The sounds of footsteps tapping against the tiles were barely heard from a distance. He perked his head up and looked at the aged, wooden door, half-expecting one of his comrades to check on him. With his mind constantly pondering if his mentor was alright, Hyoga stayed awake to assure that Camus was safe. The side of his lip lifted partially to a smile when his mentor came through the door with Shania in tow. The door behind them closed with a click.
Hyoga stared into his dull, with a glint of relief, eyes, his face caked with blood and sweat. Even through the horrors of death creeping from every corner, Camus kept his emotions intact, never crumbling into the insanity that most already have. His dull face altered into serenity with a light smile pulling at the edges of his lips. Perhaps, Camus was pleased to see him such as he was to him. Hyoga disallowed him from taking another step by placing a hand firmly on top of his shoulder. His mentor looked him with an eyebrow raised in questioning.
"I'm glad you're both safe."
Shania's expression was engulfed with mirth. She continued forward without looking at the two.
"For now," she said in passing.
Hyoga took a glance at her fleeting form. She disappeared into the next room, presumably heading to wash and change into the new clothes that were brought to her from him. He allowed Camus to pursue the bed near the corner. He sat with a plop, arms hunched forward. He appeared to be extremely exhausted with the way his eyes slightly lowered as if he was preparing to sleep. Hyoga grabbed a chair nearby, turned it around to face him, and sat with his arms resting on top.
His curiosity got the better of him when he asked, "What happened?"
His mentor kept silent and lowered his back on the bed to rest. One arm covered his eyes, the other rested below the midline of his breast. He in good sense allowed the silence to wander through the air for a bit longer. Gathering up his thoughts, while persistently trying to forget the man's shrill screams, he lowered his arm and stared at the ceiling above.
"What's to tell? I have nothing of importance to share."
Hyoga held in his doubt and proceeded to move on. "Are you ready for tomorrow?"
"More than ready." Camus looked in his direction. "You know what you must to do."
"I know." The empty space between his brows furrowed to go along with his serious expression. He was mentally prepared for the challenge. As for the physical part, he would have to concentrate on an object to ease the pain that would surely come with the mission.
Hyoga firmly nodded his head. "I'm ready, Camus."
His mentor gave him another smile. "Of course, you are. Remember to be mentally prepared. One can never know what waits in the dark."
Hyoga gave him a subtle agreement. He rose from his seat and placed the chair back to where it belonged. Proceeding into the next room, he jumped when Camus seized his wrist.
"Let Shania rest." His cold fingers slipped from his warm flesh. Camus resumed with his previous stance with an arm shielding his eyes.
"I wasn't going to bother her," Hyoga assured. He was actually more than ready to take an empty bed and fall asleep since his mentor arrived in one piece. There was a lot to do to tomorrow that required his body to be fully rested. He messed with his blond hair and stood in front of the bed, forgetting to say something vitally important.
"What is it?" Camus heard him approach.
"Take good care of yourself, and..." He shifted the weight of his stance onto his left foot. "...good luck."
Camus let out a breath.
"Death is everywhere. Don't be surprised if I succumb to it. If I do, you must move on and protect your status as a Saint." He removed his arm from his eyes and brought his legs off the bed to plant his feet on the ground. He rose and patted Hyoga on the back before retreating into the next room.
Hyoga briefly closed his eyes and clenched his fists. He took in a gulf of air to ease his mind from the doubts he had. Nothing would befall upon his mentor and comrades. He kept reassuring himself that they would return home with a few scratches. After all, the plan was simple.
There were a few alterations to Milo's escape plan, but they were all eager to commit it. Ever since Aioros's incarceration, Aioria was determined to save his brother along with Marin and the others. The hardest part of the mission was to retrieve the ring that will help transport them to any part of underworld and aboveground, but Milo did it effortlessly even though his arms and legs were lacerated.
This is where the plan gets a bit tricky.
Aioria will take Shun to Seiya. No one would presume the Andromeda to cause any trouble unlike the rest of them. Shun will have to travel, save Seiya, and come back with him and the ring. After, everyone will regroup and fight their way out. It was simple as that. However, with the lack of strength to defeat a common Skeleton, Hyoga knew in the back of his mind that his vision of a bright future was slim to obtain.
He threw himself on the empty bed and prayed for protection.
Shiryu ran as fast as he could and skid into the next hallway. He stumbled and banged his knee. His left hand had stopped him from falling and allowed him to resume his pace toward his objection. His shoulder collided with the oak door as he turned the knob and ran in.
Hyoga jumped when he heard the door slam and looked toward the main entrance. Shiryu exhaled and inhaled and made his way toward him.
"We need to go."
