Lux's lifeless body shot up straight from Landon's arms. She looked around quickly to see that they were still in the temple. Landon watched in awe as she seemingly rose from the dead and stood up straight. Lux looked forward to see Raphael in trouble and grasped the stone in her hand with an intense anger.
Lyone had his brother down on the ground. He leaned over close to his brother's face; his blade pressed against his throat. "You're a fool," Lyone whispered to him. "You always have been and always will be. I'm doing this planet a favor by eradicating you from it."
His back was turned to Landon and Lux, so Lyone didn't witness Luxina jetting from Landon's arms. By the time he heard her running towards him, it was too late. He turned around to see a bolt of lightning coming from her hand. Without warning, a surge of electricity traveled through his veins as he shot back onto the wall. He sat up to see Lux standing in front of his brother with her fist clenched to her sides. Small surges of electric bolts moved around her fists. He even swore that the glare she was giving him was static as well.
Lux took Raphael's rapier from the ground. It had slid out of his reach once his brother disarmed and pinned him. She approached Lyone slowly, whom was begging on his knees.
"Please, have mercy," Lyone said as he held up his hands to her. "I was just following orders. Lord Icis told me to find my brother. I would never harm him."
"Liar," Lux said and she held the blade out to Lyone's face. "You're just begging for me to let you go so you can go back to being Lord Icis's puppet." She put the tip of the blade to his Adam's apple. "I find it funny how you taunt Raphael and persecute him as a coward when you're here before me, on your knees, just like he was with you years ago. People like you shouldn't be allowed to live."
Lyone looked up at Lux with an angry expression. She saw right through him. "It doesn't matter what you do," he began to say, "Lord Icis will extinguish you and the other heroes who don't follow him."
Lux watched him talk with a smirk and slashed his cheek when he finished. Lyone moved his face to the side as the wound began to sting and blood began to flow down his face. His eyes were burnig with anger when he looked back at her.
"Get out of here," she said quietly. "I want you to live. I want you to live so you can tell Lord Icis that someone is going to stop him. Go back to that coward and tell him that his end is near." Lux kicked Lyone's rapier towards him and he grabbed it from the floor and took off. She watched to make sure he left without doing anything stupid.
After Lux saw the front door shut, she rushed to Raphael's side. Landon was already there and helped prop him up. He was covered in cuts and bruises that he had received during his standoff with his brother. His eyes were barely open and his breathing was labored.
"What was that?" Landon asked as soon as Lux made it over to them.
"I guess I'm a Divine Hero, or something," Lux responded, but Landon just tilted his head in confusion. "Look, I'll explain later. We have to get you up, Raphael."
"I don't think I can," he said.
"Bullshit," Lux said and she got up. With Landon's help, she pulled Raphael to his feet. He used Landon as a crutch. "Before we get out of here, I have to do something." She immediately went up to the altar.
"What are you doing?" Landon called as he tried to follow as best as he could. Raphael was bogging him down.
"Hold on," Lux said and she looked at the stone that remained in her left hand. The light in the middle was still scrambling around inside the stone. Lux took a deep breath and placed the stone on its pedestal. The pedestal began to lower and a slab of the floor began to move into the wall. A stairwell was exposed and all Lux could see was darkness.
"Whoa," was the only thing that Landon could say. Aiding Raphael up the altar, he made his way next to Lux. The pedestal stopped and became a piece of the handrail that sat in the middle of the stairs. Lux touched the handrail and a somber blue light went down the middle. She took the stone as she observed the path's beauty. Though not a bright light, the blue tint travelled down to each step and helped light the way.
Lux came back to help Landon serve as a crutch for Raphael. They assisted him in walking down the stairs. Once they reached the bottom, they could see a rapier shrouded by a white light. The blade was sitting in a pedestal that had a glowing teal lightning bolt on it. Lux looked at Landon and he just nodded to her. She handed him Raphael's rapier and approached the weapon.
The atmosphere was tense with curiosity as Luxina walked up to the weapon. She climbed up two petite stairs and made it to the pedestal. Behind it was a slab, which read:
Use this blade
To strike down Evil
In the most cunning of ways
With your gift of Mischief
And use Raidan's Element of Light
To lead all
Through the Darkness
The words were emanating a teal color, much like the lightning bolt on the pedestal. After reading the words, Lux looked at the weapon she was given. It was a rapier with a swept hilt. The hilt was much like Raphael's except that the knuckle guard was a solid plate rather than a caged guard. The plate had a teal background with a gold lightning bolt embedded in it. The rest of the hilt was grey, though the grip did have a teal fabric wrapped around it.
