“Okay stop! You’re hurting me…!” Ray growled as everyone else tried to pull and push him through the barrier.
They pulled and tugged on his arms, straining in order to move him forward. However, all of their efforts just gave him aching limbs. Once they finally let go Ray sighed with relief.
“Man you really can’t get through,” Dimetrios sniggered.
“It’s not funny!” Ray shouted, annoyed with Dimetrios’s carefree attitude, “We have some serious business to get to!”
“Looks like you might have to sit this one out,” Lynx said with a devilish grin. “That way it’s my time to shine!”
“Stop mucking around! There has to be another way!” Ray growled.
“Brayden is right; we must look at other options,” Kaela claimed. She looked towards Mr Kaden, “Is there any other way to get to the village?”
“If this is indeed a barrier, it would cover the whole area surrounding the village.” Mr Kaden said in deep thought.
“Does that mean I can’t do anything? I have to wait here?” Ray complained. Screwing up his face, he folded his arms and layered them against his chest and becoming more annoyed at the situation as each second passed.
“However, a barrier can only cover the areas the Oviri is aware of. Therefore, it’s quite possible that there is a hole somewhere.” Mr Kaden continued.
“Do you know of anywhere there could be one?” Pennie asked with curiosity.
Everyone thought in silence as Ray tapped his feet impatiently. The longer they took the more lives would be lost.
“Why did it have to be me…” he sighed under his breath.
He began to believe that bad things only seemed to happen to him. When he wasn’t accidentally destroying things, he was being targeted or finding some other way to muck things up. Bad luck always seemed to follow him. He began to pace up and down kicking the dirt. It wasn’t that he particularly wanted to fight. He found himself desperately wanting to help the town. He wanted to become a saviour, just like Azaliea was in their hometown. However, it was taking so long to get to them it began to piss him off.
“This is such a pain!” he growled.
After a while, Cianna’s eyes brightened with an idea, “I know! If we go that way, we have a direct link to the sacred ground!”
“The old caverns?” Noah questioned, flying beside Brayden, “What’s so special about them?”
“Of course! It’s the only place,” Mr Kaden agreed.
“Would you mind explaining this?” Kaela asked.
“Hardly anyone in the town knows where it is. To make it even more secluded, it only responds to certain individuals. It was used by A.V to keep elementals safe in the attacks. As the caverns lead directly to the sacred grounds, we’d be able to access them and divert a surprise attack on Dark Soul!” Cianna claimed gleefully.
Ray put his hands on his hips and sighed, relieved that things were finally moving forward.
“Seems good enough to me,” he said with a nod.
“In that case, we should split into two groups” Kaela ordered, her voice booming over the explosions in the distance. “Dimetrios, Lynx, Noah and I will head towards the town and Dark Soul’s base. I’m certain that some underlings would be running around there. Brayden, Pennie, Cianna and Mr Kaden will head to the cavern and attack the bosses.”
“Alright then, you three follow me! We have no time to lose!” Mr Kaden said pointing at Cianna, Pennie and Ray.
Kaela, Dimetrios and Lynx ran towards the ash-filled town with Noah flying behind them.
“Are you sure it was okay to let Ray deal with that on his own?” Noah asked. “I mean he had Pennie and Mr Kaden with him, but I don’t know if they’d be powerful enough to deal with this enemy.”
“I have faith in them. I know everything will be fine,” Kaela said.
Honestly, she didn’t know if she was correct. It was frightening. However, she knew if anyone could deal with the situation, it was Brayden. He always managed to pull through the toughest of battles. Kaela couldn’t stop the strange feeling in her stomach. She originally blamed it on her experience in the last battle she faced. However, she soon found herself filled with uncertainty.
“This is Valero we’re talking about!” Dimetrios growled, “He’s not the type to get knocked down so easily. Much to my annoyance.”
“Aww look who’s getting along as best buds now,” Noah teased with a mockingly cheeky smile.
“Shut it hamara!” Dimetrios yelled.
“I’m surprised Noah that you didn’t force your way into Brayden’s group,” Lynx claimed, “You’re usually inseparable.”
