"Alex." The deep voice of the Tuaparang Emperor resounded in the dark room.
Kneeling before a closed black curtain that hid the Emperor was the Adept known as Alex. The curtain had fires burning behind it casting an ominous shadow of the man sitting behind it. The former Mercury Adept was kneeling before the leader of the Tuaparang only because he needed the help of the foolish man along with his country's strength and technology.
"Yes my Emperor?" Alex replied in a cold tone.
"Why did you send Sheba away from us? Our influence will wane if she is not beside a powerful Umbra Adept." The Emperor stated.
"I sent Zacchaeus with her. Surely you do not doubt his power." Alex answered.
"Zacchaeus is indeed strong but his pride will be the downfall of him. He does not appreciate the lengths people will go to protect what they consider theirs."
"Do not fret. If Zacchaeus fails in his mission I will personally retrieve Ragnell from its current owner. He has recently arrived in Kalay and no doubt will relax with so many Warriors of Vale around him."
"I require at least one of those blades Alex. Our plans to break the barrier require the blood of a god and those are the only known weapons to still exist that have injured the divine."
"I shall check on the progress of Zacchaeus now milord." Alex said as he stood up and turned to leave.
"I did not dismiss you Alex!" the Emperor shouted his silhouette now standing.
"Forgive me my lord. I simply wished to bring you news of the front lines as quickly as I can." Alex told the man as he made a deep bow.
"Be off then. But do not make the same mistake again." The Emperor's voice carried a touch of caution within.
"But of course." Alex said before turning back around and heading out the large metallic double doors.
Once on the other side of the doors Alex took a deep breath. It was always degrading dealing with nobility. He had been working "for" the Emperor for over ten years now. Ever since he had escaped from underneath Mt. Aleph Alex had been working on a way to obtain the power that had been denied to him by the Wise One. Anyone with sense had learned that Weyard started falling after the activation of the Golden Sun. Alex had felt it in his bones that the world as he knew it was falling out of the sky at an agonizingly slow pace. The combination of the four elements within him granted him a connection to the world around him like none other.
It was because of this new connection that told Alex of the power that slept under Mt. Aleph. Something, or someone, with great power was trapped under that accursed rock far down where he himself had ended up. When Alex felt this great power he knew that he had to find the source. So he looked all over Weyard to find the people with the power to get him down there. That was how he had found out and started working for the Tuaparang. They had the technology even then to get him under the mountain. It had taken a little over a year to gain their trust and another year of mining to get down far enough. Then they had run into a problem that still haunted them to this day. A golden barrier surrounded a temple and inside that temple was the source of the power. So great was this force that Alex had almost started weeping at the prospect of gaining it.
A few years went by and nothing the Tuaparang or Alex thought of could break through the seal. However as Alchemy returned to the world the barrier began to shrink. One of the rooms they had been able to enter was a library of cosmic proportions. There they had learned what lay inside and that the only way the barrier would fall was if Alchemy was restored to the entire world, and not just Weyard, or if a God or Goddess were to intervene. This had prompted the Tuaparang and Alex himself to bring the Alchemy Machines back online. With them in working order the powers of Alchemy would be restored that much faster to the world. Inside that library they learned of the existence of other continents. A map so ancient that Alex had to use Psynergy to even open it, for he feared his rough hands would tear it, led them to a promising land. A continent called Tellius where a Goddess once walked amongst her creations. She had split herself in two though creating Ashera and Yune, Goddess of Order and Chaos respectively.
The Emperor had wasted no time in ordering a fleet of ships towards Tellius. Alex, who had situated himself as the ruler's right hand asked him to send only one ship. With a silver tongue Alex convinced the Emperor to let him go and see what Tellius had before he sent the entire fleet to the unsuspecting lands. This had turned out to be a great move on Alex's part. When he arrived on Tellius he met with a man named Ashnard. The ruler of Daein was not happy with his small part of land. He wanted the entire continent for himself. Like most power hungry rulers though he wasn't the brightest mind out there. With the use of an Dark Psynergy from one of the Umbra Adepts that accompanied him Alex got the Mad King to let him into the royal library.
