RuneShine

Part 12 : The Gathering

RuneShine and all related characters are property of… well… me… duh… except for a select few who belong to… a select few…

Matthew brings the flaps of his shirt together, connecting the buttons of metal to one another. He glances into the mirror, noticing a familiar figure poised behind him.

"Gabrielle," he says, whispering something afterwards, "What are you doing here?" He turns to her, his eyes falling to the floor. His face flushes crimson as his eyes meet hers. She is adorned in a ravishing emerald dress and her hair falls gracefully to her back.

"You like it?" she asks, "It's the mayor's wife's dress. I'm surprised I fit in it. She isn't exactly thin, y'know." She chuckles, "What's the deal between you and Claire?" Matthew coughs, finishing the preparations on her shirt.

"What do you mean?" he asks, raising an eyebrow.

"It's so obvious that you like each other."

"Is it really?" Matthew asks, grasping for his overcoat, "But... I mean... well..."

"Don't hide it," Gabrielle smirks, "I can tell that you two are into each other."

"Well," Matthew hesitates. He gnaws at his bottom lip, his eyes averting to an unknown place, "I guess I have feelings for her..."

"Tell her," Gabrielle blurts, "tonight... at the banquet." Matthew shakes his head adamantly.

"I couldn't," he sighs.

"If you love her, do it."

Matthew looks to Gabrielle, his eyes stained over in hope.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. It's fate." Matthew looks Gabrielle up and down for truth and smiles. He quickly kisses Gabrielle on the forehead and moves to the doorway, turning to her again.

"Thank you, Gabrielle." He leaves as Gabrielle buries her head into her knees.

"Hell..." she sighs, standing form her position and leaving the room after Matthew.

Ashton stands in the middle of the room, a ball of energy lobbing between his hands. A knock emits from the door and Ashton drops the ball, spreading a singe mark across the ornate carpet. Delphine appears, leaning her arm on Ashton's shoulder.

"Still practicing?"

"Yeah, those Crimson Rose... this place'll be crawling with soldiers. I'm just being prepared."

Delphine plops onto a nearby bed and looks around, fidgeting with her dress.

"So... this is a nice room they gave you."

"Yeah, it is." There is silence as Delphine fidgets more erratically, her tongue moistening her upper lip.

"Ashton, can I ask you a question?"

"Well, you just did, Del." The two chuckle uncomfortably.

"Ashton," Delphine starts, "how do you feel about me?"

Ashton looks to her, blinking his eyes.

"Umm... what do you mean?"

"Well, I was wondering if you had any... uh... feelings... for me."

"I can't answer that, Del."

"It's a simple question, Ash. Please answer it." Ashton sits next to Delphine, his eyes training to the floor.

"Well... Del, I actually..." Delphine smiles slightly.

"Screw it." She leans into Ashton, her lips meeting his. He tumbles into it, his hand meeting the back of her head. Their minds race together, not quite knowing where to go now. They pull apart, reflecting into the eyes of the other.

"We should..." Del stammers.

"Yeah," Ashton concludes. They rise from the bed, Ashton entwining Delphine's hand into his.

"Where are your other two friends?" the mayor asks Linnea, who is now wearing a simple midnight blue dress.

"They're coming soon," she assures, searching for her other friends.

"Sir?" A young woman with streaming walnut brown hair taps Matthew on the shoulder. He turns to her, noticing the rose dress that covers her thin frame and topples to the floor.

"Yes?" he asks.

"Matthew LaCroix?"

"Who are you?"

"Oh, don't worry. I'm a runemaster. My name's Rosa Daneaux. I've heard about that rune on your arm."

"Umm... when could we talk about this?"

"How about after this party?"

"Why are you interested in my rune?"

"I have reason to believe it's a Runic Stone. One that I've studied for a long time: the Waxing Crest Rune. I'll tell you more after the party." Rosa looks to the mayor, her brown eyes sparkling in delight. "It looks like your friends are here." Matthew looks to see Ashton and Delphine, faces ashen.

