Yin Part 4
One man with a dream, at a pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.
-- Arthur William Edgar O'Shaughnessy, "Ode"
Rosary looked as if she was about to faint, her eyes
wide and the color draining out of her face. Memories turned nightmares flooded
around her, old wounds turning into fresh gashes. She remembered waking up
in the Castle of Pandora, crying for her mother. She remembered how they
had stared at her strange ears, too pointed to be human, too rounded to be
fully elven, and her eyes that glowed like a cat's in the darkness. Her father
-- no, her father was Vandole -- the nobleman who had adopted her was her
first experience with human kindness. "No, she whispered. "No."
"Rosary?" Lucius laid a hand on her shoulder.
"I'm not Rosary," she looked up at them, tears in her eyes. "I'm Melusine."
"How sweet," Emperor Vandole said. He closed his eyes
and a skull of black mist appeared like a summoned Mana Elemental.
Moments later, the two humans, three dark elves, one sprite, and one halfbreed were transported into the lair of the Soul Machine.
"It's Mana magic," Edgar gasped. "He's using Mana magic,
"How?" the Emperor grinned. "There are eight Mana seeds in the Soul Machine, sprite, all waiting for my command. I'm going to use them to destroy the world."
"What?!" Yin looked stunned. "You never said before that you were going to destroy the world, you said that you wanted to rule it!"
"I can rule over wreckage," he answered coldly. "People are much more obedient when they know you can kill them all."
"If I was to be Empress of all the world with you, I would want to rule mercifully."
"Mercy is for children," Vandole growled. "And did you ever really believe that I would have you by my side?"
"But you said that the world would be ours," Yin said desperately.
"I lied," the Emperor said and began to cast another spell.
"Not so fast!" Edgar snapped and cast Dispel. Lucius rushed at the Emperor, sword drawn, ready to stab him in the heart. With surprising speed, Vandole dodged away and Lucius's sword buried itself in the Soul Machine. Black mist boiled around the point of entry and something exploded deep within the machine. Lucius jerked the sword out and he, Melusine, Edgar, Rhianna, and Morbius hit the ground.
"Nooooooo! My beautiful machine!" Vandole wailed and struck Yin. "Why didn't you stop them?!"
"There was nothing I could do," Yin whimpered, gingerly touching the forming bruise on her cheek. "It happened so fast. I couldn't do --"
"Enough!" he snarled and hit her with a Dark Force-like spell. The dark elf woman cried out and collapsed, sobbing. Pipes and valves began to rupture in the Soul Machine as if the spells that were being cast were tearing it apart. The ground seemed to shake with the force of another explosion. Suddenly, a black laser-like beam lanced out of the hole in the Soul Machine's side and hit the Emperor in the chest, right at heart-level, tearing through armor, flesh, and bone before exiting out the other side. Killed instantly, the Emperor crumpled to the floor. A short while after that, the Soul Machine stopped humming and rumbled to a stop, mist dissipating.
"Oh mother," Melusine whispered and cast Cure Water on Yin.
"Thank you," Yin said weakly. "Vandole would have killed all of you, even his daughter. I thought I loved him," she looked at her husband's corpse. "I thought this would hurt more."
Yin stared the flickering flames of her husband's funerary
pyre, holding his crown in her hands. Melusine stood beside her. "What now,"
"I don't want to rule anymore," Yin removed her own crown. "I don't want to be Empress and I don't want to be Queen. They can find someone new to rule the four kingdoms, I'm stepping down."
"But who will rule?" Lucius asked, wondering if Melusine would take the throne. Melusine whispered something to Yin, who nodded. "Rhianna and Morbius," Yin called the two dark elves forward.
"Yes, Empress?" the twins kneeled before her.
"In organizing the revolt against Vandole when I was too clouded by a love I thought I felt, you two showed that you cared for both your people and humankind," Yin said and set the crowns on Rhianna and Morbius's heads. "For that act of selflessness and bravery, I crown thee Emperor and Empress of the four kingdoms, three human and one elven, and King and Queen of your people."
"Ready?" Lucius asked, holding the Flammie drum. Yin
weakly nodded her head, face barely visible behind the black veil she wore.
In her hands she held an urn containing the Emperor's ashes. "Yes, I think
I am," her voice trembled.
"Ready?" the Mana Knight asked Melusine and Edgar.
"Yes," Melusine said.
"Of course I am!" Edgar said brightly.
"Then let's go," Lucius shook the drum. Soon, Flammie landed in the courtyard, white scales glittering in the afternoon sun. Carefully, eight dark elves loaded the chests containing the Mana seeds onto his back.
"Thank you," the former Empress smiled.
"Are you sure you aren't going to stay?" one of the dark elves asked.
"There are too many memories in this place," Yin's smile disappeared.
"Memories I'd rather not relive. Good-bye," she handed Edgar the urn before waving to the dark elves and climbing onto Flammie's back.
"Yuck! I'm holding a dead guy!" Edgar wailed.
"Baby," Melusine took the urn away and handed it back to her mother. After the remaining three adventurers had climbed onto the dragon's back, Flammie flapped his wings and took to air.
"I've always wanted to see the world," Yin said and Melusine squeezed her hand.
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