Though Lux's heart was racing, she calmly placed both hands on the grip and wrapped her fingers around it. She let out a deep breath and then began to pull the sword from its resting place. Bolts of lightning shot out of the pedestal and an intense light surrounded her. Landon and Raphael had to shield their eyes.
After the light died out, Luxina opened her eyes. She looked around to see if anything was different about her appearance and realized she had a sheath at her side now. Other than that, everything was the same. She looked up at the slab to see that the verse had disappeared. In its stead were the words: Good Luck. They slowly faded and eventually vanished.
"I still do not understand what is going on," Landon whispered to Raphael. Raphael just faced forward and didn't answer him.
Lux turned around and walked towards them. "We have to go," is all she said. She got on the opposite side of Raphael and sheathed her rapier. She once again aided Landon is moving Raphael. "What the nearest kingdom from here?" Lux said before they reached the exit.
"Latifundia," Raphael said. "It is west of here."
"Whoa, whoa, whoa," Landon said and he removed Raphael from his shoulder. "We're leaving Exercitus?"
"We have to," Lux told him. "Once Lyone gets back to the castle, I'm sure that Lord Icis will be after us."
"I know that," Landon said, "but I'm just not sure if I'm comfortable with leaving the country with a chick with mutant lightning powers and a man that obviously has family issues that need resolving."
"Landon, my brother saw you," Raphael said. "If he sees you again, you're sure to be hunted. I think it would be wise if you stayed with us."
Landon let out a deep sigh. "I can't," was all he said. "I can't just flee my country when an evil tyrant is trying to over throw it. I have family and friends here. If they die anytime soon, I want to be there with them. I want to fight to the end."
Raphael looked at Lux and began to stand up straight by himself. "If there is nothing that Lux and I can do to change your mind, then you may do as you wish." Raphael held out his hand and Landon grabbed it for a manly handshake.
"What are you going to do, Landon?" Lux asked after the manshake seemed finished.
"I'm the leader of a thief's alliance," Landon replied. "I just need to be there for them. And who knows? Maybe I'll become the leader of a rebellion that takes down Lord Icis."
Lux walked over to Landon to partake in a manshake with him, but he just pulled her in for a tight hug. "Please don't forget us," he said to her during their embrace. "I have a feeling that tomorrow morning is when the shit storm will arrive and we'll need a hero more than ever." He let go of Lux and looked at her with a smile.
"I'll be here," she said and turned to Raphael. "Are you sure you want to come with me as well?"
"Of course," he said. "I have nothing better to do." And, for the first time, Raphael actually put on a genuine smile at her. Even though they had only known each other for an hour, Raphael and Lux had immediately connected. Together they were unstoppable.
After they left the temple, Raphael and Lux exchanged their goodbyes with Landon. Landon shortly disappeared in the darkness.
There were two horses outside that had belonged to Lord Icis's now dead guards. Raphael jumped on one and waited for Lux to get on the other. She just stared at the big hooved beast.
"What's wrong?" Raphael said. "Is the leaving thing getting you down?"
"No," Lux said. She looked at him and appeared to be embarrassed. "I have never ridden a horse before."
Raphael rolled his eyes and remembered that Lux wasn't from around Exercitus. He dismounted his horse to help her climb his, which was easier said than done. After five minutes of flailing legs and weird shouts, the two were mounted on the horse and headed to the west.
Lyone Versailles rode his horse back to the Palace of Kings at a slow pace. He figured someone had told his Lord of his leave to kill his brother, so there was no escaping his defeat. He was also clueless as to how he would tell Lord Icis of the stone being used and a Divine Hero being awakened. He definitely would not like that one.
The castle guards immediately opened the gate for Lyone when he arrived, but they said nothing. Just an hour ago they had seen him leave with two of their comrades, but he returned with wounds and was alone. Many of Lord Icis's men had begun slaughtering the citizens within the castle town so they could make the homes of the dead their own. The blood curdling screams just didn't make Lyone as joyous as they had days prior.
Guards waited for Lyone when he arrived at the castle entrance. They took his horse and opened up the doors to the foyer for him. A server was waiting for him at the door and led him to the throne room. The server told him that Lord Icis wanted to have Lyone give him the first good news he would receive as King of Exercitus.
