Once Again
by Lord Zero

Didnīt you thought that it was extremely suspicious the fact that halfway thru the game, the cast of characters suffers such a weird personnel cut? I did. I bet that the bad guys are trying to fool our heroes ^_^. This Fanfic is based on this idea: The enemies are alive, and still kicking. Itīs a bit different from the game, but oh well.

NOTE: I didnīt respected Kevinīs way of talking, I hated it, but I found him very childish on his personality and, well, his way of talking. Maybe thatīs just me...

I think Iīll make a sequel and a prequel. What do you think? Email me at lord_0@yahoo.com.


As the giant dragon head of the Dragon Emperor hit the ground, lifeless, the whole Mana Holyland seemed to tremble, as itīs own scence was being torn apart, being defiled by the black soul of the Dragon Emperor using the Mana Sword to cut the Mana Tree.

Duran suddenly felt strange, and weakened, and his legs began failing him: He was falling to the ground, and just in time Riesz succeeded into letting him fall to her legs, while she was kneeling, so he wouldnīt hit the floor and break his stubborn head.

"Hey, HEY, Duran, wake up! Donīt leave us now!" Riesz shouted to him, as Kevin, Charlotte and Hawk runned to surround him, like trying to help.

Angela only stood still, unable to avoid that terrible feeling in her mind, that he would be harmed.

Luckily, Duran slowly opened his eyes, only to find the comfortable face and mother-like look of Riesz, who let a sigh out, relieved. "We canīt get out of here without our personal Paladin to help us!" She said, smiling and brushing some of Duranīs locks of hair out of his face. She felt like when she met him in the Waterfall Cave, when they became friends, finally. And he remained to be her best friend. Ever.

He smiled, and everyone smiled. Only Angela grabbed her head with one hand and said "Bastard. You scared me."

"Iīm tired. So tired. I donīt know if Iīll be able to get up... Iīm a mess..." Duran talked slowly, showing off that _he was tired_.

"Yeah, we know, but youīre not a mess, you look great. Now get up, dammit, this place is not going to be safe anymore" Hawk spat, sacarstically as he could. Kevin smiled after putting his "Me donīt understand" face, and said "Come on, Iīll take Duran out of here." happilly.

"Youīre sweet, Kevin. But he can get up by himself anyway. Get up, Duran!" Riesz said with an authoritive voice. She helped him to get up, and finally, Angela started walking toward them, and smacked Duran with her Ancient Rod in his head.

"Didnīt you heard me, YOU SCARED ME."


The distinctive glow of the Faerie got their attention. "You have grow. But the Mana Tree is dead, and Mana is dissapearing from this world. Iīll be gone with it. I didnīt knew you for long, but thanks for everything."

"No! Faerie, Donīt leave us!" The group said, hopeless for the lost of their friend.

"Donīt worry, Iīll be back, as the new Mana Goddess"


The shape of the faerie began to change to a full grown beutiful woman, who talked with a soothing voice "The faerie is the Mana Tree seed. When she meets the heroes, who believed in her, she becomes the new mana goddess. Thanks to you, Mana is only weakened, but she will revive it. Remember this day, and make sure your kids remember, because a hundred years from now, the menace will surface, and the Mana Sword will be draw from itīs resting place. You can go in peace, heroes of the Mana Sword..."

The group started walking towards the only place where Flammie would be able to land, as she was flying over the place and trying to help the heroes, but she couldnīt be able to break thru the tree.

Riesz stood there looking the Mana Treeīs dead roots, and turned around to follow the group, as saw Kevinīs huge body, who looked at her with his mouth open.

"Whatīs the matter, Riesz?" Kevinīs voice sounded like some forgotten pagan god, now that he was a Death Hand. He was scary, if you werenīt a friend. But he was still a soft and very caring guy, as he shown on his everyday way of acting.

"Itīs nothing... itīs just like, itīs over..."

"Well, thatīs good, methinks... Why are you worried? We saved the world, and weīre now free to continue our lifes"

"And what makes you think that I want to continue my life? I mean, itīs great to be normal again... but I guess Iīll never be able to live thru another adventure like this one. This was great, Kevin, I meet Duran, the most determinated guy on earth, I meet the only Magus who couldnīt use magic, Angela, I meet the cheapest romantic in the world, Hawk, I meet a Half Elf, which is rare enough, Charlotte, I meet you... I meet you, a beastman who doesnīt likes fighting... strange to the least."

"You talking about me!" Carlieīs annoying voice came by, cutting Rieszīs inspiration. "What you saying, you mean tall guys?"

"Let us go..." Ended Riesz.

As Flammie flied as top velocity, Duran was "Driving her" (In fact, she was driving him) as Angela was trying to make him notice of her sex-appeal (Without any success), Hawk was trying to get a grip from somewhere (he ended up grabbing himself from Flammieīs leg)(Donīt ask me how did he get there), Carlie was playing with Flammieīs tail, and Kevin just was still. Really still, since Riesz had her arms around his waist to keep from falling. She was pretty much in Rolante, at least on her own mind, thinking of his brother, whom wasnīt found after all. She would search for him as soon as she got to her kingdom.

So she didnīt realized where her arms where. And her head was resting on Kevinīs back. And so, Kevin was trying to not move, so she wouldnīt move either. He felt really great, but he was blushing, and he didnīt wanted anyone to notice.

Finally, Riesz snapped out of it, and realized her pose; she quickly corrected herself "Sorry Kevin...".

"Donīt worry, it wasnīt... itīs ok."

Riesz kept looking at him as if he was to continue talking, so Kevin simply looked away and spat "itīs ok, really."

She smiled, and then looked at Hawk. She would normally help people like him, but he looked so funny hugging Flammieīs leg, that she decided that it served him right.


They left Carlie with her Grandfather, who, like a priest he was, didnīt seemed very emotive, but Heath hugged her, and they seemed happy anyway. They finally touched ground at Rolante. Elliot ran towards his sisterīs arms, and they both embranced with al their strength "Big sis! Youīre Finally home!"

"Youīre here!.. Iīm here... Iīm not going anywhere for a long, long time... Thatīs what I wish, after all."

"You gotta let me help you, sis!"

The rest of the team looked the moving scene "They are very close. I wish Iīve had a silbing..." said Angela, with a hint of jelousy. "Thatīs what friends are for, Angela. To support each other. To give whatīs needed..." Hawk walked at her, and finished "in your case, we are here to help you feel what you want to feel. A true friendship."

"Youīre so sweet that Iīm surprised you arenīt a candy. Shut up."

Duran and Kevin laughed all heartily, and Hawk looked like a rejected pretender. "You arenīt sweet".

"Iīm not supposed to be sweet. Iīm supposed to be annoying." She turned around to cross her arms. Hawk looked at Duran and with every mean thought he could articulate, he said:

"You are not going to have a good time"

Duran didnīt seemed to understand the commentary. Kevin laughed again. At this point, they heard Rieszīs soft voice "Come, get in! We have to celebrate!".

"So this is why we left Carlie first, he he..." Hawk laughed.


That night, they had a party- Rolante style. The Amazons were Hawkīs delight, Duran ate as much as he could, and Angela, pretty Angela, was basically trying to get him drunk.

Kevin felt uneasy. He wanted to talk with Riesz, but she seemed somehow busy, while the whole castle was throwing the house out of the window. She was sitting, talking with Alma, and Elliot was sleeping over her.

She looked wonderful. She was perfect. She was sweet, caring, compasionate, beutiful, and inteligent.

And he was a beast.

He was getting somewhat deppressed. He didnīt knew how to act in front of a girl, he never met a girl he liked before. He was a tower of muscle, was nearly a demi-god by becoming a Death Hand, but he was only 15, so he couldnīt nearly be atriculate when talking to her.

He was decided to make her notice him, but he also sure that she wouldnīt care beyond what she already cared for everyone.

But he would try anyway.


Angela was giving Duran whatever she could find to please him. Beer, food, she was even cleaning his face.

By this point, either by Angelaīs charm or the Beerīs Charm, he was charmed. He started looking at her different, noticing how pretty she was. Sure she was annoying as hell, but, dear, was she pretty.

Then, he decide to abord her-thing that he didnīt had much experience, though. Right, he could cut Forcenaīs castle in two using a good Flashing Sword, but talking to her the first time without worrying abour saving the world was even tougher.

"So, Angie (^_^)... What are you gonna do now?" He said, crossing his legs, and trying his best to take the deepest voice he could produce.

Angela smiled then replied "I donīt think Iīl continue studying magic at Altena, as I know far more than any of my teachers... I donīt know. How ībout you, honey?" She then crossed her own legs, and grabbing her knees. She was happy that he finally seemed like *talking*, instead of eating or screaming to the rest of the party.

"I guess youīre right, youīre a Magus. You have everything you could have, after all, at least on the magic side. Iīll try to join the kingīs ranks once again, though I donīt know if Iīll able too."

"You will. Trust me. Youīre a Paladin. Itīs hard that anyone of us could have any trouble finding a job" She laughed, and Duran followed her.

"I gotta TELLLLLL yaaa sumthing..."

This one was Hawk...

And he was beyond wasted in alcohol.

"What am I doing here? I should be with Jessica... zzzz" and he fell to the flor, without Riesz to look for his head.

"Is he alive?" asked Angela.

"I think so. Letīs hope he is tomorrow" replied Duran.

The pair smiled, then Duran, out of ideas for continuing the chat, asked "Whereīs Kevin?" while he looked around.

"And whereīs Riesz? Hmmm... Kevin and Riesz? Now thatīs a couple!" said Angela, with a good charge of mischief on her tone.


Riesz stood against the wall with her arms crossed as Kevin rubbed his neck with his right hand, embarrased.

"So, Kevin, what was that you wanted to talk about?"

"Y-you know... "

Then silence. Riesz wasnīt quite sure about what she could expect from Kevin asking her to talk alone at the balcony in the middle of a party, but she knew that it was important to him. He was very nervous, and after his two words,he keeped his mouth open, as if he ran out of words.

"I know... what?" She said quietly, trying not to scare him.

"Y-you know that I..." then he ran out of words.

Riesz was feeling like about to laugh in some histeria attack, but she knew she shouldnīt do it. Kevin was about to freak out, and she noticed it, so she walked towards him, and grabbed his hands, stopping him from rubbing the back of his neck.

"If thereīs something you need to take out from your chest, Iīm all ears, Kevin. So?"

"How Am I, Riesz?" he asked, like a little kid. Riesz, still grabbing his hands, left her arms fall, and looked at him up and down.

"Well, youīre big. And youīre sweet, youīre a nice person, someone who I could trust in. And youīre quite possibly the most powerful beastman to ever exist. And you have the face of a kid, whoīs still unsure of what to do..."

Kevin smiled slighty, and Riesz asked him "And how about me, Kevin?"

