The Light Wand and the Ice Blade Chapter 8
"Find the rebel and you shall also find the sword," Gurdijeff said as he
pointed a claw at Rudy. "Be wary for the sword picks who is worthy of wielding
it, not the other way around."
They were on an isolated platform that was all too familiar to Rudy. The Guardians of Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water surrounded them. "But how do we know who this rebel is?" protested Rudy. He looked up at the image of the Guardian of Earth, spread his arms in front of him, and asked, "How?"
"He has fought alongside you already," roared Gurdijeff. "He has 'rebeled' against his master, his leader. I know no more."
"I see," Rudy nodded in thought. "Not even Anje could help me with that one even when she asked about it. This might take some time."
"Do you sense their leader, Gurdijeff?" Jill asked innocently. "How powerful is he?"
"More powerful than the Mother could ever hope to be," Stoldark replied softly. "And his companions are more powerful than her as well but less powerful than their leader. They are certainly a threat to Filgaia."
"Our only hope lies in you, Light Wand and Ice Blade," Fengalon growled. "You, who can release our true power."
"True. . ." Cecil began.
"Power?" Jill finished for him.
"You will see once you understand what resides within each of you," Fengalon said and the twins knew that he wouldn't say more on the matter.
"I thank you for the guidance Guardians," Rudy said gratefully. "I wish you could tell us more."
Moa Gualt spread his wings and flew above them. They looked up at him as he spoke. "Twenty years we have been restored to part of our power. Now it seems we must lend you our powers once again. Wear us as your armor and call us when you need our aid. We shall respond to your call." With that he screeched and disappeared in a flash of red. A rune floated down from where he disappeared and landed in Rudy's open palm. Rudy closed his hand around the rune, feeling the Guardian's power flowing through him.
"The batt! le of Filgaia begins again," the water turtle declared sagely as he disappeared in a flash of blue. A rune also floated down and Jill took hold of it. I shall guide you in the fight for life, Jill heard the Guardian's thoughts.
The wind tiger now roared. "Let me help you carry you to your destiny!" he exclaimed as he disappeared in a flash of white. As with the others, his rune floated down but this time Cecil acquired it. It pulsed a radiant glow in his hand.
Gurdijeff was alone having to give one more piece of advice. "Find the rest of our brothers to aid you in your quest," he bellowed as he started to fade. "We shall fight together once again!" With a roar befitting that of a dragon, he disappeared but no rune appeared. Instead, the trio felt their bodies becoming lighter.
"Oh no," Rudy groaned, remembering the familiar sensation of teleporting. "Here we go!" He saw the twins disappear before his eyes. He then saw the room fading, replaced by brown landscape and an orange sky.
They landed roughly by the Gullwing with Rudy landing atop the twins. "Rudy!" Jill cried as she tried to crawl out from under his weight.
"Sorry," the knight apologized as he tried to disentangle himself from the twins. He stood up and shook his head. "I hate it when that happens," he growled. He bent down and helped Jill up.
Cecil slowly stood up afterwards, stretching his limbs. He gazed up at the orange sky. Birds were flying back to their homes and he sensed the wind picking up a bit. Nights were cooler on Filgaia than the day. "It took us a whole day to converse with the Guardians," he muttered as he stared at the setting sun. "We might as well rest for the night." He then remembered his closed fist. He unclenched his fist and saw that he still held the Wind Rune. "Fengalon," he whispered the Guardian's name.
Rudy saw him looking at the rune and remembered that he still held his. He didn't have to look at it to know that he possesses it. He felt the power of the Fire Gu! ardian flowing through him as he placed the rune in one of the many pockets of his coat. "Jill," he called to the princess, "are you all right? You haven't said anything since teleporting out of the shrine." He could tell that she was deep in thought. "Jill?" he called again when she didn't answer.
"Hmm?" Jill said as she looked up. "Oh! Sorry Rudy. I guess I was thinking too hard."
"About what?" the knight queried.
"About what the Guardians told us," replied the princess. "About all that's happening." She looked at the two runes she held, the Earth Rune and Water Rune. "These demons must be a bigger threat than the others before them," she sighed, "seeing that we are the only ones that has the power to release the Guardians' full potential." She sighed again as she placed the runes in one of the pockets of her dress.
Rudy nodded grimly as he said, "I know. Come. We can think this over a nice meal in Milama Village. We need time to sort things out and also find out who the rebel is. We may be spending some time in the village before moving ahead."
Jill and Cecil agreed. Stars began to dot the sky as they walked towards the oasis town of Milama.
