A/N: And another! Boom, getting so close!
He had been rather lucky that it had been Judith whom he had met up with before now. Sleeping overnight on the Fierta had been a great help, and Judith had also kindly given him some supplies before dropping him off on Hyponia. He now had several gels, some panacea bottles, and some food, just in case. As nice as having all of that was, he knew that it was last nights good sleep that had helped him the most.
Already, he had fought with several of the monsters on Hyponia, but he hadn't had to use any of his precious and limited supplies yet. It had been almost a day and a half since Judith had dropped him and his escort off on the southern continent. He hoped that she had went to Danhgrest and stayed there, finding out the truth about him.
Who was he kidding?
Estelle had been kidnapped, and if that was the case, there was no way Brave Vesperia couldn't resist going to save her. But then again, Judy's words about Savage Wolf rang in his ears. He shook his head, there was no way that Brave Vesperia would fall to such an inhumane guild as that one. There was no way that anyone in Brave Vesperia had fallen before such a pathetic guild. Estelle had been kidnapped, that's all he could bring himself to believe.
He hoped she was alright, that krityan woman looked real evil. He'd bet that there was nothing she wouldn't do in order to succeed at her goal. Yuri sighed and soon found himself thinking, perhaps that woman and he were not that different. All the while he brought his hand to the mark under his collarbone, caressing it absent-mindedly.
Ah, that was odd, there was a bump there.
Yuri decided he'd investigate it later, when he had more time and wasn't worried about Estelle and Brave Vesperia. The swordsman had a lot of faith in his guild, but, if they were facing Savage Wolf and the Elite too, well, he wasn't so sure anymore. He had the 'help' of the curse, and he had been getting quite beat up, and often been on deaths door. He wasn't sure how those without it could cope in the face of such an adversary.
And... he was over thinking again.
Yuri followed his guide quietly, keeping a close eye on his surroundings. He didn't recognize where they were at, it didn't seem to be anywhere near Aurnion, Baction, or even Egothor. But, they definitely were on Hyponia, as Judith had dropped them off near Egothor forest, and they had been walking for almost a day and a half straight, no breaks or stops.
"We're getting close." He heard his guide say, as they again left the forest and stepped out into the plains. Yuri averted his eyes from the intense midday sun and wordlessly followed the blond man in the suit out into the open. Yuri could only see another set of trees and another line of mountains in the distance, but no clear destination. Hopefully, this wasn't some sort of test, and his guide wasn't just leading him around for shits and giggles while the woman sat back in her chair, laughing and wondering when to kill the princess.
No... he wouldn't let that happen!
"It's just up ahead." Yuri heard his guide says, stopping and pointing at the upcoming mountain. The swordsman stopped behind him, his eyes drifting upwards to take in the full view of the mountains. Now that he was focusing his attention on them, he noticed that one of the mountains wasn't the same as the others."That mountain there, in the center, the one that is slightly off color."
Not only was it slightly off color, but he noticed that the shape was different too. The other mountains on Hyponia were slightly more worn down, older looking mountains than the ones on Yurzorea, who still remained upright and rather sharp and scraggly looking, not having been too damaged by the effects of erosion and time. But the mountains on Hyponia were somewhat older than Yurzorea's, having been worn by the passage of time.
The mountain that stood before him wasn't as so, the color of it was slightly off, like his guide had pointed out, and the shape of the mountain was unnatural. He supposed that no one would notice it, that is unless they looked directly at it for more than a passing glance, or if they were right in front of it, like he soon would be. It was amazing, yet utterly frightening all at the same time. If someone had the sort of money and time to be building something like this, they would have to be truly fearsome.
He had been some pretty amazing places on his journey. Suingam's hideout had been in the middle of a forest, besides a city of scholars, yet, he hadn't been discovered by anyone until Yuri had followed after Savage Wolf. Even his compound couldn't be seen from the air. Ravk's place had been close to Caer Bocram, balanced between the edge of a cliff and mountains, over a steep gorge and river, yet few people had known where it was. Rechner had been buried beneath the sand, and Aeolus had been built between mountains.
