*Camera opens to show the Tower of Mana in all its glory, panning up the massive structure to its rooftop, where I.F and Raenef stand looking over the edge*
Raenef: I'm telling you, it could totally work.
I.F: And I'm telling you that not only is it highly unethical and not necessary, the fans wouldn't like it one bit.
Raenef: But he would survive! He has to! The only way he can get hurt is if it's not for comedic purposes!
I.F: But still…*suddenly hears a noise behind him and turns to see the ToS cast so far watching confused*
Lloyd: Is there any particular reason you two are here?
*I.F starts to answer, but Raenef speaks before he can*
Raenef: We were…hocking loogies! Yes! People do that on the edge of tall buildings!
*Awkward silence follows, as Raenef starts to sweat*
I.F: *turns to face the camera* I suppose I'll start the chapter then. Here's chapter 32!
Sorry for the bit of delay between last chapter and this one. I've been doing work on Tales of a Steamworld, so I put this on the backburner for a time while I brainstormed new ideas. You should check it out, especially if you have a taste for Steampunk or world-crafting!
Speech-Origin and Summon Spirits speaking
(Speech) Author speaking
"So what do we do now? How do we search for Aska from here?" Genis questioned as the group gathered around the map of Sylvarant that was laid across a flat tree stump. After crossing over from Tethe'alla, the group had made their way to the Ossa Trail, as it was a safe location to fly near as very few travelers made their way across it. Upon landing, they had immediately begun brainstorming ideas for trying to locate Aska, while Lloyd set to the task of turning their Linkite fruit into an instrument. "Do we even know where to start?"
Raine racked her brain for what information she could recall about Aska's legend. "The legend about Aska, from what I can remember, read as such:" she paused to take a breath before reciting, "'Lo, the winged bird of light, Luna's companion, soaring across the clear skies. Never ceasing, never ending flight, fighting darkness to save the world from its plight. Bring forth thine Linkite shells and hold them to the sky, to give Aska reason to fly." She finished and the group mulled over the meaning of the words of the legend. "We obviously know that Aska is here in Sylvarant, and that his presence is always found in the sky. We also know that the sound of a Linkite tree can call him from his flight. However, we have no tree, and only one fruit with which to try and call him." Raine pointed down on the map to where the Ossa Trail was marked before continuing.
"We also know that since this is where a Linkite Tree used to stand, Aska is certain to visit here more likely than anywhere else. The only issue with this is the timing; we have no idea if he has already passed here and is on his way throughout the rest of the world, or if he would even respond to the Linkite Flute should we play it." Raine finished and sighed, running a hand through her white hair.
"I'm certain he'll respond to the sound of the flute. It's mentioned in every tale we had of Aska, so it only makes sense for him to be drawn to it. But you are right about trying to get him to hear it. Unless we have some way to amplify the sound, Aska may not even hear it if he flies over us." Sheena said.
Lloyd paused in his efforts and voiced his thoughts. "We have the Rheairds. Could we fly with the Linkite fruit and play as we fly? We can easily fit two people on one Rheaird."
Zelos raised an eyebrow at this plan. "So what, we hope that he's flying nearby and he hears the music? The chances of catching him with it are slim, if anything. Do we not have anything better?"
Lloyd's eyebrows furrowed in frustration. "That's all we have." He stood up and walked around, scratching at his head. For all his knowledge of the past, Lloyd wasn't sure what to do at this point. He knew that before, they used a combination of Gnome, Sylph, and the various materials needed to not just recreate the Linkite Tree, but to reach Aska. Here and now, they only had the fruit, and he knew it would be more time lost if they went after Sylph now. He wasn't even sure they would be up to taking on the trio representing the element of wind. Before, they had Regal and Presea with them as well. They'd be short two fighters.
'I wonder where those two are now…Presea was in the city of Meltokio when we did this the first time around…Regal was in the jails. Would they be alright with the city in chaos? What if they're hurt? What if they…' Lloyd stopped that train of thought. He didn't want to even consider the possibility of them being harmed. 'Focus on what's in front of you, Lloyd. You need to find Aska. You have the Linkite nut to craft an instrument. Now you need to have Aska hear it so you can bring him to Luna. So, how to reach a bird of light that flies all across the world?' Lloyd stopped and went over again in his mind what he did before. His eyes surveyed the world around him, drawn to the high peaks of the Ossa trail that lay beyond their current position.
A sudden thought struck his mind. It was something he remembered in geography, one of Raine's lessons that Lloyd had somewhat listened to. "Professor, I have a question." Raine's eyes shifted to her student as he looked at her. "What is it, Lloyd?"
