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Shattered World
by Orakio of the Domes

Author's Note: The selected events portrayed here have been written in the style of Mike Ripplinger's novella, The Adventures of Rhys. Whenever a quote is taken directly from the game itself, it will be in bold.

Ayn's hand was gripped on the cool, textured cave wall, a dim saffron in color. His eyes widened, and he stooped down to one knee, regarding the sight before him. Spread out across the innermost cavern of this maze of tunnels in western Aridia, the remaining survivors of Cille and Shushoran dwelt.

It was a pitiful sight. There were only a handful of people, all bruised and battered from the flight from their home. Mieu looked worriedly at Ayn, and bit her lip. Even Wren seemed disheartened by the morbid scene. The ponytailed Layan prince took in a quick breath, and he lurched forth. Up until then, nobody had even noticed the trio of companions, who had journeyed all the way from Aquatica in search of family and friends. The sudden footsteps echoed in the large cavern, and many of the exiles jumped, fearful of another cyborg attack.

Seeing that it was quite the opposite, they relaxed visibly. Towards the back of the room, Ayn could make out several unmoving shapes, standing quietly by themselves. They didn't acknowledge his coming. As Ayn walked forth, a young boy ran to his side. He had short black hair, and large innocent eyes. But they were innocent no longer. The boy's left arm had a brutal, ugly gash in it. No blood flowed from it before, but red stains were apparent all throughout his clothing.

Ayn recognized him to be Delan, the son of one of the royal family's close friends. He took a moment to bend down and examine him. "Delan," he asked, very shaken up. "A-Are you alright?" It was, of course, a very foolish question. He was not alright. But Ayn's nerves were positively frayed.

Delan seemed to think for a moment, for a good answer. Then, he responded in an uncertain voice, "I think so. Most of the hurt's gone now, and mama told me that I'll be alright." His eyes took a more serious look. "Prince Ayn, we're all that's left of Cille and Shushoran. Can you please hurry and find Satellite?" It was a request. Ayn didn't know what to say. He was older, and had to be reassuring, calmer, with a brighter outlook on things.

The picture was indeed bleak, but Ayn sighed and said, "I'll do my best, Delan." He stood up straight again, and walked further in.

"Good luck, Prince Ayn."

Mieu and Wren followed their new master, and arrived to see him talking to one of the remaining nobles, a yellow-clothed woman. "We did all we could to defend our territory," she was saying. "But we just didn't have the manpower." Ayn nodded grimly. The woman spoke in a more hushed tone, and muttered, "Lyle's in bad shape. He may not live very long."

Mieu's expression got even glummer. "This is grave news. If even he could not do anything to prevent these cyborgs from wreaking havoc, who knows what could?" She scanned the room for a moment, and then asked the noble, concern in her voice, "Where's Thea?" The woman looked up. She might have been quite dazzling, except for the scar that ran above her eyebrows and the sweat-soaked robe she wore.

"Why don't you go ask Lyle yourself?" It certainly did not sound like pleasant tidings.

Ayn went around behind the noble, steering towards the three unmoving figures he had first seen upon entering the cavern. Two soldiers remained at their side. One of the bowed deeply at the prince's appearance and said, "We had no choice but to run for our lives." He sounded almost ashamed.

"I understand, Drego," Ayn said levelly. "It is surely better than the other alternative!" He opened his mouth to say more, but was interrupted by a deep, resounding voice.

"Ah, at last, Ayn, you have come." A figure hobbled towards him from even further back, and soon, the crumpled man that once was Lyle, proud king of Shushoran, was revealed. His green hair was in a wild tangle, and it was obvious that he had not escaped injury himself. He smelled just awful, and the gaping hole of his right eye socket twisted him into a monster of legends in the dim, eerie lighting. "Look at us. Just look at us!" His voice was surprisingly strong for the condition his body was. "Driven into exile, our land usurped by renegade cyborgs...was this the fate that I had always doomed to suffer?"