Or did the Elite just like building their hideouts in ridiculous places? Maybe trying to one up each other?
It wasn't long until he and his escort stood just before the strange, man-made mountain. He could only stare at it as his escort walked up to the mountain, and began to observe it. Yuri watched him blankly, wondering where the entrance could be hidden. There didn't seem to be any obvious signs of an entry point, and already, he could see that the mountain was very steep, with no paths up its sides. Already, he was beginning to feel a sense of dread.
Suddenly, he heard and felt a slight rumbling.
The swordsman looked back over to his guide, who stood beside a strangely colored stone, his hand on it. Not even a meter away, a larger stone, shaped in almost a perfect circle, slowly rolled away, revealing a dark tunnel. The dark haired male looked back at his escort, who then removed his hand from the stone, and without a word, turned and walked into the tunnel.
And, without a word, Yuri followed.
"Where have you been, Judy? We've all been so worried about you!"
"Sorry to make you worry," Judith replied, turning to Karol, who sat just in front of her, with her kind smile in place and hands clutched firmly behind her back. Rita knew better just by looking at the krityan, Judith wasn't all that sorry, in fact, it seemed that the she had something more to tell them, about what she had been up to, and the goddess only knew what else. "There's so much I need to tell you all, but that can wait until later. First, I would like you to tell me what Yuri has been up to."
"But didn't you just see him, Judith-darlin?" Raven asked from his favorite perch near the starboard side of the ship. Rita didn't bother looking at him, but she figured he was leaning forward slightly, one of his eyes closed and his hands above his head, cupping the back of it while he interrogated the busty woman. "It's been quite a while since we've last seen him, so I don't know what information we could offer you that you don't already know."
"True. I had just seen him." Judith agreed from beside the door that led to below deck, her arms now crossed in front of her, yet her body leaning slightly back. Rita watched her, her suspicions growing by the minute as the krityan woman spoke. "But I can't deduct hardly anything from what I know alone, it would be most useful if you all would tell me what he's been up to since I last saw him. Since I took off to Mantaic."
There was a silence, no one particularly wishing to think about the last time they had saw the swordsman.
"He had came to Zaphias, to visit Lady Estellise."
Everyone looked towards the young man who had spoke up, even disguised as a member of the guilds, he still possessed an air of justice and truth, the air of a knight. Flynn was looking over the edge of the ship, and towards the sky above, his face was contorted in concentration, as if struggling to remember the details of so long ago.
"Yeah, it wasn't long after you left, Judy, that Yuri left." Karol muttered from beside the ship's controls.
"At first, everything seemed normal... then... one day, he came to visit the castle...I spoke with him later in the day, telling him that I was suspicious of the elite. He knew something, but he kept saying that it was too dangerous to speak out in the open, and that he would tell me later." Flynn paused, and looked down at Repede, who looked back up towards the blond and let out a strong bark. Flynn smiled gently, before looking back up to Brave Vesperia, and continuing his story.
"The next morning, Repede brought Sodia to Bluebell Meadow, just outside the capital, where she found Yuri laying unconscious, and brought him back to the capital. We hid him in my room, and I went to talk to him once he had awoken, as to why he had been there of all places. Three times he tried to speak to me, and three times, he suddenly lost his breath or reacted to something in pain. I assumed he had listened in on something the elite had said, and tested him by asking if he had got caught, to which he had replied something along the lines of 'I'm not that careless.'"
"Later that night, I went to confront him, but instead I was met with a man who had already decided his fate. I tried my best to find out what he had heard, what might have went wrong, but Yuri wouldn't, or couldn't tell me. We fought, but when our blades crossed... Yuri's eyes seemed to deaden, and he suddenly overwhelmed me with an impressive display of strength...and to top it off, he jammed Flamberge's pommel into my side."
"And then, later, while pursuing him, I find he's the one killing the Elite, always by beheading. Before too much longer, I find myself, Lady Estellise, Mr. Raven, Karol, and Ms. Rita trapped by one of the Elite, Elydor... when we saw Yuri last..."
