Bizarre business at Balacruf
Bizarre business at Balacruf
The closer they got to the mausoleum, the more Kraine formed into a ruin maniac. The ruin didn't look all that exciting to Colloyd, but he kept his thoughts to himself. They soon reached a peddler with a dog wandering around close by. Neither man nor dog seemed to notice them though because they had their heads turned toward the central stairway that led up into the ruin. As they got closer, they saw a clash of electric blue and bright red as two people argued. Colloyd did a double take, unable to believe his eyes. Behind him, Kraine grumbled something and started to head closer, his hand on his sword.
The two turned to look at them when they approached, the colour draining from their faces. Kraine glared at Yuan. "Just what is this about? Why do we find you arguing with a person who is trying to kill the Chosen at the site of the next seal?" He looked behind the two of them to the stone tablet which had the tell-tale marking for the hand print of the Chosen.
Sheelos harrumphed and crossed her arms, turning her head. "Why do you need to know?"
"It is my duty to protect the Chosen," Kraine replied. "It now seems that my suspicions are being confirmed correct."
"Professor!" Colloyd stepped in. He looked at Yuan. "It might look bad, but I don't think Sheelos is a bad person."
"That is enough, Chosen," Kraine warned.
Colloyd didn't listen and continued. "I think if we just talked, we could find out why she wants to kill me." He looked at Sheelos hopefully, who had been watching him defend her. "Now that we're finally friends, can't you tell me why we have to fight?"
She turned her head a bit more. "W..wait, since when are we friends? I have no intention of befriending you!" She got into her battle stance, but for a moment her expression betrayed her. For the first time, Kraine saw it. The thing Colloyd had mentioned for a long time now. "Hm.." he couldn't help but utter.
"But-" Colloyd was cut off when Sheelos went to strike. Kraine went to move but found himself being blocked off by Yuan, who had moved even faster to stand in front of the Chosen. Sheelos backed off from him. "Just what is your deal anyway?!"
Yuan said nothing, but Gesea piped in for the rest of them. "Goodness and love will always win!"
Colloyd looked at her. "Gesea, do we really need to bring up that dwarven vow?"
"Goodness?" Sheelos asked, growling and reaching behind herself to pull out what looked like a piece of paper. She did a few strange actions with her hands while holding it. "Where do you get off spouting stuff about goodness!?" A cloud of smoke enveloped them and slowly formed into the shape of some kind of monster behind her.
"Uh oh," Yuan said, taking a step back and almost stepping into Kraine, who was watching the monster curiously.
"If you're good, then so am I!" Sheelos cried, drawing another couple of pieces of paper from a pocket in her outfit and rushing for them.
"Go for the Guardian," Yuan said back to Kraine as he stopped the assassins advance on Colloyd, who was left with his weapons now out and wondering what to do. Gesea was also considering what to do after hearing her words. Kraine and Yuan hadn't shown any hesitation however.
Kraine charged at Sheelos, about to strike her with the blunt side of his sword, but she somersaulted backward to be back to back with her "Guardian" as Yuan had called it. She went to run for Colloyd, who blocked her assault with his sword and jumped back. The paper she had been about to strike with sliced in half and fluttered to the ground, but she didn't seem too flustered; bringing out another pair of red papers with symbols on them.
"Wait, hold on!" Colloyd exclaimed, trying to reason with her again. He looked up from her when he saw Kraine in midair about to hit her with his feet. She seemed to clue in and quickly dodged away. "Nice try," she said, her aura starting to glow.
Colloyd stared and looked at Gesea. "Is she an elf?"
"I..I don't know," Gesea answered. They looked to Kraine, who had stopped his advance and started to also cast some kind of spell. Behind them, Yuan was parrying the Guardian as it whirled around, reappeared and disappeared, trying to get the upperhand. Eventually it also started casting something. Unlike Kraine, who had matched Sheelos, Yuan took advantage of its second of weakness and used his sword to make a decisive blow into its front. The Guardian staggered backward and seemed almost frozen in time.
Meanwhile, lightning crackled from Kraine's palm and a lightning bolt hit Sheelos right as she charged at the Professor with the spell she had cast, her whole aura glowing red. She was locked into her position for just long enough for Kraine to advance, turn and kick, before finishing the job off with a blow straight to her abdomen with the hilt of his sword. She fell to the floor, fizzling still from the lightning. Colloyd went to run to her when Kraine glared at him to stay back. He did as his teacher demanded, but crossed his arms and pouted to make it clear that he wasn't happy about it. A crash sounded from afar as Yuan finished his opponent with one final blow. It turned back into the smoke it had been before and dissipated.
