The secrets behind closed Dorr's
The secrets behind closed Dorr's.
Kraine thought he had been staying silent for an eternity. There was no turning back from this. Magnius had found out information he should not by all means know. This did not bode well for the Desian leader. Magnius' knowledge was not at the forefront of his mind however. The blue haired man next to him had heard every word and was now an even greater risk to the mission. Still, they stood together in a united defensive stance, so for the moment he had no choice but to see him as an ally. Slowly he reached for the hilt of his sword and drew it, scraping the sheath intentionally slowly in order to judge Magnius' movements. He had almost been bested by him the last time they had fought and he would not allow that to happen again.
A grin came to Magnius' face when he seemed to realise that their "exchange of information" was over before it began. He raised his axe in the air and jumped away just as Yuan materialised his sword out of the fourth dimension. "You don't want to talk? Well then, my orders are to destroy you."
Kraine led the charge, Yuan tactically covering from the side. Again, as he clashed with Magnius' large axe, Kraine felt as though fighting with Yuan alongside him felt oddly natural. Not that he didn't know why.. the similarities between him and that woman were far, far too obvious. He hadn't yet counted it necessarily as a blessing though.
When he felt Magnius starting to overpower him through the sheer weight in his attack, he ducked over to the left of him and watched as he almost tripped up. Before he could get the upperhand, Magnius swung his axe around himself in a very wide arc. Yuan jumped in the air with only a split millisecond to spare before he would have found himself cut in half right through the abdomen. His dual-edged butterfly blade glowing on one end, he somersaulted over Magnius, landed on the ground behind him, and plunged the sword into the floor. A wide arc of electricity popped around him and stunned Magnius in order to give Kraine a chance to knock him off balance and the axe out of his hands.
As though Kraine were experiencing deja vous, Magnius didn't stay dazed for long. He roared loudly and threw a heavy punch at him. Kraine dodged and watched as his battle-tag finished the job and knocked the Desian stomach first to the ground. Pointing his butterfly blade at Magnius, Yuan waited until the red head turned to face him. "My apologies to turning what might have been a much fairer battle into one that you could not possibly win. Now, for the sake of my own curiosity more than anything, why don't you tell me just who was giving you orders to kill my friend whom is currently about to use his sword on-" He stopped, feeling the coldness of steel pressed lightly on the back of his neck. "Well, me. But you get the idea."
Magnius grimaced. "Like hell I'm going to tell you. You might as well kill me." His eyes trailed to where Kraine must have been standing and he frowned. "Unless your Seraphim starts talking first, my lips will remain sealed."
"You must have lured him here for some reason," Yuan rebutted. "You suspect that you might have been deceived. Am I correct?" He felt the tip of Kraine's blade press harder on his neck but he continued. "This is your last chance Magnius. You should have died long before now, so feel glad you were spared the first time." He positioned the blade closer to his throat and felt Kraine's leave his neck. He took a deep breath and dodged the attack Kraine directed at him, to see that he had indeed only swiped with the flat of the blade. Magnius made one last attempt to get up but found himself ended by a quick and final slice of Kraine's sword.
As Magnius took his final breath, Kraine and Yuan glared at one another, blades turned and waiting for one another to strike first. When neither man did anything, Yuan was the first to declare a truce by making his sword disappear back to the other realm. The blue haired half-elf sighed and resumed a more relaxed stance. "Professor Kraine, I do believe we might have some things to discuss." He immediately drew the long sword from the sheath on his belt and met Kraine's blade right before it hit him. Kraine's serious facade remained solid as lake-blue eyes met emerald green ones and as they tested one another's blade strength.
"If you know what is good for you," Kraine said sofltly, "you will leave this Desian base and never come close to the Chosen again." He strengthened his force and found Yuan met his strength, showing no sign of backing down.
