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Chapter Thirty-Three

" This storm is horrendous," Rune grumbled from inside the Ice Digger. He reclined against one of the white cushioned seats. The wind about the mansion was thick and full of vengeful snow. It made it nearly impossible to see. Wren frown ed as he attempted to maneuver through the blazing snow.

" This is worse than it had been we fought the Garubek Tower," Rika gasped as she peered out the foggy windows to look at the smooth snow. Daystar looked out the window, silent and brooding. Her eyes shimmered, as if she were upon the v erge of tears.

" Daystar?" Kyra asked. " Are you allright?"

" I.. ... yes. I'm... allright," Daystar whispered, closing her eyes to fend off the flow of emotion. She cleared her throat and wiped her eyes. " I get this feeling that we ought to be counting our blessings," she mumbled.

" Why, Daystar?" Kyra asked as she glanced over.

" I cannot explain it but... I feel as though this snow has delayed something that would have been disasterous," she said, shrugging. She bowed her head. " Though I seriously doubt it stall very much what is to come," she whispered. Wren glanced back.

" Visuals show the silouette of the Mansion within a hundred yards. We shall arrive shortly," he said.

" Thank goodness," Rune sighed as he gently rubbed his forehead, all the while snaking an arm around Dazzle's waist. Dazzle glanced at him.

" Do you think Raja, Yakkara, B'jak, and Tundra will be allright? When we left, Tundra was still so badly hurt... plus Yakkara and Raja are just lunatics," she said. Her eyes widened as she felt Rune give her a playful squeeze around her waist. She whirled and grabbed his nose, then began to yank.

" OW OW OWWWWW!" Rune whined. " LEGGO A MY NOSE!"

" Say Uncle!" Dazzle said, grinning evilly.

" NEVAAAH!" Rune shouted, trying hard not to laugh. Daystar glanced at the two, then sighed. She brought up her knees and tucked her arms around them. She noticed the others staring at her, so she quickly wiped her eyes and coughed.

" My thoughts are to Strider," Daystar sighed. " He has the difficult task of somehow sneaking back to the Catacombs, gather the troops, and then meet us upon the battle field. I pray for his swiftness and safety,"

" I also hope for Chaz and Hahn...," Rika said as she looked out the window. Dazzle glanced at Rika, then sighed and released Rune's nose, who then rubbed his nose to releave the soreness.

" They are allright," Daystar said, glancing at Rika. " I 'scanned' Rykros for their mind waves. They are leaving now. However.... they are... one short,"

" O-one short!?" Rika yelped.

".... Farsight didn't make it," Daystar said. She shook her head and leaned against the chair, again. Rune watched as the Mansion appeared, solemn and quiet, in the snow. He crossed his arms and shook his head. He had this feeling...

Something was wrong...

----------------------

" Hahn! I see it! I see the mansion!" Chaz cried as he attempted to maneuver THE BLACK ROSE through the blinding snow. Hahn smiled weaky from his chair as he placed his hand over his bleeding side.

" T-That's good...," he whispered.

" You don't look too good, Hahn...," Chaz said as he glanced back at his friend. " You're bleeding still...?" Chaz asked, surprised, as he noticed the puddle of blood about Hahn. The blood oozed constantly from his wound, no matter how many bandages they placed upon it. His pants leg was completely red and his head swam. Hahn sighed but didn't make a reply. Chaz shook his head, then peered again through the blinding snow. His face lit up upon seeing the Ice Digger parked outside the Mansion. " They must have already arrived!"

----------------------

Fenrir glared at the horizon, his face grim.

" They've arrived," he rumbled, his black fur glistening in the light.

" So it would seem," King Bahumat said, his arms crossed. In the horizon, a massive gray and blue 'mass' could be seen. That mass was the Dezorian Ancient Esper army. It had grown to ludicrious size. It was atleast three times it's original size, and three times as angry.

" We're not going to win, are we, sir?" Nan whispered as she peered up at the two.

" Nan, go back to the hospital.... don't... bother yourself with this," King Bahumat commanded.

" But sire...," Nan protested.

" That is a direct order," King Bahumat barked. Nan winced.

" Yessir," she whispered. She turned on her heel and ran to the 'hospital'. Fenrir sighed heavily and glanced at his king. Then, he glanced back towards the advancing army. He also shared Nan's doubts of victory. The army was too large. ....

Suddenly, a massive battle cry arose from the mass that was the Dezorian Ancient Esper army.

With a resounding cheer......

The attack began.

-------------------------

Rika pased back and forth, nervously, as she glanced out the windows she paced with longing.

" SIT DOWN!" Dazzle snapped. " You're making us NERVOUS! This is just so not like you, Rika. Where is your smile?"

" I can't HELP it, Dazzle.... I'm worried... Chaz isn't back yet...," Rika said. She glanced out another window. " He might have gotten hurt...,"

" Shorty can take care of himself," Rune commented. " He'll be back soon enough," Suddenly, the door opened with a snap as two snow covered figures leaped in.

" Chaz!" Rika gasped as she ran over to the two figures. Chaz closed the door, then turned and grinned at Rika.

