Chapter 3: The Mist

The boom was heard throughout the city and, no doubt, warned the throne's usurper of an eminent attack. The smoke began to dissipate and Ryu noticed a wide grin spread across Doel's face.

"There's your battering ram, boy," the dwarf smirked. The large double doors, that had been the entrance to the castle, had been blasted open. Chunks of wood and steel flew through the sky but no one was hurt because they had all ran to the other edge of the drawbridge when they saw that the dynamite was lit and, in turn, ducked behind a wall.

However, after it had settled Renault, his guard, and the three travelers returned to the doorway. From the outside the castle's interior could barely be seen, because it was still thick with smoke, but they remembered where the doorway had been moments ago.

"Alright, let's do this," Ryu said, as his right hand tightly grasped his sword. He noted that Bae'run had kept his right arm behind his back, likely to ready a concealed dagger in the event of any much-expected danger.

"Good luck, travelers. Should you succeed I promise you that my bards will sing songs in your honor for generations. Should you fail," Lord Renault paused.

"We won't," Doel interrupted, as his short, stubby legs carried him into Castle Camlon. He pulled the large hammer, that he had held on his back, free and wielded it with two hands.

They had traveled through a few rooms - a hallway, a large room, and another hallway through a side door on the right - with relative ease but it wasn't long before Ryu realized that it was not smoke that filled the castle's corridors at all. It was mist.

Mist was a creation of the Dark Ones during the Goddess War. It was used to dampen any magic cast within its vicinity. The elves and the dwarves, however, were totally immune to it all together. Humans, and only pure-blooded ones at that, were the only ones susceptible to the mists power.

During the war, thousands of humans died because of the mist. The most powerful magi were the most vulnerable. They would become covered in boils due to long exposure. Some humans, though, were completely unharmed by the mist and their magic worked perfectly fine. It was never truly understood why but legends told that it was the goddess Tyr herself who had come to devour them for their sins.

And there Ryu was, in the middle of the mist. Would the goddess come for him, as the tales said? He wasn't a sorcerer by any means and, according to those tales, it only attacked those that were magically inclined so he really doubted it, but it scared him none-the-less.

It meant their was a Dark One in the castle.

Ryu's attention was grabbed by something rather large that ran directly in front of him but his vision was blurred by the mist so he failed to see it entirely. Bae'run drew his dagger and spun around because he felt something moving behind him. Then a third one came in which had caught Ryu completely off guard.

The large creature snarled as it tackled him to the ground and Ryu lost his grip on his sword. He heard it slide off to the side somewhere.

"Bout damn time we had some fun!" Doel shouted as he smashed his blackened steel hammer into one of the creatures shoulders. The swinging of his hammer also pushed some of the mist away from the battlefield and they got their first good glimpse of their attackers.

They were members of the Warhog clan. All members of the clan were of a race of the same name. Their most notable features were their fat bellies and their pig faces but, despite their appearance, they were rather agile.

All three, which stood as tall as any human, held a thick stick of some kind of wood, aptly named Whislewood, which, naturally, seemed to whistle as it moved. Not for the first time in his life, Ryu observed just that, as the one who pinned him down swung the stick towards his head. He rolled his head to the side and barely avoided the attack.

He kneed the warhog in the gut and it barely phased him, his fat blocking any real damage the attack could have caused, and the creature laughed in reply. He went to swing his whistling stick again but this time Ryu was prepared.

Ryu kneed the creature, again in its fat stomach, but he timed it correctly this attempt. The strike broke the warhogs concentration at the last second and when that happened, Ryu wasted no time. He introduced his thumbs to the creatures eyes and pushed with all his might. He heard a pop behind his right thumb and a shriek of utter agony fell suit.

Suddenly it was silent.

The mist thickened and Ryu could hear three faint sets of footsteps running in the distance, one of them accompanied by painful whimpers. As he made his way to a wall, to help guide himself in the overly foggy area, Ryu kicked something and heard metal scrape across the stone floor.

His sword, he realized as he blindly searched the ground, finding it just as their attackers had returned.

He tried to reach for it but his attackers came on too quickly. He was saved only by a large thump that must have been Doel's hammer crashing into one of the warhog's bodies and he heard the creature fall to the ground shortly after.