Rita found herself shuddering from the unwanted memory, all while Judith remained still, her expression unreadable. Flynn took a moment to compose himself, as if he wasn't sure how to continue with the story, as if he was unsure of how to effectively convey the depth of what they had seen, had heard. Of just how frightened that they had been, not for themselves, but for Yuri.
"Well?" She heard Judith finally say, her voice controlled, "When you last saw Yuri...what happened?"
"...he was in terrible shape, but he challenged the man anyway. They fought, and several times, we were sure Yuri would win... then... something went wrong.. Yuri... changed again, and it seemed he would decapitate Elydor... but again... something...happened...Yuri," Flynn's voice was getting thick, and his face was no longer taunt in concentration, but anguish at recalling that horrid memory. Rita didn't blame him, she was getting ill remembering it herself. "Yuri lost control, of everything, thrashing around as if he were in pain, screaming at the top of his lungs...and then it stopped. He killed Elydor, decapitation. He then turned to us, and thrust the sword into the air, and magic began swirling around it..."
"Then?" Judith inquired, her eyes narrowed.
"Someone jumped in and took him out in a matter of seconds, then took off with him." Flynn sighed, looking down to the earth, his face hidden from view. "We chased after the person, but were unable to catch them... and that was the last we've seen of Yuri."
"Strange, he didn't seem insane when I last saw him." Judith mention offhandedly, her tone almost playful. "But I only saw him for a few hours, before dropping him and that man off..." The krityan paused again, as if communicating with Ba'Ul, before looking back at her traveling companions. "I guess I'd better tell you guys some of what I know."
"Only some?" Karol piped up, looking at the krityan in confusion.
"There's a lot, and I should only tell you whats important for now." Just the way she said those words with complete conviction scared Rita. She wanted to know, but she wasn't sure she actually wanted to know. She had a feeling that the Krityan was bringer of both good and bad news. "We don't have much time, Ba'Ul's already found Yuri, It wont take us long to get there."
"Wait a second, you're saying that Ba'Ul can track people?" Rita found herself saying, her voice incredulous, an eyebrow raised. She had a hard time believing that the entelexeia could track someone so easily, if that was the case, they would have found Estelle so much quicker, and would have done away with her that much quicker too.
"No. It's just that Yuri has a strange aura about him." The krityan didn't hesitate in her answer, her eyes concentrating on the floor in front of her, even though her mind was most likely occupied with communicating with Ba'Ul. "Ba'Ul says that there has always been two unexplained sources of power in the world that the entelexeia were unable to do anything about. One of the sources in ancient one, the other one is more recent, within the past fifty years. Recently, Ba'Ul said he felt a third, one that was similar to the ancient one, and hadn't appeared until several months ago, around the time Yuri started acting strangely and left Zaphias...also...when we tracked after it, it led us straight to him."
"You're saying...that Yuri is power source... like, a walking Aer Krene?" Rita was looking scandalized, or perhaps slightly crazy suited her better. She was already getting her crazy researcher look into place, and she knew it. Frankly, she didn't care, she wanted, no, had to learn more about what was wrong with her idiotic friend. "But, even with mana having replaced the aer, if he's a source of power, the stress from all that mana rushing into and out of his body, that could literally drive him insane... but how and why is this happening?"
"That's something I'll have to explain after we rescue him and Estelle." Judith sighed, now playing with a lock of her hair. It seemed she was feeling pretty restless right now, well, of course she was feeling restless, two of her friends were now at a merciless monster of an Elite Council member's mercy. When Flynn and the old man had told her who the woman she and Yuri had seen was Amynorp, and explained what kind of woman she was, Judith had been both excited, and angry all at the same time.
Like Rita had felt just now.
Her hypothesis made perfect sense, at least originally. But the more she thought about it, the less sense her hypothesis made, and even with whatever Judith might have to add, there was still missing pieces that couldn't fit, unless, the mana passage through his body wasn't the only abnormal thing.
Seemed like she really would have to wait until they rescued their idiot friends.
