[The following is a joint-post between me and Ro Wong] Mystara Hallow ~ Abel / Krimlo
Mystara had spent her time on the way to Gia Panta, trying to come to terms with the situation she was now faced with. She felt a wave of despair threatening to engulf her. Why was this happening to her? She hadn’t been looking for any trouble. All she had wanted was to go the forest and remember her brother…her brother who it turned out, was alive. But she had barely been with him for a few minuets…and now she didn’t know if she’d ever see him again. For reasons unknown, she had been taken prisoner. And she couldn’t see any way out of it. “No matter what I do, it all goes wrong,”
she closed her eyes. “It’s like I can’t get away from it. And now I’m stuck here. What should I…”
She looked beside her. But there was just an empty space. There was no Sword of Asymbolus to comfort her.“…do?...”
A lump caught in her throat. She was wretched, angry and frightened. Everything she was familiar with had been taken away from her…or lost. She hadn’t picked up her bag when they had left the Forest of Memories. As far as she was aware, it was still there...including her mother’s flute. All the other items, they could be replaced or remade, but not that. And all the possessions she’d had on her, had been taken from her too. But that sword. It hadn’t just been a possession to her – or even a weapon. It had been her friend. At the one point when she had felt most alone, it had given her hope. But thanks to Faus, she was on her own this time. Completely alone. The sword was too far away to speak to her. Too far away to console or protect her.
The young gato knew if she ever got out of here, she had to get it back. They had no right taking it from her, and no right to keep her here like this. But right then it didn’t seem like she would find a way of escaping anytime soon. The most she could do was sit tight and try not to fall apart.
After the trip, Mystara simply remained silent, not saying a word. She just took a deep calming breath, putting on a brave face, and followed Lord Faus to wherever he was taking her. It wasn’t like she could do much else, not with the shock collar and chain and everything. But all the while, privately the young girl’s mind was racing. Trying to find some way out, trying to think of something that could get her out of this mess. She still didn’t know what the Undead Lord planned to do with her. And it wasn’t something she wanted to find out. She hated and feared the Undead that was doing this to her.
But more than that, Mystara hated and feared the possibility of being unable to stop it. Out of everything, being completely defenceless was the one thing she couldn’t stand. And to be forced into a situation like this, where she could do nothing to resist or fight back, or even protect herself…it was one of the most frustrating and frightening things for her to be faced with. It made her feel useless. Unable to fight, unable to escape, unable to do anything but accept what was happening and await her fate…whatever fate that might be. She knew that even if she could, do something, the odds were against her. But to not have the chance to even try
As they arrived at Krimlo, the gato girl’s despair only worsened. She stared around at it like it was something from a nightmare. My new home…? They’re going to keep me here?
The fact that hardly anyone knew about it made her worry even more. Why was Faus sending a lowly, unimportant citizen such as herself to such a secretive location? Unless
she thought, her fur standing on end, He doesn’t plan to let me leave here. Or be unable to tell anyone.
Now she really was concerned for her safety. Jace had made it sound like she had nothing to worry over, that they were going to let her go, that they wouldn’t harm her so long as she co-operated. But now she really was scared. The sight of the large tubes and their contents made her feel sick. Horrified. They...did this to people?
And then they reached their destination. By this point Mystara was certain that whatever happened, she did not
want to step inside that room. Her feeling of unease had grown so much that she barely heard what the Undead was saying to her. She wanted to get away. She had to get out of this nightmare. And she…she noticed that Faus wasn’t paying attention to her. And that his sword lay right there, just leaning against the wall.
An opportunist by nature, Mystara looked from the sword to Faus. She didn’t care how little chance she stood against him. The chance was there. And she had to do something. Anything to stop Faus from doing this.
Her urge to take action was too strong to care about the odds. She had to fight back.
Without hesitation, Mystara went for the sword, grabbing the hilt of Shekoga with both hands.
Faus froze when he felt a sharp twinge in the back of his mind. That... NO!!
He immediately turned around, hoping he could react fast enough. He didn't even have the chance to try... As soon as he saw Mystara's fingers, thin and frail that they were, wrap around the grip of the hilt, he was knocked flat on his back, eyes closing tight from the immediate shockwave.
