It had nearly been two weeks, but Ray couldn’t stop thinking about the about the photo that Pennie found. It meant that those visions he had been having were not just dreams, but actual fragments of his past. His memories were still very vague, but from what he had remembered, he knew that he had never gotten along with anyone as well as he got along with that. The more he thought about the past, the more he wished he knew more about it.
So he decided to get to the Twilight Heart base early that morning to get the chance to speak to Dimetrios. Ray knew that when he was a part of Regal Night, he used to travel to all sorts of strange places. He also loved to brag all about it. It was even possible that Dimetrios might have known something about that girl and possibly even something about Aleron. However, he had a nasty habit of getting pissed off as the day progressed, So Ray knew that to get any information out of him he had to get there early in the morning.
He stood in front of the new Twilight Heart building and sighed. He didn’t like how much it had changed. He was somewhat relieved that they had kept the style of the old exterior, but it was the inside of the building that bugged him the most. He didn’t like the fancy tiles and carpets, the customer café, the photo merchandise store, and how the concert hall and the trivial amount of dance studios were part of the main building. He also hated the security system that scanned their emblems before walking into the members-only lounge and bar. The Twilight Heart base was supposed to be for Twilight heart only, but to Ray, it had become a huge publicity stunt. He sighed again as he stood in front of the lounge doors, it was not the time to care about such pointless things. With Noah trailing behind him, Ray stormed into the room.
“Hey Dimetrios, I want to talk to you!” he yelled as he slammed through the doors.
“And what makes you think I wanna speak to you, Valero!” Dimetrios growled. His gruff voice creaked through the room like the gallows chain as he turned away from the bar to face him.
“What?! How could you be in a bad mood already?! It’s only eight in the morning!” Ray yelled back. “Do you have to be so aggravating? You normally don’t get pissed till mid-day!”
“Just like an old man,” Noah sniggered, standing on a nearby table and covering his mouth cheekily.
“Shut up Hamara!” Dimetrios growled. “Just seein’ your goofy face puts me in a bad mood Valero!”
Ray growled. It was evident that Dimetrios was still annoyed about losing against Ray in the Regal Night battle. Ray went to yell again, but he managed to restrain himself.
“Same goes for you pal,” he muttered under his breath, just loud enough for Dimetrios to hear him. “But I have some really important questions for you.”
Dimetrios sighed and nudged his head, permitting Ray to sit next to him. Ray walked up and sat in the spinning chair next to him.
“Alright! You’re always talking about how you’ve heard of loads of interesting rumours and places when you were with Regal Night. Did you hear anything about Shadow Beasts or perhaps the name Aleron?” Ray began.
“I haven’ heard of an Aleron before, but there have been rumours about the disappearance of the Shadow Beasts,” he explained as he looked away from Ray.
Dimetrios had a thick, rhotic accent. He over pronounced his r sounds, and his t sounds often sounded like ds, which was how many people from the state of Tierra spoke. Dimetrios didn’t pronounce the end words properly occasionally, which got on Ray’s nerves a little because he sometimes couldn’t understand what Dimetrios was saying. However, Ray was interested in the information that Dimetrios had and put up with his improper way of speaking.
“People say that all of the remaining Shadow Beasts had a meeting to discuss the increase of dark magic when the CSOG attacked. The soldiers cast a spell that put them into a deep sleep that would last for centuries,” Dimetrios continued. “The rumour goes that one Shadow Beast wasn’t affected by the spell. It was said to be a kind Shadow Beast, so the CSOG cursed him to be trapped in his human form and arrested. Some say that an evil Shadow Beast who planned to attack the meeting and kill the others met a similar fate.”
“Perhaps that kind one was Aleron…” Ray sighed.
“Perhaps. People call it the Dragon Grave Town, but no such place has ever been found” Dimetrios said with a shrug.
“Sounds awesome! Definitely worth looking into,” Ray smiled sensing adventure.
“You’re such a moron! Is that all you wanted Valero?”
“Oh yeah… I almost forgot,” Ray said reaching into his pockets to take out the photo. “Do you by any chance know anything about the girl in this picture?”
Dimetrios grabbed the photo. After a brief period, he sighed, “Nah, never seen or heard of her before.”
“Great…the mystery continues,” Ray growled.
“But that symbol across her eye…” Dimetrios said handing back the photo with a serious face, “I’ve seen it quite a few times. It’s the mark of the Dark Shadow.”
“No way! How do you know that?!” Ray asked standing abruptly from his chair.
“I’ve seen it used by occultists to spread terror, mostly ones affiliated with the Dark Oviri. Where do you know this girl from?”
“She was my childhood friend… I think,” Ray explained biting his nails. “My memory is too hazy to remember, but I don’t believe she’s the kind of person to associate with the occult.”
Ray looked towards Dimetrios and noticed him staring at the back of his hand, with eyebrows knitted in a frown. The hard glare in his eyes made Ray feel uncomfortable.
“What…?” he asked with a growl, moving his hand to behind his back.
