Chapter 7: The Guardians Emerge: Reborn
Latimer groaned, opening and closing his jaw to try and get the ringing out of his ears when Ereve hit the ground knocking everyone to the ground. Everything hurt, not to mention the pounding headache he could feel as he tried to move with unsteady steps. Looking up, all he could see around him were bodies: some of them were people lying on the ground unconscious, but others could be seen writhing in pain, using their hands to caudle their bleeding wounds. Latimer did the best he could to stand, falling over time and again as he tried to get to the nearest person.
“Show me where you hurt.” Latimer asked, hoping that he wasn’t yelling since he couldn’t hear anything besides the ringing is his ears. The person moved as best he could showing him a large gash along his inner thigh. Latimer did what he could to keep from throwing up at the sight of so much blood, activating a simple healing spell that he had learned from his parents. However the degree to which this man had been hurt was worse than what the spell could heal quickly and the man was losing blood rapidly.
“HELP! IS ANYONE THERE?!” Latimer called. When he had come with his parents, the last thing that he thought he would need were healing potions, and so didn’t bring any. From the haze of the dust still in the air, a figure appeared wearing heavy armor while sporting a mace on his hip and a huge shield strapped to his back.
“I am an elemental knight, what’s wrong with this… oh my.” He said, kneeling beside him and pulling from his bag an elegant bottle with a strange purple liquid swirling within it. Taking the plug from the mouth, he then dipped a slender glass rod into it and drew it across the man’s lips allowing him to swallow the potion. Instantly the man’s wound closed over itself, relieving him of the pain that he felt, even allowing him to stand within a few short seconds. The knight then pulled another of the elegant bottles from his bag and gave it to the man he had healed as well as the rod he used.
“Go and see if there are others in need of assistance. Here, use this and only give them as much as sticks to this rod, otherwise it could have adverse effects.” The man nodded and headed off into the dust, as did the Knight with Latimer, coming with him for assistance. Latimer managed to find more people, seeing that they too were helping those around them as fast as they could and as best they could. Only a few priests and priestesses were among them to help heal the more serious wounds. The Heroes too were running back and forth as fast as they could; they had been taught a basic healing spell by Minerva, healing some of the less serious injuries such as scrapes and cuts. But amid the chaos of people being helped, there were those that lay still on the ground, their bodies covered by the cloaks and capes they wore when Latimer heard Vondra’s voice calling for him.
“Latimer! Good, you’re alright. I need you and Dumia to take some of the people here that aren’t injured and set up a perimeter. See if you can find anyone that’s still out there who’s injured.” she called, setting down an injured mage then streaking off to find more. Patricia was helping to set someone’s broken leg, when she happened to look up into the sky and catch a glimpse of it through the patches of dust that still hung in the air.
“Uh… I’m no expert, but I don’t think the sky is supposed to be doing that.” She said, pointing it out to Phantom who was walking past her with a handful of boards to use as splints.
“No, no it shouldn’t.” he replied, watching the sky shimmer as if watching the underside of a lake. Quickly Phantom zipped off to find the others and point out the phenomenon, as they too were confused, not sure what it was they were looking at. Mercedes quickly ran to the northern most boarder she could get to, seeing that the same shimmer came all the way down to the horizon.
“What in Minerva’s name is this?” She asked herself when she felt a presence come up behind her. Grabbing her bowgun as she turned around and pointed it into the face of an Elvin man with a large broadsword across his back dressed in a dark red cloak and gold laurel on his temples.
“Be still your majesty, I mean you no harm. What the legends say of your beauty does not do you justice I must say.” He said, holding out his hands from under his cloak before kneeling to the ground.
“Who are you? I was queen for nearly 100 years before I answered Minerva’s call to fight against the Black Mage. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you in Ellul, yet you call me your queen?” Mercedes asked; this man may look similar to her kind, but his ears were far too long and the power that emanated from him didn’t feel at all like the elves of Ellul.
“While it is true that we are of the same kind, we are by no means of the same blood. I am the High Elder of the sword, Harmonia. My colleagues and I have heard much of you Heroes and have come to lend our assistance in any way that we can.” Mercedes felt another presence begin to approach behind the first, but Harmonia wasn’t responding to this new presence, almost as if he didn’t care. She was about to fire off an arrow when another elf, this time a woman, stepped from the brush wearing a purple cloak and a crown of purple briars on her head.
“Peace your majesty, I bring you no harm. I only wish to assist in any way that I can. I am Gritto, High Elder of Magic. I am sure that you’ve already met Harmonia.”
“That I have Gritto.” Mercedes answered shortly, clipping her bowgun to her hip once she was sure that these new comers weren’t going to harm her.
“Is it safe to say that you were wondering what it was that has happened to the sky?” Gritto asked, at which Mercedes skeptically nodded in return.
“I take it this is your first encounter with Dream Fragments?” She asked. Mercedes furrowed her brow as a knot began to form in the pit of the stomach, which was never a good sign.
“This is her first encounter with Dream Fragments, but I am familiar with them Gritto.” Phantom answered with a grin, leaning against a tree.
“What are they exactly?” Mercedes asked, questions building in her eyes. Phantom’s smile faded away as he opened his eyes, holding up his hand and looking down at the finely designed portrait of a young blond woman on it.
“They’re pieces to a spell so to speak.” Phantom replied as Gritto continued.
“Depending on how many one gathers or uses, the stronger the spell and the larger the area one is able to effect.” She said motioning to the sky.
