Chapter 84: Feelings of Helplessness
Lucca's breath came in and out in ragged gasps as she slowed down, trying to
think of where to go next. She'd realized that Adom would have led her
husband, her daughter, and her alternate (What an unexpected group, she
thought.) underground, into the warren of stone and earth tunnels that lay
under the Red Omen, weaving in and around like the last work of some great
spider. However, her problem wasn't that she was lost in those tunnels,
though she had no doubt she'd be so when the time came. And she wasn't
tired, even after all of the fighting that had just gone on, due to her
implants. No, her problem was much more mundane.
She'd encountered a locked door.
Normally, she'd just break the damned door down, but in the Red Omen, she
didn't stand a chance of success at such a tactic. So, she was busy running
through her mental map of the Red Omen, trying to remember any alternate
routes into the tunnels. Because if she didn't find them, they would be in
big trouble, and never see it coming. Hoping she was right, she turned and
ran to her left, turning around a corner almost instantly, hoping she was
right. Hoping she could find them. Hoping she wouldn't run out of time.
18:23, she counted silently. 18:22... 18:21...
Same Time Period
There was silence in the cave, so quiet you could almost hear the crackle of
the energy field which acted as a third wall, also providing some small
amount of light. What necessary light it didn't give off was easily replaced
by the nearly blinding light of the Frogmasamune, which Christina was
holding back with all her strength. The sword was apparently so hateful
toward this new threat that it was willing to charge into battle, with or
without her, and it was only the fact that nobody understood the nature of
their enemy, for the most part, that they didn't all do the same.
Personally, Christina felt she probably knew all she needed to: a demon with
some amount of intelligence had possessed Parsa, and the sword hated it, far
more than it had reacted to any of the more animalistic demons. That, and
the fact that despite the two separate light sources there was no trace of a
shadow coming from the deposed queen of the Kingdom told Christina that this
was a creature that needed killing pretty quickly. Or it might kill them.
"Why?" The word was like a hammer to glass, shattering the delicate silence
that had frozen everyone in place. The three Travelers looked to see it was
Adom talking, his expression more than a little upset. He looked betrayed,
and suddenly much older. He still looked muscular, but he also looked...
skeletal? As if he was the dead walking. Which is pretty much what he is,
Christina mused. Summoning the demon had apparently taken a lot out of him.
Which meant that he was vulnerable, and probably wouldn't be of much help to
the possessed woman.
"Why," he repeated, apparently having no intention of trying to help her.
"You promised me... I served you for so long... And you betrayed me. I can't
All of her muscles remained rigid, keeping her in the same odd crouch, as
her head turned with unnatural grace, until the eyes focused on Adom.
"Fool," the voice that was almost, but not quite, Parsa's replied in a
contemptuous hiss. "You've served your purpose. You should be proud that
you've managed to return me to your universe again. After you failed me last
time, it's a wonder that I didn't kill you on the spot as soon as I found
you alive again. You're fortunate that I'm so... merciful."
Adom shook his head slowly, as if he couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"But... You said that I'd have immortality. You said that together we'd
bring down civilizations, destroy planets." He suddenly pointed towards
Christina. "And that she'd pay for what she did to me."
Parsa, or Gaston, didn't turn to look at whom Adom was pointing at. She, or
he, or whatever it was knew. "You truly are a fool, aren't you? Can't you
see it in her eyes? Gashnir," it exclaimed. The curse, though muttered
softly, caused everyone's hearts to skip a beat. The curse had been said
with the creature's natural (if natural it could be called) voice, a thing
of horror and darkness. It continued, "She doesn't know who you are. As far
as she can tell, you're just another Hellbound, and one who's drained of his
power, at that."
Surprised, Adom glanced over at Christina, quickly examining her expression.
She tried to betray nothing, but something in her eyes, or the set of her
mouth, or even the way she stood, made Adom's eyes fill with understanding.
"Hell," he whispered, which elicited a snarling hiss from Gaston, which Adom
ignored as he continued, "You're right. You mean, that's not her?"
"Of course it's her, you idiot! She just doesn't know that yet." The smile
widened. "Maybe she won't live to find out."
A look of relief swept over Adom's face, and he took a deep breath. "So...
She can't kill me," he muttered, amazed.
"No," Gaston agreed, "She can't."
