What's up guys! Chapter 19 begins. Depending on how long it takes me to finish, I apologize profusely from leaving off on a huge cliffhanger on the last chapter. As a final side note before we begin, I'd like the say that I'm not sure if the following flashback scene was from the story or not since I've never played through the full story mode in Mabinogi before. It's actually based on a picture I once saw. So, without further delay, let's dive right into this sucker!
P.S. to anyone who hasn't noticed, I always used to use bold text whenever a transformed black knight was speaking and underline text when a paladin was speaking. I stopped doing this save for Cichol and Morgant simply due to laziness. If you didn't notice this or just don't care, then feel free to ignore this message.
Mabinogi: Setting Sun
Chapter 19: Antithesis
Tarlach stood under a tree on top of a hill overlooking a large field of grass. Small trickles of sunlight made their way through the leaves. Despite the relative peacefulness of his surroundings, Tarlach's emotions were far from stable. He and his companions searched, and fought for months trying to find their way to the fabled paradise, Tir Na Nogg. They encountered numerous trials and tribulations and all they earned for their efforts was betrayal. Ruairi and Mari ended up dead while Tarlach's body was left in such an unstable state that even now he was struggling to retain his current form as a human. On top of it all, even his own mentor had turned his back on him.
"Are you sure about leaving?" a calm voice brought Tarlach back into the real world.
"Yes, I am." Tarlach responded calmly. He turned around to face Kristell but was surprised at her new appearance. Her long flowing hair had been cut short and a nun's uniform replaced her revealing attire as a succubus. Tarlach was momentarily speechless.
"Do you like it?" Kristell gave him a warm smile. "I figured that since I was defecting from Cichol's service I might as well go all the way and join the other side."
"I…see." Tarlach regains his composure and turned back to face the field. "I shouldn't stay here for very long. I'd only cause you trouble."
"That's not true! We could…maybe…" Kristell tried to think of a convincing reason for him to stay.
"I can't hold this form for much longer. Even if I did stay with you, I'd never be able to stay in a normal town for too long."
"Don't worry. I'll be fine." Tarlach gave her a reassuring smile. "Where will you go from here?"
"I'll head towards Tir Chonail. It's isolated enough that I won't cause any harm."
"Before you go..." Kristell went inside her small hut and came back out with a small box tied with a red ribbon. "Take this as something to remember me by."
Tarlach took it and opened the box. Inside was a rose with black petals. "Heh…clever." Tarlach gave a wry smile as he remembered the song Kristell first sang to him. "I'll be off now. I'd rather not have you see me change into…whatever my next for will be."
"Will we see each other again?" Kristell asked.
Kristell watched as Tarlach walked further and further away from her. His form soon disappeared into the trees off in the distance. This would be the last time she ever saw him in human form.
Present time, Dunbarton Chapel
Kristell's pale body was laid down on the floor, her arms crossed over the hole in her chest left by Diran just moments before. The Black Rose that Tarlach had returned to her rested between her palms. Sol, Diana, and Toran stood nearby, their backs turned to her as they faced Soma, Sera, and Kai.
"It seems you've fallen back on old habits." Soma glared at Sol.
"Soma…Listen to me." Sol said trying to reason with is former friend.
"Go ahead and try to explain yourself. In a moment you won't be saying anything at all."
Without warning, Soma launched himself at Sol. He drew his claymore and swung diagonally in an attempt to slice Sol in half. However, his attack was blocked by Sol's katana. Soma's red eyes burned with anger while Sol's eyes showed uncertainty. "What's the matter!" Soma grabbed Sol by the collar and threw him across the room and out the chapel doors. "Where's the cold indifference you showed when you killed Luna!" Soma immediately charged out of the now broken chapel doors after Sol.
"Sol!" Before Diana could help him, she was stopped by Kai and Sera.
"I guess letting you go last time was a mistake." Sera readied her spear and faced Toran.
"You won't be going anywhere." Kai readied three arrows and aimed it at Diana's torso.
"Please, listen to us! This isn't what it seems." Toran attempted to explain but ended up having to dodge Sera's attacks as a result.
"Don't even bother!" sera yelled. "Once we've taken care of you, we'll go after your accomplices who escaped out of the roof!"
Outside the chapel
"Soma, hold on! We're wasting time!" Sol said as he parried Soma's attacks.
"All you have to do is surrender and I can end this quickly." Soma replied.
"That's not what I-gyah!" Sol blocked another one of Soma's attacks.