"I'm afraid that would not be in either of our best interests," Yuan replied. They clashed swords with one another, meeting swords as though they had done it a million times before. Yuan swiped upward, knocking Kraine off balance. He turned on his heel and roundhouse kicked him. Kraine dodged back and went in for a kick to receive the same treatment. Yuan grinned as they watched each other steadily and saw a small crack in Kraine's facade.
"It is not surprising that you're highly skilled," Kraine said. "Although, I must admit, this all feels eerily familiar to me. You wouldn't happen to know why that would be, would you?"
"I'm sure you could question me with irrelevant things all day," Yuan said. He glanced at the teleporter. The magic ice that had sealed them and only them in the room was slowly dissipating. "But we both know we have limited time until unwanted ears enter the vicinity."
"Hmph." Kraine sparred with him again, watching his movement and how he seemed to know where he would be before he even made the movement. "Why is it that you allowed me to kill Magnius?" Yuan faltered for just a second and he accidentally let a smile slip. "Fascinating. You only give away your poker face when you're fighting." He jumped back and glanced down at Magnius' lifeless body. "From your position, you could have easily caught me off guard and chosen to question me while being sure that Magnius would not attack you."
Yuan gave him an impressed look. "Hmph, I suppose we find ourselves at a stalemate for information once again, Kraine."
"I'm afraid not," Kraine replied. He put his sword away and crossed his arms. Yuan watched as ethereal blue wings sprouted from his back and fluttered slowly back and forth. "You must tell me why you were not the least bit surprised at hearing I am a Seraphim, and why I shouldn't silence you."
Yuan put his own sword away and mimicked Kraine's crossed arm pose. "I think you only get one free answer." His aura glowed a light orange colour and he shot a small spark of flame magic at the frozen teleporter. "The answer is simple. You shouldn't silence me because I am the only one capable of protecting your son."
Before Kraine could reply, Yuan looked behind him and watched as the last of the ice magic melted away and as the teleporter started to glow, receiving a signal from the other end. "You should put your wings away. That is, unless you want to explain why you look like a giant butterfly at present."
Kraine glanced behind himself and did as Yuan instructed, scowling. "This conversation is not over."
"I look forward to resuming it," Yuan replied, stepping up next to him to wait for the cavalry. "In the meantime, we need to explain what happened, and that Chocolat is nowhere to be seen."
"Do you suppose she was never in danger to begin with?" Kraine asked.
Yuan nodded. "I think Dorr played us like a fiddle. He knew you would not return, given how you left Palmacosta that night."
"Kraine!" Gesea exclaimed.
Kraine watched as she and Colloyd materialised on the teleporter. She was kneeling down as though she had been examining it to try and work out what had happened. She looked up at him and stepped off of the teleporter. "Brother! Are you alright?"
"I'm fine, Gesea," he answered. He watched Colloyd step off of the teleporter out of the corner of his eye and look at Magnius still on the ground where he had been slain. "The situation went about as expected." He ignored Yuan's grin and knelt down to her level. "I'm sorry to have worried you."
Gesea glanced away. "I knew you could take care of yourself Kraine."
Behind her, Sheelos appeared in the teleporter, being the last to join the metaphoric party. She looked around the room and at Magnius, then to Yuan. "Did you find Chocolat?"
"About that," Yuan started. "We think this was a setup in its entirety. I would suggest that we continue on our mission and to the Thoda Geyser, but I have the distinct feeling that won't suffice, will it Colloyd?"
Colloyd shook his head. "We need to see Governer-General Dorr and get the full story."
Gesea nodded. "We also need to make sure that Chocolat hasn't been taken anywhere."
Colloyd looked concerned. "What about what happened with the Book of Regeneration? Do you think we'll get arrested?"
"I doubt he will even bring it up," Yuan said simply. "I think after we have our visit with him, he may have a few more things to worry about." He stepped past them and used the teleporter, insinuating that the others would follow. Colloyd did, without hesitation. Sheelos complained a little about how she had only just gotten out of that other room before following.