It was over before any of them could react. Gaston's eyes narrowed, like a
predator stalking prey, and suddenly Parsa's legs tensed and launched the
body, which had been still as rock but a moment ago, towards the Hellbound
at blinding speed. Before Adom had a chance even to react, Parsa's left arm
shot forward, a blur, and punched into Adom's chest, accompanied by the
sickening crunch of snapping bones where his rib cage caved in. Its arm
stayed in place for a moment, embedded in his chest, as if it were the only
thing holding him up. It waited until the life left his dark eyes, and then
withdrew. Smiling darkly, it turned to the Travelers. "Your turn."
There was an explosion of light, slamming against the walls of the cave like
a tsunami. However, it didn't come from the creature before them, but the
Frogmasamune. Christina jumped back, releasing the hilt of the sword, but it
didn't move from its place in the air, as if an invisible swordsman was
still wielding it, pointing towards the inhuman creature. Gaston simply
narrowed its eyes, and if its skin reddened slightly from the light, nobody
else noticed. They were all looking at the sword, and at the five figures
slowly forming before them, with varying degrees of recognition. First,
standing to the left of the hovering blade, appeared two figures, almost
identical save for the colors of the collars of their white robes. Their
skin was golden-bronze, their ears and faces pointed, their ears wide and
unflinching. On the opposite side of the sword, two more figures appeared,
much the same as the first two, save that the robes of these two were
primarily red, and their eyes were hard with trouble and anger. Finally,
appearing with his hand already curled about the hilt of the sword, as if he
had always been wielding it, and indeed it was almost true, appeared Frog,
looking as fresh as he had just minutes before he'd died. Together, they
Creature of darkness, they accused. You do not belong in this world!
Gaston nodded slightly. "True. Then again, nor do you, Glenn." If the spirit
of the dead knight was surprised at Gaston's knowledge of his name, he
didn't show it. Gaston continued, "Do you honestly think that five mortals
can take me on, ethereal or not?"
You are outnumbered, they responded, their tone one of righteous anger. And
together we're so much more effective than any of us could be apart.
Gaston's smile darkened, as did its eyes. "Is that so? Then I'll just have
to separate you."
Suddenly, the sword flew forward, driven on by the will of the five who were
bonded to it. And it didn't stop when it slammed into and through the
stomach of the possessed woman. It instead continued on, carrying her with
it, like a ragged doll, until it finally embedded itself in the stone across
the tunnel, Gaston pinned to the wall like an insect, its head slumped
downward. Slowly, shuddering, Gaston's left hand reached up and grabbed the
hilt. Silently, without a grunt of pain or effort, it began to pull at the
sword. At first, the sword remained stubbornly lodged where it was. Then,
slowly, the sword began to come out, inch by inch, until it came out of the
wall, and Gaston fell to its own feet. Without looking up, Gaston continued
pulling, until the sword came out, blood-soaked. Suddenly the head raised,
smiling. No trace of pain or fear showed in the dark eyes, and it began to
quietly chuckle. "Is that all you've got," the undead creature asked.
The three Travelers and five beings stared with varying degrees of
incredulity. Even as Gaston quietly laughed, the death-wound (no doubt about
it, that had to have been a death-wound) let blood flow freely down the once
beautiful dress. If it bothered the creature at all, there was no evidence.
In fact, it seemed to be enjoying their expressions of disbelief.
"I see," it hissed. "In that case, would you like to see what I can do?" And
with that it calmly raised the sword, which was glowing in a futile attempt
to escape the powerful grasp. Suddenly the glow of the sword vanished,
leaving it, for lack of a better word, dead. At once, Frog, the two Masas,
and the two Munes screamed in pain, and several of them fell to their knees.
Gaston began to chant something quietly, then, as it muttered the last
syllable, the sword shimmered, as if seen through heat waves. Instantly,
Masa and Mune, the ones in red, vanished, as if they had never been there.
"I've sent them back in time, where they can do the most damage," Gaston
calmly informed them all. "They're really rather angry. I estimate that
anger will express itself in other, less pleasant ways. Now, for you two,"
it announced, directing its gaze towards the remaining Masa and Mune. It
again repeated the last word in its chant, and Masa and Mune cried out in
pain. They seemed to freeze in place, and suddenly the light that surrounded
them shattered, like glass struck by a hammer.
They looked at each other in horror. "Masa," Mune whispered, as if unable to
believe it, "I... I can't feel you any more." He fell to his knees. "I'm...
Masa was shivering visibly. "It's worse than that, little bro. We've lost
our mental link... and our physical one. We can't form the sword anymore.
Also, we'll start to age again. We're... mortal..."
