The Wanderer

Fear of Emotion

Fear of Emotion

"Must… run… faster!"

For a day or so, all Celobia had done was train. He was exhausted and irritable, and yet he kept trying to go to his limit. The Lion was currently doing laps in the large empty space in the eastern part of the city. He was panting rapidly as he careened in circles.

Stopping suddenly, Celobia looked wildly around. His eyes fell on a rock in front of his temple. The Lion sprinted over and began pummeling the innocent stone with his paws.

"Must… have… sharp… claws!"

He continued like this for a while before practicing his turning-on-a-dime trick. Celobia spun around in different directions, kicking up grass to the point of non-existence.

"Must… be… agile!"

As the Lion continued with other fighting maneuvers, he was completely unaware of the frightened hawk that perched on one of the pillar-like obelisks. It carried Celobia's usual delivery of lizard meat and fruit in the large leaf-packet dangling from its jaws. Finally, the bird gathered up the courage to go down and try to attract the Lion's attention. Standing timidly behind the Colossus who was randomly swiping at the air, the hawk spoke.

"Um… mighty Lion… I have your once-weekly supply of food…"

Startled, Celobia turned and roared ferociously at the poor bird. The hawk dropped its load and quickly took off, nearly running into the obelisk as it went. The Lion looked down at the food and hungrily gobbled it up before going back to his work.

After another six hours of training, Celobia was exhausted. Without bothering to try and jump up to his temple in the dark, the Lion collapsed in front of it. Almost instantly he fell asleep.

Celobia lighted his eyes to see a familiar yet confusing scene. He seemed to be curled up on top of one of the tombs in Phaedra's green canyon. The Lion got to his feet and looked over to where the fallen Colossus' dirt pile of a body should have been, suddenly wanting to mourn for the old Horse. However, Celobia was startled to find that the body was not there. Realizing this must be a dream, and Phaedra was probably still alive, the Lion leapt off the front end of the tomb and trotted towards the Horse's sleeping platform. He was puzzled to see that there was nobody there. In fact, when the Lion looked around, he found that he was the only one in the canyon.

But if Phaedra's not dead where is he?

Suddenly, laughter rang out from the entrance to the Horse's area. Celobia looked up to see a small boy gazing at the green canyon with wonder. But it wasn't the boy's happy smile and amazed demeanor that caught the Lion's attention. No, it was the child's horns. Celobia was even more confused to see a young woman run through the entrance and pick up the boy, not at all daunted by his slightly demonic appearance. The Lion looked closer and practically fell down in shock. He was almost positive that the woman was Mono.

This must be the future and if the girl is alive, then the Colossi must be dead

Celobia felt despair for a second before a new wave a realization hit him.

But if we're all supposed to be dead, then where is Phaedra's body?

As the Lion watched Mono slowly carry the boy to the safety of lower ground, his mind raced.

If there are no bodies then surely we must be alive! But then if we are all well, then how is the girl also well? And what about this horned boy?

Celobia dimmed his eyes and focused on the life-forces of the land. All of the Colossi were there… but their signatures were very faint…

The Lion could hardly react. The shock and confusion was too great.

No! It's not possible! We can't be-

"Are you alright?"

Celobia lighted his eyes. In front of him stood a petrified looking hawk. The same one he had accidentally scared away the day before. The Lion didn't move, so the bird spoke again.

"You were yelling stuff in your sleep. Mainly, 'How?! How?!'. I wanted to check if you were okay. I've never heard of a Colossus with night-terror problems…"

The Lion slowly got to his feet. After shaking the loose grass and dust from his armor, Celobia spoke to the hawk.

"Sorry… Perhaps I've been training too hard. I'll get a drink, and you can check to see if any of the other three Colossi need anything. I'm sure you service hawks haven't had much to do."

The bird appeared awkward.

"I would, but the others seem to be inaccessible. Phalanx won't come out of the sand, Argus shoos me away, and there's a strange, invisible barrier around Malus' area."

