Note from the Author: Hello again, to everyone who has read my previous chapters in this crazy story and waited so very long for the final installment. I am very happy to finally finish this story and truly say that it is complete. I am also very sorry that you have waited so long to finally see the end of these special chapters accompanying the original story. I won't give you excuses; all that I will say is that I hope that this final chapter is worth waiting for. I am very happy with this last installment, as I feel that it has some of my best writing for this story, and you deserve the best writing I can offer. Please enjoy this last chapter, please let me know your thoughts about it, and please also let me know if you would like for me to write something else (or a sequel...?). Thank you so much for all of your support during my years with this story, I do read every single comment and I appreciate them all. -1wingangel

"Leon... long time no see."

You turn around in unison with Leon and are surprised to be surprised to see Ada Wong, Wesker's flawlessly beautiful double-crossing spy. You suppose you were caught a bit off-guard that she's even more stunning in reality, which invokes a strong flare of disgust. Ada is such a breathing cliche.

She smiles coyly at the government agent as she leans against the stone doorway, blue moonlight haloing her curvaceous form. You glance sideways at Leon, whose eyes widen before hardening with distrust. His right hand reaches for the knife strapped to his shoulder.


She steps forward once and swiftly pulls out her handgun from a holster on her thigh. Holding it aloft to aim at Leon, she shakes her head once, still smiling. "Don't touch that blade, Leon. Put your hands up."

Ada ignores you. Apparently, she doesn't see you as a threat. Hm.

To your great disappointment, Leon moves his hands away from the knife and raises them slightly above his shoulders. Why isn't he pulling off any awesome government agent moves? Some cut scene this is. ...Well, Ada is far enough away to shoot him without being attacked.

..By Leon, at least. You pull out your own handgun and raise it so that the red dot is positioned just below Ada's collarbone. Leon, who was about to reply to Ada, glances at you with worry. The female spy, however, looks at you and smiles wider. She still isn't taking me seriously. You glare sharply. "You shoot Leon, Ada, and I'll get you twice as bad. Don't think I won't do it. I have enough rounds to tear you apart."

Ada's dark eyes flicker to Leon, then to you, hidden behind stylish sunglasses. "Hmm... so he did give you a gun. That's interesting." Her handgun remains fixed on Leon.

"Drop the gun!" Your heart pounds. Shooting Ada, especially in the chest, where you're aiming, would suck. You kind of don't want to kill a video game character.

Ada removes the sunglasses with her left hand, suspending them so that the frame points downward, and simultaneously lowers her handgun to her side. She continues to watch you. "Your turn."

You shake your head. "Not while you're a threat to Leon."

"Nicole, put your gun away." Leon's tone is stern, and you do so as a regretful chill creeps over you at being reprimanded. You almost feel as though you had done something stupid, but you glance up to meet Leon's eyes and are sure you see gratitude in them. The tension in the room steadily melts away, but lingers in the wary glint in the agents' eyes. Leon turns his attention to Ada, and slowly lowers his hands.

"What are you doing here, Ada?"

She smiles teasingly. "You don't honestly think I'd tell you?" The spy lithely crosses the room to stand in front of Leon, the ends of her revealing red dress fluttering slightly with the movement. "You know me better than that, Leon."

Leon doesn't blink. You can sense that he refuses to let his guard down despite Ada's friendlier demeanor. "I already know that you're here on Wesker's orders. I just haven't figured out what he wants out of all of this."

Ada looks at him with mock affection, completely ignoring your presence right beside him. "And you don't need to know that."

Well, you can't stay quiet and dumb. "Leon, what's going on? Who is she?" You don't need to feign irritation at being left out.

He doesn't look away from the spy as he answers. "We met back in Raccoon CIty. Saved each other's ass a few times during the outbreak. Ada lied about who she was. She's working f-"

"Leon, it's been six years since we've seen each other, and you don't have anything nice to say about me?" Ada tilts her head to one side, her voice dripping with sweetness, the pleasant expression unchanging. "That hurts, Leon. I thought we were friends."

Leon's icy blue eyes melt with an emotion you can't determine. "I thought we were, too." He gently cups her right wrist with his left hand. "But friends shouldn't need these." You all glance down at the handgun she still tensely holds.

Ada's facade of sweetness evaporates at Leon's soft touch. She pulls away from Leon and holsters the handgun in one movement, then takes another step back as she discreetly lets the sunglasses drop to the floor. The rose-colored frames bounce off of the carpet, and as the dark lens reflect the glare of din lighting above, you swear you momentarily see moving letters and graphics projected on the glass.

She activated the flash bomb. Wherever their conversation is going, it'll end soon.

Leon looks up at Ada. "What's going on? Why is Wesker involved with Los Illuminados?"

She elegantly crosses her arms. "He sent me here to acquire something that is completely unrelated to you, Leon. You have your mission, and I have mine." Her claret lips curve in a devious smirk. "It's best that we keep going our separate ways."

Ada glances at the sunglasses, and you do, too, but see nothing. Leon steps towards her. "Ada, you can't-"

A quiet shriek catches your attention. "Leon, the sunglasses are beeping..."

At the same instant, Leon looks down at the sunglasses, Ada steps back with a cold laugh, and the glasses explode in a flash of light that engulfs the room. The government agent throws his forearms over his face a moment too late, and you turn your head away as you hear soft footsteps leaving the room.

"See you around."

Leon squints in the light. "Ada!" The light disappears. Leon stumbles back, muttering curses, temporarily blinded. You blink futilely at colorful spots that dominate your vision and glance down at the demolished pair of sunglasses that lies in blackened ruins on the carpet.

"...Those are awesome sunglasses."

Leon's still in a bad mood when you finish negotiating with the merchant a good ten minutes later. You smile up at him reassuringly. "Don't be so upset. You'll probably see her again while we're here, we all have to deal with Saddler."

He nods curtly as he jams a new clip into the TMP. "Yeah, I know, but that doesn't make me feel any better about why she's here. Umbrella's gotta be interested in Las Plagas, and that can't..." He glances at you apologetically. "...Well, a girl like you shouldn't have to worry about stuff like this. Let's go."

You frown up at Leon, but he's already moving past you and exiting the merchant's temporary shop. The government agent meanders around the moonlit bedroom and collects various supplies and treasure, and you look around to help him until a train of thought stops you in your tracks.

There's a very large and comfortable bed here. You stare at the plush, decorative pillows and the thick red cover spread perfectly on top of the mattress. Leon's busy, I've got nothing to do... It's been almost two days since I've even seen a clean place to sleep... You approach the bed and let yourself fall into the mattress, your hair and limbs splaying out carelessly wherever they land. Your body marginally sinks into the soft bed, and you are encompassed in a source of warmth and comfort. Immediately your eyelids become heavy, and you stretch out along the width of the luxurious bed, pushing a small, tasseled pillow out of your way.

