation indeed..."
"Yeah... I'm currently slowing the process, else the trees would be fully grown and beginning their purification process, which would be very, very bad."
"...Purification..." She seems to be in thought.
"Run tertiary process I34-B. Scan outer perimeter and send feedback to monitor four." Angelius appears to be speaking to the machines rather than Shinwa. "Huh, no surface activity yet... That's good for now."
Shinwa appears to grow more somber, but says nothing.
"If something's on your mind, voice it."
"...Azula... ...do you know how she is doing?"
"Not entirely, I didn't establish a mental link like I did with Abeni because I was basically excommunicated to not interfere with White's plans... Despite the fact that my barrier is keeping unwanted things out of the fortress and that I upgraded the soldier weaponry before I left.. Too bad I didn't give her the best weaponry, armor and shielding, that would have brought a tear to my eyes if I cared about that in the slightest. Tangent aside, I can find out if you need me to do so."
"...Before I created the Lambdas, I designed special Chaos Drives, built in mind to utilize the power of a Lambda. ...You, Gurin, Azula, and Abeni were each given one of those unique Chaos Drives. ...And each CE inplant was given special commands should 'I' die...."
"I see, care to share? I've silenced this place's quazi-dimensional connection to space and time, so Yellow and co are out of the loop for another five days."
"Eien isn't going to care if I speak up about it anyway. He has other plans. Gurin's would have made her nature generation explode out of control, causing the formation of a entire planet upon the same space as Earth, Abeni's would cause an eruption of warfare among all of humanity, and Azula's..."
"Complete and total destruction of a celestial body, likely Earth, or am I off a bit," says Angelius, "Oh, the barrier was for something else, something compromising to Legna. If anyone else knew it, it would be very, very bad all around. Worse than the Yggdrasil purifying the Earth of all life outside their branches and the building tension within the Great Creator faction.
"....In a nutshell, yes. Azula would be set to self activate her World Cannon and systematically consume and detonate all of the matter on Earth. The full scale explosion, I could only guess how strong of a blast it would be. It's been ranged from simply destroying Earth to creating a supermassive black hole, or destroying the whole solar system. ...I am just... feeling guilty. That I put her and everyone else through hell, and even more so that it's not even over yet."
"Given the fact that converting something the size of a bus to pure energy could permanently scar the planet if reactive enough, the explosion of a planet would be as far reaching as maybe Neptune or Uranus, but not enough to elicit a supernova type event on even a small scale or a suoermassive black hole for that matter, the reason being there isn't enough mass, gravity or energy to cause such a thing. At Least by my calculations."
"...regardless, I feel guilty about what I've done. I wish I knew how I could make it up to those I've wronged..."
"With that sort of attitude, you'll make it up to no one. It's fine to feel bad for your actions, but if this is the level of your resolution, you'll get less than nothing done, less than nothing. The only way to make things up with the people you've wronged is to get them to accept that you are not yourself from the past and that you are working to prove that. Wallowing as you are now will only make those who despite you despise you more. You can't ask for their forgiveness, you must show your repentence. It's that simple. Try and you'll succeed even if you fail hundreds of thousands of times before you do." Angelius continues to work. "By the way, what was my Chaos Drive Command? You mentioned the drives of the other three, but not mine."
"...to terminate any trace of Phoenix's existence. Doubtless my other half would have altered it, but the intention was to prevent a repeat of history. To end the cycle so that Eien and... ...and the rest of them couldn't continue the cycle."
"Ah, I could handle that. I'd have to progress to Boddhavistava, but I could."
"Thank you for the words of wisdom. It's just hard to accept the reality I have made for myself. I shall endure it, but it is a heavy weight on me. Legna has helped me beyond words... ...if it weren't for him I would not be here now."
"He's better with words than I am... That and he has a heart."
"...That boy, who was he?"
"Naki's younger brother. I'm contemplating turning him back into a human and sending him to a safe zone."
"...Naki... ...how has he dealt with the change?"
"It could go both ways, really."
"Like... being a Lambda? Has he been coping well with it? Or is he still in denial?"
"Oh..." She has a saddened expression. "It must be hard... living like that..."
Shinwa quietly contemplates the past couple of years, looking at her hands, as though imagining all of the blood from her victims.
"If you're going to wash your hands, be thorough and make sure that whatever dirt you're removing doesn't make a mess somewhere else. If another place gets dirty and a Sweeper comes cruisins through, I'm going to lose it."
"Somehow I imagine that with the utmost glee. Your brother made a rather annoying habbit of driving me crazy."
"Did you have to teqch him that fifteen year old boys don't wear dresses- Scratch that, that boys in general don't wear dresses and that you don't accept candy from strangers clad in all black or than Sword Demons are not Djinn, so they will not grant wishes no matter how much you bribe them and that the clouds are not edible by normal people or that because something looks a certain way it doesn't mean its edible or that you aren't supposed to eat solid metal, something that people shouldn't do regardless of taste or texture? If not, you really have no reason to complain."
"Well if it counts, I had to bring back a completely animalized Kitsune girl from being feral, which involved many a bite and or mauling, then I had to basically teach a ten year old girl with the mind of a baby how to walk, talk, wipe her own ass, and all of the general actions you would expect a mother to do. Then I had to teach her self defense and martial arts, which was not easy considering her nature. I don't know if that equates to anything in your books, but I consider it my only defense on the record."
"Younger Sibling types are handfuls... Sometimes being the oldest is a royal pain, but you have grin and bear it until they can take care of themselves without burning the house down with a cup of water," remarks Angelius.
"Naomi could do that and more, with her unstable kitsune power. She's still damaged goods, even after all the time that's passed."
"So by pouring water into a cup, she was able cause all of the atoms within to spontaneously combust as if it were a flamable fluid? That's what all of my siblings did when I went through the war that was teaching them how to cook. Until Legna finally caught onto the 'secret' to cooking, anyone entering the kitchen besides me or mother was more of a tabboo than playing with the environmental settings within the estate. At least she's still with you, judging by the wording of your statement. I would trade my talent in the arts to have Nana and co. back."
Meanwhile Nageki accompanies Volmond. "H-he sent me to keep an eye on you. And to tell you apparently the Key is here or something..." Nageki mumbles.
"Oi, oi. Drop the attitude," retorts the doctor, opening a hidden passage within a wall and entering it. "Speak up and make your intentions clear."
"S-sorry, he wanted me to check up on you and tell you about a Key or something..." He says again, shrinking back a little.
"Ah... How do you like being as you are now?"
"It's uhhh... ummm... still kind of weird...? I mean... I'm getting used to it, but I forget I have a second pair of arms and smack myself sometimes... ...the learning and flying is amazing though."
"I meant are you content with it."
"I don't know how I feel right now... I don't really have an answer. Would I have to lose what I've learned...?"
"Gain and loss, loss and gain... It all depends on the person. Maybe you'll lose something, maybe you'll gain something. The future is undecided even when preset."
"...I don't honestly have an answer though. Going back to what was I... ....well, I never had anything to begin with. Not anything at least, except my family. ...And they'll all but gone... ...at least... except for sister. ...I miss her."
"Toughen up. Crying and acting depressed will only make things worse. If you start with nothing, claim something as yours. All of the 'I'm alone and have nothing' BS will only grate on the nerves of others. With the current state of this world, pity is a luxury few will get and fewer will give. If you don't want to feel like an abandoned pet, make due with the cards you are given until you get a good hand. Complaining about the cards and how they're dealt won't solve anything and neither will taking your frustration out on others. To win, you need to know when to speak uo and when to remain silent, when to act and when to stand idle, when to be truthful and when to keep your intentions and goals to yourself. If you can't comprehend something as simple as that, you'll never get anything, no matter how hard you cry or how much work you put in."
The young Lambda lets out a small puff of blue fire from his mouth as he sighs. "...Adults and their high horses, you sound pathetic."
"Children and their naivety, you sound like a worrywart."
"I'm sorry, but you are naive. I did not cry, and I'm not depressed. I didn't complain, not even once. I said it like it is. Go lecture your own foot so it doesn't go up your mouth and make you look a fool." He says evenly.
"There is nothing wrong about feeling lonely and missing a loved one, ever think of that one, 'o wise footmuncher'?" Nageki's actual self confidence seems more lethal than his appearance would let on. The boy walks away from Volmond, his skin steaming from a increase in body temperature.
"That proves that he has the same fire as her somewhere at the very least, he's still a bit wet behind the ears if he thinks that a person can't read his body language," notes the doctor flippantly, disappearing down another corner then into a wall. "If that much stimulus results in that sort of reaction, then learning a fraction of what's going on around him will set off such a chain reaction... Well, that's my kind deed for the day. He can go sulk all he wants to if he didn't understand me in the slightest.
"If the Key is here then the old garden or the real tree should be awakening soon. The major question is how the Key is still alive. When the time comes, that will be explained, in one way or the other."
Removal from Service
Eien appears on a distant island, a young blonde girl with green eyes following him close behind.
There is a long silence.
"Eien, why are we all the way out here?" She asks.
Eien doesn't respond directly. "...Lots of resources here... ...this should be ok..." After a minute, he turns toward Ikania.
"I'm letting you go. Whatever you decide to do, this island will be the start of it. Your life. Until now, you've only existed to become a centerpiece for something I seek to make. When I first made you, I didn't plan on keeping you around. I didn't really even try to make you unique. You were just whipped up."
Ikania stares at him wide eyed.
"You're incomplete, and thanks to what happened, like I said, you'll never be able to become like the others. In some cases, I might just dissolve such a construct such as you. This just goes to show you Ikania, that I value you, you're smart, resourceful, and you don't define yourself as just a clone or a copy. The life you lived before was just a mirage, but now you will live for real. Don't come looking for me. You won't find me. Good luck, and maybe find a name for yourself that you will be proud of."
He pats her on the head, then begins to walk off.
"......." Ikania only stares after her master, as he begins to vanish, it is only after he disappears, that she full registers the weight of what he has done... ...he has abandoned her.
"EIEN! COME BACK HERE! I don't care what you think, I want to follow you anyway! I'm sorry I failed you before, it won't happen again! Come back here!" She screams after him, but he is long gone.
Your loyal spirit... I wonder if you got that from her... ...that is exactly why I'm letting you go. You have the ability to think for yourself, and decide what you want to fight for, not be a puppet... you were not my puppet, but my ally... ...take this as a reward.
Ikania, for the next couple of hours, screams after him, distraught, then bitter, then burning with rage. After a long time, she breaks and collapses on the white sand of the island Eien had left her on.
"...Eien... ...what is my purpose but to serve you...?"
"Huh, wasn't expecting to find you here." The voice is familiar and cold, one laced with annoyance.
A violent ring of obsidian spikes erupt from the ground around her, a defensive reaction, as she tilts her head in the direction of the voice, her eyes turned red.
"Relax, you'd have been shot if I was gonna attack, but Annie prefers children to not be killed and I'm not in the mood to kick a dead horse."
Her now dragon pupils thin to tiny slits, and black scales become visible on her skin.
"You.... what are you doing here....?"
"Vacation week for Annie's school." Alexian shrugs. "Drop the hostility, you'll get a single warning."
