Ray somehow managed to land on his feet. He was thankful that the trees stopped him from crashing into the ground.
“Man… that hurt!” he groaned scratching his head.
The shoulder that was hit by that light beam had only left a few burn marks and stung when he moved it. However, nothing seemed broken, so he sighed in relief. Although he wasn’t significantly injured, he was separated from everyone else. He wondered what kind of spell was used to knock him out of the air. Normally, Ray was immune to any kind of magic that burned or any kind of explosion magic, yet somehow, he still managed to get injured.
“Crap, just my luck,” he sighed. “Now I’m going to have to navigate through this forest.”
He decided to start walking in the direction he believed was his original landing mark. It couldn’t have been too hard for him, considering he spent years travelling with Aleron in all kinds of forests. If h remembered correctly, he just had to listen to the sounds that echoes through the trees and look for the paths created by animal and he’d However, the fog surrounding him was so thick he could only make out a few trees and a narrow footpath that he had begun to follow. It was eerily quiet as he walked down the path, there was no sounds that the night time creatures made, not he couldn’t even hear the native cicadas that usually chirped at that time of night. To make matters worse he couldn’t even sense anyone’s magical power, which either meant that he was too far away, or the fog was cutting off his senses. That’s when he heard Pennie scream and a malicious laugh filled the air.
“Pennie!” he yelled as he began to run.
The pain in his right arm became worse as he continued to run as fast as he could, but he would not stop. He called out to Pennie and Kaela attempting to get a better idea of where to go, but they wouldn’t reply. As the fog began to clear, he found himself surrounded by Crystallite. He slowed to a walk when he noticed that he had reached a dead end. However, when he turned around to go in another direction, he found another wall of crystallite directly behind him. He was trapped unable to move anywhere.
The laugh filled the air once more, but it was much closer. “That’s not good Valero. If you don’t hurry your friends will be in danger!”
Ray growled, “Where are you and what have you done to Pennie?! Show yourself!”
“Before you can face me you have to face your darkest fear!”
“Stop spewing nonsense and let me…” Ray yelled turning around again.
He stopped mid-sentence when he saw it. His eyes went wide and shaken, and his mind was in a complete state of shock. The girl from his past was standing right in front of him. When he tried to call out to her, she disappeared. Realising it must have been an illusion he turned around. The crystallite in front of him showed a horrific image that made his heart stop and left him speechless. It was one of the things he never wanted to know, a possible truth that he was afraid to face. It was her, the girl from his past lying dead in her own pool of blood. It dawned on him that it was possible that the person he wanted to see most no longer existed in this world.
He suddenly heard her voice and turned around again. In another crystallite, she stood unharmed but with a scornful expression on her face looking at her feet with closed eyes.
“Ray…” she said.
As her soft brown hair drifted through the breeze, she looked up at Ray. His eyes went wide with terror when he saw the hollow black holes where her eyes should have been.
“Disappear…” she muttered, her hateful words and blank stare sending shivers down Ray’s spine.
He stepped back slightly and blinked. The girl vanished from the crystallite, but Ray’s nerves did not. As he turned around, the girl was standing in front of him instead, just close enough for Ray to touch her. However, he couldn’t do it. His body tensed up to the point that he couldn’t move, and he couldn’t do anything but stare at the girl in fear.
“You’re horrible, Ray,” the girl in a dull and emotionless tone. Upon closer glance, Ray noticed that her skin was as white as chalk. “You left me alone all these years to die. How could you forget all about me? How could you just abandon me like that? I hate you, Ray. I never want to see you again. In fact, I hope you die.”
“But… I…” Ray muttered, reaching out a shaken hand to grab her.
However, as his hand made contact with her cold skin, her petite figure evaporated, and the girl petite turned into mist. As her voice filled the air, Ray turned his gaze to the Crystallite. Thousands of images of her appeared before him, causing a million thoughts circled his mind. He tried to escape from the images, but everywhere he turned he saw them. Millions of ways she could have possibly died.
Death from the loss of oxygen.
Death from a stab wound.
Illness, the possibilities became worse as time moved forward.