"Youīre strong!"

She smiled and nearly laughed, and Kevin instantly felt like an idiot. So, finally, he decided to say it.

"I donīt know why am I so nervous, but I gotta tell you... youīre pretty... and I..."

She smiled again "Do you care about me?".

He got tense all on his body, and whispered "Y-yes, I think..."

She caressed his face, and felt him shaking. He was handsome, well, he was furry, and was very impressive seeing his muscle mass, but he looked so innocent that the simple feeling of him being so insecure was enough to seduct her feelings of protection she had for everyone... As Duran was charmed by feeling that Angela was taking care of him, as he liked it, Riesz was charmed by the pure soul of the young beastman who was standing there, tense and nervous.

"Kevin... come here" With the same hand she had on his face, she took his chin and brought his face nearer to herīs, and kissed him.

The feeling of her lips touching his made Kevin felt very weird, it was a feeling that was somewhat similar to the same as when he did something wrong, and his body felt a sudden shake, but not physically, but inside him. But he didnīt felt like doing a bad thing, this was the best thing he could think off, but he couldnīt handle it...

Both opened their eyes when Riesz took her lips away from his.

She whispered "They are looking at us... Are you going to stay here? I have to check on Elliot and the party...".

He was still in shock for his first kiss, that he couldnīt quite look at her eyes "Me... Iīm tired... I think I will go to sleep...".

With the same smile, she said "Good night, Kevin. Iīll see you tomorrow.".

He didnīt replied, he didnīt even listened, he just walked towards the guestīs room. Riesz looked at him as he walked, one hand on her chin, and the other holding that hand.

"I donīt know why I did it..."


Duran took Kevin just as he went into the party hall, and sat him with him.

"You little brat. Youīve got the Star Lancer!. You look so innocent, yet you know what to do with a girl! Thatīs the attitude!"

Kevin looked at him, and just remained silent, thinking of that moment.

"Hey, HEY, Kevin! Earth calling Kevin *BTTTZZZ*, are you here? KEVIN!"

"Y-yeah?" he said, shaking his head.

"You canīt let her here! Youīve got to catch her! Do you want to leave her behind and pretend like youīve never met her?"

"No way! But I donīt know what to do..."

"Donīt worry! "Lover" itīs my second name! Iīll help you!"


Riesz looked at her little brother as he slept quietly on his room.

She realized that itīs been awhile since she saw him. He was so small, so cute, so little. He was her little brother, and she loved him so much, that she went thru all the wolrd, fought giant tower-climbing beasts, demons, souless warriors, and even a giant dragon, only to find him.

She also realized the irony that she didnīt found him after all.

He found his way home, on his own. He was growing, and after awhile, a very short while, he would be a big guy who would most likely take care of her big sis. He was going to be big like his father.

She missed both her parents. Thatīs why she cared so much about his brother: he was her only familiar left. She would be alone without him... No, she wouldnīt be alone anymore.

She had Hawk, the intrepid Wanderer from Navarre.

She had Duran, the mighty Paladin from Forcena.

She had Angela, the powerful Magus from Altena.

She had Carlie, the holy Bishop from Wendel.

And she had Kevin, the strong Death Hand from Beast Kingdom.

Yes, she had him, she though. She really had him. She smiled, and wiped away her dirty thoughts out of her mind, and turned around to find Angela walking toward her.

As soon as she was close enough to talk all right, she pointed her finger at Riesz while saying with the tone of an annoying little girl making jokes at expenses of her friend who likes another little boy in the kindergarden "So you like the beastman!" She changed her tone to a more serious, yet sexy tone "Well, I canīt blame you... Heīs tall, has the face of a kid, that muscles on his chest are so defined, he has incredible big arms... Heīs damn sexy, but donīt you think heīs a little hairy?"

"Can I talk to you being serious?"

"Sure, go on"

"I think I loved him just since the moment I kissed him. I didnīt really looked at any of the men with us during our travels, but at the moment we were alone, and looked at him... I just felt like that was the moment..." "Youīre weird, you know?"

"Whatever... I guess Iīll go to sleep too. See you tomorrow, Angela"

"See ya!"


"What a damn hangover!"

Duran was wasted on his bed as Hawk was complaining about his headache.

"I promise Iīll never drink again this way!"

"I said the same exact thing the day I went to find Koren"

"Shut the hell up, Duran!... oh hell.. I think Iīm gonna throw up again..."

As Duran laughed, and Hawk threw up in the garbage basket mercilessly, Kevin, completely oblivious to their scene, was still thinking.

He didnīt actually took any of Duranīs advices seriously, but he didnīt slept during the whole night thinking about Riesz.

Talking about girls... Riesz and Angela entered the room. Riesz had her hair freed, which was rare of her, and Angela had it on a pony tail, which was also something uncommon.

"Howīs everyone?... ugh... guys you look terrible, except Kevin... who seems to be fine. Oh well, heīs the nice guy of the group... you should take him as model to follow..." Angelaīs words were loud and there was no way of anywone ingnoring her.

Duran and Hawk looked each other, then looked at Kevin.

"Naaaah.... No way... leave us die a little while."

Riesz made an eye (;-)) to Kevin, while giving him a little smile. Kevin smirked nervously, obviously not accostumed to Rieszīs little afecttion signs. After it, Riesz annouced "Bad news, boys... Wendel was attacked..."

"What the hell?" Duran stood, but fell down because of his hangover.

"Carlie is okay, and so is everyone else... But the Mana Sword was stolen."

"Itīs supposed to have no power left, but thereīs an small chance it could be reforged... and we have no clue of who is gonna empower the weapon, and with what kind of power..." said Angela.

"Heath is going to visit us, and heīs bringing Carlie. Iīm guessing thereīs no vacation until we have that sword safe... or destroyed..." "Destroyed..." Duran simply couldnīt work out that he would destroy the thing he looked for so long.

It was ironic.


Heathīs words were somehow hard to understand, as he was really worried about the Mana Sword.

"I-I donīt know who was it... but he seemed like a Ninja. Iīm suspecting Bigieu is behind this..."

"Sheīs dead! Sheīs supposed to... that is..." Hawk sat down and started thinking.

"Do you think she has been fooling us all this time?" Asked Angela, confused. Hawk did not replied, but Carlie jumped out of her chair and shouted "Sheīs MEAN, sheīs been playing with us all this time! CARLIEīS MAD!!"

Heather tried to calm her down, then asked Hawk "Why do you thought sheīs dead? I mean... when did you found out?"

"We meet her in the Mana Holy Land after the war... and she killed Jagan... wait a minute, how did Elliot escape, Riesz?"

"He said he was left alone, and he ran away from the Darkness Palace, and was found by the Amazon Army in the Cave of Darkness... What the hell? The Palace was destroyed by the Dragon Emperor..." She stopped and looked everyone.

"I guess why itīs called Darkness palace... Nobodyīs supposed to find it."

Hawk collapsed into his chair, frustrated.

"F*** it... They fooled us!" Duran slammed his fist to the table. "Weīre going in and weīll find out what the hell itīs going on!"


Duran went to his room and started putting on his armor. Riesz entered the room when he was fitting his Sacred shield to his arm.

"I think you should see your family, Duran. They must be worried about you. They have known nothing about you since you defended Forcena from the Widzards from Altena."

Duran lifted his view to find the eyes of the Star Lancer. She looked the same as always, caring, and worried about everyone, yet she always looked sad. He neve knew why, and this wasnīt the time to ask her.

"Itīs not going to take longer. Youīve killed Koren, you own your aunt and your sister an apologize."

"I guess youīre right. After all, they have been waiting for me for weeks... But itīs gonna be a quick visit, we canīt let *whoever* has the Sword bid itīs time to empower it."

"We will drop you in Forcena... Iīm gonna take everyone home. Carlie and Heath will stay here, so we can find the way to go into the Darkness Castle."

Riesz left the room. Duran took his shield from his arm, and looked to the incriptions carved into it. "To defend the world, the faith and destroy the evil which haunts the world... We have become the Heroes of the Sword... I hope youīre watching, father... Wherever you are..."


So, finally, Riesz was alone again. After leaving everyone on their homes, so they could rest and see their loved ones, which was a very important thing for them, since they had been 7 weeks fighting in order to bring the Dragon Emperor down, and they havenīt saw their friends or family much since the start of this madness, she returned to Rolante, where Heath and Carlie were waiting for her.

She was flying on Flammieīs back. She was holding her neck, and she started talking to her like she would talk to a mirror.

"I know Iīm going to see them tommorrow... but I canīt help to feel somewhat alone... Theyīve been my best friends ever... weīve traveled for almost two months... and now I donīt have them near me... And I know they are going to be gone soon anyway. I have to get used to it.."

Riesz rested her head onto Flammieīs huge head. The flying creature did her sound, and then did a quick loop, trying to cheer Riesz up.

She finally landed in the summit of the skies. After saluting the Amazon which guarded this place, she went into her Castle, and finally, realized that she was the new queen of Rolante.

Queen Riesz.

It sounded huge to her 16 years of life.

She looked her Castle, and let her hair down. She felt like she was in charge of the world, which isnīt an easy task. But first, she had to re-arrange her life.

Elliotīs voice interrupted her thoughts "Riesz... do you believe Father and Mother are watching us from above?".

She smiled, and grabed her brother into her arms. "I do not believe it. I am sure of it."

Then she hugged her brother, and holding him, she went into the throne room, where she found Alma, Heath and Charlotte, waiting for her.


Angela asked the team to leave her in Elrand, for whatever reason.

Actually, she wanted to be alone.

She was going home after a long, long time... Without having to run away from her mother. And so, she wanted to think about how would be that encounter... she felt very insecure about returning to Altena.

She was, probably, scared. But even herself didnīt knew exactly.

She walked thru the Sub-Zero Valley, where she started her adventure. She walked into the valley, and got lost, and finally, fell to the harsh eternal winter which haunted the continent.

She also fell because of the sentimental scar she had, after finding that her own mother wanted to sacrifice her to the Dragon Emperor. She felt so humilliated, she didnīt wanted to regconize that her mother was, indeed, trying to kill her. She always had the idea that her mother neglected her, mainly because of the fact that she couldnīt use magic.

Well, now, she not only could cast the most powerful magic spells anyone could think of, but she was quite possibly the most powerful magic user in the known world. She was sure her mother was now free of the Dragon Emperor influence and she would expect her with arms wide open.

She was sure of it, and, finally, reached Altena. The guards couldnīt hide their happiness when the beutiful Magus was sighted.

Neither could Angela.


When Hawk returned to the Navarre Castle, she was surprised to find Neko, Jessica and the rest of his friends outside, like if they were waiting for him since he released Jessica from the claws of Bigieu...