"Or what? Going to treat me like you did Naki? You don't have that kind of authority over me! You ruined me!" She says as her wings snap open and she soars to a different part of the beach, landing angrily.
"How Self-centered..." He shrugs and walks away. "Scion, watch the girl and give her space. Only intervene if she does something spiteful or utterly stupid." A faint glimmer of violet light is the response he gets.
Ikania's emotional state causes her to fully switch over to her Lambda form, a tail swishes with her pent up fury, and her aura dims the immediate area, despite the sun being directly overhead. Ikania appears to be jabbing fish with her claws, both as a way to vent, and a way to feed herself.
Apollos simply watches from afar, no expression on his face.
She finishes feeding, not having bothered to cook them, and wipes the blood off her face, washing it afterwards to get the last bits of blood clean. After this, she seems calm, or at least, calmed down enough to be reasonable in a conversation, though her tail still conveys a subtle anger.
She quietly after a few minutes, turns her head toward Apollos, her eyes now a emerald green, the dragonic pupils remain. Her face is a mask, making it difficult to read her current temperment.
A form akin to a very large hand wraps around her and turns into a sphere around her form, blocking his view of her. Once inside, Ikania sighs.
I need to access my situation... ...What am I going to do? Where am I going to go? It's strange that they are here as soon as I've been abandoned... need to think...
"Actually we've been here for a week, on vacation. The ENTIRE school."
Something about her mind locks up at the words 'entire school'.
A distinct aura of irritation comes from the sphere.
"They're minding their own business elsewhere. Not really an issue if you keep a low profile."
And nothing says low profile like a fledgling goddess of death thrown out of her master's grace...
Ikania appears to be distracted, the comeback more to distract herself from what he just said.
"...Can you please, stop staring at me?"
"Yes and no. My job is to make sure you don't cause a commotion and so long as you do not, I don't need to watch you."
"...I don't give a crap about the little kiddies, my beef lies with you two. But because...." She pauses. "They are here, I don't want the attention."
"And in honesty, fighting you won't change anything... ...still, burn. Burn for all you're worth."
"Already did. Never experienced the Curse of Melancholia before then." Apollos doesn't seem to care. "Aside from the implication of action should you do anything, Aeoleus would likely act if you did cause a commotion with them."
Her shadow dome collapses, and Apollos catches another glimpse of the giant shadow hand before it vanishes, but again is soon gone.
Her scales, wings, and other assorted features have retracted, leaving her in a normal looking appearance, though her hair is a platinum blonde, with a faint glow. Her hands are clawed, and her feet taloned, like Naki's was.
After a quiet moment, he hears her take a deep breath. "Why did you do it?"
"Because it was necessary to prevent his plan, the Highlander's, and removes one of the factors in the awakening of Destrudo."
"...Highlander..." Her eyes harden for a moment, then relax after another.
Quietly, she stands up, and begins walking along the beach, just by the water.
"You'd best stay out of sight until Anira gets back, he can figure out what to do with you if you haven't gone by then."
He sees her figure ripple like a mirage and disappear.
"I'll return once he gets back." With that, Apollos fades away like mist.
She remains around the beach, often reflecting on her situation, staring at the ocean. She makes a point not to get too distracted, keeping herself in the right mindset to avoid being noticed on her walk, keeping to the immediate area she was found in. After a long while, she elects to roost in a tree with a decent view of the beachfront.
Hours later, a young man with grass colored hair and bizarre black attire appears on the beach in the same area. His eyes gleam with millennia of experience and a wealth of knowledge despite his looks that barely surpass his mid-twenties. Apollos strides not far behind the man, expression as unreadable as ever.
Ikania doesn't reveal herself, remaining in the tree.
"Hello, young one in the tree to my far left," says the green haired man.
She gradually ripples back into the visible spectrum, but remains quiet, a series of peculiar emotions are clashing in her head.
She looks at him, tense.
"You've had a rough day," he says, "Care to talk about it or is the injury too raw to bring up as of now?"
"..." Her face settles on tense. "What is there to talk about? I've been abandoned by Father. I am truly without purpose. A tool granted freedom is still a tool, for it knows no other path..."
"Ah, but you are wrong there, young one. A tool's path is determined by the hands it is in or the lack thereof. A freed tool has the option of becoming something truly incredible if it realizes that it is no longer simply a tool, but a person. A soldier remains a soldier outside of conflict, but once peace arrives the sane soldier may become an ambassador or family care taker or teacher to those lost."
"..." She looks away. "I have no answer for you. You undoubtably view me a threat to those under you, so why bother?"
"Never assume, everyone deserves a second, third, fourth, etc. chance in life, regardless of circumstance and history," chides the green haired man, dismissing Apollos.
"Is that so? I wonder about that. I wonder what some people would think about that statement..." She chuckles.
She eventually looks back at Anira. "What do you intend to do with me? I can see your eyes see further than they let on. You know of my kin, don't you?"
"The depth of my knowledge only grows," he says simply. "Unless I deem it important, I do not bring up what is unneeded or touchy."
"...You didn't answer my first question. What are you going to do with me?"
"That is entirely up to you, young one."
"...I don't know what to do with myself. I'm helpless for the first time in my life. I have no direction, no connections, I don't really even know anything outside of my life I was mere hours ago, living."
"I could offer you a chance at a potentially calmer life, but is up to you to accept."
"...Calmer like hers? I somehow doubt it. Her life was about as calm as a tsunami breaking onto the shore."
She looks off toward the ocean. "...Perhaps it would be better than wandering aimlessly..."
"I said potentially. I cannot guarantee peace as much as I enjoy such periods. The choice is yours."
"....What the hell why not... I don't have anything else."
"Then welcome to the Academia." Anira extends a hand.
She nervously and slowly extends her hand and takes his.
He shakes her hand firmly. "If you need time alone, I'll allow you so. The others are across the bend not far from here."
He notices a slight tenseness in her eyes on the word, 'others', but she doesn't make any sort of reaction known otherwise. "...Alright." She looks back over the ocean.
He walks away quietly.
She remains there for a while, then when she tires, she decides to travel on.
Not far away does she find a blonde haired figure with cold blue eyes and simple bangles made of silver over his uniform.
She does little but walk on, though once she does, her eyes tense up, her heart in a fluttering mess. Of course it had to be... don't even think about the name...
"Anomaly noted." With that, the figure dematerializes in blue particles of light.
Ikania looks back, frowning. I can tell life for me is not going to be a smooth ride while I'm here... Ikania makes a mental note to make plans to leave should things not turn out well.
No point in willingly dosing myself in flames. If I get burned, I'll just make arrangements to avoid it.
"Life is entertaining in the eyes of some, regardless of fate's many twists."
Ikania looks around, confused, but does not stop walking.
"Sometimes you should just sit back and watch fate's many ironies play out... Helps get past many issues within by laughing at the past~."
"..." She walks on, a tinge of shadow around her.
"New Baa-chan is no fun..."
"....You... You're the ninjutsu wielder... ...Yume..." Ikania's voice has a inflection similar to Naki's when she says the name.
"Ah, are you Baa-chan's sister? You smell similar, but different..."
"This vessel I dwell in is the former body of Naki... her clone body was grown from this body's cells. In very odd ways, that could be correct."
"Ah... Hopefully things go well for new Baa-chan."
"..." She continues walking.
Ikania finds herself before Alexian once more, the same indifferent look spread across his face.
"...I assume you want something from me."
"No, just talking with a good friend across realms." He walks away with no other words.
"..." She continues onward, looking for where the others are.
Not much later does she come across a young woman with leafy green hair and eyes that radiate the feral power of nature arguing with the blonde haired figure from before while Apollos and a raven haired woman simply watch on. Further away are several groups of people who appear to be either ignoring the argument or unaware of it.
With another onslaught of emotions and vague memories not her own, Ikania mutes her visible presence as well as her aura, suspecting it would not do to get close to her, and makes a more of an evasive approach of the school.
I'll just go the long way and let tensions cool... If it is me they are talking about, I'd much rather allow things to cool off... She thinks to herself.
"You'll have to speak to them eventually you know. Running from your problems will only compound them." A woman with fiery red hair, clear blue eyes and a crimson outfit that combines oriental dress with the attire of a dancer states, having been in the area for a long while, only just revealing her presence in the slightest.
"...You don't know that girl... ...She was... Her friend... ...If I reveal myself, she attack me, then Incursio will Rampage again, and well... Let's just say he won't stop until everything is on the ground."
"I'm not afraid of talkin, I just don't want to... ...Kill everyone before my first day starts. 'First day as a freelance Death Goddess: I killed everyone.' Doesn't really strike me as the best first day."
"I am well aware of the situation." The woman only glances at Ikania. "You're under Annie's protection and another's, the Land God can't touch you. That being said, get a better grasp of your familiar, lest you lose control of him."
"...Another? ...If you say so. ...Incursio is under my control, he's powerful but dumb. ...If you want me to I'll reveal myself. However auto attack mode will become an issue if she makes a bad move... ....better make a barrier so she can't hit me..."
"....There, hopefully he heard me and switched to Passive..."
"Even the dullest of blades can be sharpened." The woman fades back into obscurity in an instant.
"...This is probably the worst Idea I've had in a while..."
Ikania reappears, allowing her presence to be detectable but remains weary of coming toward her, hoping to continue on toward the others and hopefully find a spot to relax.
The leafy haired girl quickly notices her and her eyes brighten only to narrow almost immediately. She clicks her tongue and stalks away, thorny vines growing from the places she steps.
"...I understand why she might be angry with me, but ultimately she can't blame me for anything... ...I hardly was involved with Naki..." She mutters.
"It's because her expectations were shattered."
"...Hmmm?" She looks toward the speaker.
The person she finds carries a golden staff and has golden eyes. His hair is black with gold highlights and a pair of ivory horns point from the top of his head. He has a long tail like that of a dragon, it being gold with black hair for a sail.
"....It's you. You, you're Sol, aren't you?" She has to fight the sudden panic attack of emotions in her mind again.
Gosh damn it...
"...What did you mean by that?"
"You weren't who she expected." He speaks briskly.
"She was hoping I was Naki, you mean." She looks away from him, and summons a book, and begins reading it with a semi bored expression.
"If I'm correct in that, then it is less a case of anger in my involvement, and more simply being disappointed? What of you?"
She breathes a black mist, which reeks of decaying flesh in his general direction.
"No mind games. Either tell it to me straight, or stink like a skunk. Or even worse."
"Force will not get the answer you seek." The mist stops before it can reach him, as if there was a barrier in place, yet Ikania doesn't detect one.
"...Whatever you think, honor means nothing if all you are left with is yourself. The only thing it will give you is a false sense of pride, when that fades, you'll know it for its real name, emptiness." She disappears, closing her book and warping to a distant shadow away from him. Sitting atop a tree, she looks over the others in the area, quietly thinking.
The one thing I've learned from Naki's memories and emotions... ...bonds, for however much they hurt to lose, mean much more than a social construct such as honor. When you have only those around you, you learn to appreciate what and who you have, honor means nothing to a survivalist... perhaps that is why they butted heads, because both could not see past their social upbringings... I'll have to remember that... ...for when I make bonds of my own.
Sol simply shrugs. "Speak of honor when you understand why people fight for it." With the ring of a bell, he fades away into golden petals of light.