His head was killing him, and he kept varying between the extremes of hot and cold. Perhaps he had got himself sick?
Not only that, he'd lost his guide earlier.
Then again, if he was walking right into a trap, he supposed it made perfect sense.
Yuri was still walking in the long, black tunnel, with no source of light, his eyes having long ago adjusted to the darkness. Even so, he still couldn't see anything, this darkness was far from normal. Besides that, he had felt along the walls and had concluded some time ago that he was walking through an enlarged pipe.
There hadn't been any problems with anything thus far, but he knew that he would eventually walk into a trap. This woman, he believed that she was Amynorp, the most feared of the elite. Not due to anything good, he had heard. Even in the lower quarter, saying her name had frightened people, and anytime she was spoken of, people recoiled in fear.
He wasn't that worried though.
Yuri figured it was because he had known he would have to face her someday, and had already made peace with his decisions. It felt like he was walking into his grave, but did his best not to think of it too much. He had learned that over thinking things wasn't good, he'd end up brooding over his inescapable situation instead of doing what he could.
Even if all he could do was kill, every time he killed one of the elite, he came one step closer to saving everyone important to him. If he killed all the elite before the six months were up, and it was getting dangerously close. On the bright side, he knew he only had three of the elite left, on the more depressing side of things, he knew that these enemies wouldn't be easy.
Not that any of them had been easy.
Some had been quicker than others, but none of them had been easy.
Suddenly the room was flooded with light, and instinctively, Yuri went to cover his eyes with his arm. At the same time, he felt a blinding pain rush through his head, and felt as though his head was encased in ice. After a few moments, the feeling faded, and Yuri squinted and peeked over his arm. The light was still blinding, but it wasn't as bad as it had been just minutes before.
He had arrived at the end of the hallway, which had somehow automatically opened another door. Perhaps a floor plate he had stepped on? He didn't know, also, he didn't really care. The easier it was to get to Estelle and save her, the better. Yuri didn't expect it to be easy, and if it came down to it, he would have Estelle flee, and tap into the curse's power.
The room that the hallway he had followed led to was large, even though he could only see to the other side. It seemed that he was up on a balcony above another stretch of room below. The entire area was a dull whitish gray, and, like in Peis, the light was provided by strangely colored blastia core like gems that were imbedded in the walls.
He cautiously walked out into the open balcony, his eyes scanning the area around him. Yuri found himself questioning the lack of guards, well, anywhere. In Peis he had to fight the Savage Wolf guild to get from place to place, in Kvar, he had to fight guards to get just about anywhere. In Rechner...well, he had been escorted everywhere... and in Aeolus he'd also been escorted directly to Sutsycrof...
It couldn't have been avoided... but, he felt some guilt over that kill.
This time, he suddenly felt aches all over his body, but mainly at his joints and muscles, accompanied by a feeling of his head being overheated. This feeling was going to drive him insane, so instead, he focused on shaking himself out of his depressing thoughts. Now, Yuri took a good look at his surroundings. For the upper level, the walls were a dull concrete gray, with gem-like light sources, a vibrant pink in color, every few meters on the walls. However, what he noticed the most was the green gems that were embedded in the corners of the room, they didn't give off any light so he could only imagine their use.
Now that he was close enough to the railing, he thought he might peer over the edge and see what was down below. But he knew he'd have to be careful, anything here could be a trap, a fake tile on the floor, a fake stretch of railing... fake steps. At least, there had to be traps like that, with the lack of guards and all. There was no way that it was going to be that simple, not with her reputation. So, with his head still throbbing duly, he peered over the edge.
Below him was another room, as large as the empty space before the balcony. Like the area he was in, it was a dull concrete gray with dark pink lighting and the strange green gems in the corners of the room. But, that's not what drew his attention and curiosity. Below him, in the room, were hundreds of strange, crystal-like, red statues. The second his eyes landed on those strange statues, he felt a feeling comparable to a jolt of electricity shoot through his body.
"Whats going on here?" He whispered to himself, still shocked at his discovery.