Kraine stepped toward the teleporter and looked at Gesea, who was looking around the room with a confused expression. "Is something the matter Gesea?"
Gesea turned back to him. "It's just.. haven't you noticed it?"
"You might have to be a little clearer," he replied.
Gesea looked around again. "The mana signature here. It feels like yours.. but.. different." She gave him a worried look. "Kraine, do you think someone is following us?"
"No," Kraine said. "You are safe Gesea. I promise I won't let any harm come to you."
She didn't seem convinced. Kraine frowned. "Is this something that has been bothering you?"
Gesea nodded. "It isn't the first time I've felt it. The last time before now was when we were falling over the edge of the cliff at Asgard. It is like it's something invisible."
Kraine said nothing, only shook his head and waved his hand to the teleporter. "We should hurry and catch up with the Chosen and the others."
Sheelos, Gesea and Colloyd got their wish on the way out of the Desian base. With Magnius dead and no other clear way out, the group found themselves leaving the base the same way that they had entered. The Desians had been so surprised that they hadn't put up much of a fight and with very little fuss, the group met with Noishe again and were on their way to Palmacosta. Neil had made himself scarce.
Kraine travelled with his head in his studies with Yuan maintaining a pace next to him. He was sure that they didn't need to have words to explain that this was not the time to discuss matters further. He hummed in distressed thought until he found his feet clacking on the bridge that led into Palmacosta.
The first thing he noticed when he glanced around while they quietly made their way toward Dorr's office was that the city's militia had returned and didn't seem to be stretched thin. He was sure that the two guards in front of Dorr's front door would stop them, but neither batted so much as an eyelid at them. Something wasn't right with this. He looked at Yuan, who followed him inside. Yuan's attention had immediately been drawn to the open doors to their right that led down to a lower level basement.
"Nobody appears to be around," Gesea said, coming in behind him.
"Not up here anyway," Colloyd corrected her. He pointed to where Kraine and Yuan were both looking. "I think I can hear something coming from down there. It sounds like Dorr and.. someone else."
The group made their way down the narrow staircase that led down into the basement. Around them they could see what looked like holding cells for prisoners and criminals to be kept before being taken to a proper jail. Kraine stopped ahead of everyone else and held out his hand in a stop signal to the rest of them. From their position, they could carefully assess the situation from around the corner.
"When will you allow my Clara to be free of her curse?" Dorr asked a Desian soldier that stood with him and his small blonde haired daughter at the end of the room in front of a suspiciously tarped holding cell.
"Not yet," the Desian answered. "You have been paying us less and less gald. Unless this improves, you will still be a very long way from being reunited with the mother of your child."
Dorr slumped his shoulders. "But this is the best I can do! The tolls, the taxes, the offerings to the Church of Martel…" He growled angrily and clenched his fist as he looked straight into the Desian's helmeted face. "There's nowhere left to squeeze money from! I thought for sure my offering of the Chosen to you would more than pay my debt!"
"The result of your offering of the Chosen to Magnius has yet to be decided. We will inform you again soon enough as to what you may still owe."
Before Dorr could say anything else, the Desian let himself out through a well concealed trapdoor in the floor, and before Kraine could stop him, Colloyd rushed out into the open to confront him. The rest of the group had no choice but to follow and reveal themselves.
The Governer-General turned around at the sound of their footsteps and visibly turned a shade of white. "What are you doing here?! Neil! Where's Neil?!"
"I'm afraid your right hand man told us everything, Dorr," Kraine explained.
Dorr scowled. "So that's it. He betrayed me!"
"You're the one who had betrayed the people of this city, G.G," Sheelos said angrily, stepping forward.
Colloyd nodded. "Sheelos is right. The people of this town believe you are a fair and honest person. How could you betray them and work for the Desians?" He stepped closer to Dorr but Kraine put a hand on his shoulder in order to stop him going too close. Something still didn't seem right.
