Lufia: Oath Under Moon a CotS Sequel

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DarkMaster2101
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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:45 am

DISCLAIMER: This story is a not-for-profit fan fiction inspired by the Estpolis/Lufia franchise written only for entertainment purposes. All content relating to the Estpolis/Lufia series, including characters, scenario and reference, is owned by Square Enix, Taito, NATSUME: Serious Fun, ATLUS, and Neverland Company. Please support the official release. Content and references to other stories may appear from time to time, and they are properties of their respected holders. Content from other stories are not used without direct permission.

Stories used: Dawn and Dusk (c) Guard Daos 2008-2009.

o~-~-~-~o

He remembers seeing lightning splitting the sky. He feels the hard rain beating on his cloak. He remembers looking down from the ledge to sees an ash covered world; the oceans rage with blood colored torrents. He remembers smelling the stench of war from the world below; the scent of rotting corpses and smoke choke his nostrils.

There's nothing left for him. He remembers seeing his home and family vanish in the crimson light. He remembers the comrades who fought with him fall to the ground one by one holding their wounds until they stopped breathing. He remembers the monsters he slew, the traps he escaped...

Then he remembers seeing her face, the faceless woman. He remembers the faceless woman capturing his lover and flying to this island as a red ball of light. He remembers tightening the grip of his sword. A golden energy burns from his sword. Then he storms through the gates.

He cuts down the gates. Solid stone doors cannot halt his rage now. Four sinister shadows hover over the hall laughing. Three of the four shadows step forward.

Powerful Voice: "So, puny human you managed to make it this far. I'm impressed."

Childish Voice: [Laughing] "Yes! And you're so young too. Then again, you are his son."

The shadow in the middle steps closer and glares at him with narrow glowing eyes.

Lizard-like Voice: "Indeed. Blood of Maxim, why do you oppose your gods still? There is nothing left for you by fighting. All of your comrades and family are no more. Those who used to fight gave up and worship us now."

He shakes his head and raises his sword.

Lizard-like Voice: "Bow down, denounce your faith! Worship the Sinistrals."

He raises his fist to form a rude gesture. The shadow in the middle steps back.

Lizard-like Voice: "So be it."

The middle shadow nods to the others. Then a new shadow steps forward in the light holding a pale woman bound by chains. The shadow looks at him without a face. He steps back. The faceless woman holds from her side a rod of black wood. She grasps on the head and draws a long thin violet crystal blade. The faceless woman kicks his lover on the ground. His lover looks at him one last time. He feels they only just met, but knows their time has come to an end...

The faceless woman raises the crystal sword and pierces the lover's heart and back.

He remembers losing himself in that moment. He charges at the Sinistrals. First a shadow forms into a titan. He cuts it down. Then the other forms into a mouth. He cuts it down.

Then the third one forms into a dragon. Before he can move, a crystal pierces his heart. He falls down collapsing into the woman's arms. She places her hand on his forehead then throws him off the island. He remembers looking up, watching drops of his essence fall like tears into the crimson ocean below. He looks down and sees the top of a tower covered in some form of runes. A blood red crystal glows from above. A feral man laughs from the top of a tower.

Before he can make out the man's face...

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros wakes up on the side of the bed. He feels something damp on his forehead and touches it. Then a soaked rag slides off his forehead into his face. Jeros looks up and sees a pregnant woman pulling on his arms. He sits himself up and rubs his head.

Jeros: [Drearily] "What happened... ?"

Jessy: [Places her hand on Jeros's forehead] "You broke a fever honey. Yesterday after the ceremony we found you burning up on the bed. You're face was almost as pale as the Lunethene girl." [Replaces the rag on Jeros's forehead] "We heard you fought a giant black widow. We thought it was poison from the spider." [Sits back] "Turns out it was just a cold I guess."

Jeros: [Rubs the back of his head, feeling his long hair] "Yeah, who'd of thought." [Climbs back on the bed] "I feel so heavy."

Jessy: "Take your time, honey. We're leaving to Marse again tomorrow. Now that the road to the legion's headquarters has been cut off from Ft. Lorbenia, we can't go home yet."

Jeros: "Legion HQ? Are you sure you want to live with a bunch of stinking mercs?"

Jessy: [Giggles] "That's what I asked my meat headed husband. He's going to renovate it into the new Wallace house. I've been there before. Despite the stinking mercs, I still love the clean mountain air. It almost reminds me of my childhood home in Tanbel before the mine."

Jeros: "Hmm... It sounds like a nice place to settle down. Away from the city crowds and pollution should be good for the baby."

Jessy: [Rubs her stomach] "He's been kicking ever since Marse. I should be due any time now."

Jeros: [Chuckles] "Have you decided if he'll be a fighter or a black smith?"

Jessy: [Shakes her head and chuckles] "No we're still arguing about that."

Jessy helps Jeros replace his blanket. Jeros looks out of the window and sees a bright half moon shining down on him. If the moon is this close to the horizon, then that means Aysel must have already left. Jeros closes his eyes to make sense of the the dream. The only time Jeros remembers having a dream as sensational as this is when he dreamed of eating french toast and ate it the next morning. Jeros leans back praying in his mind.

Jeros: "I know I dreamed about fighting the Sinistrals again. It felt a little to real this time..."

Jessy: [Pulls up the blanket again] "The Sinistrals are no more, honey. Perhaps it was just a silly dream."

Jeros: "I can't help it. It feels like my blood wants me to do something." [Turns over] "Or maybe it's the fever talking."

Jessy: [Kisses Jeros on the forehead] "Try to get some rest for me Jerry. We all had a long week."

Jeros: "Good night aunt Jess."

Jessy gets up and walks out of the room. Jeros sees a cold glass of water next to his bed. He sits himself up and picks up the misty glass. Jeros blinks, trying to ward off the fatigue to clear his head.

Jeros: "I don't need to worry aunt Jess and Guy more than I have to." [Drinks the water] "I can't settle down either. Not while Fairfax is still out there." [Groans and lays down] "I'll think about it later. I just want to..." [Yawns] "Sleep."

Jeros turns over and holds tight to his blanket. Jeros clears his mind, hoping that would help him not dream about that horrific dream again.

Jeros: {It would be nice to find a companion to help out. Not like anyone's going to believe me.}

o~-~-~-~o

*~Moonstone Chapter part 9: The Battle of Fort Lorbenia~*

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros's fever breaks again pre-dawn. Luckily, Jeros does not dream of any more nightmares. Still afraid to go back sleep, Jeros decides to visit the Castle garden's one last time. By the time Jeros arrives is when the guards are changing shifts. At first, the guards deny Jeros permission to enter. Then lady Kirin arrives and explains to the guards Jeros still needs to collect his reward (technically he received yesterday morning, but the guards cannot argue against Kirin's rank). The guards step aside and Kirin escorts Jeros to the garden.

Jeros asks Kirin if he can visit Kirof's memorial to see the Priphea. Kirin shrugs, but allows it. Once at the memorial, Jeros discovers her majesty praying at the statue's base. Queen Ethel Verkopen stands up and turns to her unexpected visitor, her fleece white robe twists after.

Queen Verkopen: "Jeros Caliburn, I take that you're here to visit the garden before leaving?"

Jeros: [Nods] "Why yes your excel... Err, your majesty. Eheheh, I keep forgetting that you have been crowned queen." [Rubs the back of his untied head] "Please forgive my rudeness."

Queen Verkopen: "'Tis fair, Caliburn. I'm not too picky with formalities unless it's business related to the kingdom. Though I am a strong advocate against fowl language, for it means you have no intellectual vocabulary."

Jeros: "I'm glad my mannerisms are up to your standard."

Queen Verkopen: "I believe so, though I have heard a few of your antics from my cousin and his knight."

Jeros: [Folds his arms, sweating] "Good grief. I was against the tank idea you know."

The queen giggles at Jeros's victimized expression. Jeros coughs to break the tension. Before he could ask...

Queen Verkopen: "Nevertheless it is good for you to arrive. I have a gift for you."

Jeros: "Another reward, eh?" [Places his hand on his chin, smiling] "I knew knights never lie but I think the adventure's is its own reward. Are you sure your majesty?"

Queen Verkopen: [Nods] "You are perceptive and tactical. Which makes up for your lack of brawn, almost the complete opposite of your father. Though Fairfax was a step ahead, you handled his surprise very well." [Calling] "Sir Kirin, please bring the item here."

Kirin: "Yes, my liege."

Kirin steps to the queen's side and holds up a vibrant violet pillow with gold trimmings. Cradled in the pillow is a wooden jewelry box. Her majesty opens the box and holds it to Jeros. Jeros looks inside the jewelry box to find a ring engraved with ancient carvings. Encrusted in the ring's red gem is a small energy core.

Jeros: [Takes the jewelry box] "A Power Ring! Where did you get this?"

Queen Verkopen: "Yes, long ago kings of Medan gave these rings to their knights. This is the secret behind how Medan tamed the savage lands. This ring will help increase your physical strength, though only slightly. It's better than nothing." [Withdraws the pillow] "Medan knights recovered these from the Runic Palace and other ruins centuries old. It is still a wonder how the rings still work."

Jeros puts the ring on his finger. He feels a sharp energy pulse through him on contact. Then he closes the box and places it in his satchel.

Jeros: [Holds out his hand] "I'm sure this will help move Jessy's boxes at least. Thank you."

The queen shakes Jeros's hand. Then Jeros looks down at the memorial and sees Priphea buds blooming slightly. Jeros bends down on his knees.

Jeros: "I have to come back once these bloom." [Stands up] "I'm sure we'll probably meet again your majesty, if you're not busy managing the kingdom.."

Jeros bows to the queen. Then from the entrance of the palace a guard rushes into the garden. He falls over from exhaustion. Immediately Kirin rushes to the guard's side. Ethel and Jeros follow Kirin. The guard stands himself up. Then he bends over, panting.

Guard: "My liege," [Gasps] "We are in need of your assistance."

Kirin: "What matter is so grave that her majesty needs to absolve personally?"

Jeros hears a roaring crowd outside. He looks at the guard and folds his arms.

Jeros: "It sounds like a riot out there."

Kirin: "A lone knight can handle this easily."

Before Kirin takes a step outside the gate, the guard pulls on Kirin's arm. Out of reflex, Kirin draws her longsword and points it at the guard's throat.

Queen Verkopen: [Raises her arm] "Kirin!"

Guard: [Interrupting] "You don't understand... The legion is rebelling. Guy and sir Bosch are at each others' throats!"

Jeros: "Excuse me! Guy wouldn't be that stupid!" [Pauses for a minute] "Would he?"

Kirin: "Even sir Bosch can't handle Guy's strength alone." [Frowns] "But we don't need her majesty in danger..."

Queen Verkopen: "Bring sir Bosch and Guy to me. I will handle this."

Jeros: "Your majesty, allow me to leave with you. Guy is my god father and I feel responsible if things get out of hand."

Queen Verkopen: [Nods] "Fair enough. But if a battle occurs between the legion and knights, please don't interfere unless you wish to choose sides."

Jeros nods, then he, the queen, and Kirin rush out to the castle gates.

o~-~-~-~o

Once outside, Jeros sees Guy weighed down by five knights shuffling up the stairs. Bosch walks backwards in front of Guy, holding on to the lance on his back, ready the draw. Jeros slaps his hand on his forehead embarrassed at Guy's antics. Meanwhile the Guy Legion are standing on one side of the gate while a group of armored soldiers stand on the other. They look at each other seriously, ready to fight to the death if they have to.

Jeros: "Guy!" [Steps forward] "What the heck are you doing!"

Kirin: [Holds her hand out] "Sir Bosch! What's going on!"

Guy: [Staggering] "No one can stop me. *hic* I'm going to there damned fortress."

Bosch: "We have already been through this, Guy. Fort Lorbenia an Alexian matter. It is of no concern to your legion."

Guy: [Spits] "To hell it is ya damned knights! You ain't got a letter sayin' ya family's surrender if ya don't dead. Or ya knew long all and just didn't tell me,"

As Guy shuffles closer to the baroness, Jeros smells the alcohol on Guy's breath. Jeros winces in disgrace.

Jeros: [Growls] "You've been drinking again..."

Bosch: "Guy, you're making a big mistake if you attack the fortress. As long as Medan sits on Sheran's border then there's nothing knights nor legionnaires can do."

Guy steps forward rapidly, and throws the knights off his shoulders. Bosch now holds both his lance and shield. Then Guy grips his hammer.

Guy: [Growls] "Then let me do handlin', or else."

Bosch: [Glares] "Or else what?"

Queen Verkopen: "Stand down Bosch!"

Bosch: [Turns to his queen] "Your majesty!"

Bosch turns to his queen and kneels. Meanwhile Guy staggers down to his knees. Jeros steps forward with a distrustful look. Meanwhile Kirin pulls from her belt a pair of handcuffs.

Queen Verkopen: "Arrest this man for public intoxication."

Guy: [Stands up, wobbling] "Public drinking. I ain't damn. I'm drunk, sober it!"

Jeros: [Slaps his forehead] "No Guy, you're drunk. Again."

Guy: "Jeros... ?"

Before Kirin can slap on the other cuff, Guy raises his hand to rub the back of his head and Kirin with him.

Kirin: [Swinging]"Waaaah! No fair!"
Guy: [Rubbing] "Eh man... I'm sorry in trouble now."

Loosing control, Jeros runs to Guy as fast as he can. Then, Jeros jumps up at Guy, pulls on his harness, and knees him in the diaphragm. Guy falls over holding his stomach. Jeros draws his burning sword. Before Kirin could react and grab Jeros's sword, Jeros thrusts it next to Guy's head.

Jeros: "If you laid as much as a finger on her I'll..."

A soft hand grabs Jeros's hand. Jeros looks behind and sees Jessy unharmed.

Jessy: "Let go of the sword, Jerry. Guy's been through enough."

Jeros closes his eyes and releases the sword; the energy dies with his rage. Jessy pulls the sword out of the ground and walks to Guy. She helps him up and then links the other cuff. Guy looks at Jeros and Jessy as if he's going to burst into tears any moment. Guy sniffs, saying nothing while Kirin escorts him to the dungeons.

Jeros steps back and takes a breath. He looks at Jessy frustrated and disappointed. Jessy glares at Jeros for his misbehavior, but understands his feelings. Meanwhile, Jessy turns to the eagerly awaiting legion.

Jessy: "Why are you still here? You heard your commander, the legion officially disbanded yesterday. Go home!"

The legionnaires look at each other in relief. Then they salute to the queen and the soldiers, take off their helmets, throw down their weapons, and walk away. Well, except for Tim who's climbing the steps. Jeros looks at Jessy with a dumbfounded look.

Jeros: "Since what when again?"

Jessy: "While you were sick, Guy disbanded the legion. The legion stayed together long enough for the queen to be crowned. After that, Guy shredded everyone's contracts right before their eyes."

Bosch: "I'm sorry, I regret not handling your husband better."

Jessy: [Waving at Bosch] "No! No! You done a wonderful job. I wish I would've gotten a hold of Guy sooner." [Nervously laughs then folds her arms] "That old meat head."

Jeros: "Say, Bosch. What was Guy upset about?"

Tim: "Jeros! There you are."

Tim rushes to the top of the castle steps, breathing heavily once he arrives.

Jeros: "Timmothy! What's going on?"

Bosch: "We have much to tell, but not here."

Tim: "I keep telling you it's Tim!" [Sighs] "I agree with the knight, you have a quieter place or something we can borrow."

Queen Verkopen: "There's an empty office in the barracks you may use. I'm behind in my duties so report to me after the briefing."

Tim: [Nods] "Will do your highness."

Jeros: "Where's the barracks at?"

Bosch: "Next to the dungeon. You may join us, lady Jessica."

Jessy: [Shakes her head] "I have a few things to discuss with Guy first. You go ahead."

Bosch: "Fair enough, take care."

Jessy: "And it's Jessy, not Jessica."

Bosch nods. Then he and Tim walk east of the castle. Jeros turns around.

Jessy: "Jeros, front and center."

Jeros swallows and turns around. He stands in front of Jessy obediently. Jessy raises her arm and back hand slaps Jeros so hard he falls to the ground. Jeros stands up closing his eyes.

Jessy: "If you're going to threaten my husband that way, never do it in front of me!"

Jeros: "I didn't know you were there." [Rubbing his face] "I'm sorry. I lost myself."

Jessy: "I love you Jerry, and I love Guy too! I don't need both of you murdering each other. We lost enough family Remember!"

Not arguing with Jessy, he stands up and turns around. Trying to keep his cool, Jeros follows the path Tim and Bosch followed. Jessy places her hands on her hips and sighs.

Jessy: "I don't know if that boy cares who his parents died for. Then again, I never knew my mother either." [Closes her eyes, praying] "Sometimes, I wish they were still here. You'll understand someday."

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros follows Tim and Bosch into the barracks. Bosch opens the door to the commander's office. Inside a faint musty smell leaks from the walls. Jeros shakes his head from the scent while Bosch breathes it in.

Jeros: "Smells a bit nostalgic, doesn't it?"

Bosch nods, meanwhile Tim finds a chair and sits on it backwards. Tim reaches inside of his cuirass and pulls out a letter. Jeros smells a faint trace of alcohol and points out the source. Tim also reveals a vibrant red scarf soaked in rum.

Tim: "Hilda Wallace is held prisoner within the fortress."

Jeros: [Sighs and looks up] "Hilda! Guy's sister Hilda?"

Tim: "I couldn't believe it either. While you were hunting goblins, we met Hilda at Legion HQ. She has her beef with Guy, but I know the Wallace family was finally getting back together. Then she disappeared and this letter was found at the inn."

Jeros: "Let me take a look at it."

Tim: "Sure."

Tim hands Jeros the letter. Jeros unfolds the letter skimming every word.

"Guy Wallace, we have what you're looking for. If you ever want to see your sister again then you must follow the instructions written here, or we can always have fun with her.

You're choice...

First, you must disband the legion. Your soldiers are tired and worn so it'll do them good.

Second, you must declare the Knights of Alexia your enemy.

And finally you must come to Lorbenia alone. If your family decide to follow you, then give them a reason to leave them behind. Or better yet give yourself a reason to never see them again.

The deal will be made once you arrive."

Jeros: [Puts down the letter] "I understand the deal, yet I don't understand the motivation. Fort Lorbenia is Alexian territory. Why is Medan patrolling the border? And then there's the herald, the brat... And Fairfax."

Bosch: [Slams his fist in the table, frustrated] "Why has Ethel not stepped forward in seizing back the fortress? She is a queen now, but even as baron we have the men to take the fortress. I know Ethel's interest for as long as I can remember. However I cannot think of anything else but black mail of some form."

Jeros: "Maybe there's a secret inside the fort Ethel wants to keep secret? Sounds more like a scandal than black mail." [Shakes his head] "No matter. Right now I know Hilda's in there, and they want to drag Guy into this. We're not going to let them have their way." [Folds his arms, smiling] "Say Bosch, you planned to take Lorbenia for quite some time, how do you plan to do it?"

Tim: "Whoa, whoa, Jeros! Do you know who you're asking about this?"

Bosch: "Though I am a knight, I am no lap dog who sit on my retainer's lap until ordered to bark. You legionnaires assume too much of us."

Tim: "We had to deal with Bound and Gratze knights, all the time. At least you know how to wipe your own bottoms."

Bosch: "We know how to brush our teeth and put on our own armor. And we can yodel as well."

Tim: "Wow, you can do things by yourself. I hope you can hold your own in a fight."

Jeros: [Slaps his hand on the table] "Are we going to fight or are we going to plan." [Stands up] "I can do both but not at the same time."

Bosch: "Fair enough."

Tim: "I'll fight another time, for sport maybe."

Jeros sighs and rests his forehead in his palm after sitting down. Bosch stands up and pulls a map from the office's desk. He unfolds the map and lays it across the table.

Bosch: "Slamming the table aside. Take a close look at this map."

Jeros leans forward and squints for details. Tim looks at the map and scratches his head.

Tim: "This isn't a map, Bosch."

Jeros: "But it looks like blue prints to something..."

Bosch: "This is the final draft to Fort Lorbenia. After the skirmish the designers planned the fortress to house a trade city. A link between Grenoble and Alexia."

Jeros: "I see..." [Looks closer at the blue prints] "Say Bosch, why's the wall's frame squiggled in like that."

Bosch: "Oh this? Hmm... I remember the architects saying they wanted to engineer a new wall. Something about an egg-like structure, but I couldn't make sense of it. Eggs are fragile though."

Jeros: "The egg shell is fragile when slammed against a metal pan, but not when rolling around normally. An egg's shell is structure to take hard punishment from the outside while the inside is weak enough for the chick to peck out."

Tim: "What if the egg is made out of iron and stone?"

Jeros: "Eggs do collapse easier from the outside when pressure is focused in one point. Not even Excellion Mk. 2 can build enough speed to crack the wall with its size. I doubt Lexis will take kamikaze missions as scientific."

Tim: "Knowing the old man he might consider it."

Bosch: "So we break the wall from the inside then?"

Jeros: [Nods] "That might work."

Dallas: "An infiltration demolition mission it is then. Though breaking the wall will be useless if we don't clear out the monsters inside."

Bosch, Jeros, and Tim jump when interrupted. Bosch finds a grumpy blond looking over his shoulder. Bosch sweats knowing that he might be in trouble.

Bosch: "How much have you heard, Dallas?"

Dallas: "Just enough to know about breaking in the fortress." [Yawns] "I was hoping no one would come here."

Bosch: "Likewise, so this is where you have been sneaking off to during training."

Dallas: "I get bored besting new knights. And training alone is so tiresome." [Nervously laughs] "I should have listened to Surge and picked a better spot. It was a matter of time before you found out, eh my lord."

Jeros: "Argh! I guess the plan is ruined then."

An old man in a white coat places his hand on Jeros's shoulder.

Lexis: [Grins] "Ah hah! I knew you learned a thing or two at my lab. Those crack-pots in Parcelyte's school don't teach you anything."

Jeros looks at the banana rubber gloves then stands up to meet Lexis.

Jeros: "Lexis? What are you doing here."

Lexis: "Jessy told me about the letter. We tried to talk to Dekar, but he's gone with the king now." [Thinking] "And with Guy in jail for public intoxication, I knew I would find you planning."

Jeros: "You know I can't let adventures slide away, doc."

Lexis: "Ah yes... The tank." [Laughs]

Jeros looks down trying not to remember that summer again. Tia enters the room, straightening her headband.

Tia: "I knew you would say that."

Bosch: "Ah, Mrs. Braveheart, how are you feeling?"

Tia: "Better than new! I'm back and kicking again. Hiyah!"

Tia kicks the table across the room. Jeros and Tim jump out of the way. Then Kirin and Surge enter.

Kirin: "Nice kick. Dekar wasn't lying when he said you were the best kicker in the world."

Tia laughs proudly. Meanwhile Surge folds his arms unimpressed.

Surge: "Keep in mind we could make more enemies from seizing the fort."