Sheelos stayed on the ground, looking up at Kraine while she breathed heavily. He glared down at her. "Who are you, really?"
Sheelos didn't answer, still breathing quite heavily. Colloyd knelt down so that he could more easily be at eye level with her while she had her head turned away from Kraine's gaze in defiance. "All I want to do is regenerate the world. I'm trying to save it," he attempted to reason with her.
Sheelos didn't want a bar of it though. "Just goes to show that all the cute ones have no brains." She sighed. "Sure, I could let you save your world, but then mine will die! Then I'll.. " She got a strange emotionless look in her eyes as she trailed off. All eyes on her widened at that, save for Kraine's which narrowed a little more than usual at the information.
"What do you mean 'yours' will die?" Colloyd pressed. He looked at Kraine for an answer but the Professor said nothing. Behind him, Yuan had caught his breath and started heading toward them. Kraine turned his attention from Sheelos to Yuan in an instant, poking his sword right before his neck. "And who are you, really?"
Yuan looked from him to Colloyd. "I will answer if you agree to truthfully answer the same question in kind, Kraine."
Kraine's hand shook for a moment as he flinched at the unexpected turn of events. It was enough of a distraction for Sheelos to get up and quickly make for a safe distance between her and the rest of them. The peddler and his dog were staring at them, both smooth shaven and furry mouth agape. It had been quite a light show.
"Stop fighting, please!" Colloyd begged. Kraine and Yuan shared a loaded glare at each other for one more moment before Kraine retreated his sword and turned back to where Sheelos had gone. She was nowhere to be seen. He sighed and looked at Colloyd. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," he answered. "But any idea what she meant?" He put his hand to his chin. "I thought everyone benefited from the Journey of Regeneration."
"There are always those that reject salvation," Kraine replied. His tone didn't sound as reassuring as he meant it to though. "I wouldn't let it worry you. In future, we will need to be more vigilant."
"Right.." Colloyd answered, disappointment clear in his expression. Kraine sighed impatiently and looked toward the seal.
Yuan raised an eyebrow at him. "Surely you know that it's not as easy as that if you want to take his mind off of it."
"I did not ask for your input, thank you Yuan." He lowered his voice. "If that is even your real name."
"We might as well open the seal, Col," Gesea urged him. "Before those two end up at each others throats again."
"R..right." Colloyd agreed and stepped up to the altar where he would need to place his hand.
"I'll be going," Yuan said right before he did the deed.
"Really?" Colloyd gave him a pleading look. "Won't you come with us Yuan?"
"I don't think that would be in my best interest," Yuan laughed. "Your Professor has made his feelings very clear."
Colloyd looked at Kraine. "He can come, can't he Professor?"
Instead of giving the abrupt 'no' Yuan had been expecting, Kraine instead looked in thought before giving a slight nod of agreement. Colloyd beamed in excitement while Kraine held a small grin at Yuan's shock. He cleared his throat and directed Colloyd to place his hand on the tablet. Similarly to when they had opened the first seal, the way forth was shown upon his touch. A large square of stone directly ahead of them shifted to the left to reveal a dark passage into the ruin. Gesea and Colloyd excitedly headed inside with the two older males following close behind.
Noishe stopped at the door and whined. Kraine turned back to him and made a gesture to him to stay. With another whine, the 'dog' turned around in a couple of circles and dropped to his stomach to wait eagerly for their return.
"You're a natural," Yuan commented. Kraine didn't answer and continued on ahead to catch up with Colloyd, who had stopped with Gesea. They were both tilting their heads to one side as though to listen to something. He had to ask.
"What are the two of you doing?"
"Col said he could hear the sound of wind whistling all around us," Gesea explained. She pulled a focused face but then shook her head. "But no matter how hard I try, I can't hear it." She stared at Colloyd. "Is this part of being an angel?"
"Uh," Colloyd shrugged. "Guess so." He changed his position and looked all around. "This is pretty cool. I feel like we're going to hunt for treasure!"
"You always start out enthusiastic," Kraine commented. "I hope you can manage to stay that way throughout this time."
Colloyd gave him a serious look and nodded before turning to keep walking with Gesea.
Kraine watched the two of them from behind, ready for the first monster attack when it would eventually come. He tried his best to ignore Yuan's gaze but eventually it ate at him enough for him to glare back. Yuan faltered and held a hand to his heart. "Okay, okay, I get it. You're keeping me around to watch me."
"An astute observation," the swordsman-teacher answered. "But that is not my only reason."
"I know," Yuan replied with a grin. "I must have worried you." His grin vanished and his body language became alert suddenly. "Colloyd, be careful."
