Dawn of Twilight
The gooey, juicy center of Leoshi's insane ends!
!Disclaimer! Yo, dawg, you know that I ain't never owned no piece of this here rizzle! (Hey, guys, you know that I don't own the rights to Golden Sun.) Say man, them bad boys over at that Camelot side be got them! (The people at Camelot own those.) So dawg, you be sayin' I got ta PAY? I be sayin' you got ta PLAY! (…Sorry, my English isn't creative enough to translate that.)
So hey, people! Welcome back to the story. Let's jump right into the events thus far: Norue, in a moment of rage, used his Formina spell to attack Jase, simply because too many questions were being asked. Jase and Simon reunited, with the latter getting the secret orders of the former. Simon now knows that Sheba's being held prisoner, and he's off to try and help her any way he can.
The events of the first part were only half of this plot flow. This second part will fully bring around the events of Truth, chapter twelve, and pave the way to conclude the story of the Anemos. We begin in the dungeons with Jase and Norue, moments before Norue incites his brawl with Felix.
Random: Holy crap Dark Dawn is actually really cool yet I still agree with the reviews and oh what is that some lucky pepper give it here hahahaha….
Chapter seven: The Broken, the Unheard, the Powerless
Part two: Alliance Unpaid
"I'll have you listen to me, Jase," Norue stated, his calm once again beginning to sway.
"Listen to more lies? I'll have none of the same from you."
The two Elites were in disunity. Hours previously, Norue had cast the powerful, once-forbidden spell of Formina on his Elite student, something that neither mage was prepared for. Since the attack, Jase had been trying to restrain his rising feelings of resentment, and was failing. In his mind, he was thought to be unworthy of the truth, despite his talents. The prodigy, Norue, try as he might, couldn't convince Jase otherwise.
Earlier, Norue had been told by his leader that their prisoners, Felix and Sheba, were to be either threatened or immobilized. Having found Jase, the two Elites were making their way toward the prison cell, but Jase was proving to be more stubborn than a boulder with his mistrust.
"Hear me! Let me explain myself!" Norue shouted, his voice bouncing back at them through the myriad of corridors and cells.
Jase looked upon his partner of fifteen years, gazing into his eyes. "Speak quickly, then. We've a job to get done, don't forget."
Norue allowed a quick surge of relief to fill his being, then he pushed it aside. He spared one quick look to ensure their privacy. "Listen to me. I don't want you to be asking about the truth that Yegelos hides. There's a reason I cannot answer you."
"Damned be the death threats, Norue. Speak the truth, or allow it to tear at you from the inside."
"It's not me I worry for!" he said, taking a step forward to emphasize himself. "If Yegelos discovers that you've discovered the facts I've been ordered to keep, he'll keep us alive, but just barely. But for you…I cannot fathom what torture he will put you through."
Jase was genuinely shocked at the tone. It seemed as though Norue was apologetic. Still, he needn't trust his words yet. "What madness can he put us through?" he asked. "He needs us, and he knows it."
The older Elite stood tall, and hesitated. "I wonder about that."
Silence reigned for what seemed an eternity. Jase had nothing to say, prompting Norue to elaborate once the silence grew too heavy.
"Yegelos…shares some of his deeper, darker secrets with me," he began. "Secrets that I dare not repeat, even under blade or fire. I see a gleaming madness take his eyes when he tells me of these secret plans, and I know that he is losing himself. Every day since the exile of his own daughter…he falls a little deeper into his own madness.
"I cannot repeat the plans and secrets he's entrusted to me, Jase – it's something I simply will not have you endure. Just by knowing of them, I find myself both disgusted and enlightened by our Vice-Lord. And I am no fool…I know that, in order for some of his plans to come to fruition, he will need to rid himself of all possible obstacles. Namely, us."
Jase blinked. "We've done nothing but support him all these years. Why would he find fault in us?"
"We are powerful," Norue went on. "You and I both fully know this. I know that some part of Yegelos' mind tells him that one day we may grow powerful enough to challenge him. You do not wait for a tree to grow strong before you tear it away – you rip it out when it's yet a sapling. As such, he may choose to end us before we gain too much knowledge."
Jase couldn't believe it. After all the successful campaigns he had completed with Norue, now it seems that their leader can't be trusted.
"He's unstable, Jase," Norue continued, determined to win him over. "I feel a growing sense of danger when I report to him. The way he looks at us…something is hidden, well beneath the façade of his authority. That's why I need you to be ready. I'm on your side, Jase. Don't shun me – not now."
The two Elites locked their gazes, a common understand inserting itself between them.
"…very well," Jase said after a moment of consideration. "I'll trust you like I did before. But I feel I deserve an explanation, as full as you can give me, once this situation is resolved."
Norue laughed. It was liberating. "My friend, once all this is resolved, I'll talk to Yegelos about getting you more power! You've been through far too much to not be rewarded with some more private knowledge of Psynergy."
The younger Elite allowed himself a grin, relieved that common ground had been reached. Despite his newfound sense of caution around his mentor, he knew it would do no good to nurture a grudge now.
"Now then," he began, "we should really continue onward and exact our orders."
Norue nodded, spun on his heel, and walked in perfect step with his partner. For once, he had done something good to help his friend. He hoped he wouldn't make a habit of it.
Yegelos was waiting in his quarters, pacing with anxious thought. It had been too long already since he had ordered Norue and Jase forward with their unique tasks. Not for the first time, he found himself wondering if he should simply travel down the dungeons on his own and push the limits of the High Laws.