“So then all we need to do is find these Dream Fragments and destroy them.” Mercedes said, in response.
“It’s not that simple Mercedes.” Patricia answered, coming to find her when she saw her and Phantom run off followed by Luminous.
“How do you know about the Dream Fragments?” Phantom asked.
“It was part of some studies I did under Helen and read about them in passing, but she made me learn about them in detail even though they were outlawed centuries ago by the Order of Light, namely, Corus the Black.” Luminous looked up at her with surprise in on his face, almost as if he had become worried.
“Corus was a part of the Order of Light?” Luminous asked, as he came into the clearing.
“I don’t know any details about it, only that he was.” Patricia answered.
“Luminous, while I understand that you may have questions, we need to hear this explanation from Lady Patricia.” Mercedes responded, making Luminous eye her darkly with his right eye before nodding.
“Dream Fragments are far more than just pieces of a spell. When activated, the events that happen within the area are similar to that of a dream: anything is possible within the area affected and is controlled by the one who cast them. A powerful creature could just appear out of nowhere.”
“So then all we need to do is wake up.” Mercedes said happily, already trying to clear an area where she stood to lay down comfortably until Gritto chuckled and shook her head.
“It’s not that simple either, Your Highness. Once empowered, the Dream Fragments create a pocket dimension to which the affected area is taken. To those outside the area, they see an illusion where the area used to be, while at the same time making the area disappear completely. For all that is known, anyone outside this area could see an unaffected Ossyria, or not see Ossyria at all.” She explained. Phantom pulled his weight from the tree and walked over to Gritto with an untrusting light in his eyes, tucking the card into his sleeve.
“What are we to do?” Phantom asked as hope began to fade from Mercedes eyes.
“Destroying the Fragments themselves is the easiest path to take but it is also the most dangerous.” Gritto offered.
“How so? Smashing them shouldn’t be that dangerous unless there are creatures guarding them.” Luminous answered quickly.
“That’s not the danger. If you are going to destroy Dream Fragments, you must destroy all of them at the same time. As I said before, one fragment only affects a small area. To have done something of this scale, hundreds of thousands of fragments would have to be used. Unless there are that many people remaining here in Ossyria, there is no chance that you will be able to bring Ossyria back.”
“What happens if only one at a time is destroyed?” Patricia asked.
“When multiple fragments are used and only one is destroyed, the area that the one fragment affected disappears.”
“You mean, goes back to normal, right?” Patricia asked with anticipation. Gritto looked over to her and sadly shook her head.
“No Lady Patricia. It disappears, simply ceases to exist, in either plain. If all the fragments are not destroyed simultaneously, then Ossyria and everyone on it, will cease to exist.”
“So how exactly are you planning to get to them?” Jack asked apprehensively.
“The phenomena created by the dream fragments art similar to that of a dream. By falling asleep I can, in theory, enter that dream via mine mind and speak with mine grandfather and high elder Gritto to find what can be done. ” Helen responded as she disembarked the Queen’s Wing and into Edelstein.
“So what exactly did we see surround the ship when you cast that protection spell?” Matthew asked.
“What thou witnessed was Ossyria being taken to ‘pocket dimension’, and in its place the illusion of the flote. However real said ocean may seem, it remains as nothing but an imitation. One couldst yea swim in it and not wot of the landmass that once resided hence.” Olsen worriedly put an arm around her waist, falling into step but remaining silent as he walked. Helen could feel the unease within him, but asking about such things would only get her the reply of him being alright. She didn’t need to ask him, she already knew that he was worried for her since even she herself didn’t know whether or not she could get into the dimension, or even if she would be able to get back out once there. Olsen gently pulled her to a stop before beginning to speak, worry already making his voice begin to crack.
“Helen, I don’t…”
“Oh! Thank the goddess I found you!” a voice called, cutting Olsen short and catching their attention as he stumbled up to them trying to catch his breath.
“Geridon the Temple Keeper, what brings you here?” Aran asked as she placed her hands on her hips.
“I have been running through town looking for you all afternoon. I was beginning to worry that you had been taken away with Ossyria.”
“Is there something wrong with the Temple of Time?” Jenny asked; her shoulders and legs already itched for the excitement of battle. Being the Master Bowman of Henesys was enjoyable, but she missed the action of the battle field.
“No no no, quite the opposite. Rhinne is returning at last and she wishes to speak with you!” Olsen turned to him with wide eyes, reaching to his belt for the large half moon blade of his Pyrope Lunar, while his right arm tensed ready to draw shuriken.
“Does that not mean she will destroy Ossyria? Is she not still under the Curse of the Black
Mage?” he asked, approaching Geridon.
“For now just come. All will be explained once you are there.” he panted, as he turned to leave again when Jack stopped him with a firm pull on his shoulder.
“How exactly are we supposed to get through the sheering winds that surround the temple? Cobra the Halfring was the only one that knew the spell to get us through them, and he was in Leafre which has disappeared with Ossyria.”
“That is of little worry Jack; I have a portal that leads straight to the temple, but you must come with me quickly, or else it will close soon.” There were questions still to be answered, but Geridon had no reason to lead them astray. They double checked their equipment before following him as quickly as they could to a glowing portal on the outskirts of town. Taking a breath, the six of them stepped through the portal as a strange feeling passed over them for a moment then allowed them to step out onto the marble floor of the Temple of Time, where they saw Cobra hovering in mid air as he always had suspended by his long beard.
“How did he get here?!” Jenny squeaked.