Great, Lyone thought as a shiver of fear traveled down his spine.
The server opened the door for Lyone and he stepped in. The room was almost completely dark but candles were lined up beside the red carpet on the floor to give some light to the room. As he walked, Lyone realized just how unnecessarily long the carpet was. It was difficult to see, but as he got closer he saw his Lord Icis. He was sitting with his head against his fist. He looked remarkably bored.
"Does something smell like burning?" Lord Icis said and he sniffed some more. The burning smell was coming from Lyone. Some of his clothes had been burned when he was bombarded with bolts of lightning. It only took a couple more steps for Lord Icis to see that something was wrong. He furrowed his brow and formed his lips into a frown.
Lyone got on one knee and bowed nervously. He wasn't sure how he would survive this meeting. "I'm back, my Lord," Lyone said.
"Where's your brother?" Lord Icis asked. He knew the answer already, but hoped he was wrong nonetheless.
"Raphael is gone, my Lord," he said.
"He's dead, then?"
"I regret to inform you that my brother is still very much alive," Lyone said without looking up at Lord Icis. "I think he has fled the country with a thief and a woman."
"What about the stone?" Lord Icis gripped the ends of the armrest.
"While I fought with-"
"I don't want the stupid details," Lord Icis thundered. "Where is the stone?"
"I believe that the stone has been used, my Lord," Lyone said and he prepared for the worst.
Lord Icis rose from his throne and came down to Lyone. He picked the man up and held him by his collar. "What did you say?"
Lyone tried to remain calm, but the eyes of Lord Icis pried into him and made his body tremble. "It was the woman that was with my brother. She touched the stone and passed out. We all thought she died, but she woke up and was able to control electricity. I had no choice but to run, my Lord. Someone had to warn you. This girl said she is after you."
Lord Icis dropped Lyone to the ground. Lyone stayed on his knees but was shaking violently. He wanted to run.
After a minute or so of a pause, Lord Icis faced away from Lyone and said, "Are you sure that she was awakened as a Divine Hero?"
"I'm p-positive," Lyone sputtered out.
"That makes things interesting then," Lord Icis said. He gazed out the huge window and looked out on the breezeway. He clapped his hands twice and a server appeared at his side.
"Yes, my Lord?" the server said.
"Bring in Gale."
"Right away, sire." The server left immediately and returned seconds later. "Gale is entering the throne room now, my Lord. Is this alright?"
"Yes," Lord Icis responded. He went back to his throne to see that Lyone had picked himself back up and calmed down. He knew that Lyone wouldn't dare to look like a fool around another soldier, especially Gale.
Lyone turned to face Gale as he walked down the carpet. Gale was a nineteen year old boy who had already climbed the ranks of Lord Icis's soldiers. He was wearing what he always wore: a dark green long sleeve shirt and black pants. He flashed his lifeless, grey eyes at Lyone and continued forward to address Lord Icis.
Gale dropped to one knee and bowed. "What is it that you need, my Lord?"
"I have an issue that needs to be addressed immediately," Lord Icis said. "A fellow Divine Hero has woken up. I need her eliminated to prevent any further obstruction to our plans. Do you think you could find her and kill her?"
"Yes," Gale said and he stood up. "What element does she have?"
"Lightning," Lyone interjected. "If I may say, my Lord, I do not think that pitting one of Shadow against the woman is the best move."
"You may be right," Lord Icis said and he smirked at Lyone. "But I don't usually take advice from utter failures."
That remark stabbed Lyone right in the chest, but he decided to just stare out the window rather than respond. He knew that Gale was just eating it up, however. Gale had only been a follower of Lord Icis a short time, but he quickly became Lyone's rival.
"I will return with victory, my Lord," Gale said. "Rather than come back here a failure, I'll die out there a failure. I assure you that I have that much dignity." Gale turned around and began to leave the throne room. Lyone watched with spite and began to fantasize about stabbing the boy in the back with his sword.
"Now, about your punishment," Icis said. His words were like a needle, which popped Lyone's thought bubble.
"Yes, my lord," Lyone said as he plopped back down to reality. He bowed his head and waited for his penalty.
Having never ridden a horse before, Lux was in pain. They had been riding through the night for four hours. Raphael had decided that the roads of Exercitus were not safe, so he took to forests and fields that had not been blazed. This also made the journey even more uncomfortable. He had lost count of how many times he had been struck by a branch of a tree.
