PART I: Chapter One
Many years ago, there was a massive conflict between two proud leaders, Orakio and Laya. They constantly battled and battled, until eventually, Orakio defeated Laya and restored peace. Ever since that day, Orakio's followers, the Orakians... and Laya's followers, the Layans, hate each other to this day.
Nearly 1,000 years later, one bond formed. One that could not be broken even through the bitter hatred of the Orakians and the Layans. That... was the bond of true love.
* * *
Today was a big day for Prince Rhys. He was going to be married to the beautiful Princess Maia and become a King. The prince was so excited that he rushed his breakfast and spilled it on his shirt.
"Oh, bother! Maia won't want to marry a sloppy prince. I'd better change out of this." Rhys said to himself after finishing his breakfast. He picked out a blue shirt from his huge walk-in wardrobe, and changed into it. He fastened on his white velvet cape and pulled on his shiny black boots over his dark brown pants. He certainly felt the part.
On his way to the castle, Rhys was brimming with excitement. So much so that he tripped over a rock and fell flat on his face. He picked himself up and inspected his clothes. Luckily, he'd not got any mud on them. Some nearby children were laughing at him. Rhys grumbled under his breath and stormed off.
When he reached the castle, a guard was waiting for him.
"Ah, Prince Rhys! You're very early. The Princess isn't here yet, so you should sit and wait. Mind you, Prince Rhys... your hair's a mess! Sort it out!" the guard said, handing Rhys a small mirror. The prince looked into it, and sure enough, his ocean-blue hair was all over the place. He took a comb out of his pocket and smoothed it down. After sorting out his wayward hair, Rhys went into a small room and sat down on a wooden chair.
Ten minutes later, another guard popped in.
"Prince Rhys, Princess Maia is here! Come on!" he said. Rhys stood up and walked out of the room. Maia was stood there, waiting for him. She was wearing a navy blue dress and veil which perfectly complemented her turquoise-blue hair. She held out her dainty hand, and Rhys took it in one of his own. They walked down the red carpeted aisle, where the King and a priest were stood.
"Good people, we are gathered here today to witness the marriage of Prince Rhys and Princess Maia. Does anyone have any obligations as to why these two should not be wed? Say now, or forever hold your peace." the priest said. There was a loud voice overhead.
"I object! Scummy Orakians, you will never have Princess Maia!" the voice shouted, and then a huge winged creature broke through the roof and grabbed Maia in its clawed hands!
"No, Maia! Let go of her, this instant!" Rhys cried. The creature turned its ugly head to face the prince.
"You! Filthy Orakian prince, trying to wed a beautiful Layan princess! Outrageous! You're lucky that Laya's Law forbids killing." the creature boomed, tightening its grip on Maia. Rhys drew his hunting knife from its sheath. He never goes anywhere unarmed.
"You'll regret this!" Rhys roared, swinging the knife at the creature. It didn't even hurt it.
"Is that all you have, Orakio-lover? I squirm in fear at your pathetic attempts!" the creature laughed, spreading its wings.
"No, Rhys! Help me!" Maia screamed, trying to wriggle free of the creature's grip.
"Hang on, Maia! I'm coming for you!" Rhys yelled in reply, trying to grab hold of the creature's tail. The prince managed to grab hold of it, but the creature had started taking flight.
"Oh, Rhys! Hang on!" Maia yelled, but Rhys was struggling to hold on to the thrashing tail.
"Maia, I can't hold on much longer. It's moving too much!" Rhys screamed, just as the creature's tail lurched violently to the left, forcing Rhys to let go.
"No, Rhys! NOOOOO!" Maia cried, but it was too late. Rhys had gone.
* * *
With a sickening crack and a resounding thud, Prince Rhys landed on the ground. He tried to get up, but his whole body was aching all over. He rolled onto his side, gritting his teeth against the pain.
After recuperating for two minutes, Rhys was finally able to stand up. He was still very sore, but he managed to hobble over to a flat rock where he could have a proper sit down. As he rested his sore body, he saw a young woman standing by a lake. He stood up and hobbled over to her.
"Hi, I'm Prince Rhys. I was wondering, have you seen a big winged creature go by here?" Rhys asked the woman. She turned to him, slowly.
"I am not programmed to detect creatures more than 200 metres away." the woman replied in a slightly metallic voice. Rhys could already tell that she wasn't human.
"Well, if you can't tell the exact location, did you see where the creature was headed?" Rhys asked. The woman folded her arms against her chest.
"Internal compass suggests that the creature is headed for the northeastern province, to the town of Shusoran." the woman replied. Rhys reminded her that she hadn't introduced herself yet. She turned to face him.
"Prince Rhys, I am a cyborg, Mieu type. You may address me as 'Mieu'. Don't worry - I am not programmed to help Layans in any way." Mieu said.
"But, Mieu... my wife-to-be, Princess Maia... she's a Layan, but I love her with all my heart." Rhys said.
"Well, then... I am pretty free-roaming for a cyborg, so I'll help you get your Princess Maia back." Mieu replied, stretching herself. Rhys thanked her, and then the twosome made their way through the nearby forest and out into the open. Mieu lead Rhys to a cave and told him that the passage through the cave lead to the northeastern province, called the Helskiz Province. Rhys tried to enter the cave, but the entrance was blocked by a huge stone. There was an inscription on the rock, and it read 'Only the Sapphire of deepest blue will open the entrance to yon cave'.
"Now what? Maia is in grave danger, and I can't even get to her!" Rhys cried. He began to sob.
"Why me? Why do I have to suffer on my big day?!" he wailed, wiping his tears away with his shirt sleeve. Mieu comforted him.
"Now now, Prince, don't cry. I know where the Sapphire is. It's in another cave nearby, and there's nothing blocking the entrance. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can get the Sapphire, and the sooner we can rescue Princess Maia!" Mieu said, helping Rhys to his feet. The prince wiped the last few tears from his eyes and headed for the cave, Mieu following close behind.
* * *
Prince Rhys was thoroughly fed up. He and Mieu had gone past twenty caves, and not one of them was the cave that they were looking for. They had just reached another cave.
"Ah! Prince, this is the one, I'm sure of it!" Mieu said excitedly, ushering Rhys over to the entrance of the cave.
"It had better be..." Rhys grumbled under his breath as he walked towards the cave with Mieu following behind.
When they got into the cave, a huge rock rolled over the entrance, stopping them from getting back out. Rhys looked around, and saw that the cave was full of monsters! He panicked slightly, then drew his hunting knife from its sheath. Mieu readied her weapon - a glove with very sharp claws on it.
"I was never expecting to fight. But I'll have to, for Maia is in danger!" Rhys said, swinging his knife and slicing the air in front of him.
"To be honest, I wasn't expecting this, either. Come on, Prince! Let's carve up some monsters!" Mieu said, springing forward and slashing two monsters with the clawed glove. The monsters retaliated by jumping on top of Mieu, pinning her to the ground. Rhys wasted no time in swinging his knife savagely at them, showering the cave walls with bright yellow blood.
When all the monsters were killed, Mieu got up and brushed the dirt off herself.
"Only a bit further. My internal detector is going crazy!" Mieu said, pointing to the end of the cave. Rhys went down, and Mieu followed him. There, someone was waiting for them!
"Hello there. I never expected someone to find me here." the person said.
"This isn't a game! A young woman was kidnapped, and I need the Sapphire to get her back!" Rhys shouted, getting slightly annoyed.
"Yeah, so I heard. She's been taken to a town past Shusoran."
"But where? I must know!" After Rhys had finished speaking, the person turned round. In the dim light of the cave, Rhys and Mieu could see that he was wearing a brown vest, a pair of grey pants and a gold belt. He had a cape clipped around his neck with a silver clasp, and he was carrying a long staff with an emerald set in the top. He also had bright green hair that was tied into a ponytail. The front of his hair was a little wayward.
"I'm Lyle. I come from Shusoran." Lyle said. Rhys gasped. Shusoran was a town where the Layans resided, and the prince had been brought up to have a bitter hatred of Layans.
"Are you... one of them?" Rhys asked slowly. Lyle snickered a little.
"A Layan? Well, yeah, but that doesn't make me a bad person. To be honest, I'm sick of this enmity. Anyway, you'll need my help to get into the Layan castles. Their doors will never open to Orakians." Lyle said.
"Well then, I'd better introduce myself. I'm Prince Rhys, who comes from the Chalst Province, the central province." Rhys said proudly.
"And I'm Mieu, a cyborg who would normally only help Orakians... but I'm helping the Prince get his Layan princess back." Mieu said.
"By the way, do you have the Sapphire?" Rhys asked. Lyle took a large blue stone out of his pocket and handed it to the prince, telling him that that was the Sapphire. When the threesome got to the entrance of the cave, it was still blocked.
"Rhys, don't worry, it's nothing old Lyle can't handle! Um, you don't mind me not calling you 'Prince', do you?" Lyle said.
"Not in the least, Lyle. Mieu, I don't mind if you don't call me 'Prince', either." Rhys replied. Mieu acknowledged what Rhys had said, and then Lyle strode towards the rock and readied his staff. He closed his eyes and the emerald glowed. When the glow was almost too bright for Rhys to look at, Lyle opened his eyes and stretched out his free hand towards the rock and swinging his staff backwards.
"Alright, let's rock this rock!" Lyle shouted, moving his outstretched hand slightly to the left. He then told Rhys and Mieu to make sure they stayed well back.
"Heeeeee-yaaaaaaaaaaah!" Lyle screamed, swinging the staff in a wide arc and shooting out a beam of bright green from the emerald. The rock was instantly blown back and thrown over 4 miles away.
"My favourite technique, that one. It can blow anything away." Lyle said, planting his staff on the ground. For information's sake, techniques are this world's equivalent of magic. Mieu was amazed, and she congratulated him. Rhys stood there in awe; he couldn't believe what Lyle had just done.
"How did you... that's just..." Rhys stammered. Lyle told the prince that he had been educated in the field of techniques, and that he had been using techniques for 4 and a half years now.
"That reminds me! I'm programmed to use some healing techniques!" Mieu said excitedly. Now that the threesome were out of the cave, they could now make their way to the Helskiz Province, so that they could get some more clues to the whereabouts of Princess Maia.
PART I: Chapter Two
Now that they had the Sapphire, Prince Rhys, Mieu and Lyle could now enter the cave that lead to the Helskiz Province. As they approached the entrance, the Sapphire let off a light blue glow and they could then enter. To their dismay, this cave was packed with monsters.
"What is it with these monster-infested caves?" Rhys asked.
"Seems like no-one can afford monstercide, or they can't be bothered to pay a warrior to kill 'em off." Lyle replied. Mieu suggested that they should try and get past the monsters without them noticing. They broke into a run, darting past evil-looking bird-like monsters and rats that were three times the size of your average rat.
"Oh, for goodness' sake, look out!" Rhys shouted, just as Mieu crashed into a huge monster that looked like a giant bat. The monster reared back and grabbed Mieu in its wickedly curved talons.
"That's exactly what happened to Maia!" Rhys cried, thumping Lyle on the shoulder. He winced a little.
"Well, don't just stand there hitting me! Attack it!" Lyle yelled, pushing Rhys away slightly. The prince drew his hunting knife and slashed the bat's leg. That was enough to make it loosen its grip on Mieu so that she could escape. As soon as Mieu had effected her escape, Lyle stormed forward and swung his staff at it, knocking it to the floor.
"Mieu, you do the honours. After all, it attacked you first." Lyle said, backing off. Mieu ran forward, screaming, and drove her claws straight into the creature's heart, killing it instantly.
"Right, that's that sorted. Now, we can press on." Rhys said, trudging towards the passage that lead to the Helskiz Province, with Mieu and Lyle trailing behind.
Eventually, after a 20-minute walk, the threesome had finally found the way into the Helskiz Province. The Sapphire let off another glow as Rhys approached the entrance, opening it and allowing a blast of cold air to hit them all. They climbed out of the passage. To Lyle's horror, the Helskiz Province had been turned into a frozen wasteland!
"I don't remember this province having a winter this cold." Lyle said, his teeth chattering. Since no-one had expected this, no-one had thought of packing any warm clothes.
"We'd better wrap up warm or we'll die of the cold." Rhys said, unpinning his cloak. His clothes were fairly thick, so he couldn't quite feel the cold. He handed his cloak to Lyle.
"I'm fairly warm. Take my cloak and wrap up. You really aren't dressed for the weather, Lyle." Rhys said. Lyle smiled, then took the cloak and wrapped it around his shivering body. Mieu waited patiently. She didn't have to worry about the cold, for she was a cyborg, and so couldn't feel the cold.
After warmth issues had been sorted, the threesome made their way over the freezing province, looking for any sort of shelter. The cold made it seem like the search was taking forever. Then, Mieu spotted some buildings in the distance.
"Look! Rhys! Lyle! Over there! I can see buildings! Come on!" Mieu shouted, running towards the buildings. Rhys and Lyle ran after her, and they found themselves in a village - the small fishing village of Rysel. It as still bitterly cold, yet the party felt slightly warmer because they were surrounded by buildings.
"Ah, welcome to Rysel, good travellers." one of the local villagers said to them, but his kind expression soon turned to horror as he looked at Lyle.
"Agh, the Layans, the Layans! They're here, those filthy Layan creeps!" he shouted, motioning to the other villagers to lock all the buildings up.
"I'll show you, you snivelling Layans!" he yelled, but Rhys stormed up to him and stopped him from saying any more.
"We're not Layans, you nitwit! I am Prince Rhys, from the Chalst Province!" Rhys said firmly.
"Well then, if you are not Layans, what is HE doing with you?" the man said, pointing at Lyle with disgust. Rhys explained that Lyle had come along to help him get his beloved Princess Maia back from the nasty winged creature that had taken her.
"You are one weird Orakian, Prince Rhys. She's a Layan princess." the man said, snickering slightly. Rhys had had enough. He could clearly see that the villagers were having a problem.
"Your village seems to be having a problem. What is it?" Rhys asked the man.
"Terrible problems, Prince! Our people are starving, because the lake has frozen solid! People from the town of Agoe can't visit either, because of the lake." the man replied. He motioned to the other villagers and told them that they could unlock their buildings again.
"OK, so is there any way we can bring better weather here?"
"Yes, there is, Prince. There is a Weather Station located in the Bernink Province. There should be a hidden entrance to the province, and it's located past the nearby bridge. Hurry now, the people are depending on you! If you need to rest up and buy supplies, then feel free." Thanking the man for the information, Rhys then told Mieu and Lyle about the Weather Station in the Bernink Province.
"Right, well, now that we have that information, we can go to the Bernink Province. Come on, let's go." Lyle said, and so he strolled out of the village, with Mieu and Rhys following close behind. They came up to an entrance which lead into an underground passage. They followed the passage, and they found that it lead to the Bernink Province.
* * *
If Prince Rhys and Lyle had been too cold before, they were too hot now. The Bernink Province was an almost-inhospitable desert, clearly not suitable for humans. Lyle removed the cloak from around him.
"Rhys, it's too hot to be wearing this. Here." Lyle said, handing Rhys his cloak back. He re-pinned it, and then he tried to think about what they were doing here. The intense heat was making it hard to concentrate. Luckily for them, Mieu wasn't affected by the heat, so she reminded them that they were here to find the Weather Station.
"We should look for a town or a village. That way we can get some information." Rhys said, wiping the sweat off his forehead.
"A town or a village? In this hot wasteland? Rhys, you've lost it!" Lyle replied, using his cape to soak up the sweat off his face.
"It's possible. Some people may choose to live in a desert. I've heard of a village of cyborgs called Hazatak, situated in this very desert!" Mieu said. She began trudging through the desert, with Rhys and Lyle close behind her.
Fifteen minutes later, and they were only slightly closer to the location of Hazatak. Rhys and Lyle were thoroughly exhausted and fairly dehydrated. They stopped to rest, therefore forcing Mieu to wait for them. It was a lucky thing that she was patient, for it took the party twenty minutes to get going again.
Finally, after three hours of trekking, the party had reached the outer limits of Hazatak. Mieu told the others that they would be able to rest soon. She led Rhys and Lyle to an inn. When they got there, they pushed open the door and went inside.
"Phew! I'm exhausted!" Rhys panted, collapsing to the floor in a heap, which is not a dignified thing for a prince to do. Lyle followed his example and allowed gravity to take him to the ground. Mieu had started talking with the innkeeper.
"Are those two with you?" the innkeeper asked.
"Yes, they are. We've just had to walk through the desert." Mieu replied.
"Is one of them a prince? Some of those clothes look a little too rich for the common folk. I mean, if you do have a prince with you... then, I'll let you stay for free. If I'm mistaken, it's 140 meseta a head." For information's sake, meseta is the currency of this world. It's roughly 500 meseta to £1.
"Yes. Over there. That's Prince Rhys of the Chalst Province." Mieu said, pointing to the dishevelled princely heap that was Rhys.
"In that case, do you care to stay for the night?" the innkeeper asked kindly. Mieu asked Rhys and Lyle if they wanted to stay for the night.
"That'd be nice. We need to rest up." Rhys said.
"Yeah. We've had a long journey." Lyle said. Mieu then told the innkeeper that they would be staying, and so she went up and prepared three beds for them. When the beds were prepared, the threesome headed upstairs and prepared to rest up ready for the next day.
* * *
It was 10pm at night, and Rhys and Mieu had been asleep for two hours. Lyle, however, was still tossing and turning. Then, he had an idea. He climbed out of bed and draped the bedsheet over himself. He then tiptoed over to Rhys, howling and pretending to be a ghost.
"Lyle, go to sleep, will you? We've got a long day ahead!" Rhys hissed, pulling the covers over his head. Lyle wasn't deterred.
"BOO!" he shouted. Rhys awoke with a start.
"For Pete's sake, Lyle, go to sleep!" Rhys snapped, trying to get back to sleep. Lyle hit him over the head with his pillow. Luckily for them, Mieu was still asleep.
"You want a pillow fight, do you? You're on! Even a prince needs to have some fun, right?" Rhys said, swiping up his pillow.
"You got that right." Lyle replied, ducking to avoid getting brained with Rhys' pillow. Lyle swung his pillow again and bashed Rhys on the left arm. Rhys retaliated and hit Lyle on the head with his pillow. They both started laughing.
"Rhys! Eat pillow!" Lyle yelled, hurling his pillow at the prince.
"Yum." Rhys laughed in reply. He then hurled his pillow at Lyle, who caught it in his mouth. They were making so much noise that they woke Mieu up.
"You two idiots! Get back to bed, both of you!" she yelled. Rhys and Lyle went back to their beds, giggling. When Mieu had gone back to sleep, Rhys and Lyle were still wide awake. Rhys hid under his bedsheet and cleared his throat. He put on a very feminine voice.
"Oh, Lyle, I love you!" he said. Lyle giggled, and said that he thought Mieu was talking in her sleep. Rhys began laughing, then it was Lyle's turn to hide under the bedsheet and imitate a different voice.
"I'm a filthy, ugly Layan!" he said in a very deep voice. Rhys sniggered and blew a loud raspberry from under the bedclothes. Lyle laughed out loud.
"Yuck, Mieu! Stop farting!" Lyle said. Mieu awoke again, thoroughly annoyed. She gave Lyle an icy stare.
"Lyle, will you shut up?! And you as well, Rhys! Yeah, don't think I can only hear Lyle!" Mieu snapped, burying her head into her pillow. Rhys sighed.
"She's a picky old bat, huh, Lyle? Come on, let's have some more fun!" Rhys said, unbuttoning his shirt and throwing it on the floor. He had a vest on underneath. Lyle giggled slightly, and then he headed for the bathroom. He must have thought of something.
"Rhys! Get Mieu, but don't wake her up. I got an idea!" Lyle hissed. Being as careful as he could, Rhys picked up the sleeping form of Mieu and cradled her in his arms. He carried her to the bathroom, where Lyle positioned her so it looked like she had fallen asleep on the toilet (as any cyborg with a faulty circuit would).
"Very fetching, I must admit..." Rhys sighed. Lyle nudged him, and then after a count of three...
"LOO-SLEEPER!" they both shouted together. Mieu woke up again and looked around. Then she saw Rhys and Lyle laughing their heads off. She stamped her foot on the ground.
"What do you two think you're doing, you crazy loonies? You're not even acting like a normal person, let alone a prince, Rhys! And Lyle... I thought you were better than that! No more laughing, and no more practical jokes. Next person to wake me up will find themselves in big trouble, you got that?" Mieu yelled.
"Oooooooh..." Rhys and Lyle chorused. Mieu stood up and slammed the toilet lid, startling the two of them.
"Oh, alright. You win, Mieu. I started it." Lyle mumbled, hanging his head.
"What did you say? SPEAK UP, Lyle!" Mieu snapped.
"I started it!" Lyle wailed, moving forward and embracing Mieu. She pushed him away in disgust and turned to face Rhys.
"So, what's your excuse, huh? Why did you join in with Lyle?" she asked firmly. Rhys shrugged.
"Don't try that on, Rhys! Why did you decide to join in with Lyle's crazy stuff?" Mieu asked again. Rhys shuffled slightly, and then he fiddled with a lock of his hair while he spoke.
"Well, Mieu," he said, "even a prince needs to have fun, right?" Mieu folded her arms and looked very stern.
"Yeah, Rhys, but that doesn't mean you should act like a lunatic. It's nearly 2am! You guys haven't even had any sleep whatsoever! You're going to be tired tomorrow, so don't come crying to me if you faint of exhaustion!" she yelled, turning on her heels and storming back to bed.
"Well, Mieu's right. We should get some rest." Rhys said to Lyle.
"Yeah, come on." Lyle replied, and then the twosome went to their beds.
* * *
After only six hours of sleep, Rhys and Lyle woke up. They got dressed, and then Lyle went over to Mieu's bed.
"Lyle! Remember what the old bat said?" Rhys hissed whilst he pulled on one of his boots.
"Yeah, but we should really get going." Lyle replied. He turned to face Mieu's bed.
"Mieu! Wake up! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO! CUCKOO!" Lyle yelled, waking up Mieu and telling the time at the same time. Mieu awoke, yawned, and pushed the bedcovers off herself.
"I'm awake, Lyle!" Mieu said, sitting up and rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. She pulled on her boots, and then the threesome were ready. They thanked the innkeeper and were on their way. They decided to ask around Hazatak for any clues to the whereabouts of the Weather Station.
"Hey, do you know where we can find the Weather Station?" Lyle asked one of the cyborgs.
"Yes. It is in the southwest of the Bernink Province, but only one person can use it. He is a cyborg called Wren. The crazy old cyborg hails in a cave to the west. Find him, then go to the Weather Station." the cyborg replied. Lyle thanked him, and then the party were off into the scorching desert.
They eventually got to the western part of the desert, but Rhys and Lyle were thoroughly exhausted. They sat down to rest whilst Mieu tried to find which cave Wren was living in. She found it in a matter of minutes.
"This is it! Here's the cave! I can sense a cyborg in there." Mieu said excitedly, beckoning towards the cave. Rhys and Lyle stood up, brushed the sand off their pants and then trudged into the cave Mieu had pointed out.
The cave was much cooler than the boiling weather outside. Rhys and Lyle cooled down quickly, and were able to keep up with Mieu as she darted through twisted rocky passageways. It was a good job she was with the two men, for they would never have found Wren as quickly. She had spotted him at the far end of the cave.
"Hey, get out of here! No-one else lives in my cave except me!" Wren shouted, shoving Mieu backwards.
"Wren, we know about you from the cyborgs of Hazatak. We need your help." Rhys said calmly, but Wren's response was... much less calm.
"Just get out! I'm not interested in helping anyone but myself!" Wren yelled, storming forward and pushing Rhys into Lyle, sending them both careering to the floor.
"Listen to me, Wren!" Lyle shouted from underneath Rhys' heavy frame. Wren turned on his heel so his back was facing Lyle.
"Wren, it's just that... the Helskiz Province is frozen solid, and people of Rysel are starving. Worse than that, I can't even get back home to Shusoran! You have to help us!" Lyle bellowed. To his surprise, Wren did turn around. His rage-deformed face softened.
"The Helskiz Province... where I used to live before moving to Hazatak. And you are...?" Wren said. Rhys moved away, as the question was meant for Lyle and not for him.
"I'm Lyle, from Shusoran." Lyle said, bowing. Wren looked at him sternly.
"Have you forgotten who you are already? Goodness me! Why, you are not just Lyle, who comes from Shusoran... you are Prince Lyle of Shusoran!" Wren replied. He took a deep bow and knelt on the floor in front of Lyle. Rhys and Mieu gasped. They never knew that Lyle was actually a prince!
"I've been programmed to act hostile until a Layan prince came. Now, what should I do with these two?" Wren asked, pointing at Rhys and Mieu.
"They're with me. Prince Rhys, who hails from the Chalst Province, needs help with getting his wife-to-be, Princess Maia, back, and Mieu has come along to offer help, too." Lyle replied. Wren didn't seem to convinced as to what Lyle had said.
"Prince Lyle, it's just that those other two are Orakians. But, if you're completely sure..." Wren said. After he had finished speaking, Rhys stepped in front of him.
"Wren, we need your help. As Lyle has already explained, the Helskiz Province is frozen over, and you're the only one who can operate the Weather Station, in the southwest of this province." he explained.
"Well, Prince Rhys... normally, I wouldn't trust any Orakian, no matter how nice they were, but since you're with Prince Lyle, I'll trust you." Wren replied, shaking Rhys' hand. He then went on to say that he would sort out the weather in the Helskiz Province for them. The foursome then exited the cave and headed for the Weather Station.
* * *
After a gruelling walk through the scorching desert of the Bernink Province, Prince Rhys, Mieu, Prince Lyle and Wren finally made it to the Weather Station. They stopped for a while, because the two princes were very tired, hot and sweaty.
"OK, here it is! The Weather Station. I remember the weather control centre being on the ground floor, but I can't pinpoint its exact location. I know what it looks like, though." Wren said.
"It's definitely not near the entrance..." Lyle said sadly. With Wren leading the group, they went further into the Weather Station, where they caught a glimpse of two women. They were standing near the weather control centre, laughing uncontrollably.
"Make the Helskiz Province even colder! Hee hee!" one of the women laughed. She pulled a lever downwards, but it immediately snapped back to its original position. The other woman was just standing there and tapping her foot on the ground when she caught sight of Lyle.
"Hey, Yasmin! Prince Lyle is here! Show some respect, will you?" she yelled.
"Not yet, Lucy. I've nearly frozen the Helskiz Province solid!" Yasmin snapped.
"She's right, you know. Show me some respect! And you can also show Prince Rhys some respect, too!" Lyle yelled, walking behind Yasmin and pulling her away from the controls.
"Oooooh! Lyle touched me!" Yasmin squealed. Lyle cleared his throat.
"That's Prince Lyle to you!" Lyle said angrily. He then asked the women what they were doing here.
"Well, Prince Lyle," Lucy explained, "Yasmin and I come from England. My name's Lucy, by the way. We've heard about you from the other towns here. We were wandering around and we found this place. After some help from the cyborgs in Hazatak, we were able to come here and operate the weather controls."
"England? Where's that?" Lyle asked. Lucy explained it to him, but he was still confused.
"He's probably not got his sat nav switched on." Yasmin hissed, but Lyle heard her.
"What is this 'sat nav' then? Is it some kind of Layan artifact that I've not heard of?" he asked.
"No, and we don't know about Layan artifacts. It's short for satellite navigation, and you use them to find your way around. They're computerised maps." Yasmin explained. Lyle asked her what a map was.
"You're a very stupid prince, Lyle, if you don't know what a map is. Everyone knows what a map is!" Yasmin giggled. Lyle was furious!
"I suggest you drop your attitude, Yasmin. Did your parents ever teach you respect?" he snapped, banging his staff on the ground. Yasmin didn't stop laughing.
"Aw, is poor ickle Princey getting all wound up? Is ickle Lyle having a temper tantrum?" she said mockingly. Lyle had had enough. He swung his staff at her, knocking her to the ground.
"That's ENOUGH! You show RESPECT around here, especially to a prince!" Lyle boomed, scaring Yasmin slightly. He took this opportunity to get his own back on her. He knelt on the floor in front of Yasmin, holding his staff horizontally.
"Aw, poor Yasmin! Is little Yasmin getting all scared?" Lyle mocked. Now it was Yasmin's turn to get wound up. Whilst Lyle and Yasmin mocked each other, Wren strode up to the weather control centre and sorted out the weather in the Helskiz Province. He also cooled it down slightly in the Bernink Province.
"Prince Lyle, that's hardly a princely thing to do!" Yasmin yelled, kicking at Lyle. The prince stood up and planted his staff on the ground.
"Yasmin, will you stop harassing Prince Lyle? You're making me look bad!" Lucy snapped.
"That's my friend you're insulting there, Yasmin!" Rhys yelled at Yasmin.
"How would you like if I did that to you?" Mieu asked. Yasmin stood up and sighed. She tiptoed forward and embraced Lyle. He pushed her away in utter disgust.
"What was that for?!" Lyle snapped. Yasmin said that it was her way of saying sorry.
"Very well. But make sure you pay respect to other princes and princesses, and especially kings and queens! You're lucky I'm a kind person." Lyle said firmly. Lucy and Yasmin obeyed. Wren also told them to leave the Weather Station, as they weren't supposed to be there. They made haste immediately.
"Are you alright, Lyle?" Rhys asked, patting Lyle on the shoulder.
"Yeah, I'm fine. Come on, now that we've sorted the weather in the Helskiz Province, we can go and rescue Princess Maia for you, Rhys. Well, what are we waiting for? Let's go!" Lyle said, leading the party out of the Weather Station and up to the cave that lead to the Helskiz Province.
PART I: Chapter Three
Now that the Helskiz Province had been restored to its normal state, Prince Rhys, Mieu, Prince Lyle and Wren were able to go to Shusoran. But they needed a boat to get to the island that Shusoran was situated on, so they asked a boatman in Rysel to lend them a boat. When the boat was ready, the party could then get to Shusoran.