"Here's two plates of rice, chicken, and mushrooms and a bowl of vegetable
soup for the young lady," the waitress announced as she placed their food
in front of them. "And also a pitcher of wine made from the breweries in
Adlehyde. Their wine is one of the best."
"Thank you," Rudy said gratefully to the red-headed waitress. The waitress nodded and smiled as she walked away. Rudy continued to stare at her retreating form before turning back to the matter at hand.
"You seem to know her," Cecil noticed Rudy's close observation of the waitress.
"You may say that," the blue-haired man acknowledged Cecil's comment. "Did your father tell about his first love?"
"About a fellow knight named Elmina?" Jill replied. Rudy nodded. "Well, I remember father saying about her being a demon herself and how he had told the Guardian of the Rings of Timespace to erase her memory of becoming a demon. She's now working as a waitress in Milama. . ." Her voice trailed off as she realized who the waitress was.
Rudy nodded as he saw recognition dawn on both of their faces. "Yes, that's Elmina or should I say Lydia. She still has amnesia but the bartender was kind enough to give her that name. She doesn't like it but she got use to it for the last twenty years." He smirked as he leaned back on his chair. "Amazingly enough, she's not only a waitress but a bouncer as well. The barkeep saw that she was good with a sword and with her bare hands too. Her reputation has spread throughout this village and there's hardly any fights here." He leaned forward and took knife and fork in hand. "Enough chattering," he said as he started to cut his food into pieces. "Let's eat and start planning our next move."
Cecil nodded as he took a bite of his chicken. He swallowed before speaking. "The rebel is the key to our next move. When we find him or her, then we should be able to find the location of the Guardian Blade with their help."
"Doesn't the book Anje gave you any help at all?"! Jill added as she poured herself a cup of wine.
"Now that you mention it," Rudy said as he wiped his mouth with a napkin, "I never really got to read it from cover to cover. Studying texts isn't my specialty."
"Then let me study it," Jill offered. "We read texts everyday in the abbey. Maybe I could interpret it a bit."
"Sure," Rudy agreed wholeheartedly. "I'll give it to you once we're lodged in the inn. You can study it there."
The trio suddenly turned at the sound of a drunken man hounding a young blonde-haired lady. "Hey there, sweetheart!" the rotund man replied with a wide grin. "Come here and pour me another cup of ale!" The young waitress did as she was bid to do a little hesitantly. The man looked at his fellows and winked, his grin plastered on his face. As the waitress refilled their cups with ale, the man did a bold move.
He grabbed her arm and pulled her to him. "Why don't you stay here a bit longer? We're mighty lonely and could use some company!" He bellowed out loud and his fellows joined in the laughter.
Rudy saw that the girl was frightened out of her mind. Her eyes were wide and she tried pulling herself away from the man. "Please sir," she begged, "I have some other customers to attend to."
"Well, you can attend to me," the man replied with a grin. He pulled the girl closer.
"This has to stop," Rudy murmured to the twins. He stood up and was about to give the man a few pointers when Lydia came up to the man's table to stop it herself. It was her job afterall.
"Stop this at once!" Lydia shouted as she stood over the man.
The man looked at her plainly. "Why?" he asked innocently. "Are you jealous or something?" Again the man laughed.
"I see that you are new around here," Lydia said calmly as she cracked her knuckles. "Well, I guess it's time for me to tell you the rules of this here establishment." She freed the girl from the clutches of the man and said, "Rule number one: No fights." She then grabbed the man fr! om his collar and pulled him up, glaring at him with eyes that burned with an inner fire. "And rule number two," she whispered dangerously as she dragged the man to the door.
"NO HUSTLING OF WAITRESSES!!!" she yelled as she flung the man out the door of the pub. She turned to the others watching in the pub especially to the table where the man had occupied. The fellows there were awed by this woman's strength and yet afraid. "Let's get out of here!" they murmured as they hastily exited the building, careful to not bump into the warrior waitress.
"Serves him right!" Lydia shouted after them. She clapped her hands together and smiled before returning to her duties as a waitress.
Rudy sat back down seeing that the situation was under control. "Well, I guess that finishes dinner," he said as he placed his utensils down. He poured himself some of the wine and drank it slowly. He placed the cup down watching the wine swish back and forth within it. "I guess we have our own thoughts on the matter," he whispered before finishing his drink. He suddenly stood up and stretched. The twins looked at him. "I'll meet you in the inn later. Leave a tip for Lydia before you go." With that he left the twins and went out of the pub to wander the streets for a while.
Jill and Cecil ate quietly for awhile after Rudy left them. Cecil stifled a yawn when done eating. "I guess it's time to get some rest. I need to rest my mind for a bit," he said as he stood up. He picked up his cup and drained the rest of the liquid. "Are you coming?" he asked Jill who was still sitting.