“Let me ask you a question,” Dimetrios stated, his voice as hard as a blade of a shovel as he leaned on his elbows. “What exactly are those marks on your hand and what do they mean?”
Ray looked down at his left hand and shrugged, “No clue. I just thought they were random little scars. My fight against you was the first time they ever glowed and made some kind of shape. All I know is it saved me from death.”
Dimetrios muttered something with a sigh, which Ray guessed was offensive. The Earth Elemental got out of his chair and walked towards the door.
“One other thing,” he said before coming to a complete stop. “How did you do it?”
“What are you talking about?” Ray asked.
“For as long as I can remember I’ve been known as the Corroding Elemental, mainly because I can break down anyone’s defences,” Dimetrios explained. “No one has ever been able to dodge or block my attacks. Anyone who tried always ends up hurtin’ themselves more. That fight, you managed to block and dodge my attacks several times.”
“I guess...” Ray said, shocked by Dimetrios’s sudden confession. “I was only able to do so in the end because of...”
“That mark gave you a boost towards the end, but that wouldn’t make a difference because you were able to keep up with my movements even before that. Our fight nearly lasted twenty minutes, and there were many times even before those final moments that you had me cornered and caused me to lose my cool. No one has ever been able to do that before, and although you had sustained quite a few injuries, you still managed to keep up with me and then you...” Dimetrios stated before trailing off. “It was as if you could read and anticipate all of my movements.”
Before Ray could say anything back to him, Dimetrios began to laugh.
“You may be clever, but I seriously doubt someone like you could pull off somethin’ that smart.”
Ray sighed, “I don’t know if I should be insulted or...”
“Now, I’m getting out of here before any more of your annoying friends show up,” Dimetrios claimed, beginning to walk away again. “Just be careful with all that ‘past’ crap. I don’t want to have to clean up after your mess.”
He left the room closing the door loudly behind him. Ray sighed again. He was still uncertain where he stood with Dimetrios. Unlike Lynx who was constantly insulting him, Dimetrios had this kind of passive-aggressive behaviour that left Ray wondering whether he hated or respected him. Despite Ray’s confusion, Dimetrios’s words of warning left an impact on him.
Noah flew up to Ray, “He’s right you know, just talking about the Dark Shadow is bad news!”
Ray sat at the bar deep in thought.
“The Dark Shadow, eh?” he muttered.
It started off as a normal day at the Twilight Heart base. With Dimetrios growling, Kaela bossing people around, Lynx showing off and Master Isaac drinking. Bored out of their minds, Pennie, Ray, and Noah sat at one of the tables discussing completely random topics.
“Alright! Starlight Knights, pro or con?” Pennie asked.
“I know some people disagree about having them around, but I personally don’t mind.” Ray claimed, “If these people are good at helping others, I have no problem with giving them a unique job or title. If they only used their name for wealth and fame, then I’d be against it.”
“I guess I see your point…” Pennie said reluctantly. For a moment her eyes broke their contact with discomfort.
“I’m more concerned about the weapon that the MLC has. What are your thoughts on the Stellatrium weapon?” Ray asked.
“I don’t know much about that,” Pennie said honestly, “I mean, I think it’s great to have the reassurance that nothing significant will happen if things get really bad…but…I don’t know. It doesn’t seem…right. You know?”
“I feel the same way. In other words, it’s kind of seems inhumane.” Ray sighed, “In the olden language Stellatrium means ‘the Starry Flame that lifts the darkness.’ It’s supposed to be for stopping the worst-case scenario when it comes to evilness, but it has become the only way the MLC decides to stop evil. Which is not its true purpose.”
“Yeah…” Pennie said leaning back, “I mean just imagine if we were considered the enemy of the MLC, even if we haven’t done anything wrong. I guess you could say it’s one of my greatest fears. Is there anything that scares you like that?”
Ray placed his chin in the palm of his right hand, his fingertips resting on his check. He tapped on the table with the fingers on his left hand and looked away from her.
“I’ve never really given it much thought,” he claimed.
“It’s trains, Pennie!” Noah rolled his eyes, “You should know that by now.”
Ray shook his head, “No I think there’s something other than that. Something I don’t remember…”
“Ray…” Pennie sighed, worried about Ray who closed his eyes deep in thought.
“Perhaps…it’s…” Ray began, tilting his head towards his right hand.
Without warning, the lights went out. Screams echoed throughout the building.
“W-what’s going on?” Pennie stuttered, getting out of her seat.
Suddenly, the TVs that hung on the walls turned on. A woman with beautiful brown skin and long black hair appeared on the screen. She had dark brown eyes with a cold glare that sent shivers down Pennie’s spine.
“Good day to everyone watching,” the woman said, “My name is Visola Mariano. I have seen how corrupt the world is and it’s all because of our useless governments. As an ex-assassin for the CSOG, I have seen the evil within. Therefore, I will renew this world. I’ve decided to revive the Dark Oviri Darkyn, and together we’ll save the world by destroying it once and for all. You have twenty-four hours to say your final goodbyes.”
