Hope's Bright!

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Ray walked down the streets of Asteria alone with a heavy sigh. While the rest of Twilight Heart was busily preparing for the upcoming MLC completion, Ray couldn’t even work up the energy to be the least bit excited. Not that he cared about the competition to begin with, but all he wanted to do was go home and sleep. His head hurt so much that his vision blurred slightly, and he struggled to walk straight.

Ever since they had returned from Enlil, Ray had painful headaches at least once a week. He thought for sure that it would eventually go away as time passed, but they seemed to get progressively worse over the last three weeks. He originally thought that the health issues he had when he was younger had returned. However, the headache he had at that moment, like all the others he had in the past three weeks was different from the ones he had when he was recovering from the injuries he had all those years ago. The pain wasn’t as sharp, but it seemed to be more painful. Whenever he got his weekly headaches, everything became hazy, and he had difficulties remembering what he was doing or occasionally stopped mid-sentence and started to stare off into space. Pennie once called him up on it, but he shook his head and just claim he lost his train of thought. Sometimes he’d even ask strange questions that he could never remember asking. However, the most bizarre thing about them was how they started. Unlike all the other headaches he had in the past that would come and then slowly get worse, these ones would come suddenly and be excruciatingly painful from the moment they began. Every single time he got one he’d hear voices. Most of the time, he ended up forgetting what they had said, but he’d end up feeling extremely exhausted immediately after hearing them.

Ray believes all the issues he was having had something to do with what happened when Kazmir attacked them. His appearance made messy and unclear images appear that caused such intense pain that it didn’t surprise him that he ended up passing out. They were so quick and confusing, he couldn’t make out if they were memories or just simple hallucinations. It annoyed him that he was absolutely no help in the battle, but he had been so light headed from the sudden pain that his body ached all over that he knew he wouldn’t have been able to do anything even if he managed to get back on his feet.

“The black dog comes at midnight…? What does that even mean?” he muttered.

He sighed heavily, just thinking about them made him feel more tired and caused the pain to increase. At first, he was angered by being forced to stay within Asteria, but after how he’d been feeling of late, he began to believe it may have been a blessing in disguise. Due to the ringing in his ears and being deep in thought, Ray did not hear the old lady who followed him and called out his name.

“Mr Valero, wait up,” she yelled.

When he finally noticed, he turned to her and faked a smile.

“Sorry, I was lost in thought,” he stated.

“Are you feeling okay? You seem a little unwell,” The small old lady asked as she looked up at him.

“I’ll be fine,” Ray claimed. “Was there something you needed?”

“Ahh yes,” the old lady smiled, grabbing a book from her little black handbag. “This belongs to someone in your guild. It was found amongst the lost property from when that Regal Night came and destroyed everything.”

He took the book into his hands and examined it. The greyish purple book with a red spine was a similar size to Ray’s. There was a red circle in its centre with a five-point star within it. There was also outlines of large silver flowers in each corner of the cover with smaller silver flowers and golden stars around the edges.

“Do you know whose it is?” Ray asked, not recognising the book at all.

“I forget the name, it was a girl around your age though,” the old lady replied. “Haven’t seen the dear in a while though. Used to help out at my husband’s store when she had the time. Think she went off on a mission last I heard.”

“I see,” Ray said. He didn’t know of anyone who helped out around Asteria other than him and Blaze. However, he thought he may as well take the book to return it to its owner. “I’ll give it back if I see her.”

“Excellent. Well, I best be off,” the old lady said as she started to walk away. “Take care.”

As Ray waved goodbye, he began to feel dizzier than before. With a heavy sigh, he walked to the park as it was closer than his house. He sat against one of the trees and decided to read the book in his hands while waiting for his headache to pass. It was the most interesting and detailed thing he had ever read. None of the books he had read in the past told anything of the history of Le Alba, but that one book had it all. What was also amazing was the number of spells, weapons and documentation of all the many creatures that existed within its pages. Before Ray knew it, hours had passed, and despite his headache easing to the point that he coul make his way home, he had no intention of putting the book down. However, his mind came to a halt when he turned to a certain page. He was looking for it a while back, but he didn’t think he would find anything.

Information about Stellatrium.

It had everything about it, from its original form, to the creation of the cannon. Curious as to what else could be in that book, Ray began to quickly skim through the pages. He found the three types of Resurrection Magic, Beginner, the Dark Shadow’s Power Rune, Perfect Puppet and even Kazmir. Most shocking of all was a spell that used all seven elements to seal away creatures with massive powers.

“No way… it couldn’t be,” Ray muttered to himself. He closed the book and examined it carefully. With all the detailed information of everything that could possibly exist in Le Alba, he believed that there was only one book that it could be. “The book of Twilight….?”

“Who exactly are you?” Cormac spat.

Cormac snarled at the man in front of him. He was a tall, slender man with silver hair worn in a loose pompadour, red eyes and a long black scar down the left side of his face. He smiled in amusement as Cormac continued to stare him down.