No idea why Capcom stuck a room here, but darn I'm happy they did. You sigh contentedly. Leon just passes this up... Government training, I guess...


You can barely will your eyes to crack open. Leon's voice is becoming harder to hear.

A fingertip punches into your shoulder. "Nicole, you're not falling asleep on me."

You part your lips and mumble, "Yes I am..." It's amazing how the adrenaline never let you fully realize how exhausted you are. This is bliss, and Leon is not taking it away from you.

Unfortunately, you think he's still talking. "...great as this is, we have parasites in our bodies... …Saddler to kill... …not much time. You can't... …An evil corporation just walked into the picture - let's go!" A gloved hand wraps around your wrist, and you are pulled off of the bed, jolted awake and clumsily brought to your feet. Lazily, you rub your eyes and blink up at Leon, who almost looks annoyed.

"...You have no idea how nice that was."

Thankfully, Leon cracks a small smile. "Hey, this isn't easy on me, either. But I think we'll both sleep more soundly when we get out of this mess."

You nod reluctantly. "...Right."

Leon's grasp slides from your wrist to your hand as he pulls you farther away from the bed and resumes walking. "Come on. Let's keep moving." You almost fully wake up when you leave the dim moonlight and calls of nocturnal insects behind for the harsh fluorescent lighting and unsettling silence of the adjacent Dining Room. You glance around as Leon breaks open a vase ahead, trying to remember where you are in the game and what is going to happen next.

Oh. Shoot the wine bottle, then get stuck in a cage with a Garrador and a continuous army of Illuminados.

A Garrador...

You picture claws tearing into Leon's shoulder, hoisting him into the air, then another set cuts off his head, and you grimace. You'll try your best to prevent any Garrador claws from harming Leon this time.

"'Bread begins the meal of life..'." Leon's robotic voice echos off of the stone walls.

You turn your head. "Huh?"

"Just reading the plaques on the walls. They're philosophical and all about food, and that..." he pats his stomach, "doesn't help me any."

You smirk, walking over to a granite plaque embedded in the wall. "Hey, I'm hungry, too. Don't think you get all the sympathy." Your smile turns downwards when you notice the dark circles under Leon's eyes. He really is beat, more so than you, you're sure.

He reads the next plaque. "'Meat to savor the time at hand.' Damn, I could really go for a steak."

"Oh man, I love steak," you agree. "My stomach's growling... I'll take the other ones for you. Give yourself a break." Leon chuckles once and leans back against the long, ornate table as you walk along the wall to read the next plaque. "'A dessert to cherish our remaining years.' ...I want cake. Chocolate cake. I think this is harder for me than you, Leon."

Leon runs a hand through his dirty blonde hair. "Hey, I haven't eaten anything but raw eggs for two days," he retorts. "Don't think you get all the sympathy."

You grin. "'One last drink and the bottle breaks, returning us to the dust from whence we came.' Deee-pressing. And really confusing."

Leon is meandering around the room, toying with the locked gate that leads to the adjacent room, and examining the narrow alcove. "So what the heck do we have to do to get that gate open? Those plaques are probably more than just analogies." He taps the bell with his palm as you join him at the counter. A blank portion of the far wall rotates, and Leon reaches to grab his handgun until the tantalizing portrait of food appears. He exhales. "Huh. I was almost expecting a couple of RPGs."

You smile. "Yeah, I... had that feeling too." Not really.

"So, what does this mean?" Leon folds his arms and stares at the portrait. "Because if it doesn't turn into real food at some point, I'm not interested."

You laugh. "Um, well..." You pretend to think. "Um, 'drink and the bottle breaks,' right?"

He glances sideways at you, not understanding where you're going with this. "…Right."

"So... shoot it."

"Shoot the picture?"

"Sure, why not?" Just do it, Leon. It doesn't make sense, but otherwise we'll be here all day...

Leon draws his semi-automatic rifle and peers through the crosshairs. "Where should I... oh. There's a little thing on the wine bottle. A button or something." He pulls the trigger, and dark liquid splashes out from the wine bottle and stains the surrounding dishes. A low rumble signals that the gate has been raised.

Leon swaps the rifle for his TMP, looking pleased. "Way to go, you little psychic."

Oops, I kind of am. "Thanks, it was lucky." Crap, now you have to go in the room with the cage. And keep Leon from being impaled or otherwise painfully slaughtered. Leon glances into the compact, square room with the barrel of his TMP and then enters. You follow, then suddenly gasp loudly and pretend to be surprised. "Leon!" He whirls around, wary of danger. You point dramatically to the ceiling. "Look up there."

He sees the cage suspended above the center of the room and the elaborate chest, and his expression tenses. "Looks like Salazar doesn't want us to get the that chest... or live trying to take what's in it." He glances back at you. "Stay here and keep your gun ready. Yell if you need me. I'll take care of what's in that chest."

You nod. Leon walks towards the tall pedestal. Uh oh, he's got the wrong kind of gun... "Leon?"


"Maybe you want your shotgun? It might get crowded in there..."

Your friend thinks for a moment, then nods. "Good idea." As he switches weapons, you check your ammo and grenade supply and stand anxiously by the doorway.

Leon approaches the chest, moving slowly and cautiously in the silent room. You watch his shoes slowly pad along the carpet as he walks. You admire his totally mad government agent skillz. I can't even hear him walking right now. How does he do that? The cage slams into the carpet, the spiked ends of each vertical bar cutting into the floor to secure the metal trap in its position. Leon staggers back, startled, and glances around for a way out as cold hands warp around your upper arms and roughly pull you into the dining room. Lips close to your ear breathe that familiar chant.

"AAH! Leon! They're-"

"YAAAARGH!" A tall, bulky Garrador leaps into the cage from above, landing awkwardly with a loud thud. It steadies itself and extends its deadly claws with a shriek as two armed Illuminados drag you towards a far door. You struggle and flail in their constricting grip, and twist the 0.9mm in your hands to aim into the stomach of one monk. You shoot, and hot blood explodes out of the assaulter's abdomen. It collapses next to you, and you nearly topple over with it. The other Illuminado pulls you up with a grunt and moves to hoist you onto its shoulder. You take advantage of your increased mobility to fire at its pale cranium.

The bullet digs a bloody hole above the monk's ear and bursts straight out of the side of its head. The body crumples forward onto you, and you push it away as the first zealot gurgles and tries to stand. You shoot it in the neck and reload as dark blood fountains from its throat.

Frantic shots pepper the air from the next room, followed by the throaty roar of the Garrador. Leon... You sprint towards the room with the cage, but an Illuminado with a flail steps out from the doorway to stop you. You shoot it four times in the chest and shove it out of the way so that you can reach Leon.