Kirin: [Slaps the back of Surge's bald head] "We can't let other nations walk all over us either, idiot! The queen can't give the order, but I know she wants Lorbenia back. I've looked into Herald's notes. The guy doesn't know how to hide a good paper trail."

Surge rubs the back of his head.

Bosch: [Nods] "You need to be less pessimistic about things, Surge."

Surge nods. Then Jessy enters the room holding her stomach.

Jessy: "If you still want to fight, then the legion can band together for one last mission. We have your back two halves whole. At leas that's what Guy would say."

Tim: "I hate to see Guy cut out of this though."

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "No, Guy is dangerous on both sides until he's sober.

Tim: "I agree with you there. In the meantime. I have a few friends to find."

Tim leaves the room. Then Bosch nods to his knights and leave. Meanwhile Jeros folds his arms and taps his foot. Tia places her hands on her hips.

Tia: "Hmph! I can help too!" [Folds her arms] "At least to pilot the crazy contraption if Lexis loses his nerves."

Lexis: "So Excellion Mk. 2's been modified again. We had to take a few steps backwards."

Jeros: "Excellion can't fly anymore? Why would you do that?"

Lexis: "You should've heard what my brother wanted to do. Raile wanted to make a ship fly to the moon!"

Lexis: "Sure the ship can't fly anymore, but she can swim under water!"

Jeros: "A swimming ship eh? Hmm..."

Tia: "What's wrong, Jeros. Doesn't it sound weird?"

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "That's exactly what I was hoping for!" [Slams his fist into his palm] "If the ship swims underwater, then we can sneak inside the port undetected!"

Lexis: "It ain't weird, it's genius! But genius plan my boy. I couldn't of thought of a better plan."

Tia: "Sounds reckless, but sneaking in is safer than storming the place."

Jeros: "Yeah, sometimes thinking like my father doesn't make sense." [Nods] "Right! We need to leave tonight to get there by morning."

Jessy: "Tonight! Why not immediately?"

Jeros: "Am I that reckless?"

Tia and Jessy fold their arms remembering his past antics.

Jeros: [Rubs the back of his neck laughing] "Sorry, I don't have faith in exhausted knights."

Bosch coughs rudely.

Jeros: [Nervously laughs] "And... I need to visit Guy before we leave."

Jessy: "I see... The meat head's fine. He's just a little tired though."

Jessy pulls a sheathed sword from her back. She hands it to Jeros.

Jeros: "What's this?"

Jessy: "Well, you're father's sword was a little dull and beat up. And it's design is a little outdated. I decided to temper it into something better. An Armsword."

Jeros unsheathes the blade to examine it. The sword is much more sleek and light though the energy core slot is still on the hilt. Jeros bends the sword on the floor and it bends back flawlessly. He sheathes the blade with an accepting smile.

Jeros: "I'll take it. So we'll Rendezvous at the south gate then?"

Lexis: "Of course! I can't wait for you to see Excellion in action! See you later tonight."

o~-~-~-~o

Early morning, behind the fortress floats a blockade of Medan warships. The captain of the fleet stands watch holding a telescope to his eye. He lowers the scope and sighs.

Fleet Captain: "Why do I have this feeling somethings underneath us."

Beneath the ship, an alien craft glides below the blockade. Looking out of the window is an impressed knight watching a school of tuna swim swim by. Meanwhile Jeros is sitting calmly trying not to get nervous.

Jeros recalls his visit with Guy in the prison.

o~-~-~-~o

When Jeros arrived, Guy was sitting in the corner looking up at the window sulking. His arms were bound by heavy chains.

Jeros: [Leans on the bars] "I read the letter."

Guy: "You're not going there are ya?"

Jeros: "Not alone. I managed to get the legion's and knight's cooperation. We're going to sneak in. They won't know anything until it's too late."

Guy: "Hmph!" [Closes his eyes] "I see fire in your eyes. So you finally decided to follow that path eh?" [Stands up] "Did I ever tell you why I stopped drinking?"

Jeros: "I heard the reason nintey-eight times now. It's because you had to raise me as a god son."

Guy: "It was good practice raising you. Even if you already were a full grown man. I might not have to hold back on you anymore when we spar."

Jeros: [Nods] "If you get out of here first."

Guy: "Promise me that no matter what happens, just come back alive in one piece. Even if the Sinistrals come back, just know that they stayed behind for you."

Jeros: [Sighs] "I understand..."

o~-~-~-~o

Bosch places his hand on Jeros's shoulder.

Bosch: "We're hear at the docks. Get ready."

Jeros: "Aye aye."

Tia: "Make sure you don't open the hatch until after we're above the water."

Surge and Kirin nod. Meanwhile inside the fortress walls, a pair of lightly armored guards notice something bubbling up in the water. One of the monster guards look down and sees a shadow grow larger. The other guard follows behind him.

Guard1: "Should we report this?"

Guard2: "I think it's just a whale or something. I always wanted to ride one."

Guard1: "Keep your mind on the job. Idiot."

The shadow breaks tide to reveal a metal deck. One of the guards stands back and draws his sword. Then when the other guard steps closer to the dock, the hatch opens.

Suddenly a grappling hook catches the guard's leg and drags him off the pier and into the water. The other guard stupidly jumps on deck and runs to the hatch. He looks down to see what's in there only to have a disembodied boxing glove uppercut his jaw, knocking him out.

Jeros climbs out of the hatch and looks around. He motions Bosch that the coast is clear. Then Jeros feels a sharp cut on his left shoulder. Jumping back he sees a lizard-like sniper pointing a crossbow at him. Bosch climbs out of the hatch shield first and charges the sniper. The lizard steps back and while a pair of goblins kick Bosch over.

Jeros: "Bosch!"

Bosch: [Stands up] "Why do I always get ambushed by goblins!"

Jeros: "You're one to nag!" [Draws his dagger and shield] "Why do I always get nicked in the left shoulder!"

One of the goblins raises his hand axe leaps at Jeros. Jeros blocks the axe with his shield and thrusts his dagger low. The goblin falls down. Meanwhile Bosch turns his attention to the second goblin. The goblin steps backwards while Bosch readies to charge. Then the lizardman curls up into a ball and rolls over Bosch, knocking him down on his stomach.

Jeros unlocks his wave device and charges up a fireball. The Lizard turns around and curls into a ball again. Jeros sees the opportunity and fires Spark at the lizard. The lizard doesn't even phase and continues to role into Jeros. Jeros holds down his shield and jumps over the lizard. He feels the close call grind his shield, causing Jeros to back flip and fall on his bottom. Meanwhile the goblin rushes Jeros while he's down. Then he suddenly stops in his tracks feeling a sharp pain in his back. The goblin falls down and Bosch stands behind him with his Epee.

The lizard stops rolling and reloads his crossbow. Bosch draws his shield and slams it into the ground. The lizard aims his bow at Jeros. Bosch falls for the feint and runs to Jeros trying to block the shot. The lizard shoots Bosch in the foot. Bosch turns around after feeling the bolt bounce off his plate greeves and sees the lizard rolling into him. Bosch holds his shield and the lizard slams into it. The lizard falls backwards holding his head in pain. Jeros sees the opportunity to jump on the lizard with his sword drawn, vanquishing the lizard with a quick coup de grace.

Jeros sheathes his dagger and holds his shoulder. Meahwhile Bosch catches his breath and signals the other knights the coast is clear.

Just as Dallas climbs out of the hatch after Kirin and Surge, a volley of arrows rain shadow Jeros and Bosch. Bosch Raises his shield and holds it over Jeros while arrows beat and pierce the shield. Dallas raises his crossbow and sees a trio of lizardmen, two armored dogs, and a shady looking man behind them. Kirin and Surge look around to find goblins among men each with a bow in hand. The shady man steps forward and smiles.

Herald: "Well, this is a surprise. So Alexia's best knights finally decided to seize the fort alone."

Jeros: "It's a surprise to see you here, Herald the Herald. So you're the one behind the fort and the Medan blockade."

Herald: "Indeed I am. Though Medan decided the blockade on their own. I'm afraid there is no escape for any of you. You should have left Guy to carry sick little Caliburn here. Though his plan was much better than mine."

Tia: "Jeros!"

Jeros looks at the ground and clinches his fist. He hears a shriek behind him. Tia and Lexis drag themselves on deck with Tim holding his sword behind them.

Jeros: [Frowns] "Why are you doing this Tim?"

Tim: "No one gives us credit for the lives we sacrificed. That bone headed commander of ours doesn't know how to chose the winning side."

Jeros: "Winning side? You speak nonsense, Timmothy."

Tim: "Bound made a mistake by appointing a Kirof baron. Northland is going to tear itself apart from this scandal. Now that Fairfax is back. Heh." [Holds his blade to Tia's throat] "I don't need a reason to explain this."

Tim's arms glow with shimmering runes. The runes spread to his face and into his eyes. Tia looks at his monstrous glow and swallows her hope. Lexis on the other hand holds a small object in his hand. He pushes a switch and a small red light blinks from it.

Lexis: "I knew something was fishy when you came home. The doctors said you died on the voyage."

Tim: "Whatever little trick you just pulled won't save you here old man. I hate to do this," [Raises his sword] "But I am a new being."

Jeros: "Lexis no!"

Suddenly, A white explosion engulfs Excellion and the pier. Jeros covers his mouth coughing, then opens his eyes to see nothing in the white smoke.

Jeros hears a faint whizzing above him followed by a crazy riot of slashes and breaking glass. Behind him, he sees Tim lowering his guard. Then a white blanket rushes Tim with electric blades. Tim jumps back and flawlessly blocks every strike. Jeros sees the smoke clear above him. All the archers above collapsed. Then a cerulean whirling blade flies around into a pink haired man's hand. He summersaults off the wall and runs to Tia. He cuts both her's and Lexis's ropes. Before Tia could say a word, Dekar kisses her.

Tia: [Mumbles then leans back] "D... Dekar?"

Dekar: "I never been so worried in my entire life. I wish that another thing I'm not best at is rescues at the last minute."

Tia falls into Dekar's arms. Meanwhile Jeros turns his attention to Tim and a friend.

Tim: "Not bad. Gho'nahn has taught you well."

Aysel: "There's no use fighting me. You and I know you're current body cannot win."

Behind Aysel, Jeros draws his Armsword and points it at Tim. He glares into Tim's runic eyes growling.

Aysel: "This is my fight, iyehn. Stay out of this."

Tim: "Nice nick name. I'll keep that in mind next time we meet." [Holds out a shimmering ball] "Next time we meet, Lunethene, my being will be an unstoppable force."

Tim throws the ball into the ground. A gliph similar to the one on the ship surrounds him and he vanishes into a ball of light. Jeros sheathes his sword and looks at Aysel. Aysel looks at Jeros upset.

Aysel: "Thanks for ruining my chance. I've been looking for a perfect homunculus for over two years now."

Jeros: "You're welcome. Thanks for saving our lives."

Aysel sheathes her blades. Meanwhile Kirin, Surge, and Dallas leap on the shore. Dekar hands Bosch a flask with an expensive label on it. Bosch drinks the medicine and shakes Dekar's hand.

Bosch: "We couldn't have done it without you."

Dekar: "I knew you would show up sooner or later. Though, I don't think Aysel got what she wanted."

Aysel turns to Dekar and sighs. Jeros stands next to Aysel.

Jeros: "If we capture Herald. Then he will tell us where Fairfax is. Who knows, he might be a homunculus too."

Aysel: "I never expected a Legionnaire to be a homunculus. Besides, now that I think about it, I wouldn't of defeated him with that approach."

Jeros folds his arms. Meanwhile Bosch looks around at the fortress. Then he looks at Dekar.

Bosch: "If we're to sunder Lorbenia's walls, then we must use the cannons on the inside. Call it a chick's beak approach."

Dekar: "Is that what the kid's are calling it now? Hmm... I can fight monsters, but I know I can't operate Lorbenia's cannons by myself."

Bosch: "Fair enough. I'll leave the command of my knights to you."

Kirin: [Buts in] "Why my lord?"

Dallas: "We're the only ones who know the fortress inside out. Also, the west wall is the heaviest guarded." [Holds his crossbow over his shoulder] "Besides, I'm itching for some more action."

Surge: "You're leaving to the prisons aren't you, my lord? I'm know you and Caliburn can't handle it alone."

Jeros: "You maybe right." [Looks at Aysel]

Aysel: "This isn't apart of my contract, you know."

Jeros: "I can always keep Herald's info to myself. I mean we did ruin your chance at capturing a perfect homunculus. Think of it as compensation for your loss."

Aysel: "You know how to make a deal I can't refuse, Jeros."

Jeros and Aysel shake hands again. Tia smiles.

Tia: [Whispers to Dekar] "Those two look like they belong together don't they."

Jeros: [Growls] "Knock it off!"

Tia giggles. Then Lexis looks at the time.

Lexis: "I'm sure reinforcements will arrive soon. Tia and I will spot the outside for you. Take these."

Lexis gives Jeros and Aysel a small radio.

Aysel: "Radios will come in handy for this mission."

Dekar: "I have one too, so I'll contact you when we're ready."

Jeros: "Sure..." [Folds his arms] "If you know how to use it."

Dekar: "Hah! You know me too well, Jeros. Another thing I'm best at is scratching my head figuring out stuff."

Kirin: "If he can't use it, I can."

Jeros nods. Bosch orders relief of his command and passes it on to Dekar. Aysel organizes the items in her cloak before following Jeros. Jeros takes one closer look at the magic disc hanging from Dekar's belt.

Dekar: [Raises the disc and a thumbs up] "Maybe next time..."

Jeros nods. Aysel pulls on Jeros's coat. Jeros turns around and follows Bosch.

o~-~-~-~o

In a dark room in the highest tower of the fortress, Herald bows to a a crimson red apparition. The illusion commands Herald to rise.

Herald: "Lord Fairfax, this hero is much more cunning than we anticipated."

Fairfax: "Indeed, yet you have been warned of Braveheart's and the Lunethene's intrusion. Stop blaming others for your mistakes."

Herald: [Shakes] "Yes, my lord."

Fairfax: "Remember, your objective is to capture the boy, not kill him. Or should I recall number eight?"

Herald: "Without Tim I cannot fulfill the plan! Please, give me more time."

Fairfax: "You have until sunset. Get rid of the Lunethene while you're at it. Her pursuit has bothered me for quite some time." [Turns around] "If you wish to prioritize her then you may, otherwise she's a thorn in my side. It would be best to eliminate her as early as possible."

Herald: "Yes, I believe I may have the perfect assassin for the job."

Fairfax: "Nothing is perfect. The longer you cling to perfection, the more biased you become to your work. You are dismissed until the job is completed."

The illusion disappears in front of the herald's eyes. Herald turns around, frustrated and storms down the stairs to the dungeon.

o~-~-~-~o

The man storms down to the lowest floor of the dungeon. In front of him two lizardmen guard a massive blast door. The man swears the lizards to open the door. He steps inside the dark room and turns on the lights.

Herald: "Cling onto perfection! Who does he think I am, some imbecile who scribbles on a sheet of paper claiming a masterpiece. No! How dare that alchemist believe me, a high noble, to be incompetent. I'll show him who he's dealing with."

An almost middle aged woman suspends in the air helpless. All four of her limbs are being pulled by heavy chains, each linked to a massive set of gears and locks. The woman opens her dark green eyes, she doesn't even have the strength to shake her golden blond hair out of her eyes.

Woman: [Sweet-talking] "Well look who's back."

Herald: "Yes, and I'm in a terrible mood today."

Woman: "So I see. I knew even my bone headed brother won't follow your dumbest plans."

Herald: "No, but we have a few surprises in store. And since you're brother's not here, we're going to have to tighten the chains again."

Woman: "Go ahead sugar. It's gonna be a little longer before they snap."

Herald: [Laughing] "No my dear... You will snap before the chains, unless you decided to take my offer."

Woman: "You still think I'm a weak little girl don't ya hon? Here's my consideration."

The woman hawks a deep breath. Then she spits a loogie on Herald's foot. Herald then burns red with anger.

Herald: "You wench!" [Slaps the woman] "Increase the tension by three knots."

The lizard guards comply. Two more lizardmen show up and all four of them grab a lever in the corner. A loud clanking noise pull in the chains and the woman screams in pain. Then she pulls on the chains forcing the machine to stop at two.

Herald: "Impressive for a Wallace. However something has to give."

Woman: "Just you wait 'til I get out of this little contraption."

Herald: "I believe I can my dear..."

The herald turns around disgusted at his boots. The lizards look at each other, then back at the wench in chains. The woman closes her eyes and relaxes her head.

Woman: {I don't care who comes and saves me, I just want to get out.}

o~-~-~-~o

Back outside the fortress, Bosch leads the party to the central gate. The fortress is a marvel in stonework and defense technology. The walls in the fortress is built to get lost in, but easy to remember one's location. The passages range from wide to narrow and sometimes vertical. Jeros scratches his head planning which areas are best for attack or defense. One trait which sets Jeros apart from Maxim is his tactical approach. Often times when bored at home, Jeros walks around Parcelyte just to plan battles.

When the party arrives at the south gate, immediately a pair of iron gates slams in front and behind them. Jeros draws his sword.

Jeros: "They locked us in!"

Aysel looks up and sees a trio of armored lizardmen leap from the wall. Bosch side steps out of the way of a spear-holding lizard. Jeros and Aysel activate their wave cores.

Aysel: "Fire doesn't work against scalies."

Jeros: "Who says I'm using fire?"

The two lizardmen with swords flank Bosch. Bosch steps backwards holding up his shield hoping to avoid the flank, but finds himself in a corner. Jeros sees Bosch and starts focusing Crossfire's energy.

Jeros: {I hope this works} "Bosch!"

Bosch: "Yeah?" [Blocks a lizard]

Jeros: "Get ready to charge!"

Bosch: "I can't Bull Rush without a running start."

Jeros: "You can with this! Trick!"

The energy from Crossfire leaves Jeros and flows into Bosch. Bosch feels a sudden burst of strength. The two lizards prepare to wall Bosch in. Bosch holds his shield and lance and breaks through. Not needing to take more than a step, Boch charges full speed breaking the lizardmen's formation. The lizardmen spin for a few seconds.

Before Jeros can attack, the spear wielding lizardman catches Jeros off guard and knocks his sword and Crossfire out of his hand.

Jeros: "That's okay, I have these!"

Jeros pulls out his dagger and shield. The lizardman thrusts, and Jeros deflects the tip with his shield. Sliding under the shaft of the spear, Jeros thrusts his dagger into the lizardman's chest. The Lizardman laughs while the dagger bends into his chestplate.

Jeros: "You guys are tougher than I remember."

The lizardman groans a "yep" and smacks Jeros out of the way with the shaft of his spear. Jeros rolls on his feat. He sees the sword next to him. The lizardman holds his spear and starts charging. Jeros grabs for the sword and raises it. The lizardman stops dead in his tracks. Jeros looks up and sees the lizard spasms from an electric discharge. The lizardman turns around and sees Aysel swinging a electric chain. Then the lizardman starts spinning his spear around.

Aysel whips her chain at the lizard, but he blocks every blow. Once he's close to Aysel, the lizardman raises his spear. Aysel casts Fake and dashes away. The lizardman finds Aysel tapping on his shoulder. He turns around raising his spear. Aysel appears behind the lizard and lassos the spear with her chain. Thinking he won, the lizardman pulls on the spear and Aysel to him. Aysel trips while the lizardman raises his spear which snaps in two.

The lizardman roars and burns red with rage. He curls into a ball and starts rolling uncontrollably. Aysel rolls out of the way. Meanwhile, the two dizzy lizard finally regained their senses until their leader rolls into them.

Aysel: "While they're down, let's combine our magic!"

Jeros: "All right, here goes nothing."

Jeros and Aysel both combine the energies of their wave devices. Feeling the heat and static, Bosch steps back. Jeros hones the power of fire and blasts the lizardmen, the heat causes them to flinch. Then Aysel spins around Jeros and discharges lightning zapping the lizards, paralyzing them. Then Jeros and Aysel dance around each other charging their cores to overdrive. Jeros and Aysel both stop and raise their hands.

Jeros and Aysel: "Ashes to Ashes!"

A storm of fire and plasma erupt from their being and unleashes a wave of incineration. The three lizards stand watching the blast engulf everything. When the light fades, Bosch opens his eyes and sees three stains of ashes shaped like lizardmen on the wall.

Bosch: [Coughing from the smoke] "I have seen many battles, but never have I seen overkill of this brutality.

Jeros: "I think they lost consciousness before the plasma wave, but it's still a pretty quick death." [Smiles] "Hey! More experience and gold for us eh?"

Bosch folds his arms confused.

Aysel: "Um... This isn't a role playing game, Jeros."

Jeros: "Well I was trying to lighten up the mood."

Jeros sighs and bends over. Aysel sees something glisten next to the ashes.

Aysel: "Say... I haven't seen one of these in a while." [Picks up the blue shard]

Jeros: [Smiles] "A Soul Shard."

Aysel: "Soul shards are common when defeating monsters, but they stopped appearing after Doom Island fell."

Bosch: "Perhaps the shortage of shards are link to the Sinistrals?"

Jeros: "If that's true, then why are shards appearing again." [Shakes his head] "Now this is starting to get suspicious. Still, we may as well collect as much of these while we can."

Aysel: [Tilts her head holding the shard] "I don't know a soul smith so I often toss them away."

Jeros: [Disgusted] "You're serious aren't you." [Sighs] "Well, Jessy collects these as a hobby. She gives a nice bounty for them. Not exactly gold, but more of special weapons and relics."

Aysel: "I'm sure those would come in handy."

Bosch: "If we can get out of here."

Bosch examines each of the blocking gates. He scratches his head.

Bosch: "I don't a lever anywhere. I can't find one on the other side either."

Aysel looks up and sees a lever on top of the wall.

Aysel: "I see the lever. It's on top of the wall."

Jeros looks up and sees the lever, but rubs his hand on the smooth stone wall. He shrugs.

Jeros: "There's nothing to boost us up."

Aysel: "Hmph! You're lucky to have a Lunethene. I scale unclimbable walls all the time."

Jeros: "Oh really. Do you have a secret grappling hook or something?"

Aysel: "I don't need tools to climb. All I have to do is Triangle Jump."

Jeros: [Places hands on hips] "Now I know you're boasting."

Bosch: "I have faith in you, but I don't see how it's possible."

Aysel sighs and looks at the wall. Judging distance and angles, Aysel readies herself. She jumps from wall, to wall, and to wall gracefully gaining height with each jump. Then she flips onto the top of the wall and pulls the lever to the gate. Bosch looks amazed while Jeros casually claps.

Jeros: "Bravo, bravo for doing something I can't do."

Aysel: [Bows] "Thank you. Thank you."

Aysel looks on the other side of the wall and finds a treasure chest. She runs to it and opens it.

Aysel opens a chest and finds a small capsule with a tiny energy core inside. Aysel jumps off and slides on the parallel wall down. She shows the device to Jeros.