Celobia thought for a second before answering.

"Hmm… then I suppose you can just have the day off."

The hawk's eyes brightened.

"Really? Oh, thank you, great Lion!"

The Lion watched blankly as the happy service bird flew away. His thoughts were revolving around this strange future. Suddenly though, Celobia shook his head.

"It was a dream. I need to get over it. I need to remember that the Wanderer's victory is the Colossi's death. And that's that."

And with a decided flick of his tail, the Lion turned back towards the rock he had pummeled yesterday and continued sharpening his claws.

Meanwhile

"Hmm… the warming sand must mean morning…"

Phalanx imagined wistfully flying across the sunny sky and felt happy, despite the creeping desire to cry in anguish for her two fallen cousins.

No sadness and anger will do me no good

There were three emotions that the Dragon avoided at all costs. Sadness, for it reduced the strength of her armor; Anger, for it reduced the purity of her soul; and, of course, fear. Fear reduced her mental and physical control. Even the minor forms of these emotions (such as disappointment, annoyance, and worry) were shunned from Phalanx's mind. Virtually all that was left was contentment and stability. However, the desire to let out the negative emotions was dire by this time. Recent events gave her a headache, for trying to keep down the three emotions she avoided was becoming harder.

The Dragon cleared her mind. Turning her mental focus from her own mind to the minds of others, she could sense their own emotions. Simple feelings flowed from the fish, lizards, and turtles, while more human or Colossus-like feelings drifted from the birds. Phalanx searched with her mind for the other Colossi. She sensed confusion and determination coming from Celobia, sullen-ness and guilt coming from Argus, and pure rage rolling off Malus in waves. The Dragon shivered when the Titan sensed her and closed his mind to her. Phalanx then went to search for two special thought-makers.

She found them in the Mountain Forest, and picked apart their emotions. The Wanderer still seemed tired, and didn't feel much except sleepiness. The Dragon guessed he was still trying to convince himself to get up from his slumber. Agro, the horse, was feeling contentment and amusement. Phalanx observed them mentally as their emotions changed. However, this quiet, non-important probing became a serious tracking venture when the Dragon sensed the sources of the feelings coming closer. Unlike when the boy and his horse had simply passed Phalanx's side of the Southern Desert on their way to Barba, they came right towards it. The Dragon knew what she would have to do. When the Wanderer pulled his horse to a stop in the broken shrine that Kuromori had used to get away from the sandstorm, Phalanx decided to make a dramatic entrance.

The Dragon had been coiled tightly under the sand, and when she burst into daylight, she was propelled forcefully and wonderfully into the air. As Phalanx twisted upwards with a serpentine fashion, she gave a screeching, echoing cry to the heavens. If the boy wasn't intimidated, then he had to be insane. Just as the Dragon felt her head begin to be affected by gravity, she started beating her two pairs of wings and many sets of soarettes so she would be flying evenly over the desert. (A/N: I had to find a name for those mini sets of wings that help keep her parallel to the ground, and I came up with the word soarettes. You know, like swimerettes? Eh, just keep reading.) Phalanx soared over the boy's head, pumping energy into her air-bags to take a lot of the load off her wings.

As she continued her flight, the Dragon looked down at the galloping horse and rider who followed her. The Wanderer was puzzled and wary, while Agro was flowing over with an annoyed "Here we go again" sort of feeling. After a few minutes of fruitlessly following his opponent, the boy seemed to come to a conclusion. Taking out a strange wooden thing, the Wanderer fired a tiny, sharp stick at Phalanx's underside. The stick chinked off of the Dragon's armor with no effect.

What, did he expect me to get infuriated and swoop down to reap vengeance? He doesn't seem to realize that I know fighting will do no good

Great amounts of confusion rolled off of the boy, before something dawned on him. The Wanderer shouted to his horse.

"Hey, Agro! This thing has sacks that glow like the feet of the second and ninth ones, and like the legs of the eighth one! Do you know what that means?"

