Me: "Well, here's chapter eight by popular demand."
Felix: "Don't compliment yourself."
Me: (punches Felix in the shoulder)(Hard)
Felix: "OW! Dammit, what is with you??"
Me: "I'm gonna need you to come up off that bitchass-ness."
Felix: "…Meg, you're as white as a ghost. Stop acting black."
Me: "DON'T SAY MY REAL NAME ONLINE, YOU DORK!!!"
Ignore that disclaimer.
"Oh mighty gods…" Sheba whispered in awe. "The Lighthouse looks big enough from the outside, but inside, it's something else!"
"What kind of people do you think built this place?" Kraden asked.
Jenna answered sarcastically. "Oh, I dunno, Adepts, maybe?"
But it was logical. There was no way in heaven or hell anyone but Adepts could have possibly created the complex structures and puzzled that filled the Lighthouse. In fact, most of the puzzles they had come across required the power of Venus to get through… Poor Felix… Sheba thought. He must be exhausted by now…
Not to mention that some kind of ferocious, hideous monster was attacking about every five minutes. Thankfully, Saturos and Menardi usually made short work of them.
"You know what's sort of odd?" Jenna whispered to Sheba, glancing around to make sure no one was eavesdropping. "Usually, Felix never acts like he has been lately. You know, mouthing off and acting like a dork?"
"I don't know, what is he usually like?" Sheba asked.
"Well…" Jenna searched for the right word. "Stoic. Yeah, and pretty quiet, too. He had always obeyed Saturos and Menardi, probably because they saved him from drowning three years ago. He has a strong sense of honor, you know?"
"Well, when did he start acting… different?" Sheba asked, taking interest in the situation.
Jenna paused to think. "Actually…" She said, trailing off for a moment. "Right after we met you."
There was an awkward silence between the two girls for a moment, before Sheba leaned closer and whispered harshly, "Do you think it has to do with me?"
"Hey, are you two done talking about me?" Felix suddenly interrupted.
Jenna and Sheba looked at him shocked, and noticed that everyone else has stopped and were staring. "Um, is something wrong?" Jenna asked, feeling slightly alarmed.
Felix gestured toward a stairwell, where one could see light coming down from above. "We're at the aerie."
Jenna shrugged. "Oh. Cool." She began to walked toward the stairwell, but Menardi grabbed the back of her shirt and pulled her back. "You're not coming with us." She said. "You'll just get in the way."
Saturos pointed to Felix. "You lead the old man and your sister out of here, and I trust you all to not get killed doing so. And as for…" He trailed off and was quiet for a moment. "Where is Alex?" Nobody had even noticed his absence until now. Frustrated and angered, Saturos shook his head. "Unreliable little rat…" He muttered.
"Forget about him, Saturos." Menardi said, shaking her head. "He's obviously not going to help us." She turned to face Felix. "I want you to go down to Idejima. That's where the ship is docked. You are going to wait there for us, and don't even try anything funny. Got it?" Felix nodded, but said nothing.
"Um…" Sheba spoke up cautiously, "What about me?"
"Come with us." Saturos growled. "We're going to show you why we brought you here."
Sheba didn't really know what he was talking about, but she knew better than to defy him. "O- okay…" She nodded, approaching the two Fire Adepts.
Something struck Felix wrong about the subject, but he fought to keep his mouth shut. He had received enough beatings from Saturos for one day. The two Proxians vanished into the stairwell, taking Sheba with them. For a moment or two, Felix just stood there, staring at the stairwell as if his brain had clicked off. Wait… why did they take her to the aerie with them?
He was brought back by a hand waving in front of his face. "Hello? Earth to Felix, are you lost in space?" Jenna gave an exasperated sigh. "What is with you? Did the desert make you lose your mind back there, or what?"
Oh. Right. I'm supposed to be leading them out of the Lighthouse. Kraden started to say something, but Felix wasn't listening. He sighed, shaking his head. Nothing's wrong. Get a hold of yourself, Felix. Nothing's going to happen to her. His mind began to wander again.
This time, Jenna clapped her hands right in front of Felix's face, creating a tiny burst of flame. Felix stumbled back a few steps, momentarily stunned by the flash. "FELIX! Get a grip already!" Jenna shouted, getting near the end of her rope.