Her voice filled his head with hateful words. Fear slowly began to swallow him whole causing him to become anxious and frantic. Her words became more painful each time she spoke.
“I hate you!”
“How could you Ray!”
“I never want to see you again!”
“You should just disappear!”
“S-stop…” he muttered, standing still and clenching his fists.
The images and voices continued. Ray tightened his jaw and scowled. His body became tenser, and his head began to pound.
“Enough… Leave me alone” he growled.
Anger began to surpass his fear. The voices continued until he couldn’t take it anymore.
“Ray... Just die already,” the illusion of the girl said one more time with a devilish smile, her cold and threatening laugh echoing in Ray’s ears.
No longer able to contain his rage he let out a huge roar that echoed through the air. He would never forgive whoever pulled such a nasty trick. He hated it all and wanted all to disappear even if he had to smash it to pieces until his fist bled.
“Don’t screw with me!” he yelled.
Summoning his flames, he punched the crystallite with all of his might, the image of the small girl with brown hair becoming distorted within the cracks. The pillar he hit along with dozens of the ones surrounding it burst into pieces as his flames exploded wildly into the dark night sky.
“Just face it, you have no choice but to lose to me!” Visola laughed maliciously.
Pennie and Kaela were left to face Visola alone after they were separated from Ray. Sean was successfully able to negate her ability to manipulate their thoughts, but they still couldn’t do anything against her unpredictable moves. They had been fighting for several minutes without being able to land a single blow on Visola and Pennie no longer had Sean to help her because he ran out of power. Even Kaela couldn’t keep up, who had gone through more weapons than Pennie could count. She found herself wishing Ray was with them. If they hadn’t been separated, she believed that he would have been able to defeat Visola.
“It’s a shame your little fire friend couldn’t make it. He was probably your only hope.” Visola smiled, “It’s a good thing I decided to separate you.”
“It won’t take long for Ray to catch up!” Pennie shouted, “I know he’ll be here soon!”
“Oh, I don’t think I have to worry about that. I have already put plans into motion to deal with the Valero boy,” Visola laughed. “I think it will be quite a while before we see him, if at all.”
“I will not let you win this!” Kaela yelled. “You will not cast that spell, I’ll make sure of it.”
“I already told you. There is no other option but to submit to me!” “Visola laughed.
Once again Pennie found herself unable to move. She tried to think of who she should summon next, but every idea that came to her seemed like it would never work. The only option she could think of was to hold off Visola long enough for someone from the MLC arrived. However, so time continued to pass, it began to feel like no one was coming.
“Don’t screw with me!” A loud voice roared.
The crystallite behind Pennie suddenly shattered into millions of pieces as flames burst into the sky. Pennie turned to find Ray standing amongst the of falling shards.
“Oh, so you’ve finally shown yourself, Fire Valero!” Visola said with a malicious smile.
“Ray, you…” she began to call in relief but stopped after seeing his expression.
His flames were completely wild, and his glare was so frightening that it sent shivers down her spine. The Ray that was in front of her was not the one she knew. This one was terrifying and dark. It was a side of him she had never seen before, the time during his fight with Dimetrios was nothing in comparison. His expression was cold, and his flames were so wild that they seemed almost untameable. It was as if his rage had completely taken over his body. Or rather, his furious flames were controlling him instead of the other way around. Pennie noticed that the injury on his shoulder looked pretty bad and he seemed to be struggling to move.
“Don’t start with me!” Ray growled staggering forward. “I’m pissed off at you as it is! I’m going make you pay for that nasty trick you played!”
“Oh, you didn’t like my little gift?” Visola sniggered. “I thought for sure that you’d be happy to see the thing that you’ve always wanted to see!”
“Shut up…” Ray growled quietly. He continued to walk forward, his flames becoming more ferocious with each step he took.
“Though I guess it was more depressing than what you would have wanted…” Visola said with a deep, serious tone.
“I said shut up!” Ray yelled hurtling towards Visola.
A sudden smile appeared on Visola’s face. When it did, a figure appeared in between her and Ray. Pennie realised that it was the girl of Ray’s past, unconscious and chained to two large pillars. She watched as Ray’s cold eyes went wide. He slowed down his movement to avoid hitting her. His feet slid and flung dirt into the air before his body came to a stop, just in front of the girl. He began to shake slightly, but Pennie wondered if it was with rage or fear. He clenched his jaw and clicked his tongue.