"When one stands at the top of a mountain, what is it like?" Lloyd's question seemed out of the blue. But, being the Professor, Raine immediately sought to teach.
"Well, there are several differences between what it's like at sea level and at the elevation of a mountain peak. The temperature drops immensely, depending on how high up you go. It's the reason why some mountain peaks are coated with snow even in times of spring. Wildlife thins out, with only the most resolute or adapted choosing to remain. The atmosphere thins out, making it harder to breathe, while chilling winds bite at you and make it even colder." Raine paused to breathe, but Lloyd cut her off.
"That last part, about the wind. How strong are they?" Raine blinked, but closed her eyes in thought before opening again to answer.
"Well, as I said, they can vary, but for certain they are stronger than what we would usually feel here on the ground. Some say they can get as strong as a hurricane or…" Raine trailed off, her eyes narrowing. Lloyd could tell she was catching on.
"We need something to carry the sound to reach Aska. And sound is carried by the wind, right?" Realization struck Raine's face. "So what if what we need to do is…"
"…play the music from atop the highest peak, so that the winds would carry the sound the farthest…Lloyd, that's genius! That's exactly what we need!" the Professor's eyes lit up in glee at the idea. "We'll take the instrument to the highest peak and play it from there. The chance of Aska hearing it are much greater there than anywhere else. But where to go?"
Genis took this time to speak up. "What about Hima? We were able to see the Tower of Salvation best from there, not to mention how windy it was the last time we visited there." He shivered as he recalled cursing his lack of proper clothing for the mountain, as well as riding the dragons to the Tower. Shorts and a t-shirt really do not make for mountain material.
"Hey, yeah! Hima would be perfect for reaching Aska!" Sheena took to the plan as well. "And with the Rheairds, we can fly straight there." She pointed at the map and drew a line from the Ossa trail to the marker for Hima. "It wouldn't take us but an hour at the most if we fly northeast from here to there."
"Now see, that's the kind of spirit I like to hear from my hunnies!" Zelos said. "In fact, I think a celebratory smooch is in order!" Zelos moved over to try and sweep Sheena off her feet, but found nothing but air awaiting him. "Hmm?" Keeping his lips in a pursed state, he turned to see everyone walking off to a clearing to fly off to Hima. "Another chance missed…but I shall prevail yet!" he raced after them.
Skies over Hima
The residents of Hima were astounded to witness several crafts flying overhead. Some thought of them as a new breed of birds that had appeared from the other side of Sylvarant, off of one of the uncharted islands that sailors kept clear away from. Others thought they were a creation of the Desians, sent to spy on potential new victims. Lloyd and co. knew that it would be best to not land at the village, though, if just to avoid questions of how the Chosen had gotten her hands on such, literally, out-of-this-world transportation. "Make sure to keep away from the village. I don't know how they would react to a Summon Spirit appearing before their eyes." Lloyd called back to the rest of the group. They nodded and drifted away from the small village to the more desolate mountaintops that were unoccupied by any civilization. Hopping off of his Rheaird, Lloyd found himself having to brace his feet as the wind was indeed strong here. His scarf-tails were whipping behind him viciously.
"Have we got everyone here?" He had to yell to be heard over the wind. His question was soon answered as the rest of the group landed and walked to his position. "Ok, we're here. All we have to do now is play and cross our fingers." He pulled out the Linkite fruit, now crafted into the shape of a pan flute. "Whose gonna play the music though?"
Everyone paused at the question. It seemed that they'd neglected that small detail in their plans. "Does anyone have any talent for music? I know I taught it some in school, but I could never play it myself…" Raine asked aloud.
Genis stepped up and held out his hand. "I can do it. I used to play flute back when we still lived in Iselia, when Raine was just starting as a teacher. It was something to pass the time before I met you, Lloyd."
Lloyd's eyes widened as he realized Genis had never told him such before. "I didn't know you liked playing with music, Genis. Anytime I saw you, your nose was in a book."
Genis snorted. "That's because one of us had to actually study to learn in class while the other copied notes."
Lloyd sweatdropped and the rest of the group shared a small laugh as Genis handled the flute, looking it over before he put it to his mouth to play. He tested it with a few soft notes before taking a deep breath and moving into a melody that made its way through the whistling wind around them. Lloyd glanced to Raine and saw her smiling at her little brother, her eyes revealing her joy at seeing her brother demonstrate such a skill. Even Kratos was impressed by the young mage's skill with the instrument. 'He reminds me of Mithos when we first met…Martel knows how many years ago it was.' The mercenary thought to himself as Genis continued for a solid two minutes before finishing a final note.