"You know, you really should think before you say the first thing that comes to mind." Apollos says from afar. "T'would help you understand more people better, especially if you want to forge more than the single bond you have..
"From an outside perspective of Naki and his interactions, it's not hard for me to see the way he acted and treated her would have just driven her away. Even before you did what you did that was beginning to happen. If she should ever come back, I don't doubt with the knowledge of the past, she wouldn't be capable of returning those feelings for her anymore. Maybe it is not my place to judge, but you cannot argue that was a imminent divide developing."
She shrugs. "I cannot help what I observe in people. Perhaps though I could use a bit of self control, I will agree with that statement and adapt accordingly. To be honest, I don't know if I could stay here. These people... they were her friends. I... ...feel as though they would all resent me, as if I were just stepping in to try and fill her role. And I don't want to end up on that road...
...Perhaps I should just leave after a few days. I don't want to cause more harm, when what they need is healing."
"That's up to you entirely," states Apollos. " As for him, that is his intention. The girl wanted to follow him, but he did not want her to, thus he made a schism. That was his choice and ultimately one looked too far into the issue."
"...Revenge, honor, it means nothing at the end of the day. What will he have when he has finished his goal? Nothing. Surely you with those eyes, and the role you play, have seen plenty a soul who lives only for their cause, then finds themselves empty inside?"
"Emptiness he will find not, but rather the thing he seeks most without realizing it." Apollos answers cryptically. "Honor and Revenge do not always lead to nothing, rather to something that was previously out of reach more often than not."
She gives off an amused laugh. "Hmm, your cryptic behavior does not phase me as much as it did Naki... even though it is an artifact from our bond I must suffer with... debating with you might provide me with some entertainment value. Call me Ikania, Ainaki, or Zero. All three are the names I identify as. Ainaki..." She sighs.
"How long has it been since I was called that? It has to have been a couple years..."
"My role is not to amuse you, but to prevent you from killing yourself by getting involved with unnecessary business." Apollos glances at her dully. "We are not in such a relationship that names have any meaning, nor do we share more than the faintest of connections."
She shrugs. "That I was expecting, you're a buzz kill just like in her memories. Least I tried."
"And you're just as impulsive and childish as her in your own way."
"There is a child in all of us. Most of us. I don't know if you fall in with that category. Maybe, there was that time you made her hair into curls."
"...Ugh, it's like I'm reminiscing."
"Boredom is an interesting thing."
"Hmmm." She takes out a book, and begins reading. It appears to be a book about the types of planes and dimensions. It doesn't appear to have an author.
Apollos looks at the sky for a moment and the vaguest of frowns forms on his face. He vanishes.
Ikania glances at the place he was for a moment. "Well bye to you too." ...Still, if he's getting the same feeling I am about today, the feeling of blood, I might be concerned too... ...or is it something else entirely? One can never know for sure.
A commotion begins among the students further away. Anira seems to be coralling them with the help of several other students.
Ikania sighs. "Might as well." She closes the book, which disappears in a flash of blue light, then she hops down and begins walking in that direction.
It is hard to make out everything that is being said above the clamor of the students, but many look panicked.
...Something happened...? Whatever this is, it can't be good news.
A large portal opens behind Anira, showing a massive structure akin to a castle with many annexes connected to it.
Ikania quietly observes the scene.
The majority of the students flock into the portal the moment appears, appearing on the other side a moment later.
"Is something happening?" She asks Anira.
"Just a premonition..."
"...Is it the same thing that I sensed, or is there something else I'm not aware of going on?"
"That's to be seen..."
"...Alright then... I assume we're all going in there until things calm down?"
"All of the students are, yes." He nods. "You are included in that."
She shrugs. "I'm aware." She pauses though, and looks off toward the horizon, frowning. For a few seconds, her eyes seem to turn a brilliant electric blue, and a very faint image of a little girl no older than ten can be seen beside her, though she doesn't see it. She blinks, and both occurrences cease, and she walks through the portal.
"Alisa, I leave them in your hands." With that, Anira vanishes, followed by Alexian.
Ikania appears on the other side, and looks about.
"Shinwa, if I were to vanish, what would you do?" Volmond suddenly asks from the midst of his work. "Figuratively, not literally."
She looks up quietly at him. "If I must answer without asking questions, continue with the course I've set. I've already made too many mistakes to allow myself to steer off course again. But I wouldn't allow myself to forget. I made that mistake before. That's where all of this came from, it's the reason I am where I am. ...Why are you asking me this?"
"Shinwa, how much do you know about me, about the recent past and the sea of blood on my hands? Have you ever yourself asked why I locked away my heart and sealed my emotions or why I chose a life of relative solitude after I lost Kokua?"
She sighs. "You mean apart from your choice aquantinces, your plans, and all of that? I don't know that much about your past. And no I have not. Because blood stains my hands. Because I have crimes and histories. Evil even by chance greater than the attempted genocide of a race, tormenting and scarring my family and former friends and companions, is still evil done. I closed my heart and resigned myself to my fate. I accepted what had become of things. Some would question me for my faith, my trust, and my loyalty toward you. I'm not blind Legna. I know there is darkness you hide, things you would rather not reveal to me. Do I dare judge when I am of equal guilt? Indeed, I may not have done things on a scale you may have, if what you infer is of any significance, but blood is blood, crime is crime, and sin is sin. They are of equal standing."
She closes her eyes. "Does that answer you enough?"
"The blood of entire races would say otherwise," he responds, "I'd rather not explain why, but for as much as you are guilty of many things, you are pure or at least capable of being redeemed. As for myself, up until I reach my end, blood will never be off of my hands... Shinwa, without question, I am a monster, through and through."
She looks at Volmond quietly. "I saw no monster. I see no monster. It was not a monster who saved me from my own. A lost man, powerful, yet lost. In the end, there is no redemption for me either Legna. Earth. Fantasy. Echo. Heaven itself. All remember my deeds and scorn my name. In the coming month, and onward, in my name will further atrocity have been committed. No Legna. I am not pure. I can be forgiven by few, but never redeemed. Truth be told, I will have no future beyond the upcoming war. What will I do with myself Legna? Spend my eternal years as a spirit, constantly running from my past, adopting guise and lies to experience empty, hollow years of pretend normalcy and happiness? Tell me that."
Her energy intensifies. Her face becomes like stone. "No. I chose a better life than that. Do you think I would put my trust unto you, with empty hopes and dreams? Things that could shatter in a flash? No. No. Remember that I tore myself a new path. Is your plan to abandon me? Leave me behind? I am Shinwa Dragonclaw. A woman who has no intention of running from her path. Who are you? Because I know the monster you claim to be, is not standing in front of me." Her face is very resolute, her eyes have become dragonic, but lack hostility or anger, merely a fierce intensity. They soften, only a fraction.
"My life. I could never thank you enough for it. Do you understand that?"
"...I have to do something soon. It will probably have a severe negative effect on my own wellbeing. That being said, it must be done, else the day I am preparing for will be ill-fated." He doesn't look up.
"...And you asked me that first question because you don't know if you will come back. I do not fear. You'll come back. You are a man resolute in what he does. I know you will see what needs to be done to its conclusion, and you will come back. You're not the type of person to lose without fighting back. And I'll wait, if I must."
He only smirks. "Master the shield. Offense is nothing without a good defense and a fallback... Especially if your other half still has Rho Aias on their person. I'll give you Aegis, but you'll need a shield." His eyes darken. "Rend." The sound of glass shattering mixes with the shriek of dragging metal and the high pitch ring of a siren as the space around Volmond explodes with black and red static. He quickly isolates himself from the area as the first signs of the area corroding to nothingness appear.
Shinwa tenses, stepping back.
The damage gradually fades, but the space where the doctor once was is vacant.
Shinwa remains tensed, unsure of what to expect.
For several minutes there is silence. Then minutes meld into hours and hours to days.
She remains silent, her irises turn black and her face becomes stony. "..."
Several more days later, Volmond reappears, covered in deep black gashes that rake across his torso and neck. Almost inky black blood seeps from the wounds and he seems fragile in a glassy way. His complexion is deathly pale and frost seems to be forming on one arm while cracks spiral across the other.
"...Legna, what happened?"
"I won..." He collapses shortly afterward.
Shinwa comes to his side, and tries to heal him. "Stay with me..."
"I just need rest, healing magic will do no good," he wheezes.
"...Do you want something more comfortable to lay on?" She asks, desperate to help him. She resolves at a minimum to cover him with her wings.
"Anything will do..."
She looks for something, anything better to lay on than the floor, while keeping close attention to Volmond.
The only thing nearby that seems effective is an empty stasis pod of sorts.
She gingerly lifts him up. "The only thing here is this. Will it suffice?"
He doesn't respond.
She sighs, and places him inside. "Hang in there..."
The pod closes almost immediately. <Initiating vital scans.>
Shinwa lets out a sigh.
<Condition Critical. Life support system activated.>
Shinwa takes off a necklace hidden by her clothing and begins fiddling with the sapphire pendant, rolling it between her fingers.
<Estimated Recovery Period: Two Solar Cycles.> The pod fogs over and the hum of electricity fills the room.
Shinwa frowns and examines the machine.
The machine, while in good condition, appears to be missing components either due to wear and tear or removal.
Shinwa begins to examine the room for parts.
It is rather difficult to find what is needed, only because there are random piles of parts mixed in with half done creations and scraps of metal. Shinwa does, however manage to find a crate labeled:
M U I R v. 2.1.3a [CUSTOM] Final Product Property of Dark Co. Ltd. Use with Caution.
She frowns at it, and opens it.
Inside the crate is a device akin to a headset with a visor attached. There is an audio jack connected to it, or what looks like one at least and a secondary headset that lacks a visor near it. There is also a small manual on the side and a metallic card of sorts.
She takes a closer look at each of the contents, specifically reading the manual and a good look at the card.
The manual explains how to connect the headset (main) to a Main Terminal and how the card is both an ID chip for the Mental Unity Interface Rig and a device in which the information perused can be exported to different terminals or uploaded from them.
Shinwa overlooks all of the information, before searching for a terminal.
There is one of the terminals within the room, though before she can do much more she senses four presences enter the area.
Shinwa briefly flickers, then places a hand on her weapon.
From a connected corridor comes a two tailed cat with black and white stripes like a tiger. It had clear blue eyes that shine with intelligence. Following it is a red haired girl in a school uniform, with clawed hands and feet akin to that of a dragon, branching gold horns growing from her forehead and matching eyes, a long red tail and small clusters of red and gold scales around her body. Behind her is a taller woman with raven colored hair tied into a neat bun with a single curly bang, completely violet eyes and a pale complexion with the barest hints of color. She wears an elegant black floral dress abd heels and has a rapier at her side and a staff across her back. Lastly is a four winged figure with angelic and demonic features wearing ornate armor. She has blonde hair and wine colored eyes with black sclera, a long cord-like tail and demonic arms from the elbow down while her feet remain humanoid, with silver painted nails and bridges wrapped in cloth.
Shinwa remains motionless, the lack of movement comparable with a statue. The only recognition or sign of movement is the the faint trace of movement of her eye as it stopped in their direction.
