Hope's Bright!

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“I can’t believe you all fell for that! You really are all completely pathetic!” Blaze laughed maniacally as Ray and the others stared at him in shock.

“Who are you? What have you done with Dorjan?!” Cormac bellowed.

“That man with his pitiful desires, I killed him nearly two weeks ago,” Blaze replied with a wicked smile. “But what do you care? You just tried to kill him yourself!”

“So, it was you who was behind this all along?!” Ray growled through his teeth.

“Of course! I took over Dark Soul for my goal of attaining power! I killed that man and stole his identity, and the entire anti-government guild didn’t even notice!” Blaze laughed again.

“That’s impossible!” Cormac yelled. “Dorjan was an incredibly powerful man! How could a mere Elemental like yourself take him down?! I had been planning to overthrow him for over a year and using the Toivoa Destroyer was the only way anyone could have done it!”

“Oh, it was easy. His life was worthless, so I had no trouble snuffing it out,” Blaze replied. “It was all me from the very beginning.”

“So, you were the one who possessed Visola?” Pennie shouted.

“That was someone else’s doing,” Blaze claimed with a dark expression. “Resurrection magic doesn’t really work. I know that better than anyone. It is utter nonsense created by some idiot who refused to face reality and is nothing more than a joke. While that man was busy with a plan that was doomed to fail, I used the chance to draw the MLC’s attention away from the anti-government guilds and began my search for this destructive weapon that can absorb a person’s magic and use it to destroy them.”

“You’re horrible!” Pennie screamed. “How could you do such a thing?”

“All I desire it to gain power and watch the suffering of those who…” Blaze claimed with a cold expression. “No, forget that, I just know that I will be the one to free Le Alba form the CSOG and kill anyone who dares to threaten the peace people deserve.”

Blaze suddenly fell to one knee, gasping in pain. Cormac stormed up to Blaze and pointed the blade of his sword towards his head.

“How dare you interfere with my plans!” Cormac spat. “Tell me how to control the Toivoa Destroyer, or I’ll split your head in half.”

Blaze simply smiled, “It actually came as a surprise that you decided to use the Toivoa Destroyer against me, or rather your master. Even if you did give off the occasional hints, my guess is it was you who told Dorjan of this weapon in the first place. I didn’t expect it to be powerful enough to knock me down.”

“Answer my question!” Cormac shouted.

“There is no way, not even I can control it,” Blaze explained.

The Toivoa Destroyer began to move. Its eyes lit up red and began to roar. It turned around and began to smash the cliff and the surrounding trees with its giant cannon hands. The Toivoa Destroyer began to storm away taking out everything in its path.

“What?” Cormac growled.

“The only person who is strong enough to control that weapon is A.V herself. If anyone else tried to use it for more than a couple of minutes, the Toivoa Destroyer would go on a rampage, just like it is now,” Blaze explained.

“Then why did you...” Ray began.

“It was all according to plan,” Blaze frowned, glaring backwards at Ray. “Dark Soul would attempt to use Toivoa against the world and fail. That’s when I would step in and destroy it, consuming its power and becoming a hero. And because I would have been the one to take out an anti-government guild and an unbeatable weapon, both the MLC and CSOG would either fear or admire me, giving me the power to do what whatever I please.”

Cormac began to laugh. It was a high-pitched squeak of insanity. Cormac lowered his sword.

“Did you think that would stop me!” he bellowed. “All I desire is mass death. I want the world to die! I don’t care about power, Le Alba or ruling the world. I don’t care if I have no control, the Toivoa Destroyer will still cause the massacre I desire! All I have to do is follow it and take responsibility for its destruction!”

Cormac began to run away. Ray tried to run after him, but a powerful gust of wind pushed him backwards.

“I’m the one you’re supposed to be fighting,” Blaze claimed.

A weapon Ray had never seen before appeared between him and Blaze. It was a large pale grey axe, with green, orange and black markings at its tip. It had a large old fashion head and had many small deep scratches on it. There was also a darker grey guard on the handle which Ray assumed was used to protect the user’s hands.

“You’re still in my way after all, and I did say I would get my revenge from last time,” Blaze continued, gripping onto the thinner green part of the handle and used the axe to get to his feet.

Ray could tell that it took all of Blaze’s strength just to stand, he seemed to be determined to stop Ray from chasing after Cormac. Blaze ran towards him and swung to attack.

“I have no reason to fight you. There are more pressing matters right now,” Ray replied, easily dodging his attack.

“If you want to stop the Toivoa Destroyer you have to get past me first.”

It wasn’t difficult to notice that Blaze’s attacks were slower and sloppier than usual. As he watched the Air Elemental struggle, he remembered what Blaze had said during their first fight. At first, Ray believed that it was just the ramblings of a power-hungry psychopath. However, since that moment a lot had changed. Ray learnt of Blaze’s past from Pennie. To be the only survivor out of all of his friends, to see them die around him unable to do anything, Ray could only imagine the pain it must have caused him. One question echoed through Ray’s mind.