He's still in the cage, bleeding and walking around the pedestal, quietly distancing himself from the alert Garrador. More zealots drop down from the area above, and several with crossbows fire at Leon. The tip of an arrow pierces Leon's lower back, and he buckles forward in agony.

"Leon!" The Garrador shrieks and charges towards you, barreling into the cage and slashing wildly at the unrelenting bars. You jump back a little in fright as it snarls and claws at the cage in a violent frenzy, trying to tear you apart.

You aim your handgun at the Iluminados closing in on you, glancing at the crazed Garrador. "Yeah, that's right, it's me you want! Not Leon! Keep listening to me! You can't find him!"

You need to keep its attention, even while Leon shoots at the Plaga on its back, so you continue shouting as zealots approach. One aims a fire-tipped arrow at you, and you quickly blast the weapon, then the monk, apart with a good many shots. "That one tried to shoot me!" The Garrador wails as Leon pumps powerful, scattered shots into the pulsing parasite, but the monster remains focused on killing you. "But I got him first. Now all of you-" you pull the pin on a grenade, completely aware that you sound like an idiot to Leon, "will have to be taken out by a grenade. Here!"

The blast tears apart every surrounding Illuminado, and the Garrador falls back from the bars of the cage, yowling and retracting his claws as he clutches at his bleeding torso. A good portion of his chest has been ripped away, but it continues to stagger backwards, and Leon fires again at the Plaga on its back.

Your ears are ringing from all of the noise, but you glance around and see more monks jumping into the dying fray as the hulking Garrador slumps on the floor with a loud gurgle. The decimated Plaga on its back oozes blood and bubbling fluids as it lies in a steaming mess on the Garrador's corpse. You run around the cage to find a padlocked door, and Leon meets you there, shooting away two Illuminados. As he reloads, you fire at the thick metal lock, and it breaks into pieces and falls off. You stand back, reloading, and look around at approaching zealots as Leon kicks down the door and rushes to you, gritting his teeth against the pain of the arrow.

You sweep around behind Leon to see the arrow embedded in his lower back, and dark blood has soaked into his shirt and stained some of his belt. "Ohmigosh, Leon, you're bleeding, you've got an arrow-"

"We've gotta get out of here!" You hear several monks mutter angrily behind you.

Hot tears spring into your eyes as you remain frozen, your stare fixed on the wound. "Leon, you've just been shot-"

"Shut up and get into the next room!" Leon fires once above your head at the nearby group of six armed Illuminados, then pushes you into the narrow dining room as the enemies are momentarily stunned. He glances at you with steely blue eyes before watching the zealots crowd the doorway. "Throw a grenade."

You rip an explosive from your belt loop and toss it under the monks' feet. Leon pulls you towards the back of the room as the grenade detonates, hissing as the shifting motion agitates the wound on his back. A wave of heat lashes the back of your neck before you are showered with burnt debris and flesh. Your ears ring again. You glance at the doorway to make sure that every foe has been killed, and sigh with relief upon seeing a pile of broken bodies on the tiled floor.

Leon cries out. He clutches the bloody arrow in his hand, and the wound on his back bleeds freely.

"Oh no, Leon, let me help...!" You fumble in the attaché case for a First-Aid Spray. "Bend over the table so I can see it..." You spray the medicinal liquid into Leon's deep wound. He grips the side of the table, and you give him an encouraging pat on the back as the spray fizzes loudly.

He groans. "At least the damn thing was easier to get out... than a bullet... But it sure doesn't sting any less. Ah, dammit."

A wet crack splits the quiet air by the doorway, and one Illuminado twitches violently. An adult Plaga bursts from its head and wriggles upright on the mass of corpses, blood streaming off of its slimy exoskeleton. Your heart races as the disgusting parasite scuttles across the floor not unlike a large, alien arachnid.

Leon reaches for his shotgun as you pull out a flash grenade and the Plaga leaps at you. Its long, webbed legs stab into your torso as two whips along its backside snap in the air. You scream in pain and swipe at the creature as it skitters around your head, futilely beating its warm exoskeleton. Warm, slick slime spatters your face. The collar of your shirt is torn. One leg slashes your cheek and neck and the parasite's manic shriek pounds against your eardrums.

A blinding flash envelops the area and the Plaga screeches and writhes, then drops from your shoulders and disintegrates.

You nearly drop to the floor yourself; the puncture wounds from the Plaga are bleeding and stinging. Your vision blurs, and you sway on your feet. Leon catches you, muttering curses and grabbing a First-Aid Spray from the open attache case. You squeeze your eyes shut and gasp when the cold medicinal liquid hits each wound, invoking a terrible sting that's worst at the laceration on your throat.

The First-Aid Spray sputters and ejects sterile mist before emptying completely. Leon tosses it aside and grabs a Green Herb. You blink up at Leon, who holds you against him with one hand and smiles reassuringly as he gently applies the crushed herb to the cut on your cheek.

You smile back as the pain on the upper body dissipates. "...I must really look like crap now, huh...?"

Leon shakes his head as he wipes away the remnants of the Green Herb with his thumb "Nah, you look good. Trust me," he helps you to your feet, "there isn't anyone here who would criticize your looks."

You grin and move towards the adjacent room. "Now that we've taken turns saving each other, let's get the thing from that fancy chest." The thing turns out to be an hourglass decorated ornately with gold trim. You turn it in your hands, admiring the pearl-colored grains of sand and the stainless glass. "I sure hope this is useful," you murmur, "cuz otherwise, we just got beaten up for a bunch of Pesetas."

Leon stores the treasure in the attache case. "I'm all right with knowing that everything we do brings us closer to killing that little psycho, and after him, Saddler."

You smirk, although that's hard to do while looking at the dark stain on Leon's back and the marks on your own skin.

Your stomach audibly growls, and Leon glances back. "I don't think I can help you out too much with that."

You shrug. "I've been hungry for a while. …You know, I even just miss chewing on something… it's weird. I think I'd eat anything right about now."

Leon becomes quiet and pensive, and fumbles through the pockets on his belt. "One sec… I think I…" He flips open a pouch and hold out a slim, small black paper box. "Here." He's smiling. "It's mint."

Your eyes widen and your jaw literally drops slightly. "I-is that gum? You have gum?" Leon flips open the box with his thumb, revealing five individually wrapped sticks of powder blue sustenance. You literally gape up at him. "Leon! You are my hero!"

You grab a stick of gum and eagerly peel off the wrapping, tossing it onto the floor, and fold it between your teeth. You chew slowly as the cool, minty juices satisfy the lingering thirst burning at the back of your throat.

Leon grabs a piece for himself, amused by your reaction. "I honestly forgot I keep this. I've probably had this pack for… almost a month, I think. I never chew gum on the job," he adds between satisfied chomps, "it's actually dangerous because of what I do." He sighs. "But I think I deserve a piece. You good?" You nod, and Leon smiles. "All right. Let's go." You follow him through a mahogany wooden door on another side of the tiny room, and emerge in a long hallway echoing with mindless chants.