Aysel: "What's this?"

Jeros: "Say, it looks like an IP Battery."

Bosch: "Care to explain Caliburn?"

Jeros: "It's a device that stores extra IP after battles. When you burn out, you can draw a few IP cells from this device. At least that's what Lexis says about it."

Bosch: "Sounds nifty if I have an energy core to use."

Jeros: "I'm impressed that you fight as well without one."

Bosch: "Hmph! Before technology we had brute force. I'm proud of my power."

Aysel: "Guy's, the gate's open." [Walks through the gate]

Bosch: "Right... [Ahem] Let's continue."

o~-~-~-~o

The party continues south to the dungeons. Jeros looks up at the sky and sees the sun high in the sky. He opens up his watch and sees that it's noon.

Aysel: "If you know the sun says noon, then why look at your watch?"

Jeros: "I had watches that are always slow on time before this one. I'm still amazed that this elven crafted watch is never wrong on time. I'm just making sure that it's not slow."

Aysel sighs, and puts her hands on her hips. Behind her a gray shadow watches carefully. The gray shadow silently moves with each step. He adjusts his wolf-head hood and marks his target with his rouge eyes. As he draws closer he holds a leather grip to a flint handle. With each step he draws closer to the white blanket. When she feels his breath on the back of her hood, Aysel suddenly turns around.

Jeros: "What's the matter?"

Aysel: "I feel someone following me..."

Jeros: [Holds onto his sword] "I'll take your word for it."

Jeros and Aysel catch up with Bosch ahead. The gray shadow hiding on the wall slams his fist. Then he stands up. On his back, he draws a halberd wrapped in wolf skin. From his pocket he opens a phial and drips a tiny drop on the edge of the blade. Then he secures a small energy core on the shaft, it glows with an ominous destructive energy.

The assassin continues his pursuit.

*~End Chapter
Last edited by DarkMaster2101 on Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:21 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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DarkMaster2101
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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Sun Oct 31, 2010 2:47 am

I wish I didn't erase this exact post. It would be nice if a certain someone would get started on their sequel to their fan fic. Not pointing fingers or anything. 9_9
Last edited by DarkMaster2101 on Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:34 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Postby Guard Daos » Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:18 am

[quote=DM]It would be nice if a certain someone would get started on their sequel to their fan fic. Not pointing fingers or anything. 9_9 [/quote]

Eh heh heh... heh.

Anyway, very nice job! It makes me want to keep reading, so that's a good thing. :)
I notice you changed your story to some of Lufia DS' motives. At some points this works well (the core thing), and sometimes it comes off as rather forced. (Guy's hammer, those IP attacks)
Overall, pretty good work. Keep writing!
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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Sat Nov 06, 2010 2:01 am

DISCLAIMER: This story is a not-for-profit fan fiction inspired by the Estpolis/Lufia franchise written only for entertainment purposes. All content relating to the Estpolis/Lufia series, including characters, scenario and reference, is owned by Square Enix, Taito, NATSUME: Serious Fun, ATLUS, and Neverland Company. Please support the official release. Content and references to other stories may appear from time to time, and they are properties of their respected holders. Content from other stories are not used without direct permission.

Stories used: Dawn and Dusk (c) Guard Daos 2008-2009

o~-~-~-~o

The party arrives at another gate, except this time the gate leads inside the fortress tower itself. Jeros stops to have second thoughts.

Jeros: "This isn't right..."

The iron gate is pulled up completely to allow anyone to pass through. Bosch draws his lance and shield. Aysel pulls up her hood and steps forward.

Bosch: "Let's accept their invitation."

Jeros: "This could be a trap. I know it."

Bosch: "Whether it is or is not, Herald throws down the gauntlet."

Despite not believing in Herald's chivalry, Jeros steps forward and draws his sword.

Jeros: "Why not pick up the gauntlet, the last mistake he'll make?"

Bosch nods. Then Jeros through the gate. Bosch follows while Aysel assesses behind, trying to catch air of her follower.

Aysel: {I don't doubt your instincts, iyehn, but you still have much to learn.}

Aysel holds tight to her waist and enters the fortress.

o~-~-~-~o

*~Moonstone Chapter Part 10: Enter the Wild Daisy~*

o~-~-~-~o

To the west of the fortress, a large explosion engulfs the sky. All three of Bosch's knights fall on their bottoms while Dekar catches his breath.

Dekar: [Panting] "Inside and outside this wall's tough."

Kirin stands up, frustrated.

Kirin: "I've been trying to tell you for almost two hours now! We have to use Lorbenia's cannons to puncture the wall." [Growls] "Sir."

Dekar: "I never thought Exploding Sword would fail me. This is the first wall that I will never be able to destroy by myself."

Surge immediately perks up. He cups his ears listening to footsteps march.

Surge: "I hear more of them coming."

Dallas: [Stands up and reloads his crossbow] "The demolition will have to wait then."

Dekar: "Heh," [Draws his sword] "You know me! I'm better at fighting than anything."

Kirin: [Draws her longsword and mutters under her breath] {I think forgetting plans is something else you're better at.}

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros turns around after hearing the explosion.

Jeros: "Dekar's really going at it."

Aysel: "I'm glad he's on our side."

Jeros: [Nods] "Yeah... I hope he's not wasting energy on the wall."

A howl echoes the gate followed by a sharp howl. Everyone turns around and sees a pack of dogs, each ridden by a child like long-eared grey-skinned monster wielding a pitch fork.

Jeros: "Imps!"

One of the Imp riders lowers his pitch fork and kicks his dog to charge Aysel. Aysel flips over it.

Aysel: "And they're riding dogs!"

Bosch: "How unusual."

Bosch looks behind and sees two of them charging at him. Bosch steps back and raises his shield. The imps crash into it and fall off their dogs. The dogs roll over and run away.

Bosch: "Pah! Cowards!"

Bosch raises his lance readying a sweep. Then a bright flash engulfs the room. Bosch falls down and spasms violently on the floor. Jeros opens his eyes and hears an imp snickering behind him. Jeros flails his burning sword around and slashes a burning at the imp. The imp falls back on his armored dog. Then the dog pounces at Jeros and pins him to the ground. Jeros punches the dog biting into Jeros's left shoulder.

Jeros: [Screams] "Why is it always the left shoulder!"

Then the imp on top of the dog regains his balance. Holding his pitchfork, he laughs in Jeros's face. After a bright flash, the imp and dog spasm on their sides. Aysel runs to Jeros. Jeros stands up shaking. After seeing a static discharge in Jeros's frizzed hair, Aysel cups her hands over her mouth.

Aysel: "Oops."

Bosch finally regains his nerves and stands up. He sees the two imps he knocked off dancing behind Jeros and Aysel charging magic. Bosch sheaths his lance and shield and draws his epee.

Bosch: "Say you two, over here!"

The two imps turn around to get Bosch's boot in their faces. The two imps tumble back and jump back up. They stare at Bosch, angry for ruining their fun.

The two imps raise their pitchforks and charge Bosch. Bosch thrusts his epee and catches one of the imps. The other slaps its pitchfork behind Bosch's knee causing him to fall down on his bottom. Then the imp leaps at Bosch with its pitchfork pointing down. Bosch tumbles out of the way and lays the blade of his epee across the imp's neck. The imp looks to its left, then Bosch slices its neck. The imp falls down.

Bosch looks around for more enemies, then he runs to Jeros.

Bosch: "Caliburn!"

Jeros hold onto his shoulder trying to keep the blood in. Aysel pulls from her robe a roll of bandages and a jar of bitter smelling paste. Aysel uses some of the bandages to hold Jeros's shoulder while she applies the paste to a clean patch on her lap.

Aysel: "This is going to hurt."

After the blood clots up a little, Aysel removes the bandages and places the patch on Jeros's shoulder. The pain is unbearable! Jeros tries to yelp, but groans to catch his breath.

Jeros: "Gah! That stings!"

Aysel: "I can always take it off and let you bleed to death." [Presses the wound] "That's what you get feeding yourself to the dogs."

Jeros pushes Aysel off. He sheathes his sword and holds onto his shoulder.

Jeros: "At this rate we'd be lucky to make it out alive."

Bosch: "So are you going to abandon the mission?"

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "I just have to stay out of the fight for a while, that's all."

Bosch: [Sighs] "I wasn't expecting to fail you."

Aysel: "You can lament your mistakes another time. We didn't expect you to wear heavy armor to be zapped by imps."

Bosch wipes his epee clean and helps Jeros up. Then the party leaves north.

o~-~-~-~o

The party arrives at a wide hall way. They look north and sees a pair of oak doors. Aysel runs to the door and feels it.

Aysel: "The door's barred from the other side."

Jeros: "There must be away around it."

Jeros looks to the right, he finds a narrow hall way.

Jeros: "This way." {Runs forward}

Aysel: "Wait! Jeros!"

Once he reaches the opening, Jeros skids to a halt. Flailing his arms back, Jeros falls on his bottom. Jeros takes a closer look look at the floor... If there was a floor.

Jeros: "Phew! What happened to the floor!"

Bosch: [Looks at the hall way] "Hmm... This passage wasn't on the draft. Perhaps they intended to seal it off."

Aysel: [Assesses] "Well, I could Triangle Jump on the walls. No, no. It's too long."

Jeros: [Stands up] "What about Cross Dash?"

Jeros raises his sword, then lowers it to hold to his shoulder. Aysel shakes her head.

Aysel: "It's too far for that. And you're injured, idiot iyehn."

Aysel looks up the hall and sees some sort of beam hanging from the top.

Aysel: "That beam looks sturdy enough." [Pulls out her chain] "I can use this to swing to the other side."

Bosch: "I say it's too dangerous, but you have proven me wrong before. Swing away impossible woman."

Jeros scoots back. Aysel steps back and looks at the beam; then she closes her eyes. Aysel sprints forward. Jumping off the ledge she whips her chain at the beam. The chain wraps around it and catches Aysel. Aysel swings for a while until she finds a series of beam in front of her. In rhythm, Aysel releases the chain, falls forward, whips, swings, releases, and repeats until she falls on a ledge in the corner. Then she finds another set of beams leading north past the oak door and one last swings across it. However while swinging, Aysel realizes she miscalculated the distance after releasing the chain and flails across the gap and almost missing the platform. Aysel rolls to save herself, but not until her bottom slams onto the stone brick wall. For a moment, Aysel absorbs the pain. Then she rolls over rubbing her back side until she bumps her head onto a clanking chain. Aysel looks to see a massive chain arching from the side of the fortress.

Aysel: "I wonder where that leads to."

Aysel looks to the other side and discovers the oak doors. Aysel goes to the door and pushes away an iron bar which sealed the door. Then Aysel knocks.

Aysel: "Door's open."

Jeros and Bosch push open the doors and move through.

Jeros: "Phew!" [Clings to his shoulder] "I saw you panicking that last swing. So you're not perfect."

Aysel: "Hmph! I knew what I was doing." [Looks away disgraced] "Can't be perfect all the time."

Bosch: "I still that was an amazing act, hmm?" [Rubs his rugged chin, smiling]

Aysel: [Smirks] "Would you like to try it yourself Sir Bosch?"

Bosch: [Turns around scowling] "As a knight I prefer fighting feet flat on the ground."

Jeros: "In other words, you not coordinated enough."

Bosch: "I'm strong! I have to wear this heavy armor in combat." [Coughs] "Pah! We're stalling time arguing, let's move out."

Bosch and Jeros move forward. Aysel looks to the side of the hall at the chain again. She thought about asking, but why stall for time? She'll find the last link eventually.

o~-~-~-~o

Once the party enters a large cylinder room, Jeros steps forward and looks around for danger. Aysel treads differently slower than usual; the floor does feels unsettling. It must be if Aysel feels herself losing balance. In the center of the room, Bosch sees a pedestal and behind a series of balconies hanging from the wall. The balconies look as if they can seat a few dozen people.

Herald: "So you managed to make it this far then?"

Everyone turns their attention north to a lone platform. Bosch swallows his throat, realizing which chamber he's in. Jeros steps forward.

Jeros: [Calling out] "I'm not here to play games with you Herald, surrender!"

Herald: "Rats! Rats I say. You're a child, you're suppose to have fun with games."

Jeros: "I'm not a child! I'm old enough to smoke at least."

Herald: "Pah! Everyone's old enough to smoke nowdays. Still, I'm not done playing with you. Release the griffon!"

Jeros: "Oh come on!"

A terrible high screech echoes against the chamber's walls. Jeros and Bosch hold their ears. Aysel looks up and sees a shadow of a large creature. The creature hovers down until it lands lands on the shaking floor. The creature looks like it has an eagle's head, but a lion's body. The griffin stretches the talons of its forelegs while the claws of its back legs scratch the floor. Two massive wings stretch from its back as the griffin sits up to shriek.

Everyone draws their weapons and stare down the griffon. Suddenly, a loud rumbling noise echoes throughout the fortress.

The griffin widens its eyes and shrieks. Then it spreads its wings and flies off.

Herald: "Hey! Get back here you scaredy-cat chicken!"

Jeros: "Uh... So redundant. Even for a noble."

Then the ground shakes violently causing Jeros and Bosch to fall down.

Jeros: "What's going on!"

Aysel: "The foundation is unstable. It's going to collapse."

Herald: "What? There's no way she could have pulled through. Darn that wench!"

The floor of the chamber starts to crumble. Instinctively, Bosch grabs his lance and thrusts it into the wall, but the wall is too hard and bends his lance. Aysel tries to looking for a place to swing from, but no balcony is in reach. Jeros falls on his left shoulder and yells in pain. Then he rolls on his back and slides off of the side of the depressing floor. Jeros falls down feet first into the abyss.

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros opens his eyes. Then Jeros strokes his hand through his untied hair. Jeros crinchs and holds his left shoulder tightly. The pain is still there though not as bad. Jeros stands up. Wobbling about, Jeros cups his hands to call for the others.

Jeros: "Bosch! Aysel!" [Sighs] "Bosch!" [Looks around] "Nyinne!"

Woman: "Uhh... Hello... Anyone there."

Jeros hears an unfamiliar voice. Jeros grips tightly to his dagger.

Woman: "Anyone there." [Groans] "Think little old me needs some help."

Jeros: {Heh... I can't turn down someone in need.} [Calls out] "Where are you!"

Woman: "Someone's there!" {Oh, thank goodness my prayer's been answered.}

Jeros: "Uhh... Yeah. Someone's here."

Woman: "Can you follow my voice, hon? I can't move otherwise I'd run over and give you a big hug."

Jeros: "Sure... I can't wait." [Nervously laughs]

Jeros follows the woman's voice. He climbs over the debris until he finds a waving hand sticking out from the bottom of a giant chain attached to a large metal gear. The hand pulls itself to reveal an almost middle aged woman smiling.

Woman: [Laughs] "I've been stuck in this contraption for days now. And wouldn't you know when I broke free, the damn thing falls on me."

Jeros: "So they tied you in this huge chain thing." [Pushes the metal gear until he gives up, panting] "I don't know if I'll be able to push it by myself."

Woman: "Oh dear... Well sugar you can always run and find help. I ain't goin' anywhere in this mess."

Aysel: "...So... Cold..." [Mutters in Moonspeak]

Jeros looks behind and sees Aysel laying on what looks like a giant gear. Jeros runs to her.

Jeros: "Aysel! Aysel!" [Grabs Aysel] "Nyinne! Wake up!"

Woman: "Oh dear, looks like she fell and hit her head. Poor little thing..."

Jeros: "Nyinne! Wake up! Don't leave us... At least tell me your story."

Aysel: [Mumbles] "I... Moonlight."

Jeros: "No... Not the light." [Shakes Aysel] "Stay away from the light!"

Woman: "I think I have somethin' in my blouse that'll help. It's a medicine that'll wake her up."

Jeros: "I think a Noisemaker would give her a head ache."

Woman: "It ain't a honking horn, it's a concoction that perks you up from exhaustion. Trust me hon, I used it on legionnaires all the time."

Jeros walks to the woman. He bends over confused.

Jeros: "Did you say legionnaire?"

Woman: "Sure did. Now let me get it out for ya..."

The woman pulls her arm in. Then her arm flails out.

Woman: "Um... this is awkward. I can't bend my elbow to reach it." [Sigh] "Looks like you have to grab it."

Jeros: "It is in you blouse right? Inside your..."

Woman: "You want the girl to live or not. It's all right sugar. Just don't smile okay."

Jeros laughs nervously... He crawls on his hands and knees. Closing his eyes, he reaches into the hole. Jeros feels the neck of a a thin cotton shirt, but no feel of a bottle. Glowing red, Jeros reaches deeper into the shirt. The woman giggles a little bit from being tickled.

Jeros: {Now who's smiling..}

Then he feels it, a warm metal lid. He grabs the jar with his fingers (and apologizes for scratching her) and pulls it out. Jeros opens his eyes. To his surprise he finds out he's holding a cheap honey jar with a rusted lid. Jeros rolls the jar and watches what little light green fluid swirl at the bottom.

Jeros: "Is this stuff legal?" [Opens the jar and gags at the fumes] "Agh! Smells like something Lexis would make."

Woman: "I think the old man did make it. Just splash a bit on her chest and face. It works, trust me."

Jeros: "Can we not talk about chests for a while, please."

Jeros runs to Aysel, he holds her up. He places his hand on her chest. She's still breathing and her heart still beats, faintly. Jeros pulls the cloak off her chest. Jeros blushes red at the pale complexion. Then he pours a little bit of the medicine on his hands and rubs it over her heart. Jeros still doesn't understand why she didn't bruise from Fairfax's bullet. Aysel starts coughing violently. Then Jeros takes the rest of the medicine and splashes it on Aysel's face.

Aysel raises up as if she was brought back from the dead. Her eyes wide open, disgusted. Aysel rolls on her stomach and coughs violently.

Jeros: [Smiles with watering eyes] "Nyinne..."

Aysel: [Looks at Jeros] "Jeros..." [Coughs] "What was that..."

Woman: "A Regain, the medicine of life. Least that's what it said on the jar."

Aysel sits up and collapses in Jeros's arms. Aysel grips tightly to his jacket not wanting to let go.

Aysel: "I... Just want to."

Jeros: [Nods] "Okay..."

Behind Jeros, a pile of wreckage cascades to reveal a dust covered night. Bosch throws his bent and crushed shield to the side.

Bosch: "I hate to interrupt the romance, Cailiburn, but we need to get out of here."

Jeros and Aysel jump apart and turn around.

Jeros: "Bosch! You made it!"

Bosch nods. Jeros stands up.

Jeros: "Ny... Aysel, there's a woman trapped in the debris. She helped us so we have to help her."

Woman: [Waves] "Howdy."

Aysel: "I understand... Thanks for saving my life."

Woman: [Giggles] "No worries, sweety. You can pay me back by getting me out of this mess, ya know."

Bosch runs to the pile. He tries to push the gear, but it does not budge an inch.

Bosch: "Not even a large squad of knights can clear this mess..."

Aysel: "Jeros... I have an idea."

Jeros: "What is it Aysel?"

Aysel: "I remember seeing one of the chains outside of the fort's walls. It's useless to pull the chains here..."

Jeros: "Even if we can have enough pulleys, it's useless if we can't move the chains by hand."

Bosch: "I saw a machine on the other side that pulls the chains. We can attach this chain to the machine and pull the gear up."

Jeros: "So you do know a little bit of science Bosch."

Bosch: [Shakes his head] "I know the machine pulls the chains. What is this science, is it something you can eat?"

Jeros: [Tilts his head and stares] "Yes it is, Mr. Sarcastic."

o~-~-~-~o

Bosch leads Jeros to the machine while Aysel stays behind looking after the woman. The machine itself is a pair of giant gears attached to a motor.

Jeros: "The chain's rings lock into the gear's teeth. Seems simple enough..."

Jeros pulls a hairband from his pocket and ties his hair.

Bosch: "It looks like the same mechanism we use for Alexia's gates. However this machine is as big as a house."

Jeros: "Big machines and big chains for a lone woman. Just who in Lufia is she?"

Bosch: "Shouldn't we ask for her name."

Jeros: [Stretches] "We'll ask after we get her out."

Bosch nods. Together, Bosch and Jeros detach the chain and attach the chain that's laying on the debris. Not giving a second thought, Jeros throws the switch to the machine. The engines roar and the gears grind, pulling the chain. For a few links, the machine pulls on the chain diligently.

Then the motors start to grind. Soon sparks fly out of the machine uncontrollably. Bosch ducks under to avoid the sparks while Jeros shuts down the machine. He examines the smoking machine.

Jeros: [Kicks the machine] "Darn it! The motor stripped!" [Growls] "What went wrong!"

Bosch: "The chain tightened but doesn't pull." [Looks to where the woman lays] "Jeros, look at that."

The chains above the woman didn't even move an inch. However about three strands of chains rise from the ground. Jeros looks closer and finds the chains tangled in the wreckage.

Jeros: "I should've learned things aren't as easy as it looks."

Bosch: "With the machine dead, there's nothing we can do. Even if we untangled the chains correctly..."

Jeros: "Then reset."

Bosch: "Reset?"

Jeros opens his satchel and finds an hourglass.

Bosch: "An hourglass where the sand doesn't fall. Quite a desk ornament, I say."

Jeros: "No, this is Reset. I think if you flip it this way..."

Jeros turns the hourglass upside down. Though the sand is at the bottom, it flows to the top. Jeros begins to feel a little woozy. He sees reality around him dissolve as if the fabrics of time and space are melting.

Then, everything turns into nothing but white.

o~-~-~-~o

Bosch leads Jeros to the machine while Aysel stays behind looking after the woman. The machine itself is a pair of giant gears attached to a motor.

Jeros: "The chains's rings lock into the gear's teeth. Seems like deja vu?"

Jeros feels his untied hair. Bosch looks at Jeros concerned.

Bosch: "Is something the matter, Caliburn?"

Jeros: [Ties his hair] "Don't you remember? We have to untangle the chains first before turning on the machine."

Bosch: [Rubs his chin] "I don't remember you telling me that, but we may want to see if the chains are tangled first."

Jeros: "Yeah, we don't want to break the machine again."

Bosch: "Is the machine broken?"

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "No it's not now. Err... Nevermind." {That's strange... I thought Bosch would remember if I used reset.}

Bosch traces the chain into the room. Then Aysel arrives folding her arms.

Aysel: "I heard the machine went nuts. I went to check on you, next thing I know I'm next to the debris again."

Jeros: "Wait! You remember the machine breaking."

Aysel: "Of course!."

Jeros: [Smiles] "It never happened."

Aysel: "How?" [Ponders for a second] "Oh, I see. Reset."

Jeros: [Nods] "Uh-huh. Though Bosch doesn't remember a thing."

Aysel: "Neither does she. But do you think we remember because of the dragon's blood?"

Jeros: "Nah, it's because of our affinity with energy waves. Lexis used this a few times and he's not a sorcerer."

Aysel: "Makes sense I suppose..."

