One with the wind
Yuan with the wind
Sheelos gasped at the creature sitting before her. For the moment she didn't care whether Volt could kill them or not. Years of joy bubbled to the surface all at once. "Corrine? Is that you?"
The creature shook its head and the joy she'd felt only a second earlier left her to be replaced by confusion. She didn't exactly know why. The creature looked like Corrine, sure. It had his golden brown fur, his blue-green tail and his red eyes. But it certainly had its differences. For one, the size difference was insurmountable.
"I am Verius," the fox creature introduced. "I am a summon spirit born from the love in your heart for Corrine and for your friends. Fear not Sheelos. You will succeed. Volt has just lost his faith in people and needs someone to believe in again. Make your vow and try forming a pact one last time."
"Verius.." Sheelos uttered, gazing at him in awe. The nine blue-green tails flowing behind him made looking at him a mesmerising experience. Verius lowered his head to her own head level and she reached her hands out to him. His fur felt the same as Corrine's. Soft and silky. She half expected to find a small tuft of matted fur just under his chin. Corrine had clearly expressed his distaste for her picking at it when she was nervous, but over time it became a game for the both of them. She closed her eyes and relished in a brief moment of combined happiness and sadness. Verius was and wasn't Corrine.
When she could no longer feel the summon spirit under her fingertips, she opened her eyes and surveyed her surroundings. The group looked confused. She didn't have time to explain though. She had to listen to Verius' words. Placing her hands on her hips, she glared up at the second level where they'd initially summoned Volt with the lightning rod. "Volt! For the sake of my friends who are risking their lives, and for the sake of my village and the world, I demand your power!"
Volt materialised in front of them all again. Yuan summoned his weapon. "Like a moth to a flame. Let's get him!" Everyone raised brief eyebrows at him. "What?" he asked. "He did!" He tried to think of the best way to explain why the sentence had relevance but found himself drawing a blank.
"Anyway..." Lloyd started, changing the subject away from Yuan's terrible pun. "Let's subdue him by force! It's time for Sheelos to stop being haunted by Volt's shadow!" He led the charge into battle, Sheelos by his side. Yuan gripped his blade and ran in with them.
Gesea ran in next, summoning her kendaxe and getting ready to swing it as she ran. She couldn't help but notice Mithos standing still the whole time and stopped to make sure he was alright. He just stared up at Volt. She couldn't tell whether he was scared, surprised, or something else. "Mi-"
She was grabbed quickly by Yuan and pulled away from a lightning bolt. The bolt filled the entire radius with static. "Don't worry about him," Yuan warned. "We've got bigger problems at the moment."
"R..right!" She quickly readied her weapon again.
Lloyd flapped his wings and rose upward from the ground to give the rest of his friends some space for fighting and surrounding Volt. "Rising Falcon!" he cried a second later, moving his swords into their position for the attack. Volt dodged his downward assault by shifting to one side. Lloyd landed on the just behind the summon spirit and whirled around to see that he'd at least been a good distraction and that Volt hadn't been quick enough to avoid the pummelling he got from Sheelos, Gesea and Yuan. They unified their attacks together to get a few good hits on him.
Lloyd stepped forward to begin a new charge when Colette caught his eye. She was staring right at him. An idea too hard to resist suddenly came to mind. He swiftly dropped his backpack and took out the chakrams he'd bought for her. "You want to help, don't you," he stated more than actually questioned. He wasn't sure how he knew. He just did. Naturally, he wasn't really surprised when she blinked in response. She'd definitely heard him.
He handed the weapons to her and she quickly grasped them. An almost determined expression cropped up in her eyes. Her stare turned to Volt and she leapt off of the ground, wings fluttering rapidly to give her flight. She flew straight in the summon spirit's direction, chakrams still firmly in her grip. She didn't float very far toward him though and stopped blankly in mid-air a short distance away like she was hitting an invisible wall. Seeing the weapons slowly slipping out of her grip, Lloyd decided to spring back into the fray. As he did, Colette followed eagerly.
"That's it!" he exclaimed confidently, feeling very proud of himself.
Gesea turned her head at his ecstatic cry and then up to Colette above them. He stuttered and ran past a spell casting Yuan until he was on par with Sheelos, who was also running back to Volt after she'd managed to dodge a few quick bursts of lightning he'd sent across the ground at her. She tried to land a green coloured seal attack on him as she did a hand movement that looked kind of like a snake, but failed when Volt simply floated out of reach.
