“KIP!” Joran’s voice rang out over the chamber, louder than even the keening of the Crystal.She could only stare at him, a leaden weight growing in the pit of her stomach. As strange and misshapen as Kip had been… he had always been kind to her. The one person that she thought she could trust in the middle of all of the mess that she had created for herself. The one person she thought would support and protect her if she needed.
Why is Kip attacking Golbez?
It wasn’t merely just an attack. She could feel it… Kip was intent on killing. And when his single burning eye turned on her, she saw something cold and dangerous there. Something she had never seen in his face before.
“Kip…?” Joran found herself caught up in the grips of absolute fear. Her voice wavered as she attempted to appeal to him through the sound of her voice. The call of his name.
That’s when she realized this was no longer Kip. Simply the O.M.E.G.A. Joran wondered if there had ever been anything but O.M.E.G.A. there to begin with.
No… no… Why is he looking at me like that?
“Joran, dear. You shouldn’t have come here…” His voice was strange and distorted, a hint of insanity around the edges.
As O.M.E.G.A. took a step forward, Joran found herself backing away. Somewhere on the other side of the room, Golbez was struggling to his feet. Drained from tapping into the Crystal’s power and a pool of blood around his feet, he was in no shape to take on the O.M.E.G.A.
All that was left between them was her. And Incrytan.
Joran’s palms shot forward, cupping around the Crystal. The pulsing light reflected from her green eyes as she focused on the approaching Athrylith. Her hands shook, the weight of the unnatural fear dragging at her. The Mind Mage’s will.
“Don’t come any closer!” she forced between chattering teeth.
“And what do you plan to do, child?” a slick smirk broke over O.M.E.G.A.’s face. His voice intoned deeply, “Are you really going to attack me? Haven’t you done enough damage with that Crystal already?”
Through watery eyes, she suddenly saw the image of memories scatter through her mind. Of all the times that Kip had been there for her when she had been alone. When there was no one else on the whole Blue Planet who cared about her. He had been her friend.
Was he…? Or..
She fought the pull of the mind magery with a shake of her head.
No… no… he’s trying to stall me. I can’t let him… I can’t let him hurt Golbez!
“I’m so sorry, Joran,” O.M.E.G.A. said. But it was hard to tell now if his words were real or mere trickery. “I know that you love Golbez… but I have a job to finish. And I can’t let you or anything else get in my way.”
Golbez gave a choked sound at the statement, eyes falling on her in a state of shock.
Despite the pressures of the moment, Joran could only blush and stammer, “Y-yes…”
“Joran… why did you…?” the terrible question passed from between Golbez’s lips. The question she dreaded. One that couldn’t be answered here in the face of danger.
“I know you don’t understand… but I did it because… I love you,” Joran answered. Then her eyes narrowed, drawing strength from the three words. Finding her concentration, she once more tapped into the Crystal, focusing back on the looming O.M.E.G.A. “That’s why I can’t let you kill him, Kip!”
With the intensity of her words, Incrytan burst into a luminous glow, filling the room with song and light. Joran could feel the living energies of all the Crystals bound within it, under her quivering fingers.
“Joran! No! Not here!!” Golbez’s voice rose sharply, but a little too late.
The Crystal of Wind was now glowing, reacting to Incrytan’s call, a howling gust kicking up in the center of the chamber. Its own energies were drawn towards the vortex of power there within the room as a hairline split shot over the face of the Crystal.
All Joran could see was the dreadful face of O.M.E.G.A. as he flinched back from the gathering of power. All she could think was to save the one she loved from the one that had deceived her.
“Always something happening to keep me from finishing the job,” O.M.E.G.A. snarled, nose curled with irritation. His single eye flicked upwards as the howling tempest of the Wind Crystal began to chip and crack the pillars of the chamber. Then he made a break for the chamber door, hissing a furious curse under his breath. Promising to return with a vengeance.
Joran watched as his shadow slipped out of the room, just as a resounding crack shook the ground under their feet. She was thrown forward with the impact, the Crystal leaping out of her reach. The girl stared around with frightened green eyes. She knew what was about to happen. She had seen all of this before.
Incrytan! It’s… destroying the Wind Crystal!
A hazy image began to form from the winds. The sharp-featured head of a Dragon, rising up from the midst of the disintegrating stone. A Guardian Elemental Dragon, like the ones that had appeared before. Suddenly she realized the danger… not just to herself, but to all of the people there within the city.
