Dungeon runs and a mimic that couldn't
Dungeon runs and a mimic that couldn't
Colloyd sat with Kraine and Gesea in the room they had rented in the travellers lodge in Triet as she broke the news to them. He clenched his fists against his knees as he struggled to keep his composure. The news that they had been the cause of what happened was still on the tip of Gesea's tongue. He decided to take matters into his own hands as he looked at the professor. He hadn't said a word yet which only made him more nervous.
"It's my fault," he said to Kraine. "I had a friend at the ranch and wanted to go and see her. Gesea came along with me and someone must have seen us."
Kraine waited to make sure he said nothing else before setting the mug of coffee he had been sipping down on a small drawer next to his bed and giving him quite a serious look. "I'm not very well learned on the dwarven vows, but I do know one in particular that applies here. I believe it is number eleven?"
Colloyd made a sound and muttered "Lying is the first step down the path of thievery." He gave Kraine a guilty look. "You knew I was lying?"
Kraine shrugged and looked at Gesea. "I had noticed a lack of food in our fridge recently and assumed you were hiding a pet dog from me. I hadn't thought you were friends with one of the test subjects at the ranch."
"I couldn't tell you," Gesea said softly. "I was the only person that understood Marble.." She cringed and looked to be remembering something as she reached into the pocket of her dress. Colloyd immediately recognised it as an exsphere and pushed her to explain how she had gotten it. Gesea's eyes welled with tears though and she ran out of the room, leaving Kraine and Colloyd to glance at one another in a silent battle of who should deal with it. Eventually Colloyd admitted defeat and left the bedroom to find his best friend.
Gesea was outside of the lodge, sitting next to Noishe who curled around her and rested his head in her lap. Colloyd wasn't surprised. Noishe had always been particularly sensitive to emotions and seemed to sense when anyone was distressed. The elven girl looked up and gave him a fake smile. He sighed and sat down next to her, petting Noishe on the muzzle. "What's the matter Gesea? How do you have an exsphere?"
"It's... it's too horrible!" she squeaked and started to cry again. "Marble.. she.." Without her having to finish the sentence, Colloyd knew what she had meant to say. "She turned into a monster and I.. I killed her! She was going to kill me. I didn't know it was her but then Forcystus was there and-"
"-Okay," Colloyd breathed as he grabbed her by the shoulders. "You need to start from the beginning."
The sun had well and truly set by the time they re-entered the lodge room where Kraine had been patiently waiting. Gesea repeated to him what had happened; that their visit to the ranch had prompted the leader of the Desians, an elf named Forcystus, to attack the village. Something had happened to Marble and she had become a monster. Colloyd and Gesea had uncomfortably decided that it had been due to her exsphere lacking a key crest and that they had not been quick enough in getting one to her.
Kraine didn't ask any questions. It was almost as though he had understood what had happened. "You should get to bed. We have a full day ahead of us tomorrow," he said as the conversation came to an end.
Colloyd and Gesea both stared at him. "You mean you'll let Gesea come along?" Colloyd asked.
Kraine grimaced and glanced at his sister. "I'm sure she intended on joining us eventually whether or not she were invited. She is no longer welcome at Iselia so it is my duty to look after her."
Gesea jumped her brother into an embrace and he held her close for a couple of moments before straightening her and giving her a look to tell her to follow his earlier instructions. She nodded and headed for the bathroom, leaving Colloyd alone with Kraine.
The teacher looked at him. "Colloyd."
Kraine gave him a concerned look. "It is human nature to blame yourself for the actions of others. Humans are quite helpless in that aspect."
"Iselia was partly my fault," Colloyd replied. "I hope they will be able to forgive me after I have regenerated the world."
"I imagine they would have little choice in the matter."
Colloyd nodded and rested back on his bedspread. "Professor, can I ask you something?"
"That depends on what it is."
"Do you think people will miss me when I am gone?"
"You have people that care about you. Of course they will." Kraine's voice went softer as he spoke and he quickly decided to make an exit before Colloyd could ask him the next question that was practically hanging in the air between them. "If you'll excuse me, I need some fresh air."
Colloyd nodded and closed his eyes. Kraine watched him shift and get more comfortable before turning to the door of their room and heading out into the common room of the lodge. His walked past the travelers who lounged around reading books or talking to others and exited.
