Cianna watched in horror as Achilles fell to the ground after the man he called Cormac pulled out his sword.
“I can’t believe I missed such an easy target. I was hoping to hit some vital organs.” Cormac sneered.
“W-why…?” Achilles muttered.
“You were told to deal with the Fire Elemental quickly. But here you are playing with your prey,” Cormac claimed with a villainous smile, “Anyone who disobeys the will of Dark Soul must be punished.”
Cormac kicked Achilles off of the ground. Cianna’s eyes widened as the man was sent flying into the cave walls. She looked towards her father, who was still unconscious from Achilles assault. Cianna needed him. She needed him to hold her and tell her they would get through this together.
“How could you do something so awful?!” she screamed. “Why did this all have to happen?!”
“Did you really need to stab him in the back?” Ray growled through his teeth. “How could you do such a thing to your comrade?!”
“It’s simple really, I told him to,” a voice called out from a distance.
The ground shook as heavy footsteps became louder and closer. A giant metal beast came into view. It was the shape of a man but had massive cannons for hands. A man with black, untidy hair sat on its shoulders. The entranceway to the sacred grounds collapsed as the man and his weapon walked towards them. The weapon came to a halt several metres in front of them. As it did the man jumped down and landed on his feet.
“Well, if it isn’t Brayden Valero and Pennie Raynhart from Twilight Heart,” the man remarked.
“Who are you?” Ray growled.
The man seemed to pause for a moment as if to think his response through carefully. He then gave an evil smirk that frightened Cianna.
“You should already know the answer to that,” Dorjan claimed. “I am Dorjan, the leader of Dark Soul!”
“The leader? No…” Cianna said timidly.
“Why would you order an attack on your own member?!” Ray shouted.
Cianna looked towards Achilles, who attempted to get up but failed. She became tense thinking that if those men could do something that horrible to one of their own, what they could do to her was much more terrifying.
“Him? He’s nothing more than a pawn. A tool that has done nothing but disappoint me,” Dorjan stated.
“That’s barbaric!” Pennie shouted. “How could you treat someone that way?!”
“An expendable pawn is nothing more than useless. There’s no point in getting attached to it,” the evil man bellowed. “I will take over the world! I will destroy it and make it empty of all emotions. All that will remain is fear and loyalty to me! I will become a monarch that will control all of Le Alba!”
Dorjan’s words made tears come to Cianna’s eyes. She found herself running towards Achilles. She had been afraid of him, she even hated Achilles for attacking her village, but she still began to heal him.
“Why…?” Achilles muttered weakly. “Why are you bothering to heal me? I’m your enemy.”
Cianna didn’t know the answer herself. Deep in her heart, she knew that she couldn’t let someone in front of her suffer in pain. It was as if she had to do something herself, to prove that she was stronger than she thought. To prove that she could do something to fight against Dark Soul even if she was afraid.
“That’s pointless little girl,” Dorjan stated with a sigh. “You can’t change the inevitable. No matter how hard you try.”
“That doesn’t matter!” Cianna found herself shouting. “I can’t just let someone who needs my help suffer. I may not be strong enough to fight you or brave enough to face the horrible world, but I can help others pain! If using all my energy to heal others is what it takes to defeat you then I will gladly do it!”
Cianna felt a sense of pride being able to stand up for her actions. She finally felt that she had a purpose, ever since she could remember she had always been timid and never dared to use any of her power. She was still afraid, but she had a goal, to do whatever she can to stand up for her country and work hard to save it, even if it meant healing one person at a time.
Cormac smiled wickedly. Without warning, he began to run towards Cianna. She didn’t have time to move or even scream. She closed her eyes tightly preparing for the impact.
But it didn’t happen.
Cianna guessed that someone had stopped Cormac before he could land his blow. When she smelled blood once more, she opened her eyes.
To her horror her father, who had been unconscious until that moment was standing in front of her, with his arms stretched out and Cormac’s sword sticking through his back. Cormac’s attack had gone right through her father’s chest.
“Father!” Cianna screamed, her eyes widening.
Her father turned his head to her and smiled. “Thank goodness you are okay. That was a brave thing you did just now. I’m… proud to call you my daughter.”
An annoying voice bellowed as Dimetrios regained consciousness. He opened one eye to find Lynx standing over him, impatiently tapping his foot.
His eyes darted sideways. He noticed that Mrs Kaden was kneeling beside him, using her healing magic. Remembering what he saw before he lost consciousness, he sat up quickly.
“You shouldn’t move just yet, you were severely injured,” Mrs Kaden claimed, telling off the Earth Elemental as he grunted in pain.
“Man! You are so lucky I came back,” Lynx gloated. “If I hadn’t thought to bring Mrs Kaden here to help, you’d probably be dead right now.”
“No one likes a show off Mr McMarne,” Mrs Kaden claimed in a disapproving tone.