"Of what?" Colloyd asked as he stopped and pulled Gesea to stop as well. Yuan glanced around the floor for a moment and picked up a pebble from a corner. He bowled it past them and over a metal grate looking device. Colloyd and Gesea jumped back a mile when some very dangerous looking spikes protruded from the gaps.
"A trap," Kraine stated, reaching for his little red notebook to take a few notes but reluctantly seeming to agree with himself that it was far too dark to do anything.
"From what I have read, there should be a three to five second delay from when the spikes fully retract to when they are able to come up again," Yuan called. Colloyd nodded and watched the dangerous trap slowly go back into its starting position. As soon as the clicking of the mechanism stopped, they all quickly stepped over and continued on.
"Let me just say this," Kraine said to Yuan. His aura glowed and a small forcefield appeared around the two of them before becoming invisible.
Yuan gave him an impressed look. "A sound barrier?"
Kraine nodded. "I intend to discover what it is about you that drives you to play this little game of yours."
"A game?" Yuan shook his head. "I was far too forward back there, but you gave me little choice considering your own questioning methods." He put his hand to his chin. "I am not a normal elf, and neither are you. However, in the interest of the Chosen, I suggest we focus our efforts on ensuring this journey reaches its conclusion. I assure you, we are on the same side when it comes to that."
Kraine's sound barrier spell disappeared and the two could once again hear the other two talking a short distance up a staircase ahead. They found them squinting at something written on a large stone tablet. The flames on the candles on each side next to it danced around and offered some light, but it still looked difficult. "Is it in Kharlian, Col?" Gesea asked. "I can't understand a word of it."Colloyd nodded and ran his fingers over the bumps in the stone tablet where the writing was carved.
"We could probably decipher it," Yuan said as he took a look as well. "But before we spend time doing that, perhaps we should find the source which the code belongs to?"
"Right," Colloyd nodded, stepping away from it. Kraine didn't seem satisfied with the logic at first however and stood staring at the letters. Yuan tapped him on the back and quickly jumped back when Kraine reached for the sword in retaliation.
"Come on Professor's," Colloyd called.
They followed the path down the stairs, past the first spike trap, and through a narrow hallway where a set of three spike traps protruded from the walls at varying intervals. It hadn't been too difficult to time and before long they were climbing up another set of stairs and turning a corner past another set of retracting spike traps. As they got to a large open door with a bright fire pillar on each side, Colloyd stopped to listen. The whistle of the wind seemed to be stronger in that position. He could hear a faint metallic sound from somewhere below. Following his hearing, he walked down some stairs just ahead and turned the corner to see a very odd looking device. It was a contraption with a floating ring around it. Colloyd put his ear closer to it to confirm that it was where both the sound of wind and the sound of metal was coming from as the others caught up.
"What do you think this is Professor?" he asked.
Kraine put his hand to his chin and stepped closer to it. "It would appear to be some kind of magitechnology." He ran his fingers along it. "How intriguing. Colloyd, put on the sorcerers ring."
"It's still on my finger," Colloyd replied, pulling off his glove. The moment he did, the small jewel set into the ring glowed a lime green colour. He touched it curiously and felt a cool breeze somehow omitting from it. The moment he took his finger off of the jewel, a gust of wind came bursting out at Kraine, messing his hair up so that it wasn't actually covering one eye.
"It looks like we can use wind for something here," Colloyd said innocently, trying not to grin too much. Yuan laughed at Kraine, who sighed loudly and set his hair back.
"I saw what looked like a bunch of pinwheels in the room above," Gesea said. "I wonder if we are meant to do something with those?"
"That could be what those inscriptions are for," Kraine agreed, nodding. "Perhaps we should split up. There do not appear to be any monsters in the immediate vicinity." He looked at Yuan. "I will take the Chosen and Gesea, and you will go in the opposite direction to us."
"I do not mind going with Yuan," Gesea said as she looked up at her brother. Kraine went to object but she was already joining the ex-professors side. "You want to keep an eye on him, don't you?"
"Not you as well Gesea," Yuan said, trying to sound hurt.
"No, not really," Gesea smiled. "But my brother's worry isn't entirely out of the question either."
Kraine considered it, looking at Gesea as though judging her ability to run from danger. He looked at Colloyd before turning to walk away. "Come on then, Chosen."
"Professor," Colloyd complained, following him back the direction they had come to evidently go to the tablet with writing they had seen earlier.
Once they turned the corner, Yuan turned to Gesea. "Let's go over here to find some information, shall we?"