“Eh? What was that? Do I have something to fear? What kind of question is that?” Cobra asked through a dry voice when Geridon called for them.
“Rhinne asked me to retrieve him not long before Victoria was once again in contact with the Continent.” Geridon responded as he led them through the temple to an area that opened up into a courtyard of sorts with fountains of sand everywhere and hourglasses suspended in small coves of the walls.
“Welcome Guardians. It is an honor to finally meet you in person.” A graceful voice echoed, making them all stop and reach for their weapons, listening to the far off sound of gears clicking.
“Be still, I mean you now harm. It is I, Rhinne.” The voice continued as a figure began appearing behind them. The woman looked to be no more than a teenager, with long white hair dressed in a flowing single shoulder toga, the bottom moving slowly around her slender legs. Behind her were glowing blue gears, rhythmically turning like a heartbeat, rearranging themselves as she floated down to the ground and opened her blood colored eyes.
“Thank you for bringing them to me Geridon, I am sure they have many questions.”
“That we do goddess, but the one I am sure all of want an answer to is how you are able to once again be awake? From what we were told about you, there is a curse still very much alive within you that does not allow you control of your power.” Matthew stated, still apprehensively resting his hand on the pummel of the Glory Sword.
“Yes, the curse that was put upon me by Arkarium is still active, but the temple itself has never ceased its quest in ridding my body of it. What he has managed to create is a counter spell, these gears you see behind me, to keep the Black Magic suppressed. There is a negative to this spell however: while this counter spell suppresses the Black Magic within me, the only way to make sure it wouldn’t take over, was to suppress my natural powers to near nonexistent levels as well.” Helen stepped forwards, concern written across her face.
“Thou art powerless?” Rhinne smiled and gently shook her head.
“No Lady Helen, but I am limited to the extreme in what power I can use. I feel almost as if I am a child once again. But this is not why I have called you here. Recently, the monks and Guards of the temple and even the temple itself, have said that Arkarium has been seen walking the halls, concentrating his activity around an area that leads into the past.”
“Haven’t you tried to stop him? If he goes into the past he could be trying to undo everything that we fought for.” Olsen growled.
“I know that all too well Olsen, and we have managed to slow him down, but we haven’t been able to completely stop him. He hasn’t returned in quite some time, and the Knights as well as Lilynouch and Lyka have been able to keep him at bay.”
“So then what else is there? If you’ve been able to keep Arkarium away why call us here?” Aran asked with an edge in her voice.
“Because his endeavors have made something else possible: a doorway into the dimension Ossyria was taken to.” Rhinne answered, motioning for them to follow her as she led them to a corridor where three huge doors stood, and walked up to the middle door which was slightly ajar.
“Behind this door here is where Arkarium has made a hole into the past, but since we’ve been able to hold him back, I have also managed to use this hole to create a path into Ossyria.”
“I hear a ‘but’ in this.” Jack said with a chuckle.
“There is; I was only able to allow any to pass through it for only three hours. Once that time is up, you will be brought back here and must wait for the same amount of time before returning.”
“Is there a reason we are only allowed three hours?” Matthew asked, slowly beginning to trust that she indeed wasn’t going to hurt them.
“That is all the power that I can muster. As I said before, this counter spell seals off most of my power in order to keep the curse at bay. I’m sorry that I couldn’t be of anymore help.”
“Where in Ossryria will this portal lead?” Helen asked.
“It should lead to Leafre and the Minar Forest.”
“Should lead?” Aran asked with doubt in her voice.
“I can only hope Lady Lillianne since I have no positive confirmation that’s where it will lead you.” Rhinne replied sadly.
“Well if we only have three hours then we’d better not dilly dally when we go through. Thank you Rhinne, for all that you’ve done.” Olsen smiled taking a small bow before turning to walk through the doors that stood guard before the portal. Rhinne did her best to keep her composure, and when at last they were through, she collapsed to the ground exhausted: even the strength that it took to walk was cut off by the seal.
“Oh how the mighty have fallen.” She whispered to herself, managing to sit upright while Geridon came over to her with a drink.
“You must not push yourself so hard so soon goddess, you’ve just awoken after hundreds of years under the sleeping spell and you are weak. You must regain your strength before doing anything more.”
“I had to open the portal for them Geridon. Only one of the three Transcendence are left in this world, and even she is at the risk of being tainted by the Black Mage.” Rhinne said disappointedly as Geridon tried to counter her.
“That isn’t true goddess, you are still alive and you are one of them.”
“I cannot be called as such in my current condition. I have barely the power to open a portal between worlds, how can I even begin to call myself the Transcendence of Time once again?”
“The temple has never given up on searching for a way to break the curse completely. You will be able to take up that mantle once again.” Gerdon reassured, although he didn’t believe his own words, Ossyria needed the Transcendences and without them, there was no telling what could happen.
“Are you sure you know where you’re going?!” Jack called, his voice echoing hundreds of times in the darkness that surrounded them.
“My guess is as good as yours! There’s only two things that I see here, and that one looks like it goes somewhere into the past!” Matthew replied taking blind steps towards a portal that was hanging in the air before them.
“How canst thou be sure the second leads to the past?!” Helen called.
“Guys! Why are we yelling? We’re standing right next to each other.” Aran pointed out as they all stopped and looked around, barely able to make out the silhouette of each other in the darkness.
“Oh, the darkness around me prevented me from seeing thee.” Helen answered sheepishly.