Volt continued backing away while vibrating loudly, a purplish coloured magic circle spinning on the floor below where he floated. Letting his wings outstretch behind him, Lloyd took to the air. If Volt was going to fly, so was he. He wasn't likely to get a hit in with rising falcon. He needed to do something different. Readying his swords and hoping he wasn't going to choose now to pick up his old clumsy habits, Lloyd flapped his wings in reverse to pull off a small spinning effect as he charged at Volt and jumped off of the ground. He remembered to open his eyes just in time to land a heavy downward blow with both his swords. Volt went flying into the ground, scorching a black line in the stone floor below as he landed and bounced a bit further away.
Lloyd went to dart forward again to continue the same method of attack, but found himself suddenly distracted by a tingling and slightly burning sensation coming from where his exsphere sat on his right hand. Magic green blades of wind ruffled his hair as they flew past him at Volt while he lifted his hand to investigate what was happening. His exsphere was glowing a bright white-blue. If he hadn't looked away because of its brightness, he would have missed Colette spinning around in a circle and sending two chakrams glowing with a magenta aura flying right at Volt. They hit him and he buzzed in pain before disappearing and reappearing a short distance to the groups left. He started spell casting again.
"He's getting weaker!" Sheelos cried, turning around abruptly and chasing after Volt again. Yuan and Gesea nodded but didn't say anything, both casting. Yuan's blade was starting to glow green. Lloyd figured he might have been putting a spell directly on it. His curiosity faded when he saw the chakrams that had flown back to Colette fall to the ground with a clack. He looked up in time to watch her pink wings disintegrate and her suddenly descend to the ground.
He jumped and caught her before floating down to the ground. Her eyes were closed, making her look like she was sleeping. "Colette!" he called, shaking her. She didn't open her eyes.
Yuan darted in front of him, his aura glowing green. "Guardian!"
A green field of magic appeared around them. Lloyd had seen it before. Kraine had done it when they'd been fighting the renegades in the Thoda Geyser cave. Magic from Volt that he hadn't seen coming bounced off of the field and Yuan looked back at him. "Put her down and stay on your guard, otherwise this will all be for nought!"
He had a snarl in his voice that Lloyd hadn't heard before. It didn't take a genius to figure out it was probably due to his past with Sheelos and Volt. As the Chosen of Tethe'alla's protector, he probably blamed himself for what had happened with the summon spirit of lightning. He nodded and quickly backed away to where Mithos was still standing, watching the battle happen with a now vacant look in his eyes. "Mithos! Look after Colette!" He rested the angel down next to Mithos' feet and ran back to the swords he'd dropped on the floor earlier to catch her before Mithos could agree or disagree.
Icicles flying in from two directions from both Gesea and Yuan hit Volt. Sheelos held up a red gem into the air. "Gnome, I summon you!"
"I was wonderin' when you would!" Gnome said happily over the noise as he appeared. Rocks appeared out of nowhere and crashed on top of Volt, pinning him to the ground for the rest of them to wail on him. Gnome snickered and faded away into nothing. "Sorry Volty m'man, I'm with Sheelos now."
"..." Volt buzzed under the rubble, but like the death of a blowfly, his buzzing got lower and lower until it became just a low hum and then nothing. They watched as the purple body of Volt disappeared from under the rubble and reappeared before them all.
"..." Volt buzzed. The anger in his red eyes was gone. Lloyd put his weapons away, confident that they'd won the battle. Sheelos still didn't seem quite sure. She stood with her seals still held firmly in the fingers of each hand, breathing heavily as sweat ran down her forehead.
"What'd he say?" Lloyd asked. Volt buzzed again.
Yuan listened and nodded once he understood. "He said for Sheelos to make her vow."
"It's just like I said before," Sheelos started, slowly putting away her 'weapons' and stepping forward. "For the sake of my friends who are risking their lives being here with me and for the sake of my village and the world, and for Corrine too.." she trailed off for a second. "Volt, I request your help."
"He says that the pact has been made," Yuan said. Everyone smiled at Sheelos, who glanced between Yuan and Volt in surprise. "R-really?"
