Lunar: Eternal Blue, Lucia of the Blue Star - Vol. 3 - Summary
Recap: Hiro, Ruby, and Gwyn lived together in the desert, until one day they encountered Lucia, a girl who claimed to be from the Blue Star and needs to meet with the Goddess Althena. She is then cursed by the dark god Zophar, and they are pursued by White Knight Leo of Althena's Guard, who believes Lucia to be a Destroyer. In their escape, they encounter Ghaleon, a mysterious figure from the past, and are then rescued by Jean and Nall. After a showdown at Azado, Leo has a brief change-of-heart and agrees to take them to Pentagulia to see the Goddess--along with Lemina, a girl wearing Lucia's clothes who they picked up in Meribia by mistake. At Pentagulia, it's revealed that the Goddess is fake, and Althena's Guard is really in the service of Zophar--except Leo, who escapes once he hears the truth of the Guard. The real Althena is sealed within Pentagulia, and can only be released by first recovering the power of the Four Dragons from the Four Heroes of Althena's Guard. Since Leo escaped, he trains Hiro to fight and gives him the White Dragon's aura afterwards. Meanwhile, Jean, Lucia, and Lemina split off from the rest of the group to pursue the Blue Dragon's aura, in the hands of Blue Master Lunn, the leader of the Shadow Dragon Cult that Jean escaped from years ago. They go to Horam where she defeats Lunn and stops his spread of the dark karate of death. At the same time, Hiro, Ronfar, and Ruby go to the White Dragon's cave and release the White Dragon, Nall, from his seal, enabling him to reclaim his dragon power.
(A full translation of Leo's Monologue is available here. I recommend reading it; it's my favorite chapter of the series.)
Leo offers some background on events which transpired in the past, related to himself, his sister Mauri, and Ronfar, all while growing up in the village of Raculi. The village was once cursed with a plague, and Leo traveled to the island of Pentagulia to retrieve a supposed cure from the Goddess Althena. The cure saved Mauri, but she was the only one in the village who survived the plague.
After that incident, Ronfar, Mauri, and Leo pledged their loyalty to Althena's Guard. Eventually, Mauri became the Red Priest, and Leo became the White Knight. But, at the same time, rumors of destruction at Mauri's hand of those who refused to swear loyalty to Althena abounded. Ronfar left the city, and Leo refused to believe the rumors. Instead, Leo was sent after the Destroyer Lucia, who was the one said to be behind the events described in those rumors.
Leo found Ronfar helping Lucia to escape. When he finally apprehended the two of them in Azado, he saw the events described in those rumors for himself in Mauri's destruction of the city. After that, he took Lucia to Althena herself. There, he found that Althena's Guard was a lie; the Goddess was an imposter, and the work he had done was only to ensnare more people in the trap of the Guard.
So, Leo abandoned his position as the White Knight. But, Mauri was still under control of the false Goddess, and through her, many more people were being harmed by Althena's Guard. This destruction and harm would continue unless something were done... This left Leo with one choice: he must kill Mauri. He was the one responsible for her present condition, and the one responsible for the destruction and pain she inflicted on others. And so, he journeyed to Serak Palace to undertake this awful and difficult decision.
Chapter 26: Blue Dragon's Revival
Jean, Lucia, and Lemina journeyed to the Blue Dragon's cave to release the seal on the Blue Dragon. Once they arrived, they could see that the cave was flooded and water ran throughout. Lucia led the way through the cave, until they reached the heart of the cave, and something that looked like a dragon... But, it wasn't the Blue Dragon. It was a fake--the Blue Dragon Fiend.
Lucia: That is something which Zophar placed here, to prevent anyone from nearing the seal on the real Blue Dragon. Zophar gave that thing life, and it continues to move by using the power of the Blue Dragon.
Lemina: So does that mean it's as strong as the Blue Dragon itself?
Lucia: No, it is not that strong. The Blue Dragon controls the flow of everything in this world... of water, of energy. The Fiend is no more than one wave in a stream. But, do not underestimate it; it is still powerful.
What's worse... Lucia continued that no matter how damage they dealt to the Blue Dragon Fiend, it could not be defeated so long as the Blue Dragon's power itself was sealed away. And, to get to the Blue Dragon's power, they would have to get on the other side of the Blue Dragon Fiend blocking the way. So, Lucia began to formulate a plan... First, she would need to teach Lemina a spell, a very high-level spell, of ice...
And for free!
Anyway, after Lemina learned the spell, they confronted the Blue Dragon Fiend, and Lemina began the incantation. Lucia and Jean focused the Fiend's attention away from Lemina, while she continued, unnerved. And then, the Blue Dragon Fiend reared back its head and unleashed an attack of water, a great wave that towered above the group and was about to come crashing down to destroy them all, when... Lemina finished the incantation, let loose the spell, and froze the water just before it came crashing down.
A wall of ice now stood between the girls and the Blue Dragon Fiend.
Lemina: It worked...
She collapsed. Lucia and Jean caught her before she fell to the ground. Lucia noted that it seemed as if Lemina had used up all her magic power in that one attack. Ordinarily, humans can't do that, but Lemina is no ordinary magic-user. If she sleeps it off for a night, she'll be fully recovered.
Now it was time for Jean's part.
Jean: Look here! Watch the world's number-one dancer for yourself!
Jean danced a colorful dance, drawing the Blue Dragon Fiend's gaze towards her, and drawing its attacks. The Fiend snapped its jaws at Jean, trying to get over or around the ice wall. But, it was either too slow, or it couldn't reach. As the creature grew more and more frustrated, Lucia slipped around the side of the ice wall towards the other end of the cave, where the Blue Dragon's power was supposed to have been sealed. Only, there was one problem.
Lucia: Jean! The Blue Dragon isn't sealed back here! The Fiend itself is coiled up around it!
Jean wasn't the only one who yelled out. The Fiend did as well. And then...
A terrible sound came from the Fiend.
Was the ice breaking?
No... the sound stopped. The Blue Dragon Fiend turned around from the ice wall, back towards Lucia. Jean took this opportunity to ascend to the top of the ice-wave, and attacked the Fiend again, drawing its attention back towards her. She continued to withdraw as the Fiend followed her, trying to attack but missing each time, until its body was more fully uncoiled. And then... it disappeared.
In place of the Fiend, there was only Lucia and a small, glowing stone in the palm of her hand. While Jean drew out the Fiend, Lucia was able to strike at the seal of ice surrounding the Blue Dragon with fire, releasing its power from the control of the Fiend, and reviving the real Blue Dragon.
Lucia pointed in the direction of a once-frozen lake, on the other end of the cavern. In the midst of steam and water, they heard the sound of a horn, and the form of the Blue Dragon became visible.
Lucia: Blue Dragon, do you understand me?
Blue Dragon: ...Yes, Lucia of the Blue Star
Lucia: You understand that you have a duty to help me, as a Dragon. I must release Althena from her seal, and use her power to seal Zophar.
Blue Dragon: Gladly. But, if you use Althena's power, then--
-Lucia's voice echoed throughout the cavern.-
Lucia: Do not speak of such things in the presence of humans!
Blue Dragon: I understand. Well, should you need my power, do not hesitate to call upon me.
With that, the Blue Dragon faded away. Lucia apologized to Jean and Lemina for her outburst; the others said nothing in response, as they silently exited the cavern.
Chapter 27: Mining Town of Zaback
Long ago, Zaback was a completely barren plain. There was little rainfall, and not even a river flowed nearby. Nothing more than short grass and a few isolated trees would grow. And that was precisely why the Black Dragon had decided to settle there. But one day, some travelers took rest underneath a tree, and spotted some brilliant black stones that sparkled in the light... Black Dragon diamonds. A small camp grew in that area, and the camp soon became a full-fledged town as more people flocked in to share the wealth the Black Dragon diamonds offered.
Lemina: No way! That's Neo Vane!?
Neo Vane, like Pentagulia, was such a new city that it was not even on most maps. It was the city that Borgan used the Black Dragon's power to create, and where he took Lemina's mother, Miria. They had heard the city was south of the Blue Dragon's Shrine, near Zaback. But, they hadn't expected to find the city floating in the skies.
It truly was like the resurrected Magic City of Vane, floating through the air once again. Lemina grew infuriated as she saw the city, and determined to find a way to get up there... Lucia and Jean both smiled and offered their help. The first task was to get to the city itself. There had to be a way up, a transport pad, in the mining town of Zaback--which was comfortably located on the ground. So that was their first stop.
Neo Vane floated almost directly above Zaback. Like Vane, you had to take stairs to get to the town itself; unlike Vane, these were stairs down. The entire town was carved into the ground; the roofs were at ground level and the roads through the city were trenches. But what was more, the town had a desolate character to it. There were drunkards in the bars and streets, and people arguing throughout. Sure you would find those sorts of people in any town; but in Zaback, they seemed so lifeless...
At one end, the three girls noticed two parents yelling at their child.
Mother: Stupid boy! You can't even make a single flame! You're studying magic each and every day; why can't you do anything?!
The mother and father were yelling at their son over his inability to use magic; the son protested that he didn't have any way to learn it, with his parents working all the time. The parents' language was unduly harsh, and so Lemina stepped up.
Lemina: This is a disgrace! Why can't you act like this boy's parents!?
Mother: Mind your own business! We're only doing what's best for the boy! If he can't use magic, then he won't amount to nothing more than a worthless miner! You're just like his father!
Father: Hold on! I work day and night to put food on this table! You should show a little respect. If I had just a little more magic, then I would be living a life of luxury instead of this!
Lemina: It's not that I don't understand your desire for him to learn magic. But, even if he was able to, there's no sense strong-arming him into it!
Mother: Shut up and mind your business!
There was more yelling. Until the son started to cry. Lemina, the mother, and the father took a deep breath to calm down.
They asked Lemina if she was a magician "from above". She wasn't sure what "from above" meant, but she was a magician. They then explained part of the reason for their insistence on magic over mining: although this was a famous mining town, mining was no longer respectable work, and it was all owned by the magic-users. So, miners here were little more than slaves for the benefit of the magicians.
The boy asked Lemina if she was really a magician--if she was, why wouldn't she know about how Zaback and the mines were set up? Well, to make sure there wasn't any doubt, Lemina and Jean decided to put on a show for the town of Zaback--a performance involving magic and dance, magic dance. If anything, it would at least cheer up the people in town... It wasn't only the family here that looked disheartened; it was everyone.
Lucia had a hard time understanding the purpose of all this. Why did humans persist in lying to each other? This wasn't a direct lie, like the one back at the Blue Spire where Hiro and Ruby reassured each other of their safety. But, this magic dance routine would only serve as a distraction; it would make people feel better, but it's not as if it would help their real situation any.
But, she had learned in her time with Jean and Lemina that, in cases like this, she shouldn't try to stop them. But, she was still confused.
After the performance that day, the subject of Neo Vane came back up. There was a teacher in town that knew more. A teacher who saw their performance.
...a teacher that Lemina recognized.
Fort was the man's name. He guided Lemina, Jean, and Lucia to his home in Zaback. Once there, Lemina asked to be filled in on what happened to him.
Lemina: Thank you. But, what happened here? Didn't you get married? Where is your wife?
-Lemina turned to Jean and Lucia for a quick explanation.-
Lemina: Have I told you? Borgan has been taking people away from my Magic Guild for his own. Fort here is one of the last people to have left Vane.
Fort: I still regret the day that I left Vane. I have been separated from my wife and child. I refused to go up, and remained here. I had to stay. See, although my wife wasn't a magic-user, she did have magic power in her. And, this isn't the kind of place you can raise a child.
Lemina: I don't understand. What do you mean?
[Editor's Note: Fort is the same man referred to in the opening monologue of Eternal Blue Vol. 2, available here.]
So, Fort explained what happened to Zaback. And it all started with Borgan.
He wasn't sure when Borgan became the Black Wizard of Althena's Guard, or when he received the Black Dragon's power. But once he came to Zaback, he had a plan. First, he established a magic school there. And then, he bought a section of the mine, and, using magic, dug out an extraordinary amount of diamonds from that part. After that, he expanded the magic school, and slowly started buying up more and more parts of the mine. Before long, he had bought the rights to the entire mine, and all the diamonds produced from it. That put many miners out of work. So, he gave the unemployed miners work as laborers to construct Neo Vane.
When Neo Vane was complete, Borgan made an announcement to everyone in town. He said that magic determined everything, and anyone who thought themselves worthy would be welcome to enter Neo Vane and join the new Magic Guild. Furthermore, Borgan also warned that Lunar would soon be destroyed, and only the people who lived on Neo Vane and in Pentagulia would be spared destruction.
Since there was no longer any value to working in the mines, people began devoting themselves to learning magic to enter Neo Vane. And that is when the character of the town finally changed for the worse. People no longer rated one another on their character, but only on the basis of their magic power and abilities.
Fort said that he stayed behind so that he could teach magic. There might not be much hope left here, but by offering to be a teacher, he could at least give a little hope for the younger generation to enter Neo Vane and escape a life in the mines of Zaback.
Lemina thought to herself... Was this what she wanted? What meaning did magic have? What meaning did being a magician have? Were those things given meaning by this order that Borgan set up, or was the true meaning and purpose of magic cheapened by what he's done?
So, the question now turned to what Lemina and the girls would do. Lemina responded that they had every intention of going up to Neo Vane. For the wives and children separated for their families. To teach Borgan a lesson. To fight for the future stolen from the town of Zaback. To rescue Miria. And, so that Lemina could prove herself. While they were at it, Lucia would, of course, take back the Black Dragon's power that Borgan had stolen.
Fort explained to them that to enter Neo Vane, they would have to use a magic transport from Zaback to Neo Vane, and take a test. The test was not administered by a person, though; it was by a machine. Lemina noted that there wouldn't be a problem with her and Lucia, but there may be one with Jean, since she wasn't a magician. But, they would take care of that problem when it arose. Off to the transporter!