"Curse that prophecy," he muttered, also not for the first time. "I cannot allow for my plans to unravel now, so early on. It's too soon, simply too soon…"
He continued his pacing for several more agonizing moments, each time wondering where in Jupiter's name his two Elites could be. Again, he wondered if he should go down himself. Finally, he felt the use of Psynergy behind him – he recognized it as Norue's. He stood tall, ever in power.
"My good Vice-Lord!" Norue began. "We have brought you the prime prisoner, as you requested."
Yegelos turned around, allowing himself a victorious grin. However, when he saw the state of his two prized mages, the smile froze. Puzzled.
Norue was battered, various bruises littering his face, the most noticeable being the black eye swelling up. He held the Formina sphere, glowing a brilliant gold with the Venus power contained within. His gaze was dour, tormented with the injuries he was sustaining. And Jase, perhaps more surprisingly, was bloodied, through there appeared to be no cuts or breaches anywhere on him. Lines of dried blood decorated his golden sash, like red rain across a sunlit plain.
"Norue!" Yegelos started. "Suffered a small loss, I see."
"It is, indeed, a small loss, milord. It will be made well again."
"Be sure that it does, by any means first available, to ensure that it is made…negligible at minimum. Now…" Yegelos stepped forward, probing the third mind that had entered – a young girl had been brought in behind Jase, dragged by her wrists across countless meters of cold stone. "…good, it's her. Young Jase, let her see me…after all these long years…let her see me."
Jase struggled with the weight behind him, finally bringing the prisoner to bear after a moment. The girl, Sheba, was trying her damndest to hide herself – her eyes were tightly shut, and she dared not breathe loudly. Yegelos merely stared upon her, patiently, until she opened her eyes.
An eternity of emotions flew out from her green eyes. Yegelos felt within her the deep-rooted senses of despair and horror, no doubt residual from her exile all those years ago. She was distraught, she was confused, she was upset. The Vice-Lord almost took pity on her weakened form, still being affected by Formina.
Yegelos broadcast a Telepathic probe across to her, knowing full well that she wouldn't be able to handle it. Sheba visibly flinched, and as she tried to commune back, sweat lined her brow. Entertained, her father continued to torment her consciousness with probes, until finally her mind cracked, and she fell limp.
He frowned. "Too bad," he muttered. At a wave of his hand, Jase dragged her limp form over to a corner, and let her lay sprawled upon the cold stone. "That small moment of mentally speaking was…enjoyable."
Jase was wary of Yegelos after the facts Norue had given him an hour since, but he kept his paranoia in check by bowing low before him. Both he and Norue kept their heads down, simply awaiting further instruction.
"Do you wish revenge, officer?" Yegelos asked Norue. Jase kept his head down.
"How much so?"
Norue considered the question for a heartbeat. "Personally, sir?"
Jase noticed a moment of hesitation from Norue as he considered this as well. "At the moment…only two things would bring me greater joy. The first is your entire rule over this good land."
The younger Elite's breath caught in his throat. He knew that Yegelos was planning dominion, but…what would Norue have to do with it? Suddenly, Jase's feelings of resentment began to build once more.
"Second?" Yegelos plied, unaware of Jase's turmoil. "What is your other?"
Norue paused for a full three seconds. When he replied, it was laced with malice. "Ridding this bitch from the face of the Moon."
"Excellent, excellent. You are a fine officer, Norue Kyre."
Yegelos took Norue away to one end of the room, leaving Jase alone with his thoughts. The perfect torture.
'What in Jupiter's name is going on?' he wondered. 'After all that Norue told me, why would he play for Yegelos like that? I sensed more truth in his words now than when he confided in me earlier. What am I missing?'
Jase stood, stretching his neck to clear a tightening that had begun. He gazed down at the unconscious Sheba, her face distorted in her torment. 'And what of Sheba here? I agree that she must be sent back as soon as possible…so why the orders to torture her is such ways?'
Simon appeared in his mind. 'Orders…oh no. Damn it, Jase! You fool! You shouldn't get Simon involved in this! He has nothing to do with it! Idiot, idiot!'
Jase had a strong urge to leave the room and find the Second as fast as he could. But the risk was great – he knew that, as soon as Norue or Yegelos heard his departing, they would be on him. He would never make it to the end of the hallway.
He heaved a great sigh, damned the consequences, and rushed out the doors.
Simon was trying to rush through the prison block as quietly as possible. Not easy to do when your robes make noise at the slightest movement and your breath is coming in short, excited gasps. Ever since he had read Jase's orders, his sister had been on his mind, and with it, one simple task: help in any way possible.
However, it wasn't long after he entered the prison blocks that he cursed himself for not knowing which cell his step-sister was being held in. Not that it mattered, as the orders he held didn't list them.
'Just keep going,' he told himself. 'It doesn't matter if you know which cell it is or not – there will be something to paint a target on it. You just have to look for it.'
But finding the target was proving more and more impossible the further in he moved. Despite the fire of the torch he held, the light seemed to steal away as he ventured deeper into the dungeons. Simon began to lose hope – of all the years he had lived in the sanctum, he had never properly learned to traverse the dungeons this deep.
Then, as he felt despair began to gnaw at his heart, he spotted the very target he was searching for. In the light of the torch he held, Simon was able to see spots of red decorating the stone floor, just outside one particular cell. As he gazed inward, he saw more of the blood, the majority of it just inside the steel bars. And beyond that, struggling to stand with the support of an overturned bed, was a young warrior.