Jill's eyes were beginning to droop as she tried to finish her soup. She drained the bowl of soup and wiped her mouth with her napkin before following Cecil's example. "We have to leave a tip, remember?" Jill said as she dug in her pockets for some gella.
Before coming up with anything, Cecil placed a hundred gella on the table. "There," Cecil said as soon as he placed the gella on the table. "Let's go to the inn. I could! use some rest right about now." Jill nodded and they left the pub together heading towards the inn near the entrance of town.
Rudy walked around the town, taking in the sights. It's been awhile since he last saw the town. Everything was the same. He heard water trickling around the town as it should be. Milama Village is known for its abundant supply of water. He stopped under a tree and looked up at the stars in the sky and wondered if the new moon, Malduke, still floated among the Star Ocean waiting for someone to control it once more. "Ka Dingel is destroyed," Rudy mused with a smirk. "No one can go up there now."
He began to walk again among the buildings of the small town. Most of the people have gone to their homes seeing that it was getting late. Rudy yawned and stretched as he continued to walk. "Might as well go to the inn," he muttered as he made his way there.
When he entered the building, he was surprised that the twins were kind enough to lodge him in as well. "You're Rudy Roughnight?" the elderly innkeeper asked as she looked at the guestbook. Rudy nodded. "Here you are," the innkeeper said as she saw his name written in the book. She smiled as she gave Rudy the keys to his room. "Room Six, the last room to your left." She pointed to the hallway leading from the lobby.
"Thank you," Rudy said gratefully as he took the keys. "Good-night."
"Good-night to you sir," the elderly woman replied with a smile.
Rudy nodded again to the innkeeper before heading to his room. He was surprised at how the inn had improved over the years. Twenty years ago, it was only a small building that accomodated only three guests at one time. Now it had elongated itself doubling its vacancy to six.
The building was fairly the same, only adding three more rooms on the left side of the entrance. There were separate rooms now instead of the three beds being seen from the entrance. Plants were placed at certain intervals in the hallways.
The hallway's lights were dim as he approached his room. "Room Six," Rudy read the number on the door. "This is it." He placed the key in the ke! yhole and turned, hearing the familiar click of door unlocking. He was about to enter when he suddenly remembered to give Jill the book. "I wonder if she's in Room Five."
He went to the next room down and tried the doorknob. Surprisingly, the door easily swung open. Rudy peeked from the doorway to make sure if it was really the princess's room. He could dimly make out the sleeping form of Jill. He saw the Tear Drop around her neck glint off the moonlight casting from her window. He sneaked into the room and quietly placed the book on the drawer near the bed. He then walked back the way he came and carefully shut the door.
Yawning again, he dragged himself to his room. Upon entering the small chamber, he unbuckled his sword belt and unholstered his ARM, letting them hang on the bedpost. He stretched as he fell unto the bed. As soon as his head hit the pillow, he was fast asleep.
Cecil's eyes were clenched tight and beads of sweat were pouring down his face. He twisted and turned in bed from the troubled dream he was having. "Who are you?" he murmured out loud. "What do you mean?"
He was standing in darkness with a voice calling out to him. A black figure lined in blue light appeared before him, beckoning him. "Come to me and I shall see if you are worthy of the blade," the figure said.
"Where?" Cecil asked as he moved closer to the figure. "Where can I find you?"
"The survivor knows how to find me. Seek him. Then we shall see if you are worthy of the blade." The figure was fast fading into darkness.
"Wait!" Cecil yelled as he tried to run to the mysterious stranger. "Wait!"
"Wait!" Cecil mumbled as his head turned from side to side. "Wait!" He bolted straight up, his hand outstretched towards nothing. He panted heavily, his hair plastered to his face, and sweat seemed to pour in rivulets down his face and chest. "A dream?" he said uncertain.
He looked towards the window and saw that it was morning. "But what does it mean?" he asked himself as he got up from bed and walked towards the window.
He could see that the town was beginnning to awake from its slumber. People were setting up shop while others were heading towards the pub for breakfast. Those who were out on a walk wished those they pass by a good morning with a smile and a wave of their hand.
Cecil turned when he heard a knock on the door. "Cecil, are you awake?" Jill asked through the door. "We're going to the pub for breakfast."
"I'll be right there!" Cecil shouted as he put on his plain white shirt. He then put on his black boots and buckled his sword belt. Seeing that he was properly dressed, he went to the door and opened it. Jill and Rudy were waiting in the hall. "Shall we go?" Cecil asked as he closed the door.
