The Sorceress War Part I, Chapter XXVI
AN: Now, you know when you're in the Centran Ruins, and you see that room with the block that takes you up to the tower part? Yeah, did anyone noticed that door looking thing on the other side? Well, I thought it was a door, and that led me to believe that there was another section of the Ruins we couldn't get to. It drove me crazy when I realized I couldn't get over there. Also in this chapter is my first real lame excuse at a romantic scene.
Luckily for the Pack, the area just surrounding the Centran Ruins was fairly forested, giving them further cover in case Virados was on the look out for them. They ran in two linear lines as low as they could along the forest ground, Zion and Raine leading them. Every few hundred meters or so, they would stop under the cover of a large tree and check to see if they're were any enemies closing in on them. Once they saw they were in the clear, they approached the entrance at a sprinting speed.
When Raine began to sprint up the large staircase that led up to the next level, she nearly fell over the next step when she saw two blue magical auras racing up the staircase with her. She stopped, Corin almost running into her from behind, and watched them ascend. What the hell? Oh yeah... this place was built by the Mysidians... no Centran could make that happen. Screw it, if we linger too long to look at it, Virados will find us!
Continuing up the flight of stairs, then hooking right and taking yet another stairway up to reach the floor above, the Pack came to the entryway to the Ruins, that seemed to tower higher than it appeared from far away. Seeing no other way to go, Raine led them through a row of pillars that seemed to lead into some other room. Looking around once inside it, they found themselves stuck again.
There were two identical platforms leading up to a large block, then a nine foot gap that was between the floor they stood on now, and some other floor. Raine could see a large door on the opposite side, yet there was no bridge or platform leading over to it. It must have been a trap set by the Mysidians, Raine figured, who could simply float or fly over it without problem, unlike the Centrans.
"Now what?" Andraia asked, crossing her arms. "Do we try and find a way up to the next floor? What about this block thing?"
Zion shook his head. "It didn't look like there was anything above this part of the Ruins, except for the tower thing. I don't think he would have in a place like that, it'd be too easily accessible. He'd put her over there, where no Centran could get her since we can't fly."
Raine nodded in agreement. She looked around harder to see if there was anything that she could use to get across. Looking up to the ceiling, she found a derelict fixture on it. It looked amazingly sturdy for something so old, and it appeared to have a part that something could hook onto or wrap around. She thought for another moment, then turned to Celeste.
"Oh Trepe? Do you see that thing that's on the ceiling?" Raine said with an odd kindness in her voice. "Something can wrap around it, and if its the right thing, the person could swing across..."
Celeste shook her head fiercely. "No, no, no. Just because I have a whip, that does not make me Indiana Jones by any means. I hate heights, its dangerous, and I don't want to."
Raine smirked. "Who are you going to listen to? Me, or that inner conscience of yours?"
Celeste thought to herself for a moment, debating if she could really do it or not. Thoughts of Julia in danger crossed her mind, and she came to a resolution. She grumbled out, "...You."
Some of the Wolves laughed at that, though Celeste wasn't exactly sporting a happy face due to the task at hand. Stepping next to the block structure, she took out her whip that had been slung around her waist. Getting it out to its full length, she arched it back to get the most powerful stroke she could. She flung it forwards, having wrap around the fixture with a loud crack. Then, a second afterwards, once she saw it was secure, she took of at a run towards the gap. Jumping up and grabbing the whip, wrapping her legs against it for even more support, she glided over the gap. She let go, and landed gracefully on the other side.
She found a switch on the rail guard that would prevent people from falling off. She pushed it, hoping it was a switch that would put down some sort of bridge so the others didn't to cross via the whip. Luckily, it was, and a silver walkway began to extend from her floor to theirs. When it was close enough, they jumped onto it and ran over to Celeste, unhooking her whip and handing it back to her.
"Good job, Indy." Lancer complimented, but got a playful smack on the shoulder in return.
Raine approached the large stone door decorated from top to bottom in Mysidian glyphs. She searched around for a way to open it, finding a similar glyph covered button like apparatus that was beside it. She shoved the button into the wall, and the door slid up into the wall, leaving the path open for the Pack to go forward.
Crack! Though it was so far away, most Centran people could not have heard it, from their separate locations both Julia and Virados with their super-sensitive Mysidian ears heard it clearly. Julia wasn't sure if Virados realized what it was, since he hadn't really seen Celeste fight, yet she knew that the Pack was finally here to bust her loose. She could only hope that Virados hadn't heard it, and that they could get Julia free before he realized what was happening.
Virados, though down in the depths of the ruins, heard the whip crack as if it had happened right next to him. After the ringing had stopped in his ears (yes, Mysidian ears were that sensitive), he looked up towards the ceiling, pinpointing where the user should have been. Right near the entrance to the northern part of the ruins, where only Mysidians could go. He smirked to himself.