"Let the game begin!" the mayor boasts, "Could I have the participants please?"

Matthew and the others gather before him, all draped in exquisite clothing.

"Alright," the mayor says, "You have exactly twelve minutes to solve this problem. Somebody in this room has a Runic Stone attached to their body. Without the use of sorceric powers, you are to find whoever has the stone. Good luck." The group quickly disperses.

"Rosa!" Matthew screams, "Where are you?"

"Right here, Matthew," she answers, appearing before him, "What would you like?"

"I need to know a non-sorceric way of finding Runic Stones on people." Rosa searches her mind, her brows inching together in confusion.

"Only one way," Rosa concludes, "Read a Rune scroll. It's a Runic spell on paper. It isn't considered sorceric since, technically, a non-wizard reading it would cast it."

"A non-wizard?"

"Someone who has never cast a spell." Matthew searches his mind. None of the Mystics could do it and with the Runic Stone, he knew he couldn't. He had tossed a healing spell or two with Luke. Crissy brought up the Phoenix. Heather? She was a Mystic, she must have cast at least one spell.

"Matthew!" a voice rings out.

Matthew spins to the voice as Claire's flame-red hair bursts from the crowd.

"Have you figured anything out?" she asks, smiling. Claire, of course! She had never cast a spell in her life, he knew.

"Claire!" he shouts, "You've never cast a spell, right?"

"Yes, so?" Matthew turns to Rosa.

"Do you have a scroll with you?" she reveals a purse and, moments later, unsheathes a paper from it. He grabs it hands it to Claire.

"Read this." Claire looks it over

"I can't read this, Matthew. It's in another language."

"Just try to. It'll help find the Runic Stone." Claire squints at the paper.

"Po... Por... Porim... Sir... Sieran... K... dammit, Matthew."

"Please..."

"Porim Sieran Kahdaer…" She looks to Matthew, her eyes lining with worry.

"Porim Sieran Kahdaer Dialyse..."

Suddenly, a bright light blinds the two from behind Matthew. They turn to see Rosa, her chest radiating a bright yellow light to the two.

"Good job," Rosa congratulates, a wide smile across her face.

"So you've found Rosa, eh?" the mayor asks, walking toward the two friends.

"Do we get the boat?" Matthew asks.

"Tomorrow morning," he answers, "Tonight, stay in your rooms for the night." The mayor disappears as Rosa gets Matthew's attention.

"I'll tell you about your Runic Stone tomorrow on the ship. Sleep tonight." She disappears as well. Matthew takes Claire's hand.

"We need to talk."

"What's wrong, Matthew?" Matthew shuts the door to his room, leaving him and Claire in the dimly lit room alone, secluded from the others.

"I have to confess something to you," Matthew says, taking a deep breath.

"Well?" Claire asks, awaiting Matthew's speech. Matthew begins to fiddle with his hands, his stomach transforming into a mass of convoluted knots. He seats himself beside Claire, a bead of sweat forming on his forehead. Grabbing her hand, he stares into her eyes, scanning for a hint of emotion in them.

"Claire Halliworth," Matthew begins, "I love you. I've loved you since we met, and I will always love you for as long as I live. You may not feel the same but..." Claire chuckles slightly as she moves a finger to his mouth, silencing him. She quickly replaces her finger with her lips, connecting with him. She reaches to his shirt, starting to release the buttons' snatches, revealing his chest, heaving with shivering breaths. He reaches behind her, grasping the zipper of her gown. He pulls it downward, revealing smooth alabaster skin, only burdened by the recent addition of goosebumps. The two fall to the mattress, immersing into their ecstasy.

Durandel stands in his corner, attracting the creature's attention. He lunges toward it, his hand transforming back into its malformed claw state. He swipes, missing the creature. It raises onto its hind legs, towering over the Incubus. He plunges his hand forward, sending it straight through his body to the other side. Green oozing blood falls from his hand as he takes it back. The creature falls, landing near to Kenneth. Kenneth looks to Durandel, his eyes widening with fear.

"Don't kill me," he says, a half-hearted plea.