“Normally that’s because I feel uncomfortable to leave his side. I may not act like it, but I am his familiar,” Noah explained. “But I know Ray will be okay. Besides, I know that he’d probably prefer me to watch over you guys. Although I have no idea how to help.”
Kaela thought for a moment as she continued to run. Hamara’s were an ancient species that were wise beyond their years. Unfortunately for her, Noah seemed to be an exception. If Kaela remembered correctly, it often appeared that Brayden knew more about ancient spells than his familiar. He often said things that were quite intelligent and his way of fighting also didn’t seem to be entirely based off of instinct. Sometimes it seemed like he had planned out every move, even if Lynx claimed him to be empty-headed.
“Twilight Heart, wait up!” a voice called.
Kaela turned around. Much to her surprise Visola ran up to them. At first she wondered how Visola managed to catch up in such a short time but then realised that she managed to do so in the time they attempted to get Brayden through the barrier. Noticing a worried expression on Visola’s face, Kaela stopped running. As she got closer, Kaela saw that Visola was carrying a small owl hamara in her arms.
“Visola, what are you doing here?” Lynx asked.
Visola stopped to catch her breath, sweat glistening on her light brown skin.
“I needed to warn you,” Visola stated. “You’re in more danger than you think.”
“This is it,” Mr Kaden explained.
Ray looked around the large cliffs. It was a desolate place, void of life. The little amount of the remaining plant life was slowly withering and dying. Prospects of future greenery seemed dim of ever growing because of the battles that had once taken place.
“It’s so…” Pennie began, trying to find a word to describe it.
“Dead and depressing,” Ray stated in her place.
“It’s very sad. I heard this place was once very beautiful,” Cianna said with a sigh. “but so much energy had been drawn from this location that there is nothing left…”
“Wow, that’s so devastating. Just what is Toivoa Destroyer’s power anyway?” Pennie asked.
“No one knows. It has been forgotten throughout history. Not many people even know it still exists,” Mr Kaden explained.
As Ray sighed, Pennie continued to look around for an opening or caves in the giant lifeless cliffs, yet everything was completely blocked off.
“How are we supposed to get in?” she asked.
“I’m afraid I don’t know the answer to that either,” Mr Kaden admitted with a sigh.
“So… we just have to look for some way in?” Ray asked, placing his hands in his pockets.
“Not exactly,” Mr Kaden explained. “I believe it was just a little further.”
Ray and Pennie followed him around the next corner. Much to Ray’s surprise, the plants seemed to be slightly more alive with tiny pink flowers blooming in the dark and dry leaves. Hidden behind the shrubbery was a marble archway. However instead of a kind of door or entrance was the wall of the cliff. It was as if the archway was only built as a decoration.
“This here was the entrance the caverns. It is the only way to enter unless you come from the sacred grounds,” Mr Kaden explained.
“So, we can’t get in?” Cianna asked with a sigh.
“No. Even if Dark Soul were to leave the sacred grounds through this passage, they would not be able to get out. To be honest, I was hoping that it had lost its power and had opened. But it is A.V.’s magic, so I doubt age would have any effect on it.”
“There has to be a trick to it,” Ray exclaimed. “We should look for some kind of hint.”
“But Ray… there doesn’t seem to be any sign of an opening,” Pennie stated. “There’s not even a crack.”
“She’s right Mr Ray,” Cianna explained. “Many people have tried to discover its secrets for many decades. But all anyone could find is some illegible writing.”
“Writing?” Ray asked.
“That’s right, along the arch and that large slab over there,” she replied as she pointed towards the arch.
The engraved writing was positioned in the middle of the off-white marble arch that had a pattern like soft powered sand. The phrase, whatever it may have said reached from one pillar of the arch to the other, with each letter curving and weaving into the next.
“Writing no one can read?” Pennie wondered.
“Some say it was an ancient dialect that existed over centuries ago,” Mr Kaden explained.
Ray sighed as Cianna continued to explain about the strange engravings. A spark of light glinted in the corner of his eyes. He looked towards the archway as the small gold sparkle shined in the setting sunlight.
“Even if it was in our language, we still probably couldn’t read it,” Mr Kaden stated. “These caves are so old that the writing has probably chipped and faded away.”