Ah, it could only be that annoyingly persistent Wolf Pack that tracked me down. No matter, my work is almost done here. He laughed then. Oh well, this will give me a chance to play with my pursuers.
Unsheathing the sword at his side, he looked into its reflective silver blade. Emerald Blade, time to show the Centrans what they have forgotten about how powerful you Weapon Controllers really are. Too bad I cannot use Ultima Blade as well, that bloody thing won't let me touch it without giving me a powerful electric shock. Well, if I can't use it, surely no one within the Pack can either.
Time for a little cat and mouse game. He thought to himself with a wry smirk.
There was a large descending staircase in front of the Pack, an occasional door on the side of the stairway every ten feet down or so. There were many, and Raine knew full well that Julia could have been in any one of them. She sighed in frustration, and checked in the nearest one. She found nothing but stacks of records in the Mysidian language.
"Maybe we should call out to her?" Lilliana suggested from behind.
Raine shook her head in reply. "And attract the red-headed demon man? I don't think so. We shouldn't even be talking, he can probably hear us even when we're this quiet."
While the Pack continued downwards, and Raine continued to check in the many doors, in the rear of the Pack things were different. Celeste and Corin were back there, roughly twenty feet behind the Pack, looking out for attacks from behind. Andraia was a few feet ahead of them and was working her way back, finding the main group boring.
Celeste heard something. It was very faint, yet it sounded like a blade scraping against stone. She looked behind her, which led Corin to give her an odd glance. He turned back to see whatever she was looking at, but found nothing but blackness. It was night and there was no lighting system in the ruins, all they had to rely on was Celeste's flashlight, Raine having the main one with the rest of the Pack.
The brawler furrowed his brows. "What's up, you hear somethin'?"
"I...thought I did." Celeste replied with confusion in her voice. "But there's nothing back there. I guess it was just my ears playing tricks on me."
They continued down for a few more feet, but then it happened again. A faint scraping sound, yet this time it was a bit louder than last. Now, Corin heard it as well, and both soldiers turned around and tried to see what it was. Corin turned back to Andraia, who was oblivious to the whole thing.
"Andraia, take your headphones off and listen to this!" He told her. She had the music up so loud, she didn't hear him. He tried again. "Navradski! Hey... short and stupid!" When this failed, he pushed her by the shoulders.
Almost falling, and having him poke her out of nowhere, made the summoner jump up and let out a soft scream. She flung her headphones off and shoved him harder. "What was that for?! You scared the bejesus out of me!"
"Shh.... listen." Celeste commanded, and fell silent.
After a few more moments of waiting, the scraping sound came back. This time, it was so loud and close, they had to cover their ears due to its volume. Now the Wolves in the main group had heard it, and several came running back up to them.
Edea looked around with her more sensitive sorceress eyes. "What was that? I can't see anything or sense anyone's presence up here."
"Hey... didn't Raine and Zion follow us?" Lancer asked, looking back down the stairs. "They're gone."
"Okay, this is getting weird..." Epsilon admitted. "It's like something out of a horror movie. Let's get back to Raine and Zion, as a whole group, no one hanging back this time."
"Good idea," Lilliana agreed, and turned back to head down the path again.
Running down the staircase, they soon caught up with Zion and Raine again. The two people in charge gave them very stern looks. Raine spoke up in a commanding tone, as she usually did when she was upset. "Where did you go? I've told you all time and time again not to wander off without telling me! I hear a scraping sound, turn backwards, and find all of you gone!"
Corin and Andraia looked away to the floor as if they were bad children being scolded by a parent, which is exactly how they felt. Raine crossed her arms and awaited an answer. "Well? Where did you all go?"
"We were trying to see what that scraping noise was." Edea informed, "But there isn't anything up there."
"Yeah, so let's hurry and find Julia, then leave!" Andraia nearly shrieked, in a panic over what had just happened.
Raine sighed, "Yes, let's just get this over with."
Julia, who had been hearing the whole thing, even their conversations, now had had enough of playing the quiet, covert role. She inhaled very deeply, not caring if Virados heard her all the way in Balamb. He was the one probably causing those scrapings anyway. "Hey!!!"
The Wolves quickly located the source of the noise, and ran towards it. Raine and Zion quickly darted out in front, the most anxious to rescue her. Coming face to face with yet another large stone door, Raine tried to find the opening switch again. Feeling the wall with the palm of her hand, she found the button like switch again. Pushing it in, the door slid open.
"It's about damn time! Where were you?! Shajuk, am I glad you're here!" Julia greeted, waving hello with her free fingers, though her wrists were still bonded.
For the first time in a while, Zion smiled warmly and took out a lock-pick to unlock her bonds. "Just tracking you down, avoiding Tonberrys, and that general thing."
"Hey, Heartilly!" Lilliana called to get her attention. When Julia looked over, the street fighter continued. "You'll never guess what Edea said! I was talking to her and she said she lov---!"