As the two brothers tried to comfort each other, Frog stepped forward, still
glowing with the purest light. "Thou fiend," accused, and his voice was no
longer part of the communal voice it had been a minute ago. "Thou hast taken
their lives, as surely as if thou had killed them thyself. Such a thing is
Gaston stared coolly back at the spirit of the knight. "So sue me. It's not
my fault that they're weak. That they can't survive alone. Besides, drawing
on weaknesses is what I do best. I know everything about all of you, even
you, knight. Including the reason why you didn't choose to die." Its smile
widened slightly. "You couldn't let your friends die. You wanted to defend
them. And who am I to deny such a wish? Frog, from this day forward you will
still live in this sword, but any power you have will be sealed, including
any powers of communication you have." Its eyes narrowed. "You will watch
your friends live, fight, and die for all eternity, while you do nothing but
sit back and watch, unliving, undying, existing in a limbo of endless
battle, until you fail, and one you love dies by your own blade. Only in
failure shall you be free. Welcome home, Frog. You'll be here forever."
And Gaston released the sword. It floated in midair for only a moment,
before shooting forward with the speed of a bullet. Frog made no attempt to
dodge, even as the Travelers tried to do... something, anything that could
help. The point of the sword slammed hilt-deep into the glowing figure, but
there was no blood, only a deep sadness in Frog's eyes, as he whispered,
"The next time we meet demon, you will be destroyed. On my honor as a
And with that he vanished, taking the white light with him. The sword
clattered loudly to the ground, cold and lightless and dead. It was no
longer green, but in the light of the force-field, they could see it was
black, the black of mourning. The only sound for a long moment was the
sobbing of Mune as Masa stared at Gaston with hatred in his wide eyes. But
nobody said anything. It was a moment of silence, for the passing of a
friend and an ally.
"You bastard," Lucca suddenly screamed, and everyone, even Gaston, turned to
watch her. Flames roared into life around her, pushing back Christina and
Janus, but the tears that slid down her face didn't evaporate in the intense
heat. With a roar of rage, she aimed her palm at him. Everyone but her was
nearly knocked off of their feet as the explosion engulfed the possessed
woman. Lucca screamed even as the fire took on a new form, a pillar that
swirled around itself constantly, centered completely on the form that was
inside it, but barely visible.
And it stopped. Suddenly, as if they had never existed in the first place.
Smoke rose from Gaston as it smiled coldly, its clothes blackened and hair
singed, but otherwise unharmed. Lucca stared at it for a moment, before she
reached over to her holster, ripped out the pistol, and fired as quickly as
she could. She had just reloaded, so she had a full clip. The body jerked as
each of the sixteen bullets hit home, in the chest or neck, but the cruel
smile never wavered, and the cold eyes never flinched. Lucca fired until she
heard a loud click, signifying a need for reload, but even then she just
kept firing and firing, hoping that after just one more pull of the trigger
it would fall. Yelling in disgust, she threw the pistol aside, and it
clattered loudly as it slid across the floor. Ignoring Janus' and
Christina's attempts to stop her, she charged forward at full speed, her
fury giving her impossible strength, and she jumped to tackle the unnatural
There was an audible impact as Gaston's hand flew out, seemingly from
nowhere, the heel ramming into Lucca's unprotected throat with the force of
a falling house, and Lucca stood still for a moment, as if the hand was all
that held her up. Then Gaston's other hand came up and backhanded her,
throwing her back, until she landed on the cold stone floor with an audible
thud. For a moment, no one moved, and then Janus virtually flew toward her
as he heard the telltale signs of choking. Her windpipe must have been
crushed, he thought, near panic. She's going to die too, unless...
He knelt down beside her and placed his hands on her throat. He'd never
healed anyone before, but theoretically anyone with magic and the
inclination could do it. But this was real life. Let's hope it's more than
theory, he thought as he tried to gather the magic together. As he did so,
he felt more than heard Christina, Masa, and Mune gathering together between
him and the monster. There was a familiar sound as the dead sword, no doubt
now called simply Frog, was lifted from the floor. But he couldn't
concentrate on that right now. He couldn't think about the lack of magic he
was able to draw on. He couldn't think about the distraction of the intense
pain in his broken arm. He could only think about Lucca, lying there, dying
even as he was trying to save her. If she dies, he thought, I'll bring the
whole Red Omen down on Gaston's head.
Little did he know that he was pretty close to the truth.
"If you find it in your heart to care for somebody else,
you will have succeeded."
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