Standing outside next to Noishe, Kraine allowed himself to travel into his own mind. There were so many different things to think about. He had made the journey to Iselia long ago and known that this journey would come eventually. Becoming a teacher for the Chosen had been no easy task. He crossed his arms and wondered to himself how he had managed to get himself involved in what was clearly a lose-lose scenario. The Chosen was a means to a necessary end. They needed to regenerate the world. People were suffering more and more everyday, and a lack of mana in the air meant that people were more prone to sickness and that there were not enough resources for the appropriate medicine to be able to be financially available to the common folk. There was only one problem with the 'means to the end'.
It was Colloyd.
Kraine sighed and closed his eyes, pondering what to do. He very much doubted he would be able to get any sleep while his mind was in such a state of turmoil.
The group of three plus one Noishe set off the next morning toward the Triet ruins. While Gesea and Colloyd still seemed quite distressed about the previous day, Kraine couldn't help but be the chipper one in the party. After all, they were going to be seeing a piece of history very soon. It had been quite a while since he had visited last and he found it was always somewhat of an intrigue to see how things endured the test of time.
"Hey Gesea," Colloyd asked after a while, boredom getting the best of him. Gesea looked up from her previous sullen stare at her walking feet. Colloyd grinned at her. "Tell me more about the magic and the super strength already!"
Kraine visibly flinched and looked at Gesea, brief disbelief playing across his face. Gesea looked at Kraine. "Sorry. I know you said never show anyone but.."
"I'm sure you had a good reason," Kraine replied with a heavy sigh. "I suppose it is time to tell the Chosen the truth." The unsaid part of his resolve in his mind made him uncomfortable again, especially when Colloyd got an excited glint in his eyes and bombarded Gesea with a million and one questions.
"I get the strength from my exsphere, just like you do," Gesea explained. She stopped briefly to unbutton the top of her dress to show the top part of her chest. On there sat a red crystal, surrounded by a Key Crest. Colloyd went to take a closer look but stopped at seeing Kraine's brotherly glare on him. His face went red and he glanced away. Gesea tilted her head in question as she buttoned her dress back up. "My exsphere is different though. I'm not sure of the details but it was a part of an experiment called the Angelus Pro-"
"Gesea," Kraine called out abruptly. "This is not a subject to bother the Chosen with."
"Oh, right.." Gesea looked sad and gave Colloyd an apologetic look. "It's a bit of a sensitive topic for us. I apologise."
"I don't mind being bothered," Colloyd said. "You can tell me."
Gesea glanced back at Kraine who frowned at her and decided to speak. "The Angelus project is a Desian-funded project based on turning exspheres into something different. Their goal was to turn an exsphere into a Cruxis crystal, just like the one the Chosen is born with."
"Exactly," Gesea said. "Myself and our sister were both a part of the experiment."
"Your sister?" Colloyd's eyes widened as he looked back and forth at the siblings. "Where is she?"
Neither sibling said a word more, which only made Colloyd all the more curious. Before he had a chance to learn more though, Kraine let out a loud, uncharacteristic laugh and ran ahead of them. Colloyd and Gesea exchanged looks and followed him to the entrance of the Triet ruins.
"Just look at this stone," Kraine said to them as he turned to them, a strange and somewhat scary look on his face. "Have you ever seen anything quite like it?" He ran his fingerless gloved hand over the panels that decorated the entrance and stopped on a groove, letting out what Colloyd could only describe as an excited sigh.
"Professor?" Colloyd asked, raising one eyebrow. The auburn haired teacher-swordsman didn't answer and appeared to be muttering to himself as he examined the areas around a stone tablet with a magnifying glass that he had seemingly kept in his cloak pocket the entire time.
Colloyd looked to his best friend for an answer and was met with a heavy sigh and an embarrassed drop of the shoulders. "I tried so hard to conceal it too. Kraine's somewhat of an Archaeological Maniac."
"Don't give it a name like that," Kraine muttered, appearing to only have selective hearing. He glowered at his sister. "I am simply fascinated by things like this."
"Why? It's just st-" Colloyd found Gesea's hand flying to his mouth to shut him up. She shook her head with a scared look in her eyes. Both children looked to the teacher and watched as he found a stone tablet in the middle of the entrance to the ruins. "Wait, this is it! Come here Chosen."
Colloyd reluctantly stepped closer to the professor, still freaked out by the look in his eyes. The professor looked from the stone tablet to him and then back again, running his fingers along the edges of it. "This is definitely the first seal."
