Hope's Bright!

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The Long Night

With a sigh, Pennie rolled onto her back and looked up at the stars in the sky. She had been lying there with her eyes closed for hours, but she just couldn’t sleep. She guessed it was because she was too anxious for the day ahead, or because it was getting a little too hot for her liking. She looked around the campsite to see if anyone else was having trouble sleeping, but everyone seemed to be deep in slumber, especially Lynx who was snoring quite loudly. He was so loud that its surprised Pennie that anyone was actually able to sleep. The deep rumbling sound was so annoying she wanted to shove a sock in his mouth. With another sigh, Pennie sat up. Once she did, she noticed that Ray was still awake, sitting in front of the campfire with his knees at his chest and using his magic to fiddle with the flames. Noticing that he looked a little down, Pennie got to her feet and walked over to him.

“Can’t sleep either?” she asked, lowering her upper body slightly and tilting her head.

“Yeah,” Ray stated, not drawing his attention away from the fire. “Someone should probably keep an eye on things anyway.”

“Mind if I join you?” Pennie asked.

“Not at all,” Ray replied, shifting his gaze to her as she sat next to him.

Pennie watched as Ray moved his hands slightly and closed an opened them lightly, which caused the flames to flicker and shift direction. As the dim light illuminated his despondent expression, Pennie began to wonder what was bothering him. Several ideas came to her mind, but instead of guessing and watching him in silence, Pennie decided to ask him directly.

“Is something the matter? You seem a little down,” Pennie asked.

“It’s nothing,” Ray muttered as he placed his arms on top of his knees and placed his chin on them. “It’s not really important right now.”

“Has it got something to do with Darkyn and what he said?” Pennie asked.

“I guess, but it’s really several things at the moment,” Ray stated. “I’ve just got a lot on my mind right now.”

Pennie noticed that Ray trembled slightly as he spoke. She frowned, thinking that what happened that afternoon had affected Ray more than she first thought. She had never seen him look so tense and disheartened. When he noticed that Pennie was looking at him with a concerned look on his face, Ray sighed again.

“What happened today seems to be happening a lot lately,” Ray claimed. “First there was Achilles who tried to blackmail me into joining the anti-government movement, and now the Dark Oviri wants me to join him. Even this Sabra seems to know something.”

“What makes you think that?” Pennie asked.

“‘You know which ones I want alive,’” Ray quoted Sabra. “I just have this feeling he meant me. I was the only one he called by name. There’s something about that guy, something dangerous but for some reason, I can’t quite figure out what it is. Regardless, everything that happened today has made me feel…uneasy.”

“Well, that’s understandable all things considering,” Pennie said. “Anyone would feel the same if people suddenly came after you.”

“No, it’s not like that,” Ray shook his head. “That’s not what’s bothering me. It’s the fact that all these people keep showing up and seem to know more about me than I do. When these things happen, I have no idea how I’m supposed to react, and I hate the fact that I can’t say that I’ll never do as they say. For all I know I could have been just like them, which is possible since I have no idea who I am in the first place.”

“Ray, I don’t think that’s true,” Pennie claimed, a little shocked to hear Ray speaking the way he was. “You are nothing like them, you know that, right? Perhaps you are just over exaggerating.”

“Honestly, I really can’t be sure,” Ray muttered, starting to play with the fire again with his left hand. “I… It’s difficult for me to talk about this, but I think if I tell someone about this, I might feel a little better about it. Do you mind listening to it?”

“You can tell me anything, that what friends are for,” Pennie replied.

Ray smiled for a brief moment before frowning and watching the flames dance into the air.

“I never told anyone this, but when Aleron found my injuries were so severe that I almost died,” Ray explained. “All I can remember is this intense pain and collapsing only seconds after seeing Aleron. The next thing I knew I was in a hospital connected to all these machines. People I didn’t know started asking me questions, and I couldn’t answer them. My memory was completely blank, I could barely even remember my name.”

“Was it really that bad?” Pennie asked, shocked by Ray’s confession.

“Yeah, I was bedridden for weeks,” Ray said as he lowered his gaze to the ground. “Even after I was released it took months for me to make a complete recovery. Although my body did eventually heal, my memories never returned. Even now that I’ve remembered some of my past, I can’t really remember anything about myself, and I don’t know if I ever will.”

“I’m sorry Ray,” Pennie frowned, turning her gaze to the crackling flames. “I didn’t realise how hard all this was for you.”

“Well, I don’t blame you, since I put all my energy into hiding it,” Ray stated. “However, when Darkyn said that I should remember him, I didn’t know what to think. I don’t want to believe it, but because of my amnesia it means that it’s not impossible.”