"I entrust my power to the new pact-maker, Sheelos," Yuan clarified. Upon his translation, Volt started to disappear, leaving only a glowing white ball. It glowed brightly and let out a white flash that engulfed the room. When the light gradually faded, the now much dimmer ball of light floated down to Sheelos. She reached her hand out to it and took the gemstone she'd come to expect now. The second her hand touched it though, instead of hearing the voice of Volt, she instead heard the underwater voice of Undine. Nodding at the voice in her head, she took the gem for Undine out of her outfit. Without even summoning her, Undine appeared before them. A second later, Volt reappeared again.
"What's happening?" she asked for herself and the rest of the confused group as they looked over the two summon spirits.
"A link between the worlds has been severed," Undine explained.
Volt buzzed and Yuan cleared his throat before translating. "Two opposing forces of mana were severed just now as I pledged my power to Sheelos."
"But what does that mean?" Gesea asked.
"Mana flows from the world in which the Summon Spirits sleep to the world in which the Summon Spirits are awake. This is the first time that the spirits have been awakened at the same time in both Sylvarant and Tethe'alla in Origin's world."
"This is why the mana connecting the two worlds has been eliminated," Yuan explained on Volt's behalf.
"Does that mean what I think it means?" Lloyd asked.
"What do you think it means, Lloyd?" Gesea asked. He could tell by her tone of voice that she was thinking along the same lines as him. A small bud of hope formed in his chest as he answered, looking at Undine. "Does that mean that the worlds have stopped competing for mana?"
"I do not know," Yuan replied for Volt. "All that is certain is that the flow of mana between the worlds has been severed."
"Yes," Undine said, sounding almost...proud. "Keep travelling along this path and eventually the worlds shall separate."
"Separate?" Gesea's eyes went wide. "You mean to say that the worlds would split apart?"
"That's exactly what we need to do!" Sheelos said, clapping her hands together and rubbing them. "If the worlds are split apart, they'll stop competing for each others mana!"
"There are five seals in Sylvarant," Yuan started telling them, being himself instead of Volt for the first time in a while. "Since there was not a Summon Spirit at the fifth seal, we should theoretically be able to sever all the mana if we awaken the Summon Spirit that correspond to the other four seals."
"So, if we awaken the Summon Spirits in Tethe'alla, we should be able to save Sylvarant without Tethe'alla going into decline, right?" Lloyd asked, directing his question at Undine again.
The water summon spirit obliged. "In the very least, the mana linking the worlds will disappear and the two worlds will separate."
Without warning, the two spirits vanished in another flash of white light. Lloyd turned to his friends. Gesea looked very curious. "What they said must mean that the seals serve as a link between the two worlds."
"Yeah," Sheelos agreed. "Makes sense when ya think about how the Chosen goes on a journey to break the seals in order to reverse the mana flow."
"We owe it all to you Sheelos!" Lloyd said. "Verius as well, even though I don't really understand what happened back there."
Sheelos startled back. Gesea agreed with Lloyd. "Lloyd's right! Without Sheelos and Verius we wouldn't have been able to know the true function of the seals."
Sheelos stuttered a "you're welcome," to them and for a moment they all laughed until Lloyd remembered an important outside factor to the whole situation. He whirled around to see Mithos looking at them, a somewhat angry expression on his face. "Oh Mithos," he said, scratching the back of his head and trying to figure out where to start. "It's a bit complicated, but basically we're trying to save the world."
"Basically?" Mithos stepped closer and he involuntarily took a step back. "What makes you think the worlds need to be saved? You make it sound like it's simple." He scoffed a bit uncharacteristically at that.
Gesea stepped forward, a bit confused as Mithos balled his fists at Lloyd. "Mithos?"
"It's because they both suffer when they decline," Lloyd tried to reason, a bit confused by his reaction.
The blond shook his head and swiped the air furiously with his hand. "But what if you just make it worse? Do you really know what will happen?"
"You seem a bit more worked up than should be necessary," Sheelos said, simpering closer and leaning over Mithos. She looked closely at him. "What's your deal?"
Before Mithos could open his mouth, the ground under their feet started to rumble. Yuan looked to the roof. "We should make for the exit at present in light of the quake. There is time to scrutinise the actions of our captain later." He turned around and ran for the door. Mithos followed without saying anything else.
Lloyd glanced at Gesea, then at Sheelos. The ninja-Chosen chased after Yuan, leaving Gesea to kneel down to the still unconscious Colette. "What happened to Colette? We're going to have to carry her."