After a malicious laugh the TV turned off, and the lights turned on once more. The room began to mutter in fear. Pennie began to shake as she looked towards Ray. He sighed and got out of his seat.
“Hey,” Ray said walking towards the Master. “What do you think about this?”
Master Isaac put down this drink, “The MLC should be able to take care of this.”
“Master, let us go,” Lynx suggested. “I’ll fix this, and I’ll do it by myself if I need to.”
“I don’t think that is wise,” Ray claimed, leaning against the bar. “We have no idea what we’re up against. I agree with Master Isaac; we’re better off leaving it to the MLC.”
“What’s with you?! You’re usually the first person to jump blindly into battle!” Lynx yelled.
“For your information, I always have a plan. And unlike you, I know my limitations,” Ray sighed. “It’s too risky to battle an opponent that we know nothing about. Besides, it could be a trap.”
“Brayden is right,” Kaela muttered walking up to them, “As an ex-CSOG assassin there is no telling what tricks she has up her sleeves. I should know…”
“What do you mean?” Pennie asked.
“When I was little, I was one of them. I was taken away by the CSOG and was raised as an assassin. We were forced to take took hundreds of lives and witnessed millions of unjust executions and torture of others,” Kaela explained.
Pennie’s eyes and mouth were frozen wide open in an expression of stunned surprise.
“That’s awful…” Pennie muttered covering her mouth with her hands in shock.
Kaela sighed, “She must have escaped and is looking for revenge. I recall hearing the name Visola before, so I know she’s dangerous.”
“If you know her there’s less of a threat,” Lynx pointed out hastily, “So it’s fine if we go!”
Kaela shook her head, “No, I don’t know her that well. All I know is that she can manipulate a person’s thoughts and fears and use them against them. It was a rare gift even in the CSOG’s special unit. Brayden’s right, it would be safer to leave it to the MLC.”
“It would be the safer bet. However…” Master Isaac explained. “The MLC would rely on the top five Starlight Knights, especially the rank one warrior. It is insufficient, and by the time they get there, it will be too late.”
“Then it’s settled! We need to…” Lynx began.
“No, this mission is too dangerous of a mission for most of our guild, and I don’t think you’d be up to the task at hand.” Master Isaac claimed, “Kaela is a given. However, there’s another two who just might be perfect.”
He looked towards Pennie and Ray. All eyes turned their way, as Lynx clicked his tongue in annoyance.
“What…?” Ray groaned when he realised why they were staring. “No, not happening. I’m not doing it. I…”
He stopped as the glaring intensified and began to look uneasy.
Pennie sighed in fear, “I think I know where this is heading…!”
“Sir, Sir!” a secretary called running through the halls.
The Vice-President of the Magical Liberation Council turned around. He slicked back his dirty blond hair and straightened his suit as the man ran up to him.
“I’m kind of busy at the moment; I have no desire to deal with your foolishness,” he growled.
“…but Sir Richardson, we have a major crisis!” the secretary cried.
“I’m aware of the situation. I don’t need some damn assistant telling me what’s happening!” Sir Richardson growled.
Preparing himself for the disastrous meeting inside, the politician burst into the government consultant room. He walked into the tense room filled with arguing politicians.
“What’s the situation in here? Have we made any progress? Have you idiots come up with any sort of plan yet?!” Sir Richardson bellowed as the room became silent.
“We can’t find a solution to this threat, Sir!” one politician claimed. “We can’t agree on a single approach!”
“Are you all stupid?! It’s simple!” another argued. “Summon all twenty of the Starlight Knights! They’d be able to deal with this!”
“And cause even more panic?!” a female politician yelled. “Placing all of our greatest warriors in battle would cause a nationwide panic! Not to mention it could potentially put the people at risk because we’d be leaving them defenceless!”
“Then what of the top five?” Vice President Richardson asked, turning to the secretary who followed him into the room to take notes for the conference.
“U-uh… not accessible,” he stuttered. “They are all on other missions right now.”
“Then send the army!” a round-bellied politician yelled.
“Think of the children!” another female politician exclaimed. “They could get caught in this crossfire!”
“We’re talking about the revival of Darkyn the Dark Oviri!” an older male politician argued. “Desperate times call for desperate measures!”
“In that case, we should send our most powerful warrior!” the first politician yelled, “We need to send in the Phoenix Hunter and h…”
“They’re not responding!” the secretary explained. “They just won’t answer their phones, and I have left tonnes of messages asking for help. To make matters worse they are halfway across the continent at the moment, so even if they answered our cries for help, they might not make it in time!”
The yelling continued until Sir Richardson yelled, “Then there is only one option!”
Knowing what he was talking about the room went silent once more.
“You don’t mean…” one politician grimaced.
“But Sir we need to get permission from A…” the secretary stuttered.
“I will not have excuses! Contact the CSOG immediately!” Sir Richardson bellowed. “We are going to use the Stellatrium Weapon!”