"You can see me?" Durandel asks.

"My eyes have adjusted."

"Ah..." Durandel ponders another choice as Kenneth stands, "I suppose I won't kill you. Let's call a truce until we find a way out of this place." Kenneth looks to him, suspicion crossing his face.

"Have you seen my bow?"

"It's right here," Durandel unveils his weapon, "if you take it, we've got a truce. If not, I kill you right now." Kenneth snatches his bow from the Incubus.

"Spire Temple is right up here," Celine announces to her companions. Aimee scans her surroundings. Forest on all sides, aside from the dirt path before and behind her. A rustling sound occurs above the three adventurers as Celine stops them.

"What was that?" Aimee asks.

"I'm not sure," Celine says, "I'm sure it's just an animal of some sort. Let's keep going."

Suddenly, a figure falls before her, making her jump back into Lhasa. Aimee pushes the two away from the object, looking at it herself. Quickly, she shrinks back, her hand hiding her mouth. She looks again, making sure of what she sees. Chester lay on the ground, his chest torn open with large claw-like gashes. Slashes litter his body as he bleeds onto the stray leaves on the path.

"A friend of yours?" Lhasa asks.

"Yes," Aimee confirms, "That's Chester. He got stuck here with me, I suppose."

"How exactly did you get here?" Celine asks.

"I cast a spell and it sent us here."

"Was it a teleportation spell?"

"As far as I remember, but it took a lot out of me."

"We should continue," Celine says, stepping over Chester.

"Wait, Celine," Lhasa says, "He's still bleeding."

"So that means..." Three creatures drop from above, followed by a young man and young woman dropping right next to them. They are both dressed similar to Lhasa.

"Katrina?" Celine asks, "Adam?"

"Celine," the male says, drawing a spear, "what an unpleasant surprise."

"We've become beastmasters, Celine," the female says, "These are our pets."

"Didn't you disappear into Spire Temple?"

"Disappear?" Adam asks, "We didn't disappear! We were left there by Bhuru and a group of the 'chosen ones'."

"What do you...?"

"Enough!" Katrina shrieks, "You left us for dead, now we'll make sure you are!" Katrina waves a hand frantically and the three monsters behind her bare towards Aimee and her group.

"Frost!" Celine shouts. A blue orb encircles one of the creatures and it stops, a layer of ice encrusting its skin. It falls, its body shattering into a multitude of gleaming shards.

"Aimee, behind you!" Lhasa yells, rushing towards her. She crouches to the ground as the wind from Lhasa's dagger graces her skin. The dagger sinks into the creature's back, making it shriek in agony. Aimee stands, watching Lhasa as he skewers the beast. Aimee turns, watching the other dashing towards her.

"Heaven's piercing light, make the unholy falter! Burn the ashes of the betrayers, White!" Aimee ducks again as a cone of light skims the sky and then envelops the attacking beast. Smoke rises from its body as it dissipates into air, leaving no trace behind. The three battlers turn to the two beastmasters, only to find that they are no longer in their places.

"Let's just get inside." Celine leads the other two into the temple.

"Mark? Drek?" Cyndi looks around, the rod bouncing on her waist.

"Did you say Drek?" Cyndi spins to see a short haired blonde walking toward her, "Were you on the Phoenix?"

"Yes, who are you?"

"I'm Loura. I just got onto the Phoenix. I'm Drek's girlfriend. Who are you?"

"I'm Cyndi. I was in the infirmary on the ship."

"You don't look like a nurse."

"I was hurt on the ship."

"You look fine to me."

"I found some medicinal herbs in there. Have you seen anyone else from our group?"

"No, you're the first person I've seen at all."

"We should go find them, then."

Loura nods and Cyndi starts into the surrounding forest, Loura on her heels.

Meanwhile, in an unknown place...

Michelle leans over an orb, seeing Tymothi searching the abandoned harem for the item of his affection's need.

"It's time..." she mutters, raised a hand and turning from the orb.

Tymothi walks into an empty bedroom, scanning for the Runic Stone. He spots a sparkling red stone beneath the bed.