Fort guided them to the transporter, and returned home. Above the transporter was a sign which read:
To those who pass through these magic gates,
Abandon the life you once had,
And pledge the remainder of your life to the Magic Guild.
To those who pass through these gates without any magic power,
Prepare to slave away forever, beneath the land.
The three of them stepped onto the transporter pad and it activated. Several colors shined all at once as the transporter began working. But, there was something different, something additional, to how transporters usually functioned...
Lemina suddenly realized: this was not only the transporter, this was also the magic test itself! And, she hadn't taken care of Jean yet!
Before they could do anything, the three of them disappeared.
Chapter 28: Beneath the Land
A bell rang, and Marta looked up from the book she was reading at the transporter. The bell meant that someone had just passed the Magic Test, and was coming into Neo Vane from Zaback. Marta herself had just barely passed the trial; being really poor at magic, she couldn't get any other job besides this one, to greet newcomers. In fact, had her power been just slightly lower, she would be slaving away in the mines right now.
Marta reluctantly got up. The transport pad glowed, and two people--Lemina, and Lucia--appeared in front of her. Marta bowed.
Marta: Greetings and welcome to the city of Neo Vane. I am Marta, the caretaker of the entrance. Congratulations on passing the trial. ... It's very rare to find two people to pass the trial at once. You must have incredible magic power.
Lemina and Lucia exchanged glances. Lucia could tell from Lemina's expression that she had a plan, and Lucia should leave things to her.
Lemina: What happened to the other person with us?
Marta: Oh now, she did not have enough magic to deserve the honor of living in Neo Vane. And so, she was sent to the mines. This is not my decision; the magical device works and decides all automatically.
Lemina: You know... Your magic is substantially less than mine.
Marta: Yes... Well... I do have enough to be allowed into Neo Vane. The two of you would have more than enough, of course. I am still working on improving my magic abilities...
Lemina: So... what kind of magic can you use?
Marta hesitantly indicated the book she was reading. It was apparent to Lemina that she could barely manage simple fire magic, the most basic of spells. So, Lemina appealed to that sense... She offered to teach her some more magic in exchange for some information--information on how to get to the mines where their other friend was sent. Unfortunately, Marta admitted that she couldn't do that; if she did, she would be punished by her superiors, and everyone who came through would expect to be reunited with the people who didn't pass the test. That was when Lemina got creative.
Lemina: That's not it at all! The person who was with us wasn't here to pass any magic test! She only came here to carry in our luggage! We need to get our things from her. Unless you'd like to carry our bags for us instead?
After some more convincing strong-arming by Lemina, Marta agreed hesitantly. But first, she asked that they change into the robes of the Neo Vane Magic Guild.
Marta: You should change into these clothes before entering Neo Vane. You don't want to walk around the streets dressed like an ordinary dung beetle, after all.
-Lemina gave a look of extreme disdain.-
Lemina: "Dung beetle"... That's what some of the elitists magicians who used to live in Vane long ago would call everyone else who lived on the ground.
It seemed as if Neo Vane, in its attempt to emulate the old, traditional, Vane, was also picking up on all the bad traditions as well.
Anyway, after they changed, Marta explained, she would take care of finding an apartment for them and getting them established. Lemina knew they didn't have time for that, so she interrupted, saying that they wanted to go to the mines first to 'retrieve their bags'. After that, they would return to take care of the rest of business.
Before they changed, Lemina said a short incantation. It was a spell she learned from Lucia during their travels. Essentially, it blocked the passage of sound, so Lemina and Lucia could talk amongst themselves without being overheard or even noticed by Marta.
Lucia praised Lemina on her lying abilities. Lemina insisted it was really acting, not lying, but Lucia couldn't see the difference between the two. Anyway, Lemina said that she didn't expect the transport and the magic test to occur simultaneously. In any case, Jean was their friend, and they couldn't leave her behind. So as soon as they put on these clothes, they'd head straight for the mines and get her back.
Lucia took the clothes in her hands. She said a small incantation and, suddenly, was wearing the new clothing.
Lemina: Lucia! What was that!?
Lucia: Dressing magic. I was testing if my power had recovered fully enough to utilize it again. It still seems a little insufficient.
Lemina: You have got to show me how to do that! Please? Please? Please?
So, Lucia promised to show Lemina how to cast the same spell.
Anyway, after changing, they were directed to go to another transport pad that would take them directly into the mines. They took the transporter, and arrived underground. The place was dimly lit by magic, but there was just enough light to find their way through.
As Lemina and Lucia traversed through the cave, they were approached by a woman. She looked exhausted, as if she'd been working in the mines for an eternity. With her was a boy, her son. She recognized their wizards' robes and asked them to help her son, to let them out. Lucia realized there were many others in the mines like this, and said this much to Lemina.
Realizing that they couldn't help each of them individually like this, Lemina approached the area where more miners were working, and announced:
"Everyone, listen up! I am tne Premier of the real Magic Guild, Lemina Ausa! I swear that I will get you out of here! I promise! I will do whatever it takes to free you, in the name of the real Magic Guild of Vane!"
But in the meantime, there was still the problem of this boy's failing health. Lemina was a magic-user, but not a priest, and she couldn't restore his health. Lucia realized that she could--but, it would only help this one boy, and only temporarily. They didn't have time to go through and heal everyone in the mines... But, Lucia kept silent, and didn't say any of this to Lemina.
Why was she hesitant? This was the truth, after all...
Jean: Hey! I was beginning to think you wouldn't come! I nearly gave up!
From further back in the mine, Jean ran forward to the two of them. She'd heard Lemina's little announcement.
Jean: So, have you heard? Borgan has trapped everyone here, and is forcing them to mine for precious stones. They're only given as much food as the weight in precious stones they can bring in.
Lemina: I don't know much about this place, but that couldn't possibly be enough to eat.
Jean: It isn't enough. That's why there are even some in these mines who take jewels from others, and so the weaker people here have no chance. The only things that leave these mines are jewels and corpses...
Lemina only had a little food, and Jean already gave away all of hers. So, there was only so much they could do. Perhaps they could heal a few of the people here with magic? Jean knew that Lemina didn't have any restorative magic--but Lucia did. She recalled when Lucia kept Hiro and the others alive, back in the blizzard near Taben's Peak, and so Jean asked Lucia to help.
But, Lucia said that she could only heal things like injuries and sickness. The problem here was the lack of food. She could heal someone temporarily, but once the magic wore off, the hunger would still be there, and they wouldn't get any better. In other words, it wasn't possible to replace food with magic.
And that's when Lemina got her idea. She picked up an ordinary stone, said a short incantation--a familiar one that even kids knew--and the stone glowed with a deep blue light. ...which made it look just like the precious stones the miners were being forced to dig up. The real stones were full of magic, and were used to construct Neo Vane. These stones only looked pretty, and still emitted a magic glow, but it would be enough to exchange for food.
Lemina and Lucia got to work 'converting' the ordinary rocks into fake magic stones. Soon enough, they had a large pile of glowing rocks. Lemina made another announcement.
"Everyone! I am the Premier of the real Magic Guild, Lemina Ausa. I give you all these false magic stones. Please use these in exchange for food. Before these stones run out, we will defeat Borgan. And then, we will free everyone here! But in the menatime, you'll have to share the food evenly. There is already enough here... If one person hoards them away, or steals food from someone else, then he will be punished in the name of Lemina Ausa and the real Magic Guild!"
The miners protested. They'd heard from Borgan that the Premier of Vane's Magic Guild was a greedy young girl obsessed with money? So Lemina pointed out that it was Borgan who trapped them here in the first place--which one of them were they going to believe? Besides, Lemina was asking for nothing in return for this help.
So, Jean, Lucia, and Lemina went around handing out the fake magic stones. In the process, they came across the woman who had approached them when they first entered.
Lemina: We don't have any magic to turn rock into bread. But this will have to do.
Woman: Thank you so much. Until now, we had thought that all magicians were just like Borgan. Now we see that's not the case.
Lemina: I'm happy to hear that.
Woman: ...You may already know this, but Borgan sometimes comes down here. He doesn't ordinarily teleport down, though. There's a wall somewhere in the back of this cave, a wall that people who cannot use magic are unable to go through. Borgan sometimes appears over there.
Lemina: That's the first I've heard of it. We haven't had time to talk to anyone else yet. Could you tell us more? Why does Borgan come down here?
Woman: Across from that magic wall, there's a magic transporter. He'll sometimes come down here, stare at that transporter for a while, and then return back to the other side of the wall.
After their work there was done, the three girls went in search of the magic barrier and the transporter the woman spoke of. They soon found it in a deep corner of the cave, just as the woman had described: a magic wall, and what looked like a transporter carved into the ground across from it. Lucia examined the transporter.
Lucia: The Black Dragon is sealed behind here.
Lemina: Oh, so it's a transporting door, is it?
Jean: So, if we break the door then we can release the Black Dragon?
Lemina explained why that wouldn't work. A transporting door was like a lock; there was a small hole in the transporter that required a key. Once you inserted the key, the door would appear. But if it was broken, then the link would be severed and the door wouldn't appear. It wasn't something normal in Vane, since there weren't a lot of thieves there, but it was something occasionally sold to some merchants in Meribia.
What was unusual was that this sort of magic was supposed to be beyond Borgan's ability. So, why was it here? Also, Lucia thought to herself that she could forcibly destroy the wall between the transporter and where the Black Dragon was sealed, but the damage to the cave would cause all the mines to collapse...
Aynway, this explained why Borgan came down here so often, at least: he had to check to see that the seal on the Black Dragon was still in place. They could wait down here for Borgan to come back. But since time was short, they had to go up to confront him directly. Lemina said that she would create a magic aura around Jean so that she could pass through the wall, and the three of them could cross easily.
On the other side of the wall, further back, was another transporter. They used it to transport up. They appeared in a room with a statue of Althena--for Borgan's personal use, probably--and used it to heal themselves.
Just then... Lucia felt the presence of the Black Dragon.
Borgan was here.
Chapter 29: Neo Vane
Shortly ahead was a small room, built out of the same polished stone as the rest of Neo-Vane. The room had curtains and tapestries over the walls and was not yet completed. Borgan, meanwhile, was seated at his desk with his back turned to the girls. On the desk were stacks of documents and a loaf of bread Borgan munched on while reviewing the papers. Lucia put up a barrier of silence so they could discuss amongst themselves without being overheard by Borgan.
The girls noticed that Borgan was in possession of the Black Dragon Aura. Lucia also pointed out a ring on his finger which was the key to the transporter they saw in the caves. He was unlikely to relinquish either without a fight.
Lemina: Wait. I want to talk to him first.
Jean and Lucia were confused. Lemina then explained that she's been thinking a lot about how she and Borgan had been in the past. She's changed lately, especially after seeing the conditions in Zaback and Neo-Vane. If she could change, then perhaps Borgan could change. Even though it was unlikely, she couldn't just attack without giving him a chance.
Lucia also pointed out that if they went for an all-out attack, Borgan and the ring on his finger might be destroyed as a result. Although, Lemina tried to assure her that she had no ulterior motives and was not simply trying to distract him; she was being honest.
Lucia: Magic-users... are quite fearsome
Lemina: What do you mean?
Lucia: I don't understand the difference between your and Jean's power. But, there is a difference in how that power manifests itself.
What Lucia was getting at was how Lemina and Jean were both powerful. But, when Jean defeated an enemy, it was still there, only defeated; when Lemina defeated an enemy, it was destroyed.
In any case, Lemina still wanted to talk to Borgan, but Jean and Lucia were still a bit skeptical. Lemina explained her position...
Lemina: ...Back when Borgan was at Vane, I used to make fun of him because fo his lack of magic power. I think that maybe Borgan really did like magic back then. After he joined the Magic Guild, he studied and studied, but because he wasn't gifted with any magic power... Some people are just born without any magic, like Borgan; it wasn't his fault... That's why I regret making fun of him like that; it must have been awful to have a girl much younger than you making you look foolish. So, that's why I bear some responsibility for the way he is now...
Jean understood. She and Lucia would stay back while Lemina confronted Borgan. She stepped beyond the barrier of silence and into the room.
Lemina: Borgan! I have something to say to you!
Borgan: Guh! Well... if it isn't little Lemina. You never were one to use the front door. How un-ladylike.
Lemina: First I want to apologize to you! I have been reflecting on how wrong it was to call you an ugly pig wearing magic robes, while you were still at the lowest level of the Magic Guild!
Back behind the barrier of silence.
Jean: Was it Lemina's intention to make Borgan angry?
Lucia: ...Lemina is honestly apologizing.
Jean: We should probably prepare for a fight, just in case.
Back in the room, Borgan's face turned red. He didn't seem amenable to Lemina's "apology", and quickly started a magic incantation. But... nothing.
Borgan: Why is my magic not working?
Lemina smiled and produced a pendant that blocked magic in the area. Stolen from Borgan's storeroom while she was locked up in Pentagulia. This gave just enough time for Lucia to step in to back up Lemina.
Borgan: So, the Goddess of the Blue Star. Wonderful. After I present you to Zophar, I'll finally get rid of that False Althena and be placed at the top of Althena's Guard. And perhaps Miria will be my Goddess Althena, and I shall be her Dragonmaster...
Lemina reacted to the mention of her mother's name by throwing out a powerful fire spell. Borgan blocked it, but it knocked the desk into the wall and scattered the papers on top across the room. Thus began the battle of Lucia and Lemina versus Borgan.
Meanwhile, Jean was still waiting outside the room. She wasn't in a position to intervene in a battle of magic, so all she could do was to stand back and hope that Lucia and Lemina would prevail.
During the battle, Lucia felt Lunar's power cry out each time Borgan unleashed a magic attack. He was drawing directly on the power of the Black Dragon. But, that same power was also being used to seal away Althena, and to keep Neo-Vane afloat. She then realized that if they took control of the Black Dragon's power from Borgan, then Neo-Vane could come crashing into the ground--right on top of Zaback. But, if they didn't, then Zophar could be revived and then Zaback, and the entire world, would be destroyed anyway.
Why was it so difficult to wrestle with this decision?