Felix looked down, and a shadow fell over his face. "I have to go to the aerie." He said blatantly.
There was a brief silence. "WHAT?" Jenna cried, unable to grasp what was wrong with her brother. "And what are we supposed to do?" She asked gesturing towards Kraden and herself. "Just… find our own way out?"
Felix pointed toward the doorway that they had previously come through. "It's only a short trip from here to the Lighthouse's entrance. You can handle it. Besides…" he trailed off, glancing at the stairwell that led to the aerie. "Hopefully I shouldn't be gone long. We'll catch up with you guys."
"Wait a minute…" Kraden asked. "What do you mean by 'we'?"
"I'm bringing Sheba back with me." Felix said, just as he went to the stairwell. "Trust me, I won't be far behind. Now, go." With that, he left before Jenna could have the last word, leaving Kraden and Jenna there to wonder what was going on.
Sheba never liked heights.
She didn't exactly enjoy being around Saturos and Menardi, either.
The two Proxians, however, were high on themselves with pride. "At long last, the time has come to light Venus Lighthouse's beacon…" Menardi said, with a slight croon to her voice.
Saturos nodded. "With the second beacon lit, only two will remain." He said, pitching in his two cents.
Menardi paused for a moment in thought. "No…" She said, correcting him. "Lighting Jupiter is virtually the same as lighting Mars."
"That is true. Jupiter is really all that remains." Saturos said.
Sheba really had no idea what they were talking about, so she just kept her mouth shut and observed. But to her surprise, a familiar voice came from behind her.
"That's right. Your dreams are within your grasp now." It was Felix, standing at the bottom of the steps leading to the aerie. His voice had a cynical edge to it. As he ascended the steps, his eyes were locked on Saturos and Menardi, and the look on his face made the hairs on the back of Sheba's neck stand on end.
Saturos's frustration was rising. "Why are you still here, Felix?" He demanded.
Menardi put her hand on her hip and glared. "I thought I ordered you on ahead to the ship."
Felix gestured toward the south. "I've already sent Jenna and the others to the dock at Idejima."
"Then why did you come back?" Saturos asked, in a manner as if Felix was just stupid.
"Because…" Felix started, but then trailed off. He took a few steps forward and placed himself between Sheba and the two Proxians. "I have a different promise to keep."
What is he doing? Sheba thought, as she started to get seriously worried. Right now, Felix was just begging for a serious beating.
Menardi raised an eyebrow, skeptically. "A promise, you say?" She sneered. "You must mean Sheba…"
"Yes, Sheba. Why haven't you released her yet?" Felix's voice was growing harsher. Menardi tried to say something, but Felix continued: "You promised to set her free once you got into Venus Lighthouse."
Sheba was surprised. She didn't remember Saturos or Menardi saying anything about setting her free. Was this something only Felix knew about?
"…And that's what brought you back here?" Menardi asked, sounding rather fed up.
"You promised not to involve anyone who wasn't related to this matter." Felix said.
"Sheba is special." Saturos said flatly.
Felix shrugged. "Of course." He said. "Because Sheba is a special Adept? You two learned something from the first two lighthouses." Now, Felix almost seemed to be laughing at them.
They're saying that I'm an Adept? Sheba thought. I'm just like them… yet apparently… I'm a little different…
Insulted, Menardi asked "And what would that be?"
"In order to enter each lighthouse, you need an Adept of that clan." Felix said. "Right now, we have Fire, Earth and Water Adepts…" He turned and glanced at Sheba. "But no Wind Adept."
Saturos considered his point. "That does seem to be the case…"
Then, Felix cut right to the important point. "Do we need Sheba to get into Jupiter Lighthouse?"
Menardi shook her head. "I'm sorry, Felix, but we can't even enter without a Wind Adept."
Felix relaxed a little bit. "That being the case, I guess I can understand why you can't set Sheba free."
Geez, Felix, who's side are you on? Sheba thought, bewildered by his sudden change in attitude.
Saturos rolled his eyes. "It seems that you, too, have learned something. If that is all, then you should go, Felix!" His patience was obviously waning.
However, Felix held his ground firmly. "No. I cannot leave Sheba behind! I'm taking her to the ship!"
Sheba did a double take. …huh?
Menardi seemed just as confused. "What are you talking about, Felix?"
