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PostPosted: Sat Jun 28, '08, 11:10 pm
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Part One: Licking Our Wounds

(The Castle in the Sky, above Palma)

As Tairon fell from the window for the second time, his first reaction was to look for Myau. "C'mon, where are ya, little buddy?!" he asked during his descent. Off to his side, he could see Lutz raising his staff.

"I don't see him!" Tairon called to the blue-haired Esper. "He can't be that far behind us-"

"-or ahead," Lutz replied. "Myau's lighter than... wait. There he is!"

He pointed towards a rapidly receding yellow speck below them. Tairon immediately tensed his body, leaning forward until his head was pointed towards the ground. Once this maneuver was complete, Tairon started picking up speed, dipping below Lutz in a desperate effort to catch up to the injured Musk Cat.

Trying his best to ignore his own injuries, Lutz started concentrating on a spell. We're getting closer to the ground, he thought. If I could target this down there, that should... yes.

Sixty feet below him, Tairon reached towards Myau, grabbing him by the scruff of his neck once he managed to catch up to him. "It's all right- I got ya, Myau," he told him. Myau's response was a weak, faint purr. Tairon twisted, moving his body so his back was facing the ground. He caught sight of Lutz, then splayed his arms and legs in an attempt to slow his fall.

"Tairon, prepare yourself," Lutz shouted to him. "Gi Hewn!"

A torrent of wind screamed past Tairon's head, barely missing him. Angrily, he shouted to Lutz, "What the hell!? Are you trying to make me fall faster?!"

"Just trust me!"

The blast from the Gi Hewn spell impacted the ground, sending torrents of wind in every direction. One of the gusts caught Tairon, and his fall was slowed somewhat. He landed with a rough thud, pain rushing through his back and his head. Lutz leaned into another torrent, and landed on his side. His staff bounced to the ground seconds later.

Lying on the ground at the foot of LaShiec's castle, the three defeated warriors groaned in agony. There was an uneasy silence, frequently broken by their audible suffering.

"Urrgh... you could have told me you were going to do that..." Tairon grumbled, trying his best to ignore his pain.

"I didn't think... it was going to work. Arrggh... landing in that armor couldn't have been... all that helpful."

Tairon rolled his eyes. Of course not, he thought. He gave his armor a gentle thump with his fist, then told Lutz, "Laconia armor... accept no substitutes."

Myau wheezed, then slurred, "Lutz... healing... p...please..."

Lutz nodded. He reached for his staff, then began chanting a now-familiar litany. "Medice!"

Myau, Lutz, and Tairon were surrounded by bright blue light. As their pains and injuries subsided, the light shifted from blue to white, becoming brighter and brighter as they were healed. Just as the light became too intense to look at, it faded away. They were still hurt, but the majority of their wounds had disappeared.

Myau leapt from Tairon's arms, rolling his front shoulders. "Well, that whole experience sure did suck," he said. "I don't think I've ever been Gi Tandled that hard before!"

"Neither have I," Lutz told him. "When he trained me, Master Tajima had hit me with the Gi variants of each element. His Gi Tandle, though... it just wasn't the same as LaShiec's."

"You mean that old fart's spell wasn't as powerful as LaShiec's?" Tairon asked.

"Not as such, no, Tairon. LaShiec's Gi Tandle was..." He sighed, furrowing his brow as he tried to explain his thoughts to Tairon. "It was different. There was something else to it, not just advanced thunder magic."

"Different? How?" Myau asked.

"Like..." He closed his eyes. "It was as if all the forces of Hell itself were being channeled through the arcs of lightning."

Myau and Tairon sweatdropped. Skeptically, Tairon looked at Lutz and said, "So, LaShiec has Hell Lightning."

"That's a rather simplified way of saying it, but yes."

"Hey, uh, guys?" Myau asked, looking around. "Alisa's not here! You don't think LaShiec-"

Lutz and Tairon looked at each other uneasily. They both turned to Myau, and Tairon said, "No. I don't think she's dead."

"Given what LaShiec said, I don't think he'd kill her," Lutz added. "Most likely she's being held captive."

"Then we have to rescue her!" Myau called. He ran towards the gates of the castle. "C'mon, you two!"

"Wait a minute, lil' buddy." Tairon ran up to Myau, picking him up again. "How much magic can you still use?"

"Err..." Myau took a deep breath, then sighed wearily, "I can't really focus enough mana to cast anything, now that you bring it up..."

"And you, Lutz?"

"........ I can cast Gi Heal once, but that's it," the Esper told Tairon. "I apologize- the ascent up Baya Mahlay and the castle has depleted me."