"If you want to prolong his situation, by all means go on the offensive," remarks the cat in a similar voice to the doctor's. "I can wait twenty-two years for him to recover, but can the world or you?"
Shinwa's eyes narrow at the voice, and appears to slightly relax, though her eyes suggest she won't be caught off guard from a sneak attack.
"Who are you?"
"It's been maybe two months and you've forgotten? Drei, the primary clone."
"I remember a clone, maybe once. Who wasn't a cat. As for the troupe... who are they?"
"Power saver mode. As for them... Oh right, Release." The cat swishes his tail and the three suddenly start.
"Huh? I was looking for Zwei when... Oh, you smell like Zwei!" Before Shinwa realizes it, she has been hugged and tackled by the girl in the school uniform, who is now emitting a joyful blazing aura. "Zwei, you can change gender?"
Fyryg, that isn't Zwei. That would be the one he's enamored with. The woman with violet eyes rubs her temples.
"Huh... You're plainer than I thought you'd be." The demonic looking woman speaks flatly.
Luciel, you are being rude.
"And, Elstia? It's not like she's our boss now that ol' End Bringer McDestroyer is at critical hit points."
By Law of Oaths, that would be case if they both hold items of great value to the-
"I know Summon Law!"
Then act like it.
Will do. The taller woman begins to draw her rapier.
"Stop fighting, Mrs. Zwei doesn't like it!"
"Butt out, kid!"
"I'm not a child!"
"..." The cat looks at Shinwa before swishing his tail again, placing Luciel and Fyryg in a stupor of sorts. Elstia only sighs.
I apologize for that disgraceful display.
The real Shinwa, whose mirage was broken by physical contact, sighs as she hangs upside down like a bat on the ceiling.
"..." Her eyes have become a mix between red and purple, her dragon horns, tail, and wings are all visible.
"...Please explain what just happened. ...No, it can wait. Can you help me with this?" She indicates the pod.
"Reason we're here." The cat twirls its tails as he inspects it. "Ah. It's missing an Anodyne Board, Modulation Key and OctaCore NINE. Additionally, it's set to Preservation Only rather than Full Recovery, not that Full Recovery is operable as is. Aside from that you'll need to use the MUIR to connect to his psyche, but..."
In his current state his psyche is likely disorganized and fevered. Elstia continues where Drei left off, having barely glanced at the pod. Shinwa feels like she is being picked apart by Elstia's eyes, though it is apparent that it isn't intentional or consciously done.
"What the Great Spirit said." says Drei, "I can create the missing components, but in return I won't be able to answer anymore questions until tomorrow. Oh, and make some sort of effort to get along with the three of them. They're here to help as much as I am and it'll get you prepared for living with them in the future."
"...Living with... ...mind explaining? I assume Law of Oaths and Summon Law is relevant to it..."
Zwei summoned us and thus we are bound to him. We are nigh autonomous, by his command, but remain connected to him and have a grasp of his well being at nearly all times and vice versa. The Law of Oaths is the code that binds us to our master, though Zwei made it clear not to refer to him as such, while Summon Law is the entire code that encompasses the Law of Oaths. As for why we are here despite our given autonomy, it is because we are drawn to our summoner when they are in need. Elstia replies. Is there anything else you want to know?
Shinwa rubs her temples. "Hm. My interest was more in the 'living with them' statement, but that helps." She glances at Fyryg.
"...Aside from that, mind telling me how I deal with those two? I do not wish to hear a chorus of Chaos. Despite my general calm demeanor I am rather... agitated."
Fyryg is actually a good child, though she's clingy. Luciel, I'm under the impression that she hides her real feelings behind her uncouth tongue. One does not become an Archfiend within twenty years of existing without learning to mask one's heart at a rudimentary level at least. Just take what she says with a grain of salt and humor her.
Rubbing her temples some more, Shinwa sighs. "Alright, Drei, I have no more questions, that will matter at least. Aside from is there anything I can do regarding the machine to help, or is everything dependant on the parts? Once I know that you can work on them, and unfreeze those two. Better they be productive than statues."
"Connect the MUIR and get used to its interface. I would say use it on either the Archfiend as a trial run, but the Kirin may be more helpful to try it on." The cat already seems to be working on something with telekinesis.
"...And about unfreezing them?"
The cat swishes his tail in response.
"Huh, I must be out of it today... Mrs. Zwei!" Shinwa feels the hug intensify.
"Here we go again..."
Shinwa's form becomes whispy and incorporeal, her spirit form sucks the energy and heat out of the air, making Fyryg feel very cold.
"You're making the pod less efficient." Drei doesn't look up. Fyryg's heat aura only intensifies to cancel out the cold.
I'd refrain from that. Fyryg has to remain within a certain temperature range or else things about her personality take a dive for the worst.
Shinwa re-materializes a short distance away. "Your name is Fyryg, yes? I'd like you and Luciel to try this... MUIR."
"Fyryg, you'll need to go to sleep."
The cat waves his tail in a ring and the Kirin falls asleep.
"Put the second headset on her, then don the main headset."
Shinwa glances at Luciel for a moment, then turns her attention to Fyryg, and places the second headset on Fyryg, then holds the headset over her own and slowly starts to place it on her own head.
"Feel free to go as slow as necessary, I need as much time as possible to create these parts."
With an intake of air, she places it on her head.
All Shinwa sees is black before the interface boots up and Shinwa feels herself being transported somewhere. The area is grey, with three cloudy doors forming a triangle around her of sorts.
Shinwa quietly and carefully places her hand against one of the doors.
The door expands into a cloudy corridor, the others vanishing.
Shinwa quietly begins walking down it.
She soon notices that the temperature is rising as she moves further in.
"Heat is really a theme of yours isn't it..."
The temperature continues to rise, but it only gets to the point of being comfortably warm. There is a light not that far ahead.
She continues on.
As she nears the light, it seems to expand, opening into a clearing of sorts, but what lies within is hard to discern.
Shinwa quietly walks forward.
The clearing ahead is an expansive field with a single tree in it's center. Near the tree is a beast akin to a horse and a dragon merged into a single being. It has a flowing gold mane sparking with embers, jewel like ruby and amber scales, a long reptilian tail with golden hair flowing from the end and feet with meticulously shaped ivory claws rather than hooves. Its head has intricately curling golden horns, intelligent golden eyes and long gold whiskers. Surrounding the beast is a gentle aura of flames and several orbs of pale blue fire. It doesn't seem to notice Shinwa.
Shinwa observes it for a moment. "..."
It never leaves the tree for some reason, always circling it, but never going away from it.
"...Hey," Shinwa says in a manner soft enough to avoid alarming the beast.
The creature looks up, hope filling its eyes.
"Fyryg?" Shinwa ventures.
The beast only blinks in response, neither affirming nor denying.
Shinwa decides to come closer.
The light in the creature's eyes seems to increase.
Shinwa observes the beast closer, studying the aura and tree as well as she approaches.
The tree is rather ordinary, with nothing worth mentioning. The beast's aura remains gentle, more serene than the peaceful environment.
Shinwa crouches down near the beast, about eye level. "Are you stuck here?"
The creature blinks in response, similar to before.
Shinwa reaches out to touch it.
The creature recoils initially, unsure of her intentions.
Shinwa lightly strokes its hair.
The creature closes its eyes and rests its head on Shinwa.
"See, nothing to fear." She continues stroking it.
The creature nuzzles Shinwa affectionately. Finally, someone who accepts me...
"Why wouldn't they?"
Before she can get an answer, the scene dissolves around her. Shinwa is back where she began, but the central door is gone and the other two are clad in chains, locking them. Further ahead is a new door that seems to pulse with energy.
She approaches the door.
The door looms overhead, pulsing with fiery light.
She puts her hand against it.
The door creaks as the light around it intensifies.
Shinwa clears her mind and readies herself for whatever is next.
Beyond the door is an all white space, save for a singular being in the center.
Shinwa slowly enters and approaches.
Oh... It's you... The figure turns, revealing dirty sapphire hair, broken horns, ashen skin a partially severed tail adorned with sapphire and gold scales. Their lips are cracked and their golden eyes wistful, Scars crisscross along their arms and what is visible of their back through the torn dress they wear, while some wounds are open, with sticky black blood sealing them incompletely, A biting shackle binds their ankle, the chain it is connected to disappearing further into the white space. Are you the one who will finally end this piteous existence?
Shinwa looks at the figure quietly. "What happened to you?"
Everything. Alienation, torture, starvation, beatings, countless beatings and much more. All because a high class Wild was born outside of the royal family...
"Hm. I won't kill you. That's just further injustice." Shinwa eyes the chain. "You still feel the ghosts of the past, then?"
When your very existence is a crime, it is hard not to remember everything.
Shinwa walks up to the being. "You? A crime? I see nothing but a victimized girl. I won't stand for it, not ever." She says softly.
"Especially when my sins are numerous and heinous of their own right, I know for a fact you have done nothing to deserve this."
If only others saw things that way...
"You have people who care. Anyone else doesn't matter. They only have power if you let them remain as those ghosts."
The figure smiles wistfully. Only you and the Great Spirit know my true self. The one you know as Fyryg is but a facade to fill the void in my heart... To find someone who will accept me...
"I would accept you Fyryg or otherwise. Who you are is who you are."
Then why am I still here? Why am I not free to interact with the world? Why do I remain in this prison... Shackled by unending pain and torment?
Shinwa looks at her. "I think another question would be 'why haven't you accepted yourself'? You haven't moved on from your past. You allow it to control you, to tie you down. There are some things you have to do in life, learning to accept and forgive yourself is one of those things."
Forgive oneself for existing? I'm not so miserable to need to do that. Besides, what is there to forgive in the first place?
"That isn't nessiarily what I meant. You weigh yourself down with the past. You call yourself pitiful. These are all things that shackle you emotionally. That is what I suggested. Moving on from the past, releasing your inner demons, your ghosts. Accepting who you are, what you can be, moving on from the past that haunts you. Perhaps you are not shackled because others do not accept you, but rather you have not accepted yourself, you are your own prison."
You of all people should know it isn't as simple as it sounds... But I'll give it a try. The figure glows with a pale blue light then vanishes. The white space crumbles and Shinwa finds herself back at the terminal.
She blinks slowly.
"Ah, you've returned. I take it things went well judging by the decreased weight on the Kirin's psyche." Drei flicks a tail as parts float around him, some locking together, others moving around.
"I would hope so." She slowly takes the device off her head. "That was... An interesting experience."
"I'd rest if I were you. It will allow you to recover enough to continue tomorrow."
"Right..." She looks over at Fyryg.
She sees that Fyryg's hair has amethyst and sapphire highlights and that her horns have since grown more complex in design. She seems older, but it is hard to tell with her sleeping form.
Shinwa quietly removes the other headgear and then goes to sit down and rest.
Before she realizes it, she has drifted into a dreamless slumber.
She sleeps til the early morn.
"I'd wake up if I were you, sleep any longer and you'll lose time." Drei says boredly. "As things are now, it will be a decacycle before he wakes up again."
She opens her eyes, yawning. Her horns, wings, and tail have grown out during the night. "Progress on your end?"
"Components are in place and system is optimized."
"So it is time for me to... Help him? Also, how is she?"