"We don't know what will happen when you light this beacon." He said, pointing to the massive pit in the center of the aerie. "I won't leave Sheba here to find out!"
Saturos slowly approached Felix. "We told you that we'd protect Sheba. Don't you trust us?" Tension was escalating between the three Adepts.
Felix took a step back, shaking his head. "That's not what I'm saying… It's just best to be safe."
Sensing his submissiveness, Menardi stormed up to him. "Don't tell us what's best, Felix. You're not taking Sheba."
Felix's eyes were wide with alarm, now. "Why not? What, you don't trust me?"
Saturos and Menardi were both facing Felix, standing on either side of him. Their weapons were drawn. "How can we, after you just demanded we free Sheba?" Saturos snarled.
"If we had trusted you a moment ago, Sheba would be free now." Menardi said. The two Proxians looked deadly serious, now.
Oddly, Sheba suddenly remembered the brief standoff between Alex and Saturos back in Suhalla Desert. She remembered the chill that went down her spine when she was caught between the two powerful and hostile Adepts. Now, that feeling of dread returned to her, and a cold lump rose in her throat. Sheba could almost feel the anger emanating from all three Adepts.
Felix drew a small, thin blade and backed up slowly, never taking his eyes off his enemies, working his way toward Sheba. "Come with me, Sheba!" He whispered harshly. "I'll protect you." He felt Sheba clinging to his cape, and he squeezed her hand to reassure her.
Saturos laughed at them, resting his sword over his shoulder. "Are you ready to do this, even though it means fighting us?"
"I believe he is!" Menardi said with sarcastic enthusiasm. "He would not have defied us if he lacked the will to fight."
Still, Felix stood his ground. "If it means protecting Sheba from harm, then I must."
Although Sheba didn't sense any shift in tension, Felix must have given some kind of cue because, without warning, Saturos charged forward. Immediately, Felix pushed Sheba out of the way and darted to the side, leading Saturos away from Sheba. However, the battle-hardened Proxian had much quicker reflexes than Felix, and caught the hapless Earth Adept in the side with the flat side of his sword. Felix was knocked over by the blow, and Saturos seemed to take pleasure in stomping on his chest. "You have seen what we can do." The Fire Adept hissed at him. "You know you can't stop us." With that, Saturos lifted his foot and allowed Felix to regain his footing.
But the moment Felix got to his feet, he took a scalding blast from Menardi's Psynergy. He staggered from the powerful blast, unable to stop himself from crying out in pain. "How can you protect Sheba, when you can't even protect yourself?" Menardi demanded. Trying to make Felix even angrier, she grabbed Sheba by the back of her shirt, holding her scythe close to the terrified Wind Adept's throat.
Felix blindly fell for the ploy. His Psynergy flared up, and he ran headlong at Menardi, forgetting to acknowledge the fact that Saturos was still behind him. Another fiery blast, this time from below, knocked Felix to the ground.
Saturos relished in Felix's helplessness, but as the singed and battered Earth Adept struggled to his feet again, Saturos had to admit that Felix sure was stubborn. "This rebellious attitude is exactly why we've never let you fight."
Felix gave him the middle finger.
In the blink of an eye, Saturos grabbed Felix by the collar, lifted him, and threw him to the side. Felix skidded across the stone floor of the aerie. Yet still, he managed to rise to his feet once more.
Menardi calmly approached Felix and touched the tip of her scythe to the side of Felix's throat, where she could see his neck vein pulsing. "Haven't you been given enough reason to fear us on these travels?" She asked in a harsh voice.
Felix flared up with Psynergy, but said nothing.
"You're no fighter, Felix." Saturos said, rather amazed that the fool still wanted to fight. "How can you hope to stand against us?"
Still, Felix said nothing. He stood, staring at Menardi, as if he wanted to know why she hadn't killed him yet.
Menardi raised an eyebrow. "Hm." She took her scythe away from his neck and stepped back, standing before Felix. "You've questioned us for the last time!" She yelled at him. "Let's see what you can do!" She took a defensive position and waited for Felix to make a move.
Felix was… smiling? He shook his head, chuckling softly. "I'd hate to have to be the one to give you the news but…" His gaze went toward the other side of the aerie. "It looks like we've got company."
This standoff was far from over…
Love you too, reviewers. ^^