Ayn said nothing. "We are the last remnants of a great royal family, descended down from those who once were in the favors of Laya herself! How was it that we were defeated so quickly, so mercilessly?" Lyle sagged a bit, and collapsed down to the ground. Ayn rushed to his side, fearing the worst, but the green-haired Layan was not dead. He was, however, crying.

"Why, Ayn?" he croaked. "Why? We hadn't waged war upon Orakians. But they sent their vilest combat warriors to destroy our kingdom! And...and take Thea from me..." He broke up into wheezing sobs, wheezing wretched sobs of a pain so deep, and incomprehensible.

Lyle got back up, supporting himself with his feeble arms. "I suppose I should leave off my womanish weeping," he said, voice hollow. "My time left in this world will be short. There is one last thing I have to say to you Ayn."

Mieu and Wren payed more close attention, and heard him say, "You must rescue my daughter Thea for me. She has been taken east by our cruel, cruel enemies. I..." He paused, and blinked a few times. Mieu attributed it to mild brain damage. "...I have the key to the eastern world." Mieu gasped. This eastern world Lyle was talking about was surely Draconia. During the Great Devastation War, the passageways were sealed, and to reopen each one required a different gem, intricately crafted by the finest artisans. Could Lyle's family have passed down one of these gems generation after generation?

Lyle fumbled in his cloak for a moment, and produced a sparkling, emerald gem, in the shape of a tear. "This," he said, hand and voice trembling. "is the Dragon's Tear. I entrust this in your care Ayn. It will unlock the cave to the east, and allow you to locate Thea." He sniffed a few times, and said, "Be strong, Ayn. I will watch over you always." After Ayn had placed his hand on the gem, Lyle withdrew into the shadows once again, not wishing to speak anymore. Inside, Mieu sighed.

Ayn was still silent. Although the turn of events had affected him deeply, he wanted to be strong, to be confident, in this desperate hour. King Rhys and Queen Maia appeared to his left, and Ayn at last managed to stutter out, "Mother...father..."

Rhys had several visible wounds, also, but nothing as serious as Lyle. Maia's gown was caked in dirt and mud, but she, too, seemed to have avoided most terrors. "You have done well, my son," Rhys began. "I do not forsake you for not being there in Cille and Shushoran's final hours. Even if you were, it would have meant little." Mieu saw Ayn's eyes well up with emotion. "Let us be glad for what we have. Do not forget, however, that we would be forever grateful, if you found Satellite. It is, though, a multi-faceted journey."

"What do you mean, Father?" asked the prince. "We do not even know where to begin looking, but how did you come across information of the journey ahead?"

Rhys stared long and hard at Mieu and Wren. Fifteen years earlier, they had been his companions on a grand and dangerous adventure. They were for his son, now, though. "I have learned much from many people, Ayn. We have heard of something called the Power Topaz, which supposedly is the key to Satellite. However, it is rumored to be in the possession of Lena's daughter, who rules Landen." Ayn saw where this was going. "The only possible route to Landen now, is through a cave north of here. And to open that cave requires the Twins' Ruby, which Lyle's daughter has." Rhys placed a large, calloused hand on his son's wrist. "Ayn, please help my friend -- rescue Thea! Not only for the well-being of our kingdom, but for Lyle's sake as well."

Maia had been quiet the entire time, but now, she spoke as well. "You are our last hope." she said, eyes watery. "Be brave, Ayn. Be brave, and restore our countries to their former glory." She pursed her lips.


"You must go now. Mieu and Wren shall accompany you. You are our trailblazer, the one who will lead us to victory. I have faith in you, son. I love you." Maia swallowed, and a tear trickled down her cheek. She leaned forward and kissed Ayn on the forehead, then turned away.

Finally, Ayn spoke, to no one in particular. "Alright. If this is my destiny, I will fulfill it. Cille and Shushoran will prevail." He planted his sword in the cave floor, and bowed his head.

"Good luck, Ayn." said Rhys, not without emotion himself.

"Thank you, father." With that, the prince paced slowly away, two cyborgs at his side. He tried to block out the visions of horror all around the cavern, but it was too much. This shattered world, this lost peace...he would have to redeem all soon.

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