"Morir es vivir... Morir es vivir..."

You shudder. "I hate hearing that."

Leon glances at you. "Stay here," he whispers, "and wait for me to call you. I'll check out what's ahead." You watch him walk forward, handgun raised, and recognize that in this room, you must raise a walkway to get a cross and leave. In the middle of the room is an iron gate, on the other side of which is a bountiful supply of ammo and grenades. In the distance, Leon stops just before the opening and pulls out his rifle. With a crack and a distant squelch, the head of a zealot is broken open.


Leon dashes around the corner and out of sight. You hear gunshots in quick succession, and the frantic chanting and hissing of injured monks. Slowly, you tread softly towards the opening, keeping one side against the wall and your own handgun raised. You peek around the corner to see blood soaking into the carpet and Leon pulling a suplex on one Illuminado. A crimson leader is rushing at him with a medieval flail in hand. The black-robed zealot's neck cracks, and his corpse disintegrates. The chains of the flail rattle as the leader swings it back, and Leon quickly whirls around and shoots his attacker in the chest, then forehead. The Illuminado falls and disintegrates.

"You okay?" he calls, glancing up at you.


Leon approaches a lever on a pedestal and pulls it with force. A rumble shakes the room, and in front of you, a beautiful marble walkway rises from the floor and clicks into place to allow passage across the room.

The door behind you flings open.

You turn around, shocked to see two Illuminados running towards you. Footsteps also pound across the bridge. You scream and fire at the pair of zealots, but nothing happens. You have no ammo.

"No-" An Illuminado grabs you and begins to drag you back towards the door. The empty gun slips out of your hands. You hear Leon shouting your name as the monks crossing the bridge intercept him and push him away with two spiked shields. One Illuminado has both of his arms wrapped tightly around your torso, so you kick at his shins until the butt end of a flail rams into the side of your head.


Your head hurts so much...

You open your eyes, and bright light entices you to quickly squeeze them shut again. But the dull aching along your spine doesn't allow you to slip away again. The chill permeating the hard floor underneath you seeps through your shirt, and you shiver.

With a gasp, you snap your eyes wide open. I was taken by Illuminados! Taken from Leon!

You are in a dark, cold room, sprawled on a gritty stone floor. The dimly lit ceiling stretches out above you, and golden firelight flickers dully off of the unevenly cut tiles. Grey cobwebs fill every corner. You roll onto your side and plant your hands firmly on the floor, then sit up to look around. Ancient wooden shelves are scattered along the walls, warped with age. A long, thin table with surprisingly few chairs is next to you in the middle of the room.

Something tickles across the back of your right hand, and you glance down to see a small black spider. With a short cry, you flip your hand over and smash the arachnid against the floor, then smear its body on the stone. You curl away from the spider and glance around the room for a way out.

Your hips feel lighter. All of your grenades are gone, and your handgun was lost before you blacked out. Your gum, however, is pressed against the back of your teeth. You chew as you contemplate your situation, and despair overwhelms your throbbing head and back. You are unarmed, alone, and lost in the Castle.

You stand up, breathing shakily, and walk to the back of the room, glancing at every flickering shadow as though it is another zealot ready to attack. There is a metal door sealed shut with chains, and you can guess that they reinforce a padlock on the other side. "No," you moan, and kick at the door. You fiercely attack the chains, pulling on them as though they might simply fall away from the door, but of course your attempts are fruitless.

There has to be another way out. You turn and wander around the room, and observe that no windows exist. Hence the room is eerily dark, save for the large flambeaus blazing in each corner. The wooden shelves and table sit empty, and nothing else save for a trio of chests occupies this small room. The air smells musty and damp. You realize that you are locked in a forgotten part of the castle.

I don't remember this from the game at all… and there's nothing useful in here. Salazar must not come here often. You gaze at the three cherry-red, elaborate chests. Hmm. Something important must be in there. Maybe something that can get me out of here. You see that two of the chests are sealed with a small metal lock. Figures. There'd better be something useful in the one chest I can open. You lift the heavy lid and peer inside. Books, an old Spanish hat, a pocket watch, and an ornate golden candelabrum. Nothing seems worth a second glance, although the candelabrum might be useful…

You take the candelabrum and let the lid fall shut, musing about your personal findings. All that stuff must have belonged to someone who isn't around anymore. Maybe someone related to Salazar. That means that this candelabrum was valuable to them… The heavy, solid-gold candelabrum is set with valuable gems, and looks like any treasure you might find throughout the castle. Engraved Spanish verses orbit each gleaming ruby and emerald. Geez. The Salazars couldn't even go to the bathroom at night without some solid-gold, glorified nightlight lighting the way. You hold the candelabrum over the adjacent chest.

"Let's see if this overpriced flashlight can't get me out of here…" You raise your arm and smash an arm of the candelabrum against the small lock. Three hits should do it, it's always worked for Leon—You smash it again, and see a sizable dent in the mechanism. One more whack, and the lock breaks off. You love video games.

You lift the lid of the second trunk, and are met with multiple reflections of yourself in the twin gleaming blades of a battle-axe. Jackpot. You toss the abused candelabrum aside and grab the axe, only to see an array of medieval weaponry stashed underneath. A mace, crossbow, flail dagger, shield, and sets of arrows are crammed into the depths of the chest. You take the mace, seeing it as a more practical weapon –should you need one, you badly hope that you don't need a weapon until you find Leon—as it has the longest reach and is a lighter weight than the battle-axe.

You approach the chained door, and grip the mace. "Leon, I'm coming. Even if I have to bash through a few heads after this door, I'm going to find you," you grasp the weapon with both fists and swing your arms back, "and then I'm going to save Luis." You smash the bulky head of the mace into the topmost chain with as much force as you can muster, and the numerous spikes roughly cut through the metal links. You swing again, and the first chain is cut in two. Your palms sting, but you grip the mace and attack the next chain, swinging again and again until all chains are removed and your hands are raw and your fingers bleed. You breathe heavily, and push on the door.

Nothing happens. What! But the chains… With a cry, you grasp the handle and pull, but the door remains firmly shut. You can't afford to waste time searching for items to unlock the door; you have to get back to Leon before Luis is killed. Your patience spent, you tear at the handle with the mace, your arms aching and your hands stinging, and you swing and smash as the handle distorts and the wooden door begins to splinter around it. Stupid video game doesn't want me breaking out of my prison without Leon's help? Well, Leon's not coming-

Something clatters to the floor on the other side of the door. You stop, panting, and let the mace slide out of your hands. It clangs dully against the stone tiles, and you peel a sliver of dead skin hanging from your palm. Your hands are in rough shape, but it's nothing a First Aid Spray from Leon can't heal. At least you've likely crafted a way out. The door is broken and nearly penetrated around the handle, which is twisted and contorted out of use. You take a moment to recover and press your ear against the door, listening for any nearby Illuminados who may have heard you. Hearing nothing, you take the mace again, which is now slightly dented, and push the door. It opens.