Finding himself drawn to the strange objects below, and remembering the odd feeling he had just felt, Yuri looked around for some sort of staircase. To his right, a simple iron staircase, again, unguarded. He was running down it in seconds, finding himself strangely fascinated by them, and at the same time, utterly repulsed and frightened of them. Also, he wanted to know what they were, exactly and why he kept having these strange reactions to them. Somehow, he knew there was more to them than his initial observation- strange red crystal-like statues.
Yuri felt himself jumping the last few steps and reaching the bottom of the stairs, his eyes narrowed and sweeping over the strange room full of statues. Something wasn't right, no, this room wasn't right. It was beyond unnerving and downright creepy with a heavy sort of atmosphere, and in his initial observation, he noticed several strange things, and all at once.
First, they were all life size statues of humans. Two, they were all made from this unrecognizable red crystal. Three, all of the statues were frozen in expressions of pain and anguish. Four, all the people portrayed in the statues seemed to be weak, in some way. Men and women who were old, frail, or too young and weak, sickly. Not one of the statues looked like a show of health. And five, they all had one of the lacrimes carved into their chests.
Either there was some sort of message in the statues or Amynorp was some sort of sick sadist.
He weaved through the strange field of statues, looking for more clues than the few provided. The whole time, his headache growing more painful and the throbbing growing louder inside of his head. Trying to focus on the world around him, Yuri stopped at one of the statues, one of an older woman, who stood, bent over and clutching at her lacrime. For some reason, this statue didn't seem as...crystal-like as the others. For some reason, this one seemed more real...
Yuri doubled over, clutching his head with his free hand, his breathing heavy, labored even. He felt as though his body was on fire, aching all over, yet his head was covered in ice. Wiping some sweat off his brow, his hands feeling rather clammy, he figured he must have somehow got himself really sick. But strangely enough, he wasn't feeling tired or lethargic, in fact, he felt rather energetic... just achy, with a headache, labored breathing, and feeling hot and cold.
Some of the strangest symptoms he'd ever had.
Yuri had already reached the other side of the room, and was beginning to see some only partial statues, perhaps they were incomplete? On closer inspection, it looked as if someone had chipped pieces of the crystal off, but that didn't seem important. And he already had a good idea of how many statues were in the room, although he still had no idea for the purpose of them.
It didn't help that he felt as though his head were about to explode...
He wouldn't save Estelle by loitering around in this room.
Yuri shook himself and turned away from the statues, searching for some sort of door along the wall. It wasn't hard to find, and was actually directly below from where he had entered this room from above. Just looking through the double doors, he could see several guards, well, at least he now knew that there were guards, he actually felt a little better. Now, for some reason, this place didn't seem so intimidating.
The obviously fake mountain stood as a testament to Amynorp's power. Even if the mountain was a fake, the fact that she could have something like that built at all was a show of money and manpower. Karol wondered if that was the only reason this place was built, as a marker of status and not for practical purpose.
Well, it was hiding that woman's hideout from them, perhaps that served as its use. But even then, why not hollow out a mountain and build into it? It may be harder to do, but the results were surely better than this laughable thing before him and his friends.
Ba'Ul had traced Yuri's strange power waves all the way here, to this mountain in the southern edges of Hyponia. According to what Judy said, Yuri's guide had her drop them off near Egother forest, which was a day and half to two day's journey by foot from their current location. In other words, they were on Yuri's heels.
This was both exciting and worrisome.
Karol glanced over at his companions, who, like him, were looking around the fake mountain for some sort of entrance. Rita was scouring the area, her eyes not missing any little details. Raven was more relaxed about the situation, as if he already had an idea on how to get inside. Flynn was somewhere between those two extremes, and he'd lost track of Judy and Repede.
Speak of the devil.
Karol ran towards her voice, the others just behind him. Judith was a good ten to fifteen meters from where everyone else had congregated, Repede beside her, and he was wondering what sort of thing they might have found. If they were lucky, they might have found an entrance. He was rather hoping they had, the sooner they got to Yuri or Estelle, the better.
