The next day the MLC arrived to assess the damages. Valo Village was in tatters with rubble and glass everywhere. By the time soldiers arrived, the villagers had already begun to clean up the mess. Visola confronted the MLC and turned herself in for her crimes. Along with the recovering and eerily quiet Achilles, she was arrested. The MLC representative in charge claimed that her sentence would be mild if possession were in play. However, even Pennie knew it was just a formality at that point.
The MLC also managed to capture the majority of the members of Dark Soul. Out of the eighty-nine who attacked Valo Village, eighty-one were in custody, five were dead, and three were missing. The MLC did question the whereabouts of Cormac, but no one knew where the deranged man had disappeared to. Pennie was surprised when Ray didn’t say anything about Blaze. When the MLC asked him about Dorjan, Ray lied and said he didn’t know anything about him.
“Why did you lie to the MLC?” Pennie asked as they helped some of the villagers with clearing the rubble. “Don’t you think it would have been wise to say something about Blaze.”
“I don’t think it would have done any good,” Ray replied. “Besides there’s something I’m still uncertain about when it comes to Blaze.”
“Really?” Pennie wondered. “What do you mean?”
“I don’t exactly know how to put it into words, but there was something very odd about the way he spoke,” Ray explained. “I noticed it yesterday more than the last time we fought, but everything he said contradicted himself. It was almost like it wasn’t his own words.”
“Do you think he was possessed like Visola?” Pennie asked, still a little confused. “Blaze did say he knew the man who possessed Visola, so maybe it was possible for him to be under a spell too. So that would mean he isn’t really mean like that. Right?”
“No, I don’t think that’s it,” Ray shook his head. “Unlike Visola, his aura seemed normal, so it’s safe to assume that personality of his is real. However, it seems highly likely he is being tricked into doing someone else’s bidding. It is quite possible to offer false promises to a person who’s grieving.”
Pennie frowned when she saw the crestfallen expression on Ray’s face. She turned away from him and sighed.
“Well, I know what it’s like better than anyone, you don’t exactly recover from something like that,” Pennie stated.
“No…” Ray muttered.
“Maybe we should go after him and try to help him,” Pennie suggested. “Or head home to ask Master Isaac about it.”
“No, I think we need to stay here for now. For Cianna’s sake…” Ray stated.
Pennie nodded but said nothing. They were lucky that most injuries sustained from the battle against Dark Soul were minor. Sure, Dimetrios broke his leg, and Kaela and Lynx were suffering from exhaustion after the Toivoa Destroyer stole their Ikiru energy, but they weren’t severe, and they would recover in no time. Mr Kaden, on the other hand, was in bad shape. Nanna Kaden had told them earlier that day that his injuries were so severe that he couldn’t be healed. It was harder to process when she stated he only had a few hours to live. Pennie looked down at her feet. She knew what it was like to lose her family. She prayed that Cianna would be okay.
“Hey Ray…” she began to ask.
Ray however, suddenly stopped in front of her which caused her to bump into him.
“Seriously Ray?! What is with you and stopping without warning someone?!”
Ray said nothing but remained frozen in place. Pennie rubbed her head and walked around him. He stared out in front of him with wide shaken eyes, paralysed on the spot.
“H-how…” he uttered.
Worried she went to grab his hand, “Ray… What’s wrong?”
That’s when she felt it, a powerful Aura that defied nature. She sensed so much magical power condensed in one place that it sent shivers down her spine. Only a Phoenix-class Oviri or some evil monster could have that much otherworldly energy.
“So much power…” she shivered, “It can’t be real…!”
“Over there…” Ray whispered to her.
Pennie followed his gaze. Her eyes widened when she saw who the aura belonged to. Walking towards them was a cloaked figure. The figure had a hood covering their face apart from a scowling expression. As they walked past Pennie and Ray, the glower turned into a wicked smile. Once they were separated, Pennie finally felt like she could breathe. Her heart was beating so fast it felt as if they had walked past each other in slow motion.
“What was with that foreboding power?!” she sighed heavily.
Ray relaxed, “I don’t know…but for some reason, it felt…familiar…”
They turned to watch the figure disappear into the crowd.
“Just who was that?” Ray wondered.