At that moment, the other two attackers bared down on Bae'run and Doel. The elf grabbed the Whistlewood stick aimed for his face and redirected it before it was able to connect. He spun under the weight of four or five hundred pounds falling upon him, and used the creatures own force to overthrow him, but the warhog refused to let go of his weapons and quickly got back to his feet.

Ryu grabbed his sword finally and finished the job, stabbing where he had heard the beast fall and, from the sound of its gargling, he guessed that he pierced its throat.

That was when Ryu began to feel as if he was set on fire. He screamed in agony, as the pain started in his hands and pulsed throughout the rest of his body almost instantly.

"Ryu!" Bae'run yelled, unable to help him as he dealt with his own problems.

"I can't see anything!" answered Doel for the boy, who couldn't stop his screaming long enough to reply himself. "Maybe it's another warhog?"

"No. I would have heard them," Bae'run explained. Elves rarely missed a sound with their large ears.

The fighting continued, as did Ryu's cries. Doel's attacker - the one whom Ryu had earlier taken out his right eye - was proving especially difficult for the dwarf. Every swing of his hammer seemed to be blocked by the creatures fat belly, and he couldn't seem to gain any ground. Bae'run, however, had managed to knock one of the Whistlewood sticks from his own assailant's hand with the use of a second dagger that he had pulled out at some point during the fight.

"Maybe it's some kind of spell?" Doel suggested, as he was smacked in his cheek by both of his attacker's Whistlewood sticks simultaneously.

"No... The mist would prevent that." His concentration broken, he lost one of his daggers. The weapon was sent flying across the room, having been distracted by Ryu's screams of agony. "It has to be the mist itself!"

Ryu's screaming stopped, almost as if on cue.

"Ryu? You there?" Doel asked, still blinded by the dense mist, though his latest hammer swing hit it's mark regardless. The warhog's skull sounded like it cracked under the hammer's pressure, and it fell lifeless to the floor, but Ryu never answered. "Got ya', ya' fat bastard!"

Doel, now free from battle, ran to check on his friend. As expected, he found him unconscious or dead - he couldn't tell which at first - but the sound of his still beating heart suggested it was the former.

The elf, meanwhile, was still dealing with his own combatant. The final warhog had managed to find his Whistlewood stick, but Bae'run had failed to locate his own dagger in the midst of all the chaos. Instead, he reached into his robe.

"You will not stop us, elf!" the warhog said with his surprisingly high-pitched voice.

Bae'run pulled out a small throwing knife and sent it right towards the sound of the warhog's voice, but it was somehow able to deflect it with its weapon.

"You oaf's can talk?" Doel cut in, but fell silent as Ryu began to scream in pain all over again, but he was partly thankful that he had at least regained consciousness.

The warhog only laughed in response and charged again towards Bae'run. He put up a fight at first, but then he could hear the sound of other footsteps approaching. Many footsteps. It sounded like a small army, and so Bae'run thought it might be better to try a little diplomacy.

"What is it you want with this town?"

"I want nothing, silly elf. Nothing but the will of my master."

"And who would that be?" Doel chimed in.

"Oh, you'll meet them soon enough." He paused a moment to let it sink in. "Bind their hands and take them to the Commander. This one," he pointed to Ryu as the fog was pushed aside by the small armies arrival, which was really only about a dozen warhogs. "Take him to see Frog. He'll want to know about this latest development!"

That was the last time Ryu would see Bae'run or Doel in Castle Camlon.

Hours later, Ryu awoke to being prodded by the one-eyed warhog whom he had fought earlier. Apparently, he hadn't died, but his head was heavily bandaged and Ryu could tell from his remaining eye that he intended to reap his revenge that day.

"You owe me an eye Blue Boy," he grumbled.

"Enough, Varokk... Leave us!" A deep, sinister voice bellowed. Ryu was extremely surprised when he turned around to see an ordinary frog. A talking frog, none-the-less, with authority over a dozen or so members of the warhog clan. He couldn't help but think of how odd the sight was.

"Ahh... Where are my manners? My name is Ixis, but those ignorant warts find it amusing to simply call me Frog. Don't let my appearance deceive you, friend," he informed Ryu after he noticed him staring. "I am in reality one of the greatest minds to ever affiliate themselves with the Dark Ones. This was merely a curse placed upon me by the villagers defending this town. A curse that I intend to cure today."

