The Sorceress War Chapter XXVIII
The Valhalla was airborne once more, flying at a cruising speed to the North away from the Ruins. Lilliana had taken off and set the airship on auto-pilot, enabling her to walk around freely for the first time on the ship without worry of it plummeting to the ground. They had found it odd at first, how Julia had not insisted on flying the craft, considering her love of aviation. However, after noticing her withdrawn behavior, they realized that she was too worried about Raine or preoccupied over something else. Knowing full well that Julia hated to be bothered while she was upset, they left the grenadier alone overlooking the passing land within one of the aft hallways.
True, half of Julia's worry was for Raine. The other half, the Wolves did not know about yet. The whole story Virados had told her, she had dismissed off then as ramblings. But the more she thought about it, the more she realized that she could remember those events as clear as day. Her loving mother, the slightly reckless and hostile but still lovable Ultimecia, the reserved Dante, and then her reclusive father that she rarely saw. The entire overthrow of her family played out in her mind. From the time Hyne had corrupted the Senate, to the time when her friends and family were slain all around her. The last image was of Ultimecia sending her through some blue green magic, and then her memories faded.
Her people had been enslaved and forced to obey Hyne. That, needless to say, ticked her off. Having not felt a similar feeling before, she became a bit unsettled as she thought of going to free them, and lead a rebellion against the dark god. My people.... why am I even thinking that for god sakes? I mean, I was seven when that happened... they wouldn't remember me at all. But then, I am heir to this throne, and it is my duty to protect these people. Gods... just stop thinking Julia... just stop, get it out of your head. You've got Raine to worry about, remember?
She heard footsteps behind her, and turned briefly around to see Zion walking into the hall. He came down and sat next to her, placing an easy arm around Julia's shoulders. Though at anyone else, she might have been irritated, with Zion she allowed him to stay. A little part of her needed him she assumed, but she made it an effort to deny that feeling, she was still unsure of romantic bonds. She denied it for about half a second, then her heart took over her mind.
She sighed out of worry and exhaustion, and rested her head calmly against his broad shoulder. He bent his head down until he was nuzzling her hair. Julia laughed for a moment as his breath tickled her ear as he exhaled, causing him to smile. But after a moment, the smile accompanying that laugh turned back into a frown. He pouted at her for a moment, trying to get her to smile, but it wasn't working.
"Come on, Julia, it'll be alright." Zion said, attempting to comfort her. "Raine is as strong just as she is stubborn. She'll live. All she has to do is sleep, and she'll be fine."
"I know. I know she'll live." Julia replied solemnly, then her face turned angry. "She's so stupid! God, why did she give us an order like that? What the hell was going though her mind, 'well, we've saved Julia, so now I guess I'll go have a showdown with the guy who destroyed and entire town and is controlling the events of the Sorceress War! I might die, eh, oh well!'."
"Julia...." Zion began to say, but she continued on.
"Tyran, and I listened to her when she said to go with Edea! I rarely listen to her about anything, and I had to pick this to listen to. This is all my fault, Zion. Had I been my usual little disobedient self, then she would be all well and good right now. The guilt is so bad, that damn it, I can't even think straight anymore. Raine's only half of my problems, too. I've got a whole set of new ones too."
Zion faced her to him, and made her look him in the eyes. "Listen, Julia. What happened was not your fault under any circumstances. Look, you know her far better than I do, but here is how I see Raine. She felt that it was her duty to avenge her family and townspeople, if what you said to me about her past was true. She didn't want to get any of us involved, because it didn't happen to us, and didn't want to see any of us get hurt. Doesn't that sound a bit like her?"
"I guess... yes, it does." Julia replied. She sighed again in defeat, and to his surprise, slid into his arms. She lied her head against his chest, her hands wrapping around his neck. In return, he encircled her in his arms, hugging her close. She moved until her face was buried into his neck, and for a split second, he thought that he felt a teardrop fall from her eyes.
Then something she said triggered him to speak. "What did you mean by, 'Raine was only half of your problem'?"
"Nothing. I... I'm going to tell the entire Pack once we're all together again. It's too big to repeat a whole bunch of times." Julia replied simply, trying to rest in his arms.