She looked down at her hands as she walked down the busy streets. The people all around her were too busy cleaning up the mess to notice her. For some unknown reason, she constantly told herself that she couldn’t allow herself to be caught up by something as stupid as her emotions, which was something she hadn’t had to do for a long time.
“Milady, is something the matter?” her assistant asked as he walked beside her. “You’re acting slightly different than usual. Why would you go out of your way to help that Earth Elemental?”
She sighed heavily and put her hands in her pockets, “I was just keeping an old promise is all…”
“Are you sure…?” he asked her.
She gave him a piercing glare, “That’s enough Zeke, question me again and there will be consequences. I’m very disappointed by how all of this has been dealt with, who knows how the public will react to this. The living are foolish. If this continues, Le Alba will surely be destroyed.”
“Does that mean you will take a more active role?” Zeke asked hopefully.
“Society can’t be trusted so I have no choice in the matter,” she said dully. “Well, at least with Dark Soul gone, only two anti-government guilds remain.”
“But one of them has nearly six hundred and sixty-six members,” Zeke explained. “No human would stand a chance!”
“Well then…” She turned to him, “It’s a good thing I’m not human. Unfortunately, this cannot wait, we must destroy the anti-government motion even if it means killing everyone evolved. Understood?”
Zeke bowed his head to his master. Following her orders and the direct orders of the MLC was his job, he had no reason to refuse.
“As you wish,” he said, without showing signs of hesitation. “Lady Azaliea.”
“This mission is a pain,” Azaliea claimed with a wicked smile. “Oh well, at least it will be entertaining.”
She looked down and frowned, it was time for her to get serious. Disaster was approaching. Deep in her thoughts, Azaliea did not notice the two Oviri she passed. Nor did she realise them staring at her with fear as she disappeared into the bustling thoroughfare.
Master Isaac and Bennie arrived a week later to come and collect them. Pennie was relieved that they managed to clear up most of the mess before they left. Pennie hadn’t seen Cianna since her father died, and she was really worried about her. She couldn’t work up the courage to talk to her about it. In fact, no one had spoken to her since. She did ask Ray about it, but he laughed awkwardly and said he didn’t know how to comfort someone when they’ve lost someone important to them. Pennie couldn’t help but think they should have said something to the grieving Cianna before they left. However, she knew that they couldn’t afford to stay any longer.
“Thank god you came to pick us up!” Dimetrios moaned. “There was no way I was walking all the way back.”
“Yeah yeah, we’ve heard it a thousand times. You broke your leg so what?” Lynx growled. “It’s practically all healed now thanks to Mrs Kaden, so I don’t see why you’re still complaining.”
“For your information, it still hurts!” Dimetrios growled. “And you have been in a rotten mood this entire time. Just because you were completely useless this week, doesn’t mean you have to let out all your frustration us.”
“I was not useless! In case you forget I went and got Mrs Kaden, which if I didn’t you would be dead,” Lynx snarled. “If anything, you’re the most pathetic person here, you are the only person who needed to be rescued.”
“Now that’s worth a laugh,” Dimetrios scoffed. “I happened to defeat eighty enemies, how many did you defeat? Oh, that’s right, none.”
“I’ve been here for five minutes, and I already have a headache,” Master Isaac sighed.
“They’ve been at it all week,” Kaela explained, shaking her head in disappointment.
Pennie sighed and looked towards Ray, who also sighed. While Lynx and Dimetrios had been busy arguing, Brayden and Pennie had been helping to clean up the mess caused by Dark Soul. In Pennie’s view, she thought they had both been pretty useless. Of course, she wouldn’t dare say it out loud.
“Valero, I believe I won this time,” Dimetrios grinned, turning his focus to Ray. “I’d like to see you take down as many enemies as I did.”
“Yes, you did mention that a few times,” Ray rolled his eyes.
“You better keep things interesting! Try not to lose so badly next time,” Dimetrios challenged.
“Whatever,” Ray muttered.
“So Brayden, I heard you used an impossible spell to take down that Toivoa weapon,” Benny said walking up to Ray.
“I guess, but I couldn’t have done it without everyone’s help though.” Ray smiled. “Of course, I had to trick Lynx into helping me though.”