"Please Governer-General," Colloyd begged. "Let me help you. Are you in some kind of trouble with the Desians?"
"You can't help me!" Dorr snarled, the weakness in his eyes betraying him. He dropped to his knees. "Nobody can save Clara. Not even the Chosen." He reached a hand over to the beige tarp that covered the cell and pulled it off to reveal the beginnings of the truth. A horribly mutated looking creature stared back at them. It wore a torn blue dress with a green buttoned overcoat that looked ready to burst open, had one eye, and long green arms that dangled by its sides, connected to hands equipped with sharp and long claws.
Gesea was the first to make an audible sound past the gasps of the others. "It's.. it's... a monster!"
Kraine found her arms around his abdomen as she hid her face into the side of his leg and cried. Colloyd looked at her with concern before looking back at the creature again. His legs trembling, he moved closer to the cage. "No, you mustn't call her a monster. She's in a lot of pain. This is Clara!"
"You see?" Dorr said. "You see what has become of Clara?"
"So this is why you told everyone in the city that she passed away?" Kraine asked. "Because she has become this creature?"
"How did it happen in the first place?" Colloyd asked. He half didn't need Dorr to answer though, the sudden memory of what Gesea had told him had happened to Marble coming to the forefront of his mind. He looked over the monster again and caught the dauntingly familiar red colour of the gem embedded into it's head. "She was.. another experiment.."
"It's all because of my father, the previous Governor-General. He was a fool," Dorr explained. "Because he insisted on defying the wishes of the Desians, they killed him and planted that demon seed in my Salvatorian as a warning. If I cooperate with them, they will give me the medicine to save her. That's why I had to sacrifice you," Dorr explained. "There will be another Chosen, just as there always is. There will only be one Clara."
"Surely there had to have been another way Dorr," Colloyd said, shaking his head. "By working with the Desians you could have easily found more of your townspeople captured by Magnius and ending up just like Clara, and-"
"Silence boy!" Dorr exclaimed. "Just because you are the Chosen does not mean that your justice and way of thinking is absolute!"
A look crossed Colloyd's face, one that Kraine rarely saw. It was usually reserved for the Desians or particularly frustrating math problems. "You should not talk as though your justice is correct either, Governer-General. If you wanted to save your Salvatorian, you could have resigned from your position and searched for a cure or-"
"Colloyd," Kraine said from behind, interrupting him. "It may not be as simple as that."
"But Professor," Colloyd replied. He wanted to say more but seemed to find himself defeated. He looked back at Dorr. "I suppose not everyone is strong enough to say no to using their social status to stand up against the Desians." He nodded to himself. "I'll find it for you. If there's a medicine that can save Clara, I promise to find it! So please stop what you're doing before it's too late. Magnius is dead, so please just look after your daughter and Palmacosta."
"There's no use. There no way to remove a demon seed once it has sprouted," came a little voice from behind Dorr that belonged to his daughter. Colloyd watched Dorr's eyes stare into cold nothingness, and then as he slumped down in front of his feet. Behind him now, he could see Dorr's daughter holding a bloodied knife and looking at her father with a not-so-human expression on her face.
"What are you doing?" Colloyd exclaimed, looking over the wound she had inflicted upon Dorr. Kraine left Gesea where she had been hugging him and rushed over to him to check it out.
"Kilia, how could you do that to your own father?" Gesea asked. Kilia just laughed at that.
"Don't be fooled," Yuan said, summoning his weapon and glaring at the girl. "This is clearly no child."
"No kidding," Kilia laughed. They watched as her pale skin darknened until it became the colour purple, and as her eyes grew further apart and became a deep blood-red colour. Golden orange horns emerged sideways from her head while she stood and laughed at the unfortunate situation she had created.
