“Wait, me?” Pennie looked at Ray in shock. When he told her that she was the one who could defeat Sabra, she just looked at hem in disbelief. “But I’m useless. I haven’t done anything but get captured.”
“Sabra hasn’t let you summon something once. He always attacks you before you get the chance. Which means he knows that he wouldn’t stand a chance against your shadows,” Ray explained.
“I’m sorry Ray, I still don’t understand,” Pennie sighed. “How are my shadows going to help? I don’t see how their presence will change things.”
Ray understood what she was thinking without needing to say anything. It was clear that she didn’t think very highly of her abilities, but Ray knew differently. Pennie was their only chance at victory, and he had no doubt in his mind that she’d be able to do it.
“You told me that Sean cannot be manipulated by magic,” Ray claimed. “Azaliea once told me that this ‘Shadow Eye’ only works if she or I were to use it and that if anyone else did, there would be a weak spot. As Sean is a shadow, not a biological being Sabra may not be able to read him.”
“Pennie, I know you don’t think you can do this, but I do,” Ray smiled at her. “I’ll protect you as you summon him. All you have to do is trust me, okay?”
“Well, since there’s no other choice. We still need to make Sabra learn his place,” Pennie smiled back. “I trust you, so I’ll do it. I won’t disappoint.”
Ray nodded and moved to stand in front of Pennie. He had to protect her and block every single attack Sabra would throw at them. To do that, he had to make sure he kept a cool head and focused on Sabra and nothing else. As soon as Pennie began to chant her spell, Sabra turned to them with wide eyes.
“Don’t bother! I’ll kill you before you can summon anything!” Sabra cackled.
Sabra leapt towards them, jumping over Ray to land behind Pennie. He went to punch her, but Ray was quicker, moving right in front of Sabra and grabbing onto his fist.
“Oh Valero, you had a better chance of beating me before,” Sabra scowled. “Don’t hold back to protect that girl, show me your full power. Otherwise, you are going to get hurt!”
He moved to kick Ray’s left side again. Since he was calmer than before, he could easily see Sabra’s attack coming and was able to block it. After clicking his tongue, Sabra started to jump around, looking for every possible opening to hit Pennie and stop her summoning. However, every time Ray was able to get in his way and block every single punch and kick. At last Pennie finished her spell and Sean Shadow Buster appeared, floating in the air behind Pennie.
“No!” Sabra shrieked.
“Sean, attack Sabra with everything you’ve got!” Pennie ordered.
“With pleasure,” Sean bowed.
“Ha! Just because you have one shadow on your side isn’t going to change a thing!” Sabra screamed. “I can still predict…”
Before he could finish Sean punched Sabra in the chin, sending him flying into the air. The shadow then leapt off the ground and continued to hit Sabra mid-air. His movements were so fast, not even Ray could keep up with them. As they began to fall back towards the ground, Sean kicked Sabra, and he hurtled to the ground. When he hit, the tiles smashed to pieces, sending dust, dirt and rubble erupting into the air. Ray covered his face with his arms to protect it. When the booming crashing sounds died down, he lowered his arms to find a massive crater where Sabra had fallen. As Sean moved to stand besides Pennie, Ray walked to the hole. It was so deep that the ground underneath the castle’s structure was destroyed and he couldn’t see the bottom of the pit. As the others moved towards him, he waited patiently to see if Sabra would resurface. Thankfully the leader of Destruction did not appear.
“Is it over?” Cianna asked, who was still tending to Blaze’s wounds. “Did we win?”
“It looks like it,” Pennie smiled at her.
They did not celebrate like they usually did when they were victorious. Instead, everyone just took a breath of relief.
“Thank goodness,” Ray sighed.
He did not draw his eyes away from the pit. He still felt that something was wrong, but he shook his head and dismissed the thought.
“Perhaps I’m over thinking it,” he muttered to himself.
“It’s finally over,” Lynx groaned. “Man, I’m sweating like crazy!”
Pennie sighed as she watched Lynx sprawl himself on the ground fanning his face with his hand. They were just outside the castle, resting after their long battle. The heat made it a little uncomfortable, but it was no cooler indoors as the roof had almost completely collapsed. Lucky for them, the rest of Dark Soul was nowhere to be seen. Pennie assumed that they must have fled while they were fighting Sabra. They reunited with Noah, who was horrified by what happened and started clinging to Pennie more than usual. She was actually surprised that they had won, and even more shocked that the reason they did was because she summoned Sean. Of course, everyone still was badly injured despite their victory. Cianna had spent about an hour tending to their wounds. However, as she was also injured, she couldn’t use much magic, and everyone had to settle for small patch-ups with her medical kit. Blaze in particular was so wounded that Cianna had to remove his blood-stained shirt to wrap his entire upper body in bandages. Pennie didn’t agree with Lynx often, but she was also glad it was over.