"Well, it's only a little bit longer, Rhys. We're nearly there. You and Princess Maia are going to get married soon, I can feel it!" Lyle said just as the boat came to a halt. The party disembarked, and they set out to Shusoran.
When they were in the limits of the town, it was very abandoned. Was everyone still here, or had they fled? That was for the party to find out for themselves.
"Hopefully, we should be allowed into the castle. My father would be nuts not to let me in." Lyle said as they approached the gate of Shusoran Castle. Lyle banged on the gate.
"Let us in! It's Prince Lyle!" Lyle shouted.
"We'd love to, Prince... but you've got Orakians on your tail. Do you want us to get rid of them?" the guard asked. Lyle refused and backed away from the gate.
"Great, they won't allow you guys in. I've got an idea! Why don't you tie me up and threaten to kill me if they don't let you in? That should get them." Lyle whispered to the party, handing Rhys a long piece of rope.
"Remember, act like you're being held against your will." Mieu said, and then Rhys got the rope ready. Lyle held his hands behind his back, and Rhys tied him up, using the full length of the rope. Mieu took a handkerchief out of her pocket and tied it around Lyle's mouth like a gag.
"You don't mind, do you? You know, using your hanky like that?" Wren asked. Mieu replied that she didn't plan to wash that hanky, as it was going to be covered in princely saliva (what a lovely image). Rhys banged on the gate of Shusoran Castle.
"This is Prince Rhys of the Chalst Province! We have captured your beloved Prince Lyle! You either let us in, or he dies by my knife!" Rhys shouted, taking his hunting knife out of its sheath and jamming the blade against Lyle's neck, but being careful not to slit his throat. Fear began to show in Lyle's eyes.
"Silence, Orakian! Do you truly have Prince Lyle?" the guard asked.
"Yes, we do! Trust me, if you don't raise this gate, you may find that Prince Lyle is no longer breathing!" Rhys boomed, pressing the blade of his knife against Lyle's throat harder. A tear fell from Lyle's eye. He knew that this was only pretend, but Rhys was being so rough that he couldn't hide his emotions.
"Be careful. I think Lyle's getting distressed." Mieu whispered, wiping the tears away from Lyle's eyes with her hand. Rhys acknowledged, and he moved the knife so that it was only just touching Lyle's throat.
"Enough, Orakian! Release my son, this instant!" a voice bellowed. It was the King of Shusoran, Lyle's father. Rhys couldn't untie Lyle yet - they hadn't been allowed in the castle.
"Well then, it's very simple. Open the gate and let us in, or your son will die by my hand!" Rhys yelled in reply. He pressed the blade of his knife against Lyle's throat again, and this time, it was enough to make him burst into floods of tears.
"Let me go!" Lyle cried from behind the makeshift gag. Rhys realised that he had been much too rough with Lyle, so he moved the blade away from his throat slightly.
"Very well, Orakian. I will allow your band in, but first, you must release my son Lyle from his predicament. Do that, and the gates of Castle Shusoran will be open to you." the King shouted. Rhys immediately obeyed, untying the handkerchief from around Lyle's mouth and handing it to Mieu. He then undid the ropes that bound Lyle's hands behind his back. When he was free, Lyle embraced Rhys and cried bitterly.
"I don't believe it! I really thought you were going to kill me! I was just so terrified..." Lyle sobbed, wiping his eyes on Rhys' cloak. The King then opened the gate and allowed them all to come in.
"So, Orakian..." the King began to say, but Rhys began to speak.
"If you want to talk to me, call me Prince Rhys! I have a name, you know." he said.
"OK then, Prince Rhys... why did you tie up my son like that?" the King asked.
"We needed entry into your castle. I'm sorry if I was a little rough on him, but we're friends, right?" Rhys replied. Lyle looked up and managed to break a smile through his tear-soaked face.
"I'm no good to be a prince," Lyle said sadly, "if I'm such a big crybaby and I'm easy to upset." The King wrapped his arm around Lyle and hugged him.
"You are a very good prince, Lyle. It's just that your friend Prince Rhys had jested a little too rough with you. There's no shame in crying, you know, my son." the King said softly. Lyle burst into tears again.
"Oh, Father... you really do care about me." Lyle wailed, rummaging for a handkerchief. He found one, and then he wiped his eyes with it.
* * *
After Prince Lyle had calmed down from his emotional outburst, Prince Rhys, Mieu and Wren were able to speak properly with the King of Shusoran.
"It's nothing too much, but Prince Rhys was going to be married to Princess Maia. Where is she?" Wren asked, but the King silenced him, saying that Orakian princes don't deserve Layan princesses. That was when Lyle cut in.
"Actually, Father... I was with Lena, and I was spying on the wedding. Prince Rhys sure loved Princess Maia, so I think he should be allowed to marry her." Lyle said. The King replied that she had been taken past Shusoran, into the town of Cille.
"Now I think about it, Lyle... Lena was the woman who made Prince Rhys' wedding with Princess Maia possible. She was the one who helped Maia sneak out and pay a visit to Rhys every so often. In that case, I will have to allow the marriage to go ahead. It would seem a shame for a bond of true love to be shattered by the divide between Orakians and Layans." the King explained to Lyle. He then turned to Rhys.
"Prince Rhys, you must go ahead and save Princess Maia! The king of Cille is not a nice man, and he could have hurt her! Go forth with my blessing!" the King said to Rhys. The prince thanked him, and then Lyle lead them towards the gate that led to Cille. When they got there, they were stopped by a woman. She had short brown hair, and she was dressed in a white blouse and a dark green skirt.
"Rhys, meet Lena. This is the lady who helped you and Princess Maia fall in love." Lyle explained. Rhys stepped in front of Lena and shook hands with her.
"Well, Prince Rhys! You've certainly grown in strength since I last saw you. I sent Lyle to the cave where the Sapphire was located because I knew he would be of help to you. But, before I can let your party go to Cille, you need to fight for me. Prince Lyle?" Lena said, beckoning to Lyle. He paced in front of her and held his staff in a battle stance.
"Well, Rhys! You heard her - you've got to fight for her. How about a little prince-on-prince scrap?" Lyle said. Mieu and Wren went up to Rhys.
"In other words - NO HELP. A prince-on-prince duel, so it's just you and me." Lyle added quickly. Mieu stepped back. Wren wished Rhys good luck, and then he went to join Mieu.
"Let's duel!" Lyle shouted, swinging his staff at Rhys. He ducked and unsheathed his hunting knife. Lyle swung again, hitting Rhys in the side. The blow didn't affect him too much, for he then swung his knife at Lyle, leaving a wound on his left arm.
"You don't have to turn me into prince-mince! You are allowed to be merciful!" Lyle said, butting Rhys with the end of his staff, knocking him to the floor.
"Ha, call that merciful?" Rhys scowled, picking himself up off the floor and throwing the knife at Lyle. It missed him, but it caught in his cape and pinned him to the wall. Lyle retaliated by throwing his staff at Rhys, where it hit him in the stomach, winding him.
"Mercy? Hardly merciful!" Rhys said, picking up Lyle's staff and charging forward. Lyle could see what was coming, so he tried to defend himself...
"Oh, ouch! Not nice!" Lyle shouted, for Rhys had hit him... er, where it hurts the most. He couldn't do much in retaliation, but he kicked at Rhys, bashing him in the right shin.
"I know. I'm not nice when it comes to duelling." Rhys said, swinging the staff at Lyle and contacting his left shoulder.
"Enough!" Lena shouted. Rhys handed the staff back to Lyle, and then he withdrew his hunting knife from the wall. He sheathed it, and then Lena began to speak.
"Well done to both of you. I couldn't have asked for better."
"Rhys, you sure are a tough cookie. I'd better not get on your bad side." Lyle said.
"I'd better not get on yours, Lyle." Rhys replied. They were about to go in the direction of Cille, but Lena stopped them.
"The land bridge to Cille won't show unless the two moons are in alignment. We must align the moons, and we do that by using the satellite control centre in the Bernink Province." she explained.
"It's in the Weather Station, just past the weather control centre." Wren said. Thanking him for this information, Lena led the party to the main gate of the castle, where they were stopped by the King.
"Prince Rhys! You haven't rescued Maia yet!" he said in shock. Rhys explained that he couldn't get to Cille without re-aligning the moons, and that he needed to go into the Bernink Province to do so.
"Indeed, Prince. Make haste, for the king of Cille does not know mercy. My gate will be open to you, so come back as soon as you have re-aligned the moons." the King said. Rhys thanked him, and then the party went out of Shusoran and sailed back over to Rysel. After a brief respite, the party set off through the passage that lead to the Bernink Province.
* * *
"That didn't take long at all, did it? When I sorted the weather for the Helskiz Province, I also cooled the weather down here a bit." Wren explained as the party came up to the Weather Station. He then lead the party to the satellite control centre, where they met up with Yasmin and Lucy, the two girls who had been particularly disrespectful to Prince Lyle.
"Make way for Prince Lyle!" Rhys shouted as Lyle moved forward, with Lena following close behind.
"Hello again, Your Princeliness." Yasmin said, bowing in front of Lyle and kissing his boots. Lyle held off the temptation to kick her in the face, with great difficulty.
"What are you still doing here? I'm sure I told you to leave!" Lyle shouted, banging his staff on the ground.
"We have urgent work here, so unless you have something to say to Prince Lyle, I suggest you stay out of his way!" Lena snapped at Yasmin.
"I'm sorry, madam. I'll... erm, go over here." Yasmin stammered. She pulled Lucy over to her, and then Lyle and Lena went up to the satellite control centre and placed two stones in the two hollows on the machine. There was an almighty rumble and there were lots of vibrations that everyone could feel under their feet. Suddenly the rumbling stopped.
"What was that?!" Lucy asked in horror. Rhys explained that the two moons of this world had been re-aligned, and that they were back in their proper positions.
"Thank you, Prince Rhys. By the way, one of the old gossiping cyborgs said that you were getting married! Is this true?" Lucy said. Rhys replied that he was getting married soon, but his bride had been kidnapped and taken to Cille.
"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that, Prince. I wish I could help..." Lucy sighed. To her delight, Rhys said that she could join the party, but he added that Yasmin couldn't, because of her behaviour towards Lyle earlier.
"Good luck, Prince Rhys! You go, Prince Lyle!" Yasmin squealed in delight, and then the party exited the Weather Station. When they went outside, Rhys explained the ordeal to Lucy.
"Right, so you had to return here because the bridge to Cille wouldn't appear unless the moons were in proper alignment?" Lucy said. Rhys replied that that was correct, and then he told her about how he got into Shusoran Castle.
"Lucy, guess how we got into Shusoran Castle." Rhys said.
"No idea." Lucy replied.
"Well, we had to tie up and gag Lyle, then threaten to kill him if the King didn't open up. Afterwards, though, Lyle was crying his eyes out! I must have been a bit too rough." Lucy shook her head at Rhys and muttered something about the fact that you shouldn't threaten friends, even if it is for a just reason.
"You're right, Lucy, but at least Lyle is OK. And soon, I'll be OK, for I will have married the beautiful Princess Maia." Rhys said. Suggesting that they hurry, Lena led the party through the passage into the Helskiz Province and to the ship that took them to Shusoran.
PART I: Chapter Four
After they had re-aligned the moons, Prince Rhys was feeling a lot happier than he had been for some time, for now he could finally go to Cille and rescue Princess Maia. The party crossed the Bernink Province and made their way through the Helskiz Province. They could only get to Cille by going through Castle Shusoran, though, so Prince Rhys had to knock on the gate and wait for a reply.
"Who is it?" the King of Shusoran shouted.
"It's Prince Rhys! We've re-aligned the moons, and we need to go through your castle to get to Cille!" Rhys replied. The guards opened the gate, and Rhys and the party strode in.
"Well now, Prince! I feel that you will rescue your princess with little effort. Go forth and rescue Princess Maia with my blessing!" the King said. Rhys thanked him heartily, and then he led the party to the other exit out of Castle Shusoran, the one that lead to Cille.
"Actually, I'm surprised that my father even trusted you so much. I thought that he wouldn't let us in the second time, and frankly, I don't really fancy having you driving a knife at my throat again." Lyle sighed.
"To be honest, Lyle... I didn't particularly want to put you through that again. Even if it was just pretend." Rhys replied.
"Will you two princes stop chinwagging? We have a princess to save!" Lucy shouted. Wren cleared his throat.
"Excuse me, Prince Rhys... if you want to rescue Princess Maia, will you stop gassing at Prince Lyle? Do you want to get married or what?" Rhys cut his conversation with Lyle short, and then the party went across the land bridge and into the Layan town of Cille.
"Oh, would you look at that? Prince Lyle got himself some Orakio-lovers! How disgraceful!" one of the local women said in disgust. The other people gathered round and began muttering things about Prince Lyle - hurtful things.
"Shut up, you lousy peasants!" Lyle boomed after five minutes of constant insult. The people backed away slightly. Rhys sniggered slightly, but it was at Lyle's 'lousy peasants' comment.
"Prince Lyle... are we really lousy peasants?" one of the people asked timidly.
"Just because some of these people are Orakians doesn't mean that they're evil! Honestly! Don't EVER say that Orakians are nasty ever again, or you might find yourself on the wrong end of Prince Rhys' stick." Lyle replied with an edge of anger to his voice.
"One question, Prince... what is SHE?" a man asked, pointing at Lucy. She instinctively backed away.
"She comes from another world, from a place called England." Lyle replied coolly. The people stood in awe and wondered what England was and how they could get there. The party didn't answer them; instead they headed straight to the gate to Castle Cille. To their horror, it was locked tight!
"Now what?" Mieu asked.
"We'll have to get in somehow. And Rhys... don't even BOTHER tying me up again. Not after last time." Lyle said, increasing the sternness of his tone as he spoke.
"Was it because you turned into a big softie?" Rhys asked. Big mistake. Lyle rounded onto him with impossible speed.
"Shut up, Rhys! No, it wasn't that, but if you want to keep your life, I suggest you button it!" Lyle snapped, swinging his staff threateningly at Rhys. Whist the two princes had been arguing, Lucy had found another way into Castle Cille.
"Hey! I've found some strong vines growing over the wall of the castle! We could use them to climb up!" Lucy said excitedly. The party went over to the vines and inspected them, making sure that they were capable of holding up for Lyle, who was the heaviest member of the party.
"I'll go first." Lyle said. He handed his staff to Mieu and climbed the vines with immense speed and grace. When he reached the top, he motioned to Mieu, who promptly threw his staff up to him. When he had caught it, Lyle put his staff on the ground next to him and told everyone that he would help them as they got to the top.
"I suggested this, and I'm scared! I can't do it!" Lucy wailed.
"Don't worry, Lucy! As soon as I can safely get hold of you, I'll pull you up!" Lyle shouted in reply.
"Come on, then... I'll give you a hand." Lena said, and she followed Lucy over to the vines. She allowed Lucy to climb onto her back, and she stood up slowly, holding onto Lucy's feet so that she wouldn't fall and hurt herself. As soon as Lena had stood up fully, and after a little climbing, Lyle was able to get hold of her and pull her over the wall. Lena climbed up immediately afterwards.
"Alright! Come on, Rhys! There's just you, Wren and Mieu, and then we can rescue Maia!" Lyle shouted. Mieu made her way over to the vines first, followed closely by Wren and Rhys.
"OK, I'll go next." Rhys said, and he began to scale the vines. Lyle pulled him over as soon as he could, and then Mieu climbed up.
"Wren, come on!" Lyle yelled, but Wren was reluctant.
"Prince Lyle, the vines are very weakened. If I try to climb now, they'll tear and I'll be stuck here. You don't need me anyway, so go on without me." Wren replied. Lucy moved in front of Lyle.
"Don't say that, Wren! We could get tangled in a fight, and you're one of our best fighters!" she screeched. Wren sighed and began to scale the vines.
"Lyle, grab my ankles and lower me down." Lucy said. Lyle did so, and soon she was hanging upside down. Her skirt had fallen down and her knickers were showing. Lyle tried not to look at them, but he had to look downwards to make sure that she wasn't slipping, so he was forced to stare at Lucy's knickers, which is no pleasant sight for any prince to see.
Wren was halfway up the vines when Lucy could grab hold of him. As soon as she was sure that Wren was able to be pulled up safely, she yelled at Lyle to pull her up. However, the combined weight of Lucy and Wren was proving difficult for Lyle to pull up. He strained as he pulled.
"I can't... pull... any more!" Lyle panted. Wren caught his foot in the vines to try and take the weight off Lyle's arms, but it was to no avail. Lyle was still having to strain to keep Lucy and Wren at their current level, and he was tiring faster than ever. Rhys ran over and grabbed Lyle around the waist.
"Keep hold of them, Lyle! Now, PULL!" Rhys shouted, and he pulled Lyle backwards, who pulled Lucy and Wren up. Even with Rhys' help, Lyle was losing his grip on Lucy's ankles.
"Arrgh, Lyle! Don't let go!" Lucy screeched. Lyle was trying to hold on as best as he could, but fatigue was truly setting in. Mieu ran over and grabbed one of Lucy's ankles, Lyle grabbed the other. Rhys still had hold of Lyle around the waist.
"Now, PULL!" Mieu shouted, and she, Lyle and Rhys' combined efforts inched Lucy and Wren closer to the top of the wall. However, Lyle tried to carry on pulling, but his grip slipped and he fell, sending Rhys to the floor as well. Now Mieu was struggling to pull Lucy and Wren up. Sweating profusely, Lyle wiped his sticky forehead and shook the pain out of his arms. He couldn't grab hold of Lucy's ankle, so he sat with his back to the wall and panted.
"Rhys, you should help Mieu pull Lucy and Wren up." Lyle said, still gasping for breath. Rhys obeyed and wrapped his arms around Mieu's waist, and after a few seconds, their combined efforts had finally pulled Lucy and Wren over the top of the wall.
"Ouch, I'm in pain all over!" Lucy groaned, trying in vain to stretch the pain out of her fatigued limbs.
"How do you think I feel?!" Lyle snapped, also in a lot of pain. His vest was completely soaked in sweat.
"Lyle, you've only got sore arms. I'm sore all over!" Lucy replied, slightly angered.
"I'm sore all over, too! I had to use every muscle in my body to try and pull you and Wren up! You didn't have to do any pulling, you just had to keep hold of Wren!" Lyle shouted back.
"Enough, you two! Only a bit further now." Lena said. Lucy and Lyle stopped arguing, and then they all headed for the castle entrance.
* * *
"This is it, Rhys! You're finally gonna get to marry Princess Maia!" Lyle said excitedly, leading Rhys and the rest of the party to the throne room of Castle Cille. Just before they opened the door, they could hear voices. One of the voices was the soft, fearful voice of Princess Maia. The other one was the hurtful, cruel voice of the King of Cille.
"No, please! Don't hurt me! I want to marry Rhys! I love him with all my heart!" Maia yelled, but she was silenced almost instantly by the King of Cille.
"He's a filthy Orakian, Maia. I wouldn't tangle with his like." the King sneered. Maia screamed and kicked at him, loosening his grip on her slightly.
"She needs help! Come on!" Rhys shouted, bounding through the doors, followed closely by Lyle, Mieu, Wren, Lena and Lucy.
"Ahhhh, Prince Rhys! Nice of you to come here. Well, I'll let you have Maia, on one condition. I bury you both together!" the King shouted, drawing his sword and baring it at Rhys. Maia stepped back slightly and closed her eyes.
"Enough, Your Schmajesty! Let Rhys marry Maia, or we'll kill you!" Lyle shouted, pointing his staff at the King. He laughed nastily.
"Have you forgotten, Prince Lyle? You were the one who took her away in the first place!" he snarled. Lyle hung his head.
"I would never... No! You lying snake! That... was my evil twin. Gets everywhere, he does." Lyle snapped in reply. Rhys looked at him, as if to ask the truth.
"OK, I admit... I did take Princess Maia away from you. But it was because Lena wanted to test your love for her, to see what ends you'd go to to get her back." Lyle whispered. Rhys shook his head.
"It doesn't matter, Lyle. I would have gone to the ends of the world for Maia, anyway. I've proven how much I love her." he said. Lyle smiled.
"Yeah, you have. You're a worthy husband for her. Now it's time to fight for her!" Lyle said, winking at Rhys. He drew his hunting knife from its sheath.
"Time to perish, you filthy princess-snatching monster!" Rhys yelled, throwing the knife at the King, where it impaled him in the chest. Some blood stained the King's garments.
"Enough of this! You've already proven your worth to Princess Maia, but you must now choose, Rhys." the King said, pulling the bloodied knife out of his chest and handing it back to Rhys.
"You may either marry Princess Maia or Lena. If you marry Maia, you will become King of Cille. If you marry Lena, you will become King of Landen. So now, choose." Rhys wondered for a second. Why would the King of Cille ask him this, if he had already chosen to marry Princess Maia?
"It's a very easy decision. I choose Maia!" Rhys said, and then he ran up to Maia and embraced her.
"By the way, Lyle... shouldn't you be marrying? Your father, the King of Shusoran, is getting old and weak. He doesn't have much time left." the King said to Lyle.
"I've come to a decision, and I've chosen to marry Lucy." Lyle said, putting an arm around Lucy. She was completely shocked.
"Wow, Lyle, I..." Lucy stammered, but Lyle put a finger over her mouth.
* * *
And so, after a long search, Prince Rhys had finally been reunited with Princess Maia and they married. Prince Lyle also married Lucy, and all was good.
Soon after, the beautiful Queen Maia had a son, whom she named Ayn. In their hearts, both King Rhys and Queen Maia knew these happy times were to end, but when, they had no clue. They just hoped that these prosperous times would continue.
PART II: Chapter One
Prince Ayn had only just turned seventeen when there were reports of a more sinister evil. The people in the towns were cowering in fear, and no-one knew a reason why. For armies of cyborgs were invading the land, and only the peace on the planet Satellite would quell it.
Now it was time for Prince Ayn to prove his true worth and go to Satellite, but this was no easy task, even for the son of a noble fighter.
* * *
Two days after his seventeenth birthday, things seemed to go as normal for Prince Ayn. He got out of bed, got dressed and tied his turquoise-blue hair into a ponytail. He clipped on his cloak and went to the throne room of his father's castle. As he went in, he could hear voices.
"What are you saying? Speak up!" King Rhys bellowed at a man who had just come in. Ayn skipped past him and stood next to Queen Maia, his mother.
"Your Majesty, we are under attack!" the man whimpered. Rhys stood up and used one hand to sweep his cloak behind him.
"And you only tell me now? Cyborg attacks have become increasingly common here, and you only tell me we are under attack a few months after the first reports? It may be too late to defend ourselves now." Rhys said, looking at the man sternly.
"I apologise, Your Majesty. Long live King Rhys! Long live Queen Maia!" the man said before hurriedly exiting the throne room. Ayn shuffled slightly. Rhys sat back down on the throne.
"He never even mentioned me, the swine!" the prince muttered to himself.
"Ayn, my son, come here." Rhys said. Ayn stood in front of his father and bowed gracefully.
"Father, what is it?" Ayn asked.
"Do you not hear? We are under attack! Cyborgs have invaded, and people have been in peril for several months beforehand! Our only hope is to go to Satellite, a safe haven that is far from this blasted world." Rhys said. Ayn shuffled on his feet.
"Are you saying... we have to leave? I can't just leave all my friends behind!" Ayn shouted. Rhys stood up, and Ayn silenced himself.
"My son, I don't know where Satellite is. That's why I need YOU to find it. Here, take Mieu and Wren with you. Their skills should aid you in this dark time." Rhys said. Mieu and Wren came bounding out of a nearby room and greeted Ayn.
"Lovely to meet you, Ayn. I'm Mieu, and this is Wren." Mieu said.
"Uhh... does that mean my father never told you about me?" Ayn asked. Wren told him that King Rhys didn't want them to know about him until he came of age, or in a time of peril.
"Well, we really should get going." Ayn said, and he strode out of the throne room, with Mieu and Wren following close behind. They exited the castle and went across the land bridge, and they kept on going until they reached Shusoran.
* * *
Prince Ayn, Mieu and Wren entered Castle Shusoran after a fairly short trek. Mieu was able to show Ayn around, as she had been here before, when Ayn didn't even exist. There was a guard waiting at the castle entrance.
"Ah, you must be Prince Ayn. I'll tell His Majesty you're here." the guard said, and he ran to the throne room. Whilst he was waiting, Ayn played with his ponytail. The guard returned very soon.
"Prince Ayn, King Lyle will see you now." Thanking the guard, Ayn, Mieu and Wren entered the castle and headed straight for the throne room. Inside, they could hear an argument.
"Your Majesty, I've told you a thousand times - we are under attack!"
"Listen, you snivelling peasant, you should've told me sooner! Do you realise how many innocent lives have been lost, because of this? And you only tell me now?"
"Please, Your Majesty, I..."
"Yeah, I don't want to hear another stupid excuse. Clear off, now!" Several seconds after, a man pushed past Ayn and knocked him over.
"I apologise, sir..." the man whimpered. Ayn cleared his throat.
"That's Prince Ayn to you, scoundrel!" he snapped. The man bowed.
"I am so sorry, Prince Ayn. I was in a hurry." he said gingerly.
"Common courtesy, idiot. Next time, look where you're going! Oh, and here's a handy tip - don't annoy King Lyle." Ayn said angrily, turning on his heel and marching into the throne room. Mieu and Wren followed him.
The throne room was massive, and it was decorated with tapestries, paintings and torches. Even the throne itself was elaborate, with blue silk cushions and drapes. Sat on the throne, was someone that Mieu and Wren recognised - it was Lyle. He still had that same wayward ponytailed light green hair, he still wore his usual vest-and-pants combo, rather than fancy robes, and he still had all that 'Lyle-style' that made him... well, Lyle. Mieu seemed to notice something different about him, though.
"Hey, don't just stand there! If you want to see me, come closer! I don't want to have to yell at you just to have a chat!" Lyle shouted at the threesome. They obeyed him and walked up to him. As they got closer, Mieu saw what made Lyle different from the last time she saw him. It had been seventeen long years since they had seen each other. Lyle noticed Mieu looking at him.
"Mieu, do you think I'm attractive? Sexy?" Lyle asked. Ayn tried in vain to stifle a laugh, but he couldn't, and so he ended up doing a VERY unprincely thing - he laughed right in front of Lyle.
"Uh... of course!" Mieu stammered. She only said it out of politeness - Lyle just wasn't as good looking as he was seventeen years ago. Ayn was still rolling about on the floor, laughing himself silly.
"Hey, Ayn! Do you mind not laughing? Yeah, I know you - Rhys told me all about you." Lyle said sternly, standing up off his throne and pulling the laughing form of Ayn back onto his feet. He stopped laughing now and looked Lyle in the eye.
"I apologise, Your Majesty." Ayn mumbled. Lyle snickered.
"Rubbish! Call me Lyle." Lyle replied. Mieu cleared her throat.
"Lyle... what happened to your eye?" she asked. Lyle had been wearing an eye-patch over his right eye.
"I lost it, Mieu." Lyle said sadly.
"Did you check down the back of your throne?" Ayn asked. Lyle laughed heartily.
"Yeah, I checked, but all I found was some fluff, some dust... and an old pair of my father's boxers." Lyle said. Mieu, Ayn and Wren all grimaced.
"Seriously, Lyle? Your dad stuffed his undies down the back of the throne?" Wren asked.
"Yeah, he did. I tried to tell him off, like 'Hey! I'll be needing that throne soon!', but he said that he'd leave them there as a memento. He never washed 'em, though. They smelled awful when I pulled 'em out. I had to chuck 'em - I wasn't gonna have stinky undies in here." Lyle replied.
"So, uh... what really happened to your eye?" Mieu asked.
"I already told you - I lost it!" Lyle said.
"Well, I was fighting a battle, as you do, and some idiot archer fires an arrow at my eyeball! You could say it was a bullseye, but it was more a Lyle's-eye, if I say so myself. So there I am, fighting the rest of the battle with an arrow stuck in my poor seeing-out bit! When I finally got to the doctor, he pulled out the arrow... and my eye with it. He said that I couldn't fight any more." Lyle hung his head and a tear leaked from his good eye.
"I've seen one-eyed fighters before! I was watching some wrestling, and there was this fella who was totally blind in one eye, and he won the fight!" Ayn said excitedly. Lyle shook his head.
"Yeah, but all you have to focus on is your opponent! How about real battles, with archers and knights and the like?" Lyle asked. Ayn looked down at his feet.
"My father has a one-eyed knight called Sir Scarface. He's fought over 20 battles, with just one eye! See, Lyle? It is possible to fight with one eye!" Ayn replied. Lyle cheered up a little.
"Well, stuff THAT doctor! I'm going out and fighting again!" he said, raising his staff above his head.
"So, anyway... Ayn, why'd you come here?" Lyle asked, lowering the staff.
"Well, as you probably already know, cyborgs have invaded our land, and I've got to find this planet called Satellite, as it's a safe place." Ayn replied. When he had finished speaking, a young woman ran up to Lyle. She had the same light green hair that he had, but hers was curly and flowed beyond her shoulders.
"Father, I don't think we can stay here much longer." she said. Lyle put an arm round her and whispered something to her. She ran back to her mother, who was Lucy.
"Oh, you look curious about her? That's Thea, my daughter." Lyle said when he saw Ayn's confused face.
"Wow, she's... uh, never mind." Ayn said, shaking his head.
"I hope you weren't gonna say she was ugly... or I would've smacked my staff off your butt." Lyle muttered. Mieu looked at him.
"Um, nothing! Well, you should head over to Rysel, you lot. The locals know a fair bit about Satellite." Lyle said, ushering Mieu, Ayn and Wren out.
"OK, thanks, Lyle. It was nice to see you again." Wren said, before getting shoved in the back by a one-eyed king named Lyle.
"See you around! Hopefully we'll meet again!" Lyle said, as though it would be the last time they would all meet. Mieu took one last look at him before they left.