Gesea couldn't help but watch the tall blue haired man as they walked. Her nerves were getting the better of her, but she had to talk to him. If she didn't, with the way Kraine was so protective of her, she might never get the chance. She was about to open her mouth to say something when Yuan caught her staring and looked at her curiously. She shut her mouth again and looked ahead, feeling embarrassment heat her cheeks.
"You're wondering if I'm like you, aren't you," Yuan said.
Gesea gaped up at him. "H.h..how did you know what I was thinking?"
Yuan shrugged his shoulders. "Hanging around you long enough, I suppose." He cleared his throat. "Relax. You're correct of course. I would be surprised if you couldn't sense it."
Gesea grinned for a moment before giving him another look. He chuckled. "Oh don't give me that look. I've led a pretty long life so far."
"S..so have I," she said softly. "I'm not as young as I look."
"I would estimate, but I know it isn't polite to ask a ladies age," Yuan smiled. Gesea giggled at him and ventured to close the gap between them as they continued to investigate.
"Do you think we should have come across monsters here by now?" Colloyd asked Kraine when he got sick of venturing in silence. Kraine didn't appear like he wanted to talk and more like he was on constant alert since leaving Gesea with Yuan. He gave his question some thought before answering. "Considering the monsters inside the last seal were eerily weakened, I have to hazard that this ruin has also been ransacked."
"But how?" Colloyd replied back as though expecting that answer. "You said yourself Professor that it would be impossible for anyone except us to get inside."
"I did," Kraine agreed, glancing away from Colloyd's gaze.
Colloyd gaped at him. "Do you know?"
"No, I'm afraid not."
"Do you want me to help you investigate?" Colloyd grinned wildly, imagining himself in a brown and cream chequered detective outfit and sporting a giant magnifying glass.
"Just focus on not getting yourself killed by any assassins," Kraine replied bluntly. Colloyd looked down and sadly dragged his feet up the stairs that led to the stone tablet with the writing they were to examine. He leaned closer to it and squinted his eyes to try and work out what it said, but didn't get very far before a scream echoed around them from deeper in the dungeon. Kraine immediately started running away. Colloyd ran to try and keep up, but was no match for the elf's speed. He only caught up by chance when they had to wait for the spike traps to retract so that they didn't skewer themselves when they ran through. Kraine impatiently tapped his foot, the same worried look in his eyes that he always got when it came to his sister.
They raced up the set of stairs that allowed passage into the room with the windmills and checked as they went past. To their surprise, Yuan was leaning down to Gesea while she sat with her arms propping her up and breathing heavily.
Almost in the blink of an eye, Kraine ran from his spot in the doorway to a spot in-between Yuan and Gesea. "What is the meaning of this?" he growled, eyeing Yuan carefully.
"It's alright Kraine," Gesea said softly. "I was just startled because.." She pointed to the gap in the wall to their right. Inside was a treasure chest surrounded by what looked to be monster remains. Skeletons, dust and various slimy looking monster bits and pieces were there. "I was just surprised. The wall moved from behind me when Yuan used his magic on the windmills."
"I see," Kraine muttered, still glaring at the blue haired elf. Yuan sighed and dropped his shoulders. "I was just experimenting after we opened the main door up there." He pointed behind himself. Colloyd shielded his eyes as he looked at it. The sunlight flowing through the gap that had apparently opened was quite harsh. Kraine looked back at Gesea and offered his hand to her. "Perhaps I need to also train you."
Gesea clapped her hands and summoned her weapon to show it to her brother. "I'll be alright Kraine. Isn't it better that I let you know if something scares me? That is what you have always told me to do."
"Hm.." Kraine answered ambiguously, leaving her and heading for the sunlit staircase that led outside. "Let's continue our journey through."
Colloyd nodded and marched ahead. "I'm glad we'll be leaving soon. I'm kind of sick of dungeons now."
"I see your patience has also worn thin," Kraine replied from ahead. "Steel yourself. I expect another challenge ahead."
Gesea gasped as they reached the outside and all shielded their eyes until they adjusted.
"What is it Gesea?" Colloyd asked.
"I would assume she can sense the incredible mana in the area," Yuan answered. "That bird flapping around over there is likely the source."
"Hm," Kraine mumbled in thought. "I would say she can sense the incredible mana that used to come from the Lapyx over there."
"A Lapyx?" Colloyd pulled his weapons out and ventured closer. The bird was hopping around on the ground, flapping every so often. "It looks like it's already been wounded," he whispered and pointed to the rainbow assortment of feathers flying from the beast as it flapped.
"It appears the same as the first seal," Kraine agreed. "Let's finish off the thing and put it out of its misery."
After each of them made a half-hearted attack on the monster and turned it to dust, they stood around examining it once again. "It's a pity we had to fight it," Colloyd said sadly.