After a few minutes of resting there in Zion's arms, Julia's ears picked up movement coming towards them. She groaned in annoyance when Corin walked into her hall. Though she and Corin were good friends, and got along well, but at the present moment it didn't look like Julia didn't want to act so friendly towards him. When Corin realized that he had interrupted them, he grew nervous.
"Ah... sorry!" He said bashfully. "I, uh, just came to get Julia. We've got a meeting about what we're gonna do next. You guys need to come to the briefing room that's a bit aft of the bridge on the port side. Again... sorry!"
"S'alright, Dincht." Julia said in response, to Corin's surprise. "I'm not gonna hurt you. Come on, let's go."
Julia led the men out, but Corin stopped Zion for a moment after Julia was out of hearing range. "Dude, I don't know what you did to her... but thank you."
There are times when a person can sleep without knowing a single thing that goes on around them. However, every once and a while, there comes a time when a person is asleep, but they can hear and sense everything that goes on around them. Raine believed that she was currently in that state. She knew that her body had shut down and was resting, but for some odd reason, she could still use some of her senses. Namely; touch, smell and hearing.
True, she couldn't move in order to touch anything, but the cold metal of the Valhalla's emergency medical room's operating table sent cold shivers up and down her bare arms, causing her arm hairs to stand on end. Someone had removed her commander's navy blue trench coat to examine her wounds, leaving her in a tank top. Though she knew her body heat would warm the table up in a little while, it was still shockingly cold to her skin.
The Wolves had put her in the medical room, then left for a meeting. There was one with her however, who decided to stay back and watch over Raine to make sure nothing happened. As Raine's body inhaled against her mind's will, she took in the familiar scent of roses. There was only one female Wolf that wore rose scented perfume, and that was Edea. It didn't come to much of a surprise, since Edea was a good medic and healer. The only others that would have been with her were Andraia or Lilliana, and both of them were more than likely trying to maintain the flight of the airship.
She heard Edea rummaging around to her left, though her eyes refused to open. Raine mentally sighed. Oh, I have a feeling this is going to be fun. Stuck here, unable to move, while my mind is fully aware of everything. I am going to be so bored, its not even funny. I guess I could always do what Dincht and Heartilly do when they tune people out they don't want to hear, play old movies in my head. Damn it, I don't even know how long I'll be here! The way things are going now I'd better skip my favorite movies and go straight on to the time-killer, Gone With the Wind.
"Ah ha!" She heard the sorceress yell triumphantly to her left. Now what has she done? Raine wondered to herself. "Finally, I found it! I knew I had it in here somewhere."
She heard Edea walk towards her, the sorceress' combat boots being the only sound in the room. A second later, she heard glass touch down to the table that she was currently laying on. A cork was pulled then, and the glass was lifted up. Bringing it to Raine's lips, the Alpha Wolf then realized it was a curing potion. With that, her stamina would recover, and she would wake up. Even so, a mere potion or even a hi-potion wouldn't do Raine any good. She was in a state where only one kind of cure medicine would wake her.
The bitter, tangy flavor of the medicine was poured into her mouth, and at once Raine realized what it was. Edea had somehow come across an elixir. This would completely take away Raine's fatigue. A few moments after she had finished drinking the elixir, her eyelids fluttered open. Staring back at her was a stunned, yet overjoyed Edea. Before Raine could even get up, the elder woman flung her arms around Raine and hugged her tightly.
"Raine! I am so happy that you're all right! I knew that I would need that elixir one day!" The sorceress exclaimed happily, a shocked Raine still hanging limply in her arms.
"Yes, Edea!" Raine said, with a tone that stopped Edea's hug onslaught. "I'm fine now. It's fortunate that you had that elixir, where did you get that from? They're very rare."
"I found it a long time ago during an old mission. I thought I might need it for an emergency, so I hung onto it. I'm glad I did!" She replied with a smile. She helped Raine sit up, and slung her commander's arm over her own shoulder.
"Where are we going now? To where everyone disappeared to?" Raine asked curiously.
Edea nodded as they walked out the medical room's door. "Yes. Everyone is having a meeting about what is going to happen next. You need to be there since you're all right now."