"If you feel comfortable with performing a dive into a heavily divided Psyche, yes, but the rules are different." The cat stretches boredly. "The Kirin is fine."
"Is she sleeping still? And rules? And comfortable or not, it needs doing does it not?"
"You'll see and that depends on your perspective. Give the secondary visor to the Great Spirit."
"Is there anything I should know before I do this?"
"You may die if you make a terrible mistake."
"So tread lightly and don't be stupid." She takes the visor to the pod.
"No, hand the visor to the Great Spirit," repeats Drei, indicating Elstia with a tail.
Shinwa looks at Drei. "You really should learn that people aren't always on your level of awareness. You could have just said her name and not risk confusing me. Titles are a poor replacement for a name." She approaches Elstia. "Besides..." She mutters, not finishing the thought, handing Elstia the device.
"My level of awareness? Let's not even discuss what it feels like to be competent in everything or have a brain that filters out all but things necessary to complete given assignments and is slowly approaching the most base level of historical omniscience because it is processing everything within a database that knows practically everything that happened within the past billions of years, but none of the current ongoings. Besides, names are unimportant when identities remain concealed at the titled person's discretion."
Elstia accepts the visor. Is the system already configured for a dive into the pod?
"Yes, has been since five hours ago."
"In the future, just tell me the name." Shinwa says, making an effort to conceal the seething tone in her voice.
"If it is remotely relevant." The cat draws circles in the air with his tails, filling the air around himself with various runes and symbols. "Assessing stability... Within reasonable range. Chance of Chain Resonance... Low. Dive success rate high. Return success rate high."
"Are we ready to begin?" Shinwa asks the two.
Yes. I'll be helping you with the dives into his psyche.
Shinwa nods, placing her device on her head.
The world abruptly cuts to black before Shinwa finds herself in a distorted violet space, surrounded by hundreds of doors.
...re... Ar.... U... The... Are you there?
"...I am here."
What do you see? The view from here is limited."
"Doors. Lots of doors. And violet."
Stay where you are for now, don't open any doors until I say so.
"Alright, I'm listening."
There should be a bronze door to your far left and slightly northward. Not the final door you could enter for that direction, but it is pretty far that way.
Shinwa begins to approach the direction indicated, keep an eye out for what she described.
It takes several minutes before she finds the door. It is rusted and tarnished beyond recognition.
"Is this the one?"
Yes, be careful.
Shinwa quietly puts a hand to the door, bracing herself mentally.
The door erodes and the door filled space is replaced by a void like space, at the very end of which stands a figure akin to the doctor.
Shinwa quietly steps forward, slightly uneasy and analyzing the figure.
The figure seems to be further away now, yet has not moved.
Shinwa walks forward again, frowning.
Again, the figure seems to be further away despite not moving.
Shinwa curiously takes a step back.
The distance remains the same.
Shinwa remains motionless for a moment.
Go away..." The voice that answers is tired and strained.
"Why would I do that?"
"Who wants to make contact with the one that destroys all that he touches?"
"One who cares. Besides, that's not entirely true."
"You know nothing, leave." The hairs on Shinwa's neck rise suddenly.
"...You are right. I don't know anything. You pushed me away too much for me to know. But I still do."
"Your care is misplaced. The monster that you care for is beyond redemption, even in his own eyes. What makes you believe that you can change that, the folly of hope? How utterly ridiculous and disgusting." The figure's voice deepens into a dark snarl as Shinwa hears the crackle of electricity and flame.
"If he was a true monster, we would not be having this discussion to begin with, I don't hope and dream. I take action. If I do nothing, nothing will happen. Do I hope he will accept me openly one day? Yes. I won't sit around and wait until that day. I have to make it for myself, and I know at least he is of similar mind. He'll make his own path, obstacles be damned."
"How utterly pointless." Shinwa senses immanent danger.
"The only pointless thing is inaction and arrogance." Shinwa's sixth sense is analyzing it many times faster than real time.
Suddenly there is an ominous rumbling from above.
"You aren't needed, just a distraction from the harsh reality that he faces."
"The only person who has the right to decide that is himself. The reality you speak of is a fiction, reality is created by awareness and perceptions. His reality as well as all's is nothing but a mirage. The real power of a person comes from those who live outside of such mental scopes." Her eyes look up.
A black bolt of energy descends.
"Your folly is evident. Your claims lack the substance required to reach him, his darkness is far too deep for such a fragile light as you to reach." The figure seems to distort for a second. "You'll never fill the hole in his heart."
Shinwa seems to flicker with a static like quality.
"Fragile... yes... easy to see why you think that I'm 'fragile'. However that's quite wrong." At the last moment she flickers and reappears away from the bolt.
Where the bolt struck is now a sea of roaring electrified flames.
"Your value is nothing, less than nothing to him and yet you cling to him. It's disgusting, more so than that foolish hope of yours. You lack the power to surpass the wall that isolates him, you cannot best me, no matter what you do."
There is a strange presence stirring from Shinwa, her eyes she is neither threatened or concerned, in fact, she seems to be giving him a look of boredom.
"That is the most tired and repeated lines of history, it's like I'm listening to a record player. It's amazing to think..." She flashes him a strange smile.
"Ignorance is thy greatest weapon and the rust of all armor." Shinwa states. "A lesson my master taught me. Shame brother killed him. Unavoidable I suppose. I rather wish that you cease. In all honesty, it doesn't matter how many times you talk down to me, I got used to such talk decades ago. Your whispers of inferiority mean nothing to me, as I do not cling, I stand tall. I do not need him to stand on my own, and I will let it be known that anything that gets in my way will understand that very quickly." She says all of this evenly, her presence building as she speaks, her voice carries the gentle rush of a stream, the breath of fresh mountain air.
"Then you fail to comprehend him. It's almost pitiful that he considered you to be a bastion of sanity." The figure's voice loses its depth and becomes hallow. "Emptiness." Something shatters in the distance and a faint rumbling can be heard. "You think that inferiority is my message, how dull." The dark space grows agitated. "You believe that you can mend what no longer functions, laughable." The figure's coat fades to violet. "You hold onto hope, admirable yet foolish." The area quakes violently. "But most importantly, you believe you can save him from himself with such a self." The figure turns around, revealing the doctor's face, but with crimson eyes. "How does one save that which does not want saving? He allows himself to be shackled by his past to not forget the evils done to him and the evils he has wrought himself. He rejects his true nature to live in a transparent state of normalcy and peace, failing to acknowledge the that he lacerates himself from within each time he does so. In a sense, he's more fragile than the child rejected by the world and the girl who lost her true self after hiding behind a mask for so long, not that it matters."
A strange image of light seems to be surrounding Shinwa, the effect seems to counteract his own action. "You ask questions you know already, spirit. ...Legna, Legna of anything... forget... is not what I would ask. I haven't, can never forget... that is the source of my strength, knowing I have to walk forward. Baring the weight of sins on my back. A load is always easier to bare on shared shoulders. I... ...I learned that from you. You and all of the people I have wronged... the memories of why I am in the here and now give me courage, knowing... knowing what I have to do.
Forget not the past, accept it, and move forward. Shackles will only render you unable to grow and to learn. If you cannot grow, then your past will be your future. For the sake of yourself and others, grow, not wither. Even if others judge you, I? Never. For who am I to judge another? If I must I will bear judgement beside you, burn in the same fire."
She closes her eyes silently. "Hope? No. I'm past hope. I merely carry determination to move forward. Regardless of despair or hope in my heart, I carry on. I will always carry on."
"I remain unconvinced, something that holds value beyond your understanding." The figure opens and closes a hand and, without warning, Shinwa finds herself back in the real world.
"..." She remains motionless.
"If you aren't in a stupor, investigate the disturbance outside," says Drei, "It's close to the power station. We're already at emergency power, but there's a chance we'll lose all power if something is too rough near it."
"..." She gets up and begins to head in the direction of the station.
As Shinwa gets closer to the outside of the facility, she feels the area rumble and the few auxiliary lights that are on flicker.
She takes hold of her sword as she continues, her senses kicking into high gear.
As she nears the facility's exit, she hears a deafening roar akin to the shriek of a wounded and enraged beast.
"That isn't good..." She continues, now taking the side of caution.
Once she exits the facility, she finds that the outside is pitch black and that the air is cold and damp.
She continues on, weary.
Shinwa hears the scraping of metal to her right.
She silently turns in the direction of the noise.
Behind her is the slithering of something in the dark.
Shinwa flickers, places her hand on her sword, and remains motionless.
There is a loud impact to her far left.
A globe of swords made of light briefly forms around her and rocket out in all directions.
Within seconds of departing from her, the blades are consumed by... something in the darkness.
"Hey, this is Drei speaking. Whatever you're doing isn't helping, at least not based on my current readings. Find a way to the station and get it turned on before addressing whatever is out there with you. As things are now, attacking is useless." The voice rings in her head.
She tsks, moving faster with various flickers and blinks.
Shinwa feels something dart past her.
She continues on, alert and carefully looking about for the station.
Soon she sees a faintly pulsing green light in the distance, but soon afterwards sounds an ominous growl that seems to come from the depths of the earth.
She pauses, eyes narrowing, checking her surroundings.
"Get a move on, trust me on this."
She continues on.
The pulsing light grows brighter as she approaches, slowly forming into the outline of a building.
She continues on.
As she gets closer to the building, the air freezes.
She presses on, not deterred.
The building takes shape soon enough, revealing itself to be a cylindrical facility. The surrounding darkness seems to become hostile.
She ups the pace, determined to deal with the present situation as quickly as possible.
The facility's entrance looms ahead.
She approaches the door.
A swift slash forms across her back after a certain point.
Her body flickers and vanishes, reappearing a few feet ahead, unaffected.
The same mark forms across her back regardless of her movement. A wave of raw emotion passes over her, seemingly belonging to whatever lies in the dark.
"You're dawdling. Stop being overly cautious and actually do something. Doing things one step at a time all the damn time is why you just got attacked. Just get the job done and you'll be better off, slow poke."
Shinwa is already at the entrance and moving fast. Keep your childish comments to yourself, or you will understand the meaning of 'slow'.
She enters the building and proceeds to search for the problem regarding the power.
"Excuse me for telling you to stay safe. Next time I won't warn you that something is after your hide and that it can move as fast as you. Now, look for the generator room. One such as yourself can figure it out from there."
She continues on, sending a final comment in his direction. My remark was directed at resorting to insults, which carries off as childish as petty, as does your response to my reprimand. The concern is appreciated.
She finds the generator room soon enough and sets herself to work. A generator from a city-nation whose technology has been lost to time... can't be any more difficult than figuring out how to create a time-space cannon.
"Insults? You haven't seen insults. You handle that, I'll keep the anomaly outside and away." In response there is a muffled boom.
"First thing to do after all this, skin a cat." She mutters, working on fixing the issues within the generator room.
Something seems to be missing from the room, but otherwise the auxiliary power unit needs to be reset.
Cat, something seems out of place. Can you tell what exactly?
Meanwhile, she sets to work on the auxiliary power.
"Probably the Telos Reactor. Good luck with that while I take care of this guy. You'll be fine I'm sure, creating a world cannon and all."
Shinwa mutters something about degrees while she continues her work.
A loud crash can be heard outside, followed by several smaller ones.