You step out into a horribly quiet hallway that mirrors the style of the room from which you just escaped. It is a dreary, barren corridor lit with scattered flambeaus and is lined with identical wooden doors. To the right are two more doors and then the corridor abruptly ends, and a dark wooden table and a portrait of Saddler decorate the empty space. You walk up to the portrait of Saddler, his light gray eyes staring down at you. You are the only person in the world whom I wish didn't exist. You grab the portrait and smash your filthy villager's shoe through his face, leaving a gaping, mud-lined hole from his purple hood to his pale, sagging jowls. I can't wait for Leon to blast you into oblivion. You turn and walk down the hall, adrenaline fueled by contempt powering your every step closer to Leon. The sooner you get to Leon, the sooner you get away from Saddler and his terrible cult.

"Necesitamos la chica… Morir es vivir…"

You freeze. Illuminados are coming to get you, and they're right around the corner. You have no idea how many there are.

You reason that stealth is ineffective at this point, because they are moving down the hallway and will inevitably come into contact with you, as you have no place to hide. You chance a glance around the corner and see three Illuminados –who also see you—one of whom is a crimson leader.

"¡Allí está!"

The trio charges towards you, and you back away from the corner and down the hall. One monk, bearing a heavy flail, lunges at you, his red eyes wide but soulless. You swing back your arms and smash the business end of your mace into the side of his head, crushing the temple with a terrible crunch. His skull caves slightly, and the monk shrieks as he drops to the floor, blood pouring from his nose and mouth.

The second monk hisses and raises his scythe, but you swing upward to crush his lower jaw into his skull with the heavy mace. The jaw unhinges, but the Illuminado remains upright after swaying on his feet. You swing again at that fatal spot on his head, cracking his temple, and the Illuminado groans and falls over, the scythe clattering loudly on the stone floor.

A terrible wet splintering and crunching alerts you to the formerly subdued Illuminado, who staggers to his feet as a nearly matured Plaga surges from a gaping hole in his throat. The alien thing wriggles its insect-like limbs as it screeches with rage and glares down at you with multiple beady eyes. You can't kill it with this mace without getting too close; you know that within range, this creature will bite off your head.

You consider running away, but the third Illuminado remains to be seen and you don't want any lingering threats following you as you try to navigate back to Leon. Thinking quickly, you drop your mace and dive to grab the scythe. You push yourself to your feet and are a few feet further from the Plaga, which stretches and opens wide its massive, pointed jaws. You swing as the creature dives at your skull and the scythe stops awkwardly in mid-swing. The Plaga's jaws snap just above your head as it shrieks and rears back; the blade is pulled out of your hands as it sticks within the Plaga and tears through its fleshy body. The Plaga bleeds brown fluids from its gaping wound, and you take this moment to grab the mace. A satisfying gurgle rattles from the creature's throat, and you dash around the corner as the host crumples to the floor.

The crimson leader is gone. For a moment, you are relieved. You slump against the cool stone wall and take several deep breaths as a small fire crackles in the flambeau above you. A thought forces you to keep moving: He could be getting reinforcements. You wipe a sheen of sweat from your forehead and lurch to your feet, trudging to the end of the corridor and tiptoeing to the cherry red, ornate door before listening intently for any signs of danger from the other side.

Hearing nothing, you grasp the gilded handle and pull the door slowly open, and step into an open, marble-floored room. White pillars support a walkway above which wraps around the room, and there are metal doors to your right and left. Several large vases occupy the corners, and prestigious Castellans cast knowing stares from their portraits along the walls.

You have to choose a door without knowing where you are in the castle. Which one might take you closer to Leon? You surmise that the left door might be a viable option, and approach it.

"¡Morir es vivir!"

You jump away from the door in panic as whispers swirl in the empty air. Where are they? How many are coming for you? You grip your mace tighter as pounding erupts from behind the door you had chosen. Whatever's coming for you may be more powerful than an average Illuminado. Pained shrieks and louder chanting reach your ears through the thick door. Something other than Illuminados is coming…

You don't think you want to be in the open when it does. You dash behind a pillar and watch as the door is blasted by several errant slugs fired from an unfamiliar weapon. Suddenly, the door to your right is thrown open, and nearly a half-dozen Illuminados burst into the room, bearing flails and thick wooden shields. You freeze to your spot behind the pillar, unseen by the new arrivals and hopefully by whatever is making its way here. More Illuminados rush onto the walkway above, armed with crossbows and fire-tipped arrows. They aim at the center of the room, and you wonder what they are anticipating. Your heart pounds. You have no gun. No herbs, no idea where you are, no Leon – whatever is coming could kill you, if these Illuminados don't find you first.

The damaged door is kicked from its hinges and a tall figure charges into the room and ducks behind the pillar opposite from you. An Illuminado with an adult Plaga crawling from its broken cranium follows from behind, and the alien creature is torn apart by one shot from a powerful gun that does not belong to Leon.

Unless Leon bought something new… Could he be Leon? Leon…! You barely restrain yourself from calling his name; even greater than your hope for meeting Leon is your fear of this unknown entity and the overwhelming number of Illuminados surrounding you. You can't risk giving yourself away to someone who may be a threat.

The waiting Illuminados above fire their crossbows, which bounce off of the pillar and walls as the shield-bearing monks trudge forward. A magazine drops to the floor as the figure curses.

"Mierda, they were waiting for me! Of course they were…"

Your heart skips a beat. You know that Spanish accent! "Luis!"

A shot is fired. "Who's there! Nicole?" He sounds surprised and relieved.

"¡La chica está aquí! ¡Morir es vivir!" A shielded monk turns towards you.

You ready your mace. "Luis, it's me!" The Illuminado draws closer.

Several more shots are fired. "Don't move, chica, I'm coming!"

Luis dashes out from behind the pillar as flaming arrows are fired from above. He throws himself behind your pillar as the arrows bounce off of the wall and strike a portrait of a female Castellan, which smolders in its frame. From a crouch, Luis fires at your attacker, who staggers back as the wooden shield is reduced to useless splinters. "Did you send out those invitations?" Luis' hazel eyes blaze with determination, but his tone is coy. "I told you no more than fifty people!"

The Illuminado falls, and Luis stands beside you in the shelter of the thick pillar. "Really," he pants, "these guys have been chasing me nonstop since I got into this nuthouse."

"Ha ha ha ha…" Three Illuminados approach you bearing shields. Luis pulls you behind him.