Soma and Sol continued to fight with Sol relying almost solely on the defensive. "What's the matter? Why won't you counter!" Soma yelled in frustration. Another surge of pain began to envelope Soma's arm. "Damn it! Why now!" Soma staggered back and attempted to shrug off the intense pain.
"Something doesn't feel right…" Sol felt a sense of uneasiness in the pit of his stomach. "Soma, what' happening?" Sol attempted to get closer but was forced back as Soma swung his blade.
"Don't start acting like friend to me after all this time!" Soma yelled. "You shouldn't worry about things that don't concern you…" The pain in his arm began to subside, beads of sweat formed on his forehead. "You always were an idiot like that…"
"Looks who's talking." Although it sounded like a joke, Sol's expression was grave. "Is…is his fomor blood finally awakening?" Sol kept these thoughts to himself as he readied for another one of Soma's attacks. His eyes held confidence that wasn't visible moments before.
"So we're back to the cold indifference." Soma readied his claymore as well. "Does this mean that you're ready to fight me for real?"
"That seems to be the quickest way out of this. I have a schedule to keep, after all." A black inky substance formed at Sol's feet and quickly began to cover his body. His eyes turned yellow as his transformation into an infra-black was complete. "Come."
Black wings suddenly spread from Soma's back as a blinding light emanated from his body. His armor was much sleeker than it used to be and it no longer carried the blue cross that represented Soma's unit. Blue fur outlined the edges of his armor and an intricately designed helmet completely covered his face. "It has become abundantly clear that I can't let you roam free." Soma clenched his fists. "I won't let you escape. Not after this."
"I was beginning to wonder when you'd use the "I won't let you escape" line." Sol mocked. Soma charged at Sol with all his strength.
With Diran and Tanya
"Wow…he's really going at it, isn't he?" Diran let out a low whistle as he observed the fight between Sol and Soma through a small telescope. "Now then…" Diran pulled out the black pass and examined it. "…what to do with this?"
"Destroy it." Tanya replied.
"But where's the fun in that?" Diran smiled. "I need to keep the bait if I want the fish to bite." Diran soon heard footsteps behind him. "Speak of the devil…" Diran turned to find Lydia and Rudi glaring at him.
"Hand. It. Over." Lydia said through gritted teeth.
"You mean this?" Diran waved the black pass in the air, mockingly. "I want to see which is faster…" Diran pinched two corners of the pass with each hand and held it in front of his face. "…your fist or my fingers." He then started to pull the pass apart.
"No!" Lydia leaped forward as soon as she realized what Diran was doing.
For a split second, Diran was confused. He pulled with all his strength but the pass refused to tear. It almost felt like trying to pull apart a sheet of plastic. The parchment the pass was printed on would not yield. Then, as soon as this realization dawned on him, Diran felt Lydia's fist impact his stomach. Time seemed to slow down as Diran turned to his right to find Tanya engaging Rudi with her two Axes. He kept a tight grip on the pass as he flew through the air. Saliva flew out of his mouth and his eyes bulged slightly. Diran skidded across the surface of the roof on the adjacent building to the one he was previously standing on. On his stomach, Diran pushed himself back up to face Lydia. His expression was one of both shock and excitement. "So you've finally done it!" Lydia was suddenly cloaked in the robes of the Flacons, the ancient warriors of the Elves from his home in Iria. A black Aura surrounded Diran as he too began his transformation. "Don't disappoint me!" Diran and Lydia charged at each other as soon as his transformation was complete.
Meanwhile, Tanya and Rudi had also entered their transformed states and moved their battle to the streets below. Gravel and white bricks flew through the air as they blocked and parried each other's attacks. Tanya's fur stood on end as she glared at Rudi. Even though he had transformed, there was a sort of stiffness in his movements. When one of her kind normally transformed like this, they were usually wild and erratic in their attack patter. With Rudi, his actions were too deliberate, almost as though he were holding something back.
"What is this!" Tanya yelled. "Why do you try to tame the beast within you!"
Rudi remained as silent as he usually was and increased the frequency of his attacks. None of them were landing any significant hits on Tanya which began to frustrate him. "What's the matter? Getting a little over eager, are we?" Tanya began to taunt Rudi as their fight continued. Although he appeared calm on the outside, the beast that Rudi had unleashed was proving difficult to control. He wanted to go all out against Tanya but within such a cramped and populated street below them, the collateral damage would be too great just for an advantage in a fight. Even with this in mind, Rudi struggled with a battle on two fronts with both Tanya and his inner beast.