He thought she was dead, but no... Bigieu was most likely alive. He couldnīt believe it... What kind of estratagem could she think of, when she fooled he and his partners into thinking she killed Jagan. That could have been a simple ilussion...

He could only wish that Eagle couldīve been here. He would be a valuable help... and friend. He was a great friend...

Jessica ran to hold Hawk on his arms: "I simply canīt believe youīre alive... and here again... I missed you, Hawk... I missed you so much..."

He surrounded her with one arm and wiped a tear away from her cheek.

"I wish I could be here for longer... but Iīll have to go tommorrow. Bigieu itīs alive."

Neko and the rest of the people shouted instantly "WHAT THE HE--"

"The Mana Sword was stolen, friends. Weīre sure that itīs Bigieuīs doing."

Neko thought about it for a momento, and he replied "That would explain the fact that we havenīt seen any stray Ninjas around here. They should be supporting Bigieu and company...

But now, youīre here. And we are going to enjoy your presence..."

Hawk took her girlfriend and hugged her tightly. "At least youīre safe..."

"But you arenīt going to be..."


Duran couldnīt hide the tears of happiness when his aunt and little sister received him at Forcena. After holding each other, Stella told him to go with King Richard.

"So, youīre going away again?" Said the King, after hearing his stories "Youīre just like your father, as corny as it sounds. I see him in you. I find his soul reflected on your shield."

"King Richard, I appreciate your praises... But I want to stop thinking about my father for awhile..."

The King of Forcena handed him the helmet of a Golden Knight "Son, your father is proud, even if you... well, killed him... again. You did the right thing, Duran. Your father could never rest in peace. His soul was captive. You freed him."

That night, while eating at his home, he tought about his words. He killed his father, indeed, but he wasnīt his father anymore. He was the Darkshine Knight. He was with the enemy. Duran had learned a harsh lesson about being a mercenary... a Paladin, best said. He could never have repent on his actions when he was acting right.

And he was being as righteoust as possible.

He was defending the defenseless, he was defending the world, and beating the evil which taints the existence of mankind. He had defeated the mightiest foe that the humankind had faced yet.

So he was being right. At least he was supposed to be right.

"Duran, whatīs the matter?" Asked Stella, worried about him.

"Uh?... errr.. nothing... Iīm okay" he said, hiding his thought.

"Come on big bro, you gotta eat so you can be strong for your next avdenture!!" Wendy started trying to feed him, but he refused it and asked "What? You donīt seem to be worried about me going away again..."

Stella smiled and replied "We know youīre going to be alright. And youīre going with Angela" She laughed "Sheīs a nice girl!"

"What are you talking about?" Duran was surprised about that comment.

After awhile, he started laughing and they all laughed all heartily.


Kevin was, above everything else, feeling tense. While the BeastKing received him, and Karl was happy to see him, he wasnīt like extremely feeling like in home.

The Beastking apologized to him, but he cutted him dry "You did what you did to wake the power within me, father. You donīt have to apologize. I owe you all my strength."

"Iīm sure Lugar is proud of you... wherever he might be now..."

"Heīs alive, father"

"I know. And he is one of the strongest Beastmen. Now that he has the chance to live again, he has the potential to become the most powerful wolf ever... With the sole exception of you, my son."

Kevin made several attempts to hold him, but finally the Beastking put his huge hand on his shoulder and said "And I am proud of you, Kevin."

That night, he was talking with his father about his adventures, and the battle with the Dragon Emperor, but finally the theme of Riesz came by.

"Duran, a friend of mine, told me that I have to be tough, and show my strength to her to keep her..."

The Beastking looked him like *What the freak are you talking about*.

Kevin looked him, and really ashamed he said "But I guess he isnīt right..."

"Itīs true that she would find you attractive because of you strength and toughness, son, but, what did you saw in her?"

"Sheīs sincere, compasionate, and treats everyone with love. And sheīs damn pretty!"

"Yes, she is beutiful, but above everything else, she has a beutiful soul. Thatīs what is important. You have to show her what you have to offer, not only your muscles. Copy me?"

He didnīt answered, but he got the idea. That night, he couldnīt sleep. Each time he shut his eyes, he felt like he was going to lose his mind. That was the first time he talked to his father like that, and he honestly felt great.

And he was going to thank him.




Heath and Riesz - Carlie was asleep - were trying to find the entrance to the Darkness Castle. They found out that they couldnīt honestly find anyway into the castle- without making their way into the Cave of Darkness.

"We will have to cross through that evil cave to get to the Darkness Castle."

"Letīs just hope that itīs not destroyed when we finally get there. Heath, can I ask you a question?"

"Sure Riesz, go ahead."

"Are you coming with us?"

There was a silence. Heath looked worried, and spat "No... I canīt go with you. You will have to make it on your own."


"Because I canīt go with Carlie anymore... She has to learn to live on her own. She is too dependant on me... Sure she looks like a little girl, but sheīs fifteen years old already. She has to grow... Sheīs an elf, sheīs going to live for three hundred years.. She has to learn to live with it... Iīm not going to be with her... Forever."

"Youīre being somewhat... I may sound like Charlotte, but... Mean..."

"Look at you, Riesz. Youīre 16 years old, and youīre already the Queen of your kingdom. I wish Carlie would be such a mature girl..."

"Thanks for it... Itīs late. We better go to sleep... Good night, Heath."

"Good night, Riesz. Remember what i told you... You are the heart of the group. Donīt give up, or the whole team would fall apart..."

Riesz smiled to show that she got the idea, and went to his room.

The heart of the Team ? She had to be be sane before keeping everyone from heading towards madness.


I already miss you.

I have become an addict of your innocence.


The whole group agreed on uniting on Palo, where Riesz would be wating, alongside Carlie and Flammie, who would take them to the entrance of the Darkness cave.

Angela was late, but here presence was felt.

"Iīm here!!! Iīm here!! Donīt leave meeee!!!"

She ran towards the group screaming "How are you!!! I missed you!!".

Riesz was content of hearing those words, and so was everyone. She got nearer the group with her arms opened, like trying to hold everyone on her chest at the same time.

She got nearer.



And nearer.

Duran wasnīt able to hold his ground when Angela when she jumped on him to hold him, and both fell fown, completely oblivious of what happened around them.

Hawk, Carlie, Kevin and Riesz only let a sigh out, and looked away.

"Best leave them alone for awhile"

"Yeah, right..."

"Angela is something..."

"Sheīs crazy, and Carlie doesnīt likes it"

Carlie jumped over Hawk and started asking him about Jessica, and Kevin took Riesz away to talk to her.

"Riesz... errr... I want to talk to you... about that night..."

"Yes, Kevin?"

"I... that night..." Kevin was blushing. Riesz smiled, and asked him slowly "Do you think that you did something wrong?"

"I think... errr.... no..."

"Then you shouldnīt have to feel nervous. Look, I canīt help you to feel confident... You have to learn it by yourself... but rest assured that I would wait for you my whole life... as long as you donīt change. I..."

There was a silence... She looked embarrased... and she was... She didnīt knew if he was going to take it the wrong way, but she was trying to give Kevin a lesson of self confidence, and she was embarrased to tell it...

After taking a quick look to Kevinīs jaw-open face, it seemed as his jaw could reach the floor, she looked down and let it go out:

"I like you the way you are..."

So, she managed to get away without having to resort to the word she was afraid to say. Kevin made several futile attempts to hold her, and she threw herself to his chest.

"Donīt change, Kevin. You are meant to be this way. You donīt need to change... never... ever..."

She snapped out of it, and told him "Go with Flammie, I need to be alone for a minute..."

"Are you all right?"

She didnīt answered. She just stood there, and as soon as she heard the door closing in, she said it.

"Love... Itīs that hard to say it... Dammit... iīm starting to get the bad habits of my friends..."


So, the six heroes were, again, on the road.

They got to the Darkness Cave that night. This cave was, well, dark. Itīs said that the light is forbidden on this cave, and, while nobody knows if itīs true, it seems to be completely devoid of light.

Duran led the group holding a torch high above his head. He didnīt expected to have to do it, but he was getting comfortable with his position as the "chief".

"So far, except for a couple oī Ghost who quickly faded away... we havenīt saw anyone...

Donīt you think we should go back?"

Angela was the bullseye of every look after those words.

"Are scared, Angela?" asked Duran, who looked somewhat worried. Of course, Angelaīs smart-ass attitude wasnīt going to show the fact that she was about to freak out.

"Itīs because Carlie looks scared, and we should take care of her, īcause sheīs the younger one and she doesnīt needs to be on this."

Then she brushed her hair back to her backside. Hawk looked at her like she was going to eat her alive, but at last, Carlie jumped and shouted: "What the freak are you talking about?!"

"Get moving, we need to get on with this sometime this millenium!" then Duran pushed her forward, which triggered an instant complain "Get your hands away from me, Duran! I can walk on my own!", after that, she finally took the Torch from Duranīs hand, and walked.

"What the hell did you saw on her?" asked, stranged, Hawk.

"She seemed nicer last night..."

"Yeah, whatever, guys, let get moving!" Riesz pushed the couple of kids around, while Kevin laughed, which scared everyone with the acoustic nature of the cave...

"And you had to talk, Angela... Carlie doesnīt likes this..."

The Darkness cave was infested with Wolves, Dragons and Ghosts, after the next corner.

"We are NOT going to get inside easily, you know?" remarked Angela, who, at last, was being inteligent.

"Canīt you cast Ancient or some sh*t like that, and so we can get in?" shouted Hawk, who was losing his patience.

"I canīt cast īsh*tī, Hawk, but I can stick my freaking ancient rod up your ass so hard, that you will be walking funny the rest of your miserable life, OK?"

"Hey, HEY!!" Riesz tried to calm them down, but Hawk finally lost his cool attitude, and fought back:

"Oh, Yeah? If you have the hots for Duran and he doesnīt gives a damn about you itīs not my problem!"

Duran, who was tring to not hear the fight, lost his control and jumped on Hawk "Now Iīm gonna kill you, robin-hood!"

Kevin succeeded into pinning Duran to the floor to keep him from... err... killing Hawk, and Riesz hit Hawk with the butt of her Stargazer spear, then punched Angela in the stomach, which made her lose her senses.

"This isnīt going to work..." whispered Riesz, as she stopped Hawk and Angela from falling asleep to the floor, then she slowly put their bodies to the ground.

"What are you doing, Riesz?" asked, innocent, Carlie.

"Carlie, I need you to be here with them..."

"What?" Asked Duran and Kevin simultaneously. Riesz got up again, and looked at them.

"Kevin, let him go. We canīt go with them, they are going to be a burden. We donīt know what are we heading into, and we know that they are the weakest ones in the group, both physically and mentally. Hawk is worried about Jessica. Angela is freaked out with her problems with her mother and... well, you, Duran."

"The why does Carlie has to stay behind? Donīt you like Carlie?"