“I don’t see how it could be remotely possible though,” Pennie claimed. “I mean, he was supposed to have lived a century ago. There’s no way he could really know you.”

“I don’t know, but since we ran into him, I can’t stop thinking about something Aleron told me,” Ray said, closing his eyes. “He told me that if a young man that I didn’t know came looking for me, I had to run away as fast as I could. At the time I didn’t understand it, but now I think I do.”

“Then you think the person he warned you about was Darkyn?” Pennie asked. “If that’s the case maybe you may have been his slave or something like that.”

“That is possible,” Ray sighed as he opened his eyes and kept his gaze on the ground. “This whole thing just makes me want to remember more, I just don’t get why I can’t. Lynx may be right, and there’s definitely something wrong with me. Maybe I am useless…”

Pennie wanted to say that Ray wasn’t useless and that everything Lynx told him was garbage. However, when she opened her mouth to speak, she couldn’t find the words and closed her mouth again. She could think of anything she could possibly say to make him feel better. Suddenly Ray’s body flinched as he made a small and quiet grunting noise. The fire went out with a quiet boom, and everything went cold. Up until that moment, it had been a hot summer night, but at that moment it was like all heat had vanished. It was almost as if the cold and unforgiving winter had returned. Without the fire, it was so dark that Pennie could barely see Ray next to her.

“What…?” Pennie shivered. “Ray?”

“Huh?” Ray gasped and looked towards Pennie with a shocked expression. He then shook his head, moving one of his legs to lie flat on the ground and then restarted the fire. When he did the heat around them returned as if the sudden chilliness never happened. “Sorry…”

“What happened?” Pennie asked.

“I’m not sure,” Ray laughed awkwardly. “It just kind of went out.”

“Are you okay though?” Pennie wondered, noticing that Ray looked a little pale.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Ray claimed with a smile. “Thanks for staying up to talk to me. I feel a lot better than before.”

“Well, it’s not like I could sleep anyway,” Pennie shrugged her shoulders. “Especially not with Lynx snoring over there. He’s so loud I surprised he hasn’t given away were we are hiding.”

“He does kind of sound like a pig that swallowed a chainsaw,” Ray commented.

They both began to laugh, completely forgetting about all the terrible things that had happened that day. Pennie knew that Ray had been going through a lot lately, but Pennie believed if she could keep making him laugh and smile then everything was going to be okay. Without warning, a blaring alarm consisting of several low-pitched rings went off which made both Pennie and Ray jump. She immediately recognised the sound as a notification from the TCCATS messaging system.

“Wait that’s my phone,” Ray exclaimed reaching into his pockets and taking out his phone. “I thought it would be broken after we fell from that cliff.”

As Pennie expected, the words ‘TCCATS Message Alert’ appeared on the screen of Ray’s phone.

“Wow, my phone was smashed to smithereens,” Pennie stated, noticing that Ray’s phone was almost in perfect condition. “Your’s barely has a scratch on it.”

“Yeah, it’s much tougher than it looks,” Ray nodded. “But why am I getting a message now? Or rather, who could possibly be messaging me?”

Pennie watched as Ray unlocked his phone and waited for the app to load. Pennie gasped in shock when a TCCAT character with spikey strawberry blonde hair and droopy fox years appeared. Blaze Aliené’s little character waved both his arms with closed eyes and a destresses look on his face as the words ‘help’ flashed on the screen.

“Blaze? Blaze is calling for help?” Pennie muttered, looking up at Ray. “Why would he be calling us? Could it be another trick?”

“I don’t know, but I doubt it’s a trick,” Ray said, shifting his gaze to Pennie. “Something really bad must have happened if he’s asking for our help after everything that’s happened.”

“What should we do?” Pennie asked. “Should we answer it?”

“I don’t think we should just abandon him. Besides I have this bad feeling, I can’t shake, and I think he may have the answer I’m looking for,” Ray replied. “The help function on this app allows us to track where the person seeking assistance is located. If I’m right, he may be nearby, so we can save him and then get him to help us against Sabra.”

Ray pressed on the accept button that Blaze’s character stood on. Pennie and Ray watched closely as a map popped up and started to track Blaze’s phone. As it did Blaze’s character appeared at the bottom left corner with a new message. Whether it was because he was in a rush or he barely managed to write it, the sentences were short and didn’t make much sense.

“Sorry. In bad shape, need help,” Pennie read the message aloud. “Will be in danger if come. World could end if don’t. Hurry before…”

Before the rest of the message appeared and before the app could finish locating Blaze, the image vanished, and static interference appeared on the screen. Flashing in deep red writing her the largely written words lost connection.