He began walking towards the inn's exit without waiting for their answer. They caught up to him as they mad! e their way to the pub. Jill could tell that her brother was troubled but she kept silent. She would ask him later when her brother will be in a better mood.
Cecil was unaware of his surroundings and his companions as his feet carried him through town. His mind was preoccupied with the dream he had last night. Survivor? Who's the survivor? Is it another name for the rebel?, he thought. They passed over a bridge that led to the east side of town and turned north towards the pub.
It was situated on a little peninsula in the northeast corner of the town. The sound of water flowing surrounded the little establishment. They crossed another bridge to reach the little peninsula and entered the tavern.
There were hardly anyone in the building, some preferring the night than the day. The trio occupied the same table as the night before. Jill noticed that Lydia was not in today and told Rudy.
Rudy nodded. "She works at night only," he replied. "There's hardly any trouble during the day. It's at night when things start getting rowdy."
"That makes sense," Jill agreed.
A young lady suddenly skipped up to their table, her auburn curly hair bouncing up and down with the movement. She greeted them cheerfully with a wide smile that stretched from ear to ear. "Hi! What will you guys be having?" She took out a small notepad and a pen and waited for the trio's orders.
"I guess I'll have a bacon, egg, and rice platter," Rudy ordered. The young lady wrote the order down and waited for the twins to order.
"I'll have toast," Jill said. "What will you be having, Cecil?" Seeing that her brother was still preoccupied, she lightly nudged him in the ribs. "Cecil?"
"Oh, yes," he said a little slowly. "I'll just have tea. I'm not really hungry."
The waitress nodded and repeated the order. "Do you want anything to drink?" she asked Rudy and Jill. When both of them said their drinks, the lady smiled and turned about to take care of their order.
As soon as ! she left, Rudy and Jill stared intently at Cecil. "What's the matter with you this morning?" the knight captain asked in concern for the prince.
Cecil sighed. "I've been thinking about a dream I had last night. It might lend us clues to who the rebel is." He conveyed to them the dream.
When Cecil was done, they sat in thoughtful silence. "It's not for us to discuss it in here," Rudy said as he saw the young woman returning with their meal.
The trio sat in awkward silence as the woman placed their meal atop the table. "There you go!" the waitress exclaimed as she finished her task. "You need anything else?"
"No thanks," replied Rudy. "We're fine as is."
The young woman nodded and with a smile, left the trio. "Let's hurry and finish our meal," Rudy urged the twins. "I feel that we may have stumbled upon something. Besides, Jill needs to study the book."
"We can all talk about this in the inn," Jill added as she munched on her toast.
Cecil muttered in agreement. He continued to stare at his tea, trying to recall the shadowy figure in his dream. Who was the figure and how did it know about the Guardian Blade? For some unknown reason, he knew that the answer lied within the medallion his father had given. But without the translation of the ancient script, they had to find the answer somewhere else. Does this rebel or survivor hold the answer?, the prince thought. He sipped his tea. We'll get to the bottom of this sooner or later.
The next two days the trio remained in the inn, only leaving the building for their meals in the tavern, trying to solve the riddle of the rebel. It was after Rudy and Cecil went to sleep on the night of the second day that Jill finally solved it.
"Rudy!" Jill shouted as she pounded on his door. "Rudy, Rudy! Open up! Come on!"
She stepped back as she heard a click as a lock unlocking. It was followed by the door opening a crack and a disheveled head sticking out from that crack. "What is it?" Rudy asked drowsily. His eyes were half open seeming to not focus on the princess and his head was throbbing. "Can it wait until morning?"
Jill shook her head vigorously. "No it can't. I've finally solved it!" She smiled at him waiting to see his reaction.
Rudy didn't understand what she was happy about, still half asleep. "Wha. . .?" He passed out in front of Jill.
"Rudy!" Jill exclaimed as she caught him. He was snoring softly in her arms. "I think you had too much drink," the princess muttered. "Wake up!" She shook him gently. "I know. I'll get Cecil."
She gently laid him down, half of him sprawled in the hall and the other half in his room. Jill then ran to her brother's room and softly knocked on his door. "Cecil?" she called. "Cecil, wake up!"
She heard him grumbling as he came closer to the door. A moment later, his head was sticking out the same way Rudy was awhile ago. "What is it?" he asked a bit angry about his sleep being interrupted.
"I need you to help me with Rudy," she answered him calmly as she pointed at the knight captain's sleeping form.
"All right," Cecil sighed as he stepped out into the hallway and closed his door.
The twins went to Rudy. Cecil bent down and wrapped Rudy's arm around his shoulders and hoisted him up. "What a perfect night to drink," Cecil muttered as he dragged Rudy into the room. "Where do you want me to put him?" the prince asked his sister.