"It's fine, Lutz. You gave your best."

"Yet, our best was not enough," Lutz lamented. "We're back outside LaShiec's castle, Alisa's still in there..."

"And that's why we have to go back in there!" Myau told them. "We can't just leave her there, and maybe we'll frag LaShiec once and for all!"

"Myau, we need to go about this with all we've got," Tairon replied. He set Myau back on the ground, then continued, "All we have is our weapons and one Gi Heal between all of us. LaShiec... well, he's got a bit more than that."

"I hate to say it, but... we have to retreat," Lutz realized. "Myau and I both need our spells back."

Myau grimaced, as if deciding whether or not he should re-enter the castle alone. Finally, he sighed and said, "Yeah. But let's not waste too much time! As soon as we're healed up, we head back here and beat LaShiec's *, all right!?"

"Sounds fine by me," Tairon said. Lutz nodded agreement, then said, "I brought a Magic Carpet with us, just in case."

Lutz unrolled the carpet, a tapestry of greens and blues decorated with golden tassels, carefully smoothing the wrinkles from its woven surface. He sat down on it, followed by Tairon and Myau. "Good thinking," Tairon said. "I think Alisa had her flute, anyway."

"I wouldn't have minded another Laerma nut," Myau protested.

"I think that dragon would have, though. I don't think we killed it."

Myau remembered the dragon- a massive golden-scaled dragon, ever circling the skies around LaShiec's castle. He remembered how the fight had ended with the dragon spiraling to the ground, suffering the effects of one of Alisa's Flaeli blasts.

"Yeah. Let's not take unnecessary risks," Myau said, laughing nervously. "Dragon's probably dead, but why fight our way back through Baya Mahlay, right?"

"Good call."

The carpet started to lift off the ground, then flew away in an instant back towards Camineet.

-=-=-

Her mind was an open book to LaShiec, and he had acted as an editor- erasing some memories, altering others, changing the context of yet other memories.

Slowly, she awakened, shrugging off the effects of the battle. Shaking her head, Alisa rose to her feet, looking around the throne room.

"You've finally awakened, Alisa."

Alisa's eyes widened in shock. LaShiec! she thought, as her hand flew to her side, grabbing empty air.

My sword! It's not there!

"Where's my sword? Where are my friends?" she demanded.

Appearing before her, LaShiec crossed his arms, balancing his staff in his left hand. "Your sword's with your shield, my dear, being polished. As for your friends, well..."

"If you hurt my friends, LaShiec, I'll-!"

"Now, Alisa," LaShiec interrupted her. "Your friends are safe. However..."

"'However' what?!"

"They left without you."

Alisa crossed her arms, staring down LaShiec. "I'd expect them to- after what you did, I'd understand if they needed to regroup!"

"No, you don't understand, Alisa... They abandoned you. My scrying caught the whole thing."

"What? What do you mean, they abandoned me?"

"Come." LaShiec waved Alisa towards him. "I'll show you."

He opened his hand once Alisa was close to him, revealing the grounds of the castle. Lutz, Myau, and Tairon were seen sitting on a Magic Carpet, talking amongst themselves.

"We have to retreat," Lutz's voice said. "Alisa's still in there."

"It's fine, Lutz. I think Alisa had her flute, anyway."

"Yeah!" Myau added as the carpet took off. "Let's not take unnecessary risks! C'mon, you two!"

A masterful piece of editing, if I do say so myself, LaShiec thought as the vision ended. Alisa looked at him, a mix of shock, sadness, and horror on her face as she had watched the vision.

"They... they left me," she said. "Myau, Lutz, and Tairon... they left me."

"Some friends they turned out to be, eh, Alisa?"

"I TRUSTED THEM!"

Alisa dropped to her knees, pounding the floor of the throne room in frustration. "I trusted the three of them, and they just left me here! Did they think I wasn't able to do it?! Did they not trust me as their leader?! Was this all some sick, twisted joke to them?!" With each question, she pounded the floor, before finally breaking down into sobs.

Ah, the strong. It's so satisfying to see their resolve finally crumble, LaShiec thought with satisfaction as he approached Alisa, putting an arm around her. "And they just left you. How do you feel about that?"

"Terrible! Angry! Who else did those three trick?! Suelo? The Governor? Luveno? Hapsby?"

"Alisa, were they all in on this plan your friends had? They might well have been... after all, the Governor of Motavia..." LaShiec smiled. "He wrote a letter to Lutz to get you to join him... did you read it?"

Alisa gasped- she hadn't read it. "Why? What did it say?" she asked.

"To bring you here, of course." He was offering the bait, and Alisa had taken it.