He nodded and knelt next to her. "I don't know, but I think I figured out something else." With Gesea's help, he shifted Colette onto his back so he could carry her. They made for the door and he continued to explain. "Colette copied me when I took my wings out, so I figured she might do the same thing when we fight."
"Wow Lloyd!" Gesea looked surprised. "My brother was right when he said your mind ticks faster when you're in battle."
Lloyd agreed at first before realising what she was saying. "H-hey!"
Gesea giggled and shook her head. "It's okay Lloyd. I like that about you." Her expression dropped and she looked at her feet as they kept walking. "After all, you being a simpleton means you accepted me as a half-elf."
"Why wouldn't I?" Lloyd tilted his head. "You're Gesea. It shouldn't matter what race you are. Besides, what about Sheelos?"
Gesea didn't respond. Her concerned look disappeared and she just smiled weirdly. Deciding to leave her to her own thoughts, Lloyd looked over his shoulder at the sleeping Colette. Her hair was falling in front of her face so he couldn't see her eyes. "I wonder what you'll be like when we save you Colette? Will you be like me?" He chuckled to himself. "You must be a bit of a clutz." She didn't respond of course, but he continued anyway. "I wonder if you'll have my memories? Or whether we'll be able to talk without talking like a psychic?" He grinned to himself at the cool thought. "Can you hear me Colette? Come in Colette."
Before he knew it, they'd left the Temple of Lightning and gone through the field to the sail boat. He shifted a bit and ducked under the cabin door low enough so that she didn't hit her head as he went through and rested her down on the couch in the lounge room. Mithos, Yuan and Gesea went to the bridge, Yuan instructing Mithos on their next location, the Fooji Mountains in the Meltokio region.
Sheelos sat on the other couch and looked from Lloyd to Colette while she absently scratched Noishe behind the ears. "With the rheairds, it should become easier to find Kraine and get the ore for our Colette." She crossed her arms. "Even though it'll mean more competition for the affections of my darling, she deserves to be alive. Like, properly." Noishe gave her a look and she sighed. "Right. We're still way over our heads here. I don't understand this mutual affection thing much at all."
That reminded her suddenly of the words Verius had spoken to her earlier. She briefly felt under her sash to make sure the bell was secure in her pocket.
"Just as Sheena did, you can overcome this obstacle."
She frowned and wondered about asking Lloyd about it for a second. Yuan had been too preoccupied with Mithos during the journey back and she'd inevitably had too much time to think. It was odd. Hearing that name gave her goosebumps for no reason. It was annoying. Verius had obviously known them. Lloyd had wandered away from the sleeping Colette and moved to stand near the window to look outside as they left the small island. He was looking at his hand. Seeing him deep in thought was such a rarity that she almost got distracted from her thoughts. They came crawling back again when she decided not to disturb him though. She wondered if this "Sheena" had been another summoner. It seemed kind of pointless to wonder though. If a summon spirit talked about someone like that, they had to be a summoner.
Sheelos blinked and shot her head in the direction of Lloyd's sudden confused sounding yelp. Footsteps sounded behind her from the bridge. "Lloyd!" Gesea called, running past the couch to where he was staring and clutching at his right hand.
Lloyd gradually removed his hand from clutching over the exsphere habitually at the sensation. The sensation gradually faded until it was non-existant again. Gesea gave him a look to explain what had happened and he just showed her his exsphere. "I dunno, it just tingled a bit for a second. The same thing happened earlier." He saw some movement out of the corner of his eye and looked to see Colette sit up from her spot on the couch. "H-hey! Colette's awake now." He left Gesea to greet her. Colette turned her head to watch him approach, her eyes still as blank as always. "I'm glad you're alright Colette," he said, smiling.
Stars were filling the sky and the wind was starting to rough up the seas more when they finally pulled their sail boat into the dock close to the raised Grand Tethe'alla Bridge. Lloyd wasn't keen to experience trouble at sea during the night after their latest run in and was quite content to set his feet onto solid ground the moment Mithos weighed anchor by pressing the biggest button of all on the bridges control panel and pulling a small hidden lever on the deck just outside where they were to step off.
Yuan was the last to disembark the sail boat, locking the door to the cabin behind him. He turned his head to watch Mithos about to step off. "Hold it Mithos," he called.