Edea quickly ran over and clamped a hand on Lilliana's mouth. "I told you, never say that!"
"You love me!" Julia cried happily. Edea groaned loudly, "...Oh god....why did she hear that?"
"I knew it all along! You can't fool me, Edea!" Julia said teasingly. Edea made a quick retort. "No... I love, if she'd finished, to torment you."
Julia shook her head, "Nope, too late now. You love me! You wouldn't have shut her up if that were the real phrase."
"Just be quiet." The sorceress countered, crossing her arms and moving to the back of the group to be out of the view.
Zion finally undid the last of the locks, and Julia fell forward as she was freed. Before she fell flat on her face, she brought her legs up and landed gracefully on the floor. She rubbed her wrists, which had become sore from hours of captivity. Cracking her neck, she turned to Raine. "Well, I think we should get going. But, my weapons are gone. I need to find them."
"Oh man..." Andraia whined. "More time in this god-forsaken place? Let's hurry, I don't like that scraping noise."
"It's Virados, I'm sure. He's trying to scare you."
Raine's eyes clouded over in confusion. "How do you know that?"
"If I were him, I'd find it fun to scare my enemies too." Julia replied with a grin. "In fact, I usually do that anyway. Now come on, let's get going."
One by one, the Pack members turned and ran out of the room and back into the hallway where they had heard the scraping sound minutes before. When all the other Wolves were out of the room, Zion turned back before Julia could exit. Raine looked back for a moment, then rolled her eyes and left the two alone after seeing Zion give her the death glare.
Julia looked up at him curiously. "What is it? We're going to be left behind."
"There's.... something I want to say to you." Zion replied, looking deep into her coffee brown eyes. Julia had received many looks from people in her life, but never that look. It was almost as if he was in love with her, though she figured she wasn't guessing right. Even so, that look made her nervous and jittery.
"Y-yes? You're new, so if anything of yours was stolen, it wasn't me. Try Corin or Epsilon."
He laughed, "No, nothing of mine was stolen... I think. Seriously though, Julia, I need to talk to you. So will you listen to me?"
Julia nodded softly, guessing at what was coming. During all the time that Zion had come into the Pack, he and Julia had been steadily growing closer and closer to one another during the mission time. She considered him a good friend of hers now. But she guessed because of the way he was looking at her now, he felt stronger than that. Inwardly, she had no objections at that fact. Outwardly, she feared it. She'd never been one for love before, she felt it always got in the way and that the person you loved would just break your heart in the end anyway. It was an ideal that she had somehow adapted from Raine.
"I've never really been one to act on my emotions over thinking things through logically first, but now there's an exception. You." His hand mindlessly crept up to her face. Brushing aside her auburn locks, he cupped the side of her cheek. "I don't know how exactly, but I think it was because of this capture. Having you away from me has made me realize that I can't stand that kind separation. I could never stand being away from you, even when you were just in another part of the base. I... think I love you, Julia."
He loves me? I was just guessing...but he really does. Oh man, this a big day for me. A guy declaring his love, and finding out I'm the daughter of an evil, corrupted god. She stood there in shocked silence for a few seconds. "You love me?"
Instead of speaking again, he used his other hand to grab her by the waist and bring her closer to him, until they were face to face. Now they were so close, they could feel each other's breath on their faces. Before she had a chance to speak (though she really didn't want to object in any way), he closed the gap and pressed his lips to hers. She stood frozen for a moment, but soon deepened the kiss, placing her hands on his shoulders. After a few minutes of this, Raine grew impatient and came back down the steps.
"...Ah..." The commander began, but she wasn't quite sure how to react in this situation. She said the first thing that came to her mind. "Stop it! Stop it right now!"
Julia looked to her over Zion's shoulder. "Go away."
"Ugh... cut it out." Raine replied. "Look, I sent everyone back to the Valhalla. You two go join them. I'll snatch your weapons, then I'll meet you back there and we can leave."
This caused Julia and Zion to actually break their embrace. Julia looked at her with a shocked expression. "Alone? No, they're my weapons. If anyone is going in solo, it's me. Why would you go alone? It's dangerous!"
"Because I'm quick and impatient. I don't want to lead the whole team through the ruins, I can get the weapons back quicker myself. Besides, if its a one-on-one fight, I'm better at fighting alone."
"Raine...." Zion trailed off, but she interrupted.
Raine sighed. "Would you two get going, already? Don't make me court-martial you."
Facing no other option under
Raine's glares, the two slowly backed away from their leader. They turned
out of the room and ran up the stairs, where Edea was waiting to escort
them. The sorceress shot them a glance, but silently led them back up to
the surface. Raine didn't want them tagging along while she found the
weapons, and she would much rather face Virados by herself if she had to fight
AN: So how was my pitiful excuse for a romance scene? I swear, it was a pain to write it.