In any case, even though Borgan was not drawing on his own magic power, he had an incredible ability to control the power he was using. That was no small feat.
See, magic involved several things. Many people across Lunar could use magic, but those who could use it well enough to be called a "magician" or "wizard" were either very talented, or went through a lot of training. Using magic involved being able to recite incantations, some quite complex, without erring or being distracted. It also involved holding onto a mental image to focus the magic's effects, also not being distracted. Being able to do both while in the middle of a battle was very difficult, and not something most magic-users could do to great effect.
Borgan couldn't use magic until Zophar gave him the power of the Black Dragon. But in such a short time, he had learned to control it and make it into his own. The power wasn't his, but the ability to use it was.
Lemina tried to predict how this battle would likely turn out. She and Lucia would continue to attack Borgan, and Borgan would shield himself. He would continue to attack her and Lucia, and they would shield themselves. This fight would continue until one of them ran out of magic power--and since Borgan was drawing on the Black Dragon for his power, he would eventually win. Lemina had to do something to tip the scales in their favor again.
It was then that Lemina remembered what Lucia said earlier. "I don't understand the difference between your and Jean's power. But, there is a difference in how that power manifests itself." So, Jean was the key. Lucia maintained a shield against Borgan's magic while Lemina ducked back into the hallway and got Jean. Before she could say anything, Lemina started another incantation.
Lemina remembered the spell that Lucia taught her in their fight against the Blue Dragon Fiend. That spell utilized the White Dragon's power, since the White Dragon had just been released. So, she did the same thing, only using the Blue Dragon to power up Jean. Lucia understood what was happening, but didn't understand how Lemina had come to be able to use the Blue Dragon's power like that.
Jean then attacked Borgan. With the Blue Dragon's support, she was able to break through Borgan's barrier and knock him to the ground. The power was so great that he lost consciousness.
Miria: How good; you are all safe.
Standing just outside the room was Miria. The barrier of silence was around them all throughout the battle, so she hadn't heard anything until she finally entered the room. She was smiling as usual. Meanwhile, Lucia and Jean took the ring and Black Dragon's power from Borgan. After Lemina's initial relief that her mother was all right, Miria asked if Lemina was here to cause trouble for Borgan yet again.
Miria: Ever since you were little, you would always cause trouble for Borgan... The two of you are not much unlike, you know.
Lemina: Mother! ...but, yes, it is as you say. We are very alike. But, the meanness in me ended up being moved over to Borgan...
Miria: My, you've grown into an adult. But, Borgan is not a bad man.
Lemina: Mother! Do you know what Borgan has been doing? He's taking people who don't have any magic power, and forcing them to work in the mines!
Miria: That is very awful. You must help them.
Just then, the entire place began to shake.
Miria: Is this an earthquake?
Lemina: An earthquake can't happen in a floating city!
Borgan: Neo-Vane... is falling
Borgan was still on the ground, but awake now. He explained further: now that the Black Dragon's power was gone, Neo-Vane had nothing to hold it aloft. It would soon fall, right on top of Zaback. What's more, Borgan was the only one with the ability to control the Black Dragon's power. So, they had no choice but to return the power to him.
Lemina: Lucia. I'm sorry, but it looks like we lost... We have to hand it over.
Lemina: Why? If we don't, then...
Before Lemina finished her sentence, Lucia raised her hand and called on the power of the Black Dragon. There was a sudden jolt, and then the room stopped shaking. Lucia explained that she, too, can use the power of the Black Dragon. And she's moved Neo-Vane to a safe place to touch down. Borgan couldn't believe it, but then realized that it's because Lucia is a goddess that she's able to call upon such power.
Miria: Ah, so you are the Goddess of the Blue Star? I have heard rumors of you from Borgan. Thank you very much for looking after my daughter Lemina. I am Miria Ausa.
Lucia remembered how such introductions usually go, and gave the proper response, introducing herself as well.
Soon after the battle, the three girls went into the mines to release everyone imprisoned there. Lemina was seen as a hero, and both the now-fallen Neo-Vane and Zaback celebrated. Over half of the magic-users that Borgan gathered returned to their original homes, while the remainder went with Miria to Vane, to continue their education in the ways of magic.
Also, after Lemina and the others visited the Black Dragon, they received several Black Dragon diamonds from the dragon directly. These they distributed among the people in Zaback, including Fort, who used the wealth to open up his own school where he could continue to teach the children of Zaback--not just in magic, but in all subjects. He named this school Lemina Ausa Academy.
Borgan returned to Vane with Miria and the other magicians who chose to go with her. Now that he was powerless, he swore to help restore the original Magic Guild. There were many who wanted revenge against him, on account of those he forced to work in the mines. But Lemina, following her mother's example, chose to forgive him. Lemina also proclaimed that, on the authority of the Premier of the Magic Guild, that Borgan would work for the Magic Guild in return for what he's done, and that no one was to harm him otherwise.
Before they continued on their journey, Lucia went ahead and changed out of the magician robes she received in Neo-Vane, back to the clothes that she remembered Hiro liked so much. Though, why she was so concerned about Hiro's opinion, she didn't know; the clothes made no real difference to her, after all.
One thing did keep coming back to Lucia's mind. When they met with the Black Dragon, she was told something...
Black Dragon: Lucia. Whatever happens, please do not close off your heart. That is the key to realizing Althena's dream.
Lucia: Black Dragon, my intention and Althena's intention, my dream and hers, are the same. You should know this. A goddess's power has nothing to do with the human heart. Humanity's power is nothing compared to the power of the Four Dragons.
Black Dragon: But please, believe in humanity. You must. Do not forget the love of those nearest to you. For Althena's sake...
No matter how much Lucia thought this over, she still did not fully understand what the Black Dragon meant.
Chapter 30: Home Village of Raculi
Hiro, Ruby, and Ronfar finally arrived at Raculi. Raculi was a small village; it seemed even smaller than Ronfar remembered it. Just outside the village was a graveyard, where the victims of the curse that plagued the village years ago were buried. Ronfar's own parents, as well as Leo and Mauri's parents, were buried there.
When Hiro, Ronfar, and Ruby arrived via the Destiny, no one came to greet them. This was unusual as Raculi was a small village known for its friendliness. Yet, the entire place was eerily quiet. Perhaps it had something to do with Mauri? She was at Serak Palace now, which was not very far from Raculi. And, if she could control a city like Azado from so far away, it wasn't unreasonable that she could have the same effect on a closer village like Raculi.
But no, this silence was not one of fear. It was something else... Ronfar called to an old man at the entrance. The man was weak and his vision was fading; he could barely recognize Ronfar there, and couldn't make out Hiro nor Ruby behind him.
Ronfar: What in the world's happened here? Has Leo been here?
Old Man: ...what are you talking about? You sound like that young brat, Ronfar, the one who was always with Leo and Mauri so long ago...
Ronfar: Gramps! This is no time for jokes! What's happened here?
Just then, a child yelled out in the village.
Child: Ah! Ahh! Yahh! Zo.. Zo.. Zoph... ar! Zophar!
The parent of the child tried to calm him down. The rest of them then realized that something really bad was going on. The old man agreed that this was no more time for joking around, and no time for small talk. So, he explained to Ronfar what had recently happened.
Old Man: When Mauri finished Serak Palace, everyone was happy. And then when Mauri said she would begin a cleansing ritual, no one suspected a thing. But then, the people who returned from this cleansing looked and acted as if their soul was taken from them. ... They would change completely. They would leave their home and family, hand over all their fortunes, and return to Serak. When they came back, they would take more people for the cleansing. They would begin with their own husbands, wives, or children. And then their grandchildren. They would leave the elderly and infants alone; but, once those infants grew a little older, they would take their parents for the cleansing and leave the children in the care of the elderly.
The old man went on to explain that it was impossible to run from the cleansing. And, leaving the village to escape meant leaving behind one's friends, family, and home, and wasn't an option for most people there. So, the village of Raculi was trapped like this, with only a small handful left to look after it. And soon, they would not even be left.
The old man added that Leo came here earlier this morning. He had a look of pain on his face, like he was suffering from a toothache. He might have come on business regarding the cleansing, but word is that he's left his position in Althena's Guard.
Old Man: Oh! I almost forgot. Leo said that if you came, to tell you something... That is, to retrieve the Red Dragon's power, you should go to Serak Palace.
Ruby was happy to hear that Leo had come here to help them out. but, both Hiro and Ronfar had a bad feeling about this. Before going to Serak, they went first to Leo's house in the village.
They arrived at Leo and Mauri's house and went inside. The house itself and room within were left unchanged from when Ronfar was last there praying at Mauri's bedside for her recovery. But, Leo was not there. The bad feeling Ronfar had earlier grew worse as he considered what Leo's purpose could possibly be. It appeared that he came here, cleaned the house, and then left, alone, for Serak Palace.
Back in Azado, Mauri had threatened to kill them all and destroy the town. Leo stood in the way to stop her. Ronfar remembered the look in his eyes then: if necessary to save the town, he was willing to kill Mauri should it come to that. That was when Leo only knew of the danger to the town of Azado, and nothing of Althena's Guard and Zophar. If Leo was willing to kill Mauri to save one town, then that could mean only one thing...
Ronfar: Hiro! If Leo was here this morning, then we have no time to waste! We need to get to Serak Palace and fast!
Hiro, Ruby, and Ronfar ran back to the Destiny and set off for Serak, wasting no time.
All that kept running through Ruby's mind, meanwhile, was a feeling of fear and dread. She didn't want to go, or so she felt. The closer they got to Serak Palace, the worse she felt.
Hiro piloted the Destiny over the land, just like a sandship, over the flat plain between Raculi and Serak. They soon came to a mountain, at the top of which was Serak Palace itself. From there, they would have to disembark and walk the rest of the way. Leo had left much earlier than they had, but hopefully, they made up enough time by traveling via the Destiny instead of on foot to catch up with him before he reached Mauri. Yet, they saw no sign of him as they approached the mountain's base.
Nall: Ruby? Can you hear me?
Nall: The Destiny runs on my power. Once you leave the ship, you probably won't be able to hear my voice any more. But, I have already taught you everything I can. There is no need to be afraid. It's different now; not just me, but the Blue Dragon and Black Dragon have both been revived. You'll only feel a bit of their power from where you are, but they will support you as much as possible. Even if you are drawn in by the seal itself, then believe in Hiro; he'll rescue you and release the seal.
Ruby understood. After that, Nall was silent. She went to tell Hiro the good news about the Black Dragon, and that she believed in Hiro. For even if she's drawn into the seal and trapped, then Hiro will rescue her. So she has nothing to fear. (But, she repeats this several times to Hiro, and to herself, as if she has yet to convince herself...)
* * *
Meanwhile, Leo looked up at Serak Palace standing before him. Inside the immense stone structure atop the mountain was the Red Priest of Althena, second only to the Dragonmaster within Althena's Guard, leader of the entire priesthood, and... Leo's younger sister: Mauri. He had come to kill her, for Mauri was not herself and was causing untold suffering for others; there was no way to save her without allowing harm to continue to fall upon others.
It would not be easy. Mauri still held the Red Dragon's power, and Leo had given up his hold on the power of the White Dragon. He had seen what she was capable of back in Azado, and the prospect of facing her without a dragon's power to back him up was worrisome--but, there was no other way.
He set his mind to the task at hand. He had to get to Mauri; he couldn't allow Ronfar to get there first, either, lest he try to stop him.
* * *
Meanwhile, Mauri waited within the confines of Serak Palace. She waited for her dear brother. She knew full well that Leo was coming to kill her, and looked forward to killing him herself. Mauri also waited for her lover, Ronfar; she wasn't yet sure what to do with him... Now, there was nothing left to do but wait for the two of them to arrive.
"No! Don't come!"
A voice cried out inside of her. It was Mauri, the real Mauri. Strange; she should have been completely sealed away by now. But no matter--if the real Mauri was still buried somewhere inside, then she would be around just long enough to watch both Leo and Ronfar die by her own hand.
* * *
And all throughout, Zophar watched over Mauri. Satisfied with how everything was resolving itself. Perhaps Leo would kill Mauri, perhaps Mauri would kill Leo. Perhaps Ronfar would interfere and be killed himself. It didn't matter. Human life was meaningless, and whatever the result, it could only benefit him and contribute to his revival.
Chapter 31: Serak Palace
Serak Palace now stood before Hiro and the others. As they approached the ancient-looking building, Hiro recalled aloud some advice Gwyn once gave him.
"Don't look at the past... look at the present."
Ronfar: What was that?
Hiro: Oh, it's something Gwyn once said, for whenever I lose my way.
It was time they hurried up and entered Serak Palace. The shrine was very much like the great shrine at Azado. In place of windows, there were fires burning inside that lit the way. A short way through, they came upon a middle-aged man lying unconscious on the ground. Ronfar rushed over and revived him...
As soon as the man was healed, he began to laugh hysterically and suddenly attacked Ronfar.
Man: Ah haha haha hahahahyahh!
Ronfar: Hey old man! I just saved you!
Hiro: He thinks we're his enemy!
Not wanting to harm the apparently-crazy man, Ronfar cast a sleep spell to render him unconscious again. The man slumped to the floor and closed his eyes, falling asleep. In his sleep, he was crying.
They noticed other people in the shrine as they continued through. Ronfar recognized many of them from the village. It looked as if Leo had already been through here, as well: each one of them was on the ground, unconscious, but not a single one of them was harmed.
* * *
Somewhere else in the shrine, Hiro and Ronfar's image appeared in a flame on the wall, as Mauri watched on. She thought to herself that she couldn't make it too easy for her beloved Ronfar to reach her; so, she'd better create a few more difficulties along the way.
* * *
Just then, the lights around Ronfar, Hiro, and Ruby went out. Ronfar reached into his bag to get a lamp, asked Ruby for a light, and lit the hallway enough to see, but only for a few feet. Further ahead in the darkness they heard the sounds of more people waking up, and suddenly a sound like people crashing into one another, growing louder. Before they could reach them, Ronfar said another prayer to put them to sleep.