“Hey Blaze, why do you fight?” he asked.

“Are you really that dense?” Blaze snarled. “I already told you that I desire power. To save Le Alba we have to crush everyone in our way!”

“But what are you willing to pay for that power?” Ray said, dodging another weak attack. “Why do you have to change who you are to gain such destructive power. You say that you want to save Le Alba, so why is the only way to save it by causing pain and panic? Surely there is another way.”

“No there is not…” Blaze muttered. “I’ll sacrifice everything because I have nothing to lose. I’ll only be respected if I have power.”

“There is always another way; you just have to search for it. Come back to Twilight Heart, and we can find the answer,” Ray declared. He believed if he reached out to Blaze that he’d change his mind on his bid of destruction.

“I understand that you feel responsible for the death of your friends,” Ray continued. “But by going on this journey for power and all the lives you have destroyed, you are letting them die in vain. Power is not the answer. Yes, it is painful to lose those we love, but you just have to keep…”

“Shut up!” Blaze yelled, his attack finally landing a hit. Ray barely managed to grab the blade of the axe with both hands to stop it from piercing his skin.

“What do you know?! There’s no way you could understand how I feel!” Blaze continued. “Everyone I cared about is gone. I was too weak to protect them! Everyone left me! Even my own mother knew I was a failure, so she dumped me as soon as she got the chance! But what would you know? You know nothing of pain! You don’t know what it’s like to have everything stolen from you! You want to know the reason I fight?! I don’t have one, not anymore!”

Lightning shot through Blaze’s axe, stinging Ray slightly. He had no choice but to jump backwards. Ray looked at Blaze whose weapon disappeared as he began to lose balance once more. While Ray watched, he remembered everything Achilles had said. He couldn’t shake the feeling that the place he had once called home had been destroyed, most likely Azaliea along with it. It frustrated him that there was nothing he could have done. However, it was more annoying that he couldn’t remember anything about the one he used to care for.

“You mean that feeling that no matter what you do, you’ll never be able to do anything…”

“What did you say?” Blaze snarled.

“I think I understand how you feel,” Ray said looking up but not making eye contact. “There was someone I want to protect, but I have no idea how I could even do it, let alone where she is right now. I don’t even remember enough about her to know where to begin. However, it’s most likely that I will never see that person again. Everything I once cared about no longer exists. The most reasonable answer to all my questions is that everyone I cared about has died.”

“Then why do you stand in my way? Don’t you want those people who have made you suffer feel the same pain you felt? What’s the point in protecting those who don’t deserve it? Why not just give up?” Blaze asked, looking at him with pain filled eyes.

“Because it is up to me to continue forward,” Ray claimed, looking directly at Blaze.

“Continue...?” Blaze muttered.

Blaze suddenly clasped his hands on his head in pain.

“What...Nonsense...” he muttered through clenched teeth. “I don’t understand at all.”

“You think too much about the past,” Ray stated. “Clinging to the pain from the past instead of overcoming it is keeping you from getting stronger. If you want to find peace, you have to look towards the future.”

Blaze froze and said nothing. He went silent for a long time before slowly moving his hands from his head.

“Continue forward to become stronger...huh?” he said.

A smile spread across Blaze’s face. He began to laugh, pulling his strawberry blonde hair back with his hand.

“You’re incredibly annoying, not to mention pathetic,” he claimed. “To think that after everything I’ve done that I can move forward and find a better life. You sure do take being naive to a whole another level.”

“What are you talking about?” Ray asked, confused with Blaze’s sudden change in personality.

“I can’t do this anymore, I give up.” Blaze looked up at the sky and frowned. “I never really wanted this anyway. Perhaps I was only doing this to be accepted by someone who never will.”

“Huh…” Ray muttered giving Blaze a puzzled look.

“What have I even been doing all this time? God this is aggravating.” Blaze muttered walking away from them.

“Blaze!” Ray shouted as sudden gusts of wind began to blow around Blaze blocking him from his view.

“This won’t be the last time we meet. I may have lost my will for fighting today, but I will return. It seems there is a lot of things I need to do and dozens of things I must apologise for, but I really don’t feel like doing it right now,” Blaze stated, turning back to Ray once last time. “I can’t believe I forgot my reason for fighting. I have someone I need to protect too, and I’ll save her from this hellish world no matter what.”

The wind disappeared taking Blaze with it. He had vanished into thin air. Ray looked around in confusion. Pennie walked up to Ray to stand by his side.

“Do you have any idea of what just happened?” Pennie asked with a baffled expression.

Ray shook his head, “Not a clue. But at least one issue remains. To take down the Toivoa Destroyer.”

“Brayden, Pennie are you guys alright?” Kaela shouted.