"Why... he... and Tairon?" Tears started running down her cheeks. "Was he helping Lutz?"

"Oh, no... it's not like that at all." LaShiec laughed a little. "He and Medusa... they were lovers, of sorts."

Normally, her first reaction would have been "What?! Medusa was your minion, wasn't she?!" but the thought of Tairon and Medusa in any sort of romantic laison caused Alisa to say, "That's... that's pretty disgusting. How could they-"

"You don't want to know. They had a lovers' spat, she turned him to stone, and that story about the Laconia axe? Partially true, but... he went with you because he needed a pretty face to make Medusa jealous."

"....."

"I know, Alisa, I know. It's hard when what you knew shatters, is it not?" He smiled cruelly, pleased with the lies he was telling her.

"And Myau?"

"An experimentation of Doctor Mad's. Why he gave him that Alshline bottle, I'll never know, but it was fortunate for Myau that he escaped the good doctor, and led you here."

"LaShiec..."

Using the corner of his cape, LaShiec wiped the tears off of Alisa's face. "Now, Alisa... you've had a rough journey. And you never answered my question before."

"What question?" she asked.

"I made you an offer before- your father, your mother, and Big Brother Nero- remember him? I can bring them back to life. The best job in Algo, eating real food- none of that Perolymate or Ruoginin- but actual honest-to-God food! All the luxuries you'd ever want- a plasma TV? You must but ask. Video games? High-speed, uncensored Matrix access? Say the word. Freedom to travel anywhere in the Algo Star System, without being hounded by the POLEZIs? All the Meseta to buy whatever your heart desires? Exemption from taxes?" He leaned towards Alisa, kneeling before her. "Just tell me, and it is yours."

"But... what did you want in return?" Alisa asked. "I can't quite remember."

"Ah, the other half of the bargain. Alisa, anything you want can be yours. All I ask of you... is the honor of becoming my queen."

Alisa sighed. She was still thinking about her companions betraying her, leaving her to die in LaShiec's castle, while they lived on without her another day. "And if I say no?" she asked, cautiously.

"Well, then, I'll just take you back to Camineet. This whole, messy affair will, as far as I'm concerned, have never happened." Rising to his feet, he snapped his fingers, and a treasure box appeared between the two. It opened, revealing a tiara made of twisted black metal, decorated with several rubies and black diamonds. "This is one of the sacred treasures of the Old Empire, before Lord Weiss's time. It's called the Hell Crown. Whomever made it also made a companion piece called the Snow Crown, but my men and I have never been able to find it. Alisa, I'd be honored if you would wear it."

Unsure, Alisa looked at the crown, then at LaShiec, then back to the crown. Slowly, cautiously, she picked up the crown, running her fingers across the polished black metal. Again, her thoughts turned to her friends, and their abandonment. Then, she looked LaShiec in the eyes, her own eyes blazing with anger.

LaShiec smiled as Alisa set the Hell Crown upon her forehead. Immediately, black lightning started to wrap around her. Collapsing, she reached for LaShiec, screaming, but no sound came from her mouth. As she continued to scream, LaShiec started to walk away, and the world turned black...

-=-=-

"Just like I said before, make yourselves at home, all right?"

An older blonde woman in a multi-stained apron smiled at the two men and their cat, who were slumped all over her living room, each of them with an X-shaped bandage on their forehead. "Rest up all you need, you guys. I've got soda and water in the fridge, and tonight..." She grinned enthusiastically. "We're having stew!"

"Whoooooo," Tairon cheered noncomitally, spinning his index finger in circles.

"Oh, Lutz, I've got that robe of yours at the cleaners on McGann Way," the woman continued. "Not many people on Palma who know how to clean Frade fibers, I'm afraid. Tairon, I've got my hubby and my oldest polishing your gear- that shield's gonna shine like a mirror by the time they're done with it!"

"Thanks, Suelo," Lutz said, resting on the battered couch in Suelo's living room.

"Any time- any friend of Alisa's is welcome here! But... you guys already knew that, you know?" Suelo asked. "Oh, uh, Tairon? I've got Janey mending Myau's blanket. Rainy's taking care of Lutz's laser shield... did I forget anything?"

"Our weapons, actually," Myau said, purring contently on the couch next to Lutz. "We need those, too."

"Ah, right! I'll go get hubby to give 'em a sharpening while they're cleaning your armor off!" Suelo clasped her hands, then gave a quick sniff. "Uh-oh, stew's a-burnin'!" she shouted as she dashed off.

Once Suelo had left, Tairon turned to Lutz and said, "I'm surprised Suelo let us back in here."