"It is not that I donīt want you here, but I canīt leave them alone"

She knelt to be eyes to eyes with Carlie "Heath wants you to grow, Carlie. You are going to wait for them to wake up, then go away... This foe isnīt a Dragon Emperor. Itīs something we donīt even know about. Donīt let them go inside the cave... You may not come back alive."

"You seem to think youīre stronger than they since we fought the Dragon Emperor, Riesz." remarked Duran, with all intention of hurting Rieszīs feelings.

"And I was right, and you know it. They were about to die. If... If your father had not regconized you, they would be dead. Or, am I wrong?"

Duran rubbed the back of his head, and looked down "They didnīt had the same time fighting the enemy as us... they didnīt had the same time to develop their abilities. "

"Then, you and Kevin come with me. We need to find a way to get inside without having to mess with this legion of Dragons and Wolves..."


Riesz turned back to see Carlie looking at them. "Carlie will wait for you here. Carlie will be okay. I canīt go back with Heath, or he would be dissapointed..."

Riesz smiled and turned around "Wait for us, then... be careful... Letīs go, guys"


Duran, Riesz and Kevin looked above a rock they were using as a hideout:

Three Frost Dragon.

Three Undead Dragons.

Three Bloody Wolves.

Two Great Demons.

"Weīre screwed" Said Duran, letting out a sigh at the same time "totally and genuinely screwed.. Any ideas"

Silence as answer.

"Well, seems we will have to break our way thru these enemies..."

"I can summon Marduke..."

"No, Riesz, you donīt need to waste your power here. We donīt know what lies ahead. Weīll have to use our own power."

"Let us take a break, and then we will attack. Please, everyone, donīt risk too much, we donīt need to die now..."

Duran and Kevin looked at her. She was as strong as themselves, and she was an important part of the team: She always had her feet on the ground. She didnīt thought about flying, she was always the one to bring reality to their eyes.

But that wasnīt always the best thing to wish for.

"Letīs go"

Riesz and Duran moved stealthly to cover the flanks, and Kevin jumped in to distract the Frost dragons that were the first wave of enemies to face. Kevinīs animalistic shout was enough to draw the attention of the three beast, which instantly followed the sound - as they couldnīt see too well either - with their diabolic smiles always disguising their cruel nature. Kevin received the first one with a good hit with his Skull Disect glove, which broke the beastīs jaw, but he knew that such a trivial injurie wouldnīt stop the blood lusted enemy.

But he knew his friends were going to help. Rieszīs Stargazer spear sudenlly hit one of the dragons, causing him to fall, and Duran jumped on the third one to bury his Brave Sword on the beast chest. Using a combination of kicks and punches he would have come to call "Ashura Dream fist" in memorial of the belief of his friend and rival, Lugar, he managed to beat the frost dragon which was attacking him. He quickly looked around to help his friends, but at the time, Duran was hitting his shield as a signal of victory and Riesz was getting her spear out of the dead body of the third Frost Dragon.

"Next wave!"

The next three Dragons were enough to force him to change to his beast form.

Duran seemed to hide his face on his shield, and he started chanting.

"Holy powers who roam the Darkness in search of truth and courage"

He buried his sword in the ground with great strength, which caused the floor to slightly tremble.

"Give me the power to erradicate the evil which defiles the spirit of Mankind"

He raised his sword over his head, and shouted with all his might.

"Saint Saber!"

His sword was lighted with the brightest light possible, then a roar was heard. When the light was out, his sword seemed bright enought to light the rest of their journey into the Dark Cave.

"Ha, Ha-- now, you idiot hell hounds... do you expect to match my power?" Duran ran towards the nearest dragon, and with a mighty slash, the Undead Dragon simply was cut in two pieces, and died with a bright light which shined.

He turned around to face the Dragon which was charging against him, but Riesz had enough time to hope on it, and bury her spear into its head, instantly killing it. She stood over it, with Duran behind her, to face the last remaining Dragon, but they were surprised to find it down on the floor, heavily punished by the dark power of the Death Hand.

It was an show worth looking, the three most powerful fighters the world had to defend itself were a mighty and beutiful force.

"Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn. Damn again..." Duran cursed as he noticed that the five remaining monster were going to attack together.

"Hey, a īholy warriorī shouldnīt curse like that, Duran" joked Kevin "Leave it to the īhand of deathī instead".

"Very funny, Kevin, but this one isnīt going to be easy. Iīll take care of a couple oī Wolves" replied Duran to Kevinīs joke, and charged against the Wolves, tackling them, and so, leaving the monster separated.

While Duran killed the first Wolf, Riesz was trying to lay a hand on the Demon. Kevin was basically messing around with the Wolves and Demons.

The Great Demons are known for their defensive capacity, and reflexes in the hand to hand combat, thought Riesz. I gotta find a way to get on with it...

Riesz threw one quick thurst strike right to the beast cheast, who blocked it with both hands, pushing the spear apart to the left side. As she expected. Using her experience, Riesz was able to use her spear as support to throw a falling heel kick on itīs head. The Great Demon cried in pain, and with the same impulse, she hit itīs chest with a fast and heavy slash, which sent the Demon down, alive, but almost blacked out.

Kevin was able to take the wolf down, but the Demon was instead a worthy adversary. He wasnīt aware when the Demon hit on his back, and he fell. Fortunately, he got up fast, and he crouched for a second.

Kevin seemed to dissapear for a second, then his shadow seemed to be casted everywhere. A seconds later, a huge flash blinded everyone but Riesz, who was quick enough to cover her eyes.

When she was able to look, the whole scene seemed to be cut like paper, and it seemed like it would be rip apart. The cave grew darker than before, and every monster had died when the light was back to itīs dismal power.

"So thatīs the power of the Seiryuu Death Fist, Kevin. Your power as a Death Hand is beyond limits..." said Riesz, with no wishes to be heard by anyone, as she was removing her spear from the dead body of the demon. However, Kevin caught the commentary with the back of his ear, and while he changed form, inside him was growing comfortable.

At least she was noticing him, beyond his kid-like face and personality. He growled "Letīs go on. We donīt need to waste time here", and Duran and Riesz followed him, not before Duran recovered his torch, and blessed it for being lit after the battle.



Hawk woke up in shock. His last memory was Riesz hitting him with her spear on his stomach, then he felt like he was needing more oxygen than what he could grasp. He fell down, but he felt Riesz grabbing him before he could take anymore damage. Then, darkness.

Being awake wasnīt very different from being asleep inside the Dark Cave.

Rieszīs face seemed truly disturbed.

She has done it again: She thought she was stronger than he and Angela, and left them where they were supposed to be safe. He got up, but Carlieīs hands prevented it "Stay down, Hawk, Carlie will take care of you!".

"What the hell? What happened?"

"Kevin, Riesz and Duran went inside the cave, and told Carlie to stay here with you, and take you home. But Carlie canīt drag you by herself with Flammie! So I waited for you to wake up, so you can help me with Angela to get to Rolante!"

"Iīm not going anywhere else outside this cave, Carlie, and you know it..." Hawk started shaking Angela so she would wake up. She woke up very confused.

"What happened?... whereīs Duran?" Angela got up quickly, and took a wild look around. "Where the heck are they... theyīve done it again...". Angela collapsed to the ground, frustrated...

"Are we that weak? I mean... Rieszīs saved our lives twice... and showed us our weakness. I canīt stand it... They think weīre the annoying ones! I hate her!"

"Angela, please be calm. We canīt let ourselves be dragged down like that..." Hawk put his hand on Angelaīs shoulder to comfort her. But his face was torn with frustration as well.

"I donīt like thinking that way either... but they had to carry us around twice already... Against Zable Fahr and against the Darkshine Knight again... Maybe they were right to leave us behind..." He looked at Angelaīs sad look, but he smiled...

"That doesnīt means weīre gonna stay here and wait like we have nothing else to do! Carlie, youīre coming with me! Letīs find them- we have to show īem weīre not a burden!" He lifted Angela with his hand, and dragged Carlie inside.

"Hawk..." Angela stopped, then looked at him "Sorry for throwing my problems on you... itīs just that Iīve--" Hawk put his hand on his mouth to shut her up.

"Donīt worry. Iīm guessing thatīs why Riesz left us here. We got to overcome our own problems before we can reach their level. Weīll have to become stronger, both in mind and body. Mind you. Letīs go!"


Riesz stood before the giant door that was separating them from the Dark Castle itself- It was a huge door, with deep ornaments: Gargoyles in various shapes, many runes carved into it, and more important, a huge sign in the center of the door. It seemed like a giant creepy eye, which seemed to cast its look over the whole yard that was between the actual cave, and the actual castle.

She felt a chill all over her back. She took a little backstep, but she found someone behind her. It was Kevin, who didnīt even bothered to look at her. Riesz felt, for a moment, nervous of getting into this castle.

Its said that the only light in this castle is the one that shines in your own soul.

At the moment, she didnīt had any desire of having to light her own way... she wanted to end all of this... She had faced legions of demon, dragons, wolves and kinds of undead enemies.

The least she wanted was to have to face more minions. She was sick and tired of this crap... but someone had to do it. And she didnīt felt like throwing the work to the shoulders of Hawk, Angela or Carlie. They werenīt ready for it, at least thatīs what she thought. Besides, she wanted to prove Kevin. He had already captivated her with his spirit, innocence and ingenuity, but she was the leader of the Amazon Army, one of the most powerful armed forces in the known world, and she was itself the most powerful Rolante warrior, a Star Lancer. She couldnīt accept anyone who was weaker than her, quite a machist concept, but it was the tradition.

Politics were as tough as military actions in Rolante.

Her thoughts about future plans were interrupted when Duran hit the door with his Sacred shield, and asked "So, how are we gonna open this thing? Any ideas?".

"oh... How about if we knock the damn door?" Spat Riesz, obviously annoyed by being interrupted on her thoughts with such an impertinent question. She felt the big hands of Kevin on her shoulders, and she looked to him. Kevin pictured a small smile on his lips, then he grabbed the door with his hands.

"I need help. Come"

The three heroes started pushing the door with all their strength. Surprised, they found that they could move it, though it was offering a lot of resistance. After a couple of minutes, the door has been opened wide enough to fit Kevin, who was the biggest one on the group.

The Darkness Castle.

The objective has ben reached. It, obviously, wasnīt by any means destroyed, it was intact, and rised powerful from the earth itself. Indeed, the castle was menacing. The floors were bright, as the three warriors could see their own reflections on it. This surprised Kevin, as he could see himself and Riesz compared.

She looked so small. She was thin, but her legs, arms and abdomen were marked by her muscles, not so to be ugly, but it was noticed. He looked so big. He was practically a mass of muscles, and his hands were as big as Rieszīs head.