" Rika! You miss me?" he asked as he embraced her. Rika grinned and hugged back, tightly. Hahn smiled, weakly.

" Hahn.....," Daystar whispered. " You bleed," Hahn looked down at his shirt. The blood was clearly evident upon his clothing. Even the snow was stained red.

" I... know...," he whispered. Rune approached, his eyebrows furrowed.

" I'll get the Medical staff on it," he said, concerned. He snapped his fingers and three Espers dressed in white approached.

" N-No, I'm allright...," Hahn protested.

" You lie," Daystar replied, quietly. Hahn looked at her, blinking, then sighed and allowed himself to be guided away from the group. Dazzle watched as Hahn was taken away. She then turned to Chaz.

" How did that happen?" she asked.

" It... doesn't matter," Chaz mumbled. Dazzle was about to open her mouth when a resounding roar issued forth. The entire building shook, as if a thousand voices were together to form one giant roar. Daystar grabbed a hold of the wall, her eyes opened wide. Chaz gasped as Rika fell in to his arms, thus causing him to topple over as well. Kyra squeaked and fell face forward while Wren stood tall, staring at the others. Which wasn't too surprising, considering he was a huge android who most likely weighed more than all of them together. Dazzle yelped as she lost footing and fell in to Rune's arms, who smirked down at her. Dazzle scowled and punched him in the face.

" Pervert!" she snapped.

" Oh Lifespark...," Daystar whimpered. " It's him...,"

" What? Who?" Chaz asked, surprised. Daystar's eyes shimmered with emotion.

" My... ... father....," she whispered.

" ALLRIGHT ESPERS!" a loud voice thundered. Chaz felt his stomach recoil in recognition. The others stared in surprise and confusion while Daystar clasped her head in her claws. " YOUR TIME HAS COME!"

" Who, by the telepathy ball....," Rune grumbled as he peered out a window to the mansion. His eyes opened wide in shock. " HOT SHORTCAKES! THAT'S THE BIGGEST DRAGON I'VE EVER SEEN!" Rune gasped. The others rushed to the window. Except for Daystar. She remained behind the others, holding her head. Standing outside of the mansion, amid the snowy wind, was King Levit. He was clad in silver and blue armor, his eyes narrowed evilly. On his right arm was a golden shield, glittering. In his left claw was a massive axe. Levit's scales glittered as the snow whisped about it. Levit reared back.

" PREPARE FOR THE FIGHT OF YOUR VERY SHORT LIVES, ESPER VERMIN!" Levit bellowed.

" Is he nuts?! We can't fight in this storm!" Chaz whispered.

" He has the Shield of Palma...," Daystar whispered, her voice choked. " He will get rid of the storm,"

" What? The shield of... Palma?" Rune asked, blinking. Levit sneered and held his shield up high.

" SHIELD OF PALMA! HERE ME! BANISH THIS STORM!" he shrieked. He shouted out a word in Ancient Esper and the shield flared, a spark of fire leaping upwards. Suddenly, a massive blast of fire leaped upwards, then flared outwards. Within moments, the snow melted to dripping water, then evaporated. The shield sizzled, along with the ground, as the snowstorm ceased to exist. However, the sight to greet them was not a pleasant one. Behind Levit stood an army so large that they could not see the end of it. The group gasped in horror.

" D-Daystar.... is that your father...?" Kyra whispered. There was no response. Kyra blinked and turned around. " Daystar..?" she asked. The royal dracling was missing.

" Daystar! NO!" Dazzle cried. Standing outside the mansion, face to face with Levit, was Daystar. Her eyes narrowed angrily.

" Father!" Daystar snarled. " I will ask you again to cease this madness! It is not too late!!"

" Ah, but it is," Levit said, his smile widening. " For all the Espers, it is too late," he laughed.

" FATHER-!" Daystar cried.

" ENOUGH!" Levit snarled. " If you do not step aside, I will be forced to move you," he said as he pointed is axe at Daystar. Daystar reared back, her eyes widening. Her eyes shimmered. Then, she gritted her teeth and narrowed her eyes.

A tear appeared in the corner of her eyes.

" I will not, Father," she growled. " I will not move,"

" Have it your way," Levit snapped. " ATTACK!!!" he bellowed, signalling the troops. The army roared cruelly and charged the Mansion, weapons glittering in the sun. Daystar narrowed her eyes even more as fireblasts landed about her, barely missing.

" I..... can't fight my father....," she whispered. "... but I can't let him continue this.... this is wrong... ... even if he IS my father...," she shook her head and uttered a cat-like snarl as she leaped.

" NAFOI!" Rune cried as he shot the flame attack at the nearest Ancient Esper soldier. Dazzle hurled her slashers at the soldiers, her face stern. Wren fired his guns as rapidly as he could, aiming for knees and arms. Chaz and Rika clawed and slashed viciously, even though they knew that the odds were nigh impossible for their victory. Kyra and the other Espers retaliated with all the spells they knew. Regardless, the battle was still totally one-sided.

And it goes without saying which side was winning.

With a snarl, Daystar leaped over soldiers, who ignored her. She knew they would. It was not their place to harm her. She was their princess. However, that did not stop them from attacking her friends.