“I took a couple steps to it when we first got here, and the stuff that I could see through it looked old, really old.” Matthew answered, as they all turned and walked with Matthew towards the light. As they came closer, it felt as if they were being pulled towards it until they were thrust through the light and into what appeared to be the outskirts of Henesys, surrounded by giant mushrooms and snails.
“Is this, Leafre?” Aran asked as the creatures surrounding them suddenly looked to them.
“No, I don’t think so.” Olsen answered, reaching behind him and grabbing Matthew’s pauldron, yanking him down out of the way as a large thorn vine whipped past where he would have been standing a moment before.
“Scatter!” Olsen shouted, throwing down his hand and pulling a shuriken out of his Pyrope Skanda, hurling it at the vine and cutting it away. Just as he was about to reach for his dagger, Helen appeared before him. She held out her hand as a scorching flame erupted from it, engulfing the cloud of spores that had been hurled at him from a large orange topped mushroom. The mushroom looked as though it was getting ready to attack again as the stalk swelled and its cap and eyes began to glow a bright purple. Helen teleported away allowing Olsen to hurl the shuriken he had drawn.
In the air before him, a seal burst to life and just as he swung, shrinking around where his arm was going to pass through and just as his hand made contact, winds curled around his arm as he let one shuriken then another go with thunderous force. The shuriken easily passed thought the mushroom’s body, letting the air out it had breathed in with clouds of spores. Before it even had a chance to take another breath, Olsen had drawn his blade, streaking past it to split it in half. But even the hard swing he had dealt to the creature felt as if it did nothing; even the wounds that the shuriken had dealt looked to be healing over.
He then slammed the pummel of his dagger into his palm as the creature turned around, breathing in readying to spew another cloud of spores of him. Hot pink flames roared to life around Olsen while his eyes and hair shimmered, various seals flaring around him enhancing his strength. Like a comet, he hurtled around the mushroom, stopping on a single knee while the wind finally caught up.
For a brief moment, the mushroom sat there until something like black aura swirled around it, shrinking into its body while its form began shrinking as well. Olsen looked back to see what it was that he had hit; it felt as if his blade had passed through nothing but air. What he had actually hit one of the less dangerous creatures in all of Ossyria, a normal Orange Cap mushroom, which then wheezed and shriveled away. Olsen was so enthralled by what had happened that he didn’t feel the giant snail creeping up behind him, swinging the thick vine at him until the clang of Matthew’s Gaia Shield woke him.
“Olsen! Are you losing your touch?! Come on this is battle here!” Matthew shouted, grabbing his Glory sword and swinging through another four mushrooms that burst through the ground readying to breathe a cloud of spores on them. But their wounds healed quickly as they readied to breathe again, this time being subjected to a swishing of the powerful Intrepid Slash. Again the wounds inflicted by the slashes began healing just as quickly.
The sound of a hard breath fell over Matthew while a seal shrank down over him. Again and again Matthew unleashed the Intrepid Slash , building up the Warrior’s Overcharge until he absorbed all the orbs and swung hard, unleashing a powerful shockwave that roared through the holes his Slash opened, punching through them and reducing them once again to the normal mushrooms.
Jenny stood back to back with Helen, firing arrows that became flaming streaks through the air, only to snap off the snail’s shells leaving behind the scars. With a frustrated huff she reached for her crystal power, her body taking on a bright green glow while the skin around her eyes took on a fern–like tattoo. As she drew her bow, winds howled around the Spine Arrow. As she released it, she turned letting the sheet of arrows cut through the shells of the snails.
They too looked as if black aura pulled back into their bodies, turning back into nothing but normal ruby shell snails before turning into a puddle of mush. A mushroom exploded from under the ground next to her, making Jenny swing her bow hard and catching the giant mushroom in a whirlwind, tearing it from the ground and into the air where Jenny hit it with a bomb arrow charged with crystal power. However the mushroom looked as though it popped rather than exploded.
“Helen, there’s something strange about these creatures! It’s almost as if they’ve been filled with some kind of Aura.” Jenny called before ducking to the left, avoiding the heavy vine coming down on her. Helen turned this way and that, sending plumes of flames or clouds of frozen air at these creatures, pushing some of them away or burning others to the ground, watching how each of the mushrooms and snails looked, returning to normal before dying.
“Aran! Jack! Use thy power and gather these beasts within one area!” Helen called, switching to her sacred abilities, readying to cast her Dispelling Method.
“Take mine light and let it descend upon thy soul to heal the scars that plague thee…” Aran gathered her momentum, thrusting as hard as she could to unleash a beam of light. It first pierced the skin of the mushroom before her, tearing it from the ground and pushing it back through six others and a couple snails. Jack retracted the blades on his knucklers, hitting the creatures as hard as he could while pushing them back into the same grouping. Aran. Matthew, Olsen and Jenny did what they could as well, pushing back other creatures into the same group so that they could eliminate as many as they could.
“Let the wounds to thy heart be healed. By the power I have, may the power within thee be dispelled!” Helen called in a commanding voice, as wings spread from behind her centered on a black orb. Bright light then flashed from the wings as they spread wide onto the creatures, seeping into their skins and began to make a dark glow leak from them, shrinking back into their normal forms. Helen brought her hands before her as if holding a ball where the black Aura gathered in hers hands.
Before dissipating it, Helen almost seemed drawn to the power watching as it swirled within her palm. With a slow fascination she held out her free hand around the orb of energy, slowly closing her hand around it and her eyes darkening to near black when Olsen grabbed her wrist and pulled her hand away from it. Helen almost looked agitated that he would dare do such a thing. As he gripped her wrist, he sent a pulse of Pink Quartz through her which loosed the grip of her darker self. Helen’s eyes slowly returned to normal and her person returned to that which Olsen knew.