Despite the fact that her rear end was in agony, Lux found herself dozing in and out of consciousness against Raphael's back. Feeling her slow breathing patterns on his back made Raphael want to doze off even more, but he knew that Latifundia wasn't too much further away. He was aware that a town called Tazmul was located a mile or so on the other side of the border. That was his next destination.
As the acreage switched from bare fields to cultivated plots of land, Raphael knew that they were in Latifundia. He had his horse go from a gallop to a trot, seeing how they were now treading over crops. It was still the dead of night, so Raphael knew that their chances of getting caught were slim. He certainly didn't want to deal with an angry farmer with a pitchfork.
Luxina lifted her eyelids slowly to see that the scenery had changed. She raised her head up to see the moonlight that bled on short cornstalks. This made it evident to her that Antiquus's summer was just beginning, while back at home summer was just ending. She stretched her arms forward in a relaxing manner.
"I'm guessing that we're in Latifundia then?" Lux said to Raphael.
"Yes, we're in Latifundia," Raphael responded. He steered the horse out of the plot of corn and onto grass. He didn't want to do anymore damage to the crops than he had to. He was still cautious however, and stayed away from the paved road to their right. "There should be a town a few minutes away from here."
"What are we going to do there?"
"We're going to find an inn and get some rest," Raphael said. "I need to get some more medical attention as well. We can't stay long past the sunrise, though."
"What time is it now?" Lux asked him as she removed her right hand from his side to wipe the sleep out of her eyes. She kept her left arm wrapped around him however, out of fear that she would fall off.
"Looking at where the moon is, I'd say about twelve or so." Raphael had learned the correlation between the moon and the time after spending hours marching to their army's next destination at night.
"Where do we go after we leave the inn?" Lux said.
"We'll go to the castle and warn King Athos of Lord Icis's coming," Raphael told her. "After taking Exercitus, Latifundia is the next to take. Sophizma is the third. After he takes the three crowned jewels of Antiquus, I'm not sure what his next move is."
"What do you mean by, 'three crowned jewels'?" Lux asked.
"There are eight kingdoms in the Caelestis union," Raphael explained. "Much like the Urpae union, these kingdoms divide themselves up. All of the countries use the same currency in both unions and fight as one in the same wars, but they all have different leaders and laws than the others. Three out of these eight countries are said to be the Three Crowned Jewels of Antiquus. Those are Exercitus, the country of militants, Latifundia, the country of farmers, and Sophizma, the country of scholars. These three are supposedly the oldest kingdoms, according to lore."
"So you don't know what he's doing after that?" Lux said.
"He hadn't really talked about it much," Raphael said. "What I do know is that, without the Three Crowned Jewels, the Caelestis union will crumble."
"So they have that much power over the union?"
"No. They are certainly the most powerful of all the countries, but each country has its own individual laws set by the Kings or Queens. I think the union will just dismantle in fear with the kingdoms under a new control."
"Then we have to prevent this by warning the other kingdoms," Lux said with determination.
"Yes, we will," Raphael said, but he knew that keeping the remaining two kingdoms intact was impossible. He knew that Lord Icis was going to move fast. There was no way that the two kingdoms could create a big enough army to stop Icis. He also knew that their plights would most likely be ignored by the two Kings.
The duo could see the town yonder. Raphael guided the horse onto the road. Within minutes, they found themselves in the small village. By the number of homes, Lux guessed that there were about two hundred people living there. All of the homes looked the same in that they were a sort of medieval German style.
They soon came to a four way stop with a sleepy guard standing on the sidewalk.
"This town must not have too much crime," Luxina said with a smile. The guard was a fat, mustached man with drool sliding down his mouth.
Raphael didn't answer as he saw a sign that read: Inn. The sign had a small finger that pointed to the left, so Raphael followed. They followed a smaller street lined with homes and came to a cul-de-sac of sorts. In the middle was a large fountain and right on the other side was an inn. It seemed large for being in a small town.
Raphael dismounted the horse and turned to help Lux down. She swung one leg over and he grabbed her waist as she jumped down to make the landing a bit smoother. He proceeded to tie the horse to a post on the front while Lux walked up on the wooden balcony. She was so glad to be off that horse. Now all she needed was a bed to sleep in.
Raphael walked up the stairs and opened the front door for Lux. They entered the inn to find themselves in a lobby. There was a desk at the left end with an attendant behind it. She was sitting asleep in her chair.
