XI : Serenity

Bringing the sword down upon the seated figure, Ico was suddenly shot back with a massive burst of energy. Flying through the air, he was flung a fair distance away, landing on his head- a sickening crack, and a spurt of blood, announced his landing.

"You're a nuisance, boy, do you really wish to die that badly?" The queen rose from her throne, looking at the child lying on the floor.

Slowly, holding his head, he staggered upright. Blood was running through his hand, which was placed over the stump left of his right horn. Throbbing pain ran through his head- staring at the blurry figure ahead of him, he barely made a wince as he stepped forward.

"Still standing? Come at me, then, child, and do your worst."

Suddenly, a massive blast of energy came at him- rolling across the floor, he barely made it behind a column when the wave passed. Still holding his bleeding head, he looked around frantically for the sword- it was lying on the floor between the two columns.

The Queen, surrounded by a massive shield of black energy, sent another shockwave out. Ico ran to the sword and picked it up, diving just behind the opposite pillar as a third wave was unleashed. The force of the blast pushed the column back slightly, but the child remained unharmed behind it.

"It moves..." Leaning against it, Ico began to push the column towards the Queen. Waiting until she finished sending off another powerful shockwave, he suddenly ran out and slammed the edge of the blade against the force field.

With a wince, the Queen's magic sent the blade (and the child) flying some distance, Ico coming to rest close to the throne. The sword landed against the wall, glowing dimly in the dark confines. Expecting the child to remain still, she sent off another blast of energy- slightly dismayed, he found him to be gone.

The sword was missing from the wall; with a massive burst of power, she suddenly caught glint of it protecting the child from the spell. Once more, he came running at her during the opening and slashed at the shield.

"You fool, what are you trying to accomplish?" The field sent the blade flying once more, followed by a shockwave, "Succumb to your fate and perish, you demon!"

It landed in the very back of the room, glowing against the cold floors. Smirking, the Queen felt as if the blade was out of reach, therefore she began laying down her strongest attacks.

Behind a column, Ico began pulling it back, head still throbbing with each step. He could hear the woman behind him sending off the spells; after a break, he ran out at top speed to the sword and grabbed it just as a shockwave hit him.

The blade glowed like fire, scattering the attack around him. The weakened impact was enough to cause great pain, so without delay, he ran back to a column and waited out the next attacks. Pushing it closer and closer to the Queen, he waited until he had an opening- rushing out, he thrust the blade at the sword, the resounding blast sending it flying from his hands.

The shield had ruptured- with a slight bit of panic, the Queen upped the ante and started casting the spell more fiercely and more frequently. Through wavering eyes, she watched the child disappear behind columns and back to the sword, then frightfully watched the column move forward.

Sweat rolling down the nearly exhumed face of the woman, she continued to attack with only the most violent of forces. Meanwhile, behind the column, Ico patiently awaited a break.

"For Yorda..." He ground his teeth, then suddenly ran out just as a wave went past. Swinging the blade up, he thrust it at the woman.

Blood spilled onto the floor, mixing with the dust.

"..." The Queen suddenly fell back into the throne, the boy standing over her, pushing the blade down. It stuck straight through her chest, resting against the surface of the great chair behind her. Blood carelessly ran down, and off onto the floor, as her eyes began to glaze.

"Yorda... Yorda will never be able to escape the castle..." The words flowed out of the stammering mouth weakly, as a greasy, evil grin smeared across her fading face. "Even... if you take my life..."

Ico, staring hard, said nothing, but leaned against the blade further. The Queen let her eyes roll back- suddenly, with a resounding blast, he was sent flying through the air. Hitting the stonewall, he let out a loud gasp as all air left his body; landing on the stone floors, everything went to black as his left horn clinked against the ground beside him.

Outside the throne room, Yorda's body suddenly exploded into great white light, which quickly melted down into shadow. A pitch-black figure slowly sat upright, gazing around. The entire caste began to tremor angrily- for a minute, the figure looked down at its hand.

Her fingers were a pitch black, along with her arm. Rising, she looked around the tomb and found all of the spirits once trapped in the coffins to be released. Looking back at the throne room's door, she saw a figure in the distance. Slowly turning, black feet swept across the floor silently to the body.

Kneeling down, the shadow was suddenly taken aback while staring at the boy's head. Gingerly touching the bleeding wound on his head, a thought began to bloom. Bending down, sliding dark arms under Ico, the girl rose and began walking out of the throne room.

Pieces of the ceilings and ornamental objects began to fall and crumble, as the shadow walked to the great elevator. With not a noise, it pulled the switch, still gently carrying the unconscious boy in it's arms.

Reaching the bottom, and walking out, the shadow glanced about the crumbling tower, then headed for the alcove. Outside, huge bricks could be witnessed falling from the heavens into the gray seas; ignoring all other objects, the shadow walked to wooden boat, now rising up with the water which flooded the alcove.

Resting the boy in the boat, and trying to make sure he was in a comfortable position, the shadow then placed her hands on the edge of the boat. Taking off in a stride, she cast the boat free for the open waters. Staring at the vessel, she slowly raised a hand to her face, then took a breath.

"Alu re'hauss."

Above, bridges fell and statues shattered, the angry rumbling running through each wall. Whole buildings caved in as chains fell from the ceilings, and torches scattered flames across the barren floors. Birds escaped from the island in massive flocks, watching the impressive building crumble below.

With huge, muffled sounds of rock splitting, the entire island suddenly began to sink into the frothing waters. Inside caverns and buildings flooded entirely, and boxes and crates floated out and adrift. Soon, the final bricks of the palace sunk into the sea, never again to be disturbed.

The land went silent, as well as the sea, no trace of the fortress to be seen.

Far away, a small boat had beached itself on a long shore, the sun beating down on the weathered wood. Slowly, Ico opened his eyes to see a blurry sky dotted with clouds and seagulls.

"Where...am I?" Rising, he suddenly fell, limply, onto the wet sand as everything swirled into a blur. Wincing upon impact, he was reminded that his head was still in massive amounts of pain. The seawater stung against an open wound, enough to rise the boy to his feet.

Looking around the shore, he squinted at a flock of birds- they were circling over something at the far end of the beach. Unable to see what it was that had their attention, he began walking across the wet sand.

His shoes sunk slightly for each step, his head giving off a faint pulse of pain for each time a foot contacted the earth. Ico's vision was miserably blurry, and he had barely enough energy to concentrate on moving ahead.

Through the splashing waters, he could soon see a white blur lying across the tan sand. It almost seemed to glow against the background upon which it was resting. Pausing for a moment, he suddenly let out a gasp, then took off in a blind run.

Panting, head throbbing, he carried himself swiftly across the beach to the white blur- reaching it, he slowly walked up to the figure, staring down.

Yorda's body lie ashore, gently caressed by tongues of waves.

"Yorda..." He looked over her, worried that she might be dead. But soon, he saw her hand move. Still staring down at her, and casting a shadow on her figure, he began to grin as she stirred in her slumber.

Curling up slightly, she let her shining eyes slide open. Looking up at the figure standing before the sun, a huge grin smoothly spread across her face as she gazed upon her friend's figure.