“It is rather hot now,” Pennie sighed, before turning her gaze to Ray. “What time is it Ray?”
“Almost two,” he replied, walking around while holding his phone in the air in an attempt to get service.
“Ah, then it must have reached the high forties by now,” Kaela guessed. “Brayden, any luck getting through to Master Isaac?”
“No, none,” Ray sighed, placing his phone back into his pocket. “I can’t get any service no matter what I try.”
“Hey, you’re a genius, remember? You could build somethin’ with this place’s surveillance system,” Dimetrios suggested. “Can’t you?”
“I don’t know how to do that, I can’t do everything you know,” Ray sighed again as he leant against the castle wall. “I mean, maybe I used to be able to? All I know how to do is tear down systems not build them. Sorry.”
“That’s cool. I knew that you couldn’t, I just wanted to tease you a bit,” Dimetrios laughed.
“If you’re going to be like that don’t’ ask,” Ray pouted,
Pennie laughed. It made her glad to see Dimetrios and Ray getting along, even if it wasn’t in the conventional sense. It was almost hard to believe that they were once enemies. It was also surprising that Pennie had been a part of Twilight Heart for three months short of a year. Since then she had done things she never dreamed of doing, and it was all thanks to Ray, who went out of his way to save her that day. She turned her gaze to Ray again, only to frown when she did.
“Ray, are you alright? You look a little pale,” Pennie asked.
“Yeah, I think I’m good,” Ray replied as he turned to her. “I’ve got a bit of a headache, and I’m tired but other than that I’m fine.”
“There’s no need to nit-pick Brayden,” Lynx sneered, sitting up. “Just because we’re all injured doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be. You don’t even have a scratch on you. So, you really have no reason to complain.”
Ray ignored him. As soon as the battle was over, he had gone back to refusing to talk to Lynx. After everything that happened, Pennie thought that they would start to get along better, but things seemed to get worse. Lynx became ruder which seemed to aggravate the already exhausted Ray.
“Honestly, how stupidly lucky can you get. I guess we should be thankful that you remembered something about Shadow Eye in time. But that’s all it was, plain good luck,” Lynx added, purposely getting on Ray’s nerves. “I bet you feel bad since you sat back and watched as we got all beat up and faking sickness to make us feel better. But you know I think we would have been fine if you didn’t show up in the first place.”
“Leave me alone,” Ray growled, walking as far away from Lynx as possible.
“Great now you made him mad,” Noah sighed.
“Well sorry! I was just saying how I feel,” Lynx rolled his eyes as he got to his feet.
“Well don’t, just be thankful that we managed to survive this,” Kaela stated. “Let’s not ruin this victory with petty arguments.”
“I wouldn’t celebrate just yet,” Blaze said, grunting in pain as he got to his feet.
“You shouldn’t get up,” Cianna said, standing beside him with a concerned expression. “You were badly hurt, moving will make it worse.”
“Unfortunately, we can’t rest anymore,” Blaze replied with a sour expression. “We have company and believe it or not the most annoying person has shown up.”
“Who?” Pennie asked.
“Aww, is it over already?” a voice complained.
Pennie turned to see a man with dark brown hair and dull green eyes standing a few meters behind them. Everyone was speechless and frozen in place because of the man’s sudden appearance. Much to Pennie’s horror, she recognised who it was.
“I’ve been looking forward to this fight for months, it was bound to be the most interesting thing to happen in decades,” Darkyn sneered, taking a seat on the rubble and crossing his legs. “I can’t believe I missed it, especially now that I know Ray was part of it. My, I really do have rotten luck.”
“Who are you and what do you want?!” Lynx snarled.
“As expected of a McMarne, a hubristic personality with no regard for manners,” Darkyn laughed, placing his elbow on his knee and his chin on his palm. “You are under the presence of the Dark Oviri, so I’d watch your tongue if I were you.”
“N-no,” Cianna cried, closing her eyes and holding her hands together.
Lynx made a strange noise, and his eyes went wide with fear. It had only been a day since Darkyn had attacked Pennie and Ray. The last thing she expected was to run into him again so soon. Pennie watched as Darkyn smiled at their reactions.
“How about you answer our question?” Ray snarled, making everyone turn to him in surprise. “Isn’t it also considered poor manners to refuse to answer such a basic query?”
“Come now, why must you act so cold towards me? It’s really breaking my heart you know,” Darkyn continued to smile. “Besides you should already know why I’m here.”