She would not tolerate that any longer.

Daystar landed on the ground, glancing around. A loud snarl issued as Levit stepped in to her view, swinging his axe at her head. Daystar leaped backwards, yelping in surprise. She crouched, her eyes blurred and staring at Levit.

He had attacked her....

" Father....," Daystar whimpered. " I don't want to... do this!"

" You haven't a choice, Daystar," Levit snapped. " You haven't a choice,"

" But I-," Daystar cried.

" Save your excuses!" Levit thundered as he raised his axe. " Do you think I wouldn't know?! Did you seriously expect to hide your crime from me!?"

" M-my crime...?" Daystar asked, her eyes wide.

" You MURDERED my son....," Levit hissed. Daystar gasped in shock and leaped back.

" I... It wasn't murder!!!" Daystar cried. " I had to stop my brother from-,"

" SILENCE!" Levit snapped. " You do not deserve to claim relationship to my son! You do not deserve to lay claim to being my daughter!"

" Father...," Daystar whispered, tears pouring down her eyes. " I love my brother, and I love you.... can't you see that?!"

" LOVE?! BAH! You know nothing of love!" Levit sneered. " You slayed him out of love? NAY! It was jealousy! JEALOUSY because he was my favorite child! You wanted him dead so that you would no longer have him to compete with for my love! "

" NO, FATHER!!! THAT'S NOT TRUE!" Daystar sobbed. " I love my brother, regardless of what he's done! I just had to stop him! I HAD TO!"

" Enough of your lies," Levit hissed. " YOU DIE NOW!" he shouted as he lunged. Daystar looked up at him, tears in her eyes.

" FATHER! STOP IT!!!!" she shrieked as she brought up her hands and closed her eyes.

-------------------------

" They have all four, sire," a ghost voice whispered, faintly. Three sleek, gray and blue robed creatures slinked forward. Their faces were hidden from view, if they had faces at all. Instead, a hood covered their entire head, only a sm all slit within it for the eyes, which glowed pale red. The trio's evil presence suited their surroundings. The room was almost entirely covered in darkness, though what could be seen could be identified as cold slabs of lifeless rock, so cold even weeds would not grow. The walls were equally cold stone, though it appeared to have taken the form of living flesh, infected with disease. At the far end of the room, opposite the trio, was a single throne. It was gold, though obviously aged. The seat itself was worn red velvet, it's colored to a sickly blood color. Within the throne, reclining, was a shadowed figure. Even when sitting, the figure's aura by far was more powerful, more dark.

" Are you certain," a gruff voice asked, harshly. It came from the shadow. As the voice spoke, red eyes flashed violently and pierced the darkness.

" We would not report false information," the middle of the trip hissed.

" I see," the figure growled. " Are the preparations ready?"

" Armageddon is near completion. Soon, we will be able to initialize it," the right of the trio whispered.

" The Rebirth shall prevent defeat...,"

" The Pact shall instill power...,"

" The Betrayal shall create chaos...,"

" Armageddon shall destroy all,"

" Enough," the figure snorted. " I have no desire to hear your ridiculous rhymes. Just make sure that everything goes according to plan," the figure added. " Which of the phases are ready for my call?" the figure asked.

" The Rebirth is complete. All we need is for you to say the world," the left of the trio whispered.

" The Pact is also complete, we are merely setting up the ritual," the middle of the trio added.

" The Betrayal is near completion. We just miss a key component," the right finished.

" As expected, Xe-a-Thouls. I knew that the Betrayal would be delayed. Seven years, I estimate," the figure replied, offhandedly.

" High King Lassic, shall we begin The Rebirth and The Pact?" the middle Xe-a-Thoul asked. The figure stepped in to the evil light, his royal robes rotting and his flesh wriggling as if in death-throws. He smirked evilly, his eyes illuminating his dark crown.

" But of course,"

--------------

" STOP!!!" a loud voice cried. Daystar opened her eyes in shock as Levit whirled. However, he was not fast enough. As he turned, a sword tip bit deeply in to his shoulder. As his body turned, the sword sliced down his shoulder, leaving a gash from his shoulder to his chest. Levit reared back, gasping in pain. His eyes narrowed and glared down the bloodied swordtip to the wielder. Chaz glared up at Levit, holding the sword steadily at the mammoth Ancient Esper.

" You...," Levit hissed, clenching his axe handle.

" I told you to STOP," Chaz snapped, aiming the tip of the sword at Levit's throat. Levit sneered.

" Does the little boy think he can kill a demon with his toothpick?" Levit asked, mockingly. Chaz glared.

" This 'toothpick' did a lot of damage to the 'demon', Levit," Chaz snarled. Levit threw his head back and laughed.

" 'Tis but a flesh wound," Levit taunted. " The kind you vermin put widdle bandaids on," Chaz narrowed his eyes.

" You're bluffing," Chaz snapped. " I bet it hurts like hell!"