It was impressive, but didnīt worried him. After all, beastmen are supposed to be bigger than most humans...

"Fire..." Rieszīs soft voice attracted his attention. In fact, four ways grew from the main hall. Three entrances were on fire. Whoever was here had no intention of making the way easy. They had to follow the way the king of this castle had marked. And so they started walking.

The first corridor was long, and it was ornamented with huge statues of some widzard whose name was long deleted from the people memories.

The first clue about this castle was that at the end, they found a single enemy. A Greater Demon. It was, as its name sugested, somewhat bigger than "normal" great demons.

And it was going to prove that it was a worthy adversary as well. The Demon started the battle by showering the whole room with its breath which hit Duran, who didnīt seemed too harmed by the Demonīs breath, but he admitted that this one was going to be tough. Riesz followed the same tactic she used against the first Demon she faced: thrust attack, heel kick, turn around, slice. It worked, but the Demon simply rised again to attack the party. Kevin turned into a Wolf Devil, and rellenteslly attack the enemy, who was powerful enough to withstand every attack.

"Go on Kevin... Iīll help you!" Riesz jumped against the Demon, who was way too busy blocking Kevinīs punches to see the spear which was about to go thru his brain.

Riesz didnīt even took her spear away from the corpse, she runned towards the laid body of the paladin to help him "Duran, DURAN, wake up, are you OK? Hey, HEY!!" She put his head on his legs while he slaped him to wake him up.

"uhh... damn demonīs breath... I think it... got me off guard..." Duran slowly rose from the floor. Then, a growl was heard...


"What was that noise?" asked Riesz.

The Demonīs body arose from the death, and attacked Riesz, who was unarmed. He sent a huge arm strike against the Star Lancer, who only managed to get a slight but firm grip to her Spear before the Demon hit her and sent her against a wall.

Riesz opened her eyes, and saw Kevin running towards her, then she shouted "No, Kevin, donīt worry about me, catch the Demon!".

Kevin took a good slide for a few feet while he was turning into a Wolf again, and when he got a good grip, he charged against the enemy, who was waiting him with his eyes locked on him.

Kevin used his own impulse to make an sliding roundhouse against the face of the enemy, who was forced to take a backstep to avoid falling down. The Monster counter attacked with a wing attack, which Kevin dodges, to hit it with his own leg sweep.

Duran who was watching the whole battle from the floor, got up using his sword as support, then he used his Saint Saber. Riesz, Kevin and the Monster only noticed about him when his powerful voice was sounded across the small room. This distraction was enough for Kevin to hit the enemy once again with a jumping kick, while Duran jumped towards the enemy to stab him with his saint Brave Sword.

So, finally, the Greater Demon fell. Exhausted, Riesz left herself fell on her knees, only for a moments. Kevin sat down to catch his breath.

Duran Collapsed unconsciouss in the ground.

"Thatīs right. Weīre screwed. As if we werenīt troubled enough, now one of us is wounded..." Cursed Riesz as he inspected the body of Duran, who had a huge wound on his chest, due to the effects of Demon Breath.

"Heīs alive at least. To the very least... Come on, Riesz, we havenīt got this far to give up here..." Kevin put his hand on her shoulder to encourage her. Riesz, however, took his hand off her shoulder, and got up.

"Face it, Kevin, weīve faced enemies we havenīt seen before, I donīt know If I want to know what lies after that corner, and know Duranīs poisoned with that thing... Iīm tired, Kevin, Iīm really tired, Weīve been days running thru this endless maze, and yet we havenīt even seen anything like a clue to know where the hell is that Mana Sword... Iīm... Iīm...I... I donīt want to fight anymore..."

Riesz looked to his eyes, then simply thought about anything that happened since they go thru the cave.

She was not only worried about Duran, but about Hawk, Carlie and Angela, who were most likely on the verge of dying somewhere in the Dark Cave. She was frustrated, she felt like she was not being the leader Heath expected her to be, she was there only to prove Kevin.

She felt worse at it. She knew she was just proving him, because there was no other reason to leave Hawk, Angela and Carlie there alone than to prove him.

"Now I wish I have the Fairie here to tell me what to do..."

Kevin opened his mouth to try and say something that could help both of them, something that he should he wouldnīt be able to find, but Riesz shut his mouth with her hand, and said "shhhh... donīt overdo it... you donīt have to even try. I think youīve done more than enough...".

A huge noise stopped their brief chat, and suddenlly, one of the walls simply dissapeared. Instead, there was a door...


As Hawk, Angela and Carlie walked along the poorly lit road, they could only hear the vague and distant sounds of battle.

"We shouldnīt be _that_ far from them... I mean, these bodies have only hours of being killed" Commented the Wanderer, who began to worry if they were in the right path. Of course, corpses were all around them, and most likely the killers were his lost companions... but he had the funny feeling that they had cross a line that they were _not suposed_ to cross.

"Iīll hold my wishes to make another comment, but... they did a damn good job- we havenīt seen too much monsters..." Angela knew she was just trying to avoid the fact that she was feeling like her lost partners were somewhere else this cave, maybe this world. Silence while they roamed the last remmnants of the cave.

"Carlie believes that Riesz, Kevin and Duran are somewhat lost, lost..."

The two looked at her. "What did you said, Carlie?" asked, numbed Hawk.

"That I think that they are lost, lost somewhere far away" replied softly Carlie, nodding with her head.

"This couldnīt be true, I mean, letīs go forward, we shouldnīt be far away from the... dark... castle- what the ..." Hawk stopped when his sight was interrupted by a huge castle, which emerged from the earth itself, and seemed to cover what was left of light into his torch.

His jaw could reach the floor.

"Letīs get inside, I donīt want to lose more time" Angela walked inside and followed the same path they had been following before.


"Should we get inside?" asked Kevin.

"Well, thereīs not much choice. What shall we do with Duran?" replied instantly Riesz, wiping away a tear from her eye.

"Iīm OK... letīs get on with it..." Duran walked as if strength was flowing out of his body. He was weakened greaty by the Demon Breath, but he felt like if Riesz chose him to help her, as she had been the leader always-- he did not wanted to "dissapoint" her.

"Then youīve got me caught in the act... you bring the thought back..." said Riesz, with her view lost to a wall.

"What are you talking about, Riesz?"

"Donīt you remember the words Koren told us when we killed him?"

"Yes." Duran moved his head sideways as if he was trying to figure Rieszīs thoughts out of her face "He told us `youīve got me caught in the act of destructing the balance of Mana. You bring the thought back, the thought of shame, the thought of misery that followed me during my teen years for not being able to use magicī."

Duran stopped for a moment.

"Youīve got me caught in the act... you bring the thought back. What does that means, Riesz?"

"Looking at you recalls the painful memory of my mother when she died. She was deadly wounded by a demon during a mission on this cave. A mission that clearly made us weak. We fell from the absolute top of the military power in the world, to what we are: a tiny, insolated kingdom in the middle of nowhere..." Riesz walked towards him, helped him to get up, then, suddenly, holded him with the love of a mother hugging her son when she has to leave him alone. Still holding him, she spoke to his ear "I donīt want you to go and die."

"Iīm not going to die, Riesz" Duran rounded her with his right arm, still holding his glowing sword. Kevin looked at them, then resolved to look away to avoid stupid jelousy thoughts. He smiled briefly in his own mind.

"Carlie, Angela, and Hawk are coming this way. They think I donīt know, but I do. In fact, they are inside this castle. She will take care of you, as she is. Tell them to f***ing stop following me- Kevin and I will take care of whatīs after that door."

"You are stubborn, you know?"

"Yes." Riesz took his head with her right hand and carefully caressed his hair "And my stubborness has kept us alive until this exact second..."

After that word, she crossed her right leg behind Duranīs legs, and forced him to sit down with a gentle push. Duran didnīt put much resistance, but if he would, in his weakened state it would be nothing more than a nussiansce.

Riesz didnīt turned her head to say good bye, she only looked at Kevin, who nodded with his head, then crossed the door.


An hour passed.

Duranīs patience was reaching its limits.

How could they get lost in the Castle? They didnīt took more than fifteen minutes to get with the Greated Demon, then five minutes to kill it...


Hawk couldnīt hide his emotions when he finally spotted Duran. Both happiness and fear, as he confirmed that he was lying on the floor.

"Dammit, Angela, Carlie, come one, Iīve seen Duran!! Heīs this way!!"

Angelaīs eyes seemed to shine with the mere mention of her loveīs name. Itīs been a long time since she saw him... and she runned following Hawk, while Carlie was wrestling with her little legs to keep with them.

"Duran!!! Iīm here!! Itīs me, Angie!! Canīt you hear me!"

Angela, for a moment, stopped. He didnīt seemed to hear her screams. He didnīt seemed to...

He just didnīt seemed... alive... Could it be real? Could have Riesz left him to face his own death, by himself...?

It couldnīt be true...

When they got with him, they noticed something. He wasnīt breathing. Angela took her hair and pulled it in a desperate attempt to stop her cry... which she wasnīt able to... She broke down, fell to her knees, and started crying. She shaked Duran in a futile attempt to wake him up.

"Duran, DONīT LEAVE us!! I canīt... I donīt believe this... Iīm gonna kill you bastard if you donīt wake up! Iīll..."

Carlie washed away her tears, and offered her a soft smile. She pushed Angela away, then began examinating the body of the Paladin.

Angela, on the verge of freaking out, looked at Hawk, who didnīt gave her back the look. He kept looking at Carlie, who was still touching parts of Duranīs chest.

Carlie then put her hands on his chest, and then pressed, which caused a big light to shine and blind everyone, and a the sound of boiling water was heard.

When the shine was gone, Duran opened his eyes.


"... Then you found me, and I woke up again..." ended Duran, after telling everyone of the quest.

"Carlie guesses Riesz knews I was able to cure that. Itīs easy!"

Carlie jumped over Duran, who was grateful of her little miracles.

"Yeah, I thought about it too. Then she was right... once again, to leave me here in your hands, Carlie... And she told us to stay here..."

Angela, who was sitting next to him, with his arm around her shoulders, got away from him, then looked him to his eyes, and spat "What are you saying, Duran?".

"But who in the earth believes that Iīm going to listen to her?"

He got up in a jump, and walked towards the door "So... whoīs gonna come with me?".

Needless is to say that everyone followed his track.


Kevin woke her up. Riesz got back to her feet after noticing that they were somewhere she had never been before.

It was another cave, but this one had torches, and had an slighty lighter color to its composition. She looked at Kevin, who asked her "Any ideas about where the hell are we?".

"I am quite sure we are no longer in the Dark Castle..."

"Thatīs not hard to figure out, Riesz... Do you think it was all right to leave Duran there... alone?"