Ruby: I hear Althena's voice!
Hiro turned back to Ruby. But, Ronfar didn't move. He stared straight ahead, seeing spirits in the distance, images of Mauri...
...Ronfar, save me...
......Ronfar, save me...
...Ronfar, save me...
......Ronfar, save me...
Hiro and Ruby grabbed him and pulled him back, before more of the people around them began to wake again.
* * *
Mauri watched the events unfold. Ronfar still thought about her constantly. This could prove to be entertaining. It would almost be a pity when she's finally able to force Ronfar to undergo the cleansing, and pledge his soul to Zophar.
Next, Mauri turned her attention to another image in the flame, this time of Leo. Her dear brother was coming this way as well. She would have to make things interesting for him as well...
* * *
The fallen ones around Leo began to wake u p again. They moved like the living dead, unrelenting. Leo grew frustrated--he continued to plow through, taking great pains not to bring harm to any of them, only rendering them unconscious with the same nonlethal force he used against Hiro long ago.
But, it was no use. As soon as he defeated them, they stood right back up again. So, there was no choice but to run, right through the crowds. They followed after him, but he didn't turn around. He just ran... towards Mauri.
* * *
Ruby: Wow. This is like the inside of the Red Tower.
Ruby had led Hiro and Ronfar to a small room in the interior of the shrine. It wasn't where Mauri was, but rather a storeroom with several treasure chests inside. Ruby told them to open one small box on a desk.
It was a music box. When they opened it, a sad but familiar melody played. Inside was a brilliant blue jewel the size of a robin's egg.
Ruby: This is it. This is where I heard Althena's voice come from.
Hiro: What is it?
Ruby: I don't know. I don't hear her voice as clearly as when I heard Nall's. But, I still feel like something is calling me from here. And when I hear it, I know it's Althena. I feel protected, somehow...
Ronfar: ...I think I know. I remember hearing about this while I was in training. This jewel is called Althena's Tear. It's created from the tears that Althena shed at seeing humanity's unhappiness.
Hiro: I've read about it in ancient texts, too. They said that Althena saw how much she was unable to alleviate all of humanity's unhappiness. That's when she cried, and the power of her tears was entrusted into these jewels. But, she saw that people would use her power for their own ends instead of to help one another, and grew even more sad. That's why they were hidden away...
Well, now was the time to use it--for a good reason. Ruby whispered to Ronfar.
Ruby: Ronfar, pray. You're a priest, so you should be able to call on its power.
Ronfar But what should I say? I don't know the right words. I have no idea how to use Althena's Tear.
Ruby: There aren't any set words. Just, pray from your heart.
What should he pray for, then? All he wanted was for Mauri to be back to normal. For Mauri to be happy. Should he pray for that, or should he pray for the village of Raculi to be back to normal? Should he pray for the world to be saved?
...If it was a prayer from the heart, he knew what he needed to say.
Ronfar ...Althena... Please, make Mauri happy once more...
Althena's Tear shone brilliantly. A light rushed forth from the jewel and surrounded everyone, spreading into the rest of Serak Palace before it disappeared.
* * *
Mauri watched this transpire through the image in the flames. She let out a cry as the light engulfed her...
* * *
Leo was surprised at the sudden burst of light. As it washed over him, he suddenly remembered the days long ago, when he, Mauri, and Ronfar were growing up in Raculi together. All he could think of was how happy he was back then.
When the light cleared, the ones who had been attacking him just a moment earlier were restfully sleeping on the ground. Leo resumed his search for Mauri.
* * *
Back in the village of Raculi, the old man looked up at Serak mountain, as a white light filled the sky above. The child with him called out: everyone else in the village had returned. They were themselves again, and Raculi was back to normal.
* * *
Meanwhile, Jean, Lemina, and Lucia were on their way back to Taben's Peak when they saw the light on the horizon. First, Jean smiled. Then, Lemina.
Jean: For a moment there, I remembered something... I was in my mother's arms, and my father was right beside me. My mother was pointing at the sky, showing me a rainbow. I can't remember what their faces looked like, but I remember being held in her arms...
Lemina: That's great, Jean! But I wonder... I just saw the time when my mother first showed me how to use magic. She showed me a small light in the palm of her hand. It was so pretty... She said it was like a jewel, a jewel that each one of us held in our hearts...
So, Lucia thought of Hiro. She explained that the light they saw was Althena's power being released. It must have been released by Ronfar, which meant that Hiro and Ruby were nearby, and safe. Lucia asked Jean and Lemina to wait for a while--she was going to try a difficult magic spell that could take some time, and would require her full attention. So, Lemina and Jean sat down to eat, while Lucia started her spell.
* * *
Ruby suddenly noticed her presence. She explained what had happened with Ronfar and Althena's Tear. She then asked why Lucia didn't appear any earlier--it would have made Hiro really happy if she did. Lucia liked the thought of Hiro being happy to hear from her, though she didn't fully understand why she felt that way.
Hiro was the one who Lucia thought of, when she saw Althena's light. Hiro, the one who saved me, who was blushing, who nearly died, who saved the children of Taben's Peak... Gentle, strong Hiro...
Ruby told Hiro and Ronfar that Lucia just contacted her. Hiro was happy to hear from her, and was happy to hear that she was well.
Lucia was the one who Hiro thought of, when he saw Althena's light. Lucia, when she first appeared in the crystal at the Blue Spire, when she changed in Meribia, smiling and laughing Lucia. And perhaps, when this was all over, Lucia would even come to live with them...
There was no longer any time to waste. They had to hurry and find Mauri.
* * *
When Leo opened the door, he saw Mauri leaning against the desk. She looked confused, as if she was just waking up from a nightmare.
Leo: I've found you, Mauri.
Mauri: Where... where am I? Why are you acting like that, brother? And what have I...
Leo: I will not be deceived, and I will not be led astray. I had wished with all my heart that there would be some way to save you, to turn you back from what you had become, and allow you to continue living. But, there is no alternative left. I must accept this burden, and... you must die, Mauri.
Leo drew his sword for the first time since having entered Serak palace. Mauri was overcome with fear.
Mauri: Brother, what are you saying? Why do you have such a look on your face, and why have you drawn your sword? Where is Ronfar? Save me, Ronfar... This is some sort of dream. I'm still trapped in a nightmare!
As Leo approached Mauri, sword raised, the door flew open and Hiro, Ronfar, and Ruby rushed in.
Ronfar: Stop, Leo!
Leo: You came too soon, Ronfar. Please, go. This is not the sort of thing I wanted you to see.
Ronfar: No, Leo! You don't understand! There's no need to kill Mauri!
Leo: Ronfar, I know how you feel! If there were any way to save Mauri, then I would accept it!
Ronfar and Hiro described the light that engulfed the entire shrine earlier--that light, they said, was the light of Althena. And, it lifted the curse from Serak Palace. Mauri truly was back to herself; she was not deceiving him, and she was no longer possessed.
Leo stopped, and withdrew. Mauri saw Ronfar, and Ronfar saw the real Mauri for the first time in years. Tears flowed, and they both smiled.
But then, Mauri's smile faded. The fire returned to her eyes, and to the palm of her hand.
Mauri: So! You broke into my storeroom! My dear Ronfar, you really did come here with the intention of destroying me, did you not? It looks like your power was insufficient yet again...
Ruby relayed a message from Lucia: The curse over Mauri had been in place for too long, and refused to let go. Her real self was at risk of disappearing forever--but, it was not gone yet. There might still be enough power to save Mauri left in Althena's Tear.
So, Ronfar called upon the power of the Tear of Althena one last time.
Ronfar: Please, let me save Mauri!
In an instant, Althena's Tear shined again, and both Mauri and Ronfar collapsed to the floor.
Chapter 32: Mauri's Salvation
Ronfar found himself praying at Mauri's side. They were in her house in Raculi; she was lying on the bed, stricken with some unknown curse that plagued the entire village. None of the priests had been able to alleviate the curse, and Mauri's brother and Ronfar's close friend, Leo, had left without saying where he was going. Much time had passed, and he hadn't yet returned.
...Is this a dream? That dream I've kept seeing, ever since that day...
But, this dream was different. Mauri was on the edge of death, and whispered to Ronfar.
Mauri: Ronfar, Althena hasn't saved me. She's forsaken this village.
Ronfar: ...It's because my power isn't enough; my prayers can't reach Althena
Mauri: No, the Goddess is supposed to be able to hear any prayer. She's forsaken us. But why? What have we done?
Ronfar still believed in the Goddess, but Mauri wasn't sure. Even though Althena was not the cause of this curse, her absence is still allowing it to spread. Yet Ronfar insisted that it was not the fault of Althena, but the fault of the one who cursed the village...
Mauri: So, there must be something stronger than the Goddess--another god. That god is the one who cursed me... Ronfar, pray for me, to that god. If you pray to the god who cursed me, then he could lift the curse.
Ronfar: ...I can't pray to the person who cursed you.
Mauri saw his unwillingness as a sign that he, too, had forsaken her. But Ronfar knew he couldn't pray to the one who had caused Mauri this sort of pain; he wuold continue to pray to Althena. Mauri grew more desperate: at Ronfar, at Althena, at everything and everyone.
Mauri: Ronfar... Save me... Ronfar...
Ronfar held onto Mauri's hands as they tensed, then went limp and fell to the side of the bed. Ronfar called her name, but she didn't respond.
...In this dream, Leo never arrived in time...
"Ronfar! Why did you not save me? Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?"
The voice rang from above. Ronfar ran outside, but saw nothing but the Blue Star looming overhead.
* * *
Ronfar was once more by Mauri's side, praying for her recovery.
This time, Leo ran in. He made it in time, and he brought medicine.
Ronfar: ...No! That isn't medicine! Don't drink it!
Leo: Ronfar! What are you talking about?
Ronfar: ...Leo, that medicine, it's....
Ronfar struck the vial from Leo's hand. It hit the bed and an unseemly amount of liquid poured from it, staining the bedsheets a crimson red. Mauri clenched her teeth, opened her eyes wide, and took her last breath before going limp and lifeless.
Leo: Ronfar, you... I will never forgive you. Never!
"Ronfar, are you happy now that I am dead?"
The ceiling of the house disappeared, and all that Ronfar could see was the Blue Star looking down.
...Would it have been better, if Mauri had died?...
* * *
Ronfar had heard the rumors speaking of destruction at Mauri's hand, of those who opposed the Guard. He had to find out if this was true for himself, and so he had come to Pentagulia to talk with Mauri directly. It was only him, Mauri, and the Blue Star shining overhead.
Mauri: This is a difficult thing for Mauri. But, if Mauri did not use her divine wrath on others, then those people would be destined to die anyway. Every day, so many people suffer pain and death because there are no priests nearby. Because of Mauri's divine punishment, more and more people are entering Althena's Guard and becoming priests.
Mauri continued to justify herself: because of the destruction she caused, there were more priests, and more people to save others. So in reality, she was saving people, not destroying them. But Ronfar was unconvinced. She was killing them, and there was no way it was right.
Ronfar had his answer. The rumors were true. Mauri was responsible for the destruction of entire villages and towns, all in the name of Althena--or, in the name of Althena's Guard.
So, he ran. He continued running, across the land and across the desert, until he ended up in the frontier town of Larpa.
...I ran away. When Mauri was on the edge of death, I swore that I'd be with her until the day she died. Yet, now that she's alive, I ran away from her...
The Blue Star quietly watched over him.
* * *
Ronfar arrived at Pentagulia on board the Destiny, and immediately met with Mauri.
Ronfar: ...I've come back. To help you.
Mauri: Oh, Mauri is very happy. Have you come here to work with her for Althena's Guard?
Ronfar: ...Come back to Raculi. I'll work the fields for you. And we can raise our children there.
Mauri: Hm, you're proposing to her. Of course Ronfar belongs to Mauri. But, Mauri does not belong to you, Ronfar. Mauri's body is Althena's. And her beloved Ronfar will become Mauri's right hand, by the power of Althena's Guard.
Mauri: Then again, Ronfar, you only want Mauri in good condition. But, she must decline. Ronfar, you will give yourself over to Mauri.
From the palm of Mauri's hand rose snakes of flame, which flew towards Ronfar. The flames burned and charred Ronfar's skin. With each breath he took, hot air entered his lungs. Somehow, Ronfar asked Althena for her protection, and he was covered in light. The snakes of flame gradually faded away. When he took another breath, he noticed Mauri had fallen to the ground. He rushed over and saw that the damage he had taken had been transferred to Mauri. Mauri's pale skin was burned just as Ronfar's wounds had healed.
Mauri: ...Ronfar, save me...
* * *
Suddenly, the scenery changed, and Ronfar was at the base of the hidden Goddess Tower in Pentagulia. Ronfar, Hiro, Ruby, Jean, and Lemina were there, surrounding Mauri. There was no one else. Above the Goddess Tower, the blue sky was brilliant, and the Blue Star shone brightly. ...But, it didn't seem real. It was like a scene from a dream.
Lemina attempted to throw Mauri back with a powerful magic attack.
Lemina's attack missed. Everyone in the party was badly hurt.
Mauri: Ronfar, Mauri is going to save you. Please believe that.
Ronfar turned his gaze towards Mauri. On one side, the rest of his friends blamed Ronfar.
Lemina: You sold us out.
Jean: We should have left you to die at Zulan.
Hiro: "We misjudged you. I was an idiot for putting my faith in you.
-On Hiro's shoulder, Ruby turned the other way-
Soon enough, even Leo appeared-
Leo: So! You conspired with Lucia the Destroyer, and betrayed me, your close friends. You are a traitor.
Ronfar fell to both knees, dumfounded by what was happening. Someone was in Ronfar's arms, whom he was gently embracing.
Mauri: Mauri continued to believe in you, Ronfar. That is why you must help her.
Just then, words which Mauri wasn't even thinking came to her lips.
Mauri: "Don't lie to him!"
Mauri's voice shook the entire world. She desperately grabbed at her own throat.