"Oh, come on..." he says, slightly irritated. He grabs it, rolling it between his fingers.

"Finally," he smiles. The door slams shut behind him, making him jump and revolve to it. His eyes well with a fright unknown.

"Hello?" he runs to the door, violently tugging on the door's handle, "Someone open this door!" There is no answer as he unsheathes his sword, sending it crashing through the door's mahogany exterior. It reflects back, sending waves of shock through Tymothi's bones.

"Tymothi..." Michelle whispers. He turns to see the Mystic woman, twirling her rod nonchalantly, "Ever hear of divide and conquer?"

"You bitch..." he involuntarily mutters.

"Flattery won't help now," she snickers, "I was just coming to say goodbye. Well..." she places a finger to her cheek, "more like good riddance."

"Wait!" Tymothi blurts, "Please tell me something. Was Cyndi really sick from not having the Rune with her?"

"No," Michelle sneers, "Any real Mystic would know that."

"Fuck you..."

"Even that couldn't save you now." Michelle raises her hand, enveloping it in an orb of black luminescence, "I'll give Cyndi your love." She brings the still growing light to eye level, walking towards the young Mystic before her. He slices toward her but she dodges, quickly slamming her hand into the back of Tymothi's head, bringing the ball crashing into his skull. He screams in agony as the ball jerks through his brain. Rays of the black light flutter between his eyelids, shading his eyes from the world. He convulses slightly before falling to the fall into a crumpled heap. Blood flows from the back of his head as he gasps his final breath.

"Another one out of my way..."

"Here is RuneShine." The group looks to a colossal shining stone, held into place by a large mechanical claw holder.

"It's... it's beautiful," Malin comments, her eyes tossing the colors of the jewel back at it. Cecilia turns to Celeste.

"So those words can resurrect the creature?"

"Not just that," Celeste instructs, "It has to be said in the presence of the Elemental Mystics."

"Delphine, Ashton, David, and Sapphire, right?"

"There are two others," David begins, "Well... that are still alive. One of Light and one of Darkness."

"Who are they?" Klein inquires.

"We believe that Matthew is the Light Elemental, as has been demonstrated. Someone in the Liberation is the Darkness Elemental, but..."

"Who?" Rory asks, wrapping his arm around Cecilia. She basks in the light of the RuneShine, never removing her gaze from the stone.

"We don't know yet."

"Wh... what happens if someone says the words?" Cecilia asks, still entranced.

"Well, nothing if the Elementals aren't around."

"What if an Elemental says them?"

"I suppose it may resurrect, but only if it is of Light or Darkness. That's only a guess, though..." Cecilia steps forward to the jewel, placing a hand in the air. She begins to murmur the words she mentioned earlier.

"Um, what's happening?" Soleil asks, gnawing on a fingernail.

"I don't know," Celeste comments, "I don't know what she means to accomplish by saying the words now."

RuneShine begins to glow with a feral aura of light.

"Cecilia?" Rory asks, walking to her side. She extends her arm out, tossing Rory to the wall of the cave.

"Rory!" Malin yells, tossing her own spell, "Levitate!" Rory stops moving, just mere inches from the rocks.

"Cecilia! Stop!" Soleil yells. Cecilia turns to her, her eyes now gleaming with a deep crimson tint.

"She's possessed!" Klein shouts.

"No," David says calmly, "She's the Darkness Elemental." The cave begins to quake as the RuneShine's luminescence begins to separate from the jewel, becoming its own entity.

"Oh... shit," David says, "She's resurrected it."

"Get out!" Celeste screams. The group bolts from the blonde flower girl, leaving her and RuneShine behind.

"Where are we going?" Rory asks.

"A tunnel up here will bring us to a town called Beauridge. From there, we'll get a boat to... someplace," Celeste explains, still running.

"Here it is," Celine says, "Let's go in."

"Wait a minute?" Aimee says, "What's that noise?" Footsteps echo towards the three. Suddenly, a figure jumps out onto Aimee. She shrieks, slamming her staff into their stomach. The figure jumps up, grabbing its side.