Inside that library Alex had learned of Lehran's Medallion. Dark Psynergy wasn't needed to convince Ashnard to seek out its power for himself. Alex then forged a deal with Daein's ruler. In exchange for a weapon of massive power Alex would be able to study the Medallion for one day. Of course on that day Alex would be simply taking the Medallion and leave the king high and dry. Zacchaeus had been quite annoyed when Alex used his sword, Gurgurant, as a barging chip. It had worked though. Ashnard had glared hungrily at the blade and was quick to make the deal. What an utter failure Ashnard had been. When Alex had heard that the king had died in trying to obtain the Medallion he had started looking elsewhere. He had taken the Gurgurant from Ashnard's grave and he did plan to return it to Zacchaeus but the sword was too powerful to waste on someone as weak as Zacchaeus. So instead Alex had kept it for himself. If everything went according to plan Zacchaeus would soon be dead and Alex could bring the blade out for use once more.
Three years after Ashnard's death a war on Tellius broke out. Never one to miss an opportunity Alex had watched the events unfold to see if the Medallion would resurface. It had. The residents of Tellius though had released the Goddess from her confines and proceeded to throw a wrench into Alex's plans once again. It was then that Alex got the idea to simply trap Yune into the Medallion again. If she had been in there once then she could get in there again. Scout teams scoured Tellius to figure out how she had been imprisoned in the first place. Magic had been the culprit. Something called a Galdr. The laguz type known as Heron could sing it and seal the Goddess inside once again. Luckily for Alex the few remaining Herons quite enjoyed singing their Galdrs for their friends. Studying the effects the music created Alex became sure that he could mimic the effects with Psynergy and with Tuaparang technology condense the power into a grenade. Now every Umbra Adept carried with them a small grenade that when tossed within the vicinity of Yune and the Medallion the power released would drag the Goddess into her prison.
All of this added up to the fact that Alex had put in years of work and was no closer to his goal thanks to the bumbling idiot that led the powerful Umbra Adepts. As much as Alex preferred subtlety all this could have been sped up if the Emperor would send more troops and his legion of Umbra Adepts. With their ability to influence the minds of the people it wouldn't be hard to find where the young looking goddess and her prison were hiding. The only lead they had on the Medallion was that one of the laguz tribes had it. Alex had ordered the Tuaparang to capture the now collective Bird Tribe for the Herons. It would make the most sense for them to have the small item. Some had escaped from them and there was no way to tell if the ones they missed held the Medallion. Yune had made it easy on them to track her down. She was once again out in the open and the rulers of Tellius had now started working together. There was no doubt in Alex's mind that she now would be with one of the ruling bodies for they wouldn't want her to be let out of their protective sight.
The business with Sheba was simple. He owed her a small favor for releasing Alchemy to the world. It truly was the least he could do but he made it so she was sent with Zacchaeus to Felix's location. Neither of the two Warriors would be happy with this fact but Alex had now freed Sheba and since he had done something that helped the entirety of the Warriors of Vale he felt his debt with them was finished. They had a member back after all, it was not his fault they turned against her. Alex now had something else to do. Go to Tellius and find that Zacchaeus had died, there really was no hope that he had lived, and then go after Tellius' hero that held Ragnell. Only with a divine blood stained blade could they channel the power of Yune without killing everyone around them.
Alex walked the halls of the Royal Palace. Tuaparang soldiers saluted him as he walked by. Every soldier was his to command. The only orders that could override his own were that of the Emperor's own hand. Alex had that man under his control so he was effectively running an entire nation. It was just a nation of bumbling morons that weren't good enough to wipe the grim off of his shoes. However, Alex was used to working with such people. Menardi, Saturos, Karst, and Agatio hadn't been much better than the Tuaparang. Those four at least had the drive to carry out their mission. Alex's current pawns only worked because they were told to. It made things much more difficult
Leaving the palace grounds Alex was met with the sight of the sun setting. Alex hated sunsets and sunrises. The golden light teased him with the remembrance of what he should have. The black walls of the palace gate drank in the light. The Tuaparang had a very muted colour palette when it came to their buildings. The entire capital city was filled with grey and black buildings. From what Alex had seen of Daein the architects of the two countries would have gotten along.