With Toran and Sera
Toran was flung through one of the few intact windows of the chapel and into a small garden off to the side with Sera following soon after. Toran stood up and held up his hand to signal her to stop. "Please! Would you just listen?" Toran pleaded, his cloak was singed and had several holes from Sera's attacks. "We aren't the ones who murdered her! It was the dark knights!"
"Liar!" Sera slammed the butt of her spear into the ground which caused pillars of lightning to erupt and charge at Toran.
"Damn it! Barrier!" A large dome with strange runes appeared around Toran and neutralized the lightning strikes. "My friends are chasing after the real killers right now. If we stop fighting we can still catch up to them!" Toran yelled.
Sera scowled as she readied her spear and charged forward, missing Toran by a hair's breadth. "To be honest…" Sera started as she turned towards Toran. "It doesn't really matter if you killed Kristell or not. You've still committed several acts of violence within crowded areas in several towns. Not to mention you've resisted arrest at least 3 times since we've met."
"Actually…more like four" Toran said without thinking. "Ah! But aside from that, was what happened really that terrible?"
Sera pulled out a note pad and read off several charges. "Number one: Destroyed several mountain paths in Seadh Sneachta, making travel across the mountain difficult. Number two: Violent destruction of Dunbarton town Square during combat with Captain River, causing millions of gold coins in property damage. Number three: Collapsing a considerable section of a mining tunnel which was the life blood of Bangor." Sera closed her notepad and stuffed it back into her pocket. "Now we can add destruction of a chapel and most likely murder to that list as well. The way I see it, even if you are innocent in terms of Kristell's Murder, you still have a lot to answer for so I'll have to arrest you anyway." Sera said.
"But…The dark knights…" Toran started, trying to think of a good counter argument.
"…Will be taken care of by the paladins. If your friends take them out before we get there then it will just make our job easier for us."
For a brief moment, Toran was speechless. He thought for a moment and relaxed his stance. "Alright…You've made your point. However, what if I told you something interesting?"
"And that would be…?" sera asked.
"What if I told you that we had the ability to strike the black knights at their weakest point? I promise that if you let us go…no…If you help us, we may be able to put an end to this once and for all."
With Sol and Soma
Sol parried Soma's attacks as they came but was having trouble finding an opening to strike back. "Damn it! Diran's probably already torn up the black pass by now!" Sol shot out a wave of dark energy which knocked Soma back several feet and into a small group of barrels. Sol then charged forward, as Soma attempted to stand, and slammed him through the wall of a building. "Did it knock him out?" Sol asked hopefully as he tried to see through the dust. Soma's hand reached out and grabbed Sol by the neck, choking him.
"Not bad…" Soma casually walked out of the rubble while still clutching Sol's neck in a fierce grip. "Fortunately, this is where our little feud ends. Soma slammed Sol into the white brick street and stomped on his chest, cracking Sol's ribs. Sol rolled onto his feet as he avoided Soma's follow up attack. Soma swung his sword and unleashed a white energy wave at Sol who responded with the same move and unleashed a black energy wave. The two attacks neutralized each other on contact. Sol then charged at Soma and swung his katana at his leg. Soma blocked the strike with his sword and punched Sol in the face. Soma then kicked Sol in the stomach and then elbowed him in his kidneys which forced Sol onto the ground. Soma kicked Sol onto his back and loomed over him.
"I've been looking forward to this." Soma raised his blade and turned it upside down. "Now die!" Soma plunged his claymore deep into Sol's stomach. Sol let out an agonized and almost demonic cry as the blade sunk deeper into his flesh. Soma continued to delve deeper and even twisted the blade for good measure. "Come on!" Soma gritted his teeth as the claymore completely ran Sol through and made contact with the ground. Eventually Sol passed out due to the intense pain. "What's the matter!" A twisted smile spread across Soma's face. "Hahaha!...Come on! I'm still not finished yet!" Soma yanked his claymore out of Soma's body and started stabbing him repeatedly. "Come on! Come on! Come on!" Soma eventually stopped and then stood over Sol's bloody body. "And now…" Soma raised his claymore into the air one last time with the intent to chop off Sol's head. "…you die!" Soma brought down his claymore with as much force as he could but stopped mid-swing. Soma's arm began trembling violently as another wave of pain shot through him. "Damn it…no!" Soma clutched his arm and curled up in order to cope with the pain. "Stop! Stop! Stop!" Soma fell to his side as the pain continued to intensify.