Bosch: [Calls] "Caliburn, Lhe'thalla. I think I found a knot."

Jeros and Aysel follow Bosch. Bosch points upward to a chain overlapping another.

Jeros: "That's a knot alright." [Points] "If we can pull this chain here, then it should untangle the rest."

Aysel: "Let me try."

Aysel pulls out her chain. She jumps up whipping the chain, but the knot is too high.

Aysel: "It's too high. I need something to boost on."

Bosch: [Raises his shield] "Use this."

Bosch ducks under his shield and holds it up flat. Aysel nods and climbs on. Then when Bosch rises, Aysel jumps with the momentum and whips the chain. She pulls the chain free.

Aysel: "That should do it!"

Jeros: "Just to make sure, I'm going to run the machine slowly. That way we can find more knots."

Aysel and Bosch nods. Jeros runs to the machine and pulls the lever. The machine grinds, tugging the chain until it snags again. Jeros throws the machine in reverse to loosen the chain. This time the chain is snagged under a large stone. Jeros, Aysel, and Bosch push the stone off the chain.

Jeros: "This should be the last one."

Jeros throws the switch. The chain slowly pulls itself up until it tightens above the gear. Then the gear slowly pulls up from the debris. Jeros and Bosch cheer while Aysel runs to the debris.

The debris explodes before Aysel causing her to fall back. Dusting herself off, the woman slowly rises from the wreckage. She shakes the dirt out of her hair and smiles. Then the woman ties a few buttons on her white blouse and knots the bottom. Then she pulls up the belt attached to a raccoon skin kilt covering her knee length pants. Taking a step forward she bends over and tightens the laces of her boots.

Then the chain holding the gear snaps. The woman looks up and catches the giant gear tossing it to the side. Bosch and Jeros stand speechless.

Jeros: [Shocked] "Wow..."

Bosch: "I lost all confidence as a man..."

Woman: [Thumbs up, smiling] "My name's Hilda by the way. Hilda Wallace."

Jeros: "Hilda? As in tiny Hilda from Guy's photo album."

Hilda: "Well, I ain't so tiny anymore. Say, ya seen the album!"

Hilda tears through the wreckage and bear hugs Jeros. Hilda bursts into tears while Jeros gasps for air.

Hilda: "Why didn't you say you were baby Jeros!" [Squeezes tighter] "My goodness you grown so much. I haven't seen you since you were a baby. Now look at you all grown..."

Jeros: [Gasps] "Yeah... Uhh... Missed ya to."

Aysel: "I wondered why you're petite Jeros. And now I know."

Hilda: "Hmph! Well look who has a smart mouth here."

Hilda lets go of Jeros. Jeros falls to the ground acting like his back's broken.

Bosch: "Hilda Wallace, My name is sir Bosch Wilferd of Alexia." [Holds out his hand] "It is a pleasure to finally meet you."

Hilda: "Oh, so you're strong man's squire." [Shakes Bosch's hand] "The pleasure's all mine. You three did save my life." [Smiles]

Hilda squeezes Bosch's hand firmly. They both smile at each other. Then Bosch rubs his hand in pain. Meanwhile Hilda looks at Aysel confused.

Hilda: "So, you gonna tell me your name sweety?"

Aysel: [Closes her eyes] "I am Nyine Lhe'thalla. Though I am nick named Aysel."

Hilda: "Such a pretty name. And Aysel's Irish for Moon too. You don't have to be ashamed to look at me. I'm only prejudice against stupid people."

Jeros: "Like Guy."

Hilda: "Yes siree. That meat head's still alive? I thought Jessy would've cut off his head by now."

Jeros: "Nah, they're still alive."

Bosch: "Though Guy is currently..."

Jeros: [Interrupting] "He's getting some time out. That's why he's not here."

Hilda: [Puts her hands on her hip] "I see..."

Jeros: "Anyway. We need to move on. Hilda... Well, I don't know how well you can fight, but I'm confident you can handle your own. Still..."

Hilda: "You want me to be safe, don't ya sugar. No place safer than behind my back. Trust me, I've been handlin' drunks for years at the inn. I can take down Guy with my own two hands. I can take down these critters."

Aysel: "Well... She does match Guy's strength. And she out matches his wit. I think she can survive."

Hilda: [Smiles] "Damn straight!"

Jeros: "Fair enough. Welcome aboard."

Radio: [Static] "You hold down this button to talk not tap it." [Static] "What's this do..."

The radio emits a high pitched noise. Jeros grabs the radio from his pocket.

Jeros: "Dekar, what are you doing? Over."

Radio: [Static] "Ah! Jeros, this is Kirin. We managed to breach the west wall. It won't do much for invasion unless you sunder the south, over."

Jeros: "We managed to find Hilda. I repeat, we found Hilda."

Radio: [Static] "Cool! Tell her Dekar says 'Hi'... What's that? Uh huh..."

Jeros: "Kirin! What's going on?"

Radio: "Jeros! Get out of there now! There's a..." [Static]

Jeros: "Kirin! Respond!"

The radio statics out. Jeros replaces the radio next to his belt. Aysel and Bosch look at him concerned while Hilda looks confused. Then the floors above them start shaking. Aysel recognizes the loud roar. She holds her ulaks tightly.

Aysel: "I know that noise..."

Jeros: "Lets get out of here before whatever it is shows up."

Hilda: [Slams her fist] "Not before I repay that jack ass for his hospitality!"

Bosch: "We may still be able to catch him if we hurry."

Jeros: "Do you two have any idea what's..." [Growls] "We can't miss this chance either." [Panicky] "Right let's go."

Suddenly, the ceiling above them collapses. Jeros covers his face, then looks and sees the pile stacking up to the next floor. Not risking to be buried alive, Jeros climbs the debris. Then the party follows him up.

o~-~-~-~o
Last edited by DarkMaster2101 on Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:43 pm, edited 8 times in total.

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DarkMaster2101
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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Sun Nov 07, 2010 7:00 pm

Jeros and co. manage to escape the crumbling prison which collapsed when Bosch takes the last step out. Jeros looks to see Herald running across the wall with an escort of monsters.

Jeros: "There he is!"

Herald and the three monsters turn around. Herald scowls.

Herald: "What is this! I don't have time for your nonsense." [Gasps looking at Hilda]

Hilda: [Places her hands on her hips] "I told you the thing would snap before I would." [Raises her fist] "Now get your butt over here so I can kick it to the moon!"

Herald: [Growls] "How did you escape! Never mind. You're too late. Medan is on their way now."

Jeros: [Shouts] "You're making a big mistake Herald!"

Herald: "Muahahah! I'm too far ahead to stop now! Monsters, attack!"

A trio of Regal Goblins jump down from Herald's wall. Everyone except Hilda draws their weapons. Jeros knows the power of a lone regal goblin, but three? Jeros swallows his heart and sweats.

Jeros: "One Regal was bad enough."

Bosch: [Holds to his waist] "We cannot take three at once! We must retreat."

Hilda: "You're forgetting you have a Wallace with ya now."

Hilda rushes into the fray.

Jeros: [Holds out his hands] "Wait! Hilda, you need a weapon too..."

Hilda runs straight to the middle goblin. He commands the other two to flank Hilda. The middle goblin raises his shield. Hilda jumps onto the goblin, stomping the shield out of the goblin's hand, and hammer fists the goblin's helmet. The goblin jumps back pulling his dented helmet fused to his head.

The other two goblins thrust their pikes into Hilda's back. Hilda jumps up and back to avoid the blades. Then she grabs the shafts of the pikes with her elbows and spins around swinging the goblins with her. The goblins let go of the pikes and fly off, crashing into the walls.

Surprised and impressed, Aysel applauds at Hilda's strength. Jeros would have been impressed too, but he remembers who Hilda is.

Jeros: "She is Guy's sister... Heh."

Herald, leaning over the wall, grips tightly digging his fingernails into the stone ridges. Then Herald just remembers his trump card. He walks to a lever.

Herald: "I have been saving this for when you escaped, darling."

Herald walks to the edge of the wall and finds a lever. Hilda folds her arms.

Hilda: "I broke every little toy and pet you threw at me now. So why don't you call it quits?"

Herald: "As a noble of the highest bloodlines, I will never surrender to a peasant wench!"

Aysel: "Ugh! This idiot still lives in the past."

Aysel feels a silent vibration in the floor. She turns to the gate. Jeros holds up his sword. Hilda glares at Herald. Herald snickers and pulls the lever.

A massive grey-red long-haired beast tries to crawl under the gate. The beast gets stuck for a few seconds until it slams the gate up into the arch. Underneath the beast, two human like pigs donned in scale mail pull a pair of chains tied underneath the monster's neck. Once through the gate, the monster slaps away one of the pigs gently knocking him into the ground.

Bosch: "A Blood Ogre, here!"

Jeros: [Raises his sword] "Blood Ogres were wiped out fifty years ago."

Herald: "My pet is quite beautiful, isn't he? Orcs, don't stand stupid like you always do. Get them!"

The two orcs release the chains and draw their battle axes. The blood ogre beats his chest and roars. Rancid spit escapes his lips.

Hilda: "Peh!" [Slams her fist] "I've taken on bigger meat heads than you."

Jeros: "Yeah... I doubt you have."

The ogre slams its fist into the ground. The shock wave startles Jeros and Hilda while Aysel jumps and Bosh stands flatfooted. Then an orc slashes Jeros overhead. Jeros raises his sword hand on flat to block. Jeros feels the impact bend his sword. Jeros throws up the orc's ax and kicks it in the stomach. The orc stumbles back. Jeros looks at the Power Ring on his hand.

Jeros: "This ring actually works!"

The other orc charges Jeros at the left. Jeros steps back and slashes the orc. His sword bounces off the scale mail.

Jeros: "...Or maybe not."

The orc turns around to side slash at Jeros, but his ax pulls on a chain. Thus a flying Lunethene knees him in the back of his head. Aysel wraps her chain around her waist, then draws her ulaks.

Aysel: "Keep your mind on the fight, iyehn. Look out for your own back too."

A giant broad hand swoops Aysel, gripping her with talon like fingernails.

Jeros: "Aysel!"

Aysel tries to break free, but the monster's grasp is too strong. Jeros considers casting Spark on the ogre's hand. Then Hilda runs to the monster and tugs on its chain.

Hilda: "Ya need to learn how to keep your hands to yourself! Hrmgh!"

The monster grabs its collar and looks at a feeble Hilda tugging at its throat. The monster uses its free hand and with a flick of its wrist back hands Hilda away. Aysel smirks and she twists herself in the monster's fist. The monster growls and releases Aysel and a discharge of electricity. It waves its hand trying to cool off the pain.

Aysel tumbles on her landing. Then she back flips to avoid an orc's ax. Aysel slices the orc with her electric blades, effectively cutting some of its scales off. Then Aysel is knocked in the back of her head with the butt of an ax. Aysel falls down and rolls on her back to see the two orcs raising their axes.

Then a blast of heat causes Aysel to cover her face. Two flashes of orange light swoop above her knocking each orc down. Bosch steps in to defend while Jeros smiles and holds his hand out.

Jeros: "Keep your mind on the fight she says. Look out for your own back too she says."

Aysel: "Okay..." [Grabs Jeros's hand and pulls herself up] "You're ego's not a Regain, so stop rubbing it in my face."

An orc gets up to attack Jeros, but Bosch steps with his shield.

Bosch: "You kids still say the darnest things!" [Pushes the orc off] "We can use some of your magic voodoo here."

Hilda: "Voodoo eh?"

Jeros: "Just call it magic."

Jeros focuses his energy to draw power. The ogre looks down angry, then it sniffs the air.

Aysel: [Remembering] "That's not a good idea right now..."

Jeros: "Why?"

The ogre's eyes turn blood shot red. It lowers its head into Jeros's face. Jeros sees the ogre's nostrils contract. Then the ogre roars at the top of its lungs in Jeros's face. Jeros wipes the spit from his hair. Then the ogre charges blindly at Jeros. Jeros screams and runs around while the ogre chases him.

Aysel: "Blood Ogres are enraged by magic."

Jeros: [Running] "Why does everyone tell me at the last minute!" [Screams]

Jeros runs until he finds himself cornered. Right above Jeros, Herald laughs at his feeble attempted.

Herald: "The Runans know how to pick their battle monsters, I'll give them that. The Blood Ogres were tamed to hunt down sorcerers."

Jeros distracted, looks up at Herald. Suddenly, Jeros instinctively rolls forward under the ogre. The ogre crashes into the wall full force ravaging the wall. Herald hangs off the ledge watching the rubble cascade underneath him.

Herald: "Attack them, not me you stupid beast!"

Herald loses his grip and falls into the rubble. Meanwhile the ogre backs up from the wall rubbing its head. It turns around and finds the orcs and Bosch locked in mortal combat.

Bosch spins around with his lance sweeping one of the orcs off its feet. The other orc holds up his axe behind Bosch. Bosch turns around and sees Hilda grabbing the ax.

Hilda: "If you're not going to fight nice, then don't fight at all."

Hilda twists her body and the orc's arms around until its forced to let go of the ax. The other orc gets up and ambushes Hilda, but Bosch slams into the orc with a bull rush. The orc falls down, droping his ax next to Hilda's feet. The other orc tries to grab the ax, but Hilda steps on his hand. The orc squeals for mercy. Hilda releases the orc's hand. The orc stands up, turns around, and runs. Hilda bends over and grabs the other ax.

The orc Bosch knocked down stands up. Hilda turns to it and slams both axes into each other creating sparks. Intimidated, the orc follows his comrade and flees the battle.

Meanwhile Jeros and Aysel turn their attention to the ogre. It looks at them with hatred and rage. The ogre tugs on its collar.

Aysel: "I have an idea..."

Jeros: "I do too. It's going to require all of us."

Aysel and Jeros nod at each other. The ogre steps forward and slams its fist into the ground.

Hilda and Bosch stumble forward. Meanwhile Jeros and Aysel fall back. Jeros deactivates his core.

Jeros: "Hilda, Bosch, think you can grab the monster's chains?"

Hilda: "Won't do any good if we can't hold it down."

Jeros: "Heh..." [Holds up his wave device] "Leave that to me."

Aysel: "Don't forget, the ogre berserks at the scent of magic."

Jeros: "That's why we need a distraction." [Looks at Aysel]

Aysel: [Sighs] "This isn't apart of my contract, you know. I'll do it if you buy me lunch."

Jeros: [Draws his sword] "I can't do lunch, but I can do breakfast."

Aysel: [Draws her Ulaks] "Deal."

Jeros and Aysel move forward. Hilda looks at Bosch curious.

Hilda: "Do those two have a thing going on?"

Bosch: "Caliburn only met the Lunethene shortly in Marse."

Hilda: "Well, love blooms faster to some for others." [Winks]

Bosch: "Uh-huh..." [Shakes his head] "I'm interested in someone else, unfortunately."

Hilda: [Giggles, and puts away the axes] "Tell the lucky woman she found a honorable and handsome man."

Bosch: {It's much more complicated than that I'm afraid.}

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros and Aysel rush the blood ogre. The ogre opens with a wide clap. Aysel sprints forward avoiding the clap while Jeros steps back. Hilda and Bosch follow Jeros until ordered to stand-by. Aysel manages to sneak behind the ogre. The ogre looks underneath itself and sees Aysel sticking her tongue out. The ogre turns aorund.

Jeros: "Now! Grab the chain!"

Hilda and Bosch run underneath the ogre and each pull on a chain. Before the ogre looks under, Jeros immediately focuses on casting. The ogre sniffs the air and turns around (Hilda and Bosch dance around each other preparing themselves). The ogre smells Jeros casting and his eyes glow bloodshot. Behind the ogre, Aysel readies to cast Fake. The Ogre turns around after smelling Aysel's scent. Before the ogre steps forward, Aysel casts Fake and vanishes from the ogre's sight. Then the ogre turns to Jeros, who finishes casting Trick. Hilda and Bosch feel empowered, so they hold tightly to the chains. The Ogre stampedes Jeros in a blood rush until it feels a tug on its neck. That moment Hilda and Bosch pull on the chains which chokes the ogre onto its back. The ogre grabs its collar while it flails on the ground.

Then, Hilda climbs onto the ogre's chest. Once on top, Hilda pulls out one of the orc's axes and grips it tightly. Bosch and Jeros close their eyes and look away while Aysel watches Hilda. Hilda looks at the ogre with angry, but pitiful eyes. The ogre looks at Hilda holding its neck with tears crawling out of its cheek. Hilda raises one of her axes with both hands...

Jeros hears a heavy thud. After the deed is done, he looks at the ogre. The collar slides off the ogre's neck. The ogre rubs its throat and groans.

Hilda: "You're free now, big fella."

Hilda slides off its chest. The ogre stands up and stares at Hilda.

Hilda: "Well, go on! Get! Go find a new home or somethin'."

The ogre turns around and walks off. Jeros never seen a monster so happy in his entire life. The ogre looks at Hilda one more time before it climbs the rubble to the hole in the wall it made earlier.

Aysel walks next to Hilda.

Aysel: "Why didn't you end its life?"

Hilda: "I can't help but feel sorry for the poor fella. I've only been prisoned for days and he might have been prisoned for his whole life. Everything needs to have freedom once in their life."

Jeros: "You do know he's more dangerous wandering the world by himself right? I would've ended it there and now."

Hilda: "Hmph!" [Grabs Jeros's pony tail and pulls on it] "You think you're the top shot monster hunter 'round here, don't ya pony boy!"

Jeros: "Ouch! Owe owe owe owe you're grabbing my hair! You're garbbing my hair!"

Hilda: [Lets go of Jeros's hair] "All monsters aren't evil like your dad says they are. They're just hungry most the time."

Jeros: [Rubs the back of his head] "Yeow. Nonetheless! Monsters are still dangerous. And don't assume I'm my father. I heard enough on the voyage."

Hilda: "Oh... I see." [Puts her hand on her hips] "You're a smart boy, Jeros, but you've got to have heart. Else things are gonna be harder on you."

Jeros: "Why do you say that."

Hilda: [Looks away] "I've been there a few times..."

Climbing out of the rubble, Herald gasps for air. He rolls out of the wreckage and stands up. He sees Jeros and Hilda folding their arms angry. Herald turns around to run away, instead he finds Aysel drawing her ulaks. Herald turns around again and breaks for it but he bumps into an angry Bosch.

Looking around anxiously, Herald finds no escape. Jeros sheaths his sword and holds out his hand.

Jeros: "This is your last chance, Herald. It's going to be a matter of time before Lorbenia's walls fall."

Aysel: "Also, you're out of troops. Just give in."

Herald: [Spits out dust, breathing heavily] "So what if Lorbenia's walls fall? You fools forget about Medan's blockade?"

Jeros: "Yes, you scared the queen with a little blockade. There's a problem with that."

Herald: "She is queen now! But the crowning ceremony couldn't have been completed without me. Even if you did retrieve the crown..."

Aysel: "We completed it without you."

Herald bends over surprised.

Herald: "Ehh... No, that is impossible without a royal representative appointed by the king."

Bosch: "You mean Sir Dekar."

Herald: "Sir Braveheart holds no noble title awarded through the council so..."

Jeros: "On contrary, for his service to Bound during Doom Island war, the council awards Dekar rights lordship so that Dekar himself may employ and train vassals to serve him instead of leaving training to the inexperienced king."

Bosch: "It is Dekar's recommendation as a lord that I serve as a knight today."

Jeros: "In other words, Dekar is more than qualified to take your job under Bound law."

Aysel: "And that's why I don't study royal law..."

Jeros: [Smiles] "I'm blessed to live in a democracy. And now that Ethel is queen, Medan is officially invading royal territory of Alexia. Bound is no longer apart of Alexian affairs."

Aysel: "In fact... She can order the blockade to go home any time."

Suddenly the rumbling stops. Aysel climbs the rubble and looks over the walls. A pair of tanks and a battalion of infantry stand attention on the shore. They see Excellion Mk. 2 surface and a gilded queen arising from the hatch. Herald bends over disgraced. After soaking in the flaws of his plan, Herald sits himself up.

Herald: [Ahem] "Well umm... Touche. Touche for foiling my plans of revenge against Medan." [Sigh] "Oh dear..."

Jeros: "Medan? You mean Alexia?"

Herald: "The baroness, err, queen knows my history against Medan for the tragedy of Kiroff. I was there when her uncle was executed. I know of Bound's alliance with Gratze and their powers combined would have crushed that imposter king!"

Jeros: "Gratze and Bound are enemies again because of the skirmish."

Herald: "Oh dear... News from the mainland travels at a snails pace I suppose." [Sighs] "I let the thought of revenge blind me. Now I am a man who betrayed his queen and dearest friend. The least I can do is surrender with dignity."

Hilda: [Looks away disappointed] "Peh. Well you're no fun. You gave up without a fight."

Aysel: "How anti-climatic."

Herald: "There is nothing left to fight for. Please understand, I only wished for the true heir of Medan to take back her throne. I love Alexia, but I couldn't let my people of Medan suffer either."

Jeros: [Glares at Herald] "Wars make everyone sad. No matter who's side you're on, everyone will lose something. The queen is still Warlord's blood. She chose to build a kingdom from scratch opposed to claiming another by force."

Herald: "I see..." [Sighs and raises his hands] "Perhaps I'm a little too old to understand completely. Nevertheless, Fairfax's words betray me, though they will be useful to you. There is much I need to tell you before my sentence. If I am to have any redemption for my crimes, then it is to keep Alexia's peace. I regret all I have caused." [Looks at Bosch] "Please, forgive me."

Bosch: "I shall leave the forgiving to her majesty. But I understand, my old friend."

Tim: "I'm afraid I cannot allow that."

Jeros turns around and sees Tim on the wall glowing under the faint light of dusk. Tim leaps down and looks at Jeros. Before Jeros can react, Tim kicks Jeros down. Hilda rushes Tim with a solid punch. Tim side steps and catches Hilda's arm. Then he throws Hilda over his shoulder.

Hilda: "What the hell is wrong with you Timmy?"

Bosch draws his epee, but Tim disarms Bosch with his sword. Then Tim knees Bosch in the abdomen.

Tim: "It's Tim, not Timmy. Not that the name matters anymore. Tim's body is my shell now."

Aysel watches Tim tread closer to Herald. Aysel pulls some form of ball with glowing runic carvings on it.

Tim: "How cute," [Laughs] "You've come prepared, Nyinne."

Aysel: [Glares] "Take one step closer..."

Tim: "I don't have to..."

Tim looks at Herald and draws a small crossbow from his waste.

Then he pulls the trigger. Aysel's eyes widen open. Herald holds to his waste and falls over.

Bosch: [Shaking] "Why..."

Tim: [Replaces the crossbow] "He would've been dead no matter who chose to forgive him. We need to keep an edge for now. You'll learn about master's plans soon enough."

Herald: [Gasps] "Nyinne... Take it..."

Aysel bends over listening to Herald's last whispers. Without Tim noticing he passes Aysel a blood stained envelope. She pockets it in her cloak.