"And just how do you plan on doing that?"

"With your blood of course!" Ryu had never before seen a frog grin, and the sight made him want to wretch.

"Where are my friends? And what does my blood have to do with all this?"

"Well, your friends were here. They've since been escorted to Nanai for execution because they are traitors!" He seemed to place so much hatred in that last word. "They were supposed to help us gain control of the city but instead decided to side with the simple townsfolk. The Emperor would see them tortured," Frog grinned as he said.

"So why wasn't I taken with them?"

"There is something about you, boy." The frog looked Ryu up and down, an odd sight for a frog. "The mist should not have affected you the way that it did, and I wish to know why. You are no sorcerer. As I said, something about you is different. There is an aura about you and I hope the same magnificence can be said of your blood. "

"What are talking about?"

"I am a scientist, of sorts. I have spent the better part of my life studying the mist for the Dark Ones," the frog explained. "You see, the mist targets those with exceptional abilities in the fields of arcane magic, and it uses that power against them. As I said, you are no sorcerer and so I wish to know why the mist would target you and how it is doing so."

"But you didn't even know we were coming," Ryu asked confused. "Hell, we didn't even know until we first arrived and found out that Camlon, too, had been occupied by Dark One scum!" He spit in the direction of the frog, and a few bits of spittle landed on the animals forehead.

"Slimeless humans!" Ixis screamed, his composure gone in an instant. "Enough talk... I'll just show you first hand! Guards!"

Two Warhog clan members entered the room, as Ryu finally became aware of his surroundings. He was in what he guessed was the throne room, before Ixis had overtaken the castle. It had appeared to be the point of some scuffle prior to Ryu's awakening. Several paintings that had been torn dotted the wall, and in some cases partially were burned. A few chairs were toppled over, that had probably been thrown from where two tables sat across from the rooms center-piece, but the only real relevant feature was the large golden throne in the center of the room that Ixis had been seated on. That, if it had once been toppled, was now placed back in its original position.

The two warhogs, one of which was Varokk, grabbed Ryu by his underarms and carried him into the adjacent room, hidden behind the throne. His hands were bound by a thick cord that couldn't be broken simply by brute strength, which Ryu had little of at this point anyway. The room that they entered appeared to be a laboratory of sorts, with beakers and flasks abound throughout the shelves that covered three of the rooms walls.

"I suppose this would answer a few of your questions," the frog known as Ixis explained with a smirk. "This is the reason why I took Camlon in the first place." When Ryu still didn't seem to understand, he continued. "The tools I will need to run my experiments. You stumbling upon me in my castle was simply chance. Or perhaps a blessing from Myria, herself. It matters little, really." His creepy smile faded. "Strap this wretch into the chair."

Frog, because at that moment Ryu decided that he too would no longer call him by his actual name, hopped into the room behind them. He began to ruffle through some of the flasks until he seemed to find one particular vial of interest. He pulled it from the shelves and hopped down to he floor, where he began examining it. The boy still couldn't get over how odd this had all seemed: a frog barking orders and holding up a vial to inspect its contents.

As Ryu's restraints were cut and retied to the arms of the chair, he noticed that the flask contained a thick orange liquid that seemed to glow a golden light.

"Liquid Chrysm," Frog explained, as he held the vial up to the light coming in through one of the rooms two open windows. "It has the power to absorb any form of magic, curses aside, from whoever ingests it. Whatever it may be that is causing the mist to affect you, this will attract it into your blood stream much like a magnet attracts steel." He hopped on top of Ryu's shoulder and popped the cork stopper.

"Open wide, boy!" One of the guards forced him to open his mouth and Frog dumped the vials contents down his captive's throat. Then he hopped from Ryu's shoulder, to the top of the table that was positioned next to the chair he was restrained in.

Frog grabbed a syringe from amongst the tools that laid on top of the table and jumped back onto Ryu's, his lap that time.

"Have to wait just a few more moments..." Frog said, excitedly, as he taunted Ryu with the needle. His teasing-fit didn't last long, however, as Frog quickly thrust the needle into Ryu's thigh and began to draw blood into another empty vial attached to the syringe.