" Hell?" Levit asked, smirking. " Nay! Hell is far more than anything YOU could ever deliver. I, on the other hand.... AM QUITE ABLE!" Levit snarled. Levit lunged, swinging his axe. Chaz rolled out of the way with a shout. The axe sliced deeply in to the snow, leaving a gash. Levit whirled, his eyes glowing. " So, the rat moves fast. However, you cannot run forever," he mocked.

" I won't let you kill anyone else," Chaz announced, pointing his sword at Levit.

" How do you intend to stop me?" Levit snorted.

" I'll fight you," Chaz replied, coldly.

" You have an awful lot of confidence in your vermin skills, child," Levit smirked. " Ill-placed confidence,"

" You're going to find how ILL-PLACED my confidence is," Chaz snarled. " HAH!" he shouted as he lunged. Levit leaped back and slammed his tail in to Chaz. Chaz winced as the spikes upon the tail punctured his stomach. However, with extreme speed, Chaz slammed his sword in to Levit's tail. Levit howled out in pain as the sword completely punctured his tail. Chaz growled and ripped the sword out while Levit stumbled back and clutched his tail, which bled profoundly from both sides of the wound. Levit snarled and lunged again, utterly furious. Chaz whirled and thrust at Levit. The sword sliced deep in to Levit's chest, the sword striking an area unprotected by armor. Purely by luck. Levit grabbed the blade of the sword and stumbled back, blood oozing from his new wound. Chaz yelped as the sword was yanked out of his hands. Levit grabbed the handle and ripped out the sword, which had been buried in to his flesh up to the hilt. The blade was coated red with his blood. Levit winced, his expression pained. He smiled evilly.

" I didn't need that lung, anyway," he smirked. Chaz opened his eyes, wide.

" H-how could you still be...?" he yelped. " I mean.... that was a direct hit-!"

" Your aim was a bit off," Levit snickered. He grabbed the sword and lunged at Chaz. " I believe this is YOURS!" Levit laughed as he slashed Chaz's chest. Chaz fell backwards with a cry of pain. He gasped as Levit towered over him, preparing to bury the sword in Chaz's head. Chaz fumbled around for anything that may help him. " Say goodnight, vermin," Levit smirked. Chaz gulped. His eyes fell upon Levit's axe, which was discarded upon the snow. Chaz rolled and grabbed the handle of the axe just as the sword was slammed in to the ground. Chaz snarled and attempted to swing the axe. However, it was a lot heavier than it looked. The axe refused to move. Chaz gasped as the axe remained unlifted. Levit laughed. " Your pitiful arms cannot possibly lift my axe," he chided. " Silly silly vermin!"

" I... am NOT... a VERMIN!" Chaz shouted. He put all his muscle and weight behind lifting the axe. He could feel his arms scream and twist in agony as the axe was slowly and painfully lifted in to the air. Levit's scaley eyebrows raised in surprise as the 'vermin' lifted his axe. Chaz trembled as the axe nearly caused him to fall over. With a shout, Chaz threw the axe at Levit, himself falling over as the intense weight sent him sprawling. Levit shouted in surprise and leaped back, the axe flying at him. It twirled due to the massive weight, though he knew it would not fly far. It was a flimsy throw... he just had to dodge. Levit leaped aside, though the axe curved slightly due to the weight and slammed in to his thigh. Levit howled out and fell, forward. He winced and trembled with pain and anger. How dare the little vermin spawn use his OWN weapon.... filthy trash....

" How...," Levit whispered. How could a vermin do such damage?

" You've let your stupidity blind you," Chaz snarled. " Your fighting prowress is handicapped due to underestimating me and thinking you could defeat me!"

" Oh, but I can...," Levit whispered. He stood up, yanking the axe out of his thigh. " I can INDEED... NOW!!!!" he shouted. Suddenly, Chaz was yanked backwards as two Ancient Esper soldiers grabbed his arms and yanked him off his feet.

" EH!!? HEY-!!!" Chaz cried as he was yanked off his feet. The strong Ancient Espers held him a foot off the ground, his legs dangling. " TH-THIS ISN'T FAIR!!!" Chaz gasped, horrified. " Three to one!"

" Life's not fair, vermin," Levit sneered as he raised his axe. " Learn to live with it. Oh! I forgot... you're not GOING to live... Heh. Heh. Heh,"

" NO! FATHER!" a previously quiet voice shouted. Daystar grabbed Levit's arm, trying to pull him back. " DON'T DO THIS!" she pleaded. Levit scowled down at her. He brought up his hand and backhanded Daystar, roughly, in the face. Daystar fell backwards, a welt appearing on her face.

" DAYSTAR!" Chaz shouted. He glared at Levit. " You... you.... MONSTER!!" he cried. " YOU HIT YOUR OWN DAUGHTER!"

" That was something I should have done to her a long time ago," Levit hissed, his eyes cold, as he glared at Daystar as she laid on the ground, clutching her cheek. Daystar looked up at Levit, horror and emotional pain upon her face. Levit snorted, then turned back to Chaz and raised his axe. " Time to die, VERMIN!!!" he growled. Chaz's eyes opened wide as the axe was raised over his head.