"Sounds good. Let's go."
Virados sat bare-chested on top of his bed inside his room on the Avenger. He rotated his left arm, and couldn't help but wince slightly as a surge of pain crept into his body as he moved. He hated to admit it, but he had to. Raine had put up the best fight against him that he had ever dealt with before. So much in fact, that his muscles were now beginning to cramp up and cause him pain. He would have killed Raine too, if he had the chance. Had it not been for the interference of those annoying other three Wolves, he would have eliminated the nuisance right then and there.
He and Hyne had offered her the chance to side with them in Helios, even though Raine had not been aware that the man in the dark robes had been the mighty god now ruling the Mysidians. She had declined, and thus she became a deadly target that needed to be stopped. The rest of Wolf Pack included, however they were merely targets of opportunity.
Raine would be dealt with soon enough, he figured. If she somehow figured out where he was going next, then Virados would have no choice but to eliminate her there. However, unless she had extensive knowledge on Mysidian history, or if somehow Julia remembered her history lessons as a child, then that would never happen.
He had a mission to complete for his King and country. He would be damned if some pathetic excuse for a Shaduna and her ragtag group of soldier would put a stop to him. Even if they mustered up the courage, he still had some extra tricks up his sleeve so he would not have to deal with them himself.
Just you wait, Raine. Once I finish my mission, you and your planet will be doomed, and the Mysidians will reclaim what is rightfully theirs once more.
As Raine entered the room, Julia nearly fell over in shock. Before Raine knew what was happening, Julia nearly threw her off balance with the tremendous hug that she was giving the commander. Raine hugged back for a moment, but shoved the girl off, having spent most of her hug-tolerance on Edea already. Holding up her hand to the others, she saved herself from a mauling from the other Wolves as well.
"Raine, you're all right! How in the hell did that happen?" Julia exclaimed.
Raine shrugged as she replied. "Edea had an elixir in her item bag. And, thank you for stating the obvious, Heartilly. Yes, I'm fine."
"Well, we're glad you're here!" Celeste said happily. "We need to make some sort of strategy, and we could use your help here, boss."
After Raine nodded, and she was caught off guard, Andraia threw her arms around her as well. "Raine!! Don't you do that again, you hear me?! Everyone was really worried, and you almost had Julia crying!"
"What the hell?! I was not crying!!"
Zion chuckled. "Were too. I felt a tear when you hugged me."
"Shut the hell up! Can't I trust you with anything?!" Julia yelled with a slight smirk, pushing him off the chair he was sitting in, causing him to fall on the floor. He got back up glumly, with a slightly fearful look pointed at Julia.
Raine slowly unhooked Andraia from her body, and pushed the girl softly away. Andraia gave her an innocent look, but sat down next to Zion. The leader spoke, "Okay, enough! I'm fine, and if Julia cried, then so be it! Let's get on with this already!"
Julia huffed again and grumbled something to herself, but didn't challenge Raine to anything. Instead, Celeste spoke again. "All right. Here's the problem. According to what Zion, Edea and Julia heard Virados say, he's after something in a Mysidian ruin. He was looking for it in the Centran Ruins, I suppose. Anyway, we can't return to Galbadia. We caused a lot of trouble getting this rig to find Julia, so who knows what will happen to us. We have to figure out where to go next."
"After Virados." Raine said immediately. "We've got to figure out where there is another Mysidian Ruin. We can't go to Galbadia just like she said, we'll most likely be court marshaled. The only way to get out of that, is to kill Virados like we were ordered. That is the only excuse we can possibly use. To claim that we killed Virados as per ordered, instead of breaking off to rescue Julia like we really did."
"Right." Epsilon agreed. "Any ideas on where a Mysidian ruin might be?"
"We're over ancient Mysidia now," said Lilliana, "But scouting for ruins would take time. I can't track where Virados' ship went. I think he turned off it's radar, since he might of figured that's how we tracked him last time."
"We're a bit too close to the crater where the Lunar Cry hit all those years ago." Edea added. "There wouldn't be anything else this close. It'd be best to look near the coast. Anything still standing would be there."
Julia tried to cut in then, "Um...."