Lloyd had to snap himself into reality as he realized Genis had stopped. "Genis…that was amazing!" he praised as he broke into applause. Raine clapped as well, much more enthused with the performance as the rest of his friends followed suit. Genis was blushing a light red as he took in all the praise. "You guys are too nice. It wasn't anything that special." He did his best to downplay their compliments.
"On the contrary, I was quite impressed. It's been some time since someone has played such a song for me to hear." A deeply-toned voice rang through the winds, and Lloyd turned behind him to see the large winged form of Aska standing before them, his twin heads both facing Genis.
"A-Aska! You heard the song!" Genis exclaimed in surprise.
"Of course I did, child. You brought forth the sound of the Linkite tree to my ears. There is nowhere in the world that can hide that sound from me." His heads shifted to take in the entire group. "Now of course, I must ask you why you seek me. Those who play the song of the Linkite Tree call me for a dire need. So what ails you?"
"We need your help, as well as that of Luna's. It's a long story, but I know that in order to have Luna help us, you must be present with her as well." Sheena answered.
Aska craned one head to face her while the other looked off in the distance. "I see…you must be the Summoner that Undine spoke of. You seek our aid through a pact to have the right of summoning."
"You know who I am?" Sheena was surprised that her identity was known to Aska. "What did Undine say?"
"Only that a summoner of Mizuho had formed a pact with her, and had passed her test through…external circumstances. I believe she made note of Lord Vulcan vouching for you?" She nodded as she recalled meeting the massive deity. "I see. That is indeed interesting. To be contacted by one of the elders in this time…hmm…" Both heads converged together and closed their eyes in thought. The bird of light went quiet for a time, causing Lloyd to sweatdrop as he looked on.
"Um…Aska?" The swordsman interrupted the silence and was rewarded with a snort as Aska startled.
"Forgive me, swordsman. I was lost in my thoughts, a common occurrence for one with two heads." The joke made the spirit laugh, while the group only sweatdropped more.
'Is he really this light-hearted on a daily basis? I was expecting him to be more…serious…' Lloyd thought to himself.
"I have decided to heed your call, summoner. I will fly to Luna's Seal, and we shall hear your request there. But be swift! We will not wait for long." Aska stated before taking flight again, kicking up dust as he flew away.
Lloyd watched him go before turning to the rest of the group. "Well, that went well. I guess we should head for the Tower of Mana now…" he sighed suddenly causing Sheena to arch an eyebrow. "What is it, Lloyd?"
"We have to climb all those stairs again…" Lloyd remarked. Sheena couldn't help but laugh at his defeated look. "You do remember we have the Rheairds, right? We don't have to go through all those floors again." She smiled as she watched Lloyd comprehend her words. "…you forgot we had the Rheairds, didn't you?"
"Hey, when you do something the first time around, you get used to doing it that way…" Lloyd stated, looking away to hide his embarrassment.
Sheena could only laugh as she patted Lloyd on the back before pulling out her Rheaird. "Come on, Lloyd, let's get going. We have a Summon Spirit waiting on us." At this, the rest of the group took off and made way for the largest building in Sylvarant save for the Tower of Salvation.
Roof of Tower of Mana-Luna's Seal
Lloyd was the first to land again, followed by the rest of the group as the Rheairds shrank to their packaged forms. "Well, here we are…" Genis said, looking around at the view given by the massive height of the Tower of Mana's summit. "I still remember when we first came through here…"
"Indeed. The guardian was most troublesome, but nothing we couldn't handle."Kratos recalled the fight with the beast, particularly the powerful hoof to the shield he'd taken to guard for Lloyd when he had been knocked off balance. It served as an example for Lloyd's lessons following the battle.
"So you have arrived. I am glad that you are sincere in your wishes to meet with Luna and I. Had you not, you would've faced a very dire fate." Aska's voice rang out, and Lloyd turned to see Aska standing to the side by the seal, watching them.
"What do you mean?" Zelos questioned. "Has someone broken a promise to meet you before?"
"One could say that. And needless to say, I saw to their own ends. But that is a tale for another time. Luna comes now, prepare yourselves." As if on cue, a bright orb of light made itself known to the adventurers, emerging from the altar and levitating before them before taking shape. When the light had dimmed away, Luna appeared in all her glory, seated on her translucent moon. Aska bowed both heads in a gesture of welcome. "Lady Luna, it is good to see you once more. You're as radiant as ever."
