Disclaimer: Azure Dreams is a product of Konami Co. Ltd. I am making no profit from this story.

I took some liberties with the final battle to give the game a more realistic(ish) and gritty feeling than the canon storyline. In further chapters, I'd like to explore the aftermath of his encounter with Beldo insofar as where his relationship with Kewne and Selfi are concerned.

I didn't need him to explain. The moment I saw his apparition, the truth settled hard and heavy at the bottom of my stomach; I knew instantly that he had been the one to kill my father.

For the entirety of the precious few floors between me and vengeance, I was plagued by his appearance: his dirty, crumpled hair should have shone in soft waves; the haughty derision revealing itself only behind eyes and in the corners of lips tugged at my memory; even his sorcerer's cape… somehow… For a man I'd never met he was too familiar.

Standing in front of Beldo, I felt my blood turn to ice. His lips curved in malicious satisfaction as he detailed how he had murdered my father. I knew he wasn't deluded; he was the strongest monster tamer the tower had ever seen. His magic became more potent with every day spent at the top of the tower, and he had been waiting there for seven years. To reach the ultimate egg he needed my blood, he would stop at nothing to shed it, and I was going to die here- just like Dad.

As my Kewne formed the flesh where Beldo's right arm should have been, I decided that I wouldn't die like a coward, frozen in fear, waiting to be slaughtered. I would fight so that I could face my father in heaven without shame.

I did experience those 'last regret' moments, but nothing most people don't feel: I wished I'd hugged Mom goodbye and thanked her for raising a rowdy boy by herself or spent more time with Weedy, filling in the pages of her monster book with my descriptions of magical beasts that thrilled her. Looking into Beldo's eyes, the hint of mania behind them knotting my guts, I thought of a sorceress back in town with blue hair, and I suddenly felt guilty for not distinguishing her from the other girls whose affections I shamelessly courted.

I charged towards him with a shout, hoping to startle him and gain the upper hand right off the bat, but I never could have known how lightning fast he would move. His stride was either twice as fast or long as mine, and it seemed for every swing of my blade, he swung twice. I didn't hold out for long before I felt a chill trace my body, from shoulder to navel, only to give way to the most intense burning I would feel in all my years; dropping to my knees and clutching my chest, I felt hot liquid soak my shirt and vest through. With the adrenaline coursing through my veins, I could hear my blood dotting the floor- even over my own gasping. Slowly I lifted my head, hoping my fears weren't about to be confirmed. Through my blurry vision, I witnessed the situation go from terrible to even worse as Dad's magical forcefield surrounding the ultimate egg faded into nonexistence; I assessed the situation, weighing my options. Given his proximity to the egg and his monstrous agility, it would be pointless to try hurtling past Beldo to get to the ultimate egg and leave the tower via wind crystal, and leaving the tower without it would only ensure Beldo's world domination.

Still holding my chest and panting, I managed to stand to my feet, shaky legs straining under the effort. I watched my opponent warily as I inched to the left, hoping he would follow suit and leave his post in front of the ultimate egg. Beldo smirked indulgently, likely seeing through my tactics, tacitly informing me that my plan was not going to work. My only option left, then, was a kamikaze mission. Perhaps I could feign mortal wounding; when he approached to finish me off, I could try to quickly impale him on my sword… Summoning as much courage as I had left within me, I took another small step to my left, wincing at the movement and falling to my knees; it was twisted, in a way, but I felt genuinely grateful I was wounded. I didn't want to be forced to rely on Fon's "acting tips" with the fate of the world at stake.

Though it was a shallow wound, I felt myself getting dizzy as the blood flow, having slowed only a little, continued to trickle down my legs. I listened intently for footsteps, their volume a tentative cue for my moment to strike; but as I knelt on the ground, unfocused eyes landing on the fiery tiles of the 40th floor, I heard only the familiar tattoo of my panting.