Hyoga glanced at the clock above his head. Time was not essentially easy to obtain in the underworld since the sky never changed from its gray appearance. However, the clock proved to be quite useful to the servants in order to schedule themselves of their daily tasks.
"It's too early." The hand moved to the seven. There was still an hour left.
"The others are ready for the next step," Shiryu persisted.
Hyoga ruffled his hair, confused of what choice to make. "We can't do this without Shun and Ikki."
Shiryu took a step forward and placed a hand on his shoulder. "Shun was released thirty minutes ago. Ikki—I can't really say what happened to him."
Hyoga moved around him and stared at the door. Shiryu watched as he crouched and dug his fingers into his scalp. "Aren't you afraid?"
His eyes went to a side in pondering. "Somewhat. This is nothing compared to what we've already been through, though."
Hyoga chuckled slightly. "We had our cosmos to thank for that."
Shiryu crept near. "We can still be capable to complete this task."
Hyoga stood up and shook his head rapidly. "I just don't feel comfortable doing this. Something is wrong." He rested his hands on his hips and paced from wall to wall before he stopped. Resting his forehead against the wall, he raised an arm above his head and stared at his shoes.
"I don't know how Ikki did it."
"Hyoga." Shiryu moved his feet toward to where he stood. He rested a hand on his shoulder and squeezed his arm in assurance. He wanted to ease his troubled mind of the possibility that they might not see each other again, but he clamped his mouth shut and patted his arm twice before he took a couple steps back and allowed his friend a moment to gather his thoughts.
A knock came to the door. His eyes flicked to the entrance. Shiryu was greeted by the sight of June with her heels clicking against the ground. Having been released yesterday, she informed Shun's friends that he was quite alright and aware of the predicament that had befallen upon Shania and Marin. Shun understood what he must do. And Shiryu could only presume that he left to seek out Aioria after his release.
June pushed a strand of her hair back and lightly smiled. "Let's go."
"And Shania?" Shiryu asked.
She lowered her eyes slightly. "She's with the others."
Hyoga left from the wall and stood near her. "What about Aioria?"
She met his blue eyes with uneasiness.
"Aioria went ahead with Shun. He said he couldn't wait any longer."
Hyoga growled and muttered under his breath a curse. He marched his way toward the door without further hesitation. June and Shiryu were right behind his heel. There was no time to waste. The mission begins now.
The Cygnus wasn't expecting a chair to fly toward his direction when he entered the elegant drawing room with a crystallized chandelier hanging from the ceiling. He dodged the attack and planted his foot to a side to stop. His eyes grew wide when he saw Aioria slam against the wall with Marin wrapped in his arms.
"Marin!" June shouted. She took a couple of steps forward but was pulled harshly back. Her wrist was held tightly by Shiryu's hand. She looked at him in confusion and glanced between Marin and him. With a bit of force, she tugged her arm and demanded to be let go. She was pulled to his chest when he pulled her to a side, avoiding the incoming attack. A spark of light flew by them, their hairs swishing violently when it passed. She shut her eyes when debris entered the air after a table was destroyed. He let her go and looked at the person who caused the damage.
"I will kill you all!"
Phantasos drizzled with anger. She threw the orbs in her hands carelessly, disregarding the destruction that she made. The group met behind a broken wall. The sound of glass was heard throughout the area. Debris flew in the air. The chime of the chandelier was heard above. Any minute it would fall and shatter. Hyoga lowered his head when a chair whizzed by and collided with a vase that rested near a corner.
"What did you do?" he asked Aioria. Furniture continued to be destroyed around them.
Aioria rubbed the blood off his chin. "I gave him a formal greeting."
Instinctively, Hyoga lowered his head a second time when a table flew past them. He rose a bit to look over the half broken wall to hear Phantasos curse at the Leo for punching the god in the face. He lowered his head and met the group's uncertainty of what to do. Marin held onto Aioria's hand for security. Hyoga ignored her crimson, two-piece dress, and expensive ornaments in her hair. She looked like an elegant doll for display. Hyoga understood clearly why Aioria couldn't wait.
"What about Shun? How is he going to enter the dream realm now?"
Aioria smiled. His front teeth were covered in blood. "Don't worry about that. I took care of it before I insulted the bastard."
Hyoga pressed closer to the wall when he heard the chandelier fall and shatter when it came in contact with the ground. Phantasos stopped from attacking. He rose and watched as the god descended from the air to plant the tip of her boot to the floor. With an evil intent, she prowled toward their hiding spot with her arms spread apart, two bright orbs floating above her palms. Hyoga needed to act quickly before they were all killed.
"Go," he ordered them. Shiryu pulled his arm when he began to arise from his kneeled position.