"Well, we explained it to her- LaShiec outmatched us. Plain and simple," Myau said before Lutz could reply. "Can't really argue with that."

"I was doing some thinking on the way back to Camineet," Lutz said, after a minute. "There might be something that could help counter LaShiec's magic."

"Oh?" Tairon asked, raising an eyebrow. He sat up on his sofa, then asked Lutz, "What is it?"

"A crystal, of some sort. Master Tajima was telling me about it when he was teaching me... I don't remember anything specific about it, only that he said it could absorb unholy energy. That's what I think was augmenting LaShiec's Gi Tandle."

"Unholy energy?" Myau repeated. "So, where's this crystal, anyway?"

"I don't know. All Master Tajima told me was that an oracle named Damoa might know more of it."

"An oracle... you mean, like a prophet, right, Lutz?" Tairon asked. When he saw Lutz nod, he continued, "Where could we find this Damoa?"

"I'd imagine somewhere LaShiec could keep him easily accessable, like-"

Suddenly, Lutz grasped his head. Gritting his teeth in pain, his eyes forced closed as he took a sharp breath. Tairon and Myau looked at him, concerned, as his pained grimace intensified. Just as soon as the pain started, it left, leaving Lutz shaken.

"Lutz!" "What happened?!"

"I... I... I'm fine, thanks," Lutz explained. "It's just... I thought I heard Alisa screaming."

-=-=-

Just as before, she awakened, faint twinges of pain running up and down her body. With a faint sensation of floating, Alisa felt herself settling down to the center of the throne room's floor. Her vision was blurred as she again shook her head to clear it. In front of her, she could see a figure standing before her.

Someone's there... but who? she thought, as her vision returned to her. Once she could see clearly again, Alisa raised an eyebrow.

She was staring into a mirror, seeing herself looking back. Alisa saw her reflection flicker for a brief second before changing. Now, instead of wearing her usual crystalline mail, Alisa's reflection was wearing a black and red satin dress with black spike heels. She looked at her reflection for another moment, observing her dress's long black gloves, along with the dark red lipstick she now wore.

Alisa held her arm up, noticing that she was dressed identically to her reflection. Taking a last look at the mirror, she adjusted the Hell Crown on her forehead, then tied her hair back into a ponytail, smiling with satisfaction as the auburn waves fell to her back. Her eyes, hooded with slashes of sapphire blue, sparkled with a hint of admiration as she inspected herself in the mirror.

"You look lovely, as always."

Alisa turned to face the source of the voice, then smiled again. "Reipard," she said, her voice warm, as she approached him.

"Yes, Alisa." He embraced her, then told her, "I have something for you."

He held out Alisa's Laconia sword. She accepted it, then drew it from its scabbard, inspecting the new red varnish that covered the blade. "Thank you, Reipard," she said as she sheathed the sword, then fastened it to her dress. "I humbly accept this sword."

LaShiec smiled, then approached his throne. He withdrew his scepter from its hidden compartment, then turned to Alisa. "Now, then, my dear," he said. "It's time we made an announcement to our awaiting public."

-=-=-

Gathered around the kitchen table, Tairon, Lutz, Myau, Suelo, her husband, son, and twin daughters all helped themselves to helpings of stew, while the television in the next room played the evening news.

"It's settled," Tairon said. "Tomorrow, we're heading back to Motavia and having a chat with Tajima. Maybe he might know something about this Damoa guy."

"I'm sure he does," Suelo replied. "If Lutz is right, he knows practically everything."

"I know Mister Lutz is right!" One of the twin sisters, a teenager with pink hair, said. "Mister Lutz knows everything! Oh, I fixed your laser shield! It'll protect you from an-y-thing!" She winked at Lutz.

"God, Rainy, you are such a kiss-ass," her purple-haired sister mumbled under her breath.

"What was that, Janey!?"

"Rainy, Janey, not at the table," Suelo ordered. "Janey, have you mended Myau's blanket yet?"

"Sure have! Found some nice fabric downtown too, so he'll be nice and cool on Motavia, or toasty warm on Dezolis! Oh, you're such a cute Musk Cat, Myau!"

"Who's the true kiss-ass in this family, you or me?" Rainy muttered as Myau sweatdropped.

"Oh, Tairon," Suelo's husband said. "Cutruss and I fixed your armor up, but your shield's gonna need a little more work. Don't worry, we're gonna get it buffed up to a mirror shine for you!"

"Thanks, Arturo," Tairon replied, taking a bite of stew. "Suelo, this is really good."

"As always!" Myau added. "I love fish stew!"

"So did Alisa's brother," Suelo said, her voice hiding a bit of sadness. "She never did, but Nero would always come around, once a week like clockwork, asking for some fish stew."