" NO!!! STOP IT!!!" Daystar shrieked. " SPIRIT BLAST!!!!" A light flared up from her paws. Before she could stop it, or even tone it down, a beam of energy shot from her hands. Levit's eyes opened wide as the beam sliced through him and zipped out his chest. The shot zipped over the soldier's heads, who stared in pure horror. Levit fell to the ground, his eyes wide. Blood oozed from the wound and from his mouth and noze. He coughed, heavily, and sagged to the ground. " W-what have I done...?" Daystar whimpered, her eyes wide. She looked at her paws, as if they were filthy and disgusting. "... I... I... oh, Lifespark...," she whispered as she clapsed her paws over her head. " I didn't... oh Lifespark!!!!" She scrambled over to her father. " PAPA! I'M SORRY!!!" she cried. She wrapped her arms around Levit's head and cradled it, sobbing. Levit's blood oozed to her tunic, coating her and the ground with his blood. He looked up at Daystar, his eyes and scales pale. A tear drop dripped on to his snout.

" Daystar....," he whispered. Daystar looked at Levit, tears streaming down her face. " Daystar..... baby.... can you hear me?"

" F-father...," Daystar sniffled. " Please don't die... Papa...,"

" Honey.... I'm sorry.... I shouldn't have.... said those things....," Levit whispered. Daystar's ears drooped.

" Papa.... please...," she whispered.

" I... must.... my daughter....," Levit wheezed. Daystar's ears flowed even more strong.

" I didn't mean to... please, Father...," she whimpered.

" Honey....," Levit wheezed as his hand reached up to carress Daystar's cheek, leaving a trail of blood. " I was mad.... insane.... I couldn't see... ... you brought me back... for that, I thank you..... ....,"

" But you don't have to die!" Daystar cried.

" Don't... blame yourself.... my dear..," Levit wheezed as he gently kissed her cheek. " I'll.... be sure to tell... your aunt... 'hello' for you... ... and maybe I'll... see Questar.... .... if I do... I'll try to... make him understand.... I promise...," he added.

" F-Father!?" Daystar squeaked. Levit smiled, weakly, at Daystar. His breathing grew more labored as he leaned his head against Daystar's chest.

" You... look so much... like your mother... ... you've done her... and I... .. proud...," he whispered. His eyes fogged up, slightly. I call off this war.... ... it shall pass... like I do... a bad memory... and a regretable mistake...., his mind whispered. Daystar's eyes opened wide as tears flowed down her cheeks. She had gotten through.... but the price was too high!!

" FATHER!?!" Daystar cried. " PAPA, DON'T LEAVE ME! I love you, Papa!"

" I love you.... too.... honey...," Levit smiled. His eyes drifted closed and, for an insant, he breathed deeply. Then, he went deathly still. Daystar's eyes opened wide.

" Father!?! FATHER!!!!!!!!!!!" she shrieked. All movement stopped as the Ancient Espers stared in utter horror. " FAAAAAAATHERRRR!!!!" Daystar wailed. She hugged Levit's limp body to her and sobbed, uncontrollably.

Chapter Thirty-Four

All battle about Termi ceased, insantly. The Ancient Espers, Motavian and Dezorian, raised there eyes to the sky as a pang surged through them.

I call off this war.... ... it shall pass... like I do... a bad memory... and a regretable mistake....,

Everyone jerked as the small whisper reached them.

" Levit...," Fenrir whispered, his eyes wide. Nan looked up, from where she stood in the hospital.

" Oh Lifespark, no...," she whimpered. King Bahumat reared back, his eyes looking towards the skies. His eyes grew moist and he bowed his head.

" Brother....," he whispered. "... why did it have to take death to bring sense to you?" Gerald looked upwards, apparently shaken, then snapped his head around.

" Don't stop!" he commanded, his voice cracked. " We'll get them for what they've done to our King!" he shouted. A loud murmer came from the hesitant and confused soldiers.

" What's... going on?" the leader of the Hunters asked, surprised.

" They're disoriented," Fenrir explained, his voice hushed. " You see, in a sense, every Ancient Esper is linked to their king. He's the strongest warrior.... and he sends commands through telepathy to the troops. He also provides moral support and such. He's like a general who's not there physically but mentally. The link also allows him to scan troops in case of traitorous thoughts.....," he added.

" However... when an Ancient Esper, not just a king, dies.... the link they have opened to others is yanked forcfully away.... like having someone yank an arm off. Then, you feel nothing but emptiness.... it's a disturbing feeling..," King Bahumat added.

" COME ON! We've got to-!" Gerald shouted.

" What would be the point...?" one soldier asked, his voice shaken. " Our king is dead....,"

" That doesn't mean his wishes have died!" Gerald cried. A few of the soldiers nodded, angrily. " We've got to continue onward!" he added. Most of the soldiers looked a bit downcast. " DAMN IT! This is not a time for mourning! It's a time for ACTION!" Gerald shouted. A small murmer issued forth, doubtful. Gerald pointed at the other army. " ATTACK!!!!"

" Give up, Gerald. You've lost," King Bahumat said, crossing his arms. His voice was quiet, devoid of emotion.

" We haven't even begun!" Gerald hissed. King Bahumat looked, squarely, at Gerald, who cowed slightly and backed up.