Jeros stands up. He holds tightly to Crossfire. Jeros glares at Tim, his eyes burn with rage. Tim looks at Jeros. Then he draws his sword and steps back.

Tim: "I always wanted to take you on, son of Maxim. But not today. I failed, but my mission is not finished."

Tim steps back to the edge of the wall. He whistles and the griffin flies in from the west. Jeros screams and slashes forward, but Tim grabs hold to the griffon's talons and and flies off.

Frustrated, Hilda slams her fist into the wall making a dent. Bosch walks to Aysel holding Herald's body. He uses two fingers to close Herald's eyes.

Bosch: "We have to leave the body here for now. When we regroup, we'll tell the main force to give him a proper burial."

Jeros: "Contact Dekar then."

Jeros throws the radio to Bosch. The radio bounces off of Bosch's chest and falls in his hands. Meanwhile, Hilda puts her hand on Jeros's shoulder.

Hilda: "Did the walky-talky say it's blew a hole in this place? That sounds like a good idea."

Bosch: "The commander has retreated, and Herald is dead. There's no need to continue the mission."

Jeros closes his eyes and clinches his fists.

Jeros: "Yes, the commander has retreated. I'm still taking down that wall!"

Bosch: "Why though?"

Aysel: [Puts down Herald's body] "You're excuse is so the main force can wipe out the monsters, but I know you're pissed. Let's do it!"

Jeros and Bosch are surprised from Aysel's choice of words. Jeros shrugs and accepts it.

Bosch: [Sigh] "The monsters is good enough reason."

Jeros: "Besides." [Sheathes his sword and thumbs up] "I'm Jeros Caliburn. I never leave a job half done."

Aysel: [Applauds sarcasticly] "Wow, you should put that in your resume."

Jeros: "I have. I'm serious about it."

Hilda: "Oh, it's in there. I read his resume a few times before." [Laughs] "So, how'd we go blowin' a wall down?"

Jeros: "I'll explain on the way. Bosch, lead the way."

Bosch: [Nods and looks around] "The cannon should be this way, follow me."

o~-~-~-~o

Bosch leads the party towards the outer wall. Jeros looks back almost the entire time vowing Herald a decent burial. Aysel rubs the letter within her pocket. Then she falls back and calls Jeros into reality. Jeros nods. He knows he will have to focus until the mission is over.

Bosch holds out his hand. He sighs frustratedly. Jeros looks at the rubble that was once the gate's arch. Aysel examines the wreckage looking for a way around.

Aysel: "There's no way around. We can't climb either. A piece of arch hangs over so there's no way to squeeze through."

Hilda walks to the wreckage and pulls a stone. After a minute or two, she collapses.

Hilda: "Nnnngh!" [Falls back] "Shoot! The rocks are too heavy to move."

Jeros: "Hmm... If only..."

Jeros hears a roar, the same roar which spat in Jeros's face. The Blood Ogre returns. It looks up at the wall, then it beckons someone to step forward.

Hilda: "Well, looks who's back to help out! Jerry ride him."

Jeros: [Ahakes his head and flags his arms] "No way! I am not riding that thing."

Aysel: "You did say you would've killed him. This is a great opportunity to make up."

Jeros: "This isn't apart of my contract..."

Bosch: "What contract? This was voluntary from what I remember."

Jeros: [Sigh] "Bosch. You are too literal sometimes."

Hilda grabs Jeros by his jacket and pants and picks him up.

Jeros: "Woah! Put me down!"

Hilda: "Well quit yappin' and just ride the damn thing already."

Hilda tosses Jeros on the ogre's shoulder.

Jeros: "Okay, okay." [Looks at the ogre] "Well... Um. Let's go up then shall we?"

The ogre moans and closes its eyes. Then the ogre leaps onto the wall. Viciously the ogre slams its hand for every grip it pulls itself up.

Jeros: "Heh, you're anxious to get out of here aren't you?"

Once at the top of the wall, Jeros feels out the arch. There's a section off balanced enough for Jeros to push it off.

Jeros: "Climb three more steps."

The ogre slams three more times into the wall. Jeros stands up and pushes the brick over the ledge. Jeros climbs on top of the arch and waves to everyone below. The ogre climbs down the wall, picks up the rest of the party on its back, and climbs back up. Once everyone's on top, Hilda waves good-bye to the ogre. The ogre pets Hilda on the head and climbs down.

o~-~-~-~o

Then Jeros looks to his left and sees a slim tower. Extending from the tower is four barrels of black iron. Everyone follows Jeros as he climbs the tower.

Jeros: "This is one of Lorbenia's famous Gunner's Tower."

Bosch: "Only certified technicians are allowed up here. This is the first time I've been up here."

Jeros: "I wonder how the cannons operate?"

Aysel: "I heard Lorbenia built the towers with state-of-the-art Lexis kinetic tech endorsed by Gratze's millitary."

Hilda: "Hmm... That mumbo jumbo doesn't make sense to me."

Jeros: "I'm familiar with Lexis's inventions." [Climb into the tower] "So it shouldn't be... Oh no..."

Aysel: "Oh no what?"

Once everyone climbs inside, they see a fairly large energy core resonating inside a matrix of metal rings. Underneath the ring is a fairly large magazine or chamber that holds the cannon rounds, connected to a hammer and barrel. Below the cannon itself...

Jeros: "My worst enemy, we meet again."

Jeros glares at a pair of seats, each with a handlebar and bicycle pedals. Bosch looks at Jeros confused.

Aysel: "It's only an exercise bike."

Jeros: "The days I spend raising and lowering a draw bridge has come to haunt me." [Growls] "Let's get this overwith..."

Aysel: [Confused] "Why you're upset over an exercise bike?"

Bosch: "I would like to know as well."

Hilda: "Gordovan's solid stone drawbridge used a contraption like this to move. Jeros had to spend a few days working on the bridge something about high jacking a tank."

Aysel: "Peddling a bridge shouldn't be that hard. Let me try."

Jeros: "Ah yes, the tank..." [Laughs in insanity] "I'm not stopping you."

Aysel secures herself on the seat. She grabs the handle bars and pushes the pedals. The pedals barely move. Aysel growls harder pushing the pedals until she screams. Then the pedals begin to slowly shift.

The cannon slowly turns clockwise. After a few cycles, Aysel stops.

Aysel: [Panting] "What's wrong with this machine!"

Jeros: "Hey! You got it to move, that's more than what most humans can do. It responds to your energy waves while peddling."

Aysel: {Groans and pants] "How... Why deviate such a maddening contraption."

Jeros: "Speak for yourself, I had to pedal a three hundred kiloton draw bridge for a week!"

Bosch: [Ahem] "Well, your energy waves will be greatly appreciated. I would contribute mine, but I never had the training. Anyway the cannon needs to turn around and it also has to be lowered."

Jeros: "That's what this second seat is for, eh." [Sighs]

Aysel: "Climb on an pedal, pony boy."

Jeros: [Climbs onto the seat] "Will you stop calling me pony boy?"

Hilda: "I think it's an adorable nick name, pony boy."

Jeros: [Glares] "You too Hilda?" [Sighs] "Let's get this over with."

Bosch directs Jeros and Aysel how many degrees they should turn. A few times Aysel had to rotate the cannon back (which was more of a pain because of precision). Jeros lowers the cannon by peddling backwards (which was more frustrating than forwards). Once the cannon is in position, Jeros and Aysel fall off the bikes next to each other.

Aysel: "I..." [Pants] "Never... Want to..." [Pants] "Pedal ever again..."

Jeros: "If Gordovan needs a bridge op," [Breathes] "I'll tell them to send you a letter."

Aysel: "Shut up..."

Bosch judges the angle and distance of the shot. Bosch shakes his head.

Bosch: "Too low, Caliburn.

Jeros groans and returns to his seat. The cannon tilts upward until Bosch says "Okay." Jeros gets off and lays next to Aysel. Hilda finds a loaded shell from laying next to the magazine and places it inside the chamber.

Hilda: "Loading and done."

Bosch: "Excellent. Now I have to pull the string to fire the cannon."

Jeros: [Laying down] "Some help you turned out to be."

Bosch: "Why thank you. Now everyone stand back."

Bosch stands ready to fire the cannon. Jeros, Aysel, and Hilda stand next to the door.

Jeros: "Say Hilda, did you load the cannon with a live shell where the tip points outward?"

Hilda: "Awe, shoot! I just picked up somethin' and stuck it in there. It'll work the same I hope."

Jeros: "Seriously? Well you are his..."

Hilda punches the top of Jeros's head. Aysel closes her eyes to pray. Then Bosch pulls the string which fired the cannon. A bright colored flame jet escaped the chamber and barrel of the gun. The round flies through the air and into the wall. The wall shatters and collapses. Looking down, Jeros sees the red-gold grass of dusk before a small brigade of knights flood through.

Bosch: "We did it! The second wall is destroyed."

Jeros: [Sits up] "Let's head back, but first I need to rest."

Aysel: "I agree there..." [Lays back down]

Bosch: "We can rest when we're outside the fortress. With the way things look it's going to be a long climb and a good walk before we return, not to mention all the monsters we may still encounter."

Jeros: "Lexis, you save my butt again..."

Jeros pulls from his satchel a mechanical wing. Jeros stands up and helps Aysel up as well.

Bosch: "Come again, Caliburn?"

Hilda: "Is that one of Lexis's weird do-hickeys?"

Jeros: [Nods] "Gather around. I'll bore you if I explained the details behind it."

Bosch and Hilda nod. Then everyone stands together. Jeros throws the mechanical wing into the air. The wing's feathers (if Jeros can call them that) break apart to orbit around the group until they become a blur of white light. Everyone forms into a ball of light and flies out of the window.

o~-~-~-~o

Once back in Excellion Mk. 2, Bosch is surprised to find himself on deck. Hilda looks around lost from what happened.

Hilda: "Where on earth are we?"

Jeros: "You're on the deck of Excellion Mk. 2."

Hilda: "So Lexis rebuilt this tin can? Huh... Figure that."

During the whole time, Bosch doesn't say a word. Jeros turns around and sees the queen stepping forward. Her majesty looks at Bosch, disappointed by his actions. Bosch steps forward.

Bosch: "You're majesty, I can explain..."

Queen Verkopen: [Raises her hand] "You will explain your case once we have returned to the castle."

Bosch: [Sighs] "Yes... Your majesty."

Bosch walks to the end of the deck behind the crowd. Jeros looks at the queen with distrust.

Jeros: "We succeeded in recapturing the fortress. At least show some gratitude."

Her majesty walks forward to Jeros's side.

Queen Verkopen: "Bosch and his brigade ignored my words as orders. Recklessness actions will be our downfall."

At that moment, what respect Jeros held for the queen was torn out of his heart. Her true face shows now. She didn't take the throne because she seized opportunities. She seized the thrown because all sides were exhausted fighting. She never took risks, there was nothing heroic about her. She was a coward, a scavenger. So Jeros thought when the queen passes him.

Or so he thought at that moment.

Aysel looks at Jeros. She sees the winter of truth freezing the fire in Jeros's eyes. Hilda puts her hand on Jeros's shoulder.

Hilda: "We've all had a rough time today. Let's take it easy on the way back."

Jeros looks at Hilda and nods. Then Jeros gently slides Hilda's hand off his shoulder. Jeros wanders off into the deck.

Guy: "Hilda!"

A charred-smelling brute leaps onto Excellion's deck shaking everyone on board. The man wipes his face clean with a red scarf to reveal a happily crying Guy. Guy runs to Hilda with open arms. Hilda side steps out of the way and heel kicks Guy in the bottom.

Hilda: "I still haven't forgiven you yet, you big meat head."

Guy: [Rubbing his bottom] "O' come on, Hilda it's me, you're big brother."

Dekar climbs on board Excellion smiling. Following Dekar is a charred black angry Kirin.

Dekar: "I told you we didn't need no cannon thing! I'm the best there is at demolishing walls."

Kirin: "You're the best at judging stupidly logic that's for sure! Sir..."

Dekar: "Heh! You know how to give respect that's for sure. And I learned a few things from you. I'm going to recommend a promotion."

Kirin: "No praise in the world can match..." [Perks up] "Did you say a promotion!"

Dekar: [Smiles] "Sure did!"

Guy: "Well there's a happy end for all of us then." [Laughs]

Hilda: "Happy end or not, I just wanna go home and take a long bath." [Brushes her hair] "There's fort rubble in my hair..."

Aysel: "Guy, how did you get out of prison?"

Guy: "Well, after I sobered up with a horrible hang over, they let me out with good behavior."

Surge and Dallas climb on board.

Dallas: "On contrary, Guy was bored so he decides to crush his drinking mug into a Frisbee, which he threw through the bars of the other cell with another criminal. Soon enough the dungeon turned into an afternoon in the park. Soon enough all the prisoners exceeded their monthly fun quota and they had no choice but to release Guy. It's quite comical I say."

Guy: "Hey, I was tryin' to leave a good impression here. No matter." [Leans on the side of the bridge] "A handful of legionnaires stayed behind to help turn headquarters into the new Wallace house. Also, Jessy's there too! She's about to have my baby soon. You're welcome to stay with us again Hilda."

Hilda: "I would love to visit you this weekend. I have a job to get back to in Grenoble."

Guy: "I see... It's a shame..."

o~-~-~-~o

Guy begins to brag about his new home and family non stop. Aysel slips out of the conversation to find Jeros sitting on the bowel. Watching the sun set, Jeros unties his hair and lets it blow in the summer wind. Aysel climbs the bowel and sits next to him.

Aysel: "Say... R.C.'s been looking for new members for an expedition team."

Jeros: [Turns to look at Aysel] "What makes you believe I'm qualified for such position?"

Aysel: "Well, when I submitted my reports, the dean took great interest about you. He has heard about your resume, your nomination to knighthood, your scholarships to Parcelyte's Military academy, and more. Also, everyone in Grenoble is either a book worm or a techie. No one is willing to risk to exploring like you do."

Jeros: "So you're saying if I join Ruins Chasers, they will hire me as an explorer."

Aysel: "Well, at first I was against the idea because of your lack of experience." [Stands up] "Now that I saw you in action, I know you're exactly who we need."

Jeros: "Heh... You sound like everyone else who offered me a job."

Aysel: "We're serious! I've been an explorer for about three years. Most of the time I always worked alone. There were a few times I worked with others..." [Shakes her head] "Never mind. What matters is that when R.C. issued a new policy to only deploy team expeditions..."

Jeros: "I knew it."

Jeros stands up and turns to Aysel. He places both hands on Aysel's shoulders.

Aysel: "Hey... I have my motives too."

Jeros: "Do you need me that badly?"

Aysel looks away blushing. She closes her eyes. Never before had Aysel been desperate for help. She knows to fulfill her goals she needs to accept it.

Aysel mutters a faint "yes" from her lips.

Jeros: "Alrighty then. First things first."

Jeros lets go of Aysel and steps back swinging his arms.

Jeros: [Rubbing his palms together] "I need you to tell me everything. Not exactly about your self but how chasers work inside and out. I also need to know all of your personal objectives about what you want from this."

Aysel: [Glares at Jeros and shakes her head] "No, my motivations are none of your concern."

Jeros laughs and leaps down on deck.

Jeros: "Well, then I guess I can't trust you as a partner. Looks like I will have to take my business else ware..."

Aysel: "Wait!" [Jumps down] "All right... I'll tell you but promise me you won't tell anyone else."

Jeros: "Heh, I can do that." [Holds up his pinky] "A promise is a promise."

Aysel: "What's with the pinky finger?"

Jeros: "You do know how to make pinky promises do you?"

Aysel: [Sighs] "Let's get this done and over with."

Jeros chuckles while Aysel locks her right pinky finger with Jeros's. Aysel looks to the side embarrassed. Jeros chants the pinky promise and shakes their hands. Jeros lets go and places his hands in his pocket.

Jeros: "So... What do I have to do."

Aysel: "You must come to Grenoble with me. I'll explain on the way there."

Guy: "So you're finally going off on your own..."

Jeros and Aysel turn to a smirking meat head brushing his blond beard. Guy steps forward and lays his large hands on their shoulders.

Guy: "I was wondering when this day would come. Hoping for later not sooner though."

Jeros: "I can't pass up adventure, Guy. You know who I am."

Guy: "I know who you are. And I can't stop ya either. Back on the castle steps you toppled this mountain. Remember what I promised you if you could knock me down?"

Guy reaches in his back pocket and pulls out a golden amulet engraved with a burning bird clasping onto a ruby studded blade. Guy lays this pendant in Jeros's hand.

Guy: "This is ya dad's crest. He had it for as long as I can remember. He gave this to Lexis before headin' off to Doom Island."

Jeros grips the crest tightly.

Guy: "You're head of your own family now."

Jeros takes the crest and ties it around his neck. Jeros picks up the amulet, looking at it upside down he still can't believe this is around his neck. Jeros slips the amulet in the neck of his shirt.

Jeros: "Thanks."

Guy: "Nah! Don't thank me." [Rubs the back of his neck] "It was yours, but I had to see if you're ready for it. Remember, you're his only son. It's up to you how you want to live your legacy. Even if the Sinistrals came back."

Jeros nods and looks at Aysel.

Jeros: "Is having Maxim's son on the team going to be a problem?"

Aysel: [Shakes her head] "Only if you can live up his name."

Jeros: "Heh." [Ties his hair] "I think I'll do things my way from now on."

Guy: "Knowin' you that way's complicated."

Jeros: "It is for a meat head like you."

Guy: "You know it!" [Frowns] "Hey... Easy on the meat head will ya."

Jeros and Aysel both laugh. Then they look at each other as they always do. Meanwhile Lexis sits outside on the other side of the ship. He pulls out a watch with dials and numbers all inside it. Lexis gazes into the early night sky.

Lexis: "So this is the beginning of his journey. I wonder what you have to say about it, Iris?"

A shooting star crosses the sky falling east. Lexis closes his watch and makes a wish. Tia and Dekar stand outside watching Lexis count his last days again.

Then from the moon's shadow, a silver haired priestess watches Excellion. She closes her eyes.

o~-~-~-~o

Lexis remembers the day he and Maxim were riding Excellion. That was the day Gades proclaimed to the world mankind's doom. Lexis remembers hearing the dolphins jumping in the water protesting agains the floating island.

Lexis: "Well, this is something you don't see every day. Maxim, what should we do?"

A young swordsman wearing a monster skin jacket leaned on rails. His vibrant red hair blew to the side as he looked up with his dark brown eyes. The swordsman pushed himself up and straightened his jacket.

Maxim: [Smiling] "Let's go professor, I'm sure something amazing awaits us."

o~-~-~-~o

Lexis: "Oh, something amazing was awaiting us wasn't it Maxim? And I never thought you would go before I did. If you're watching, you know something awaits him too." [Laughs] "Tia's probably worried about me talking to you again. She thinks I'll croak in the next five minutes. I should get going."

Lexis pockets his watch and stands up. He feels slightly faint, yet relaxed. Lexis feels the weight of his body against his heart.

Lexis: "Just let me live a little longer. I still have yet to complete my greatest invention, I want to show it to Jeros someday."

*~End Chapter
Last edited by DarkMaster2101 on Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:44 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Tue Nov 16, 2010 12:52 am

That should clean up this post for now. Yeah, I know many of you are upset with me re-posting the chapters I already wrote here. At least the topic isn't three pages long.

Anyway, can mods delete all of my blank posts now? That should help clean up space for the server if possible. If not, then at least don't lock the topic just yet.
Last edited by DarkMaster2101 on Fri Mar 11, 2011 7:48 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Sat Nov 20, 2010 5:52 am

The following morning, everyone makes their final preparations before leaving home. Now that Lexis is finished with family business, he re-modifies Excellion Mk. 2 to fly home. Despite Tia's beckoning pleas, Dekar stays under king Alex as his personal bodyguard until business in Westland is finished. The night before, Guy and Jessy give their good-byes and left for their new home. More than likely Guy was ordered to leave by Baroness's orders, at least what Jeros assumes. Making sure Guy does not cause any more trouble, Hilda is going to travel with them until they arrive at Grenoble.

Aysel decides to journey with Jeros in the morning. Unlike most people, Aysel's training allows her to adjust her biological clock. After throwing a change of clothes carelessly into his backpack, Jeros leaves the inn to visit the castle's garden once more. Underneath Kirof's memorial Jeros bends down to find an enigmatic flower. A faint lavender light illuminates Jeros's palms as he cups the Priphea's blossom. Jeros then hears the plop of a dusty leather bag. He stands up to find Bosch in the most unknightly attire.

Bosch tightens the belt around his patched up navy trench coat with a pair of plated gauntlets. He straightens his light cloud plaid shirt with two buttons undone below his neck. The man rubs a piece of blood soaked paper on the cleft of his chin and folds his arms.

Jeros: [Stands up and turn around] "I don't see you in your armor. So she sacked you after all."

Bosch: "'Tis fair Caliburn. I left service upon my own will. Her majesty is right, I'm a little too old to keep up with the new generation of knights."

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "No... I doubt your agreement was voluntary. Tell me, did she fire you?"

Bosch flinches. Bosch turning his head away signals Jeros that he's pressing a tender wound.

Jeros: "I see. I'm sorry for bringing it up."

Bosch: "No, 'tis good for you to know now. I feel no disgrace in her majesty's decision, you ought not to feel guilty." [Places his hand on Jeros's shoulder] "I am no longer in service, but I have served my role as an example for Alexian knights to follow." [Rubs his chin] "Now, what should I do for my retirement?"

Jeros: [Holds Bosch's wrist] "Since you're no longer a knight on duty you can hunt down Fairfax without red tape."

Bosch: [Chuckles] "I thought you would say that, Caliburn. Unfortunately I have many things to do before I am able to join your quest."

Jeros: [Sigh] "So be it. I have to land a job at RC first. The guild's my only lead at the moment. Maybe by then you're finished with unfinished business."

Bosch sounds a concerned hum and begins rub his chin and ponders his thoughts. Jeros looks up to Bosch concerned.

Jeros: "Is something the matter Bosch?"

Bosch: "Caliburn, heed my advice carefully. Do not let your obsession with Fairfax drive your life. I have dealt with Fairfax before myself and... "

Jeros: "There's too many questions only Fairfax can answer. I can't let him slip away."

Bosch: [Picks up his bag] "I mean do not let your obsession end your career like it has mine." [Looks at Jeros] "Can you promise me?"

Jeros: [Nods] "I can't make promises I can't keep. Maybe when I know I can keep it.

Jeros kneels down to the Priphea patch. He finds the brightest flower and up-roots it from the ground. Jeros holds the flower into the sun beams, losing himself to the enigmatic energy.

Aysel stands by the garden's entrance impatiently tapping her foot waiting for Jeros.

Aysel: [Cups her hands] "Jeros, we need to leave now."

Jeros: [Turns around] "Okay, okay! Is it that late? I have to go."

Bosch: "Take care, and you too Aysel."