"He's a funny one, that Lyle." Ayn said as soon as he was safely out of Lyle's earshot.
"Yep, he is. Mind you, that's what I like him for." Wren replied as the threesome boarded a ship and sailed to Rysel.
* * *
"Well, let's hope Lyle was right about this." Ayn said as he walked up to one of the local villagers.
"Ah, you must be Prince Ayn. Welcome to our humble village. Your father saved us from freezing and starving to death." the villager said, placing a hand on Ayn's shoulder. Ayn shook the hand off, and then he began to speak. The problem was that Ayn had a severe dislike of villagers, and he insulted them at most given opportunities. He tried to suppress that... for a while, anyway.
"Well, we're looking for a place called Satellite. King Lyle, who hails from Shusoran, said that the villagers here knew where it was. So, where is it?" Ayn asked. The villager shook her head.
"It's somewhere in the Stalden Province, but you need to get the Power Topaz to actually get there." she said. Another villager came running up to Ayn.
"Prince Ayn, I've been looking all over for you!" he panted.
"What is it?" Ayn asked.
"I just found out from the village of Agoe that your family and friends have fled from their castles! They're headed for the Bernink Province!" he said, panicking. Ayn gasped.
"Are you sure?" the prince asked. The villager nodded and backed away.
"Well that's nice to know. I hope they all got out OK." Wren said. Ayn slapped him, but regretted it soon after. Wren's head was made entirely of metal and was covered with a substance that vaguely resembled human skin.
"Ouch, you idiot, Wren! You can't believe everything that villagers say! Look at what happened with that guy who went to Lyle!" Ayn groaned, nursing his sore hand.
"All the villagers I've met tell the truth." Wren said coolly. Ayn completely blew his top.
"But that doesn't mean that ALL villagers will tell the truth! For all I know, that guy could be another lying, snivelling peasant!" Ayn yelled, much to the surprise of the other villagers.
"Wren's not always right, but you shouldn't assume that all villagers are liars, Ayn. You should check out the two castles, and if they are abandoned, then we check the Bernink Province. Sound cool?" Mieu said.
"Oh, and you think you're so smart, Mieu! Do you think that being a cyborg makes you special?" Ayn snapped, his anger boiling over quickly. Mieu tried to calm him down. She bent down and put her head next to the prince's ear.
"No, but please listen to me. You shouldn't put the villagers down too much." she said softly, her bright red hair spilling over Ayn's shoulder. The prince still didn't listen.
"SHUT UP! My father always said that villagers were smelly peasants! How can you possibly believe the ramblings of these delusioned idiots?" Ayn yelled, struggling against Mieu, as she had hold of him.
"Look, Ayn, these villagers will distrust you if you carry on. Stop acting like a spoiled brat. And your father never said anything about villagers being delusioned idiots OR smelly peasants." Wren said sternly. Ayn scowled and pulled away from Mieu sharply.
"Spoiled brat? Did you just call me a spoiled brat?! Wren, you have absolutely NO IDEA! You think peasants are so clever, do you? Well have I got news for you, Mr Peasant-Lover! They're stupid, they're clumsy and they stink!" Ayn shouted, scaring the villagers.
"BE QUIET, YOU HALF-WITTED PONCE! No, I mean PRINCE!" Wren thundered, scaring Ayn senseless. He began to cry.
"Am I really half-witted, Wren?" Ayn sobbed, grabbing Mieu. She shoved him away, and Wren didn't blame her.
"Well stop assuming that every villager is a peasant, and then you might not be so half-witted!" Wren snapped, grabbing Ayn around the wrist.
"Oh, alright, Wren! You win! Sorry you peas-- er, I mean villagers." Ayn said half-heartedly. Wren shook his arm violently.
"Say it like you mean it!" Wren hissed in Ayn's ear. Ayn wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Yes, Wren! I'm so sorry for being nasty to you peas-- uh, villagers." Ayn said, hanging his head.
"Right, now let's do what Mieu said - let's check the castles. If they're empty, we check the Bernink Province. And only THEN if we don't find them, can we call that villager a lying, snivelling peasant. But I highly doubt he's lying." Wren said, leading Ayn and Mieu out of Rysel and back to the boat.
PART II: Chapter Two
After a boat journey back to Shusoran, Prince Ayn went around the town, seeing if what that villager had said was the truth. Bags and hurriedly-packed possessions littered the ground, as though there hadn't been enough time for an evacuation (if an evacuation had even taken place). Ayn entered one of the houses.
"Hello? Anyone home?" he called. There was no reply. Mieu and Wren did the same and checked the houses for anyone. When they finally finished their check of the town, they decided to check on the castle. A piece of paper was sticking out of a nearby bush, and Ayn picked it up. He found that it was an envelope. On the front, it said 'To my friend, Prince Ayn'.
"Wow, someone took the time to leave you a letter! Why didn't someone leave me one?" Mieu said, jealous at the fact that she hadn't got a letter. Ayn tore open the envelope and pulled out the letter. He opened it and read aloud. It said:
Dear Prince Ayn,
I'm sorry I could only leave you this hastily-written letter, but the cyborgs attacked us so viciously that we were forced to leave the castles in a hurry. Don't even try going to Cille - your father isn't there. He hot-footed it before I did.
At the moment, I had decided to tell everyone to evacuate to the Bernink Province, where there's a huge cave. You might have already been told this by a villager of Rysel, and I know your distrust of villagers. Let me tell you something - that's why I had to leave you this letter, so that you'd know for certain that everyone had gone to the Bernink Province.
But, my oh my! Disaster struck us all, for Princess Thea was taken, just as we were leaving Shusoran Castle! Don't go after her just yet, though, my friend. Come to the cave in the Bernink Province, and I'll tell you more there.
Lots of love,
Your friend, Lyle
X X X
P.S. Tell Mieu, Wren, and anyone else who's joined your group I said hi.
After Ayn had finished reading Lyle's letter, he looked into the envelope again. There was another scrap of paper inside. The prince pulled it out, and it was a hastily drawn map of the Bernink Province, showing the cave where Rhys, Lyle and the rest of the townsfolk had evacuated to.
"At least Lyle was kind enough to leave us an idea of where he went. Anyway, I could have used my internal GPS to find them all." Wren said. But, to his surprise, Ayn was sobbing.
"What's wrong, Prince?" Wren asked.
"What about if the cyborgs attacked them as they were leaving? What if someone was killed?" Ayn cried, trying in vain to stem the flow of his tears. Mieu put an arm around his waist.
"Look, they've got Lyle. They're going to be fine. Lyle's a tough fighter." she said, although Lyle wasn't as good a fighter as he was seventeen years ago. He was in his mid thirties, possibly even late thirties.
"Mind you, Mieu... Rhys is a fairly tough nut." Wren said. Ayn cheered up slightly.
"Well, my father's defending them, and so is Lyle. Yeah, they should be just fine." Ayn said, wiping the tears from his eyes.
"Come on, we'd better go to the Bernink Province and have a good old chinwag with our friend Lyle." Wren said, and he lead Ayn and Mieu back to the boat, and then towards the Bernink Province.
* * *
"Only a bit further!" Wren said excitedly as Mieu bounded through the Bernink Province, with him following close behind. Prince Ayn was dragging his feet and gasping under the scorching heat.
"Come on, Prince! Your dad went through this desert, and it was a bit hotter than this! Come on, you wimp!" Wren yelled, hanging back so that Ayn could catch up.
"Ugh... I'm no wimp... I just can't... stand the heat..." Ayn gasped, sinking down to the soft sand on the ground. Mieu grabbed his hand and pulled him up.
"I know, but we're nearly there! Look!" she said, pointing to a cave. Wren lead them into the cave, and then he used his internal GPS to find them. He found them in a matter of seconds.
"Alright, let's get going!" Wren said, leading Ayn and Mieu through the twisty passages of the cave. Water dripped on their heads, and foul-smelling fungi brushed against their clothes, but they made it to a huge opening in the cave. There were very few people here, despite its size. One of the people saw Ayn, and she ran up to him.
"I regret to say this, Prince... but this bunch is all that made it here. The rest were killed by the cyborgs, but they only kidnapped Princess Thea." she said. Thanking her for the information, Ayn crossed over to the other end of the opening, where his family and friends were.
"My son, you came! I knew I could rely on Lyle to tell me." Rhys said as soon as he saw his son.
"I like Lyle, Father. He's very nice... on a sandwich!" Ayn replied jokily. Lyle turned a little pale. He was stood next to Rhys and Lucy.
"Well, Lyle left Prince Ayn a letter telling us that you were here." Mieu said.
"That's right, I did! So, Ayn... I told you we were gonna have a chinwag, so come on, let's have a good old chinwag." Lyle said. He pulled Ayn into a corner, out of Rhys' earshot.
"OK, I told you in the letter that Thea had been kidnapped. Well, Queen Maia, your mum, is a bit of a seer. You see, she managed to track her down." Lyle said, holding Ayn by the forearms.
"So, where is she?" Ayn asked.
"She's in England." Lyle replied.
"England? Where is that?! It just sounds so... exotic."
"Exotic? My wife said it's all dreary and rainy." After Lyle had finished speaking, he took Ayn back to his father.
"So, Lyle, my dear... did you tell the prince what you wanted to tell him?" Lucy asked. Lyle said that he had, and then he went on to tell Rhys that he was going to go with Ayn, Mieu and Wren to rescue her.
"But, Lyle... a man your age could be ridiculed! Preposterous! You have to stay here to guard your wife. My son will be fine without your help." Rhys snapped in disgust.
"Ah, shut it, Rhys! YOU were the one who said that you could guard a group twenty times this size! So, why don't YOU guard everyone, Mr Blue-Haired Protagonist?" Lyle shouted back.
"Enough!" Ayn thundered. Both kings stopped arguing.
"Your dad's lost his marbles. I'm coming with you, whether he likes it or not. Come on!" Lyle said to Ayn, leading him, Mieu and Wren to a large circle that had been chalked on the ground. He told them all to stand in it, and then he muttered a few incomprehensible words under his breath. The chalk circle glowed, and they all found themselves in a sprawling suburb. They were in England!
* * *
"Wow, this is AMAZING! Look at all the technology they have!" Ayn gasped as he saw people walking past with MP3 players and cars driving on the road. A girl wearing a T-shirt and a pair of jeans ran up to them.
"Excuse me, mate, are you lost? You don't look like you've been dressed in English clothes. Are you foreign?" the girl asked Ayn.
"Sort of. I am Prince Ayn. I hail from Samesina." Ayn said.
"You're a prince of a world that doesn't exist? Wow, your imagination is awesome!" the girl squealed. Ayn began to get annoyed.
"Samesina is a real world!" he snapped.
"You're an alien."
"I'm just as human as you!"
"You're still an alien." Ayn was on the point of bursting with anger and stabbing the girl with his sword, but he held that desire.
"Oh, so if I'm an alien to you... YOU'RE AN ALIEN TO ME!" Ayn bellowed, scaring the girl. He had no idea what an alien was, though. Luckily, Lyle told him that an alien was a living thing coming from a planet other than Earth, which was where England was situated. He then whispered that Ayn should say Samesina is a world-in-a-spaceship that comes from Earth.
"I wasn't very clear about Samesina, was I? Well, Samesina is a world-in-a-spaceship, launched from Earth a while ago." Ayn explained, just as Lyle had instructed.
"So you really ARE a human? Sorry to misjudge." the girl said, and then she ran off. When she was out of sight, Mieu and Wren tried to detect Thea. None of them could find her. They decided to walk along the pavement, and there they passed a takeaway shop. The smell of freshly cooked pizza was overwhelming.
"What is this... vile odour?" Ayn said, pinching his nose. Lyle sniffed up contentedly.
"That's the smell of a food called pizza. Apparently people eat this stuff a lot." Lyle said. He had been told about some of the things in England by Lucy. A man with a Mohican hairdo came walking out of the pizza shop with a hot box of pizza. He saw Ayn holding his nose.
"What's your problem, freak? You got a thing against pizzas? You're like that mop-top moron Jamie Oliver. You know, the Naked Chef?" the man said. Ayn giggled.
"Is he really naked? Wow, I might start cooking in the nude." he laughed. The man looked stern.
"It's just a nickname, you freak. Now, what's your problem with pizzas?" he asked. The prince stopped laughing.
"They smell foul. You English people have a weird taste of food." Ayn replied.
"So you're not from around here, then?"
"No, I'm from Samesina, a world-in-a-spaceship which was launched here. I was actually born on the ship." The man didn't believe him.
"You can't just make things up!" he snapped.
"Sorry, but it was my friend Lyle who made it up." Ayn said, pointing at Lyle. The man walked over to him.
"So, Lyle, where's Tate?" the man asked. Lyle knew what was coming.
"Ah, don't try the Tate and Lyle sugar joke on me, you dumb pillock. It could get painful." Lyle said, trying to sound like he knew a lot about English culture. He knew how the people spoke, for Lucy had told him the words that people used.
"You're not from around here, yet you know about English things? Who ARE you?!" the man asked, shocked out of his wits.
"I think you've been told - I'm Lyle." Lyle said.
"I'm Darren, by the way. Master of the Mohican." Darren replied. He opened the pizza box he was holding and took a slice of pizza. He offered it to Lyle, who took a slice. The pizza had cheese and pepperoni on it. Darren then offered some pizza to Ayn, and to his surprise, the prince didn't refuse.
"I thought you said pizza smelled bad." Darren said.
"Well, Lyle's having a slice, so I thought I'd try." Ayn replied. He bit into the pizza and was overwhelmed by the taste. He ate the slice of pizza slowly, savouring every mouthful. Darren offered the pizza to Mieu and Wren, who refused. Their excuse was that they weren't hungry. He closed the box and stood next to Lyle, eating his slice of pizza.
"So, anyway, Lyle... what're you here for?" Darren asked. Lyle finished eating his slice of pizza and wiped his hands on his cloak. He wiped his mouth with his arm and smoothed down his wayward bright green hair as best as he could.
"My daughter, Thea, was kidnapped and taken here. But..." Lyle said, but he saw Ayn running across the road, and a car was speeding straight towards him!
"Ayn, you idiot! Cars are dangerous, especially if the driver's drunk! Get out of the flaming road!" Lyle shouted, but it was too late. The car had hit Ayn, sending the prince to the floor hard. The driver of the car had stopped and got out, and he was helping the unconscious form of Ayn onto the pavement. Lyle darted across and saw the damage. The initial collision had caused a wound in his arm, but as he fell to the floor, he had received a blow to the head, where blood was seeping out and staining his turquoise-blue hair.
"Will he be OK?" Lyle asked the driver.
"He'll be fine, mate. Just out cold. Sorry about that, I don't normally hit people, but he just darted out at me! I put the brake on, but I still hit him!" the driver replied, taking a handkerchief from out of his pocket and holding it against the wound on Ayn's head.
"He's never been to England. Neither have I, but my wife comes from here, so she told me about everything." Lyle said to the man, and then they heard a groan. Ayn had come to, and he tried to sit up. He tried and tried, but always fell back down. His entire body was aching.
"Ayn, you should listen to me next time! You could've got yourself killed!" Lyle said, helping Ayn to his feet.
"Hey, is he alright, Lyle?" Darren called from the other side of the pavement.
"He's taken a bad knock, but he's fine." Lyle replied. He straightened his eye-patch, brushed his fringe back slightly and turned back to Ayn.
"Right, don't go off on your own. Got that?" Lyle said sternly to the prince, sounding just like an overprotective parent. Ayn nodded sadly and collapsed into Lyle's arms. He was still a little faint and dizzy from his injuries, but he was still conscious.
"I know! Lyle, why don't you bring that fella and those other two to the pub with you? It'd be great!" Darren said excitedly. Lyle, who wasn't so sure, followed him to the Cross Knights Pub, which was just a few minutes' walk from the pizza shop. They went inside and sat at a table. When they were settled, Darren stood up and ordered three pints of beer (Mieu and Wren had declined due to the fact that they weren't thirsty). He brought them back over to the table.
"Well, now! It's beer." Darren said, because Ayn was staring at his glass of beer as though it was poison. The prince picked up the glass and held it to his nose. He sniffed, and he got a huge waft of alcohol. He put the glass back on the table.
"It doesn't smell very pleasant..." Ayn sighed, pushing the glass away slightly. Darren laughed.
"Nonsense! Every bloke drinks beer once in a while!" he said, pushing the glass back towards Ayn. The prince picked it up again and tipped some of the dark brown liquid into his mouth. He almost spluttered, but he swallowed it.
"Ugh! It tastes awful!" Ayn said, poking Darren in the side and demanding a glass of water.
"That's only the alcohol, Ayn! Gee, just drink up, will you? Booze ain't cheap!" Lyle said, grabbing Ayn's arm and pulling it away from Darren. Sighing, the prince picked up his glass and necked it (in other words, he drunk the remaining beer as fast as possible). He began to sway on his chair.
"Woo, nice rocking horse!" Ayn blathered. He was clearly drunk.
"Stop it!" Darren shouted. He then asked Lyle what his name was, and he told him.
"Ayn! Snap out of it!" Darren snapped as Ayn swung to the left, almost hitting a girl walking past. The prince stopped swinging and looked very pale. He began to retch.
"Lyle, he's gonna puke. Get him in the toilets." Darren ordered.
"But, uhh..." Lyle stammered. Darren looked stern.
"For God's sake, Lyle! I don't want him puking all over this durn table!" Darren snapped. Lyle grabbed hold of Ayn and ushered him to the mens' toilets. Under the very bright artificial light, the prince looked paler than before. Lyle helped him over to a toilet.
"Ugh, Lyle... I think..." Ayn mumbled, still retching. Lyle held the prince's ponytail out of the way whilst he threw up into the toilet bowl. After he had finished, Lyle flushed it.
"Ayn, you nutcase! What were you thinking?!" Lyle said, sighing and helping Ayn to the sinks. The prince was fairly limp and weak, so Lyle had to half-drag him along the floor.
"Um, do you think I'm crazy?" Ayn mumbled as Lyle turned the cold water tap on and splashed the prince's face.
"Yeah, you're really crazy." Lyle said. He helped Ayn to his feet and the twosome walked out of the toilets and back to the table. Mieu and Wren were talking with Darren.
"Yeah, so do you guys ever play video games?"
"Uh, no. We don't have the concept of video gaming on our world."
"Whoa nelly, Mieu! You said that you lived on a spaceship!"
"Look, she's right, though. Samesina is an entirely different world. We made up... well, Lyle made up the spaceship story so that we wouldn't be deemed as aliens."
"Okey-dokey, Wren." Lyle and Ayn sat down at the table.
"Oh, Lyle! We were talking, and your friends Mieu and Wren are nice people." Darren said.
"Cyborgs." Lyle said hastily. Mieu and Wren looked at him, their eyes narrowing.
"What about cyborgs? You're not drunk, are you?" Darren asked. Mieu and Wren still gave Lyle a piercing glare.
"No, of course not! Mieu and Wren are cyborgs!" Lyle replied with a smile. He winked at Mieu, and she threatened to expose the fact that he only had one eye. At the moment, Darren thought Lyle had two eyes, but one of them was covered with an eye-patch.
"Seriously? They look human to me." Darren said, looking longingly at Mieu. He had a little bit of a crush on her, but she had had enough.
"Lyle only has one eye!" she shouted, loud enough for everyone to hear.
"Does Tate have two eyes, then?" a voice shouted back, the voice of a person who was a huge die-hard fan of the Tate and Lyle sugar joke. Lyle folded his arms and looked very fierce.
"Mieu, you little-- ugh." Lyle said crossly. Darren looked at Lyle.
"Lyle, is it really true? Do you only have one eye?" he asked. Lyle flipped the eye-patch up and showed them the remains of his other eye. They all gasped, but Darren was fascinated.
"Whoa, that's awesome... special effects makeup!" Darren giggled, not believing the fact that Lyle had really lost his eye. Darren touched it, then he wasn't so fascinated.
"Ugh, that's really your other eye? Man, what happened?" Darren asked. Lyle flipped his eye-patch back and told him about the battle and its aftermath, even about Ayn's 'checked down the back of the throne' comment, in intricate detail. Darren said that that was a good story, and then he picked up his bag from off the floor.
"Come on, I'll show you some of the other things we have in England." Darren said, and he lead Ayn, Lyle, Mieu and Wren around the cinema, told them about the problems of crime, vandalism and graffiti and about 'yob culture' and 'emo culture'. They were passing the shops when Darren said he wanted to get his girlfriend a present.
"You have a girlfriend? That's great!" Ayn said, patting Darren on the back.
"It's unlikely you'll get one, Ayn." Darren replied. The prince hung his head.
"Why?" he asked.
"If you puke on your first pint at the pub, and get knocked down by a car, no girl's gonna be interested in you, unless they liked clumsy pukey guys. But that's almost impossible."
"Oh..." After Ayn had finished wondering, Darren led the party to a perfume shop. When they were inside, the smell was so heady that Ayn had to hold his nose. The prince crossed over to a counter and saw a perfume sample. He picked up the bottle and sprayed it on his head.
"You nut! If you want to try out the perfume, you spray it on your wrist, not your head! And by the way, the mens' perfumes are over there." a shop worker said, taking the bottle out of Ayn's hands. Darren began to laugh.
"You squirted ladies' perfume on your head? Ha ha ha, that's hilarious!" Darren giggled, collapsing to the floor in a fit of laughter. Ayn pulled him back onto his feet.
"I didn't know it was a girly perfume... oh, what's that stench?" Ayn said, catching a whiff of the perfume he'd sprayed. It smelled sickly sweet, and the prince liked the smell. He asked the shop worker to get him a bottle of the perfume, and she told him that it would cost £20.
"Um, do you take meseta? That's all I've got." Ayn said sadly. The shop worker asked the manager, and he said that it was OK. The shop worker told him it would cost 10000 meseta, so the prince took out that amount of money from his purse and handed it to the shop worker.
"Who's it for?" the shop worker asked. Although Ayn had really bought it for himself, he didn't think that's what the shop worker would like to hear.
"It's for my mum." Ayn lied. The party left the shop, but only Ayn had bought something.
"They didn't have my girlfriend's favourite perfume. Oh well, let's go to the clothes shop." Darren said, leading the party towards a massive shop window filled with clothes. As they walked, Ayn opened the bottle of perfume and sprayed some of it on himself. They went inside the shop, and it opened up into a massive walk-in wardrobe, even bigger than the one Ayn had at his castle.
"I know my girlfriend's dress size, so I'll pick a nice outfit for her." Darren said, wandering to the ladies' clothing section. Meanwhile, Mieu and Wren looked at the lingerie section.
"Mieu, maybe you should get a pair of knickers to hide any bionic parts under your skirt." Wren suggested.
"Can I strangle you with these?" Mieu asked, holding a black lacy thong at Wren. The cyborg backed away slightly.
"Uh, no. How about these? They look about your size..." Wren said, picking up a pair of bright red briefs. Mieu took them and realised they were a size too small, so she got the next size up and paid for them (they cost 2000 meseta). Lyle and Ayn were browsing the mens' clothing section when the prince noticed something very coincidential.
"Lyle, look at this!" the prince hissed. Lyle walked over and saw what Ayn had seen. It was a T-shirt with the word 'Samesina' printed on it in large letters!
"You mean those English people know about our world?" Lyle wondered.
"It could just be a coincidence." Ayn replied.
"Yeah. Come on." Lyle said, grabbing the prince's hand and pulling him away from the T-shirts. When they got to the tills, Darren was paying for a long black dress, a tight-fitting V-necked top (white) and a pair of jeans. They exited the clothes shop, and then Darren suggested that they should go into Bling Bling, the jeweller's shop.
"I can't just get clothes for her, but I also need a new watch. Mine's broken." Darren said, checking his wallet. He only had £10 left.
"Great. We should go home. I don't have enough money." Darren grumbled, storming towards the door. Lyle stopped him.
"Tell you what - I'll pay for you." he said. Thanking him, Darren lead the party into the jeweller's, where they could see gold, silver and platinum jewellery lining the walls. Ayn looked at the platinum jewellery, wondering why it was three times the price of silver jewellery, even though it looked the same. It was because platinum was better quality and more expensive than silver.
"I like this. I want it." Ayn muttered as he eyed a platinum bracelet, costing £1500 (750000 meseta). He asked a shop worker to get it for him so he could pay for it, and that's when Lyle began to smell a rat. The shop worker had bright green curly hair that was tied in a ponytail.
"No, it can't be... oh, Thea!" Lyle said. Darren wondered why he was doing that, and Wren told him that Thea was his daughter, and she had been brought here. Whilst they were talking, Ayn paid for the bracelet he had picked and put it on (when he had finished paying).
"Can I help you?" the green-haired shop worker asked.
"Thea... is that you?" Lyle asked. The girl took her hair out of the ponytail and took off the black T-shirt. It was Princess Thea, alright.
"Oh, Father! You came!" Thea said, hugging Lyle tightly. Darren sighed.
"So this is your daughter? I can see where she gets her hair colour from." he said (Lyle had already told him that bright green was a natural hair colour on Samesina).
"And where she gets her good looks from!" Mieu said, winking at Lyle and Thea.
"Well at least you're happy, Lyle. No doubt about it." Darren said just as three screaming girls entered the shop, looking at Ayn affectionately.
"Ooh, there he is! That dashing bloke who survived a car crash!" one of them squealed.
"Is that his real hair colour?" another asked. They all ran up to Ayn and tried to hug him. The prince backed away in disgust. One of the girls caught a waft of his perfume.
"He wears girly perfume! Oh, it smells so nice!" the first girl said excitedly. She grabbed Ayn around the waist and kissed him on the cheek, leaving a mark of bright pink lipstick there.
"Don't do that! I'm a prince!" Ayn snapped. Two of the girls left, leaving one of them looking longingly at him.
"Yeah, you are a prince. A Prince Charming, in my words!" the girl squealed, making a dash for Ayn.
"It's Prince Ayn, not Prince Charming..." Ayn grumbled, but the girl didn't hear him. She grasped him, embraced him and kissed him on the lips. She fell back, and Ayn instinctively caught her to stop her hurting herself.
"Oh, that was just splendid!" the girl screamed. Ayn pushed her away and brushed himself down. He left the shop, closely followed by Darren, Lyle, Thea, Mieu and Wren.
"Right, we can go back now!" Lyle said, drawing a chalk circle on the ground.
"Take me with you. I'd love to see your world." Darren said. Lyle said that that was fine, and then he told everyone to stand in the circle. He waved his staff, and they found themselves back in the cave in the Bernink Province.
"That didn't take you very long." King Rhys said as Lyle walked over to him.
"No, it didn't. Mind you, Ayn got drunk and was sick all over the toilet. And he even bought ladies' perfume! Oh, and before that, he was knocked down by a car." Lyle said, trying to stifle a laugh. Rhys didn't believe him.
"Getting drunk? Ladies' perfume? Knocked down by a car? Whatever are you going on about, Lyle?" Rhys asked. Lyle couldn't explain - it would be a very long story.
"Well, now... we should figure out how to get to Satellite." Ayn said, and so he pondered over it for a while.
PART II: Chapter Three
"Ah! I've got it!" Prince Ayn said triumphantly. He knew that there was some sort of key to getting to Satellite, and he remembered his mother telling him about it a few years ago.
"You've got what?" Darren asked. He didn't get the prince's story about Satellite, but he tried to show some interest.
"The key to getting to Satellite. It's somewhere in Landen, in the Chalst Province." Ayn replied. From nearby, Rhys walked over to them.
"Landen, in the Chalst Province... I was born and raised there. If you want me to, I'll come and help you." Rhys said. Lyle stormed forward.
"Nah... you don't have to, Rhys! I'll go with Ayn again. You rest your poor old legs." Lyle said. Rhys hit him across the face, knocking his eye-patch slightly out of position.
"Poor old legs? Are you saying that I'm too old to help my own son?" Rhys snapped, stepping on Lyle's foot.
"Well, yeah! You are! When we came here, you left it to ME to beat off the cyborgs! You said yourself that you were getting on a bit too much." Lyle said angrily, kicking at Rhys.
"Lyle, you utter untruths. How dare you say I am too old to help my own son! I defended Maia from the cyborgs!"
"Yeah, but you ONLY defended Maia. No-one else! You're so selfish, Rhys. That's why I got half-beaten to death on the way here!"
"Button it, Lyle! You tried to defend Thea, but she still got herself kidnapped! I defended Maia, and she didn't get kidnapped! So who's the better king now?"
"Maybe I should've finished you off ages ago. Lena was right about you - you just couldn't be trusted. And still, she showed you mercy and stopped the fight before I had chance to hurt you."
"I injured you a lot more! You only whacked me with your staff once! And yet I made you bleed! And since WHEN did Lena say I couldn't be trusted?"
"Yeah, but if Lena hadn't stopped the fight, you would've been dead now. And she said that you couldn't be trusted because you had such a selfish attitude! I don't know if you know... but I was gonna marry Maia, too! You never let me have a say!"
"You never even mentioned it, Lyle! If you had only said, I would have let you have a say!"
"Now, about that fight that Lena stopped... it's a good job she did, really. I could've killed you."
"But if you HAD killed me, Ayn wouldn't be here now!"
"Ooh yeah... didn't think of that. Oh, stuff it! You're just a crusty old bag, Rhys!"
"Thanks a lot! You're a liability, Lyle!"
"Liability?! Did you just call me a liability?! On the way to this cave, you got trapped between six big cyborgs, all armed with sharp swords! You were so scared, you just pulled your cloak over your head and cowered! And as they were about to kill you, Super-Lyle comes bounding in there, staff bared, and beats 'em all up! You didn't even try to defend yourself! NOW who's the liability?!"
"Even so, Maia had to patch you up with fifteen bandages!"
"But they were very small bandages."
"Damn you, Lyle!" Rhys sprang forward and knocked Lyle to the floor, which no-one with poor old legs could do, without pulling a lot of muscles. Lyle retaliated by kicking Rhys in the side, sending him rolling to the left. He jumped and landed on top of Rhys. Maia was walking in, carrying a tray of biscuits. When she saw the two kings fighting, she dropped the tray in surprise.