Simon scowled. 'The orders said something about another…a catalyst, it said. This must be that catalyst.'
He decided to risk communication. "Can you stand?"
The man in the cell faltered, surprised to hear another voice. He recovered his grip enough to stare across the few feet toward Simon. Pain and a lingering fear tore at him through the stare. Despite the strong senses within, the Sorcerer could easily tell that the man was inches away from unconsciousness.
He reached into his robes, pulling out the bronze key Jase had hidden when the scroll had passed between them earlier. "We need to talk," he said, lowering the key to the lock. It slid in without any trouble. Good.
"I have…nothing…to say to…you people…" the prisoner breathed, exhausted. Or perhaps drained.
"I'm nothing like Norue, that bastard," Simon told him. He flung open the steel door, rushing inside to help the captive stand. Understandably, he struggled against his grip on his arm. "No, please…don't fight. You are close to Sheba, yes?"
Simon felt his arm tense with the mention of the name. After a moment's hesitation, the man answered, wary. "Why…should it…matter…to you?"
The reply was immediate. "It means more to me than any power I could possibly possess." The prisoner was standing now, albeit barely. He was leaning on the overturned bed frame, placing all of his weight against the metal rungs.
"Who…are…" He took in a huge breath to calm him nerves. Simon bowed.
"My name is Simon. I am a third-tier Sorcerer for the Anemos' military, which is handled by the Vice-Lord, Yegelos. I'm the son of the late Janice and Hawthorn, step-son to Yegelos himself, who is the unfortunate father of the Sheba we both wish to protect."
The captive murmured something, but Simon didn't notice. He pressed on. "This is a very bad place for Sheba to be. Why is she here?"
"We left Vale…four months…ago, on a quest…to discover Sheba…Sheba's blood…family."
'Four months?' Simon thought. 'That's the same time frame when Alchemy returned to us.'
"That's…a very bad idea." At a puzzled look from the weakened man, Simon elaborated, or tried to. "The people he-"
A part of him sparked – it told him that there was a powerful Adept on his way down to the cells, and Simon had seconds to vacate. He whipped his head around to look outside, seeing a growing presence of light that meant a torch was drawing nearer. In poorly controlled fear, he rushed out of the cell, closing the door. He fumbled with the key, finally pulling it out of his robes after several seconds. He had just inserted it when Norue rounded the corner.
The surprise was evident on the Elites face, despite the grotesque black eye. "Simon…what are you doing near that prisoner?"
The Second stood, shocked and angry with himself. He thought up a quick lie, giving the captive a look of apology as he replied. "I sensed you were coming, and I thought you might to…interrogate, Norue."
The Elite stepped next to his subordinate, giving Felix a look filled with malice. The torch he held only made his swollen eye look more horrific. "'Interrogate' is an understatement for what I plan on doing. But you have my small thanks for preparing my arrival. Open this door."
Simon paused. 'He's not going to ask about the key? Or what I was talking to the captive for?'
Defeated, he removed the key and slid open the bars. Norue stood for a moment, glancing at Simon with his good eye.
"What happens here is of no concern to you, Simon," he sneered. "Leave, and forget you saw me."
Simon had no choice but to bow and make himself scarce. He rushed down the hallways, back the way he came, cursing himself for not standing up to Norue. He told himself that the Elite would have simply removed him regardless, but it didn't shake his reprimands.
Simon exited the cell blocks. He closed the reinforced wooden door behind him, then continued on. He didn't get far before running into Jase. Literally.
"Agh!" Jase started. The blow hadn't hurt, but neither had expected each other. He looked up.
"Sorry…I didn't…sorry." Simon trailed off, glancing behind him toward the cell that Norue was in. He was clearly distracted.
"Where did…" Jase began. "Where did you just come from?"
The Second still looked behind him. "The cell where the older warrior is being kept. I tried to talk to him, but was interrupted with Norue arrived."
The Elite nodded. "I was wondering why he wasn't pursuing me when I left earlier."
The two friends stood still, both distracted, neither sure of what the other wanted. Finally, Jase remembered why he had left Yegelos' quarters earlier, and began to speak.
"Simon, listen…I was wrong."
The Second returned his gaze forward. "Wrong? What about?"
Jase took a breath, and began again. "I was wrong to get you involved in this. I shouldn't have handed those orders to you. Please…for your sake, give them back to me."
Simon's eyes widened. 'He wants the orders back? After risking so much by getting them to me?'
"What…why would you feel it's wrong, Jase?" he asked. Suddenly, the scroll felt heavy in Simon's robes.
"Listen…Norue warned me that Yegelos is planning something darker than any of us can prepare for. He wouldn't go into details, but he has a reason for that."
"Really, now?" Simon was suspicious – why the sudden change of heart, after their reconnection only hours ago? "I imagine it's the same with you and Lord Demos – if he tells you everything, his life will be at risk?"
Jase shook his head. "No, no! If he tells me everything, my life will be at risk! He's looking out for me!"
To his dismay, Simon scoffed. "Of course. He has you wrapped around his thumb again, hasn't he?"
"You expect me to believe all that? That Yegelos is planning something dark and sinister, to the point where his closest subjects are in danger?" Simon's anger rose. "Yegelos needs Norue. And Norue needs him. You've told me how they spend hours in conference without you. You've told me how Norue's been more manipulative of late. You've told me how Lord Demos is in a state of emergency. And yet, now you tell me Norue is looking out for you? Sorry, I won't believe that."