Mauri: You! You will not stop me from taking Ronfar!
Mauri: "Ronfar, I will not disappear. I will live on! Someday, I will return! For you! Do not listen to what she says! You can save me, just the way you are! Until I return, do not change!"
Mauri: You! You were supposed to be all but gone! Be quiet!
Mauri: "No, I will not be quiet. As long as I am here, I will not give up. Ronfar, you are not alone in your fight. I am here, and I am fighting. That is why you must not listen to her!"
Ronfar slowly began to return to his former self.
...If humans are no more than puppets who all follow the will of Althena, then what value is there in us and our faith? We have the power within ourselves to save ourselves. Moreover, Althena has given us that power. I put my faith in Althena by my own free will.
...Leo has the power of a warrior to save everyone from monsters, and I have the power of a priest to help others. I don't have the strength of a warrior, and Leo doesn't have the strength of a priest. That is why humans do not live alone. They should help one another.
...That's it. Even at the base of the Goddess Tower, my friends were not blaming me.
...I understand. Mauri, I was mistaken! I won't give up! I will bring you back, and we will be happy again! That's why... that's why... that's why... (What should I say? Think Ronfar, think! Don't you want to be with Mauri, the one you love?) That's why... ...Mauri! Come here! I'll think of what to say later! Just come to me! ...I mean, come with me?
The real Mauri was crying and smiling. Ronfar could feel it.
Mauri: "Oh Ronfar... I'm so happy."
An almost-transparent Mauri came forth from the Mauri that stood in front of Ronfar. Her arms were outstretched, and Ronfar opened his arms to take the real Mauri in.
At that moment, Ronfar understood all the suffering Mauri had experienced until now. The words and actions that her body had said and done, yet she never wanted. The people close to her whom she had harmed. The children whose pain she saw and felt. All the days that passed that she had to endure. She was asleep, but trapped in a nightmare from which she had no rest...
But, that was all over now.
Mauri: You think you can escape!?
The horrific form of the False Mauri pursued the Mauri that had just escaped, and rushed towards Ronfar-and-Mauri, who had merged into one being. Ronfar-and-Mauri gripped their right hand and raised in high. It was holding Althena's Tears. The two of them combined their strength and offered the same prayer.
...Sacred light of Althena! Tears of Althena! Expel Zophar from this place!
Their fist began to glow. With that light, the entire world faded away like an illusion, leaving only the Blue Star, until that, too, faded.
* * *
When Ronfar regained consciousness, Hiro, Ruby, and even Mauri were staring at Ronfar. Slightly further away stood Leo, not saying a word.
Mauri put her hand to Ronfar's chest; Ronfar was on the ground.
Ronfar: Huh? What happened?
Hiro: Ronfar, you did it!
Ruby: Ronfar, you saved Mauri!
Hiro, Ruby, and Mauri were all smiling wide.
Ronfar: Oh, right. We wanted to remove the False Mauri with Althena's Tears. I thought that the Tears would be enough. But, it was thanks to Mauri that we escaped. ...It's embarrassing for me to say this, but if I was in there for just a moment longer, I would have been taken in by Mauri's curse, too. I suppose I'm no use as a priest.
Mauri took Ronfar's hand and pressed it to her chest.
Mauri: No, you gave me your strength. Because you were there, I was able to continue holding onto my hope. Because I believed you were going to save me, I didn't fade away. You believed in me, and you saved me. That is why I am here now.
Ronfar remembered the conversation he had in the dream.
Ronfar: It's strange. I should have known was was going to happen. Whatever pain and sadness there is, it's no cause for us to curse the Goddess who entrusted this world to us.
Mauri: Ronfar, dear Ronfar, that isn't entirely right. We don't need to endure any more suffering. Althena gave humans the power to pursue happiness for themselves. If there is pain and sadness, then we can change that. If there exists the desire to change that, and to find happiness, then Althena will give us the power to do so. But, we must strive to keep changing until the end.
Ronfar and Mauri took each other's hands and looked into one another's eyes.
Ruby: I know it's bad to disturb two people in love...
Ruby flew in between the two of them.
Ruby: Well, Lucia wouldn't say something like that about Hiro. But, anyway, what kind of dream did you see?
Ronfar: A dream full of lies
Ronfar laughed. Ruby tilted her head back towards Ronfar with a frustrated look.
Ruby: I see. So, when you told Mauri "And we can raise our children there", was that also a lie?
-Instantly, Ronfar blushed.-
Ronfar: How do you know that!?
Ruby: Lucia told me.
Ronfar now realized that the Blue Star that appeared in the dream was, in fact, Lucia. No wonder Lucia was the only one not there at the base of the Goddess Tower.
Mauri turned to Ronfar with a serious look in her eyes.
Mauri: It was a lie?
Red with embarrassment, Ronfar turned away from Mauri's stare.
Ronfar: ...It wasn't a lie.
Mauri: Would you say that again?
Ronfar: In front of everyone? But that's a bit--
In the middle of saying that, Ronfar noticed Mauri's serious expression. Mauri had been trapped inside that False Mauri ever since that day. The only belief she held on to was that Ronfar would come one day to save her.
Ronfar: ...Mauri, I swear I'll make those who harmed you answer for what they did. And after that, we will live in Raculi together. And we will raise our children there. Mauri, marry me...
Mauri held onto Ronfar and burst into tears.
Hiro and Ruby looked at one another and smiled.
Chapter 33: Ruby's Revival
Mauri had no more use for the Red Dragon's power or the title of Red Priest. She gladly handed over the power of the Red Dragon. But, Ruby and the others would still have to go to where that power was sealed to release it.
Leo saw that Mauri and Ruby were free now, and that there was nothing left for him to do. he turned his back and began to leave.
Hiro: Leo, where are you going?
Leo: There is nothing more I can do.
Hiro: No, you could join in our fight!
Leo: Your fight is over, is it not? If you free the Four Dragons, the real Althena will be restored, and Zophar will be destroyed. I... I tried to kill my own sister. I truly meant to do so. If you hadn't been there, then she would be dead. I must live with the burden of knowing that, had that happened, I would have been killing my sister when there was still hope of saving her. ...No matter my skills with the sword, I do not think that I could fight alongside you. You have already won. You continued to believe in Mauri...
-Leo withdrew from the room without responding. Hiro and Mauri tried to follow. Ronfar extended his arm in front of them.-
Ronfar: No, stop. You know how stubborn he can be. Let him go for now.
Hiro: Sorry, Ronfar...
Ronfar: Let Leo go for now. I have faith that he will come back to ous, eventually.
Ruby, Hiro, and Ronfar journeyed deep into the cave where the Red Dragon's power was sealed. The cave entrance was deep in the back of Serak Palace. This was a moment Ruby had awaited for a long time, but, she wasn't happy. She was afraid of the kind of change she would undergo, in becoming a full-fledged dragon. As she was talking with Hiro on the way down, she tried to act optimistic, but the reality was different.
As they continued, she heard Lucia's voice again.
Lucia: What are you worried about?
Ruby: I'm not worried. Maybe it's something to do with the seal.
Lucia: You don't want to become an adult.
Ruby: It's not that.
Ruby: ...Ok. I'm afraid of becoming an adult. I mean, I've wanted to become a Red Dragon for forever, but I didn't ever think about growing up.
Ruby: ...That's not right either. What I really want... is to always be the same as Hiro. I wanted to become a human, to really become Hiro's girlfriend. But, I'm a cat with wings, and so I thought it would be good enough to become a Red Dragon. But what I really want is to be the same age as Hiro, to be a human girl, like you, Lucia.
Lucia: Like me?
Ruby: ...Yes, and then maybe one day me and Hiro could get married, and we'd live together. I wanted to be close to Hiro, to be the most special person to him. ...if only I were human. But, Hiro would never choose me. Even if I wasn't a cat with wings. ... Even if I was human, and you weren't a goddess from the Blue Star, Hiro would still choose you, Lucia. And Lucia, you like Hiro, too. He is more special to you than anyone.
Lucia: Ruby, I...
Ruby: ...But, no matter who Hiro would choose, my feelings for him won't change. He'll always be special to me, and I'll always protect him. I want to protect him, and protect you, Lucia, the one he likes and wants to live with. But, I also want to feel as if I'm protected, too.
Lucia: Ruby, no matter what form you take, no matter how strong you become, Hiro will always want to protect you.
Ruby: Yes. I know. That is why I like Hiro. That is why I want to protect Hiro. I want to help him. That is why I want to become stronger. Thank you, Lucia. I'm ready to become an adult now.
Lucia: Ruby, you became an adult once you started feeling this way.
Further in the cave, there was a lake of fire with a floating red stone above it. The fires were so hot that they almost burned the skin. This was it. Ruby heard the voices of Nall, the Blue Dragon, and the Black Dragon congratulating her. She felt the magic power which spread across Lunar, and the focal point of the city of Pentagulia.
Ruby disappeared. The cave shook and magma and steam erupted from the lake of fire. The next moment, a beautiful dragon with deep crimson fur was in the middle of the lake, looking down at Hiro and Ronfar.
Hiro: You're very beautiful.
Ruby: Thank you, Hiro.
Ruby transformed back into her smaller form, and sat on Hiro's shoulder again. This form was more convenient anyhow. But, she still had the responsibility as an adult dragon of keeping her powers in balance.
Ruby: By the way, did you really mean it when you said I was beautiful?
Hiro: Of course, Ruby.
Ruby: Which one is prettier, me or Lucia?
Hiro: ... ... ...Is Lucia still here?
Ruby decided not to tease Hiro any longer. Lucia wasn't contacting her any longer, but she knew they would need to hurry up and get to Taben's Peak to meet up with them again.
* * *
Lucia returned to where Jean and Lemina were sitting. She'd finished the magic spell she was working. She also related to the other girls the news that all Four Dragons were now released. So now, they would need to head towards Taben's Peak to meet up with the others.
All the while, Lucia felt the power of Zophar coming from the direction of Pentagulia. It was incomplete, but steadily growing stronger. How much time did Lunar have left?
* * *
The Dragonship Destiny carried everyone in Serak Palace back to Raculi. Among the people who had undergone the cleansing, Mauri was the only one who remembered being under the control of Zophar. For everyone else, it was as transient as a bad dream, and they were able to return to their former lives.
Mauri remained in Raculi, to await Ronfar's return. The word had spread that the things Mauri had done before were the result of her possession, and were done by the False Mauri that was in control of her. The word had also spread that it was Ronfar who helped free her from her possession, and that now she was back to normal.
The Destiny left the village of Raculi, with Hiro, Ronfar, and Ruby on board. They had freed the last of the Four Dragons, and now all that was left was to save the Goddess Althena.
Chapter 34: False Althena / Real Althena
There was once a girl gifted with beauty since her youth. Although she was beautiful, she was far from kind. After all, she felt that no one else was responsible for her beauty, so she felt no need to be kind to any other person. She judged others solely by their outward appearances, and her own happiness became based on how beautiful she felt.
One day, she came across an old woman. The woman looked ugly by the girl's standards, but it was apparent that, long ago, she was quite beautiful as well. It was then that the girl realized her appearance was transient: as she lost her youth, so would she lose her beauty. Since her happiness was based on her looks, this caused her great despair.
"Althena! Why must we grow old!? Why have you given me this beauty, only to one day take it away!?"
She called out to the Goddess Althena every night in her mirror. But, Althena never responded.
Until one day, someone did respond--someone other than Althena.
"I shall grant you what you desire."
The voice called himself "Zophar". And he told the girl that all he had to do was follow his orders and, henceforth, take on the name of "Althena". In return, she would be given eternal youth and beauty, just like the real Goddess Althena. And, like the Goddess, Zophar would also grant her the protection of a Dragonmaster and Four Heroes. The girl gladly took up the offer, and so, through Zophar's power, she was established in the Holy City of Pentagulia, with masses of followers and the devotion of Dragonmaster Ghaleon and the Four Heroes: Lunn, Borgan, Mauri, and Leo.
But, Leo left once he had discovered the truth. And soon thereafter, so did Lunn, Borgan, and Mauri abandon her. Not even Ghaleon was anywhere to be found.
The girl, the False Althena, was now alone.
* * *
Everyone rendezvoused at Taben's Peak. Hiro, Ronfar, and Ruby joined back with Lucia, Lemina, and Jean. The remaining three Dragons were also there. Together, they set off for Pentagulia, to free the Goddess Althena and stop Zophar's return. As they neared the Holy City, Lucia could feel the distinct aura of death growing stronger. But it wasn't just her--everyone on Lunar could feel a wave of anxiety and uneasiness coming from Pentagulia's direction.
When the Dragonship Destiny came within sight of the city, there was no sign of life in the city or the surrounding sea. Lucia stood on the deck of the ship and called out to the Four Dragons to attack. The Destiny stopped as Nall retook his power, and the Four Dragons flew to each of the four towers of Pentagulia. Nall's white blizzard, the Blue Dragon's blue lightning, the Black Dragon's black flashes, and Ruby's burning flame, turned the four towers of Pentagulia into rubble. As they crumbled, all that was left was the Goddess Tower, free from the barrier which had obscured it.
The Four Dragons returned, and the Destiny began to move again to dock with the Goddess Tower.
* * *
The False Althena stood amongst the ruins of Pentagulia. There was no more beauty left in this city; all that surrounded her was rubble and corpses. She called out Zophar's name, asking for his help. When she saw the Destiny approaching, she felt a moment's relief at the thought that perhaps Leo had come back to her--but then she saw it was definitely not Leo on the deck of the ship.
"Master Zophar! Master Zophar! These people have come to destroy all that you and I have created! Master Zophar, come to the aid of your loyal servant!"
She rushed into the Goddess Tower, seeking protection. Zophar finally spoke.
"Ah, my beloved servant. You have always been useful to me. Did you think I would abandon you? ... I will give you what you desire. I will give you the eternal beauty you long for: the beauty which comes from your heart."