"Rhys, I thought Lyle was your friend!" she said in horror. She picked up her dress and ran over. She grabbed Lyle and tried to get him off Rhys. She couldn't manage it - Lyle was much too heavy for her to move. Lyle pushed her away, only to receive a punch in the stomach from Rhys.
"That's my wife you just shoved then!" Rhys snarled, trying to free himself from under Lyle's heavy frame. However, not only was Lyle considerably heavier than Rhys, he was also a lot stronger, and so he was able to stop Rhys from effecting his escape.
"Stay there and shut it. For the moment, I'll let you live." Lyle said, picking himself up and helping Rhys to his feet.
"What was all that about?!" Maia asked in horror.
"Me and Rhys needed to talk. That's all." Lyle said coolly. Maia shook him violently.
"You call that talking? Sounded like an argument to me." Their conversation was cut short by Darren.
"Alright, I think we've had enough prattle for today. Now, the prince here told us that the key to Satellite was in Landen. We'd better get going." Darren said, but Ayn stopped him.
"Wait, Darren! Who's coming with us?" the prince asked.
"Not Rhys. He's too old for this." Lyle snickered. Rhys scowled and made a jump for him, but Lyle moved out of the way just in time, causing Rhys to fall flat on his face. Ayn sniggered a little.
"OK, so if Rhys isn't coming, that leaves Lyle, Maia, Lucy, Thea, Mieu, Wren and some other random local people." Darren said.
"Peasants." Ayn corrected. Lyle put a hand to his forehead and shook his head.
"At least give 'em some consideration, Ayn! Don't make the common folk look bad." Lyle said. Ayn sighed.
"Well, then! I reckon that it should be Mieu and Wren who come with us!" Darren said.
"And Lyle!" Lyle cried.
"Damn it, Ayn, we can't get rid of him. Come on, Lyle." Darren sighed, shaking his head.
"What about me?" Thea asked.
"You stay here. Keep an eye on that decrepid old Rhys for me." Lyle replied. Rhys' anger was so hot that Lyle could be made into a king-size roast. He almost sprang for Lyle again, but Maia stopped him.
"This isn't the last you'll hear of me, Lyle!" Rhys roared, but Lyle turned on his heel, his cloak swishing behind him, and he followed Ayn, Darren, Mieu and Wren out of the cave and into the blistering heat of the Bernink Province.
* * *
After contending with the heat of the Bernink Province and traversing the Helskiz Province, Prince Ayn, Darren, Mieu, Wren and King Lyle made into the Chalst Province, where Landen was.
"You guys sure need to get some cars. It's too much like hard work, all this walking." Darren sighed, stopping to stretch the pain out of his legs.
"Get used to it. It'll keep you fit, and you can see all the lovely sights of Samesina!" Lyle replied, helping Darren back onto his feet. Eventually the party made it to Landen, but to their surprise, no-one was there!
"No... the cyborgs must have attacked and taken all the people." Ayn said sadly.
"Wait a minute! No-one's been taken at all! I sense lifeforms." Wren said.
"You could just be sensing us, Wren." Lyle sighed. Wren looked in the direction of Castle Landen, but the gate was shut. He ran over and checked, but the gate was locked tight!
"I know how we can get in." Wren said with a cruel edge to his voice. He produced a rope from his pocket and grabbed Lyle around the wrist.
"What do you think you're playing at, Wren? Has your computer chip got a virus or something?!" Darren said, but Wren carried on tying the rope around Lyle's wrists.
"Damn it, Wren! Stop it!" Mieu shouted, trying to grab Wren, but the cyborg was much too quick, pushing her to the floor.
"Nearly done!" Wren said, taking a cloth out of his pocket and gagging Lyle. To his surprise, a tear fell from Lyle's eye.
"Wren, you're distressing him! Untie Lyle, this instant!" Ayn ordered, but Wren silenced him.
"Do you really think I'm going to listen to a wailing brat who calls himself a prince?" Wren said nastily. Ayn had had enough. He drew his sword and held it to Wren's neck.
"For Orakio's sake, Wren! He's getting upset!" Ayn jabbed Wren with the sword. Wren pushed Ayn away and dragged Lyle to the gate of Castle Landen, threatening to kill him if the owner didn't open up, just exactly how Rhys did it to gain access to Castle Shusoran when he was just a prince.
However, Wren didn't tie the gag around Lyle's mouth too tightly, so after some violent head-shaking, the king was able to get the gag from around his mouth.
"LET ME GO!" Lyle sobbed, trying in vain to free himself from the rope. Wren had tied it so tightly that it was impossible for him to even loosen the rope, let alone getting it off altogether.
"You heard him, Wren! Let him go!" Ayn yelled, baring his sword at Wren threateningly. The cyborg finally took the hint and untied Lyle. Ayn sheathed his sword.
"Lyle! You OK?" Darren asked. Lyle said he was fine, but then he burst into tears. Darren handed him a handkerchief and gave him a comforting hug.
"Don't EVER do that again." Lyle said sternly to Wren. The cyborg nodded his head sadly and sighed deeply.
"Well, how are we to get into the castle now?" Wren asked.
"I've just remembered something! My father once told me that a staircase in one of the shops lead to the castle basement. We can get in through there!" Ayn replied with a smile. He then went on to say that the staircase was in the Technique Shop, a shop that sells wands, spellbooks and scrolls to do with techniques.
When they got inside, though, the scrolls were scattered all over the floor and several wands were lying on the floor. Darren picked one of the wands up and inspected it. It wasn't damaged. He put it in his pocket.
"Well, let's get going." Ayn said, heading down the staircase. The rest of the party followed, and then they found themselves in the basement of Castle Landen. The walls were damp and covered in moss, and a dank, musty smell lingered in the air. The floor was wet and slippery.
"Yuck! Do people even clean these basements?" Darren said disgustedly, pinching his nose.
"I'd rather not. They're just gonna get dirty again." Lyle replied. A rat scurried along the floor, its nose twitching contentedly.
"Eek! Rats!" Darren screeched, scrabbling frantically and grabbing Lyle's cloak.
"It's just a rat. Wait... I begin to smell a rat. There's something other than rats here. I smell perfume." Lyle said. He looked at Ayn.
"What the... I didn't squirt no perfume!" Ayn said, but he was lying. He had sprayed some of his perfume on himself, but even the sickly sweet smell of Ayn's perfume couldn't counteract the dank, musty smell of the basement. The party could hear footsteps.
"Someone's coming!" Mieu said, leading the party to an alcove. However, their escape was in vain, for the footsteps headed straight for them!
"Anyone home?" a female voice called. Darren whimpered.
"Don't be frightened. I'm not going to hurt you." the voice said soothingly. Darren came out of the alcove. He was damp with the damp of the basement, and he smelled almost as musty as the air. A young brown-haired woman was standing before him. Her chocolate-brown hair was tied into a ponytail, and she was wearing a white blouse and a pair of brown leather pants. She had two knives jammed into her belt.
"Who are you? And where are the others?" she asked.
"You nosey old trout." Darren said hastily. The woman looked stern.
"I'm only asking! Just tell me who you are, and where your friends are, and I'll leave it at that!"
"Oh, OK. I'm Darren Jones, and my friends are in that alcove there." Darren pointed to the alcove.
"Right. I'm Sari, by the way. I'm Lena's daughter." Sari said as she crossed over to the alcove and beckoned Ayn, Lyle, Mieu and Wren to come out.
"So Lena's been breeding, has she?" Lyle said, without thinking. Sari looked confused.
"What on Samesina are you talking about? And who are you all anyway?" Sari asked. They all told her. Ayn turned to face Sari, his bright blue eyes looking right into her dark brown ones.
"Sari, you have the Power Topaz. We need it. I want it." Ayn said. Sari laughed.
"Prince Ayn! Why, I have no idea what you're talking about!" she said, but she couldn't deny that she had the Power Topaz. It glittered on her belt.
"The stone on your belt. We need it to get to Satellite." Ayn said coolly. Sari shook her head.
"You can have it." Sari said, taking the stone from her belt and holding it out to Ayn. Just as the prince was about to take it, she snatched it away.
"But you'll have to fight me for it, first!" she ordered, replacing the stone and drawing her two knives. Ayn drew his sword. Everyone else readied their weapons, but Sari said that it would be unfair if they all fought her. Ayn had to fight her alone. The prince looked at Lyle, just as one of Sari's knives cut his right arm, the arm that was also his sword arm. He winced.
"Well come on! If you want that stone, you'll have to fight for it!" Sari said, swinging the knife at Ayn's head. The prince ducked and swished his sword. The edge hit Sari in the left leg, opening a small wound. Sari retaliated by throwing one of her knives at Ayn. It hit his sword, forcing it out of his hand and sending it to the other side of the corridor. Sari laughed.
"Out of ideas, Prince?" she said, hooking her foot around Ayn's ankle, tripping the prince up as he ran to get his sword. Lyle thought quickly.
"Don't break it, Ayn!" Lyle shouted, throwing his staff to the prince. Ayn caught it and swung it at Sari, hitting her in the side with a blow which knocked the wind out of her. She collapsed to the floor.
"This isn't over, Prince!" Sari sneered, grabbing Ayn's left ankle and forcing his leg off the ground. The prince lost his balance and fell to the floor with a sickening thud. Lyle, Darren, Wren and Mieu closed their eyes. Ayn was about to pick himself up, but Sari was much too fast, springing onto him and pinning him to the floor. She pressed the blade of her knife to the prince's throat.
"You lost out, Prince Ayn! How unfortunate." Sari sighed, bringing the knife back. Just as she was about to thrust it forward, Ayn grabbed her wrist, forcing her to drop the knife. Wasting no time, the prince picked up the knife and drove it into Sari's chest. She collapsed and rolled off him.
"You've won, Prince... just take... the stone..." Sari croaked, plucking the stone from her belt buckle with a trembling hand. She tried to hand it to Ayn, but she dropped it.
"Oh no... I was too rough with her. What have I done?" Ayn said, picking up the Power Topaz from nearby Sari's outstretched hand. He began to sob.
"Don't cry for me... just go to Satellite... but there's something... you must... know..." Sari said, before losing consciousness. Ayn sobbed harder.
"What is it, Sari? Tell me!" Ayn wailed, but Sari didn't respond.
"I've killed her! Oh, Lyle, I'm a monster!" the prince cried, handing the staff back to Lyle. He pulled the knife from Sari's chest and brought it high above his head.
"Monsters should never live! I deserve this!" Ayn yelled, but just as he was about to stab himself, Lyle stopped him.
"You're not a monster, Ayn! You just didn't realise your own strength. It's happened to me once or twice." Lyle said. Ayn dropped the knife and embraced Lyle, his eyes flooding with tears. After a while, the prince was able to dry his eyes. He picked up the lifeless form of Sari, but just as he did, Wren came bounding over with a sword in his hand.
"Prince, I got your sword back!" Wren said, putting the sword in the sheath that was attached to Ayn's belt. He also produced a scroll from his pocket.
"This, my friend, is the scroll for the Reverser Technique." Wren said. Ayn carefully placed Sari's body down and took the scroll.
"And how will this help?" the prince asked. Wren explained that the Reverser Technique was a technique that can revive the dead. However, it was a high-level technique, and the only person who was capable of pulling off such a technique was someone who had had a lot of experience in the field of healing techniques. Thankfully, Lyle fitted that description. He took the scroll and charged up the magic in his staff. He muttered a few words, then fired a bright green magical beam at Sari. Her wound healed and she began to breathe.
"Hmm? I thought that people couldn't be brought back from the dead." Ayn said, but he helped Sari to her feet anyway. She rubbed her eyes.
"Back from the dead? Well then, we've got a techniques master here! I'm coming with you!" Sari said, embracing Ayn. The prince pushed her away slightly.
"I'm not the techniques master. That's Lyle." Ayn said, indicating Lyle. Sari embraced him, and then she picked up her knives.
"What I was going to tell you before... it's just that Satellite isn't the safe place that everyone believes it is. It's actually where the cyborgs are coming from!" Sari said, but just as she was about to say more, Lyle cut her short.
"Look, there's something I've just remembered! I have to run." he said, darting up the staircase and out of the Technique Shop. As he ran up, he threw a stone to Ayn, saying that it would lead them to the Stalden Province, where the way to Satellite was. The prince picked it up.
"We should get going." Ayn said, putting the stone in his pocket and leading the party out of the basement.
* * *
As Prince Ayn, Mieu, Wren, Darren and Sari crossed through the Chalst Province and the Bernink Province and using the stone that Lyle had given them to open another passageway, the party finally made it to the Stalden Province.
"I remember it well, now. We have to get to Techna before we can get to Satellite." Sari said. Ayn was confused.
"I don't remember Techna. What is it?" the prince asked. Sari cleared her throat.
"Techna is the Castle of Power, where there is a vehicle that can take us to Satellite. But... I can't, for the life of me, remember how to get to Techna!" she replied.
"There should be towns nearby. We could get some information there." Mieu said, but Ayn looked doubtful.
"What is it with you and your obsession with peasants?" the prince asked sternly. Wren glared fiercely at him, and that was enough to stop the prince saying any more.
"OK, so I think Ayn's lost his marbles. He thinks local people are peasants." Darren whispered to Wren, but Ayn had heard him.
"I'm sorry. It's just that... oh, never mind. Let's find some locals and get some info." the prince said, leading the party to a town he had spotted in the distance - the town of Enzia. When they were inside the boundary of the town, though, it was completely empty, apart from one young girl.
"Someone's left their child here!" Mieu said. She pushed Ayn in the girl's direction. The prince ran over to her and knelt down in front of her.
"Are you lost?" Ayn asked. To his surprise, the girl began to sob.
"You're Prince Ayn, aren't you? I was following this man, but he was running too fast for me to keep up." the girl wept, resting her tear-soaked face on the prince's shoulder.
"There, there, little one. Now, which province do you come from?"
"The Chalst Province, from the village of Vindita."
"And this man you were following... what did he look like?" The girl replied with a vivid description of the man she had followed - green ponytailed hair, vest and pants, a big cloak and carrying a staff. Ayn gasped. The girl had been following Lyle!
"That was my friend Lyle you were following! Tell me, which way did he go?" Ayn asked.
"He went up to the town of Endora, but I'm not sure if he's still there." the girl replied.
"You should go back to your village. The other villagers could be worried sick about you!"
"I want to come with you, Prince."
"I can't. If your parents saw that you had got hurt, I'd have to do a lot of explaining. Just go back to your village, please. Look, I'll even let someone escort you back." Ayn asked the party who would escort the girl back to Vindita. Mieu volunteered to go.
"OK, little one. Mieu will take you back." Ayn said to the girl. He told Mieu that he and the rest of the party would be waiting for her in Endora. With that, Mieu escorted the girl back to Vindita, and Ayn and the rest of the party trudged to Endora. But, on their way there, several huge cyborgs sprang out of the bushes and ambushed them!
"Not a problem! My father taught me a technique that makes mincemeat of cyborgs - the Zan Technique!" Ayn said, holding out his hand. The Zan Technique is grouped with the attack techniques, and causes bolts of lightning to rain down from the sky and hit enemies. It harms everything within 30 feet of the caster. It is also a simple-to-learn technique, which had meant that Ayn could learn it within a week. the prince muttered a few words under his breath, and sparks flew from his outstretched hand. Lightning bolts struck the area, hitting the cyborgs and frying their circuits. They fell to the ground, smashing into pieces as they did so.
More cyborgs attacked them on the way, but Ayn was much too quick with the Zan Technique, and they all fell. Just as another group of cyborgs came at them, they seemed to have seen the huge pile of broken cyborgs, as they didn't attack the party at all. Eventually, Ayn and the party were able to make it to Endora, but Mieu was waiting for them!
"What took you so long?" she asked. Ayn cleared his throat.
"We got ambushed by cyborgs and we were forced to fight them. Sorry for the delay." the prince replied. Mieu them told them that she had found out how to get to Techna. They had to go down Dragon Spine Cape, which was located half a mile from Endora.
"Great! We can go now!" Ayn said excitedly, leading the party out of the town.
* * *
"Come on, no more ambushes. No more ambushes." Prince Ayn said to himself as he lead the party out of Endora and down to Dragon Spine Cape. Mieu kept him on track.
"Look, there it is!" Mieu said, pointing to a thin strip of land.
"Well what are we standing around for? Come on!" Ayn ordered, running towards the cape. The rest of the party follwed, but Ayn had stopped just before the cape, for he had seen the most fascinating thing in his whole life. He had seen a dragon! Darren was just as amazed.
"Wow, Samesina has dragons! Cool!" he said. The dragon was a large, brown, scaly, fairly ugly beast. Its massive leathery wings were folded against its sides, and its tail was swishing gently from side to side. It seemed to have seen the party, for it bowed down gracefully and lowered its huge body.
"Climb onto my back. I'll take you to Techna." it said.
"Is it safe? I mean, it's not a trick, is it?" Darren asked. The dragon turned its head to face him.
"Nonsense! I'm always willing to take people to Techna. Some of the people who live there want to come here, so I take them over! I'm a dragon who is willing to do things like this." the dragon replied.
"What, like a taxi?"
"Yes, just like that." Darren gasped. He was sure that this dragon had never been to England before. He stopped, and then the party climbed onto the dragon's back.
"I suggest you hold on tight." the dragon said. Everyone grabbed onto one of its scales, and then the dragon spread its huge leathery wings and took off. It sailed thorugh the air like a bird, soaring up and down, side to side. The party could feel the wind blowing against their faces, and they began to feel exhilarated. Darren began to pant with excitement, and leant slightly to one side, Ayn grabbed his arm.
"Careful!" the prince said as the dragon soared even higher, almost throwing the party off its back.
Fifteen minutes later, the party were at the island where Techna was situated.
"We're here!" the dragon said. It landed and allowed the party to disembark. As soon as they had disembarked, a swirl of brown mist enveloped the dragon and shrank around it. A few seconds later, the mist had formed a vaguely human shape, and it dissipated. A figure stood where the mist had been.
"Whoop whoop WHOOP! I've wanted to do that for so long!" a familiar voice gasped. Ayn turned to face where the voice had come from.
"Lyle?" he asked slowly. "Lyle, is that you?"
"Yeah, it's me. You didn't think I could do that, could you?" Lyle said, snickering a little. Darren fainted in shock.
"Mind you, Ayn... there's something you should know." Lyle said quietly. He hung his head.
"What is it?" the prince asked.
"When your father was just a prince, his love, Maia, was taken from him by a dragon. That... was me. I took Maia from Rhys seventeen years ago! But don't tell him. He won't..." Lyle said, and then he collapsed to the floor. Ayn rushed over to him.
"Lyle, are you OK?" the prince asked. Lyle managed a small smile.
"Yeah... I'm fine. Mind you, on the way here, the cyborgs attacked me and I couldn't do anything. I had to get to Dragon Spine Cape." he croaked. Ayn brushed his hair out of his face.
"Please, Lyle... you're not... dying, are you?" the prince whimpered.
"I got mortally wounded, Ayn. I'm not gonna pull through this time..." Lyle said, just before his eyes glazed over. The prince began to cry.
"Who's got that technique scroll?" Ayn asked through his tears. Wren pulled it out of his pocket and handed it to the prince. He opened it and held his hand over the lifeless form of Lyle. He muttered the words under his breath, and a bright green beam of magic shot from the prince's hand and into Lyle's chest. Ayn wiped the tears from his eyes.
"Come on... come ON!" Ayn muttered impatiently to himself. The technique was working; it was just taking a long time.
After a five minute wait, Lyle's wounds had healed up. But, he wasn't breathing! Ayn began to panic.
"Oh, now what?" the prince sobbed. Sari listened to Lyle's heartbeat. It was there, so she told the prince to give Lyle the kiss of life. The prince began to shudder.
"What if I... oh, never mind." Ayn stammered. He knelt over Lyle, poised and ready to give the kiss of life, but just as he was about to seal his lips over Lyle's mouth, there was a massive gasp for air. Lyle had recovered.
"Whoa, I'm sure I saw Ayn giving me a kiss!" Lyle said, springing to his feet and picking up his staff off the ground. He bounded towards Ayn, embraced him and gave him a kiss on the lips. The prince blushed.
"What was that for?" Ayn asked. Lyle just said that it was because he wanted to give him a kiss before. He flipped up his eye-patch and made a startling discovery.
"That technique worked wonders, Ayn! I've got two eyes again!" Lyle said excitedly, taking the eye-patch from around his head and putting it into his pocket.
"Well then! We should go to Techna." Ayn said, and he began to lead the party into Techna, the Castle of Power. But before he did so, he stopped Lyle.
"Wait! Lyle, how do you..." the prince began.
"What is it?" Lyle asked. Ayn hesitated for a second.
"How do you... you know, turn into a dragon?" After the prince had finished speaking, Lyle had to stop and think for a second.
"Well, you see," Lyle explained, "I'm one of the few Dragon Knights in existence."
"Yeah. A group of highly-trained individuals with the blood of the dragon flowing through their veins. Only Layans could become Dragon Knights, and even then, the power to turn into a dragon only activated when something happened to disgust the Layans. Which is why I kidnapped Maia seventeen years ago."
"What's this about kidnapping my mother?"
"She was a Layan, and she was going to be married to Rhys, your father, also an Orakian. This was seen as a terrible act by the Layans, and so my uncle, the King of Cille, sent me out to get her and sabotage the wedding. When I heard the news, my blood began to boil - literally - and the change overtook me. I would never have deliberately done that, but the instincts of the Dragon Knight were too much for me to overcome."
"But now that the war between Orakians and Layans has settled, how do you activate the power of the Dragon Knight?"
"Simple! Matters of urgency and anything that could spark up another conflict; those two things were serious enough to invoke my hidden power."
"And how do you know when you can... uh, invoke your hidden power?"
"As soon as my blood begins to heat up, that's when I can invoke the hidden power."
"Right. Thanks." After Ayn had found out about Lyle's hidden power, he lead the party into Techna.
PART II: Chapter Four
"And they call THIS old dump the Castle of Power? Look at it - the buildings are falling apart and the locals are dressed in rags!" Darren said in shock.
"Maybe that's just a cover, just to hide the fact that this IS the Castle of Power." Ayn replied.
"Yeah, you're probably right." They carried on walking to a castle gate. Wren looked at it thoughtfully.
"This might be the entrance to the actual Castle of Power. But, no-one's home! I know..." Wren said. Lyle shrank back, as if he knew what was coming next.
"No, Lyle, not that. I think we should break in, or climb over the wall." Wren said quickly. He paced over to a long growth of thick, tangled vines. Mieu, Wren and Lyle were reminded of the time they had climbed over a growth of vines to help Rhys rescue Maia when he and Lyle were just princes.
"Right, we'll do what we did last time. I'll climb up and help everyone else up." Lyle said. Ayn and Darren were confused - they weren't around when Lyle climbed up the vines 'last time'. Wren saw their confusion, so he quickly explained what was goinbg to happen. Even though he hadn't climbed vines for seventeen years, Lyle still showed grace and finesse as he climbed them. This time, he didn't have to hand his staff to someone - he was able to bring it up by putting it into his belt.
He reached the top and called to everyone that he was ready. Darren was next to climb, and as he neared the summit, Lyle was able to pull him up with ease. Ayn followed, but Lyle was beginning to tire. He didn't have as much energy as he did seventeen years ago. Mieu was next to climb, but Lyle struggled to pull her up, so Ayn had to help.
"C'mon, Wren! You have to climb!" Darren called, but Wren shook his head.
"Lyle is getting tired. He won't be able to manage me. And the vines are getting weaker, so they could tear under my weight." Wren replied.
"Don't worry about Lyle! I'll help him!" Ayn shouted. Sighing, Wren grabbed hold of the vines and began to climb. Mieu grabbed hold of Ayn's ankles and lowered the prince down, so that he could get hold of Wren and pull him up.
"OK, this wasn't expected. But, sometimes we have to do these things." Ayn said to himself as his cloak fell over his head. It didn't fall off completely, thanks to the secure pinning that held it to the prince.
"Careful, Ayn!" Sari shouted from below. Ayn gave her a thumbs-up, but his angle made it look like a thumbs-down.
"That was supposed to be a thumbs-up, Sari!" the prince called. Sari nodded her head.
"Come on, Ayn! You can do it!" Darren shouted as pep talk. After a little more climbing, Ayn was able to grab hold of Wren, and Mieu used all of her strength to pull them up with ease.
"And they say women are the weaker sex..." Darren mumbled to himself.
"What about Sari?" Ayn asked.
"She may have to find another way. I could hear the vines tearing as I climbed them." Wren replied. The prince wasn't about to give up so easily. He asked Mieu to lower him down again, and then Lyle called to Sari to climb. She looked at the vines and refused.
"They're too weak to climb!" she called.
"We need a longer chain! Wren, lower Mieu down!" Ayn shouted. Wren refused.
"NOW, you metalhead!" the prince ordered. Sighing, Wren grabbed hold of Mieu's ankles and lowered her down, so now the chain was a little longer. Sari could just reach Ayn's hand, but she couldn't take it completely.
"A little lower, Wren!" Mieu shouted. Wren lowered them down slightly, and Ayn was then able to grab hold of Sari. Wren pulled with all his might, and he got Mieu safely back up. She began to pull Ayn up, but there was a problem.
"Help me, Ayn! I'm slipping!" Sari panicked. It was true - the prince's grip on Sari's hands was slipping. Mieu summoned more of her strength and tried to pull them up faster. As Sari reached the top, her grip on Ayn slipped completely. Thankfully, a bright green magical rope had stopped her falling to her doom. The rope was attached to a staff, which was held by Lyle.
"That was close." Sari sighed.
"TOO close." Ayn said in reply. The party, after a few minutes rest, set off further into the Castle of Power. Just as they were about to go through the doors, an old, bearded man stopped them. He was wearing a long blue robe that touched the floor. His wrinkled face was kind, and he was carrying a wand in one hand. He was the guardian of the Castle of Power.
"Do you have the Power Topaz?" the guardian asked, holding out his wrinkled hand. Ayn rummaged through his pockets and found the stone the guardian had asked for. He tapped it with his wand and handed it back to Ayn.
"It is the real Power Topaz, just as the prophecies foretold! Now, do we have a half-Layan prince, two cyborgs, a fair princess and a highly-trained female warrior in the party?" he asked. Ayn said that they had everyone except the fair princess. The guardian shook his head.
"You cannot see your true world until you have a fair princess in your party. You must go back." he said. Lyle stopped him there, though.
"I know where there's a fair princess! I'll go and get her!" he said, tapping his staff on the floor, muttering a few words and casting the Ryuka Technique. This particular technique is a teleportation technique that allows the caster to teleport anywhere that is sensible and safe. However, the technique may not work if there is magical interference. For Lyle, a very seasoned technique-caster, the technique worked. He returned several seconds later with Thea in tow.
"So, this is the fair princess. In that case, all of you can see your true world." the guardian said. He clapped his hand and the huge, heavy wooden doors of the castle swung open. Inside, there was a huge spaceship.
"That's it? That's our true world?! What a waste of time!" Darren exclaimed, but the guardian silenced him.
"No, that spaceship will take you to your true world." he said. Everyone climbed in, and there was a whirr of engines and the electronic whooshes of all the spaceship's systems booting up.
"Spaceship is ready to take off. Now preparing for launch." a female voice from the spaceship said. Everyone got their seat belts on, and the spaceship blasted into space.
The ship circled around for several minutes, and then it landed on a flagged stone floor surrounded by arches. It looked like the party had travelled back in time to Ancient Rome, but they couldn't see anyone with a toga wandering around.
"According to my readings, we are on another world." Mieu said. It was true. The party had arrived at Satellite, the place that Sari thought the cyborgs were coming from.
* * *
The party, which consisted of Prince Ayn, Mieu, Wren, Sari, Darren, King Lyle and Princess Thea, were on Satellite, the so-called 'safe haven'. However, Sari had told them all that this was where the cyborgs were coming from. She was right - there were many more cyborgs attacking them than on Samesina.
"Do these cyborgs ever quit?" Darren asked. Sari shook her head sadly.
"No, but I can tell they're coming from around here." she replied.
"There's just too many of them! My Zan Technique won't kill them all!" Ayn shouted. He then went on to say that they should just run, and so that's what they did. They dodged, skipped and weaved over small cyborgs, under gigantic robots and through the bionic legs of towering cyborgs. Within an hour, they had reached a staircase leading downwards.
"We need to rest. I'm tired." Thea groaned, sitting down on the floor, panting.
"No time to rest, Thea! We have to stop the cyborgs!" Ayn said in reply. Mieu looked down the staircase. She gasped in surprise.
"I'm detecting a very strong cyborg in there! That one must be the leader! Come on!" Mieu ordered, ushering the party down the staircase and into a huge glass labyrinth. Technically it wasn't glass, it was a very strong clear substance that looked like glass, yet didn't break like glass. But we'll call it glass anyway, for the real name is very long, and would take half a day to type.
"Right. Forward!" Ayn ordered, marching forward and smacking his face into the glass. He shook his head and wiped his nose on his hand. There was a small smear of blood.
"That was a bit silly, Ayn. Anyway, we should follow the passages." Lyle said, trying very hard to stifle a laugh.
"I can see the route to take. I'll lead. Follow me." Wren said, walking off to the east. The party followed him, and soon they reached an antechamber to the chamber where the very strong cyborg was.
"Hmm... I'm not sure if he'll be negotiable or if we'll have to fight him. To be honest, I'd prepare for the latter." Darren said, drawing out the wand he had got from the Technique Shop in Landen. Lyle quickly told him the basics of techniques, and taught him the Foi Technique (a basic attack technique that throws a fireball at one opponent), the Resta Technique (a basic healing technique that heals one person) and the Deband Technique (a basic support technique that increases defense for 10 minutes).
"Why did you tell me all that?" Darren asked.