"Stay behind me." He throws an Incendiary Grenade behind them, and just as the explosion of fire consumes the trio, Luis grabs your arm and pulls you across the room behind another pillar. One Illuminado remains in the room, while the Illuminados above run around the walkway in order to bring you within sight. Luis fires twice at the head of the Illuminado, then glances upward. "They know I'm here, and we can't waste any more time. ¡Vamanos!"

Luis runs towards a familiar cherry door. You follow him into the quiet hallway, where the Illuminados and Plaga still litter the floor. Luis frowns. "What happened here?"

"Me." You gesture towards your gory mace, which is becoming heavy in your arms.

"Mios Dío… Hey, you're injured!" You glance up as Luis gently brushes your temple with his fingertips, and you feel painful pressure throbbing from his touch. You must be bruised from when the Illuminados took you from Leon. Luis examines the dried blood on his fingertips with concern. "That was a risky hit they took, but you're all right. Here," he opens a vial of mixed herbs. "Let me just…" He leans over you, gently massaging the medicinal pulp into the wound, which feels familiarly cold and numb. Lengths of stringy black hair, thick with sweat and hanging over his forehead, shield his dark eyes. You smell something spicy and earthen about him, which you like.

He tosses the empty vial. "There. Now let's keep moving."

You smile appreciatively. "Why are we going this way, anyway?"

Luis resumes walking. "Because something very valuable is in one of these rooms." He walks directly to the mangled door of the room in which you were held. "What is…? Was this you?"

You nod, arcing an eyebrow. "I had to get out. What's in here?"

"You'll see." Luis pushes open the door and quickly approaches the set of three ornate wooden chests that you had explored. "Looks like you already took care of these two for me…" He pulls out a large key and opens the final chest, procuring two vials. One is a bottle of red and blue pills; the other is a slim, tightly sealed glass tube emblazoned with the Illuminados' insignia, containing an unnamed purple substance.

Luis stands, sighing satisfactorily. "This one's for me," he pockets what you perceive to be the Sample, "and this is for you." He passes the bottle of pills to you. "Be sure to take two every four to six hours. You and Leon. They'll help stop the convulsions, but you'll need to find a cure. I can help with that later."

"Um, thanks…" You pocket the bottle of pills. "Do you know…?"

Luis smiles. "Yeah, that ladykilling americano shouldn't be too hard to find. But I must admit, I'm hurt that you don't want to spend more time with me." He winks.

"Funny, I remember mentioning something earlier about being a little young for you."

"Well, as long as you don't call me old, I can take it." His smirk fades. "C'mon. It's not safe to stay here."

You follow Luis out of the room and down the hallway. The marble room is quiet. "Hmm…" Luis seems on edge. "The Illuminados up there are gone. That means they're probably waiting for us somewhere else. Stay close to me." He moves towards the right metal door.

"Don't you want to go back the way you came?"

Luis sighs. "No. I mean, I would, but it's impossible. They, uh, booby trapped it."

You frown. "Oh. …Do you know where this goes?"

He pushes open the door. "I have a hunch. Don't worry, we'll find Leon." The two of you emerge onto a dimly lit, carpeted set of stairs and follow it down into a very open, very large library. The walls are completely lined with shelves supporting aging tomes, and individual shelves are arranged throughout the floor below you, and a short wooden staircase leads to a second floor encompassing about one third of the room, also supporting endless volumes of dusty books.

Mátalo!" An arrow flies past your head. Luis fires above the second floor, where Illuminados with crossbows are stationed. They topple over the thick railing and crash into the first floor with a bone-crunching thud. Illuminados approach you from all directions.

"Ay yi yi, they never quit! Follow me!" Luis leads you into the belly of the library and among a maze of towering bookshelves. "We've got to get to the other side; then we can get out of here!" He fires at a pair of Illuminados with shields; you hear a whisper behind you and whirl around to meet an unarmed zealot reaching for you with pale hands. You smash your mace into his skull and continue on with Luis.

Suddenly, the floor begins to shake. Luis stops, throwing out one arm to stop you from moving. "Don't move! They've got this whole place booby-trapped…."

Immediately, you see that Luis is right. Bookshelves ahead of you lurch and twist to form a literal maze of texts. You feel a knot form in your stomach; as if one maze hadn't been terrifying enough….

The rumbling stops. Luis straightens up, alert and watching. "…All right. Looks like we're good to go. Stay close to me, Nicole." He moves forward and approaches a split, and wordlessly turns left. Suddenly, a shelf collapses behind you and a line of crossbows appears and takes aim. You shriek, and Luis, seeing the danger, pulls you down to the floor. The arrows sail above your heads and pierce the spines of books across the room. Luis glances at you, his dark hair splayed on the carpet. "That's how you know that we are going the right way."

You smile uneasily, then get to your feet and move.

After several turns, all of which you gladly let Luis navigate, you are grabbed from behind and lifted up over the shoulder of a monk. You struggle, and beat at your captor with the mace, but the length of your weapon makes it ineffective in close range. The Illuminado, among a group of shielded companions, ignores the beating. Luis whirls around and fires into the crowd, splintering wooden shields and splitting muscle from bone. Soon, the arms holding you collapse and you roll to the ground, the mace slipping from your grip. You wriggle to the other side of the group of Illuminados, and duck down to stay out of Luis' line of fire. Without a weapon, there isn't much you can do.

Gore explodes over your head as one adult Plaga escapes its host and bursts into the open air, and the body crumples on top of you. You push away the cold, bloody flesh, trying not to look at the massive opening on the neck that leaves vertebrae and veins exposed. What a terrible way to die….

Something pops wetly and bubbles, and you look up to see that the Plaga is disintegrating on the carpet. Luis rushes to you. "Chica, are you all right?"

You stand on unsteady legs. "I'm okay. Um, let me get my mace and then…we can go." You fish out your heavy weapon from among the limbs and splinters of wood, then follow Luis after he looks you over for injuries. You notice that he is ignoring a bleeding cut on his right arm.

You enter into an open area, embellished with a plush purple rug covering a circular area that you presume to be the center of the library, and the maze. The rug bears that familiar golden insignia of Los Illuminados. Above you hangs an ornate golden chandelier with hundreds of candles flickering lazily.

Luis sighs. "Well, this isn't so bad."

You groan. "Why did you say that?"

Luis scoffs. "I'm just saying that compared to what could happen, this place is pretty quiet—"

"¡Te voy a matar!" A crimson zealot stands at the balcony of the upper floor, looking down at you and Luis through its white skull mask. It grips a large scythe and glances up above you. Luis raises his gun but the Illuminado swings back his arms and hurls the scythe with all of his strength, sending it spinning upward through the air, and the long blade cuts through the support chain of the chandelier.