"What was that for?!" they yell, pain graining through their voice. Aimee looks up, scanning them over.

"Preston?!" she shouts, "Preston!" She jumps up, wrapping her arms around him, "Where is everybody?" Suddenly, Leon and Schiavona appear behind him, surprise on their faces.

"Aimee!" Leon exclaims, "We've been hiding forever. Where have you been?"

"Looking for you!"

"Well, we have a problem," Schiavona states, "Kenneth is in there by himself."

"He'll come out soon," Aimee reassures them.

"Durandel and Cleo are in there, too." Aimee gasps in surprise.

"We have to save him," she says, "Let's go."

"Wow," Preston says, "where did this adventurous streak come from?"

"Let's go save him." She rushes into the temple and the others, somewhat confounded by this, follow her.

"I'm presuming the entrance is that way," Durandel points down a hallway as Kenneth checks it.

"Any monsters?" he asks cautiously.

"Why don't you check?" Durandel snarls.

"Oh, so now the Incubus has a smart lip?"

"I could slit your throat right now."

"You need me as much as I need you."

"Why would I need you?"

"You might have night vision but I've got human judgement."

"Hmph... have it your way... ignorant kid." A female cry rings out, piercing the solitude.

"Cleo!" Durandel screams. He glides off into the darkness with Kenneth on his heels. They come across a room, lit only by nearby torches. Cleo hangs overhead, suspended by what seems to be a large rope of spider web, crying.

"Cleo!"

"Daddy! Help me down!"

"How will we do that?" Durandel turns to Kenneth.

"I don't know..." he replies, "What did that to her?" On cue, two of the creatures from their first moments of consciousness emerge from darkness, scaling across the wall.

"What are they doing?" Durandel asks, panic threading his voice.

"Catching their prey?" Kenneth offers.

"Shut up," Durandel counters, "I wish I could reach up there." Kenneth looks to Durandel, then to Cleo, then to the two creatures. He draws an arrow and loads his bow, aiming for something above.

"What are you doing?" Durandel questions. Kenneth lets the arrow fly, just missing Cleo and lodging itself into one of the creatures' bodies. He quickly shoots another at the second and they both fall, crashing to the rocks below. Durandel looks to Kenneth, his mouth falling into gaping space.

"Thank you, Kenneth. You saved my daughter. I..."

"Never mind. Just get her down."

"Kenneth!" Aimee appears, the rest of the group following her.

"Aimee, finally..." Aimee takes notice of Durandel and Cleo.

"Kenneth, what are they doing here? You haven't..."

"No," he scoffs, "We were helping each other out of this place..."

"Yes we were," Durandel and Cleo join them, "It was a truce made in a moment of weakness. I sincerely thank you, Kenneth, for rescuing Cleo." The two walk away from the group, disappearing with a swipe of his hand.

"You rescued her?!" Schiavona reprimands.

"They will come back, you know," Preston warns.

"Guys," Kenneth says, "Let's get going."

Back at the village...

Villagers scramble to their huts as screams of terror shoot through the air. The group arrives as a bleeding villager begins to run past. Celine stops him, searching his wounds.

"What's happening?" Celine asks.

"It's Bhuru," he says, "He's gone insane... he walked outside and began shouting spells..." Celine pushes him further.

"Go now!" she shouts. The villager runs as Celine dashes into the village, Aimee and the others following close behind.

"Bhuru!" Celine yells. The stout elderly man turns to her, his hands over his head.

"Celine!" he shrieks, an ungodly tone in his voice, "Frost!" Her skin begins to shiver as suddenly, pain etches through her. Lhasa runs up beside her, his arms outstretched.

"Earth below, conjure your might, and raze our enemies! Gaea Eruption!"

A hole rips into the earth behind Bhuru as pieces of jagged rock float up. They rush at him, striking him in the back. He falls to the ground, clutching his new injury.

"You little bastard! From the depths of Hell, rise to engulf the impure, and cleanse the living of sin! Helios!"