If this Dragon is released here…
Frantically, Joran reached for Incrytan, cupping it between her hands. She called and pleaded to the stone.
Please… please stop!
But it did not respond. Wrapped up in the connection with the Wind Crystal, the balance of elemental power had tipped too far and there was nothing that she could do to contain the reaction.
A deep growl shook the chamber as the Elemental Dragon’s form began to solidify. Only a tiny fragment of the Wind Crystal still remained and was flaking away in the overpowering light of Incrytan. The vicious wind stung her flesh, leaving it raw and red, some spots on the back of her arm looking ready to bleed. The pain sent her mind reeling as the gales became too much to stand against.
She felt herself falling back. The world blurred around her in a dizzying spiral. The Crystal light rose and sank in her vision as she toppled.
Then to her surprise, Joran found herself sprawled against something large and unmoving. Peering up through watery eyes, she could just make out the shape of the underside of Golbez’s chin above her. His arms were extended on either side of her, battered body supporting her own as his hands reached around her, stretched towards Incrytan.
Green eyes burned as his will turned on the Crystals. An unspoken command impacted the air as his mind connected with the living energy of Incrytan. She could feel a sudden change sweep over him as he became the Master, his creation giving way to his domination.
In the haze of the dancing elements, within the twisting mirage of wind and tempest… she thought she could see what seemed to be a strange, ethereal outline. For just a heartbeat they were there. Wings of light and shadow unfolding from his shoulders. Protecting her.
The Wind Dragon also responded, reeling back with a mind-numbing screech. Joran could feel the struggle and see the energies crackling across the room as Golbez fought to bring the power of the beast within his control. The winds howled furiously, a feral desire for freedom.
“I am… the son of KluYa… the Crystal’s creator! You will… submit to me…!” the words gasped out of his dried throat, strain and exhaustion written all over his face. His hands trembled as he forced them to remain outstretched. But where his physical body was falling short, the power of his mind still held strong.
Joran could hear the sound of wood and stone giving way in the distance. Streams of tile were falling around them like rain. The castle structure was weakening around them, threatening to cave inward.
“Golbez!!” a sudden shout rang across the room.
The girl turned to see two men standing there. One she could recognize from what she had heard as Golbez’s brother, the Paladin King of Baron. The other was a human stranger whom she did not know. Both of them seemed battle weary. But their weapons were drawn, eyes focused on the Dragon in the midst of the chamber.
They began to shout things in a language that Joran was not familiar with. With a few strangled replies from Golbez, the two men wasted no time in leaping in. Joran watched in amazement as the two deftly made quick work of the situation, enchanted blades whistling as they dodged the jaws of the struggling beast.
She could feel Golbez’s tension lessen some as the Dragon’s attention was drawn away from the mental battle to the physical one. Swaths of green light began to take form in the winds, tracing back to the source of the creature. Signifying that the Half Lunar had begun to get some control over the outburst of energy.
Becoming quickly overpowered, the Dragon reeled back with a protesting roar. The Paladin shouted something urgently before both men sprang away from the center of the room. Great wings began to shift as the beasts head rolled back, the body’s outline expanding into a great maelstrom of roaring wind, a condensed hurricane that slammed its way straight through the ceiling of the chamber.
Joran opened her mouth to scream, but the sound was whipped away before she could make it. Rubble began to crash down around them from every side as the walls groaned and began to buckle. Someone grabbed her around the waist and she felt herself being carried away from the center of the storm.
Everything became a blur of wind, stone and rushing bodies. The furious howl of the wind seemed relentless and never ending. When silence finally did come, Joran had no idea where she was or exactly what had just happened.
The girl could see the slumped figure of Golbez on the ground next to her. The Paladin was frantically wrapping the wound in his brother’s side, shouting over his shoulder for aid. She then realized they were in a hallway of some sort, littered with rubble and broken bodies from the battle that had just taken place. In the distance was the sound of rushing footsteps and the shouts of human voices.
Instinctually, Joran clutched Incrytan to her chest. The Crystal was now silent, only giving off the slightest light, reacting to the presence of its maker.
That’s when she realized that the other man was standing over her. His grey eyes narrowed, peering down at her in mistrust. A stream of words came from his mouth, only a few of which she could understand. But the ones she did were all that was needed.