And then, the False Althena began to change. Her beautiful hands, face, hair, skin, voice, and eyes, all began to melt away to reveal the beauty which lied within: a hideous, monstrous form. Everything she once had was lost, and all that remained was this form given to her entirely by Zophar.
At that moment, she lost consciousness and died.
She reawakened, aware of nothing but sadness and anger.
"Ah hah hah hah! How beautiful! How beautiful is this form! You shall be this way until the day you die! This is your eternal youth, your eternal beauty! Now, go, and confront Lucia and her little friends!"
* * *
An awful smell filled the air as the Destiny landed at what was once Pentagulia. They looked around and saw the corpses of the people who had inhabited the city. They were already dead when the Dragons attacked the towers and leveled the city--killed by the same aura of death that emanated from Pentagulia upon their departure from Taben's Peak. Ronfar offered a prayer to the real Althena to guide their souls and keep them under the protection of the Blue Star. Perhaps it was pointless, but it was all he could do.
Hiro, Ronfar, Lucia, Lemina, Jean, and Ruby went directly to the base of the Goddess Tower. There, in front of the doors at the base of the tower, they saw the most horrendous monster waiting for them. It looked down at them, unable to distinguish between one person and the next, only knowing that they all had to be destroyed. Hiro and the others saw the fire in the monsters eyes, and prepared for battle.
Ruby: Lucia, on your right!
Lucia cut short her incantation and sidestepped the first attack from the monster. It counterattacked with another, shorter spell. Hiro stepped in front of Lucia to defend her, while Ronfar stayed behind, preparing healing and protection spells. On the other end, Jean stood close to Lemina, directly attacking the monster to give Lemina time to cast her own magic attacks.
The monster continued to assault the party. The magic it wielded carried the aura of Zophar's power. The lightning from its staff and the fire in its eyes had no traces of emotion left in them. Periodically, it spoke:
"...Give me... your youth!"
"...You shall perish!"
"...This is all your fault!"
Hiro and Jean continued to attack the monster directly, keeping its attention focused on them. Ronfar healed the two of them as needed. Meanwhile, Lucia and Lemina continued casting magic spells to weaken it.
The monster lunged directly at Hiro, letting out a fierce cry. He sidestepped the attack and drove his sword into its neck. The monster's poisonous, black blood spilled out as it slumped to the floor. Its snake-like hairs then lashed out and grabbed Hiro by the feet, but one final blow to the monster's head stopped it completely. It was finally dead.
And then, the monster changed form... back into a human. Hiro and the others recognized her as the woman who was once the False Althena.
Lemina: What... is this...
Jean: I... I killed another person?
Lucia tried to reassure them. The thing they killed was indeed a monster. It was once a human, the woman who posed as Althena. But she was turned into a monster by Zophar. The human part of her was dead the moment Zophar twisted her into this form. It was some consolation to Hiro and the others that they had been fighting Zophar, and not another person.
Yet, the monster was still once human. It was then that Lucia looked down at the woman who was once the False Althena, and felt pity. This woman had never been loved, never been cared for by anyone; she surrounded her with people who followed her only because of her power--power which she received from Zophar. Lucia finally understood how important Hiro was, how important all of her friends were: they weren't here because of her power, they were because they cared about her.
Time was short. The doors of the Goddess Tower were now open, welcoming Lucia of the Blue Star. The party ran inside and ascended up to the top of the tower.
The interior of the Goddess Tower was quiet and still. Lucia didn't even feel the presence of Zophar's power any longer. But, she did feel Althena's power, still calling out to her. On the way up, Lucia warned that they still had yet to face another enemy: Ghaleon. Since they hadn't seen Ghaleon yet, it was very likely he could be waiting for them in this tower.
Eventually, they reached the Goddess Chamber at the top of the tower. Sure enough, someone was waiting for them, but not who they expected.
Hiro and Ruby: Nall, what are you doing here!?
Nall: What do you mean 'what am I doing here'!?
Lucia was not surprised at Nall's presence, but at the chamber. There was no one else in the room; instead, there was a large crystal. From the crystal, Lucia felt Althena's power, but not directly. The crystal was only a recording, left by someone who was now long gone.
Lucia: Nall... Where is Althena?
-Nall looked away.-
Lucia: Nall, answer me.
Nall: Lucia... Althena is gone. I'm sorry for not telling you earlier. But, this was Luna's last request.
Nall: The last name that Althena took. At the end, Althena was reborn as a human, and she lived out the rest of her life in human form. I was entrusted with a message for you from Luna. One day, you would come here from the Blue Star in search of Althena. And at that time, you would journey all the way to this point with friends who would help you along the way. I have waited since then to give you this message.
Nall touched the crystal and it lit up. Inside, there was the image of an older woman with a soft and gentle smile.
Nall looked up at the image, sad and with a glimmer in the corner of his eye.
Nall: Please listen to Luna--to Althena's words, and take them to heart. I believe in you, and I believe in your friends.
-Nall's cheeks flushed.-
Nall: Damn... I haven't seen Luna in so long, I'm starting to... I'm sorry, I didn't want Ruby to see me like this. I'm going now.
Before Lucia had a chance to stop him, Nall left the room and the image of Althena began to speak.
"Lucia. I know you must be surprised. But it is true. The Goddess Althena no longer exists in this world.
"The people of the Blue Star called forth Zophar from the darkness in their own hearts, and their world was destroyed. And at that time, humans had wished for a Goddess to destroy Zophar, revive their star, and offer a second chance to humanity. And so that is what I did. On the Blue Star, I sealed Zophar away, and then brought life to Lunar. I watched over humanity on Lunar, as the Blue Star gathered energy from this world so that it could one day be restored. As I watched over this world, I continued to be reborn time and time again to guide it.
"But in the end, I realized something. While under a ruler with absolute power, humanity could never truly be happy. And so I left Lunar in the care of the people who inhabited it.
"Humanity has the power and resolve to realize its own future, and the future of this world. That is where true power lies--the power to bring about true happiness. I believe that power is what can overcome the darkness in people's hearts. That is why I entrusted Lunar's future to its people, and was reborn one last time. In my final rebirth, I lived out my days as a human.
"Lucia... You would nto be here without the aid of friends who have helped you along the way. Thing back to when you met them, the happiness and joy you've felt, and the sadness, all throughout your journey here. Treasure those feelings, and believe in the power of those close to you.
"I will soon be at the days of my life as a human. I have lived a long and fulfilling life. I have loved, and been loved, and found happiness. But, my only regret is that you have been left alone, asleep on the Blue Star. My wish is that you will one day want to live not just for the Blue Star, but for yourself."
The recording ended, but Lucia still had so many questions. What was she supposed to do now? Didn't Althena know that Zophar's return was imminent? How was she supposed to seal away Zophar now? She couldn't simply trust in humanity--it was humanity that brought about Zophar's return in the first place. If she entrusted Zophar's defeat to the people of Lunar, then Lunar would be destroyed. If Lunar were destroyed, then the Blue Star would never be restored, and her reason for being would cease.
Althena offered no answers to these questions. The recording was merely a recording. Lucia was left with only one choice: she had to claim Althena's power and seal away Zophar herself!
Hiro and the others were in the room, and within them was Althena's power. Between the crystal, and her friends, there would be enough power to eliminate the last vestiges of Zophar's curse and claim Althena's power for herself.
Lucia: Hiro, everyone... Thank you. And... I'm sorry...
Lucia touched the crystal and it lit up again. Her clothes changed back into the crimson cloak she wore when she first arrived on Lunar. Hiro and the others tried to go to her, but a barrier blocked them. It was then that Lemina realized what she was doing.
Lemina: That crystal... She's using the crystal to gather up the world's magic!
Ronfar also realized that the crystal was a vestige of Althena's power--it functioned like a giant version of Althena's Tear. Lucia was going to use it to take on the power of Althena for herself, but in the process it would take the power Althena had entrusted to humanity at her last rebirth. The crystal which was once bigger than a man shrunk down to the size of a small jewel in the palm of Lucia's hand.
Hiro, Ronfar, Ruby, Jean, and Lemina lost consciousness as they were robbed of their power. Lucia whispered softly.
Lucia: I'm sorry. Please... There is no other way to save this world. No other way...
With that, Lucia disappeared from the Goddess Chamber.
Chapter 35: Zophar's Arrival
Lemina: Ah! My magic! My magic is completely gone!
Hiro and the others regained consciousness. As Lemina said, her magic power--and power from everyone else in the world--was now gone. Ronfar and Hiro could feel the same thing as well. Jean didn't feel any different at first, so Lemina tried to explain: the power that Lucia gathered wasn't just the world's magic. Magic is only one facet of the power that Althena entrusted to humanity. So Jean's power, too, was gone. It would feel like an emptiness opened up, like being in the middle of a market without any money. Once Jean heard Lemina's explanation, she noticed that she felt different as well.
The entire place then began to shake violently. There wasn't any time to spare. Ruby yelled out that they needed to get back to the Dragonship Destiny and fast: Zophar was coming!
The party reached the Destiny and immediately fled Pentagulia as the shaking continued. As they fled, the sky grew dark and a hole opened up in the heavens. Through the hole, a monstrous figure appeared. It descended in a column of flesh from the sky down to the Goddess Tower... consuming it.
They needed no explanation. This was Zophar, finally revived.
As the column of flesh continued to absorb the Goddess Tower, the ruins of Pentagulia rose up, revealing an even larger structure beneath it.
Lemina: That's... the Ark of Althena? Did Zophar bring that back, too?
The Ark of Althena. Hiro also knew about it. During Dragonmaster Alex's time, the Magic Emperor Ghaleon also restored it. And now, Zophar had done the same thing.
The column of flesh quickly finished consuming the entire Goddess Tower and the Ark, like a snake swallowing an egg. Then, the shape of four dragons extended outward from the column--ferocious dragons, unlike the Four Dragons of Althena. From the center, the column itself, a face emerged: the face of Zophar. Each of the dragon heads breathed forth destructive light in the four directions; the face of Zophar faced the fleeing Destiny, sending a tsunami towards the ship. Hiro and the others braced themselves for the impact.
And then, all was quiet. The wave never hit. In between Zophar and the Destiny now stood Lucia, floating in the air.
Lucia: Stop, Zophar. You should not be here. As Lucia of the Blue Star, I will take the place of Althena and seal you away.
Zophar: But can you? I wonder.
Lucia: There is nothing that can stop me.
Zophar: Then do it!
-Lucia only stood there, silent, glaring at Zophar.-
Zophar: Why are you so lost? Fulfill your mission! ...Or can you not? Can you really turn your back on your purpose?
Lucia: No! I will not!
Zophar: Then go ahead and use Althena's power. Use Althena's power, and destroy this world in the process!
Zophar laughed. He laughed at Lucia, at Hiro, and at everyone across Lunar.
Zophar: Yes. If you ignore me, then the world will be destroyed. But in order to stop me, you must destroy this world. Leave this world to the same fate of the Blue Star! And then, you can create a new world without me. That is Althena's power! Lucia of the Blue Star! You should know this better than anyone! Do as Althena would do, and allow the Blue Star's destiny to be the destiny of Lunar!
-Zophar turned his attention to Hiro and his friends.-
Zophar: It is true. Althena is the one who destroyed the Blue Star, in order to seal me away! She destroyed the Blue Star, and the humans who lived on it! The humans who gave rise to my power!
Lucia: There was no other way! You had to be stopped! If you were allowed to continue, then everything would be lost, and there wouldn't even be the hope to restore the Blue Star!
Lucia still had memories of when Zophar was sealed away and the Blue Star was put into its long hibernation. She remembered it as if it were yesterday. Althena had just enough power to save a bit of the Blue Star, enough to move the remains of humanity to Lunar and give the Blue Star time to regenerate.
Now, Zophar challenged Lucia to do the same thing to Lunar. Lucia knew she couldn't do nothing. She couldn't abandon her mission and leave Zophar to destroy this world. But, if she stopped Zophar, then everyone on this world would die in the process. She would be alone.
But there was no other choice.
Lucia: Althena's light, shine forth!
Light cathered from all corners of the world, into Lucia's outstretched hand. As the light coalesced around her, she began to falter. She hesitated. Zophar saw the look of doubt on her face.
Zophar: Such a foolish goddess. A foolish goddess who hesitates and turns away from her mission. Allow me to remove the source of your hesitation!
Zophar faced the Destiny once more, and a wave of destruction emanated forth, towards the ship.
Hiro grabbed the wheel of the ship and tried to steer it away. But the Destiny was dead in the water. Just as the world's magic was taken away, so was the dragon magic that powered the Destiny. Hiro and his friends could do nothing but watch.
...Until Lucia appeared in the path of destruction. She took the full force of the attack, shielding the Destiny, Hiro, and the others completely. All the power she had gathered until then, the power which she would have used against Zophar, was going into shielding the ship from his attack. A look of pain appeared on Lucia's face as she continued to take damage from the onslaught.
Lucia had Althena's power... If she used the power to its fullest, then she should be able to defend against Zophar's attack -and- destroy Zophar himsef. But, she couldn't bring herself to do it; she hesitated and restrained herself from using Althena's power to such an extent.
Lucia had sealed herself.
If Zophar were not sealed away, then the world would be destroyed.
In order to seal away Zophar, the world would have to be destroyed.
...But... I... But...
Lucia turned her back on her mission, and her purpose. The contradiction which had been in her heart ever since she first arrived on Lunar had finally resolved itself.
As Lucia weakly called out Hiro's name, Zophar took action. His "face" extended outward, and several crystals encircled and ensnared Lucia. The "face" of Zophar grabbed Lucia in its mouth, and retreated back to the column of flesh.
Zophar: It is just as I planned! Lucia has abandoned her claim on Althena's power because of humanity, and betrayed her mission! Oh glorious humanity! Now I have both Lucia and Althena's power! My return as a god is now complete!
One of the dragon heads opened its mouth again in the direction of the Destiny, to finally eliminate it once and for all. But before it could attack, Lucia had just enough power to do one, last thing...
Lucia: Hiro... Run away!
That was the last that Hiro remembered.