Taking a left out of the palace Alex headed towards the Royal Hangar. The building was the same black as the palace walls. A set of large doors capable of fitting a small airship through were currently closed. This building was meant to hold up to six smaller airships. Three of the ships were for the Emperor's personal use. Like most easily manipulated people the Emperor was vain and power hungry so he had to have the best of the best and the most. There was currently only one other ship in the hangar and that was Alex's small ship. It was easily manned by a group of five people and made traveling Weyard much easier. Alex could teleport but only short distances. Without the Teleport Lapis he had to resort to the same ways of travel as normal humans.
Reaching the long building Alex opened a small door that stood next to the larger doors. Entering the hangar Alex looked at his ship. Like all Tuaparang ships the outer shell was a tan colour and a small metal cabin was attached to the bottom. Propellers attached to the back of the shell and at the top allowed the massive machine to fly through the air. The exact mechanics of how the airship worked escaped Alex. As much as he wanted to learn how they functioned he had more pressing matters. Besides once he obtained the power underneath Mt. Aleph these airships would be the first thing to go. He would keep his own personal airship for nostalgia but the rest of the Tuaparang's fleet would be destroyed.
Walking up to his airship Alex opened the door with a flick of his wrist. Five men in standard issue armor stood inside. They were the normal crew that flew with Alex. He had already won them over to his side with a few promises of power. They would take him anywhere he wanted without reporting it to the Emperor. This had been essential when he had been following Chalice and Blados. With the Emperor not knowing that Alex used his airship to follow after the two Umbra Adepts it had given him an advantage when he had "foreseen" the defeat of the two at the hands of Matthew's group. With his false prediction coming true Alex had reassured the idiotic ruler that he was needed still.
"We are going to Nevassa, Daein." the blue haired Adept informed his crew.
Alex then moved to a large chair that sat in the front of the cabin. The helm of the ship was only a few feet behind him. The five members of the crew took their places and started the process of getting the machine into the air. A roar announced the awakening of the propellers. With a lurch Alex knew they had left the ground. Groaning with the effort the hangar doors opened letting the rays of the setting sun into the building. A man walked out in front of the airship and held up to large orange sticks. Motioning with the sticks the man led the ship safely out of the hanger. Once the airship was out of the hangar the pilot took the skies. Alex crossed one leg over the over and rested his hands on his knee. Tomorrow he should be meeting with an old friend.
Felix stared at the face in shock. Uncaring dark green eyes stared back at him. Sheba had just quite possibly killed Mia. Furrowing his brow Felix slammed his blade into the stone floor and tackled Sheba with a grow. Unprepared for such an attack Sheba was knocked to the ground. Felix pulled back his fist and stared at the emotionless green eyes looking back up at him. His fist slammed into the ground next to her the force of the blow causing a few cracks to appear. Felix stood up and drug Sheba up onto her feet putting his hands on her shoulders to hold her in place. She hadn't gotten taller since he had last seen her as he was still a full head taller than her. Sheba seemed to be looking through Felix rather than at him and it unnerved the warrior.
Micaiah and Sothe soon appeared next to him. The Queen looked fine despite having just fought off an Umbra Adept and helping out a few or her soldiers. Sothe had blood spattered over his torso from his close combat kills and was visibly panting from the effort. If the blood bothered the royalty they didn't show it as they looked at Felix who was clutching a Tuaparang soldier by the shoulders. When Micaiah saw Mia lying on the floor with blood on her dress she rushed over to check on the girl. Sothe first moved to follow after her but thought twice about leaving a very hurt looking Felix alone with the Tuaparang soldier. They hadn't been able to capture one of the soldiers before.
Micaiah ran her hands over where the blood seemed to originate from and went to use her Sacrifice power and found that there was very little that needed healing. She looked over at Felix and remembered him saying that Venus Adepts had a small healing ability. He must have used a lot of his remaining power if he had been able to patch up this much on his own. Taking the rest of injury into herself Micaiah healed Mia.