“Forgive me Olsen. I lost mine self for a moment.”
“I said that I wouldn’t let this Black Magic have you back. It a promise that I endeavor to keep.” Olsen replied, moving his hand so that instead he laced his fingers with hers as she dispelled the energy she had gathered on her hand.
“They’re all just, normal creatures.” Jack pointed, out kneeling down to take a closer look at one of the snails, poking at its eye with his finger.
“Indeed. All these creatures were infected with some kind of power. T’was not Black Magic; this power felt as if it possessed life. However, it hath been twisted. It was…” Before Helen could finish her sentence, her eyes and hair suddenly glowed while small threads spread out from around her feet, crawling partway up her legs.
“Helen? Helen! What’s wrong? Helen!” Olsen called as he shook her shoulders, watching the small threads of violet light slowly begin to turn aqua. Olsen was about to pull her away from the area when a hand grabbed onto him and stopped him.
“Don’t touch her! Let her be; she will be alright.” Olsen reached for his dagger to ward off the person stopping him, but when he turned he was jarred to see the High Elder Hellin holding his arm.
“What do you mean let her be?! Something is taking over her!” Matthew shouted as he went to pull Helen away from the area when Harmonia stopped him as well with a hard jerk.
“Listen to Hellin.” Gritto called as she, Samuel and Legor came into the area.
“That is my wife you are letting be taken over!” Olsen bellowed, throwing Hellin to the side when he was standing face to face with Latimer.
“Dad, you know as well as I do that mom has always had a strange connection with nature around her. She can control five different types of magic for crying out loud!”
“Latimer is correct Master Olsen. This is not some form of a mental take over, this light comes directly from Ossyria itself.” Legor comforted. Olsen relaxed slightly, thinking back to when she would sometimes take on the same look she had now when something magical was trying to communicate with her, or was happening around her before they had defeated the Black Mage.
“Fear not Olsen, your beloved is in no danger. I am the life of Ossyria, Mundus Arbor. I must apologize for frightening you as such, but I have no other means by which to communicate with you.” Helen said, her voice sounding slightly deeper than normal.
“You must have many questions, but there is no time for them for she cannot withstand my power for long. As you have seen, some of the creatures within Ossyria have changed, becoming ferocious beasts that attack without provocation. My power within Ossyria is somehow being tainted by the power of the one calling herself Clytemnestra in Ereve, which has now made contact with the continent once more. You must stop her by any means you can, for if what I feel this woman intends then all of Ossyria is in grave danger.” All at once the small threads around Helen’s feet pulled away, letting her collapse to the ground where Olsen caught her, shaking her slightly to awaken her.
“I am alright my love. Thou needst not worry.” Aran knelt down before her, setting her halberd down as Maha appeared from it and sat on her shoulder.
“Helen, did you…”
“Aye Aran, I was able to hear the words of Ossyria. It hath me concerned as well.” She answered, looking up to see that the Heroes and the rest of their children had gathered around.
“Mom! Dad you’re here!” Patricia shouted, running at Jenny and Jack, enveloping the both of them tightly.
“How did you guys get here? I mean, into where we are…”
“There’s no time to explain Patty. We actually came here in hopes to speak with the High Elder Gritto about what’s going on. Helen filled us in on what might be causing it, but we wanted to be sure.” Matthew said, being tackled as Dumia and Vondra both put their arms around him. At the request of Gritto, Helen retold what she had explained to the others which she sadly confirmed.
“That being said, the only way to safely return Ossyria back to its place is to kill the one who had activated the Fragments.”
“Whoa whoa whoa! Back up. You said nothing about that Gritto. You just said that we needed to smash the dream fragments!” Patricia hollered.
“I said that was the easiest route, but also the most dangerous. Before I had a chance to tell you of the other option, you and the others simply left to come here before I could explain.” Gritto reasoned.
“In any case, now that our folks are here, there shouldn’t be any trouble with bringing down Clytemnestra.” Vondra said, leaning against Matthew who looked up to Aran with a disheartened look in his eyes.
“Vondra, sweety, there’s something that you should know. We won’t be able to help you this time.” Aran said, walking over to her daughters and placing a hand on Dumia’s shoulder.
“What do you mean? You guys are here now aren’t you? You broke through to help us didn’t you?!” Latimer asked, looking back and forth between his parents and Patricia’s.
“No Latimer, I’m afraid not. Rhinne was able to create a portal into Ossyria, but we can only stay here for a little under three hours at a time. In that amount of time there’s no way that we’d be able to help you.” Jack answered, swallowing knowing that it wasn’t the answer that he wanted to give.
“No… no that’s not fair! We don’t know the first thing about real battle! You guys do! And if this thing, this Clytemnestra was created by the Black Mage, you guys are the only ones who have faced him besides the Heroes!” Dumia said as she backed away from Matthew slightly.
“Trust me Dumia, we want to help you. But with our limited time here, the best that we could hope to do is come for a visit.” Aran reasoned walking forward and hugging her close, stroking her hair.
“Look, all of you just need to get over it! We have a world to save and there’s no use standing around here whining about who’s here and who isn’t!” Maha shouted, the cutting edge of the weapon glowing brightly. Aran lowered her head and smiled, shaking her head.