Sure enough, the Krityan and the dog was standing beside an opening to the false mountain, which to Karol resembled a black hole, devoid of any light. He was getting the chills just looking at it, and while he felt like he wanted to run, he knew couldn't. Estelle was in dire need of their help, and from the way Judy had spoke earlier, so was Yuri.
Rita was staring into the void with a frown on her face, and Karol wondered what was on her mind. She wasn't the only one, the other three adults also had a look of deep concentration, and general mistrust of their surroundings. Of course, they were in enemy territory, so it was only natural, at first he thought that. But, after a moment of staring into the darkness of the tunnel, he understood. That the darkness was not natural.
Suddenly, Flynn stepped towards the entrance, and as if setting a mental trigger, the others wordlessly followed. Karol raised an eyebrow, confused as to why everyone was acting like this, and fell in step behind them. It was his job to be overly concerned about a mission, to panic and to worry. Seeing everyone else focused and serious like this, it sort of put him on edge.
A few minutes later, fully submerged in the darkness, Karol felt himself stumbling around, and trying to listen for the footsteps of his comrades. If only he could see, this place was giving off a creepy vibe, and he rather disliked not being able to see. If only Rita could still use magic, and summon some fireballs for light, then perhaps this place wouldn't be so creepy.
Then again, hadn't Elydor used magic? But how?
"Oooh, what sort of moron designed this place?" Rita snarled from a good two or three meters in front of him, and to his right. From what he could tell, she had stomped her right foot, and assumed her normal aggressive stance, had she stepped in a trap or something? "I lit a torch using the normal methods, but I can't even see it!"
"How do you know you lit it then?" Raven's playful tone came from the same area's as Rita's aggressive one.
"I burnt my hand on it you idiot! Here, wanna feel?" Rita taunted, and Karol knew this was going to end badly for the old man.
"Hot hot hot! Okay, okay!" Raven yelped, his footsteps moving closer to Karol and further away from Rita.
"So you're saying that even though there is a light source...we can't see it?" This time it was Flynn, and he sounded confused, almost surprised that they couldn't see even though there was a light source in the vicinity. "This darkness definitely isn't natural... but even so I wouldn't expect it to completely block out the light..."
"Maybe we walked into a 'blind' spell?" Judy suggested from close by Flynn. Karol finally figured out where everyone was, and that could only mean that the one walking beside him must be Repede. "After all, if the elite can use magic, like what you told me about Elydor, it would make sense if someone like Amynorp could use magic too."
At that moment, Karol tripped, falling flat on his face.
"Ow!" His nose was definitely bleeding, but that was such a minor injury that he paid it little attention. He was laying flat, his face plastered to the floor and other leg sticking up in the air awkwardly from when he fell.
"I'm fine..." Karol grunted, clumsily making his way to sit up again, feeling around in the dark, unsure of his movements. He brought his legs towards his body, but felt something against them, and heard a clatter. Perplexed, he felt along the floor of the tunnel, looking for whatever he had tripped over. First, he found his bag and his weapon, and knowing that the others were waiting for him, decided to give up.
At that moment, his hands found what he had been looking for. From what he could feel, it was a rod-like weapon, something either Judy, or maybe even Estelle would use. It was a sturdy, simplistic, almost standard issue design, and seemed like someone might have dropped it earlier. Suddenly, his fingers brushed over an engraving, and after several moments of feeling over it, he realized that it spelled 'RPT'.
"RPT...wait, r...p...t?" Karol muttered to himself, something stirring in his memory, about something that had happened only yesterday, in Danhgrest... But, he couldn't remember, but it was there, just on the edge of his memory... He was holding everyone up, he could dwell on this matter later... Then he heard Flynn call again, asking if he was alright.
And then he knew.
A/N: Getting so close! So soon! XD
"Yuri, what are you doing, run, its a trap!"
"These statues...they're people!"
"She doesn't need her limbs to mother the next Emperor, does she?"
"I was right, Yuri is-!"
"Those eyes of his, I can't stand them..."
The Separation: Amynorp: One