Aysel: "Uh-huh, I don't have time for long good-bye." [Growling] {I haven't slept yet either.}

Jeros hurries to the gate of the garden. He looks at Bosch waving before Aysel pushes him outside.

o~-~-~-~o

In the southern port just outside of Alexia, Tia and Lexis look around anxiously. Jeros sees Tia's bright orange hair and waves to her. Tia runs to Jeros waving forward while Lexis struts slowly behind. Jeros tells Aysel to check in the ferry before he stands in front of Tia.

Tia: "Ah Jeros, there you are!"

Lexis: "We finally found you."

Jeros: [Curious] "So what's up, doc?"

Tia: "So you're finally going off on you're own..." [Jealous] "Oh! You're so young too."

Jeros: "You don't need to hold me back anymore Tia. I'm eighteen now. Besides, you were running the most successful shop in Elcid at fourteen."

Tia: "Though I couldn't of done it without Maxim at the time. Most of our items were made from parts of local monsters."

Lexis: "Ah! Yes! I remember my experiments at the time weren't as successful with grants and I had to borrow money..." [Shakes his head] "My, how time flies by."

Jeros: [Opens his watch impatiently watching the second hand] "Speaking of time..."

Lexis: "Tia, I think you should give that to him before he leaves..."

Tia: "Right! I was getting to that before you started talking about the good ol' days."

Tia opens her suit case and presents Jeros with a certificate and a thick velvet bag. Jeros steps forward surprised by Tia's gift.

Tia: [Monotone] "I humbly present to you, Jeros Caliburn, your official Monster Hunter's License certified by the King of Alunze you passed under the instruction of Albert Heinz at the guild outpost: Recipe. You are now authorized to hunt monsters and carry their spoils."

Jeros takes the certificate and the bag. Lexis applauds. Then Jeros looks at Tia and smiles.

Jeros: "I knew you've been holding this from me. I tried picking it up before the voyage."

Tia: [Folds her arms] "Hmph! I was out of town with Dekar that day. I left a note on the door."

Jeros: [Disbelieving] "Uh-huh, sure you did..."

Behind Jeros, the ferry's horn blows signaling its departure. Jeros turns around and sees Aysel sitting on the departing ferry's bow. Jeros quickly embraces both Lexis and Tia at once.

Jeros: "I'll miss you both! I gotta run!" [Sprints off waving back] "Good bye!"

As Jeros runs off to catch the ferry, Tia frowns and rubs her eyes. Lexis wraps his arm around Tia's shoulder. Tia buries herself into Lexis's chest.

Tia: [Sniff] "I shouldn't be crying..."

Lexis: [Pats Tia's head] "Have faith, my child. It isn't like we're never going to see him again. We're not sending him off to a war." [Closes his eyes] "I'm surprised Jeros chose an academic career over knighthood and military. He'll be fine and come back to us some day."

Once Jeros climbs the ferry, he shows the officer his ticket. Then he leans on the bow watching Lexis and Tia shrink away until they fall off the horizon. Aysel has already fallen asleep in the shade on the deck. Jeros unbuckles his swords lays them on his lap, and sits himself next to her. Aysel's head falls on Jeros's shoulder. More worried to wake her than embarrassment, Jeros leans his head on Aysel savoring the comfort until they arrive in Lorbenia.

o~-~-~-~o

*~Moonstone Chapter part 11: Welcome to Ruin Chasers Inc.~*

o~-~-~-~o

Now that the fortress has been cleared, transport to the Palmana region has been reopened to the public. Once they stepped through the sundered wall, Jeros and Aysel begin their journey via Hunter's Path to Grenoble.

It was a beautiful clear day in the hunting grounds. The tall leafy green grass sways in the wind. The green mountains stick out of the ground with collars of thick woods surrounding the basin. Jeros grips his hilt eagerly, waiting for a random encounter fight. Luckily, the monsters they encounter are either docile or were hunting other monsters. One time Jeros encounters a frog similar to the one that knocked Aysel out in the sub-canals, but much smaller. The frog flees before Jeros, and in its flight leaps into the mouth of a giant mushroom.

Jeros: "Heh." [Wipes his brow] "That's unexpected. I thought monsters would be more vicious."

Aysel places her hand on Jeros's shoulder.

Aysel: "Forget the stories you heard from Guy. Monsters were only hostile when the skirmish plagued their habitats. Now that the skirmish is over, the monsters in Westland return to their lives."

Jeros: "I know, but still." [Folds his arms] "This worries me. It's only a matter of time before Narseby..."

Aysel places a finger on Jeros's lips. She looks at him gently and smiling.

Aysel: "Remember what Bosch said about obsessing with Narseby. Relax, I know your monster hunter instincts are kicking in but you need to understand nature's needs." [Turns around] "The shiny plaque doesn't give you privilege."

Jeros: "Then what if nature decides to attack me or my kin?"

Aysel: "Then I can't control your actions then."

Jeros: [Frowns] "Harsh..."

Aysel: "Oh, you might want this back."

Aysel hands Jeros a leather bag with his name on it. Jeros recognizes the bag, takes it, and opens it to make sure his personal papers are still inside. He notices that a few papers have been rearranged.

Jeros: "You like to look through other people's stuff don't you?"

Aysel places her hands behind her back and increases her pace.

Aysel: "Maybe?"

Jeros: "Maybe! Is that all you have to say looking through my personal stuff? So you gather information on your comrades, and yet you don't tell me anything about yourself. If you're going to assassinate me or something do it now!"

Aysel: "What! Why would you believe I would assassinate you?"

Jeros: [Stops to point at Aysel] "Hah! Just pulling your leg, moon lady." [Places the bag inside his back pack] "I'm sure you only peaked inside my portfolio read my resume."

Aysel: "Uh-huh. And you have done a horrible job with it."

Jeros turns around to step forward until he feels cold steel on his hips. Aysel replaces the blade within her sleeve.

Jeros: [Sighs] "Can we change the topic please?"

Aysel: "As you wish, pony boy."

Woman: "Get out of the way!"

A young woman runs down the mountain. Jeros and Aysel turn their attention to the monsters chasing her. A pair of lizardmen are rolling down the mountain side. Jeros draws his sword. When the woman runs past Aysel, Aysel grabs her by the waste and lifts her out of the way.

Then the two lizardmen ramp on a small hill near the basin, uncurl themselves in mid-air, and slam into the ground. Not taking any chances, Jeros imbues his strength with Trick and forward slashes the left lizardman in the throat. Meanwhile the other lizard man steps forward and claws Jeros to the ground. Aysel holds up a pitch black knife and throws it, hitting the lizardman in the back of the neck. Despite the thick shell protecting him, the lizard man falls to the ground wailing about until life fades from his eyes.

Jeros stands up, sheaths his sword, and examines his arm for damage. Aysel runs to the lizardman to examine her kill. She tries to pull the knife out of the lizardman's neck, but the blade snaps.

Aysel: "Darn it. That was my last Gloom Dart too."

The woman stands before Jeros and Aysel and folds her arms scowling. She looks like a sophisticated woman. She stands slightly taller than Aysel, but a few inches shorter than Jeros. The woman is wearing a magenta V-neck blouse openly exposing her chest and black bra, a dark colored jacket and pants and a pair of light brown hiking boots. On the woman's waste is belt holding a satchel, a dagger, and a crossbow. She brushes her dark brown hair from her green eyes.

Woman: "Hey, I was handling the monsters by myself. I said get out of the way."

Jeros: [Rubbing his arm, smiling] "And now you don't have to. I'm glad I could..."

The woman gets in Jeros's face. Glaring at him frustrated, the woman places her hands on her hips.

Woman: "This is a great loss to me! My job was to lure the lizardmen into a trap so we can capture them. We have to study their language to translate a password for entry in Dragon's Tomb." [Folds her arms] "Now that the lizardmen are dead, what will you do to compensate me Mr. Swordsman?" [Turns around]

Jeros: [Panicking] "Hey! I was passing through and I thought you were in danger..."

Woman: [Snaps back] "This whole area's in danger you nit-wit! What were the ranger's doing? I told them to seal the area off!"

After catching a second glimpse of the woman. Aysel recognizes her and steps forward.

Aysel: "My companion is bright most of the time, if not a bit rash in his judgment, Vera. You have to forgive his ignorance."

Jeros: [Glares at Aysel] "What do you mean most of the time?"

The woman turns her attention to Aysel. She calms her temper to exchange for a superiority complex.

Vera: "My, my, if it isn't the night owl. Hmph! Still wearing those shabby dirty rags, eh?"

Aysel: "Yes, and they saved my life quite a few times. Unlike those contrasting gad rags of yours."

Vera: [Disgusted] [Gasp] "Well you still don't understand the value of wearing a good outfit. Then again you'll never have a chance to with that abomination you call skin. I was hoping that when you left the guild you would never come back. Well with their new team expedition policy, there's not much of a reason for a lone wolf like you to stay now is there?"

Aysel: "Don't worry, Vera. I'm found my team, or at least the team leader."

Vera laughs outrageously, tickled pink by Aysel's bluff.

Vera: "Please, I know every expedition leader in the guild has rejected you. I already heard my father say he would rather kiss a newt's behind than to let you lead another expedition."

Getting sick with Vera's false superiority, Jeros steps in between her and Aysel.

Jeros: "Which is why she's not leading the expedition team." [Points his thumb at himself] "I am."

Vera: [Looks at Jeros and laughs] "You, little puny child! You think the guild is going to accept a nobody like you? Oh this is a fantastic joke, night owl. The same no-name boy who ruins my assignment is going to be the next expedition leader." [Breaths in] "Sorry little pony, but the guild is looking at someone else. Maxim's son I believe."

Jeros: [Smirking] "Well, then allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jeros Caliburn of Parcelyte."

Vera is shocked, then silent. She couldn't believe her eyes. Maxim's son is standing before her all this time.

Vera: "Eh..." [Laughs] "I don't believe you little pony. This has been a fun joking time, but I have some more lizardmen to capture. At first I was upset that a reckless vigilante messed up my job. Now I know you're a foolish little liar as well. I hope we never meet again, because I can't stand liars. Toodleloo."

Vera turns around and leaves Jeros and Aysel. Jeros rubs his face in disgrace. Aysel pulls on Jeros's sleeve.

Aysel: "That was Vera Nadia Dunmire. The daughter of president George Dunmire. She's like that to every one."

Jeros looks at Aysel with a sinister look. Aysel steps back.

Jeros: "I can't wait to disprove that little daddy's girl! When I present my documentation to Ruin Chasers, she'll get slapped in the face with reality so hard..." [Laughs maniacally]

Aysel: [Kicks Jeros in the butt] "We're late as is because of you, so stop laughing like you're the absolute and get moving!"

Jeros: "Yeouch!" [Rubs his bottom] "Okay, okay."

Aysel: [Pouting] "Idiot iyehn."

o~-~-~-~o

For the rest of the journey, Jeros and Aysel have no more memorable encounters, aside from the occasional ambush by spiked newts. It is close to sunset by the time Jeros and Aysel reach Grenoble. Surprised and slightly disappointed, Jeros finds the the town on the lake's cliff quite, humble.

Grenoble is mostly residential. Aside from the uniquely built market plaza (a lone platform hanging on the side of the cliff), most of the town is a loose cluster of suburbs. Then again, Jeros hasn't step forward from the town gate yet.

Jeros: "Yeesh, this town looks boring. It puts Sundletan to shame."

Aysel: "Don't judge a town by its houses. It may not look like, but there are many archeologists who live here with personal laboratories and libraries inside their houses."

Jeros: "That sounds convenient for them. I can't wait to see ancient machines in the basement. Or possibly a full body dragon fossil."

Aysel: "Yeah, about that. Most of the personal labs are used for small scale experiments or restoration of small artifacts. For the big things, they have to employ RC's facilities which are under construction at the moment. Funds and labor have been scarce. Many of our scientists left to Platina years ago."

Jeros: "Where Lexis's brother is right?"

Aysel nods and motions Jeros to follow her. Jeros complies. Following Aysel, Jeros looks around to see wooden houses much larger than what he is used to seeing. Living in Parcelyte, Jeros is used to seeing corner houses where multiple families live in the same apartment. He has heard about the suburban houses being much more spacious, but he never stayed in a suburb long enough to compare. Aysel continued the conversation.

Aysel: [Nods] "When Platina's funding was cut short, many scientists were out of work. Even Ralie had to cut his projects. He claims to be working on something extraordinary before moving here, but as expected, Ralie is inventing luxury based on others' work."

Jeros: "It's tough to create something new in this day and age. Self driving vehicles and the Excelion series were successors of ancient ships that vanished thousands of years ago."

Aysel: "In that sense, I may empathize with the Ralie. However he's still a student of engineering. Besides, most of his so called 'inventions' are fun to watch, but they really don't have a sense of purpose. Well, they do, but those purposes don't fulfill needs of accomplishing duty."

Jeros: "Heh... Apples don't fall far from the tree I suppose. Lexis said he used to have been like that for a while. Well, he still is with most of his inventions. Perhaps hid marketing method is better?"

Aysel: "Well, here we are."

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros rubs his eyes from the setting sun. He looks to see a huge institution much bigger than Parcelyte's public school.. In the center of the campus, a four story brick tower sits in the middle of four smaller two story buldings crossing like an X. In front of the two buildings is a large fountain of an eight-headed lizard (less than a quarter of the Hydora's size) confronting a miniature hero at the bottom. Each of the eight heads are spitting jets of water in each of the three sluices. Jeros looks at the statue and remembers the fight with the Hydora.

Jeros walks up to the fountain. He sits next to it, splashing the water.

Jeros: "I doubt the fountain is new, even if news travels fast."

Aysel examines the fountain closer.

Aysel: "The Hydora is old, but the little hero is new. I was hoping Donatello would find some inspiration to fill the fountain."

Donatello: "Ah! I'm glad you noticed."

Surprised, Aysel turns around, bending a large tanned young man in the process. Next thing the man knows is that he has a blade touching his Adam's apple. Jeros stands up.

Jeros: "Aysel! What the heck are you doing!"

Donatello: "Aha! I can always count on you for an adrenaline rush, mistress. I heard you were in town." [Nervously laughs] "You can let me go now, Aysel."

Aysel releases the man. He falls to the ground rubbing his neck. Jeros looks at Aysel and folds his arms.

Jeros: "No wonder people hate you here."

Donatello: "No no no no no, sir. It's apart of a bet I have with Eddo. I'm suppose to sneak up on her when she leasts expects it. In return I help her training and get an adrenaline rush." [Rubs his nose and stands up] "I'm not going to quit until I succeed. I want that marble slab."

Aysel: "You have to do better than that to sneak up on me. Next time put your art out of mind."

Donatello: [Shakes his head and sighs] "You're right. I thought I fixed that habit..."

Donatello sees the red-haired swordsman confused about the situation. Donatello holds out his hand.

Donatello: "You're new around here, sir. My name is Donatello DeCaprio. I've been working as a sculptor for ten years now. I joined RC to learn about historical art."

Jeros: [Shakes Donatello's hand] "And my name is Jeros Caliburn, I here because I'm offered a job."

Donatello: "So you're Jeros. I've heard about your exploits in Marse. As for Alekia feats, they're nothing special. No offense."

Jeros: [Releases Donatello's hand] "None taken. I agree, it feelt like a scandal than a heroic feat then."

Donatello: "We all have our up and down moments." [Looks at Aysel] "Oh, before I forget. The dean and principal wants to see you asap."

Aysel: "I see..." [Sighs then smiles] "Well, Jeros I have to leave again. I heard Hilda's works at the local inn. You may want to check up on her after you're through with administration."

Jeros: "Yeah, I figured have to look for a place to stay for tonight."

Donatello: "You might want to hurry to the administration office now then." [Walks to the central tower and waves] "Follow me, I'll take you there."

o~-~-~-~o

So Jeros follows Donatello into the central building. While walking down a circular hallway Jeros looks at the various black and white photos on the walls. He sees many familiar locations from Northland especially the 'Expedition of Soma Temple' which was taken underneath a ruin inside of a volcano's crater. This photo isn't interesting because this is where Maxim fought Gades for the first time. Jeros vaguely remembers visiting Soma Temple on a field trip long ago.

Donatello halts in front of a oak double door with a marble door frame.

Donatello: "Here it is, Administration. I made the frame to the door myself you know and..."

Before Donatello can continue showing off his work, Jeros opens the door.

Jeros: "Thanks Don, I can take it from here."

Donatello: "Sure thing, I hope you're our next expedition leader. I'm starting to get sick of the old dogs not doing anything anymore ya know?"

Jeros: [Nods] "Sure, take care."

When Jeros enters the administration office he finds the receptionist's seat open.

Jeros: {Well so much for finishing administration toady.} [Looking for a chair] {May as well have a seat.}

To the left, Jeros finds a small wooden chair with sewed leather seats. After taking a deep breath, Jeros lays his bag in the next seat over and sits down. The administration office is nothing special. The desk is made from polished heavy oak with papers scattered all over it. On the corner of the desk sets a small drinking bird with red head a black top hat hanging off the side of what looks like a red stained wine glass. Every few minutes the bird dips its beak into the wine glass and the water drips inside its belly until its full. Then the bird leans itself backwards. Behind the drinking bird is a small black and white photo of what looks like a pair of twin boys and a small girl with thick glasses in the middle. One of the boys is holding up a glass mess similar to Jeros's first glass piece. Jeros vaguely recognizes the boys but cannot remember at the moment.

Jeros turns himself in the chair and kicks his feet up on the backpack. He looks at the two doors on each side of the desk. Wooden doors with frosted windows with one side saying "Employees Only" and the other saying "DO NOT ENTER." Jeros then rests his head on his hands and closes his eyes.

Then he hears a faint trio of voices through the wall. Jeros sits up immediately. Tracing the voices to the "DO NOT ENTER" room, Jeros rests his head on the door listening.

The voices are faint, but Jeros hears the conversation from the other side.

o~-~-~-~o

In the meeting room, a round balding man in a navy suit paces in the middle of a horse shoe shaped table. At the end to the left a skinny man with long fair hair leans on the table while his left hand pillows his face. The skinny man yawns and adjusts his bell shaped sleeve. In the middle of the table sits a tall broad bald man clasping his hands together in a triangle. During the conversation, he twists his diamond ring and adjusts his "Superintendent" badge.

Round Man: "I keep telling you over and over again, Mr. Superintendent. Lhe'thalla is a conflict of interest. If we keep her in the guild, she'll destroy what's left of Grenoble's credibility."

Skinny Man: [Speaking in an Irish accent] "Aye, I keep tellin' ya your panties are in a bunch, Georgey. Ya can't deny the lil' one's work. She's got a good head on her shoulders she does. Even granted us a rare visit with Max's lil' lad."

George: "That's another problem I wish to bring to the superintendent's attention, Eddo. In case you have forgotten, which I know clearly you have, Ruin Chasers is an academic organization. We need scientists, not some cocky sword swinging boy with military scholarships."

Superintendent: "And yet those military scholarships say if Jeros finished training, he would be promoted to sergeant when he enlists. For an enlistee, that's quite a feat. Parcelyte's military holds a keen eye for leadership. Something most of our chasers are lacking."

George: "So what if the boy has charisma? It means nothing if that rat works with him."

Eddo: "That rat 'tis me baby girl. I know here like the back of me thumb. Her luneth discipline is what drove her to success."

Geroge: "And that same discipline is what got Arma killed. Is that why we enforce the party expedition policies? To ensure that no chaser is alone for they may help each other?"

Eddo: "Sure, the policy is a boost, but why no new leaders? We're behind on our quota, Georgey."

Superintendent: "I know Arma's death is a tragedy you and your daughter will never forget George, but the guild needs at least one more expedition team. Else HQ is going to pull the expedition projects from Grenoble's guild. We're still building our laboratories. Expeditions are what made Grenoble a Ruin Chaser's Guild. Think about it, Vera is one of our best expedition leaders. How would she feel if she was laid off her dream job?"

Geroge: [Growls] "Why does he have to work with the Lunethene rat?"

o~-~-~-~o

From the other side of the door, Jeros closes his eyes.

Jeros: {I thought Aysel was exaggerating but she is right about Ruin Chaser's desperation. Then there's this Arma guy. It sounds like he's died in an accident before the policy.}

Receptionist: "What are you doing here?"

Surprised, Jeros turns around. He sees a small woman in a plaid green dress taping her foot. She folds her arms holding a paper fan. Jeros can't see the woman's eyes because of the glare in her large glasses, but he feels her hatred. Jeros stands up.

Jeros: "I'm sorry I'm new here and..."

Receptionist: "Even if you were, yesterday's memo states that the offices are closed at this hour..." [Raises her paper fan] "Unless you're a spy for one of them."

Jeros: [Assumes defense] "Woman I just got here today. I honestly don't know what you're talking about."

Receptionist: "Say your prayers, spy." [Raises her fan] "Prepare to die!"

The receptionist slams the fan down and Jeros rolls out of the way. As soon as they hear the commotion outside the superintendent opens the door. Eddo enters the room holding to his waste while George slaps his hand on his forehead.

Jeros is running around the office, trying to avoid the receptionist's fan at all costs. George steps forward.

Geroge: "Janet, what the hell are you doing?"

The receptionist stands in the middle of the room. Before Jeros runs around the room again, the receptionist slaps Jeros in the middle of his face with her paper fan knocking him out.

Receptionist: "Oh! Principal, Dean, and Superintendent. Are you finished with the meeting."

Jeros stands up rubbing his nose. An inch thick red mark divides his face.

Superintendent: "We were just about finished until we heard the commotion outside."

Janet: [Bows down] "I'm very sorry sir. But I thought this boy was a spy and..."

Jeros: [Rubbing his face] "I told you, I just got here..."

Eddo steps forward and pulls back the sleeves of his blouse. He bends over to Jeros rubbing his chin.

Eddo: "Blue eyes, Red pony tail, a sword and a dagger. Aye! You're the lil' pony boy I've been hearin' about ain't 'cha laddy!"

Jeros: [Stands up] "Pony boy! Seriously that's what I'm called now?"

Eddo laughs out loud while Janet bows and apologies consecutively to the principal and superintendent. The superintendent raises his hand.

Superintendent: "We all make mistakes, Janet. You just make more than others in a day."

Janet: [Looks at the superintendent with her fogging glasses] "Does that mean I'm..."

Superintendent: [Shakes his head] "No, unless you want me to."

Janet: [Shakes he head pleading] "No, no, no! Of course not, Jean. I just have to work harder and prepare for future incidents in the future."

Superintendent: [Laughs] "That's what I like to hear." [Coughs] "Now... Let's see." [Looks at Jeros] "You are Jeros Caliburn from Parcelyte correct?"

Jeros: [Nods] "Indeed I am, mister um..."

Superintendent: "Superintendent Jean Biggs. You may call me Jean."

Jeros: "Yes. Jean, I came to Grenoble after hearing you have a job offer for joining expedition team."

Biggs: "Indeed we have. I'm sure our representative has briefed you on the position."