“Maha says that if you don’t act soon, there will be nothing worth saving.” Maha’s form turned red, leaning down to Aran’s ear and began shouting at her as loud as he could.
“THAT’S NOT WHAT I SAID YOU…” But Aran simply tuned him out and listened to what the others had to say, thankful that no one else could hear the hot headed words Maha screamed. Mercedes turned to them with a smile, offering her own words of comfort.
“There is no need to fret young ones. If what I’ve heard about you and your parents is true, then you four are not simply their children, you are their essence. Yes they have faced the Black Mage and his powerful magic, but you have trained hard to arrive at this point. Not so that you could live up to the legacy your parents left behind, but so that you could protect those of Ossyria against the Black Wings.” Phantom smiled as he walked up to them, flipping his blond hair away from his eyes.
“If you haven’t been training as hard as you have for a time such as this, then what were you training for at all?” He asked smoothly, yet sternly as Helen rode the encouraging wave of words.
“Hear me Latimer, and all of thee. Verily thou art our children, and we hast watched three grow through thy years of life. Anon of all times Ossyria yerns for heroes; our time hath long passed, and anon 'tis thee who shall rise and become the beacon of hope to the people of Ossyria.” With each word that Helen said, confidence slowly began to build within them, the Heroes smiling their own approval.
“Patricia Waterman; Latimer Olman Da’lor; Vondra and Dumia Drake; we five masters of Ossyria hath seen thy power and hereby say that thou art anon, The Guardians of Ossyria.” Helen continued as Matthew stepped forward, gathering them all in the center and turning each one to their parents.
“And with this title we give you this charge: stay with the Heroes, help them regain their power that was once lost. If you are able, find others who will help you in your journey, and finally, defeat Clytemnestra and return Ossyria to its rightful place.” Matthew said proudly, holding out his hand where a red glow formed into a gem, each of the others holding out their hands with glowing gems in their hands as well when Jenny offered an explaination.
“This is a small portion of power we contain; the power of the Four Crystals. Should you need to, you will be able to use this and enhance your power many times over. However this power comes with a warning; do not use this power until it is that absolute last resort since it will push your bodies far beyond its limits. In addition, only use this power for short bursts, for when you cease using it, you will be exhausted.” She and the other Guardians maneuvered around until they had come to the one who the power would best suit.
“To Latimer, I Jenny bestow the power of the Emerald Crystal.”
“To Vondra, I Olsen bestow the power of the Pink Quartz.”
“To Patricia, I Helen bestow upon thee, the power of the Amethyst Crystal.
“To Dumia, I Matthew bestow the power of the Ruby Crystal.” As each of them made their announcements, a disk-like gem was placed in their hands, each of them feeling the power pulsing in their palms as though it were alive. Jack looked over to Matthew, reaching his hand over to his cloak with questions in his eyes. Matthew sighed, thinking about all the forms that he had made with this cloak knowing that once he gave it to them, those forms would be erased and they would have to start over. But it was something that they would need for the foes ahead. Sadly he nodded, reaching back and taking his Gaia cloak from around his shoulders, while the others did the same.
“In addition to these gems, we give you these, the Gaia Cloaks. These cloaks are far more than just a piece of cloth to hang from around your shoulders, they are tools. Listen to what they tell you, and they will intern help you on your journeys.” Matthew said, hanging the Golden Gaia around Dumia’s neck. Patricia shivered when Helen draped the Gaia of Shadows onto her shoulders. Vondra breathed in awe as the Crimson Gaia was placed in her hands, while Latimer grinned broadly as Jenny handed him the Azure Gaia. Jack folded the Emerald Gaia neatly, handing it to Dumia with a sad smile.
“Be sure to get this to Acer when you see him. I don’t know where he is, but he’s going to need this one. If you have any questions, you should be able to ask the Advance Masters or the High Elders for help.” Jack said. Dumia nodded, tucking the cloak under her arm and admiring the cloak around her shoulders, something that she had always wondered what it would look like around her neck. No sooner had they been given the cloaks, than the Masters began to fade.
“It looks as if three hours have passed already. Remember, you four are the new ‘Guardians of Ossyria’: You will defeat this new foe, and you will be able to overcome it.” Aran called, as she and the others faded from view. Luminous could be heard sighing heavily, all at once remembering that he still had yet to return to the Golem’s Temple and Beuwon to find out if the mine was indeed able to be restarted.
“Well, where to now?” Vondra asked tucking the gem she had received into the sleeve of her glove.
“I have business that I must attend to at the golem’s temple on the other side of Henesys. If you don’t wish to accompany me that will be alright, but I must go.”
“Well, as our parents asked us to do before all of this took place, we’re your chaperone until you three have gotten your power back up to snuff.” Dumia called, walking into the tree line and climbing up into her Mech, initiating the start up sequence as she buckled in.
“You are going to be our Chaperones? Ha! What kind of prank are you pulling here? We don’t need chaperones.” Phantom huffed, smirking with confidence beaming from his being.
“No, I’m pretty sure that you’re gonna need us for a little while. Besides, the world that you knew is upside down now. But if you’re so confident that you don’t need us…” Patricia looked over her shoulder and saw what appeared to be a giant pig walking around, patrolling the area.
“…why don’t you take on that creature over there and prove that you don’t need us.” She finished with a smirk, hanging her wand on her belt and crossing her arms.
“No, I don’t think that will be necessary. I am the Phantom Thief, I shouldn’t need to prove myself.”
“Yeah right. You’re just scared; you do need us.”