" Your king is dead. His last request was an end to this! Do you DARE disrespect his last wishes!?" King Bahumat snarled. Gerald paled while a murmer of agreement issued from all the Ancient Espers. " Gerald, go. Go home and bury your king... my brother. There is nothing for you here," he whispered. " Go and meet your new queen, for Daystar is the only heir left alive," Fenrir looked up at Bahumat, shocked. Gerald's eyes narrowed.

" We will NOT accept her as our Queen!!! She KILLED Our King and Our Prince!" he snarled. King Bahumat narrowed his eyes. A shocked murmur came from the army.

" Is that treason I hear you speak?" King Bahumat snarled. A small growl issued from all the Ancient Espers. Gerald gulped. " Do you dare speak treason in my presence? Aye, the King and Prince are gone..... but she is of the royal family. And speaking against her is speaking against the entire family. Do you DARE speak treason!?" King Bahumat roared. The Dezorian Ancient Espers glanced back at Gerald, uneasy. Gerald closed his eyes, his face pale.

"... allright, men. Let's... go home,"

-----------------------------------

A loud crash issued forth. Raja and B'jak whirled, surprised. Yakkara stood, trembling, as a shattered place of shortcake remained at his feet. His eyes were wide and his ears drooped. He let out a choked sniffle as tears appeared in his eyes. " King Levit......," he whimpered. " He... he...," Yakkara whispered, whirling to search Raja's eyes for comfort. Raja kneeled by the small Ancient Esper and held him tight. Yakkara closed his eyes, trying to will away the feeling that surged through him.

---------------------------------

" Daystar...?" Chaz whispered as he approached the sobbing dracling. There was no reply as Daystar continued to hold her still father and cry. Chaz looked at Rika, who's tears threatened to flood down her cheeks. Chaz walked over to Rika and wrapped his arms about her. " Rika....," he whispered. Rika looked at Chaz, then buried her face in Chaz's shoulder. Chaz looked to Rune, who had his arm about Dazzle's shoulder. Dazzle's eyes teared up. Dazzle glanced up to Rune, who looked stern.

Dazzle's eyes narrowed. She threw Rune's arm away from her and turned, running towards the Mansion. Dazzle dashed in to the mansion and sat on to the ground in a corner. After a few minutes, she felt a hand upon her shoulder. Dazzle looked up to see Rune beside her. His face was a mask of concern.

" Dazzie...," he whispered. Dazzle turned her head, sharply.

" Just leave me alone...," she hissed.

" Dazzle.... why..?" Rune asked.

"... I know what... what it's like to lose my family....," Dazzle whispered. She wiped her eyes. " I lost them all at once... .... slaughtered before me when I was a little girl.... that's how I came under Edwin's care....," she whispered. " Daystar has lost her family... I... I know how it feels.... I... don't have anyone.... just as she doesn't....," she added. " We have no families...,"

" Dazzie...," Rune whispered. Dazzle turned her head, closing her eyes. " Dazzie... LOOK at me...,"

" WHAT do you want!?" Dazzle snarled. Rune smiled, softly.

" Dazzle... you do have someone. You have me....," Rune said. " And... I want you to be apart of my family," Rune said. Dazzle looked up, sharply, as her eyes widened with surprise. Rune got on to one knee while Dazzle stared in utter shock. " Dazzle.... ... would you marry me?" Before Dazzle could open her mouth, a low chuckle issued from outside.

" Where are you, Lutz?" a ghostly voice mocked. Rune's eyes narrowed.

" I know that voice... but... but it CAN'T be...," he whispered. His eyes flashed. " Xe-a-Thoul!" he snarled. He ran back outside, his hand glowing in preparation for a spell. Dazzle blinked, slowly, then stood up and followed. Outside, hovering above the ground in a line, were the trio of Xe-a-Thoul. Each glared, smugly, at Rune as he ran towards the others. All but Daystar glared up at the Xe-a-Thoul. Daystar was oblivious to the world. The Xe-a-Thoul ignored Daystar and the others. However, their eyes instantly focused upon Dazzle when she stopped near Rune. In fact, everyone else seemed nonexistant. Dazzle blinked, slowly.

" What's going on...?" she asked.

" You are here to witness two great events....," the middle Xe-a-Thoul smirked. " Our victory is assured,"

" In your dreams!" Chaz snarled. " We have the Elysdeon pieces!"

" But what good are they when you cannot reach your target?" the left Xe-a-Thoul sneered.

" Wh-what?!" Rune asked.

" Power of darkness!"

" Head our call!"

" Create our barrier..,"

" So that we may not fall!"

" Three points of interest!"

" Three points of our task!"

" Aid us your strength...,"

" So that NONE will pass!!!!" the Xe-a-Thouls chanted. They glowed brilliantly, a black aura dancing about them. Three orbs appeared around the trio. Suddenly, each orb shot off in another direction, creating a thin line of dark power, purple in color, in it's wake.

" What are they doing!?" Chaz cried.

" I don't know.... .... yet," Rune growled. He stared as the orbs disappeared over the different horizons.