"Yeah," Gesea agreed as she picked up one of its loose feathers. "It was really pretty."
"But was that really the test?" Colloyd questioned.
"I suspect the true test is to come," Yuan answered before Kraine could. "The trial of becoming an angel is not an easy one."
Around them, the dust from the Lapyx bird started to glow green. It all started to blow upward and form a bright green ball of energy. Then came the voice Colloyd had been somewhat eagerly awaiting to hear. The voice of Remiel.
"Chosen of Regeneration… You have done well in reaching this far. Now, offer your prayers at the altar."
Colloyd frowned at the lack of personal touch in his true fathers voice, but obeyed anyway and approached the round altar in the centre of the area as instructed. "Oh Goddess Martel, great protector and nurturer of the earth, grant me thy strength!" He closed his eyes and summoned his majestic pink and blue wings before opening them to watch the familiar holy light of his angel father appear as he descended down from the heavens to them.
"The second seal has now been released. You have done well, Chosen one Colloyd," he said as he flapped in front of them.
"Thank you, father," Colloyd nodded with a smile. The white winged angel didn't smile back though and remained quiet for a moment before continuing. "Accept this next blessing from Cruxis. I hereby grant you another angelic power."
A foursome of lights flew from Remiel to Colloyd. "Hey, uh.. Father?" Colloyd looked at him questioningly.
"The next seal lies far northwest, in a place that gazes upon the center of the world," Remiel continued, ignoring the pleading look in Colloyd's eyes. "Offer your prayers at the altar in that distant land."
"Father, have I done something wrong?" Colloyd asked. Remiel's gaze hardened and he started to hover back up from where he had emerged from. "It matters not. Go now Chosen One and continue the journey to become an angel." With a burst of light, he disappeared. "I will be waiting for you at the next seal, Colloyd my son. Hurry and become a true angel. Do not disappoint me."
When he was sure Remiel was gone, Colloyd lowered to the ground and turned to the rest of the party. Gesea looked angry, Kraine somewhat calculating like he always was, and Yuan just looked interested. He hadn't seen his wings before, so it wasn't really a surprise.
"What is up with your father, Col? He always talks as though he is the most important person, even to his own son," Gesea spluttered, clenching her fists around her weapon.
Kraine approached Gesea. "Gesea, apologise to Colloyd this instant."
Gesea flinched at his glare and looked back at Colloyd. "Sorry Col. I suppose no matter what, he's still your birth father, right?"
Colloyd shook his head. "It's okay, you're right Gesea. Lord Remiel...Father.. really did seem like that." He shook his head. "But I'm sure he had his reasons. Let's just get going to the next seal."
As they left the Balacruf Mausoleum and greeted Noishe, Colloyd found himself feeling somewhat odd. It only worsened the further out they got until the world spun and he found himself falling to the ground dizzily.
"Col!" Gesea cried.
Colloyd looked up at her. "I'm okay, I just need to rest."
"It's probably the Angel Toxicosis again. Let's hurry up and go back to Luin so he can rest in a proper bed for the rest of the day." Kraine called Noishe closer to them and helped Colloyd on to his pet. Yuan grinned at the sight. "Noishe must have been quite fun to play with when you were younger."
Colloyd smiled vaguely and held on to Noishe tightly as they all set out to backtrack to Luin, only releasing his grip to wave goodbye to the spotted dog who wagged his tail when they ventured past the peddler.
No matter how tired Colloyd felt, and even when he was put to bed at the inn in Luin, he found every time he closed his eyes that his dreams would be filled with horrible looking monsters. The worst nightmare of all was one of the figure of a woman slowly turning into a monster. He wanted to run to her for some reason, but every time he got close to her, she would grow further and further away. He awoke in a cold sweat after that and found he couldn't rest again. After a bit more tossing and turning, he slid the sheets off of himself and headed for the door. The rest of the group were still probably going around town or in the common room since it was barely mid-afternoon; though he expected Kraine to be keeping watch close by.
He left their room to find Kraine standing right outside the door, leaning against the wall. The Professor glanced at him and straightened his position. "Colloyd. How are you feeling now?"
"Much better," he lied. If Kraine knew it, he didn't call him on it. Instead he showed him downstairs to where they could have a meal. Colloyd didn't say it, but the thought of food made his stomach convulse. Kraine returned after a short time at the bar, carrying two mugs. Just as Colloyd took it from him, he flinched and spilled it all over the table and himself when the door of the inn swung open and a few scared looking villagers ran inside. "Everyone! Hide or run for it! Kvar and his men are storming the city!"