“Alright that is enough!” Mercedes said, holding her hands out to her sides before turning to Phantom to try and convince him their need of these children.
“Phantom, the world we knew has long since gone away. We need these young people here to help us regain the power that we have lost.”
“Speak for yourself Your Highness. Remember it was you who needed me to defeat the Black Mage.” Phantom huffed, pushing out his chest proudly. Luminous lunged at him, grabbing him by the collar and pinning him against a tree red light in his eyes burning brightly, even streaming from it.
“I am growing SICK of your constant whining! First you’re too arrogant too see what Minerva asked us to do. Then you have the gall to come back and help us once your pathetic Empress was taken from you and ‘helped’ us break into the temple of time, too busy looking for valuables with the powers that Minerva gave you rather than helping to stop him! And finally, you leave us right as the battle with the Mage himself was reaching its zenith to save your own sorry hide! If you want to help us that’s fine, but leave your ‘mightier than thou’ attitude back on the ship. Otherwise, stay out of the way where you belong!” Luminous growled. Phantom grit his teeth, pushing Luminous away and grabbing a card from his belt, hurling it into the air which then took the shape of a bull, charging at Luminous and throwing him into the air. Quickly the card returned to Phantom as he drew another, throwing it straight into the air when the hazy image of a large knight appeared. This time it slammed its sword into the ground, bringing Luminous with it and returning to Phantom’s hand.
“Don’t you DARE speak of Aria that way again! Aria was much more than just a…”
“Just what Phantom? A treasure? A possession? A challenge? She was never anything other than an object to you!” Luminous howled in return, making Phantom charge at him. He knocked the staff from Luminous hand and stood with the point of a thin sword he had drawn from his cane aimed at Luminous’ neck.
“Aria was never an object I wished to add to my collection. She was the one person, the only person, I have ever let into my life! If that’s how you’ve felt even after all this time, then I want no part of you or these ‘Guardians’.” Phantom hissed, shoving the sword back into the cane hard and walking away from them with a haughty grunt.
“Phantom, where are you…”
“Let him go Mercedes. He’s made up his mind. We’ll continue on our own.” Latimer called, holding out a hand and bringing Luminous to his feet. As Phantom walked away, thoughts of his past came to mind when he first met his teacher Raven.
“You can live or die; the choice is yours.” Raven’s voice echoed in his mind, still able to see the arm mounted cross bow aimed at him as a child. Shaking his head, he tried pushing the memory away which still haunted him to this day. He had come home to find that his parents had been killed by Raven.
“And even after all the time that I spent learning from him, that bastard went and got himself killed, and not by me.” His thoughts raged as he walked into the forest, still seething.
Dureau scanned over the miles and miles of forests below him, searching endlessly for the scent of his underling. He couldn’t explain it, but he felt a tight knot building in his chest, something that he had never felt before and wasn’t sure how to deal with it except to search. Now that the Dream Fragments had cut him off from the rest of the world, the only thing that he felt was worry for Mastema. But she was in Edelstein, wasn’t she? Moments after the Fragments had fully taken over, he caught a whiff of her scent and instantly began following where it had come from, leading him into the desert of Ariant. He stopped only for a short while in the desert town to get water, before continuing on following her scent. It took him towards a town that smelled of oil and plants: Magatia.
“What would Mastema be doing in a place like this?” He asked himself, landing gently in the middle of town, aware that he had lost her scent and could now only smell oil and machines bustling about him.
“Well this was a massive waste of time.” He mumbled to himself when he caught her scent again, but this time, there was the smell of blood on the air as well; and it was coming from the north end of the town. With a hard push he glided over the people, heading straight for a building with a sign that said ‘Zenumist’. Bursting through the door, an old man looked up at him in surprise having a flasks in his hands. Dureau calmly walked up to him, standing a few inches taller than him while the light from his Ageis made the room glow a pale blue.
“Where is she?” he asked flatly as the man shook his head in confusion.
“Who are you talking about? No one has come in here or left all day!” the man said franticly. Dureau was about to reach for his mace when he heard the sound of something hitting the floor in the back as a weak meow. With a beat of his wings, Dureau went streaking through the building following the scent of Mastema’s blood, bursting through the door at the end of the hall. What he saw was something that looked be two flasks filled with red and blue liquid jumping one at a time as though they were legs towards Mastema. She lay still on the floor, part of her fur bloodied as well as the flesh of her right wing torn.
Dureau disappeared in a burst of speed, swinging his mace hard making a monster erupt from his mace and throw the flask creature back. Dureau then crossed his wings over himself while a deep green light glowed from around them. Characters of the Khyune language appeared on the membrane flesh of his wings. The flask creature tried to get up, once again walking towards them one step at a time and repairing the cracks in the glass as it went until Dureau lunged it. His left arm turned into nothing but Aura Claws that raked across the creature, scratching the glass in high pitch screams as he hurled it back into the wall. He held his mace back, enveloped by a black and red aura shaping itself into a large scythe.
“Stay away from her.” he growled, swinging the scythe so fast that the wind from it took nearly ten seconds to catch up until the glass of the creature first shattered, then exploded letting the liquids from within it spill onto the ground. As he put his mace back, Dureau walked back to Mastema, crouching down to touch her bloody violet fur. Out of reaction, Mastema quickly opened her jaw and clamped down on the hand that was touching her, still tense from the battle that she had been waging. But when she saw the hand was that of her master’s she quickly removed her fangs from his hand and shrank away from him, tucking her paws and tail under herself.