A ball of flame emerges from his hand. It slows, glowing into a white-hot sphere of flame.

"Lhasa!" Celine shouts, somewhat recovering from her attack. The ball speeds at the young man. He closes his eyes, praying that the ball will miss him. Preston dashes from the group, bolting towards Lhasa.

"Preston! Come back!" Aimee screams.

"Oh no..." Leon says, "What is he doing?"

"Preston lunges, letting a guttural grunt escape his lips before the ball strikes him, knocking him into Lhasa.

"Preston!" Aimee shrieks, her voice a shrill animal cry. She runs to him, tears in her eyes, "Wake up, Preston... oh God, please wake up..."

"You're a priestess! Do something!" Schiavona cries.

"I don't know any life giving spells..." She stands, looking to Bhuru, "You possessed old bastard!"

He smirks, standing from the ground, "So now Mr. Triller is dead. No insurmountable loss..." Aimee grunts in rage, closing her eyes.

"From His palace, let loose the black from white, singe with heaven's fire! White!"

A large ray of light comes from above, capturing Bhuru within it. Smoke begins to erupt from him as he screams in pain.

"Celine!" he screams, "Tell him about... his identity..." He falls, completely motionless.

"He's dead," Celine says, emotionless, "Come with me, Lhasa."

"Can you sense them anywhere, kid?" Drek and Jorge clomp through a large puddle of mud.

"I'm conversing with Loura telepathically," Drek replies.

"Loura?"

"Oh, my girlfriend from Divigalia."

"When did she get onto the Phoenix?"

"The Elders sent her down to find me and bring me back."

"Will she?"

"I hope not. I can be executed for what I've done."

"So you trust the girl?"

"Yes..."

"We're right here!"

Cyndi and Loura crash out of a clump of brush and twigs.

"Drek!" Loura cries, wrapping her arms around his waist, "We've been looking for you guys!"

"Where are we?" Jorge asks.

"The Barium continent," Loura explains.

"Where's Tymothi?" Cyndi asks, "I thought he'd be with you."

"I think he might be..." Drek trails off.

"No!" she interrupts, "He's not dead!" A wave of nauseous discomfort surges over her.

"I've been picking up brainwaves from Matthew and Clarie," Drek says, "They're at Beauridge and they'll be bringing a boat to the South Coast."

"So we should start there?" Loura asks.

"Not without Tymothi!" Cyndi yells in protest. Drek grabs her shoulders.

"He's dead, Cyndi!" he exclaims, "We need to leave or we might be soon, too!" Cyndi sits on the ground, pouting. Tears flow from her eyes.

"You're right," she whispers, "Let's go."

Joshua walks up behind Cecilia, a smile crossing his face.

"So Miss Trueblood," he grins, "you're the Darkness Elemental, eh?"

"It's been released," Cecilia says, turning to him, "It's ready for your bidding, Tristan."

Joshua looks up, a menacing scowl on his face. In front of him, a large creature stands, looking much like a standard werewolf.

"This is it?" Joshua snickers.

"Attack!" Cecilia commands. The wolf looks to Tristan and growls, pouncing onto him. He screams as the wolf tears into him, ripping into his body with a fierce tenacity. Cecilia smirks as she watches the general being torn limb from limb.

"Your bidding?" Cecilia smirks, "Not likely."

"What is this?" Lhasa asks, scanning over a book.

"This is the book of the Tribe's history," Celine answers, "I hate to say... but Lhasa isn't your real name. You're not a Pharem."

"What?" Lhasa reads the page avidly.

"We found you on the shore. There was this letter... it said to take care of you... Brian LaCroix."

"LaCroix?" Aimee rushes in, "As in Matthew LaCroix?"

"Yes," Celine admits, "you are Matthew LaCroix's brother. Your real name is Brian. You're a regular Mystic, just like the rest of your family."

"Wait, Matthew's a Human," Aimee states.

"No, he's not. He's the Light Elemental."

"Light? There is no Light Elemental!"