Sol's eyes opened but were still yellow. "Now what?" Vice, now in complete control struggled to sit up. "Ow! Damn it, Sol, you idiot." Although the wounds were beginning to heal, Sol's body was far from fighting condition. Soma's agonized screams interrupted Vice's thoughts. "Oh? And what do we have here?" Vice looked over to Soma who was writhing on the ground a few feet away. "So it's finally started huh?"
Soma arched his back and raised his left arm into the air. It was no longer covered in the white armor of a holy knight but twisted by some kind of black aura that resembled a claw. One of Soma's eyes had changed from a dark red to a bright yellow.
With Kai and Diana
Diana fired arrow after arrow at Kai, emptying an entire clip on the far wall and several pillars. "Just stand still you…" Diana took cover behind another pillar and slid another clip of arrows into her crossbow. When she looked up she saw three arrows lined up horizontally and pointed directly at her. "Crap!" The arrows suddenly shot towards her head. Diana ducked just in time but lost a few strands of hair in the process. "I forgot those things track their targets!" Diana mentally slapped herself before immediately returning fire as she rolled back into cover behind another pillar.
"Too late, I'm afraid." Kai grinned as he viewed his surroundings through his visor. When his eyes fell on Diana, a small glyph appeared to show that she was marked. "You've already been tagged." When Diana dove behind the pillar Kai shot three arrows to his right. They swerved around the pillar and flushed Diana out of cover once again. "That isn't going to work, y'know!" Kai taunted and shot three more arrows at Diana.
"I can't use any of the fire or lightning arrows. The ice arrows would cause their own problems in such a cramped space." Diana emptied another clip to keep Kai at bay until she heard a familiar voice echo through the battle scarred chapel.
"GYAAAAAHHH!" Sol's scream pierced the air.
"Sol!" Diana yelled in concern.
"Sounds like the captain is enjoying himself." Kai said with a slightly exasperated tone. "Now if you'd just surrender…"
"Kai, Stop!" Sera, followed by Toran, stepped through the open hole in the wall. "We shouldn't be wasting time here! We need to get the captain!" As sera said this, Soma's scream was the next one to echo in their ears. "Captain?" Sera and the others turned over to where Soma and Sol were fighting. Sol, who was still possessed by vice, was standing up while Soma was writhing on the ground as the black substance began to spread.
"What the hell is happening!" Kai yelled. All four of them rushed to the aid of the leaders of each of their groups.
With Shaosu and Nao
Shaosu struggled to keep up with Nao was in a sudden hurry to get to the chapel. "just…wait a second." Shaosu was out of breath. "Why did Rischiev have to pick a house that was on the complete opposite side of town from the chapel?" Shaosu complained.
"You can stop if you want but I can't." Nao yelled back.
"If you could just explain what's going on…"
"Soma is in great danger! I can't explain exactly what's happening to him but I do know that he needs help!"
"The captain isn't someone who will go down that easily. Is it really that bad?" Shaosu asked. Nao simply glared at him which seemed to be enough of an answer as Shaosu didn't say anything as they continued to run towards the chapel.
With Lydia and Diran
Fists flew on top of a particular roof in Dunbarton between two elves. Lydia and Diran were constantly blocking and countering each other's moves to the point to where they almost looked like they were dancing. "You've definitely improved. I didn't think you'd be able to obtain the ancient power of our ancestors while we were so far from our homeland." Diran locked one of Lydia's arms around his and kneed her in the stomach several times. Finally he delivered one hard punch to her jaw which sent her flying backwards. "Come on, get up. You should at least be able to take a hit like that."
Lydia stood up and wiped a small trickle of blood that was trailing from her mouth. "I won't let you get away. Not after what you just did." Lydia's words were full of anger.
"What? No 'Give back the pass!' nonsense?" Diran mocked.
"It doesn't really matter if you give it back to me at this point or not. Like I said, I won't let you go after this no matter what. I want to take back the pass from you cold dead fingers." Lydia said. "So come on! Give it all you've got. I'll pay it back a hundred times more."
"A hundred times more?" Diran seemed momentarily perplexed. "Try not to get ahead of yourself, little girl. You may have the same power as I do but you don't have nearly the amount of experience I do." The air around Diran seemed to resonate as his power grew. Grey feathers began to sprout and tear out of Diran's robes. Before long, the robes that typically came with the falcon form were torn apart and fell to the ground in tattered pieces of fabric. The black pass fell to the ground with the pieces of the cloak. He retained his hood and his pants but his torso and arms were exposed.. His body was covered in grey feathers with some areas being more heavily covered than others. "I'll show you the true power of the Fury of Connous."