That was when Ryu noticed that his blood had the same golden glow that the vial had had moments ago.

"Sit tight, Ryu. I'm going to go run some tests. Don't go anywhere, okay?" Frog laughed to himself as he hopped away. The guards, however, didn't follow him, and they rarely moved their eyes, or in Varrok's case eye, from their prisoner.

It seemed like an eternity to Ryu but he couldn't say how long Frog had been gone from the room and he didn't intend to be waiting for him when he got back. The guards had switched a few times since Frog had left, and the two that watched after him now seemed otherwise occupied. They were playing some sort of card game at one of the round tables that they had moved from the throne room, in to the room they now occupied.

The one had a pet sitting on his lap. A large semi-ovular shaped insect known as a pill bug. As insects go, they were actually kind of cute, despite his current circumstances. And as innocent as they looked, they were actually extremely dangerous. Ryu also knew that three other pill bugs were somewhere else in the laboratory, but he could see them at that moment, because of his restraints.

The one guard gently petted the creatures carapace as the other warhog decided on his next move in the card game. He eventually played his hand, and though Ryu knew little about the game they played, he could tell from the ones reactions that the hand wasn't good enough. He jumped up in a fit of rage and actually toppled the table over in the process. The pill bug that sat on the winners lap scuttled away in fear.

"There's no way you could've held onto that hand without cheating!"

"I assure you, I didn't. And I won... So go get the wretch his food. I want to take a nap," he laughed at his victory like it was the funniest thing in the world. Clearly, they were gambling away their duties.

The loser stalked out of the room in a fit, and the winner leaned back in his chair and rested his eyes. It wasn't long before the guard was asleep and eventually Ryu spotted all four pill bugs who seemed as if they were playing with each other.

Ryu had been told by his grandmother that the insects had the intelligence of a young dog and they could be trained to do a few tricks, but they especially loved to play. They are known to curl up into balls and roll around, bumping into each other for hours on end. According to scientists it was some kind of mating ritual, though it looked to Ryu like they were playing rather than courting each other.

That was when the idea hit Ryu. His arms had been tied to the chair, but Frog's guards had forgot to bind his legs. He could still kick with them and if one of the pill bugs got close, he could punt one of them as a ball. If he timed it well enough, he could knock over a shelf or two. With the position the one guard was sitting in, if he aimed the pill bug just right, he could knock the shelf on top of him, though how he would get out of his bindings afterwards, he had no idea.

It was alot more if's than Ryu would have preferred but he didn't see any other options.

It took a bit of waiting, but eventually one of the pill bugs got close enough to be able to attempt it. He missed his mark and the pill bug went flying out of the lab and into the throne room. Damn, he thought. At least he didn't wake the guard in the process.

A while later, he tried again and this time he hit the shelf, and, though it didn't knock the shelf over, it did knock a few flasks of unknown liquid off of it. One of the flasks shattered on the unsuspecting Warhogs face, who awoke in agony. His screams would surely send the other guards in to check within a few minutes, so whatever Ryu planned to do next he knew it had to happen fast.

That was when it happened. By sure chance of luck, the somewhat intelligent pill bugs had learned that Ryu was a threat to them. The three remaining bugs began to spit a corrosive fluid from their mandibles and Ryu moved his hands and legs as much as he could to try to prevent it from landing on him and to get it to instead land on the ropes that bound him. It took a few minutes to get the positioning right but eventually both hands were free, even though they were badly injured from the acid-like saliva that had hit him despite his best efforts.

He quickly ran into the throne room and gathered his things; his cloak, satchel, and sheathed sword. Just as he finished clasping the sheath to his belt, the first wave of warhog guards ran into the room. His visibility here was perfect, so they wouldn't be able to use the same guerrilla tactics they had earlier, and Ryu wasted no time.

By the moment the guards realized that Ryu had been not only free, but armed as well, one of them had already taken a sword slash to the throat and another pierced through the chest. A third one came down on Ryu with his Whistlewood sticks raised high and Ryu sliced the weapons down to half of their original size. The warhog continued forward anyway, dropping the sticks altogether, and tackling Ryu. They rolled for a bit and Ryu ended up elbowing the pig-man in his already-short nose, which started to bleed profusely. With his opponent distracted, he grabbed his sword - which had again fallen from his hands during the wrestling - and slammed the butt end of it into the warhog's temple. He was unconscious and on the ground by the time that Ryu noticed three more guards rushing in, one of which was Varokk.