Luna turned and her face broke into a wide smile at seeing her wayward companion. "Aska! It is indeed a pleasure to see you again. It's been too long." She turned to greet the group and beamed. "And I remember you as well, travelers. You came to my seal once before, and bested my guardian. Though I did not expect to see you again after that. Many of the other Chosen have followed your same path, yet never returned."
"You could say that we're stronger than the rest. We've come here to ask you for help, Luna." Sheena stated as she stepped forward. "Right now, we need to enter the Temple of Darkness, Shadow's domain, to speak with him. But to reach him, we have to get past the darkness within the temple that prevents us from entering. So, we've come to form a pact with you to help us." Sheena finished her explanation. Luna took this in to ponder as she looked to Aska.
"What say you, my guardian of the skies? Are they worthy of being tested?" Aska bowed his heads in thought before speaking.
"They sought me out first before coming to you, milady. From my first impressions, they seem sincere. They even managed to call to me through the Linkite Tree's fruit. Only those truly devoted to finding the Summon Spirit of Light would know to find both of us."
She nodded at this and turned back to the group. "If Aska is willing to give you the chance, then so shall I. But be warned, you must face us both and meet our challenge if you seek our pact. Know it will not come easy." She warned them.
"We've come this far, haven't we? It'd be cowardly of us to run now." Zelos stated as he drew his sword and shield out.
"That's right. We're ready for anything, so long as we stick together!" Colette pulled out her chakrams as her wings flashed into place.
Luna smiled at their determination. "So be it then. Let us begin!" She raised her staff causing a massive glowing orb to gather at its tip before rising above her. Lloyd's attention was drawn to it as it levitated above them before coming to a stop, giving off enough light to be a pseudo-sun for the clear sky. When it did little else, Lloyd blinked in realization, but too slow to react before he felt a mass tackle into him and knock him off his feet. He soared through air before rolling on the ground, coming to a stop against the ledge of the roof.
"What the heck?" Lloyd got up after getting over the shock of flying, looking to where he was and seeing Aska standing in a combat pose, wings outstretched and necks strained forward, glaring him down. "You didn't think I would just sit to the side, did you human? You face both her and me." Aska gloated before taking flight again. He started to circle around the roof in a wide range, looking for another opportunity.
Lloyd couldn't help but to smirk. It was the thrill of a good fight that entered every swordsman, and he was no exception to it. Standing, Lloyd drew his blades and looked to Luna, who was fighting off Zelos and Kratos dual attacks with her staff. She had blocked them both and stuck her staff to her side before spinning rapidly, causing the two to duck back to avoid having their heads bashed in. She then vanished in a splash of light as Sheena tried to strike her from behind, reappearing on the other side of the rooftop.
Genis was starting up his spells and would get them halfway prepared, but every time he moved to strike, Aska would swoop in to knock him off balance and remove his concentration, losing track of the spell. Fortunately, Genis had taught himself to resume spell flow when interrupted, and pulled off an impressive Air Thrust that caused Aska to swerve to avoid the deadly slashes of wind. "You can't get me that easy!" the mage taunted.
"Maybe not I, little one, but you forget another!" Aska answered to Genis' confusion. He was soon enlightened however as an orb of light suddenly surrounded him. "Photon!" Luna called out, and Genis was struck by the light spell, bringing him to his knees at the sudden pain.
"Dammit, we need a plan! We're gonna get picked to shreds otherwise!" Zelos called out as he shielded a blow from Aska's talons. "And I have no intention of being bird food! Light Spear!" He slashed at Aska in a circular motion, managing to score a blow against the divine bird. He screeched and fell back before he could take any more damage.
"Right. They want to play, we'll play! Zelos, Sheena, you're with me. We'll take on Luna. Kratos, Genis, Colette, and Raine, you go after Aska. Fight range with range!" Lloyd said, moving the rest into action. Both Luna and Aska observed this and acknowledged the soundness of his idea. But the pair knew they needed to step up their game as well. Aska changed his flight pattern and began to bob and dive through the air, gaining momentum as well as making himself a harder target to hit.
Luna, meanwhile, stared down her opponents and smiled. "So who will fight first? Perhaps the red-haired swordsman?" she taunted.
Zelos huffed and looked away, taking a dramatic pose. "It goes against my every principle to strike a beautiful woman, but if it must be done, then so be it!" Lloyd and Sheena sweatdropped as Zelos answered Luna's taunt. He lashed out with his sword and tried to weave his way in to score a blow, but Luna simply parried him away using her staff. Seeing an opening, Luna struck with the base of her staff at Zelos' side, stunning him before knocking him away.
Stumbling up, Zelos turned to his two partners. "What, no support?" Zelos was answered by two deadpan "no's", causing him to weep comically. "But why?"