"Just put him on the bed," Jill answered a little imp! atiently. "Hurry! I have some news that will please you." She walked over to the bed. "But first I need to wake him up." Sorry Rudy, she apologized silently as she casted the Awake spell.
A bright green alarm clock appeared out of thin air and landed besides Rudy's head. As soon as it landed, it started to ring so loud that the twins had to cover their ears and hope that the sound had not awaken the other patrons of the inn.
Rudy rolled off the bed and onto the floor. "What? What?" he said fully awake now. "What's happening? What's going on?"
Jill couldn't help but laugh. Rudy just stared at her. "Finally you're awake and hopefully sober enough to hear what I'm about to say." Cecil and Rudy sat quietly with Cecil occassionally hitting his head, still trying to stop the ringing in his ears. "It's about the rebel," Jill continued as she took out the book. "I think I found a passage that could help us in identifying this stranger." She opened it to the passage and began reading.
Thought to be one of the elite, he was rejected by his kind. He tried to prove himself many times to no avail. One day his life turned around after his trip through the void. In the town of the 'sacred beast' , he met one who cannot see the world of men but could see their hearts. This one had seen his heart, seen his loneliness and rejection. This is when the rebel was truly born. He rebeled against the teachings of his kind to be replaced by the concept of love and protection that his kind does not possess. The evil within his heart vanished, the light of good beginning to shine in his heart.
"There's more to it but this is the main one," Jill finished. She looked up and asked, "Any idea on who it is?"
"Well, if we don't know who it is," Cecil began, "we can at least go to this town of the 'sacred beast'. The rebel is bound to be there." He then turned when he heard Rudy chuckling to himself. "What's wrong with you?" the prince asked. "Still drunk?"
"No, no," Rudy repli! ed through a chuckle trying to stop himself. "I'm such a fool to not see it. It makes perfect sense!"
"Who?" Jill asked impatiently. "Who is it? We have a right to know."
Rudy looked at them still smiling at his foolishness. "I'll introduce you to him. We'll leave early tomorrow morning on our journey to Saint Centour, the town of the 'sacred beast'." He yawned and winced as the throbbing in his head returned. "I for one can use the rest," he muttered through clenched teeth as he placed a hand on his head to ease the pain. "Too much drink."
The twins nodded in much agreement with the knight captain's advice to sleep as well as his remark to his liquor consumption that night. They said their good-nights and wished him a well deserved rest.
At last, they were one step closer to their destiny.
In the morning, the trio got ready to leave. Rudy paid the innkeeper and they left the inn and the town altogether, flying high above the clouds in the Gullwing. They flew in a northeasterly direction, Curan Abbey passing below. They continued onward, Adlehyde Castle coming into view. Rudy then saw something at the edge of his peripheral vision that made him stop the aircraft and hover for a moment. He turned the metal bird in a more easterly direction and began flying towards there. "Where are we going?" Cecil asked in alarm. "Saint Centour is that way."
Rudy didn't hear the prince's remarks. His eyes were focused on the object that was floating above the Inner Sea becoming larger as he flew closer to it. Something about the way it looked troubled him.
The twins stared at the object, not in fright like Rudy, but in curiousity. "What is that?" Jill inquired. Both twins studied the object.
It was a floating round sphere, water still dripping down its sides from its rise out of the sea. Seaweed clung to rusted metal like vines clinging on the sides of a building. The sphere seemed to pulse with an inner light as if it had a life of its own.
Jill looked at Rudy and asked again. She saw that he held the control stick tightly, his knuckles white from lack of blood circulation. His expression was that of surprise but it suddenly turned to pure hatred. "No, it can't be!" Rudy growled through clenched teeth. He slowed the Gullwing to a halt just a few miles away from the sphere and hovered for a while. "Damn it!" Rudy cursed aloud. "It sunk to the bottom of the sea! How could it rise? Unless. . ."
"What?" Cecil demanded Rudy. "What is it? What is it about this thing that frightens you so?"
"This," the knight captain replied softly, "is the Photosphere that had supposedly crashed into the sea twenty years ago. The Metal Demons used it as their headquarters before acquiring the secret of Ka Dingel. I thought it was gone for good but it seems that these demons can brea! the underwater as well. How much more power do they have that we don't know of?"
He cautiously flew the Gullwing towards the flying fortress and wondered if the demons could see them. The answer to that, he knew, would be revealed soon.
Seth looked at the Gullwing approaching from his screen within the Photosphere's bridge. Lights blipped and beeped within the control room of the fortress. He smirked as he took a closer look at the flying object and the passengers inside of it. "Time for you to die Rudy Roughnight," he smiled, "and the others that are with you."