"The coast? Nah... people sailed down here all the time before aircraft. Someone would've spotted some by now..." Andraia pointed out.
"Well, maybe..." Lancer replied. "I guess someone would've found a ruin on the coast by now. What about up in the mountains? They could have built a fort there during the Centran Wars to prevent against raids."
"GUYS!" Julia yelled, finally getting their attention.
"What?" Raine asked, raising an eyebrow at Julia's outburst.
"I need to tell you what I've remembered... and found out from Virados while I was captured." She began. Seeing their interested glances, she continued. "Okay, here it goes. When the Lunar Cry came, the Mysidians used magic to go to Terra's sister planet across the galaxy. They settled there and rebuilt the empire. About a decade ago, there was an uprising. See, Hyne had been reawakened, having recovered from his defeat by Zeren Darknight."
"Holy shit!" Corin exclaimed. "Hyne's still alive? That's crazy! How...?"
"I dunno how he got free, but listen to this next part. He disguised himself as a Mysidian man, and married into the royal family. The queen gave birth to a girl a little bit later. Anyway, Hyne used his influence to cause an uproar, and he usurped the throne. All this Sorceress War shit was planned by him, and he carried it out through Virados. Hyne wants to attack Terra and take back the planet using the Mysidians!"
"What?!" Raine and a few others exclaimed. The Alpha Wolf questioned further. "Why did he tell you all of that?"
"You know that little girl that the queen gave birth to? That was me. She and one of her guardians were killed, while the other was captured. That captured one, Ultimecia, sent me to Terra."
"Makes perfect sense..." Edea mused.
"Raine and I weren't going to tell you this, but we decided to after you were captured." The sorceress replied. "It's about how you met us. Raine and I were out playing in the snow during the winter one time when we were little..."
"We found you in the snow, face down and bleeding. You were unconscious." Raine continued. "It was like you had fallen against the nearby cliff and passed out. When you came to, you didn't remember anything. The Heartilly family adopted you, and named you Julia. Once you got passed age 10, you didn't remember that you were adopted."
"And you both knew this? Oh, well, I would have kept it secret too." Julia said, then chuckled. "You know, I just realized something. I'm not really related to Deirdre or August! Thank god... I knew I couldn't be related to them."
"Whatever." Raine replied, remembering Julia's two odd younger sisters. "Look, since you're Mysidian then, do you know where he could've gone?"
"I've been thinking about that." Julia replied. "I don't think I was a very good history student back on Gaia, I don't remember much...."
"You weren't a good student here, either..." Edea pointed out with a smirk.
"Shut up!" Julia countered. "Okay. We used the Fire Cavern for something.... but I don't think he'd go there. Hmm... Grandidi Forest? No. He was after a crystal, he said. Ah ha! The Ocean Temple! It's out, as the name says, in the ocean. We used to harvest power crystals there. We had 'em used in machines and to enhance magic or whatever. I don't know any more than that."
"Out in the ocean?" Celeste repeated quizzically. "How are we supposed to search through an ocean? That could take months!"
"Wait a sec'!" Corin interrupted. "Didn't you guys read about that Battleship Island thing? Scientists built it and sailed over an old deep-sea ruin. I bet you anything that's the Ocean Temple!"
"Good job, Dincht!" Raine complemented. "At least one of us reads science magazines. If it's metal, we can track it using the Valhalla's radar system. Julia, Lilliana, get on it."
The two nodded and jumped into the pilot's and co-pilot's seats, and switched on the targeting screen. It split the main screen in half, one being the flying view, the other being a radar grid. Showing the ocean west of the Centran continents, there was a solitary land blip around some airplane and helicopter signatures flying around elsewhere. Julia plotted in the course, and the airship immediately rocketed off towards the west.
As she was flying, Raine approached Julia. "You cried?"
"Leave me alone!" Julia replied with anger. "It's the least you could do after scaring the shit out of me like that!"
Raine giggled, and Lilliana did also next to Julia. The grenadier knew very well that the other Wolves weren't going to let this incident down for a long time, and she would have to get used to teasing from the majority of them.
"Man, this is going to be hell for the next few days...." She mumbled to herself as she saw the other two glaring at her. "You'll never let it down, will you?"