“Wait what is he talking about?” Lynx whispered to Pennie.
“When we ran into him yesterday he tried to get Ray to join him,” Pennie explained. “For some reason, it seems that Darkyn used to know him.”
“What? How?” Lynx asked as Pennie shrugged her shoulders.
“Enough playing around Darkyn,” another voice boomed. “Get a move on with the task you invited me to do.”
Darkyn frowned and narrowed his eyes as he looked back at the man who came into view. He had scruffy black hair that fell to his shoulders, with half of it tied together in a knot at the back of his head. He also had cold, multi-coloured eyes, one dark purple and the other a glowing yellow colour.
“Patience Kazmir, I was getting to it,” Darkyn claimed darkly. “I hate working together as much as you do, but I can’t deny how necessary it is for this situation. Unfortunate as it is both of us simply have to do as we’re told.”
“I don’t care either way, as long as I get what I came for,” Kazmir snarled.
“Very well. I had only planned to watch, but it seems things have gotten out of hand,” Darkyn said. “Sabra.”
Much to Pennie’s shock Sabra suddenly appeared in front of Darkyn in a low bow. She was so focused on Darkyn that she didn’t realise that the crooked old man had still been around.
“Yes, my Lord,” Sabra said.
“I trust you have that item we discussed,” Darkyn barked.
“Yes sir,” Sabra claimed, getting to his feet and handing a small object to the Dark Oviri.
“My, isn’t this fantastic,” Darkyn smiled as he examined what seemed to be a black marble in his hands. “Is it really possible for such power to be contained in a small object? No, I wasn’t doubting your information, just stating a fact.”
Pennie didn’t know who he was talking to in the last sentence, but it still gave her chills. It frightened her to think what the item in his hands actually was. She knew it couldn’t be good if the Dark Oviri wanted it.
“Oh Ray,” Darkyn sang as he turned his gaze back to them. “It’s time for your answer. Have you made the right decision to stop being stubborn and come join me? Even without your memories, you must surely realise that taking my side is the proper thing to do.”
“You don’t give up do you?” Ray growled, trembling slightly. “I don’t care if you say we have some kind of past, there is no way in hell I’m joining you.”
“Just what are you planning this time?” Blaze suddenly snarled with a cold expression.
“So, you’re here too Shario? My, it’s been a while hasn’t it?” Darkyn smiled wickedly. “I hear you’ve been causing trouble like the good old days. What do you say, why don’t you join me as well?”
“That’ll never happen,” Blaze claimed, as he lowered his head. “Besides that’s not really my name after all.”
“Oh, that’s right, you go by Blaze these days, don’t you?” Darkyn laughed. “My bad, I completely forgot.”
Pennie noticed that Blaze had gone all tense as he clenched his fists. He didn’t look angry like she thought he would be. Instead, he seemed frightened and depressed. It made her wonder about the significance of Darkyn’s words.
“Just give it up, there is no way anyone here would even consider doing as you say,” Lynx stated.
“I’m fed up with this Darkyn, just give me what I need so I can transform and kill everyone here,” Kazmir sneered.
“Patience Kazmir,” Darkyn sighed, with a sly smile as he shook his head. “We don’t want a repeat of last time, do we? You remember that failure, right? I’ve been told not to forget my mistake so surely you wouldn’t forget yours.”
Kazmir snarled. He made a deep and rumbling sound that almost sounded like an animal.
“Crap, I just realised who that is!” Dimetrios exclaimed. “We might be in a lot of trouble. That’s Kazmir the Apocalypse, the shadow beast who has murdered thousands of people as the accomplice of the Dark Shadow himself. He’s been a hunted assassin for centuries.”
“Then that evil Shadow Beast you told me about…” Ray started to ask.
“Yes, it’s him,” Dimetrios replied before Ray could finish his sentence.
“This is your final chance Brayden,” Darkyn frowned. “Abandon these worthless friends of yours and do as I say. Otherwise, you have no choice but to face the consequences.”
“I still refuse,” Ray stated. “And there is nothing you can say or do that will make me change my mind. I’ll never betray my friends like that.”
“I see…” Darkyn muttered as he got to his feet. “If that’s the way it’s going to be I suppose I have no other choice. I’m never going to hear the end of this, but I’m sure that I’ll get my way eventually.”
Darkyn turned away and threw the small item in his hand to Kazmir. The shadow beast smiled as he caught it.
“At last my sealed power is mine once more,” Kazmir cackled.
“I’m bored now so I’ll be taking my leave,” Darkyn barked.
“What would you like us to do with these nuisances, My Lord?” Sabra asked.