A groan of pain escaped Mia's lips as she blinked her eyes open. Her hand instinctively shot over to where she was stabbed to hold what she remembered as an open cut. Recognizing the fact that she wasn't feeling as much pain as she should Mia lifted her hand off the tear in her dress and looked at where her opponent's sword had cut into her flesh. Aside from a bit of dried blood there was nothing there to tell that she had received a crippling blow. Sitting up Mia felt a soft hand touch her shoulder and hold her up. Micaiah got the Trueblade's attention and pointed towards Felix and Sheba. The Venus Adept looked a mix between barely held in rage and almost weeping sadness. The mixed looked tugged at Mia's heart as she looked at him holding the Tuaparang soldier.
"It's good to see you again Felix." Sheba said coldly.
Felix's eyes narrowed in anger. "What the hell Sheba?! Why are you helping the Tuaparang?!"
"They know about my parents Felix." Sheba responded with a tad more emotion in her voice. "All I had to do was hand Micaiah over to them and my almost four decade search would finally have a starting point."
"Do you know what they would have done to her Sheba? They would have drained her of her powers which could easily kill her." Felix shouted at his former friend.
"All they wanted to do was ask her some questions about the stupid Goddess. Once she told them what they wanted they were going to let her go."
"How could you believe that Sheba?" Felix asked her his voice venom.
"Because I had to Felix. They kept me locked up for I don't know how long. This was the price of my freedom Felix I wasn't going to let them put me back in that cell."
Felix's face softened a little as she told him they had captured her. "That still doesn't explain why you went along with everything Sheba. You're powerful enough and smart enough to have escaped once you got far enough away from their home."
"Felix." Micaiah interjected. "She came with Zacchaeus. He just displayed his ability to control people. I'd venture to guess that Sheba has been under his influence for a while."
"His power is weak against the Warriors of Vale. Sheba's one of those people Micaiah." Felix told the Queen never once taking his eyes off of Sheba.
"How long did they work on her before she was released though Felix? How much power did they spend to make her into a puppet?" Micaiah reasoned. Part of the Queen's mind filed the information that Sheba was a Warrior of Vale away for later. Felix wasn't exactly in the mood to be questioned about the blonde girl. She'd have to bring it up later after he had calmed down.
"She practically killed Mia and would have sent you to your death Micaiah." Felix countered rounding on the small woman. "How can you be so quick to forgive her?!"
Felix had been truly worried if Mia was going to be alright when he saw the wound. The blade had bit deep and it was only due to the fact that Felix had gotten to it as fast as he did that allowed him to be able to heal it. Venus Psynergy was good at healing fresh wounds. The Revive Psynergy was only good in worse case scenarios and Mia hadn't been hurt bad enough for Revive to work on her.
"Because she didn't do those things. Even if she did it wouldn't have been her fault." Micaiah answered calmly.
"Felix it's alright." Mia told him as she made to stand up.
Felix may have been able to patch the wound but he wasn't able to replace the blood she had lost. Mia stood on wobbly legs used to the feeling of blood loss from her duels with Ike. It had taken her a few times to think to bring Rhys to the duels to patch her up. That had been a while back though and she wasn't as used to the feeling as she once was. Mia fell forward and into Felix's chest as he moved to stop her fall.
"I'm fine and if what Micaiah said is true than you shouldn't be mad at Sheba." Mia said as sternly as she could at the moment.
"Listen Fe-Fe. I'm the one that was almost killed and while I'm pissed at her for it I'm not going to hold it against her if she wasn't in full control of her actions. Do you know how many of my friends I once fought against? Too many to count." Mia informed Felix's chest as she didn't feel up to looking at his face.
"Mia's right. Ike made a lot of our enemies into friends during the wars." Sothe confirmed with stars in his eyes.
"Here we go again." Micaiah muttered her hand on her forehead. Sothe had the world's biggest man-crush on Tellius' hero. In fact Micaiah was positive that if Sothe was a woman he'd be following Ike around trying to sleep with the blue haired Vanguard.
"As much fun as it is to let you guys debate if what I did was wrong or not I still have a mission to complete." Sheba said as Psynergy gathered around her. "It's nothing personal Queen Micaiah but I want that information more than I care about you."
Felix having sensed the Psynergy build up was already reacting to Sheba's threat. He had let go of Mia and was spinning around with his fist pulled back, the Trueblade had a shocked look on her face as she fell back down. Venus energy swirled around his fist. A Djinn powered blow hit Sheba in the gut bringing her up off the floor with the force of the strike. Pulling his fist back down Felix let Sheba fall to the ground where she assumed the fetal position.