He typed a few commands on the control panel. "Initiating weapons system," a mechanical voice informed. "Target locked. Ready to fire."
"Fire." Seth pushed a red button and he felt the fortress shudder as the cannons discharged. He watched the screen anticipating the fall of his enemy.
Two beams of light headed towards the plane. "Rudy look!" Cecil pointed to the beams.
"Oh no!" he exclaimed. "Hang on!" He dove out of the way but had to veer to the left when he saw two more beams of light heading their way. He continued to dodge the projectiles from the Photosphere.
"I'll try to get out of range," Rudy suggested as he dove towards the sea and made a tight turn towards land. He could see Ship Graveyard ahead.
The beams were becoming more accurate. Then he suddenly realized that he would endanger the people of Ship Graveyard if he continued to head towards it. He cursed under his breath as he turned the plane around.
"Rudy, what are you doing?!" Jill screamed. "You're going to get us killed!"
"Better us than the town," he whispered as he maintained his hold on the control stick. "If we had continued towards Ship Graveyard, the beams might have hit the town. I can't take that chance."
The metal bird rocked as the beams became closer. I can't dodge forever!, Rudy thought desperately. He continued to dodge as best he could but there were too many of them. The Gullwing had no weapons to retaliate and worse, it had no type of defense shield. "Remind me to tell Emma about adding weapons and defensive systems to the Gullwing," he said trying to keep the situation light. It didn't have the desired effect as he started cursing under his breath.
"Genso Shield!" a loud voice boomed. A sword flashed before the plane and glowed brightly. It surrounded the plane in a white aura that shielded them from the beams. Then the sword disappeared in a flash replaced by a figure holding the sword.
"Who's that?" Cecil asked in wonder and suspicion. He saw the green hair that indicated that it was a demon. "Is he the one that shielded us?"
Rudy nodded, not believing it himself. "Zed," he said, "how did you do that?" The twins heard him and looked at him strangely.
"So you know him?" Jill asked. She looked from Rudy to the fig! ure with the orange scarf out in the air.
Again Rudy nodded. "I'll explain later when we have the time to talk to him."
The Photosphere had ceased to fire its weapons. An eerie silence ensued. Only the howling of the wind and the roar of the engine of the Gullwing pervaded the silence. All waited, their breath held as the minutes ticked by.
Then the weapons flared into life once more as beams headed toward the plane and Zed. Rudy moved the plane out of the way but Zed stayed where he was. Rudy whirled the plane around, seeing that the beams were being aimed directly at Zed.
Zed stood calmly as he watched the approaching beams. Then he moved his sword in two quick movements as he deflected them. He then countered with his own attack. "Garyu Ichimongiri!" He brought his sword back and swung it with all his might at the floating castle.
A crescent-shaped beam shot itself forward from his sword. It flew towards two cannons and blew them to pieces upon impact. The trio saw the small explosion on the surface of the Photosphere.
"How did he get stronger?" Rudy asked himself in disbelief.
Seth cursed as he steadied himself from the impact. "Curse him," he swore. "How did he do that?" He glared at the figure on the screen. "Traitor!" he spat. "So, you have finally reached your full potential. I've always wanted to test my strength on a worthy opponent. The question is, are you that opponent?" He laughed as he hefted his axe onto his shoulder and vanished only to reappear outside the Photosphere.
The wind whipped around his face and the sun reflected off his metallic skin. He twirled his axe in a sign of boredom. "I can see that you have mastered the art of flying. Only some demons could master it. You are very fortunate." He stopped twirling his axe and held it in front of him. "But are you capable of flying and fighting at the same time?"
Zed cocked his head to one side and grinned. "I don't know. I haven't tried it out yet."
"Then let me show you how it is done!" Seth shouted as he flew towards Zed.
Zed calmly hovered waiting for the right moment to strike back. Seth did an overhead swing with his axe planning on splitting Zed's head in two. Zed calmly moved to the side and brought his sword under Seth's swing, managing to cut his torso.
Black blood caked Zed's sword. He coolly turned around and waited for the next move. Seth was paralyzed with shock. He looked down at the wound and saw the blood oozing out. "H-How did he manage to do that?" he stammered. He covered his wound and murmured a few words. The wound began to close.
He looked at his work and smirked. He had learned a few tricks while staying at this planet. He turned around and glared at the traitor. "That was a nice swing. Pity that it failed."
"That was only a practice swing," Zed laughed. "The real battle is just beginning." He clenched his hands into fists and concentrated into gathering his energy. He screamed and his whole body flared with chaotic energy. He swung his sword out and above him. The black energy surrounding his body channeled into the sword. "Chaotic swo! rd!" He swung his sword down, a beam of black energy shooting out from it.