Riesz painted an small smile on her lips, and whispered "Carlie will take care of him, donīt worry about Duran..." She changed her face to another face, one which showed the fact that she felt confident with him, when she joked "Worry about us, sweet heart, as we _are_ lost...", then she smiled.

"At least we are together..." These words, which escaped from Kevinīs mouth, surprised Riesz. She simply tought that such a big sentence was too big for his mind to articulate. It seemed like a romantic bit he didnīt seemed to know.

He was learning, she thought, and she was starting to like it.

"Yes, Kevin, we are together... and it makes me happy."

She walked towards him, with all her sensuality flowing out of her body, and she was thinking "Well, what the hell... weīre not going to live forever...". She was about to kiss him...

"Hahaha... I never thought I would find you like this, Princess Riesz of Rolante, being a little... teenager..."

Riesz stopped. Yes. It was him. The two red burning eyes who stole her brother away from him.

It was Jagan.

"How Iīve longed to find you and tear apart your head from the rest of your body. Youīve made my life misserable..." grumbled Riesz, now far away from her teen role. Her previous feelings were simply erradicated, as her soul was filled with anger...

There was nothing that she hated more than the red-eyed devil.

"Come, I would have no problem to grant your wishes... As long as youīre able to keep me interested..." whispered, loud though, the vampire. He didnīt had any interest in killing her, or Kevin, for that matters, but they were there: They shall not interfer the rebirth of the Mana Sword.

Riesz armed her Star Gazer, as Kevin changed into his Wolf Devil form. The vampire floated down to their level, and materialized a Bloody Wolf and a Carmilla to aid him in the fight.

"Shall we start?"

"Right on, you bastard!" Riesz jumped against him, clearly showing that she was the one to take life away from him, as Kevin understood. Kevin simply charged against the Carmilla and the Bloody Wolf.

Rieszīs quick attacks were blocked by a somewhat efficient Jagan, though he was showing some weakness on his defense. Still, he thought, as long as I can block them, Iīm all right.

Girl, youīre mine.

Youīre so sweet...

So full of life...

So alive..., as simple as that...

I wish I could take that energy out of you... but I canīt...

Rieszīs leg managed to find its way into Jaganīs face as he was thinking about the jelousy of his when faced to Rieszīs vitality.

"Got one... It wonīt be long before such mistakes are more, and more abundant..." Rieszīs tone was scary, she was really angry, even when finding in Kevin a soulmate, the vision of this guy simply toned her to the fight.

Jagan smiled "You really think Iīm this `honorableī? Girl, youīve got a lot to learn..."

Two more Bloody Wolves and two more Carmillas appeared before her eyes.

"Youīre a loser, you are nothing by yourself..." Said Riesz as she moved her head side to side with a despective look...

"I told you youīve a lot to learn" shouted Jagan as the Wolves and the Carmillas attempted to reach her position.

Then, all of sudden, a huge meteor found in its way the four monsters, totally obliterating them, and hitting Jagan so hard, the Vampire lost his flight, and fell down face to the floor.

The Vampire was surprised, as were Kevin and Riesz: After the meteor crashed down, and the smoke was gone, they discovered the sweet smile of a beutiful girl.

She was Angela. And Duran. And Carlie. And Hawk.

"Now itīs a fair fight, donīt you think, Jagan?" laughed the Magus.

"Guys, go. Iīll catch you later, this is between Jagan and Me."

The whole room was shocked. "What the hell are you talking about, you canīt trust him!" Screamed Hawk. "Weīre not going to leave you alone!".

"Go! You gotta find the Sword of Mana! I feel its power already... that means is being empowered by some unknown kind of power. We canīt lose more time!"

Hawk didnīt believed it... After all this time, she wasnīt saying `stay behind meī or something like that.

"Ok, Riesz... " The Wanderer runned, as everyone did. Hawk was proud. He always thought "Who the hell cares about Rieszīs opinion" but now he felt proud.

"Weīll wait for you!"

When his voice faded, they were only two souls left in the room. Riesz and Jagan.

"Ok, Princess... Iīll please you. Come for me, if you dare"

"As you wish, Jagan" Said, sarcastically, the Star Lancer, as she bowed with an smile on her face. As soon as her head was up, she charged at the vampire with a huge war shout.

However, he was not going to be taken down so easily. Riesz found an invisible wall just a couple of meters from the vampire, which kept her in suspension: then she flew against a nearby wall.

The impact was so hard that she was incrusted in the wall. Her face, kept up by the strength of the impact, fell heavy, as she was breathing hard. Finally, the wall didnīt supported the weight of the Star Lancer, and she fell from it, to end on her knees, spiting blood.

"What the hell was that?" asked, confused.

"Do you really think I got so far by being a weakling?" screamed with fury Jagan, who proceded to fly towards her, in an attempt to finish her. Riesz couldnīt get up...

Or at least that was what she wanted him to believe.

"Gotcha..." Riesz quickly got up, then hitted the vampire in mid-flight with the mightiest roundhouse she could throw in his stomach. The man spat blood then lost his fly, and stood, grabing his stomach, trying to breathe. Riesz, with the same impulse of the roundhouse, threw another one, this time hitting him in the face.

Jagan was dissoriented.

And, as a _coupe de grace_ she jumped with a front flip to sit on his shoulders. She pressed his neck with her legs, then, keeping him tight on her legs, did a backflip to throw him to the ground, hitting him hard.

With a last backflip, gracefully she got into her battle stance, waiting for the vampire to get up, and continue bashing him.

Indeed, Jagan got up, with very little balance, but still kicking. He smiled, then tried wiping the blood out of his face, only succedding into washing the whole mess into his face, looking even more diabolical.

"Youīve grown up, girl. You have become stronger than before..."

"Shut up..."

The Vampire, frustrated, threw a huge animalistic scream, then charged at her. She pointed her spear at him.

She stood firm.

He rushed at her, blinded, on his eyes and on his heart.

Then, an scream was heard.


Riesz was sitting next to the dead body of the were-vampire, who remained lifeless, still with the spear on his chest. She didnīt bothered to remove it. She simply looked at him, and, shameful as it was to admit to her, she was delighted. She was enjoying the fact that she killed him, at last.

That was, she wanted to believe, the last remnants of the Amazon Legacy which was rightfully, but unfortunately, her roots. The long dissapeared race of Amazon, who conquered Rolante by killing the whole population of a former kingdom. The race which was purpossely long forgotten from the minds of the people of Rolante.

And that was, she wanted to believe, the last of it.

She wanted to believe that the last piece of Amazon Instinct was banished to hell with the mind of the vampire who was pierced by the Star Gazer.

She took her spear from the corpse, then began to walk on the corridor which her companions followed.

A maniacal laugh was heard, but quickly stopped.


Carlie was the last of the line which formed their four friends. She was somehow scared, and finally, she asked to her partners "Methinks we should wait for Riesz."

"Sheīs gonna be alright, Carlie. we shouldnīt stop here." replied Duran, smiling, helping Angela to cross a rock.

Kevin stopped. And of course everyone stopped then.

"Thatīs the same kind of door we crossed before..." He noted, as he found out that they passed quite some time passed out after they crossed the first door.

"Yes. And so what?" asked Hawk.

"I think we shouldnīt cross it..."

"oh, you mean that we could lose our senses after we cross it? Donīt worry!" The wanderer threw some powder to the Death Hand, who began to look transparent "Go in! You are on Transhape!! Youīre not even a `physical beingī when youīre under its effect!".

Hawk spred his powder to everyone, then they crossed the door.

"Youīve got some nifty tricks, Hawk..."

"And you ainīt seen nothing!" replied the intrepid Navarre mercenary, as he rushed thru the corridor.

They ended at some big throne Room, which was very dark, and the Torch only lighted up the factions of each hero.

"Where the hell are we?" Asked, nervous, The Paladin, who had Angela hanging from his arm, and it was an embarrasing situation. They felt a very cold wind.

The torch was put out by the wind.

"Fuck it." cursed the Paladin "As if it werenīt bad enough, now we canīt even see each otherīs faces".

His wish was somehow granted. The whole room was lighted by a powerful light which almost harmed the eye.

Duran began forcing his view to help to find their way, and he tried focusing his view onto the Throne.

There was someone.

It was a feminine figure. They heard a profound voice "What? Canīt you see me?"

Then the lights were on.

She was Bigieu. The witch got up and walked towards the group, which felt a sudden chill down their spines. The witch was going to confront them, at last.

Duran remembered the miserable Koren. He was quite a surprise, and he didnīt wanted to take any chances with this woman, then he got on his battle stance, his Sacred Shield up, ready to the fight. "So, finally we met on the battleground, Bigieu... aren`t you going to run away as you always do, bitch?" asked fiercely Hawk, who was a the edge of breaking out to kill her with one swift slash, but he contained himself.

"No, dear, Iīm going to stop you for once and for all- I donīt give a damn about you, but the Dark Prince doesnīt want you there. So, I have to stop you- As my prince wishes..."

"I donīt give a damn about the Dark Prince anyway- but you... "The Wanderer pointed his finger at her "You are mine, witch!".

The Wanderer charged at the woman, who didnīt seemed surprised, and she didnīt even tried to stop him. "You really think you are strong enough to take it on me, kid?" Asked Bigieu as Hawk runned down her throat "You donīt know me.... YOU DONīT KNOW ME AT ALL, HAWK!"

Bigieu began to grow fur, then ear, then she simply became a giant two-legged cat which was about twice Hawkīs size. He stopped, stunned by the fact that she changed that way. The catwoman looked at her, the threw her paw to his face, sending him several meters away flying.

Hawk got up, totally surprised, and he was so stumped that he almost couldnīt get up. Duran charged at the giant beast, as did Kevin, while Carlie runned at the Wanderer and Angela started chanting one of her spells.

"Hawk, are you okay?" Asked the little Half-elf, while the only response from the kid was an ingenuos look. He didnīt seemed to believe what he was witnessing.

"Hawk? Youīre scaring me!" screamed Carlie.

"Yes, yeah, Iīm all right, let me get up..." Hawk got on his guard stance then began looking into his trap-pocket.

The Cat-woman was dominating the Paladin, but the Wolf Devil proved to be a worthy opponent, as he was using good combinations to keep Bigieu distracted as Angela began casting Ancient. When the Meteor crashed over Bigieu, she quickly got up, but she had a big bruise on her legs.

"At least I harmed her... now... I feel tired..." The Magus was losing her senses. Duran ran to her, and just catched her before she hit the floor.

"Youīre overdoing it, Angela... too many Ancients... Rest now" whispered, while he started brushing her hair between his fingers. At this moment, she seemed even more beutiful than before- she was fighting for her life, as well as for everyone elseīs life. That is admirable, and alongside her sweat brightening her face, and the little blood she carried around since she was hitted by Riesz.

