Chapter 17: A Burden Too Heavy

Little Falcon: Gah, The Last Covenant is nearing its end so please don't hold back, tell me what you think. Read and review as always…

Standard Disclaimer: I only own the idea that's all. If I did own this series I'll be the happiest person on earth!

"So, Hero of Templer… what do you plan to do?" Their three captives as well as his friends looked up to him for an answer. Just yesterday, when the thought of the Last Covenant came to mind, he would conjure something dark and menacing in his head- an object of fear and nightmares. Never in his wildest imaginations did he think that this kind of outcome was possible- that the one they were searching for wasn't an ancient inanimate object but a talking, breathing, living person and what's more it's the person closest to his heart.

"We need to find her," No one reacted with his short reply as if they were waiting for him to say something else but he couldn't say anything more.

Kicking weakly the broken shards of his glasses at his feet, Genbu pocketed his hands and leaned on a nearby wall. "That's a given. What Suzaku wants to know, what we want to know is what will you do AFTER you've found her,"

"And please don't tell me you're gonna bring her back," the one with snake eyes mocked openly despite his swelling facial injuries. "Could you drop the white knight routine? It's kinda annoying. When are you people going to realize that you can't save everybody!" Seiyuu blurted out while failing his arms up. "Sure you may have saved this world once on your own terms but lightning doesn't strike twice my man,"

"Why don't we just take this slow for a moment? Eat, rest and let's reconvene after a few hours," the Neotopioan shard caster logically suggested as everyone was on the verge of spontaneously combusting because of physical exhaustion and mental pressure. They were in battle almost a day ago then they began their interrogation which took hours before the three finally decided to cooperate and that look longer than the questioning. All in all, they've been feeding themselves with nothing but misplaced doubt and sheer will.

There weren't much disapproval to Noah's proposal and not long after, the room was empty aside from him and his best friend that was still staring at the blood red moon. "Arigato, Noah," Zed knew that that recommendation a while ago wasn't just for everyone's recuperation but also to give him the time to think things through.

Shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly, he pushed his glasses back then stood by his side. "What are you thinking, Zed?" His eyes fell on his knuckles that turned white from clenching too hard.

It was so damn hard to breath. Every heartbeat hurts and every inhale feels as if he's taking in searing steam that burned through his throat, down his lungs. His insides tossed and turned as is they wanted to come out. With difficulty, the white haired shard caster swallowed. "I'm wondering how she's feeling, Noah,"

"Being in so much pain and yet no one is there to help her. Having so much power and yet no one can understand her. All her doubts, questions and emotions drowning her until she's left with nothing but blind rage," blood trickled down his lower lip as he bit it too hard out of his frustration from being entirely helpless. "She's crying, Noah. I can feel her calling for me…"

Tapping his best friend's shoulder heavier than usual, he wanted to instill in him a bit of composure among anything else. Roia is his friend and he's willing to give his life to save her but to Zed she means so much more… and what he would give just to have her back. "We'll be with you every step of the way. For now," he handed a tray of full meal and walked away. His hand stopped midway from reaching for the door knob. "It might be true that Roia could lose sight of herself. Then you must know that the only person who can bring her back, completely, is YOU. You've returned her smile before haven't you? You just have to do it again,"

His languid eyes fell to the tray he was holding. Her smile… the shard healer's bright grin popped in his mind and for a moment, lit up his dim thoughts. It was their common friend, Mikey, who told him of the time that she lost that smile… and it was because of him. Unknown to all, from the moment Zed decided to fly away and leave them behind in search of something important, there wasn't one moment when he didn't miss her lively nagging and contagious optimism. By the time he finally realized what matters most, years have gone by and they were spent senselessly in search of something he had from the very beginning.

"Why…why…" something warm trickled from her eyes with every repeated question she voicelessly uttered. Raising her hands in front of her, she saw nothing but darkness, heard nothing but silence. Within her overwhelming power was being conceived, its greatness so terrifyingly awesome that it threatens to burst from every pore in her body. Although unable to see, she felt them… those hovering entities with remarkable supremacy but still inferior to her. Six grand beings came together upon her command. Crumpling her face with her weak hands, she sank to her knees and cried. She screamed at the heavens and cursed at destiny for everything that has happened.

As far as I can still remember, I did nothing worth this kind of punishment. I never yearned for strength or power of this enormity. I was happy… and contented. I never wished for more… but… why… why are you giving this to me? Why is this happening to me? Why am I losing everything I deserve to have? I wasn't selfish nor was I greedy… so why…

Her voice echoed in the mind-breaking silence as everything around her was smoldered in flames. "I don't want this. I don't want any of it. Someone, someone please… help me…" a name there was supposed to be a name, it belonged to someone she believed in, someone who can save her from this infinite oblivion. However, it was blank. There wasn't a particular person that came to mind. Truthfully, there wasn't anyone left in her memory, not even a name. And if your memory or your senses cannot validate the existence of another, what else is there to prove that what you were thinking about is nothing but an illusion made by your desperate mind. Am I… alone?