“Other than Ray, I really couldn’t care less. You two may do as you wish with them,” Darkyn stated as he began to walk away. “Torture them, kill them, ship them off to the CSOG, just do whatever you must. They are in my way so they must be eliminated.”
“And the Valero?” Sabra asked.
“You are to bring him to me even if you have to break every bone in his body, but I need him alive,” Darkyn growled. “Since he refuses to listen, he must be punished. The skies the limit really so you can do whatever you please. You can beat him half to death for all I care, as long as he is still breathing, he’ll be of use to us. Well at to me at least.”
“It will be our pleasure,” Sabra grinned evilly as he turned towards them.
“You won’t get away again!” Blaze yelled, throwing his dagger at Darkyn.
He turned around and smiled as the dagger went straight through him. His body turned into pitch black smoke and vanished out of sight.
“Damn, a clone,” Blaze clicked his tongue in annoyance.
“Farewell Ray,” Darkyn’s demonic chuckle echoed through the sky. “Hopefully the next time we meet you’ll be more… cooperative.”
“That man always knows how to make an exit,” Sabra laughed at their horrified faces. “Now, what to do with you. You thought you defeated me? But you couldn’t be more wrong.”
“Everyone, forget about Darkyn for now,” Ray said, his voice shaking slightly.
“But Ray…” Pennie muttered.
“It’s fine, we need to focus on the enemies in front of us,” Ray stated, shaking his head.
“Brayden is right,” Kaela agreed. “We’ve taken down Sabra once we can do it again, even if we only knock him back long enough to make our escape.”
“Oh, you won’t be going anywhere. I was ordered to deal with you, and deal with you I shall,” Sabra smiled. “Shadow Eye may have been a bust, but I still have many tricks up my sleeves, and now I have help.”
“Help you? That’s a laugh!” Kazmir roared into laughter. “I won’t help you, I’m here to kill those who need to be killed. Get in my way, and you’ll be one of them.”
With an evil smile, Kazmir placed the marble in his mouth and bit into it. A mass of thick black magic erupted from his body. The explosion sent everyone else flying several hundred meters backwards deep into the forest. The larva like substance knocked over thousands of trees and sent the castle crashing to the ground until there was nothing left. Once the energy died down, Pennie and the others were able to get back up and look around. The Enlil ruins were gone, not even a single tree survived. All that remained was a barren flatland as if nothing had ever been there to begin with.
“So, this is the power of the worst Shadow Beast in existence! Fantastic!” Sabra cackled. He was also back on his feet and standing a fair bit away from Pennie, looking at something in the distance.
Pennie looked up to find a massive beast walking towards them. It was pitch black, covered in scars and was the tallest thing she’d ever seen. She would even go as far as to say that it towered over the tallest buildings in Acqua Stellata. The deafening thuds of the creature’s feet caused the ground to shake as it walked towards them, its ginormous claws were clenched into fists. Pennie was horrified as her eyes met the two snake heads staring down at them. The snake with glowing yellow eyes hissed while the head with purple eyes scowled.
“Twilight Heart, or at least those of you worthless ants who stand in front of me,” the snakes hissed deeply in unison, there horrid voice echoing in Pennie’s ears. “You will all fall to the power of the mighty Kazmir.”
“That thing is huge!” Lynx yelled. “What are we going to do!”
“We have to fight! There no other choice!” Dimetrios shouted.
“No, you haven’t healed yet! It’s too dangerous,” Cianna exclaimed.
“Brayden, you know a lot about Shadow Beasts, right?” Kaela asked. “Think we’ll be able to escape, while Sabra is focused on Kazmir?”
“Uh-huh,” was all Ray said.
The large black snake heads roared, and Kazmir flapped his humungous wings as a gust of magical power came hurtling towards them. Pennie was frightened, so much she struggled to breathe.
She took a deep breath. Everything was going to be okay, though they had suffered quite a few injuries, they were still standing. Not to mention, Ray was there. She was certain that he’d lead them to victory, or at least give them the chance to escape. He lived with a Shadow Beast, so he’d know what to do. He always knew what to do.
“Ray, we’re counting on…” Pennie began.
She stopped when she saw the look on Ray’s face. He wore a blank expression and looked a little flushed. He wasn’t watching Kazmir like the rest of them were. His gaze was down, and his eyes seemed to be out of focus. Thinking that he must have been in much shock as they were, she called out to him.
“Ray? Are you okay?” Pennie asked.
Without warning Ray became deathly pale, and his eyes became hollow. He swayed backwards before his knees buckled and he collapsed. Almost as if it happened in slow motion, the horrified Pennie watched his eyes flutter closed as he fell forwards. No one could do anything but stand there, frozen in absolute terror as his body hit the blistering pavement.