“Kaela, Noah and Visola too? It’s good to see that you guys are okay,” Ray stated when they ran up to him with an owl hamara following closely behind.

Kaela stopped and looked around at the ruins of the caverns. She seemed to be shocked by the damage that had occurred.

“What happened here?” she asked.

“Well, that’s a bit of a long story,” Ray claimed, looking away from Kaela.

“You took down Achilles on your own?” Visola said quickly looking towards the unconscious Achilles before turning back to them. “How did you manage that?”

“It wasn’t us,” Pennie explained looking at her feet. “He was attacked by one of his team members.”

“Yeah, this guy called Cormac literally stabbed him in the back while we were fighting him,” Brayden growled. “He also attacked Mr Kaden and now…”

Ray looked towards Cianna, who was still kneeling in front of her father attempting to heal him which she had been doing since he collapsed.

“Is he going to be okay?” Kaela asked, placing her hand on Cianna’s shoulder.

“I don’t know,” Cianna said quietly, as she shook her head. “I’ve managed to stop the bleeding, but that’s all I can do for now.”

“What happened to Toivoa?” the owl hamara asked.

“Cormac took off of it when it went out of control,” Pennie explained. “We weren’t able to go after it because we got distracted.”

“Then what happened to the leader, Dorjan?” Visola asked. “I don’t see him around here. Did he…?”

“That’s the annoying thing,” Ray growled. “Turns out Dorjan had been dead for a few weeks and Blaze had been masquerading as him.”

“Blaze was here?” Kaela said with shock. “Where is he now?”

“You just missed him, he gave up and left. One minute he was talking about killing everyone then the next he ran away stating there was something he had to do,” Ray explained.

“He gave up just like that? That doesn’t make any sense,” Noah stated, flying up to Pennie and landing on her head.

“We don’t understand it either,” Pennie claimed as she looked up at him. “But he was badly injured when Cormac used Toivoa against him, so I can’t imagine he go too far.”

“Unfortunately, we don’t have time to worry about him right now,” Kaela sighed. “Our priority is dealing with this Cormac and the Toivoa Destroyer.”

“The question is how are we going to do that?” Ray asked. “This weapon absorbs energy, attempting to destroy it with magic will only make the situation worse.”

“Then what should we do?” Cianna asked with a frown.

“Don’t worry I have a plan,” Visola stated. “We’re going to fight Toivoa with A.V.’s original version to absorb the Destroyer’s energy.”

“Will that really work?” Pennie asked.

“Well I’m not sure of all the details, but Charlottea can explain it,” Visola claimed, turning to the owl hamara. “Right?”

“Correct,” Charlottea nodded. “You see, Toivoa was originally a spell created from Fire and Light Elemental magic. By making contact with the target, the user can absorb the Ikiru energy of a spell or person then flung back at the target to cause damage. On people, it only causes the target’s energy levels to plummet and lose consciousness, but with an item or spell, Toivoa which translates to ‘Flame of Hope’ causes an explosion that sends the energy back into the earth.”

“Which means if we use it against the Destroyer, all of its energy would be released and sent back to where it belongs, destroying the weapon once and for all,” Visola stated.

“That sounds like a good plan,” Kaela said, closing her eyes deep in thought. “But how would we pull it off when it could just absorb our energy?”

“That’s why we need Mr Valero to activate the spell,” Visola stated.

“Wait why me?” Ray asked, confused by why Visola chose him.

“You said that manipulation magic doesn’t work on you right?” Visola asked.

“For the most part,” Ray frowned. “It seems to be the case as long as I remain focused, but I don’t remember much of it to be certain.”

“Regardless it means that he can get close enough as the Destroyers effects won’t activate around him,” Visola explained.

“But it’s impossible to cast that spell unless you are a Light Elemental and a Fire Elemental,” Charlottea stated. “That’s why the spell was altered in the first place.”

“Then what do we do?” Pennie asked.

“I think I can do it,” Ray claimed, after a long moment of silence.

“What makes you say that? You’re not a Light Elemental, how is it even possible for you to use a Light Elemental spell?” Pennie asked.

“I’m not sure how to explain it…” Ray began before trailing off. “But I want to try it, regardless of the risks.”

“Then we should get a move on,” Kaela claimed. “If we leave now, we’ll make it in time before more lives are lost.”

“Then what are we waiting for, let’s go!” Ray shouted.

“Wait! I’m coming too,” Cianna claimed as they ran past her.

“But Cianna…” Pennie started.

Cianna shook her head. “If I sit back and watch, I’m going against my father’s wishes. I may not be able to help much in battle, but I can help support you any way I can.”

“In that case, I’ll take care of Mr Kaden. Cianna, Kaela and Pennie will draw away Cormac and Toivoa Destroyer’s attention while Brayden and Charlottea will prepare for the attack,” Visola ordered.

“Good luck everyone,” Noah called out to them as they ran into the caverns with a goal and an anxious mindset.

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