“If you really must know, I go by Demon these days,” the man stated.

“Why did you save me?” Cormac snarled. “I have been trapped here for months. Tell me why I’m here.”

Cormac didn’t pay much attention to the other people in the room, keeping his gaze on the man who claimed to be Demon. He had dropped in just as Brayden Valero had finished casting Toivoa. Cormac was falling as the Toivoa Destroyer fell to pieces when Demon flew in with tattered wings and took him to safety. Much to his shock, the man then knocked him out and dragged him to a secluded location. When he came to, he found himself locked in a room and being told he had to wait until ‘the master’ summoned him. Months of waiting with nothing to do but eat the regular meals he received passed and Demon summoned him to discuss something.

“You should be thankful that a Phoenix such as me even saved a lowly Oviri like you,” Demon stated as he crossed his legs.

Cormac took a look at his surroundings. It was a dark and desolate room, with so little light Cormac could barely see. There was a semi-circle of about five seats in front of him, most of which were empty. Other than Demon, there was only one other person there. It was a woman, around the age of thirty as far as Cormac could tell. She wore her long and untidy strawberry blonde hair in a ponytail as he glared at Demon with a hint of in surprise in her golden eyes.

“So, you’re the one who killed my son?” she purred in amusement.

“Indeed,” Demon sneered. “Is that going to be a problem, Elizabeth Aliené?”

“Oh no, not at all. In fact, I should thank you,” Elizabeth smirked sadistically. “Shario was a useless shit who never did what he was told. Thanks to his death I got to experiment with Reincarnation Magic. Now I have a son who will do whatever I please if I use the right spell and punish him accordingly.”

“I knew you were an interesting woman,” Demon laughed. “Seems that breaking you out of prison and having you join me was a brilliant idea by me. Tell me, could the resurrected Aliené be any use to us?”

“Perhaps,” Elizabeth shrugged. “The only issue is locating the little zombie. He can be more difficult to locate than an ant that is unique.”

“Is anyone going to tell me why I’m here?” Cormac growled, becoming impatient.

“Quite a temper you have on you. I like it,” Demon sneered, turning his gaze back to Cormac. “I have a proposition for you. One that will be in both of our favours.”

“And? What is it you need from me?” Cormac asked. “It’s rare for a powerful Phoenix such as yourself to ask for help. Especially from a mere mortal such as myself.”

“I want you to join me on my quest,” Demon stated. “You see, I have an anti-government guild myself, and we are close to conquering Le Alba. I had been working on this with Dorjan, but now that he’s dead I need someone to replace him.”

“And why does it have to be me?” Cormac demanded, narrowing his eyes.

“It’s been a while since I met an Oviri hell-bent on causing mass death. You know the exhilarating joy of watching people scream as they take their last breath, which makes you perfect,” Demon claimed.

“Perfect for what?” Cormac asked.

“You are the perfect candidate to be the successor to the Phoenix of the Death Arcana,” Demon stated with a smile. “If you take this power, everything you ever wanted will be granted. All of Le Alba will dance in your palms.”

A malicious smile appeared on Cormac’s face. If he had the power of the invisible Phoenixes, he would be unstoppable. He would finally be able to cause the world to suffer and die.

“Where do I sign?” Cormac sneered.

“Fantastic!” Demon laughed. “Looks like I was right again. Now I have replaced two of the missing seats of my council, let’s discuss what is to happen from here on out.”

“Wasn’t Sabra Blackwell part of this council?” Elizabeth asked. “Shouldn’t we wait for him to arrive.”

“Intriguing, you knew about that?” Demon smiled.

“Well, he did come to me during my imprisonment to find out how to get my son to join him,” Elizabeth explained. “When I told that killing Shario’s friends would make him obedient, he may have let slip that he was working with you.”

“Well, unfortunately, that man will not be joining us. He was killed mercilessly” Demon shrugged, showing no remorse in his voice. “Done in by the Phoenix Hunter in the most painful way too.”

“Curse that runt of a princess,” Elizabeth snarled. “Azaliea is always getting in the way, she’s the reason I lost my grip on Shario, lost my status and the reason I was imprisoned. Someone should kill her slowly and painfully as soon as possible. Or will that cause some kind of issue, Darkyn?”

Cormac’s eyes followed Elizabeth’s gaze to find a man leaning against the far-left wall with his head down. He knew immediately that he was the Dark Oviri as Dorjan had described what he had looked like once before. What shocked Cormac the most was that the entire eighteen minutes he had been standing there, he hadn’t realised Darkyn was among them.

“Sorry, I wasn’t listening,” Darkyn claimed, looking up with a displeased look on his face. “When you start harping on like that, I tend to tune you out.”

“You’re not still sulking about Brayden, are you?” Elizabeth sneered. “You should have known that he wouldn’t remember you and would decline your offer.”

“I’m not sulking,” Darkyn pouted. “I’m just bored out of my mind.”