"Noooo!!" Was all he managed before a bright flash consumed Mystara, drawing the girl from the conscious world. Faus stared in disbelief, watching her float before him. It wasn't that she was floating that perturbed him. Nor the fact that he knew this bright aura made her invincible for the brief time she was being...prepared. It was the simple fact that he had never had to deal with this before. Shekoga... She took Shekoga...
His fist balled tight and he shook with rage. "Dammit!" His fist made a large dent in the floor just as the girl awoke.
But despite the one second of time for Faus, much longer had passed in the girl's mind...
The bright flash had been the last Mystara had seen of her world before her eyes had been forced shut to block the ensuing blindness. But the next she would open her eyes, she would feel warm grass tickling at her barefeet. She would feel a cool and gentle breeze passing through her hair and fur. She would see that she stood upon a high cliff, overlooking a valley of waterfalls. Bright rainbows rolled across the sweeping, giant river below, the mist of the dozens of falls on either side basking it in a glow of colors so bright that the sky itself was jealous.
To her right while looking out from the cliff, a single tree rested peacefully three feet away, its trunk naturally bent slightly. Coupled with the way its branches reached out, giving her immediate shade under the midday sun made it seem as if it were made just for her."Actually, it was!"
A voice, lispful and singsong, washed out from behind her. Turning, she would see more landscape that seemed to have been molded and carved straight from a beautiful painting rendering the lands of her world from long ago. From long before the world showed any decay. It was a scene of perfection... Which only made it seem that much more unreal.
A tall, lanky figure stood over the rolling hill of grass ten feet from Mystara. Far behind him stretched a grassy plain so wide that she saw no point where the grass ever ended. To some direction -- north and east seemed to have no ruling here as stars marred the sun-lit sky, and it was likely west and south wouldn't fare much better -- she could see the rise of darker greens, hintig at a far awy forest over the horizon.
The strange man waved his hands both at her, smiling wide and happy. His left cheek was bright red from deep blush caused by makeup. The right side of his mouth was lined by ruby lipstick. The left side of his hair was flowing up as if carried by a natural wind, despite if any wind were blowing in another direction. The fact that it moved as if it were in slow motion only furthered the fact it wasn't natural. His eyes were both cerulean blue, giving something of a consistent look to both sides of his face. And his clothes... He wore a long, sunflower yellow sun dress and a pair of sandals."Hiiiiiiiii!"
His cheerful, feminized voice called to her.
Mystara blinked. Is this a dream? Hadn’t I just been…?
She stared at strange man, not sure what to make of him. How did he do that? He spoke like he knew what I was thinking…about the tree…
Perhaps it was the way the man was dressed, but the gato suddenly had the urge to laugh. She bit down on her tongue, but she couldn’t stop the corners of her mouth rising upwards a little.
It was a lot calmer here, she realised. Her fear had all but disappeared, as if…as if she knew she was safe here. Wherever here was…
Timidly the young girl waved back. “Hello,”
she replied, a little hesitant. “Who are you?”
The male grinned wide in a knowing smile, watching her and placing one hand on a hip. "Ohhh, honey, you don't know?"
He lifted his hand, bringing it to the left side of his face. "I'm She,"
he snapped his fingers, hand moving to the right side of his face, "ko,"
another snap and his hand was back to the left side, "ga! And baby girl, I am FABULOUS today!"
Shekoga started spinning, his dress flailing out to show off the pair of denim shorts he wore under the dress. Suddenly, the sky went dark. The sun became more of a prop in the sky. And the stars littering the overhanging darkness beamed bright, shooting spotlights down over the dancing man. He hopped forward, gliding through the air like a ballerina, landing gracefully beside Mystara."I'm the sword you picked up. And just like always, Shekoga is going to make the world bright!"
Suddenly there was a chiming ring and Mystara was sitting in a chair in front of a desk. Shekoga was seated on the opposite side, wearing a pair of glasses with no lenses, looking over a set of papers. "Hmm... Well, your resume is quite nice. I see you've had prior experience with living weaponry... But I don't think I've met your previous blade,"
suddenly it went very quiet, the echoes of the waterfalls behind her going silent, "OF JUSTICE!"