"Well, because those wands can't just be waved and you'll cast a technique. You have to use a technique with the wand. And the techniques I told you are the really easy ones, because we don't have enough time for you to learn one of the really big ones." Lyle replied. After another talk about tactics and positionings, the party went into the chamber. The cyborg had his back turned to the party.
"Ha ha ha ha. I wasn't expecting visitors." the cyborg hissed nastily. Ayn stepped forward.
"Was it you who made all the cyborgs attack Samesina?" the prince asked. The cyborg laughed cruelly.
"Yes, it was. I was going to get rid of that horrible world, but Laya only granted me the ability to create armies to destroy the people." he replied. Lyle moved forward and cleared his throat. He pointed his staff at the cyborg.
"Wait a minute! Laya would never use her power like that! One of her laws was 'Kill no living thing'." Lyle snapped, angered.
"Oh, I have been rude. Forgive me. I have not introduced myself. I am Siren, leader of the cyborg armies!" Siren said nastily. Darren imitated a siren, just to mock him. Not a good idea. Siren was exceptionally fast, kicking Darren and knocking him to the floor, out cold.
"Now listen here, Siren! Did Laya really give you the power to do this?" Lyle asked sternly. Siren gave a malicious laugh. Whilst they were arguing, Darren had come to. Siren hadn't hit him too hard.
"No, you idiot boy! I tempted her with gifts. That's why the armies of cyborgs went after the Layan castles first, because those castles didn't have their deity to protect them!" Siren snarled in reply. He then added that he would then banish Laya to the gap between dimensions, and that was enough to make Lyle scream in rage. It was then that Siren turned round. He looked like Wren, except that he had no skin covering his face, and his hair was bright red. He also had a red eye that looked like the Terminator's red eye.
"WHAT?! You only did this to try and get rid of Laya?! You're not an overly-devout Orakian, are you?" Lyle asked, furious. Siren said that he was neither Orakian nor Layan, but he started with the Layans because they were fewer in number. Then, a bright blue glow appeared. It took on the shape of a female figure.
"Please, stop him! I beg of you!" the figure pleaded. Lyle told everyone that this was Laya.
"Laya, pray tell, what happened?" Lyle asked. Laya hesitated for a moment.
"Siren... he pretended he was Layan, and prayed for my help. I refused, as I knew he was a fake, but then he threatened to expose me as an evil dark deity if I didn't give him the power he wanted, and that's why I gave it to him. I never wanted to, but if it saved my dignity and my followers, I would have happily done it. I never knew that he really would kill my followers." Laya said, almost on the verge of tears. Not everyone in the party was Layan - Ayn was half-Layan, yet he had been brought up as an Orakian, Mieu had been programmed as an Orakian, and Darren hadn't taken sides at all, but Laya gave them all some of her power.
"Now, defeat Siren!" were Laya's last words before she disappeared. Siren began to laugh nastily.
"Oh, Laya could only give you a fragment of her power. The shame of it all. Well, that will make you even EASIER to deal with! And to make it even easier, I will have a one-on-one fight with... him, there!" Siren hissed, pointing at Ayn. The prince strode forward, sword in his hands.
"You'll regret this!" Ayn shouted, charging forward with his sword, but Siren was very quick, dodging the blade with ease. He then attacked the prince, causing him to fall on the ground with a thud. Ayn swung his sword wildly, but Siren was still able to attack him, wounding his left leg.
"Ha, do you tire yet?" Siren asked. Ayn replied with a sword swing that hit Siren in the head.
"No, not yet. Eat metal!" Ayn yelled, jabbing the sword at Siren. He missed. Siren began to get very angry. His red eye let off a fiery glow, and then he unleashed a flurry of attacks which Ayn simply could not avoid! The prince ducked and dodged in vain as Siren's fists and feet hit him with an impossible speed. The constant pummelling stopped, and Siren punched Ayn right in the head, bursting his lip.
"I can't... give up just yet..." Ayn said, but he sank to the floor in a bloodied unprincely heap. The crimson fluid stained his clothes and the floor. Some had even got onto Siren, but he didn't mind.
"Come on, get up!" Lyle shouted. Whilst he did this, Darren cast the Resta Technique on the prince, healing his wounds, but only slightly. Ayn groaned and picked himself up off the ground. He was still wounded, and blood was still seeping out of them, but the prince picked up his sword and carried on the fight. He swung his sword at Siren, where it hit him on the left arm. Very little damage had been dealt.
"Is that it, feeble one?" Siren asked nastily, kicking at Ayn. The prince held off that blow, only to be hit by a flurry of fists. Ayn fell to the floor in a dead faint. The rest of the party began to panic.
"No! We have to help him!" Mieu shouted, charging forward with her clawed glove. Siren laughed maliciously and kicked the unconscious form of Ayn. His wounds began to bleed more.
"I said it was a one-on-one! And I won!" Siren said. Mieu didn't take any notice. She struck him with the claws, shredding some of the thinner metal. Siren looked in horror at the shredded metal.
"How is it... possible? You cannot hurt me - this is the strongest metal in the universe!" Siren said, horrified. Mieu pointed out that they were only very thin layers of metal. Then she attacked him again, sending showers of sparks this way and that.
"Come on, Mieu! You can do it!" Darren yelled, to try and encourage her to finish Siren off. But to his surprise, Siren stopped fighting back!
"Now, Mieu! He's down! Finish him!" Darren shouted, but Mieu didn't finish him off!
"I was... I could have... if only I had..." Siren said slowly, but then he fell to the floor. Mieu checked him, and he was dead. She then went to check on Ayn. The prince was seriously injured, but miraculously alive.
"Is he OK?" Thea asked in a scared whimper. Lyle said that he was fine - he had just taken a lot of pummelling. He cast the Naresta Technique on Ayn, which is a more powerful version of the Resta Technique. The prince's wounds healed, and he began to regain consciousness.
"Where's Siren? I need to... oh, he's gone. It's over." Ayn said as his drowsiness wore off. He stood up, but fell down again. A sharp pain tore through his left leg. Lyle's technique hadn't quite caught all of the prince's wounds.
"Let's get a bandage on that. It's not worth using a technique on it." Lyle said, rummaging through his pockets and pulling out a large dressing and a bandage.
"You might need some antiseptic on that, Lyle." Darren said, handing Lyle a disposable antiseptic wipe. He then ran over to Ayn and pulled up the left leg of the prince's pants, exposing the wound.
"That's a bad one, Ayn. You took a beating there." Lyle said as he tore open the wrapper on the antiseptic wipe and dabbed it over the wound. The prince gritted his teeth, for the antiseptic wipe was making the wound sting terribly. Lyle quickly placed the dressing over the wound and deftly wound the bandage around, holding it in place. Darren gave Lyle a safety pin, which he then used to pin the bandage so that it wouldn't come off.
"Well! I think Dr. Lyle is done here!" Lyle said jokily, helping Ayn to his feet. The prince whispered a word of thanks, and then he told everyone that they should get a message to his father and everyone else in the cave in the Bernink Province, to say that Satellite is the safe haven it should have been.
"In that case, we should go back." Sari said.
"I'll go. You don't have to come if you don't want to." Lyle said, helping Ayn over to Sari, who got hold of him and supported him. Lyle then departed to Samesina using the spaceship, told everyone in the cave of the Bernink Province Ayn's message, picked them all up and came back to Satellite.
* * *
"OK, I picked everyone up from the cave in the Bernink Province." Lyle said as he came bounding up towards Ayn. The prince tried to hobble over to him, but his left leg didn't have sufficient strength and so he fell. Lyle helped him up.
"Anyway, your parents are here. Come on." Lyle whispered to the prince, helping him up and taking him to his parents. When Rhys and Maia saw him, they were overjoyed.
"My son, you did it! You found our safe haven." Rhys said as he embraced Ayn. The prince told him all about the ordeals with the cyborgs and the fact that he'd nearly been killed by Siren. Maia had heard the story too, and she gave him a huge hug.
"Well, at least you're alive to tell the tale. That's all that matters now." she said as she brushed her son's fringe out of his face. Ayn instinctively stepped back, but he forgot about his wound and fell to the floor.
"Ouch! I got hit in the fight. This wound wouldn't heal up, even with a technique." Ayn explained. Rhys helped him up and knelt down in front of him.
"Ayn, my son. You've proven yourself to be a man. Now, you're going to need someone to be with you. It's time you married." he said. Ayn began to shuffle slightly.
"I've never really been..." he began to say, but Rhys hushed him.
"Listen, my son, and listen well. If you don't marry, who's going to look after you when you're old? I know that I won't be around then! Anyway, Thea and Sari seem to be showing an interest in you. It's up to you." Rhys explained, looking into Ayn's eyes.
"Well, to be honest, I've had a crush on both Thea and Sari, but I don't know who to have for a wife." Ayn said uneasily. Rhys reminded him that it was his decision, not his parents' decision. Thea and Sari stepped forward, and Ayn looked at both of them. His eyes flickered between the two of them. Behind them, Lyle was jumping up and down, pointing at Thea.
"I hope he picks my daughter!" Lyle hissed. Wren silenced him.
"Let Ayn choose! It's his decision." Wren hissed in reply. Meanwhile, Ayn had still been pondering over who to marry.
"I've decided, Father. I choose Thea." Ayn said. Thea ran forward and embraced him, kissing him on the cheek. Sari didn't change her expression at all. Lyle cheered silently, but Wren held him down.
"Well, like your father said, it was up to you. Good luck with the wedding, Prince!" Sari said. She decided that she would go back to Samesina and become Queen of Landen, even though she hadn't married. She wasn't going to go just yet; she was going to wait until after the wedding. Darren had also decided to depart with Sari, so that he could help her.
"We should make the preparations right away!" Maia said, and so everyone went off and began to prepare for the wedding.
* * *
And so, after an incredibly long journey through three different worlds, Prince Ayn had finally made Satellite into the safe haven it should have been. He found love in Princess Thea, and they married. They became the King and Queen of Satellite, and all was well.
Soon after they married, Queen Thea had a son, whom they named Sean. The family hoped, in their hearts, that Satellite would remain a safe haven, but of course, only time will tell. The future is never written in stone.
PART III: Chapter One
Things had stayed prosperous on Satellite for eighteen years - one year for King Ayn and Queen Thea's marriage, and seventeen years with the couple and their son, Prince Sean.
Those prosperous times had come to an abrupt end, for Satellite was then attacked by something coming from Samesina! The King and Queen's only hope was to send their son to Samesina and find out what was going on...
* * *
Loud explosions rang through the atmosphere of Satellite. Raging fires licked at the walls. Glass shattered. There wouldn't be much hope for the inhabitants, unless someone went to Samesina. That, King Ayn had said, was the source of the attack.
"Quickly! Sean, my son, come here!" King Ayn shouted. Prince Sean came running over. He was a brash, confident and slightly stony individual, but he showed some compassion, even if it was rare. He had bright viridian green hair that reached halfway down his back, which was tied into a ponytail. He was wearing a purple vest, a pair of plum-coloured pants, and a pair of shiny black boots. He had a white cloak clipped around his shoulders. A sword was jammed into his belt.
"Yeah, what is it this time, Dad?" Sean asked rudely. He was a prince, yet he acted in a very unprincely manner. Ayn looked at him sternly.
"Drop the attitude, my son! We are under attack! You have to go to Samesina and find out what's going on!" he said, panicking. Sean fiddled with his ponytail.
"Gee, if you want something done, go and do it yourself! I've got better things to do. Stop treating me like an errand boy." Sean snapped, his right hand closing on the hilt of his sword.
"Listen to me! Satellite is under attack! Look, take Mieu and Wren with you, and get out of here!" Ayn yelled, just as another explosion resonated through the hallway. Sean folded his arms and looked cross as Mieu and Wren came out from a little room to the side.
"I can do it myself. I don't need robots following me everywhere." Sean hissed, much to the disgust of Mieu and Wren, for they were cyborgs, not robots.
"Don't argue with your father," Queen Thea said sternly, "because it's only a matter of time before Satellite is destroyed! Sean, my dear son, you must save yourself!" Sean sighed, and just as he was about to argue, Lyle came strutting out of his quarters. Sure, he was in his mid-forties, but he still had bags of energy. His hair was still as bright green and wayward as ever, and his style and taste of clothing hadn't changed one bit. Basically, he was still the same old Lyle he was eighteen years ago.
"Yeah, lovely day on Satellite today! The forecast is explosions, followed by fire and light dust showers." Lyle joked. Ayn stood up and brushed his cloak behind him.
"Oh, please, do be quiet, Lyle! This is no time for fun and games! You, along with Sean, Mieu and Wren, have got to get out of here!" he said. Lyle shuffled slightly.
"I only just got up, Ayn. So, if Satellite's going to get destroyed, where are you going to go?" Lyle grumbled. Ayn sat back down on his throne.
"I can't bear to leave this place. I and Thea will stay here. You go." he said. For a brief moment, a look of concern washed over Sean's face. Even if he didn't like his parents much, he couldn't stand the fact that they wanted to stay here and die in the imminent explosion, if one was even going to happen.
"Dad, you can't! Are you crazy?! You could be killed!" Sean snapped, just as a rumble and a loud bang opened a crack in the floor. It separated Ayn and Thea from Sean, Lyle, Mieu and Wren.
"Just go! We'll find another way!" Ayn yelled over another deafening explosion. Sean was about to leap over the crack, save his parents and leap back again, but Wren stopped him.
"They're my parents, you stupid robot! I can't just leave them here, even if I don't like them!" Sean snapped, trying to wriggle free of Wren's grasp.
"You won't be able to rescue them now. Look!" Wren said, pointing at the crack. It had widened so much that Sean would never even make it halfway, even with the biggest leap he could manage. The cyborg then ushered Sean away from the crack and down the stairs, where Mieu and Lyle were waiting.
"Don't look back! Don't even slow down! Just run for your lives!" Mieu shouted as the ground behind them buckled and cracked, and explosions made the walls crash down. Walls of erupting, crackling flame slowed their progress, but never enough to send them into the arms of oblivion.
"Look, there it is! The spaceship! Come on, let's RUN!" Lyle yelled, pointing at the spaceship. The explosions were becoming more frequent, the damage more devastating. The remains of the walls were covered in searing hot flames, and the last of the solid ground was covered in cracks. Mieu and Wren finally made it onto the spaceship, and so did Lyle, but Sean was lagging behind!
"Where is Sean?" Mieu asked. Wren pointed to a figure in the distance, trapped between a wall of flame and a very steep drop.
"Come on, Sean! Hurry!" Wren shouted as loud as he could, but there was no reply.
Meanwhile, Sean had been trying to figure a way out of his predicament. There was a wall of searing flame in front of him, and a very long vertical drop behind him. He couldn't go to the left, as there was no floor. He couldn't go to the right, because the blazing inferno of flame prevented him from doing so. He was well and truly trapped. Unless...
"I'll save you!" Lyle yelled. He shot a beam of blue light from his staff, and it quelled the flames in front of Sean just long enough to allow the prince to effect his escape. They made it onto the spaceship, and Lyle quickly started the engines and took off. The spaceship had just about cleared Satellite's atmosphere when a massively devastating explosion startled everyone inside the ship.
"Satellite... it's completely obliterated!" Mieu said. It was true. Satellite had been reduced to a pile of rocks and floating space dust. The wave of the explosion was still travelling, however, and it caught the little spaceship, causing its engines to splutter and die. It pushed the ship nearer to Samesina, which was where they were headed.
"That huge explosion's just messed up the engines! I can't get them started again!" Lyle panicked as the gravitational pull of Samesina sent the spaceship hurtling down. As it entered the atmosphere, the ship started to burn up.
"This is the end! We're all toast!" Sean shouted. There was a loud resounding thud and the crumple of metal against hard ground.
The spaceship had crashed.
* * *
"Ugh... where are we?" Prince Sean asked wearily as he struggled to free himself from the remains of the crashed spaceship. He had survived the crash - miraculously - but what about the others? Normally, Sean wouldn't have cared much, but Lyle was his grandfather, so he did have some concern for his life. As he searched the remains, an outstretched hand burst out from a pile of metal.
"Who is it?" Sean asked himself as he pulled on the hand. He found that the hand was attached to an arm, which was attached to a torso, which was attached to Lyle. He shook his head and brushed himself down.
"Well, at least I'm OK. Nice to see that you're OK, too, Sean. Now, what about Mieu and Wren?" Lyle asked. Sean looked stern.
"Don't worry about them," he said quickly, pulling Lyle away from the wreckage, "they'll come in their own time." Lyle wrenched himself away from Sean's grasp and rummaged through the wreckage, freeing Wren in the process.
"Where's Mieu? Where is she?" Wren asked. Lyle shrugged and carried on searching the wreck.
"Lyle! Look!" Wren shouted, pointing at a red lump which fluttered in the breeze slightly. Lyle looked at it, and then he shoved away some of the twisted metal. He had freed Mieu, at last. She sighed, and Lyle, with Wren's help, pulled her out of the wrecked spaceship. Sean came waltzing over to them.
"Happy now that your little robot friends are rescued, Lyle?" Sean asked, very rudely. Lyle just replied that Mieu and Wren weren't robots - they were cyborgs.
"Where are we?" Mieu asked. She had looked around, but she still couldn't make any sense of where they all were. Even Lyle didn't have a clue, and neither did Sean. Wren took a quick glance, and then he gathered the rest of the group.
"We're on Samesina, in the Bernink Province." he said quietly. But after he had said that, Sean seemed to look slightly saddened.
"What's up, Prince Sean?" Mieu asked. Sean shook his head.
"You're a ro-- cyborg, you wouldn't understand." the prince replied, slightly angered.
"I'll try to understand as best as I can." Mieu replied, running her hand through Sean's hair affectionately. The prince's cold, stony personality seemed to melt away for a brief moment.
"It's because I lost my parents in that explosion. I tried to tell them to get out, but they didn't listen..." Sean began to say, but he couldn't continue. Mieu patted his cheek.
"No, don't think of it like that. Your parents sacrificed themselves to save you. There wouldn't have been enough room in that spaceship for all of us." she said soothingly. As he heard those words, Sean snapped back into being his old self again.
"It mightn't have happened if you and your other cyborg friend hadn't come with me and Lyle! They could have come here!" Sean cried, shoving Mieu away from him.
"OK, that's enough on that matter! Now, before we left, Ayn said something about going to the Chalst Province and meeting up with Sari. He said that she knew something about the attack on Satellite." Lyle said. He began to head towards the west, where he could see rock formations in the distance. Sean, Mieu and Wren followed him to a small cave.
"If memory serves me correctly... this cave will lead us to the Chalst Province." Lyle whispered to the party as he led them through the cave's long, twisting passageway... into the Chalst Province. When everyone had climbed out of the passage, Lyle led them all to Landen, where Sari was living.
As the party went into Landen, Sean was greeted heartily by the local people.
"Welcome to Landen, Prince Sean!" one said.
"Thanks for the welcome, but I don't have time for this. I need to see Sari." Sean replied in his usual unprincely manner. He pushed through the gathering of people, with Mieu, Wren and Lyle following, until they got to Castle Landen. As soon as they had crossed the threshold, they could hear shouts and screams.
"No, you idiot! I can't just stop fighting him! Lune will just take us over!"
"Yes, my queen, but your armies are weakening. It's only a matter of time."
"You pessimist! Get out of my sight, you wretch!"
"No, I have something else to say!"
Sean had got thoroughly bored of listening to the argument, so he strode through the castle, Mieu, Wren and Lyle trailing behind, until he got to the throne room. The door was closed, but this didn't stop the prince opening it and barging in. Inside, Queen Sari was arguing with one of her subjects about the attacks on Landen.
"I've got enough on my plate as it is, you impolite little boy! Get out of here, NOW!" Sari shouted at Sean. He didn't back away, or flinch. Instead, he put his hands on his hips and glared at Sari.
"Hey, you! I'm Prince Sean, not some impolite little commoner! My father told me that you know something about the attacks on Satellite!" Sean snapped in reply. Sari dismissed her subject and Sean strode over to her. She was still who she was eighteen years ago, except that she was now wearing a red flared dress that reached her ankles, although Sean had never met her eighteen years ago (he wasn't even a cell then).
"What's this now? Ayn knew about the attacks and told you that I knew it better than him? Look, I'm pretty clueless myself, but I think Lune has something to do with it." Sari said, her tone of voice changed.
"Who is this Lune loon?" Sean asked. Sari told him that Lune was one of Laya's most trusted generals, but then he had turned evil and used his commanding skills for his own personal gain.
"Now," Sari explained, "there's been one of the largest conflicts in history between the Orakians and the Layans. Cyborgs battle Orakians, and monsters take on Layans! That was the first part. Afterwards, both the cyborgs AND the monsters start fighting the other Orakians and Layans! It's horrendous, it really is." From a corner, Darren came forward and greeted Sean.
"Also, as Sari was saying just then," Darren said, "there's only one thing that can stop all this fighting between the Orakians and the Layans, and also the conflict with the cyborgs and the monsters."
"What is that, then?" Sean asked. Darren cleared his throat.
"It's called Laya's Treasure, and it's hidden somewhere in the Bernink Province. Trouble is, it can't be found that easily. And, not only that, but Lune wants it so that he can conquer the world!" he said. He then went on to explain that the first lead to Laya's Treasure could be found in the Salvadayna Province.
"Thanks." Sean said half-heartedly, and then he went out of the throne room to explain the ordeal to Mieu, Wren and Lyle.
"Well, at least we have something to go on, even if it's not much. Let's go!" Lyle said triumphantly, leading the party out of Landen. But before they left the castle, Darren stopped them.
"Hey, Dragon Man! There's something I forgot to tell you!" Darren shouted. Lyle turned round and ran over to him, as the call was meant for him.
"What's up?" Lyle asked.
"Nothing at all, mate. It's just been a long time since I've seen you, that's all." Darren replied nervously. Lyle quickly explained what had happened to Sean and the fate of Satellite, and he hurried back to the rest of the party and ushered them towards the Salvadayna Province, from what Sean had learned from Sari.
* * *
Crossing a bridge to get into the western area of the Chalst Province, going through a twisting passageway in a cave and contending with monsters and cyborgs, Prince Sean, Mieu, Wren and Lyle made it into the Salvadayna Province, so that they could get their first lead on the whereabouts of Laya's Treasure. All they knew was that it was hidden somewhere in the Bernink Province, except that they didn't know where in the Bernink Province the treasure actually was.
"Come on! You're taking a week!" Sean said to Mieu and Wren as they slowly pulled themselves out of the cave. All the party were now in the Salvadayna Province, where there were vast expanses of grass and distant mountains.
"First thing. We should try to find a town or a village. The local people may know something about Laya's Treasure." Mieu said to the party, but Sean shook his head.
"I'm leading this group, so you shouldn't be giving orders here, you silly cyborg!" Sean snapped.
"I was only suggesting something, Prince Sean. Just in case you didn't have any ideas." Mieu replied. Sean sighed and said that he'd let her off, and so they decided to look for a town or a village, because Sean didn't have a course of action planned.
After a good twenty minute walk, the party finally came across a large town situated between two large rock formations. The rock formations themselves were too high and too smooth for the party to climb, so they had no other option but to go through the town. They went through the town gate, and someone was waiting nearby.
"Welcome to North Divisia, travellers!" the waiting person said to them. Mieu thanked him for the welcome and asked about Laya's Treasure.
"What? Laya's Treasure? Not a clue. But, if you go through this town and into Castle Divisia, some of the King's subjects might know something." the man replied. The party thanked him and went on their way towards Castle Divisia. However, it was getting late. The sky was beginning to darken.
"It's getting late. We should rest up." Wren suggested, looking at the darkening sky.
"Gee, Wren, you're right! I'm really tired. Well, it's up to Sean, because he's the leader of the gang." Lyle sighed, frantically rubbing his eyes. Mieu said that she was exhausted, and the rest of the party exaggerated their tiredness in the hopes that Sean would go into the inn so that they could stay the night.
"You're all tired? To be honest, I'm tired myself. Come on, let's stop for the night." Sean said, leading the party to the inn. As they went inside, Lyle, Wren and Mieu collapsed on the little rug on the floor.
"Good day, can I help you?" the innkeeper asked politely as Sean strode up to the desk.
"You can let me and my three friends stay here the night." Sean replied, not so politely. The innkeeper took off her glasses and cleaned the lenses. She replaced them and looked closely at Sean. The prince shuffled slightly.
"We only have one room with two beds left. I'm sorry." the innkeeper said sadly. Sean's hand closed around the sword in his belt.
"You will be sorry! Now, do you have a room with four beds?" Sean retorted, the hand that was closed around his sword trembling with eagerness.
"I'll have a look for you." the innkeeper sighed, leaving her desk. Sean watched her go out the room.
Ten minutes later, she came back with a key and two unhappy customers.
"Wait a minute, why should we give up OUR room for some stroppy teenager?!" one of the customers snapped. The innkeeper calmly explained that they only had two in their group, and Sean had three others.
"Yeah, I mean... look at him! He's a rude, inconsiderate little brat!" the other customer shouted. Sean was furious! He drew his sword and bared it at the two customers.
"Shut up! I strongly recommend you don't say another word, or else I'll slice you!" Sean roared, thrusting the sword forward as he spoke. The innkeeper told the prince to put the sword away, so he did. She then told the other two customers that they would be staying in the room with two beds. They scowled and slouched off.
"Right, here's the key. I'm sorry it took so much trouble." the innkeeper sighed, handing Sean a large silvery key. The prince took it off her.
"Not a problem at all." Sean replied with an unusual kindness to his tone. He then lead the party up to the room. As they were so tired, they collapsed onto their beds and slept... or was someone still awake?
* * *
It was 11pm, and Mieu had slept like a log. Wren was sleeping on his side, occasionally moving. Sean was snoring noisily, but not noisily enough to wake anyone up. Lyle was still wide awake. He was tossing and turning. Eventually he got bored and decided to climb out of bed, with the bedcovers draped over him. He crossed over to Sean's bed and grabbed the sleeping prince.
"Gotcha!" Lyle said loudly. Sean woke up with a start.
"Go back to sleep, Lyle!" the prince snapped. He went back to sleep, but Lyle was determined to wake someone up. He ran over to Wren's bed, but he tripped over the draped bedcovers and fell flat on his face. The noise woke everyone up.
"Go to bed, Lyle! Don't do this again." Mieu said angrily, grabbing hold of Lyle and dragging him back to his bed. She then lifted him up and dropped him on the bed, turned on her heel and marched back to her own bed. Everyone went back to sleep... well, everyone except Lyle. He got back out of bed as soon as he was sure that everyone was fast asleep. He decided to run into the bathroom and pretend to be flushed down the toilet. As soon as he was ready...
"Help me, someone! The toilet's eating me!" Lyle screamed, thrashing his legs wildly in the air. Sean woke up, grumbling, and strutted to the bathroom to pull him out.
"Damn you, Lyle! Stop acting like a complete idiot!" the prince snapped. Lyle smirked.
"Well, I've done it before. Me and your other grandfather, Rhys... we were stopping in an inn with Mieu, and we got up to some crazy stuff." he replied. Sean looked cross.
"And I'll bet she was angry with both you and Rhys."
"Yeah, she was. But it wasn't half fun!"
"I'm going back to bed. You should get some sleep, too." After he had finished speaking, Sean went back to bed, leaving Lyle standing in the bathroom, his hair dripping with toilet water.
"Now for some REAL fun!" Lyle muttered to himself as he sauntered out of the room in a carefree manner, taking care to close the door silently behind him as he left. He climbed three flights of stairs to reach the top floor of the inn. After he had done so, he began to run as though his pants were on fire. Whilst doing so, he kept shouting "THERE IS A PRINCE IN THE INN!" at the top of his lungs. He ended up waking up half the people on the top floor and everyone on the floor below. No-one on the ground floor had woken up.
"Hey, that lunatic over there..." one person began to say, pointing at Lyle.
"What about him?" another person asked.
"Well, y'see," the first person replied, "he's none other than Lyle, who used to be the King of Shusoran. He's not being very kingly at the moment, though..." But, among the gaggle of disgruntled half-asleep people... were Prince Sean, Mieu and Wren! They could hear people asking "Where's this prince then?", "That loony with the green hair ruined my beauty sleep!" and Sean swore he even heard a voice saying "What the heck is Lyle doing, acting like that?!". The prince saw Lyle walking along slowly, smirking and laughing.
"Lyle, you idiot! What've you done now?!" Sean snapped, hot with anger. Lyle carried on laughing.
"Take that stupid grin off your face and stop laughing! What did you do?!" the prince shouted, getting angrier and more impatient by the minute. Lyle stopped smirking and shrugged.
"Well, I alerted everyone of your presence. These people deserve to know that a prince is sleeping here tonight." he said.
"Hmm! I swear I heard a voice saying that you were being an idiot. And they even knew your name!" Sean replied rudely. Lyle looked depressed. Just as Sean was about to say more, Mieu and Wren came running over.
"So this was what the commotion was about. Lyle! What were you thinking?!" Wren said in disbelief. Lyle tried to explain it, but Mieu cut in.
"That was uncalled for! You don't do that!" she snapped, turning on her heel and storming off, telling everyone that it was all just one of Lyle's games.
Eventually, Mieu had got all of the other people back to bed. She then told Wren, Sean and Lyle to go back to bed, keeping a very close eye on Lyle. They all climbed back into bed, and Mieu watched as everyone fell asleep. Lyle didn't fall asleep straight away, so Mieu hissed at him to go to sleep, and he did. Lyle didn't wake up again that night.
PART III: Chapter Two
It was 7am in the morning, and Prince Sean was first to wake up. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and dragged himself out of bed. He pulled on his black boots and jammed his sword into his belt. He then woke Mieu and Wren up, but as he went to wake up Lyle, his bed was empty!
"Oh, no... Not again... I think he's up to something." Sean muttered as Mieu and Wren pulled themselves out of bed.
"What's up now, Prince?" Mieu asked.
"Look," Sean replied, "Lyle's done a runner." Mieu looked slightly angered, but then she asked Wren to try and find Lyle.