“There was someone else here. I couldn’t have been out for that long. So where did they go?” Dimetrios growled.
“There was no one else here Mr Tuff,” Mrs Kaden explained.
Dimetrios looked around at the battlefield. It looked almost like he remembered it. There were only slight differences. Some of the members of Dark Soul had been tied up with ropes and there seemed to be fewer people than before.
“I can’t believe you were able to take out this many on your own,” Mrs Kaden claimed.
“No. it wasn’t just me,” Dimetrios frowned. “As I said before there was someone else…”
“You’re seriously still hung up on that? Dude, you were clearly just hallucinating,” Lynx pointed out brashly.
“I don’t… Yeah, maybe it was just a dream or something,” Dimetrios sneered.
“Huh…” Mrs Kaden muttered as she finished healing him.
“What is it?” Lynx asked.
Mrs Kaden looked up towards them. “Dimetrios, I’m going, to be frank with you. With the injuries you received, you weren’t going to survive.”
Dimetrios sighed, “It was that bad huh…”
Mrs Kaden nodded, “When it comes to healing magic, there are certain limits, it will only work as long as the person’s Ikiru energy allows it. If we begin to heal someone on the brink of death or try to draw out too much Ikiru energy, we are sure to fail. Injuries can be severe but if we leave it for too long treating them becomes impossible. As it is I wasn’t able to completely heal your leg, but the reality of the situation is that by the time I got here, it should have already been too late.”
“W-wait… how is that even possible?!” Lynx asked.
“This may just be a hunch but… may I have a look at your left hand?” Mrs Kaden asked.
Dimetrios held out his hand. A small black symbol on the palm of his hand appeared and seemed to glow. It consisted of a right closing bracket and then a left opening bracket with a dot on each side and line striking through the middle. It was only a moment before the rune faded and disappeared.
“What was that?” Lynx asked.
“The sign of will,” Dimetrios muttered.
“The sign of will? What is that?” Lynx asked again.
“It’s a Moon Glyph used in rune-based healing magic.” Mrs Kaden explained. “It can’t heal injuries, but it can sustain the life of a person. In other words, it can temporarily stop a person from dying by stabilising their Ikiru energy. It was this symbol alone that kept Dimetrios alive long enough for me to heal him.”
“So that means someone was here!” Dimetrios exclaimed.
“That’s right,” Mrs Kaden agreed. “The only question is…who?”
“I don’t know… But some men almost struck me down. However, a spell killed them before they could,” Dimetrios explained.
“Did you at least see the person? Is it a friend or...?” Lynx asked urgently.
“It was a girl… that’s all I know…” Dimetrios stated. “Regardless, only three remain.”
“Great! Things are finally looking up!” Lynx said with excitement. “Now all we need to do is meet up with the others. Beat up those lunatics and go home. It looks like it will be our victory today!”
“Perhaps…” Dimetrios frowned. “However, I think this is still far from over.”
It had happened in a blink of an eye, so fast that Ray didn’t have time to react. Galen Kaden had blocked Cormac’s attack with his body, allowing the Dark Soul member’s blade to go straight through Galen’s chest. Cormac removed his sword and jumped backwards. He clicked his tongue in annoyance.
“Father!” Cianna cried.
Mr Kaden turned to his daughter and said something that Ray couldn’t quite make out. Despite being severely injured, Mr Kaden managed to stay on his feet.
“How sweet of you to protect her like that,” Cormac sneered. “But if you really think that’s going to stop me from killing her, you are dead wrong.”
Cormac began to run up towards them again, but Dorjan moved his arm to stop him.
“How dare you attack someone without me ordering you to!” Dorjan barked, furious with Cormac’s actions. “I will punish you for your barbaric behaviour later. For now, just stay out of my way.”
Cormac snarled but followed Dorjan’s orders, stepping back to remain beside Toivoa Destroyer’s side.
“I found that very interesting,” Dorjan claimed, turning to face Mr Kaden. “Why would you sacrifice yourself like that. You could have easily run away to get help. Sure, you would have sacrificed everyone here, including your own daughter, but you could have saved yourself.”
Mr Kaden smiled weakly. “My life means nothing for the sake of my daughter. Out of everyone here, my life is practically meaningless.”
“Meaningless?” Dorjan muttered, a depressed expression briefly appeared on his on his face.
“If my death here protects everyone else, then we will find victory. I would sacrifice myself for anyone here. They are the future; they will bring an end to Toivoa Destroyer.”
Mr Kaden began to collapse. As he fell to the ground, he smiled weakly.
“The rest is up to you, Twilight Heart.”
Mr Kaden’s body hit the ground. Ray simply watched in horror; he didn’t know what to say or do. He just stood there. Cianna’s eyes widened. She was so paralysed with fear she didn’t even scream. She just stared at her father who lay unconscious in front of her.