She was a piece of art. She looked amazing. Even on this situation, she remained beutiful and, in some sense, pure. Pure Beuty. Maybe she wasnīt charming on her personality, but she was as beutiful as possible. She finally fell asleep.

Kevin was wrestling with the cat, as he tried pulling off his combinations, but the giant beast was quick at her attacks, and effective on her defenses. He finally hitted her in the stomach, following with a quick round punch to her face, which made the beast stumble.

Unfortunately, that wasnīt enough, and the tired wolf was sent against a wall. Carlie ran around trying to cure everyone.

"This is all youīve got? I canīt believe you killed the Dragon Emperor!" The cat taunted "Without Riesz, you seem to be nothing. Nothing at all. Now I better dispose of you, and enjoy the glory with the Dark Prince!" The cat stopped her taunt when she noticed little streams of air moving around her. She stood silent for a moment...

-SLASH!- "Dammit! Where are you, kid?" the cat was slashed near her chest by some invisible dagger wielding enemy.

-SLASH!- The cat grabbed her left arm, as she was cut there. in a last desperate attempt, she threw violent swings to the air, trying to catch whoever was attacking her.

-SLASH!- Bigieu fell. She was cut in her face, all her right side, including her eye. She was bleeding like hell, and she couldnīt see at all.

The air materialized in front of her. It was Hawk, who was simply messing around her, transhaped, that simple trap he learned from Dryad, the Leaf Sprite. He smirked, and looked at her, thought she couldnīt look at him.

"Now you see the power of the Wanderer, the power of Mother Gaia. Bitch, you are not part of this world- so long, witch!"

Hawk attacked the beast with her biggest combination ever, with the honest wish of getting rid of her now and forever. He couldnīt think about anything but to kill her.

When he turned around, Bigieu was just a mess of slashes and cuts- There was no way for her to survive. Not that anyone hoped for it...

<><><> "What a mess..."

Riesz walked into the throne room, watching the corpse of the dead witch, which was barely like her old self- difficult to figure out who she was, if Bigieu or a simple Ghoul.

"I guess they can live by themselves... They shouldnīt be far..."

She began following their tracks, and reasoning about everything. Maybe what she needed was some time alone.


"Letīs go!" Shouted Hawk.

The group ran all the way thru the long corridor which seemed to lead nowhere- exactly what they were looking for.

Hawk knew the legends about the ArchDemon. He was basically the brother of the Goddess, who banished him into oblivion, to the forsaken underworld.

He knew that the ArchDemon was reincarnated each houndred years, and that each time we took a different form, and each time he tried to destroy the balance of Mana to avenge his humilliation thousand eras ago, when the world was just created.

He knew that he and his partners- no, friends, were the ones to stop him once again, as the Goddess couldnīt face him in her weak state. So he ran valiant into the darkness to beat him.

He looked around him, and finally, locked on Kevin. He catched the Star Lancer, with his innocence. He really was lucky, and Hawk really didnīt liked that fact, as his relationship with Jessica was each time going down and down. He didnīt wanted to think about it, but everything pointed at him being the killer of Eagle as the fact that blamed his relationship.


"But you arenīt going to be..."


Jessica didnīt exactly liked Hawk to be a wanderer in the world to save it. He wasnīt at home for months, and she was not going to wait for him forever.

Stop it.

You have to stop thinking about it.

Riesz left you behind because of this.

You gotta stop bringing your personal life to work. As hard as it may be...


"Letīs go!" Shouted Hawk.

The group ran all the way thru the long corridor which seemed to lead nowhere- exactly what they were looking for.

Duran simply couldnīt think about a new foe. He knew absolutely nothing about this Archdemon, except that he was indeed a mighty entity.

He looked at Angela. So sweet, so pure. She was tired, but she insisted into going with the group. He kept her close to him, in any case should she fall, he would be there for her.

He wanted to be there for Angela _always_.


"Letīs go!" Shouted Hawk.

The group ran all the way thru the long corridor which seemed to lead nowhere- exactly what they were looking for.

Carlie ran courageously towards the end of the corridor, without looking behind. She was going to do her best to beat this new enemy, which was the cause for Heath to test her powers.

She knew Heath was trying to make her a grown up girl. But she was only 15, which is quite young for elves, who live several hundred years, and it made it difficult to her to digest.

She was considering moving to Diorre with her kind. Though she knew that it was going to be hard. But she was going to try anyway. She was Carlie, the Bishop.


"Letīs go!" Shouted Hawk.

The group ran all the way thru the long corridor which seemed to lead nowhere- exactly what they were looking for.

Angela was about to fell several time during the attack, but she wanted to prove that she was worth all the trouble she brought with the team. Besides, she didnīt wanted to leave Duran alone for another second. She was becoming a maniac, but she liked it, and she was with him, which was important to her mind.

And, finally, Duran began to care about her, which comforted her, seeing how he kept her close to him, like to be with her always. She felt like he took care of her, at last, and she did not wanted to lose it.

So she forced herself to the pace of the race to keep with her friends. ---

"Letīs go!" Shouted Hawk.

The group ran all the way thru the long corridor which seemed to lead nowhere- exactly what they were looking for.

Kevin was worried.

These things shouldnīt be happening during a mission like this.

Duran and Angela began to care about each other too much, and they became somehow linked. It was bad for the battle.

Hawk seemed depressed, and his excessive cruelty towards Bigieu showed his frustration and how he repressed his anger. It was bad for everything.

Carlie was nearly crying. She seemed to try to hide it, as she was always happy and tried to make everyone as happy as she was. She was surely touched by Rieszīs words about Heath.

And Riesz and himself were at the edge of a sentimental breakdown. He was simply confused, and Riesz seemed somehow different as ussual. They werenīt themselves. They were being dominated by the frustrations of their personal lifes and Kevin was actually trying to hold on to his human part. The separation between Riesz and the rest of the group was part of Rieszīs conflicts, surely.

But the end of the corridor was there, and it ended at the roof of the castle, which seemed to grow from the clouds. Several kilometers above it, actually.

The shape of a man was sighted. He was a tall, long haired blond man, who had a long red cape hanging from his big back.

He turned around to face the party, while holding the Mana Sword on his hand. "Welcome, heroes of the Sword of Mana. Are you here to confront me, by any means?" Asked the man.

"Donīt be stupid, ArchDemon. We are here to take the Sword of Mana back to where it belongs-"

The Dark Prince cutted him "Are your really sure you can take me, Wanderer? I am not the Dragon Emperor, I am a true god, I have been waiting for a hundred years for my moment, and five silly kids are not going to stop me!"

Following his speech, he sent a powerful energy ball to Hawk, who was saved by the Sacred Shield of the Paladin, who watched over the group to make sure it was safe and free of any henious forces.

"You are strong, Paladin. Let us see how well you fare in the hand to hand combat" The Dark Prince transported his being right in front of Duran, who barely managed to stop the Mana Sword from cutting his face in two pieces, as well as his whole body. The Evil Aura of the Sword of Mana was hurting him, as was the Brave Sword suffering from it.

Duran used all his strength to push him away, and this started the fight. Kevin and Hawk hopped against the Prince, who easily blocked each attack, either with his weapon, or with his bare hands.

As Duran joined the fight, Angela Began chanting her most powerful attack, Ancient, while Carlie walked towards the fight, hoping to find something that would be useful to do.

The battle heated as Hawk was sent flying by the Dark Prince in a moment of desperation, and Kevin took advantage of the low defense of the moment to hit him with two powerful punches in the face. Duran hitted him with the butt of his sword.

The enemy was still strong enough to summon his dark powers to get rid of his attackers, and saw the meteor which was going to hit him, with enough time to cut it with the Sword of Mana.

Angea sighed in frustration, but she smiled when Carlie, sneaking behind the god, hit him with her Holy Flail on the back of his head, which caused him to fall to the ground.

Then all hell was break loose. The Archdemon, frustrated by the fail of his initial wave, lost control and got up in a jump, then impaled himself in the chest with the Mana Sword.



Riesz felt a sudden shake to the whole castle. She was following the trail of blood, which she knew was from some of her friends. She was terrified, maybe they were already facing the Archdemon without her.

She left them alone... But it was OK, she thought-what the hell, they are older than her, sheīs not their mother...

But she felt almost like it.

She continued running, and finally, reached a long corridor, which seemed to head to the roof of the Castle, which seemed to touch the sky.

She wasnīt quite sure of what should she expect.

Of course, the question shall be answered easily. Rieszīs mouth couldnīt reach anywhere more opened than what it was already opened.

Before her eyes, a giant tree grew from the roof of the Dark Castle, a giant, black and horrible tree which seemed to hold the whole Hell on its leaves. In the center, a handsome and muscular man was incrusted on it, bleeding from his mouth, with long blonde hair.

She didnīt knew who-or what was him, but he lifted his head to watch her, and to reveal his black glowing eyes.

He was looking at her, and smiled to her, and Riesz felt a chill on her spine. She lost control of herself, and looked around.


"Wh-who are you?" Asked, scared and taking several back steps.


Riesz blinked briefly before she realized that he was indeed the enemy, who had the Mana Sword on his power... He had the Mana Sword impaled on his chest, and he seemed harmed, as if he had been fighting before she got there.

"What are you talking about? why is that you have a... Grudge against us?"


Riesz got on her attack stance, as she looked around to find her friends, but she failed on it. She faced the monster once again, and asked him "Where are my friends, what did you do to them, Archdemon?"


The Archdemon screamed with all his power some words in a long forgotten tongue, and several lightning bolts fell from above, which Riesz managed to evade with no ease. As soon as she catched her pose, she jumped to him, and tried stab him. The roots of the tree blocked her, and she hit the giants roots, breaking her lips, which left a long blood trail fell from her lower lip, which followed her neck, and fell into her breast, stopping where the armor started covering her chest, staining it... red.

She landed on the floor, wasted, tired and overwhelmed. She wiped the blood from her face, and she got up again. She wouldnīt give up with it.

"I CAN NOT BELIVE THAT YOU ARE THE GREATEST HERO THE WORLD HAS" Taunted the Dark Prince, who didnīt moved his lips to talk, he just produced the words. She moved one long trail of hair which fell to her face, and smiled briefly "You havenīt seen anything, beast". She evaded another lightning, and realized that the roof wasnīt as large as she would want it to be, and a meter behind her was the edge, which, needless is to say, showed that the fall wouldnīt be short.

Damn. I have to think fast...



Hawk woke up to the noise of the monstruous voice of the Archdemon, who sent them to the never never land when he claimed to show the true nature of a god. He didnīt remembered anything after it. He only watched a bright green light, then he was thrown into a wall, which basically crushed his back and made him lose his senses.

He managed to get back on his feet, painfully, and he noticed that his arm was broken. He noticed it in the worst possible way, and he fell again, hitting his face to the floor. It was extremely humilliating, but he had a world to save. As idiotic as it may sound.