Jase was stunned. Not by what Simon had said, but rather by how much he agreed with what was said. The seeds of doubt in him grew. 'Is it possible Norue is just leading me along even more?'
He shook his head again, this time to clear the doubts away. Think about them later. "Never mind all that. My point is, I want to keep you uninvolved, Simon. I won't have your death on my conscience as long as I can help it." He held out his hand, expecting the scroll returned.
"Jase…I'm already involved," Simon deadpanned. "It's my stepsister, damn it. She was exiled fifteen years ago – I won't let her suffer any more! I'll have to do something."
"Simon, the last time you tried something, Yegelos disowned you! I don't want you hurt!"
The Second's gaze hardened, and his tone dropped to something resembling grief. "That's not up to you, though, is it? Sorry, but I'm going to do whatever it takes to keep Sheba safe, and get her away from this hell of a sanctum."
Jase was stunned by the conviction in Simon's voice. "Even…" he began, "…even if it destroys you?"
"Whatever it takes," Simon repeated.
The silence returned to them, think and heavy as sin, as they stared at one another. For the first time since being shown Demos' captivity, Jase felt pride – not for himself, but for his subordinate before him.
Simon spoke after a moment. "You'd better get over to Norue. I'm certain he'll want to have you nearby."
Jase nodded, and continued on. For a few steps, anyway, until Simon spoke again.
"Promise me one thing, though?"
The Elite turned around. "What is it?"
Simon heaved a sigh. "Whatever you have to do, please…your orders, they told you…"
Jase's eyes widened. 'Oh…' he thought, understanding. "No, don't worry. I won't harm Sheba. I…I swear that to you."
The Second's body relaxed, clearly relieved. He whispered his "Thank you," and continued toward the corridors beyond. Jase watched him until he rounded a corner, and his form disappeared, leaving only the sound of his footfalls as proof he was there.
The Elite spared a moment to prepare himself for facing Norue, pushing back his rising doubts. He flung open the wooden door to the dungeons, and walked through the cell blocks with a purpose.
However, none of that mattered. As he came closer to Felix's cell, he began calling out his mentor's name. "Norue!" he shouted, receiving only his echoes as reply. "Norue!" he tried again, louder.
His gift of Foresight began to tell him something was amiss. He rushed forward through the final few meters, about to call once more. But what he saw silenced him, the name still on his lips.
In the failing light of a fallen torch, Norue's cooling body lay sprawled upon the cracked stone. His blood was coating the floor.
Jase's mind, body, and soul all felt utterly numb. He wasn't able to feel anything, and he refused to think, or to even see. It wasn't possible. Norue Kyre could not be dead. It just could not be true – the pride of the Anemos Sorcerers, the prize of Vice-Lord Yegelos, would not allow himself to die like this.
This could not be true. So why did it all feel so real? Maybe this wasn't his reality, and his life of mere moments ago had turned into a complex fabrication, a long and challenging dream. But no, it was true. Norue Kyre was dead. There was no denying it.
The young Elite knelt down, grasping his partner's bloodied robes in his hands. He lifted the material, but the body didn't react – it remained limp. Norue's eyes were sightless, his breath stilled. The look of abject horror that took him upon death still lingered in a crease upon his brow, a cold line of blood on his lips, and the swollen eye from his previous brawl with Felix.
Slowly, slowly, Jase felt something new build inside him. Something hot, burning through his veins, ironically bringing him focus and a sick pleasure. He gazed upward, fixing his glare at the lone prisoner before him, who was scanning the ground around the dead Elite's body – for what, Jase did not care. At that moment, the Elite knew of one thing, and one thing only – sheer rage at the warrior.
A glint of red overtook Jase's sight. He screamed with the rage of a vengeful tribe. "Murderer!"
The prisoner, Felix, shot his gaze forward. "No, Jase…you don't understand…"
Jase's rage seethed over. "What's not to understand?" He leapt forward, tackling Felix to the ground, relishing the cry of pain as his head contacted the unforgiving stone. He drew his dagger. "You took the life of my partner! You killed him!" In a brief reprieve of his blind rage, Jase sent out a Psynergenic message to his commander. The Telepathy connected in a heartbeat.
' ' 'Norue is dead in the catalyst's cell,' ' ' he broadcast.
The sheer anger took Jase once more. With a cry of agony, he blindly slashed his blade across Felix head – the sharp edge cut through his eyebrow with no effort. Felix shouted in pain, covering the injury with his hand, which gave Jase his opening. In a sadistic moment, the Elite rose up, then brought his weight down upon the prisoner, bashing his knee into his stomach. Jase reached out and took the nearby torch, holding the flame high – and with his other hand, brought his curved dagger upward, placing the blade against Felix's throat. The edge flirted dangerously with his jugular. A rivulet of blood formed.
Just as Jase decided to cover Norue's blood by spilling Felix's, he felt a surge of Jupiter power appear behind him. Instinctively, he knew there was another in the room – and, again instinctively, he knew exactly who it was.
Jase sighed in defeat, calling back as much of his seething anger as he could. He slowly lifted the knife away from Felix's throat, and let the blade slip from his hand. The iron clattered against the bloodied stone floor – the sound had just died away when Yegelos' deep voice issued his command.
"Rise, young Jase, and step away."
The Elite rose immediately, and moved to a corner of the cell, where he stood, stiff, yet in turmoil. His gaze drifted to the body of his dead mentor, and there his gaze remained. His mind began to manifest once more, bearing innumerable questions, to the point where he forgot where he was – he drifted through feeling after feeling, always numb, seeing nothing but his dead friend, unable to even think.