"You were saying Micaiah?" Felix asked
"The effects of the Dark Psynergy aren't going to go away that fast Fe-Fe." Yune said appearing behind Micaiah. "That girl is going to need some time for her brain to get back to normal. Just put her in a dungeon away from people for a time and she'll come around."
"She's really been controlled by the Tuaparang hasn't she." Felix stated more than asked. He let out a sigh before turning his back on Sheba and reaching down to assist Mia back onto her feet. Mia took his hand with a grumble and let him pull her back up onto unsteady feet.
"It's alright Fe-Fe. Can't expect you meat creatures to be able to sense the Dark Psynergy when it's so ingrained in a person." Yune said with a grin on her face. "Her body's natural Psynergy will fight back and she'll come back to normal in no time at all."
"Until that time we should make sure someone with a Sleep Staff is nearby in case she tries anything funny. I'll see if any of the guards are well enough to take her to the cells." Sothe said as he turned away and walked down the stairs.
"I... need to go to bed." Mia said. "You guys may have fixed me up but I'm so tired."
"I'll take you." Felix offered.
"Uh-uh. I'm not sleeping in this uncomfortable monstrosity that's called a dress and you aren't going to change me. I need Jill or someone."
"I'll help you." Micaiah said as she took Mia from Felix.
Felix watched as the two women walked away from him. With those two and Sothe gone that left him with just Yune and Sheba. One annoyed him to no end and the other most likely knocked out from his attack. Looking around the ground Felix spotted a white blade lying on the ground. Picking Alondite up and placing it once again on his back the Venus Adept left the vicinity and headed back to his own room. Mia had the right idea, it was time for sleep.
"Thanks for the help Micaiah. I wasn't joking when I said I was tired." Mia told the queen as they walked down the hall.
"It's alright Mia. It was a pretty big injury that you got. You should really thank Felix for healing you when you get the chance." Micaiah replied. Already she was enacting her plan to bring the two together.
"I thanked him." Mia said with confidence.
"Really when?" Micaiah questioned smugly.
"Right after... I didn't thank him." Mia said in realization.
"How you going to thank him?"
"By saying 'Thanks'." Mia answered confused as to why it'd take more exactly.
"He saved your life and all you're going to do is say 'Thanks'?" Micaiah asked appalled at how casually Mia was going to go about it. "Doesn't that deserve something a little more than 'Thanks'?"
Mia's face turned into one of thought. "I guess you're right. I was pretty close to knocking on Death's door. Got any suggestions on how to properly thank him?"
This is going to be harder than I thought. Micaiah had her work cut out for her if she was having to instruct Mia on how to properly thank Felix.
"Give him a present or something. Treat him to a meal, I'd say cook one but I don't see that working out well." Micaiah offered.
"My travel stew is the best out there." Mia said offended at the insult to her cooking ability.
The reality of the situation was that you needed a silver strength stomach to even think about eating anything Mia cooked. How she was able to down her own creations was something that even Yune can't divine. Even bottomless pit Ike wasn't able to handle the travel stew. During the start of the Mad King's war Mia had been quickly taken off cooking duty and was never placed on it again no matter how much she pleaded.
"Yes but you aren't traveling are you." Micaiah quickly countered.
"True. It needs the fresh herbs of the road."
Micaiah let out a sigh of relief. "So come on. You've spent time with Felix. What kind of things does he like?"
Mia opened her mouth to answer and then closed it. In truth Felix hadn't actually talked much about himself whenever they were together. The only things they talked about really were fighting styles and how to get Mia to improve. Recently how to take down an Umbra Adept had been added to the conversations.
The two women came to Mia's room and stood outside the door. Mia tried to open the door to her room and hide in it so she could pretend that she didn't have to answer Micaiah's question. It was embarrassing that she spent so much time with Felix but knew so little about him. The only thing that stopped her from hiding in her room was the fact that she would rather die than spend more time than absolutely necessary in her dress.
"You have no clue do you?" Micaiah deadpanned.
"None." Mia said sheepishly.
"Mia, consider this a royal order. Find out what Felix likes, give it to him, and thank him for saving your life." Micaiah ordered forcefully.