His voice seemed to echo as he thrusted a finger in the air, sounding as if multiple people had yelled with him. "But not to worry. We have a part-time policy that is just woderful, hun! And no, not 'wonderful', but 'woderful'. Because it is my word, and I LOVE it!"
Mystara’s ears flattened back a little in surprise. So this was the sword speaking to her? It was certainly very different from the one she’d picked up in the Cave of Asymbolus. Her sword had been very subtle, gentle and composed. Shekoga, on the other hand seemed more…loud, and bright. She couldn't help but smile at his behaviour.
The Gato could hardly believe her luck. This was the second sword she had met today with a life of its own. “Wait, sorry um, Shekoga…I’m confused. What are you saying exactly? …And,”
she looked around her. “Where am I? I mean – I just sort of picked you up, and now I’m here…am I still there, or…?”
She was worried about what Faus was doing while she was here.
Shekoga jumped straight out of his chair, flipping to land beside Mystara's chair. "The biology of the people on your world makes it so you can't come here completely. In fact, that's true for most worlds!"
He giggled a bit and spun Mystara's chair while she was still sitting in it. "So, I brought your spirit here. It's less substantial than bringing a mind here. And it's just troublesome to pull a soul out of a body."
He glanced aside, blinking and then pursing his lips to one side. "And potentially fatal..."
He stopped her chair, leaving her mildly dizzy from the spin. "And I'm saying, exactly, that I can bestow you with some power without causing a hindrance for your earlier sword. I may be a pushy bitch, sweetie. But I'm not cruel..."
His smile then faded a bit, looking aside once more. A thought had come to mind, but this time he didn't voice it."Anyway, while you're here, I'm keeping your body safe. But even us noncorporeal beings have rules and laws, so it can't last too long."
He gently sat down on the edge of the desk, the day returning to the overhead sky. "But you'll be fighting Gabe... Faus may be a malicious bastard, but he's smart. He knows that there has always been a chance I could be taken when he wasn't looking... And he will have something ready to use to get me back."
Shekoga leaned forward and stroked a hand over Mystara's hair. "I'm sorry, but I'm not allowed to take a side... I just wish you could have seen him... The real Him that is trapped in that...that machine of unnatural power..."
He turned away and opened a drawer on the other side of the desk. He offered her a small vial with a neon blue liquid inside. "This isn't medicine; it'll taste as great as you wish it to... This is just a basic method for giving you a gift while you are using Shekoga. Once you drink it all, you'll be sent back, and you'll have the new gift of.... Hmm... Oh, I know! I'll give you enhanced physical strength, doll. That way you can actually swing the sword without flipping yourself over."
Shekoga chuckled and smiled at the amusing thought.
Mystara smiled at the last comment. Then she sighed. “I have to go back, don’t I?”
She had a feeling she would have to go back, but it was not something she was looking forward to. She stared out at the beautiful landscape. Part of her wished she could stay here and not have to face it. She hadn’t felt as safe and happy as she did here, not in many years. Not since she had lost her home. And she knew as soon as she stepped back in Krimlo, she would have to fight.
Hesitantly, the young cat girl took the vial from Shekoga. “Thank you,”
she said, her expression grateful. “And, thank you for being so kind to me.”
She moved the vial to her lips, but then stopped again. Something was on her mind, a question she couldn’t leave without asking. “…What do you mean by ‘the real him’?”
she asked curiously. “If…if you don’t mind me asking, that is…”
Shekoga's expression suddenly and hurriedly changed. His goofy and comedic actions flaundered out, giving way to his rarely seen serious side. But for him, it was just natural to occur when talking about Him."Gabriel... He used to be so kind... He had a lovely wife, a strong if stupid son... And the sweetest daughter you could imagine. And he was a glorious king..."
The makeup faded away, his hair falling flat to drape over his body. "He was a man of such divinity that he shined bright with a light so pure that not even the white of his armor could keep it back... And I loved being with him through it all..."
A figure emerged through a long tear from behind Shekoga. The air tore open and a light shot through, so bright it threatened to blind and burn everything. But then, something behind it... A tall figure came with the light, calming and taming it. The light seemed so gentle and warm. Pure happiness incarnate washed out over Mystara as the armored man stepped out onto the landscape. The light slowly dimmed to a golden aura surrounding his noble visage. The way it shined over his golden hair made the bright blonde almost seem transluscent. His smile... She could never forget it.