“I’m sorry master, I didn’t know that was you. I…” When she looked up, Dureau simply pulled his hand back, opened and closed his hand a few times and then reached for her again. Mastema shut her eyes and braced for whatever was going to come, but was surprised when Dureau simply put his hand on her head, running one of his fingers down the middle of her head as though petting her.
“Try not to let it happen again. What exactly were you after?” he asked calmly, gently petting her again.
“I had heard a rumor saying that a creature here contained a liquid that would turn anyone into the thing they desire the most. And what I desire is my human form! I can’t even battle a simple creature as this in this form and I am tired of being in this form!” She explained, fighting the urge to turn back and begin licking her wound.
“Mastema, you should have come to me with this information. I would have easily defeated this creature for you.” Dureau gently scolded. Mastema smiled, but it was somewhat sad since she knew he was still seeing her as his subordinate.
“You were looking for the Rurumo Liquid?” a voice asked. Dureau turned and reached for his mace, scooping up Mastema ready to attack. Mastema flinched in pain but was more surprised by Dureau’s actions.
“And who would you be?” Dureau asked as the man came more into view.
“My name is Bedin, assistant to Carson. That creature you just fought was actually a result of the Rurumo Liquid created in an experiment using the extract of the Rumo Plant. If you want, I can easily make some more for you. May I ask what you will be using It for?” He asked as he turned and motioned for them to follow.
“I require it to, experiment myself.” Dureau answered flatly. Bedin raised his eyebrows for a moment as he led them, shrugging as if to stop himself from further asking questions. As he said, the Rurumo Liquid was quickly created and given to him in a flask.
“Ah finally! I’ll be able to return to my former self!” Mastema said excitedly, ignoring her stinging side as she jumped up onto one of the desks, searching for other ingredients and herbs.
“Does she plan on using that on herself?” Bedin asked, sounding worried.
“Yes she does. It has been a very long time and Mastema wishes to return to her former self, a human form.” Dureau answered, watching Mastema as she sniffed around the desk for different potions, pouring small amounts into another flask.
“No! That liquid was never meant to be used by living beings!” Bedin warned, reaching for the flask in Dureau’s hand, but missed when he pulled it away, giving him a hard look.
“It’s a risk that I’m willing to take human.” Mastema said sternly, rubbing her paws together as she put the last of the herbs she needed into the flask.
“If you would Dureau, could you pour the Rurumo Liquid into this flask, since I can’t do it myself.” Over Bedin’s fighting protests, Dureau poured it in and waited with a tinge fear running through him. The last time she tried anything was when she shot herself with the strange laser from the aliens in Omega Sector, which thankfully only knocked her out.
“Why am I fearful for her life to begin with?” Dureau wondered, still unsure whether or not it was a good idea to let her continue. Before he could voice any further concerns, Mastema had already consumed the flask’s contents, sitting impatiently on the desk waiting for it to take effect. Suddenly a pressure was building in her chest, becoming hard to breathe making her fall from the desk to the ground. Dureau knelt down and reached out a hand for her when Bedin stopped him.
“It’s the effect of the Rurumo Liquid: it’s a transformation catalyst. Whatever she put in addition to it must be clashing with it or had made it more potent. If you touch her now the effect could affect you as well. Who knows what would happen.” Dureau looked on with worry as Mastema twitched and writhed on the floor until a cloud began forming around her. Bedin pulled him away so that the fumes wouldn’t touch him and maybe adversely affect him. as the could thickened around Mastema, Dureau saw a hand reach out from under the cloud as it cleared.
“Ah, it feels good to be back… wait, why does my voice sound like Master Dureau!” Mastema asked, looking down at her hands before running to a window, looking at herself in the reflection as her cheeks suddenly became bright red in embarrassment. What she saw instead of her well known human form, it was instead an exact copy of Dureau. As her cheeks blazed bright red, the transformation canceled itself returning her to her cat form, hiding her burning cheeks.
“What happened? I though you said that it would turn you into the thing that you desire most, and you said that it was your human form that you wanted.” Dureau chuckled. Mastema looked away from the window so that Dureau wouldn’t see the look in her eyes, fighting as hard as she could to keep from looking into his eyes.
“I-I-I-I don’t know. Maybe some of the herbs I used were old or I put in the wrong amounts. Y-yes that its. I must have just done something like that.” Mastema stuttered, trying to explain the events.
“Oh! Why did it have to turn out like this?! The one person I want more than anything in this world is Master Dureau! Even if I wished for my human form as hard as I could, I could never suppress the desire I have for him enough to…” Her thoughts were cut short when she felt Dureau’s hand wrap around her and pick her up, chuckling in a low voice and hold her close to his chest.
“We’ll find a way of retrieving your human form Mastema.” He said calmly turning and walking out the door. He felt relieved that Mastema was alright and that nothing serious had happened to her. Yes, there was the loss of his family, and even if the company of Mastema was annoying at times he was secretly thankful for her presence. Maybe it was his pride or maybe it was just some misplaced sense of authority that kept him from allowing himself to show his appreciation for her.
And then there were her actions as of late, especially when they were still back in the High Guard garage; she had nearly kissed him when she temporarily regained her human form while helping him heal a wound. Perhaps Mastema was more to him than he realized and maybe he would eventually be able to open up. For now, there was the matter of Clytemnestra and what she was doing in place of The Mage. If he couldn’t get to The Mage himself, then she would serve as the next best thing.
“Mother, Damian… I will avenge you. Just hang on a little longer.”