“Wait, where’d he go?!” Pennie exclaimed in shock. “What just happened.”

“That can’t be good,” Ray muttered, not removing his gaze from his phone. “Honestly, things just seem to be getting worse and worse.”

Sabra walked through the halls of the abandoned castle uncertain whether he should be please of extremely pissed. The day had been a complete failure. Sabra had planned everything out to the tiniest detail. He perfectly managed to trap Twilight Heart and ambush them. He even had possessed the Aria army to have them perform to their best capabilities, so it should have been an easy victory. If things went his way, Brayden Valero would have become one of his puppets and the rest of them would be dead, their body rotting under the summer heat. However, the whole plan went out of the window when the Valero and the summoner girl fell from the cliff. The Valero would have survived given his family background, but his injured body would have been impossible to find. To make matters worse, the rest of Twilight Heart managed to get away.

“Useless! Utterly and completely useless!” Sabra snarled, completely disappointed in the Aria army.

They were supposed to be the best army in the world. After all the trouble it took getting them out of Aria, Sabra couldn’t believe how pointless everything was. If he had known the would fail so miserably even under one of his curses, he would have just used the members of Destruction. Not all was dismal though. To punish the Aria army’s failure, he had each and every one of them killed. Since there were fifty members of Destruction within Enlil on standby, he could afford losing one hundred soldiers. However, Sabra couldn’t be bothered dirtying his hands with their useless blood and wanted to save his strength for his next attack on Twilight Heart. So, he had Blaze Aliené kill them one by one in the most painful way possible. He enjoyed hearing their screams as the Air Elemental slashed their skin with his large axe and stuck them with his lightning until their body’s burned beyond repair. Despite the pleasure of watching the deaths of worthless swine, it wasn’t enough. He wanted to cause more pain to ease the frustration of his loss. So he slightly released Blaze’s possession, allowing him to regain consciousness. He watched with a devilish smile as the boy looked down at his blood-soaked hand and looked around with wide shaken eyes at the bodies that surrounded him. Sabra laughed as Blaze screamed in horror at what he had done and laughed even harder as he collapsed onto the ground from exhaustion. It thrilled Sabra to watch someone suffer so much. He even found pleasure in dragging Blaze’s limp body across the hard and rocky pavement and throwing him so hard into one of the empty castle rooms that his body made a loud thump as it hit the ground.

However, that was hours ago, and Sabra’s good mood began to vanish. His phone began to ring, putting him in a worse mood.

“What?!” Sabra growled as he answered it.

“Now, is that a way to talk to someone e who has graciously decided to help you?” A male’s voice sneered.

“My apologies, Lord Darkyn,” Sabra claimed, lowering his voice. “I did not realise it was you.”

“I let it slide this once,” Darkyn stated. “But talk to me that way again I’ll cut you in half.”

Darkyn’s threat did not scare Sabra, he’d consider it an honour to be killed by the Dark Oviri. It already made him proud to be helping him and receiving his strength.

“Is something the matter my lord?” Sabra asked as he walked into the large room. “You seem to be in a bad mood.

“No, it matters not. I’m just disappointed with something that happened today,” Darkyn growled. “Now, back to business. Do you have the item I asked for?”

“Not yet, I am still waiting for once of my own to retrieve it,” Sabra replied.

“Well, you better get a move on,” Darkyn stated. “I’d hate to lose such a loyal subject to incompetence. You do realise Twilight Heart is here, right? I do hope you are prepared for them.”

“Oh, trust me, I am,” Sabra claimed. “I still have my secret weapon, they don’t stand a chance.”

“Excellent, in that case, I’ll see you tomorrow with what I want,” Darkyn claimed. “I will have a special guest with me, so I hope you don’t disappoint.”

“Yes, my lord,” Sabra said, gritting his teeth.

“Oh, and one more thing. Do not under any circumstances are you to kill Brayden Valero. If you do, I assure you there will be no pain that exists in this world that you won’t experience,” Darkyn stated before hanging up abruptly.

Even angrier than before, Sabra placed his phone back in his pocket while clicking his tongue. He needed the Dark Oviri’s help if he was going to take over Le Alba, even if it meant turning him into one of his puppets, just like he had hoped to do to Brayden Valero. However, his plans may go to ruin thanks to someone else incompetence.

“She’s taking too long,” Sabra snarled, becoming more impatient after talking to Darkyn. “If she makes me wait till dawn, I will see to it she is severely punished.”

Sabra considered immediate death to one of his own to be too kind to be a suitable punishment. He concluded that should his servant disappoint him, he would cut off all of her limbs and force her to fight another member to the death. Despite hearing footsteps behind him, moving at a pace to catch up with him, Sabra kept walking. The person stopped, and Sabra realised that the member of Destruction that he sent out.

