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Phoenice

You walk back through the now calm hallway, the sword clinking against your thigh. The shield rests heavily on your arm, and the scepter smooth against the skin of your palm. The path is silent as you walk along with only the shuffling of fabric and metal around you, and you begin to feel Alone but you know you are not.

You reach the virtual chamber where you first began quickly, and the paths that you had been through to gather your companion’s souls were now closed off by coding that pervaded every speck of this place. One final hallway remained to be explored, and you gulp, wondering about which twin if any you would find at the end of the path.

You take a deep breath and walk down it, holding the staff before you. The coding scrolled lazily, fading from pitch black to an eerie glow of black lit purple. Everything seemed distorted and the coding warped as you walked along. You are suddenly glad of the plain piece of metal the Sorceress left you, as it is the only source of true, natural light in this new space.

Ahead of you, you hear the mixture of laughing and crying. You know it must be the somber twin and her maniac sibling.

What do you do?

The four of them anxiously took off down the final hallway one of their comrades had gone down, Myos in the lead. Considering the state he and Zeke had found the others in, he didn’t want to fathom the predicament that Razzy might be facing right now, especially in a place that screamed of the Empress’s influence as much as this one did. The walls were entirely coated with the plush, velveteen surface of the spring pink, bedazzled in such a way with illustrious jewels that it looked like a quilt right on the wall. The floor underneath them was not the hard steel that sufficed for the rest of the ship; it was a soft and rich fur that looked to be softer to the touch than anything Myos had ever felt. All of the wall trimmings were gilded with gold, and if he and Zeke had not investigated the other hallway, he would suggest that the Empress herself lay at the end of this one.

The hallway seemed to stretch on longer than the other ones, and soon the party was out of breath from sprinting so hard to find their missing friend. Gasping for air, Myos rested his upper body weight on his legs, knees bending as his hands pressed on his upper thighs to keep from completely slumping to the ground. Amaya leaned against the wall, brushing her hair out of her face constantly to keep from sticking, and Zeke was suddenly glad he lacked clothing on the upper part of his body.

“What are you three doing, get off your asses, we gotta find Razzy,” Achernar gasped out between inhalations of precious oxygen. Though she too desired rest, the thought of finding the missing girl was more prevalent in her mind.

“Why find me?” a voice behind the tall bluenette asked, and the woman whipped around to find Razzy unharmed. She swept the other into a crushing hug, which the waxen girl returned in confusion.

“Razz, we were worried about you!” Myos exclaimed, still hunched over from their previous full throttle sprint.

“Why?” The taciturn girl asked with a flip of her bob once the other woman had released her. “This hallway led to a dead end. So I started heading back to see if we were all done investigating.”

Myos chose to ignore her interesting term for the five of them yelling at each other, dissolving the team, and going their separate way, to focus on the, while extremely gratifying, unusual fact that she had not been ensnared in any way. “Are you sure you’re fine?” Zeke asked, picking up on the other man’s hesitation.

“Should I not be?” Razzy asked, tilting her head to the side and shuffling the uneven, chalky bangs in front of her face.

“No, you definitely should be,” Achernar said fiercely, daring the others to argue.

“Well, what’s important is that you’re back!” Amaya said with cheer, clapping her hands together in front of her. “Now we’re all back together!”

“That means we can head back to that last hallway,” Zeke said, rolling his shoulders back and stretching his finely honed muscles in anticipation. The golden path would be their yellow brick road straight to the Empress.

The others nodded, and they made their way back to the room for a final time, albeit much slower than they ran down to find Razzy in the first place. Achernar kept asking the girl if she was fine, to which Razzy kept confirming that she was, it was like a bee buzzing around a flower with how much anxiety the taller woman had over the smaller girl. Myos found it endearing and said as much, only to have Achernar threaten violence if he ever said anything so ‘fucking stupid’ again. Amaya laughed, and even Zeke cracked a smile. Myos let his gaze individually rest on each of their star marks in turn, feeling his own that rested on his neck. An outline, to the rest of their full ones. Because he needed them. He wasn’t whole without his team. A hero needs his backup, his family, to ensure he can continue on.

And needless to say, Myos only felt like a hero with the rest of his companions beside him.

Before they knew it, they were in front of the gilded hallway, faces set for anything.They could do this, Myos knew it. He had faith in their team, their small rebellion that came from nothing and rose like a phoenix. The stars would light their path and they would overcome anything to assure the safety of humanity.
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