Simon was following his friend, Jase, as he carried the cold form of Norue through the hushed halls of the sanctum. The Second dared not speak, but he wouldn't allow himself to leave Jase, either. All around him, Anemos clansmen were watching the Elite as he carried Norue's body, his blood still dripping to the stone beneath them.
After several agonizing minutes, Jase arrived at his destination – the military burial grounds. He walked up to a large onyx stone, patterns of golden winds decorating the sides, placing Norue gingerly atop it. He moved the lifeless limbs so the deceased soldier rested evenly. Jase stepped away, gazing at the body in the weak light of the surrounding torches. In a few days, the Anemos workers will have placed a hollow stone over the onyx, sealing Norue inside a desolate tomb.
Jase looked over at a pair of similar graves to one side. 'The previous Elite Firsts, Kaia and Acheron, are there. Is this the destiny of an Elite? Death within the line of duty, without attaining honor? What good does it bring?' He lowered his head, holding on to his grief.
Simon made an utterance behind him, but Jase ignored it. Instead, he snapped rigid, faced the bloody form of his partner, and saluted with more pride than he felt. He held the salute, mentally pleading that Norue would rise, unharmed, to return it. But Norue remained still, cold and defeated, upon the black stone.
Finally, Jase let his arms fall, and he quickly strode out of the grounds, desperate to be away from the graves. He walked briskly, not slowing his pace for any reason – Simon was calling out to him, but his voice seemed distant, as though from another world. The Second was rushing after him, but dread struck him as he heard Yegelos' screams echo down the corridor toward them. The last thing Simon wanted at the moment was to deal with his step-father.
However, he was determined to help Jase in any way he could. So when Jase continued toward the room Yegelos was in, Simon followed without hesitation.
Simon kept himself obscured behind the doorways, just enough so he could see inside. The scene shocked him. Yegelos was sweating in his anger, and was gazing at Jase, who had just entered. At the feet of the Vice-Lord were two people – one, he recognized as the warrior who was held in the prison cells. The other he couldn't tell, because her back was turned to him. She bent low, whispering something into the warrior's ear. Simon noticed that he was bleeding from the arm, a fresh cut opened wide.
Unfortunately, Yegelos noticed him. "Simon, why are you here?" he demanded. Jase stepped to one side, exposing Simon to the Vice-Lord's glare. His throat went dry. "Came to see your damned sister, I imagine?"
Something sparked within Simon, and he flicked his gaze over to the girl, who had turned her head to look at him. Their eyes met.
A memory flashed within Simon - remnants of a nightmare fifteen years ago, of a newborn girl with deep green eyes. Finally, here, those eyes were staring at his, once more.
Simon returned his gaze to the commander, swallowing a lump of anxiety. "Just...passing by, sir. I saw the state of Jase's clothing, and I became...curious, sir."
Yegelos barely waited for the explanation to finish before snapping. "What the actions of my Elite Sorcerers are is none of your concern, and it shan't ever be," he spat out, dismissing him with an annoyed wave of his hand.
Simon wanted to argue - the words were in his mouth, about to come forth. But he checked his motion, and forced himself to bow. He turned and walked away, wondering what to do. He rounded a corner, and pushed his back against the stone wall. He gazed at the far wall, lost in thought, both happy and angry at the situation. There was simply too much to take in - change was happening too soon, too fast.
After several minutes, Simon heard sharp cracking, and felt the ambient air heat up. He quickly returned the way he had come, and saw Jase, his face distorted in rage, his body consumed with Psynergy, his hands flaring from the plasma erupting from his palms. He fired blast after blast at the heavy doors before him, sealing the witch and the catalyst inside.
His task completed, the Elite lowered his hands. He gazed at the wood and stone as they fused together. He was sure he should have felt satisfied, but he still felt numb.
Simon walked forward. "Jase..."
Jase flicked his gaze toward the Second, then turned and walked quickly down the opposite direction. Simon rushed behind him.
"Jase, wait! Don't run from me!"
A memory flashed with Jase, one from his argument with Norue barely a day ago "Don't do this, Norue! Don't run from me!" he had shouted. The memory brought a surge of despair. Jase stopped, his head lowered, his shoulders shaking, his teeth clenched.
"Jase, please..." Simon walked up. He reached out.
Jase turned, faced the nearby wall, and slammed both fists against the stone. He shouted in his despair, pounding the wall several times. His hands began to bruise as his cries echoed around their heads.
"Jase, wait! No! Stop!" Simon grabbed his captain by the wrists, but was pushed away. He landed on the ground, grunting. Jase had stopped slamming the wall, but was now glaring at Simon. A gleam of rage shone behind his eyes.
He spoke, his voice raspy. "How does it feel, Simon?"
Simon stood up, gazing back. "What? What do you-"
"How does it feel, when everything is going right for you?" Jase stepped forward slowly. "You've made a high rank in the military. You're living calmly with your allies. Your beloved sister is alive, well, and has returned."
Instinctively, Simon stepped back. Something about Jase wasn't right. "Jase, I..."
Jase slammed the wall once more. The pain brought a sick satisfaction to him. "Answer me, Simon. Are you happy? Are you excited?"
Simon shook his head - not in answer, but in disbelief. "Jase, what's wrong with you? What's wrong?"