"ZED!" The said shard caster broke from the apparent snooze his body automatically set as his best friend and the others barged inside the room.

"What is it?" There was a grim expression on Noah's face as he chose not to meet his questioning eyes.

His lips formed a thin line, unable to form the right words to deliver the news. "Good news is…" it was one of their new allies, Suzaku stepped-up and said, "We found your girlfriend," in a rather sarcastic manner.

"Bad news is…"

"So did everyone else,"

His brows furrowed at that remark. "What's that supposed to mean?" His impatience and fatigue were getting the best out of him, paralyzing his logic in thinking straight. Grabbing the lapels of the arrogant informant's shirt, his eden green eyes compelled a direct answer.

"Byakko, our brother, is dead. We felt his existence vanish," The more collected one pried Zed away from his brother, stood in between them and extolled. "Soon after… there was a colossal shift felt at every dimension. Guess what… or rather… who the nucleus is?" Tilting his head conceitedly, Genbu's dark eyes narrowed challengingly. What are you going to do now? Not eliciting the reaction he expected, he threw in another card. "Neotopia is burning, Zymot is under water and Ulbacus is experiencing the most treacherous weather ever existed. No doubt this country will be next. You do know that when Templer acknowledges her as their citizen, war may not be far off. Even if no one claims to know her, the best solution is already on the table," slicing his forefinger across his throat.

Shifting his weight from one foot to the other, the quiet Ulbacus warrior crossed his half mechanical arm in protest but sighed in resignation. "He's right, Zed. Ulbacus is already reviewing attack options. The devastation she leaves on her wake cannot be ignored. If Roia is in there somehow, you got to talk some sense into her… fast," gone was all the tender tone he was always reserved when the lady healer was involved. There was a steely glint in his eyes that sent shivers down his spine. The gravity of what Roia has done had killed all the affection Ginga had for her. It wasn't an easy feat, what she did was absolutely beyond reasonable explanation now.

"I won't talk to her…"

"Good, because I don't think she'll listen away," the one with snake eyes said under his breath as he leaned against the wall.

Ignoring their blatant sarcasm, Zed bowed his head in shame. "I won't talk to her because… I can't . Even if she could somehow hear me, I don't know what to say to make her listen. She's been in so much pain even when she was still with us and I haven't got a clue that she was suffering to such an extent. There is no way that any of my words can reach her, not when I don't have the slightest idea of the pain she's in,"

There was an audible sneer then a united hard chuckle. Looking up, the desperate shard caster was puzzled by the immergence of the blatant amusement in their faces. "If you would've kept saying that you'll talk to her still then we might've been the first to kill you for being an idiot," Noah pushed back his glasses and exhaled in relief.

Now there was the riddle of their predicament- how can you talk without saying a word? They were back to square one but at least all the misconceptions were clarified.

Grabbing his coat, the Templer champion rose to his feet and bound for the door.

"Where are you going?"

Midway through opening the door, he froze. "I really have no idea what I'm supposed to do. But right now, I need to see her," everyone was still looking at that closed door, long after he left.

"Let's leave Roia to him. Right now, we need to do what we can to delay if not stop the plans of offense against her," unlike everyone else, their group were the only ones informed that aside from her uncontrolled wrath, she has all the six key spirits under her command. Any kind of army to even think they stand a chance is just plain suicidal.

Three brothers' eyes were still on that closed door that the white haired shard caster left. "Do you really think he can find a way through her? Pure rage in physical form,"

"He has to. If he can't, no one can," the green afro answered grimly.

In was a familiar scene, that barren wasteland with an air so heavy breathing was already a tiring task. Yet, upon his arrival there was definitely something off. It was quiet, too deadly quiet. No threatening howls at a distance, no eerie wind blow, nothing. In one short second, the horizon was engulfed in towering flames while the very ground he stood on shook and split.

Summoning his wings, he was able to look at the catastrophe from another angle. In the heart of the disaster was a person so familiar he couldn't mistake her for anyone else. Fire consumed everything around her but never touched her. Conflagrations erupted everywhere but not a hair on her head was out of place. His heart skipped a beat, relieved to see her fine and yet his mind pulled him back as his instincts told him to stay the hell away.

"R…roia!"

Her head slowly looked up. Complete fear took over him. Her eyes were open yet so dead. At once, he knew even if she could see, she doesn't remember or even recognize him at all. Gone was that sweet smile on her lips as blood and tears trickled down her cheeks like some kind of war paint on her pale stoic face.

She's gone… that was the first thought that came to mind when he saw her. There wasn't even a fragment of the girl he knows down there, only a wretched shell of the shard caster he loves.

Without warning, Zed found himself surrounded by six key spirits before plummeting to the burning abyss. "ROIA!"

Little Falcon: This is it. Please read and review okay?