Diran was on Lydia in seconds. His punches were faster and stronger. It took all of Lydia's strength just to block the attacks, let alone counter them. "Damn. It. All!" For one split second, Lydia saw an opening in Diran's defense and that second was more than she needed. With one strong punch she drove her fist firmly into the center of Diran's face. Without hesitation, she punched him repeatedly to the point to where her gauntlets were starting to get dented. Finally, she delivered an uppercut straight to Diran's chin, knocking the warrior flat on his back.
Lydia cautiously approached Diran's body and attempted to reach for the black pass which was just underneath his arm. She stepped on Diran's wrist to prevent him from grabbing her leg as she pulled the black pass from underneath his elbow. "I wonder why he didn't just rip it?" Lydia stuffed the pass in her pocket and then focused back on Diran. "You deserve way worse than just a snapped neck, and I'd love to take my time with this, but we're in a bit of a hurry." Lydia grabbed Diran by the throat and raised him up. "And so…" as Lydia tightened her grip, she was interrupted by Tanya being through the wall of the house he and Diran had been standing on.
The owners of the building looked on with a mixed expression of fear and surprise as Rudi stepped through the large hole he had made. Tanya struggled to get to her feet only to get savagely pushed down by Rudi who was not in complete control of his actions. Rudi snarled as he knelt down and began to repeatedly beat Tanya's face with his fists. The noise was enough to wake up Diran who quickly assessed the situation. Lydia turned her head in time to see Diran wake up and kick her in the face. Lydia staggered back as she released her grip. Diran then kicked her off the roof where she landed a few feet away from where Rudi was beating Tanya. Before she could get up, Diran leaped down from the roof and landed right on Lydia's chest, crushing her ribs. "Don't go anywhere…" Diran turned his attention towards Rudi.
Diran immediately leaped into the fray and attempted to kick Rudi upside the head. The savage giant anticipated it, however, and grabbed Diran by the ankle before he could make contact. Rudi swung Diran through the air like a rag doll before throwing him several blocks down the street. He then turned his attention back towards Tanya and grabbed her by the hair on her head. He punched her square in the face which tore off the hair he had grabbed and demolished the wall of another house. When it became clear that Tanya wouldn't be getting up any time soon, Rudi roared out in triumph at his fallen enemy. With his task done, Rudi sank to his knees as he reverted back to his regular form. Completely drained of energy, Rudi struggled to remain conscious as he surveyed his surroundings. "Did I…Lydia?" Rudi looked over at his injured comrade and attempted to walk towards her. However, he fell flat on his face as he drifted into unconsciousness.
"Rudi…" Lydia stood up briefly before staggering back and leaning on a nearby street lamp. "You did good…big guy."
"Not good enough…" Diran, no longer in his Falcon transformation, staggered towards Lydia.
"You not exactly in fighting condition, you know." Lydia said.
"Speak…for yourself…" Diran collapsed onto one knee.
"Actually, I think my assessment was pretty spot on. You're done." Lydia grabbed Diran by the throat and started to squeeze as hard as she could. She was interrupted by Tanya who had managed to regain consciousness. "What the-gyaaah!" Tanya tore Lydia off her partner and flung her off to the side.
"We won't last much longer if we continue…" Tanya carried Diran on her shoulder. "They've won this one…" An inky black portal appeared in front of them as they stepped through. The portal then closed leaving Lydia with the black pass.
With Soma and Sol
"Captain!" Sera rushed to Soma's side as he writhed on the ground. She attempted to use a healing spell but had no effect. "What's happening to him? What did you do!" Sera glared at Sol whose body was still under Vice's control.
"It wasn't my doing…well, not directly, at least." Vice commented. "It's most likely his Fomor half starting to become more active."
"What do you mean, Fomor half? Captain Soma can't be one of the Fomors!" Kai yelled.
"It's a long story but the gist of it is that your captain is half fomor and for whatever reason, that side of himself is just now starting to tear its way out of his subconscious. Something similar happened with his sister, Luna which, unlike now, actually was caused by me." Vice grinned.
Diana slapped him across the face. "Do you think this is a joke you sick monster!" Diana was furious. "Instead of watching, why don't you try and cure him?"