A loud metallic CRACK! sounds, and the entire giant glass chandelier drops. Luis grabs your wrist and pulls you away, running at a sprint, towards the second half of the bookshelf maze. The chandelier crashes into the purple carpet in the center of the room, bursting into innumerable glittering shards that flicker in the firelight and scatter all through the library. You are pushed against a bookshelf and Luis stands nearly on top of you, his breath hot on your hair as wickedly large pieces of glass cut through the air and small shards powder Luis' dark wiry mane. He holds his forearms along either side of your head until everything is quiet. He then looks down at you, and glass trickles from his hair. "I'm not hurt," he mutters. "Are you?"

"No…" You blink. Luis' hair is bright orange. And it's waving and undulating like… You push Luis aside and see a wall of fire building from the broken corpse of the formerly grand chandelier. Now you grab Luis' hand, and he looks as alarmed as you feel. "We need to find the exit now, and you have lots of glass in your hair."

Luis pulls you away from the growing fire, but you pull back. "Wait!"

Luis looks exasperated. "We don't have time—"

"There's a key!" You dash away from Luis and look again at the broken, smoldering chandelier. In the center, suspended on a shattered, curling arm, is a golden Insignia key. Chances are good you'll need it. Taking a deep breath, you run at the expanding fire, and jump over the flames into the pile of metal and glass. Scratches sting all over your legs as shards brush against your skin. You reach out and barely manage to grip the key between two fingers. Glass crunches under your feet and the fire begins to singe the hair on your skin.

"Nicole!" Luis is closer to the fire, wide-eyed. "¡Estás estupida! You'll get killed!"

You look at him and walk towards the wall of fire separating you, and break into a run, gripping the key in one hand, and then leap over the fire, tucking your feet underneath of you. Your toes pass through the flames, but don't get burned. You land horribly onto the plush carpet, and Luis immediately pulls you to your feet. Your wrist took the fall badly, and your knees ache, but you have the key.

Luis is quiet for a moment, looking at you. "You've got a good eye, chica. You probably saved our lives. Now let's go!"

Luis tugs you towards the second half of the maze as the fire devours the carpet and licks at the base of the bookshelves. This isn't good. Wooden bookshelves and old books… this entire room is kindling. If you don't find the exit soon, you'll either be swallowed in flames or suffocate from smoke inhalation. Already the room is darkening with billowing dark clouds.

You simply follow along, clutching your mace, as Luis winds through turns and splits in the path. He soon makes a right and is met with a dead end. You cough; the room smells completely like smoke. Luis whirls around, no longer aware of you except for your hand gripped in his. The fire has consumed the center area and is spreading quickly. Luis looks panicked.

He makes another right, and you pass by a familiar series of red books. You stop. "Luis, we've been here before. This way!" You tug back towards a crossroads, and he stares at you.

"We haven't been this way. Don't talk, just let me get us out of here!" He definitely looks alarmed. Luis is sweating and his eyes are darting from the maze to the expanding fire. You are getting hot. There is no time to argue with him.

"Shut up and follow me!" You squeeze his hand and pivot around and walk briskly to the split in the path you encountered earlier. You rule out where you have been and go straight towards the far wall. Luis protests, but you ignore him. As long as he walks with you, he trusts you. At every turn, you glance up at the wall to mark your progress. You're getting closer, but not quickly enough. The air is turning white and grey with smoke, and you are beginning to wheeze and cough. Luis' breathing is labored.

"Chica." Luis tugs on your hand. You turn around, and see that he is holding his shirt up over his nose and mouth. He pulls up the neck of your shirt, and you do the same. For a moment, all you can smell and breathe is the stink of sweaty cloth. Relief.

You try to continue navigating, but your vision blurs with tears as smoke and heat permeate the room. Bookshelves all around you are catching fire as the flames sweep through the room. You hear wood splinter and crack as wooden supports collapse and release ash into the air, showering you and Luis with orange burning flakes of wood. You have a massive headache, and you stop dead in your tracks. Your legs feel very close to giving out. Luis steps in front of you, coughing, and pulls you to the left. You gasp, then cough and something wet clings to the back of your throat.

An ornate metal door is at the end of a long, straight path.

Luis looks back at you through red-rimmed eyes. "This….this may be trapped…. You….just stay….stay close to me!"

You nod, and the two of you run to the door. Your lungs smolder with every breath, but you run.

"¡Mátalo!" A familiar snap sounds from the balcony, and you glance up into the smoke to see a volley of flaming arrows arcing towards you and Luis. You pull Luis towards a shelf for shelter, and he pushes you to the floor and shields you against himself and a bookshelf. The air seems clearer down here. Your head swims.

The arrows pierce the library all around you with a chorus of heavy thuds, and the fire grows even more ravenous. Luis staggers to his feet, swaying as he gasps and pulls his shirt back over his nose and mouth. "Chica." You feel a hand on your back. "Nicole!" You are lifted from the floor and onto your feet, the mace clatters to the floor, and suddenly you snap back to reality. You had nearly passed out.

You shake your head. "Let's go!" Your hair sticks to your face. You don't care about the mace, only about getting out.

You and Luis run to the metal door, and the bookshelves surrounding you finally ignite. If you don't get out now, you will die. You reach the door, and Luis whirls around to you. "Key! Key!" You blink, remembering that vital item that you plucked from the glass and flames earlier, and realize that it is not in your hand. Luis stares at you, and for the first time in a long time, you feel cold.

Then you check your pockets, and pull out the key. You want to sigh with relief, but you might suffocate. Luis jams the key into the lock and turns, and you hear a wonderful metallic click, and he pauses before opening the door.

"The fire will go crazy when it gets oxygen," he says hoarsely. "Get in front of me and go as soon as it's open." You step in front of Luis, frightened that he will get terribly burned if the flames swell. But you don't have time to think, because the door is open and cold air swirls in front of you and you can see marble walls and floors and you are propelled into the corridor and collapse onto cool tile. You cough and wheeze and spit up mucus, and suddenly your vision clears and your headache becomes a dull throb. You are unable to move for a moment, sprawled on the cold marble floor. But you hear moaning and a sick feeling forms a hard pit in your stomach; you roll over and see Luis sitting against the wall, covered in soot, sweat, and glass, and looking back at the closed metal door.

You take a deep breath slowly, then push yourself upright and scoot to Luis' side. You lean back next to him. "Are you okay?" Goodness, you sound like an old woman.

Luis nods. "Just overheated. …That door was very hot." And he sounds like an old man.

You sigh. "They probably thought of that when they set the place on fire."

"Yeah." You both sit in silence. Luis turns his head and coughs heavily, and you hear the soft tinkling of glass filtering out of his hair. He stands up. "Ready to keep going?"

You smile. "Ready to find Leon."

Luis shrugs. "I know that you like me more than him."

Surprising yourself, you stand up and lean into him and wrap him in a tight hug. "I know that I'm grateful that you're with me." You stand back. "I wouldn't have made it after I escaped that room."