"That's what a seal looks like?" Colloyd asked, staring at the stone. "I thought it was some kind of marine animal that opened up paths when you spoke to it."
There was silence for a moment and all that could be heard was the whistle of the wind and the distant rustle of a tumble weed.
"Place your hand here," Kraine instructed him eventually. Colloyd did as he said and placed his hand atop a small groove in the stone. It rumbled under his palm for a moment and a passage just ahead of them opened up.
"Guess I really am the Chosen after all, huh," he said to his companions, deciding to be brave and head down the staircase that had revealed itself to them.
"We knew that already, Col!" Gesea half groaned and half laughed as she followed after him. Kraine brought up the behind soon after, nodding as he looked behind himself at Noishe, who whined and sat at the entrance.
"Is it really meant to be this easy?" Gesea asked Colloyd and Kraine. The two fighters just glanced at one another, equally dumbfounded. The moment they had entered the metaphorical sauna, things had gone a little strangely. Their first hint that something wasn't quite right was when they had discovered a winged bird-like monster on the ground, a breath away from death. Colloyd had put it out of its misery but it had clearly been an enemy that would have ambushed them. When the path forked up ahead, they had taken the left, slightly curved path to discover yet another monster squirming for life on the ash coloured bricked ground. Again Colloyd put it out of its misery. It was only when they found a dead end and entered a door to their right to find another monster on deaths doorstep that they all stopped to reflect.
"It appears that the platforms here were raised recently by these torches being set alight." Kraine said as he stalked past them and examined one of the alcoves in the pillar nearby. A bright red flame danced about inside. High above them a platform was raised out of a pool of lava. They could see a staircase which must have been a part of one of the other entrances to the large room they were in which led up to it.
"I think I've figured it out," Colloyd stated then. Everyone turned to him while he grimaced and scratched his chin in thought. "Someone must have come in here before us. I'd say treasure hunters."
"Col, that isn't possible," Gesea answered, quickly putting a stop to the Chosens words.
Colloyd looked at her. "Why not?"
"Perhaps you should use your own head a little," Kraine responded. "If anyone could open up a seal then why do they not send fighters or hardened criminals to do the task of the Chosen?"
"Oh." Colloyd gave an embarrassed laugh. "Right. I had to open it." He gestured to the room around him. "Do either of you have a better idea?"
"I don't think it is necessary to know right now," Kraine replied. "Although I'm extremely curious, we should perhaps use this turn of events to our advantage instead." He walked past them and stood at the door, waving for them to leave the room.
"And you said this wasn't a field trip!" Colloyd joked to Kraine as they wound their way around the outer fringe of the inside circular building.
Finding another door they could enter a short way around which led into the middle of the larger room, they entered and followed the stairway they had seen in the previous entrance to the room to see that it branched off into several other platforms which contained treasure chests. Despite his companions saying so, Colloyd had still been partly wondering at the prospect of treasure hunters until he saw that they had not looted anything. Sitting in the chest was a pair of swords, one of which he took for himself and handed the other to Kraine. The professor looked at it, a strange frown on his face before he handed it back to Colloyd. "It won't do me any good to use a sword like that. See the thin blade? The two blades in this chest are clearly meant to go together."
"Two blades?" Colloyd raised one eyebrow. "But then you might as well use a shield since you'll spend half your time defending with one of them anyway."
"What happened to your theory of being a dual wielder?" Kraine asked, a slight smirk in his voice.
"That's different," he replied before dropping his backpack and placing them inside. They might not be any good but he could at least sell them. Zipping his backpack back up and slinging it over his shoulder, he walked over another raised platform to a treasure chest. It looked different from the previous one he had just opened somehow, having a mahogany sheen to it that made the red glow from the lava beneath them reflect off of it.
"Stop!" yelled the professor all of a sudden, making Colloyd stop mid-step toward it. Kraine stepped in front of him and pulled his sword from its sheath. "This is a mimic. A devils box."
"Don't you pay any attention in class, Col?" Gesea asked, stepping up beside her brother. She looked at it with her head tilted. "Kraine, you can relax. It's dead."