"Maybe he got tired of eating at the spaceport kiosks," Cutruss guessed, looking down at his own stew.

"Or maybe he just enjoys some home-cooking," Suelo said. "Oh, Rainy, could you pick up Lutz's robe after dinner?"

"Sure thing! Anything to help Mister Lutz and keep him safe!" Again, she winked at Lutz, who sweatdropped nervously.

"Err... thanks, Rainy. How much do I owe you-"

"Oh, no, Mister Lutz!" Rainy leaned towards Lutz, her pink hair falling to frame her face. "There's no charge at all. Your Rainy's got it covered, hehe."

Since when did I have a Rainy? Lutz thought as Janey pulled her sister back into her chair. "Please, I insist. You've done so much for us, you and your whole family-"

"Lutz, it's all right," Janey told him. "You all are doing your best to help us, so it's only fair we should help you out however we can."

"Thanks... thanks, all of you," Tairon said. "Where would we be without your help?"

"Decomposing quietly in some mass grave on Dezolis! ^_^" Cutruss replied. His sisters bashed him in the head with massive hammers, then sat back at their respective place settings.

"That was a little uncalled for, you two," Arturo said.

"He asked for it, Daddy! He thought Mister Lutz can't take on LaShiec!"

"I've got nothing," Janey said. "Just that- hmm?" She turned towards the TV, raising an eyebrow. "Dad, turn this up, please!"

Arturo adjusted the TV's volume, looking at the insignia on the screen. "Hrrm, a special report. Probably LaShiec raising our taxes. Again."

"You know what? If I knew how to use magic, and could get my hands on some armor and a bigger hammer, I'd help Mister Lutz fight LaShiec! Sooner or later, he's gonna start taxing backyard inventors like me!" Rainy protested.

"Sssh!"

From the television, an announcer said, "Good evening. This is a special report for the sixteenth of Six-month, After War 342. We go now to Lord King Reipard LaShiec's palace at Baya Mahlay, where he has a special declaration for the people of Algo."

"Definitely raising our taxes," Janey said. "God, I wish somebody would just grab a rifle, sit on that hill when he makes an announcement, and blam!" She slapped her hands together. "Blast his head into red gelatin! Get someone competent on the throne!"

"Sssh!"

On the television, LaShiec stood on a balcony, acknowledging the crowds beneath him. "Citizens of Algo!" he called, ignoring the POLEZIs restraining the crowd beneath him. "I have an important declaration to make! Today and tomorrow, there is to be a special celebration, for I, Lord King Reipard LaShiec, have found a queen!"

"Jesus H.," Cutruss said. "Wonder who the lucky lady he bought into bed is?"

"What part of 'Sssh!' do we have problems understanding!?" Arturo said.

LaShiec raised his hands, and a brown-haired woman in a black dress emerged from the castle, standing alongside LaShiec. As she wrapped her arm around his side, LaShiec put his arm around her shoulder.

"I give you the Lady Queen of Algo, Alisa LaShiec!"

"'Alisa LaShiec!?'" Suelo shouted, just as the visicam operator zoomed in on LaShiec's queen. The queen looked down at the people, her nose held slightly in the air.

Arturo, Suelo, Cutruss, Rainy, Janey, Lutz, Tairon, and Myau all sat, staring slack-jawed at the television, sweatdropping as LaShiec pronounced, "From this day forward, Alisa is my queen! Together, she and I will continue to guide Algo!"

"Alisa married LaShiec?!" Suelo said, unable to believe what she had just seen and heard. "She told me she was leaving Camineet to kill him!"

"What did LaShiec do to her!?" Cutruss demanded.

"I... I don't know," Lutz said. "I can only imagine it was something terrible."

Tairon and Arturo had to turn away from the television as LaShiec and Alisa kissed. "Tomorrow, we're going to Motavia. Lutz, Myau, we're gonna find Damoa. We're gonna get that crystal from him. We're going to get back to LaShiec. And we're going to take him apart... in alphabetical order."

LaShiec and Alisa pulled away, and she mouthed "I love you" to LaShiec. Suelo and her family could only watch the telecast, wondering just what had happened to the determined young woman who desired nothing more but to kill LaShiec.

End of Part One

Myau, Tairon and Lutz set forth in search of Damoa and his enchanted crystal, while LaShiec, with his new queen Alisa, seeks to tighten his grip on Algo! Where could Damoa be? What of his miraculous crystal? Will the three be successful in defeating LaShiec? Or will LaShiec and Alisa sit forever on the twin thrones of Algo?

Last edited by Snorb on Sun Mar 15, '09, 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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