He smiles softly. "You know that I will do anything to get you home safe. No one deserves what that insane Saddler has planned."

You nod, and the two of you walk down the corridor, your energy renewed with each breath of fresh, cool air. You pass into a small storage room that connects to another hallway, and Luis takes a moment to see to your wounds with newly-mixed herbs. Then you continue into a very familiar looking stone corridor… But the Merchant is nowhere to be seen. This is puzzling.

Leon is also not there, and your heart sinks a little. Could he be on the other side of those large wooden doors, like in the game? Luis pushes one open. "Leon! I got it." You glance backwards, but Saddler is nowhere to be seen.

And there is that voice that fills you with warmth and security. "Luis… have you seen…" His worry melts into relief when you peek your head around Luis and then run towards Leon. "Nicole!"

"Leon!" You embrace, and you take a moment to savor his smell of cloth, gunpowder, and Leon.

He looks you over. "Look at you, you're a mess! But you're all right. …You smell like smoke."

You smile. "Yeah, Luis and I…" You turn to look at Luis, and cold grey eyes glare back at you in the hallway. You step away from Leon, running towards the Spaniard. "Luis!"

A slimy, undulating limb slithers out from underneath of lengthy purple robes and lashes forward at Luis' chest, but Luis ducks out of the way, almost bumping into you. Leon grabs his TMP, and Saddler glares at you, and then the Plaga limb curls and binds you around your arms and thighs, lifting you two feet into the air. You cry out as the hot, sticky appendage pulls you to Saddler's side, and the pointed tip pierces into your arm. Luis and Leon stand frozen with shock.

"Well, it seems that we have a situation," he hisses with dark pleasure. "You do not want to lose the girl, and I want my property returned to me. This can end well for all of us, or," his long, black fingernails stroke the vein in your neck, "it can end badly for her." The appendage squeezes you tightly, and you can't suppress a whimper of pain.

Leon's eyes blaze. "You drop her, Saddler, or I swear-"

"Ah ah ahh!" Saddler's gaze hardens as his voice drips with sweetened malice, "Leon, you do not want this girl's blood on your hands, do you?" The Plaga constricts tighter around you, and you feel something in your back pop. Tears gather in your vision as you struggle to breathe in this creature's crushing grip.

Leon keeps his handgun trained on Saddler, his eyes flicking from Saddler to you. Luis is breathing hard, gripping the treasured Sample and his Red 9, indecisive and tense. For a moment, everything is silent. Your Plaga writhes excitedly in the presence of Saddler and his controlling Plaga Staff, evoking a pained gasp from you as your abdomen lurches with the unpleasant movement.

Leon's shoulders sag. His gaze drops. He lowers his handgun from Saddler's chest. "Luis… give it to him."

Luis is alarmed. He glances at the Plaga Sample curled tightly in one fist. "Amigo, you have no idea what I went through to get this! You have no idea what this is! We will not be able to get it back."

"Luis." The Spaniard looks at the Sample, then back at Leon. You realize that you can't feel your fingers or toes.

Saddler chuckles. "I will kill her. She is only fodder to me. I can find any American fool to send to your miserable country. Give me the Sample and I will spare her. You are running out of time!"

Your vision and head are swimming.

"Luis!" Leon is seething, barely keeping himself from physically wrestling the Sample from Luis. The Spaniard gazes at Saddler, his brown eyes dark with dread, then holds out the vial.

"…Here." His voice is low and husky. "You want it? Give us the girl, and you can have your Sample."

"Oh-ho-ho-ho!" Saddler chuckles, "I hardly think that there is room for negotiation here." The appendage constricts tighter yet, and you can only breathe in gasps. Your fingers are blue.

Luis takes one look at you, and you look down at him, and he grips the Sample and hurls it at Saddler. Saddler's eyes widen, and he lunges for the vial; the Plaga becomes loose and slips away from you, and you crumple to the floor, gasping and coughing. Luis is instantly at your side. Leon's weapon is trained squarely on Saddler, who cradles the Sample in his wrinkled palms, then looks up at Luis with malice.

"Now that I have the Sample," he growls, "you serve me no purpose!" The appendage lashes out at Luis, who moves to shield you, and a bright flash stops Saddler cold. Leon pulls the trigger on his TMP and holds it down, pumping endless rounds into Saddler's torso. Luis helps you to sit up as Saddler roars in anger, and the Plaga appendage whips out along the floor and knocks Leon's feet from under him. Leon crashes onto his back and the TMP flies out of his hands. The alien limb slithers back under Saddler's robes, and Saddler staggers to his feet.

"Hm! You will die," he spits, clutching the Sample with both hands and breathing heavily. "All of you!" Saddler lurches into the corridor, and the doors slam behind him.

A second of silence before Leon groans. You get to your feet with help from Luis, and rush to him. "Leon…!" You kneel next to him as he sits up to meet you, and you wrap your arms around his shoulders tightly. One of his hands pats your back.

"Hey." He looks up. "Thanks for protecting her, Luis."

You sit up, and see Luis shrug. "No problem, amigo. We are together in this." Luis remembers something, and looks at you. "You have the medicine, yes?"

Leon glances at you. "Medicine?"

Luis nods. "It should suppress the growth of the parasite, but it is not a cure. I can help with that, though." You fish the bottle of pills out of your pockets and unscrew the cap. "Just take two every few hours, maybe four to six hours, and it will keep the Plagas dormant." You nod, and give two to Leon, and grab two for yourself. The pills are large and bright red and blue.

Leon smirks at you. "Bottoms up." You both tilt back your heads and swallow the pills. You hate how large they are, and swallow a few times to keep them down. You cringe at the bitter aftertaste.

Luis claps his hands. "Well amigos, are we going to get that Sample back, or sit here and take a nap? Personally, I could do either one."

You and Leon stand, and Leon retrieves his TMP. "Let's go," Leon says with a nod. You smile at the two men in front of you. They are wonderful.

Leon and Luis begin walking around the room, and you glance down at the wall where you would have been held captive, had you fallen into the trap. Thank goodness that you don't have to wander through that creepy, dark dungeon with the murderous suits of armor. Now a thought nearly makes you stop cold.

The Serpent Ornament will sit in that darkness, untouched, unless you can get into that dungeon. The only perceivable way into that dungeon is through the door on the lower level. The only perceivable way into the lower level is through the trap, which you avoided. And so the Serpent Ornament will continue to collect dust within the dungeon.

You feel chills. Without the Serpent Ornament, you will not be able to continue through the Castle. How will you reach Salazar and Saddler, and reclaim the Sample? Or, more importantly, how will you be able to go to the Island and use the Plaga-removing machinery in order to get these parasites out of your bodies…. before they kill you?

You did actually save Luis. You have rewritten the script of Resident Evil 4. But at what price?

Your life, it seems, and Leon's.