One orb sliced north, over the snowy mountains of Dezoris. It slashed past snow banks, kicking up clouds of soft snow. It sliced through a powdered tree, which shattered like black glass. Soon, it approached a massive ruin of a black tower. The tower was nestled among a nook within the mountains. Even in death, the building was foreboding and horrible. The orb twirled around the tower, leaving a swirl of purple power. The light sparkled beautifully as it neared the top of the tower. Then, the orb attacked itself to the very tip of the tower. The entire tower shimmered black and purple, then shot a giant ray skyward, angled towards the southwest.

A second orb flew through space, on a direct course for Motavia. Without much hinderence from the entry to the planet, the orb flew straight past Aiedo, leaving a wake of energy behind it. It raced towards Kadary, then swirled about the Church of Zio, which still stood tall. The church glimmered brilliantly. The doors swung open and people ran out of the building, screaming. Then, the doors slammed shut behind them, as if closed by a powerful source. The orb continued to swirl up the church, then land upon the highest tower of the temple. The church flared brilliantly with power. Then, a purple and black light shot upwards, in a northeastern path.

A third orb arched upwards, towards space. It sliced through clouds like butter and reached the void of space. However, it did not slow down, even for an instance. With a sparkle, it slammed in to the space station, Kuran. Kuran shimmered, brightly, then became surrounded with a purple and black shield. Seconds later, two rays of purple and black slammed in to it. The rays flashed, then became solid. A low humming issued an energy shield appeared, glowing, then slowly phased out. However, the hum did not cease.

Back on Dezoris...

" What did you do!?" Rune shouted, his eyes narrowed.

" A barrier, Lutz," the middle Xe-a-Thoul smirked. " You cannot touch the Profound Darkness with the Elsydeon now, even IF you rebuilt it,"

" WHAT?!!" Chaz cried.

" That's not possible! There's no way-!" Rune snarled.

" There DOES exist a probability of such a barrier," Wren commented, crossing his metallic arms. " Is it not true that the Great Light created a similar barrier? Though... I hypothesize that such technology is not available to Algo,"

" That's where magic comes in, toaster man," the left Xe-a-Thoul laughed.

" But... if such a spell existed, you'd have used it before. How could you have learned it now!?" Kyra cried.

" Ah, but that is a secret," the Xe-a-Thoul to the right laughed. " And we intend to keep secrets,"

" You..... you...," Chaz growled, clenching his fists.

" We advise not attempting to break our barrier. You do not possess the skill for that. Not even YOU, Lutz," the middle Xe-a-Thoul smirked.

" We're not just going to WAIT and-," Chaz began.

" You are going to, for that is all you CAN do," the left Xe-a-Thoul snarled, pointing at Chaz. " You are a fool to think that any amount of 'will' and 'purity' may break our barrier, so just sit down and shut up! You'll get your chance to fight us, yes. But NOT now. And WE will chose that time! NOT YOU!"

" That time will not come any time soon, so you may rest easy. If but a little while," The middle Xe-a-Thoul said.

" Hah! Like we'll believe that!" Rune snarled.

" Do you have a choice in this matter?" the right Xe-a-Thoul asked. The group fell silent, brooding. " We leave you now, for our mission is complete," he added. The trio smirked, then flew upwards at an amazing pace. However, they stopped to float within the air when they were mere dust specks. The trio of Xe-a-Thouls pointed downward and changed arcane words in their ghostly tongue. They carved runes within the air, which then appeared and glowed brilliantly. Back down on Dezoris, Dazzle glanced up at the sky. She shook her head.

" If it's not one thing...," she snarled. Suddenly, she lurched forward. Her stomach churned and her head spinned. She could barely stand upright, a feeling of horrible queasiness upon her. Then, just as suddenly as it began, it stopped. Dazzle blinked, slowly. " What....," she whispered. She glanced over at Rune, who was in heated conversation with the others. She blinked and approached them, though a bit carefully.

" We can't just sit around and wait!" Chaz cried.

" No, and I am not suggesting we do that," Rune said. " But we can't just run and attack them. Their barrier prevents this,"

" Maybe it's a bluff," Chaz snapped.

" No, my scanners detect that there is, INDEED, a high powered magical barrier surrounding Algo," Wren stated.

" Damn it... but we can't-," Chaz stumbled, desperately.

" All we can do is wait to see what they are up to. And make our own plans, as well. Brood and wait is all we can do," Rune mumbled, crossing his arms. " And attempt to live our lives as best we can while waiting for them to act,"

" But they'll have gained power!" Chaz cried.