"There were eight, Aimee: Fire, Earth, Air, Water, Body, Spirit, Light, and Darkness."

"I've never heard anything about Light and Darkness in my studies."

"They're destined to fight soon... we Pharems know more about this than a lot of people would be willing to believe."

"I'm willing to learn about it."

"What?" Celine asks, bemused, "It could take days or weeks. Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm willing to stay here as long as it takes." Celine smiles.

"I wish there were more villagers like you."

"I need to get to my brother," the newly deemed Brian interrupts.

"I can cast a teleportation spell to send you to him. Get the others ready."

Brian bolts from the room, rushing to the group outside.

"Celine's sending us to Matthew," he tells them.

"What about Aimee?" Leon asks.

"She's staying to study the Elementals. Come on, we have to get going!"

Matthew turns to his side, watching Claire as she sleeps. She smiles, her breathing steady and rhythmic. He runs a hand through her hair before getting up. He gathers his pants from the floor, placing them on and standing, walking to the nearby balcony door. He opens it with a slight creak and walks onto the balcony.

The night air pierces his bare skin as he leans on the railing, looking over the town below. Look at them, Matthew thinks, They don't even know what danger they're in. This town could be gone tomorrow and they don't even know it.

"Matthew?"

He turns to see Heather, standing in the doorway. She is adorned in what seems to be a normal silk robe.

"Can I talk to you for a little while?" she asks, moving closer.

"Sure," Matthew says, "What about?"

"Well... I'm nervous."

"About?"

"About the fighting."

"You feel it too, huh?

"Yes. Everyone's coming here tomorrow and when we take the boat to Barium, we'll find the others."

"How do you...?"

"Telepathy, remember?"

"Oh... I feel war coming soon... I can tell... My Rune's been glowing lately. It never has before."

"It's the activation. The Runic Stone is taking its affect."

"What do you mean?"

"It'll affect you. Somehow, it will affect your personality o what you look like."

"Really?"

"Yes," Heather confides, "I'm presuming you weren't born with that copper streak in your hair?"

"No..."

"I wasn't always this serious, either. I remember when there were pains after I met certain people. It faded eventually, though."

"Hm..."

"Thanks for listening," Heather smiles, walking away. A few moments later, Matthew walks back into this room, slipping next to Claire and drifting into a deep sleep.

The next morning...

Matthew wakes up, looking to his side, as he did during the night. Claire has disappeared now. Matthew stands, gathering his clothes and walks to the door.

Once in the hall, Matthew pulls his shirt over his head. When he can see again, he sees Kenneth standing just before him.

"Kenneth!" he proclaims, embracing his comrade.

"It's good to see you, Matthew. We've got someone for you to meet."

"Bring them on the boat," Matthew says, "I have to discuss something with someone. I look forward to a good report of what happened, though." Matthew walks away, leaving a somewhat stunned Kenneth behind.

Matthew walks to the main hall of the house, pulling his vest on. Everyone besides Kenneth is here. On quick inspection, however, Matthew notices that Rosa isn't here, either.

"Matthew!" Malin shouts, running to him.

"Malin!" he exclaims, embracing her as well, "Have you seen a brown haired woman around here?"

"You mean Rosa?"

"Yes, where is she?"

"She's out near the boat." Matthew thanks her and runs out of the door.

"Rosa!" The brown haired woman turns to him, smiling. She now wears a pink bodysuit with a white cloth cloak draped behind her.

"Matthew," she smirks, "I see you're ready to learn about you Runic Stone."

"Tell me about yours first," he urges eagerly.

"Alright," she sighs, "mine is the Sorcery Rune. It's the most powerful Runic Stone intact. It makes it so I'm able to cast any spell known. Quite useful. Now, would you like to know about your Runic Stone?" Matthew nods, setting onto the ground.

"Good," Rosa starts, "It's called the Waxing Crest Rune. 'Waxing' after the lunar cycle meaning 'growth'. 'Crest' meaning 'top' like a wavelength. I don't understand that portion, but it's the growth of light within you. When it has finished evolving, it will become the Full Crest Rune. You are the hero for the world. You are the fated one."