“Oh, really?” Elizabeth said in an attempt to provoke him. “Seems to me being rejected has left you in a sour mood.”

“Do shut up, your voice is very agitating,” Darkyn snarled. “No, I wasn’t talking to you, and I have been listening. It’s difficult to listen to two conversations at once you know. No, I really don’t care. I’m in control so I can say as I please.”

Cormac watched with a raised eyebrow as Darkyn suddenly started talking to himself. However, if the rumours he had heard about the Dark Oviri’s immortality and the truth how he got his powers were true, the inner monologue he was having made complete sense.

“Living all these decades in solitude has made you lost your mind, hasn’t it?” Elizabeth growled. “You failure of a…”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk Elizabeth, please don’t go telling all of my secrets,” Darkyn smiled, cutting her off and waving his hands at her. “I do like having a private life, you know.”

“Really? Is that for your sake, or your precious little Ray’s?” Elizabeth asked mockingly.

“I wouldn’t have a clue what you are talking about,” Darkyn frowned, standing up straight. “But do remember, a failure I may be, but I assure you that killing you will be easy if you push me too far.”

“Lord Darkyn, your wonderous input is very much appreciated,” Demon said, getting to his feet with a bow. “Wouldn’t you agree.”

Elizabeth said nothing, clicking her tongue in rage and looking away angrily. Demon turned his gaze to Cormac and urged him to say something with a fierce look in his eyes.

“Yes, it will be a pleasure to work with the Dark Oviri,” Cormac claimed.

“Now, onto business. What our next move is,” Demon stated. “Lord Darkyn, can we count on your support?”

“I’ll happily make a deal with you if you can get me Brayden Valero,” Darkyn smiled. “Do that for me, and I promise to do anything you ask.”

“The Valero, huh? He has become a thorn in our plans of late,” Demon sighed. “What is it that you want with him?”

“He’s extraordinarily powerful, more than he even realises at this point. I must acquire him if my own plans are ever to fall into place,” Darkyn stated. “No, I do not want him dead, we’ve talked about this. We can use him, I swear. I’ll do as you say, so trust me on this.”

“Brayden Valero!” Cormac spat. “That bastard ruined everything for me. I can’t wait to get my Phoenix power’s and get my revenge on him. I’ll skin him alive, ripping off his skin strip by strip until he dies in complete agony. I can’t wait to hear his dying screams.”

It happened before Cormac knew what was even happening. Darkyn suddenly slung his arm around Cormac’s neck and place held a knife at his chest. He was frightened by how quick the man moved, especially from how far away he was standing. His eyes darted towards the Dark Oviri who looked furious with a dark and murderous look in his eyes.

“If you touch Ray with your filthy hands, I’ll tear out your heart and shred it before your very eyes,” Darkyn explained, his voice so low and threatening it made Cormac’s heart stop. “I’ll revive you and kill you as many times as I want until you’re nothing but a pile of smashed bones. Just say you’ll kill him again, I dare you. I’ve been looking for a sacrifice to unleash all my pent-up anger on.”

Cormac’s skin went completely white, and he trembled. He wanted to plead for his life, but he was so frightened he couldn’t speak.

“Calm down?! How could I possibly be calm? He’s talking about killing my…” Darkyn growled. He stopped talking to grit his teeth in rage before growling deeply. “Fine…”

He let go of Cormac, causing him to fall in a heap on the ground. He became nothing more than a pale, shaken and frightened mess as he watched Darkyn walk away in a huff. He slammed himself onto a chair with a heavy and annoyed sigh.

“Well, that was foolish,” Elizabeth laughed with a slight tremble in her voice. “What a wonder to see just how viciously cruel you can be, Darkyn.”

“Lord Darkyn, if you had really intended for the Valero to join you, why did you try and kill his friend?” Demon asked, unaffected by Darkyn’s ferocious personality. “Wouldn’t that make him less inclined to join you?”

“Kill her, heavens no. I’m not that daft. Though I must say, I’m impressed you knew about that,” Darkyn sneered, his mood lightening. “The spell I used wouldn’t have harmed the girl since I knew that Ray would protect her. I never intended to do anything to the girl in the first place, that spell was always meant to hit Ray.”

“W-what did you do?” Cormac asked, getting back onto his feet as he attempted to regain his composure.

“Let’s just say it was a spell to speed things up, turning him back into the warrior he used to be,” Darkyn smiled evilly. “I reckon anyone who crossed Ray now will regret being alive. As for his friends, well. They’ll see a side of him they’ll never see coming. It may only be a matter of time before he returns to my side.”

“You seem to have planned things further than I expected,” Demon frowned. “Can we really trust you?”

“Of course, I promised I would. And a…” Darkyn said before trailing off. After a few short seconds of silence, he burst into demonic laughter. “Never mind that. All you need to know is that any day now everything will fall to ruin. Very soon, war will take over Le Alba once more.”

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