Ryu had made his way to the throne room at that point and charged straight for the stairs that led down and into the main hallways of the castle, and tackled one of the guards in the process. The two stumbled down the stairwell, the warhog taking the brunt of the damage, and Ryu thanked the Goddess Myria when they landed at the bottom with him on top. He couldn't imagine it would feel too good to be crushed by hundreds of pounds of lard.

Conscious, but unable to move from the pain, the warhog laid their helpless as Ryu began to interrogate him.

"Where the hell is the frog!"

"He.. should be... in the lab!" he stuttered.

"No lies." He placed his sword to the immobile pig-man's throat. "Or you swallow this."

"Honestly... He's in the lab! N...n...not the one you were in. There's another one on this floor. I... I... can take you there!" he suggested.

Varokk and the other guard came rushing down the steps just in time to catch the exposed guards act of treason.

"Enough games..." Varokk explained, as he pulled a large battle axe from a clasp on his back. Ryu removed the point of his sword from his current opponents neck. The way he saw it, he had bigger fish to fry.

Ryu charged straight for Varokk, but side-stepped at the last second to catch the other pig-man unaware. His sword split the beast's gut right across the middle and he tried to hold his own innards in, to no avail.

That was when Ryu began to notice the pain in the palm of his right hand, ever burning, from the pill bugs corrosive spit. He had been running on adrenaline mostly, but he finally began to feel the affects of the day. Whatever the mist had done to him, he could still feel the tension in almost every one of his muscles. He felt like he had been trampled by a horse and his hand, in perticular, like it had reached into a smoldering fire.

Varokk used that opportunity to strike out, but Ryu parried his attack to the ground, despite the pain. Sparks flew from the axe's impact on the stone surface and Ryu was pushed back a foot or so from the force of his attack. He stepped forward anyway, and threw a boot directly into Varokk's chest, which sent him tumbling backward. The warhog quickly recovered, however, and swung his axe with full force once he regained his composure.

He missed his target though and that was the mistake that would cost him his life.

Varokk had overstepped and it threw him off balance, his axe again crashing into the ground, but before he could regain his stance Ryu had already pierced his adversaries shoulder with his blade. He let out a scream and Ryu could hear the scraping of steel on bone as he started to pull the blade from Varokk's shoulder.

"Enough games..." antagonized Ryu, mimicking Varrok's own words. He couldn't celebrate long, however, as the sound of laughter filled the room.

"You no longer have reason to be in my castle, pest..."


"Your blood is marvelous... I can feel it coursing through my veins as we speak. Healing what needs to be healed," and as he spoke those words, Ryu could see them ringing true. He still looked much like a frog, but he had somewhat regained his humanoid appearance. He was overweight, pretty close to the size of the Warhog clan members, but he still kept his frog-like appearance though now he was able to comfortably stand on two legs.

"Guess it wasn't strong enough to heal all of the warts though?" Ryu asked sarcastically.

"Get. Out. Of. My... CASTLE!" he shouted and then Ryu could feel the immense energy emanating from his body, which began to glow with the same golden hue that the liquid chrysm had had. It pulsed off of him and his body began to shake under the force. A long tuft of orange hair grew from his head and stood straight up, making him look the part of the mad scientist that he so clearly was. Large thorn-like growths began to sprout from where his shoulders were, giving them the appearance of a spiked mace. His body mass began to grow rapidly and he hunched forward again, looking more like the original frog than the humanoid form Ryu had barely seen, albeit much fatter.

"The anger!" he began to cackle maniacally. "It make's me stronger!"

"What the..." Ryu was at a loss for words.

"Oh, Ryu... You have no idea, do you?" the monstrous Frog asked him, though Ryu was just as confused as he had expected he would be. "There is so much wonder inside of that blood of yours. One as potent as you has not been seen for generations. Not since the fall of your once-great emperor, Long!"