"Excuse me, miss," Raphael said calmly as they arrived at the desk. The woman woke up and scrambled around a couple of papers.
"Are you here for a room?" she said quickly.
"Yes," Raphael said.
"Do you want a room with one bed or two?" she said as she got up and grab a key off the wall. She waited for his answer before she looked for the right room.
"One with two separate beds, please," he replied. She took a key off one of the hooks and handed it to him.
"Go up the stairs over there and you'll find yourself in a room with several doors. The one labeled C1 is yours."
"Thank you, ma'am," Raphael said and he gave her a small bow. Luxina just nodded at the girl and followed behind Raphael. They walked up a set of stairs that led to a common area and entered their door. The room had two beds, a fireplace, a desk, and a couch. The room was also completely brown.
Lux rushed over to one of the beds with freshly made sheets. She jumped straight on the mattress and was welcomed by a cloud of dust. She immediately removed herself from the mattress and attempted to cough out the thick haze of dust that she inhaled.
"These must not have been used for a while," Raphael said as he used his hand to remove a coat of dust that lay upon his sheets. He then made his way to a door on the other side of the room that was labeled 'bathroom'. As stated, it contained a petite bathroom with a toilet, sink, and a shower. Everything, even the toilet, was an unattractive coral color.
"No shit," Luxina said as she patted her sheets to remove even more dust. She pulled off the blanket and tried to shake it clean of the irritating particles. She found some success, but the blanket was still a sickly orange brownish color spotted with stains. She ripped the second sheet off next and did the same procedure.
Raphael opened up a medicine cabinet that hung on the wall. He found a bottle of peroxide and gauze. That was exactly all he needed to clean his fresh wounds and redress the gunshot wound. He prepared to leave the room when his reflection in the bathroom mirror caught his eye. He immediately stopped in his tracks.
He put the gauze down on the counter and faced himself in the mirror. He touched his face and rubbed under his eyes. There was a sense of fear and uncertainty that dwelled in his blue irises. He had no idea who he was anymore or what he was doing. Everything had just changed in six hours. He went from evil villain to a running rebel in a short time. Now he was running around with a girl; trying to warn other countries of Lord Icis. He just didn't know what to do. Yet he remained staring at himself in that mirror for a good ten minutes.
He tore himself away from his image and left the bathroom to see Lux wrapped in a cocoon of blankets. He watched her slow breathing patterns lift and drop her blanket. She was in a deep sleep. He couldn't help but smile a little, though he quickly reverted back to a frown. It seemed that whenever he saw an image that brought him even a meager amount of joy, his mind would flashback to someone he killed. He assumed it was just his soul punishing him for all the bad things he had done.
He took off the layers of clothes that were on his torso and removed his sheath from his belt so he could sit down on his bed. He began to clean the wounds his brother had given him during their duel. It was the very first time he had ever defied his brother and he was very disappointed in the fact that he lost. He figured that, as long as he stayed with Lux, he would eventually get another chance though he knew that slaughtering his brother wouldn't put his mind at ease.
After he unwound his old gauze that covered his gunshot wound, he just stared at it. It had quit bleeding a while ago, but it still looked horrible. He treated it and wrapped it up. He wanted no sight of the thing. It was just another scar of failure that would stay on his skin.
Raphael laid his back against the headrest on the bed and let his skull touch the brown wall behind it. He was tired, but his brain was swimming with thoughts.
He was also scared.
The last time that Raphael had been scared was nineteen years ago when he was fleeing from authorities. He found it humorous that he was doing the same thing now. At thirty eight years old, he had spent more than half of his life running. Whether it was from his parents, his brother, or himself, Raphael never got a break.
No rest for the wicked, I suppose, Raphael thought and he looked over Lux. How he wished he could sleep as well as Lux.
He looked forward again as he felt tears well up in his eyes. No, no, no, he screamed to his mind. It was impossible to stop. Tears began to flow down his cheeks one by one and he scoffed at his weakness through his thoughts.
Raphael continued to stare into space and sniffle occasionally. What he didn't know was that Lux was awake. Being a sufferer of anxiety, she had developed insomnia during her high school years. She listened to some whimpers that escaped Raphael's lips to know that he was crying. She just remained frozen in her cocoon and begged her mind to let her get rest.
They eventually both fell asleep, frightened for the coming of the next day.