Seth twirled his axe in a makeshift shield in front of him. The black beam struck but went no further as he continued to twirl his axe. Zed continued to fire his beam unrelenting. Seth twirled his axe faster preparing to counter. He brought his axe up, still twirling it and shouted, "Icewind Blast!" He brought his axe down and a blue beam of ice crashed onto the black beam of chaos.
The trio in the Gullwing watched in awe at the clashing of powers. "How did he get stronger?" Rudy repeated staring in disbelief. "This battle is way out of our league."
"Let's go to Saint Centour while they're busy," Cecil suggested and Rudy nodded in agreement. He flew the Gullwing north towards the deserted city leaving the battle behind them.
The two beams continued to clash as the battlers grunted under the force of their own beams. None of them is planning to relent. Seth's pride flamed his attack while Zed had a purpose to continue this fight.
Zed could see that Seth was faltering under the pressure of his attack. He could feel Seth's beam getting weaker. "This is my only chance," he grunted. He gave another shout and more energy flowed out, widening his beam.
Seth grunted from the added pressure and knew he couldn't keep his beam up much longer. He could see that Zed's beam was overtaking his; soon it would hit him. He stared in horror as the beam came closer and it eventually struck him. He plummeted to the earth stunned by the attack.
Zed sheathed his sword and quickly flew towards the falling demon. He passed the demon and dove below him. He then flew upwards, both of his arms raised above his head. He growled as he punched Seth on the back. Seth howled in pain but Zed wasn't done yet.
He then took ahold of one of Seth's arms and started to swing him around. "How does it feel like to be defeated by a lesser demon, by a traitor?" Zed asked as he continued to swing. The only reply he got was a groan. "Tell Bram to leave this planet or else he would end up like you." He let go of his arm and Seth flew towards the Photosphere.
Seth opened his eyes and saw the Photosphere looming towards him. He crashed into it, the velocity so strong that he crashed through the surface of the spherical ship, landing inside the Photosphere. He looked out at the hole and saw Zed flying away. He moaned as he struggled to get up but fell back down. "I'll get you after I get that weakling, Jack," he whispered as his mind drifted on the waves of blackness.
Rudy landed the Gullwing in front of the entrance to the ghost town. The sounds of the battle could not reach the town so far to the north. The twins did not worry about it though, intent on finding the rebel.
The trio disembarked the metal bird. Before heading into town, they looked to the south where they had left the battle. All they could see was the open sea, gulls flying freely in the air, and nothing more. No Photosphere and no signs of a battle waging. "Let's go find this rebel," Cecil said after a moment's pause. He started walking towards the lonely town. Jill followed his example.
Rudy continued to stare at the sea, his hair swaying in the breeze. The smell of the salt sea air entered his nostrils but he also sensed something in the breeze. The smell of power being unleashed. Being able to sense it was one of his abilities as the last Holmcross. He thought about what he had witnessed back there with Zed and Seth, confused about Zed's sudden surge in power. Twenty years ago, he hardly could defeat one of them and now he is making a sport out of Seth. How did he get stronger?, he wondered. It doesn't make any sense.
Jill stopped when she noticed that Rudy wasn't following them and told her brother to do the same. "Rudy," she called to the knight captain.
Rudy didn't hear Jill, so engrossed was he in his thoughts. The princess called a second time and a third before the knight captain noticed that he was being called. He turned and saw the twins impatiently waiting for him. "Sorry," he apologized as he went to them. "I was merely thinking," he added quickly when he saw Jill about to say something.
"About what?" Jill huffed as they resumed their walk to the town.
"It's nothing," Rudy shook his head in answer.
They continued the walk towards the city in silence. Soon they had wandered into the city, past the rows of statues and into the gate. They stood in front of the inn, the little parrot still sitting on its perch, bobbing! its head from side to side. "Where to?" Cecil questioned Rudy. "Where is this rebel?" He looked around the town from their vantage point.
The wind seemed to moan like haunting ghosts as it blew through the town. Cecil shivered as he felt the wind brush against his skin as if one of those ghosts had touched him. Nothing thrived in this town, not even the trees or the small plants. They were wilting and their leaves were brown and crinkly from either lack of water or lack of life around it. He could see some of the buildings in disrepair. Doors were hanging from their hinges, paint was peeling off, and spiders had spun their webs on the corners of the windows. This whole town was a mystery to him.
"He lives with the last survivor of this town," Rudy explained. "They live in the southwest corner of town." He had begun leading them towards the small house when a small voice halted them.