Ray walked towards the cliff slowly, squinting his eyes to try and see where the shine was coming from. Everything the others were saying disappeared from his mind.
“Ray? Is something wrong?” Pennie asked, noticing him staring intently at the cliff.
Ray noticed that the writing was delicately carved into the marble with gold. Although it was dusty and slightly scratched out, he was able to make out almost every word.
“I think I might… I think I can make out what it says,” Ray explained.
“Wait? What?!” Mr Kaden exclaimed.
“Ray are you sure?” Pennie asked with a surprised expression.
“I think… hold on…” he muttered.
Ray brushed the dust off the marble which felt smoother than he expected, and the phrase written in gold became easier to read. He read the sentence aloud.
Be warned that every desire has consequences. If you chose to continue down this path disaster may follow. Remember, peaceful days never last, they fade as quickly as memories of the past. However, when darkness tries to destroy you, the eternal flame of hope will light the way. –A.V.
“It sounds so… tragic,” Pennie said.
“The tale of A.V and Toivoa was tragic. Many Light Elementals lost their lives, and as for A.V.…” Mr Kaden said with a sigh. “Well, she suffered from something truly tragic. Everyone always saw her as a hero, but she lived through what most people couldn’t.”
“What kind of things?” Ray asked looking back towards them.
“No one knows…” Mr Kaden stated, “My mother; Nanna Kaden, she had a chance to meet A.V when she was a child. From all of the stories she told me, A.V. never smiled, rarely spoke and avoided all human contact as much as possible. Whatever had happened it must have been really painful…”
“I never really thought about it like that before,” Pennie claimed honestly. “You never really think of the hardships that follow the war…”
Everyone became silent for a moment. Brayden returned his gaze to the pillar. The only thing on his mind was that the heartache the Light Elementals had faced all those years ago was going to repeat itself. He leant his hand against the cliff.
As if to respond to his touch, the cliff began to shake. The Phrase along the arch started to glow in red, like flames trapped within the handwritten words. The wall behind the arch began to open.
“Okay… that was weird,” Ray claimed, stepping back.
“You did it Mr Ray! You opened the caverns!” Cianna exclaimed with excitement.
“It must have responded to your touch,” Mr Kaden exclaimed. “The eternal flame bringing eternal hope! In other words, a Fire Elemental! Brilliant Mr Valero! Why didn’t I think of it before? Light Elementals respect the Fire Elementals because they’re considered to be our saviours. It all makes sense now!”
“Err… I knew that. I totally did that on purpose!” Ray lied.
Finally, they were able to move forward. They had a chance to take down Dark Soul and save Le Alba from the clutches of the Toivoa Destroyer. As the Wall began to create a walkway, the group prepared to run through the caverns.
However, Pennie suddenly fell to her knees and began to scream.
“Pennie! What’s wrong?!” Ray shouted running towards her.
He knelt beside her and placed his hands on her shoulders. Her eyes were wide with fear as she clutched her head in pain. Soon after, Mr Kaden and even Cianna began to shout in pain.
Ray looked around at his companions in a state of confusion. He had no idea what had caused them to collapse suddenly, and he had no clue what to do.
“What’s going on?!” he cursed.
A dark laugh echoed through the caverns. However, Ray found it strange. It didn’t seem like the laugh was coming from an outside source but was in his head. Pennie placed her hand on his.
“Please Ray… Make it stop…” she cried. “Make the voice go away… Get it out of my head…”
He sensed an intense aura coming from behind opening caverns.
“Who’s there?!” he shouted, not moving from Pennie’s side.
“Well well well, is that any way to treat someone who’s come to see the members of Twilight Heart graciously?” the voice echoed in his head.
Once the cliff that blocked the arch completely disappeared, Brayden saw a man. A dark cloak with tears at the end draped down from his shoulders. The man wore his dark hair gelled back into spikes and had a mask that covered his mouth. The man gave off an incredibly creepy vibe.
“Who are you?” Ray asked angrily, standing up to face the villainous man.
“I am Achilles from Dark Soul,” the man projected his thoughts to the group, “And I have come to bring forth your destruction. Brayden Valero!”