"What in the hell are you talking about, you fool?" he shouted at the monster, no idea who he was referring to or where he was going with his babbling. Clearly, whatever had happened to him had driven him mad.

"You think you can drive me out? Go ahead, try!"

At that, he launched himself forward, pinning Ryu against the nearest wall. The monstrous Frog licked his lips with his massive tongue, taunting Ryu. Clearly, he intended to make him his meal tonight.

Ryu responded by grabbing the tongue from the creatures mouth and pulling on it as hard as he could. It didn't really do any damage, but it caused Frog to bounce off of Ryu, and the tongue darted back into Frog's mouth. He quickly finished pulling the blade from Varokk's shoulder, who by now had more than likely died from the weight of the monstrous creature than from the sword wound.

Ryu held it out in front of him with determined vigor.

Frog bounded for him again, but this time Ryu managed to get out of the way in time. He side-stepped but Frog continued his assault. Despite his weight, the creature moved with surprising speed and as he dodged the beasts second pounce, Frog spun about and spit in his direction.

Ryu avoided two of the projectiles, but a third struck him dead in the chest. He realized then, albeit too late, that it wasn't spit but smoldering balls of a dark purple fire that were being aimed straight for him. He flew into the gray stone wall and grabbed his chest in agony, as it burned through his clothing, and seared the leather that protected him.

Frog continued his attack, using his long tongue as a spear and smacking Ryu in the right shoulder. He used the strength in his tongue muscle to hold him down as the rest of his body bounced toward his prey to catch up. Ryu slashed at the tongue but Frog retracted it just in time. The creature tried to smack him with his tongue again, this time in the face, but Ryu rolled out of the way before it could connect, and it hit the stone wall behind where we once stood instead.

Ryu stopped for a moment to take in his surroundings. Nothing but a few candles to light the nearby hallway were in reach but as he looked around the room, he noticed that Frog had stopped all of his jumping and remained suspiciously still. His eyes were closed and the thick mist that covered the lower section of the castle seemed to roll into the room from the hallway. The mist was thickest closer to the ground, but visibility was still low enough that Ryu could barely make out the enormous Frog's chaotic movements.

It was then that Ryu began to feel the burning throughout his body that the mist had caused earlier but this time it didn't come on as intense. The burning was focused only inside of his head, but it began to feel like his brain was on fire. He felt the pain coming on stronger but he tried his best to control himself. The pain ended just as quickly as it had started, and Ryu had noticed a warm feeling flush downward from his forehead. He felt where it had hurt his fingers and he couldn't see it, but he could feel the warm blood on his fingertips.

Frog had not even made a move, of that much he was certain, and the knowledge of some other unknown enemy in the room terrified him even more than he already was.

Ryu ran back up the stairs that he had come down earlier to try and avoid the mist yet it seemed to follow him alongside the monstrous scientist. When he got to the top, he ran for the laboratory that he was held captive in earlier, looking for anything he could use. There were hundreds of vials all over the place, but he had no idea what they were. He was worried that they could cause just as much harm as help. He couldn't take that chance, but he had one more idea.

The pill bugs scurried about the room, terrified from the commotion the fighting had caused. Ryu took extra care not to scare them any more than he had already, but he readied his sword in anticipation of Frog's eminent attack. He busted through the doorway, bringing parts of the stone wall down as he bounded through the opening. That, alone, was enough to push the pill bugs over the edge and all four of them - the fourth one had apparently returned at some point - began spitting their corrosive spit in the direction of the doorway.

Frog spit more fire balls in response but the bugs were just too small a target to hit easily, and they constantly rolled around in their ball-like state making them all-the-more difficult to hit. What it did, however, was provide the distraction that Ryu so desperately needed. He ran for the beast, sword held low, and brought the blade up into the creatures throat. He heard his gargling and forced the blade even farther up into monsters head, aiming for what he thought was Frog's brain.

"I..." he could barely speak with the sword in his mouth. "Under...esti...mated..." He fell over, gargling on his own blood, and never finished his sentence.

Almost instantly, Ryu could feel the foul air that was filled with the mist filtering out of the castle, and the fresh air blowing in from the windows took it's place. Out of nowhere, the castle began to shake violently, and several of the flasks began to fall from their shelves, breaking all over the place. The pill bugs ran from the room in fear, and Ryu thought it best that he do the same. As he looked out one of the windows in passing, he noticed two very large dragons fly east across the river, towards Nanai.