"What's wrong?" The Elite allowed himself a laugh. The sound sent chills running down Simon's spine. "What's wrong! Out of all the things that are changing, and you dare ask me what's wrong!"
"Jase, what are-"
Jase slammed the wall again, silencing his comrade mid-sentence. "What the hell do you think is wrong, Orain?"
Simon remained silent, staring into Jase's eyes in utter shock.
"Just think, for a moment," Jase began. He focused his glare. "Remember that night, all those years ago? When young Sheba was brought before the Lords of the clan, to face judgment? Under the guise of a prophecy, no less! You remember, don't you? Of course you do."
Memories swept across Simon's vision. An altar slick with blood and tears. His screaming drowning out the infant's. A rift held open by two young Sorcerers, one in white sashes, and the other in green. He nodded.
"That night, you lost something precious. Something you wanted so badly to keep, you were willing to fight. And after you lost it, you swore something before me, your captain, and your commander...so tell me. Did you finally damn Norue's grave? Did the words taste sweet on your tongue?"
"Jase, I didn't...that night, I was..."
"Not only that!" Jase shouted, silencing Simon once more. "Not only that, but you've gotten back that which was so precious to you! Your dear step-sister has finally returned to you! So how do you feel? Two of your dreams have come true!"
"I-I...of course I'm happy, but Jase..."
"So there you have it. By doing nothing but dream, your life has become happy. Your dreams have come true at long last. And you did nothing but dream."
Simon looked back, confusion marking his face. "What...what's that supposed to mean?"
"You still don't get it, do you?" Jase's eyes narrowed even more. "Think about the two of us for a moment. What are you? A Second-Ranked Sorcerer, disowned by your step-father, the commander of the very military you serve in. And what am I? An Elite First, direct weapon of the Vice-Lord, enforcer of laws and duties. Our work couldn't be more different.
"Ever since that night, my life has been filled with work and progress. I ascended to Elite rank in seven years, while you had managed a Third rank. You haven't had nearly as much work or responsibility as I have, and yet your dreams have come to fruition! Your hated captain now lies dead! Your dear sibling yet lives!
"But what about me, damn it? What about me? Everything you've wanted to happen is against what I'm assigned! Norue was my friend! Sheba was prophesied as a threat! Yet, by doing nothing but dream, both of them have turned in your favor! Where does that leave me, Orain?"
Stinging tears shone behind Jase's eyes, further amplifying the glint of rage. He stared at Simon, daring him to argue.
"I...Jase, I never wanted it to happen like-"
"Don't you dare lie to me, Orain!" Jase screamed. "You can't deny this! You swore to damn Norue's grave, and you fought your commander to keep Sheba here! You did want them to happen, regardless of the methods!"
"No, Jase!" Simon shouted back, determined to explain himself. "That night, I...I couldn't believe what was happening! My only sibling, exiled before she could even cast a spell! And Norue was keeping you from the rest of us, changing you!"
"Norue was offering me the opportunity to advance myself!"
"But he was changing you! Every time you returned from your conferences with him, you were paler. You refused to talk - you skipped meals, even! Norue was dragging you away from us, Jase! That's why we were against him at first! But, damn it, none of the others went through what I went through. I was upset - I spoke out of turn."
"I don't buy that. You sounded very calm to me, Orain."
"Don't call me by my last name!" Simon pleaded. "Back then, all those years ago...I couldn't get through to you! I couldn't pull you back! You told me earlier about how you've regretted everything that's happened. Well, I want to help you! Please...let me help you before it's too late!"
Jase was silent for a moment. The tears behind his eyes receded, as did most of the glint of rage. He turned his head away. "You can't help me. I don't want your help."
"Which is it? You don't want it, or I can't give it?"
"I don't want your help, so it doesn't matter, does it?" Jase spat out.
It was Simon's turn to get angry. "The hell you don't! If I don't pull you back, then you may not have another chance! Come with me, please!" He extended his hand, his eyes pleading.
The Elite stared at the hand, then at the Sorcerer extending it. The red gleam in his eyes flashed.
Jase moved quickly. He grabbed hold of Simon's outstretched arm, pulling him. He brought his knee upward, contacting the Second's stomach with a thud. Jase released the arm, using his own hand to deliver a punishing blow to Simon's chin - his body straightened out. With a grunt, the Elite pushed out his reserves of Psynergy, forging a powerful wind between the two of them - he shoved his arms forward.
Simon was sent careening away, landing painfully on his back. His head struck the unforgiving stone beneath him, bringing stars to his eyes. He tasted blood.
Simon struggled to rise, fighting unconsciousness. He coughed, spitting out the blood that was flowing from his lip. In his dazed state, he gazed at Jase with a mix of horror and disbelief. Jase stared right back.
"My place is not with you, Orain. Don't ever forget that."
Simon watched him go. His footfalls echoed around the corridor for what seemed like an age, until finally the sound died away, and he was left alone. Silence reigned.
Jase stood, his anger overshadowed by his disbelief. Before him, defying all odds, stood the Venus Adept, his sword in hand, his enemy - the Anemos Warrior, Dullahan - dead behind him. To his sides were his commander and the witch, both feeling the same disbelief. The Adept below them was saying something, but Jase couldn't hear it - his mind wouldn't allow it.
Yegelos turned to face his cursed daughter. Jase felt Jupiter Psynergy being tapped, directed at her. He knew Yegelos was giving Sheba an order, placing his thoughts in hers. She breathed to steady her nerves, then jumped from the balcony where they stood. Felix manipulated the sand beneath him, causing a soft pillar to rise to catch Sheba. She landed, unharmed, and rushed toward her guardian. Together, they turned and left.