Kraine relaxed his sword hand and looked at the monster treasure chest a little more closely this time. A small hairline crack ran right down the middle of it. Reaching forward with his sword, he tapped the mimic slightly. Colloyd and Gesea jumped back as the chest crumbled under the slight touch and fell apart in both directions sideways. Kraine hesitantly slid his sword back into its sheath and turned to the last platform at the top of the path. A round glowing teleportation ring sat there just waiting for them to enter. Giving the two children behind him a warning about how strange they might feel for a moment or two, he stepped onto it and watched them follow suit a moment later.
Colloyd blinked his eyes a few times when the strange floating sensation stopped. He had to blink again quickly when he saw what stood in front of them. There, a bright red and orange dinosaur like creature on four legs with spikes that protruded from the tip of its head to the end of its tail stood; two smaller versions of the same creature by its side.
"Get ready!" Kraine said, clutching his sword. Colloyd watched as a bright white aura surrounded him for a moment before he yelled "Guardian!" and a green light surrounded the three of them.
The dinosaur creature roared and sent a large ball of flame from out of its mouth at them but with the green forcefield Kraine had conjured up with his elven magic, it spread in a wide arc around them and scorched the wall behind them instead. The barrier faded and the three of them sprung into action. Kraine got to the large dinosaur first while Colloyd charged with his chakram spinning toward the smaller one on the left hand side. Gesea clapped her hands together, summoned her weapon, and started casting some kind of spell that caused her aura to glow blue and a round star shaped symbol in a circle to appear at her feet. There was only one weird problem though. Their enemy wasn't moving.
Kraine attacked the large beast and without much of an argument, it was sent to the floor of the ruins with a loud crash, knocking down one of the smaller dinosaurs during the fall. It shook for a few seconds as it tried to get up but let out what sounded more like a whine rather than a roar and rested its head back on the ground. The other smaller creature that had still been standing had been knocked out by the jets of water from Gesea as she yelled the words "Aqua Edge!"
With the enemies wasted, Colloyd stopped spinning his chakram. "Aw man, I didn't get to do anything!" He looked at Kraine, noticing that the professor had a dumbfounded expression on his face as he leaned down to the fallen large dinosaur corpse and examined a large gash in its side. "I think it is safe to say that my sister and I did not do too much either."
"Do you think it was the same people that have been killing the monsters all the way through here?"
"That isn't important right now," Kraine said as he looked toward the altar right at the back of the circular room that they had transported into. Colloyd followed his gaze and nodded, stepping up to it. As soon as he did, a light shone down from the roof and the flapping wings of the angel called Remiel appeared first, followed by the rest of his body once the light faded. "Colloyd, my precious son, you have done well."
"Uh.. Thank you fa..ther?" Hearing Remiel speak of their relation still felt weird and he had to push to finish the words.
"By defeating the guardian of the first seal, Efreet will surely awaken soon. In the name of Cruxis, I will grant you the power of the angels."
"The power of the angels?" Colloyd quizzed. When Remiel didn't respond, he bowed his head respectfully. "Sorry. Thank you, my lord."
A light streamed from Remiel and floated down to Colloyd. Gesea and Kraine watched, wide eyed, as it disappeared into his body and bright pink ethereal wings with blue tips sprouted from his body. They spanned out, much like an eagles wings would, and flapped at the tips a couple of times. Colloyd looked to his left and right at the wings and grinned for a moment before looking up at the angel who started speaking again.
"The angel transformation will not be without pain," Remiel explained. "Yet it is but for one night. Be strong and endure."
"I humbly accept this trial," he said, bowing his head.
"Good." Remiel sounded pleased. "The next seal lies far to the east, across the sea. Offer your prayers at that altar." Without waiting for Colloyd to make another acceptance, Remiel vanished in his typical light show.
As soon as she could be sure that Remiel was gone, Gesea let out an excited yelp and ran closer to Colloyd. "Wow Col! Look at your wings!"
"I know, I know!" Colloyd grinned, stretching them and flapping them a bit. He lifted off the ground and Gesea let out another excited coo.
Kraine looked on at the Chosen, trying to decide whether he was intrigued or disturbed. For Colloyd's sake, he swallowed the other feeling aside from those two and gave his best interested smile.
"Look, I can put them away, too," Colloyd said excitedly, making them disappear.
"Impressive," Kraine said, nodding before glancing back over the fallen monsters on the floor that were starting to fade away. He stepped away from the children and examined the gash wound in the side of the big one once again. Whoever had aided them was quite powerful. An uneasy feeling filled his gut once again as he told the children not to dawdle, but for a different reason this time.