"I am a servant of Pronyma, leader of the Five Grand Cardinals who rule over the Desians. I was merely assigned to observe the new human cultivation technique developed by Magnius. There's no way that a superior being such as I could have a fool of a father like this!" She floated up in the air and frowned down at Dorr, whom Kraine was trying his best to heal. Colloyd had a front row seat on all of the action and knew enough to know that his wound didn't look good.
"Just look at him!" Kilia screeched. "He didn't even notice that his own daughter was dead…because he was too busy chasing after medicine that doesn't exist…in order to save his monster Salvatorian! Hahahaha!"
Her laugh pierced Colloyds ears. He drew his dual weapons and summoned his wings in preparation for battle. He leapt into the air and threw his chakram at her. She wasn't very fast and suffered the blow almost head on. He went to slash his sword in an upward motion to rid her of the world when she disappeared out of sight. He heard her laugh from somewhere behind, then Yuan yell his name. There was a distinct and very ear straining screech. He turned to see her startled and knocked back to Clara's cell through the sheer weight of Yuan's butterfly blade, which he had thrown in the air. It ricocheted back toward him and he caught it in mid-air, landing on the ground close to where Kraine was still trying with all his might to stop the Dorr's bleeding.
Kilia groaned. "This can't be! I am superior!" She spluttered something else that they couldn't make up. "See how you like having this monster set loose on you!" With her last breath, she unlocked Clara's cell. Everyone in the room tensed as they watched it stumble to the open door, ignoring Kilia as she turned into dust on the ground after being hit with a fireball Gesea had summoned and waited to unleash, just in case.
Colloyd braced himself to fight the mutant monster, his stomach tying itself in knots. "Please Clara, you have to stop!" he pleaded.
Clara didn't appear to listen, but he could still feel sadness emanating from her and hear a low pitched moan. He raised his sword and heard Gesea scream at him to stop. She ran to his side. "We can't! She's just another innocent victim Col!"
"I know," he said. "But what are we meant to do if she makes the move against us?"
"Back away very slowly," Kraine said softly behind them. They did as he said and watched with equal shock as Clara made her way to the secret passage that the Desian Dorr had conversed with had left through. She lowered herself and disappeared through there.
"Now, close the trapdoor," Kraine instructed.
Colloyd bravely volunteered to do it. When the trapdoor latch was safely fastened, everyone in the room let out a sigh of relief and for a brief moment, everything seemed better. That was, until Kraine stood up from Dorr's body, his face paler than usual. Colloyd took his place and put his hand on Dorr's body. He was still breathing.
"Is.. is Kilia really dead?" Dorr asked, somehow finding the strength to prop his head up to look at Colloyd as he asked the question.
The Chosen paused in thought before giving the Governer-General the most promising smile he could muster at present. "Don't worry. Your real daughter is fine."
"Col.." Gesea mumbled argumentatively.
Colloyd ignored her in order to maintain eye contact with Dorr. He groaned and rested his head back on the ground. "Chosen... if you somehow find a way to save my Clara…please, help her return to her human form. When my daughter comes back, I don't want her to be all alone."
"O..okay. I promise," Colloyd said softly, watching the life finally drain from his eyes. He sat there and watched Dorr sadly. He had seen death quite a few times since leaving Iselia, but it never got any easier.
"Chosen," Kraine said. "We should remove ourselves from this scene before we are suspected of foul play."
Something was different about the Professor's voice too, Colloyd noticed. He didn't follow it up though. The Professor was the Professor after all. If he did not want to talk about something, nothing could make him.
Upon leaving the basement and entering Dorr's office, the group found a familiar face staring at them all. Neil was standing behind the desk, a wad of papers in one hand and a quill pen in the other. After explaining the situation and giving the right hand man a time to calm himself, Neil spoke. "I'm sorry for everything that's happened. Thank you for being so kind to Dorr, even after what he put you through."
"What do you plan to do now?" Kraine asked. "I trust you will allow us to be fully indemnified of any wrongdoing?"