"Well, it was obvious she was taunting you…" Lloyd said as he scratched the side of his head.
"…and she also is a lot stronger than she looks. You should remember she's a summon spirit and not your average woman." Sheena shook her head at the Chosen's tactics.
Zelos had to concede both had good points. "Fair enough. So, let's try again, with gusto!" He shot back up and took a ready stance. Lloyd and Sheena followed suit and all three charged at her, causing the spirit's smile to widen. The trio then suddenly split off, Zelos and Lloyd to the side while Sheena leapt overhead. Luna hadn't expected for the summoner to try such a direct tactic, more so when a paper tag attached itself to her forehead. "Power Seal Pinion!" Sheena made a gesture with her hand as the seal activated, and Luna felt her body become lighter.
Lloyd leapt up and used his Tiger Rage to attack from above while Zelos charged in from below with a Super Sonic Thrust. Luna did a quick evaluation and favored avoiding being skewered instead of a few cuts. She lashed out and knocked away Zelos' blade, but felt her skin sting as Lloyd's blades connected. She grimaced and swiveled on her moon to fight him off, but was greeted instead with Sheena's Pyre Seal. The kinetic energy released blasted her off and away, knocking her to the ground as her moon clattered beside her.
"Ugh…impressive. You certainly know to take advantage in terms of numbers." She groaned.
Aska vs. Genis/Raine/Colette/Kratos
The divine bird of light quickly banked to avoid another lightning bolt that flared his way. He had to give the twin swordsman's idea credit: focusing his ranged allies against him was a smart plan He was having more trouble with trying to move in to strike, as every dive he attempted so far was greeted with a blast of light, fire, and electricity, as well as the blonde Chosen's sharp chakrams. Twice already, he's lost some of his feathers to the circular weapons. But the fact remained that they still have the same flaw as any ranged opponent: they could only endure so much damage before being down for the count. A more direct approach was needed, he decided, and picked up his pace as a plan was formed.
"We can't seem to land a solid hit on him no matter what we throw at him! He can dodge every shot!" Genis exclaimed in frustration as Aska ducked below a blast of lightning from the mage. He turned to his sister to see her doing watching with narrowed eyes on the divine bird. "Sis, is there anything you can do to help?"
Raine shook her head. "Unless you want me to boost his strength, there's little much I can do. He's a light-based being, and all my offensive spells are of light. It might be better if I go and assist Lloyd and his team." Genis thought on this and decided to go with it. Raine raced off to go help the fight against Luna while the midget mage tried to solve his dilemma.
"Try to predict where he will be, Genis. Our attacks thus far have been where he is at the moment, giving him the opportunity to dodge." Kratos said as he charged up another Fireball spell. Watching Aska, Kratos aimed his magic for where he predicted the bird would fly across a few moments after he fired. Raising his hand, he released the three flame orbs and was met with success as they each impacted, singing Aska's feathers. "You see? No enemy can dodge forever."
Genis saw this and concentrated on one of his more massive lightning spells, Thunder Blade, to try and hit Aska. His opponent sensed his mana gather and took this chance to strike. Suddenly diving, Aska aimed for a target he envisioned on Genis' location, with Genis directly on the bull's eye mark. Colette saw this and followed suit to try and intervene, but Aska foresaw this, and counted on it. He tucked his wings in to his body and turned himself into a living projectile, gaining speed and force.
His increase in speed was enough to give Kratos pause as he realized the summon spirit's plan. "Genis, move! He's going for you!" The midget mage paused in his casting to see Aska approaching and turned to move back from his position. His short legs stumbled as he ran, causing him to fall. He closed his eyes as he waited for pain to arrive, only to feel a large gust of wind wash over him. Chancing a look, Genis opened his eyes to see Aska before him, wings outstretched and both heads' eyes closed. He sensed mana gathering in front of him, and looked to see a ball of light forming between Aska's talons.
"Sunshine Nova!" Aska bellowed, as the ball expanded and then swarmed over Genis, blasting him with wave after wave of light energy. Genis was picked up off the ground by the force of the blast and sent flying back.
"Genis!" Colette yelled as she moved to help her friend, only to be knocked back as Aska whirled about and bashed her away with his wing. Colette flipped head over feet twice as she crashed to the earth. "Ow…" she moaned as her head rang from the impact.
"Come now, is this the best you can offer? Perhaps you've overestimated your abilities?" Aska taunted. Genis stumbled and stood up after regaining his bearings and shook off his confusion.