"Don't take one step closer," it threatened. The trio looked around to locate the voice. Rudy signaled for the others to split up.
The small boy that spoke watched from atop the city's wall. He saw them split up. "I said don't move," he threatened again.
They stopped and backed up, forming a tight circle. They took out their weapons and searched for the figure to whom the voice belonged to. "Who are you?" Rudy demanded. "Are you here to hurt Rosa? I swear that if you laid a finger on her, you'll regret it." He gazed from side to side, figuring out where the voice was originating from.
He saw a shadow fly over them. He looked up to see a small boy of about five years of age, flying towards him with his sword held high. He brought his ARM up in time to deflect the kid's swing. The boy back-flipped a couple of times before facing the trio. "Do you think this is our rebel?" Cecil whispered to Jill, who only shrugged in answer. "It seems like it to me," Cecil muttered his answer to his own question.
The boy seemed to be the rebellious sort, glaring at them with eyes gleaming in antic! ipation of a battle. He panted softly as if that first attack took a lot from him. His turquoise hair was all spiked up and a yellow bandana went about his head. He wore a dark blue tunic with matching pants held together by a white sash and small black shoes that seemed more fitting for casual wear than for fighting. He held his tiny sword with ease as if he was born with it.
"Where's your parents?" Cecil asked the rambunctious boy.
"My parents aren't here," he growled in answer. "Besides, I'm strong enough to take care of myself."
"Truly?" a voice asked from above.
The boy's face paled as he recognized the voice. He knew then that he was in trouble.
All of them looked up to see Zed floating down towards them. "Really, Zex, you should be more hospitable to guests," he scolded the child when he landed.
"Dad," he whined, "I was just having a little fun." He sheathed his sword and looked down, ashamed to look his father in the eye.
"Dad? You mean he's your son?!" Rudy exclaimed when he heard the conversation. "Now that I think about it, you two look kind of alike. Is the mother who I think she is?"
Zed nodded, temporarily forgetting about his son. "Does Rosa know?" Rudy was referring to the fact that Zed was a demon.
Again Zed nodded. "When Rosa heard that Jack and Cecilia had children, she wanted to have a child too. I didn't consider ourselves husband and wife but she was devoted to me and I to her, which to me is the same as being married. Before we did anything, I told her about my past and my heritage. She took the news hard, saying that I had betrayed her and such and bade me to leave her, to leave Saint Centour. I tried to make it up to her but she would not have me around her anymore so I left. I always came back year after year to apologize but she would always bid me to leave and to never come back. Well, we reconciled after a few years of silence for Rosa and wandering for me. Then Zex here," he patted the boy, "showed up." H! e let out a slow whistle. "I don't want to ever go through that again. It's hard living alone."
Rudy nodded, understanding how the demon felt about loneliness. He, too, was lonely for a long while, after his adopted grandfather's death and before he ever met Jack or Cecilia. The memories of wandering the land were unpleasant at times but he often brushed them aside, happy to be with friends and to have a place to belong to. Then he looked at the boy and wondered how he would fit in this world. "So he's half-demon, half-human," Rudy mused. "I never knew such a bond could exist."
"Well, we couldn't be sure unless we tried, right?" Zed said.
"Right," Rudy nodded happy that his friend has finally found a place for himself in this world. Then his thoughts went to Zex. The timeline Zed had described in his explanation troubled him. Zex looked to be the age of five but in consideration with Zed's timeline, the boy would have been half the age of the twins. "Zed," he said and the green-haired demon looked at him, "how old is your boy? He looks to be about five but by the way you described his story, he's suppose to be around seven or eight."
"Demon blood," Zed answered matter-of-factly. "Demons age slower than humans. He is seven years old by the way."
Rudy nodded again, always the observant one. "I have one more question to ask you," Rudy continued. "How did---" His question was drowned out by a soft growl very much akin to a purr of a cat. He looked curiously at Zed.
Zed looked at him in surprise. "What?" he asked oblivious to the sound. He then felt a tugging at his side. He looked down at his son and asked, "What is it, Zex?"
"Daddy, I'm hungry," the boy pouted.
Zed looked up at the sky for the sun. It was almost noon. "I guess we should get something to eat." He picked up the boy and placed him on his shoulder and looked at the trio. "Sorry guys but I gotta give this guy here something to eat or else he'll go ballistic. You're welcome to join us."
"Thanks," Rudy said gratefully. "We all could use some rest after our long flight from Milama Village." He started to follow Zed.
"Rudy," Jill whispered as she got close to him. "What about our 'rebel'? Remember?"
Rudy chuckled. "Haven't you figured it out, Jill?" he smiled. "Zed is our 'rebel'."
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