Whatever scenario Cecil had envisioned upon awaking from his capture—imprisonment, torture, a slow, painful death—this was not it. After he roused from the hard pallets in the Lunar Whale the paladin found himself stunned to glimpse the second moon out a porthole. His initial thought to activate the crystal on the starship was quickly smothered by the fact that it, like the one in Baron, was a ghastly grey and didn't respond to his touch. So much for returning to the Blue Planet...
What had become of Baron, his friends, his wife and family? What had happened to the crystal?
Leaving the starship Cecil realized that this was not some bizarre dream. The cold cut to the bone and as he walked aimlessly, the paladin clutched his cape close. No, this was no hallucination; his injuries weren't sufficient to prompt this even before the rest that greatly restored his health. As his trek lead southwestern, the paladin viewed the Crystal Palace from the distance, all shining embattlements and stalagmite towers.
"Come, hither, to the palace..."
Cecil froze, hand sliding down to a sword that was, yet again, not there. The voice was benign; lulling the paladin like one of Rosa's healing spells...not like the slithering voice that persisted about the crystal. Within the paladin warred his mistrust for something so suspect and yet so soothing but still pressed onward to the Crystal Palace. If it was a trap, so be it; he'd find out soon enough.
Despite his solitude and his lack of weaponry, the monsters kept their distance, hiding in the stalagmites and shadows. When Cecil departed another lunarian cavern untouched he considered that the voice might have afforded him some protection. That voice beckoned him at regular intervals, intensifying if the paladin tarried too long. One such case was when he got a good look at the palace.
Composed of a crystalline material, the walls usually gleamed like polished diamonds. But just like the crystal in Baron and in the Lunar Whale tarnish bled into the walls, depleting them of illumination. The paladin shivered and this time not from the cold. Before defeating Zeromus every nook and cranny of the palace gleamed darkness. A repeat of this became all the more apparent as he laid his hands upon the stone double doors.
The theme of diminished light and beauty continued as the paladin stepped inside. The double door swung closed behind him prompting a raised eyebrow. No point in trying to open them; whoever had the power to shut them probably had the power to keep them that way. Instead, Cecil strode on to the dais in the center of the main chamber. Here, years ago he'd met his uncle for the first time.
Thus it was with no surprise that the paladin watched as a pillar of light struck the chair and a figure emerged, too brilliant to be seen in the center. What did startle him was that the man was neither Fu-So-Ya nor Golbez...A sigh slipped past his lips, at first a sign of his disappointment then a second one, sharp, to signify shock. The man was a mirror...his mirror. The same light green eyes, the same silver hair, the same jaw, the same height...
"I bid you greetings, Ce-ci-l. I am Klu-Ya and I've waited long to look upon you...my son."
Hero, king, husband...all those titles evaporated in that instant as the paladin drifted to his father and his father to him. There was no fear of deception; no fear of this man not being Klu-Ya. Aside from the obvious resemblance was fluttering feeling in his heart. They did not embrace. Cecil was still too awkward for that. But just being in the presence of him lifted the weight of the Tower of Babil off the paladin's shoulders.
Questions poured out of his mouth. Not quickly enough to satisfy his swirling mind for it raged like the first time he put a foot on an ascending airship. "Do you know what's happening on the Blue Planet? That Baron was attacked? Do you know if it's under still under assault? Why am I here? Why are you here? Why—"
"Ce-ci-l." Those three syllables, so softly spoken, shattered the storm around the paladin. "It would take days to explain everything. That is time we can ill afford." The rise and fall of the long ivory selves as his father gestured calmly added to the man's hypnotic poise. "Your questions must wait. There is something you need to see."
Boxing all his queries inside his head for now, the paladin followed to the chamber the man started for. His breath hitched at remembering what lay beyond that door. In it was housed the four crystals of dark and the four crystals of light. The paladin was not anxious for a return to the theme of shadows pervading the last few hours. Thankfully, the determined set of his father's jaw and the fierce eyes fixed on him gave the paladin courage enough to tread past that dreaded threshold.
Magnifying the paladin's fears eightfold was the crystals—shimmering with tainted light.
"Sorrow fills me at having to show this to you."
"It is as I feared..."
His stomach felt like it dropped to his knees. All the links—the voice, the darkened crystal, the return of the second moon—connected now. As he trod among the crystals, touching each in turn and retracting his fingers, repulsed, he fought off the rising panic. He could feel his father's eyes upon him, weighing him. Measuring his strength, perhaps?
"If...If he should still live on I will destroy him again..." Every word invested with determination, Cecil leveled his gaze with his father's. "But the loss of life...Is there no way to keep him from rising again?"
Bright white hair flared as the lunarian shook his head. At first, Cecil thought that was an indication of no but his next words tamed the fear in his heart. "Zeromus has not yet gathered the strength to take his astral or physical form. After his defeat at the hands of you and your friends he's been nursing his wounds, contemplating that failure. And he believes that is because of one thing: the ninth crystal."
The crystal...Bring me the crystal...
Like before the sound drove deep into Cecil's mind, compelling him...He shook his head and spared a glance the lunarian's way. Klu-ya offered him a sad smile. Any thoughts of mistrust were smothered by his own experiences with Kain. The game of distrust he'd played often enough already and it had nearly destroyed him and his friend. Despite the pending crisis, the paladin would treasure this time with his father.
But then...whose voice was it?
Like a sword thrust into his heart realization struck the paladin.
"That's why the Wyverns attacked! They want the crystal." The pieces were falling into place—and soon everything would be falling apart. Including himself. Distressed, Cecil's eyes squeezed shut. Then there was a hand upon his shoulder. Breathing in deeply, the paladin commanded himself. The very touch was like Golbez's all those years ago. His emerald eyes opened.
And gazed into an identical set. In that moment a message was sent and delivered. A moment of years in the making for both father and son. As like the moment when a dark knight set foot in a temple and came face to face with his father to atone for his sins and embrace the light. But that was nothing compared to this. Both of their eyes shined with tears too long withheld.
He's counting on me to be that hero, king, legend...All the things he was. Is.
Klu-Ya tore free of the gaze first, dropping his arm and coughing. "Indeed. And they took you hoping either to derive the knowledge of its location or use you as barter for the crystal itself. Or both." Whispering words from the lunarian language, Klu-Ya summoned a staff composed of the material of the moon. "Come. It is time for us to leave for the Blue Planet and protect the crystal!"
The crystal...Bring me the crystal...
Cecil flinched. Drawing a deep breath, the paladin forced himself to focus. What harm could a simple voice do him? Or to anyone or anything for that matter? As long as he maintained in control of himself Zeromus couldn't...couldn't anything. His eyes darted over to his father. The man was a well of strength and from there the Baronian king took heart.
"Yes. Let's go."
Two generations of lunarians left the crystal chambers in its darkness.