Jean looks at Eddo, George, and Janet.

Biggs: "If you may, I would like to speak with Jeros personally."

George lets out a small growl until Eddo taps his shoulder.

Eddo: "Now, now, Georgey, boss wants to talk to the lad."

George: "Of course, I'm confident that you'll see things my way, Mr. Superintendent."

Biggs: [Scowls] "Begone you two."

Eddo shrugs and leaves the room. George sighs and follows Eddo. Janet turns to her desk and begins to stack papers. Jeros looks up to Jean and follows his lead.

o~-~-~-~o

Jean shows Jeros around the campus. At the end of dusk the Hydora fountain in the courtyard faintly glows a blue green hue. Jeros syncs his steps with the tall broad man, walking side to side looking around campus. The central tower is made from stone brick with cobblestone flooring. The four buildings look like golden bricks in the light of dusk. Jeros watches a pair of girls sitting by the fountain giggling about their events of today. One of the girls look at Jeros. Then she alerts her friend and they both wave at him. Jeros blushes and waves back.

Biggs: "I'm sure you heard by now Grenoble needs another expedition leader to keep going."

Jeros: "Sorry if I wase eaves dropping, but I get most of the details. Parcelyte pulled almost all the history classes from their curriculum, aside from Prehistory and the Warlord's Chronicles."

Biggs: "Parcelyte is the third most powerful nation in the world because of their military, ancient history has never been their agenda."

Jeros: "I know. But to be honest, I never was serious about history in high school. I was slightly interested when Milka told me about the age of elves, but that's about it. Then when I came here, I learned about Fairfax and to the Lunethene. Then came Runa and the sorcerers. There's so much lost time between now and then. Only god knows what happened then. If humanity doesn't learn from the other civilizations mistakes then who will?"

Biggs: "So, from what I tell, you're interest is to have humanity learn from the lost civilization?"

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "It's more than that."

In the back of the campus, Jeros and Jean find a pair of youths sparring with wooden long swords. Jean stands still awaiting Jeros's response.

Jeros: "Humans have short lives. It's impossible for humans to grasp the concept of time. Because of our inpatients, our decisions are executed without consideration from consequence of our actions. I don't want to leave behind a legacy for humanity." [Looks at Jean] "Maxim and Selan... Mom and dad, showed the world humans can do anything. I know generations after me will only remember them as the vanguards of humanity. I don't care about their achievements. I want to understand why the succeeded when others before them failed."

The superintendent looks out to the training grounds and closes his eyes. Then he breaths deeply.

Biggs: "Do you smell that?"

Jeros: [Breathes deeply] "I don't smell anything except moisture and trees."

Biggs: "That's the smell of clean air. You lived most of your life in the city, correct?"

Jeros: "Yeah." [Breathes deeply] "Now that you mention it, this maybe the first time I really smelled the air here."

Biggs: "Before we discovered the Old Cave here, Grenoble was a simple forest village. Everyone here lived off of the land and gave back to it as much as they could. While most other villages centered around mines and refineries, our focus was on subsistence and adventure. Exploration was our life blood. When Ruin Chasers was first founded, we had over two hundred teams, each consisting from four to twelve people." [Looks at Jeros] "Now, there are only ten teams left. The council decided to turn all campuses not active exploring into laboratories. The last thing Grenoble needs is a lab that pollutes the land. This may be our last chance to breathe clean mountain air."

When Jeros and Jean returned to the courtyard, the sun has tucked itself under the horizon. Then the courtyard is illuminated by eight lamps surrounding the walkaway around the fountain.

Jeros: "So you want to keep Grenoble clean from pollution? I suppose our motivations aren't as direct as they should be?"

Biggs: "Do you honestly believe your parent's strength alone defeated the Sinistrals?"

Jeros: [Stands up] "Absolutely not. I know they had help from others. They're my family now. Even then I know there has to be something else besides luck that caused them to succeed where others failed centuries ago."

Biggs: "I know legend says only with the treasures of the gods, those who fight shall prevail."

Jeros: [Holds his hand up looking at the power ring] "Little artifacts like this is are a nice touch. I still disagree with you."

Biggs: "The texts don't say the treasures are only weapons and items."

Jeros: "Though there is the moon goddess..."

Biggs: "Come again?"

Jeros: [Shakes his head] "I think if we're talking about treasures of the gods now, then I believe I maybe in your interest as well."

Biggs: [Holds out his hand] "I think we shall conclude the interview before it starts to drag on. I like the way you think. Taking everything into consideration is one feat, but deciphering what's necessary to accomplish your goal is another. Which is why we still have the examination."

Jeros: [Tilts his head, confused] "What examination are you talking about?"

Eddo opens a door directly behind Jeros and the superintendent. He waves to the superintendent.

Eddo: "Boy-o boy-o, think ya waltz in here make nice with the superintendent thinking you're one of us off the bat? Hoo!" [Hands Jeros a packet of papers] "Ya have to pass the chaser's exam before you're off to an expedition lad."

Jeros: [Takes the packet of papers and skims through them] "I know why, but I need to ask. Why do I have to take an examination again?"

Eddo: "Half-century ol' tradition. Big-o had to take it. I had to take it. And the pretty little lass with the white cape took it too."

Jeros: "I figured expeditions aren't a walk in the park and kicking red jellies."

Biggs: "While you go over the paper work tonight, we can schedule the exam for tomorrow. We could do it later, but the exam is only scheduled for once every six months. By then we might not be Ruin Chasers anymore."

Jeros: [Folds the paperwork] "That's plenty of time to cram. I'll be here tomorrow at what time?"

Biggs: "O' six hundred hours and not a second late. Else you're disqualified. I made arrangements with the inn so you can stay for free tonight and tomorrow."

Jeros: [Nods] "Fair enough. Six AM it is then. I would love to stay and chat more, but I'm hanging on my last second."

Jeros places his papers inside of his back pack and slings the bag on his side. Jeros turns to the lights and leaves for the gate.

Biggs: "Oh, tell Hilda I'm glad she's back."

Jeros waves while running forward. The superintendent nods when Jeros signals his comply. Then he turns to Eddo and bids good night. Then they both part separate ways.

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros walks down the same dirt road as before. He sees down the road an illuminated inn sign. He sighs and takes off his back pack. Then he looks up to an almost full moon. Jeros closes his eyes basking in the moonlight.

Then an eerie howl pierces the silence.

Jeros opens his eyes and turns his head to the lake. Then he hears a faint ringing. Soon after another ring, Jeros recognizes the rings as sword clashes. Jeros grips tightly to his longsword and runs to the lake, leaving his back pack behind.

Down at the lake, Jeros finds the sparks of blades illuminating a duel. The two bodies clash, locking their blades. On one side, Jeros finds a familiar white blanket holding up her ulaks. On the other, he sees what looks like a man with a white wolf's head cradling a halberd in her defense.

The two split apart and run around in a circle. After circling the sand, the wolf head runs on the trees and leaps onto Aysel. Aysel rolls out of the halberd's chop. In a split second the the wolf man twists his entire body swinging the halberd's shaft, locking the hook around Aysel's ankle. Aysel trips over her own momentum, dropping her blades. The wolf man seizes the opportunity and spins his halberd behind his shoulder.

Jeros sees the final blow, he draws his sword and diagonal cuts the wolf man. The wolf man drops and twists his halberd to block the blow. The wolf man spin kicks Jeros on the ground, the somersaults onto Jeros and points with the tip of the hook at Jeros's neck.

Jeros: [Glaring] "Who are you?"

Wolf Man: [Speaking in an exotic accent] "I... Am... Camu! You interfere, you die iyehn."

Behind the wolf man, a white blanket throws a shining chain. The wolf man jumps out of the way and breaks for the lake's woods. Aysel tries to run after him, but kneels in pain. Camu finds a tree, leaps up into it, and vanishes. Jeros stands up and runs to Aysel's aid.

Jeros: "Aysel!"

Aysel: [Looks up at Jeros] "Idiot iyehn." [Falls down nursing her ankle]

After looking around, trying to catch glimpse of this Camu again, Jeros gives Aysel his hand. After Aysel pulls herself up Jeros turns around and squats. Not seeing a less embarrassing way, Aysel climbs onto Jeros and wraps her good leg around his waste.

o~-~-~-~o

On the way to the inn, Jeros finds his back pack exactly where he left it. He grabs the bag by a strap, then continues walking. He feels Aysel's exhausted breath on his neck.

Jeros: "Why was he after you?"

Aysel: "Following orders is my guess. Other than that I don't know the motivation."

Jeros: "He called me 'iyehn'. What does that mean?"

Aysel: "Your word for iyehn is child."

Jeros: "I see... So I'm a child to the Lunethene then."

Aysel: "In a sense yes. Though iyehn is a word for young males. Only after iyehn follow the path of Ai'sinis and the Tah'zeir performs the rite, they become Ai'nhur."

Jeros: "And Ai'nhur are pretty much adults then."

Aysel: [Nods] "Ai'nhur are more than men. Ai'nhur are the warriors who protect the tribe. Very few iyehn become Ai'nhur. Iyehn who fail Ai'sinis either died during the trial or were thrown out of the tribe."

Jeros: "I only have one shot to become an Ai'nhur then."

Jeros and Aysel reach the entrance of the inn. Aysel lowers her leg and balances herself on Jeros's shoulders.

Aysel: "Ai'sinis is a dangerous path. Many iyehn spend two years braving the ordeal. Even more run away."

Jeros: "Two years? Was there an Ai'nhur who passed the ordeal in less?"

Aysel looks away and closes her eyes. Jeros feels her grip tightening into his shoulders. Jeros looks closely into her face. He sees a small star refract from her eyes.

Aysel turns to the inn and limps inside. Jeros stands still, frozen in thought.

Jeros: {Is that Ai'nhur named Arma perhaps?}

Not wasting any more time, Jeros enters the inn. Despite the unanswered questions that linger in his mind, Jeros knows he needs all of his strength and focus for tomorrows exam.

Only one shot to save Grenoble's guild.

*~End Chapter
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Postby DarkMaster2101 » Sun Dec 05, 2010 4:32 am

DISCLAIMER: This story is a not-for-profit fan fiction inspired by the Estpolis/Lufia franchise written only for entertainment purposes. All content relating to the Estpolis/Lufia series, including characters, scenario and reference, is owned by Square Enix, Taito, NATSUME: Serious Fun, ATLUS, and Neverland Company. Please support the official release. Content and references to other stories may appear from time to time, and they are properties of their respected holders. Content from other stories are not used without direct permission.

Stories used: Dawn and Dusk (c) Guard Daos 2008-2009

o~-~-~-~o

Right before midnight, Jeros escorts Aysel into the lobby of the inn. Once inside, Jeros squints his eyes in the darkness. A faint light illuminates from the kitchen and hallway of the inn. The lobby is illuminated by an arrangement of chandeliers set to low glow. Looking closer, the chandeliers form into the constellation of Orion.

Not wanting to waste time Aysel finds a chair next to the door and seats herself. Jeros turns to the desk and finds a faint glare from a pair of glasses on what looks like a man's face. The desk itself is horse shoe shaped, elevated by a couple of steps. On top of the elevated desk, a small man rests his chin on his palm, dozing off and on. Jeros climbs the desk and taps the man's shoulders. The small man snorts and taps around the desk. Then he taps his glasses on his face and yawns.

Inn Keeper:[Speaking in a semi-squeaking voice] "Are you Jeros Caliburn? If not, then you have to camp somewhere until tomorrow."

Jeros: "Umm..."

Inn Keeper: "I'd like to go back to sleep now. So get out." [Snores]

Jeros: "Hold on, I am Jeros Caliburn and..."

Inn Keeper: "Why didn't you say so in the first place." [Looks at Jeros adjusting his thick glasses] "Biggs said look out for long red hair. Your hair looks long and red."

The inn keeper sits up and stretches for a brief moment. Then he hops down from his chair. Thinking the man fell into a bottomless pit due to poor illumination, Jeros bends over the desk and peers into the darkness. After a quiet "ah hah," the inn keeper climbs back onto his chair and throws a pair of keys onto the desk.

Inn Keeper: "Your room is upstairs to the left. Sorry the bathroom's out of order tonight."

Jeros: "Heh heh, that's good to know. I'll just take a dip in the lake before the exam tomorrow."

Inn Keeper: "Careful that no one sees you. Even if you have briefs on, skinny dipping is against the law."

Jeros: "I'll keep that in mind." [Looks at Aysel, who is rubbing her ankle] "Umm... I know it's too much to ask tonight, but my friend hurt her ankle and she can't walk back home."

Inn Keeper: [Surprised] "Aysel, there?"

As if awaking from a daze, Aysel perks up and looks at the inn keeper.

Aysel: "I still have to pay you for the window. I didn't forget this time."

Inn Keeper: "I know. Finding work in RC is tough now days or so I hear. By the way, Hilda's finally back. I'm sure she can take better care of that ankle than I."

Aysel: "I suppose so." [Hisses in pain] "I hope she doesn't mind a visitor at this hour."

Inn Keeper: "We're not a hospital, but care should always be given to the ill and injured."

Aysel: [Stands up and hops to the hallway] "Yeah, yeah."

Jeros: "You do that. I'm going to bed now. I'm sure Hilda will understand."

Aysel: "As long as you don't pass out like in front of the castle tomorrow then you should survive the first half of the test."

Jeros: "Whatever you say, moon lady. Good night."

o~-~-~-~o

The rest of the night comes and goes. Early morning, Jeros belts his weapons and chugs a cup of coffee. Then he sets out for the campus. Meanwhile Aysel rests in one of the inn's rooms. The room's decoration is, forgetfully bland with uninspiring brown furniture, it was comfortable. Hilda opens the door. She cradles a roll of cloth on the side of her blouse. Hilda sits herself on Aysel's bed side. Aysel turns and sticks out her bare leg. Hilda takes the roll of cloth and wraps it tightly around Aysel's ankle.

Hilda: "You know, I've been working here for four years now, but we never met until lately. I heard of you from the drunks at the inn." [Tightens a knot in the cloth] "I stopped countin' the rumors."

Aysel: [Winces from the pain] "I don't hang around crowds too often. I'm acquainted with Barman the Inn Keeper because he's friends with Eddo. Barman always had a place where I can hide."

Hilda: "Peh, those old idiots don't know how to keep prejudice at the door." [Stands up and sits next to Aysel] "From what I can tell, you're not a bad girl. You're a lil' devious, but you're honest and considerate for others. Also, underneath that blanket you're a one-of-a-kind beauty."

Aysel: [Looks away, blushing] "Please don't say that. I'm not worth looking at."

Hilda: "Just because you get a little more sun burnt than others don't make you a monster, hon. Here."

Hilda jumps up from the bed and finds a mirror hanging above the bed side chest. She lifts the mirror one-handed and rests it on the chest.

Hilda: "Just look at yourself. Look in the mirror and see how pretty you are."

Aysel peers into her mirror. She sees a petite, pale skinned young girl looking back with her rouge eyes. The girl brushes her white wavy shoulder length behind her neck. The girl winces as she rubs a pink sun burn on her neck. She leans back to stretch. Her thin white tank top hangs on her chest exposing her slender concave waist. The girl folds her legs to mask a white pair of boxer shorts.

Aysel: "I don't understand. I'm not attractive."

Hilda: "Not if you keep thinking like that. Look in the mirror and tell her she's pretty."

Aysel looks into the mirror. The girl on the other side stares blankly back.

Aysel: "You're pretty..."

The girl on the other side blushes and smiles back. Then Hilda giggles out loud and almost drops the mirror. Realizing she's smiling, Aysel covers her mouth embarrassed.

Hilda: "So you can smile! You don't need to be embarrassed, hon."

Aysel: [Sighs] "Can we talk about something else now?"

Hilda: [Replaces the mirror] "Sure, sure, but you understand that you're beautiful when you smile right?"

Aysel: [Shakes her head] "I... Try not to pay too much attention to my emotions."

Hilda: "I see." [Yawns]

Hilda falls on the bed next to Aysel. The impact shakes the room. Hilda rolls to her side facing Aysel, and rests her cheek on her palm. Hilda brushes her blond hair away from her hazel eyes. Aysel leans back onto the bed, raising her injured leg onto the mattress.

o~-~-~-~o

Meanwhile Jeros arrives at the Ruin Chasers campus. He sees Eddo, Biggs, and Janet waiting for his arrival. Jeros hastens his pace and meets them at the steps of the tower.

Hilda: "Why'd you chose a lil' pony like Jerry to join your guild, Aise?"

Aysel: "To be honest, I had my eye on him for a while. Even before we met on the Grand Orca."

Hilda: "Oh, so you stalked the boy long before voyage."

Aysel: "Not really. The superintendent gave up hiring locals so he chose Northland to hire recruits. His first candidate was the veteran chaser Rand, but we learned he disappeared about three years before we started looking. Also, the principal and Eddo, the dean, were arguing about social status and education versus potential."

After Jeros hands his papers to Eddo, they shake hands. Then superintendent Biggs dismisses Eddo and asks Janet and Jeros to follow. Then they arrive at a long swaying bridge which expands from the cliff side of Grenoble to the center island in the middle of the lake. Upon the island stands a crooked marble building engraved with ancient caricatures half buried in a short jagged mountain. At the base of the mountain is an pair of iron gates sealed by a pair of energy core locks.

While crossing, a gust of wind shakes shakes the bridge. Jeros holds onto the ropes while Biggs and Janet hurry forward. Jeros sighs and catches up in a hurry.

Aysel: "After narrowing down candidates, our last recommendation is Jeros. He earned solid grades in school, and he trained under Guy and a few knights. He's Maxim's son, so he's already a celebrity."

Hilda: "So Jerry's resume made everyone happy then?"

Aysel: "Not quite. There were other candidates who were more than qualified to take the job. However, there is one X factor that made Jeros stand out more than the others."

Hilda: "Then what is it?"

Aysel: "Luck."

While running across the bridge, a board breaks underneath Jeros's foot. Jeros screams and falls down the gap and clings on board in front for dear life. The weight of his weapons is too much for Jeros to pull up. So Jeros clings to the bottom ropes of the bridge and swings himself across a short distance to the cliff. There Jeros uses the cliff to kick himself up. Biggs holds out his hand and Jeros grabs it. Slowly but steadily Biggs pulls Jeros from the bottom of the bridge.

On the edge of the cliff, Jeros gasps a brief thanks while Biggs nods and turns to Janet.

Biggs: "Janet, can you send a memo to the guild that the bridge needs to be fixed again?"

Janet: [Sigh] "This is the third time this month. I'll see what I can do. Hopefully we can get someone to replace the bridge instead of replacing the boards one by one."

Jeros: [Stands up and dusts himself off] "That was fun, I hope that wasn't the exam because I know I failed it."

Biggs: "You can pack up and go home now if you want to."

Jeros: [Folds his arms] "Not one to take jokes, are you?"

Biggs: "After the exam we can bridge those gaps." [Chuckles]

Jeros and Janet stand speechless.

Jeros: "That pun was awful."

Janet: "I think that's the tenth worst pun you've said this year, superintendent."

Biggs: "Uhh..." [Coughs] "Yes, let's continue briefing the exam."

Biggs holds up a palm sized stone. It looks like a miniature monolith with chunks of blocks missing. Bigss places the stone in the middle of the gates and turns it. After a loud clank, the gears behind the gate rotate and slowly pull open the iron doors. Jeros follows Biggs and Janet inside the cavern.

o~-~-~-~o

At the center of the cavern resides a remarkable altar carved with glowing light blue runes. Then the runes fade into an ominous red then back to blue. In the center of the altar is a broken ring shaped statue. Below the ring looks like an an ancient console, possibly a machine which activates some form of portal. Meanwhile Biggs turns to Janet and nods. Janet adjusts her glasses walks towards a massive mechanical door. Jeros can only make a glance of the emblem before Biggs calls attention.

Biggs: "In the old days, we would send chasers down into the Ancient Cave to test their navigation and survival. Even so, they had to spend months training before venturing down to the tenth floor."

Jeros: "I've heard of the Ancient Cave. We have an outlet near Guberik. It's a mysterious dungeon that changes every time you enter it."

Biggs: "Yes, it would have been the perfect test. However about seventeen years ago, a dimensional rift formed inside the cave. The rift's energy mutated the landscape, there are even some points where chasers reached a dead end. The chaotic energies were so powerful that they neutralized the teleportation fields of the providence. Thus one of the reasons why we haven't have many expedition leaders."

Jeros: [Facepalm] "Way to go Dekar..." [Ahem] "So is my test is not within the Ancient Cave?"

Biggs: "No, instead we have a substitute test. The environment is a little more controlled, but with my supervision it is enough to test what chasers are made out of."

Towards the chamber in the back, Jeros and Biggs turn their heads to the celebrating voices behind. Jeros stands in front of the mechanical door. Jeros bends over curiously, looking at the Shaia brand on the mechanical door. Suddenly the door opens to Jeros's surprise. He sees the back of a man with standing aqua green putting on a lab coat underneath his tan jump suit. The man then bends over to what looks like a monolith of metal with flashing lights and a trio of monitors.

Flamboyant Scientist: "With a flick of a lever and twist of a knob, my ultimate dungeon is complete!"

Janet: "You have really outdone yourself this time Raile."

Flamboyant Scientist: "Of course! I might not be as "wise" as my brother, but I'm still just as genius as him. 'The world doesn't need such nonsensical contraptions,' he says. I beg to differ. A sinking ship is my argument of a nonsensical contraption. "

Biggs: "I see. Are you still nitpicking about your brother's modifications to his own ship, Raile?"

The flamboyant scientist turns around. At first, Jeros was frightened. The man's face and goggles are covered black. Then the man flips his goggles upon his forehead and smiles. His aqua green mustache bellows a cloud of dust the scientist's breathing. Then the scientist pulls a handkerchief from his pants and wipes his face. The man looks to be no older than thirty, but strikes a resemblance to the aging Lexis with his eyes and arched nose. The man steps forward.

Flamboyant Scientist: "Superintendent, you came just in time for me to demonstrate my masterpiece in technology." [Looks at Jeros] "And is this the new chaser I see?"

Biggs: "Professor Raile, I would like for you to meet Jeros Caliburn."

Jeros: [Raises his hand] "Hiya."

Raile: [Bends down to look at Jeros] "The nose and chin belongs to your old man I see, but I see your mother's eyes. Then again, I only seen photos of your mother." [Holds out his grimy hand] "I'm sure you've heard of me from my brother. I'm Raile."

Jeros: "Nice to finally meet you." [Winces while shaking hands with Raile] "So what's this ultimate dungeon about?"

Raile: "Ah! Yes, well this computer I built here uses software to design the dungeon's blueprints. Then with various mechanical and energy manipulation techniques the dungeon is terraformed into reality and is constructed..." [Points to a mechanical door on the wall next to the computer] "Here."

Jeros: [Folds his arms, nodding] "I see..." {I'll just nod and pretend knowing what he's talking about. It works on Lexis all the time.}

Raile: "Yes, why explain the millions of mathematics behind such an enigma and demonstrate it for you."