"What's to cure?" Vice replied. "Ever since the war with the fomors, Soma's family has been blessed with the power of the goddess. However, where there is light, there must always be darkness to balance it out. Soma and his sister were both half fomor but that aspect of their heritage was always kept secret and the abilities it granted were sealed away." Vice walked over to Soma and grabbed his black arm. "This little outburst, here, is simply the result of what happens when the seal on a living being begins to wear off. After the death of his father, the seal slowly began to weaken. Now, bits and pieces of Soma's inner fomor are beginning to poor out and conflict with the power of the goddess that was given to him."
"But Sol said it was Luna who inherited Morrighan's power." Toran said.
Vice dropped Soma's arm. "True, and that power was returned to Morrighan the second she died. The power I'm talking about is the power of the paladins. It conflicts with his nature as half fomor as a paladin must be completely pure. Until a clear victor is decided, Soma's inner struggle will continue."
"What will happen to him?" Sera asked.
"One of three things will occur. His light half will win and remain as a human and a paladin. His fomor half could win and he would pretty much become a dark knight. Or….How do I put this…His conflicting sides will eventually cancel each other out. That would either kill him or wipe him out of existence completely, soul and all." Vice stated calmly.
Sera's eyes widened in horror. "Captain! Please, you have to get a hold of yourself!" Sera leaned in closer but was forced to move back as Soma continued to thrash around. "What do I do? What the hell do I do!" Sera looked around frantically for some kind of clue, any kind of clue to help Soma. He eyes eventually settled back on Vice. "You…"
"What?" Vice smirked.
"You're a Fomor. Can't you do something to fix this!" Sera yelled.
"What makes you think I can do anything?" Vice smirked as he said this.
"Don't play dumb, Vice." Nao's voice chimed in from out of nowhere.
"Holy crap! What happened to the captain!" Shaosu and Nao had just arrived. Shaosu knelt down and saw the black substance slowly spreading across Soma's body.
"Don't get too close." Nao said as she too knelt down to examine Soma's arm. "I see… It's already this far along." Nao continued to examine him for a little longer before turning towards Vice. "Give me your hand." Nao's voice was calm but firm.
"Why should I? You're the guardian spirit of the soul stream. Surely, you wouldn't need help from the likes of me." Vice continued to mock her.
"True, I have enough raw power to seal it, but I'll need a bit of Fomor energy if I want to keep it stable."
"Fair enough, but I don't see a reason as to why I should help you." Vice said. Immediately after finishing that sentence, he felt the tip of Sera's spear touching his throat. The look in Sera's eyes was venomous. A loud "Ka-chick" sound was heard as Diana pointed her crossbow at Vice's head. "Come now…do you really think that's wise?" Vice was speaking specifically to Diana.
"I think Sol would want us to do something like this if you ever refused to cooperate. He might not be completely conscious right now, but I know he would want to help Soma if he could." Diana pressed her crossbow against Vice's head to emphasize her point.
"You take out my head then you take out Sol as well. Do you think you could really do that to someone you care for?" Diana remained silent. "That's what I-"
"She might not be willing to hurt you, but I will." Sera pressed her spear further against Vice's neck, a small trickle of blood trailing down.
Vice considered his options, rolled his eyes and wordlessly offered his hand to Nao.
"Don't worry, I won't take too much." Nao grasped Vice's hand. "Hold him down."
Sera, Diana, Shaosu, and Toran each held down one of Soma's limbs as he thrashed around. Nao placed her hand on his forehead as a fairly bright aura surrounded her and vice. Soma's convulsions quickly died down as his pained expression turned more serene. His breathing relaxed as the black substance slowly began to fade away. Vice grimaced. While not exactly painful, the process was becoming increasingly uncomfortable for him as he felt his energy begin to drain.
"Just a little more…" Nao closed her eyes. "Sol, if you have anything you wish to say to Soma, now is the time." Nao spoke to Sol, mentally.
"Yeah, our minds are pretty much linked at this point so if you want to play the part of a mental messenger boy, here's your shot. For some reason, it leaves a bigger impact on someone when you give them a message from inside their own head." Vice chimed in. Nao sent a small surge of energy into Vice's arm, causing a brief spike of pain. "Gah! Watch it!"
"This isn't the time for jokes!" Nao scolded.