"There's an enemy for everyone like me, right?"

"The 'complimentary' Rune. It's called the 'Waning Crest Rune', which means the loss of light from within. Once it finishes evolving, it will become the New Crest Rune. Whoever bears the Rune is your fated enemy."

"Do you know who it is?"

"I only study the Stones, darling, not the people."

"So... no what do I do?"

"You find the New Crest Rune and destroy it."

"How do I...?"

"Matthew," Rosa interrupts, "you'll know, okay?"

"Matthew!" Soleil yells from the house.

"Wait a minute, Soleil!"

"No! Right now!"

"Anything else I should look for in my enemy?" Matthew goes back to Rosa.

"Well, you're the Light Mystic. They're the Darkness Mystic. Nothing more." She smiles at Matthew, "Now go see your friend." Matthew jumps up and runs to Soleil.

"What's wrong?"

"You should hear this..." Soleil starts, "It's about Cecilia..."

"Cecilia?! What happened?"

"She's the Darkness Elemental."

Matthew flinches, as though struck by a fist.

"What...?"

"She went wild in the caves... she resurrected RuneShine..." Matthew hunches over, leaning on his knees for support.

"That's not all..." Soleil continues, "Chester, Preston, and we believe Tymothi... are dead. Aimee is with the Tribe in study and the crew of the Phoenix is missing."

"On Barium, I presume?"

"From what Drek and Loura say... telepathy and all."

"Who's Loura?"

"A new recruit, along with some others... one of them says that he's your brother."

"Soleil," Matthew says gravely, "My brother died."

"Well... just come in here and ask." Soleil pulls Matthew inside.

"This is my brother?" Matthew points to Brian, "I'm sorry, but my brother is dead."

"I'm just going by what my chieftain told me. She said that my name is Brian LaCroix and I'm really a Mystic like you and my sister."

"He should have the same birthmark somewhere, right?" Claire asks, closing to Matthew. Matthew smiles at her, thanking her silently. He turns his back to Brian, grabbing the hem of his shirt and raising it until his shoulder blade can be seen. There is a red house-like mark perched on the right blade.

"If you're a LaCroix," Matthew starts, "You'll have this mark on you." Brian smirks lightly as Matthew turns back to him. Lhasa turns around, raising his shirt this time. A mark is in the same exact position as could be seen on Matthew's back. Matthew swallows hard as Brian turns back to him. He notices tears forming in Matthew's eyes.

"B... brother?" Matthew asks in vain, collapsing into an embrace around his kinsman.

"Brother..." Brian whispers, smiling. Malin rushes forth from the back of the group.

"The time has come to strike the enemy," she says, "Three incubi, two beastmasters..."

"And a partridge in a pear tree?" Gabrielle asks, a smile prying from her lips. Everyone looks at her, confusion settling in, "Twentieth century... sorry."

"Then there's Michelle," Crissy adds.

"And apparently Cecilia is against us now," Celeste says.

"Wait," Matthew says, drawing Luke's sword from his sheath, "what are you doing here?"

"Matthew, she's with us now along with David," Malin explains, "She showed us to RuneShine and explained the resurrection to us."

"She could've done that knowing that Cecilia would go wild!" Matthew blares.

"Cecilia did it alone!" Soleil screams in retort, "I found the passage! Cecilia did what she did on her accord! They saved us from General Tristan!"

"Another threat," Malin acknowledges. Matthew looks to Celeste.

"Did you really do that?"

"Not all of the Crimson Rose is evil, Matthew. Joshua attacked them and I couldn't help but attack him." Matthew contemplates this for a moment.

"Thank you, Celeste," he says, "Welcome to the New Liberation." Celeste smiles.

"Thank you, Lord," she says, bowing to one knee, "We have to retrieve the Phoenix crew from Barium still."

"I'll go," Matthew says, "and Claire and Crissy will come with me."

"Let me go, too," Gabrielle pleads.

"Alright, let's go.

END OF PART 12