The Elite followed his commander as they descended to the arena, where Felix had so recently defeated his enemy. Dullahan's armor didn't move. Yegelos stooped to retrieve something - what it was, Jase didn't notice. He simply stood, gazing at the dead armor before him.
Jase stood a few feet away from his superior, his mind utterly blank. He pleaded. "My Lord, please…is there nothing you can do?"
Yegelos didn't look at him. He remained silent.
"Please, my Lord…Norue, he…I won't let him go unavenged! Please, there must be something, anything, you can do to annihilate that Venus Adept!"
But still, the Vice-Lord remained silent. He didn't even acknowledge his Elite's pleas, instead focusing on his own thoughts, which Jase was utterly oblivious to.
"Please, sir – let me go after him! Let me find him before he escapes! Let me end him!"
Finally, Yegelos responded. Viciously. "Be silent, knave."
Jase's words died in his throat. He was stunned by the tone in his commander's voice. Yet still, Yegelos didn't turn around. He stood away from his lone Elite, staring at the fallen Dullahan. For a moment, even he was unable to form a thought. Until he realized something.
'Despite this…surprising loss, this changes nothing. The witch is still leaving this sanctum, and her guardian with her. I still have control over this. This does not spark the prophecy…but someone else can.'
"I am still in control," he muttered, barely above a whisper. "I still have control."
Jase, unable to accept his defeat, moved forward. He faced his commander, staring directly into his eyes, which were like cold glass. "Sir, you must send me after him! He killed Norue…he must be killed in turn! I will defy the High Laws if I must – Norue deserves at least that much!"
Finally, Yegelos gazed down upon him, locking their gazes. The Vice-Lord's face was etched in stone – utterly void of emotion. When he spoke, it was like echoing stones from a well.
"You honestly believe you can bring Norue vengeance?"
Jase gasped. Yegelos angled his head downward, fixing his gaze – no, his glare – upon the unfortunate Elite.
"You, Jase Makien? You, who was named among a catalyst and a traitor? You, who never amounted to anything more than a student? You, who even now cannot commit yourself higher than your fallen mentor? You are neither capable nor worthy to exact vengeance for anyone, you pitiful excuse for an Anemos."
The Elite stepped back. He couldn't believe the words he was hearing. "My…my Lord…"
"Come now, Makien," Yegelos continued. His eyes began to flare with a malice he had kept hidden for fifteen years. "Did you honestly believe that you were anything more than collateral? That you were an equal to Norue Kyre – or even to Vice-Lord Yegelos himself? Why do you think Norue mastered the secrets of Formina? Why do you think we had you authorize the execution of Joseph Simmons? Why do you think you became an Elite First at all? Answer me."
Suddenly, Jase's throat was dry. He swallowed – when he spoke, his voice cracked with strain. "Because I…I was named."
"Exactly." Yegelos stepped forward, closing the distance between them. Jase backed into the cold armor of Dullahan – nowhere left to go. "I only kept you nearby because Kaia named you in his foresight. And I'm certain you know why, don't you? Answer me!"
Jase stared, his gaze transfixed by Yegelos' glare. A malicious sneer began to form on the Vice-Lord's lips. This had to be a nightmare. "Because…" the Elite began. His forehead was hot. "…because I might have enacted part of the foresight had I stayed where I was."
"Precisely. If I had just left you alone, you would be a completely different Sorcerer right now. Perhaps you would have made a fine First…or a disgraced Fifth. Perhaps Joseph Simmons would yet live! And perhaps…you would have sparked the beginning of our demise."
The Vice-Lord stood over Jase, his glare unwavering. Even though the majority of torches were behind him, Jase could see a glint of sadistic glee shine in Yegelos' eye. He couldn't tear his gaze away.
"But now I see just how much of a…waste it has been. Despite our best efforts, you still doubt your loyalties. You still suspect your teacher. You still fraternize with wretched friends. And you still hold yourself higher than you truly are. You still refuse to become what we made you to become."
"I…I…" Jase was unable to form a thought. Yegelos' glare intensified – then he stepped back, turning away. He scanned the far wall, preparing his next attack.
"…did Norue ever tell you?"
The young Anemosian wasn't able to reply. He stared dumbly ahead.
"About the prophecy?" Yegelos elaborated. "Did he tell you anything about it?"
Finally, Jase found his voice. "N-no…he never told me the true prophecy…"
"Ah, so you knew."
Yegelos turned his head enough to glance at his Elite through the corner of his eye. The menacing glint remained. "There's a certain part of the prophecy – the real prophecy – that I just remembered. It describes dancing colors, three of them…crimson-" Yegelos turned and pointed to his two angling sashes across his front, which were a deep red, "-amethyst, and gold-" He indicated toward Jase's golden sash. "-colors, all three dancing in pain.
"As they danced, the amethyst fell, having been run through with a blade wrapped in red ties. The crimson color disappeared, while the gold continued to dance. As the amethyst began to bleed, it rose once again, drawing the blade out of itself. It began to dance once more, until it finally fell. It, too, vanished, leaving the gold color alone, to dance on forever."
Jase's jaw was slack. Though he didn't understand what the images meant, his gift of Foresight was warning him of great danger. Every part of him was urging to run, but his legs refused.
"You see, Makien? It doesn't matter what we've done – the gold color continued to dance on, through the years and trials. Yet the crimson and amethyst vanished, never to be seen again. The prophecy is still coming true…you're the gold color."