Chapter 36: A New Start
Hiro stood on the roof of the Magic Guild, in Vane, staring in the direction of Pentagulia. It had been three days since Zophar made his appearance there. When he did, Lucia claimed Althena's power, and the entire world was plunged into darkness and lost its magic power. The people of Lunar couldn't use magic, and lost their vitality. Many animals and plants had also died off, and monsters roamed the land.
Ruby reverted to her original form before she reclaimed her power. Nall had lost consciousness, and the Dragonship Destiny which relied on his power was dead. The Blue and Black Dragons' whereabouts were unknown.
Lucia, with her last ounce of power remaining, transported the Destiny, Hiro, and the others back to Taben's Peak. Herring and Leo's other former soldiers were the ones who took them from Taben's Peak to Vane. They also took the children Nall was watching over with them to Vane to be safe, as Taben's Peak became covered in snow once again.
Hiro had only regained consciousness the previous day. He had spend almost the entire time staring off in the distance at the dark clouds hovering above the ocean where Pentagulia once stood. He thought back to the events of that day, the decision Lucia had to make: if she didn't destroy Zophar, then Zophar would destroy Lunar--but if she did destroy Zophar, then Lunar would still be destroyed as a result. Only, if she had destroyed Zophar and Lunar, there still might exist the possibilty of its revival...
If the choice were up to him, would he have been able to make such a decision?
Hiro then thought back to the day they first traveled to Pentagulia, aboard the Destiny.
"No, Hiro, you don't know! You don't know anything!"
He didn't know then what Lucia meant when she said that, but now it all made sense. And now, Lucia had been captured by Zophar. It seemed all hope had been lost.
Ruby: Hiro, you're still here? Miria is calling for you!
Ruby flew up to where Hiro was standing. Hiro didn't answer and simply followed her back inside the Magic Guild. Inside, Miria was waiting for him, a concerned expression on her face.
Miria: Hiro, there is someone who wishes to speak with you. But first, please see how your friends are doing.
Hiro did as Miria asked, and both he and Ruby exited the hall to find the others.
Ronfar was in the midst of a crowd of people. Since Zophar's arrival, an awful curse had spread across the world, and there were many people who had become ill. There was no shrine in Vane, and no priests; but even if there were, the absence of Althena's power made any healing magic impossible. It hadn't been long before the entire town's supply of restorative herbs had been used up.
As a result, everything fell on Ronfar, the former priest, to try and work some sort of miracle. He couldn't use any magic to heal the people who needed his help, either, but that didn't stop him. He continued to pray for the sick, doing what he could to make them feel better. Just like when he prayed for Mauri in Raculi, or when he helped the wayward souls who wound up in Larpa, or when he prayed for the dead in Pentagulia.
Ronfar: Hiro, are you preparing to leave yet?
Hiro: Leave? For where?
Ronfar: What do you mean 'where'? Are you just going to ignore what Lucia wants?
Hiro: What Lucia wants?
Ronfar: Yeah. Hasn't it occurred to you why Lucia used the last bit of her power to save you!?
Ronfar returned to helping the sick gathered there.
Next, Hiro found many people gathered at the central plaza of Vane. In the middle, Jean was dancing. There was no music, there were no songs, and her audience seemed disheartened by all the events surrounding Zophar's arrival. But Jean kept dancing, and the people watching all smiled. A few of the younger children tried to copy her steps, and some of the others would clap in time with the dance.
Ruby: Hiro, it looks like fun. Let's watch for a little while longer.
But, Hiro wasn't in the mood. He walked away, as Ruby let out a little sigh.
The two of them soon found Lemina surrounded by many of the children from Taben's Peak. She was looking after them in place of Nall, trying to find some way of helping them to feel better.
Lemina: Once we defeat Zophar, and save Lucia, you'll be able to use magic again. That's why you should keep studying!
Of course Lemina had no guarantee of that, but she tried to maintain the children's hope.
Kid: But, teacher, if you can't even use magic, then how are you going to beat Zophar?
Lemina: It'll be all right! I might not be able to use magic, but us magic-users aren't the only ones out there. And, right here in Vane there are plenty of magic items to use! Your teacher is going to take those, and go defeat Zophar with Hiro!
Kid: Really? Are you really going to be ok? Even if you can't use magic?
-Lemina tried to hold back tears. She wasn't sure, but she couldn't let the children see her cry.-
Lemina: Of course!
Lemina thought to herself: she needed to do something to reassure them. If only... if only she could use a little bit of magic... It didn't need to be anything big, just something simple enough that could offer them some measure of hope... That's all she needed.
Lemina thought back to the first time she learned to use magic. The most important thing is that she believed she could use it. She imagined a small ball of light in her hands, believed in herself, and whispered softly...
She held her hands closed, hoping that this would work. She gradually opened her hands up in front of the children...
There, in the middle of her hands, was a glowing light, as blue as the Blue Star in the skies.
Lemina smiled. The kids all cheered.
Watching all of this, Hiro whispered to Ruby.
Hiro: How did Lemina do that?
Ruby: How? She used magic!
Hiro: That... that shouldn't be possible.
Ruby: But, Lemina did it, didn't she?
Hiro and Ruby returned to the Magic Guild. Miria had the same concerned look on her face. The first thing Miria said was that she had something to return to him: a gold pendant. Hiro recognized this as Lucia's pendant; when he was found at Taben's Peak, he was still clutching onto it. The pendant, explained Miria, had a great deal of power contained within it: it was Lucia's hope, the hope that she had in Hiro.
Miria then reminded Hiro that there was still someone waiting to see him. He was waiting on the roof.
Hiro and Ruby went back upstairs and to the roof of the Magic Guild. Standing there was Leo.
Leo: Hiro! Allow me to fight alongside you! I know that I played a hand in Zophar's revival through my work for Althena's Guard. I cannot stand on the sidelines. I must make things right, and defeat Zophar! Hiro, I must fight with you! The Destiny is being prepared as we speak!
Ruby responded instead of Hiro. They'd be happy to have Leo fighting at their side. Leo was relieved, and left to go continue the work on the Destiny. But one thing stuck out to Hiro: the Destiny was supposed to be dead, so what did Leo mean that it was being prepared?
Ruby responded to this question, also... Nall hadn't regained consciousness, but, he's disappeared. They're not sure what happened, but soon after he disappeared from Taben's Peak, the Destiny began working again. So, he's still alive, somewhere.
"You're such a fool, Hiro."
On the roof appeared Ghaleon.
Ghaleon: Lucia still calls for you. It's so sad. She calls for the help of a powerless human; so foolish of her.
Hiro: Still? Lucia is alive, and, she... calls for me?
Ghaleon: I have come here in place of my god to destroy you. But, I will kill you last. Until then, I'll leave you to watch as I kill your friends and everyone in this town. You will watch as they suffer and die.
With that, Ghaleon disappeared.
Hiro ran down the stairs. He had to fight. He couldn't allow anyone to be hurt... he had to protect them.
When Hiro emerged from the Magic Guild, he saw Ronfar, Jean, Lemina, and Leo facing off against Ghaleon. Hiro drew his sword and joined his friends. They would protect the people of Vane, no matter what. Ghaleon smiled and raised his hand. A burning light rushed forward and attacked the five of them. Hiro tried to get back on his feet.
Hiro: I won't give up! I won't let you kill anyone! And I'll save Lucia!
Ghaleon: Can you?
Ghaleon drew his sword and began to walk away, towards the rest of the people in Vane. Just then, a rock flew out and hit him on the leg. Hiro looked back and saw that the rock was thrown by a young boy, just before he was pulled back into his house by an adult. It was only a moment, but Hiro could see the look of determination on the boy's face. Ghaleon continued.
Herring: Where do you think you're going?
But, Ghaleon was stopped. While he had been fighting with Hiro, several other people had gathered around him. With Herring were several soldiers wielding swords. There were also woodcutters with their axes, hunters with their bows, even ordinary townspeople with kitchen knives and frying pans, and children with slingshots. Nearly half of Vane was there. Among them stood Hiria and Borgan. Everyone had their eyes on Ghaleon, intent on stopping him.
...I want to protect them...
...I want to save Lucia...
Keeping this in his mind and heart, Hiro stood up again. He stepped forward to attack Ghaleon. As the two of them crossed swords, Ronfar got back on his feet. Then Jean and Lemina, and finally Leo. Both Leo and Jean ran in to fight alongside Hiro, and Lemina and Ronfar started their incantations.
Supported by his need to protect Vane, and save Lucia, Hiro once again felt magic power flowing through him. And then, through the entire city. They fought with renewed vigor. Hiro, Leo, and Jean fought directly against Ghaleon, while Ronfar would heal their wounds and Lemina would support them with magic attacks. Leo gave out an order to Herring and his men not to intervene, but instead to make sure the townspeople were protected.
At one point, Ghaleon thrust his sword into Hiro. He jerked back and his clothes became bloodstained. Leo and Jean quickly got between Hiro and Ghaleon to protect their comrade. Ronfar immediately healed Hiro's injury, and Lemina threw a final fire spell at Ghaleon before he could counter-attack. Ghaleon was on the ground as the fire died down. Hiro pointed his sword at Ghaleon's throat, but stopped short of delivering the final blow.
Ghaleon: Why have you stopped?
Hiro: Ghaleon, you're not really our enemy, are you?
Ghaleon: Humans never cease to amaze me. Yet I am still surprised by your wisdom. How did you know?
Hiro: You're supposed to be Zophar's servant, but you never fought with us as if you were our enemy; instead, you helped us. Back at the ruins, you stopped the Destiny to prevent Lucia from being captured by Leo. In Pentagulia, you could have killed me and Leo, but yuo didn't. And even now, you could have destroyed Vane, yet you didn't... Instead, you fought with us. It's the same as when I fought with Leo, when he was teaching me how to fight. You wanted to lose to us. That's when it all came together.
Ghaleon: But, I still went easy on you. You are very strong, much stronger than I imagined. But, Zophar is stronger still. You have a one in ten-thousand chance of defeating him.
Ronfar: Hm, I like those odds.
-Ronfar laughed. Hiro sheathed his sword and extended his hand to Ghaleon.-
Hiro: Ghaleon, fight with us. Fight with us to defeat Zophar.
-Ghaleon withdrew his hand.-
Ghaleon: I cannot.
Ghaleon: This life of mine was granted by Zophar. Now that I am no use to him, I will soon fade away.
As his last act, Ghaleon offered his sword. It should offer some help to defeat Zophar. Hiro bowed his head and thanked him. Ghaleon then faded away.
Chapter 37: Final Battle
Zophar, the god of destruction, now had the power of creation. The only ones who could possibly stop him were the other gods like himself: Lucia, and Althena. But, Althena had left her power to the humans of this world, Lucia claimed it, and Zophar captured Lucia. Now, Zophar was unstoppable. He was absolute.
Zophar chose the form of an almost alien-looking man. He bided his time in his castle, now that he had nothing to fear. He would soon destroy this world and recreate it to his liking. The cycle of death and rebirth would continue at his whim for all eternity. Happiness, sadness, fortune and misfortune were all his to withold and bestow.
In his castle, Zophar didn't hesitate to remind Lucia of his victory. He told Lucia how glorious it would be for her to serve him. Lucia saw no meaning in anything Zophar did, or intended.
Zophar: That is something you could not understand. Why do you think you exist?
Lucia: Because... of what humanity wants, the restoration of the Blue Star.
Zophar: But, humanity also wants destruction. Along with hope and desire come jealousy, envy, and pride. From that is borne conflict and betrayal, despair, pain, and suffering. Because of his honor and pride, mankind longs for destruction.
Zophar didn't stop there. He reminded Lucia that she was alone. Althena abandoned her, and now she abandoned her mission. And for what? For Hiro? For humanity?
But it didn't matter. Soon, they would all be dead.
* * *
Zophar: Ah, Lucia. Your little friends are coming.
Hiro, Ruby, Ronfar, Jean, Lemina, and Leo were all approaching Zophar's keep. Lucia extended her presence and pleaded with them to turn back.
Hiro: Lucia! I've come to save you! Hold on!
Lucia: No, don't come! Humans couldn't possibly stop Zophar! Hiro, you'll be killed! Please, run away!
Ruby: Lucia! Believe in Hiro!
Zophar: Lucia, these are our first guests. You should know better than to treat them rudely. Let them come to pay their respects before the new god of Lunar.
Ronfar, Jean, Lemina, and Leo all joined in. They believed in humanity, and in Lucia. They wouldn't allow Zophar to twist this world into his own creation. As long as they were still alive, they would never give up.
Zophar found this amusing, and invited them inside.
Zophar's keep was built of mud and flesh. It was lifeless inside, and completely dark. The only light was from Lucia's pendant, which Hiro wore. Further ahead the path descended into darkness. Until... they saw Lucia.
As the party advanced towards her, they were attacked. Undead creations, built from the mud and flesh of the castle and given life by Zophar began to assault Hiro and the others. Although the monsters were constructs of the dark god, they were fueled by the anger and despair that gave rise to Zophar himself. The monsters took shape and called out...
My child, why did he die in my arms? Why could I not save him? I'm powerless. Why can no one help me...
Father, mother, why haven't you come to save me? I hate having to hurt my friends; I have having to be hurt. I hate being told that I have to be strong; all strong people do is kill others...
I was sent to the mines because I had no magic. It's dark and I'm hungry. They tell me I have to look for diamonds. My fingers are blistered, and I can't move any more. No one will save me...
I believed the world was going to be destroyed soon, and so I endured pain and suffering, gave up my family and wealth, all in the service of Althena's Guard. So why must I die? I should have been spared...
I wanted eternal youth, eternal beauty. That is all. So I was made to be your goddess. And now, all my beauty has been lost...
[Editor's Note: I don't think these are the actual souls of people who have died, except perhaps for the last one or two. But, I think it's like a corporeal manifestation of the despair that Zophar feeds off of.]