"You are coming with us."
Hyoga shook his head. "This is my mission. I must guarantee your safety."
Shiryu was reluctant to let him go. "Our mission is to save Seiya and go home with the others. We don't leave a comrade behind."
He placed a hand over his, patting it twice. Faintly, he smiled. "You are a good friend. I'm glad that we've met."
"Hyoga." Shiryu let him go when he rose and observed over the broken wall.
There was no time to delay. Phantasos stood in front of their shield with a smirk etched across her menacing feature. Hyoga lowered his knees and looked for an object. A brick was seen within reach. He grabbed it and met his comrade's eyes.
"We'll meet again," Shiryu promised. He grabbed June's hand, and was the first to lead their small group to escape from the wrath of the god.
Phantasos noticed their movement and was about to chase after them when a brick collided with her face, stunning her. She grasped her cheek and turned her evil eyes toward the Cygnus. With a loud growl, she destroyed his barrier only to see in the corner of her eye that he escaped her attack. He dashed into the opposite direction from his friends and headed into the hallway.
He stumbled and banged his knee. He pushed himself on his feet and ran down the empty hallway. The doors behind him were torn off its hinges as Phanatasos burst through, seething with rage. He glanced behind and threw himself into the next corridor when she aimed her attack at him. The explosion went off behind him. He didn't look back and entered a dark parlour left open. He slammed his back against the wall and peeked through the slight opening of the door.
"You don't deserve to have a pleasant dream." She knocked down the door to her right and threw in her orb. It destroyed everything inside. She resumed searching. "I will kill you first. And when I kill you, I will hunt down your friends and torture that man for punching me in the face."
He held in a breath. She was near the door that he was currently in. He looked around for a weapon to use. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a lit candle on top of the round table next to him. The door creaked open. He reached for it and held the candle stick near his chest. In a blur, he used his weapon of choice and ran out of the room.
Her screams were heard behind him that he persistently pushed to ignore. He thought he had the chance to escape. How wrong he was. She appeared from behind and grabbed him from the linen of his blue shirt. His back smacked against the ground with a hiss slipping from his lips. He evidently saw what he had done to her palm and wrist. Her gnawing red flesh was mortifying to look at. It was fortunate that she decided not to equip all of her armor.
She hissed behind clenched teeth, "I found you, kitten." Her hand was ready to strike against his face.
He anticipated the attack, but found that her hand never came in contact with his cheek. His eyes were shot open when the god of illusion groaned and leaned forward with fluttering eyes. Terrified of having her head resting against his chest, Hyoga pushed her off and scrambled away from the unconscious body. He looked toward his savior, Shura, and noticed his bloody face. His arm hugged his torso as the other was used as a weapon.
He took Shura's offering hand without hesitation.
Hyoga followed without a word.
This wasn't exactly what Shun had in mind upon his release from his imprisonment. Inhaling and exhaling, he waited for the perfect opportunity to do what he was required to do. With his back pressed against the wall, he peered over his shoulder and noticed the empty hallway that led straight into the domain of heroes.
He entered the quiet realm, hoping to make his grand escape with Seiya effortless. He was proven wrong when he decreased his steps and was greeted with Hades's back. Now, he knew why Phanatasos didn't hesitant to open the dream realm for him. Hades was expecting his arrival.
The God of the Underworld cocked his head; a smirk enticed his pale features. Shun took a step back when the man turned and met his disbelieving eyes. The tip of his blade was raised to his eye level, feeling intimidated when he felt powerless under his menacing gaze.
"Did you honestly think that I would not know of your group's little intention?"
Shun's eyes fleeted to the right. Trapped in the pillar, with parts of his body still visible, Seiya was mutely unaware that his friend came to save him. He rapidly paid attention to Hades when the god took a step forward with his blade wavering in the air.
"Do you not tremble in fear? Do you not feel the rhythm of your heart increase? You insignificant waste of life, you assume that you've outsmarted me when in reality it was I that was one step ahead of you."
Hades took another step forward as Shun took one step further back.
"I will dispose of you. I will make the halls hear your screech when I decapitate you from limb to limb and enjoy the sound of your tendons rip apart."
He grinned, presumably envisioning his dismembered body. He lowered his weapon and looked toward Seiya.
"I do hope you enjoy your friend's agony," he said to the silent body.
Shun didn't react quickly when the blade arced to a side and swept a powerful gust of air toward his direction. The force of Hades's attack sent his body to the pillar behind him with a loud smack. Blood was forced out of his lips. The pillar cracked when it received his body, feeling the rubble of stone fall when he hurled to the ground. His body rippled in pain, hearing a loud ring in both ears.