But the calm and caring gaze of his apple red eyes seemed to make the smile...loving. Shekoga looked back at the man in the white armor. It looked almost completely like the black set Mystara had seen him wear before. In fact, without the odd bits of technology she remembered from before, it actually was the same armor. But where it had been black, this was white. The reds and golds that designed and trimmed the edges made it almost holy in its true presence."Faus was the greatest example of a righteous hero that I have ever seen... Well, in this universe, anyway."
Shekoga looked aside and grinned. "But that white-haired Ro-Shi Wong -- or Shiro, whatever -- was never that manly."
Shekoga turned and hopped forward to stand beside Mystara. "Anyway, I still have hope... I know one of his cards can do the trick, so I just need to wait!"
His hair suddenly shot back up on one side, the makeup all returning to its proper place as well. As proper a placement as it ever got on his face, mind you. "You... Sorry, sweetie, but you can't stay here. I'd love the company of another lady, but I'm afraid you couldn't survive here for an extended period..."
Shekoga poofed away the desk and chair, the divine visage of the former living Gabriel vanishing with a flash. The lisping man walked over, kissing Mystara's forehead. "But I'll always exist. So you may get to come back again someday, after enough time... Just be sure you stay so cute, little kitty!"
He squealed and poked at her furry ears, giggling loudly.
Mystara had looked at the past Gabriel in wonder...and a hint of sadness. He used to be like that…a good person. What happened?
she wondered. That man was so different to the one she had seen. It felt strange to see Faus like that, as a divine soul instead of the cold-hearted Undead that had captured her. The idea that Faus had once been human hadn’t even crossed Mystara’s mind until now. What could do that to a person…?
The silver haired gato turned towards Shekoga. She was ready to leave now…or as ready as she’d ever be. Mystara smiled, her ears twitching at the contact. She almost laughed herself. Shekoga’s giggle seemed to be infectious. “Ok,”
she smiled. Then she launched forward, giving Shekoga an unexpected hug. “Good bye. And thank you again,”
she said closing her eyes. There was a small rumbling sound...it may have taken a moment to realise, but Mystara was actually purring
. Something she was rarely happy enough to manage.
After a moment, she stepped back. She held the vial in her hand. She would have to do it quickly, before she had the chance to back out. Taking a deep breath to calm herself, she lifted the vial to her lips…and drank all of it in one go. The last thing she saw was another flash of blinding light, before she had to close her eyes again… Mystara Hallow ~ Back in Krimlo
Like suddenly waking from a dream, Mystara opened her eyes, just as the last of light faded away. She felt her feet placed back on the floor, Shekoga in her hands. She could…lift it easily, she realised. Before it had been heavy, but now it felt surprisingly light in her hands. Just how much strength did Shekoga give me?
she wondered. She would soon find out.
In fact had she tried to find out, Mystara would have discovered, her new strength limit would be similar to becoming capable of shattering a stone four inches thick, with one punch.
As soon as the light faded, the young gato’s eyes focused on Faus. She was afraid, but not nearly as afraid as she had been before. She felt like she wasn’t alone anymore. She had Shekoga
No longer was she panic-stricken or terrified. Now she was determined.
Gripping the sword tightly, she sprung forward like a cork from a bottle. Her legs, which had already been fairly strong from her natural agility, felt far more powerful than she could have imagined. For someone who was already fast on their feet and capable of exceptional acrobatics, the effect of Shekoga’s enhanced strength made Mystara feel like a high-speed rubber ball. She shot towards Faus so fast she barely had time to register it herself. At the last moment she propelled herself to one side, her feet touching half way up one side of the wall. She then pushed off the wall, bringing Shekoga up and swinging it at the nearest part of Faus she could find, teeth gritted, as she sprung towards the opposite wall of the narrow corridor, pushing off and striking again. Like a bouncy ball she pinged from surface-to-surface, moving at high-speed with the aim of keeping Faus from moving out of the small hallway, attacking every part of the Undead the small girl could find.