Hiro and his friends cut through the ghosts and lost souls, and pressed onward. Ruby yelled out that they weren't afraid of any ghosts. Leo and Jean drew upon their strength and determination. Lemina and Ronfar drew upon their hope and the magic which sustained them. Together, everyone slowly, but steadily, cut through the darkness and despair wrought upon them by the dark god of destruction.
Zophar was mildly impressed. He increased the severity of the attack. Dozens of monsters, hundreds of monsters, thousands of monsters filled the dark hallways of Zophar's keep. But they never gave up. Hiro, Jean, and Leo pressed through the hordes of undead, supported by Lemina's magic and Ronfar's healing.
Suddenly, the mud and flesh of the keep shifted and changed form. The floors and walls extended to separate the path and cut Hiro and his friends off from one another. Lucia's form disappeared from view, and Hiro could see nothing but Ruby flying above him, and the pendant around his neck. But in the glow of the pendant, the hordes of monsters were still there. But he didn't give in. He cut through eight monsters before he heard Zophar's voice.
Zophar: You are alone. What can you do? Your friends aren't there to help you. You will die.
Hiro: I believe in them! It's not about what I can do! I will save Lucia!
Zophar: You'll save her? And then what? You'll eventually grow old and die, and leave her behind. Let me show you the power of destruction. Worship me, and I will give you what you desire. Give up your hope of saving this goddess. After this world is destroyed, you will remain as my servant, and I will give you eternal life. Then, you can be by Lucia's side. Forever.
Hiro rejected Zophar's offer. He pressed on, and cut through another two enemies. He made his stand and declared his resolve to defeat Zophar and save Lucia. He would never give up.
* * *
From deeper within Zophar's keep, Lucia heard Hiro's declaration. She could feel his presence, and her pendant that Hiro now wore around his neck. This shouldn't have been possible. Hiro is only a human; he shouldn't be able to come this close to Zophar and survive... But in this place of despair, Hiro never lost hope. She felt the presence of not only Hiro, but Ruby, Ronfar, Jean, and Lemina as well. Their ray of hope pierced through the absolute darkness of Zophar.
This was the true face of humanity. Althena's power... The power of creation, and even the power of destruction... It all lay within humanity.
Hiro was worn-out. He stretched his strength and magic to its limits. But he still gathered up his strength and called out, "Lucia! I'm coming to save you!". But, Lucia feared Hiro's death, and grew sad. She feared the death of her friends, and grew sad. Yet through the barriers, through the walls, Ruby yelled out that none of them were going to die here, not today. They wouldn't stop until they saved Lucia and stopped Zophar. One by one, Ronfar, Jean, Lemina, and Leo all yelled out their support.
And that was when Lucia finally believed. She believed that humanity could overcome the darkness, that they had limitless potential. She believed that soon she would be standing beside Hiro, Ronfar, Lucia, Jean, Lemina, and Leo once again. Hiro finally broke through Zophar's barrier, and Lucia freed herself, falling into Hiro's arms. Her clothes had changed back into the ones she bought back in Meribia--the clothes that Hiro liked so much.
The darkness lifted, and the monsters disappeared.
Hiro: Lucia, sorry I took so long...
Lucia cried tears of happiness. They embraced one another, magic flowing from Lucia to heal the both of them, and then to heal the rest of their friends. But, it was not yet over.
Lucia: Zophar! Show yourself!
-Zophar's form appeared briefly in front of Lucia, before disappearing again.-
Zophar: I am a god. I cannot be defeated by a mere human. Nor can I be defeated by you, Lucia of the Blue Star, nothing more than a powerless goddess.
Lucia: No, Hiro will never give up. And as long as Hiro doesn't give up, I will support him. I am not powerless. Hiro gives me power. That is how I was able to call you here. We will persevere, and you, Zophar, will be defeated.
Zophar reminded Lucia that it was humanity that brought him here in the first place. Just as on the Blue Star, his rebirth on Lunar was brought about by the darkness that lay in the heart of men. Humans never change. But, that was the key difference between Lucia and Zophar, for Lucia knew that in humanity lay the light. Zophar was borne of the darkness in humanity, that was true, but in humanity always lay the will to overcome darkness and destruction, to live on and endure pain and suffering for the joy that life brings. And it was that light, that determination, that would stop Zophar.
Lucia: Hiro, please. Let us defeat Zophar.
Hiro gripped Ghaleon's sword. Zophar laughed: no sword could ever harm him. But, Hiro was supported by Lucia, and by the hope of all mankind. He attacked Zophar head-on.
For the first time, Zophar felt pain.
Zophar was familiar with death, suffering, sadness, anger, and pain. But he had never felt it for himself. Even as the Blue Star was destroyed and humanity forced to flee its home, the dark god felt satisfaction and joy at others' misery. Yet now, a human, supported by a powerless goddess, had hurt him as he had hurt countless others.
Zophar's physical form began to crumble away. His lair, its walls, ceilings, and floors, began also to fade away like an illusion.
Zophar: Fools... A single human and a single sword? Not Lucia... not Althena... but a human? How... was a god... defeated by...
Lucia: Zophar, do yo not understand?
Zophar: No... I understand... That sword... was not created by... man... It had the power... of Althena... within...
-Zophar's voice began to fade. It grew more uneasy, more anxious.-
Zophar: But... remember this... Humanity... is what... restored me... And humanity... will once again... ... ...
-Zophar's voice trailed off.-
Lucia: Zophar, no matter how many times you may, humanity will always rise up to stop you. That is the power of humanity, the true power of Althena.
There was no way to know if Lucia's final words reached Zophar or not.
Zophar... was finally gone.
Outside, the sun broke through the clouds. Hiro and Lucia looked at one another, smiling.
Hiro: It's over, Lucia.
Lucia: Thanks to you, Hiro.
Ruby: Hiro! Lucia! You're alive! You're alive! I was so worried!
Ruby flew right into Hiro, crying. The rest of their friends joined them, all happy and relieved. The White, Blue, and Black Dragons then joined them as the Blue Star shone down from the heavens.
Chapter 38: The Return Home
After the battle, everyone returned home.
Ronfar went back to raculi, where Mauri was waiting for him. The two of them used Serak Palace as a means by which to spread the teachings of the real Althena, and Raculi prospered once again.
Jean rejoined the caravan, where she continued to dance. In the caravan, Hiro and his friends' adventures were put into song and dance, and the story spread across Lunar.
Lemina settled back down in Vane. Naturally she set about her work restoring the Magic Guild. Now that she was known as one of the heroes who saved the world, there were more people willing to help realize her dream of the Magic Guild's restoration. She asked Lucia to join the Guild as well; Lucia smiled, but didn't give a response.
Leo did not return to Raculi. Instead, he set off on a new journey. Some of his former men returned to their hometowns. Others decided to settle down around Taben's Peak. And others continued to follow Leo. Naturally, Herring was in the last group.
Nall and the kids returned to Taben's Peak. Some of the kids planned on going to Vane when they grew older, so that they could study magic there. Also, Nall invited Ruby to come stay with them at Taben's Peak any time she wanted.
Finally, Hiro, Lucia, and Ruby all returned to the Salyan Desert, aboard the Dragonship destiny.
* * *
On the way to Larpa, Hiro said that Gwyn would be waiting for them, and would be happy to see the three of them again. Lucia still wasn't used to the thought of anyone waiting for her to return. Hiro reassured her that Gwyn would be looking forward to it. And, once they returned, they could perhaps set off on a new adventure around the world, on the Destiny.
The three of them finally arrived at Larpa. But before going into town, Lucia had one last request.
Lucia: Hiro, could we please visit the Blue Spire first?
Hiro: Huh? Why? If we need to do something there, then I'm sure we can go and visit Gwyn first. He might like to take another look at the Blue Spire himself...
Lucia: Hiro... please?
Hiro thought about it for a while, and reluctantly agreed. Ruby went on ahead to Larpa to tell Gwyn, and Hiro and Lucia went onward to the Blue Spire.
The two of them arrived at the Blue Spire, and ascended up the tower to the room where Hiro and Lucia first met. It was exactly the same as it was on that day, except the crystal was not glowing. Lucia touched it once again, and whispered something to herself: a farewell... to this world that she loved, and to Hiro whom she loved. The crystal began to glow.
Lucia took one step forward. A magic barrier formed behind her, preventing Hiro from following. She turned around to look at Hiro, tears in her eyes. Her clothes changed back to the red cloak she wore when she first descended upon Lunar.
Hiro understood what was happening.
Lucia was returning, alone, to the Blue Star.
Hiro: Lucia! No!
He pounded his fists on the barrier.
Hiro: Lucia! Don't go!
Lucia: Hiro, when Zophar had captured me, he said something... He said that I couldn't believe in humanity, that I could not believe in you, Hiro. That I could not understand what it meant to believe.
Lucia: But, now I can believe. You have shown me, Hiro. You have shown me the power of such miraculous things.
Lucia told Hiro how humanity is what allowed Zophar to rise and the Blue Star to be destroyed long ago. But within humanity also lay the hope to restore the Blue Star one day. In order to do that, Zophar must not only be sealed, but humanity must reject him as well. That is why humanity was the key, and why Althena entrusted her own power to the inhabitants of Lunar.
But, Lucia's purpose was the restoration of the Blue Star. She had to return to await the day that the Blue Star gathered enough power from Lunar, from Althena, and from humanity, to be revived.
Hiro protested. But Lucia continued to plead with him, through her tears.
Hiro... I can believe in humanity now. I believe in mankind's power to create its own future. Hiro... it is because you showed me... it is because I love you... I now understand why Althena chose to be reborn as a human. But... Hiro... the Blue Star needs me. The ones who wished for its restoration long ago, and the ones who will live on the Blue Star, in the distant future, they are all counting on me...
Hiro understood now. Lucia couldn't leave the Blue Star. She was the Goddess of the Blue Star, entrusted with it by the past and for the future. But, now, she would be alone. Hiro couldn't bear the thought of it, and begged Lucia to take him with her.
Lucia responded that the Blue Star was not a place humans could live. She would have to wait for the day when it was finally restored before people could thrive on it again. Hiro couldn't come with her...
Lucia: Hiro... I love you. I really do love you... Thank you, Hiro... And farewell...
Lucia sunk back into the crystal and disappeared. After she faded away, only the glint of metal remained as her pendant fell to the ground. The barrier gone, Hiro stepped up to the crystal and retrieved it. He recalled what Miria told him, back in Vane...
"The pendant has the power of Lucia's hope, the hope that she has in you, Hiro."
* * *
Hiro returned to Larpa aboard the Destiny. Ruby and Gwyn came on deck and saw no sign of Lucia. Ruby figured she must be below deck, and both she and Gwyn started talking about her and Hiro's future life together: where they were going to have the wedding, where they were going on a honeymoon, what sort of kids they would have...
Hiro: Lucia went back.
Ruby was shocked. Did Hiro upset her? Did Lucia break up with him? Did he... break up with Lucia?
Hiro assured her that none of that was the case.
Hiro: Lucia is the Goddess of the Blue Star. She had to go back.
Ruby: Well why didn't you stop her?!
Hiro: I tried... But she still left.
Hiro wouldn't leave it at this, however. He loved Lucia, and knew that she loved him. He wasn't going to rest until he found a way to get back to her. It wouldn't be easy. It might even prove a harder task than defeating Zophar. But, he had to. She was all alone on the Blue Star, and he couldn't leave her like that.
Gwyn pledged his full support. If there was a way, they would definitely find it. First, they would need to return to his study and gather up all the books on the subject they could find. That would tell them where to look. Then, Ruby pledged her support and swore to accompany Hiro until he found a way to get back to Lucia. Gwyn suggested that they might even be able to go back to Raculi and ask for Ronfar's help.
...Hiro's adventure had just begun.
Epilogue: Lucia of the Blue Star
Lucia was alone on the Blue Star, waiting in a crystal, isolated from the flow of time. She was waiting for the day that the world would be revived. That was her purpose, but she was sad...
Until she heard a knock at the crystal, and saw a familiar face.
(A full translation of the Epilogue is available here. It's short, but very sweet.)
Hello everyone! It's me, the Premier of the Magic Guild, Lemina Ausa--hey, don't run away now!
Just kidding. Hello, this is Hiromi Hosoe. The novelization of "Lunar 2: Eternal Blue - Lucia of the Blue Star" is at last completed. I hope this continues to be sold for ages to come! ...Sorry about that. Looks like there's still a little Lemina left in me.
Hiromi Hosoe goes on to explain some of the difficulties in this novelization. Having been a fan of the series, there were so many events, bits of dialogue, and other things from the game itself she wanted to incorporate. But, due to the different medium, and the fact that some events had to be changed or added, it was really difficult to figure out what could stay and what couldn't. Not to mention this novel series was being written about the same time as when the Sega Saturn version of Lunar 2 was released.
She asked Kei Shigema, who wrote the novel series for Silver Star Story, for advice. Shigema said, "As long as the theme is the same, everything else will follow. You can change whatever you'd like." And then he said, "You should at least have one scene where Lucia is changing clothes, and the other scene where she's taking a bath." He also added, "That might be a bit unfair for Lucia, though. So you should take off Hiro and Ronfar's clothes as well."
...Kidding. He never really said that.
Anyway, Hosoe adds that she also wanted to expand upon the characters even more than she did. But it was difficult. Writing in detail about everyone, about Hiro, Ruby, Jean, Ronfar, Lemina, Leo, it would end up taking far too many volumes. If she was going to give Ghaleon credit, too, that would be an entire volume in and of itself. So, she had to settle with what she could fit into these three volumes.
If you really liked the games, and liked the books, feel free to write some letters of support to Kadokawa Shoten. Hosoe also said she's fine with accepting fan mail on behalf of Lemina Ausa.
Hold it, Lemina is coming back here to talk again. I'd better get out of here. Well, everyone, thank you and farewell! (-flee!-)
-Hosoe Hiromi, 7-15-1998
What do you mean "I'd better get out of here"!? I'm not here just to act for your little afterword! Hold on! Don't run away! (-chase!!-)
-Lemina Ausa, Premier of the Magic Guild