Jase managed a choked reply. "Me? What…why would I be the…"
"Isn't it obvious? Demos – the amethyst – is being held under my watch, and I am soon to take his place and claim my rightful Lordship over the Anemos! When that happens, I won't need my crimson sashes anymore – I'll have moved up to royal violet! Yet still, my downfall is secured, as long as the gold – you – continue to move! You will still spark the crux of my rule if you continue."
The Elite was stunned, but managed to speak again – he had to clarify something. "If I…continue? Continue what?"
Yegelos smiled, and evil was the only way to describe it. "Why, if you continue living, of course."
For a moment, the world seemed to go silent. Jase could hear nothing but his pounding heart, feel nothing but fear, see nothing but that entrancing glint of madness. His breath stopped cold – he had to work to get a new breath in. He tried to step back, but couldn't with Dullahan's body blocking his escape. He dared not blink – if he blinked, he might miss the moment when Yegelos moved in for the kill.
Yegelos sensed his turmoil. "Relax, Makien…even I am bound by the High Laws, for the moment."
Finally, Jase allowed himself to blink. He made the mistake of letting his guard down. "You mean you…won't kill me?"
The Vice-Lord's eyes shone. "I won't kill you…but that doesn't mean you may not die."
Slowly, Yegelos reached into his robes and pulled out something small, round, and clear. Jase spared a moment to look at it, and terror hit him. "No!" he screamed, once again bumping into the lifeless armor behind him.
"Don't get too close, now," the Vice-Lord said between his triumphant cackles. "This orb is…designed to drain all of the Psynergy out of any Adept. This is…harnessed Formina."
Something cracked within Jase, and he turned and ran. He began clambering over the fallen armor, desperate to get away. But Yegelos had already cast the orb. It flew straight for the elite, closing the distance in barely a second. Jase never stood a chance.
The Formina Sphere sped through Jase's body, ghosting through his robes and skin, until it rested in front of him. Six thin lines of purple energy were attached to it, leading to his torso, each one glowing brighter. Jase stopped cold, transfixed. He stared at the sphere and the attached lines, which simply floated in midair, mocking him.
Then, the attack connected. The six lines flashed once, and Jase screamed. He doubled over, clutching his chest, his agony echoing throughout the corridors beyond. As his powers were pulled from his soul, his body began to react – pulsing blue surges of Psynergy emerged, leading toward the sphere. The air around him kicked up into a fierce whirlwind, and streaks of plasma shot out from his palms. The superheated electricity contacted the ground, the armor, and his skin, making his cries of pain all the more unbearable.
Jase tried to resist. He curled inward, trying to mentally contain his power. But the strength of Formina was too strong. As the last vestiges of plasma were siphoned away, Jase began to float off the ground – Formina's pull was enacting his dormant Flight abilities, ending them before they began.
Then, finally, Jase's lightning began to be pulled away. He mentally clutched at it, unwilling to part with the power. And still, Formina's pull was too strong. With another flash of the six lines, Jase's body was snapped rigid, his head facing upward, his scream renewed.
The electricity blasted out him, every jolt leading toward the Formina Sphere. The power surged along his skin, burning him throughout his being. Jase began to bend forward, bringing his hands up to his head, covering his face – but, with one final flash, a finishing surge of power sped forth, accompanied by a sickening crack.
Jase's shrieks died away, and the six lines, too, were pulled into the sphere. He fell to the sand floor beneath him, landing on his back. His breath came in shallow gasps. He was bleeding in more places than he could count. Burns covered his body, and he wanted to cry in pain, but simply lacked the strength to.
The Formina Sphere hummed with power, radiating brilliantly with Jupiter Psynergy. Yegelos beckoned to it – the sphere gently floated to his outstretched hand. He held it firmly – it was warm to the touch.
With his maniacal grin still dominating his lips, the Vice-Lord calmly placed the sphere in his robes. He made his was toward the exit, stepping around the lifeless armor of Dullahan, until he reached the drained Anemos. Yegelos gazed down.
"Should you survive, fell free to come find me. I'll be happy to grant you residence in the sanctum, when I am ruler absolute."
He continued out the gateway and into the corridors beyond, abandoning Jase Makien with nothing but echoes and his beating heart.
End Chapter Seven
Author's comments: Hmm? What? Yes, yes, I'm still alive. Don't blame me - my life is in freefall right now. School, work, adminship, Mass Effect, family, Christmas, and my game have all taken hold, making my days catastrophic, to put it lightly. I can't promise anything, but I'm trying.
So! How about that? Jase is finally left alone, and Yegelos is moving forward without aid or hindrance. I still feel bad for Simon and Jase, though. This chapter is crucial to the story of Dawn of Twilight, and I really hope I haven't lost any of you.
To update everyone who's still reading this dinosaur of a tale: I've made minor changes to this chapter arc and the interlude. Chapters five and seven are the arc for The Broken, the Unheard, the Powerless, each one taking up a separate part. Chapter five is "The Price of Unity," while chapter seven is "Alliance Unpaid." The interlude is officially chapter six, changed for the sake of convenience. And a little quiz for you all...care to guess who the broken, unheard, and powerless characters are? It should be obvious by now!
Finally...Merry Christmas, everyone! Hope the year's been great to you, and the next one will be even better!
Next chapter: Simon gets an unexpected visit from someone everyone thinks is dead. The alliance begins for the end of Yegelos' reign.