No response.

"Well, it means if I shoot at them, something productive will happen!"

Phalanx had a few moments to think, "Oh, no" before an odd piercing sensation hit her chest sack. The Dragon suddenly became heavier as the lifting energy spewed from the sack in the form of blood. She remained airborne, but her wings were doing more work. Soon, both her belly and tail sacks were blown out, and Phalanx could not stay in the air.

In order to keep herself from barreling into the ground, the Dragon lowered her wings so they trailed in the sand, and put most of her energy into beating her soarettes so the other two-thirds of her would stay airborne. Phalanx was able to tilt these miniature sets of wings so she could swerve around the rock pillars in her domain, but otherwise she careened crazily through the desert. As Phalanx began to send her extra energy to her sacks so the holes would repair, she cursed herself for not diving back into the ground as soon as her first sack had been blown out. Now she didn't have enough height and momentum to do so.

Eventually, the Wanderer caught up to her, his horse panting in the effort to run along side the Dragon's trailing wings. Phalanx looked back and saw the boy, after a few unsuccessful tries, leap onto one of the ridges in her wing. The Dragon bit down the fear that threatened to bubble up as the Wanderer praised his horse and started jumping up the ridges.

Suddenly, Phalanx felt the sensation of lifting energy flowing seamlessly into her sacks. The Dragon finally righted her wings and lifted into the air once more. Her relief was short lived though, as she soon felt the boy running down her back. Phalanx cried out when a flaming stab hit her first vital, which like the two others was hidden behind a large erect flap. This went on for a bit before the Wanderer started to continue down the Dragon's back.

I wasn't planning to hurt him, but I suppose I have no choice!

Phalanx turned her wings so she started to tilt back and forth, before going into a magnificent spiral. For a few long seconds, the boy had to hang on for dear life as he was turned upside down. When the Dragon's flight evened out, though, the Wanderer continued down her back. But when he had only put in two stabs to the second vital, Phalanx closed her flaps. The Dragon tilted her wings upwards to act as brakes before pressing them to her sides and going into a nosedive. As Phalanx burrowed into the safety of the sand, the boy was thrown off and knocked out.

The Dragon planned to stay like this, but a voice intruded her mind.

"What, are you afraid?"

No, of course not! It is merely logical to-

"To hide like a coward from your attacker?"

That is beside the point, Dormin. If the Colossi are to live, then I must live.

"Stop trying to change the subject. We can tell how much your negative emotions have built up. Oh, how you wish to cry in sadness! To roar in anger! And to cower away from this boy in fear!"

I'm not afraid!

"THEN PROVE IT!"

Phalanx turned her nose upwards and burst from the sand. Like before she twisted into the air before evening her flight and soaring over the desert. The Dragon quickly remembered though that listening to Dormin was a very bad idea. She remembered this when once again sticks were piercing her air-sacks. It was not long before she trailed over the sand and the Wanderer was able to eventually jump onto her wings.

This time, when Phalanx's flight evened out, the boy sprinted over her back, leaping as he went. When he reached the Dragon's second vital, he only needed to put in one stab before it vanished. Once more Phalanx spiraled to try and get rid of her attacker, but it was only a mere interruption in the Wanderer's run to the third and final vital. It only took two built-up stabs.

The Dragon gave one last cry before plummeting to the ground, landing on her right side. Her left wings folded over her while her right wings crunched beneath her. Since it took a while for the life to be sapped from Phalanx, the boy had enough time to run to her head. The Dragon was surprised by the guilt that overflowed from the Wanderer as he laid a hand on her tan face armor and looked directly into her darkening eye.

"I'm so sorry…"

Celobia growled and looked skyward.

Pure, undeniable determination, confidence, and a sense of duty flowed through the Lion like a raging river. Though he felt sadness for the wise and graceful Phalanx, and his anger at the Wanderer was fierce, Celobia felt no fear.

"I will refuse to fall. And I will refuse to become number fourteen."


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