“Sir I have returned,” she stated with a bow.

“About time,” Sabra yelled as he turned to her. “I was close to sending someone to collect your corpse. Do you get the item I asked you to fetch?”

“I apologise for the delay,” the woman said as he held out her closed fist. She opened her hand to reveal the small black glass ball in her palm. “Here it is, in perfect condition like promised.”

“Excellent, finally something went my way,” Sabra snarled. “Everyone has failed me today, you are lucky.”

“Sir, I hope to ask about what happened to the army we had here,” the woman said as she stood up with her back completely straight and arms tightly held at her side. “I haven’t seen anyone since I returned.”

“Oh, yes, they failed, so I had them killed,” Sabra stated, starting to walk again as the member of his guild followed him. “I had our little guest deal with them.”

“The Aliené?” she asked. “It’s disappointing that I missed such a fight. Was the young man able to defeat them all? If so, where is he now?”

“Oh, he killed them all alright, and it was quite an entertaining sight,” Sabra smiled. “He has such raw potential, it’s a shame that the only way I can utilise it is through possession. Speaking of which, you happen to have a talent for healing, correct?”

“That is correct sir,” the woman replied. “Why do you ask.”

“Unfortunately, our puppet was badly damaged today,” Sabra claimed, stopping in front the room he had left Blaze in. “A side effect of my magic has stopped his regeneration abilities. I need him for the battle tomorrow, but in his current state I doubt he’ll be any use to me.”

Sabra opened the door and stepped into the room with the Destruction member following behind him. Once he entered the room, he found that Blaze had regained consciousness. He barely managed to type on the phone in front of him with a weak and shaken hand as he lay on his stomach.

“Well, what do we have here?” Sabra smirked standing above Blaze.

“S-Sa-Sabra…” Blaze stuttered as his gaze shifted to Sabra.

Sabra looked down at the phone and noticed that he had called for help, which made the smile on Sabra’s face even larger.

“Calling for help?” Sabra laughed, kicking the phone away. “That’s pathetic, don’t you think? What makes you even think someone would come and help someone like you?”

“It’s-s-s worth a shot…” Blaze said as he pulled himself to his knees. Sabra watched as he struggled to get to his feet, swaying unsteadily once he did. “If n-no one does… I’ll have to deal with you myself.”

Blaze swung his fists to punch Sabra, but it was so weak and predictable that Sabra found it easy to dodge. He then punched Blaze in the stomach, so hard that it made him cough up blood. Gasping in pain, he fell to a head on the ground, struggling for breath.

“Y-y-you b-bastard…” he coughed as he weakly lifted his head.

“Hmmm, I must say I’m impressed that you managed to come out of my spell, especially when you are all beat up like this,” Sabra frowned. “I’m going to have to use more of my magic to keep you under control.”

“Like… I’ll…l-let y-you,” Blaze muttered, beginning to pull himself back up again. “I’m going to…”

Before Blaze could finish, Sabra lifted him up by the shirt and kicked him so that he was sent flying into the back wall.

“You stupid reincarnation! How dare you speak to me like that?!” Sabra yelled as he watched Blaze’s body twitch in agony. “You are lucky I’m keeping you alive. Just do as I say, or I’ll have to beat my lessons into you. Don’t fight it, you’re just filthy little zombie.”

As Sabra stormed up to Blaze, he realised that his eyes were on the phone. Trembling, he reached out for the phone.

“H-h-help…” he stuttered. “Please…”

Before Blaze could reach the phone, his hand fell to the ground. Sabra watched with a pleased smirk as Blaze’s eyes flickered shut.

“Now, that’s just too pathetic for words,” Sabra laughed. He looked towards the door, to find more members of Destruction waiting for orders. “Get over here and take him to the throne room. Chain him up so he can’t pull a stunt like this again.”

“Yes sir!” they replied.

Sabra watched as the men dragged Blaze’s unconscious body away. After they left, he walked over to where Blaze’s phone lay.

“Sir, this may be too bold, but I think you should be careful,” the woman who remained spoke up. “If you keep treating him like this and expose him to too much possession magic, he’ll just become a broken doll, like normal reincarnations.”

“Oh, I am aware of that,” Sabra stated. “I just need him for a little longer, soon I’ll have two even stronger puppets. Now, instead of questioning me, make sure those losers do their jobs.”

The woman bowed and left the room. With an evil grin, he smashed the phone with his foot, the screen shattering beyond repair.

“Soon everything will belong to me.” He laughed, his shrill and chilling voice echoing through the castle.

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