“I wouldn’t move if I were you. Not unless you would like to see her get hurt,” Visola snarled. “I would highly recommend that you listen to every word I say.”
Ray growled as he straightened his position. His green eyes glared up at Visola filled with anger. Visola began to laugh and placed her arm around the girl.
“Aww, that’s quite a cute little friend you have there,” Visola said evilly, as she placed her chin on the girl’s shoulder. “I bet you’d do anything so save her, right?”
“Why you…” Ray muttered angrily.
“I was actually hoping for a better fight than this. I thought you’d be more of a challenge, but I guess I was wrong,” Visola continued as the girl in front of her disappeared.
“What?!” Ray exclaimed his eyes wide with shock.
“You fell for nothing more than one of my illusions!” Visola laughed.
“Crap!” Ray exclaimed stepping backwards.
It was too late. Visola created a glowing dark purple orb of magic power in her hands, “I guess this is the end for you then!”
“Ray watch out!” Pennie screamed.
“It’s too late! I invoke the ancient spell from the book of Twilight, Akumu!”
The ball of dark magic moved so fast towards that Ray was unable to dodge it. It sent him flying into the air. Another spell hit Ray as he came crashing to the ground. The impact caused the earth to shake and dust to fly everywhere. Pennie had to cover her face with her arms as the sudden gust of the wind from the attack nearly pushed her over.
“It’ll be okay. He’ll be okay!” Pennie said to herself, opening her eyes as the dust began to clear.
When she did, she turned to Ray had landed. A pitch-black crystal had a hold of Ray’s arms, legs and the majority of his torso. Pennie watched in horror as the ominous crystal continued to spread across the rest of his body and extended to the ground.
Pennie shouted his name and got to her feet. She began to run towards Ray, despite her legs almost giving way. However, by the time she reached him, Ray was almost entirely encased in a prism-shaped crystal. Pennie began to pound her fists against it, hoping to break it, but it was so thick that it hurt her hands.
“Ray! Can you hear me! Please answer me!” she shouted.
No matter how many times Pennie called out to him, he didn’t respond. His eyes did not move or even blink. It was almost as if he had been frozen in place.
“It’s no use!” Visola laughed. “Fire Valero will never awaken again!”
“You planned for this didn’t you!” Kaela yelled, “That’s why you were aiming for him before as well wasn’t it?!”
“Of course!” Visola said with a bellowing laugh. “My plan would never be complete with the Valero child in my way. He would be a distraction for the lord we cherish, and I was told to take him out of the picture permanently if he ever appeared before me. It works well for me since only he would have been able to stop me!”
“You….” Kaela snarled.
“Well, I guess that there is one other person who could stop me,” Visola narrowed her eyes. “But at this stage, I think I could convince her otherwise. All the pieces are in place for world domination.”
“You fiend, this plan won’t work! Ray will…” Pennie shouted.
“Didn’t you hear me girl?! I said that wouldn’t happen!” Visola said darkly, “The spell I used was called Akumu. It is an old spell created by the Dark Oviri himself! It is a power that forces the victim to remain in an eternal slumber of their worst fears!”
“Akumu… doesn’t mean?!” Pennie said in shock.
“Yes…” Visola snarled with a malicious laugh, “Your friend will be trapped in an eternal nightmare!”
It was hopeless. No matter how hard Ray tried, he could not move. He had been completely trapped in the crystal. He could hear Pennie calling out to him, but he could not answer. His vision blurred and he couldn’t make out any of his surroundings apart from the darkness from with the black prism.
“I know this feeling…” Ray muttered to himself. “But…why…?”
He couldn’t believe he fell Visola’s trick. He let his anger take things too far and he lost the ability to think rationally. Ray lost all feeling in his body as Visola’s spell seeped into his body and an overwhelming sense of exhaustion swirled into his head. Pennie’s cries began to fade, but they were replaced with someone else’s. It was hers. She was calling him from afar. As he fell into the nothingness, her name began to echo through his mind.