She continues her work, flicking her wrists, causing some old dusty books to appear on occasion, which she consults.
A power surge occurs not much later, but the auxiliary power remains stable.
"The anomaly is preparing to flee. Keep working until then."
Shinwa appears to be focused on several orbs of energy which are sparking, each spark seems to be assembling matter into physical forms of some description as she works.
There is a shrill whistle outside.
Shinwa looks around the room as she works.
The entire area rumbles and a previously unknown pressure fades.
Shinwa continues, managing to figure out the auxiliary power unit.
"Congratulations. Now hurry up and get back here, the Kirin has awakened and wants to speak with you. Additionally, the Archfiend wants to speak to you in private, so don't dally."
Shinwa flickers and reappears close by, then enters, a neutral expression on her face.
"You're here, good," comments the cat, glancing at Fyryg. "I'll leave it up to you."
Shinwa looks at Fyryg. "Very well then. You wanted something?" She asks.
"Thank you... I wouldn't have come to terms with myself without your help."
"I was happy to help."
"This cursed existence may find proper hope yet..."
"I know Legna and I will do everything in our power to make that happen."
"No maybe, we will. You have my word, and I'm sure Legna will have your back as well."
Fyryg smiles gently.
"Enough with the sappy stuff, it's our turn," snaps Luciel, "Meet me outside in five."
"...Ok then. I will." Shinwa replies.
"The origin of that which is broken remains lost to the passage of time." Drei mutters something strange.
Shinwa glances at him, then returns attention to Fyryg. "I'll go see what she wants."
"...You mean in relation to Lucy don't you," asks Fyryg, earning the faintest of nods from the cat.
"It pays to know things from the most obscure annals of history."
Shinwa turns and begins heading out, though not ignoring what was said.
"Oh, you're here." Luciel doesn't look up from her perch outside of the facility.
"Any reason for me not to be? You did ask me to come."
"Kinda hoped you didn't," she responds. "It's been awhile... No, that's not the proper way to start this conversation."
"..."Shinwa merely waits.
"How versed are you in parallel timelines?"
"I studied a great deal of theoretics, applicables, and theories under the Grand Eye during the time I was apprentice, not master, of Phoenix. I know them well enough. Why?"
"It makes your future daughter from an alternative timeline explaining herself easier."
"I can say that I saw the other timeline half coming. The daughter half, not as much. I half expected it to be another me." Shiwna says with only a light amount of surprise on her face.
"No, the you from my timeline is gone, has been since I was a little girl."
"...Oh. I'm sorry to hear that."
"You couldn't have done anything about it. The Lost Virus had no definite cure at the time."
"...Right. How did you get to this timeline? I suppose the contract with Legna might have something to do with it..." She pauses, thinking. "...Are you bitter? At me?"
"Contracts can override and surpass the laws of time and space. The proper ones anyways. A multilayered compression seal with a blank template center overlapped by a two way interface is the simple version," Luciel says, still looking away.
"Interesting, to say the least. ...Luciel. Please. Please be frank with me. I'd rather know if you have problems with me than be ignorant. I can do that much for you. You did ask to talk with me, didn't you?"
"...It gouges a hole in your heart when a person you loved dearly utterly abhors you because they no longer recognize you, but recognize everything and everyone else. It becomes hard not to lash out at the world around you, hard not to let your inner darkness grow and fester and boil until it finds a crack in the armor that was peace and explodes."
"..." Shinwa remains quiet. "Words are never enough in cases like this. How do I bridge years with mere words? Luciel, I am so sorry."
She falls silent, unsure, almost uncapable of forming words to say.
"In both worlds, my family ended up in pain..." After a moment of thought, she speaks again. "Please, allow me to... at least try to set things right for you. Make some sort of... amends. I know I can't replace those years, I just..." She trails off.
"It's fine... The you from there and you from here aren't the same person, it's just the same face and voice brought back unwanted memories." Luciel shrugs. "You can try, but I don't think it matters now."
"..." Shinwa seems heavily conflicted.
"...Thank you for telling me. I only wish I could do something to help you. No one should have to live like that."
"A hug would be nice..."
Shinwa looks at her for a moment before jumping up to her. "Can't hug you while you're sitting down there."
"Oh right..." Luciel slowly stands up.
Shinwa gives her a gentle hug.
Luciel returns the hug.
"For the record, you look lovely, be proud of yourself."
Shinwa feels a slight dampness on one of her shoulders.
Shinwa simply maintains the hug.
Touching. So you aren't just a contrarian woman who spouts nonsense about life and paths and what not despite not seeing things from the other's point of view just to come out on top and be correct. An eerie voice rings in Shinwa's head. Not that it means much, really.
She doesn't visibly react, save for the spines on her tail rising slightly.
That's right, keep the reaction to a minimum. It's not as if you can do anything from there in the first place, but it's best to keep those thoughts away.
...What exactly do you want?
Wouldn't you like to know. My goal is simple and you're in the way, even if the end goal matches yours to an extent.
Lovely. What's your point?
Stay out of the mindscape or you'll regret it. I'll warn you once more before you lose what safety the waking world offers you.
I haven't felt such a thing as safety of mind for much of my life. The only thing I will regret is failing to stand by him by listening to you.
And thus the Contrarian act continues. You are really terrible at your job, you know. You wouldn't understand what is good for him in the first place, but I won't go there. Just know, next time it'll be more than a simple darkling and that the cat won't be able to keep you safe.
I am not afraid of darkness. There is an anology about the thinness of paper in comparison to one's level of comprehension, but I'll save it for a more meaningful conversation. A divided house cannot stand...
The analogy you speak of applies to you, but I really don't need to tell you about that. A house divided stands not on its own support, but can stand none the less.
The analogy is for you. And contrarian? Backwards, actually. I have the rather normal and reasonable view of learning to move on from the past and growing as a person. And he cannot grow without first moving on. To be true, I do not understand him intimately, as he pushes me away. I can only infer what he allows, or what I can pressure. Respect for boundaries and ignorance are different things, 'Ōheina hito'.
Your type never learns. You believe your ideals are the best because results have been seen, but you miss things, important things, by assuming your ideals can work for everyone. Such an unintentionally callous way of thinking to promote progress will be detrimental. If your every word is a sweet dulcet or a bitter venom, you really have no understanding of others, only their exterior and how to soothe their superficial hurt. You lack depth and that is your flaw aside from your lack of thick skin, for which you have no excuse despite being so high headed.
I have not a reason to be chivalrous in light of you and other's tone and in general regard. You earn my venom. No respect and you earn my tongue. Regardless, you clearly have not dealt with the doctor, or anyone stubborn in regard to secrecy, or your words would turn into steadfast apology. This isn't about my ideals, this is about him. I support him in all things, but I wish to lift his burden, and to see that he takes care of himself. I want him to succeed, and to live. His current path destroys him, I can plainly see it. He wishes to protect, to distance me, but I also see it, the distance between me and him and wish to overcome it. I will wait however long is needed until that time, and he is ready to open to me. It's not Contrarian, it's not a lack of depth, and it's not an ideal. It's my dedication to him. The winds may howl at the mountain, but it will not submit.
Ah, that is where you are so very wrong. I've dealt with this man for far longer than you, enough to know him better than he does himself. You, unfortunately cause your own distance from him, despite your efforts otherwise. Your apparent need to always be right is what causes this. You do not know what is best for everyone, so stop assuming you do, otherwise you'll find out the hard way as to why you shouldn't act so imperiously. This is why you are utterly and disgustingly contrarian, despite the guise of balancing things out. You don't seek to understand beyond a superficial level before your judgments come out and you don't think before you speak, oh venomous one. You claim to be dedicated to him, but you don't understand how he works without him divulging the smallest of secrets and, at this rate, he will not open up to you regardless of your intentions. You seem to believe that a mountain is so stalwart, but it too is chipped away at by the stone cutter. You are not the stone cutter here.
I sense the daftness of your words better than you. You postulate rather than examine. You greatly misjudge the situation and context of mine and so act eagerly to please your own ears. Let me silence you with fact. I have been incredibly patient in these affairs, and have not endeavored without my share of frusterations. But understand something you, I have been with him only a short while. I have come to love, respect, and care for him. But in turn I have had to spend greater time apart than with him, it is a natural thing for my comprehension of another at this point to be lesser than greater, and is not within the realm of my control. It was my intent to get to know him better before the affair of the trees happened, and I am once again seperate from him, no closer than when I was last forced to depart from him. Understand that I know very well his fears, and out of respect have not pushed him. I am tired of arrogance telling me otherwise.
There is however a difference between aknowledgement and full on consumption in regards to matters of the heart, and it is the second of the two that worries my soul. It is my fear that he is too wrapped up in it and will cause more harm to himself and what he cares about. I don't want him to forget or let it go. I wouldn't tell him that. Just, not to victimize himself over the past and forgive himself for past and the future. And when he gives me a chance, I will listen, and I will understand. Perhaps what I say doesn't please you, I don't care. Despite my flaws I will always act to better myself, and I will give him myself, the full undivided measure of my understanding. And I will do more, if I must. He saved me, so now it is mine task to repay.
For all of your talk, you really don't understand what is being said, but then again that makes sense for one who, again, must be correct. To be frank, you need to know when to be quiet and listen before you deign it important, no matter who the speaker is and how much their ideas differ from yours. You call my words daft, but all I've truly said is stop getting in my way and look at yourself before attempting to pass judgments on others. Now before you attempt to reverse my statements, know this: all you are doing is delaying the inevitable, if barely progressing it. Stay out of the way and you can enjoy your peace of mind and get the result you are after.
This isn't about me being right. This is about him, and you aren't in a position to deal. Considering the fact you have spoken to me in the manner you have, you have no right to ask anything of me, much less expect me to even consider you. The mere fact I didn't strike you with my mental barrier and leave you in agony for the next millennium speaks volumes of my willingness to hear you out. It speaks volumes that I haven't simply kicked you out of my mind and ignored you up until this point, so how about we try this again?
What. Do you want?
You act as if that flimsy barrier of yours would work on something you lack understanding of, not that it matters. My message is simple: stay out of his head and you'll live, keep messing around in there and you won't return in one piece if at all. You claim that listening shows patience, but if this measly level of exposition riles you in the slightest, you've no inkling of true patience. Get over yourself, girl.
Shinwa's mental response is calmer. ...If this is worrying about me, you don't understand me. If this is about me being in one piece, living? ...If I do nothing, he will not be well, nor shall I. Tell me what does it mean to live? Is it simply to have a beating heart? To eat, sleep, walk, and breathe? That is merely to exist. To live... ...
Shinwa momentarily dwells on her childhood, life before everything went wrong. ...Then she thinks of Volmond.
...I haven't lived, truly lived, not since I made those mistakes so long ago. I was just existing, waiting to die. My heart has only just now remembered the faintest sensations of living. ...That said, I have no intentions of dying, not now, nor for a long time. I want to see an end to the sins I have wrought, for things to be set straight. And I want to live, for him. But I cannot do nothing for him. I will not do nothing.
...You really don't listen, but I won't waste time dealing with a girl whose ears have rotted off. It doesn't matter, act and face the consequences of doing so. I've warned you. The voice cuts out abruptly.