" So let's make sure we have gained more," Rune snapped. " I will have my Espers study the barrier quietly, testing it for weaknesses but not making any obvious moves against it. In the meantime, we'll complete the Elysdeon. The reason they build the barrier, obviously, was because we had all the pieces," he explained. " So... as long as we have the Elysdeon, whole and ready to go, then they won't drop the barrier,"

" We are at a stalemate," Wren sighed. " We have the Elysdeon but cannot use it due to the barrier. However, they have the barrier but cannot attack for fear of the Elysdeon,"

" All we can do is wait until they have boosted their confidence to the point where they do not fear the Elysdeon anymore and are willing to drop their barrier. When they do, we will then attack and use the Elysdeon," Rune said. Chaz snorted, angrily. Rune scowled. " Shorty, there's not a THING we can do other than that! Is there?" he snapped. Chaz opened his mouth. " WELL? IS THERE?!" Rune pressed. Chaz clamped his mouth shut. " No, there's not. So just shut up," Chaz winced, then crossed his arms and sighed. Rune turned and looked to Dazzle, who approached him. " You look a bit pale... are you allright?" Rune asked, tilting his head.

" Yah... I'm okay," Dazzle muttered. She tossed her hair over her shoulder and rubbed her nose. " I guess I'm a bit overwhelmed by all this,"

" YOU? Overwhelmed?" Rune smirked. " Hah,"

" Oh hush," Dazzle snorted. Her face softened, considerably.

" What is it...?" Rune asked, concerned.

" About what you asked earlier...," Dazzle began. Rune raised an eyebrow.

" What of it...?" Rune asked.

" I just wanted to say....... yes, I'd love to,"

Epilogue

" Your Highness....,"

Daystar turned, slowly, to look at the owner of the voice. She wore a fancy white dress, shining with silver trim. A diamond necklace graced her throat and matching bracelets glittered on her wrists. Her hair was sparkling, brushed and flowing down her back. She smiled, weakly, at the soft and tender face of Grandma Rudia. Rudia smiled at her, her old numan cat features graying and wrinkling.

" You look fanfastic in that dress.... just as your mother had... and your aunt... and everyone before them...," Grandma Rudia whispered, her aged voice crackling. Daystar bowed her head.

" I.... don't want to do this," she whispered. Rudia tilted her head.

" What's that, child?" Rudia asked.

" I don't want to rule," Daystar ventured, louder this time. Rudia sighed.

" I know it is painful, my dear... but you must.... this country needs a ruler. And you are the only one left of the lineage that may rule. The people will not allow themselves to be annexed by King Bahum. So it must be you," she whispered. Daystar turned her back to Rudia.

"... I want my father... or my brother.... both are better chosen than I," she whispered. Rudia approached Daystar, placing a hand on her shoulder.

" They ARE here. Maybe not in the physical sense... but I'm sure your father and everyone else is watching you at this moment... and wishing you well," Rudia whispered. Daystar looked at Rudia, her eyes moist.

" You think so...?" Daystar asked.

" Absolutely," Rudia said. " Daystar, dry those eyes and walk outside to that throne room for your corination. Bring to those people a shining hope that you can bring them. Who knows? You may just be a better ruler than you give yourself credit," Rudia said. Daystar smiled and wiped away her tears.

" A-allright, Rudia....," she said. She glanced at the aged Ancient Esper. " Will you be there with me?"

" Of course!" Rudia smiled. " I wouldn't miss this for anything," she said. Daystar smiled. Rudia opened the door for the to-be-crowned Queen. Daystar took a deep breath and, with head held high, walked out the door to meet her cheering audience.

---------------------------

" Calm down, Rune...," Rika said, smiling. " Your pacing won't make things go faster or better,"

" Take a seat," Chaz said, comforting, as he patted a seat by him. Rune merely cast the two an annoyed glare and continued his pacing. Chaz chuckled and glanced over to Rika. Rika smiled at Chaz, then down at the two bundles of cloth in her arms. Sleeping in two white bundles where two incredibly precious, and insanely bald, children. A little boy and a little girl. The girl yawned, toothlessly, while the little boy continued to sleep safely in his mother's arms. Chaz smiled brightly while Rune continued his pacing.

" Rune, you should be as calm as Alys and Alex," Rika said. " They're sleeping so peacefully,"

" THEY'RE not in THERE!" Rune snorted as he pointed, irritably, at a door at the far end of the room. A small, harsh laugh issued from Tundra, who was reclining on the couch.

" Oh, calm down, Lutz," Tundra snickered. " This is a totally natural process,"

" That doesn't help...," Rune whined. Tundra snickered. Suddenly, a loud cry issued from the door. Rune whirled and ran towards the door while a priestess opened it, a weary smile upon her face. Rune skidded to a stop. " WELL!?!" he demanded.

" Congradulations, High Lutz...," the priestess smiled. " You're a father," She didn't get a chance for a reply as Rune dashed passed her and in to the room. Laying upon a bed in the room, utterly exhausted, was Dazzle. Bags of weariness were under her eyes. But her smile was strong and unwavering. Rune approached, cautiously. His eyes widened as he small a small baby boy in Dazzle's arms. He was wrapped in blue cloth and was looking about in curious wonder. His eyes were a shining blue while, atop his head, was a small twist of blue hair. Rune kneeled by Dazzle, who smiled at him. Rune stared in awe as the baby looked up at him and reached for his nose.

" What... shall we call him, Rune...? What shall we call our beautiful baby boy?" Dazzle asked, softly. Rune smiled down at the baby and touched his cheek. The baby cooed cutely and grabbed Rune's fingers.

" I think we should call him.... ..... Razz,"

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