"Let's check the room. He might have hidden somewhere for a joke." Wren said. He used his internal GPS to search for Lyle, and lo and behold, he found him in seconds. Like he had said, Lyle had hidden somewhere for a joke. He paced over to the wardrobe and opened the door.
"I know you're in there, Lyle!" Wren said loudly, and Lyle came out of the wardrobe, a pair of ladies' knickers on his head. Normally, Sean wouldn't laugh at anything, not even the funniest joke in the universe, but for once, he found the knickers on Lyle's head amusing, so he began to chuckle. Mieu, on the other hand, looked very stern. She didn't think it was funny at all.
"Prince Sean, you're laughing at something very silly. Stop it." Mieu said sternly, clapping her hand over Sean's mouth. Meanwhile, Wren was having difficulty removing the knickers from Lyle's head.
"Stay still for a moment! You've got a pair of knickers on your head!" Wren said, holding Lyle's arm in one hand and trying to grab the knickers and throw them off his head with the other. But every time Wren said 'knickers', Lyle laughed more and more and dodged Wren's hand more and more until he collapsed to the floor in a fit of uproarious laughter. Finally Wren was able to grab the knickers and throw them out the window, where they landed on an old man's head. Several passers-by were in stitches.
"Whoops..." Wren muttered as he helped Lyle to his feet. Mieu removed her hand from Sean's mouth and the prince calmed down.
"I've never seen you laugh before." Lyle said.
"Well, you know... having a pair of knickers on your head can make anyone laugh. Except Mieu." Sean replied, clearing his throat. Mieu calmly pointed out that Lyle had an embarrassing wet patch on his pants. He'd wet himself with laughter.
"Oh no! I've not brought a change of clothes!" Lyle panicked.
"Where are those knickers?" Mieu asked. Wren replied that he'd thrown them out the window. Mieu sighed and said that Lyle would have to go out with what he had on.
"What was it with the knickers?" Wren asked.
"Well, I was going to suggest that Lyle wears them until his pants and undies had dried off." Mieu replied. Lyle shrank back slightly.
"What?! I had no idea where those knickers had been, or if they'd even been washed, but they were still on my head!" Lyle snapped, but no-one took him on. The party collected up all their belongings and departed from the inn, heading for Castle Divisia.
When they reached the gates of the castle, a guard led them through the castle and into the throne room, where the King and several of his subjects were. The party approached the King with some grace, although Sean wasn't showing much grace.
"Your Majesty!" Lyle said loudly, bowing gracefully. The King rose from his throne and strode forward.
"What do you need of me?" the King asked politely.
"We need to know about the clues to Laya's Treasure. Queen Sari of Landen told us that you know something, and you have to tell us!" Sean replied, not so politely. The King shook his head and glared at Lyle.
"Is this young man related to you?" he asked.
"Yeah. He's my grandson." Lyle replied.
"He's not very polite, is he? Does he happen to be a prince? He looks like a prince..."
"You got that right, Your Maj."
"Excuse me, 'Your Maj'? What does that mean?"
"It's short for 'Your Majesty'."
"Very well. So you found out from Queen Sari that I know something about Laya's Treasure, hidden in the Bernink Province? You'll need to get Laya's Pendant first, and that's somewhere in the Frigidia Province, currently inaccessible." Lyle began to wonder. Where was the key to the Frigidia Province?
"So, the key to the Frigidia Province, Your Maj... Where is it?" Lyle asked.
"Beneath the Bernink Province." the King replied.
"What? As in... underground?"
"No, underwater. Not to worry, though!"
"We don't have diving suits!"
"But you DO have a Wren cyborg. Wren cyborgs can transform into an aerojet, an aquaskimmer and a submersible, but you'll need certain parts." After the King had finished speaking, Wren gasped. How could he transform? And why had no-one told him up until now? Sean looked at Wren. Mieu did the same, but her glance was out of jealousy and not awe.
"And where can we find these parts?"
"Well, the parts for allowing your Wren cyborg to transform into a submersible are in a cave to the southwest. Some rebels hide out there, so please be careful." Thanking the King for this information, Lyle led the party out of the throne room, where a guard led them to the gate that went into South Divisia. The party trudged through South Divisia and out into the open grasslands of the Salvadayna Province.
"Now, the King said that the parts were in a cave to the southwest. Let's go." Lyle said, leading the party to the southwest.
"I can transform?! Impossible!" Wren said in disbelief as the party made their way to the cave.
"Why are you all shocked, Wren? You should be thinking 'Yay, I can transform!', but you're not! You're acting all weird..." Lyle mumbled to Wren. The cyborg shrugged slightly.
"You see, no-one ever told me that I could transform..." Wren sighed as the party approached the cave. They went inside cautiously, for the inside of the cave was very dark.
* * *
"It's very dark in here..." Lyle mumbled to himself as Prince Sean lead him, Mieu and Wren further into the cave. The King of Divisia had said that a group of rebels used this cave as a hideout.
"We should be careful. The King said there were rebels in here." Mieu said.
"Button it, Mieu! Let's get the parts and get out of here." Sean snapped. Mieu sighed and the party inched further into the dark cave.
"We'll need some light." Lyle said, and then he cast the Luminos Technique, which is a simple technique that makes light. The emerald on his staff began to glow brightly. As Lyle is very proficient in techniques, the light was so bright that it illuminated the whole passageway.
"Good job, Lyle. Now we can see where we're going." Sean said, leading the party further down the passage. They could hear footsteps approaching them.
"Someone's coming! Quick, Lyle! Put the light out!" Wren hissed. Lyle refused to put the light out and said that they could use the light to see who was coming. Voices could be heard.
"Hey, someone's got a light!"
"Lights are forbidden in our cave. Yes they are." The footsteps came ever closer to the party. Wren kept reminding Lyle to put the light out, but he still refused. Two figures crossed into the light.
"See, Wren? We can see who's coming for us!" Lyle whispered to Wren.
"Right, enough of your illumination. Turn out the light, or we turn out ALL your lights!" one shouted.
"No can do!" Lyle replied. The two figures came even closer.
"Well, I'm Wayne. Meet my muscly friend Bruce." Wayne said, pointing at Bruce. Lyle stormed forward.
"I'm Lyle. Meet my band of mincemeat-makers who'll make mincemeat out of YOU!" Lyle replied, much louder than Wayne, pointing at Sean, Mieu and Wren as he spoke. Wayne drew out a small handgun from his pocket.
"I've got a gun. Do you like it?" Wayne said, waving the gun in Lyle's face. Sean had had enough. He pushed Lyle out of the way and drew his sword.
"No, we don't! Now, you leave Lyle alone or you'll lose your head!" Sean snapped, pressing the edge of the blade against Wayne's throat. Bruce stormed forawrd and grabbed Sean's wrist. The prince didn't drop his sword or wince in pain. He swung his free hand at Bruce, startling him into letting go. He was then able to thrust his sword at Bruce, opening a savage gash in his left side.
"That's not very nice!" Bruce wailed, cluching at the wound.
"I'm not a very nice person." Sean snarled in reply. He swished the sword at Bruce again, slicing his left shoulder. Blood trickled out of the wound. Wayne was getting fed up. He jumped up and kicked Sean in the head, knocking him out.
"That'll show him." Wayne muttered, but Sean had only lost consciousness for a second. He got back up and thrust his sword at Wayne, impaling him through the heart, killing him instantly.
"There!" Sean said cheerfully, just as Bruce drew a dagger and grabbed the prince from behind, pressing the blade against his throat. Sean laughed a little, but Bruce jammed the blade harder against his neck, almost on the verge of cutting through his skin.
"You killed my friend, you idiot." Bruce sneered, pressing the blade closer to Sean's throat. The prince gulped and dropped his sword. It clanged on the floor, and the noise resonated through the entire passage.
"Are you trying to scare me?" Sean said, snickering. Bruce growled and slitted the prince's throat, although the wound wasn't serious enough to cause any fatal consequences. Sean picked his sword up and slit Bruce's throat, and that was a fatal cut. Bruce's lifeless body slumped to the floor, and Sean went through his pockets and found 25000 meseta, a scrap of blank paper and a locket. The prince looked inside the locket, and inside was a picture of a young woman. Lyle rushed over.
"Wait! That's..." Lyle began, unable to continue.
"That's what?" Sean asked.
"Uh, well... that picture is a picture of Maia, your grandmother." Lyle replied. The prince clasped the locket in his hand and closed his eyes. A tear fell.
"I never even met her." Sean said softly, his cold, stony exterior melting away.
"She was a lovely woman. Your other grandfather, Rhys... she was his wife, and they were very happy together. Don't worry though, I'm sure you'll meet her soon." Lyle replied gently, resting his hand on Sean's shoulder. The prince closed the locket and put it in his pocket. He stood up.
"Right, let's see what the other one was carrying." Sean muttered, going through Wayne's pockets. He found 1500 meseta and a small knife. He jammed the knife into his belt and picked his sword up. There was blood congealed all over the blade. The prince wiped the blood off onto Wayne's clothes and jammed the sword back into his belt. He ordered everyone to carry on through the passage, and so they did. They reached a massive chamber which even Lyle's Luminos Technique couldn't even illuminate the whole of. There was a silhouette of a man, floating right on the edge of the light.
"I've been waiting eighteen years for this day, Lyle." a voice said. The figure stepped forward into the light. He was a man in his mid-forties, with ocean-blue hair and a very sophisticated dress sense.
"...Rhys? Is that you?" Lyle gasped.
"Indeed it is, Lyle. I could never forgive you for what you did to me all that time ago. And where is Ayn? Tell me!" Rhys said, his voice sounding more ominous than usual.
"Well, Ayn was killed in an explosion. Satellite was attacked, and it blew up. We couldn't save him. I'm sorry." Lyle replied sadly.
"What?! You let him die? How could you! I should never had trusted you. At first, I thought you were a pompous brat. Maybe I was right."
"My daughter died in that explosion, too! We tried to save them, but it was already too late!"
"Silence yourself, Lyle. Do you know what stupidity spills from your mouth? You just left them there." Sean had had enough. He stormed in between Rhys and Lyle.
"It's true! I was about to rescue my father and mother, but a huge crack opened in the ground! I couldn't have jumped across, or I could've been killed!" the prince shouted, much to the surprise of Rhys.
"And who is this rude young man, Lyle? He looks like you, he dresses in a similar way to you and he talks a little like you." Rhys asked.
"That's Prince Sean, your grandson." Lyle replied. Rhys looked horrified.
"I knew it. Ayn should have married Sari, then things wouldn't be so horrible." Rhys grumbled, then he muttered something about wanting a time machine.
"You said yourself that it was his choice!"
"Yes, it was his choice, but you kept pointing at Thea, motioning to Ayn that he should marry her! And he follows you and marries her. Damn you, Lyle. Damn you!" Rhys roared, his anger boiling over now. Mieu and Wren came up to Rhys and grabbed him.
"Release me this instant! I haven't finished with Lyle yet..." Rhys yelled, but he stopped. He glanced to his right and his left. "Mieu? Wren? It really is you! Well now, this is good." he said, looking at Mieu and Wren.
"It's been a while, Rhys, we know. But you shouldn't keep going on at Lyle like that." Mieu said, letting go of Rhys. Wren did the same.
"Look, Rhys, I'm sorry about that. I really am. How about we make up and become friends again, yeah?" Lyle said, stepping forward and holding his hand out to Rhys.
"I don't know if I can. But yes, I agree. Let's become friends again." Rhys replied, taking Lyle's hand.
"Well, at least they're friends again..." Wren whispered to Mieu. Sean was confused. What had gone on eighteen years ago? No-one could explain - it was a long story.
"Look, we're looking for some parts here. The King of Divisia said that they could make Wren transform into a submersible!" Lyle said to Rhys.
"Now what is this you utter, Lyle? You say that Wren can transform, but you need parts? In fact, I came looking for Laya's Treasure here, because it could stop all this fighting. Now, the parts... Ah! Here they are!" Rhys said, crossing to a chest. He opened it and took out two very strange-looking metal wings. He handed them to Wren. He began to leave.
"Wait, Rhys!" Lyle shouted. Rhys stopped and turned around.
"What now, Lyle? I have to go." Rhys said, disgruntled.
"You said you were looking for Laya's Treasure. Well, it just so happens that we're looking for it too!"
"In that case, I suggest we work together!" Lyle said that was OK, and so now, Rhys had joined the party.
"Um, Rhys... just to warn you, Sean is the leader of the group. Don't argue with him - he could turn nasty." Lyle whispered to Rhys. Rhys acknowledged this, and then Sean lead the party out of the cave. Lyle turned off the light on his staff by muttering the reversal words for the Luminos Technique, which is a darkness-creating technique called the Abyssa Technique.
"I remember seeing a very deep shaft beneath the river in the Bernink Province. I suggest we go there." Rhys said, phrasing his sentence carefully so that Sean wouldn't get angry with him.
"Gotcha, Rhys. Let's go." Sean said, leading the party out the cave, back through Divisia and back to the Chalst Province. Lyle then lead them through the passage - with Sean's explicit permission - and into the Bernink Province.
* * *
"So, this river you were talking about... where is it?" Sean asked Rhys as the party trudged through the Bernink Province, unaffected by the heat.
"It should be just to the south of Hazatak, the town of cyborgs. If you don't mind, Prince Sean, may I lead the group to the spot?" Rhys said in reply, adding his own question at the end. Sean allowed him to lead the party to the place.
Twenty minutes later, they were at the river. Rhys peered into the reddish-brown water and saw the long shaft he had mentioned to the rest of the party.
"It's here. If you look, you can see the shaft! Wren, you need to transform." Rhys said. Lyle hadn't completely forgiven him, though, so he was forced to hold off a temptation to throw Rhys headfirst into the water. Wren strutted over and looked down the shaft. He couldn't figure out how to transform.
"But I don't know... oh, wait a minute! I've got it!" Wren said, taking the parts from his pack and attaching them to his arms. There had been something hidden in his programming that allowed him to know how to transform if the time arose. As soon as the parts were attached, Wren began to change. Sparks flew and metallic clangs resonated through the air whilst the transformation took place.
After five minutes, the transformation was complete. Wren had transformed into a submersible.
"Well, we aren't going to get very far if I'm not in the water!" the computerised voice of Wren said. Even though he had changed shape, he still had speech facilities he could use. Quickly, the party pushed the Wren-sub into the river and climbed inside.
"Please fasten all seat belts and prepare for submersion." Wren's voice said as the rest of the party sat down in the seats. They fastened the seat belts. The door of the sub then closed, rendering it watertight.
The Wren-sub began to descend through the shaft. The light above them went from white to twilight blue as the sub descended, sending huge bubbles to the surface as it went.
"I don't believe it! This is simply stupendous!" Rhys said as the sub came out from the shaft and a school of fish swam past.
"Nearly there! We just have to surface." Wren's voice said as the Wren-sub surfaced and powered over to dry land. Everyone climbed out and pulled the sub onto the land.
Five minutes later, the sub had transformed back into Wren. He put the parts away and shook his head.
"I really don't like that. I really don't. It was horrible." Wren grumbled. Everyone else said that they quite enjoyed the ride.
"We're in a secret world below the Bernink Province. Look!" Mieu said. Everyone looked around, and sure enough, this place didn't look anything like the Bernink Province. The temperature was much milder and the air felt crisp. Silence fell all around, as though the party had realised it was forbidden to make any noise here. They walked lightly through the grass and came up to a building that looked a little like an Ancient Greek temple.
"Let's go in there. There could be a clue to Laya's Treasure in there!" Sean said, leading the party into the building. The interior looked like an Ancient Greek temple, too, but this one looked more well-kept. There was sand on the floor and intricate abstract patterns were carved into the walls.
"It's beautiful..." Mieu whispered to herself as she looked around. There were four people inside.
"Excuse me, what are you here for?" one of them asked politely.
"There seems to be a lead to Laya's Treasure here. Where is it?" Sean replied, very rudely. The man was taken aback by the prince's attitude, and so was Rhys, who had been standing near the doorway with Wren.
"Young man, I apologise, but there is no other way to get Laya's Treasure than this one. Collect the three other Layan Eyes, and then I will show you where Laya's Treasure is." the man said, handing a very smooth, white, egg-shaped stone to Sean.
"Is this one of the Layan Eyes?" the prince asked. The man said that it was, and that there are four.
"When the four eyes converge their lines of vision, there, and only there, one shall find the treasure of the great leader Laya." the man said. Another man came over to Sean.
"I have news to give you. There is someone at the far end of the palace who wishes to meet with you." he said. Sean thanked him and went to the far end of the palace, as the man had instructed. A young blonde-haired woman was sitting on a velvet chair. As Sean approached, she stood up and put her hands on her hips.
"You must be the prince destined to bear Laya's Treasure." she said. She sounded very sophisticated, but not upper-class or posh. Her clothing, which consisted of a red and white dress that just reached her knees, a pair of brown boots and a silver tiara, suggested that she was a warrior. She had a quiver slung over her shoulder.
"And who are you?" Sean asked, trying to be as polite as he could.
"I am the sister of the great Laya, but I am also called Laya." Laya replied. She took her hands off her hips and stepped in front of Sean. She eyed him very closely - glancing into his bright emerald-green eyes, looking at his attire and dress sense and examining his messy, ponytailed, viridian green hair.
"You don't look like a prince. You really don't. But, I guess you like to be inconspicuous." Laya sighed, reaching for Sean's hand and taking it in one of her own. She had begun to develop a crush on the prince.
"Yeah, Laya, you got that right." Sean said, sounding surprisingly like Lyle.
"Anyway, we really should go and find the other three Layan Eyes." Laya suggested, leading Sean out of the palace. As the twosome walked past him, Lyle began to snicker.
"What is so funny, Lyle? You seem to be laughing at strange things." Rhys asked.
"Well, it's just that... Laya's taking a liking to Sean, but I am much better looking than him." Lyle replied, without thinking. Sean was only a few yards away.
"Lyle, you idiot! Stop playing around with Rhys and let's go!" the prince yelled. Lyle and Rhys instantly obeyed and exited the palace and headed for the water, where Wren used the sub parts and transformed into the Wren-sub, which carried everyone back to the main area of the Bernink Province.
* * *
The Wren-sub surfaced at the river in the Bernink Province. Everyone climbed out and pulled it onto the dry land, where it transformed back into Wren.
"Right, so we've got to find the other three Layan Eyes. One of them is hidden in the Stalden Province." Laya explained as the party trudged through the Bernink Province. Lyle remembered where the passage to the Stalden Province was, so, with Sean's permission, he lead the party through the passage and into the Stalden Province.
"I can see something in the sky! Look!" Laya said, pointing at a huge winged creature in the sky. The rest of the party saw it, too.
"Hang on! It's holding something in its hand, and it looks like a white, egg-shaped stone!" Rhys gasped.
"That's one of the Layan Eyes! After it!" Sean ordered. He was about to run after the winged creature, but Lyle stopped him.
"Let me deal with it." he said before darting into a huge forest right in front of the party.
"What does he think he's doing?!" Rhys said in shock.
"Not a clue. But it's probably something we should just let him get on with." Sean replied.
"He's gone nuts, I think." Mieu sighed.
"Yeah, you're probably right. but we've also got to get Laya's Pendant from the Frigidia Province. We could always get that after we get this Layan Eye." Sean said.
* * *
"That thing's not getting away with that Layan Eye..." Lyle muttered to himself as he ran through the forest, brushing past trees and thick shrubbery. For a man in his mid-forties, Lyle was surprisingly athletic and agile, darting past the plants and weaving through the trees with a grace and finesse other men his age could only dream of.
Sweat began to trickle from his forehead. Yet Lyle pressed on, not showing any sign of slowing down just yet. Acting quickly, he put his staff into his belt, freeing his right arm so that he could aid his running.
Five minutes on. The winged creature was flying ever higher, and it was getting further away from Lyle. Yet Lyle carried on the chase, the sweat now pouring down his face, despite the fact that he was tiring.
"Don't you even think about getting away..." Lyle panted, his fringe sticking to his sweaty forehead. He stopped and dropped to the floor to regain his breath.
He could feel his blood heating up inside him.
"It's happening. Maybe it's the only way I can get the Layan Eye now..." Lyle said to himself. His blood felt like liquid fire now. The only way he could quell it would be to let go and allow the Dragon Knight within him to awaken. So that's what he did.
Swirls of brown mist enveloped Lyle, covering him whilst the change overtook him. The mist expanded and rippled to keep Lyle's changing form covered. The mist dissipated, and a huge dragon stood where it had been.
"OK, I'm going after that thing. The Layan Eye won't be in his possession for much longer!" Lyle said in his head, and then he spread his huge wings and took to the skies.
The winged creature soared quickly, but Lyle the Dragon was much faster, catching up to it faster than Lyle's human form could have managed. Meanwhile, back on the ground, Rhys was staring intently at Lyle the Dragon.
"That's impossible! That dragon... that was the very same dragon that kidnapped Maia over thirty years ago!" Rhys gasped, staring at the huge brown dragon in shock. It was fighting with the huge winged creature that had the Layan Eye.
"That's no dragon - that's Lyle!" Wren shouted triumphantly. Rhys' look turned from shock to horror.
"Lyle? Wren, what kind of thing would make your circuits act like this? Lyle is no dragon, he's... Ah! That dragon's been hurt!" Rhys said in disbelief as the semi-conscious form of Lyle the Dragon landed on the grass nearby with a sickening thud. A cloud of brown mist settled over the dragon, shrinking around it and dissipating, leaving Lyle lying on the grass. It seemed as though the winged creature had attacked him and knocked him to the ground.
"But how... that's just..." Rhys stammered as he looked at Lyle, who was barely moving. Sean ran over to him.
"It's OK, everybody, he's alive! He's just taken a very bad hit." Sean said. Lyle began to regain consciousness, very slowly.
"No, Prince Sean, not that! How that dragon turned into Lyle, that's what I meant!" Rhys snapped. The prince stood up and turned to face him.
"Don't get rowdy with me, Rhys!" the prince shouted. Rhys backed down. Just then, the huge winged creature flew over and headed straight for Lyle. It dropped the stone it was carrying and swiped Lyle up in its ugly hands. Lyle wasn't conscious enough to struggle, so he lay limply in the creature's hands. It began to fly away.
"Oh, no! Lyle!" Laya screamed, but it was too late. The winged creature had escaped with Lyle in tow.
"This isn't possible... but why Lyle?" Rhys asked in disbelief as he walked over to the smooth, white, egg-shaped stone the creature had dropped and picked it up.
"I've not got a clue. But, at least we have two Layan Eyes now. Anyway, we've still got to get Laya's Pendant from the Frigidia Province. Let's do that." Sean replied, and then he allowed Wren to lead the party to the Frigidia Province.
PART III: Chapter Three
The only way to get to the Frigidia Province was through the Bernink Province, so Prince Sean, Mieu, Wren, Laya and Rhys were forced to traverse the desert and go through an echoey passage to get there. When the party neared the end of the passage, a blast of frosty cold air hit them. Sean began to shiver.
"It's so cold here..." Sean mumbled, his teeth chattering.
"Prince Sean, why don't you try unclipping your cloak and wrapping it around you?" Rhys suggested. The prince took his advice and took his cloak from around his shoulders, wrapping it around his body like a makeshift poncho. Laya began to shiver, and Rhys saw her.
"I'm fairly warm. Laya, why don't you use my cloak to keep warm?" Rhys said, unclipping his cloak and handing it to Laya. Thanking him, she took the cloak and wrapped it around herself, just as Sean had done. After everyone's warmth issues had been sorted out, the party set off into the Frigidia Province.
The province was bitterly cold - so cold that the party wished that they were in the Bernink Province, but that wish was unlikely to be granted.
"Come on," Sean ordered, "let's find Laya's Pendant." He lead the party through ankle-deep snow and bone-chillingly freezing winds. Driving snow attacked them from all around, and as the flakes melted, the wintry water soaked into their clothes, making them feel even colder.
"I know it's unlikely," Mieu said, "but how about we look for a town or a village?"
"Are you serious, Mieu?! The cold must be playing with your computer chip!" Sean snapped. The Siberian temperatures were making his blood feel like ice, even though he had his cloak wrapped around him for warmth. Mieu sighed.
"I know it sounds stupid, but please try to find somewhere. Even if it's just an abandoned village." she said, her head hanging. Sean grumbled under his breath and stormed through the now knee-deep snow, with Mieu, Wren, Laya and Rhys following closely. As they trudged further through the carpet of white, featureless snow, Sean thought he saw something in amongst the vast expanse. It looked like some sort of bright red rectangle stuck in the snow. The prince ran over and picked it up.
"It's a letter! But... how?" Sean asked himself as he looked at who it was addressed to. It was addressed to him. He showed the unopened letter the other members of the party.
"Well, shouldn't you read it?" Rhys suggested. Sean tore open the envelope and found a folded piece of light blue paper. He read it aloud to the rest of the party, and it said:
Dear Prince Sean and party,
I'm writing this letter over 3000 feet in the air, which is no easy task. That's why my handwriting's a mess. I've just found out some startling news.
The winged creature that had taken me had been blathering on about the fact that the explosion of Satellite had all been planned in advance! And then as soon as that one was down, the other moon, Dahlia, was going to be blown up as well! Luckily they abandoned that plan, because those guys finally got what they were looking for. They're also after Laya's Treasure.
Maybe Lune could help here. I know Queen Sari said that he'd been the one behind the attacks, but actually he regrets everything he's done. He's on Dahlia, where Orakio banished him 1000 years ago. Yeah, I know it sounds odd, but he's still alive, thanks to sleeping in a freezer, also known as cryogenic sleep. Brrr, it chills me to think about it.
He's also got one of the Layan Eyes, so it'd be wise to go over to Dahlia. I'd better stop writing or else Wing-Features here might tear the letter up.
Lots of love, Lyle.
X X X
P.S. If Lune tries to attack you, you have to explain the situation. Don't fight back!
"At least Lyle has told us what we need to do after retrieving Laya's Pendant." Rhys said after Sean had finished reading the letter. The prince put it into his pocket and lead the party through yet another vast, bleak expanse of snow.
After a long two hours' trekking, the party could see something in the distance.
"Come on! I see something over there!" Sean ordered, jogging through the waist-deep snow. The shape became clearer and clearer, and the prince could see that it was... a town.
"Mieu, you were right! I see a town! Move it!" the prince said eagerly, ushering the party towards the town. Before they got inside, they stopped.
"This isn't a town at all!" Laya said.
"Whatever are you saying now, Laya? Of course it's a town! Look, there are buildings here!" Sean replied. Laya stopped him saying any more.
"This place... my older sister told me that this was where she and Orakio finally made up. This is Mystoke, the Castle of Silence."
"Oh yeah? A Castle of Silence, huh? Well, we'll make much more noise than that!"
"Still your tongues, both of you!" Rhys snapped, forgetting the fact that he'd just overstepped his authority. Sean looked sternly at him.
"I apologise, Prince Sean. That's your job." Rhys said slowly, backing down. Sean then lead the party into Mystoke, the Castle of Silence.
* * *
"OK, now what? We're in, so where's that pendant?" Sean asked, slightly angered that no-one had just come up and given him Laya's Pendant.
"We need to go through the actual castle. Come on." Laya said softly. Sean began to get angry.
"Well if you know where it is, you go and get it, Laya! I'm not wasting my time wandering through a castle!" the prince snapped, frightening Laya.
"I don't know exactly where it is, but I do know it's here." Laya saw the look on Sean's face. "Oh, OK then, I'll go and get it. Mieu, will you come with me?"
"Yes, certainly." Mieu replied. They headed into the castle, leaving Sean, Wren and Rhys standing outside.
"Well that's certainly a very good move for a gentleman..." Rhys muttered, but Sean overheard him.
"What are you talking about?!" Sean snapped.
"You've let the two girls go off on their own and you don't even bother to help! You know something, Prince Sean, you really are a selfish brat. My first impressions of you were right all along." Rhys replied, anger flaring in his tone. He began to walk away from Sean and Wren.
"Damn you, Rhys! Fine, go off and freeze to death! I don't care!" Sean shouted back.
"See if I care when you catch pneumonia or hypothermia!" Rhys yelled.
"Both of you, behave! You're acting like complete idiots! Now, Rhys... it's not Prince Sean's fault that he's a bit arrogant and sometimes selfish. And Prince Sean... it's not Rhys' fault that he's a bit of an emphasiser on politeness." Wren said to try and calm both of them down. It worked. Rhys and Sean apologised to each other and shook hands.
Meanwhile, Mieu and Laya had been trudging through the Castle of Silence in the search of Laya's Pendant. They had been through every corridor and room in there, and they were on the verge of giving up, but Mieu spotted something in a bedroom they had looked in three times.
"Ah, look! This is it!" Mieu said triumphantly, snatching up a small silver pendant attached to a slim siver chain. Laya ran over and had a look at it.
"You're right, Mieu. This is my sister's pendant. Let's go and tell the boys." she said, and so Laya and Mieu headed back outside the castle to tell Sean, Wren and Rhys.
Several minutes later...
"So, that's Laya's Pendant. OK, what's Laya's message?" Sean asked. Laya opened the pendant and a voice rang out for all the party to hear.
"Sister, it is time I told you the truth. Despite the fact that Orakio and I had fought for many years, we finally realise that we have been deceived. Some deity of purest evil is using us to quench is thirst for pain and suffering. We will join forces to fight this evil, but you must also help."
"Hmm? How are we supposed to help Orakio and Laya defeat the evil?" Rhys asked. He was clearly puzzled.
"I think it might be Laya's Treasure. We have to gather the other two Layan Eyes and head back to the world beneath the Bernink Province. Maybe that'll help us defeat this evil." Sean suggested.
"Didn't it say in Lyle's letter that there was a Layan Eye on the moon Dahlia? I reckon that should be our next priority." Wren said to Sean in a suggestive tone. The prince then told everyone that that's what they were going to do - they were going to head to Dahlia and retrieve the Layan Eye. Mieu was about to suggest a trip to Aerone, the town of spaceship storage, but Laya had found a spaceship in the Castle of Silence.