Shinwa slowly lets go of Luciel, sighing heavily. "You alright?"
A faint nod is the only answer she gets before Luciel vanishes in swarm of embers.
Shinwa sighs and sits on her knees, rubbing her temples.
Break time's up, if you plan on doing a second dive anytime soon, get back here.
Shinwa sucks in a breath, part of her consciousness retrieves something she had stashed away a long time ago from a discreet location.
Drei. I need to know... is the Dives merely the fastest way to bring him back, or is it more than that? A less than pleasant individual warned me to stop and implied I would regret further dives.
Shinwa soon falls silent, and after some period of time, when a search to find her is sent, only a pile of clothes and ash are left of her. Soon after this, a great extended period of time passes in which everything is frozen, as if all possibility had become zero. When the group finally is unfrozen from this state, the city, minus the World Tree, has appeared into what seems an endless inky black abyss, where no possibility seems to exist.
In fact, the only forms of 'life' is Drei, the three familiars, and Volmond. The familiars and Drei note strange red and white threads floating about them in the billions, each individual possessing very different threads, with only a few intermingling with each other's. Curiously, most of the red threads surrounding Volmond have been turned to ash. In conjunction with this, his condition has been rectified, though no possible means could have done such a feat in such a timeframe.
Bayoll leads Patrikolos to an opened out field. He looks at Patrikolos, scanning him while spouting out black smoke from his mask.
Patrikolos watches the sky. "Hm... Meteor showers today." The air around him begins to stir.
Bayoll continues to watch Patrikolos.
The air around Patrikolos swirls as he draws what looks to be a set of four batons from his coat pockets. He tosses two into the air, where they float lazily, and readies the others while watching the sky, almost as if paying no attention to Bayoll.
Bayoll just slumps forwards into his normal lazy-looking stance while continuing to watch Patrikolos.
Patrikolos casually hops back just in time to avoid the first of a large scale meteor shower. Soon afterwards, meteors begin to fall like rain across the world, indiscriminately destroying all that they strike. "Ah, right on time."
Bayoll's brow raises.
Bayoll: Time for what, exactly? A small rain of stones?
"Understanding and comprehending weather when making battle plans is critical in determining what actions to take," chides Patrikolos, sidestepping another meteor as if he knew where it was long before impact. "Though being able to predict disasters is a terribly inconvenient ability. People start thinking you control the weather or that you can see the future. Awfully dull of them..."
Bayoll dully tilts his head.
Bayoll: So what? In battle, it is either fight or die.
"A barbaric sentiment," returns Patrikolos, "Then again, I never expected you to have much of a brain if reason eludes you."
Bayoll uplifts from his slouched position.
Bayoll: A bold statement. Now tell me, how old are you, boy?
"By this world's logic, nine hundred and sixty. By my home's logic, forty. Not that numbers matter."
Bayoll: Of course numbers matter. Numbers match to how long you have battled. I have battled for over five hundred years, and I hate it when others pretend to know what it is like to battle. I love battle! Its why I serve as one of the five Gladiators under the Great Hakaishin!
"Numbers are meaningless when something completely annihilates your side and the opponent's side due to whim. That is precisely why understanding the surrounding world is important, to know what land mines will be triggered and how to avoid or remove them. For example, knowing whether or not the ground beneath your feet will crumble or whether or not a toxic gas is being released in the area." As Patrikolos speaks, the floating batons begin to spin and orbit around him.
Bayoll: You speak things that are meaningless to a man born in the Colosseum. Death is common in battle, from all places. Once you are in battle, your very life is at stake! Surroundings, hazards, opponents, they don't mean a damn thing as long as you survive!!!
"If you don't understand your surroundings, your survival probability is reduced. A gladiator should understand that just as much as a tactician and soldier should... Enough expository banter, have at you." The batons floating around Patrikolos launch themselves toward Bayoll as they spark with violet energy.
Bayoll spouts out black smoke around him, covering his body and the area around him. As the batons head inside the smoke, he launches out. He quickly draws his sword and brings it down on Patrikolos.
Patrikolos parries with one of his held batons before slashing upwards with the baton in his free hand, the same violet energy sparking from it. The other two batons fly out of the smoke, aiming at Bayoll once more before abruptly curving away.
Bayoll spins around, batting them away with the bony blades on his arms. He lets out a huge ball of fire from his mask at Patrikolos.
Patrikolos takes the fireball head on, shrugging it off with no effort as thin slivers of light curve around Bayoll before the area he occupied is diced as if cut by blades sharp enough to cut through the earth as if it were air.
Bayoll begins spinning around, turning black and clouding into smoke, which begins spreading around the area.
Bayoll: Ok then, wise guy. You wanna talk about surroundings? Try yer best shot!
Patrikolos responds by producing a rather large mass of rusted material from his coat pocket, seemingly much smaller than the mass, and tosses it upwards. The area is then covered by a dome composed of violet hexagons. He calls back his floating batons, pocketing them and the two he was holding.
"A quick lesson in oxidation will do."
The scent of rust bleeds into the air before Patrikolos sweeps his hair back, triggering a powerful explosion that shatters the field.
"Hydrogen gas, a byproduct of oxidation, just happens to be a strong reactant when concentrated enough. Static electricity is all that's needed to set it off once it has enough presence in the air. The result is thus." Patrikolos, covered in dirt but otherwise fine, gestures to the wide spread destruction caused by the explosion, which seems to have caused greater damage to the area than the meteors falling. He then draws what appears to be a working grandfather clock made of bronze from his coat interior. "Ah, this weapon. It's been years."
The hydrogen gas begins swirling around. It sets on fire before hurtling towards Patrikolos.
Patrikolos tuts before swinging the clock and dissipating the gas. He then turns something and the lower portion of the clock falls off, revealing a great sword blade while the upper portion opens and releases a handle. The fallen pieces of the clock disassemble into tiny pieces and flow into Patrikolos' coat. The clock face remains visible as does the pendulum, both now housed in the sword's guard.
"Unfortunately for you, the vast majority of the hydrogen was spent in the blast."
Bayoll: Fufufufu... You don't get it, do you?! I control gas!
Bayoll's body suddenly builds up using excess smoke around the area.
Bayoll: I am Bayoll of the Plague, you can't hope to win against a gas master like me!!
Bayoll's sword is suddenly engulfed in oxidized flames.
Almost immediately it begins to rain as if a typhoon was blowing over the area, dampening the gas and weakening the flames.
"Finally deciding to reveal that, eh? A bit late on the upkeep you are." Patrikolos simply hefts his sword over his shoulder with one hand, then slashes the air once as if testing it out. The air around him is now glowing a faint blue with gold embers. "Patrikolos the Ultimate Soldier or Tyrant Master."
The ticking of a clock becomes audible.
The rain creates steam over Bayoll's hot body.
Bayoll: You don't get it. There is gas everywhere. I can use it as my weapon whenever and however I want!
Bayoll manipulates the steam and sends it at Patrikolos.
"Oh?" Patrikolos grins sarcastically before vanishing from sight.
Bayoll places his fingers on the ground and focuses.
Bayoll feels the faint crackle of electricity before Patrikolos' sword slams into him then vanishes once more.
Bayoll spreads his wings out. He is now anticipating Patrikolos' next move.
Bayoll notices rocks beginning to float around him before Patrikolos appears before him then vanishes within the same instant.
Bayoll flies up into the air and fires a fire blast down. The heat of the flames melts the rocks into slag.
Bayoll feels billions of volts of electricity flowing through his body moments later, as if struck by an immensely powerful bolt of lightning. The earth ruptures as if gutted by a wicked blade from the heavens and an earth rending peal of thunder echoes for miles and miles. The sensation is painful to the point of frying his nerves and completely numbing his body as muscles contract and expand wildly. The metal on his person is melted down to molten scrap and the gas around him ignites before ionizing from the sheer power of the electricity. The heat of the surface of the sun feels like a warm day and the most toxic of gasses has not even the slightest footing on the sheer potency of the acrid smell of charred flesh and none billowing from his form.
Patrikolos reappears, floating above the ground with sword in hand as he tuts. "Nature strikes again. If you can stand, let us continue."
Bayoll begins laughing. He springs to his feet as if he has only been knocked over.
Bayoll: Was that attack supposed to hurt?!
Bayoll's arm blades begin sparking rapidly with electricity.
Bayoll: Us Makaiohs are completely resistant to electricity. In fact, we are that resistant that our bones are capable of absorbing it, and then expell it, with no harm done to ourselves. Let me delve into it a bit deeper. You see, fifteen years ago, the Dominion came into conflict with a race known as the Fulmen. All of them had electricity as their primary power. Even their leader, Raichi Strom, could not match us, even with her reportedly deadly "Raijin Transformation". We conquered them effortlessly with our advantageous biological resistance. Now, where were we? Ah. Yes. Your attack. Here, take it back.
Bayoll swings his left arm down, sending out an extremely powerful blast of electricity towards Patrikolos. He suddenly does the same with the other arm, sending yet another blast forwards.
The electricity shatters on contract with Patrikolos, defying common sense. He yawns. "You really don't know what you're getting into. I guess I'll actually attack rather than let nature and reflex do so for me." He slides his free hand across the sword's guard. "One time ago." Sapphire energy swirls around him as the number forty appears over his head.
Bayoll: Go right ahead.
Bayoll's body goes a little smokey.
Patrikolos lightly taps his foot and the already shattered earth is torn asunder, as if a titan struck it. Torrents of azure light erupt from the cracks and gaps. The number above his head decreases by one while the light obscures him.
Bayoll reignites his sword.
"Gravitas." The light converges on Bayoll.
Bayoll notes this and moves out of the way.
The light follows Bayoll, almost as if attempting to completely engulf him.
Bayoll dives down and towards Patrikolos, preparing to slash him with his sword.
The number above Patrikolos' head decreases by four before the light completely engulfs him. The light following Bayoll only grows faster.
Bayoll swings his sword across, creating a flaming slash that sears forwards.
Bayoll's slash collides with a wall of light before he feels a heavy slash across his back followed by a sensation akin to burning, yet a frigid cold as opposed to searing heat.
Bayoll looks behind him.
Bayoll: Do you really think using the cold against a Makaioh is really smart?!
He fires out a plume of volcanic ash from his back. Blobs of magma appear to launch out with it.
"That's how you perceive it? Heh, if only." Patrikolos' voice sounds younger by at least a decade. The odd burning sensation intensifies across his back and he feels lighter in the worst sense possible. The plume of ash is consumed by the light filling the area while the blobs of magma strike Patrikolos and do no visible damage to him. "You aren't the only one fire and lightning have no effect on."
Bayoll: Perhaps you didn't hear me correctly. I said the cold doesn't work on the likes of me. Cold burns and hot burns do not even phase me!!!
Bayoll turns around and fires a dark green mass out of his mouth. On closer inspection, this mass appears to be comprised entirely of hundreds of locust-like insects.
Patrikolos laughs as Bayoll feels a sudden piercing sensation through his back. "Ice, fire, meaningless. You may feel as if something was burning you, but..." Bayoll suddenly feels a ghastly aura from Patrikolos as his blue pupils slit and his greying hair turns to golden blonde. "The truth of the matter is that you're being torn asunder by forces beyond your comprehension."