Neil nodded. "I will ensure that your name doesn't come up in any proceedings to take place in the investigation. In the meantime, our first step is to reorganise the government and alert the townspeople of Dorr's tragic and sudden passing."
The group were quiet a first, most probably disagreeing with misleading the townspeople. Colloyd came to peace with it first and smiled gratefully at Neil. "It is better this way. The people need hope in a time like this and their pain at his loss will be easier, knowing he was not a traitor." He turned to the rest of them. "It's time to go."
They agreed and bid farewell to Neil.
"We should go and check on Chocolat," Gesea said once they were clear of the office and standing in the middle of the town circle. "Col, where did you say she lived?"
"I think she and her mother might live at the general store," Colloyd replied, pointing behind them to the housing district of town. They nodded and headed in that direction.
Colloyd followed slower than he would have normally liked to, curious about the expression on Kraine's face. The Professor had his hand to his chin in thought for a few seconds, before spreading his hands out in front of himself and shaking his head.
"Is something the matter Professor?" he asked.
"Nothing that you need to be concerned over, Colloyd," came the carbon-copy answer Colloyd had grown to expect.
He decided to muse aloud to himself while he waited for Kraine to open up. He had a few questions of his own that he wanted to ask. "Do you think I did the right thing, Professor?" he asked. "Telling Dorr that I would help save Clara and that his daughter was alive?"
"As a teacher, I would normally say that telling the truth is always the better option," Kraine started, "but as Dorr was dying and there was nothing I or anyone else could do, I think you eased just a little of his pain." He once again looked at his hands. "Even with my knowledge on white magic, I still am unable to save any lives."
"You did everything you could, Professor," Colloyd reassured.
"Thank you for saying so," Kraine replied. "But I too have a lot to learn still."
They stayed quiet for a short time. They were closing in on Chocolat and Cacao's house now. Colloyd was glad that Yuan apparently knew where to go. Things looked so different in the city during the day. When he had another thought, he looked at Kraine again. The Professor put the book he had been musing through back in his pocket and looked at him expectantly.
"Do you think being a parent is kind of like when you're a twin?" Colloyd asked. When Kraine frowned and seemed to be straining to figure out what his meaning was, he decided to elaborate. "Can you feel whether your children are alright?"
"Parenthood is a very strange thing," Kraine replied simply. "If you're asking me whether Dorr knew that his daughter was not of this world, even though you lied, then it might be possible. We will never know for sure though."
They stopped briefly at the front of the items store while Yuan opened the door. With a pleasant ring of a bell, they stepped into a small and crowded room.
"Welcome to Marbles!" called a woman, Cacao, from over the counter. She seemed surprised when she set her gaze on Colloyd. "Ch..Chosen?"
Colloyd smiled awkwardly and waved a hand in greeting. "We just wanted to make sure that you and your daughter are fine."
Cacao looked concerned. "Has something happened? Chocolat is touring at the moment to the Thoda Geyser Church of Martel."
"There is nothing for you to worry about," Yuan answered, bowing at her. "We were passing through and thought to make sure nothing else has happened since that night."
Cacao smiled and shook her head. "Thank you."
They turned to leave the shop after stocking up on a few gels, but Gesea stayed behind. Kraine waited for her at the door and watched her carefully. "Excuse me, Ms Mocha?" Gesea asked.
"Can I help you?" the woman asked politely.
"I was just wondering why you called your store Marbles? I couldn't see any marbles for sale."
Cacao smiled fondly. "It is to remember my mother by. We called it Marbles in hopes that if she returns to us from the Iselia ranch, she will be able to help us run the store like we used to."
Kraine was glad that he had stayed in the doorway. Gesea started to tremble at hearing the story and he knew they needed to leave before she told the truth out of guilt. With a tap on the shoulder and a knowing smile, he led his little sister out of the general store and toward the exit of Palmacosta where the rest of the group were waiting.