Mithos stopped mid-step. Lloyd looked between their captain and Yuan, wondering what was going on. "I thought it might be best for us to have a chat while Lloyd and the rest of the group head up to the mountains," Yuan continued. "After all, the Papal Knights will recognise myself more than anyone else if they are watching out for us."
Sheelos scoffed and Lloyd's growing suspicion that it was more to do with the bluenette's distrust for Mithos was confirmed. He opened his mouth to argue in Mithos' defence when Mithos instead nodded in agreement. "I don't like the mountains anyway." He reached a hand out to Noishe who was standing by his side. "Let's take Noshy for a walk."
"Noshy?" Lloyd laughed. "I called him that when I was a kid."
"It's a good nickname," Mithos agreed. "I think Noshy likes it."
"Woof!" Noishe agreed with a content tail wag.
"Well as long as you're okay with it, I guess it's okay with me," Lloyd agreed. He looked at Gesea, then Sheelos and finally at Colette. "Okay gang! Let's head to the Fooji Mountains!" He pointed to the mountain range that was lit up from the glow of the full moon and started to hike ahead enthusiastically. Sheelos caught Yuan's eye contact for just a second and shot him a look she knew he would understand. He nodded in recognition back but didn't say anything. She left with the group, to eventually disappear past a few hills and off into the distance.
"Phew," Mithos said after a bit. He glanced up at Yuan. He hadn't taken his eyes off of him. "I was starting to wonder whether they would ever leave us alone." He turned fully to the taller half-elf and waited for a response. Yuan remained quiet though so he continued. "Let's just cut to the chase. You're the same Yuan I met 4000 years ago." He looked down and smiled fondly at Noishe. "Isn't he Noishe? Isn't he!" He fussed the 'dog' until he was rolled over on the deck awaiting belly rubs.
"What makes you think it is possible to have lived 4000 years?" he deadpanned, his eyebrows raised as he crossed his arms under his cloak and waited for Mithos to stop messing around.
"Who else would want to suppress their mana signature from a little kid?" Mithos questioned back, standing up again and mimicking him in a crossed arm pose. He looked like a child throwing a tantrum.
"My mana signature? Do you have proof that I am suppressing it?" Yuan wasn't going to give in to the game just yet.
A mixture of pink, green and blue light suddenly filled the dim lighting around them. Yuan found a hand around his neck and nothing under his feet before he could think to grab for the short sword at his side. Noishe barked in a confused tone from his spot on the deck. "I grow weary of your games Yuan," Mithos said, the light behind him giving the features of his face a sinister shape. "You have two choices now. I would prefer to not kill you, old friend."
Yuan struggled for breath and Mithos released him slightly. "As young Gesea said, I am a half-elf," he said when he had enough breath to speak again. "You are mistaken."
Mithos snarled and tightened his grip again. "My patience is growing thin." They floated out further from the sail boat. The sea under them roared like a hungry lion. Yuan remained calm, looking Mithos in the eyes. The next thing he knew, he was falling into the ocean at high speed. A hand grabbed him a second later and pulled him out before he drifted too far down.
Mithos shook him angrily. "Damn it Yuan! Just tell me how you're still alive!"
"Heh," Yuan coughed, amused. "It appears forty centuries have been kind to you Mithos." He allowed his own pink light to shower over the two of them as they floated precariously above the sea. Mithos let go instantaneously at finally getting the answer he'd wanted. He looked over the seraph wings flapping behind the blue haired half-elf. "You've got a Cruxis Crystal. You were also a subject of the Angelus Project all that time ago Yuan?"
"Can you think of any other way I would have lived for so long? So long that the I was alive when the term 'Cruxis Crystal' was first coined?"
Mithos laughed childishly and floated back over to the sail boat. Yuan drifted behind him, his mind racing about the possible repercussions of what he'd just done. Mithos landed softly on the deck and quickly attempted to reassure Noishe that they were just 'playing'. Noishe didn't seem satisfied until Yuan himself tapped down and dissipated his wings. "You have obtained what you wanted to know," he grumbled to Mithos, irritated.
"And you want to know information in return, I take it?" Mithos asked. He stepped off of the deck and clicked his fingers for Noishe to come, putting away his wings too. He gazed up at Yuan. "I suppose I do owe it to you. Cruxis would not be what it is without you, after all."