Bayoll lands on the ground.
Bayoll: Gehehaha! Beyond my comprehension? What a joke! I've seen many beasts and wretches before in my lifetime! Some of them in the arena, some of them on the battleground of war. Compared to them, you're just another man who thinks he can win!
The insects swarm around Patrikolos.
Bayoll: Be devoured!
Almost immediately, the insects are consumed by the light and the piercing sensation becomes a wrenching sensation. "Stand down. I'd rather not kill you."
Bayoll begins to laugh.
Bayoll: Gehehahaha! Kill me?! Don't make me laugh!
Bayoll flies up into the air. He places himself under Patrikolos' view of the sun, hiding him from view. Suddenly, blasts of fire begin raining down from the sky. Bayoll himself flies down and slams his foot into Patrikolos' chest.
The instant Bayoll makes contact with Patrikolos, he feels several of his own bones break before his leg is consumed by the odd light. He begins to feel sluggish and tired as if wanting to go to sleep. Patrikolos simply raises a brow before blasting him away with a wall of pressure. "I'll warn you once again, stand down. If not, you'll be terminated."
The fire raining from the sky abruptly stops as the number above Patrikolos' head reaches fifteen.
Bayoll: You believe you have me at a disadvantage, don't you?
Bayoll outstretches his left arm. His viens pulsate before his skin gains a darker red colouration. Steam billows out from his body and he seems to have become a lot more stern and mobile.
Bayoll: Gehehaha! You're beginning to piss me off!
Steam erupts from Bayoll's body, completely enshrouding him. He launches out, his leg and other wounds completely healed. He gains a white glow, looking as if he has merged with the steam from his own body.
Patrikolos shakes his head before sweeping a hand through the air. The earth begins to glow a brilliant blue while white particles appear in the air. Bayoll feels a sudden spike in danger as Patrikolos begins glowing white.
"Tyrant Style..." Patrikolos glows brighter.
Bayoll: Gehehaha! This looks dangerous! I better set up a defence.
Bayoll's fists suddenly engorge in size, as if he's filling them with gas.
Bayoll: Great Punc...
Bayoll feels the world go still for a moment, the colors of everything around him inverted. The stillness is clearly unnatural, but there is nothing that can be done about it.
Bayoll: Grrr... FIST!!!!!!
He forcefully swings his now-giant arms forwards. They make contact with the ground in front of them and create a large, powerful, violent explosion.
Despite the strength of Bayoll's blow, there is nothing but a ripple across the inverted ground. There is no sound and no sensation felt either, barring the initial impact. Then Bayoll feels himself ripple as if the force of his blow had returned.
Bayoll: Gyhh...! What is this?!?!
The ripples in the inverted workd gradually fade but nothing else happens.
Bayoll: Are you done with this sham of a show?!
Silence is all that greets him.
Bayoll: You're beginning to piss me off!
Bayoll notices that the ripples on his person seem to be intensifying as he yells.
He feels his entire form undulating and the world seems to be shifting between black and white.
Bayoll: ANSWER ME, FOOLISH MAN!!!!
The rippling intensifies and the world seems to start flashing betwwen black and white rapidly.
Bayoll begins growling angrily.
All at once there is a flash of white followed by piercing pain and ultimately the vacuous dark.
Bayoll gradually loses feeling throughout his body and a thick haze muddles his thoughts as the dark seems to expand.
Bayoll looks around.
There is nothing to be seen, not ahead or behind. Only endless darkness and a lingering chill describe the area.
The darkness is infinitely expansive, so much so that moving has lost meaning and all there is to accompany him is the chill, which grows fainter and fainter as time passes, eroding away with his senses.
Bayoll: Gehehaha! GEHAHAHA!!!
Gold blood streams into Bayoll's veins.
Bayoll: I really didn't want to use it here and now.
He spreads his wings out.
Bayoll: Within the Gladiators of the Dominion, I bear the bestowal of Horseman of Pestilence. All of us are bestowed such titles. Only us Horsemen of the Apocalypse can utilise the transformation I am undergoing.
Golden plates and a crown form on Bayoll's body, as he gains a green and gold aura which shapes like a horse. Club symbols appear on his armour. A golden halo appears above his head. Two small golden constructs appear either side of his body, in front of his wings.
Bayoll: This transformation is known as Schwarzreiter. My variant is Pestilence. Some of my latent powers are unlocked in this form. Including this...
Suddenly, the darkness flashes between black and white, before colour returns. Ripples begin waving across before stopping. The resulting inverted world contorts, before things return to how they were before Patrikolos' attack.
Bayoll: Our Schwarzreiter can create a reversed effect!
Bayoll sprays a form of gas from his sword, before waving his hand before it. The gas seems to turn into a solid blade. Gas spews out from multiple parts of Bayoll's body.
Bayoll: Be corroded.
Bayoll hears laughter from all around him, neither merry nor condescending, rather a hollow emotionless sound.
"How amusing... Unfortunately, if this is the full extent of your power, I need not reveal more of mine." Bayoll notices the world invert once more, however he sees black particles floating from the earth, gathering into what could only be described as the tip of a sword. "Since you took the time to explain all of this, I may as well explain one small thing about myself to you. You've seen an infinitely small amount of what I can really do. This is not meant out of disrespect, but more so that you understand why you haven't had any luck harming me, whereas it would appear that I'm toying with you. Please take no offense, but now is when you give me a reason to show you more of my full power or I consign you into emptiness of the void before delivering the same message to your allies and doing the same to them should reason and treaties fail them as much as it seems to fail you."
Bayoll: This is far from the full extent of my power. Very far from it. We aren't called Gladiators just because we are run of the mill "strong" people. We may not be close to the Elite of the Dominion, but we are far from the weak beings like the Gifter Division. We five gladiators were chosen to our roles because our Hakaishin recognised our superior power to the rest. But alas, I've had quite enough of your mere tricks.
Suddenly, Patrikolos finds himself unable to breathe.
"I'd show the full extent of your power then, I was not making an idle threat when I said I'd consign you into the void." The black particles gather faster as Patrikolos speaks, undeterred by the apparent loss of the ability to breathe. "Attempting to cause asphyxiation is a poor choice. Wouldn't it have been better to start off with this rather than find out now that it doesn't have an effect?"
Bayoll: It's not my initial intention to suffocate you. I am merely absorbing all the gases within my radius to amplify my strength. As it is a gas, I'm also taking away all that oxygen.
The surrounding plant-life suddenly withers and dies.
Bayoll: I'm also taking away the carbon dioxide in the air. As for my full power, I cannot just go using it as I please. The Hakaishin is unforgiving for such sin. To him, sin is punished by death, that is why the orders he gives are absolute. While I may not give you my full extent, I shall give you the absolution of the Hakaishin's order!
A grey gas spews out from Bayoll's body, before forming into a shape similar to his own body. He does this twice more, before the gaseous forms suddenly gain colour. All four of them begin to emit smoke from their bodies.
"World from which strife is the lifeblood, howl with vehemence and boil with rage hotter than the eye of the guiding star. Bring forth a new form, a form tempered by hatred and the dark within your heart. Breathe anguish into being, despair into life, and bestow it upon my blade, where it shall sow fruit. The cost is paid and the rite complete, I envoke your dreaded name and fell power. Tyrant Arte: Chaos Blade." The black particles flow in streams upwards, coiling around the blade in the sky above. An amber circle forms higher than the blade, surrounded and divided by a simplistic sigil with four spikes at its tips. The blade begins to crackle with black and red energy soon after.
More Bayoll copies appear, gaining a total of seven. They all coat their swords in an oxidized flare.
The black particles finally stop flowing from the earth, having finished gathering. The seal shifts over them, but remains at an angle.
The Bayolls begin circling Patrikolos from their respective distances.
The seal slits into a crescent, as if gazing down on the seven in annoyance or scorn as the sword shifts in the air. At this point, the Bayolls realize that they never saw Patrikolos after the world inverted the first time.
They all suddenly double in number, reaching a max total of 14.
All the Bayolls saw was the formation of a large silhouette of Patrikolos before there was nothing. No pain, no emotion, no senses, just an empty void where they had once been. Any traces of Bayoll, whether they lie in gas, flame, insect or machine were gone, only a memory of him remaining in the eyes of his allies and enemies, a memory of one never to return nor be reborn as even the most minute traces of soul had been cleaved from the many realms and dimensions, utterly ending his existence on all levels. The memory of him faded like mist, lost eternally to obscurity. The areas he had last touched bore no indication of him being there and suffered no damage from what could have been described as the embodiment of the obliteratory forces of the cosmos, channelled solely to remove him and nothing else from the world. That was the power of the blade that cut him down, the blade of Isolated Annihilation and true form of the first Tyrant, Eon's Lamentation.
Suddenly, Patrikolos gains the sense of having missed his target. To his realisation, Bayoll had created the first seven clones as a means of escaping, with them serving as decoys. He realises that Bayoll's person is nowhere to be found. Elsewhere, Bayoll, having become air whilst moving, begins his return to Ardiente, having no recollection of creating such a clone.
Bayoll: I'm not sure what happened. But I'm glad I didn't waste all of my lower-leveled power on that man. I fear he may be able to match one of us Gladiators. I should make haste, in case he realises I've gotten away... Not that he'll find me in this stat, but I diagress. Return to the base is important.
It was several minutes after those thoughts that the true Bayoll faded into oblivion as well, missing the bored look on Patrikolos' face.
"You should have known better than that plague bringer. Probably didn't think I had anticipated that and froze the time space around you long before you made the decoys," he chides to himself, one of his eyes glowing a luminous gold, the other a pale blue, both marked by the same seal that that had once floated in the sky. Shortly thereafter, his eyes shift to primarily blue, with golden slit irises and black rings flowing through them before settling to a dull cobalt.
D'Ranjo and Gurin enter s a meadow of dying grass
D'Ranjo: *looks around and only sees grassy hills and the sky is cloudy* Hm...
Gurin starts to walk off.
D'Ranjo: Where are you going?
Gurin has returned to the form he had first seen her in, with long black hair and armor. She doesn't stop.
"You need not concern yourself." She says in a voice much harsher, colder than her normal voice, heavily constrating the voice he's used to from her.
D'Ranjo: I refuse to believe all that I have promised concerning you and the others was for nothing.
Gurin pauses, then slowly turns her head toward him, scarlet eyes with wild feral pupils stare at him impassively, her face is marked with tiger like stripes.
"I'm returning home. Where I belong. I'm tired of fighting my heart and the reality of this world. The world's won. I have only room for myself in my heart."
Her eyes narrow. "I'm going back to Yosai."
D'Ranjo: For your sisters?
"...I have lived in their shadow long enough. I'm standing at their side now. I appreciate your efforts previously, but it is my intention to never open my heart again. It's clear to me now that I'm meant to be alone. A friend... that's all anyone could ever be."
D'Ranjo: *sighs* Gurin...Atleast allow me to accompany you.
"Have you forgotten that White ordered you dead? Or did that fact slip your mind? Do what you whim, just understand that I won't protect you from what you bring unto yourself."
D"Ranjo: I don't expect you to. Thanks.
"..." She continues on, a path of flowers blossoms as she walks, however this only seems to incense her temper.
D'Ranjo: *follows close behind her*