Dorjan laughed, “Pathetic! Absolutely pathetic!”
“How could you laugh at something so awful?!” Ray yelled.
He looked towards Ray. Dorjan’s eyes were filled with hate and rage, a look that was almost familiar.
“Do you really think that man sacrificed himself to save you?” Dorjan asked with a dark tone his voice. Ray almost thought that the words Dorjan spoke were something painful to speak of. “No one is that selfless, all he probably wanted was to escape the misfortune that is to come.”
“Misfortune?” Ray snarled.
“Indeed. That man claimed his life was meaningless compared to all of yours, so he sacrificed himself. But that was completely pointless, because he knew that it didn’t matter what he did, the end result would have been the same. So, he bowed out early to avoid it, pretending to be a hero,” Dorjan declared, lifting his arm in front of his body. Wind and lightning began to form around his outreached hand. “People don’t just sacrifice themselves for others, they are just too cruel or selfish, something I know all too well. Besides, it doesn’t matter whether he died first or last, because I will kill you all with my own two hands.”
“So you’re an Elemental as well?” Ray asked with a growl.
Dorjan said nothing but smiled. Ray looked towards Galen Kaden. From a distance, Ray could tell that he was still breathing but only just. He knew that everything Dorjan said was a lie and that Mr Kaden had not only sacrificed himself to save his daughter, but to save his entire village. Ray felt that it was up to him to make sure that his sacrifice wasn’t in vain.
“As a fellow Elemental it looks like it’s up to me to take you down,” Ray claimed.
“You wish to continue fighting?” Dorjan smiled evilly. “Very well. Struggle in vain if that is what you desire. If it’s your own death you want, I’ll gladly give it to you.”
“Oh, I don’t think that would be necessary,” Cormac claimed.
Ray’s eyes darted towards the man who stood by the Toivoa Destroyer. Its arms moved into position, and the gears around the cannons began to move. It only took moments for the cannons to fire. Black and white magic came hurtling towards them. However, its aim was not on Ray. As Dorjan began to turn, the blast hit him in the chest.
“You’ll be the first to die, so I’ll take it from here,” Cormac spat.
The man gasped in pain as Ray’s eyes widened. Dorjan was sent flying backwards. Despite the power of the blast, Dorjan managed to stay on his feet.
“Don’t bother, that won’t work on…” Dorjan began before he gasped in pain and became unsteady. “W-what is this magic? No spell should be able to…”
Before Dorjan had time to finish his sentence, another blast from Toivoa knocked him backwards. He was sent crashing into the pillars behind them. The sheer power of the explosion caused the pillars to collapse onto the Dark Soul’s leader.
“Sorry, but Toivoa was never yours to use. It has been mine from the very beginning.” Cormac explained. “All I had to do was fill Toivoa with my magic. Poison Death. Combining that with Toivoa’s power allows me to kill anyone I want instantly.”
Cianna screamed and Pennie clasped her hands over her mouth in shock. Ray was left utterly speechless, he couldn’t believe the betrayal that had unfolded in front of him. The smoke from the cannons began to disappear, the smell of copper filled the air. Ray just stared at the insane man in front of him. With such power in Cormac’s disposal, even Ray began to think that they didn’t have a chance.
“Th-this can’t be possible…” Pennie said.
“That’s what I wanted to see!” Cormac bellowed. “The look of absolute fear! It’s all that matters in this world!”
“You’re insane,” Ray growled.
“None of that matters. You see, I never really cared about ruling the world. I don’t care about peace or the Dark Oviri either. All I care about is power; I thirst for it. I want the power to cause everyone in the world to die!” Cormac cackled with a psychotic smile. “Yes, I will become the ruler of death itself!”
Ray clenched his fists. He had to think of something and fast. If he couldn’t come up with some kind of plan, it would mean the end of the Light Elementals or even the whole world. However, the absolute horror of the unfolding events clouded his mind, and he couldn’t find an answer to their problems.
“Now Toivoa, let’s go destroy Valo Village!” Cormac shouted.
The Toivoa destroyer did not move. It remained in the same position with no sign of going anywhere. Cormac began to bark at it, attempting to get it to bend to its will. It did not obey; it stayed completely still.
“Why won’t it move?” Cormac snarled.
“Did you really think it would be that easy?” A familiar voice laughed.
Ray, Pennie and Cianna watched in surprise as the collapsed structure behind them was sent flying into the air. As the dust cleared, a figure emerged.
“No way…” Ray muttered.
It wasn’t Dorjan who appeared in front of them, but Blaze Tooronga with blood dripping from his head. Ray realised that the Air Elemental had been masquerading as Dorjan and that they were never genuinely fighting the Dark Soul leader.
“If you really think that Toivoa will listen to your every desire, you are more stupid than I thought,” Blaze claimed with a wicked smile.