Unable to focus when the room appeared to be in a haze, he found it difficult to defend himself when Hades stood before him with his blade poised in the air. He looked up and met his sneer. The mission that he was given with appeared to be going into the wrong direction that he anticipated. There was no doubt in his mind that his brother would be unable to save him like the countless times he did before. He was left alone with a psychopath.
"Let me see Seiya one last time," he pleaded. His head rolled from side to side. The scenery around him was steadily coming to focus. The loud ring in his ears was starting to cease. The pain, however, pestered him immensely when his body protested when he struggled to stand.
He yelped when his blade sliced his cheek, automatically bringing a hand to his face. The blood seeped through his fingers, running down to the tip of his chin as the tiles received a small drop of his blood followed by several. The halls echoed with the god's laughter. He could hear the clank of his boots step to a side. He forcibly lowered his hand to stare at Hades's emotionless blue eyes.
An orb was thrust in his face, not comprehending Hades's actions until he concentrated his attention onto it. He saw the image of Seiya laughing along with what Shun dubbed to be their replicas. Seiya was at peace unaware of the fact of the danger that lay outside of his dream realm. Shun smiled when Seiya grinned and put an arm around his double. He truly missed his dear friend.
The atmosphere of the room shifted to the arrival of death. Hades rested his blade on top of his shoulder blade. His lip twitched when the sharp weapon opened a fresh wound on his shoulder. Blood ran down his arm and added several drops to mark the floor.
The Lord of the Dead raised his hand in the air, the orb clutched safely in his palm. Shun's eyes followed his movement. It would be the last time he would see Seiya alive in that illusion. He let loose a shaky breath and waited for the orb to disappear.
It slipped from his gloveless fingers and dispended in the air. It shattered when it came in contact with the ground. The entire room went cold.
He could feel the blood roll down his face. Only it wasn't his blood, he realized. His green eyes grew large when the god let loose a breath and stumbled forward. His blade clattered to the ground, shimmering under the false sun. Shun looked to his side when the god's head rested on his shoulder. Hades pushed him away with the little strength he had. The green-haired teen stumbled and watched as the god placed a hand on a pillar for support.
The attack surprised the both of them. However, Shun couldn't believe his eyes when it fully registered that a Specter appeared out of nowhere and boldly threw a short, broken blade at Hades's cheek. He looked away from the several droplets of blood that lay near his feet. Hades pulled the blade from his cheek and grunted. More blood proceeded to flow from the wound.
"How dare you." Hades peered over his shoulder. Shun followed his gaze and looked toward the Specter. The helmet concealed his features, but he could imagine a smile on his pleased expression. Slowly, the man lifted his arms and placed his hands on each side of his protective gear. He slowly lifted it up and revealed unruly, navy hair.
Shun's heart leapt in joy when he came face to face with Ikki.
"Brother," he awed.
The helmet was thrown to a side with mild interest. Ikki glared at the Lord of the Dead with the one good eye he had, the other severally swollen, when the god turned his body and supported his back against the pillar. Hades began to laugh. His hand was brought to his ripped cheek as his laughter continued. Shun felt the back of his neck prickle in fear. He turned to look at the god in astonishment at the lack of pain he demonstrated.
"You think you've won. You think you've easily saved your friend." His eyes carried a large distinction of amusement. "You've only wasted your attempt."
A crack was heard. Shun turned his head to see Seiya's body burst out of the pillar and hit the ground with a thump along with the rubble. He ran to his side, Ikki following behind him. With a sweaty palm, he pressed his hand against his friend's cold flesh and shook his body. Seiya did not respond after a few shakes. In fact, he felt no heartbeat underneath his red shirt.
"Seiya." He noticed blood seeping from the corner of his mouth. Shun suppressed a gasp and withdrew from the cold body that lay in front of him. "I don't understand."
Hades's laughter persisted in the air. He felt his body go numb when he stared at the lifeless body of Seiya in front of him. There was no answer as to why his friend didn't awake. He never expected the possibility that the outcome of releasing his friend from the encased pillar would eventually be his last breath to take from the world.
The image of Seiya's grin wrapped around his double brought a tear to his eye. Ikki grabbed his arm and brought him on his feet. His brother pushed him to run, feeling the dark power of Hades increase. He couldn't dwell on his failure when there was another important matter that he needed to place his attention on.
Ikki's life was now in danger. And he didn't know how to save him when he was locked in the dream realm with a god's intent to kill them both. His legs couldn't bring him to run faster. He felt exhausted, but his brother kept pushing him to run as the dark aura from behind crept closer to them.
He vainly pushed from his mind the image of Seiya's body being left behind.