He looked around. The small body of Charlotte laid near. As he walked towards her, he heard a low growl near, as if someone was calling him. As first he ingnored it, but later he recgonized Kevinīs voice.

"Somebody, help me! Oh, Darn it, IīM FALLING DOWN!"

He searched for him, and he shouted "Where are you?! I canīt find you!" and he tried following his voice. Then he tried looking down.

There he was, hanging down from the edge, about to fall and surely die. He tried to reach his hand, but his broken arm made it difficult. But he couldnīt let him fall. The wolf grabbed his hand, and got a grip.

"Donīt let my hand, Kevin... Iīll try pulling you up...

AARGH!" the Wanderer screamed in pain as his arm was being forced to the ground. He couldnīt hold on anymore, and he started sliping to the edge...

"Hawk! HAWK! get a grip! Donīt fall with me!" exclamed the werewolf when he saw Hawkīs painful expresion. He tried to get a hold from somewhere, but he couldnīt find any ledge to catch. The Wanderer wouldnīt let him fall, and he could not let his hand.

And they both fell.

But Hawk felt an strong hand grabbing his shoulders. "Iīm here, guys, Iīll help you!".

It was Duran, who, fortunately, also heard the help cry of Kevin. Angela helped them both as Carlie investigated the wounded arm of the Wanderer. He smiled, and felt somehow safe.

"Riesz is somewhere here, the Archdemon isnīt even looking at us. Weīve gotta find her before she..." He blinked worried "Dies... finally..." commanded the Paladin, when he realized, the first time, that one of his friends was in real death danger...

Kevin got up violently, "Sheīs there" and runned towards the tree, which seemed to hide a violent battle with its huge mass. The rest followed his race, and Hawk wonderer why the hell did he decided to do it.


Riesz avoided one final flame, and jumped once again at the tree to hit it. She learned that she would not be able to slash him directly, so she tried to avoid the roots and hit him wherever she could.

Then she spotted his friends. Instead of being happy, she was simply scared that they could get hurt, and more as she noticed Hawkīs broken arm.

"Stop, DONīT COME!" Then she screamed in pain when the Archdemon used his roots to grab her feets and threw her to the ground.

"RIESZ!!" shouted the Death Hand as he ran towards her to defend her from the endless barrages of the enemy. He hit as many attacks he could, and grabed the extension which was about to crush the Star Lancer, who remained unconsciouss in the floor.

The whole group reached there, and Duran knelt at one side and tried to wake her up "hey!, HEY! Riesz, Wake up! Donīt leave us now!"

Riesz slowly opened her eyes to find his face. "This seems somehow familiar, Duran...".

"We all have learned a lot from each other, Riesz..." he replied, and held his best friend. At this time, he remembered when he met her, back in the Waterfall cave, when she asked him to go with him thru the cave, to go to Wendel. Then they became the first ones to join the team.

"Now itīs time to end all this madness!" Exclaimed Riesz, as she got up. "And as for you, Archdemon, itīs time to go back to where you belong! BACK TO HELL!"

The monster smiled and left a fearful laugh out. "IT WOULD TAKE AN ARMY OF YOU TO DEFEAT ME, RIESZ, QUEEN OF ROLANTE.







The whole group splitted to dodge the root which slamed the floor tile they were standing in. Kevin jumped towards the tree, as Duran casted his saint saber on Kevinīs Skull Disect gloves. Carlie recited the verses to cast her Exorcism, Angela began casting Ancient, even risking her own life.

Only Riesz stood still.

"Angel which roams the skies...
Angel which controls the nature of the sound...
You who casts your shadow over the darkness
And turns them silent to their doom...
Come to my aid, my noble Guard Angel.

Hawk used the powers of Luna to cast the light of the moon to cast the madness of Lunatic over the ArchDemon, who dropped his defense, confused. Kevin used this moment to hit him with his Saint Skull Disect, with a powerful fit strike over his eye, breaking his bone, and making him scream in pain.

Riesz threw an slice which cutted the air with a supersonic velocity, throwing a terrifing noise which drumed on everyone ears with painful power. A flash of light blinded everyone, and a giant angel with four wings and four eyes, with a bright golden armor, and white robes came down from the sky, who stood facing the demon, who stared at it, without a single blink.

"WHO ARE YOU?" Asked the ArchDemon, still confused, by the punch, the noise and the light.


The Angel then began to accumulate power between his hands, and he shouted a prayer in a long forgotten tongue.


The Angel did not let it finish his sentence. He threw his hands in front of his face, and shooted a huge power ball right to the body of the Prince of Darkness, who could just shout curses in pain. The Angel left the place in the same flash of light whence he came.

"I WILL REMEMBER YOUR NAME, MARDUKE, FOR YOU SHALL NOT ESCAPE MY WRATH!" cursed the ArchDemon, still blinded for the light.

"Yeah, bastard, remember my name too, when youīre burning in hell!"

The Dark Prince turned his head to see who was attacking him.

"For I am Duran, the Paladin from Forcena, foul soul!"

Duran had jumped to the beast, with sword on hand, ready to impale it. The monster screamed "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" as if he could stop him with the sound of his monstruous voice. He quickly threw its roots to cover himself, but it was too late.

The Brave sword sliced his chest, and was buried into his whole body, reaching the wood behind his back, filling his body with pain, as the holy blade was burning him inside out.

Duran, still hanging to his sword, got his face near to his, and whispered "you didnīt expected this, right?". Then he got his sword back, and jumped, and stood with his friends, who all watched the demon, on its last moments.

The tree began to whiter, and the ArchDemon fell from it, almost lifeless.

And the Sword of Mana fell from it, and buried itself into the floor.

Riesz, Hawk, Charlotte and Angela, walked to get closer to their friends, who were watching the sword, unsure of what to do.

"What should we do with it?" asked Kevin.

"I donīt know. But Iīm sure it would be better destroyed..." answered Duran, grabbing the sword to take a closer look. "Even when itīs going to hurt me plenty- thereīs nothing we can do..."

"It is strange you have not learned yet about the Sword of Mana." whispered the ArchDemon with his dying breaths. Everyone looked at him, surprised with him being still alive.

"What are you talking about, Prince of Darkness" asked, polite as always, Riesz.

He got up to his knees, and liftd his sight to her eyes "Riesz, Queen of Rolante, the Mana Sword is not a simple blade... The Sword of Mana lives inside each one of you" He took a little time to breath "As long as the spirit of mankind is strong enough, the Mana will live within the soul of the pure hearts which roam the world..."

Riesz knelt, and took his head to keep him from falling down "Is that why you tried to take it with you?" He replied with his cold view. After a little break, he continued.

"The sword is only a simple catalyst to the powers of Mana. It is just a simple sharp sword without it... Now, let me die in peace, as hell has gained a new leader..."

He died.

Riesz left his head on the floor slowly.


Back in Wendel, the Priest of Light investigated carefully the Sword. "Indeed, it seems to have lost almost all of its power, probably all of its power. Itīs just an ordinary sword now, though it seems to be quite a powerful one still. I guess its power was finally drained completely." He put it on the table. Then he looked the party, who watched without a single blink.

"Well, congratulation. Fortune has nothing to do with your success, your own power has gave you the victory, once again, as it will, forever. Youīve done it again, and you have the sword on your power. It is your choice to decide its fate now."

Everyone looked at each other, except Riesz, who stood against a wall, sharply looking at the golden Mana Godess which was in the room, staring to the horizont.

Duran took it, and held it above his head "Itīs mine...". Angela looked at him, proud of that victorous act.

Charlotte jumped over the table to hug her grandfather.

Hawk got out of the room, to wait for them outside, where the sun could heal his broken arm.

The Priest went to his room, where he took Carlie to seriously talk about her decision of leavin Wendel.

Angela and Duran went into de corridor.

Heath put his hand on Rieszīs shoulder, and whispered "Congratulations", smiled, and left the room.

Then it was just Riesz and Kevin, alone, in the room.

Kevin tried to get Rieszīs attention by looking at her, but he couldnīt.

He wondered why was she asking like that, until he saw something which shined on her face.

It was a tear.

"Kevin" she started "I canīt hold on. Itīs all too much to take it. I feel like I am abusing of your innocence, I... I canīt..." She sobbed before continuing "I canīt deny that I..."


She wiped the tear away from her eye.

"I canīt deny that I love you, but I canīt continue feeling like I rape a kid- which I know isnīt true, but itīs how I canīt help to see it... Kevin... Just... I guess I need some time"

There was four words which she impressed with her emotions.




And Love.

Especially that final word. She said each letter slowly, and with care to say it how she wanted to say it. To let Kevin know how painful it was to accept.

Kevin waited for her to continue. But she couldnīt talk without breaking down and crying, so he started his speech.

"I think I know what you mean... My feelings are confused too, as I think that what I like about you is how you take care of me... like youīve always done... It hurts to say it, but I think I may need you to take your time."

He walked and held her on his arms. Tightly. Warm. With all his feelings, as confused as they were.

Riesz didnīt wanted to hold her sadness anymore, and started crying desperately. She did not wanted him to go away, and she held him with all her weakened strenght. But she reasoned. She had to be strong. She had to continue her life, and rebuild Rolante. The people of her kingdom were more important than her personal life.

She pushed him away with one hand. She caressed his face once again, for a last time, and smiled slightly.

"Come to me when you have grown up..."

She left the room.

Kevin sat down, and rubbed his hand on his hands on his face. Finally, he buried his face on his hands, trying to stop his suffering, as if it couldnīt find his heart if he didnīt saw it coming.

She walked in the corridors of the castle, as fast as she could, without running. She didnīt wanted to turn back.

Riesz encountered Duran and Angela outside the room. She runned towards Duran, and hugged him, then did the same with Angela, still crying like there was no tommorrow.

When she passed in front of Heath, Charlotte and the Priest of Light, she screamed, trying to hide her sobbing and tears "good bye!".

She held also Hawk, who took her head with his healthy arm, and caressed her hair "Be strong, Riesz".

She replied "You too, Hawk". She jumped onto Flammie. "Letīgo home, Flammie... I donīt want to be here anymore...".

Flammie flyed to the sky at top speed, as Riesz hid her face with Flammieīs dense fur "You are never going to know how do I feel, or what I mean, Kevin, bastard... But I will wait for you!" She screamed, hoping the wind would send her words to his ears.

"And I know you are going to come for me, Kevin..."


Whew, itīs over! Hope you liked it, I did ^_^, I really got carried away while writing this thing, especially when Kevin and Riesz, you know ^_^. At the end I was about to cry... anyway, comments and insults are always welcome (Though not always replied to, if you know what I mean)

lord_0@yahoo.com - Iīll now find time to write the next part, with the Dark Lich, the Shadow Zeros and the ***Black Rabite***... Cya!.-Lord Zero