"Get up, boy," I heard him rasp after a few moments of silence. My limbs felt heavy with dread. "We are both well aware of the peril you faced in your journey here. I know there's still some fight in you, so why don't you face me as a man ought to instead of cowering in the dirt." It was a taunt, not a question, designed to bait me into flying at him blindly without a plan. I may be just 15, but I'm not such a novice as to fall for that.

Since his magic was potent and far-reaching, I was going to have to come to him if I had any hope of landing a fatal blow. I drew in a quick breath, staggered to my feet for what would be the last time on Earth, and shuffled to a meter's distance from what was bound to be my grave. A shift in footing and he beckoned my attack. I bristled at the obvious insult (I was half-dead already, and he was toying with me!), and thrust my sword directly at his heart. He sidestepped it easily, simultaneously drawing Seraphim over his left shoulder to behead me in a single fluid stroke. I had only enough time to duck and raise my own blade in a feeble attempt to not die. A resounding CLANG vibrated against the dungeon walls and down the length of my arm, resulting in a sickening crack emanating from my wrist. I looked on in horror as my weapon was flung across the room and skidded to the end of the flooring, threatening to topple over the edge. Beldo's face split into an evil grin as he raised Dad's sword straight overhead, preparing to murder me; I took refuge under my circular wedge of diamond and waited for him to strike or sweep my legs out from under me or something! Anything! But when nothing did happened, I took the opportunity to scramble backwards and slowly peeked out from behind my shield only to see Beldo seeming to struggle with himself.

It took me more than a few moments to comprehend what was happening, but when Kewne emerged from under Beldo's cloak with Seraphim in his mouth, depriving the sorcerer of weapon and limb, I realized that it was suddenly within my power to win this battle and even leave this tower with the ultimate egg and my life! Kewne tossed the sword in my direction, and I caught it somewhat awkwardly in my left hand. He called out to use Soul Shooter, and Beldo tentatively backed away, tripping on the corner of his cape and falling to the ground. The sword took on a life of its own, starting to glow and hum in my good hand; instinctively, I raised Seraphim over my head, staring into Beldo's terrified face with a burning satisfaction. He didn't beg for his life or apologize or plead for a merciful death; he just… waited, trembling, for the retribution he knew was coming. I swung my arm down, the weight of a diamond shield quickening its path to my enemy. I brought the sword down once, twice- his blood mixing with mine on my clothes and boots; I don't know how long I continued to swing, or whether because of fear or hatred, but a soft "Koh" brought me back.

I let out a choked sob as I surveyed the hacked and mangled body before us. Only 15 years old… Carefully, I nudged the carcass over the edge with my foot and listened: nothing. Kewne led me down the narrow passage to the place where the ultimate egg waited for me. My stretched out hand trembled with exhaustion as I neared the prize so many hunters had sought and died trying to attain- what Dad died in order to protect. Over time, I guess I came to consider it my inheritance.

I remember standing there for a while- just looking at it. It may have been the blood loss, but it seemed that the air was heavier, hotter, the closer you came to the egg. Kewne was right by my shoulder in a second, dragging my own sword behind him. Without my eyes ever leaving the treasure before me, I listened to Kewne explain why he had turned on Beldo, apologize, and ask my forgiveness. I let the silence linger between us for some time, sifting through my feelings of betrayal, shock, anger, and fear; when it came down to it, though, he saved my life, didn't he? Beldo was about to finish me, so nothing good could have come of Kewne helping me should I have lost. He followed his conscience despite what it might have meant for him… I must have made quite an impression in our short time together.

I put the matter behind us with an off-handed comment about how great it is to have a talking familiar, and he let out a whoop. He helped me sheath Dad's sword in the leather covering hooked through my belt and held onto my own as I drew a wind crystal out of my satchel to make room for the ultimate egg. It felt so surreal to finally place my hands on what was essentially a legend as I gently pulled it from its floating perch, tucked it into my bag, and thrust the wind crystal clutched in my fist into the air.