"It's time somebody put this Emperor in his place..." he said to no one but himself.

Shortly after, Ryu made his way out of the castle.

The clouds over Edenia were dark, yet it seemed to be midday by then. Had Frog kept him tied up all night?

It began to rain again as Ryu was greeted by the same people who had told him about the Frog in the first place, though several new faces had joined the masses outside of Castle Camlon. The entire village, or rather those who had remained in the village, had gathered outside of the town-castle to shout out cheers of victory. The two guards from earlier, the fairly dressed man and the one who knew Doel and Bae'run were all there, as well as others.

"You defeated the monsters!" Lord Renault praised the blue-haired boy. "But... Where are your friends?"

Ryu kept his head down. He had lost them.

"They were captured and, most likely, taken to Scande," Ryu answered, defeated.

"You are our savior!" The crowd roared in approval. "Just... who are you?"

Ryu never answered.

He was too busy thinking of what had happened to Doel and Bae'run to actually hear what the villager had said. He had to hurry off to Nanai, where he assumed he could find them.

He had learned from the scientist known as Frog that they were to be executed for treason. Apparently, when they had told Ryu that were representatives from Nanai they had left the part about them double-crossing the Dark Ones out.

He continued walking towards the crowd. He didn't get far before the Lord placed his hand on the blue-haired boy's shoulder. Ryu turned to look the Lord directly in the eye, and Renault noticed something that he hadn't seen when he had met the boy earlier that day.

"That scar..." he said, pointing to the mark of Ryu's forehead. "It looks familiar."

"This thing?" Ryu's asked, touching the spot on his head that had bled for no apparent reason. "It's just a scratch." Though in reality, Ryu was curious about it too but he didn't want to spend any more time in Camlon. He had a sister to save. And, now, two more people who had now disappeared whom he felt responsible for. And so he continued walking towards the town gates.

"Everyone, clear a path!" Renault commanded, and they did as they were told. The large group parted and made way for Ryu to walk through, although he had to hold his chest from the burn he suffered earlier. As he walked through the crowd, he heard them whispering and gossiping. All of which, naturally, was about him, and that brought a cocky smile back to Ryu's face.

He was almost to the towns gates when, again, when a young boy had chased him down, huffing and puffing. He was maybe six or seven years of age. He couldn't tell much more than that because the boy's face was concealed under the hood of his brown coat.

"M-m-m-mister?" the boy said, not sure whether to be frightened or not.

"It's okay, kid. What's up?

"I... Got something for you," he said shyly.

He reached into his coat and pulled out a leather satchel. The boy started to pull its contents out in the rain, then thought better of it.

"It's kinda' heavy. Might fit in the bag of yours though. It's just some new clothes but I wanted to thank you somehow," the boy said, handing the satchel to Ryu.

He started to object until he remembered the tattered state his own attire had been in. He reached his hand out and thanked the boy as the ground beneath their feet began to tremble again.

He had hoped earlier that it was merely just due to structural damage from the fight with Frog, but that seemed highly unlikely now.

"The Quake Control..." one of the guards at the towns entrance shouted, as the boy ran back into town.

"What?" Ryu asked as he put the leather satchel into his bag.

"The Quake Control. It's an ancient weapon made by the Gods that causes Edenia's landmasses to violently shift. Using the weapon basically turns an earthquake into a highly effective weapon," the guard explained.

"I didn't think anyone had deciphered the ancient hieroglyphs yet." He grabbed Ryu by the arm. "Your headed for Nanai, right?" Ryu nodded in response.

"Please, I have family in Nanai. The Dark Ones can't be allowed to use that! If they've figured it out... so many people would die!"

Ryu never officially answered him, but the nod he did give was all that was needed. It kind of upset him slightly, because other things kept getting in the way of him finding his sister, but it wasn't like he was really heading out of his way.

Not to mention that so long as the Dark Ones were around, he would have to go through them to get to Sara. He had to put a stop to their plans with the Quake Control, whatever they may be.

And as the day's went on, Ryu only grew to despise the Dark Ones and their Emperor Zogg all the more.