"Or maybe you've underestimated ours, or did you forget to take count?" his reply confused Aska when he suddenly realized he'd lost track of the magic swordsman. Turning to his left, he saw Kratos finishing an Earth-styled spell, before pointing two fingers at the ground beneath Aska's feet. "Grave!" he yelled, and the runes surrounding Kratos vanished into the roof. Aska was too slow to react in time to avoid the large slab of rock that shot through the roof and into his chin, disorienting him and making him stumble back. He extended his wings to take flight, only to have two more slabs appear and ram themselves into his wings, causing him to screech in pain. A final slab shot from the ground and knocked him back again, and the divine bird stumbled as he tried to regain his bearings.
"Never turn your back on an opponent, Aska. Perhaps it's you who should stop overestimating yourself?" The Seraphim smirked as he returned Aska's taunt to him.
When he was able to think again, Aska shook himself before cringing in pain. The spell had damaged his wings. He could still fight with them, but flying for now was out of the question. "Well played, Kratos Aurion. You countered me and caught me off guard. I apologize for my arrogance. I will fight you properly now." He bowed in apology, causing Genis to face-fault.
"He's trying to kill us, yet he apologizes for getting sloppy during a fight…I don't understand people anymore…" the mage muttered as Kratos and Aska began to square off.
Luna vs. Lloyd/Zelos/Sheena/Raine
Luna had regained her balance and was atop her moon once again, her opponents being kept at a distance thanks to her spell work. Multiple Photons and Rays had forced them to stop trying to get close to her, as she seemed to be able to cast such spells with little effort on her part. "Ok, we need a new plan. She's obviously not letting us get close to her anymore, so what can we do?" Sheena asked. She was starting to wear down after dodging so many spells, some getting close enough to singe her clothing.
"Well, if she wants to fight with ranged, let's fight with ranged! Zelos, do you know any of the Demon Fang techniques?" Lloyd turned to the red-headed Chosen to see him thinking.
"The best I can do is the second tier, Fierce Demon Fang. Beyond that, I've got nothing. What's your idea?" he asked.
"Simple. Me and Sheena attack from afar to draw her attention while you get closer. Once you get close enough, we hit her with a double Fierce Demon Fang and see if we can knock her down again. We might even be able to get her to surrender if we move quickly enough." Lloyd's plan was solid, but Zelos found it had one gaping flaw in it.
"Uh, Lloyd? I don't know if you forgot, but she's currently levitating…above the ground?" The Chosen sweatdropped as Lloyd suddenly laughed and scratched at the back of his head.
"Oh, yeah! I forgot that part…" Both Sheena and Zelos sighed at this. They forgot that Lloyd tended to be slightly forgetful of details at times.
"So what can we do?" Zelos questioned. 'I could try to use my magic to attack her, but she'd be able to counter easily. We need some sort of unstoppable force to get to her…' A voice behind Zelos called to them, and he turned to see Raine approaching. "Professor! Perfect, you can help us!"
Lloyd and Sheena raised their eyebrows at this. "And what exactly can she do to help us?" Sheena questioned. "Last I checked, her spells were all light spells."
"Indeed, that's true. What did you have in mind, Zelos?" Raine asked.
Zelos smirked as a mischievous gleam in his eye appeared. "Well, you see, Professor, while we were fighting, I happened to notice that Luna's attacks were damaging the rooftop." Zelos waved his hand behind him to gesture to the smoking craters. "And the thought occurred to me…she's damaging an awful lot of this temple just to fight us, right?"
Raine nodded slowly; still unsure of the direction this was going. "Now, from what Lloyd and Sheena have told me, this was built a long time ago. I mean, a real long time ago. So wouldn't that qualify this place as being…" Zelos paused to move closer to Raine and whisper to her, "…a ruin?"
Lloyd flinched and suddenly moved away from Raine, Sheena following suit. For Raine, time seemed to stop as Zelos words rang through her ears. "This is…a ruin…a priceless, marvelous ruin…" she muttered aloud, her eyes starting to gleam as her pupils began to shrink. Her hand around her staff was starting to grip it harder, the knuckles turning white.
"That's right, a priceless, monumental ruin, full of information and wonders. And Luna's been doing nothing but destroying it this whole time. So what should we do about that?" Zelos added the final bait to watch and see what would happen, and was not disappointed. Raine began to shiver as she processed Zelos' words.
Luna looked on in curiosity and wonder at her opponents. Aska was holding himself well in the background, fending off Kratos' sword attacks with his wings. But her opponents seemed to be locked in discussion as to what to do. This would be an opportune time to strike, she knew, but Luna was a passive spirit for a reason. She wouldn't invoke her powers unless provoked into doing so. Her curiosity spiked when she saw the white-haired half-elven woman approach and the red-headed swordsman whisper to her. 'What in Martel's name are they planning?' She soon had her answer as suddenly the Professor leapt forward, growling as if she were a fearsome beast.