"Come on, it'll be easier." she said, and so she lead Sean and the rest of the party to the spaceship. Wren piloted, Mieu navigated, and the party were at Dahlia in no time at all.
"Let's get that Layan Eye!" Sean ordered, and then he lead the party out of the spaceship and onto Dahlia's surface.
* * *
On the surface of Dahlia, Prince Sean nearly felt like crying. The infrastructure was startlingly similar to the infrastructure on Satellite, and this only made the prince pine for his mother and father. He seemed to be having flashbacks, which went back to those fateful last moments on Satellite. The images in his head were so potent he thought he could smell the burning wood and hear the planet tearing itself apart.
"Prince Sean? Are you OK?" Laya asked. Sean looked at her with a few tears in his eyes.
"No, it's just that this planet... it looks so similar to Satellite, and my parents... I feel like it's happening all over again..." Sean said, beginning to sob. Laya put a comforting arm around the prince.
"Just remember that this is not Satellite. Come on, we need to see Lune." she whispered. Sean wiped the tears from his eyes and sniffed up.
"You're right. I've got to get those images out of my head. Let's find Lune." Sean said, standing up. The party climbed up several sets of stairs, and they could hear voices as they neared the top of the sixth set.
"I do believe that we have intruders, my Emperor."
"In that case, allow me to deal with them. It's another rabble."
Sean marched up the stairs and stormed forward. The rest of the party stayed near the top of the stairs. As the prince advanced, he saw a figure standing in front of him.
"Ah, so you're the intruder. Let me deal with you." the figure said, stepping out of the shadow and revealing himself. He was Lune, the Emperor of Dahlia. He used to be a very nice man, but since Orakio banished him, his personality had soured and now he was a very bitter individual. He had long, lime-green hair that was all over the place. He was wearing a long-sleeved royal purple top, with a pair of black pants and dark green boots. He had a throwing knife in his right hand, and he was wearing several bracelets on his wrists, a choker around his neck and a headband just below his hairline. The belt that held up his pants had a sword jammed in it.
"I'm Prince Sean. I come from Satellite, which has recently been destroyed. And who are you, you over-the-top ponce?" Sean asked, very, very rudely. Lune strode right up to him.
"I am Emperor Lune of Dahlia. And you trespass on my turf! You need to be taught a lesson, young Prince Sean. Guards! Sieze this prince at once!" Lune said in a very bossy, grand voice. Just as the guards were about to grab Sean, the prince knelt on the ground in front of Lune.
"Emperor Lune, we're not here to hurt you." Sean said humbly. Lune ushered the guards away and ordered Sean to stand. Normally, the prince wouldn't follow orders, but he had seen what Lune was capable of, so he daren't disobey.
"Then what are you here for, Prince? And I take it the rest of your group is over there."
"Yeah, that's the rest of my group. We're here because we need the four Layan Eyes. We've got two already."
"Layan Eyes? I have heard of them, but why do you need the one in my possession?"
"Some evil force has used Orakio and Laya, and now it wants to destroy the world! That's why I think Laya's Treasure is the key to defeating it. And the only way to get Laya's Treasure is to retrieve the four Layan Eyes, then return them to the world beneath the Bernink Province on Samesina." Lune began to look worried.
"Prince Sean," he said, "there's something you should know. I never intended to hurt anyone, yet I did, and I regret it. If you will allow me to travel with you, I'll give you the Layan Eye and help you get the last one." Sean accepted, and then Rhys came up to the prince.
"Now, Prince Sean, I actually owe Lune a favour." he said. Lune looked at him strangely.
"Actually, Rhys, no you don't. Now come on." Lune said, but Rhys stopped him saying any more.
"I do, Lune. After I told you about the rebels who were defying your rule, I really should do something else for you. I'll stay here and look over Dahlia whilst you, Prince Sean and the rest of the group go after the last Layan Eye and defeat the evil."
"Oh! My sister Alair could've done it, but you can help her. Thanks, Rhys."
"My pleasure, Lune."
After Lune had had another talk with Sean, he handed something else to the prince, along with the Layan Eye. It looked like a pair of mechanical wings, which were made of a black metal.
"Prince Sean, I noticed you had a Wren cyborg with you, and these are some parts for him. They'll allow him to transform into an aerojet!" Lune said. Sean took both things and handed the parts to Wren. The prince then introduced Lune to the rest of the party (they all forgot to call him 'Emperor', but he didn't seem to mind now). Just as they are about to climb onto the spaceship and go back to Samesina, Lune handed an envelope to Sean.
"Sean, I got this envelope. It magically appeared in my pocket, and I almost forgot about it. Oh, I forgot to call you Prince! Silly Lune!" Lune said, handing an envelope to Sean. The prince took it and said that he didn't mind Lune not calling him 'Prince'.
"I say you should open it." Laya whispered. Sean tore open the envelope and pulled out a damp piece of paper. The ink on the paper was smudged, but the words could still be made out. The prince read the letter out aloud.
Dear Prince Sean and party,
Yet again I am forced to write in the most inconvenient of places. I've been locked in a damp prison cell near a sewer, and it smells awful. I've made yet another shocking discovery.
The winged creature that had taken me said that the Dark Force needed a vessel to be truly reborn. I have no idea what that means, or why he said it. He even said that the evil is after Laya's Treasure! The only thing I can suggest is to get the last Layan Eye as quickly as possible. No doubt you've already got the one off Lune.
I found that the last Layan Eye is in England, on Earth. The creature's already sent someone out to get it, I think. He didn't say if that was definite or not. I'm hearing footsteps. I have to go. I'll have to magically give this to Lune.
Lots of love, Lyle.
X X X
P.S. If I figure anything new out I'll contact you as soon as I can.
"So your friend Lyle was kidnapped? We'll have to save him as well as getting the other Layan Eye." Lune said after Sean had put the letter into his pocket.
"Well, he's my grandfather, actually," Sean replied, "yet he acts like a friend." Lune stood corrected.
"Let's fly the spaceship to England then." Laya suggested, and so the party boarded the spaceship.
PART III: Chapter Four
Meanwhile, in a dark, dank, damp prison cell, with a musty smell lingering in the air like smog, Lyle was sat on the floor, his knees drawn close to his chest. He had recently sent a letter to Sean, and he hoped that the prince had got it. He had heard that winged creature talking about the Dark Force needing a vessel, and he was trying to think what on Samesina he was on about. As he pondered, footsteps began to echo through the passage. Lyle stood up and stared out of the bars of his cell. an ugly goblin stood in front of the cell, staring at Lyle with a piercing glare.
"Afternoon, worm. Your lunch." it said, passing a tray full of food to Lyle. The tray was full, but the food on it was very slimy and smelly, some of it rotted and maggot-filled. Lyle retched and dropped the tray on the floor.
"Yeah, thanks. I'll... ugh, enjoy that." Lyle replied, still reeling from the tray of inedible stuff. As soon as the goblin had left, Lyle realised that a stone in the floor was loose. The clatter of the dropped tray had knocked it slightly. Lyle went over to it and pushed it out. There was a thud as the stone hit the floor below, but no-one had noticed.
"I've not made too much noise, have I?" Lyle muttered to himself. He picked up his staff and dropped through the hole in the floor. He landed heavily on his side, and his left leg caught the stone that had fallen through. Lyle gritted his teeth and stood up. He feared that he had badly hurt his leg, for it wouldn't support his weight very well. He made his way over to a small alcove, using his staff like a crutch. He had hidden not a moment too soon. Two demon-like creatures walked past.
"Hmm, I hope we can do it."
"Get Laya's Treasure and revive Dark Force, of course!"
"We need a vessel, though."
"That's been sorted. The big winged guy got someone."
"Not a clue what his name is, but he's got bright green hair and a fairly low-slung dress sense." From inside his alcove, Lyle could feel his heart beating double-time. He'd found out that he was going to be used in the revival of Dark Force! He had to tell Sean, but he couldn't remember if he'd brought his pen and paper or if he'd left it in the cell. He frantically scrabbled through his pockets, but he couldn't find the pen and paper anywhere. A small bag fell out of his pocket and clattered on the ground. The demons stopped walking and looked around. Lyle quickly swiped up the bag and put it back into his pocket.
"Who's there? Come out!" one of the demons snarled, drawing a scimitar from a scabbard on its belt. Lyle tried to tiptoe out of the alcove, but he had to try and remain in the shadows. If the demons spotted him... no, he wouldn't even go there.
"Come on! We know someone's there!" the other demon said, taking its scimitar out of its scabbard. Lyle's breath stuck in his throat. He could feel his heart pounding heavily against his chest. Several drops of sweat were running down his forehead.
"I can't stay here..." he muttered to himself, and then he looked round the corner and quickly turned his head back. The hallway was clear, so he gingerly put his foot just outside the alcove, leant forward slightly and darted out. He thought he'd escaped, but the swish of his cloak had alerted the demons.
"Slow down, you little escaper!" one demon shouted. However, Lyle didn't slow down, despite the fact that he was gasping for breath and his left leg was torn with pain.
"He's fast." the other demon sighed. They ran faster, and they caught up with Lyle.
"What the---? I know what you're gonna do to me! Get off!" Lyle yelled, trying to wriggle free of the demon holding his right arm. That demon wasn't letting go so easily.
"So you know that you're the vessel." The demon smiled cruelly. The other demon then weighed down on Lyle so much that it forced him to the ground. Worse still, it was his left leg that was taking the brunt of the weight, and that was the leg that he'd hurt. He cried in pain whilst the demons pinned him to the ground. All Lyle could do was take it. There was no escape from this one.
"Take him back, and warn everybody that he's a trickster." the demon said. The other demon nodded, grabbed Lyle around the arms and dragged him roughly back to the prison cells.
"Get in there, you escaping moron!" the demon snapped, throwing Lyle into the cell and locking the door. Lyle picked himself up and hobbled over to the front of the cell.
"I'll kill you when I get out of here!" Lyle yelled, but the demon had already gone out of earshot. He crossed over to the tiny desk and got his pen and paper. He sat down, gritting his teeth against the excruciating pain, and began to write.
* * *
But, on Earth, in England, Prince Sean, Mieu, Wren, Laya and Emperor Lune had just arrived. They looked around, drinking in the atmosphere and sniffing the air contentedly (despite the fact that it was polluted with car fumes).
"This place is livelier than Samesina, at least." Sean said.
"Yep, and even livelier than Dahlia!" Lune added. His bitterness had begun to mellow, and now he was turning into a more sociable person. Mieu and Wren weren't that interested. They had been here before, but it was to help Lyle rescue his kidnapped daughter when Sean's father was just a prince.
"Right, enough gawping! Let's find that Layan Eye!" Sean ordered, leading the party down a wide street. There were several takeaway shops and a few retail outlets there. As the party walked along, they were hit with a huge waft of Chinese takeaway coming from a building with 'Yang Chung' written in very large letters over the top.
"Wait here, everybody. I'll ask the people in here about it." Lune said. Sean allowed him to do this, and so Lune walked into Yang Chung. A man was stood idly behind the counter, waiting to take someone's order.
"Hey, you! Do you know anything about a Layan Eye?" Lune asked the man behind the counter.
"Look, sir, don't ask me anything that's got nothing to do with your order. Now what can I get you?" the man said. Lune was exceptionally hungry. He looked at the menu.
"Alright, get me 3 lots of sesame prawn toast, 4 chicken chow meins and some crispy won tons." Lune said. The man went into the kitchen and made up Lune's order. When he came back, he told Lune that the cost was £21.40.
"Tell me that in meseta." Lune said politely. The man recalculated the bill, and it was now 10700 meseta. Lune handed the money over and collected the food. Just as Lune was about to leave, the man stopped him.
"Hang on, did you mention some kind of Layan Eye?" he asked.
"Yep, I did." Lune replied.
"They're selling it at the Millionquid Auction. They were up to lot 20 when I last checked, but the Layan Eye is in lot 41. You'd better hurry and bid for it if you want it."
"The Millionquid Auction? Where's that?"
"At the end of this street, go left. It's taking place in the plaza over there." Thanking the man, Lune went back to the party with the food. Sean looked in the bag greedily.
"Mmm, that looks delicious, Lune. Come on, I'm starving! Dish it out!" the prince snapped. Lune handed him a chicken chow mein and some sesame prawn toast. He handed some to Laya, and got some for himself. Whilst they ate, Lune told them about the Millionquid Auction.
"So they're auctioning off the Layan Eye. We just have to win the bid." Sean said through a mouthful of chow mein. When everyone had finished eating, Lune said that there was more chow mein and some won tons to share. They ate those, and then Lune discarded the rubbish. Sean then lead the party to the plaza, where the Millionquid Auction was taking place. Lot 36, a gold tea set, was being auctioned off at a starting price of £25000.
"OK, I'll keep an ear out for our lot. You get some English money." Lune said to Sean, and so the prince went to the nearby post office and changed almost all of his money from meseta to UK pound sterling. When he got back, the auctioneers were about to auction off lot 37, a haircare set.
"This is taking forever! Hurry up and begin the auction for lot 41!" Sean shouted. Just as the auctioneer was about to begin auctioning off lot 37, he stopped.
"Young man at the back wants to bid for lot 41, the Layan Eye. Should we auction that off now?" the auctioneer asked another man.
"In that case, let us begin. Yeah, let him bid for it. Start at £2000." the man replied. The auctioneer returned to the podium where he was doing his auctioning.
"By special request of the young man at the back over there, I give you lot 41, a Layan Eye. Starting at £2000. Any takers?" the auctioneer said. Several other people were taking an interest, which meant that Sean would have to outbid them. Two men put their hands up.
"£3000, any rise on £3000? Selling for £3000." Sean quickly raised his hand. One of the men raised his hand straight after.
"£4000 to the man on the left. Does the young man at the back wish to bid?" Sean raised his hand and stood up. He was going to make a bid much higher than the rate the auctioneer was going at.
"I bid £6500!" the prince yelled. The other man raised it to £10000. The auctioneer was beginning to get confused. He carried on the usual bidding procedure, but Sean and the other man were doing that for him. The asking price was now at £35500.
"Let him have it, then we take it off him." Lune hissed to Sean. The prince liked where he was coming from, but he had to raise the bid even higher, just to humiliate his competitor. The price had gone up to £57500. The man raised the bid to £60000, and Sean raised to £85000. Eventually the price was at £100500. Sean stopped bidding.
"At £100500, it goes to the man on the left! Sold!" the auctioneer shouted, tapping his hammer on the podium. Sean didn't look defeated, because Lune had come up with a plan should this happen. The man handed over the money and got the Layan Eye. As he was about to leave the auctioning area, Lune ambushed him.
"Your Layan Eye or your life!" he snarled, drawing his sword and holding it against the man's throat. The man swallowed, but he tightened his grip on the Layan Eye.
"Hey, the other guy chickened out! I earned this, so you're not having it!" the man said fearfully, with a defensive edge to his tone. Sean walked over and stood next to Lune.
"Actually that was the idea! Hand it over and you'll live. If you don't, you die. So what's it gonna be?" Sean snapped, staring at the man icily.
"I'll give it to you, but I want the money for it. I paid £100500, so that's what you pay. Easy, huh?" the man said, his tone becoming more confident. In his mind he was thinking that Sean had stopped bidding because he didn't have the money. Sean took out a massive bundle of £20 notes out of his pocket and counted out £150000.
"You know, I'm feeling really generous. Say you sold it for a profit." Sean said, handing the £150000 to the man. He took it with a smile on his face.
"Good choice, mate. Here you go." The man held out the Layan Eye, but just as Sean was about to take it, he handed it to Lune.
"I'll give it to your friend for safe keeping." he explained. Lune took the Layan Eye and placed his sword back in his belt. Just as the party were about to head back to the spaceship, the man stopped them.
"You've just done me a favour. I was hoping to sell the Layan Eye for a profit. I should do you a favour. My name's Stuart. I'll come with you and help with whatever you need." Stuart said. Sean introduced the party and explained the situation. Stuart listened, and when the prince had finished, he had a huge smile on his face.
"You're rescuing your grandfather from some demons, and his name is Lyle? I kinda know him. My friend Darren was telling me about him. He'd lost one of his eyes in a battle, hadn't he?" Stuart asked.
"Actually, Prince Sean's father restored his eye after a bit of technique-casting." Wren said. Stuart nodded his head and turned to Sean. The prince looked downtrodden.
"Wren, don't mention my dad. I've not completely got over the loss yet." he said. Wren nodded. Stuart asked how Sean had lost his father, but only Mieu could tell him. When she had finished, Stuart was on the verge of tears.
"Anyway that's enough about my life. Come on, we should get back to Samesina. We've got all the Layan Eyes, so now we can claim Laya's Treasure." Sean said quickly, leading the party back to the spaceship. When they got there, there were five teenagers with hooded sweatshirts hanging around nearby.
"Damn. Hoodies. They like smashing bottles and fighting. We'd better try and shoo them." Stuart whispered to Sean. The prince silenced him.
"I have a better idea. Laya, try shooting them." Sean said to Laya. She took out her bow and one arrow from her quiver. She set everything up, and then she fired the arrow at the nearest hoodie. It struck him in the chest and he dropped to the floor, dead. The other hoodies looked around. Laya readied another arrow.
"Hey, someone's doing archery practice over there!" one of the hoodies shouted. Laya jumped and released the arrow. Even though she had been startled, her aim stayed true and the arrow hit the largest hoodie in the chest, cutting his life to an end instantly. The other three hoodies ran over to the party and tried to throw broken glass at Laya. Just as they were about to round the corner, Sean and Lune were ready and waiting with their swords. Mieu had her claws at the ready, and Wren had take out a huge cannon. Laya readied another arrow and drew back her bow.
"Enough play, guys! We've got weapons and we're not afraid to use them!" Sean yelled. The leading hoodie laughed.
"Yeah, but we've got coolness as well as weapons. And we don't fear giant cannons either!" the leading hoodie snarled, his half-broken beer bottle in his left hand. He then went on to explain that they were about to steal the spaceship, but they couldn't get in.
"Your loss. Well, on Samesina, attempted thievery of spaceships is punishable by death." Sean sneered.
"We're not ON Samesina, though!" one of the other hoodies shouted. Sean had had enough. He ordered everyone to attack, and the leading hoodie did the same. One hoodie threw a large shard of broken glass at Sean. It impaled the prince's right leg quite deeply.
"That all you've got?" Sean snarled, limping forward and swishing his sword at the hoodie that had thrown the glass. It left a savage gash in his left side, and he crumpled to the floor in a bloodied heap, just in time for Sean to impale him through the heart and finish him off. The prince withdrew his sword. The point glistened with blood.
"Oh, no you don't! No-one gets away with killing my best guy!" the leading hoodie yelled, charging at Sean with the half-broken beer bottle. Just as he approached, the prince swung round with his sword... and impaled him through the heart. As Sean withdrew his sword from the leader's dead body, the remaining hoodie unzipped his hooded sweatshirt and threw it to the ground. He ran over to Sean and knelt in front of the prince.
"Please, have mercy on me! That guy forced me to join his gang!" the teenager pleaded. Sean had had his sword ready to impale him, but he lowered it.
"Fine, kid. But you've got to leave, now. If you're not out of my sight, you'll get stabbed. Now go!" the prince said intimidatingly. The teenager nodded and ran away as fast as his legs would carry him.
"Well, that's another way to deal with hoodies..." Stuart muttered to himself.
"Now that they're gone, we can now go back to Samesina. Come on!" Sean ordered, ushering the party onto the spaceship. When everyone was inside, Wren piloted the spaceship back to Samesina, where it landed in the Bernink Province. The party had gathered all four Layan Eyes, and now it was time to claim Laya's Treasure! But before they began to make their way to the world beneath the Bernink Province, Mieu stopped them.
"I've just remembered something! Someone wants to see you, Prince Sean! I'll go tell them you're coming." she said, and then she ran ahead of them.
"I wonder who wants to see you..." Stuart said to Sean, and then the party headed for the river south of Hazatak, which was where the passage to the world beneath the Bernink Province was located.
* * *
Now that they had gathered all four Layan Eyes, Prince Sean, Wren, Laya, Emperor Lune and Stuart were heading for the world beneath the Bernink Province to claim Laya's Treasure. Mieu had left ahead of them, saying that someone wanted to meet Sean, and she was going to tell them.
However, as they approached the river nearby Hazatak, they saw that Mieu had collapsed! Wren ran over to check on her.
"I hate to say this, but Mieu is dead." he said sadly. Sean and Lune hung their heads. Laya began to sob. Even Stuart looked downtrodden.
"But how? She was perfectly fine a few minutes ago!" the prince said in horror. Wren was also confused, but they were about to get even more confused. Because, just as Wren picked up the lifeless form of Mieu, someone came walking towards them from behind a large mesa next to where Mieu had collapsed. Someone who Prince Sean never thought he'd be seeing again...
"Well, this is a nice surprise! I didn't think this would happen..." Sean gasped. It was King Ayn, his father!
"Dad! I thought that you and Mum had been killed!" the prince said in shock, running towards Ayn and embracing him.
"I didn't think I'd escape, but I did. Unfortunately your mum had to sacrifice herself to save me." Ayn explained. Yet that didn't explain how Mieu had suddenly collapsed.
"So, you survived the destruction of a planet? How did you do that?" Stuart asked. Ayn released himself from Sean and cleared his throat.
"It wasn't a simple task. My wife, Thea, cast the Sakryuka Technique upon herself, and I had got pretty badly burned by the fires." Ayn said. For information's sake, the Sakryuka Technique is a combination of the Sacrificia (sometimes just called Sak) and Ryuka Techniques. It activates the Sak Technique first, which heals wounds and removes any and all physical bodily harm (and can even heal devastating spiritual harm, such as wounds caused by magical energies and massive explosions), at a cost to the caster's life. Basically the caster uses their life to heal someone else, which is why this technique is normally used as a last resort. The second part of the Sakryuka Technique is the Ryuka Technique, which teleports the target to the location specified by the caster (as long as it is sensible and safe to do so).
"In other words, she used her life to heal me, and then she teleported me here, to the Bernink Province. But, as my spiritual energy was travelling here, it got caught in the blast from the exploding planet. When I eventually landed in the Bernink Province and returned to my material state, I was pretty badly injured. I looked like I'd been blasted with tiny glass shards. I was nearly dead, practically."
"But that still doesn't explain how Mieu was dead when we got to her! Quit the story and tell us how she died!" Sean snapped. Ayn carried on with his story, to Sean's disapproval.
"I landed in the Bernink Province just moments after you left England. I saw your spaceship returning, and I telepathically told Mieu of my arrival."
"But she only told us she was gonna tell you of our arrival!"
"That was a cover story, Sean. I told her to cast the Naresta Technique, but she could see that even that technique wasn't going to heal the damage. I could see tears in her eyes, and she said the word 'Sak' to me, before she cast the technique. I was healed, but she had given her life to save mine."
"She cast the Sak Technique!" Sean's mouth was open in shock. Eventually Stuart had plucked up the courage to speak. He couldn't believe what Mieu had done, either.
"She gave her life to save yours." he said slowly. Ayn introduced himself to Lune, Laya and Stuart, and then Sean explained why they were here in the Bernink Province. But just as they were about to head for the river, Ayn handed a bright red envelope to Sean.
"I found this in my pocket. It's addressed to you, and it wasn't there before." Sean tore open the envelope and pulled out a letter. He read it aloud.
Dear Prince Sean and party,
I've finally found out what that creature meant by the Dark Force needing a vessel to be truly reborn. A couple of other demons were talking about it. It's also why I've been kidnapped.
They're gonna use me as the vessel! I tried to escape, but I was caught and taken back into the cell! I think I may have found out something really spooky about Laya's Treasure - if it's true, then it'd be best if you didn't claim it. They're saying that Laya's Treasure isn't the thing that'll defeat Dark Force. They're saying it IS Dark Force.
This'll probably be the last letter I write to you. I just hope that everything will be OK, and that Dark Force will get defeated. I'm just so scared...
Lots of love, Lyle
X X X
P.S. The thought of being a vessel for Dark Force makes me sick, as in... bleuurgh!
After Sean had finished reading Lyle's letter, Ayn had turned very pale.
"I was wondering where he'd gone... oh, that's terrible! We simply have to do something!" Ayn said, shaking. Wren tried to think of what to do, and so did Lune, Stuart and Laya. After a few minutes' pondering, Lune had come up with something.
"Lyle said that Laya's Treasure is Dark Force. Now that's really weird. But I can't bring myself to trust that, so I suggest we go and claim Laya's Treasure." Lune said. He'd overstepped his authority, but Sean didn't seem to mind. The prince's personality had mellowed, just like Lune's personality had.
"Yeah, Lune, you're right. Let's go." Sean said, and so they headed for the river, where Wren transformed into the Wren-sub, and took them all to the world beneath the Bernink Province.
* * *
When the Wren-sub arrived at the world beneath the Bernink Province, everyone disembarked and pulled the sub onto the land, where it transformed back into Wren.
"I think I'm used to that now..." Wren muttered to himself as the party made their way towards the Ancient Greek-like temple where Sean had first met Laya. When they got to the entrance, a man stopped them.
"You have returned, and Laya is unharmed! Do you have all four Layan Eyes?" he asked.
"Yeah, we got them here." Sean replied, shwing the four Layan Eyes to the man. He then lead them to a small pedestal with four large statues facing it. One of the eyes in each statue was missing.
"Remember, when the four eyes converge their lines of vision, there, and only there, one shall find the treasure of the great leader Laya. Set the four Layan Eyes in the hollows in the Layan Watchers." the man said, stepping away from the pedestal and leaving Sean and the party on their own.
Two demons had just used the Ryuka Technique to get to the world beneath the Bernink Province. They knew that Sean was here, along with the four Layan Eyes. Lyle was with them, held against his will.
"Simple. We stomp that prince and claim the treasure." one of the demons said. He had hold of Lyle in one hand, and a scimitar in the other.
"Yep. Dark Force will rule the world as soon as we claim the treasure!" the other demon sneered, taking his scimitar out of its scabbard.
"You'll need tons of luck if you want to stomp Prince Sean. He eats demons for breakfast." Lyle said. His captor held the scimitar to his throat.
"Shut up, fool. Once Dark Force is revived, your beloved Prince Sean will be no match for it! Dark Force eats princes for breakfast, lunch AND dinner!" the demon snarled, moving his scimitar away from Lyle's throat.
"Good choice," the other demon said, "because if we kill him, then Dark Force won't be truly reborn!"
"Good luck, demons! You'll need it! But still, Prince Sean will eat you for breakfast." Lyle snickered. The demons began to lose their tempers.
"SILENCE, WORM!" one shouted, hitting Lyle in the back of the head with the hilt of his scimitar, knocking him out. The demon then picked him up and slung him over his shoulder. They stormed over to the small pedestal, where Prince Sean and the party were.
"Prince Sean, look out!" Stuart yelled. Sean turned his head, and he saw the demons charging straight at him! One of the demons had Lyle slung over his shoulder. Sean drew his sword and swung it at the demon who wasn't holding Lyle. It cut his arm, albeit not severely. The demon retaliated by swiping his scimitar at Sean, but the prince ducked and stabbed the demon in the leg with his sword.
"Enough! I'll spare you, if you hand over the Layan Eyes." the demon sneered, wiping the blood away from the wound in his leg. Lyle had come around just as the demon had started to speak.
"Don't listen... he'll bring back Dark Force..." Lyle said wearily, trying to shake the fuzziness out of his head. The demon holding him didn't knock him out again.
"You won't have the Layan Eyes!" Sean yelled, but this demon was the sort who doesn't stick to promises. He grabbed hold of the prince by the scruff of the neck and rifled through his pockets. He threw the Layan Eyes on the ground as he found them, and then he tossed Sean aside, where he crashed into the wall of the Ancient Greek-like building and fell to the floor in a mangled heap.
"Now, lie him on the pedestal and place those Eyes. The sooner Dark Force takes him the better." the demon snarled, slamming his fist into the other demon. He acknowledged, and then he slammed Lyle onto the pedestal and took hold of the Layan Eyes. Just as he was about to go back to the Layan Watchers, Sean picked himself up and stepped in front of him. The demon kicked him aside.
"Sean... I know what's coming... they're gonna make Dark Force possess me..." Lyle said softly. Sean heard him.
"And?" the prince hissed. Lyle tried to shake off his drowsiness again.
"Well... there's a way to separate a vessel and its possessing deity... it's called the Separa Technique..." Lyle slowly fumbled in his pockets and pulled out a scroll. He threw it to Sean.
"Is this it, Lyle?"
"Yeah... that's the technique... but you'll also need something... to harm Dark Force when it's been separated from me..."
"And what's that?" Just as Lyle was about to reply, the demon had placed all the Layan Eyes. A beam of light shot from each of them, and they converged into a glowing white orb which hovered above Lyle.
"It's called... the Sword of Eternal Justice... and its powers are decided by who wields it... it's the only thing capable of defeating Dark Force..."
"Enough prattle, Lyle! Now, Dark Force! Arise from your slumber!" one of the demons shouted. Ominous laughter echoed through the atmosphere, and the glowing white orb hovering above Lyle had turned into a pulsating black orb letting off wisps of black smoke.
"Where is the vessel?" hissed the deep voice of Dark Force.
"Why, it is below you, my liege!" the demon replied.
"A fine vessel. You have proven yourself well, Sanqar. And so have you, Malignus. My conquest has just begun!" Dark Force boomed, and the wisps of smoke coming from the orb began to enter Lyle's body. As they did so, the orb shrank. As soon as it had disappeared, Lyle sat up. He looked at himself.
"Well, I guess it's now time to take over the world! Wait... is that my voice? Hardly sounds like the voice of an evil dictator." he said (and for distinction purposes, we'll refer to him as Dark Lyle).
"Don't worry, my liege. You could use that to your advantage." Malignus said. Dark Lyle looked at him and smiled cruelly.
"Actually, yeah, I could. I really don't like this vessel's personality, though." Dark Lyle replied.