Within both Sol's and Soma's minds
Sol awoke on his back, staring at a wooden ceiling. An intense heat washed over him as soon as he came to his senses. "What the…?" As he stood up, Sol realized that the hallway he was standing in looked incredibly familiar, almost nostalgic. "I this…" Sol's heart leaped into his throat once he realized where he was. He was at the Manor. As if that wasn't enough, it was on the night that his life came crashing down around him. "If I'm supposed to talk to Soma, why am I…Oh no." Immediately, Sol started running down the hall, searching for a Luna's room. The blurry apparitions of his former comrades passed right through him as he ran through the burning halls. Eventually, he stopped at the door he was looking for. He hear the muffled voices of Luna and himself and knew what was about to come. Sol opened the door in time to see himself run Luna through with his blade. Sol winced and took a half step back at the sight. He watched as his past apparition slowly turned to face him, a cold and emotionless look plastered on his face. "This must be the part where…"
"…I walked in, Right?" Soma appeared behind Sol out of nowhere. As Sol turned around, Soma grabbed him by the throat and squeezed as hard as he could.
"Yup…you're the real one." Sol gasped as he clutched Soma's arm. The burning room as well as the rest of the manor faded away until it was just Soma and Sol standing within an endless black abyss. Sol continued to glare into each other's eyes before Soma finally relented and released Sol from his grip. "Agh…you've got an arm, I've gotta say." Sol rubbed his now reddening neck.
"I doubt I'd be able to kill you in this mental prison, anyway." Soma turned away from Sol and surveyed his surroundings (or lack thereof). "So…what did you bring me here for?"
"I guess…I guess it's to explain things. Get the story straight and all that." Sol said.
"Really? What about the 'you wouldn't understand' nonsense." Soma snapped.
"Do you want to hear this or not?" Sol asked.
Soma thought for a moment, took one last look around and sat down, cross legged.
"Okay then…" Sol sat down in a similar fashion across from Soma and began to recount the reason for Luna's murder. He told him about the amulet, about Vice, and about the Promise he made with Luna to never tell Soma about his true heritage.
An awkward silence followed for several minutes. Soma seemed almost nonresponsive to any part of the story that Sol just told him. Without warning, he stood up. Sol followed suit. They looked in each other's eyes with Sol nodding in a strange sense of understanding. Soma nodded back and punched Sol square in the nose, causing him to stagger. Not missing a beat, Soma punched Sol again in the stomach, then the ribs, then the face again, and finally finishing with an uppercut which finally knocked Sol down.
"If we were in the real world, I'd be in a hospital bed by now." Sol looked up at Soma who surprisingly extended his hand out to help him up. Sol took it and grinned. However, almost immediately as Sol was on his feet, Soma once again, punched him square on the nose.
"That should do it." Nao said, wiping some sweat from her forehead. "He should be stable for now." Without warning, Vice soon fell unconscious as well.
"What's wrong with him?" Diana asked as she knelt down.
"Vice must've receded back into Sol's mind. Sol and Soma are mentally and spiritually connected right now, so they won't wake up until one or both of them decide to stop talking to the other." Nao explained.
"So, what do we do?" Sera asked.
"Nothing, until they wake up. We should take them to Manus, he should have a few spare beds, correct?" Nao said.
"We'll also need someone to recover her body. Kristell's, I mean." Toran said, somberly. Sera, Diana, and Kai both looked down out of guilt.
"Wait…Kristell? She's dead!" Shaosu yelled in surprise and anger.
"So that's what I sensed…" Nao's voice quivered in sadness.
"What the hell did you do!" He grabbed Toran by the collar.
"Back off! What reason could we have for wanting to kill a priestess of a small chapel?" Diana shoved Shaosu away. "It was the dark knights! If there's anyone you should be mad at, it's them!"
Shaosu gritted his teeth but managed to calm himself down. "I'll…I'll get the message back to HQ. I'll be back with help for clean up." Shaosu turned to Nao. "I assume you need to watch over the captain and Sol?"
"All right, be careful." Shaosu darted off to HQ.
Not long after, another messenger arrived and spoke to Sera. "Lieutenant…My…my squad apprehended a pair of suspicious individuals. They're description matches those of the wanted posters. My men currently have them in custody."
"Good work but…" Sera glanced at Diana and Toran, and then over to Nao. "…take them to Manus' clinic. We'll interrogate them there. Also, send a few men with stretchers over to us. We have a few of our own to transport." The messenger saw Soma and Sol on the ground and nodded. He ran off back to his squad. "Now, we play the waiting game."