"Such a brutish way of fighting…I suppose you had no other option." She raised her staff and called down a ray of pure light to intervene between her and Raine. "Judgment Ray!" the beam appeared and struck the ground, Luna holding the spell as she drove it towards Raine's direction. This seemed to only impassion the woman further, much to Luna's confusion. "Perhaps she's decided to give up?"
She was surprised however when Raine suddenly dodged the ray at the last second and kept running towards her. "You should not be this fast! You are no warrior! You are a healer!" Luna's exclamation was followed by several bursts of light, a Ray spell she tried to use to divert Raine away. It did little good as she weaved her way through the bursts to come closer. "You hurt my ruins! Do you have any idea how old this structure is? The construction materials used?" Raine bellowed. Her eyes were completely whitened out, and she swung her staff like a madwoman. Luna raised her own and blocked several assaults by Raine in her madness.
"Zelos, what did you do?" Sheena asked, mystified at the sight before her. The Professor, one of the most calm and collected individuals she knew, was going stir crazy and fighting the Summon Spirit of Light in hand to hand combat.
"Simple: I told her that Luna's magic was destroying a valuable archaeological ruin. The rest is all her." The red-headed Chosen looked on at his masterpiece, though he noted to himself he should take care to never make Raine this angry. She seemed close to frothing at the mouth.
"Enough of this nonsense!" Luna's limit had been reached, her patience now extinguished as she finally grabbed Raine's staff, hoisting her up into the air before throwing her back.
"Eh?" Raine snapped out of her Ruin mode to see herself flying through the air.
"Ray!" Luna's voice called out, and a bright orb of light appeared from the sky before multiple beams of light shot in a large radius around her. Several impacted the Professor, who yelled in pain before hitting the ground. She rolled a couple times before coming to a stop, unconscious.
"Raine/Professor!" Lloyd, Sheena, and Zelos raced to the Professor, Zelos performing the basic First Aid he knew to try and heal any wounds she'd sustained.
"She's alright, just knocked out. But damn, she had some fight in her, huh?" Zelos pondered aloud. His response was a bash on his head from Sheena. "Next time, try not to make a plan that gets our friends hurt!" she growled out before hoisting Raine up and moving to get her to safety.
"This has been…entertaining, to say the least…" Lloyd turned back to see Luna looking upon them with slight pity. "…but this ends here now. You have tried and failed. Now face the purity of the heaven's light! Aska!" she called to her partner, who lifted his heads in response and ran to stand at her side, leaving the rest of the party to give chase and stand beside Lloyd.
Luna stuck one of her hands out beside her, palm upwards, while Aska held his wing above it. Bright light began to emanate from them, causing the group to shield their eyes. "We need a plan here! Any ideas?" Lloyd shouted to his friends beside him.
Sheena racked her mind before settling on one last chance. "I have one, but it's a long shot!" Taking a breath to compose her shaking form, Sheena called upon her mana as she reached out to the one last being she could call on to help. She raised her hands and held them in the gesture she'd been taught for summoning. "I call upon the Maiden of the Mist! Come, Undine!" She held her breath as the connection was made to the summoning realm, and she sighed in relief as she felt Undine respond positively. A moment later, she emerged, at Sheena's side. "What is thy bidding, Summoner?"
"Can you use your water to shield us or reflect Luna's spell?" Sheena asked hurriedly, able to now feel the mana rolling off of Luna and Aska's gathering power.
"I will try, Summoner. Stand behind me, and I will shield you to the best of my ability." The group shifted quickly to stand behind the Maiden of the Mist, who began to conjure all the water she could muster. At such a height above the ground, it would be difficult, but she wasn't the Summon Spirit of Water for nothing. Sheena turned to Genis and said, "I need your strongest ice spell you can cast, when I say so, use it! Got it?" The mage nodded and went to work, ignoring the drain he'd been feeling from such a prolonged encounter.
"Whatever you plan, it will not work. Now, be purified! Solar Nova!" Luna bellowed as she released her hold on the spell she'd been creating, launching it at the group. The pure light took the form of Aska, though there were no distinct features save for his two heads. Wings spread wide; it gave a shriek of attack and rocketed towards them. Undine, seeing the attack being used, coalesced the water she'd gathered into a solid mass, converting it into a pseudo-shield.
"Summoner! This shield will not hold against such an intense strike. If we'd had the aid of my sister of Ice, perhaps, but such is not our luck." Undine warned.