"My liege! This band here... what shall we do with them?" Sanqar asked. He looked at Dark Lyle, and so did Malignus, expectantly waiting for a reply.
"Nothing, my subjects. I can deal with them easily." Dark Lyle replied sinisterly, waving his staff in an arc. He uttered a few incomprehensible words and thrust his staff forward. A cloud of black magic hit Sean and the party, and they disappeared.
"Let the party... uhm, I mean conquest begin!" Dark Lyle shouted, laughing maliciously. Sanqar and Malignus also joined in with the rancorous laughter.
PART III: Chapter Five
"Oh, ugh... where are we? Damn you, Dark Force! Damn you!" Prince Sean shouted as he stood up and shook his head. He squinted, yet he still couldn't make sense of where he was. The rest of the party couldn't fathom out where they were, either. As soon as Lune had shaken out all the confusion from his head, he strode over to Sean.
"I think I know where we are." he said. The prince turned around and looked him in the eye.
"So then? Where are we?" Sean asked rudely.
"We're on Samesinian Heights, the sky city that floats above Samesina." Lune explained. Eventually, Wren, Laya, Stuart and King Ayn were focussed enough to join them.
"Lune, you said before that we're in a sky city. Is this where that Sword of Eternal Justice is?" Laya asked.
"Yep, it is. Long ago, during the Orakian-Layan war, Orakio's twin brother Rulakir brought a silver sword up here, and he hid from the fighting here as well. Rumour has it that he's still alive!" Lune replied. Sean assumed that Rulakir had used cryogenic sleep, but Lune said he hadn't.
"No, Sean, it was actually his sheer hatred of Layans that kept him alive!" Lune said triumphantly. Stuart was completely bamboozled - how could hatred keep someone alive?
"Hmm, that's really weird, Lune. It may be best to forget all that." Ayn suggested. Lune sighed and told everyone that he'd talked nonsense. Sean agreed with him. Laya giggled.
"Anyway, we should stop this prattle and find Rulakir. It's only a matter of time before Dark Force obliterates Samesina, and everyone with it!" Wren said sternly. Sean and Laya stopped laughing and followed Wren to a large open plaza. There were several people wandering around. Sean went over to an old woman standing by a tree.
"Hey, you! Do you know Rulakir?" Sean asked in his normal unprincely manner. The woman flinched slightly.
"Young man, you need to learn some manners. And yes, I do know Rulakir. He is the King of Samesinian Heights." she replied.
"Well where is he?"
"Be nice to me, then."
"Gee, fine. Can you tell me where he is, please?"
"Indeed. Just carry straight on through the plaza and when you get to the gatehouse, take the left-hand staircase. Go straight down the corridor, and the throne room is on your second right." Thanking the woman, Sean lead the party through the plaza, to the gatehouse, up the left-hand staircase and straight down the corridor. When the party got to the door, Sean opened it and stepped in, followed by Lune, Laya, Wren, Ayn and Stuart.
"Are you Rulakir, King of Samesinian Heights?" Sean asked a man who was standing at a huge window that overlooked the plaza.
"Yes, that's me." Rulakir replied as he turned to face Sean. He was a middle-aged man who had some flair about him, if not much. He was more a warrior than a ruler.
"OK. My grandfather, Lyle... he told me about a sword called the Sword of Eternal Justice, which is the only thing that can defeat Dark Force, and Emperor Lune says that you have it. So, do you have it?" Rulakir raised an eyebrow when Sean had mentioned Emperor Lune.
"Emperor Lune? He worked for my brother's enemy, and I have no desire to trust the ramblings of that delusioned old man. That means I have no desire to trust you either." Rulakir said darkly. Laya stepped in front of Sean.
"OK, I understand that you are with my sister's enemy, but you must help us! We need the Sword of Eternal Justice to defeat Dark Force, for it is roaming Samesina and making Prince Sean's grandfather look like a murderous brute!" Laya pleaded. Rulakir stamped his foot.
"Quiet, little girl. Orakio and Laya sealed that vile being away 1,000 years ago." he said sternly.
"But, Rulakir... two demons, by the names of Sanqar and Malignus, used the Layan Eyes to break the seal! They even captured Lyle, and now Dark Force is using him to destroy Samesina!" Laya wailed. Rulakir raised an eyebrow again.
"And who gathered the Layan Eyes?"
"Well, Prince Sean did, but we didn't know that the Layan Eyes broke the seal that kept Dark Force from coming back until it was too late!" Rulakir's face began to contort with rage.
"So you believed the false hope of Laya's Treasure. It was only named that to remove the fears of the Samesinian people. Would you like to know that there's an evil beyond legend sealed beneath your feet?" Rulakir said nastily. Lune strode forward.
"Rulakir, I sincerely apologise for all the grief I caused you and your brother. Now, we need the Sword of Eternal Justice to defeat Dark Force. If you do that, I am entirely in your debt." Lune said proudly, bowing before Rulakir. He just laughed.
"You will have to prove your worth, Lune. Defeat me and the Sword of Eternal Justice is yours. Lose and your life is mine." Rulakir snarled, withdrawing a sword from its scabbard. It wasn't the Sword of Eternal Justice, however. Its blade was a pure black, and the hilt was made of gold, entwined with silver and encrusted with black opals.
"My brother's sword will shed your blood." Rulakir said, swishing the sword threateningly. Lune dodged the blade and withdrew his sword from his belt.
"My own sword will eat your sword for breakfast!" Lune shouted, jumping into the air and swiping the sword. The rushing air ruffled Rulakir's hair. Sean, Laya, Ayn, Wren and Stuart stepped back and stayed back. Rulakir bared his sword at Lune. Lune did the same to Rulakir.
"Eat my sword, Rulakir!" Lune roared, thrashing the sword around and spinning on his heel. He jumped, backflipped, brought the sword down... and caught Rulakir in the left shoulder. The resulting wound was not a severe one, but it was enough to make Rulakir cringe in pain. Rulakir retaliated by swinging his sword at Lune, which caught him in the side and opened a small gash. Lune doubled up in pain.
"Well, Lune! You're just not as good a fighter as I remember. Maybe you really are as weak as Orakio said." Rulakir said, with a sharp edge to his voice.
"These things happen, Rulakir. Well, wouldn't you be a little out of practice if you'd been in cryogenic sleep for 1,000 years?" Lune replied sinisterly. Rulakir replied with a laugh. From the corner of the room, Prince Sean and the party were silently cheering Lune on.
"Do you reckon he'd notice if I cast a technique on Lune?" Sean asked Ayn quietly.
"Not a clue. But I'd be tempted not to risk it." Ayn hissed in reply.
"Dad, I'm gonna do it anyway..." Sean waved his arms, chanted a few incomprehensible words under his breath and cast the Shifta Technique on Lune. This particular technique is a support technique, and it increases the target's damage potential (the amount it increases by depends on the experience of the caster) for 10 minutes. That meant that Lune would have 10 minutes to do more damage than he normally would to Rulakir.
Meanwhile, Lune and Rulakir were still engaged in their swordfight. Lune was beginning to tire, but Rulakir showed no mercy.
"Hang on, let me regain my breath." Lune panted. Rulakir touched his throat with the blade of his sword.
"Not yet, Lune. Fight me, you chicken!" Rulakir snapped.
"I need to..." Lune began, but he felt the power of Sean's Shifta Technique flooding into him.
"What?" Rulakir asked, "You need to what?"
"I need to make mincemeat out of you, Rulakir!" Lune yelled, standing upright and thrusting the sword at Rulakir. He just caught him in the right arm, but the Shifta Technique meant that the small cut turned into a rather ugly gash. Rulakir clutched his arm in pain.
"Hey, Lune! Not bad... for a cheater. The blade only just caught me, yet it really wounded me! Who's using Shifta Techniques?" Rulakir said in shock as he tried to stem the flow of blood from the wound in his arm.
"Shifta Techniques? I have no idea what you're on about!" Lune replied, feigning surprise. He charged at Rulakir again and swung the sword at his leg. The blade contacted Rulakir's left leg, opening a very nasty wound. Blood leaked out of the wound, staining Rulakir's garments. Rulakir, despite having excruciating pain tearing through his right arm, thrust his sword at Lune. The blade contacted Lune's sword with a resonating clang. Rulakir was puzzled. He had been aiming for Lune's chest, yet he had only hit his sword. Lune hadn't even defended against the blow.
"Lune simply HAS to win!" Prince Sean shouted from the corner of the room, holding his outstretched hand towards Rulakir.
"So you HAVE been influenced by techniques! Hardly fair, is it? I don't plan to give you the Sword of Eternal Justice now!" Rulakir shouted, clearly angered by Sean's actions.
"Sean, release your technique! I'll distract him, you get that sword!" Lune said to Sean. The prince nodded his head and waited for Lune to engage Rulakir in battle again. He released the technique off Rulakir, and Lune subsequently engaged him in battle. Whilst Rulakir fought Lune, Sean sneaked up behind him and grabbed the first hilt he could see. He pulled on it... and unsheathed a dagger.
"Wrong hilt, Sean! Try the other side!" Lune hissed. The prince nodded and looked at the hilts on Rulakir's other side. He took hold of the centre one and pulled on it. He pulled out a sword with a silvery blade. The hilt gleamed with sapphires, which beautifully offset the bluish-silver glow of the blade.
"That's it! Now I have to disengage!" Lune hissed, fending off Rulakir's sword with a well-aimed sword swing. Just as Rulakir was about to swing at Lune, he checked his swords. He noticed that one was missing. He put his brother's sword back in its scabbard and turned to face Prince Sean and the party.
"You stole the Sword of Eternal Justice? That is not a good thing to do. Hand it back and fight for it!" Rulakir roared, holding his hand out. Sean instinctively stepped back.
"For your information, Rulakir, we need the Sword of Eternal Justice to defeat Dark Force. Who knows how much damage it's caused since it's been released?" Sean explained calmly, his tone having a hint of rudeness to it. Rulakir put his hands on his hips.
"You didn't earn it, fool. You have to earn these things, you can't just steal them." Rulakir snarled.
"Yeah, sure... but I'm in a desperate situation. We have to defeat Dark Force!" Sean replied, darting out of the throne room, closely followed by the rest of the party. Rulakir sighed and didn't bother chasing them.
"Right, where would Dark Force go after its release?" Stuart asked as soon as everyone had escaped from Rulakir's castle. Wren thought for a second.
"He'd probably go for the Chalst Province." the cyborg replied.
"The Chalst Province?"
"Yes. It's the central province of Samesina."
"Well, we've got the sword now, so we can go get Dark Force!" Wren looked unsure. He had a brief ponder.
"No. Actually, I've heard about the Sword of Eternal Justice. We need to place another gem in the hilt, because it doesn't have all its power." Wren said. Sean looked slightly worried.
"So where is this gem then?" the prince asked rudely.
"I remember your grandfather, Rhys, having a gem about the same size as that hollow. We need to go to Dahlia." Wren replied.
"The parts." Lune said suddenly. Wren faced him.
"What parts?" Wren asked.
"Those parts I gave you!" Lune snapped. Instantly, Wren took out the two huge wing-like parts and attached them to his back. He began to transform. Sparks flew and metal clanged as the transformation took place.
Five minutes later, Wren had transformed into an aerojet.
"Now THAT'S cool!" Stuart gasped. Sean clapped a hand over his mouth and told him to be quiet.
"Come on, let's go to Dahlia. Hurry up and get inside!" the computerised voice of Wren said impatiently. Everyone did as he said and climbed inside. The door closed and the engines fired up.
"Does this thing need a pilot?" Laya asked.
"No, because it already has a pilot. Me!" Wren's voice replied.
"So, let's go to Dahlia then..." Lune said. On these words, the Wren-jet began to ascend. The engines gave an almighty roar, and then the Wren-jet zoomed off the surface of Samesinian Heights and headed for Dahlia. The party got there quicker than in the spaceship that Laya had found at Mystoke, the Castle of Silence.
* * *
The Wren-jet landed on the surface of Dahlia. Everyone disembarked, and then the Wren-jet transformed back into Wren.
"Now that's more fun than the submersible." Wren said to himself, but Sean had overheard him.
"I agree. Much faster." the prince replied.
"Right, we're here. Let's stop chinwagging and get that gem." Lune said, keeping the party on track. Sean lead the party up the flights of stairs. As soon as they reached the top, a terrible sight lay before them. Bodies were littering the ground, and some of the pillars had fallen down. Sean could hear a voice.
"Help! That varmint deliberately made this pillar fall on me!" It was the familiar voice of Rhys. Sean sprinted over and tried to move the piece of pillar, but it was too heavy for him to even budge.
"What happened, Rhys?" Sean asked.
"That despicable, pompous brat Lyle. He dropped a pillar on me and laughed like a little schoolboy!" Rhys replied angrily. Sean sighed.
"That's not Lyle." the prince said. Rhys looked fierce.
"Excuse me? Yes, it was Lyle! Who else would wear a cloak like that, and who else would speak in such a common manner, AND who else would carry a staff like that? I knew he hadn't completely forgiven me, but that's taking it too far!"
"It isn't Lyle, though. He's been possessed by Dark Force." After Sean had finished speaking, Rhys turned very pale.
"Dark Force? Not... that's preposterous! Orakio and Laya sealed it on Samesina!" Rhys finally said after a few minutes of silence.
"It's been released, though. Two demons named Sanqar and Malignus released it with the Layan Eyes." Sean replied.
"So you're saying that Laya's Treasure was a fake all along? I mean... this is utter stupidity spilling from your mouth, Prince Sean! Of course Laya's Treasure is real, isn't it?"
"No. Orakio's twin brother, Rulakir, said that that was to cover the fact that Dark Force was sealed on Samesina. Would you like to know that there's evil beneath your feet?"
"If Orakio's twin brother said it, I may be able to believe you. But, you must release me from my predicament, this instant!" Sean obeyed and called Wren and Lune over to help. Their combined strength was able to shift the pillar and free Rhys. He stood up and brushed himself down.
"It took you long enough! Now, what makes you return here? If it is true that Dark Force has returned, then it will have gone back to Samesina." Rhys said. Wren explained the situation with the Sword of Eternal Justice. Rhys reached into his pocket and took out the Sapphire, handing it to Sean. The prince placed the Sapphire into the hollow, and it clicked firmly into place. The blade of the sword began to glow an intense shade of cerulean blue.
"It's worked! Dark Force, here we come to kick your dark butt!" Sean yelled.
"You were saying...?" came the sinister reply of Dark Lyle. He threw a dark bolt at Sean, which knocked him to the floor.
"Lyle, you pompous varmint! What has possessed you to hurt your grandson?!" Rhys shouted, unsheathing his hunting knife and baring it threateningly. A change seemed to overcome Dark Lyle.
"What is this... resistance? Rebellious vessel, I command you to stop right now!" Dark Lyle shouted, but even that couldn't stop the real Lyle overcoming the possession.
"Rhys! I didn't intend to... oh, look what I've gone and done!" Lyle panicked, rushing to Sean and turning him over. He was merely unconscious, to Lyle's relief.
"So it is true. Dark Force has returned." Rhys said, but his gaze shifted towards Ayn, who had been standing out of the way with Laya.
"Ayn, my son! Prince Sean said you were dead!" shouted Rhys, rushing over and embracing Ayn.
"Well, Father... it's such a long story. Where would I begin? We'd better wait until after Dark Force is defeated." Ayn replied.
Meanwhile, Sean had come around, and Lyle was struggling to overpower Dark Force.
"Don't forget what I told you, Sean. Use the Separa Technique, then attack Dark Force with the Sword of Eternal Justice!" Lyle said, just before Dark Force regained control of him.
"Catch me if you can!" Dark Lyle said cruelly, before using the Ryuka Technique to return to Samesina.
"Damn that Dark Force!" Sean growled. Meanwhile, Lune had been talking with Rhys.
"Look, Rhys... what about Alair? Is she OK?" Lune asked.
"I don't have a clue. Dark Force trapped me before it went for Alair." Rhys replied.
"Where was she when Dark Force attacked?"
"She was on the opposite side, but I'm not sure if she's still alive. She took a malicious blow." After Rhys had finished speaking, Lune checked the rubble on the other side. He finally found Alair, but she wasn't moving at all.
"Alair! It's your brother, Lune! Wake up!" Lune cried, slapping Alair gently on the cheek. She didn't make any response. Lune then checked her pulse and her breathing. Nothing.
"Oh no... Dark Force has to be defeated!" Lune shouted, cradling the lifeless form of Alair in his arms. Sean strutted over to him.
"What happened to her?" the prince asked, with a concerning overtone to his voice.
"That vile Dark Force killed her! I want to have a go at Dark Force, for what it did to my sister!" Lune said frustratingly in reply.
"I would come and help, but then I would be leaving Dahlia undefended!" Rhys had overheard what Lune had said.
"Father, if you want to go and defeat Dark Force, I'll stay here." Ayn said.
"I'll stay as well." Stuart said.
"And so will I. We'll guard Dahlia with our lives!" Laya announced. Rhys acknowledged and strode over to join Sean, Wren and Lune, who were ready to go.
"Well, then! What are we waiting for? We should destroy the despicable Dark Force and save Lyle!" Rhys said. Lune nodded in agreement.
"Yeah, you're right. Let's go!" Sean shouted, and on these words, Wren took out the large wing-like parts and used them to transform into the Wren-jet.
"Can you get there within four minutes? I have a feeling Dark Force will delay no longer!" Laya shouted.
"Good luck, everyone!" Ayn and Stuart shouted together.
"From what Laya said, we've only got four minutes to save the world. Let's get going!" Sean yelled, climbing into the Wren-jet. Rhys and Lune followed, and then the Wren-jet zipped towards Samesina, towards the Chalst Province.
* * *
Four Minutes Remaining...
The Wren-jet landed on the outskirts of the Chalst Province. Prince Sean, Emperor Lune and Rhys disembarked, and the Wren-jet transformed back into Wren.
"Come on, we're already down by several seconds. Let's move!" Sean ordered, running through a large forest, with Rhys, Lune and Wren following. Whilst they were running, Sean tripped over a tree root and was sent flying. The impact of his fall drove the breath out of his body.
"Quickly, Prince Sean! We've only got four minutes to save the world!" Rhys shouted.
"Under four minutes." Lune corrected. Sean stood up and tested the weight on his legs. He'd sprained his left ankle, but he had no time to rest up. Time was running out. The fall had cost them valuable seconds, and in this sort of situation, every second counts.
"Got to keep going! I have to!" Sean said. But even giving himself a dose of pep talk wasn't enough to quell the pain that seared through his ankle.
The party finally made it out of the forest, but now they had rolling hills to contend with...
Three Minutes Remaining...
"Running up and down hills is not my area of expertise, but it's the only thing we can do. Wren, how long have we got?" Rhys said.
"Two minutes, fifty-six seconds. Basically three minutes." Wren replied.
"That fall already slowed us down. We can't have any more delays. Move it!" Sean ordered, sprinting up the first hill. Rhys, Lune and Wren followed, but they noticed that the hills were moving backwards!
"Dark Force has jinxed the hills! We can't stop or we'll be thrown back!" Lune panicked.
"Come on! If the hills are being influenced by Dark Force, it's definitely nearby. We must make haste!" Rhys shouted.
"Hurry up. Two minutes, twenty-seven seconds remaining!" Wren said. The party darted over the rippling hills, making sure that they didn't slow down or even think about slowing down or stopping. Sean pointed at something up ahead.
"I see a big rock! If we can get to that, we'll be safe from the hills!" the prince said. Sweat was soaking his face, and he was gasping for breath, but Sean knew he couldn't stop. Lune and Rhys were also tiring rapidly. Only Wren showed no signs of fatigue.
A high hill rose up in front of the big rock. Sean sprinted up as fast as his fatigued legs could manage, and then he took an almighty bound. He landed heavily on the rock, but at least he was past the hills. Lune made it across next, but he had landed so close to the rock's edge that Sean had to pull him away. Wren leapt across next, and he landed cleanly next to where Sean had landed.
"Come on, Rhys!" Lune shouted. Rhys leapt towards Lune, but he hadn't quite made a big enough leap. He gripped the edge of the rock and vainly tried to pull himself up. Lune grabbed hold of Rhys' arm and tried to pull him up. He couldn't manage.
"Quickly, Lune! Just go without me!" Rhys yelled, panicking. Wren dashed over to him.
"We're not about to do that, Rhys. We're not going to abandon you!" Wren said, grabbing Rhys' other arm and helping Lune pull him up. Their combined efforts managed to do it.
"That was far too close." Lune panted.
Two Minutes Remaining...
"How long have we got, Wren?" Sean asked, still regaining his breath.
"One minute, fifty-nine seconds." Wren replied. The party made their way across the rock and down the other side. There was a massive clearing in front of them.
"Ah! Something easier, for a change." Rhys said, relieved.
"Don't be too sure, Rhys. I've got a hunch." Lune hissed. Sean agreed with Lune, and then the party began to trek across the clearing. Two figures approached them from the distance.
"Who are those strange beings that dare approach us?" Rhys asked.
"It's Sanqar and Malignus, the two demons!" Wren replied, panicking slightly. The party carried on advancing, and so did Sanqar and Malignus. There was a scrape of metal against leather as the two demons drew their scimitars from their scabbards.
"Dark Force has nearly mustered the energy to destroy Samesina! Just another minute and twenty-eight seconds!" Malignus announced.
"I can't wait!" Sanqar said excitedly. But Sean, Lune, Wren and Rhys had heard what Malignus had said.
"We don't have time to deal with Sanqar and Malignus! We have to get to Dark Force!" Sean panicked.
"In that case, I will keep Sanqar and Malignus occupied whilst you, Lune and Wren go after Dark Force. That foul varmint must not be allowed to destroy Samesina!" Rhys announced. He drew his hunting knife from its sheath.
"You'll need a better weapon than that, Rhys! Here, take this!" Wren said, handing his hand-cannon to Rhys. He took it and staggered slightly.
"It's rather weighty for a weapon..." Rhys said, but Wren stopped him saying any more.
"But it blows demons sky-high. Just blast Sanqar and Malignus to pieces when they come for you." Wren said, and then he ran after Sean and Lune. Sanqar and Malignus had seen the threesome running towards Dark Force's location, but they decided not to chase them. They ran towards Rhys, scimitars bared.
"Good riddance, you foul demonic charlatans!" Rhys roared, aiming the cannon at Sanqar. He fired, but he missed.
"Ooh, fancy-pants! You missed!" Sanqar taunted.
"The first shot misses most of the time, you scoundrel! I hope you like cannon fire, because I'm about to turn you into cannon fodder, you filthy varmint!" Rhys fired the cannon again, and the shot hit Sanqar, catapulting him backwards. He hit Malignus, and they were both sent careering to the ground.
"Let us end this once and for all, you cads!" Rhys yelled, taking aim with the cannon and firing once more.
One Minute Remaining...
Meanwhile, Prince Sean, Wren and Emperor Lune had been heading towards Dark Force. They were going to beat it and save Lyle, who had been possessed by Dark Force.
"How long do we have, Wren?" Sean asked.
"Fifty-seven seconds." Wren replied.
"Less than a minute, already? Time sure flies!" Lune said, panic cutting through his voice. The threesome kept on running, and eventually they came up to Dark Lyle.
"You're too late, idiots! I've already gathered most of the power!" Dark Lyle snarled at the party.
"He's right. We only have twenty-one seconds." Wren whispered. Sean told him to stop being so pessimistic.
"Right, Dark Force! It's show time!" Sean yelled. He then muttered a few incomprehensible words under his breath and cast the Separa Technique.
"You silly idiot, what good's that gonna... what the--? I'm being torn from my vessel!" Dark Lyle screamed, before collapsing to the floor. Clouds of black smoke rose up from Lyle's body and formed a face-like shape above him. The gathering dark power dissipated almost immediately after Dark Force had completely separated from Lyle. At least the countdown to Samesina's imminent destruction had stopped... for the moment.
"You seem to have figured my weakness. In that case, I'd better make this much harder for you." Dark Force sneered, wrapping itself around Lune and Wren, trapping them on the floor. Sean now had to fight Dark Force alone.
* * *
"Now, you will have to defeat me. If you want that peace, then defeat me!" Dark Force roared, the centre of its wispy existence pulsating with dark magic.
"I plan to. You'll regret being released from the world beneath the Bernink Province!" Sean yelled in reply, drawing the Sword of Eternal Justice from his belt. Dark Force swirled around Sean for a moment, and then its dark smoke coiled and plumed into a hideous demonic figure. It stood in front of Sean.
"Hey! If you can turn into a shape like that, why did you need Lyle?" Sean asked rudely.
"My soul had not yet fully regenerated. Now that my soul is complete, I can ravage the land without the help of that imbecile." Dark Force sneered in reply. Sean readied the Sword in his right hand and planted his feet firmly on the ground. Meanwhile, Lyle was regaining consciousness slowly. The power of the Separa Technique had only caused him to lose consciousness.
Sean made the first attack, springing forward and thrusting the Sword at Dark Force. The blade glowed powder blue as it cut effortlessly through the grotesque creature. Dark Force roared as the Sword sliced through it, pure black blood dripping from the resulting wound. Dark Force retaliated by swinging its long, ugly arm at Sean, batting him away. The prince crashed into a large tree. As Sean shook off the blow dealt by Dark Force, Lyle had finally come around. He sat up and tapped his head with his hand.
"What's going on? What's happening?" Lyle asked himself as he wearily stood up and stretched his arms. He picked up his staff from the ground. He looked around, and on his left were Lune and Wren, trapped by dark magic, and on his right was the hideous demonic form of Dark Force. Behind him, Sean had just stood up and was about to re-engage with Dark Force. The prince saw Lyle and smiled. Lyle returned the gesture.
"I'd better get rid of it, hadn't I?" Sean asked.
"Yeah, you should. Before it decides to possess me again." Lyle replied. The prince readied the Sword and charged forward, straight towards Dark Force. It was ready. It threw Sean backwards towards Lyle. The two of them fell to the ground in a heap.
"He's not gonna let you near him!" Lyle said from underneath Sean.
"No, he wants to keep us together." Sean replied.
"Which is very nice of him, sure, but we've got some deity-bashing to do." On those words, Sean stood up and helped Lyle to his feet. They stormed up to Dark Force with an air of confidence.
"Enough of this already! You already made me look bad, so now it's time to get you back!" Lyle yelled, baring his staff threateningly. Dark Force laughed cruelly.
"Oh really? Try to harm me!" Dark Force roared, its voice resonating through the atmosphere.
"Alright. I've got techniques that'll give you a run for your money." Lyle replied with a sinister edge to his voice, and then he began to charge up the magic in his staff. Sean had to look away, for the power was making Lyle's staff glow very brightly.
"What is this... power you charge up?" Dark Force asked evilly.
"Like I said, this power'll give you a run for your money! Prepare to get your comeuppance!" Lyle shouted. He quickly uttered a few incomprehensible words under his breath and cast the Grantz Technique, the ultimate light technique. The technique is so powerful that it is only used on the darkest of dark deities. The technique struck Dark Force in the chest, causing it to crumple to the ground. Lyle leaned on his staff to regain his energy. A technique that powerful can have physical effects on the caster.
"No... it can't be..." Dark Force groaned, just as Sean sprang forward and impaled Dark Force in the heart with the Sword of Eternal Justice. When the prince withdrew the sword, a white gash stood out against Dark Force's black body. The gash began to glow brightly. White cracks appeared all over Dark Force.
"Impossible... I cannot die..." it roared, just before it shattered with a deafening explosion. Sean instinctively ducked, and so did Lyle. When the shattered pieces of Dark Force had dissipated, the black magic that had bound Lune and Wren to the ground was released.
"That was an intense battle, huh?" Lune asked Lyle as he shook his head.
"Yeah, it was. Where's Sean?" Lyle ran over to where Dark Force had been. A white cloak flapped in the breeze, and it wasn't just Lyle's cloak. Lyle moved the debris surrounding the cloak and freed Sean. He picked the prince up, and he lay limply in Lyle's arms. Lyle carried him over to Lune and Wren.
"He's fine, but the explosion knocked him out." Wren said. Lyle breathed a sigh of relief.
"It's finally over. We did it." Lune sighed, placing a hand on Lyle's shoulder. Sean began to come around.
"Did we... get Dark Force?" the prince asked wearily, looking groggily at Lune, Lyle and Wren. Lyle smiled.
"Yeah, we got him. It's over." Lyle said. Sean shook off the last of his drowsiness and embraced Lyle. Lune and Wren also joined in.
"We should tell everyone else." Wren said, and then the foursome began walking back the way they came.
* * *
With an indomitable spirit and an undying goal, Prince Sean finally defeated the evil Dark Force, with the support of his grandfather, Lyle.
News of Sean's victory spread all over Samesina, and even to Dahlia. It even reached the ears of Orakio and Laya, and they granted Sean one wish. Orakio and Laya could not grant a wish for eternal peace, but they did grant Sean's second wish, which was to restore Satellite. When that was done, Prince Sean returned to Satellite with his father, King Ayn. As an added bonus, Orakio and Laya had even brought back Queen Thea.
Meanwhile, on Samesina, Lyle reclaimed Shusoran Castle from the rebellious cyborgs and reinstated himself as King Lyle of Shusoran. Rhys also reclaimed Cille from the cyborg invaders and reinstated himself as King Rhys of Cille. Wren returned to the cyborg town of Hazatak and held a remembrance day in honour of Mieu, who gave her life to save King Ayn. Laya returned to the Ancient Greek-like temple beneath the Bernink Province and went back into cryogenic sleep. Emperor Lune moved away from Dahlia and married. He became King of Agoe, the town that was just next door to Shusoran. Stuart was appointed by King Ayn as a royal messenger.
For the moment, peace will rule over the world of Samesina, and its moons Dahlia and Satellite. Evil could strike again, for the future is never written in stone.
This fan fiction is copyright (c) of the listed author and may not be redistributed in any form without express permission of the original author. This site has received permission from the author to re-post it here.