Within Sol and Soma's head
Sol took a deep breath as the last hit finally struck him. Although the bruises were not visible, the pain definitely felt real. "Are you done for real this time?" Sol looked over and saw Soma pacing back and forth. His icy demeanor was gone as a whirlwind of emotions painted themselves on his face. Anger, frustration, guilt, and stress were only a few that were present.
"Do you know what it feels like?" Soma asked his words full of venom. "Do you know what it feels like to find out that your entire career, you life's work, amounts to little more than some kind of cruel joke." Soma glared at Sol "Why the HELL didn't you tell me about this? Instead of leaving me on the bed of Agnes's clinic, why didn't you just tell me from the beginning what was happening? We could have avoided all of this. I wouldn't have had to waste over a decade of my life chasing after you!" Soma yelled.
"It wasn't a waste. Look at you! You're a captain in the paladin order! You're a prodigy!"
"All that I did was to hunt you down! I was chasing a phantom, a villain that didn't even exist!" Soma stepped closer to Sol. "Why! Why didn't you tell me the truth!"
Sol looked down, then back at Soma. "I could say…it was to keep my promise to Luna. But I think…I think I just wanted some kind of punishment. I killed the one person I loved in this world. I wanted someone, anyone, to punish me."
"So that's it? I was just a tool to make yourself feel better?"
"As much as it pains me to say it, yes." Sol was punched again. "But…We can still set things right!"
"How! How could you possible set this right!"
"Have you heard of Glas Ghaibhleann?"
"Of course, anyone who paid attention in history class would know about that abomination."
"The Dark Knights are reconstructing it. They've sealed the Goddess away and are planning to use Glas Ghaibhleann to raise Erin to the ground. I've been running up and down this damn country trying to find a way to release her."
"Let me guess, you actually found one."
"Yes, we have to go to Tir Na Nogg."
"That old fairy tale? You've got to be kidding me."
"Kristell, the priestess, she used to be a fomor but she decided to help us. She gave us a special seal to use on one of the goddess statues. The portal it creates would allow us to travel to Tir Na Nogg. We can finally take this battle to Cichol's front door."
Soma thought for a moment. "How do you know this isn't some kind of trap?"
"I don't see that many other options on our plate." Sol looked Soma dead in the eyes. "Soma, you said that you're life lacked a purpose. Well how's this for one: Erin is in danger and the goddess you've sworn to serve is bound in chains. Would Luna want us to just stand by and let it happen?"
"How dare you use her name!"
"Not the point, man! Soma, you know I'm telling the truth. Even if my group went in alone, I don't think we'd be able to stop Cichol's plans. We need your help…I need your help." Sol extended his hand, a pleading look on his face.
Real world, Manus' clinic
Sera, Kai, Shaosu, Nao, Diana, and Toran sat around a Table, occasionally glancing at Soma and Sol who were both unconscious. Lydia was also sleeping in an adjacent bed while Rudi was forced to sleep on several stuffed mats since they didn't have any beds to match his size. He didn't seem to mind it, though. Manus had just finished pouring the tea when both Sol and Somas slowly began to awaken.
"They're awake! Guys, they're awake!" Kai yelled. Immediately, everyone ran over to their leader's bedside. It was Soma who managed to pull himself completely out of bed first.
"Captain!" Sera was ecstatic. "Are you alright? How's your arm?"
"Where..where are we?" Soma asked.
"At the clinic, you've been out for about a day." Kai responded.
Soma looked to his right and saw Sol exchanging greetings with Diana and Toran, with Diana looking about as happy as Sera was. Sol looked over at Soma and nodded.
Soma looked over at Sera and saw that she was actually starting tear up. "I…uh…"
"I'm just…so glad…" Sera clasped Soma's hand.
Soma coughed and scratched the back of his head, awkwardly. "I'm…I'm sorry I worried you." He said, lightly blushing.
"So what happened? You guys have any interesting dreams?" Kai joked.
"Something like that. I think we may have a way to take this battle directly to the enemy. We'll have revenge for what happened at Emain Macha." Soma grinned at Sol who responded in kind. They're friends looked on in confusion.
To Be Continued…
And that was chapter 19! Normally, I try to get in at least 20 pages worth of story into this but I think for now, I'll settle for smaller chapters. Also, to any Kristell fans out there, I'm sorry I killed her off, but it never really made sense to me how Cichol would allow one of his old henchmen to just help out the player like she does in the actual game. Anyway, see you next time!