"I'm well aware of that. Curve the shield into a shape we can use to reflect the attack. Genis will provide the ice we'll need." Sheena ordered, to which Undine nodded. "Understood, Summoner. I wish you luck, to the mage as well."
Time seemed to slow as the Solar Nova approached. Sheena timed out the next few seconds in her head, waiting for the distance to be right before she turned to Genis and yelled, "Now!" Hearing the command, Genis raised his kendama and aimed at the water shield Undine was holding. "Ice Tornado!" he yelled, and harsh winds swirled around the shield, turning it from a liquid to a solid in moments.
"What?" Luna exclaimed in shock. But it was too late to try and recall her attack, so she could only watch. The bird of light impacted the shield, and Undine buckled under the pressure, but held her ground. With a roar of ferocity, Undine pushed back, sending the attack flying back towards Luna and Aska, both of whom were now amazed. Aska, thinking quickly, suddenly dove forward in front of Luna and raised both his wings to defend.
The group watched as Aska took the attack head-on, grunting as he skidded along the ground. The attack finally faded out, allowing everyone to see properly again. Exhausted from bearing the force of such an attack, Aska sighed and fell to the ground. It was too much to take, even if he was an element of Light. The sheer force of the attack was still enough to overwhelm him. "Forgive me…Luna…" he whispered before slipping into unconsciousness.
Luna looked on in shock at her fallen ally before turning to see the rest of the group, weary but still ready to continue. She evaluated her chances without Aska's assistance, and found them to be substantially less possible for victory. "It would seem I must retract my last words, Summoner…I admit, I did not expect for you to call upon another of my kin for aid. You surprise me. As a result, I've lost my ally and face being outnumbered." She lowered herself to the ground and bowed her head. "I admit defeat."
The group let out a collective sigh as they let down their guard. "That was ridiculous…" Genis sighed as he plopped to the ground, kendama beside him. "I'm hoping that we can have some peace before we get into another huge fight?"
Lloyd laughed and nodded in agreement. "We all need some rest after this. Kratos, is the Professor alright?"
The mercenary had the Professor hoisted up, feeding her a Life Bottle to bring her back to consciousness. It took a moment, but she spluttered to life, spitting out the remnants of the elixir. "What...what happened?" she coughed out. She looked up to see a relieved Genis who ran over and helped her to stand. "Is everyone ok?"
"I think we should be asking you that, Professor. You were the one who was knocked out." Lloyd said causing the Professor to recall just what had happened. She felt herself blush in embarrassment at remembering her fury of protecting "her" ruins.
"Ok, let's finish up here and get out. I need food and a good Inn after this." Sheena stated as she approached Luna, who had regained her calm demeanor and smiled at her. "State thine pact, Summoner."
Sheena took a breath before speaking clearly. "I am Sheena! I ask that thou annulst thine former pact, and establish a new one with me!"
Luna nodded. "And on what vow would you form our pact?"
"I vow to use your power to aid and protect the innocent who are harmed under the reign of Cruxis, as well as all others who would seek me or my friends' aid." Sheena stated. Luna nodded, and she and Aska vanished into a small orb of light that hovered to Sheena before entering her body, leaving her with a shining Topaz jewel in hand.
She smiled at this before realizing that she could hear applause behind her. Turning, she saw Lloyd and the others clapping for her, Zelos giving a loud whistle to add more to her. She blushed, but gave a dramatic bow before laughing with the group.
"Time for us to head for an Inn. I am beat!" Zelos said, stretching his arms behind his head. "You guys put yourselves through too much if this is a day to day thing."
Before anyone could reply, a bright ring of light surrounded them, causing everyone to jump. "Oh, what now?" Zelos complained before the light began to grow brighter.
"Wait a minute, this is…" Sheena whispered before looking to Lloyd. "Lloyd! It's happening again!"
"I know! Just stay calm!" he exclaimed as the circle grew closer.
"What? What do you mean, this happened before?" Zelos questioned, but he would receive no answer as the group suddenly vanished into thin air, leaving the rooftop empty and smoking from the battle.
And we're done! Again, I apologize for the long wait on this one. I had trouble coming up with a creative way for the fight to go down, but I'm satisfied with how this was written. Also, fear the Ruin mode Raine. Fear her!
So what will the group have to endure now? They've been looking for answers on D.L, who better to get them from than Vulcan?
I'd also like to take a second to ask all of you to read Tales of a Steamworld as well, as I'll be updating it after I upload this chapter. As I said before, I intend to have plenty of fun with it, and would love to hear any feedback I can get on the story. So please, read and review!