Jeros: {At least he knows how to cut to the chase.}

Raile walks up to the computer and opens a tiny latch which reveals a red blinking button. Raile clinches his fist and slams into the button. From behind the door, someone shouts "Here we go again boys!" Then a terrible sensation of loud grinding and nauseating vibration erupt from the other side. It sounds like a construction project kicked up to double time. After a electric pop and a crack of a whip the door releases steam and slowly slides open. Jeros thinks he heard a cat scream just before the door opened.

Jeros: [Surprised] {Was that a cat?}

Raile: "Well, come on. Have a look see."

Raile motions Biggs and Jeros to follow. He points to the inside of the door. When Jeros and Biggs look out the door, they see what looks like the inside of a volcano's crater. Lava was gushing like waterfalls from the edges of the room and into the pool below the central platform. The platform in the middle extends into the other side of the room, into a narrow hallway with a fire breathing dragon. The intense heat and fear from the dragon's roar causes Jeros's heart to sink into his stomach. The dragon peers into Jeros with eyes of hatred. Then Biggs pulls Jeros away from the door while Janet slams it shut. Jeros almost faints.

Jeros: "That... Wasn't the exam was it?"

Biggs: "That was a very impressive dungeon you built, Raile. However this isn't the chaser's exam."

Raile: "Ah..." [Nervously laughs] "I'm sorry, I almost completely forgot. The exam's dungeon is saved on the computer. Allow me to reconstruct it real quick."

After Raile presses a few buttons and twists a few knobs a picture of a glowing green blueprint appears on the monitor. Raile opens the hatch with the blinking red button.

Raile: "Here we go again!"

Raile slams the button, and a man shouts "Oh for crying out loud!" Then the terrible construction ravage Jeros's ears and nerves for a minute or two. Then when the noise stops, a man cries "Why must the good die young!"

Jeros: {I'll pretend I didn't hear that...}

The door spews steam and opens up to reveal a subterranean catacomb, no lava nor dragon. Jeros stands up and draws his longsword.

Biggs: "You're objective is to reach the bottom floor. There you will find a riddle. Retrieve the treasure that's the answer to the riddle and you pass. Take as much time as you need but beware. Monsters may be lurking every corner. Also, the last step's a doozy."

Jeros: "Don't you mean the first step?"

Biggs: "It depends if that's the step you fall down on."

Jeros: "Don't worry, I won't let you down sir."

Biggs: "Get moving, Caliburn. The sooner you return, the sooner you can start your career."

Jeros: "Fair enough"

Jeros steps through the mechanical door and into the dark cobblestone catacombs. The door closes behind him and all the light with it. Jeros begins his trial in darkness.

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros: "Wow, that's dark..." [Draws his sword] "I guess I need to shine a light on things, eh Crossfire?"

Jeros unlocks the core within his sword. The flames wrap around the blade which give off a faint orange glow. The glow is enough for Jeros to see his path forward.

Jeros: [Nods] "Let's go!"

Jeros steps towards the tunnel parallel to the entrance of the dungeon. Jeros suddenly stops at the edge of the tunnel and looks down to find pitch black darkness. To the right Jeros finds a torch and a rope ladder underneath it. The torch looks fresh and unused. Jeros waves his sword to the cloth and ignites it. Bright flames erupt from the torch. Jeros sheathes his sword and grabs the torch.

Jeros: "No use burning IP down here."

Jeros looks down to where the rope ladder falls and tosses the torch. The torch illuminates the bottom where the rope ladder ends. Jeros then eases himself off the edge and slides down the ropes.

On the bottom, Jeros finds what looks like a lantern. He uses his lit torch to light the lantern. Then the lanter ignites a line of fire which stretches out from the wall while lining the bricks, and ignites various flashes down the crossroads.

Soon, a swarm of shadows flutter out of the tunnel. Jeros ducks avoiding the bats flying overhead. Jeros then stands up takes the tunnel the bats flew from.

Down the tunnel is a large open room. It looks like some form of ancient monastery with a statue of a monk in robes raising his hand in the middle. Around the cobblestone chamber Jeros sees a pair of stone doors with a symbol of an ankh in the middle of the room. Jeros tries to push them open, but the doors won't budge.

Jeros: "I guess I'll have to find another way then."

For about an hour, Jeros wanders around the catacombs. Jeros checks the other doorways, but they either lead to cells with empty treasure chests, collapsed tunnels, or rooms filled with nothing. Jeros even returned to the crossroad and took the other tunnel only to find that it leads to a cliff to certain doom or what else might be under the darkness. Almost giving up, Jeros leans on the statue to rest.

Jeros: "Phew! Maybe I'm not cut out for adventuring after all..."

Then when Jeros relaxes, his weight pushes the statue as if it were on wheels. Jeros stands up after falling on his back to find there's a parchment underneath the statue.

Jeros picks up the parchment to read the letter. Many of its words were either washed away or were written in a runic language. One thing was certain, there was a sketch of what looks like to be a waterfall behind a building of some form. Jeros recalls the cliff past the tunnel.

o~-~-~-~o

Once at the cliff, Jeros looks down at the cliff. Jeros turns his ears to the darkness and faintly hears water splashing. Jeros throws his torch into the darkness. He watches the torch descend until the light vanishes with a splash. Jeros inhales a deep breath. Then closing his eyes, Jeros takes a leap of faith into the darkness.

Jeros falls into a large underwater lake. Once on the surface Jeros sees the light of various angular house looking over the cliff. Jeros then swims around the house until he encounters a gushing waterfall.

Jeros finds a rocky surface to climb himself on. Shivering, Jeros wrings out his long hair and grabs his sword, activating Crossfire without a second thought. Jeros finds that the cliff around the waterfall leads to the back of the monastery.

Jeros: "Possibly a shortcut to the surface. Now let's see what's behind this waterfall."

Jeros raises his leather jacket over his head. He takes a deep breath before stepping through the waterfall. Jeros almost slipped a few times from stepping on the mossy rocks beneath, but he manages to find a cave behind the waterfall. Jeros finds a lantern on the ground and lights it. The lantern illuminates the cave as well as the oak book shelves around it. Jeros examines one of the books to find that its encrypted in runic writing. Many books have drawings regarding the human anatomy while others have drawings about what looks like martial arts techniques. Intrigued and itching to warm up his body, Jeros mimics some of these techniques.

Little does Jeros know, there's a creature lurking behind one of the book shelves. The creature smells the air and licks its moist lips. It has found food. The creature blows black smoke from its nostrils and discreetly steps forward.

Meanwhile fooling around, Jeros tries to practice a back-flipping move from one of the books. When Jeros jumped, he slips on the wet floor and knocks his head on the book shelf. The book shelf falls on the creature behind it. The creature screams unleashing a flamethrower which catches another bookshelf on fire.

Jeros: "Uhh... Is it hot in here or is it me?" [Nips up patting the flames out of his hair] "Fire!"

Jeros grabs his sword. He tries to beat out the flames in the bookshelf, but the flames have already spread. Jeros tries to flee to the entrance near the waterfall however the flames were too intense.

Jeros: "There has to be another way out."

Suddenly Jeros hears one of the book shelves rattle behind him. Jeros hears the heavy breathing of what sounds like a shrieking frog. The bookshelf on top of this creature eventually catches fire. Jeros frowns.

Jeros: "I don't have time for these things\!"

Underneath the blaze, Jeros raises his jacket over his head. He then grabs the bookshelf where the black smoke is shooting from and musters his strength. Jeros was barely able to lift the shelf long enough for the creature to run underneath him. The creature looked like a small dog-sized orange and black newt except with a spiked tail and its legs were slightly more underneath its body. The newt spews flames from its lip as it scuttles away from the blaze. Underneath the bookshelf, Jeros sees something metallic glisten in the light. Soon feeling the heat of the flames nip his fingers, Jeros throws the bookshelf to the side, grabs the metallic object, and follows the newt through the tunnel.

o~-~-~-~o

While running inside the tunnel, Jeros feels a warm breeze blow towards the fire. Jeros looks up to see the smoke blowing towards the entrance of the cave as opposed to inward.

Jeros: {Strange... Why would the wind blow outside of the cave?}

The giant fire breathing newt kicks its feet backwards panicking. Once he caught up, Jeros almost slides off the edge of the cliff while stopping himself. Looking down the hole, Jeros sees a faint fiery glow from the molten lava below. Jeros throws himself back on his bottom wiping the sweat from his brow.

Jeros: "Another volcano... Really guys?"

Meanwhile the giant newt runs away to a corner behind Jeros. The newt glares with frightened purple eyes. Jeros turns to the dog sized amphibian. Aside from the lava-esk orange and black patterns, the creature looks like it has a salamander's face, but it has a few dragon-like spines on its back and tail. Jeros also sees one of the monster's claws is bent awkwardly. The monster shakes as if it were in pain.

Jeros: "...Did I do that?"

Jeros stands up, the salamander's mouth starts to flare up. Jeros reaches into his back pack and finds a lunch box. Jeros opens up the box and places it on the ground, then slides it to the monster.

Jeros: "Here, eat this. It'll make you feel better."

The monster steps forward, glaring and hissing at Jeros. It smells the contents of the lunch box, left over fried rice, some radishes, and a strawberry bun. Nothing appeals to the monster's taste until it smells and licks a charred newt.

Jeros: [Waving] "Go on..."

The salamander grabs the newt with its tongue turns around, and flees into the shadows. Jeros hears the beast crunch away at its meal.

Jeros: "You're pretty hungry, though I wonder what's a monster like you is doing in a fake dungeon like this?"

The salamander grunts then resumes dining. Jeros shrugs and turns his attention to the metallic object. Looking closer Jeros sees that the object is a golden ankh tied onto a rosary. Jeros remembers recalling an ankh in Iris's hands back in Chatam. However this relic doesn't have any energy waves behind it. Jeros replaces the ankh in his pocket and looks out towards the library. The blaze is still too hot to handle.

Jeros: "Out of the frying pan and into the volcano? I wonder if Jean came up with that one yet?"

Jeros looks around until he finds an exit on the other side of the crater.

Jeros: "Looks like that's my way out of here."

Jeros heads to the exit, meanwhile the salamander finishes swallowing the newt's tail. The salamander then begins to follow Jeros. Jeros hears the creature's footsteps and calls out.

Jeros: "Okay, you can follow me. Don't try to attack me."

The salamander stops to think for a minute. Then it continues to follow Jeros outside of the crater.

o~-~-~-~o

The cavern leads to the cliff-side next to the waterfall. Jeros sees the blaze dying down feeling stupid letting all that knowledge burn. Those books could have held clues to his exam. Then Jeros turns around to look at the salamander which closes its eyes and turns its head away.

Jeros: "Hey, you're the one who started the fire."

The salamander snorts. Jeros shrugs.

Jeros: "Ah well, it happens I guess. I would've done the same if something that heavy fell on me. Also if I can breathe fire which I can't."

The salamander snorts again. Jeros sighs and turns around.

Jeros: "You know what I mean." [Holds up the ankh] "I think I may have seen this symbol before. That's right! The door."

Jeros runs up the cliff into the monastery while the salamander scuttles behind him.

Once inside, Jeros finds that the entrance is blocked due to the overhead collapsing.

Jeros: [Placing his hands on his hips] "This won't do. What do you think little guy?"

The salamander climbs onto the mound of dirt and starts digging. Once the hole is big enough the salamander squeezes through. Jeros looks in the hole with the salamander blinking from the other side.

Jeros: "Maybe if I had some black powder..." [Shakes his head] "Nah... It's a risk here."

Jeros digs through the dirt. Thanks to the salamander's claws the dirt is soft enough to be scooped by hand. Once the hole is big enough, Jeros squeezes himself through until he tumbles to the other side.

Back inside the main chamber Jeros runs up to the stone doors. Jeros recognizes the symbol and places the ankh within it. The ankh starts to glow as a loud clicking is heard from the other side. The doors slowly slide open revealing a long set of stairs leading to a higher chamber.

Jeros rubs his eyes from the bright lights of the torches. Looking closely Jeros sees the torches are more light bulbs than flames. The salamander hisses and nudges Jeros's leg.

Jeros: "Okay, okay. I'm going."

Jeros and the salamander walk up the stairs Jeros looks at the salamander.

Jeros: "You're way to tame to be an ordinary monster. So, do you have a master around here somewhere?"

The salamander shakes its head then closes its eyes as if it were grieving.

Jeros: "I see... You don't have to follow me anymore."

The salamander looks at Jeros and shakes its head.

Jeros: "I suppose you want to get out of here then. I'll lead you out. I'm not sure what to do with you until then."

o~-~-~-~o

Jeros finally arrives in the chamber. After looking around immediately Jeros notices golden statues of monks standing between ivory pillars bowing down to the one in the middle holding up a hand and what looks like a stone bowl. Jeros steps forward into the chamber. Suddenly the floor begins to glow. Surprised, Jeros steps back and draws his sword. The salamander heals behind Jeros snarling flames from its mouth. Jeros looks closer to the floor. He sees runes glowing behind the floor's surface. Jeros can't make heads or tails of the ancient symbols.

Staying cautious, Jeros steps forward onto the floor with his sword drawn. Suddenly the runes glow red. The golden monk statues stand up and turn to Jeros. As soon as Jeros raises his sword the golden monks force palms the air creating a force field which throws Jeros out of the chamber to the stairs. The salamander runs to Jeros's side. Jeros stands up clinching his shoulder.

Jeros: "Forgive me, I didn't know this was a peaceful place..."

Jeros sheathes his sword and stands next to the entrance. Jeros unbuckles the belt to his weapons: the arm sword, dagger, and buckler next to one of the pillars. Jeros steps forward onto the glowing floor. The golden monks return to their bowing position. Then Jeros steps forward to the monk statue in the middle. The statue portrays a very thin man on the verge of starvation. The man has very large ears yet a calm face despite his weak complexion.

Jeros: "I can't believe it. I've heard stories of an ancient order of monks, but I never thought I would meet them. They're only statues and this dungeon is fake but..."

Voice: "There is suffering..."

Jeros: "What?"

Jeros looks around the chamber trying to find where the voice is coming from. The salamander glares at Jeros as if he lost his mind.

Jeros: "Who's talking to me."

Voice: "The existence in this life leads only to suffering, does it not?"

Jeros realizes who's voice is calling him. Jeros faces the monk statue in the center.

Jeros: "I suppose... We are destined to die since the day we are born."

Voice: "You have felt suffering then."

Jeros: "Who hasn't? And what kind of question is that?"

Voice: "Do you know what causes one to suffer?"

Jeros: "I suppose many things. Hunger, lust, pain, boredom."

Voice: "Things often one craves, are they not?"

Jeros: "Or things that cause you to crave. People are insane if they love to be hurt." [Shakes his head] "Never mind, so you're saying if I can get rid of these cravings, I'll..."

Voice: "Suffering will end when craving ends. Thus you will have eliminated the delusion of existence. You will be enlightened."

Jeros: "I see... I'm afraid I'm not worthy of enlightenment then. I have caused suffering to others. With the way things are in my world, I may continue to cause suffering. And I can't rest knowing that I have caused suffering to others. What about you? Why do you have a bowl?"

Voice: "This bowl is used to hold food and water."

Jeros: "So you crave as well? Food and water is hard to deny, but wouldn't it be easier to forget if you don't have the bowl in your hand?"

Voice: "If what you say is true, then I believe you understand our ways. May enlightenment bring peace of mind someday."

Jeros: [Bows] "Thank you... Um... May I take your bowl to help ease your suffering?"

Voice: "Yes, you may."

Jeros: "Thank you very much. I'll never forget this."

Jeros takes the bowl from the statue. The statues of the other monks turn to Jeros and bow to him. Jeros bows to all the monks and turns to the stairs. He finds the salamander napping using his buckler as a pillow. Jeros picks up his weapons rudely waking up the salamander.

Jeros: "Let's get out of here."

o~-~-~-~o

On the other side of the chamber, Raile is cheering by the computer.

Raile: "I don't know how, but you did it Jeros."

Raile's cheering wakes up a napping Janet next to him. Janet rolls on her stomach looking for her glasses.

Janet: "Is he finished?" [Finds her glasses and cleans them] "Finally!"

A loud banging can be heard from the metal door. Raile jumps to the door and pushes a button on the speaker box.

Raile: "I'll let you out. You have to push the button on the speaker to talk."

Jeros: [Behind the speaker] "Sorry, Doc. Well can you let me out."

Raile: "Alrighty then, step back."

Raile runs to the computer, bumping Janet over in the process, and twists a few nobs. Then a loud buzzing sounds and the door shoots steam and creeks slowly opens. An exhausted Jeros walks out of the door.

Raile: "You did it! I thought that when you burned down the it was the end of it. You were suppose to read the books in there."

Jeros: "I was?" [Coughs] "Well, if I'd known I was that ill prepared I should have just quit hours ago."

Raile: "So you got the Saint's Bowl eh?" [Reaches out for the bowl in Jeros's hand] "Lemme see!"

Before Raile can reach the bowl, the salamander snaps at Raile's hand. Raile steps back searching his pockets for a weapon of some sort. The salamander jumps forward and hisses.

Jeros: "Hey! Hey! It's all right, he's one of us."

The salamander hisses, this time with flames from its mouth. Then it heels behind Jeros. Meanwhile Janet steps forward and bends over to the salamander.

Janet: "Oh! That's an adorable monster. I'm not fond of amphibians..."

The salamander snorts.

Janet: [Adjusting her glasses] "Well a fire breathing water dog is unusual around these parts."

Jeros: "So how do you think he got in there?"

Raile: "I'm not sure, I have to run a few diagnostics. I'm sure my dungeon builder is full proof from all outsiders." [Folds his arms] "Normally most monsters spawned in the dungeons cannot exist outside of them. Though it is a possibility that he may have snuck in during the assembly process, but that would have mutilated the poor thing."

The salamander whimpers and climbs on Jeros's shoulder. Jeros pets the salamander.

Jeros: "Don't worry, I'm sure we'll find your owner soon enough."

The salamander rests its head on Jeros's neck. Jeros turns to Janet.

Jeros: "Well, have I passed the test?"

Janet: "Barely, but you managed well considering how fresh you started. Most chasers have to study for at least half a year before taking an exam like this. You remember Biggs explaining the Ancient Cave test?"

Jeros: "Yeah, what of it?"

Janet: "That's the standard exam for an expedition team member. Your exam was for an expedition leader."

Jeros: "Huh... Go figure." [Rubs the back of his head] "So if I passed, does that mean I'm a qualified leader?"

Janet: "If you pass... The superintendent will have to evaluate your performance."

Jeros: [Sighs] "Fine... Can I head back to the inn now?"

Janet: "Sure. The evaluation will take some time. It's only about three-thirty so the evaluation should be done by six tonight."

Jeros: "Six it is then." [Nods] "Okay, see you then Janet. And thanks for everything."

Janet: "Don't thank me, I still believe you could be a spy."

Jeros: "I'll have to ask about that later." [Leaving] "See ya around six then."

o~-~-~-~o

When Jeros leaves the cave, he recalls his fall on the bridge. This time Jeros walks slowly across the bridge holding onto the ropes. On the other side he sees Hilda and Barman waving. Once on the other side Hilda immediately brings her attention to the salamander.

Hilda: "Well ain't you the cutest thing I've ever seen! Where'd you pick him up Jerry?"

Jeros: "Found him during the exam. I think he lost his owner somewhere."

Hilda: "Well, I'm sure we'll be able to take good care of him until we find his master." [Picks up the salamander and hugs it] "C'mon little Char, let's be friends okay?"

Jeros: "Uhh... Hilda, I don't think you should do that..."

Hilda: "Why not?"

Hilda's embrace is crushing the salamander..

Hilda: "Oops, I keep forgetting my own strength. Sorry little fella." [Places the salamander on the ground]

Barman: "Yep, well I hate to say it but we can't exactly keep him for long at my inn. Oh, Aysel's up and walking again. Turns out Lunethene heal faster than we do."

Jeros: "That's good." [Stretching] "Man I'm beat. I still haven't had breakfast or lunch yet. Fact, I fed it to him." [Points to the salamander nibbling on his boot]

Barman: "Eh-heh, well if you have a bit of spare gold I'm sure we can provide. If not... Well, I like ya. How about having a tab only for tonight."

Jeros: "If it's food I'll take it. I don't do drinks."

Hilda: "I'm glad you don't, Jerry, otherwise I'll kill ya."

Jeros: "You're not the first person who said that to me."

o~-~-~-~o

Walking back to Grenoble's inn. Jeros feels the weight of hunger within his belly. Forgetting about lunch for a minute, he turns to Barman.

Jeros: "Is Aysel still at the inn?"

Barman: "Fat chance. Fact, she said she had to return to the guild as soon as her foot was better."

Jeros: "I see... I wonder how the guild is going to react to Narseby?"

Barman: "I wouldn't bring that up to them if I were you, pony boy."

Jeros: "Pony boy!" [Shakes his head] "Will you guys stop spreading that name around?" [Sighs] "Nevermind, why shouldn't I bring Narseby up to the guild..."

Jeros stands in the middle of the road. Barman and Hilda turn around. Jeros conspiratorial look veils his frustration.

Jeros: "Does Westland worships Narseby Fairfax as its god?"

Aysel: "Yes, and no."

Aysel drops behind Jeros. Jeros turns around while the salamander hides behind his ankles snarling.

Jeros: "Why drop in all of a sudden?"

Aysel: "Come with me and I'll tell you everything."

Barman: "Didn't ol' paps warn you about keeping certain things to yourself."

Aysel: "Now's not the time, Barman. We need you now Jeros."

Jeros: "I'll presume 'we' means the guild." [Pulls up his pants and looks at the salamander] "You stay with Hilda, Char."

The salamander tilts its head. Jeros looks back at the salamander.

Jeros: "We have to call you something, don't we?"

The salamander nods and walks to Hilda's side. Hilda bends over and picks it up.

Aysel: {When did he tame a salamander?} [Shakes her head] "Jeros, we have to leave now."

Jeros: "Right!"

Jeros and Aysel run to down the road Chaser's Guild. Hilda holds Char, the salamander, in her arms wondering what in Lufia is happening. Hilda hands Barman salamander and runs after them.

Barman: "Hey, Hilda!"

Hilda: "I have this feelin' boss. I can't let them go by themselves."

Barman: [Sigh] "But tonight's karaoke night, we're gonna be busy."

Char claws itself out of Barman's arms and scuttles on the ground after Hilda. Barman rubs his wrists.

Barman: [Yelling from behind] "Gah! Fine! Go on, get!"

The salamander scuttles after Hilda to the Chaser's guild.

~End Moonstone Chapters.
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---DarkMaster2101

"Nonsense was beginning!"

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Postby SinReVi » Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:17 pm

Artea in a bikini!

*is shot by Artea*

uhh... Foomy!
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Lufia - Curse of the Sinistrals
~ OUT NOW! 2010

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