“I’m still mad about that,” Lynx growled under his breath.
“You can tell us all about it when we get back home,” Master Isaac pointed out. “But we really should be going now.”
They headed towards the cars when someone called for them to wait. Pennie turned to see Cianna standing behind them. She had a bag on her back and a nervous expression on her face.
“Please let me come with you!” Cianna bowed.
“Cianna…” Pennie muttered.
“Please Mister, I want to come join Twilight Heart,” Cianna continued.
Kaela walked up to Cianna and placed her hand on head. “Sweetie, you just lost your father. Wouldn’t you rather stay here and grieve with your grandmother. There’s no need to force yourself so soon.”
Cianna looked up and shook her head.
“No, I don’t want to stay. Sure I’m still upset, and I really miss my dad, but here I have no friends and no one to talk to,” Cianna stated. “But if I come with you, I have Mr Ray and Pennie and all of you.”
Master Isaac sighed, “Are you sure about that little one? You may not be able to return here.”
“I know, but I still want to come,” Cianna explained. “My father sacrificed his life for my future. I don’t know why but I feel that if I don’t take this chance, it would be going against his wishes. I want to save people like my father and Miss A.V.”
“But what about your grandmother? Will she let you come?” Pennie asked.
“I…” Cianna began.
“I couldn’t just let you run away,” Master Isaac stated. “You’ll need her permission if you want to come with us.”
“In that case, how about I come as well?” a new voice asked.
Pennie looked up to see Nanna Kaden and Charlottea standing behind Cianna. The grandmother had a suitcase with her as well.
“It shouldn’t be a problem if I’m around, right?” Nanna Kaden continued.
“Nanna…” Cianna smiled, tears welling in her eyes.
“In that case, we’ll be happy to have you,” Master Isaac. “It’s a good thing we brought two cars today. Now shall we all return home?”
Cianna nodded as her face lit up with excitement. She ran up to Ray and Pennie with a massive smile on her face.
“Congratulations,” Ray smiled.
“Thanks, now I should introduce myself properly,” Cianna smiled. “I’m Cianna Kaden, I’m thirteen years old and I’m a Light Elemental. As of today, I’m a member of Twilight Heart, I can’t wait to work with you all again.”
He lay on the ground and opened his eyes. With his dark brown hair falling into his eyes he sighed heavily as he looked up at the moon. It had been a long time since he cared about the time of year it was. But as the dazzling moon glistened in the sky, he felt a desire that he hadn’t felt in years. He found himself wishing for the past, that all the darkness would just disappear. He knew that it was an impossible wish. Things could never go back to how they used to be. To him, the moon and stars didn’t shine on him as it did for anyone else.
He muttered with a dark expression, “I suppose they no longer care for me.”
The rise in dark power made him want to meddle in the affairs of humans and create the world of darkness he once desired. He had grown tired of his solitude and wanted to bring the world of light to its knees.
Sitting up, he looked around at his surroundings. The old ruins of Enlil were desolate, cold and lifeless. However, he knew that in a few months it was all about to change. Very soon, the old city would soon become a battlefield and the victor would determine the fate of Luminea. He had originally planned to watch but he had decided that after five years of doing nothing and fifty-seven years of staying under the radar it was time for him to make his move. He just had to wait a little longer and his darkest desires were sure to come true.
“So, have you prepared everything?” the man asked as he heard footsteps approach him.
The man did not need to turn to face his guest to know that it was Sabra Blackwell who approached him. Sabra had begged the man to help him take over Le Alba. The man agreed, provided that Sabra gave him a particular item that he had been searching for.
“Yes, everything is ready for Aria’s invasion just as I planned,” Sabra stated. “We will be able to take over Le Alba as early as June.”
“Excellent,” the man smiled as he got to his feet. “Now all you have to do is give me what I seek, and I will assist you in creating a blood-soaked war.”
“Yes, my lord,” Sabra bowed.
“I guess immortality has its perks. This war will be even more devastating than the Eighty Year War,” the man laughed wickedly as he placed his hand in his pockets and began to walk away. “Now then almost all the pieces are in place. Only one thing remains, to take control of the Valero family to create a despair that will last for an eternity.”